Monthly Archives: November 2014

Chapter 22.

Death of the priest.

 

 

The priest was disappointed that Horn had not liked his idea of exorcising him. It was a quick and elegant solution he thought. And of course if the devil was responsible for all those murders only an exorcism could end the killings. The priest was slowly walking home when he suddenly smelled something funny, a strange acrid smell. He turned around but could not see or hear anything. He crossed the street and entered the park that separated his neighborhood from another one. The park was dimly lit but Verdi was afraid of no one. It was usually the other way around as people were afraid of his massive frame. He looked like a mountain that had sprouted legs underneath or a massive freight train that would run you over if you stayed in its way.

As he continued his walk he smelled that funny smell again, but this time it was quite near to him. He looked around and then saw where the smell came from; just over his head was some sort of black cloud, blacker than it’s surroundings. The cloud slowly descended and dropped to the ground just in front of him. Verdi had still not connected the dots, the fact that this black smoke was what Horn had talked about. And then something surreal happened as the black smoke was no longer smoke anymore transforming itself into a being. Verdi looked in awe as if he had seen his almighty God. He sensed that this was not normal and he instinctively began to fondle his wooden cross that hung around his neck and began to recite a prayer. He remembered his bible and quickly took it out from his bag, holding it in front of the apparition and in a loud voice began to harangue the being.

“Go away Satan, prince of darkness and foul thing that you are!” he said in a strong voice.

But the being said nothing except to stare at him. He was a few feet away from Verdi and so he could study this being closely. It had solidified but it was featureless as it was simply a black shape with the outline of a human. It had a nose, eyes and ears but no hair. At one point it opened its mouth but nothing came out and what it revealed was more darkness. Verdi was tense and was still fondling his cross with his hand. He stepped back but as he did the apparition began to advance slowly, inching towards him.

“Please, stop. Don’t continuing to advance or I’ll have to defend myself and then attack you.” Verdi assumed now a defensive position, his massive hands by his side as he stopped handling his cross. He felt the urge to do something, to show this being that he would defend himself if he had to, even to the death. He took his bible and threw it at the being with all the force he could muster. The book simply flew right through the apparition. Verdi was shocked as he had assumed the being to be real and to have a solid body. Verdi looked at his bible that had landed a few feet away from him and was now lying on the ground. If the book went through the being then perhaps that meant that the apparition wasn’t real. His courage in face of the apparition now increased ten-fold.

“You don’t scare me, you’re just smoke and mirrors. A sham. Go away before I really get angry at you.” he bellowed at the being, but the being simply stood its ground. They were now near some trees and it was pitch-black. The apparition suddenly rushed towards Verdi so quickly that Verdi only saw a blurred shape rushing at him. It simply pushed him on his back with such force that it nearly rendered Verdi unconscious as he hit the ground violently. In its left hand the being had the bible that Verdi had thrown. It then put its hand on the chest of Verdi and kept him down with such incredible force that Verdi was unable to get up or even move. Verdi realized then that the being had a physical shape and that it was real. He shuddered and now remembered what Horn had told him.

“Please, whoever you are, answer me, what do you want from me?” Verdi’s eyes were wide open. He saw his bible in the being’s left hand and was now looking at a face that had no eyes, with nothingness looking back at him. The being answered his plea by forcibly inserting the bible into Verdi’s mouth with such force that it entered the throat explosively.

Verdi tried to remove the book with his hands but the being pinned him down and continued to push the book in his throat. Verdi was now thrashing around like a fish out of water but then after a few moments all movements stopped as the priest was dead. The being was still over Verdi, still pinning him on the ground and looking to see if there were any movements when a scream was heard behind him. A woman was looking at the scene with her hands on her mouth wide-eyed. She had dropped her bags and the content of them was streaming down from her. The being immediately transformed itself back into a black smoke and flew above her head in an unknown direction. The woman looked dazed and then saw the body lying on the grass. She approached it cautiously and looked at the face. Verdi’s face was now red and swollen with his mouth horribly distended with his bible still firmly lodged in his throat. The woman screamed again as she recognized Verdi as the priest of Hollytown where she attended mass.

 

 

 

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Chapter 21.

John Verdi rides again!

