Beyond Darkness ( Episode 8) Reading the Cards.

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: The Dark And Suspenseful
Episode 8 of the "Beyond Darkness" paranormal Detective series.

Submitted: March 11, 2019

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Submitted: March 11, 2019

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The sounds of the celebrations in the function room outside were strangely muffled here in the study, the solid oak doors succeeding in keeping the noise level to a low background hum. The party in his honor was still in full swing, the great and wealthy of the district had flocked here to pay him tribute. If only they realized just how much he loathed them, sniveling little nobodies that thought their wealth made them somebody. However it was always prudent for a man in his position to keep thoughts such as this to himself.

A light tapping sound on the French doors that opened out onto the lawn broke his train of thought; instinctively he looked at his watch. It was 1.15a.m., the caller had told him to expect the messenger within the hour and that was forty five minutes ago. When they had said it was an urgent matter they had meant it, it was very few people that would attempt to bother him at this time of night. Even those that felt they could take that privilege would only do so under extreme circumstances. The messenger stood just beyond the small pool of light cast by the desk lamp, a hand encased in a black leather glove reached out from the shadows and handed him the A4 sized envelope.

He snatched the package from the messenger, then without a word being exchanged he stepped back inside and closed the doors. He threw the envelope on the desk and walked to the drinks cabinet, here he filled himself a generous measure of Cognac. Hennessy Beauté du Siècle, a bottle of this brandy sold for more than most small family homes in the state. However like most other things in his life, he had no more appreciation for it than he would have for tepid water.

 His tastes had become jaded from years of self-indulgence; the only thing now that he coveted was power. Power over everyone one and everything; to this length he had sold his soul a long time ago. In his pursuit of unadulterated power he had crossed a Rubicon; he had immersed himself in a darkness few people would be brave enough to even contemplate. The master he served demanded absolute obedience, but the rewards were such that he could not even contemplate any other path in life.

A soft knock on the study door brought him from his muse, the person on the other side of the door spoke without entering. “Senator some of the more generous donors are becoming concerned that they have not yet gotten a chance to speak to you”. A rage suddenly rose up inside him at the sound of his personal assistant’s voice; the Waterford crystal goblet left his hand with tremendous force and shattered into countless pieces against the door.

 Outside the soft sounds of footsteps on the carpet retreated from the door leaving him alone again. Senator Cooney walked to his desk and sat wearily on the chair, these sudden rages often left him drained and exhausted. It was as if another entity entered his body and took over, an entity that thrived on rage and anger.

Cooney read through the neatly typed report before looking at the photographs, the image of the man with the cane threatened to bring on another bout of rage. However this time he managed to push it back down inside him, after all this man was just one of many morons that had crossed his organization over the years.

 Like the rest of them he would perish for his indiscretions, he picked up one of the prints where the man was looking towards the camera. It was almost as if the man was staring back at him, a strange feeling came over him and he dropped the photograph back on the desk. Something told him that the sooner this man was dead, the safer his life would be.

The anger in the man’s voice when he answered the phone was palpable, it was obvious he was not used to been awoken from his sleep by the phone at this hour. Cooney remained silent while the man vented a stream of foul language, when the man paused to draw his breath Cooney spoke softly into the mouth piece. It was the other man’s turn now to lapse into silence, when he spoke again his attitude had completely changed. All the bluster and anger had completely evaporated now; in its place was unadulterated fear.

Cooney read out the details and address and the man listened attentively, when he hung up Cooney threw the papers and photographs in a metal bin. For some reason he felt strangely disturbed about this situation, he splashed some of the expensive brandy on the papers and set them alight.

 All the while the papers burned, Kirby stared back at him through the blue flames and long after the rest had turned to ashes. Kirby’s image was still discernible staring into the camera, or was he staring at him? He wondered. This made him feel even more disturbed. Cooney had a feeling this man just might be different than those that had come before him.

Cooney stood transfixed watching the blue flames until those staring eyes had turned to ashes; even then he was compelled to walk outside and scatter the ashes in the strengthening breeze. Back inside he took a large swallow directly from the brandy bottle, the liquor seared its way down his throat and left a fire in his belly, but the fire quickly petered out leaving an unusual cold feeling in the pit of his stomach.

 Eventually he composed himself and straightened his tie before walking back to the party, a rapturous round of applause rang out at his entrance. A banner had been erected in his absence congratulating him on his re-election; he smiled warmly at his adoring supporters but inside the coldness grew.

Kirby cursed to himself when he saw the utilities van parked in his spot outside the office, parking was always very limited on this narrow street. He stopped the car in the middle of the street in the hope that the van would move off, but seconds later the sharp blast of a horn behind him made him drive on.

In the end he had to park the car a block and a half away, by the time he walked back, the van was gone. He had just turned the key in the front door when something distracted him. A voice calling his name and it sounded like Geri, the voice appeared to come from the alley that ran by the side of the building.

