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Lost at Logans Beach: The Oz Files, #4

Lost at Logans Beach: The Oz Files, #4

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Lost at Logans Beach: The Oz Files, #4

Length:
330 pages
4 hours
Released:
Mar 18, 2019
ISBN:
9781622537068
Format:
Book

Description

Wrongly accused of his wife's murder, and beset by bizarre dreams, Martin finds everyday life almost more than he can bear.

Martin's wife is dead—murdered—and the authorities have it all wrong when they arrest Martin for the crime. He's devastated, confused, vulnerable, and lost after being released on bail. Desperate to reconnect with someone, he confides in a beautiful redhead. She offers to help him recover from this crisis, but nothing seems to go right, and life becomes a razor's edge upon which he must walk.

EVOLVED PUBLISHING PRESENTS the fourth thrilling installment in "The Oz Files," featuring a series of intriguing thrillers set in Australia, written with great authenticity by Aussie author Barry Metcalf. [DRM-Free]

  • Book 1: Broometime Serenade
  • Book 2: Intrigue at Sandy Point
  • Book 3: Spirit of Warrnambool
  • Book 4: Lost at Logans Beach
  • Book 5: Picnic at Gantheume Point [Coming 2020]
  • Book 6: The Fremantle Doctor [Coming 2020]

More Great Thrillers from Evolved Publishing:

  • The "Zoë Delante Thriller" Series by C.L. Roberts-Huth
  • The "PI Kowalski" Series by Chris Krupa
  • "Forgive Me, Alex" by Lane Diamond
  • The "Syndicate-Born Trilogy" Series by K.M. Hodge

Released:
Mar 18, 2019
ISBN:
9781622537068
Format:
Book

About the author

Born in 1943 into a working class family with middle class aspirations, I began writing stories while at school, finally venturing into novels when I retired from teaching in 1997. The result was a series of murder mysteries set in Australia and featuring two unorthodox investigators, who work for the fictional Strange & Obscure Cases (SOC) Unit, an autonomous offshoot of ASIO. Encouraged by positive feedback, the stories flow easily and usually reflect my bizarre sense of reality and weird humour. When the muse’s ego is bruised, I bide my time, reworking old short stories into Sci-Fi novels and waiting for new ideas to evolve. The longest time I’ve gone without writing anything new has been eighteen months, but when the drought broke, the words flowed thick and fast. Three times married, with four children, I live in Morwell, Victoria, Australia.


Book Preview

Lost at Logans Beach - Barry Metcalf

not.

Prologue: Stonehenge

~~~

June, 1500

~~~

I’m here. At the appointed place. At the appointed time. Where are the others? Jane Wenham stood in the shadows of the towering stones and raised her eyes to the sky. A tremor ran through her well-rounded, fifteen-year-old body. Although she wore nothing more than a long, woollen cassock, she didn’t feel cold. Rather she trembled from a sense of excitement. Tonight was special. Tonight she would achieve her heart’s desire. Above, the moon hung like a large, silver medallion from a cloudless sky. The stars shone with intensity, as if newly created. Just for her. Just for this night. Just for the ceremony which would launch her on a journey that would last forever.

Where is everyone? Where’s Beelzebub?

She’d first met her mentor on a journey to Camelot. Her father, the greatest magician the world had ever known, had transported her back in time to the wondrous world of King Arthur. It should have been a night of joy and tremendous excitement, but something terrible had happened, something that she’d had difficulty remembering at first. That had changed not long after Beelzebub had befriended her. He’d whispered in her ear and informed her in great detail how her father had betrayed her, how he’d defiled her body for his own base desires. She couldn’t remember the details because he’d used magic to cloud her mind.

If she’d needed further testimony to the truth of this, she had only to focus on the burning in her loins that lingered long afterwards. She hated her father for what he’d done in Camelot. Even though there’d been no further attempt to violate her, the hatred continued to burn deep. That no longer mattered. She had a new ally now. A very powerful ally. Beelzebub was the only one she could trust.

Of course, she’d been more than a little suspicious of her new friend’s constant muttering. For one thing, he was invisible. Although he’d never revealed himself to her, his voice sounded sweet and soothing, and his whisperings had become a constant inside her head. As the daughter of a powerful magician, she’d learned that more existed than the eye could perceive. Despite her early misgivings, she’d grown to trust him more and more once he’d revealed glimpses of her future.

Beelzebub, where the hell are you and the others? Tonight was important. Her pulse raced. She turned in a circle but saw nothing other than the towering stones glinting in the moonlight. She pulled her garment tighter around her body and let her mind return to the time her quest had begun.

Did my father really abandon me not two years ago? Yes, but that event had triggered the start of her new life. Not long after he’d disappeared, she’d been searching his cave. She’d covered almost every inch, looked in every nook and cranny, and had been about to despair that nothing remained to show he’d ever lived there. Then she’d found a large, clear receptacle resting on a stone shelf at the very rear of the cave. Inside was an enormous eye—a dragon’s eye. She’d met a dragon recently and recognised the object immediately.

