Winch-Hunt: Part 19
- Winch-Hunt: Part 18
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 18
It didn’t take long for Tom to realize that this was for real. It wasn’t playing out like he had imagined. He kept walking toward the car. When he got within a few yards the door opened. Out stepped another man in Jehovah’s Witness gear. He reached back into the car and pulled out – Mel.
“Mel, are you all right?”
With his forearm tightly around her throat he ordered, “Now do exactly what you’re told or something’s going to happen to your wife. Either way, we have you for the sacrifice.”
Tom reached for his only hope. “Oh, now that’s really hitting below the belt.”
Mel’s mind raced back to her one and only self-defense class. With that Mel slammed the point of her heel hard and quickly into her aggressor’s shin. As he released, she immediately turned and jammed her knee sharply below the belt. He fell to the pavement. While Tom wrestled with his man, Mel was off and running. Neither Tom nor she knew where. While the minister of peace was battling one man, the other lay in Tom’s truck with a broken hand, and the other lay writhing in pain on the sidewalk. In the distance a police siren was heard.
Charlie Moore came speeding up in Sandy Hill’s only police cruiser. “What’s going on here?”
“Well for once I’m glad to see you Officer Moore.” Tom shouted.
“What’s wrong with him?” Charlie inquired about the man sprawled on the sidewalk.
“Oh, um . . . he was hit below the belt if you know what I mean, Charlie. You know, what goes around comes around.”
“And the one in the truck?”
“I guess he was just one of the unfortunate ones.”
“Now look Preacher, enough chit-chat. I’m going to have to take you in. You just can’t go takin’ the law into your own hands just because you feel like it.”
Looking down at the man still lying on the side walk, Charlie said, “Harry, get Paul and Wayne back to the lighthouse. I’m bringin’ in your sacrifice. I’ll meet you there. There’ll be no more trouble from this one.”
"Wait, Charlie. What are you saying? These guys attacked me, and not only that, they kidnapped Mel. You can’t just let them go.”
"I just did. Now get in the back of the cruiser, Preacher. Watch your head.”
It was a long ride back. Tom’s mind was working overtime trying to figure out what his next move would be. At least Mel was safe for now. It was time for him to concentrate on freeing himself.
Mel was frantically pounding on the door. “Oh, come on. Open the door. I don’t have time for this. Come on, Jeff!”
Jeff was slow to answer. “I’m coming. I’m coming. Don’t be so impatient.” Jeff flung open the door. “Mel – what are you doing here? What’s going on? You don’t look so good.”
“Jeff, they took Tom – I think . . . I mean . . . I don’t know. I was able to get away, but Tom was still fighting with them.”
“Mel, slow down. Who is 'with them?'”
“Oh, I don’t know. They got me in Indiana and brought me back to use against Tom – to get him to go with them. You know, they’re preparing for the sacrifice. I don’t know what to do! They want to kill me, too. So I might as well trust you and hope you can help. If you’re one of them, it’s just a matter of time anyway.”
“Mel, come in. Pull yourself together. Let’s talk about it. I’ll get you some coffee.”
“No thanks, Jeff. I don’t trust you that much yet.”
“Mel really, you can watch me make it.”
“Look, Jeff. I know it doesn’t look good and all that. I mean a preacher’s wife asking you this, but I need a place to stay. Can I stay here? I can’t go back home. That’s the first place they’d look. I can’t endanger Tom any more than I already have.”
“Mel, you’ve not endangered Tom, and he knows that. You’re just caught in the middle. But no, you can’t stay here. You’re right. It doesn’t look good, but realistically this would be the second place they would look. Not to worry. I have another idea.
“Ronny has a house in Cape Elizabeth. Obviously he’s not living there. I’ll take you down there. You’ll be safe. If you need anything, call my cell. While you’re there, I’m going to help Tom. Mel, just trust me.
