Beyond Darkness. ( Episode 17 ) Soul Searching.

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: The Dark And Suspenseful
Episode 17 in the paranormal detective series "Beyond Darkness".

Submitted: September 16, 2019

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Submitted: September 16, 2019

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The only thing that really bothered him was the complete lack of emotion he felt. Well to say it bothered him would not be correct either, for in saying he was bothered, might suggest that there was some emotion involved. But in reality, when he drew the razor-sharp edge of the switchblade across the man’s throat, he might just as easily have been using a knife to butter his bread. Kirby felt neither elation nor horror at the savage deed; it was as if he was watching a scene from a horror movie that held little or no interest for him.

Weeks of meticulous planning had culminated in a brief moment of savagery, what was once a man of importance and influence was now just an empty husk. The pool of blood that had leaked from the gaping wound in the senator’s throat had soaked quickly into the expensive carpet staining it a darker shade of Claret. Senator Philip Brightman had died at the hands of the man he had so badly wanted dead. Kirby leaned over the corpse and cleaned the blade of the knife on Brightman’s expensive suit jacket. He had intended to do a meticulous search of the Senator’s study. But the muffled sounds of conversation somewhere beyond the closed door of the room, told him it was time to make good his escape.

Kirby’s mission had only been partially completed, but at least Brightman could not harm any more innocent children. Kirby slipped through the French doors that led onto the manicured lawns at the back of the mansion, he was at the top of the high wall when the first shots rang out. A high pitched whine was followed by a stinging sensation on his right cheek; the bullet had luckily missed its target but had kicked a splinter of stone from the wall that ripped his cheek. He hit the ground hard on the far side of the wall and his already damaged back and pelvis screamed out in protest; without the aid of his ever-present cane, he struggled like a newly born foal to get to his feet. Luckily the safety of the trees was only yards from the wall, moments later he was lost in the darkness of the woods. Here he stopped and held his breath, once he was sure he was not being pursued he moved quietly through the trees in the direction of the parked car on the other side of the wood.

The giant man was dressed from head to toe in black and was totally invisible among the dark shadows of the high wall, he watched in silence as Kirby finally gained his feet and ambled awkwardly into the relative safety of the tree line. Azrael muttered softly to himself in a strange language, as he wondered once again whether he had been foolish to have allowed Kirby to live. It would have been so easy that night back at the cottage by the sea, the man called Kirby was in a drunken stupor and it would have been child’s play to dispatch him to the next life. However, a combination of things had prevented him from carrying out the task he had gone there to do, things that he had not even contemplated. A ghostly child had stood between Azrael and Kirby, but there was also the fact that Kirby was an enigma, the man was neither living nor dead.

Azrael had come here with the same intentions as Kirby, but for the second time in the recent past, Kirby had interfered with his plans. If it was a one-off, Azrael would have been willing to let it go, but now he would have to take action. What that action would be he had not yet decided, but he was certain it was time that Kirby and he had a face to face meeting. The outcome of that meeting would decide Kirby’s fate, for if there was the slightest chance that Kirby was a threat to his work, then he would remove him from this realm without the slightest compunction. Azrael slipped from the shadows and followed Kirby into the woods, he moved swiftly and as silently as the grave.

Inside the woods, the only illumination came from small pools of moonlight that entered through brakes in the canopy of the trees above. Azrael stood stock still and listened to the silence, even though the man he followed was not even breathing, the enormous man sensed exactly where Kirby was. As a matter of fact, Azrael sensed every tiny detail of his surroundings, from the vixen that silently watched him from the undergrowth on his left to the faintest sound of men moving towards the road on the far side of this area of the woods. Just ahead of him and to the right Azrael heard the sound as Kirby slowly released his pent up breath, then even though Kirby moved as silently as possible the big man could clearly hear the direction he was moving in.

Once, Kirby was eventually nearing the road. Azrael moved silently and swiftly outflanked him. The progress made through this narrow arm of the wooded area had been painstakingly slow; Azrael reached out with his mind and felt the agonizing pain the man he pursued was experiencing. It radiated from a damaged area of the man’s spine and down his legs making every step and ordeal, Kirby had to stop after every few steps and lean against a tree for support. Azrael felt every little symptom of the man’s condition, from the cold clammy sweat that covered his body to the waves of nausea caused by the burning pain that intensified with every step. He was ultimately aware that in this condition Kirby had little chance to survive against the men who were waiting on the road; this was why he now moved ahead of Kirby in the dark woods.

The men who waited in the shadows were old hands at this, they were cold blood killers and this was not their first time hunting down prey. The man who killed Senator Brightman had just sealed his own fate, but unlike the Senator, he would die slowly and painfully until he told them why he had done it. The late Senator’s colleges would be asking a lot of questions, and they intended to have all the answers for their employers. So far their task could not have been simpler, once they reached the road on the far side of this part of the woods; it took them only minutes to locate the killer’s car. Now it was just a matter of waiting for their prey to come to them.

Jim Corrigan held a lofty rank in the military, but in all his years he had never killed a human being while wearing his uniform. Just like the two men he had just instructed to take up positions of ambush, his wars were dirty little affairs that were totally beyond the rules of any civilized conflict. He had stopped counting the corpses a long time ago, all he knew was that there had been quite a lot of them, and by any stretch of the imagination most of them could not be remotely described as combatants. Corrigan was for all intents and purposes an assassin, and he really enjoyed his job. He got rid of troublesome people for the elite and powerful; he was good at it and well paid for his efforts.

