Right of Justice

Writing Scene 1

10.20am March 20

It was a brisk Saturday morning that March 20, 2016.  Snow had all but melted, as sun burst through the clouds.

There had been trouble between Twenty-one year-old Hannah Brower and Mathew Seabright, twenty-three the night before, at the local watering hole.

They seem to have gotten over it, as they headed up to Jackson Heights Holiday Camp on the ridge, over looking Lake Garda, with the breaking of a new day.

Hannah saw it first, legs partly sticking out from behind some logs.  She stopped in her tracks, popping her head round, expecting to see a vagrant, not a man bludgeoned to death, partly buried in the snow.  She gave a slight scream, and thrust her face onto Mathew’s shoulder.  “Look,” she pointed out.

10.50am March 20

Hannah and Mathew hurriedly walked along the ridge, to the home of Richard Daniels.  Hannah was still shaking from the gruesome sight of the body, and the police were called in.

Lieutenant Carmichael took the call and ordered Pete Carrigan to investigate.  Officer Paul Marks accompanied him.

11.30am March 20

Police Officer’s soon reached the scene to discover the body partly immersed in snow.  Carrigan observed on closer inspection; maggots in the wounds.  Close to the body was a man’s wallet containing a driver’s license in the name of Sal Cornick, nothing else…no money or cards.

3.00pm March 20

Closer inspection of the area revealed sixty-one cents, keys, and a long handed axe, believed to be the murder weapon.

“So doctor, when and how did he die?” asked Lieutenant Carmichael.

“We have had a bad winter, been deep in snow for some months or so.  I can’t give an exact time frame, until I carry out an autopsy, but an educated guess would be, late October, but don’t hold me to it,” replied the doctor, examining the victim.

“I would trust your educated guesses any time,” smiled Carmichael.

“In my opinion based on the evidence before me, this must have been a frenzied attack, using the axe to hack him to death.”

The cabins were searched for clues as to who was living here at the time…Carmichael knew a janitor was often employed during the winter months to ward off squatters.

Cassandra had taken on this job as janitor for the winter months at Jackson Heights Holiday Camp on Lake Garda.  It came at the right time, I had just been released from hospital, and we had no money to pay the rent on our apartment.  Our job was nothing more than a sitting tenant, to drive off potential squatters.

It was perfect…we even got paid.

“It will be just the two of us, lounging around in hot tubs and sitting by the fire in the lodge,” claimed Cassandra.  “It will give you time to get back to full strength.”

The snow started just after we arrived, falling with gentle vengeance, as if to apologize for its late arrival.  Within an hour there wasn’t a blade of grass visible.

I liked the place right away.  It was kind of run down; just a main building, a dozen or more log cabins, a pool, hot tubs, with an area set aside for caravans and tents.

After unpacking, we went to the main building and climbed into one of the hot tubs.  We left the door open, just because we could.

We had been there about a month, when he showed up, looking for a place to stay.  By that time, the cold weather had gotten worse, and it had snowed for three weeks non-stop.  She didn’t seem to mind it, tramping around in the snow in her big fleece – lined parka, pointing out the birds to me, and the cold footed raccoons foraging in the snow.

In the bitter cold of the morning, I would strip down in the chilly locker room, run to the heated pool and jump in.  Spend what seemed like eternity, floating in the cloudy water.  Then one morning, I opened my eyes, and there he was, standing over me; our lodger.

“Nice morning for a swim, man?”

I was naked of course.  I felt suddenly ashamed of my body, with its scars, compared to his.

“It is good to meet you, I am Sal… Sal Cornick.”

I got out on the other side of the pool, away from him.  On the way into the locker room I bumped into Cassandra, naked going for a swim.  “We will have to start wearing swimsuits, the lodgers here.”

She gave me a condescending smile and patted me on my shoulder.  “I know.”

“We should invite him to join us some evenings at the lodge?” Cassandra suggested.  “It must be lonely in the cabin.”

My face said everything; I didn’t like the idea one bit.  Still Cassandra asked him in.

Sal built a fire for us in the lodge.  He brewed a bitter herbal tea over the fire, as the wind snapped snow against the building while we sat there wrapped in blankets, round the crackling fire.

Later, I went out to get some more logs for the fire.  When I got back, Cassandra and Sal were gone.  I knew where she was.  I could have stopped it from happening, but I didn’t.  Instead, I lay in the dark, and let myself get angry.

The biggest storm of the winter hit a few days later.  It was a warm one, full of wet, sticking snow that clung to your cheeks.  You couldn’t see more then a few feet through the snow storm.

It lasted six long days, and we had to dig out way out of our cabin.  There was no sign of Sal; his cabin was empty.  We never spoke of him again.

A few months later, Sal was a memory from the past, as was the snow which was melting, and the day we were due to leave drew ever closer.

She was right about this place.  I was feeling better.  My muscles were lean and hard.  What I had lost in the hospital had come back to me in thick ropes around my arms and legs.  I moved with all the grace that had once made me proud.

With the melting snow, Sal’s body appeared, by the log pile, hacked to death… I knew then Cassandra must have killed him.

I lay in our cabin, staring at the ceiling, thinking about the events that had taken place.

10.15am March 25

The chief suspects in the murder of Sal Cornick were Cassandra and Daniel Jenkins, stated the police at a press conference.

If anyone knew of there whereabouts they should contact the police.

2.15pm March 29

Cassandra and David were entertaining friends when police cars pulled into the caravan park, where they were living.  The couple were taken to Milwaukee County Court house for questioning.

12.30pm March 30

Hannah Bower and Mathew Seabright were brought in for questioning, for it was they who found the body.

2.45pm March 31

A statement was issued to the press that Daniel Jenkins would be charged with murder, based on a signed confession by Cassandra Jenkins.

In reply, David Jenkins believes he is innocent, but can offer no alibi.

11.40am May 10

Cassandra identified her husband as the actual murderer of Sal Cornick, stating he was jealous of him.

“Did you actually see him commit the murder?” asked the Prosecutor.

“No…but there was no one else up there” Cassandra replied.

3.25pm March 19

Finally, after nine days and thirty-one witnesses…

“Have you reached a verdict, on which you agree?” asked the judge.

“We have your honour.”  The foreman of the jury looked directly at me, his voice taking on a harsh sounding edge to it.  “We find the defendant guilty of murder.”

My knees buckled as I heard the word guilty, and I nearly collapsed, a roaring in my eyes blotting out all sound around me.

I looked for her in court, as officer’s grabbed my arms.  They were pulling me away as I caught sight of her.  She stood talking with my lawyer, the back of her hand stroking his upper arm.  They turned, looking in my direction, with slight smiles.  I knew then he had fallen under the spell of Cassandra.

Before I was dragged from the court, Cassandra raised her hand – and blew me a kiss.

The door slammed shut on my life…I had been betrayed by my Cassandra, the true murderer…

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Missing… Without Trace

Taxi

The ring at the door came at 6.30am.  I usually don’t rise before 10.00am, and then only with the help of my morning mug of black coffee or two.  My mouth was dry, and my brain could barely comprehend what he was saying, as I opened my front door, standing in nothing but my shorts.

“There can be no doubt in our minds that a crime has been committed, whether by you or someone else has not been determined at this point.  Circumstantial evidence exists, suggesting you may have had something to do with the mysterious disappearance of Mathew Jarvis, who has been missing these past two months.  Answer’s are required, as to how deep be your connection to Mr Jarvis?” quoted the police officer standing in the porch of Andrew Cairn’s house, waving a search warrant in his face.