“We’ll go by your place and you can pick up some things. I have a .22 under the back seat. – Mel, I know what you’re thinking, but I’m really on your side. Now let’s go, and I’ll have you down to Cape Elizabeth before dark.”
Jeff drove slowly down the street toward the Winch’s house, making sure not to be followed or seen. That was a trick in itself. After all the excitement earlier the neighborhood was on high alert. Pulling into the driveway Jeff noticed an unfamiliar, black Cadillac parked at the next intersection. “Okay Mel. I’ve got the .22. Get out slowly, but be ready to run if need be.”
Once inside Jeff continued, “Get what you need as quickly as you can. You’re going to need to crawl through the kitchen window. I’ll drop your stuff out to you, and then take off through the woods in the back. I’ll pick you up on the next street over.
“Those guys in the Cadillac – when they see me leave without you, they’ll assume you’re home alone, and they’ll make their move. Of course you won’t be here. We’ll be on our way to Cape Elizabeth.”
Jeff passed the Cadillac slow enough to allow the men inside a good look at the empty passenger seat, still Jeff couldn’t be sure he would not be followed. Jeff had his eyes glued on the rear view mirror. As he turned the corner he saw the vehicle back up, heading for the Winch’s driveway.
So far his plan was working perfectly. On the other side of the woods he turned right on Beachview Lane. Mel was waiting by the curb, and they were off. On the drive down to Cape Elizabeth, Jeff was constantly aware of his surroundings making sure they were not being followed. It would only be a matter of time before trouble would surface again. Both Jeff and Mel knew it. Neither was looking forward to it.
By the time Jeff and Mel arrived at Ronny’s house, the sun was beginning to set. The breeze was cooler and a touch of dampness filtered through the air. Before Mel could ask, Jeff was already answering her question. “Ronny always kept a spare key under the back door mat. We’ll have to take your stuff around to the back and I’ll get you inside . . . make sure you’re safe . . . then I’m going to the lighthouse to get Tom. If you need anything, call my cell. I’ll be right there.”
With Mel safely inside, Jeff started for the lighthouse. It was a lonely drive back to Sandy Hill, but once there, things began to move quickly. Jeff unlocked the heavy lighthouse door and cautiously pushed it open. Then he walked over to the floor grate and entered the Pit to Hell.
Total darkness was everywhere as Jeff reached for the light switch. Light absorbed the darkness. “Tom, Tom, where are you?” The whisper filled every corner of the stone-cold room.
There was no answer. Jeff continued through the first room and headed down the hall; all the while whispering for Tom. Tom heard him from the beginning. Jeff’s overstressed Midwestern vowels stood out over the usual New England twang.
Then Tom realized something – something very important. Jeff would not be here if he wasn’t sincere in his efforts to bring down the Bendith Diafol. Tom was in captivity. Jeff didn’t need to be here if he was one of them.
Tom shot back full-voiced, “Jeff, I’m over here.”
Jeff ran toward the voice where he found Tom chained in a corner of the room. His hands in cuffs behind his back, Tom lay there on his back with his legs at a ninety degree angle to the wall, chained in place.
“Come on, Tom. I’ll get you loose and then we need to get out of here.”
Jeff fumbled with the cuffs and the chain. Once his locksmithing skills took over, Tom was free. “Come on, Tom. We need to get out of here quickly.”
“Wait, not so fast, Jeff. I can’t go. I have to see this through.”
“See what through? They’ll be serving you up for supper tomorrow night!”
“Listen . . . This is my calling – to get to the bottom of this, and I’m almost there. I know what I’m doing. I have a plan.” Jeff had his doubts.
“Look Jeff, I’m sorry for the way I’ve treated you. I should have known we were in this together. Sometimes pride gets the best of me. Will you forgive me?”
“Of course, Bro – and we are in this together. It’s not over ‘til it’s over.”
“As soon as I’m clear from this I’m going to spend more time helping you find your brother.”
“Tom, I found him.”
“What do you mean you found him. You didn’t tell me.”
