Sacrifice At Mystery Hill
Because he was a ghost, Thomas Thornton, which had been his name in his eighteenth century reincarnation, was able to move right through the rocks, to slide through the small spaces between them with ease, even through the stone ‘speaking tube’ which led to the hollow space under the sacrificial altar. This was his favorite place to rest, snuggled up to the moss and decayed leaves that formed a soft bed. It smelled a little like death, too, musty and old and coppery, like blood, but it was a scent he had grown to love. It was also the place where she had died, so he felt closest to her there.
He had waited for her for centuries. Her death had been hard—and many souls who endured such a primitive and painful death were reluctant to return, but eventually they all did. After all, they had destinies to work out before they could go on to the next stage of existence, and so not coming back was not an option. The Coordinator, one of the Great Beings who tracked the journeys of all the souls, had told Thomas he would let him know when it was time. He, too, had his karma to work out before he could go on to the next level. His destiny was to overcome cowardice of that long ago primitive life when he could have saved her, but hadn’t.
For The Love Of A Woman
I cut straight to the chase. “What the hell was all that all about?” I said.
“Whut?” Bum replied, all faux ingenu.
“Saying we’d go to Italy and fight the bloody Mafia. How many times’ve you told me you’d never mix it with the Mob? Dead horses in people’s beds and that was just the start of it? You remember saying that? Meat cleavers through heads. Blokes frozen into blocks of ice in the back of butchers’ trucks and then served up for lunch. People...”
“Yeah, yeah,” he nodded, carefully rolling his morning joint.
“Well, didn’t you?”
“Din’t I whut?”
“And now you’re saying they’re mean motor scooters but we can be meaner? What kind’ve shit is that, Bum? You know how much shit that is?” I squawked, warming to my theme as I slugged down the remains of the espresso and fired up another Disque Blue. “A whole heap of shit, that’s how much shit. A whole mountainful of shit...”
“And all so you can look tough in front of your woman, all because...”
“She’s a fine woman, bro. Wouldn’t want you dissin’ her none.”
“I know she’s a fine woman. Any man with eyes in his head can see she’s a...”
“And, like, I lurve her?” he said, tweaking the end of his reefer, licking at its end, then rolling it between his lips. “You wanna fire me up?”
“Lurve?” I said, leaning in with the light. “What’s lurve got to do with it?”
“Like everything?” he said, swallowing smoke.
Mystery At Sunset Ridge
“Chief Evan? I’m Billie Ross. I run an investigation agency in Pinecrest. I’m here about a missing person. I wanted to let you know I’m in the area.”
The chief stood and hitched his belt up under a huge gut. “I expected you. Sam Barns called. Said you weren’t too big a nuisance.”
In Pinecrest, Sam Barns was the chief of police. Lila had called him to get some information on Redbud. Sam with his helpful manner saw fit to call Evan.
Billie nodded and gave what she hoped was a winning smile. “I try not to be. Sam usually keeps me in line. I’ll do my best to stay out of your way, too. Matt Doran’s sister called me. She is worried about him. Could you tell me, do you know anything about Mr. Doran?”
The chief shrugged his heavy shoulders and stuck out an overly red lower lip. “Not much, missy. Ain’t my case. Doran lives outside of town. The county sheriff is responsible. Charlie Taylor was killed out in the county.”
“Whoa, whoa there. Killed? What’s that got to do with my missing person?”
For a man with a moon-shaped face Chief Evan managed a dainty little smirk. “Yeah, Matt Doran is missing all right. He’s wanted for questioning in the killing of Charlie Taylor.”
This didn’t sound good. Billie’s heart rate increased. “Who is Charlie Taylor?”
“The man with a big farm above the Elk River. Doran had dealings with Charlie on some of that land. Anyhow, Charlie is dead and Matt is long gone. Can’t tell you much more than that. Sheriff Mason is handling it.”
“Does the sheriff think Matt had something to do with this man’s death?”
“You’d have to ask him. I told you, I don’t have any real facts. Why don’t you find out more about your missing man. Like what he was really up to with that new real estate development. Then you might know what questions to ask.”
The cold look in Chief Evan’s squinty eyes warned Billie not to push. She hated to blunder in not knowing all the facts. She’d revisit Chief Evan a little later. Give him time to get used to her. Billie took a business card out of her shirt pocket and put it on the chief’s cluttered desk.
“Thanks for the information, Chief. If you need to run me down, the office and cell numbers are there.”
It was doubtful Chief Evan would be calling her. He appeared glad the case wasn’t his. Billie hated to judge people too quickly, but most of the time first impressions were right!
Front row. Best seat in the house. If Trish closes her eyes, she can imagine that in her state of confusion she had bought tickets to a rap concert.
The beats and raps of Scribe assault her. Anger stay away for now, she sighs. Trish feels a hand on her shoulder and looks up. “Tom.” Their eyes drill what their mouths can’t speak. “Can I join you?”
“Of course. It’s your right.”
“Dad.” Mandy gets up and falls into his arms, inhaling smells of childhood comfort.
“How’re you going, my Millie Mollie?”
Trish is transported back to a rundown cottage, a huge claw-foot bath, the four of them splashing and laughing—tight knit—country fair-isle with hope and wholemeal bread in equal portions. How did it come unravelled? Don’t answer that question now.
First time we’ve all been together in a while. What would Dan think? Is he here or just his shell?
Where’s faith when you need it? Mum would have it sorted, faith that is, not reason. Thank God she’s not here. But right now, I could do with a mum.
The music stops. Time for the words. “Today we are here to remember Daniel and to celebrate his life.”
Trish wants to reach out for Mandy’s hand, but Tom has laid claim to both of them. So it’s just me. The words stand and mock, tell and smile.
The Pursuit Of The Media Mafia
A red light started flashing. It came from the ceiling, but flooded the dining hall. Whirring motors forced ten feet of the table to separate from the remaining twenty feet—where Kain and Nova sat—by sliding away a few inches.
From each side of the great hall, wall panels flipped out. Tall iron fences emerged, unfolding, clanking, collision-bound. The fences met at the center of the two tables and locked together. The warning strobe winked out.
Through another panel—now a door—a guard entered the fenced-off pen. He was followed by Vicarvici with his cane, his drag-along foot, and another guard.
The first two guards marched from the galley, forward into the dining hall and stood at ease at the end of the table opposite Vicarvici. Vic sat down at the head of it. His neck bandage was masked by a silk muffler he kept loosening, then tightening. Adjusting his eye patch, he nodded a greeting.
“Kain Iken,” said Nova, as they moved their chairs up to the fence, “I’d like you to meet Father Vicarvici.”
The vicar poked three fingers through the fence. “Vic the Voice,” he grinned widely.
Kain touched the fingers. “Mister Vicar, we’ve just got to stop meeting like this.” Sorry, Thornburgh and company, thought Kain, this Cyclops is untouchable, totally.
Coming Next Month
Kate and the Kid by Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks
Find And Recover! by H. Susan Shaw