Prologue & Chapter 1 - Into The Light
Out with the Prologue, Into The Light starts where Out Of The Dark ends. Reverend Charles McIntyre inadvertently hears Jayden Scott’s confession at the church just before New Year. The second book uncovers the web of lies surrounding the main protagonist. It includes first-person narratives from Jayden Edward Scott, the Reverend, Inspector Nicholas Canmore and Kristina Cooper.
Prologue (Narrator: Unknown). Chapter 1 (Narrator: Reverend Charles McIntyre). Chapter 1 (Narrator: Jayden Edward Scott — Serial Killer).
Three months later
My eyes flick open.
I stare into the dark space and try to make sense of the situation. The pain in my head is insufferable and my limbs, heavy. The heat is oppressive. I struggle to breathe. As my mind clears, I remember extreme fatigue followed by a floating sensation before plunging into the deep void. He must have drugged my coffee. As my senses become more alert, I hear a noise. It is the recognisable sound of a car engine. I am trapped in the boot of his 4x4, the plastic ties cut into my wrist and ankles with a gag in my mouth. It is claustrophobic. Perspiration covers my entire body. I panic, my heart beats faster which makes it hard to inhale and exhale because of the obstruction. I experience severe dizziness before the swirling void consumes my mind once more.
Sometime later, fresh air caresses my face. Trembling, I open my eyes only to turn away from the intense glare of the light. My kidnapper cuts the zip ties. His hand reaches out to grip my arm.
“Get out of the car,” he declares. “Don’t try to escape this time.”
I follow his instructions.
A shiver passes through my very soul. I force myself to look at him although I am fearful of his state of mind. There is a new form of insanity surrounding this killer: delusional, psychotic, manipulative, volatile and dangerous. Despite his warning, I struggle to get away from his grasp, but he holds on tighter as we walk to the rear of the cottage. I fear death is imminent. As my assailant tries to find the lock for the key, he drops the torch. I muster the strength from my drug-induced condition and bend down. It is such a hard task. The heaviness in my limbs is like sinking into quicksand, struggling against the unbearable pressure, pulling my body into the depths of the swampy mass. I seize the opportunity, grab hold of the light and crack it across his head. He flinches. His hand moves to the back of his skull. In an almost insane act of violence, I smash it over his head, again and again. As he falls to the ground, I flash the beam of light into the dark night and try to make sense of my surroundings. I only have one thing on my mind—to escape. I rush to the car and pull on the handle. It does not open. Not sure what to do, I hear him groan as he tries to stand up. Without waiting to determine his next move, I run away from the cottage. The stones cut into my bare feet, but ignore the pain, climb over a gate and along a path which leads to the woodland. The overgrown bushes snag at my clothes and prick my skin.
He calls out my name.
I need to switch off the torch. He’ll notice the light.
My eyes adjust to the dark and the moon shines through the gaping holes in the canopy. I dart through the forest, stray branches whipping past my face. But no matter how fast I run, I can sense him from behind. My weary body is no longer able to function. I lose pace, stop to catch my breath and dare to look round. He is there, running like a predator hunting its prey. I have no more energy left to escape and give up, accepting my fate. I turn to confront my executioner, drop to my knees and see the blade in his hand.
“Don’t do it, Jayden. Please…”
“God will judge the secrets of men through Jesus Christ.”
(Romans 2: 16)
New Year’s Day
My mind is in turmoil.
It is three o’clock in the morning, several hours after the bells on New Year’s Day. As a humble man of God, I sit at the front of the church and gaze up at the wooden cross behind the pulpit. I believe Jayden knows I heard his confession. He will come soon. I saw him out the corner of my eye at the bedroom window as I made my way towards the kirk. I drop my head forward as my hands reach up to cover my face, shaking it from side to side in disbelief. I press my fingers into my temples, not sure how to process his words. Since when was my Presbyterian Church a place for confession? How do I react to this news? My stomach churns. What shall I do now? I think back to all the times I defended his innocence. Inspector Canmore was right. Jayden Scott is a cold-blooded killer. This is the ultimate act of betrayal. I want to lash out, but the anger wells up inside, burning through my veins, finding no means of escape. I’m such a bloody fool. On edge, my heart beats against my chest before an icy shiver convulses through my body.
I open my mouth to speak.
In a raspy voice, I say. “Why?”
The shock dissipates.
And then, the fury surfaces.
Unable to contain myself any longer, I shout to my God, “Is this a test? Why do you burden my life with this problem? I have only just found happiness with Jayden’s mother and now this dilemma.” I reach for the book on the communion table, grip it close to my chest, and whisper, “A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.”
Pacing back and forth, I recite the verse from the bible, repeatedly. I feel the inner conflict inside, tearing at my heart and troubling my soul.
“Why did you kill your own father, Jayden? Why?”
New Year’s Day
I am unable to sleep. And lie in bed, thinking about my killer status. The only sound in the room is the tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock of the grandfather clock. It is several hours after the celebrations, quarter to three to be precise, on this fateful morning at New Year. I turn over and gaze at Kristina’s delicate features. She’s adorable. I can’t lose her again. This woman is the love of my life. I hear a noise, cock my head to the side and listen. It is the front door. I get out of bed and peer through the window. The Reverend walks down the path to the church. He handled himself well, celebrating the bells, despite hearing my confession.
And now, I must confront him.