Corrigan sensed the presence beside him far too late, for all his highly honed skills he died with a look of surprise on his face. One moment he was alone in the shadows waiting with a feeling of self-satisfaction for the man stumbling into the trap, the next he was gawking at the giant of a man towering over him. Corrigan’s last conscious thought was the giant man was some kind of apparition, but the cold steel that entered his throat and exited the back of his head was no apparition. The two men, who had accompanied Corrigan on this mission, were dispatched just as quickly and efficiently. By the time Kirby made it to the road in an exhausted state, his would-be captors had already departed this world.

Kirby stood on the verge of the narrow road, his breath coming in short rasping gasps. The pain radiating from his lower spine, felt as if it carried molten metal through the veins and arteries running down his legs. “A few more yards and I will be at the car” this was the mantra he kept up in his head, it had gotten him this far. But now he felt as if he had no reserves left. The fact that he had not been captured or killed already was a miracle, but deep inside he knew his luck was running out. With every ounce of will power he had left, he willed his feet to move. His foot slammed hard on the damp soil at the road's edge, and he slipped, jerking his back in the process. The already damaged area near the base of his spine exploded in white-hot pain, and his mind fled from the agony into the comforting darkness.

The giant man lifted the limp form of Kirby with one hand and draped him across the petrol tank of the vintage motorbike like a rag doll. The unconscious man groaned softly once before lapsing into silence, for a brief moment, Azrael contemplated dispatching Kirby there and then but just as quickly discarded the idea. There were too many things about Kirby that he did not know, there was still every chance that he would kill the man called Kirby, but first, he needed to speak to the man. With this in mind, he gunned the engine of the vintage Norton and drove into the night, the next few hours would determine whether Kirby lived or died.

The vaulted ceiling was covered in what he guessed was once lime rendering, but over the ages, the brilliant white had turned a dull grey. The room itself was illuminated by dull flickering light, and a strange smell pervaded the place. It took Kirby a few moments to identify the smell; even then he only managed to do so with the help of the strangely shaped shadows that danced on the vaulted ceiling. Candle wax, he was smelling candle wax, and the shadows were generated by the flickering candle flames. He was lying on a narrow wooden cot and his back ached with a dull throbbing pain, his last conscious memory was of slicing Brightman’s throat open with the switch-blade. Other than this he had no clue where he was or how he had gotten here.

The shadow of what he could only describe as a giant of biblical proportions suddenly filled the vaulted ceiling above where he lay.  A small part of his mind rationalized that it was only a trick of the light; no human being that he had ever heard of could be this big. But this small voice of reason did little to prevent the rising panic inside him; a strange atmosphere pervaded the room in the wake of the appearance of the shadow. Kirby immediately understood that whoever or whatever had entered the room was not of this world, but with this thought, a strange calmness settled over him. If the butchering of Brightman was his last act in this life then he was content, only now it dawned on him that he had grown weary of his twilight existence.

Even though the flickering light had exaggerated the proportions of the man, he was still easily the largest man Kirby had ever set eyes upon. The enormous apparition appeared silently and towered above him, the giant’s dark eyes stared at Kirby until he felt naked, and this naked feeling was far more than just a lack of clothing. It was as if the strangers piercing stare had stripped him of flesh, bone and anything thing that would define him as a person. All that remained of him was his soul and innermost thoughts and memories, his innermost self, lay stripped bare for the huge man to peer inside his very core. It was as if they were are on an astral plane where Kirby was no longer flesh and blood, here all that remained was the part of him that people referred to as the soul.

Time and space had become irrelevant as Kirby and his captor occupied someplace far beyond the human realm, past, present and future became one in this place of silent interrogation. When the spell was broken he could not say, for when he returned to his flesh and blood body he was alone. The first thing he noticed was the dampness of the ground beneath him; he inhaled and gagged as damp soil and molding vegetation filled his mouth and nostrils. It was dark here in this place and he was lying face down on the wet ground, he eventually managed to roll onto his back and found himself looking up at the dark silhouettes of trees.

With every ounce of will power he could muster, Kirby gained his feet and moved in the direction of where he had left the car. He was almost there when he stumbled over the corpse of a man dressed in dark clothing; a strange symbol had been carved into the forehead of the dead man. A vivid image of a giant man with piercing dark eyes filled his mind, and he knew instinctively that death had been brought by his hand. Kirby remembered little of his journey back to the cottage on the shores of the wild Atlantic, for his mind was filled with disturbing images of the huge angel of death. Deep in the furthest recesses of his tormented mind, Kirby knew that when his time came to leave this veil of sorrows. It would be at the hands of the huge man who had gazed into his very soul.

Azrael stood in the shadows of the tree line and watched Kirby drive slowly and erratically into the night. For the first time in eons, confusion raged in his mind. Every fiber of his being screamed out for him to remove Kirby from this world, he knew beyond the shadow of a doubt, that while Kirby walked this earth his own path would become more and more difficult. However the choice had been taken from him, he had looked inside the husk of a thing the Kirby had become. He had stared at a soul that no longer belonged on this plain, a soul that hovered between heaven and hell. Kirby had been placed here by the same powers that had brought him here, but Azrael also knew that when Kirby had served his penance, that it would be he that carried him to his final destiny.

 

 


© Copyright 2020 Patrick G Moloney. All rights reserved.

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