 

 

Detective Strong was in his office reviewing the case of Walter Horn. No new murders had been committed in more than two weeks and that was a good sign. All the previous murders had occurred in less than a month. Suddenly the phone rang.

“Can I speak with Detective Strong please,” said a masculine voice.

“Speaking. And who may you be?” said Strong.

“My name is John Verdi, and I am the priest at Hollytown church. Maybe you know that church, Detective Strong?”

“Well I know the church but that’s all I know about it. What can I do for you.”

“Well, it’s about the various murders that have occurred in town. I read in the papers that you spoke about a black smoke in the vicinity, isn’t that right?”

“Yes, I did speak to the press about that black smoke. What about it.” said Strong.

“Well, a certain Walter Horn came to see me a while back. I’m afraid that I didn’t take him seriously about his story. But now I do.”

“Tell me, he visited you and asked for advice and you brushed him off, right?” Strong was happy to see that he wasn’t the only one having a problem with Horn’s story.

“Well no, I didn’t brush him off as you say, I told him that in my opinion it was the devil. I told him that this tricky fellow can take various forms and that for him, what he thought was a shadow separating from him was really the devil.”

Strong said nothing for a few seconds, rolling his eyes and looking at the ceiling. A religious nut. That was to be expected of course and more of them along with perhaps other psychics might come out of the woodwork.

“Well I thank-you for your call Father Verdi, and have….”

“Wait. I am calling to offer you my help. This man must be exorcised, that is the only way to prevent more murders!”

“Please Father, none of that stuff. This is not a religious case but a murder investigation. Do not try to intervene, am I clear?”

“Very clear. But I still believe I am right.”

“Good day Father.” Strong hung up, happy to end this silly conversation.

Father John Verdi was not a man who would quit easily, especially if he believed strongly that he was right. He believed that Horn was facing the devil and that alone, the murders would continue. He had to help him even against his wishes.

He decided to find the address of Horn and to confront him again. He believed Horn was probably responsible for his so-called shadow separating from him and going on a killing spree. He needed help and help was what Verdi was offering. It was his duty to help a man like Horn, a man unarmed against stronger supernatural forces.

Verdi located the address of Horn and decided to pay him a visit. He arrived at the door, knocked and waited patiently for the door to open. It did open rapidly and Horn was in the door way, looking at Verdi in a strange way.

“Hello Mr. Horn, do you remember me? My name is…”

“John Verdi, the priest from Hollytown. I remember you. What can I do for you.” Horn said curtly.

“May I come in, I would love to talk to you as I believe I know what ails you.”

Horn was unsure what to do, but in the end he thought that giving Verdi his fifteen minutes would mollify him and that he would leave his house content.

“Of course, come in.” Horn said in a polite way. They both went in with Verdi sitting on the sofa while Horn sat in front of him in his chair.

“You know Mr.Horn that I have been obsessed by the discussion that we have had concerning that shadow of yours. And with the latest murder, I believe that something must be done to stop this thing from killing again, don’t you think?”

“Of course, but there is nothing that I can do, and even the police does not seem to know what to do. I believe that they still think that I am responsible.” said Horn.

“I know what to do, Mr. Horn and yes, you are responsible for those murders, albeit in an indirect way.”

“What! I am telling you that I killed no one, do you understand me? I am as much a victim as any of those people who have lost their lives.” said Horn defensively.

“Mr. Horn, the only way to help you is for you to confess that you must have sinned greatly to have been afflicted by this shadow. And as I told you, this shadow is nothing more than the devil. I can help you fight him and win.”

“How, tell me. How can my shadow be re-integrated with me. And no, it is not religious in nature, you are mistaken.” Horn was tired of this religious nonsense spouted by the priest. He was on the verge of asking him to leave as his fifteen minutes were up.

“Only an exorcism can save you Mr.Horn. By casting the evil spirits still in you it will make way for spirits who can help you. Please, let me perform the sacred rites now, I have everything.” said the priest. At those words he took out of his bag a bible and a large crucifix and stood up, preparing to speak some verses from the bible.

Horn was amused and then alarmed when he saw the priest take out his implements. He thought that this comedy had lasted enough and that now was the time for him to put his foot down. “Please, get out. I told you no, I want none of your help.” Horn stood up as the priest was still reciting some verses. Horn opened the door for the priest. “Get out now or I will call the police, do you understand?”

