Beyond Darkness ( Episode 13 ) The case of the missing book.

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: The Dark And Suspenseful
Episode thirteen in the Noir paranormal detective series "Beyond Darkness".

Submitted: April 14, 2019

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Submitted: April 14, 2019

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The howling wind and biting rain rocked him backwards on his feet, and the wind moving through the crevices of the cliff face made a mournful wailing sound. The sound fitted well with his mood, a heavy melancholy had settled over him of late. What sleep he was getting was fitful and filled with terrifying dreams, which vanished from memory the moment he opened his eyes. Far out at sea the lights of a passing freighter, blinked in and out of view as the ship rose on the waves only to fall into a trough when the wave passed.

The lone vessel on the dark and raging sea, could never match the feeling of isolation that weighed him down. At least the crew of that ship faced the dangers together, while Kirby stood totally alone on the cliff top. Sarah had called around a number of times over the past few days, but he could not bring himself to answer the door. The guilt of this only serving to add to the malaise he could not shake. Even his ghostly companion must have sensed his mood, for he had not caught a glimpse of her in quite a while now.

Kirby had tried hard to get a handle on this melancholy or at least the origins of it, only to find his thoughts running around in circles. This was the reason he found himself at the bottom of the cottage garden at 3 a.m. in a raging storm, something about the North Atlantic storms had a soothing effect on him. The tempest surrounding him seemed to cocoon him from a world he increasingly felt alienated from. That thought was the catalyst, and a fledgling understanding began to take hold in his head.

The melancholy had been fueled by two things, his increasing feeling of not belonging in this world and his total lack of understanding as to how he had come to be here. When he looked back at the man named Jim Kiely, he saw someone he did not recognize. It was like seeing a stranger whose features were strangely familiar, yet you knew instinctively that it was someone that would always be a stranger. Kirby made up his mind there and then that all that had gone before had to be banished from his mind, and he now had to create a new life or at least a new existence for himself.

But he also understood that in order to do this, he needed to understand the genesis of the person he had become, something dark had given birth to the man called Kirby and he needed to know what it was. However until then he needed to find something to occupy his days, the longer he remained idle the more isolated he was becoming. Kirby realized that his story would only really unfold with the passage of time, what he needed now was to get back working.

The mournful sighing of the wind followed him inside; the cottage seemed strangely deserted since the blonde girl’s recent absence. The irony of this did not escape him, he had purposely avoided answering the door to a woman who wanted to be his friend, and yet he mourned the absence of a ghostly child. Kirby filled a tumbler of whiskey and sat by the now extinguished fire, over the next few hours tried to make sense of his part in this world. Eventually the amber liquid worked its magic, and somewhere near dawn he drifted into a dreamless sleep.

Kirby woke to the smell of brewing coffee, the stove had been relight and the chill of the previous night was replaced by a warm glow. It took him a while to piece together the previous day, now that he thought about it the previous numbers of days were more or less a blur. It was only now he realized that he had been trying to drown the melancholy in a sea of whiskey, the copious quantities of liquor only serving to drawn him deeper into the pit of despair.

Sarah waltzed into the room with a steaming mug of coffee; she left it beside him along with a couple of paracetamol. “You really should remember to close the backdoor before going asleep Kirby, especially when you have been so intent on avoiding company these days”. The thinly veiled rebuke of his recent behavior was not lost on him, but he certainly could not blame her. As if reading his recent thoughts, she told him to drink up the coffee and jump in the shower; she wanted him to meet someone that might have some work for him. Kirby never ceased to be amazed at her intuition, although with Sarah he felt it was a lot more than just intuition. 

The day turned out to be one of those bright and cheerful days that sometimes followed a stormy night, Sarah seemed to be in high spirits as she sang along to the eight track blues tape. She had been fairly tight-lipped regarding who they were going to see, other than the fact that he was someone who had done some investigative  work for her, when she was trying to locate her missing daughter. They had since become friends, the man ran his business from an office in New haven.

The office was located on a leafy street surrounded by sidewalk cafes; the whole area had an old world ambience about it. It was a far cry from the office he had briefly operated from in China town, the office that now laid in ruins after the attempt on his life. The door leading to the office was sandwiched between a Jewellery store and a pub restaurant, the brass plaque declared it to be the offices of Christopher Sims investigations. Sarah pushed the bell and moments later a buzzer sounded to alert them the door had been unlocked.