Other officer’s systematically searched, or should I say trashed my home, then my taxi, standing in the drive-way.

They hauled me back to Ipswich Police Station, where they continually questioned me about Mathew Jarvis.

As I repeated to them time and time again … I am a self-employed taxi-driver, based in Norwich, but if the price is right, distance is no object.  That’s where I remember Jarvis, he climbed from my cab, and disappeared into East Lane Southwold, on the Suffolk Coastline … Each time my statement falling on deaf ears.

What had apparently started out as the mysterious disappearance of one customer had now reached three, all customers who had the misfortune to travel in my taxi?

Last week, I dropped off a short blonde woman, dressed head to toe in black, in East Lane, Southwold; two days later she was reported missing by her employers … The Chronicle.  But that’s not how the cops put it; they just kept asking me, over and over.  “What did you do with her?”

Another of my customer’s to vaporize into thin air was an estate agent, but for the life of me, I had no recollection of where I had taken him, or what he looked like.  Why should I?  My cab happens to be a convenient mode of transportation, for tourists and business people alike, hundred’s go through my cab on a weekly basis.

I remembered the reporter, for she did not look like one of those seedy individuals, digging up the dirt.  There was something different about her; you expected to see her modelling, as a page three girl.

Still they dragged me down to the police station for questioning, and I had become their number one suspect.  So far, the cops had not manufactured any evidence they could stick me in jail with, but that was not for lack of trying, so I remained free, but for how long?

The way I figured it, if I could find another connection between these three people, the cops would be forced to investigate my claim, and quit sticking to me.  I was getting a stiff neck, constantly looking over my shoulder, to check if my police tail was still there.

In my mind, thoughts rushed back to every place I had been, cross referencing it with my weekly records, in a desperate search for answers.  Until it came to me, I had picked him up, when he had flagged me down, some fifteen miles outside of Southwold, standing beside a white BMW … he had run out of petrol, and would be late for an appointment, he said.  I had taken him to 21 East Lane, Southwold, and that was the last I saw of him.

While I was searching for answers, the police were attempting to build a case against me, and as yet, hadn’t enough to charge me; but they believed foul play, was involved.

According to neighbours of Daniel Ford, the owner of 21 East Lane, Southwold, had not been seen in person for some considerable time.

An Estate Agent, Reporter, and Mathew Jarvis, have all mysteriously disappeared; and the only connection, be the house, and my taxi cab…I am doomed!

Detective Sergeant Marcus Dowelling pulled his car off the main road, and into the drive-way adjoining the home of Daniel Ford.  He stepped from his car, into the overgrown garden.  His legs became immersed up to his knees in the long swaying grasses, as they blew in the gentle breeze.

Dowelling an officer with a long experienced service in the force, sensed things were not right here, long before he reached the door.  In his fifteen years, this was the first case of disappearance of people in this manner.

Three people missing, and their only connections; the house and the taxi cab they travelled in.

As he walked towards the small white house barely visible above the lawn leading to the front door, thoughts rushed into his mind.  “People don’t just disappear without trace.  There has to be a logical reason?”

He gazed at the old white door, with peeling white paint for a moment; then turned the handle, and it swung open with a gentle push.  Dowelling reached under his jacket, and pulled out his trusty truncheon, ready for anything as the door became fully open, coming to a stop at the wall.  Since the occupant Daniel Ford had disappeared, he didn’t expect to find anyone inside, as he moved into the property, but you never know.  The front door remained open; it always pays to be cautious in my line of work – a quick escape if needed.

According to the neighbours of 21 East Lane, little was known of him, other than his name was Daniel Ford, and that he kept to himself.  He had regular habits said one; of going out each day at 10.30am and returning around 16.30pm.  Did he have a job? No one knew.  He never caused any trouble, and now he had simply vanished.

Dowelling figured that the man must have been gone for a long time to have the neighbours call in the police.  The house displayed this; it was drab and colourless, with a faint musty odour.  The lights were out; they did not work as he attempted to switch on the lights, presumably because the electric bill had not been paid in a while.  Close by laid a large box of candles with matches on top.  A fine coating of dust lay across everything.

Out of curiosity, Dowelling lifted the phone receiver on the wall; there was no tone, but that did not surprise him.  “Looks like I won’t be able to call in from the house.”

Looking around this quaint old house, Dowelling discovered a bathroom down a short narrow corridor off to the left, with a kitchen directly opposite.

vintage_typewriter

In the far corner to the rear of the property, stood a small oak desk on which stood a well worn manual typewriter.  Laid out on the table, was the missing reporter’s notebook, and identity card, also the estate agent’s paperwork.  “They had both been here,” Dowelling spoke out loud, fingering his way through the notebooks.

Whatever happened to them, the answers must lay within the confines of these four walls.

On the floor, piled up between the desk and the wall, were two-inch binders, rising from the floor like a tower towards the ceiling.  He ran his fingers across the spines of the binders.  Each one was labelled from volume one to forty, and stuffed full of printed paper.  Our Mr Ford was a writer, and a prolific one at that.

Dowelling removed the binder marked volume one, from off the top of the pile.  He walked over to the opposite side of the room, put his truncheon on the table, and sat down on a cosy looking sofa, underneath the window.  He opened the dark-blue-cover, page one was titled: Introduction.

He turned to the next page, and started to read:  “As of today, March 21, 1988, I begin my life’s work.  This and the ensuing volumes is a saga, the product of my soul and mind.  I hope that this has been worth the effort, but if it was not, I cannot tell.  This is my life, embodied in ink and paper.

“Daniel Ford.”

Dowelling turned the page and began to read the novel, for which Daniel Ford had apparently worked so hard on.  Dowelling figured that if he read the work, he may gain some clue as to what had happened to the author – reporter and estate agent.  “I will read a little bit, and see where it takes me,” he thought.

It began simply, as the words formed a vivid picture of events that had taken place:  As I walked from my office, along the crowded sidewalk at a fairly brisk pace, on my way to a working lunch in the city.

Little did I know that I was due to be assassinated that day: 21st March 2001?  A smallish guy dressed in a dark grey suit, thin faced, with swept back blonde hair, bumped straight into me.  I yelled, staggering back from the unexpected force.  “Sorry,” he muttered, as he disappeared into the crowded streets.

My forearm tingled, as my left leg started to go numb, anxiously I rubbed it, but by now it was useless.

Daniel Howard, young entrepreneur, died from drug overdose, according to the papers.  What a way to go – injected with a drug in a busy road, dead in a matter of minutes.

As I died my last thoughts were – if only I had listened to those around me – warning me that our competitors would not stand by, watching our profits grow and theirs diminish.

Dowelling reached the end of the first paragraph, stopped for a moment, sighing heavily.  Inside he could sense the story pulling him back to the words on the page, with a feeling of wonder and amazement passing through his body.  He just could not understand, why he was able to read this with ease, he mostly read police reports and the paper.  This was different from any other novel he had tried … unsuccessfully … to read.

As Dowelling plunged forth into the next paragraph, it was as though he became part of the story, and the characters came alive, laid bare before him; to explore.

Time passed by quickly, as each page was turned over, from afternoon to evening, until night darkened the room.  He lit candles, placing them on the window sill above his head, as other’s had done before him.

Time continued on, he became so engrossed in the story, as morning dawned he had nearly completed two binders.  Hunger took him out to his car, where he always carried packets of biscuits and canned drinks for stake outs, and returned to the story with them.

