Eyes of Death: Mortlake Series Book 5
Eyes of Death: Mortlake Series Book 5
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Ancient mythical evil haunts the modern world…
Marcus Mortlake has dedicated his life to battling evil. And in doing so, the paranormal investigator has ignored his professional responsibilities for far too long. When his college brings him to task, the weary professor finds himself facing an enemy he had no chance at defeating… The college bursar.
Before he can face the music, both the troublesome administrator and one of Mortlake’s disgruntled students disappear, leaving only a pile of crumbling dust behind. Mortlake suspects supernatural forces are to blame. But even he is shocked to discover that the culprit may be a mythological terror, whose very name is synonymous with fear…
Mortlake struggles to track down the malevolent entity while dodging inquisitive college officials and law enforcement out for his hide. And upon realization that someone close to him has become possessed by the ancient spirit, he must call upon every ounce of his supernatural knowledge to bring an end to their reign of terror, before more blood is spilled.
But a shadowy figure is manipulating events behind the scenes. And they’re determined to make sure their existence stays hidden.…
Until it’s time to reveal their cause.
The verger arrived at daybreak as he did every morning. As caretaker and general assistant to the vicar, he checked for break-ins and vandalism. Cambridge was a prosperous place but still had its fair share of miscreants. Some people tried to break into churches, fondly imagining that they were full of gold crosses and silver chalices at night. Among thousands of students, some would inevitably play silly pranks.
So when he saw what looked like a human form in the graveyard, he thought some practical joker had been at work.
A dummy, he thought, probably an old mannequin or something. Leaving it in a graveyard, that’s the sort of thing some idiots find funny.
When the old man got closer, though, he became alarmed. It seemed to be a person, lying sprawled in the weeds. Incongruously cheerful spring flowers partly concealed the figure. The verger moved a few paces closer, stepping off the gravel path. Then he saw that there was no body, just clothes. This could not be a corpse. He heaved a sigh of relief.
But that left him with a mystery. The clothes—a fancy-looking shirt, designer jeans, a pair of loafers—were all new-looking. Had some idiot student actually stripped off in the graveyard for naughty reasons, then run off, stark naked? More likely, the old man reasoned, that the person in question had been stripped as part of a prank.
The verger squatted down and picked up the shirt. Dust fell out from inside, and he dropped it hastily. He saw that the jeans seemed to be packed with gritty, gray dust, too. There was also quite a bit of it, scattered around in the grass.
Now that is very odd. How do new clothes get so filthy?
It occurred to him to check the jeans’ pockets for ID, though it seemed unlikely that a wallet or a phone would have been left. His instincts were proved right. There was a handful of loose change and a crumpled ten-pound note in the pants but nothing else. Here again, though, the verger was puzzled. There were underpants inside the jeans. And now, socks inside the shoes. And everything was covered in that same gray, gritty powder.
No, he corrected himself, not covered. Full of. Somebody got these new clothes and shoes and then filled them with crumbly muck.
The more he thought about it, the less like ordinary dust the granular material seemed. It was rough, lumpy, like some kind of mineral that had been ground up. It was baffling, and he was unsure what to do. Though disturbed by his investigation, the little heaps of powder had been laid out roughly in the shape of a body. A figure about six feet tall, in fact.
The verger struggled to imagine what this signified. Why would someone go to this much trouble? He felt a brief flash of panic when he thought it might be some kind of black magic ritual. But then he dismissed the idea. This had no overtones of the occult, so far as he could see. No hint of a sacrifice, no sign of a pentagram. Besides, those indulging in such foolishness made a point of breaking into churches to practice their petty blasphemy at the altar.
So this was not Satanism. It was just very odd.
Then he noticed something else—a paler gleam among the gray, crumbly powder. He reached out tentatively and picked up a lump of what might have been broken pottery. It was small, about the size of a tooth. And then he realized that it was, in fact, the cap from a tooth. He threw it down instinctively. Then he sought and found a small stick and poked about in the powder some more. He uncovered more caps, some fillings, and a clump of hair. More searching found a couple of fingernails.
Human remains, he thought. Oh, God, is this a cremated body?
But that made no sense. After cremation, a body barely filled an urn. There was much more material here. It was disquieting and totally baffling. Naturally, he still suspected a student prank. Medical students, probably. He felt the need to report it to someone but sensed that the vicar would not be sympathetic. The clergyman had a lot on his plate and preferred people to come to him with solutions, not problems.
Finally, the verger decided to ring the police nonemergency number, which he often used to report minor vandalism. He had some difficulty making himself understood at first. It was such a peculiar story. But when he mentioned ‘hair’, ‘teeth’, and ‘fingernails’, he was put through to Cambridge CID.
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