“You wouldn’t let me in, remember? Actually Bro, you already met him. Doc Warren had him placed in Shady Rest after he lost his hand – and his tongue.”
“What do you mean, Mumbles?”
“Mumbles, Ronny . . . they’re one in the same. He was the hand you were looking for. He got too close to the secrets of the Bendith Diafol. They didn’t want him talking or communicating in any way, so off with his writing hand and tongue.”
“That’s why he kept trying to get my attention when I went to visit Sophie Brachston. He knew!”
“And that’s why they wouldn’t let you get close to him.”
“You’ve got to get him out of there.” “Oh I plan to, but first thing’s first. You’re on the menu. I’m going to help. Just tell me what to do.”
“No, Bro. I need to do this all myself. But I do need you to go back to the truck and get my backpack. I need to have it for the plan to work.”
“Bro, if you don’t get out now, you never will, Come on!”
“Just go. Bring the backpack. God will take care of the rest.”
“Tom, I found someone else besides Ronny. I found Jesus. I listened to every word you preached. I took it in. I knew I was missing something in my life, and I wanted what you had. I’m eternally grateful for your faithfulness to the Lord.”
“I . . . I don’t know what to say. I can’t believe it. The Lord knows I’ve not been faithful like I should have been, but even in our shortcomings, He still makes a way. Jeff, we really are Bros.”
Jeff was on his way and returned with the backpack a short time later. The two prayed together and then Jeff left. He wanted to tell Tom that Mel was safe, but he knew the less Tom knew the less he could reveal if he was questioned.
Tom wanted to ask Jeff about Mel too, but he also knew the less he knew the better. Jeff hugged Tom, and hurried up the ladder locking the door behind him. The sound of the grate being pulled back into place echoed through the underground cavern that belonged to the lighthouse. The door slammed shut. Tom knew he was alone – really alone.
Tom began to pray. The Lord revealed Himself to him in a mighty way, in a way He had never done before. “Lord, first of all, thank you for being my God, for never giving up on me, for leading me to this moment in time when you will be glorified above all others.
“I need Your strength. I need Your comfort. I need Your wisdom. I need You. I fully realize what You’re asking me to do. I completely understand the risks and the danger involved, but this is my true calling. This is why You brought me to this place . . . for such a time as this.
“I know I may never see Mel again. I thank you for her, and the years we had together – but Your glory is my first priority . . . .”
Through the dark, and quiet of the night, the Lord answered back. “Tom, take a good look at your ministry so far. Take a really good look at the church, this lighthouse mystery, at you.”
“What do You mean, Lord? What do You want me to see?”
“Just look. You’ll know when you see it.”
There was a lengthy pause in the conversation, then Tom began to see. “Lord, almost from day one I served You in the flesh. The church, the messages, even the battle I’m now in. I used my own wisdom, my own thoughts, rather than trust You and follow Your plan. I mistook my plan for Your plan. And yet You’re still here. God, I’m so sorry. Can You still use me in this, or am I done? If You allow me to conquer the Bendith Diafol for Your glory, and Yours alone, I promise to follow exactly as You lay it out. If not Lord, take me tonight.
“Lord, I didn’t trust Jeff. My pride got in the way, but You sent him to battle with me. I dismissed him. It wasn’t my place to do that. Forgive me again.
“‘O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once.’”
Tom fell back against the wall, now realizing his exhaustion from the day’s activities. His mind continued to reel as he tried to find sleep. Sleep would come, but not yet.
The Lord had one more thing to tell him. “Tom, know this. I’ve seen this day since eternity past, and I was with you since day one of your ministry. I foresaw your pride and your “self-sufficiency”. I’ve planned everything around it. “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will never leave you nor forsake you. You are my chosen vessel. You are my child, and I love you.
“Know this also. As I will send you forth into battle tomorrow night, I will also bring you safely home. Have no fear for I am with you, you mighty man of valor. I am all you need. Rest my child. Morning will be here all too soon. Rest and prepare for battle.”
