Lost Evidence by Patrick G Moloney.

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Instalment seventeen of the Jack Burke crime mysteries.

Submitted: March 07, 2017

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Submitted: March 07, 2017

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The white material of the handkerchief had turned pink after the first bout of coughing, by now it was completely soaked through with blood. The man was well aware that he was rapidly running out of time, with each passing day the disease was becoming more debilitating. It took all his effort now to make it from his bed to the small office; the fact that he could no longer stomach any solid foods was not helping. He survived now on liquids, and it was taking a huge toll on his body. The image that now stared back at him from the mirror was unrecognisable, the eyes were sunken in the skeletal face and surrounded by dark circles. The skin was stretched like parchment over the bone structure and was of a disturbing greyish hue. The man had no fear of death as such; it was what would come after that absolutely terrified him. The things that George Clarke had witnessed and partaken in meant even a forgiving god would turn his back on him, his only chance of redemption lay in the task he now struggled to complete before death came for him.

Had the people he was associated with known what he was doing, then it would not be the disease that would see the end of him. He had been only a small cog in a very big wheel, a wheel that moved in very dark places. The journal George was struggling to complete held very damming evidence on some very powerful people, evidence of ungodly things and child sacrifice. How he had found himself involved in such unspeakable things was beyond him, and in truth it was far too late now for regrets. George, on the odd occasion when he found the courage to stand before the mirror, was fully convinced that his emaciated appearance was a direct reflection of his soul. He had been promised wealth and knowledge beyond his wildest imagination when he joined them, but the price he would soon have to pay far out stripped anything he had ever gained. George lit another cigarette with trembling hands; the acrid smoke irritated his already ruined lungs. The resulting fit of coughing sent a fine spray of blood onto the papers before him; he blotted the droplets of red with a tissue. Almost all of the sheets of writing were covered with tiny red stains; he was definitely getting worse and needed to get this project finished.

It was late evening and the last of the daylight had long gone when George felt the presence, that unaccountable feeling that he was no longer alone in the small office. It could easily have been put down to tiredness or his illness, but he was more than aware what these people were capable of doing. In the dark world they inhabited the laws governing the normal world did not exist, he had personally witnessed the things they were capable of. These same people could take the essence of something long dead and use it for their own means, these shadow things could be sent to spy on their enemies. George had made a crucial mistake when he realised he was dying, he had cut off all contact with his former partners in crime. In his haste to make some kind of amends for his sins, he had aroused their suspicions. It was foolish in the extreme of him to stop taking their calls, these people were pillars of their respective communities and he knew their sins. Now George understood that he had drawn attention to himself, the time he had thought of as so short was now up.

The pain was unbearably now he would have to find somewhere to stay for the night he needed to take a morphine dose. George Clarke had taken the journal and some other papers, also the stash of cash he held in the safe in the office. He needed to put as much distance as he could between his pursuers and himself, if he could only lose them long enough to complete the journal he would die happier. If he was to acknowledge the full truth of the situation, there was no real urge for to atone for his sins. It was not out of any moral rebirth that he was now exposing them; instead it was due to the fact George Clarke was a vindictive man. When the cancer had first taken hold he had gone to them, he pleaded for them to use their powers to heal him. It was only then he realised such gifts were only bestowed on the hierarchy of these circles, and he realised all too late that in their eyes he was but a lowly servant. Sure they had allowed him to gain finically through their magic tricks, but all the most important things went only to the inner circle. The powerful people threw him the crumbs from their tables, but he was not worthy enough to be gifted life.

Well when George Clarke went to his eternal damnation that he rightly deserved, he would do so happy in the knowledge he had brought them down with him. The motel he stopped at had seen better days, but it was a good distance from his house and hopefully the things they sent to find him would not be able to do so. In that twilight moment between his mind being concentrated through pain, and the morphine taking him to oblivion, he felt it. The spirit watcher must have attached itself to him, he knew how it worked. Whatever this thing saw they saw, it would be only a matter of time before they worked out where he was. It was still dark outside when he came around; the oppressive presence was still in the room with him. George tried to shake the lingering effects of the opiates from his mind; they would have had to have something belonging to him for the thing to home in on. The water in the shower was stone cold and the spray felt like needles in his frail body, he scrubbed his skin until it hurt in an effort to eradicate his own scent. He left the motel room with nothing but his papers and the money; his naked body looked like a walking skeleton. A public phone in the parking lot caught his eye; he stood shivering in the early morning air as he rang their greatest adversary. Then he drove to his cabin in the hills, hoping against hope that the thing remained with his clothes in the motel room.

The wound on her face was healed but the scar remained, Jack for some unknown reason felt it added to her beauty in some strange way. The only thing that bothered him was the fact she appeared a lot quieter, as if some of her life essence had seeped away with the blood from her wound. The collector had summoned them both to him before first light, now they sat in his office watching him pace the floor in silence. Outwardly he looked calm and collected but they both knew something big was happening, when he finally spoke he could scarcely keep the excitement from his voice. The collector had received a phone call from a source; this source had informed him that he had evidence. Damning evidence that would bring down those responsible for White Peak, and hundreds of places where similar things had taken place. Jack felt his heart skip a beat; this just might be the chance to bring Mabel back to him. Later as they drove out of the city, Jack allowed himself to hope that this might be the end of her ordeal.