Munching slowly away and taking the odd drink, he blazed through the binder with renewed strength, and set it down on a new pile forming on the floor.  He started the third without breaking for a rest.  By dusk, he had progressed through binder’s three to seven, when a knocking sound echoed through the house.

Dowelling, swore at the interruption, as he gathered his thoughts and staggered to the door.  There standing before him, a young uniformed officer, no more than twenty, his right hand resting on his truncheon.

“Sergeant Dowelling, the station was worried when they had not heard from you,” as the officer relaxed his pose.

“I am conducting my own personal investigation into this case,” replied a husky voiced Dowelling.

“What shall I tell them back at the station?”

“Tell them what you like,” replied Dowelling.

As the officer turned to leave, Dowelling slammed the door and hurried back to the story.  Through the night, volumes eight through to fourteen joined the new pile.

The next day was free from interruption, so he managed to progress through to volume twenty one, before he was forced to light up some more candles.

Even with bloodshot eyes, unshaven, crumpled clothing, and his body suffering from lack of sleep, he just couldn’t put the novel down – he just had to read it cover to cover.  He had become completely oblivious to the outside world.  Dowelling found the plot was thicker and more realistic than anything he could ever have imagined, but as his body showed signs of weariness, it took longer for events to register.  As dawn shone through the windows, he gazed at the pile, nine more volumes had been read that past night.

Another day and a half passed by without incidence.  As he came to the end of the final volume, a constant repeating knocking came from the door.

Dowelling looked from the book to the door, and ignored the knocking – hoping they would go away and leave him in peace to finish the last few pages.

It seemed like ages had passed by, when the knocking had been replaced by the hollow thudding sound of a police door ram, a sound he knew well.

As Dowelling read the last paragraph, the last sentence, then the last word … the police burst through the door…

Dowelling was before their eyes one minute, then gone the next, but it was no illusion, he had vanished.  Just as Mathew Jarvis, the estate agent, and the reporter, vanished without trace.

Officer’s looked over the house thoroughly, leaving two on guard, standing watch over the near empty room, whilst other’s returned to the station.

Curiosity got the better of these young officers’s.

“What is so important about these binders?” asked one.

“I only know one way to find out,” said the other.  He pulled out the binder labelled Volume One.  Holding it between them, they began to read the introduction.

“As of today, March 21, 1988, I begin my life’s work.  This and the ensuing volumes is a saga, the product of my soul and mind.”

The two young officers’ gazed at each other, as they returned to the binder, drawn by something inexplicable.  A force of some kind!

Are two more unlikely participants being drawn into this story – only to vanish without trace as other’s have before them!

Mystical Times

Haunted Victorian House

For it was in 1863, that the beauty of South Elmham located in the heart of rural Suffolk enchanted the Reverend Henry Markham.  Here, he proceeded to erect a fine Victorian rectory overlooking the village.  Markham having the wealth and support of his family, in his endeavours, rose to become the village squire.  He died in 1895, and his son Edward followed in his footsteps becoming the new vicar of the village, and resided at the rectory until his death in 1928.

Rumours abounded that the rectory must have been haunted.  If so, it says much about the character of the two rectors, when subsequent tenants found life unbearable through the relentless activities of poltergeists.

Edward Markham, made a habit of waiting at the rectory gate, for the passing of the ghostly coach.  The sound of rumbling wheels, clattering of four horse’s hooves, would approach along the road, reach a crescendo at the gate, and gradually fade into the distance.  The phantom coach was not only heard but also seen by the ex-groom of the rectory, who described a blazing carriage with lights careering through the rectory grounds.

A more significant manifestation was that of a Nun, confirmed by many witnesses, over the years, as she walked across the terrace.  The presence of the Nun, added to the belief that the rectory must have been built on the site of a religious house.

In 1939, lightning struck the rectory, destroying the west wing, but it was not re-built until the early 1950’s.  During the summer of 1955, Reverend James Patterson and his family took up residence, amidst much speculation and fear from the villagers, of the previous psychic manifestations as experienced in the old rectory.

There were few minor apparitions in the early years, but it was not until the latter months of 1972, nearly twenty years later, that their worst fears had come to bear.  Poltergeist activities were ripe in the rectory, and experienced by many, for later that year, the Reverend James Patterson was found hanging from the rafters in the churches Bell Tower.

What had driven a man of God to take his own life, and in such a public way?  This led to much uproar by the villager’s, claiming the vicar was bewitched, demanding the church and rectory should be shut.

For it was in the autumn of 1982, the rectory was sold and renovated, no longer a rectory, but a fine looking country farmhouse.  Many villagers have feared for the sanity of those who resided in this dreadful building, with an unsavoury past.

Then in the spring of 1983, a Scottish family the James’s took up residence, with their three children; Michael 9, Benjamin 7, and Christina 8.

Very little was known about them, Peter James worked for the Civil Service, and in the early years, the children attended the local primary school, later they attended boarding school.

Michael, Benjamin and Christina always loved their holidays from boarding school.  On their first day home, they would pump up their bicycle tyres, and ride quickly through the village waving here and there, to many of the villagers.  Never stopping until they reached their destination, the last house at the end of the village, nestled down by the river.  They would dash up the path to an ever-open door.  There she would stand ‘Gran’ wearing a spotless apron; sleeves rolled up from her floury hands, ready to greet them.  She was not their real grandmother, but she had come to be referred as ‘Gran’, ever since she used to help their mother run the house in the early years.  She is like part of the family.  Upon their arrival she would say “how lucky you are, I have just finished baking”, but they knew, she knew, when their school terms finished.  No holiday would start right until the children had visited her, and tasted her home cooking.

Utter shock, rocked the heart of this peaceful village, on a sweltering summer morning in early August 1991.  The ringing sound of gunshots, coming from within the old rectory.

I remember that day well; I had been pruning the roses in my front garden, when I heard shots.  PC Roberts dashed passed minutes later, heading in the same direction, from which the sounds had come from.  I instinctively grabbed my coat, and followed him, in case my services were required, in the capacity of a parish priest.  We both knew where the shots had emanated from, the old rectory.

Inside all was quiet, but in the hall, on the stairs, there was chaos of objects flung about generally creating a scene of disaster.  In the midst of similar destruction in the main room, was the body of Peter James, shot several times in the chest, close by his wife, Samantha, her face had partly been blown away?  Upstairs in the rear bedroom, Christina sprawled across the bed still wearing a pair of earphones, body drenched in blood, from the chest wounds.  Whilst Michael was found sprawled across the landing leading to the west wing, with two wounds in the back, and one in his left leg.

Finally, entering Benjamin’s room PC Roberts expecting to find another body discovered him, sitting on the side of his bed, in what appeared to be a state of shock, covered in blood and holding on his lap his father’s shotgun.

“Well, Benjamin what’s been going on here,” asked the Constable.

There was no reply from Benjamin.

Carefully, the shotgun was removed from Benjamin and wrapped in a sheet, he did not even flinch, just sat their still.

“Father McBride, could you stay with Benjamin while I call for assistance, and please don’t touch anything.”

“Of course.”

The sight that greeted me was terrible, one I will never forget.  I couldn’t believe at that time, Benjamin was responsible for the destruction of this family.  Did he have no sympathy at all for the people who had brought him up, and given him everything a boy could desire?  Apparently not!

Dr Mathew Hoyden, who arrived on the scene a little after 11.30am, was taken back by the scene, of so many bodies.  The first body he examined was that of Samantha James’s lifeless body sprawled across the living room, blood was congealing from the wound, but there was little doubt she was dead.  Because of the location of the wound, forensic experts summarised; her heart had stopped pumping blood, almost immediately, thereby resulting in very little blood splatter on nearby walls and furniture, for such horrific wounds.