Alone in the sightless cellar, Tom finally fell asleep and slept like a baby until the sound of the floor grate was heard moving. Someone was coming. Slipping on the hand cuffs and the leg chain, Tom rested in place making sure not to actually lock the cuffs. A light could be seen shining down the hall, and footsteps could be heard coming closer, and then further away as they faded into black as the light was switched off.
It was then that Tom heard the unmistakable clicking sound he had become accustomed to hearing. Quietly he rose up and followed the sound down the blackened hall. Feeling his way he came to a cold, metal door. He felt along the wall for a light switch. The darkness was immediately swallowed in light allowing Tom to see – an elevator door.
Tom looked back over the steps he traveled and realized how far he was from his holding cell. Several hundred yards had passed in the gloom. The underground was much larger than Tom had realized, but for now it was time to check out the elevator. Tom pushed the button and the door opened. He jumped in and pushed the only button available – up. As the elevator clicked away Tom was carried upward until the elevator stopped on its own.
The top began to open, and push away loose sand all in one motion. With the horizontal door completely opened, phase two began. The floor of the elevator continued to raise taking Tom to rest at beach level. “So,” Tom mused to himself. “The lighthouse has a secret entrance and exit. How convenient! No ghost at all – just a fancy elevator for quick getaways. This is information I definitely need to remember; never know when it might come in handy.”
Tom hopped back in and the elevator automatically descended. He headed back to his chains. The night passed without incident. Tom awoke to make his final plans. He turned on a light and began to take one last tour of the layout of the rooms and hallways.
Realizing now that the area he was dealing with was much bigger than he originally thought, he started down the hall to further investigate. Just past the elevator the hall turned to the right and opened into a huge room. Tom located the light switch and turned it on. At the far end of the room was a large table. Behind the table was a richly decorated throne. To each side of the throne was a smaller table. On top of each was placed a human skull. In the middle of the room, a large circle enclosed a pentagram – the altar was in its place at center.
Candles – soon to be lit, outlined the circle. Large pillars were evenly spaced in the room in an effort to give support to the tremendous weight of the ceiling. Tom noticed that just behind the throne, there was an open area that led to another hallway. The path went to the left and to the right. Tom took the path to the right.
The hall continued for what seemed to Tom as an eternity. After quite some time, he realized he was back where he started. The hall made a circular path, and led only to the room of sacrifice.
The other underground rooms could only be entered by taking the hall by which Tom originally approached the room. The circular hall was lined with candles on each side. In Tom’s estimation, there must have been a thousand or more.
Back at his holding cell, Tom sat thinking and praying. God once again was real. The sweetness of the Lord’s presence was interrupted by the scraping of the grate. Someone was coming, and Tom knew he had to be ready for anything. Then he heard the now familiar whisper. “Tom, Tom. You okay?”
“Yeah, Jeff. I’m down here.”
“Bro, we have to leave now. It won’t be long until they come to check on you, and start the preparation for the sacrifice.”
“Bro, I told you I’m not leaving. This is my God-given purpose and I have to see it through. I have the Lord’s promise. He will be with me. He will do the work, and He will fight for me. Take care of Mel, and I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“No, Bro. We have to get out now. If we don’t leave now, you’ll never get out alive. Now, let’s go.”
Tom put his hands on Jeff’s shoulders and looked him square in the eyes. “Bro. . .” Tom liked the sound of that. “Bro, I’m not leaving my post. My trust is in God and I promise you like He promised me, He will deliver me from the mouth of the lion. I’m not the sacrifice. The Bendith Diafol is, and I’m here to see to it that there’s an end to their madness – tonight. God will consume the true sacrifice. It has to end. Now, you go before it’s too late.”
“Tom, please . . .” “Bro, you need to go. We’ll talk about it tomorrow.”
Jeff turned and walked down the hall, climbed up the ladder, put the grate back in place, and left. He thought to himself, “Tom won’t see me tomorrow, He’ll see me tonight. I’m not leaving him when he needs me most.”
