Beyond Darkness ( Episode 6) Tales of Darkness.

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

Installment 6 of the paranormal detective series "Beyond Darkness".

His breath came out as a fog of condensation in the frigid air; the wood fire crackled away in the grate but did little to dispel the cold in the old house. Outside the biting wind rattled the old sash windows in their frames, and snaked its way through the gaps with a mournful howling sound. Not for the first time he wondered how he had arrived at this situation, however it was far too late for regrets now. The dice had been cast and there was nothing left now, but to see how it fell.

Outside the light was growing dim and the anxiety that was ever present inside him began to grow; he had learned to fear the dark as much as any child. But unlike a child’s irrational fear of the dark, Thomas Kordel’s fear of the dark was deep rooted in rationality. Thomas was all too familiar with the things that inhabited the darkness, things that could be controlled by certain people. He knew this because he had seen the results of it with his own two eyes; he had been intimately involved with such people.

 He hurried about the house lighting the myriad of oil lamps he kept in every nook and cranny of the old house, this place was a far cry from the palatial houses he was accustomed to living in. But here at least for the time being he felt reasonable safe, this place could not be tracked back to his ownership.

However he was under absolutely no illusion that his safety was guaranteed, if anything he knew instinctively they would eventually find him. Thomas had two wishes that kept him going; one was that he would get to finish documenting all that had taken place for the past thirty years of his life. The second wish was that he would die before they found him.

Thomas Kordel was also aware that when he did pass on to his judgement, he would not fare well. The things he had willing participated in would condemn him to everlasting suffering. It was the just rewards for people like him, but before he went to that fate. He wanted his revenge on the people who were now looking for him.

He was not looking for redemption for he knew it was too late for that, but he wanted them to suffer in this life as well as the next. They had lied to him and promised him immortality, but when the illness came they laughed and shrugged their shoulders. He was aware now that immortality was for the chosen few hierarchies and he also knew now that he was not one of them.

Thomas finished the lighting of the lamps and went and checked that the front and backdoor were securely locked; it had been his nightly ritual for more than two months now. It had not escaped him that in reality it was a futile exercise, what they would send for him would not be kept out by locks. However he could not sit down to work without first going through this ritual, now that it was done he would sit through the night chronicling all that gone before this. When daylight came he would retire to the upstairs room and sleep again until evening, for whatever time he had left in this world he would never again sleep in the hours of darkness.

It was getting harder and harder to control the pain; it was like a thousand tiny blades inside him ripping away at his bowel. Outwardly Kordel looked the picture of health for a man of his age, but this was just one of the small concessions they had allowed him. They could have easily cured the cancer that was rotting his insides, but apparently he was not important enough to them. So they used their skills to ensure he remained healthy looking on the outside, while inside he was just so much rotting carrion. But for them he would have succumbed to the disease a long time ago, but they kept him alive because his suffering amused them.

He had just finished typing the second page of the night, and he had already exceeded twice the daily allowance of liquid morphine. Kordel looked at the bottle and tried to work out what the balance would be between stemming the pain, and still staying conscious and focused. He had a disturbing feeling that they were closing in on him; there was still only a fraction of his story told.

 When someone finally got to read this, it would far surpass his most terrifying novels. The bundle of pages hidden beneath the floor boards ran into several hundred, and he was not even half way through his story yet. The pain drew an involuntary moan from him, and against his better judgement he took another swig from the morphine bottle.

He was dreaming of something horrible stalking him in the shadows, no matter how fast or far he ran he could not shake it. It was the sounds of his own crying that woke him, the typewriter with the last page he had done floated into focus. Kordel went from being half awake to wide awake in a fraction of time, he sensed it immediately the otherworldly things were here.

They had found him and the assassins would not be far behind them, a deep feeling of sadness settled over him. The shadow things had not reached the house yet, but he could sense them on the howling wind. It was too late now to try and place the latest pages beneath the floor boards, so he looked frantically around the room for a hiding place.

The man with the wolf’s head cane found himself on a side street he did not recognise, he had been wandering aimless on the streets his mind lost in a past he was unsure of. It was the voice of a child that drew him back from his muse; Kirby looked around at the painfully thin waif that stood behind him. “Please mister, can you spare a little change. I am cold and hungry”. Kirby’s eyes fell to the skeletal dirt encrusted hand stretched out to him; the child could have easily come from some Dickensian story. Something about the child seemed strange; it was as if he was totally out of place in this street at this time.