Whilst the medical examination continued, and the crime scene photographers carried out their duties.  The police carried out a detailed search of the house, from the attic to the cellar.  Nothing was found to indicate the presence, of an intruder within.

Following the examinations, a senior officer allowed me to perform the ‘last rites ritual’ to each of the victims, before they were removed, from the house.

The horrific murders of Peter James, Samantha his wife, and children Christine and Michael, found murdered in their home, brought an onslaught of ever clambering press, to their doorsteps, in search of a story.  They had convicted Benjamin, in the press as guilty, for he survived unscathed, holding the murder weapon.

“What happened to Benjamin.”

He appeared to be in a state of shock, and was removed firstly to the local hospital, and later to the David Rice Hospital, and remained there whilst police carried out their investigation.

“All the time he remained in hospital, he never uttered a single word, whether he was suffering from shock, no one knew.”

The police could find no evidence of an intruder, and their only suspect was Benjamin – despite overwhelming physical and circumstantial evidence pointing to him.  Still the police found it hard to believe, as I do, that anyone as young as Benjamin, could cold bloodedly murder his own family.

A Social Worker, was present at police interviews of Benjamin, but still he did not utter a word of response to their questions, just shrugged his shoulders occasionally.  As far as they were concerned, it was an open and shut case; and remained in custody at the Malen Secure Unit, until the trial.

The question which was on many peoples lips; was he a murder or an innocent victim?

I like so many of the villagers considered the events of 1972, when the Rev James Patterson took his life, could there be any connection?

Benjamin was brought before a closed session of the Juvenile Court to answer the charges laid upon him.  For the whole of the proceedings, he sat and watched, showing no sign of emotion.

“Had he any idea what was going on Father.”

“I don’t know, but that was a different boy sitting in the courtroom, he had changed.”

Before the trial, Benjamin, had been remanded, to the Malen Secure Unit for assessment; based on their findings, the courts sent him to a Secure Unit on the Welsh Border, with no option of parole.  That was the first time I saw any sort of reaction – he smiled.

“Have you seen him since the trial.”

“Yes, I have, I used to attend the Hospital.  He hasn’t spoken since that day, just paints violent pictures of the victims, in lurid detail.  It’s a sad sight, for one so young.”

Then events took a turn, a historian heard about the murders, turned up to study the site, which had undergone many strange events over the centuries.

The so-called Nun, was lured to England from France, in the 16th century, worked as a maid, murdered, and thrown down the old well, and left to rot.  Believed to have been the apparition seen by many visitors over the years, whose frequent materialisation’s were the basic causes of so much agitation in the spirit world?

Believers in the paranormal believe the theory that in most cases of persistent disturbances, the cause is often a young female.  From available evidence of poltergeist activity, it seems that a young girl, could be physically affected, attracting and energising forces beyond the normal.  Support for this theory, held up at South Elmham, not only from the ghostly Nun but also from a young woman, who worked as a housemaid for the Rev James Patterson.

Violent activity seemed to accompany the skull, following its removal from the well.  When taken to museum experts for detailed examination, a series of accidents took place in quick succession, the skull broke in two, and valuable works of art were damaged.

Paranormal activity once ripe in the area, ceased when the Nun’s skull, buried on holy ground at the local convent.  At last, she was at peace!

Benjamin regained his speech, within days of the burial, but his mind remains a complete blank, since the day of the killings.  Questions have been asked; whether he should be held accountable for these crimes, in light of the discoveries?

As far as our courts are concerned, this mumbo-jumbo evidence would not wash with them, Benjamin, was found guilty of the crimes, with no option of parole, and the sentence stands.

“But is he innocent Father?”

“I think so, but we will never know, unless he regains his memory.  The mystery of the old rectory has been solved, and many lives destroyed in the process.”

“Father, don’t bore the young man with your memories, you’re supposed to rest, you know what the doctor said.”

“I may be old and retired, but let the boy here know all about the events of South Elmham, for next month, it will be his parish.  Better to be forewarned of the events of the past, some villagers still remember, those awful times, no doubt!”

As the young priest left, gazing back at Father Bracks, sitting on the balcony of the retirement home.  Thoughts raced through his mind, should I take on what he had started, visiting Benjamin, maybe one day he will answer that all-important question.

Who pulled the trigger, and why?

No Witness!

scales-of-justiceThere was much tension in the air, many people fearing to venture from their homes at night, in these dangerous times, ever since the news of a murder in the village of Watton in Norfolk.

Local man, James Watson, who worked at the Horse and Hound Public House as a barman, alongside his other job as a truck driver, was found murdered on the common, in the early hours of Sunday morning 5th July 1954.  According to the police there were no witnesses to the crime, and his truck was discovered a few hours later, empty and abandoned.

Why he was killed has the police baffled, and the greatest fear in the village, is one of their residents could be a killer, but who?

At about eleven o’clock the same morning, a man out walking his dog on the lower cage lane in Stratton, noticed a truck, parked on the verge, doors wide open and unattended, and no one in sight.  The circumstances were strange enough to merit the man calling the police, as there were signs of blood on the door.

Sergeant Maxwell, stationed locally, drove to the spot and discovered a bloodstained jacket and coat.  At the police headquarters in Norwich, Detective Inspector Miles received the information and set out at once, with Detective Constable Helen Lomax, realising they had a brutal murder on their hands.

With the assistance of the local officer on the scene, the two officers examined the area of the dumped truck, where bloodstained garments and a driving licence were found.  Obviously their next stop was to call at the Horse and Hound, where he lived and worked.  The Landlady readily recognised the bloodstained garments, but was overcome at the sight of them.  When she had got over the initial shock, she informed the officers what she knew about James Watson, who worked part time for them, along with part time truck driver at a local haulage contractors, and resided in the flat over the garages.  He was single, 41, not given to heavy drinking or any other excesses as far as she could tell, her husband standing close by, nodded in agreement.

The officers thanked them, for their assistance and left, returning to the site of the abandoned truck.  The cab revealed a scene of violence, with Watson’s personal possessions strewn across the ground, papers and documents abandoned in the desperate physical struggle that must have taken place.  There was no wallet and no money.  It was a case of robbery certainly, but robbery compounded with murder.

It seemed clear to the detectives that Watson had been attacked at some other location, and the truck driven by one of his attackers.  His body had been discovered in the early hours of Sunday morning, dumped in the bushes on the far side of the common, close to the pub.

Forensic experts carried out close examination of the interior, but the only fingerprints found within belonged to Watson.  The vehicle was taken to Norwich, and subjected to all kinds of tests.

News reached me that James had been killed when I called in the pub the next day.  Over the past few years we had eluded the grasp of the law, using the truck as a legitimate business.  For the past few years we had dealt in alcohol and cigarettes in small quantity, but had moved up a league.  James had a customer, but did want me there, as we never saw eye to eye, it should have been sweet as a nut, and he went with armed backup! So what went wrong?

Somebody double-crossed him.  I will find out whom?

My name is Barney; my last name does not matter.  James and I have made a small living and never done any bird for our crimes.

I have a flat in Stratton, a decent car a few smart clothes.  What’s more I have a gun, so no one going to argue with me!  Not if they know what is good for them.

The police had not looked over the flat yet, I slipped in the back way, headed straight for our secret hideaway behind the toilet cistern.  A small hole existed behind some loose tiles; carefully I prised it loose.  Inside were five hundred pounds, and a small revolver.