The narrow hall led to a staircase leading to the first floor of the building, at the top of the stairs they were greeted by another door with the word reception on the frosted glass. The reception area had a large old fashioned desk and a couple of armchairs in the waiting area. Kirby took in the thin layer of dust covering the desk; it was obvious to him that it had been quite a while since that desk was manned. The whole place had a feeling of decline about it, the door to the left of the desk suddenly opened and an elderly man appeared.

Christopher Sims could have been anywhere between his late sixties to mid-seventies, nothing about the small thin man would have hinted at his profession. Actually if he had been introduced as a retired professor from the local Ivy League college, Kirby would not have questioned it. The clothes he wore were old fashioned, and it seemed as if he had dressed himself in a hurry and in pitch darkness at that. The plaid shirt had not been properly buttoned, the tie was badly knotted, and the collar of his shirt had not been turned down correctly. It reminded Kirby of a child’s first attempt to dress themselves.

 Sarah hurried across and threw her arms around the man’s thin shoulders; she had to stoop to kiss him on the cheek. The man looked genuinely happy to see her and ushered them both into his office, the office itself showed even more signs that it had ceased operating as a legitimate business quite a while ago. The situation was beginning to feel stranger by the minute to Kirby, something about the small man was not quite right.

Kirby sat holding the delicate little sherry glass and hoping it would not shatter in his awkward grip, the whole situation had a surreal feeling about it. Sims nattered away to Sarah about seemingly totally irrelevant things, and Kirby started to get the impression the man had no real clue as to the reason for their visit. But to Sarah’s credit she managed to steer the conversation around to the reason they had come here, Sims fell silent and appeared to be trolling his mind for something relevant.

After a few moments of silence, it was as if a light had suddenly gone on in the dark recesses of the man’s mind. “Ah! Yes my dear, please forgive my waffling. Our conversation on the phone seemed to have momentarily slipped my mind, of course now I have it. This is the gentleman that is going to take over my business while I look after Margret; poor thing has been really unwell of late”. He turned now to Kirby and offered his hand; it was as if he had just now discovered they were not alone in the office.

Now that he had a grip on what was going on, Christopher Sims became more coherent by the minute. It seemed that Kirby’s first impression of the man had been bang on the money, he had been a professor for a number of years prior to opening this business. He had specialized in Anthropology and Religions, and had wandered into this work almost by accident. It had all started when one of his students had disappeared, however the once great mind was now beginning to fail him.

“I have taken the liberty of drawing up a little contract between us, however I am afraid it will be rather open ended as I am not quite sure how Margret’s recovery will progress”. Sims delved into the top drawer of the antique desk and pushed some papers in Kirby’s direction. Before he even had a chance to read them Sarah grabbed them and put them in her purse, smiling at Sims she told him that Kirby would sign them later, and she would drop them back. Christopher Sims seemed pleased with this and nodded his satisfaction.

Kirby watched in disbelief as Sarah accompanied Christopher Sims to the door of the retirement home, on the drive from his office the man had lapsed into complete silence. An employee of the facility came to the front door and Sarah handed over her companion, the small man had seemed to shrink even further into himself now. Christopher meekly accompanied the employee inside now, all memory of Sarah and Kirby seemingly to slip from his mind.

Sarah stood for quite a while staring after the man as he was led inside, that wistful look on her face, told Kirby everything was far from good with Christopher Sims. On her return to the car he thought he detected the moisture of tears in her eyes, she was on her second cigarette before she spoke. He was not surprised to hear that Sims was suffering from dementia and that his beloved Margret had passed away a few years previous to this. But what was a source of confusion to Kirby, was the reason behind their visit here in the first place.

Sarah easily read his confusion and finally explained everything to him; it was not exactly what Kirby had been expecting. Christopher Sims had been the go to source regarding ritual murders and ritual abuse; because of his background in Anthropology he was extremely knowledgeable in obscure religious practices. When he retired from his academic life he opened the agency, specializing in some of the stranger cases. When Margret passed away from a long illness he found himself under financial pressure, then his own health went downhill and he now needed institutional care. To cut a long story short Sarah had stepped in and bought the business including the office.