For all the world he reminded Kirby of the blonde girl that haunted his existence, it was as if the boy occupied the same realm as the girl. The dirty hand grasped the ten dollar bill like a steel trap, yet the mournful eyes never left Kirby’s face. Those eyes had a pleading look that reached inside Kirby’s head; they were the eyes of a hunted animal. “Bless you sir it is a rare generosity that you have”. The boy pushed a folded newspaper into Kirby’s hand, he glanced down at the paper and when he looked up the child was gone. Pushing the folded newspaper in his coat pocket he made his way back to the office, the blonde girl was waiting for him when he got there.

The newspaper was almost a month old, and the entire front page was dedicated to one story. The disappearance of Thomas Kordel the famous horror author, Kirby had never heard of the guy but according to the newspaper article he was extremely successful.  Kordel had written a string of bestselling novels, all of which were dedicated to the horror and macabre genre. He was adored by the legion of fans that gloried in being terrified by his writings; a number of pictures in the article were dedicated to scenes of large crowds of his fans in public mourning at the news.  The main photograph in the article was of the man himself.

Thomas Kordel stared into the camera with a bored expression on his face; he looked to be of slight build and wore a dark Van Dyke beard on his angular features. He held a copy of his latest publication in his hands; his eyes were unnaturally dark and his stare intense. Kirby had an immediate feeling that there was something evil lurking behind those dark eyes, if the eyes were the mirror of the soul. Then Thomas Kordel’s soul was dark and cold. Kirby spotted something that he had not seen at first; somebody had outlined the book in his hands with a faint red circle.

Kirby reached into the top drawer of his desk and took out the magnifying glass he kept there; all the while he was aware of the blonde girl’s presence as she stared over his shoulder at the newspaper. He held the glass over the portion of the photograph that had been circled in red; he moved the glass away from the photograph until that section came into clear focus. Thomas Kordel’s name was emblazoned on the top of the cover; at the bottom of the cover was the title of the book “Dark Path”.  The illustration for the cover was of a narrow trail through a dark winter wood; at the end of the trail was a rundown woodsman’s house that looked at least a century old.

Kirby sat examining the photograph as his mind went into over drive trying to make sense of the mornings events, who was that kid and what did he want from Kirby. He was now coming to the conclusion that the boy was what Kirby began to think of as a betweener, neither of this world or the next. Just like the little girl that stood looking over his shoulder now. The funny thing about this was the fact that the appearance of the boy with his cryptic message, had answered a question that had bothered him for quite a while now. He had confirmed that Kirby’s blonde companion was something more than a product of his deluded mind.

Kirby lit a cigarette and swiveled his chair to stare out the office window, the window that gave a distorted image of the world outside these four walls. Sometimes he had the feeling that it was more than just the grime encrusted on the window; that caused that distorted view. Kirby often wondered whether it was even a window, or was it a translucent veil between totally different dimensions.

 This train of thought was getting him nowhere and he knew it, perhaps the fact that he was starved of human interaction was causing these morbid thoughts that had been ever present in his mind lately. After all he could not even remember the last time he had been in a woman’s company for anything other than work reasons.

The tap on his shoulder brought him back to the present, her touch on his shoulder left an intense cold spot even through his clothes. The blonde girl gestured with her head in the direction of the newspaper on his desk; he knew now what was required of him. But how in the hell was he supposed to locate Thomas Kordel, the police and other agency’s had failed to do so in a number of weeks. Even though his literary agent had offered a substantial cash reward for any information regarding his whereabouts, no one had come forward with any helpful information.

As if reading his mind the spectral figure reached forward towards the desk, her arm extended purposefully and she placed her index finger on the photo. Kirby looked from the photo to her expressionless features, what was she trying to convey to him he wondered. The alabaster colored finger tapped urgently at the image, but he just did not get the message.

 Kirby leaned forward to see if there was anything he had missed in the photograph, but apart from the book cover ringed in red he could not see any other clue. Then like a light coming on in his mind he saw what she was telling him, the blonde girl was pointing specifically at the book cover. More accurately the tip of her ghostly finger touched the woodsman’s cottage in the image; this was where Kordel could be found.