I had a quick look around the flat but there was nothing here of any use, except for his address book tucked away out of sight with a list of customers behind the picture frame.  I could not let the police discover these, slipped them into my pocket and disappeared.  Left the place as I’d found it and headed out looking for his cousin, who was supposed to be taking my place as back up?

If James was going to pay a minder, it would have been his cousin Michael, he would do anything to earn a few quid.

I found him in his Council Flat, on the Lavengro Estate in Norwich.  When he answered the door, to my pounding my fist upon his door, he did not look too pleased to see me.

“How’s it going Michael?”  I asked pushing my way into his place without much resistance.

“I can’t complain,” he replied.

“So what’s new?”

He just gazed across the room at me, “nothing,”  as he shrugged his shoulders.

“Seen James?”

“Not today.”

“Let’s not waste anymore time, we both know why I’m here.”  I replied as I pulled out my Smith & Weston revolver.

I don’t believe you,” pointing the gun at his head.

“You were with him as back up weren’t you?”

“I didn’t mean anything to happen to him, he is family you know,” the fear was visible on his face as he spoke.

“What happened?”  I demanded shaking the gun at him.

“It wasn’t my idea.”

“Whose was it then?”

“The Old Bill.”

“So what have they got to do with it?”

“I was in trouble with the law.  We had a chat.  I told him about the deal James had going down.”

“I suppose you put me in the frame as well?”

“No.”

“Michael.”

“No, I swear I didn’t.”

“He said he’d just bust him,” Michael stated.  He was shaking with fear.

“The deal went through as it should have, and we were driving back to Watton, where I was to pick up my old banger.  Along the country lane between Watton and Stratton, the car in front of us suddenly pulled out across the road, blocking the way, and another at the rear,” Michael quoted.

“What were they driving.”

“The one in front, drove a light coloured Ford, whilst the other drove an old jeep, I don’t know the colour but it had lights fitted on top, that glared straight into our faces,”  Michael stated.

“What happened next?”  As Barney prodded him with the gun in his ribs.

“They came up to the truck, and started talking to James, and one of them told me to get lost, and that’s the last time I saw James, until you turned up.”

“Who are they?”

“That new DI at Norwich, the bent one.”

“They’re all bent as far as I am concerned.”

“McCormack.”

“I haven’t heard of him.”

“He’s fairly new, recently transferred from the Met, he’s evil.”

“No please, it wasn’t my fault.”

“You little traitor.”

“I never hurt James,” Michael shouted.

“But you let McCormack do it.  So where’s the money now?”

“They more likely have it down the cop shop.”

“Are you joking.”

“Where safer to hide it?”

I realised my future was tied up at Longbridge Road, Police Station, and that meant big trouble.  They have my money, and now James is dead, no one to split it with.  Not that I wouldn’t rather have James here, than this grass of a cousin Michael.

“So what’s shift is he on?” I demanded.

“What?”

“McCormack.  When’s he working?  You’re his informer, you’ve got to know.”

“Nights.  This week he’s working nights.”

“Thanks.”  I said, pushing the gun into his face, pulling off two shots, moving out of the way to avoid any blowback.

I worked out a plan on my way home.  I needed access to the Police Station, on legitimate business.

The next morning just to be on the safe side, I phoned Longbridge Road Police Station, from a public phone.

“C.I.D.”  I said when I got through.

“C.I.D. – Miles,” said the soft voice on the line.

“DI McCormack,” I said.

“Wait.”  The voice disappeared for a few minutes, then came back.  “He’s on after ten tonight.  Any message?”

“No thanks.  I’ll call back later,” and I disconnected the call before his next question.

I hung around the flat all day, and close to ten I drove over to Longbridge Road.  I took my Smith & Weston, and my holdall with me.  I wore my black overcoat over jeans and a jumper, with black driving gloves on my hands.

I went through the front door of the Police Station, up to the desk and said to the constable on duty.

“Excuse me, I was out walking my dog the other night and saw an altercation taking place on the Watton to Stratton road, involving a truck.  I read the driver had been killed in the paper.  I wonder if what I saw can be of any use?”

“Can I have your name sir?”

“Crane, Mathew Crane” I said.

“Would you wait a minute please, sir.”

He went into the back, and I stood studying the wanted posters covering up the cracks in the walls.

“Mr Crane?” an officer spoke as he entered the reception.

“I’m Sergeant Stephens.  Would you please come this way, D I McCormack will see you now.”  I couldn’t have planned it better.  Two rotten apples at the same time, McCormack and Stephen’s, both bent as each other.

I followed him through, carrying my holdall, and up three flights of stairs to a door marked C.I.D. Longbridge Road is only a small station, and at that time of night it seemed pretty well deserted, which suited me. The C.I.D. main office was dimly lit and empty, as I was led through to an adjoining office where a large man was sitting behind a desk, and said.  “This is DI McCormack.”

Sweet as a nut I thought to myself.

McCormack was well built maybe of the same age as myself.  He looked like the type of officer you could trust with your darkest secrets, but I knew better.

“Inspector,” I said.

“Take a seat Mr Crane,” said McCormack.

“Tea?”

“Yes please,” I said as I sat in front of his desk.

“Sergeant.”  With that Stephen’s went off to get the tea.

“So you saw someone having an altercation on the Watton Stratton road, whilst you were out walking your dog.”

“That’s right.”

“Could you identify him.”

“There were two of them, they had blocked the vehicle front and back.  I didn’t get a good look at their faces, but one walked with a slight limp.

McCormack looked at Crane for a moment, but there were slight signs of sweating upon his face.

I quickly unzipped my holdall, and pulled out a revolver, pointing it straight at McCormack.

“What’s this?” he gasped.

“Your worst nightmare.”

“Payback time.”

“For what?” he asked.

“You killed my mate James,” I said.  “And stole my money.”

“I see.”  He was regaining his cool.  “And what gives you that idea.”

“Your little grass Michael told me.”

“So I imagine it was you who shot him.”

“Correct.”

“That wasn’t a very nice thing you did.”

“No more than he deserved, he was your grass and a thief.”

“Did it occur to you he could have been lying.”

“No.  I’d stake my life on it, he was telling the truth.”

“Which is exactly what you’re doing.  You must be a very stupid man to come here after me, and then admit to murder.”

I didn’t bother informing him, he wouldn’t be around to tell anyone.

“Don’t waste my time,” I said.  The longer he kept talking the more chance he had of Stephen’s returning or someone else coming in.

“Just give me the money,” I demanded.

“You don’t really think I’d keep it here do you?”

“Where better and safer,” I said, and I shot him in the arm.  You could barely hear the recoil above the sound of the air conditioning.

He gazed at the wound.

“I’ll keep blowing bits off you until you hand over, what belongs to me,” I said.  “I’ve got plenty more bullets.”

“Alright, alright,” he said.  “Keep calm, it’s over here in the locker.”

“Get it.”  I ordered.  No tricks or you’ll end up like Michael.”

He got up to do as he was told.

“The keys are in my pocket,” he said.

“Pull them out slowly, I’m watching every move you make.”

He did as he was instructed, then inserted the key in the locker keyhole and turned it anti-clockwise.  As he opened the door, Stephen’s entered the room with a tray of tea’s.

“Put them down gently,” pointing the pistol in his direction.

“What goes here?” whilst looking at the gun.

