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Winch-Hunt: Part 11
- Winch-Hunt" Part 10
The centuries old lighthouse holds the secret of the ages, and Tom Winch must solve the mystery before it destroys him. You won't believe the twist!
From Part 10
This was not a good situation. The afternoon was quickly fading. Mel would wonder where Tom was. She would call the police. That was the last thing Tom wanted. He would just have to wait for someone to return and make a run for it, absorbing the consequences.
As long as he was there, Tom decided not to waste the time, but to have a thorough look around. The square base featured what looked like fairly new tile – each neatly in square foot sections. Nothing looked out of the ordinary. The only place that showed any signs of recent use was the first floor, but the floor was empty. Except for the circular staircase in the middle of the floor, there was nothing of any importance. There were no clues anywhere. As Tom looked out the small window facing the ocean, he could see the shadows of night creeping in. He judged it to be about 6:30. He would have to find a safe place to spend the night. He prayed.
Tom headed over to a spot behind the staircase. It looked secluded enough and yet close enough to the door that he could make a run for it if anyone came in. As he stepped into the shadows, his left foot caught on something. He looked down and in the dim light he could see a heavy, iron floor grate. Judging by the square tiles of the floor, it looked to be about two and a half feet wide by about three and a half feet long. There was a handle at each end for easy removal. It was then that a light flashed from the outside. It was at this time that Tom saw the words painted on the floor grate – “PIT TO HELL”.
The door swung open and Tom ducked behind the staircase. The shadows were long as the silhouette moved across the room. The door was now shut and the light of the setting sun had disappeared. Tom circled quietly and cautiously behind the staircase as the shadowed figure made his way to the floor grate. The ghostly image heaved with all his strength until the heavy metal floor cover gave way and he crawled down, leaving the opening exposed.
Tom had a choice. He could make his way to the pit to see what was happening, or he could make his way to the door and get to safety. Without much thought he chose the door and was running down the beach as fast as his feet would carry him – enough excitement for one day!
Mel was waiting on the front porch. “Tom, where in the world have you been? I’ve had dinner on the table for over an hour.”
“Mel, Mel, you won’t believe this.”
“Tom, I have to tell you something.”
“No Mel, this can’t wait!” “Well at least can we sit down and eat dinner? I’ve been waiting for over an hour and I’m starved.”
The sweet and sour chicken was good and the rice was cooked just right, but Tom wasn’t taking the time to notice. His main purpose was to get through the meal so he could relay the events of the day to Mel. Mel, on the other hand was trying to think of a creative way to work Jeff into the conversation. She didn’t even ask Tom why he was late.
Mel took her last sip of iced tea and blurted out, “Jeff stopped by today.” Tom dropped his chopsticks on the floor.
“Mel, what are you doing fraternizing with the enemy? You know he’s trouble. Mel, Please! Stay away from him. We have enough to deal with without bringing him into the equation.”
National Geographic Documentary on Human Sacrifice
“Tom, they’re doing human sacrifices at the lighthouse.”
“No, come on Mel. That’s ridiculous!”
“That’s what Jeff said. Tom, we have to stop this while we still can, but I know. I know. You won’t stop until you get answers, but what if it’s you that ends up on the chopping block?”
“Now do you really believe that nonsense? He’s just trying to set me up. I’m not going to end up as someone’s sacrificial lamb, but I do think he’s out to get me, but I don’t know why.”
“May I just remind you that you’re the one with the broken ankle. You’re the one with three demonic scratches on your back. Tom, there’s no doubt there’s evil floating around this town, but since when were you made the savior?
“You’re here to do God’s work, to minister to the people of the town, not to play Magnum PI in Sandy Hill. Furthermore, you have a great start building a wonderful church. If you’d spend more time at that than chasing ghosts, maybe . . .”
“Wait a minute. What’s this about chasing ghosts? Why did you say that? Are you holding back on me? Your research is paying off!”
“No, Tom. Jeff told me he was able to sneak into the lighthouse, which of course we knew, but don’t worry; I didn’t tell him we saw him. Well, anyway he said there was a chilling breeze inside, maybe like an open window or a fan, but he couldn’t find anything like that anywhere.”
“Okay Mel. This is how it is. There are no ghosts there. I was there. I was inside. No ghosts – but there was a real human being. I don’t know who he was, but whoever he was, he was huge. I could see him wearing a size 13 shoe . . . .
“Uh oh Mel . . . I think I just got another piece to the puzzle. Mel, think this through. Jeff isn’t looking for his brother. He’s working with his brother. Ronald Barry, the size 13 shoe with the fancy RB on the bottom. They’re in this together. Mel, I’ve got to get to the bottom of this. Please Mel. Just trust me. You’ll see. This is part of my ministry, too. God has us here to solve this mystery, and put the evil behind us. We have to see it through.”