The door had just begun to swing inwards when he heard her call again; he was almost at the mouth of the alleyway when the explosion happened. The entire front of the building seemed to erupt across the street, the shock wave from the blast knocked him to the ground and he crawled into the alley. When he finally got to his feet he was alone in the alleyway, a terrible ringing in his head threatened to burst his ear drums.

 Back on the street a thick fog of dust blinded all visibility; he was staggering around disorientated when he felt her cold grip. Kirby allowed himself to be led away from the scene by his spectral savior; he paused at the top of the street and looked back. The men in utilities uniforms approached the wreckage of the building cautiously, they held guns in front of them in a trained manner.

 The ringing in his head had been replaced now by the sound of approaching sirens; however the sirens did not seem to unduly worry the gunmen as they methodically examined the remains of his office and home. Kirby felt the urgent tug of the ice cold hand, and he allowed himself to be led further from the scene. Behind him the men exited the ruins and walked nonchalantly to the van, before driving leisurely away from the scene.

He had cleaned himself as best he could back at the car, but the security man that led him to the vaults still looked at him suspiciously. There were still traces of dust from the explosion on his clothes, and his eyes were red and bloodshot. Kirby unconsciously pulled at the rim of his fedora further down over his eyes, as he waited for the guard to exit the room.

 The holdall was full to the brim now and he barley manged to zip it closed, he had been aware that this day would come sooner or later. Between the money from Brody’s grave and the money he had taken from his victims there would be enough for a new start. There was nothing here in the city now for him but danger; he needed to find someplace where he was not constantly looking over his shoulder. A place where would be assassins could not hide among the crowds, like they could in the city.

The small coastal village was located about two hours’ drive from the city, once a thriving fishing community now the village was almost deserted. Every second building seemed to be boarded up; houses here went for a tiny fraction of the cost of a small apartment in the city. Kirby needed to lie low and this place looked like a good option, he had picked the village by closing his eyes and sticking the tip of the switch blade in the map.

 It all looked very random but deep inside Kirby felt something had guided the blade tip to this place, the moment he had crested the hill overlooking the village he knew he was meant to come here. Perhaps it was the name of the old world village that made him think this, either way he felt he had made a good decision coming to “Safe Harbour”.

The woman ahead of him drove as if the road belonged to her; he had difficulty keeping up with her on the narrow winding roads. Kirby rounded a bend and had to slam on the brakes, the woman’s car was parked in a gateway partially blocking the road. She stood smiling at him as the bumper of his car almost collided with her legs; she was one of those people that seemed constantly upbeat about life.

“Come on Mr Kirby I have a number of properties for you to view, and the weather is supposed to break in the afternoon. We need to push along before the weather front hits land; we don’t want to be viewing in the middle of a storm”. The woman laughed softly to herself as if she had made a great joke, before tottering up the barely discernible foot path in her high heels. Sarah Joyce was in her late fifties and liked to dress like a young woman from the roaring twenties, right down to seemed stockings and a cigarette in a ridiculously long holder.

The next couple of hours passed in one disappointment after the other, none of the properties she showed him held any appeal at all for him. Kirby was tired now and his back ached, yet Sarah did not seem to have lost any of her enthusiasm. He was ready to call it quits when Sarah went to the trunk of her car and shuffled through a pile of papers; how she made any sense of what she was looking at baffled him.

 It was as if she had just dumped the contents of her office filing cabinet into the trunk, after what seemed an eternity she shouted “Eureka”. The woman held a couple of pages aloft and actually did a bit of a dance on the side of the road. “Come on Mr Kirby I have just identified your new home, and it has been on the market less than a week”. Before he could ask her any more he found himself in another car chase, through the winding roads surrounding the village.

They had to park the cars at the bottom of the winding lane that led up the hill; Kirby fell behind her on the incline while she chattered away happily over her shoulder to him. A hedge row of small stunted trees either side of the path, sheltered them from the rising winds blowing in from the North Atlantic. The path curved sharply to the left and when Kirby rounded the bend the cottage was there in front of him, something about it made it almost feel familiar.

The inside of the cottage unlike the previous properties was almost dust free; it was furnished with turn of the century solid furniture. A small kitchen faced out onto the back yard and it had an old but serviceable aga cooker, a stout wooden table and two chairs and an old world dresser complete with crockery, the front door opened directly into the living room with a wood burning stove and it was lined with bookshelves.

The stairs led up from the living room to the upstairs, a large bedroom and a small bathroom covered the first floor. The bedroom window looked directly over the wild North Atlantic Sea, and the wall at the bottom of the yard was built on the edge of a sheer cliff. Kirby stood looking out at the incoming weather front, and he felt her beside him. The blonde girl slipped her ice cold hand into his, he looked at her and she smiled and nodded.