McCormack saw his chance and turned from the open locker with revolver in hand.  He fired and the bullet missed me by inches smashing into the wall.  I fired back twice in quick succession, and he went down, then Stephens got into the act, lobbing the tea in my direction whilst heading for the door.  I shot him twice in the back, he skidded face forward across the carpet and lay still.  When I went over he was dead.

I went to the locker, checked McCormack pulse.  Nothing.  I pushed his lifeless body to one side, and saw the bag sitting on the shelf. I picked it up and stuffed it into my bag, which I had bought with me.

That’s what you get for greed looking down at the two dead officers sprawled across the floor.

On the way out I met the desk constable coming up the stairs.  “Did you hear that crashing noise?” he asked.

“No,” I replied.

“Are the DI and the Sergeant in their office?”

“Yes.”

“One of them should have shown you down.”  He suddenly looked at me in a curious way, that policeman’s look.

He left me no option, so I killed him too. They shouldn’t have killed by lifelong friend and partner James, see.  It wasn’t necessary.

When I was sure he was dead too, I let myself out into the night air of Longbridge Road, and drove home.

 

Short Fiction: Temptation

secretary

Mark Edwards knew his time had come, when the gun went off, and the burning feeling spread through his body.

The image, the last he would see, was of his wife Evelyn standing over him with a smoking pistol in hand, gradually becoming hazy and surrounded in a black mist.  He slipped in and out of consciousness, until his life was finally taken from him.

She kneeled down beside him, “sorry Mark, that it had come to this, I just couldn’t stand by and let you divorce me, and go off with your tart of a secretary.”

The last thing I remember; was reaching out and grabbing the pendant that hung around Evelyn’s neck.

Seconds later my body being dropped into the central foundation hole of the building, and cement being poured on top of me,

I had been tempted, and paid for it with my life.

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(Image) Secretary: DreamCatCheuse-Deviantart

The Hunted

Medieval man writing

Under a stormy Suffolk sky, she ran across the spongy marsh towards a dense copse of evergreen trees.  Above the whine of the wind coming off the sea she heard again the baying of the hounds, the shouts of the men pursuing them.

She glanced over her shoulder.  Her friend Karen was some distance behind her, having trouble negotiating the treacherous ground.  Christine thought of going back, urging her to hurry – but the sinister men chasing them were closing in.

“Head for the trees, Karen,” she shouted.

But her voice was carried away on the rising wind.  She ran on, ran all out, gasping for breath, with fear.  Then she was inside the shelter of the black firs.  Clad in denims and a dark green windcheater, she ran deeper inside the small wood.  The barking of the savage dogs was close.  There was no escape.

There had to be.  Hidden inside the firs she looked up at a giant spreading its branches like hands reaching out to grasp her.  Her denims were tucked in leather boots, with indented rubber soles.  She grabbed at a low branch, hauled herself up the huge trunk, forcing herself to move fast.  Her boots were wet from splashing through a creek a short distance back.  She continued her climb like an agile monkey; thanking God she was slim and fit.

Near the top of the fir, which rose above the surrounding trees, she perched herself; legs straddled over a branch, back leant against the trunk as she waited to get her breath.  Looking down, she saw she was concealed from the ground except for one small gap.  She stared out across the marsh towards the river as dusk descended.  To her horror, she saw Karen running in the open, heading for a small boat moored in a creek snaking in from the yacht basin.  Close behind her followed the hunters.  Christine heard a sound below, glanced down, stiffened with fright.

A large Alsatian, released by its handler, was sniffing round the base of the fir.  She waited for its head to lift, to stare up at her refuge.  Two of her pursuers appeared.  Tall men wearing Balaclava helmets with slits for vision, camouflage jackets tucked into military style boots.  Both men held rifles.

Christine reached quietly into her shoulder bag, took out her .32 Browning automatic.  Then she heard the sound of more men treading through the undergrowth.  She was out-numbered.  The Alsatian was moving in circles as though baffled.  It ran away out of sight, Christine remembered the creek she had splashed through by chance.  The beast had lost her scent.  The hunters moved away.  She let out a sigh of relief.

Still seated, she stretched up, gazing in the direction of Aldeburgh, the town by the sea.  Its huddle of rooftops had disappeared in the dark.  She had a brief glimpse of a belt of sea with whitecaps and then that, too, disappeared in the moonless night.

Where is Karen?  She asked herself.

As though in reply to her anxious question she heard a penetrating scream piercing the silence of the marshes.  It came from the direction where Karen had run for the boat.  The agonized scream choked off.  The return of silence sounded dreadful.  Good God!  Had they reached Karen!  What had they done to her?

Shivering with cold, she buttoned the windcheater up to her neck, checked the time by her illuminated hands of her watch.  5.30pm.  Experience warned her she must wait inside her refuge.  The hunters knew there had been two women.  And she still caught the distant sound of a dog barking.

Her legs were beginning to ache – reaction from the desperate run across the marshes, from the strain of keeping still, straddled over the branch.  The wind stirred the smaller branches, brushed her face with prickly twigs.  She waited until 11.00pm, by which time the barking had stopped and no sounds heard across the fields, except the sound of waves in the distance.

She was frozen stiff; her body ached with each move, as she lowered herself to the ground.  What happened to Karen she asked herself as she hobbled away, keeping close to the tree line… thankful to be still alive.

Wikipedia Image

The Pharoah’s Curse

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Valley of the Kings

Valley of the Kings stands on a narrow gorge on the west bank of the Nile, near Thebes, where most of the Pharaohs were buried in highly visible pyramids.

Each tomb lies at the end of a succession of descending corridors, punctuated by shafts to prevent grave-robbers reaching the burial area.  This would consist of a burial chamber containing a sarcophagus, and other rooms of furniture and equipment it is believed he would need in the afterlife.  Many rooms would be decorated with carved and painted hieroglyphic texts, magical and symbolic scenes depicting his life.

A flickering of light danced upon the dark walled passageways.  A man dressed in a three-quarter cotton white tunic, raised a fire torch: illuminating four golden candlesticks, standing at each corner of a raised platform, where the gold casket bearing his Pharaoh would be placed.

The eyes glanced off into infinity, gazing at the long line of stationery guards that stood in death like silence, from the chamber to the entrance.

Silence was broken, by the whispering sound as Ignatius Reator, in his strap sandals, scraped over the stone floor, moving along the tunnel to the vast gallery.  With its twenty foot high domed ceiling, and pillared arches.  Its walls laced with cavities bearing ornate gold and pottery ornaments.

Ignatius examined the large collection of wooden crates stacked to one side, checking numbers against those on a scroll he flattened out, on a small stone table.  Sweat began to show through the layers of dust blanketing his skin, in this dry and airless chamber.  Finally satisfied all was in order, rolled up the scroll and slid it into a sash about his waist.

Ignatius was not a young man, considered old for his time, reaching the age of fifty-two.  As he retraced his steps to the anti-room, he exhaled a deep sigh of regret; he would never see or touch this wonderful array of artefacts, symbolising the life of his Pharaoh.  The face heavily lined, with sunken cheeks, and the dragging of his feet, exposed his weariness.  Yet, within he felt satisfaction, the project neared its end, and a great burden would soon be lifted from his shoulders.

His Pharaoh was dying, having just day’s to live; and soon his remaining artefacts would take their place in his burial chamber.  His guard of honour would be entombed, in a time honoured tradition, with their Pharaoh.

Passing by many tunnels to other parts of the pyramid, he remembered one, which entombed thousands of slaves, who died in the construction.  For them, better to have died in the service of their Pharaoh, than suffer prolonged misery at the hands of the Empire.