“Tom, I hope you’re right. I really hope you’re right.”
2:00 a.m. found Jeff slowly opening the lighthouse door. It was quiet; no one in sight. Once inside, he flipped on his flashlight and headed straight for the floor grate. His hands grabbed the two iron handles. Bending at the knees, and being sure to keep his back straight, he pulled with all his might. Slowly, inch by inch, the heavy, metal plate began to slide. He managed to create an opening just big enough for him to squeeze through.
His feet, searching for the rung on the wall ladder that led to the underground cavern, finally found their resting place. In the thick darkness, Jeff descended one rung at a time, as he counted . . .12, 13, 14. His 15th step placed him securely on the ground.
The light flashed off the cold, hard walls, creeping into every hidden corner. Traveling down a hall, he came to a locked door on his left. Using his locksmith knowledge, he gently manipulated the doorknob until it opened. Once inside, he closed the door behind him.
3:00 a.m. found Tom circling the lighthouse from a distance. Fresh footprints pointed to the fact that someone recently visited the lighthouse or perhaps was still inside. Tom faced the door and crouched low. He waited. Things were extremely quiet even for 3 o’clock in the morning. An eerie chill was in the air, but Tom knew he had to get inside.
Just as he was ready to make his move, the lighthouse door opened. Tom ducked down, and held his breath. That part was easy. He didn’t know how to make his heart stop beating so loudly.
Jeff locked the door and headed north, circling around the back of the lighthouse. Tom followed in the shadows. Once behind the lighthouse, Jeff took to sprinting. Sand was flung with each step he took. Tom was having a tough time keeping up.
At the top of the hill, Pier Point Drive followed the contour of the beach before connecting with Main Street. By the time Tom reached the top of the hill, Jeff had made the turn and disappeared into the night.
Tom stood there – feeling the darkness. The only sound was that of the waves slapping the rocks in the distance. Tom marked the time, and determined to stake out the old lighthouse each night until it was clear what Jeff was doing. Tom carefully slithered back down the hill and approached the lighthouse door. Without a key his only hope was that Jeff forgot to lock it. Tom pulled on the door. Nothing! He walked around to the ground floor window and looked in. Darkness was all he saw. He pushed on the window. It didn’t budge either. A cool rain began to fall on the beach. Tom called it a night.
Sunlight came with the morning. Mel and Tom sat at the breakfast bar finishing up their eggs and oatmeal. Tom started, “Mel, you know I’ve been inside the lighthouse. It’s old. It’s empty. The only thing in the entire structure is the lens house, the stairs and the main floor. Nothing out of the ordinary anywhere except . . .”
“Except for what, Tom?”
“There’s an opening in the floor. It’s covered with an all iron floor grate, There’s something underneath the main floor. That’s what we’ve got to see . . . what’s underneath! The floor grate is heavy. I honestly don’t know if I can lift it alone.”
“Well, I’ll try, but if you say it’s that heavy, I don’t know how much help I can be. But I’ll try.”
“Mel, there’s something else.”
“What’s that, Tom?”
"The words “PIT TO HELL” are written on the grate . . . written in red . . . written in blood.”
“Tom, how can we possibly get into the lighthouse when we don’t have the key?”
“I don’t have that part worked out yet, but where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
“I’m certainly willing to go with you, but don’t you think this is more of a job for you, and say, Jeff? I mean, Tom, maybe if you were to work with him again, you could see what he’s really up to.”
“Mel, I wasn’t serious about you coming with me. I’d never put you in that kind of danger. I can do it myself. I have to do it myself.”
“I’ve been doing my research, too. Take a look at this, Tom.” Tom took the paper from Mel’s hand and stared at the title – The Sacrifices of Sandy Hill. "Mel, this is long.
“Oh no! Not again, Mel! He can’t be trusted.” The by-line read: Jeffrey Hunt.
“Read the article and decide for yourself.”
Pastor Thomas C. Winch, met his end at the Sandy Hill Lighthouse December 21, 1863. Just how, has yet to be concluded.
The official report lists Winch as falling through the staircase railing of the old lighthouse from atop the fourth level.
The official report goes on to say that on the night of December 21, 1863 a coastal storm developed and the light had gone out. Winch’s job was to keep the light burning at all costs. In this case, the cost was his life. As he hurried to the lens house in the black of night, his foot tripped on a step sending him against a weakened railing. As the railing gave way, Winch tried to grab on to one of the steps, but his grip couldn’t hold, and he fell the length of the lighthouse to his death.