The buxom blonde girl behind the desk had given him a good looking over when he first entered the office, but a least she smiled while she did so. Kirby had glanced in her direction a couple of times since, and each time he did he would catch her watching him and she would smile at him. For some reason he could not figure out this pleased him, perhaps he really did need to go out more and find some company.

 The office had a luxurious finish and even the chairs in the waiting section were plush proper arm chairs, the walls were adorned with photographs of some of the more successful of the business’s clients. Thomas Kordel featured in quite a few of those photographs, picking up various literary awards.

The phone beside the blonde receptionist gave a soft tinkle, she picked it up and listened while she treated Kirby to what he liked to think was a flirtatious smile. “David will see you now Mr Kirby, if you care to follow me.” Even her voice had a seductive quality; she walked ahead of him as Kirby eyed her rounded hips.

 David Nollmeyer’s office was on the floor above the reception area, the elevator was small and the close proximity of the woman and the subtle fragrance of her perfume gave Kirby a heady feeling. The woman opened the office door and remained standing in the doorway, Kirby brushed past her and her firm bosom made contact with his chest, she smiled again at him.

By the looks of it Nollmeyer’s office took up the majority of the first floor, it was spacious and furnished with expensive antique pieces. A couple of doors on either side of the big room hinted at other areas. David Nollmeyer rose with difficulty from behind the huge antique desk, and came around to shake hands with Kirby.

The man was grossly overweight and sheen of sweat covered his heavy features, Kirby took the chair that Nollmeyer gestured to and watched as the man waddled back behind the desk. The fat man was wheezing for breath, and it took him a while to compose himself. Once he got his breathing under control, the first thing he did was light a huge Cuban cigar.

The pall of blue cigar smoke almost hid the man on the far side of desk; he listened to the reason for Kirby’s visit without uttering a word. There was something about Thomas Kordel’s agent that made Kirby feel uncomfortable, this in itself was strange because the man had scarcely spoken since Kirby entered his office. Kirby had been purposefully vague with Nollmeyer as to why he had any interest in Kordel, other than the fact of the cash reward.

 If this made the man suspicious he gave no sign of it, but then again a reward of five thousand in cash had probably drew quite a few people to his office. Nollmeyer shifted in his chair and it groaned alarmingly in protest. He waved one ham like hand in the air to dispel the cloud of cigar smoke, Kirby had the distinct impression his presence here was making Nollmeyer uncomfortable.

It was the first time since he lit the cigar, that Kirby had a chance to study the man’s facial expression. The fat face of David Nollmeyer had a dead pan expression, at least most of his features did except for his beady little eyes. Those eyes buried deep in the rolls of fat sparkled with intense emotion, Kirby immediately understood there was something dangerous about this man.

 Kirby left the office having taken quite a few pages of notes covering the final movements of Thomas Kordel. Nollmeyer never left his seat as Kirby walked from the office, but Kirby felt his beady eyes on his back. “Have a nice day Mr Kirby; I do hope you will call to see us again soon.” Her voice was sultry and he could have sworn she gave him a cheeky wink.

Thomas Kordel’s house was situated in a leafy suburb, it was one of those houses that left you with no doubt that occupier was very successful in life. The grey haired man that answered the door looked like an English butler, obviously Nollmeyer had rang ahead because the man showed him in without any fuss.

Kordel’s study looked out over the spacious back garden and the two car garage, the doors of the garage stood open and a water bucket and hose were insight. Someone was washing the cars; it often amazed him how ordinary life continues no matter what tragedy is unfolding. The butler had very little of note to say about his employers disappearance, as a matter of fact the study looked as if Kordel had just popped out for a moment.

Kirby learned from the butler that Kordel had two other houses, one in Florida and the other in Aspen both of these were holiday homes. Kirby was a little taken aback at just how much wealth Kordel had appeared to have accumulated, he would have never have guessed writing was so lucrative.

A stack of hardback versions of the novel “Dark Path” were on the corner of the desk, Kordel had apparently been signing copies for special friends just prior to his disappearance. Kirby requested if he could take one of them, the butler answered with a shrug of his shoulders that Kirby took as permission.

 Outside Kirby spoke to the teenager washing the cars, Kordel liked the cars washed and polished once a month even if they had not been used. The kid was doing a good job; the Bentley MarkV1 and the Rolls Royce Silver Ghost were gleaming. However Kordel had left here he had not taken a car.