His mind was elsewhere, when screams echoed through from the outside shaft, jolting him back to the present time.

Ignatius out of concern breathlessly hurried to the entrance; as he stepped out into the light, the heat rays of the sun, forced him to squint his eyes.

News rocked him that his Pharaoh had died…  Day’s later his embalmed body was placed in its Sarcophagus, and taken to his burial chamber.  Placed with him were four Canopic Jars containing his organs; as tradition states, they would assist the dead to assist through the after-life.

Over the coming weeks; two ebony effigies of the Pharaoh gold sandaled, with staff and mace, were positioned either side of his tomb.  A collection of inlaid caskets; alabaster vases, black shrines, and a gold throne were set about his chamber.  The final doorway sealing his chamber contained a hand carved seal of the Pharaoh: Tutankhamen upon it, marking his final resting place.

The legend of the Pharaoh Tutankhamen, buried with all his wealth, in the Valley of the Kings, brought many an archaeologist or treasure hunter in search of fame and fortune.

tutankhamen

Tutankhamen’s Sarcophagus

Many tried to find the fabled burial chamber, only to find entrances that led nowhere, but to an early grave.

Seven years previous, on another dig, the Mantle brothers; James and Daniel, found a Canopic Chest, containing four Canopic Jars containing the stomach – intestines – lung and liver.  A scroll found within, named the architect of Tutankhamen’s Pyramid: Ignatius Reator, along with rough plans of the build.  It was enough to put them in the general area of the Pyramid, and lead them to the biggest find ever!

“I am hot, and exhausted, can we stop for a moment,” called out Daniel in a weary voice.

James, paused and looked behind him at his brother Daniel, coming up behind him.  “It is not safe to stop here, much of the shaft is unstable.”

At that moment, a tremor was felt in the shaft, as their scaffold and boarded support vibrated violently above them.

“Do you feel it?” asked Daniel.

“Of course I do, it must be a quake, the third one this month,” James said in an uneasy voice, “wedge yourself between the poles, it is our only hope.”

“If this shaft shakes much more, it will collapse with us under it,” suggested Daniel, while sand was falling away from the sides.

Briefly and violently sand fell away from the tunnel sides, they feared the scaffolding would soon fall about them.  However, the gods must have been on their side, for as quick as the quake started, it stopped in a matter of minutes.  Slowly their gaunt faces emerged from the sand, spitting out lumps of sand, whilst clearing the grit from their eyes.

“I warned you, it would be a risky adventure, before we started this, but the profits and fame would well be worth the risks,” James reminded his brother Daniel, gazing back at him, as he brushed away the loose sand covering him.  “We have spent four years digging this tunnel, from the upper to the lower floors, in our belief of finding the fabled tomb… many believe we are wasting our time, but I know we are in the right area.  So let’s clear away the fallen sand and re-fix the scaffold.”

James expected Daniel to reply, but there were a few groaning moans.  Daniel looked in the direction of James, and lifted himself out of the sand, pushing it to the side, and re-fixing the scaffold.

As Daniel pushed the sand against the sides, his hand felt a shape protruding from the walls.  “I have found something; it could be a seal or something?”

James waited patiently as Daniel brushed away the sand, hoping it could be what they desperately craved, for he knew they were in the right area according to the map…  So many times over the last six months they thought they had found something, believing it might lead to an entrance, only to find yet another dead end.

“It is the hand carved seal of Tutankhamen, well worn, but I would know it anywhere,” Daniel laughed and smiled with joy.

“If we hadn’t had that cave in, we might have gone right past it,” suggested James.

Their life-time dream, and four years of sweat and toil was drawing to a close, when in March 1922, they made that magnificent discovery… the hand carved seal telling them they had found the burial chamber of Tutankhamen, the Egyptian Pharaoh of the 18th dynasty… This was to send the airwaves clattering around the world, for they became famous overnight, having found, what many had sought.

Their first glimpse within the burial chamber revealed; two black ebony effigies of the Pharaoh, gold sandaled, with staff and mace, stood out from the dark cloak.  The walls lined with golden coaches, caskets, alabaster vases, black shrines with a gilded snake, his gold throne, gold chariots, and much more… they were speechless.

the-gold-mask-of-tutankhamun

Tutankhamen’s Mask

At the far end another doorway, set between two guarding statues; at that point they knew they had found the final resting place, of the boy Pharaoh … untouched since the day he was laid here in his sarcophagus.

The tour guide, a young, dark-haired woman in her early twenties, crossed the wide gallery, her low heels clicking off the polished hardwood floor precise as a metronome.  When she reached the archway that led to the grand staircase, she turned and waited for the tour to file into the room.  It was a large group today, and the gallery was one of the most popular rooms.  After this room, she could expect several to drop off from the tour and head for the gift shop or even the parking lot, their curiosity had been satisfied.

She took a microphone from its hook on the wall and waited.  When the group had settled into rows of standing, waiting faces, she flashed her best tour guide smile and began.

egyptian-museum-cairo-egypt

“Welcome to Mantle House, once the famous home of archaeologists James and Daniel Mantle …” She said, her voice amplified by several small speakers perfectly concealed about the room.  “Mantle House is one of the oldest and best preserved homes in this part of Knightsbridge.”

She waited, for someone to ask the most relevant question… there was always one on every tour.

“What about the Mantle deaths?” asked a voice from the rear.

“It all started on the 8th March 1972, the 50th anniversary of the Tutankhamen find, when the Mantle brothers were found dead.”  She looked around, all eyes and ears were on her, listening to her every word.  “An amulet from the dig lay on the coffee-table, now situated in the display case to my right,” as she pointed out.

The police were summoned, and all London was buzzing with curiosity and fear.  People questioned who had committed this dreadful deed, and the pathologist questioned how two healthy people died of natural causes on the same night, and at the exact same time.

The police received a challenging autopsy report from the pathologist.  The joint medical opinion stated they had not been poisoned, brutally murdered or killed by any known means they could find.  At the time of their death, they had been in perfect health, except now they were all dead.  Each body had the look of terror upon its face, and they had been frightened to death all at the same time.  What event caused this, is anyone’s guess … it has become one of the great unsolved mysteries of our time!

The mysterious deaths caused great concern to the police.  They had two dead bodies, and no witnesses!  If only the house could talk, its memories have been locked up within, never to be resolved.  Since that fateful day the place remained locked, never to be lived in again, that was until 1994, when according to solicitors acting on behalf of the Mantle estate, stated one Trevor Mantle, came of age.  It was he who has it brought back to its former glory, under the terms of the will, and re-opened it as a museum.

“What about the ghosts?” someone asked.

abraham-lincoln

Abraham Lincoln

The gallery is said to be haunted by several ghosts, although historical identities of the spirits are unknown.  The ghostly sightings began in 1879, shortly after the main house was built.  The first ghost to be seen at Mantle House is described as a tall man in a long coat, some say it looks like Abraham Lincoln, who died in 1865.  He is made up entirely of shadows, with burning red coal for eyes.

According to witness statements of 1892, ghostly sightings of one referred to, as the man in grey, so unnerved the master of the house at that time that he took a loaded musket from above the fireplace, and shot himself through the mouth.

The servant is said to have run from the house to a neighbour’s residence.  Her story of terror seemed too real to be a charade.  In fact, the servant suffered from the trauma for the rest of her short life.  She died mysteriously in an asylum three years later.

When neighbours rushed to investigate the servant’s wild tale, they found the remains of the master’s body stretched out on the floor; his musket lay close by.  The corpse had been burned nearly to ash, yet the remains were cool, and the rest of the house showed no signs of fire.