At these words the priest put his bible and the crucifix back into his bag and stormed out, but not before saying some parting words. “Mr. Horn, you are not out of the woods and the devil will come and claim you. Good day Mr.Horn.” said the priest as he left in a huff, frustrated that he was unable to save a soul.

Horn said nothing and closed the door amazed that the priest had come here, in his house, to save him through an exorcism. He was angry at the priest for this and this scared him. What if the black smoke attacked him? He tried to calm down but he was still upset. He kicked his chair violently and then suddenly felt nauseous once again. He knew that he was about to faint so he dropped to his knees and while he was there he saw the black smoke appear. It was very diffuse at first but then it became solid in front of him. He was still on his knees but barely conscious. Once again there was that awful acrid smell that permeated the room. He lifted his eyes and saw the black smoke assume a corporal shape except that It had no feet. Horn looked up at it as this being looked at him, smiled and then pointed at the door or the sky behind it, Horn was unsure. It then lifted up four fingers and that meant it was going to kill again, that much Horn understood.

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Chapter 20.

Another body found.

 

The professor had been found by one of his students in the same position as the black smoke had left him, crumpled on the floor. Immediately the police had been notified and Detective Strong had arrived on the scene of the crime along with two more investigators.

“Well, another suspicious murder.” said Strong. The other investigators just nodded as they were busy taking pictures. On a whim, Strong decided to call Detective Fisher.

“Fisher, its Strong. Where is Horn?”

“Still at home. He went to work yesterday and then came back here at his place. So far nothing suspicious on his part.”

“We’ve had another murder, professor Curry. This is very strange. I’m starting to believe Horn’s story, you know.”

“Yeah, it is weird. The dead in all the cases were related to Horn, but in the last murder, it is clear that Horn is not the culprit. He was never near the scene of the crime.” Fisher said.

“OK, thanks for the info. Keep watching him. It is probably not him doing the killings but he could still be implicated by possible accomplices.” Strong said his he hung up.

Strong went back to the office and looked at the scene of the crime: the wooden ruler was on the floor and on the neck of the victim were marks of apparent strangulation. It was clear that the professor had tried to put up a fight but in the end he was overpowered. And as he was strangled that meant that someone with hands did it. Could the black smoke materialize and kill, and then escape by turning back into a vapor? Professor Curry had said that all this was scientifically impossible, but the evidence was inescapable. Maybe Horn was telling the truth after all. All these thoughts were swimming in Strong’s head.

Strong decided to call Horn to inform him of the murder and to see what would be his reaction. “Mr. Horn, hello. I have bad news again, another murder.”

“Another one? Related to me again?” said Horn.

“Not quite. You see, you have never met professor Curry. But I had and you were informed of the meeting and of what professor Curry thought about your claims about your shadow killing people. Tell me, what were your feelings when you heard that he did not believe you.”

“Well of course I was angry that he did not accept that it was possible. And yet I knew it was as I had seen it. So yes, anger and disbelief was what occupied my thoughts at that time.” Horn was honest. He knew that he had to be.

” I see. So anger towards the professor occupied your thoughts. Can I assume that when you were thinking in the

past about your ex-girlfriend or your ex-boss, angry thoughts also crossed your mind? said Strong.

“Yes. I think that is fair to say that the way and the reason my ex-girlfriend left me and how I was treated by my ex-boss definitely led me to experience anger towards them.”

Detective Strong thought he was detecting a pattern; whenever Horn was very unhappy or experienced anger in a situation, a murder had occurred that involved the people Horn was thinking about. This could mean that Horn was unable to control this shadow of his and that furthermore, the two were linked. Strong disliked that hypothesis but it made sense. Horn was not the killer, and to think that he could hire a killer that would do his dirty deeds seems unlikely as killers have to be paid and Horn did not have that kind of money. Of course, Horn could still be the target of someone trying to frame him, but nothing in his past suggested that. No, it seemed that the supernatural explanation seemed the most plausible so far.

It occurred to Strong that as Detective Fisher was following Horn everywhere he would be able to tell him what Horn had done during the time the murder of the professor had happened. He called Fisher on his cell phone.

“Fisher, its me, Strong. Tell me, where was Horn the day the professor was killed.”