Anna had never been a big conversationalist however there was something different about her silence this time, it was as if she had something to say but could not find the words. On a number of occasions he had felt her staring at him as he drove, each time he felt as if she was about to speak. However she would return her gaze to the passing country side and remain silent. Jack thought of coming straight out and asking her what was on her mind, but in truth he was too preoccupied with what lay ahead. He was beginning to believe he had been foolish in the extreme to allow himself to hope, after all the only lead they had was the address of the man’s house. But they were already aware that he had bolted from here, that and the fact they could not even guess at his present whereabouts made the task seem impossible in Jack’s mind. They also had the added problem that they were not the only people that desperately wanted to find him; George Clarke had told the collector that he would provide him with the information when it was complete. The collector wanted Jack and Anna to make sure he remained alive to do so.

The house was located on the outskirts of a small town, two hours’ drive from the city, it had all the appearances of the home of a man who was financially well off. George Clarke must have left in quiet a hurry; the front door was not only unlocked but ajar. From the moment they entered Jack sensed they were being watched, by the way Anna’s eyes darted around he knew she felt it too. However every room they entered was empty, when they got to the small office Jack sensed that something otherworldly had been here. Anna discovered the title deeds for the cabin; they had been taped to the underside of one of the desk drawers. According to the deeds the mountain cabin had passed into George Clarke’s possession some ten years ago, it was located in the extreme north of the state. George had gone to the bother of concealing these deeds; this told Jack that there was a good chance that this was his bolt hole. Another thing that drew Jack’s attention was a number of blood stained handkerchiefs and tissues in a bin by the desk, he had a feeling the man they sought was not well.

They laid a map out on the office desk and plotted a route to the area where the cabin was located. It was while they were doing this that Jack had an over powering feeling, that someone or something was watching over his shoulder. He was not alone with this feeling as Anna spun around and drew her gun, however once again it appeared they were alone. Anna took the wheel as they started out, an hour into the journey he was asleep. Jack found himself in a dream he had experienced before, in it he was surrounded by dark things that moved unseen beyond the shadows. Then her voice drifted to him on a gentle breeze, Mabel told him that he must hurry for the dark things knew where George Clarke would be found. The screeching sound of branches scraping against the car woke him, Anna had dozed off and the car had veered towards the tree line. Jack took the wheel and eased them back onto the road; Anna was immediately asleep once he moved her to the passenger seat. Jack drove into the night with his mind filled with dark images, he had a bad feeling they would not reach the cabin on time.

He was much weaker now and the pain washed over him in waves, the last two pages he had written were almost illegible but he had managed to complete it. The journal contained a comprehensive history of dark and unspeakable things; it was a window to a world that most people could not even comprehend. A glimpse of a world beyond the shadows where pure evil was ever present, where child sacrifice and ancient rituals were common place. People, who had been entrusted with positions of power and prestige, had abused their positions to commit the most horrendous crimes. They had courted dark powers and invited them into the human world, now he would be responsible for exposing these people. The fact that he had embraced their evil ways was lost on him; he just wanted them to pay for abandoning him in his hour of need. George Clarke’s biggest regret was that he would not live to gloat at their downfall, but at least the knowledge that he had done for them would ease his passing. He carefully removed one of the stones that formed the fire place; placing the journal in the hollow he replaced the stone. He would contact the man they called ‘the collector’ soon and tell him where to find the journal.

Something told Jack when they were still a half a mile from the cabin to leave the car and continue on foot, he pulled the car of the road into an abandoned quarry entrance. The tension that had been building inside him, since he learned of this evidence was now reaching a peak. Anna was still sleeping beside him; whatever was going through her mind caused her to mutter in her native language. He did not want to wake her just yet; he needed time to gather his thoughts before they approached the cabin. So much depended on the outcome of this, it might just be his chance to make everything right for Mabel. Mabel had reached something inside him that he had forgotten was there, his feelings for her were complicated by the fact that he had always felt responsible for her. Her vulnerability was one of the things that first endeared her to him, but it also worked against him. Whenever he thought of her in a romantic way he would be immediately eaten up with guilt, he wondered sometimes whether this meant they could never become a couple. Jack’s attention now turned to the sleeping figure at his side, this mysterious and deadly girl with the green eyes. The scar from the horrific wound ran from the corner of her eye to the corner of her mouth, but she was still beautiful beyond description.

The log cabin stood in a small clearing in the woods, Anna had moved ahead as he struggled with the steep incline. When the shot rang out in the still morning air his heart sank, his first thought was that the woman was dead. Jack left the path and made his way slowly through the undergrowth. He had not gone far when he spotted her, Anna stood with both hands in the air her pistol laid on the ground a few feet away. The man that held the rifle walked towards her, he looked to be ex-military to Jack. When he raised the rifle but to strike her, Jack shot him through the right eye. Jack watched the rear of the man’s skull erupt in a shower of bone fragments and brain matter, Anna had retrieved her gun and was moving forward before the body hit the ground. She had entered the cabin before he was back on the path; two shots rang out in quick succession inside the building. Anna was standing over a man’s body at the fireside when Jack entered the cabin; she was franticly trying to retrieve papers from a pile burning in the grate.

Jack could have burst out crying as they looked at the few scraps that were left of the journal; the vast majority of it was now a pile of ash in the grate. They had got to George Clarke before jack and Anna, his emaciated body had been nailed to the cabin wall in an inverted crucifixion. His head towards the floor and his feet facing the ceiling, he would have died in agony but not before he told them of the hiding place of the journal. All that was left of his evidence now was a single name and the names of a couple of places Jack had never heard of. Still they would take these back to the collector, he would decide what came next. As they left the cabin she stopped and turned to him, before he realised it she was in his arms. She kissed him briefly and whispered in his ear, “This is the second time you have saved me Jack”. Later that night he dreamt of sea winds that carried the sound of Mabel’s crying.

  • mystery
  • detective
  • Darkfiction
  • jackburke


© Copyright 2018 Patrick G Moloney. All rights reserved.

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