On October 6, 1998, in the small English village of Buckden, events unfolded that would shock the community. I was a newly-promoted Detective Inspector with the Cambridgeshire Constabulary, and was eagerly awaiting my first case. I would not have to wait for very long.
That chilly morning I was called to Buckden along with my partner. Our first impressions were of a charming little place, what one might call a traditional English idyll. However, we learned upon arriving that that morning, a morbid scene had been discovered in a house named ‘Rosemary Cottage’, by one Mrs Laura Pym, who had decided to investigate after not seeing the owner of the cottage for over a week. We were shown to the house, and were told that what we might find in there was rather disturbing.
The villagers told me that Mrs Pym was inconsolable, and that she had locked herself in her bedroom and wept for over seven hours. Before I go into detail about what we saw, I suppose I should start from the beginning and tell you what we know for sure:
On the night of the 30th September, three villagers who were passing reported seeing a deep crimson-red glow from behind the living-room curtains of Rosemary Cottage. One also recalled, after much probing, hearing faint but seemingly guttural laughter from inside.
The cottage was owned by Mrs Amelia Brannigan, who was 64, devoutly Catholic and had lived there for most of her life. It is said that she was a very kind, outgoing woman, who would always help her fellow villagers. One described her as a ‘pillar of the community’. Nobody had any reason to dislike her, which made what happened even more shocking to them.
From the 30th September onwards, nobody heard anything from her, and no sign of life was detected from her house. It was only on the 6th October that Laura Pym decided to check the house.
When I was shown inside by a large but mortified-looking man, the first thing that struck me was the dank chill in the air. It was easily enough to make my hairs stand on end, and with it came a heavy sense of foreboding. The second thing that struck me was the walls and ceiling of the living room. The third thing that struck me was the corpse. Mrs Brannigan was bent over with her chest on the sofa seat.
From the outset it was clear that the woman had been murdered. Her body was brutally sodomized, and her throat had been cut, both of which were especially unsettling to me. But the most disturbing aspect of her death was something we discovered upon turning the corpse over. There was a gaping hole in her chest, and her heart had seemingly been torn out.
Even stranger, there was no evidence of any blood having been spilled anywhere in the house, nor in the garden. There was blood on her body of course, but absolutely nowhere else.
The most terrifying thing to me was, as previously mentioned, the state of the walls and ceiling. Written everywhere, on every wall and all over the ceiling, thousands of times in what appeared to be charcoal, were the words ‘ALL IS WELL, FOR HE IS HERE.’ One villager who could be persuaded to enter the house confirmed it as her handwriting, which most of the residents knew from the Christmas and birthday cards she sent out, but queried how it had got on the ceiling.
Ms Brannigan was little over five feet tall, and there was no way she could have reached that high without the use of a chair, which would have been very difficult to climb onto due to her bad back.
Upon leaving the room, I noticed a wooden carving of the Virgin Mary by the door. Shockingly, the carving’s head had been defaced, seemingly by large claws or a knife of some kind.
Nothing added up, as you can probably tell. There was no evidence of any forced entry, nor any signs that the murder had even taken place in the house. My partner was so disturbed by the situation that he left the investigation team.
The murder inquiry lasted for a month with absolutely no evidence being found. The villagers had seen and heard nothing else. Miss Pym, once brought round, yielded no further information. It looked for all the world that this murder could not have been committed by any human being.
I don’t believe in ghosts. I don’t believe in God. But what happened in that house was not performed by a man. That I am now certain of.
After one fruitless month the case was declared cold, and was closed. I tried to adjust to normal life, tried to be the best detective I could be, but whenever I thought back to that room I would feel very unnerved. I wanted to know what happened. I needed to know.
Since then, the memory of the case had haunted my mind. It had prevented me from living my life properly. In the most ordinary situations I would find my brain wandering back to that morbid scene. I would be making a cup of tea or having a shower, and I would get unexpected, unwelcome images flashing across my mind. It felt as if, deep down, deeper than I can consciously delve, I knew exactly what happened in that room. It is as if it was locked away for whatever reason, and I couldn't find the key. If I could have only found the key...
Some nights I would lie awake, thinking about what happened. Some nights I played out different scenarios in my head for hours. However, my mind always settled on one.
Now though, I don’t really care. I don’t really care about anything. I don’t need to care about anything, because all is well.
For He is here.