“He was home, without a doubt.” Fisher said.

“Are you absolutely sure of this? Because if you are, that means that at the very least Horn isn’t the one killing people from his past.”

“I’m sure its not him.” Fisher said. “That means that the story of his shadow separating from him and killing people could in theory be true, right?”

“I suppose so. But I am still uncomfortable with this idea. If this has never happened in the past, why now and why Horn? All this doesn’t make sense. It is still possible that Horn is being set up for these murders.” said Strong.

“Well yes, in theory it is possible. But that would not explain the black smoke seen in the vicinity of some of the murders.” said Fisher.

“You’re right about that. I think we still have to wait and see what happens next. Keep following him.”

“Will do. Bye.”

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Chapter 19.

The death of professor Curry.

 

 

It had been a hard day for the professor as he had an argument with one of his students about the veracity of ghost stories, being challenged by evidence that was flimsy at best and anecdotal. He tried his best to remain calm but in the end he had to raise his voice several times. The student was convinced about ghosts and apparitions in general. The burden of evidence was on him but that did not matter, even if he had nothing to offer except that other people had seen them. And then this other very religious student tried to convince him about the the bible and its miracles. To which the professor responded that since miracles implied the breaking of the laws governing the physical world he simply could not believe them. You needed stronger evidence than to merely affirm that the fact it was a holy book meant that everything in it was true. Extraordinary claims needed extraordinary evidence the professor had replied, which only served to inflame the passions of the student who left in a huff.

The professor then left the classroom and took the direction of his office where he sat down and began marking his student papers. It was then that he smelled something strange in the office, a certain slightly acrid smell. He looked around, sniffed under the desk but could not find the source of the strange odor. He was still marking papers when he suddenly saw the blackboard move from the back of the office to the front, thereby blocking the window in the door. He got up, went straight to the blackboard and tried to put it back where it used to be but to no avail as the board seemed stuck and would not budge. He thought that very strange so he left it there returning to his work. He would have time later on to put it back by applying more force if necessary or so he thought.

He returned to his papers when the lights began to flicker on and off. Very strange he thought. The flickering finally stopped and he returned to his work, but by now he had a growing sense of unease. He felt something was behind him or slightly above him. Turning rapidly around he saw something black. It was dense black smoke, smaller than a hand, and it was hovering just above him like a small personal cloud. He thought a small fire was burning in the office somewhere but as he got up to leave quickly the black smoke increased in size and put itself between the door and him. As the blackboard was also in front of the door, the exit was blocked and he was trapped.

He looked on as the black smoke increased in size until it was as tall as he was. Suddenly as he looked on it took a human form, or at least it had the outline of it as it had a head, two arms and two legs. But it was all black and no features were apparent on the face. It simply looked straight at the professor.

“What are you? Are you alive?” the professor said. He had taken a wooden ruler in his hand and was brandishing it as a weapon, pointing it at the apparition. It was a pitiful weapon and he knew it.

“Don’t come near me or I’ll whack you!” he said. He was only a few feet away from the apparition. The professor assumed a defensive position, holding his ruler like a musketeer holding his weapon. The apparition approached the professor slowly, extending the left arm towards him and seemingly wanting to touch him.

“Stand back or I’ll swear I’ll hit you till your dead on the floor, whatever you are!” the professor said. He could feel the sweat on his forehead and the goose bumps on his arms. He was frightened and he knew it. It then occurred to him that maybe it was a practical joke played on him by some of his students.

“Alright guys, you had your fun now lets quit this.” he said. But the apparition still had its arm extended and was continuing its approach. It was now only a few inches away.

“Stop, that’s it. I’m whacking you.” the professor said. He lifted the ruler and with all his force applied it on the head of the apparition but it made no noise as it simply went through it. The professor tried several times to strike it but to no avail as the apparition was unharmed. It was then that it seemed to smile at the professor as it was grinning from ear to ear, advancing slowly towards the professor with its extended arms towards him.

The professor retreated as far as he could at the back of his office until his back hit the wall. The phantom presence continued its advance, inching slowly towards him. He dropped the wooden ruler at his feet as it was of no use to him. He went down on his knees, as if he were praying for a divine intervention.

“Please, whatever you are, stop. I’ll do whatever you want but get out of here.” the professor cried out.

