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The Devil's Crucifix - part 1

Part one of two.
     ~ I wrote this, oh, about two years ago now, so forgive me it the plot's a bit watery!  Effy x

A scream, it’s echoing through me.  How can you laugh?  Flames rising fast, I can’t breathe.  Something’s choking me, it’s not the smoke, and it’s not a hand.  It’s a chain.  Slowly taking my life is an innocent cross on a chain.  I never wore crosses.

Blood is running down my hands and feet, dripping to the floor below.  Why me?  What God could be so cruel?  I’m waiting for the darkness – come quickly.  Flames lick at my body.  Slowly.  So slowly.

The darkness comes.

The screaming ends.

 

* * * *

 

Beep.  Beep.  Beep.  Whack.

This is how every day starts for me.  I am not a morning person.  I roll un-gracefully out of bed, still with my eyes closed, and only open them when I get to the bathroom.  Then I quickly close them again as the light nearly blinds me.  I moan, blink a few times and squint into the mirror, yawning.  I was up late again last night, pretending to listen to Lewis’ latest rant.  I smile despite myself and try to tame my long hair into something presentable.  I splash my face with freezing water, not waiting for the heater to clunk on.

The doorbell buzzes angrily.  I grab a towel from the rail and shuffle through the living room to the door, drying my face.

I finally start to wake up, and ask who it is.

“It’s Lewis,” the damn early-bird calls cheerily.

“Right.”  Who else would it be?  “Well, I suppose you can come up then.”  I say, somewhat reluctantly.

I press the button by the door and look around quickly for my dressing gown.   I find it in the last place I look – right where I left it.  No sooner had I tied the cord around my waist, was there a loud knock on the door.  “Here we go again,” I sigh.

 

* * * *

 

“Okay, to summarise, you came bounding over here, first thing in the morning, to tell me that there was a fire at some church, and they found a dead body?  Wow.  What a mystery.”  Sarcasm may be the lowest form of wit, but forgive me for stooping to Lewis’ level.

“No.  Well, yes.  But it’s not as simple as that, Erin.”  Lewis said.

We are sitting in my living room, with documents now strewn over my once tidy coffee table.  I’m dressed now, and sipping an espresso while listening to our latest case.

Lewis is almost sitting sideways in the arm-chair, with his head on one armrest and his converse dangling over the other.  His long, black coat is slung over the back, underneath his cowboy hat.   

Don’t ask.

“The guy they found was, of course, burnt – but that’s not what killed him.  There were gouges in his neck, from a crucifix which was digging into his neck.   The guys reckon that he was hung from it in the bell tower.  They’ve got no clue as to how he got there though – couldn’t have been suicide as it’s too high to reach alone.   That’s why we’ve been called in.  They’ve identified him as one Mr. David Blake, older brother of the Vicar, Paul Blake, and father of two.  His wife died four years ago of cancer, and his mother has been providing for the family ever since.  Quite a bit of money she has too, I might add.”

“So, he’s connected to the church in both life and death.  Nicely ironic, don’t you think?  What about his brother?”  I ask.  “Any family or, you know, a criminal record?”

“You think it could have been Mr. Holy?  How original.  Um, Paul-the-Vicar has a wife, but she doesn’t leave the house much and she’s a bit… odd.”

“Hmm.”  I ponder for a few minutes, then reply.  “What if the victim – David – was going to inherit their mother’s fortune and Paul-the-Vicar got jealous?  He could have easily killed him, I mean, who would suspect a holy man?”

“That sounds good to me, Rin.  Paul-the-Vicar wants money to care for his obviously sick wife, so he kills his brother to get in line for the fortune.  Jealousy and desperation.  Perfect.”

“You know, I never know whether you’re being sarcastic or not, Lewis.”

“I’m just stooping to your level, Erin.”

I clench my jaw and set my now-cold cup down on the carpet by my feet.

                “Come on then,” I say, getting up.  “Let’s go question the Vicar."


To be continued... o.O

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