In the late 1930’s, the Mantle’s had an extension built on the side of the house, where we are now standing, to store their collection of artefacts from many archaeological digs.  Some years later, visitors report of seeing Tutankhamen, sitting at one end on his gold throne.

ATo this day, the ghost of The Grey Man, Tutankhamen, and the one believed to look like Abraham Lincoln look alike stalk this house, and have been seen by staff and visitors alike.

The tour guide smiled, and took her thumb from the microphone switch.  The tour group stood in a single silence, their expressions ranging from shock to peculiar exhilaration.

“If you will please move forward, we will continue to the next room.”

The group had just begun to move, when a young man to the rear of the group asked.  “What about the ghost of the Mantle brothers?”

The mention of the Mantle ghost sent cold waves through the group.  A woman screamed then collapsed.

The episode lasted only a matter of minutes, but it was enough to put everyone on edge.  The woman who fainted recovered and was helped to her feet, by other members of the tour party.

“Young man,” she spoke with a stern voice.  “Starting on the 8th March, and ending on the 22nd March, each year, numerous unexplained events would take place:  Display cases are known to crack, lights would shimmer on and off, or would explode without reason, room temperatures would drop below zero one minute, followed by a fire engulfing the far wall, hot to look at, but cold to the touch…ghost like images would openly walk the corridors.”

The faces of the group said it all … she had sent fear into each and everyone.  “That is why we don’t speak their names out loud, during those two weeks.  The mention of their names would invoke terror!”

The young man put his fingers to his face, and they came away wet.  The blood vessels in his right eye had burst, and he was weeping bloody tears.

“See what I mean,” stated the tour guide.  He nodded in response.  “There’s a first aid station next to the gift shop.”

Archaeologists James and Daniel Mantle found the ultimate prize; the Tutankhamen burial chamber … but the curse on the amulet was to cost them their lives.

Wikipedia Images

Innocent or Guilty… You Decide?

the-taste-of-blood-by-joganelken

The Daily Times headline for August 9th read:

 

BUTCHERED IN THEIR HOME

Peter James and his wife Samantha, along with two of their three children; Michael and Christina were brutally murdered yesterday morning at their South Elmham Home.

 

The story leading up to these horrific events started back in 1863, when the Reverend Henry Markham, built a fine Victorian Rectory, on the remains of a previous religious house, on the edge of the village.  Upon his death in 1895, his son Edward became the new vicar, and resided at the rectory until his death in 1928.

Rumours abounded the village, that the rectory must have been haunted, through the relentless activities of poltergeists.

Edward Markham, made a habit of waiting at the rectory gate, for the passing of the ghostly coach.  The sound of rumbling wheels, clattering of four horse’s hooves, would approach along the road, reach a crescendo at the gate, and gradually fade into the distance.  The phantom coach was not only heard but also seen by the ex-groom of the rectory, who described a blazing carriage with lights careering through the rectory grounds.

A more significant manifestation was that of a Nun, confirmed by many witnesses, over the years, as she walked across the terrace.  The presence of the Nun, added to the belief that the rectory must have been built on the site of a religious house.

In the spring of 1975, the body of the Reverend James Patterson, was discovered in the old rectory.  His body had been hacked to death, but nobody was brought to justice for this murder, though a local young man was suspected of the crime.

In the autumn of 1982, the redundant rectory was renovated, into a fine looking country farmhouse.  Many villagers had feared for the sanity of those who resided in this dreadful building, with an unsavoury past.

Then in the spring of 1983, a Scottish family the James’s took up residence, with their three children; Michael 9, Catherine 7, and Christina 8.

Very little was known about them, Peter James worked for the Civil Service, and in the early years, the children attended the local primary school, later they attended boarding school.

Utter shock, rocked the heart of this peaceful village, on a sweltering summer morning in early August 1995.  When the news that four of their residents had been murdered, in their own home.

The idea, that their 20 year old daughter Catherine, could be responsible for the horrific axe murders, seemed quite unthinkable – despite overwhelming physical and circumstantial evidence that pointed to her.

Inside all was quiet, but in the hall, on the stairs, there was chaos, objects flung about, generally creating a scene of disaster.  In the midst of similar destruction in the main room, was the body of Peter James, close by his wife, in a pool of blood.

Upstairs in the rear bedroom, Christina sprawled across the bed still wearing a pair of earphones, body drenched in blood, from the chest wounds.  Whilst Michael was found sprawled across the landing leading to the west wing, with two wounds in the back, and one in his left leg.

Dr Mathew Hoyden, who arrived on the scene a little after 11.30am, was taken back by the scene, of so many bodies.  The first body he examined was that of Samantha James’s lifeless body sprawled across the living room, blood was congealing from the wound, but there was little doubt she was dead.  Because of the location of the wound, forensic experts summarised; her heart had stopped pumping blood, almost immediately, thereby resulting in very little blood splatter on nearby walls and furniture, for such horrific wounds.

Whilst the medical examination continued, and the crime scene photographers carried out their duties.  The police carried out a detailed search of the house, from the attic to the cellar.  Nothing found to indicate the presence, of an intruder within.

Catherine, the only survivor of these horrific murder’s, whose alibi was fraught with inconsistencies – was the only suspect.  What would end up saving her was the intense violence of the murders.  Simply too grisly to have been committed by one so young and innocent, with a quiet and gentle disposition.

Catherine was a self-conscious young woman with long blonde hair, and light blue eyes, petite body with a blanched complexion.

Her manners were impeccable, always polite to those she met, but considered a loner, and known for her love of animals.

One of her traits she was well known for, she had inherited her mother’s short temper, and tended to sulk if she did not get her own way, and suffered from short- term memory loss.

What had baffled the police, was how the murderer have escaped the house undetected, whilst the front door remained bolted and locked.  Christine claimed she had been in the summerhouse, then she was in the attic and finally she was down by the river, she could not satisfy the police of her whereabouts at the time.

Either way, the police considered it unlikely that the murder could have escaped without being seen, or screams heard from the house.

Perhaps it was inevitable that Catherine would become the prime suspect, and then there was the persistent problem of her shaky alibi.

At the inquest, Catherine’s rendition of her whereabouts prior to the discovery of the bodies, changed so many times, that the police and coroner, often wondered which was the true statement.

Question:  Where were you on the morning of the murders?

Answer:     I was in the summerhouse reading.

Question:  Are you sure?

Answer:     I am not sure whether I was there, down by the river or in the attic.

Question:  Did you hear anything?

Answer:     Not that I can remember.

In desperate exasperation the Coroner gave up on this line of questioning, he knew it was useless, she just could not remember events from one minute to the next.

According to the Pathologist Dr Harvey Michaels, the forensic findings of the axe found in the nearby river could not conclusively prove, if it was or not the murder weapon.

The local doctor’s wife testified that she had seen Catharine shortly after the murders, when she burst into the surgery, asking for assistance, at what she had found at the house.  Being in a distressed state, she had a pale colour, and there were no signs of blood on her hands or clothes.

Finally the jury retired to give their verdict, and on their return they concluded that:  Peter James, Samantha James, Michael James and Christina James had been murdered by person or persons unknown.

Catherine, who had been the prime suspect of this violent and grisly murder of her family walked free from the Coroners Court, with a wee grin upon her face.

So was Catherine guilty of these horrific crimes or had she fooled the court into thinking she was innocent?  Before running to the doctor’s surgery, could she have washed changed her clothes and destroyed them away from the house?  Was she putting on an act?

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