Sarah lapsed into silence again to give him time to digest the story she had just told him, when she spoke again the puzzle suddenly came together. “I have grown extremely bored with the real estate trade Kirby, and like you I need something new in my life. I suppose what I am trying to say here is, will you be my partner in the investigations business?” The person most surprised when he agreed, was Kirby himself, but he knew that with this offer she had thrown him a lifeline.

The details had all been worked out by Sarah; it was obvious to him now that this was not a spur of the moment idea with her. On the floor above the office was a small apartment, Kirby was to live here when he was working. Sarah herself had been left a townhouse in the city by a maternal grandaunt; she would stay there during the working week. Everything was ready and now all it needed was them to get up and running, they would return on the following Monday and Sims investigations would be back in business.

Sarah was busy dusting and cleaning, she had rearranged the office twice in the past hour. Kirby was getting dizzy just watching her, so he went into the back room where Sims kept his filling cabinets. The top drawer of the filing cabinet had been left open; the files were covered in dust. By the look of the files they hand not been taken out in quite a while, Kirby was about to close the drawer and go back outside when he felt her presence. The spectral figure of the little blonde girl stood on her tippy toes, her ghostly fingers played across one of the files without disturbing its covering of white dust.

Kirby watched her in dismay, she had been absent for a while now, yet here she was miles from the cottage. Her pale fingers were grasping the file now, but it was as if she lacked the strength to take it from the drawer. She suddenly turned to face him with a pleading look on her face; Kirby reached in and took the dust covered file from her grip. The initials on the tag were S. B. and it was dated from four years back, this was around the time Christopher Sims world began to unravel. Kirby wiped the dust off with his handkerchief, and carried it to the outer office.

He was just in time to catch Sarah’s comment about nipping out to meet an old friend, before he could reply she was out the door and down the stairs. At least there was peace and quiet in the office now, he took the file to the desk and switched on the bankers lamp. The grey skies outside brought a promise of rain and the office had become dark. It was as if the gods were setting the scene for a drama to unfold, the girl appeared again at his side staring intently at the file on the desk before him.

 Kirby had a strange urge to return the file to where he taken it from, an unusual atmosphere had slowly crept into the space they occupied. As if on cue a clap of thunder echoed in the street outside the moment he opened the cover of the file, a wind suddenly appeared out of nowhere and torrents of rain battered the window pane. As he began to read the office became as dark as night, it was as if the small oasis of light projected by the desk lamp was all that stood between him and the darkest abyss.

The initials on the tag referred to Steven Blum, the man had approached Christopher Sims to engage his services, with regard to locating a certain valuable book that had been taken from his possession. Bum had escaped Europe towards the end of World War 2, bringing with him a collection of rare esoteric manuscripts. A burglary at his house had resulted in a number of these books being stolen, however Blum appeared to only be interested in the return of one particular book.

The fact that Sims had been a professor of Anthropology appeared to have been the catalyst for Blum choosing him to investigate the disappearance, and current whereabouts of this book. A Polaroid photograph of the book had been placed in the file; it looked to be a small and ancient volume. The cover of the book appeared to be made from so kind of leather or hide, there was no title on the cover, only a strange esoteric symbol. Nothing about this case seemed unusual or important, yet his ghostly companion had shown great interest in this particular file.

A list of rare book dealers was included in the file, all but two of these had a line drawn through them, and the remaining two had a question mark next to the name and address. Sims had obviously been methodically searching possible outlets for this rare book, but it seemed he had been unsuccessful. The remaining sheets in the file were what Kirby believed to be in Sims own handwriting, this is where things became strange.

 The writing on the sheets of paper took an almost diary like format, the old investigator had taken to recording random thoughts on the case. Sims thoughts on this case made Kirby wonder if perhaps the dementia was beginning to take hold of him at this time, the notes he had taken were by and large cryptic and random.

