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A Collection of Horror Stories
The Librarian pulled out the sheet of paper from his scanner and added it to the file beside him on the polished walnut desk. He lifted a cut glass tumbler to his lips, enjoying the aroma of a Scottish single malt. It was from the Isle of Skye and distilled into oak barrels, which were draped with seaweed and drenched regularly with spring water to infuse the whisky with the flavour of the sea. He could almost smell the salt air as he savoured the flavour. Sometimes he could hear the gulls gliding on the sea breeze above the island’s distillery hundreds of miles north but that was usually after one too many. The whisky burned pleasantly as he swallowed it. Its soothing effect settled his nerves and numbed the pain in his wounded arm. Twelve stitches this time, each one a reminder of this investigation. He couldn’t take the case any further. It was finito, ended, complete, finished, done and yet he felt no satisfaction or relief in its closure. It had taken him many months to discover the truths behind the tragic events in that small, insignificant terraced house in Liverpool.
44, St Oswald’s Street had been a brick-built conundrum with an insidious past, that seemed to seep through time to affect the present. He couldn’t prove things one way or the other but at least there were some answers to the many questions. Granted, there were not enough answers, but there were some. They would never know for sure, but for now his work was done as far as this dreadful case was concerned. The head of that particular serpent had been severed by his own hand.
There was no celebration to be had. The cost of human life had been too high. Everything comes at a price. One investigator had lost her life during the project and he had to put it down to the evil at 44, St Oswald’s St. If he allowed the guilt inside him to get a grip, then it would never let go of him. He would be in its suffocating grasp for all time. Everyone who became involved in such an investigation knew the risks. He always told those who dabbled with darkness, ‘If you want to play with madness, then never be surprised by its ability to twist your mind. Once you believe that real evil exists, there is nowhere safe in this world or the next, for it will seek you for all eternity. When you experience true darkness, your heart never sees the light quite as it did before.’ The mystery behind the series of disappearances and violent deaths at number 44 which had taken place regularly since the late 1600’s, had finally been uncovered. He hoped that the publication of his findings may clear the names of the innocent and put the blame fairly and squarely where it belonged. But he didn’t know, even now, if his evidence would be believed. He had found it hard to believe himself.
His association with the events at Old Swan had led him to uncover tales of horror which were masked on brief occasions by periods of happiness in unequal measure. It was an address tainted by murder and mayhem, stories which were sad enough to make the strong weep. There were too many stories, verified and hearsay, for them to be a coincidence. He knew that in the dimension of Magick, coincidence didn’t exist. He felt the weight of guilt as he rose from his desk and switched off the reading lamp. Deciding to have another whisky before bedtime, he made his way from the study to the tiny living room, where a coal fire was burning in the hearth. The flames flickered and jumped as if being fuelled by an invisible draught. It cast a warm glow around the room, although the corners were still hidden in shadows which advanced and deepened as the flames danced. It seemed that he was in a constant battle with the shadows at the corner of the room. They tried to advance and swallow him at every opportunity. Every time he turned his back he felt the darkness creeping up behind him. It was a living, breathing entity with a life of its own and it was evil incarnate. He knew that it would win the battle one day. One day it would overwhelm the light and envelop him. It would absorb him into itself, making it a little darker and a touch more evil than it was before. But for now he would use every ounce of power that he had to fend it off.
With the fire blazing and the curtains drawn, it was hard to believe that he lived in a basement flat. Number 9, Bold St had become infamous to all who stepped into the dark world of the occult. Some thought occultism was a joke, a place where idiots found solace with other idiots; witches and wizards and wrinkled old druids prancing about Stonehenge. The Librarian knew better, as did the others who shared his title. Similar libraries had been set up in many cities, all at the same address so that those in need of help could find them. He had been sent to the Bold Street which was in Liverpool. The front was a small book store, specialising in out of print editions. It had few legitimate customers, although it had many visitors. When the shop was closed and he was in the basement flat beneath, he could be anywhere that his imagination allowed him to be. His private collection of books lined every wall. Wicca, The Books of the Dead, The Encyclopaedias of the Damned, The Nature of the Beast, Satanism, Paganism and the Sigil of Baphomet, all the dark religions were represented within the thousands of pages of documented dark arts. He had read but a fraction of the powerful works that he guarded. The knowledge which they imparted could be used to help others battle the darkness, but it came at a price. Sometimes he felt the insidious energy which was held within the pages bleeding into the atmosphere of the room. It was like static electricity before a thunderstorm and yet other times, he felt nothing at all. His dreams were haunted by the eyeless faces of the dead, although he had no time to pity them. They were lost to the evil side and couldn’t be saved. His focus had to be on the living. Saving them was his remit. He glanced up at the clock on the mantelpiece and sighed. Nearly midnight. His mind was still working overtime, the details of the investigation still jostling for his attention. He didn’t think he would be able to sleep, even though his eyes were sore and his body was exhausted. As he poured himself another scotch he heard the clock chime. It was the witching hour and cold fingers of fear toyed with his mind, sending a shiver up his spine. The living room window exploded in a shower of glass, lethal shards sent in every direction. They had come for him.
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About the Author
Conrad Jones is a 49-year-old Author, who has 13 novels and has been published by Constable and Robinson, Champagne Books and Thames River Press. The Soft Target Series has six books following an ex-Special Forces operative, who battles crime and the first book, ‘Soft Target’ is permanently free to download. The Hunting Angels Diaries, A Child for the Devil (Always 77p/99c), Black Angels and Nine Angels is a horror series. The Detective Alec Ramsay Series, including the Best Selling ‘The Child Taker’ has five novels to date. You can find more about Conrad’s novels at.