Dark Path was well written but the subject matter was disturbing to say the least, the detail of the ceremonies involving human sacrifice left absolutely nothing to the reader’s imagination. Kirby had a feeling that these ceremonies were much more than a figment of Kordel’s imagination, but for the fact that the genre was fiction the reader would have been excused for thinking they were a witness statement.

 Kirby got up from behind the desk to walk of the ache in his back; he had started reading the book in the hope of getting a feel for the authors mind set. He had got that already only a couple of hundred pages into the book, Kordel obviously had a deep understanding of Satanism and the occult. It also led him to believe that Kordel enjoyed taking his readers to dark places; Kordel returned to the desk to find the book was not how he had left it, just moments ago.

The book was no longer opened at the page he had been reading; instead it was opened at the inside of the front cover. The blond girl stood motionless with her finger on the inside of the dust cover, she was pointing out the section that credited the cover artwork. He felt embarrassed now as he remembered her pointing at the cottage on the cover, Kirby should have looked at this immediately.

 Common logic should have told him that the photographer would know where the run down cottage could be found. A quick phone call to David Nollmeyer’s office, should give him an idea how to find that photographer. As he dialed the number, Kirby found himself giddy with expectation of speaking to the buxom blonde. To his disappointment the fat man answered the phone.

It was dark by the time Kirby arrived at the foothills of the mountain range, the small rural community was the only reference point the photographer was able to give him with any conviction. It was the only named reference point he could think of from the time he took the photograph, mind you the guy’s glazed eyes and the stench of opium in his studio hinted that his memory could not be exactly trusted.

 Still here he was now and the past nine hours behind the wheel, had taken its toll on his damaged back. The main street of the small town had a couple of fast food outlets and a bar, Kirby parked the car in the square and gingerly climbed out. Leaning heavily on the cane he circled the car slowly a few times before his back suppled out, then he headed across the deserted street straight towards the tavern.

The music blaring from the jukebox in the corner belied the fact that bar was almost empty; obviously the drinking trade in Whitewater Springs was going through a slack patch. The freckled face young woman behind the bar treated him to a welcoming smile; Kirby left the hard backed copy of Kordel’s book on the counter and ordered a burger and fries with a large Irish whiskey. The burger did not look appealing to him so he left it untouched and picked at the fries, in the end he gave up on these too and stuck to the whiskey.

 He was on his third whiskey when the girl spoke to him. “Is there something wrong with your food Mr, I can take it back and get something else if you like?”  It was only then Kirby realized that it had been quite a while since he was really hungry, he seemed to survive on a liquid diet these days.

Kirby told her it was fine that he had just lost his appetite, so she poured the next whiskey on the house. Kirby watched her eyeballing the book on the counter and pushed it nearer to her. “Are you a fan of horror books?” he asked. The girl took the book and read the synopsis on the back cover, before grimacing and sliding it back to him.

 “Far too scary for me I would think, but I have heard of the author. Sorry let me introduce myself, my name is Katie and my grandfather owns this place.” Kirby took the small hand and introduced himself just using his surname. Kirby filled her in on the reason he had come here, albeit he told her a version of the truth. He was a big fan of Kordel and he wanted to see the cottage depicted in the book cover, he was happy when she told him her grandfather may know where to find the illusive cottage.

Kirby woke in the backseat of the car, just as the grey light of dawn began to illuminate the sleeping town. It took him a while to figure out where he was and how he had got there; the muzzy feeling in his head told him that he had been drinking heavy. He finally managed to climb out of the car, the early morning air was frigid but it cleared the muzzy feeling from his head.

 The details from last night slowly came back to him, the girl’s grandfather had come in to the tavern and the girl told him Kirby needed to find the cottage. The had sat chatting and went through a couple of bottles of Jameson, now all that worried Kirby was whether he could remember the directions the old man had given him.

The bright winter sunshine beamed directly through the windscreen, and he was finding the driving difficult. That and the fact the old man’s directions had sounded much easier to follow last night when he was drunk, had combined to ensure he was totally lost now on the mountain road.

 Kirby pulled into the side cursing loudly, the entire area was one giant wood intersected by narrow roads. He could drive around here for the rest of time and never even get close to the cottage, he got out of the car to have a piss and then he lit a cigarette. He had just closed the zippo and glanced up, when he spotted the narrow road disappearing into the woods to his left. A little voice at the back of his mind told him to follow that road and he would find the cottage.

