A Place of no Return by Patrick G Moloney.

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Instalment 4 of the Jack Burke crime mysteries.

Submitted: March 07, 2017

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Submitted: March 07, 2017



The effigy of the brutalised man on the wooden cross, hung high above the altar. The low winter sun streaming through the high stain glass window had bathed it in crimson; it was almost as if the figure had been set alight. Apart from the odd trickle of elder women who came to light candles, he was alone in the vastness of the big church. What had brought Jack Burke to this place of worship he could not really say; it was not as if he were a devout catholic anymore. That was if he ever had been, he had attended church during his childhood years. But that was because his Irish catholic parents were devout believers; they had long since gone to their eternal rewards. His years in the police force and now as a private investigator had shown him too much of the inherent evil of god’s children, he could never again reconcile the thought of a benevolent god with what he saw on a daily basis on the streets of the city. Still he did like to come here and gather his thoughts, he only wished his old friend Fr Murphy was here to speak with him. Of late Jack had been shown tangible evidence of an evil that was not entirely of this world; however he could not say the same for a force of good. He closed his eyes and hung his head and somewhere in his mind he heard Fr Michael Murphy, the broad Irish brogue urged him not to lose sight of the good in the world. Jack whispered a few words, not to god but to his old friend, a man who had believed unconditionally. A man who not only believed in a benevolent god, but also believed in a broken down P.I. who had spent too long among the shadows.

Jack had just stepped on to the sidewalk outside the church when the big black Bentley pulled up alongside, the windows were tinted and all that was to be seen was his own reflection in the mirror like surface. Jack turned to walk up the street when the rear window was rolled down; a female voice addressed him from the dark interior of the high-end car. “Mr Burke would you have a moment to talk please” the voice was soft, however Jack was sure the owner was used to having her requests obeyed without question. The rear passenger side door opened, after a slight hesitation he climbed in. The woman was somewhere in her mid-fifties he thought for some reason, but she could easily have passed for a woman in her thirties. The woman was expensively dressed and somehow vaguely familiar, an actress or a singer came to mind. The woman was not someone who beat around the bush and she got straight to the point, her daughter had taken up with some religious cult or other and she wanted him to fetch her home. Since her daughter was an adult and there of her own free will, the cops were not interested, Marcella was the woman’s name and she wanted her daughter back. She made no qualms about the fact, that fair means or foul would not concern her. So Jack Burke was recruited to abduct a grown woman and return her to her mother, he had long since grown accustomed to the stranger side of life. So without giving much thought to the situation he accepted a large retainer and took the job. Minutes after climbing into the car he was back on the sidewalk, a hefty cheque in his pocket and a thick manila folder under his arm. He looked back at the imposing façade of the church, for a brief moment he could have sworn he spotted Fr Murphy standing in the doorway. He blinked and the vision was gone, but a little voice with a thick Irish brogue whispered in his head. It said “Be careful of the darkness Jack”.

Jack Burke stopped off at O’Malley’s bar for lunch before returning to the office, well that was if you could call two large Crested Ten whiskeys and some peanuts lunch. It was quite in the bar, the offices had not gone on lunch yet. This gave him a chance to have a leisurely read of the morning paper, on page five an article regarding a gala charity ball caught his attention, well in reality it was the accompanying photo that got his attention. There in the photo in all her grandeur was the woman he had just accepted a job from, the caption underneath read Marcella Garcia to perform at biggest charity bash of the year. So he had been right she was a celebrity, apparently she was a big time entertainer. Well at least he knew now that there was a good chance he would be paid in full, Jack contemplated having another hit from the whisky bottle but instead opted to head back to the office. Mabel had not gone to lunch by the time he got back, a white mark on her wrist was testament to a missing wrist watch. She seemed surprised that it was well into lunch time; Jack made a mental note to buy her a new watch as a sort of bonus. He was growing quite attached to his new sectary; it probably was that mixture of innocence and sexual attractiveness that she exuded. That and her work ethic he thought, slightly embarrassed by his previous thoughts about the girl. Jack worked his way through the folder Marcella had given him while Mabel was at lunch, the photos included in the folder of her daughter held his attention for quite a while, she was a stunning looking young woman with bobbed ebony hair. The young woman was somewhere in her late twenties and with a smile that could melt the coldest heart, according to the file Melanie Garcia was a high achiever and well balanced young woman.

The remainder of the substantial folder was taken up by the cult Melanie Garcia had chosen to place above her own mother and home. “The seekers of truth” were a cult based on some obscure Babylonian sect; they appeared to worship the elements and a number of strange deities. The cult offered its followers enlightenment and an understanding of worlds beyond our dimension, this was what Melanie had explained to her mother. The cult’s headquarters in this part of the world was located upstate, a few miles outside a small town named “Journeys End”. Jack Burke packed his bag and headed for Journeys End, it was a long drive and on more than one occasion Murphy’s voice echoed in his mind “Be careful of the darkness” it said. Jack booked into a small quaint hotel run by and elderly couple, he rang the office from his room, Mabel seemed happy to hear from him, He had placed a request for info on the cult with an old friend at police headquarters, however the friend had rang back to tell Mabel there was nothing in any of their records on The seekers of the truth. Jack hung up and decided to have an early night; he would drive out in the morning to check out the cults headquarters. Jack Burke lay on the bed fully clothed and immediately drifted into a fitful sleep, a sleep haunted with visions of dead priests, of a big dark skinned man with cat’s eyes and things that moved unseen in the shadows. Jacks breakfast consisted of a pot of strong coffee and half a pack of cigarettes, and then he hit out in search of the cult.