Careful not to disturb Kristina, I put on my clothes and sneak towards the bedroom door. My shoe lands on a squeaky floorboard. I turn around, stare at her, wait for some kind of reaction, but she is fast asleep. As I lift my foot, the frightful noise continues and becomes duller in pitch, creaking like an old tree trunk straining from the force of the wind. I push on the door with one hand as the other turns the handle, pull it open and try to avoid any other unwelcome sound. On the other side, I let out a huge sigh of relief.
Before my encounter with Charles, I gulp down a double measure of whisky for courage to face his judgement. How much of my confession did he witness? There is only one way to find out. I grab my winter overcoat from the stand in the hallway, ready to deal with the weather outside. As I walk towards the church, the chill in the night air is bitterly cold. My hands are numb. I breathe into them, trying to heat my fingers to open the door. I turn the looped piece of metal and enter the building through the front entrance.
I stop at the partition with the stained glass window and recall our conversation just over twenty years ago: “Remember, I’m always here for you boy. Take care of yourself and your mother.” Will you be here for me now, Charles? My hand reaches out to push open the door. I hesitate and doubt whether this is the right decision. Everything ceases to exist at that moment. Just then, I hear his voice.
“Is that you, Jayden? Please come inside. I know you’re there.”
I enter the church and walk towards my adjudicator. He clutches the bible. His eyes never leave mine as I walk up the aisle.
“Don’t say a word. I need time to think.”
He stares up at the cross, muttering words from the holy book under his breath, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”
There is a long, brutal, pause before he speaks.
“Is it true?”
“What do you mean?”
“Tell the truth,” he bellows. “I listened to every word of your confession.”
“What you heard is correct, Charles.”
He wrings his hands together in desperation. “Why?”
“It’s hard to explain. Edward… my father…. he…”
“Start at the beginning. Don’t lie.”
“My father was an evil man. You said those words yourself.”
“Yes, I recall that conversation.”
“My past is not an excuse. However, I had an awful upbringing. You never knew the full extent of his violent temper. From an early age, I experienced his volatility, not only towards myself but also my mother. After years of abuse, the only way I can describe how I felt was one of anger, not an exploding anger, but a cold, calculating anger, festering like an open wound that refused to heal. It lasted throughout my childhood and never left my adult life. That type of putrid anger persists, eats away, seeks revenge for everything he did to us. Does that make sense?”
“Edward Scott deserved to die.”
“Nobody deserves to die by the hand of another.”
“What do you think of me now, Charles?”
His eyebrows deepen. “One of disappointment. Heavy is my heart of stone.”
“You’re like my real father. Please forgive my wrongdoing.”
“It’s not as simple as that, Jayden. You betrayed my trust and lied. I’ve always defended your innocence. I’m such an idiot. Now I know why you insisted he would never return. What happened? What did you do to Edward?”
“That’s not important. You’re happy with my mother. I made that possible.”
“My happiness is irrelevant,” he says. “What did you do to him?”
“It’s too much of a burden for you to hear. All that matters is that he’s never coming back.”
“I can’t deal with this situation. You’re right. This is too much responsibility for a humble man of the church. You need to confess. We must contact Inspector Canmore.”
“NO!” I shout. “I won’t declare my guilt. I can put this right. What about my mother? Don’t do this, Charles. For once in my life, I have a chance to find happiness with Kristina. Please, don’t take that away. PLEASE.”
He sighs. “I’m not sure what to do?”
“Find it in your heart to forgive my misdemeanour. My father caused our family so much misery. You of all people know that more than anyone. Edward had to suffer for his sins. That is God’s will, Charles.”
The Reverend walks towards the pulpit. “You must confess your crime,” he says, picking up a handful of paper. He rifles through, pulls out a single sheet and hands over the script. “Read this and hope that God can forgive you.”
I stare at the page.
“Stand up, recite these words and seek forgiveness for your sins,” he bellows. “Say it like you mean every word.”
If this is what it takes, then I’ll do it.
With conviction, I read out the text:
Be merciful to me, O God,
because of your constant love. Because of your great mercy wipe away my sins! Wash away all my evil and make me clean from my sin!
I recognise my faults; I am always conscious of my sins. I have sinned against you - only against you - and done what you consider evil. So you are right in judging me; you are justified in condemning me. I have been evil from the day I was born; from the time I was conceived, I have been sinful.
Sincerity and truth are what you require; fill my mind with your wisdom. Remove my sin, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear the sounds of joy and gladness; and though you have crushed me and broken me, I will be happy once again. Close your eyes to my sins and wipe out all my evil.
He lets out a deep sigh. “That’s enough. You say your words with sincerity.”
“I say it to redeem myself, to seek forgiveness not just from Him, but also from you.”
“This is not my place. It is God who decides. I will close my eyes to your sins and never speak of it again. Your confession is mine to bear for the rest of my life, for all eternity. I feel a certain degree of responsibility. I should have done more to protect you and Carolyn from your father. This is our secret, Jayden. However, you must leave my house as soon as possible. I need time to deliberate, to deal with the situation in my own way.”
“I understand. It’s our secret, Charles.”
The next day, I pack the bags into the boot of the car. Anxious, I make my way back to the house to get Kristina and say goodbye to my mother and Charles. I need to leave this man alone. I am more than aware of his anguish. The pain and torment is visible on his face. I see the raging fire consuming his mind, the black smoke belching from the depths of the underworld to inflame his darkest, deepest suffering. It must be a living hell hole. A truly hellish place for a man of the church.
Image credit: Greg Crawford - Photography