~ the raven chronicles ~ 47

31 Oct

(Chapters are stored chronologically in ARCHIVES)

Fr. Michael Leavell, OP.
Sacred Heart Church

Raven, Ohio

November 22, 1932

wrapped to burnWallace found a length of burlap with which we wrapped the girl’s body; we then secured the rough cerement with fence wire. I carried the slender corpse over my shoulder across the frosty pasture out to the fence line where the mutilated calf lay. A vapor rose from the dead animal, as if it had some bestial soul floating heavenward. I placed the shroud on top of the calf, stood back and said my prayers for the dead.

I turned about at rustling behind me and discovered Wallace striding through the tall sere grass with a large galvanized canister. When he arrived by my side, we exchanged glances, then without a word, he uncapped the container and doused the abominable pyre with the contents. We stepped back and watched the fuel soak in, pursued by the acrid vapors of kerosene. After a few moments the burlap collapsed and adhered to the wrapped girl in a way that gave a definition to her form and made painfully clear to us exactly what we were about to do.

You should set the fire, Michael, Wallace said; it wouldn’t be right for me to do such a thing.

I understood his comment, and took no umbrage; ’twas my decision to burn the body; ’twas myleavell match box duty to set the flame.

I removed a matchbox from my coat, held it in the palm of my hand and studied the sailing ship there on the top. I thought again of my dream of the lighthouse at Cape Wrath, and heard my Grandmother’s warning;

“Beware, Michael‚ they live still‚ waiting for their day of reckoning.”

Her words fortified my decision. I removed a match from the box, hit the striker and watched the small flame consume the tip. I said a brief silent prayer asking forgiveness, then I tossed the match towards the pyre.

A great whoosh sounded and the mound of flesh and bones and burlap was engulfed in flames. Wallace and I reflexively stepped further back from the heat and dark smoke and regarded our gruesome handiwork.

What are we about here, Michael, Wallace said to me.

We do not act out of malice, I replied; Destiny has rung the bell, and it is incumbent upon us to be the ones to answer. Though it seems madness, I believe it is the only way.

Aye, madness it is, but nor more of a madness than what I witnessed last night, he said.

As the dark smoke from our horrible endeavor swirled higher, new questions swirled in my mind: who were the creatures that attacked this farm in the dead of night; and to what purpose. Was the raid executed out of vengeance, or was it a random act of senseless violence. And what of the perpetrators; if the children were indeed the feral boy named Zeke, and the little lost McCutcheon girl, who were the others: the giant and the spindly one and this poor unfortunate girl whose corporal body was being consumed by fire.

My surety that she must have been a revenant, meant that just as assuredly there was a sorcerer who reanimated her. But who possessed such diabolical power?

The flame of an idea ignited within me; if one of the “children” Wallace had seen during the attack had been the feral boy from Sterns-Carson, then this girl whose body was now engulfed in flame, was in all likelihood, an inmate from that hospital, seduced and enlisted to the evil enterprise that bought her to this final fiery end. Of a certainty, I knew that boy to be flesh and blood; just as certainly I knew that this girl had walked last night as a zombie, resurrected to do the bidding of a necromancer.

rheaThe perimeter of the circle I have been traveling these past weeks suddenly contracted, and I caught a glimpse of my quarry, perched in the center of the riddle. I wonder if I have been misled, or blinded by my lack of cynicism, or misconstrued Rhea Sinclair’s part in this drama simply because she is a beautiful, educated woman. She may have once been a victim, but I was all but ready to lay odds that she was now a victimizer, and it remains only to discover through what wicked machinations she operates.

My thoughts then went to Mary, and of her safety, being in close proximity to the perceived danger. I didn’t voice my concerns to Wallace; I rationalized that she would be just as safe at the hospital as anywhere else; I needed him with me for the showdown at the Grand Hotel, for in light of these developments, there may be more waiting for us than just a few bootleg goons.

I looked upon the fire and prayed for that abused, departed soul within; and for all of us left behind, that we may be able to summon the strength required to deal with the evil growing in our midst.

©2013 j.edwardfitzgerald all rights reserved

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2 Responses to “~ the raven chronicles ~ 47”

  1. Teresa Blackburn November 26, 2013 at 9:24 am #

    Goodness, I almost missed this one! The image of cleansing fire is always arresting isn’t it? Buddhist monks in Tibet, the pyres of an Indian funeral…fire & brimstone…the burning bush….a child running with napalm burns…you have once again captured the essence of both mystery and evil. Carry on my friend, carry on.

    • JEF November 26, 2013 at 9:27 am #

      …thanks, T…more to come…

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