 At some stage during the investigation Sims appeared to have doubts about Steven Blum, or at least he began to feel that there was more to this than just the monetary value of the book. The notes began to grow stranger after this, a number of the book dealers appeared to have died in strange circumstances shortly after talking to Sims. While Sims became convinced that his every move was being watched, on a number of occasions he had recorded that he was followed. The notes concluded with a statement that had been scribbled in a heavy hand, and circled in red pen, it read. “Steven Blum is not who he says he is, there is evil involved here. Return his deposit and stop taking his calls”

It was a mystery to Kirby, who this last entry was for, was it a reminder to Sims himself or was it instructions for whoever worked with him? Either way the unusual case had garnered his attention now, he made a note in his book of Steven Blum’s number he intended to ring him the following morning. The ghostly figure watched him write, and her expression was fathomless. However Kirby was in no doubt whatsoever that she had drawn his attention to this file for a reason. He turned to gaze out the window at the storm, and when he turned back she was no longer there.

The accented voice at the end of the line had a strange effect on him; Steven Blum had answered the phone with a curt “Yes”. But even that single word put Kirby on the defensive straight away, for some unknown reason he felt as if Blum had been expecting him to call. The silence on the line made him realize he had not utter a word himself, since the connection was made. Kirby felt stupid now as his mind went completely blank, for an instant he felt like just hanging up.

“Can I help you with something” The question from Blum sounded as if he was ridiculing Kirby, and he now felt angry at a man he had never even met. Eventually Kirby found his voice and said something nonsensical about coming across Blum’s name in a file, he was sorry now that he had ever made this call. “Would that file have been in the possession of Christopher Sims investigations by any chance?”

 Blum’s voice sounded smug now, and the anger inside Kirby grew. Without waiting for a reply Blum gave him an address and asked him to call around the following day, Kirby foolish agreed and the man ended the call. Kirby sat holding the receiver in his hand and cringed at the way the call had panned out, but for some reason he was even more determined now to find out about Steven Blum.

The house was modeled on a nineteenth century southern plantation house, and it looked completely out of place in the northern landscape. Sarah sitting beside him had an expression of disbelief as she eyed the big house; Kirby supposed she was looking at it with a realtor’s eye. She had insisted on joining him to meet Blum, and to be honest he was glad she had. The house was situated an hour’s drive from the office, in an isolated rural surrounding, for some reason he was glad he had not come alone.

Steven Blum was a tall gaunt looking man, with small round wire framed glasses perched on a thin hawkish nose. He had an air of superiority about him, beloved of the aristocratic classes. Kirby took an instant dislike to the man, Sarah looked visible shaken as the man took her hand and brushed his thin lips against the back of it. Blum led them into a large study lined with book shelves and glass cabinets that displayed various antiquated weapons. Something about the way he carried himself, hinted at a military background.

Blum gestured to the two fireside chairs and waited for them to take their seats, while he himself remained standing with his back to the marble place. The fact that Blum now seemed to tower over both of them, made Kirby feel even more uncomfortable. Perhaps Christopher Sims had been corrected when he noted that there was a certain evil about this man. But now that they were here Kirby wanted to know more about this strange man and his missing book.

“It is good of you both to travel out here to see me; I rarely have visitors these days. Even more importantly, the matter I engaged Mr Sims to look into has still not been resolved and this is a matter of grave concern to me. I do hope that the fact you have taken over the business, means you are willing to finish the task Mr Sims promised to take care of.” A strange smile played on the thin lips of Blum, but the eyes behind the small round lenses were like dark chips of ice.

Blum walked across to a large antique desk in the corner and retrieved an envelope from the top drawer; he returned to the fire place and handed the envelope to Kirby. “I fear that our Mr Sims was beginning to have problems with his health, and as a result of this he was unable to fulfil his end of the bargain. He sent me that cheque in the envelope by way of a return of the deposit I gave him, however where I come from a bargain is exactly that. It is a sacred promise that must be fulfilled; I do hope that you both have the integrity to finish what Mr Sims had already started.”

The atmosphere in the large study had become almost oppressive now, and something about the man’s strange accented speech was almost hypnotic. Kirby looked across at Sarah and she had a worried expression on her face, he knew exactly what she was thinking. Steven Blum was not a man to be crossed, and now that they had made contact with him they had placed themselves firmly in his sights.

 Later as they drove back to the office they were both lost in their own thoughts, but they both had the same line of thought. Steven Blum would not go away until they either found that book, or ensured that the man with the strange accent was no longer a threat to either of them. Kirby knew that their new enterprise would be short lived, unless they made sure that they got to the bottom of the case of the missing book.

 

 

 

 


© Copyright 2019 Patrick G Moloney. All rights reserved.

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