The cult was apparently not short of money, their headquarters was a big Georgian styled mansion surrounded by high walls. Jack sat in his car which was parked on a hill overlooking the big house, it was mid-morning and there was no sign of life in the compound. Jack studied the house and grounds through his set of army issue field glasses, he eventually identified where he could enter the grounds. A portion of the wall near the rear of the house was in the process of being rebuilt, he could easily gain access there. A movement near the front door of the house caught his attention and he turned the binoculars in that direction, three people were in the process of climbing into a black limousine. Two females and a tall gaunt looking man, one of these females was Melanie Garcia. They drove out of the compound and headed off in a direction opposite to Journeys End, Jack followed at a discreet distance. An hour and a half later they arrived at a large provisional town, the big limousine parked outside a grocery store. The two women went inside and the gaunt man headed off in the direction of a large hardware store, when the women returned to the car with bags of groceries, Jack took his opportunity. He popped the trunk of the car before driving alongside and snatching Melanie, he swept her up like a rag doll before dumping her in the trunk unceremoniously and driving off at speed. Jack made a quick stop at Journeys End to pick up his bag, and then he drove back towards the city. Traffic was heavy and the restless sleep last night was catching up on him, so he pulled into a motel a couple of hours drive from the city. He would be better off driving the rest of the way in the morning, and besides he needed to get Melanie out of the trunk.

The stunning girl was remarkably calm as she sat opposite him in the motel room, the only noticeable sign of distress in her, was a deep sadness in her eyes. Jack explained the situation to her and how much her mother wanted her home, Melanie looked at him with a sadness he had rarely experienced and she spoke softly. “I have been to a place where there is no coming back from; they have shown me things that will never leave my mind. I will stay with you, but they will come for me. They will come and you will be in grave danger”. Later that night she crept into his bed and he held her as she cried herself to sleep, when he woke the following morning she was gone. A note on the coffee table in her hand writing appeared to be tear stained. “I am lost to this world Jack, please tell my mother I love her and then forget about me”. Jack was not taken to being over emotional about anything but something about this girl had touched him deep inside. Her plight had awakened feelings inside him that he had long thought dead; he folded the note and placed in his wallet. Jack stripped and stood beneath the scalding water in the shower, his skin was burning but he remained there for quite a while. By the time had had dried himself and dressed he knew what he would do next; he would wait until dark and go and fetch her from that house. This was one person he was not about to lose to the darkness, Jack spent the rest of the afternoon servicing his nine millimetre automatic pistol.

He pressed the button and a soft swishing noise sounded, the blade of the knife glinted in the moonlight. Jack slipped the thin blade between the doors and lifted the latch, the French doors opened into a drawing room. He crept stealthily through the downstairs of the big house; until he found the staircase and started upstairs. He had seen a faint light glowing through heavy curtains on the second floor; this is where he hoped to find the girl. Jack stood outside the double doors of the room and shivered, an unnatural coldness seemed to seep from the room and under the doors. A low murmuring issued from behind the doors, but when he placed his ear against the door to listen, the intense cold almost burned his face. “Be careful of the darkness Jack” Murphy’s voice sounded in his head, but the vision of the girls sad eyes spurred him on. Jacks boot collided with the doors and they opened inwards, a blast of artic cold air almost knocked him backwards. The tall gaunt man dressed in a scarlet robe stood at the head of the naked form that lay on some type of altar, strange creatures composed of shadows and with burning red eyes drooled over the naked girl and groped her body. The tall man pointed in Jack’s direction and in a heartbeat the shadowy figures were on him, he could feel them entering his throat and nostrils. He was suffocating and darkness was spreading from his peripheral vision, Jack somehow managed to get the gun in his hand and he squeezed the trigger. Luck was on his side and the bullet struck the tall man high on the shoulder the shadowy things immediately left him and went to the aid of the wounded man.

Jack had little or no recollection of what took place after that, his next clear memory was carrying the naked girl wrapped in his jacket and placing her on a couch in her mother’s drawing room. Then he made his way home and slept for sixteen straight hours, if anything haunted his dreams he was grateful he could not remember. Months later jack pulled up outside the plush building that stood in acres of landscaped gardens, you would be forgiven for thinking it was an exclusive country club. He stopped at the little flower shop in the lobby and purchased a bunch of roses, and then he took the elevator to the top floor. A cheerful nurse walked him to her room; Jack felt his breath catch in his throat when he saw her, the sadness in her eyes had been replaced with emptiness deeper than anything he had ever seen. Jack sat with her for a while, but if she was aware of his presence she gave no sign. When evening came and the room began to grow dark he stood to leave, she suddenly grasped his hand like a drowning man. Then Melanie whispered “The shadows still come for me, the darkness wants me back” Just as suddenly as she had reached for him, she relaxed her grip and faded back into her catatonic state. Jack left the building with a heavy heart and Murphy’s words ringing in his ear.



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