So much for the official report. Thomas C. Winch was the first human sacrifice of a strange cult known as Bendith Diafol, or devil’s blessing – a cult that was bent on destroying life to gain life. The early practitioners came from Wales in the early 1700’s. The premise of their perverted doctrine was that blood held the secret to life. Therefore, blood must be shed in sacrifice.
The offering was supposedly intensified in its healing properties when the sacrifice was of the Christian faith. A blessing of life and power was bestowed upon those who sacrificed the blood of a Christian. Winch’s bold preaching against the sin of the cult made him a prime target for sacrifice.
It is questionable whether Winch was ever a lighthouse keeper. What seems to be more likely is the report that Winch was a convert of the 1859 Fulton Street Prayer Revival. Shortly after his conversion he began an itinerant preaching ministry. Firsthand accounts seem to point to the fact that Preacher Winch was lured to the lighthouse by cult members and sacrificed in an underground ceremonial chamber beneath the lighthouse.
According to one account, Winch’s last words were a prophecy of the cult’s destruction. The prophecy claimed that after five generations, the cult would again be visited by a Thomas C. Winch that would once and for all destroy the evil that reigned in Sandy Hill.
New doctrine was added. In addition to added life, it was believed by the cultists that the blood of Winch would purify their souls and allow them to obtain divinity. Eliminating the line of Winch would guarantee the perpetual life of the Bendith Diafol.
Every thirty years a sacrifice would be required until the Winch line was destroyed. Every thirty years a sacrifice was made: 1893 – Malcolm M. Winch; 1923 – Jared A. Winch; 1953 – Clarence R. Winch; 1983 – Lawrence P. Winch. It would seem that at the time of this writing the Winch line has been eliminated and the Patriarch’s prophecy has failed. It is believed that the cult still practices today, left unchallenged by the ghost of religion past.
“Wow, Mel! This is incredible. I’m destined to save the town from these evil-doers. See, I told you it was part of my ministry. How did you get this?”
“You might say it was a gift.”
“What do you mean – a gift?”
“Um . . . Jeff . . . gave it to me.” “And what official website did this come from?”
“Well . . . it’s not exactly from a website. I copied it from . . . from, a paper he gave me.”
“Oooh – and just where did he get the information? No website? Come on, Mel! He’s a journalist; you know, as in writer; as in storyteller! It’s all a setup. I can’t believe you’ve fallen for this.”
“I’m sorry, Tom. He just seemed so sincere. He said he got it from some documents stashed away in the lighthouse. He said he’s been to that underground chamber, and he thinks the secret is there. He just hasn’t put it all together yet.”
“Oh he has it all together! He knows exactly what he’s doing. Mel – please stay away from him. If I matter at all, please stay away from him.”
“Tom, why is it you never talk about your father?” I mean, you just don’t go there; even when I ask. I want to know about him.
You are important to me so those who are important to you are important to me. Don’t tell me your dad doesn’t matter to you. I know different. Tell me, Tom. Tell me about your father. I don’t even know his name.”
“His name was Larry. Mel, there’s nothing to tell. He died when I was very young. I don’t really remember.
“Didn’t your mother ever tell you about him?”
“He was never mentioned, and I never asked. The less I knew the better.”
“Tom, sit down. I have been doing my research. I have another report I want you to take a look at. According to the original Thomas C. Winch, after five generations another would come on the scene to end the evil. Did you notice the name of the last sacrifice in 1983? Lawrence?” Tom, you are the next in line. Five have gone before you. You are the one that God chose to end this evil. I’m behind you 100 percent. Here, read this from The Brown County Examiner ”
Lawrence P. Winch of Stony Brook Drive, Needmore Township has been missing now for six days. It is believed that Winch was last seen at a convenience store on Ocean House Road in Cape Elizabeth, ME as he was returning to Indiana following a mission trip through the New England states.
Tom handed the paper back to Mel. He propped his elbows on his knees and buried his face in his hands. Tom wasn’t beyond tears. He let them flow freely.
“Tom, that was your dad. This is your calling. For him we have to bring an end to this cult. I’m ready to do anything – whatever it takes. I checked the history of the other Winch’s that were supposedly sacrificed. Every one of them was reported missing, although I have to admit, I couldn’t find anything about Malcolm. Tom – whatever it takes.”
- Winch-Hunt: Part 12
y The centuries old lighthouse holds the secret of the ages, and Tom Winch must solve the mystery before it destroys him. You won't believe the twist!
© 2016 William Kovacic