Back at Cape Elizabeth, Mel was readying herself for her long awaited appointment with Doctor Jefferson. Her pain subsided somewhat because of all the happenings of the past few days. Her mind was focused on other things. As best she could she tried to hide the pain and downplay the discomfort for Tom’s sake. She didn’t want to distract him in the battle of and for his life. More tests were done, and the doctor promised to call her as soon as the results were in. “One thing is for sure,” he told Mel. “It’s not hypotension.”
Jeff hurried down the road to Cape Elizabeth to sneak a pizza for Mel. When he arrived the doors were locked. “That’s a good thing,” he thought. He rang the doorbell, pounded on the
door, rattled all the windows; no one answered.
His next thought was, “This is not a good thing. Where is Mel?” Then he realized she had the only key. Jeff walked around to the back of the house. He passed a basement window that was open. The only question he had was, could he squeeze through it? Sucking in his stomach as much as he could, he went for it.
Dropping to the floor below he quickly looked around. “No sign of forced entry. Great! Now be calm and quiet. If anyone’s here I don’t want to startle them.” Jeff’s self-talk continued as he crept up the basement stairs. Making sure he was safe, he closed the basement door and proceeded through the house.
There was no sign of Mel anywhere. As he was ready to enter the master bedroom he heard a noise downstairs. He froze. He crawled on his hands and knees back to the staircase. By this time his forehead had broken out in a rather irritating sweat – part from exertion, part from fear. He saw Mel come through the door and collapse on the sofa.
“Mel, what are you doing? You’re not supposed to be out of the house. It’s too dangerous.”
“I had an appointment at the medical center today. I told you that yesterday.”
“Did too! It must be a man thing. Tom never hears half of what I say either.” “Mel, you can’t do that. It’s too dangerous. You have to think logically about this. Look, just promise you won’t leave the house until this is all over. It won’t be long. Here, have some pizza.” Mel gave that far away look, and then gazed back at Jeff. “Jeff, do you think you could get me in to see Tom before this all goes down?”
“What if he doesn’t come home? What if things go wrong and he’s sacrificed? What if . . .”
“Mel, you’ll see him again. He’s been spending all of the last hours in prayer. He’s right with God. He has God’s promise to return safely home. He told me .. . I know. I know. You still want to see him, but Mel, it just can’t be right now. Stay put and I’ll bring him to you just as soon as it’s all over.
“Mel, exactly what is Tom’s plan? He says he has this plan and he thinks it’s foolproof. He won’t discuss it with me, and I don’t blame him. There are probably ears all through the lighthouse.”
“Oh Jeff, he has this crazy idea that he can scare them into righteousness by dressing up as the prif was y diafol and confronting them.”
“Um, excuse me Mel – the what?”
“The prif was y diafol.” That’s the devil’s chief servant. He’s actually the executioner, but he supposedly possesses super powers from the devil. Tom has this silly costume. He plans to dress up as the real prif was y diafol and scare them all straight.”
“You’ve got to be kidding!”
“I kid you not.”
“Mel, that will never work. They may be cultists, but they aren’t stupid!”
“I tried to talk him out of it, but you know Tom – thickheaded and as stubborn as they come. Know what I mean?”
“Yeah, I know exactly what you mean. I tried to get him to leave twice, but he says he has to stay and see this through. I admire his courage and resolve, but I’m not so sure how smart he is. But like he said, God is with him. Somehow I know he’ll be okay.
“Look, I got to run. I have to finalize my plans for tonight. I’m not about to quit on Tom now. You can have the rest of the pizza and – oh, Mel – don’t leave this place for anything. Stay right here. I don’t need another scare like you gave me this afternoon. Besides, Tom needs your prayer support.”
With that Jeff excused himself, and headed back to Sandy Hill just as night was beginning to fall.
- Winch-Hunt: Part 20
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