 Sarah was sitting in the kitchen with the contract already waiting for his signature, when he looked from the contract to her she laughed softly. Something about this woman’s personality was attractive, he felt at ease with her and so did his spectral companion apparently as she stood smiling behind the woman. “I just knew that this was the one for you Mr Kirby, my spirit friends told me so”. She laughed again and exhaled a cloud of cigarette smoke, moving the long holder in front of her circles.

Kirby smiled back at her but for some reason he did not think she was joking when she mentioned the spirits, Sarah Joyce had an aura about her that he found an affinity with. Sarah chattered away about the house, apparently it had belonged to an academic professor who moved here when he retired. The property was being sold as is, since he had no family and the proceeds were to be donated to charity. When he heard the price Kirby had a peculiar feeling that Sarah had errored on his side.

The price seemed ridiculously low to Kirby, and he wondered whether there was something wrong with the cottage. As if reading his mind Sarah smiled at him and winked. “This cottage needed the right owner Mr Kirby and that is you, nothing else matters and so the price is irrelevant. As a matter of fact I am the chairperson of the board of the charity that is to receive the proceeds of this sale, and in that capacity I am happy with the price”. Sarah laughed softly to herself once again, before sliding the contract of sale across the table for his signature.

Sarah folded the contract and dropped it in her purse; if anything her mood seemed even more upbeat with the sealing of the deal. She insisted on him calling over to her place for a bite to eat later that evening, she wanted to fill him in on the village and its inhabitants. Outside the first of the squally showers were being driven in from the sea by the strengthening winds, Sarah paused by the front door as if in thought. “Catherine is her name Mr Kirby”.

 He looked at her puzzled by her cryptic statement, she was walking away now but she stopped and turned back. “Your little blonde companion Mr Kirby, her name is Catherine and she is eleven years old. Never lose track of her she came into this realm to help and protect you, the path you find yourself on dictates you will need as much help and protection you can get”. Before Kirby could think of anything to say, the odd woman had hurried off and was lost to sight by the bend in the path.

The lean to shed at the back of the house was stocked to the roof with firewood and bags of coal, Kirby stocked up the stove in the living room and closed the damper. He wanted the house to warm when he returned, then he walked to the car to drive to Sarah’s house. Her directions had not been exactly clear, but she had told him he would recognize her house when he saw it. “Just drive straight through the village on the bay road, you will find me”. Had been her instructions.

The narrow road appeared to be leading him straight out to sea, the weather had deteriorated now and he wondered if he was on the right road. Kirby found himself on a narrow peninsula at the southern end of the small bay, he came out of a dip in the road and he saw it. Kirby knew immediately it was her place, after all it would take a certain character to make her home in an abandoned light house in the North Atlantic. She was waiting at the door for him, a colorful shawl grasped tightly around her against the cold wind.

They meat stew and homemade bread was not exactly what he had been expecting, but he had to admit it was the tastiest bit he could remember eating in quite a while. After the meal they sat by the fire in the cosy sitting room sipping wine, for some reason he felt comfortable here as if they were lifelong friends. When she offered to do a card reading for him it seemed the most natural thing in the world, just two friends passing a winters evening by the fire. Except for the fact Kirby had never even heard of Sarah Joyce until today, and he certainly never remembered setting eyes on her.

Kirby sipped his wine as he watched her pour over the tarot cards on the coffee table between them. Her demeanor had changed since she began the reading, all joviality had seemed to have deserted her now and she looked deadly serious. Five times she reshuffled the cards and relayed them; something in those cards appeared not to make sense for her. Sarah eventually sat back folding her legs beneath her on the arm chair, she placed a cigarette in the long holder and lit it.

Her eyes seemed like beacons through the haze of cigarette smoke as she stared at him, this was not a side of her he had seen before. Eventually she spoke and even her voice seemed to have a different quality to it. “You are a very unusual individual Mr Kirby; you seem to be neither of this world or the next. The people who have set you on this path are the very ones you must destroy, however they are all too aware of this and your future is fraught with danger. You will travel widely in your quest for answers and I am afraid you will have to embrace the darkness, if you ever hope to defeat it”.

The rest of the evening passed in meaningless small talk, Kirby wanted to ask her to elaborate on her card reading. However anytime he did raise the subject she would dismiss his questions with a wave of her hand, and begin to talk about something unrelated. As he left she did have something else to say. “Safe Harbor will be your haven Mr Kirby and I will be here to help as much as I can. However you must study the darkness and embraced it, your past battles were only the beginning of the war”.

On the drive back to the cottage Sarah’s words played a loop in his head, every time he looked for answers it appeared they just raised more questions. He was even more convinced now that coming here was not a random thing; just like he was convinced he would not be left in peace for too long. Kirby came to the conclusion also that he could not just sit and wait in Safe Harbor until they found him, he would have to travel forth and find them instead. But he also knew that he needed to learn about his enemies, and he needed to embrace their darkness.


© Copyright 2020 Patrick G Moloney. All rights reserved.

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