Kirby had to abandon the car a hundred yards from the cottage, the narrow trail through the trees was hard work for him, as the ground was soft and the cane was of little use to him. Once the dilapidated cottage came in to view Kirby immediately felt it, there was an aura of death emanating from the place. He found Kordel in the study; at least it was more accurate to say he found his cadaver.

Thomas Kordel had died badly and in a lot of pain, someone had crucified him upside down on the wooden wall of the study. Whoever did this obviously wanted answers, his naked body was covered in cuts and he had been bled out like a beast in a slaughter house. Kordel had at some stage given up what they had come looking for, a section of the floorboards had been lifted and something removed that left a square shape in the dust.

The rest of the house had been ransacked so Kirby did not even bother to search it; the attackers had done a thorough job even taking the ribbon from the typewriter on his desk. Kirby sat behind the desk dejected, he had found Kordel alright but he was still none the wiser why he had been sent to look for him. The floor of the study was littered with books that had been swept from the shelves on the wall, one book caught Kirby’s eye.

 It was a very old book with what looked like soft leather on the cover; the figure of a half human goat had been embossed in gold on the leather. He picked up the heavy book and leafed through it, but it was in a language Kirby did not even recognize. Judging by the few illustrations in the book it was about witchcraft or magic, he traced his fingers over the image on the cover.

The texture of the leather gave him a creepy feeling; it felt more like skin than leather. It was then he felt it, something was hidden beneath the cover. In the top drawer of the desk he found a switch blade, the handle was ivory ornately carved with symbols he did not recognize. Kirby pushed the silver button and the wicked eight inch blade swished out.

 Kordel must have taken good care of this knife it was razor sharp. He peeled back the leather and found the two pages of typed print, Kirby read over the pages a couple of times. They made for damning reading; Kordel had gotten himself involved in some very dark business. Now he understood how Kordel could give such detail in his last book about ceremonies involving human sacrifice, he had witnessed them first hand.

The pages were part of a diary of sorts, and he was willing to bet the rest of the diary had been hidden beneath the floor boards. The people involved would have a lot to lose if they were identified, but the rest of the diary would be destroyed by now or hidden away never to be seen again. But in the pages Kirby had, a name appeared more than one once. It was not a name really but a derogatory description of the man, Kirby knew immediately who it was.

 It was time for him to head back to the city; there was still a good chance he could find out who else was involved in all of this. Kirby folded the pages and put them in his inside pocket, he was almost at the door of the study when he stopped. Kirby walked back to the desk and picked up the knife, he closed the blade by pushing it against the deck top, then he put that too in his pocket.

The voice on the phone sounded nervous and the breathing of the man seemed labored, but Nollmeyer eventually agreed to meet Kirby at his office even though it was late at night. Less than half an hour later Kirby was in the elevator on his way up to David Nollmeyer’s office, Nollmeyer was seated behind the desk sweating profusely.

 Nollmeyer’s expression gave him away immediately when Kirby told him Kordel was dead, it was clear to Kirby that he already knew. The fat man pushed the stack of bills across the desk and thanked Kirby for his efforts, when Kirby did not pick up the money Nollmeyer looked even more agitated. The fat hand reached for the desk drawer, but Kirby leaned forward and had the blade at the rolls of fat on his neck before he manged to open the drawer.

The fat hand was shaking so much; Kirby wondered how the man could read the type on the pages. Every now and again he would wince, and Kirby wondered if it was the fact Kordel referred to his agent as the fat man on a number of occasions. Or maybe it was the fact that Kordel had given graphic descriptions of a child sacrifice, that Nollmeyer and others had taken part in.

 “Names Mr Nollmeyer I need names, you people may feel you’re above the law but I am not the law”. Kirby was barley finished speaking when the fat man grasped his chest; he was dead before Kirby was on his feet. The man’s heart had finally given out under the strain of his enormous bulk.

 A thorough search of the office yielded no address books, but he did find a scrap book of photographs. David Nollmeyer was present in all of them, and also present were some very famous and powerful people. Kirby left the office taking the scrap book with him; it was time for him to build his own list of people of interest.

 

 

 


Submitted: March 04, 2019

© Copyright 2022 Patrick G Moloney. All rights reserved.

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