The apparition continued its advance and was now a mere inches from him. Suddenly, the two arms of the apparition appeared to be solid and seemed to have materialized out of thin air. They took the professor by his shirt and lifted him up several feet so that his feet did not touch the floor. To say that the professor was scared out of his mind was an understatement. He was whining and crying in terror.

“Please, release me. I did nothing wrong to you, nothing at all!”

At those words the apparition grinned again, but no smile was apparent. It was simply a black face with a black mouth, a sort of negative image of a person but with no detail. The apparition simply dropped the professor on the floor and then using its hands began strangling him slowly but methodically.

“Please….stop..I,I…can’t breathe.” those were the last words of the professor as he turned red and then expired. The apparition left him in a corner of his office, all crumpled up, and then transformed itself into a black smoke again and exited under the door.

 

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Chapter 18.

Detective Strong has a talk with Horn.

 

 

After the meeting with the psychiatrist Horn left in the direction of his home, happy that he had been declared sane but of course he never doubted his sanity even if others may have. At least now, Detective Strong had to admit that he was not crazy and that something was happening to him. Horn arrived at his house and entered the premises, slumping on the sofa as soon as he spotted it. As he closed his eyes and began relaxing the phone rang.

“Mr. Horn, this is Detective Strong. I understand that your visit to the doctor has gone well.”

“Indeed Detective, I was declared a sane person, as no doubt you probably know by now.”

“Yes, I know. The doctor has told me in detail the results and he has declared you sane. But, the fact that you are sane does not imply that your story is true. I took the liberty of asking an important scientist at Temple University what he thought of your story, without mentioning any names of course. And he flat out denied that the shadow or shadows that emanate from a human being can separate from him and then kill others. He said that physically it was not possible.” said Strong.

Horn had been listening with intent at what Strong was saying and the mention of shadows not being able to separate from their hosts exasperated him. His blood rushed to his head and his eyes glowed with rage. He had to know who that scientist was. He wanted a name and a face. “Look, I don’t care what your scientist says. I saw my shadow leave me, that I am sure of. If your anonymous scientist says otherwise he is a fool!” said Horn.

“Well Mr. Horn, this scientist is no fool, it is the very famous professor Curry, the one who famously debunks paranormal events when reported in the press. He has an excellent reputation in the scientific community and that is why I went to him, either to confirm what you said to me or to infirm it.” Strong said.

So now Horn knew who was trying to debunk his story, the famous professor Curry. Of course he had heard of him, who hadn’t. He was always in the papers, debunking one paranormal story after another. This did not alter the fact that he knew what he saw and nothing that the professor said would or could change that. Horn simply became more angry after hearing the name. “Look, I don’t care that he told you it was not possible, I stand by my story. I saw what I saw, and nothing can change my mind.”

“So I take it that even if the professor denies the plausibility of your story you still maintain what you said, that your shadow which separated from you is responsible for the killings?”

“Yes, without a doubt.” Horn was relieved to hear himself resolutely maintain his story. Strong and the others could think what they wanted, he did not care.

“Very well Mr.Horn, we’ll keep in touch. Good-bye for now.”

“Good-bye Detective.” said Horn, as he sat down on his sofa once again.

Horn now understood why he had been asked to see a psychiatrist. No doubt that after professor Curry’s declaration about the shadows, they wanted to make sure that they were dealing with a sane person. And now that they knew he was sane they were stuck with his story. A story that was implausible at first glance but for which circumstantial evidence existed, with a strong sane witness. And others had seen a black smoke as well. Horn was ruminating these thoughts when he focused his attention on the professor. He realized that he was being called a liar by him without a doubt. Just thinking about this made his blood boil over and he suddenly felt a rush to the head. He was lucky to be seated on the sofa as now he felt very weak. He slowly slumped in the sofa, still thinking about professor Curry and his judgement. He felt anger towards him, and then he slowly fainted, but not before seeing the black smoke at his feet. He was slowly becoming unconscious yet it was there. He tried to marshal his forces to get up but simply could not. He felt his anger slowly draining from him and it seemed that the black smoke was getting darker and darker. And then he saw it; the black smoke took shape and showed him three fingers, and then held a fourth one as he passed out amidst an acrid smell that enveloped the room.

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