Dragons can see into the far distance, beyond the hills, across the seas, Beelzebub told her as she stood before the unblinking orb. Their eyes provide images from the future. She only had to concentrate and wish for a glimpse. With palpitating heart, she’d peered into the lizard-like pupil and asked to be shown her future.

At first, nothing had happened.

Then the eye clouded over, as if obscured by smoke. She blinked. The mist cleared, and she saw a grown woman reflected in the eye. The features belonged to her, but the woman was taller, straight-backed with long, lustrous, raven-coloured hair. Dressed in strange garb, a score of male and female figures cowered at her feet. All peered up at her, hands raised in supplication, eyes pleading. Behind her, a tall, cloud-shaped something like a giant mushroom reached towards the sky.

It is in your future to rule the world, said Beelzebub, his voice thick and unctuous, but the words made her heart swell with pride. Moments later, the vision faded without revealing more, but from that moment on she’d believed implicitly everything her new friend told her. And his words had led her to this place on this special summer night.

Guided by Beelzebub, she’d abandoned her father’s cave and trekked across this vast land, always headed south, driven onwards by the lure of the strongest magic. Beelzebub had shown her images of this place, with its tall monuments arranged in concentric circles. Circles, she knew, were a means of concentrating the forces of nature. As she travelled, she implemented the plan her invisible companion had outlined.

From each village she stole a newborn child in the dead of night, while the villagers slept. After locating a suitable clearing—far enough from the village to remain hidden from prying eyes—she performed the ceremony Beelzebub had outlined and sacrificed each child. Then she drank the infant’s blood and devoured its liver. According to her mentor, this ritual assisted in attaining immortality.

The first killing had proved difficult, but with Beelzebub’s constant encouragement she’d accomplished it. The next had gone a little easier, the ones after that easier still, until, by the time she’d taken the life of her thirteenth victim, she’d warmed to her quest. Afterwards she returned the mutilated bodies to their homes so that, come morning, the villagers feared the spirits that roamed their world at night.

She glanced up at the moon again and gauged the time. Silly girl! It’s late, but not as late as I thought. The rendezvous was for midnight, and it’s still a little shy of that. She drew in a deep breath. Her heart rate returned to normal, and she turned her attention to the towering stones.

They were old and belonged to another time, perhaps thousands of years ago. Their edges were rounded, their surfaces pitted by the elements, and much of the inner circle had collapsed. Still, magic lingered within the perimeter. She could feel it course through her body. Many ceremonies had been performed here over the centuries, each one drawing on the power within the inner circle. She reached out and touched the nearest upright stone. Her skin tingled, and her pulse raced. She felt more alive than ever.

I wonder what these acolytes, these people who call themselves druids, are like? Beelzebub had told her precious little about them, other than that they would assist in the ceremony to make her immortal. She suspected it would involve sex, for why else would her companion have told her to wear nothing beneath her cassock? She didn’t fear sex. Her mentor had instructed her in the finer points of seduction, how to lure men from their beds in the middle of the night and not awaken those sleeping nearby. Encouraged by Beelzebub, she’d come to hunger for encounters of the flesh.

She licked her lips with anticipation. She’d never tried multiple partners before. This could be interesting!

Suddenly, a figure loomed at the base of the standing rock on her right. Then another on her left. As she swivelled her head first one way then the other, more figures materialised from amongst the stones until twelve dark-robed shapes surrounded her. All wore cassocks similar to her own, their faces hidden in shadow.

Greetings! My name is Cyrus, said the one standing closest to her. His voice was coarse and full of sexual innuendo. He threw back the cowl of his garment and revealed his face. His skin shone pale, wax-like, and he had a long, raw scar than ran from above his left eye and across his cheek to the corner of his mouth. His lips stretched thin, and he had no eyebrows.

Greetings. Her heartbeat quickened. He’s the ugliest man I’ve ever seen. My name is Jane. You were expecting me?

Of course. He extended a hand. Please take your place inside the ring of stones. He made no attempt to introduce the others.

She turned and stepped towards the open space. Before, it had been nothing more than a grassy amphitheatre, but now it contained a large, rectangular slab of rust-coloured stone. Some sort of altar, smeared by the blood of previous sacrifices. She scanned the minds of the newcomers and saw they meant her no harm. She continued with slow, measured paces. The twelve druids kept pace with her. Those in front stepped backwards without taking their eyes from hers. When she halted, facing the altar stone, so did they.

Remove your garment. Cyrus placed his hands on her shoulders.

His fingers plucked at the folds of her cassock. She let it fall, not ashamed to reveal her nakedness in front of strangers. The garment slithered down her body until it collected in an untidy pile around her feet. Several of her companions murmured in a language she didn’t understand, but they couldn’t hide the desire in those undertones. She smiled. She was beautiful, and men lusted after her. She welcomed their attention because of the power if gave her over them.

Again, Cyrus placed his hands on her shoulders and spun her around. On the altar, arms and legs spread. He guided her backwards until her calves touched the cold stone. Then he applied pressure and moved her into position.

When the backs of her thighs made contact with the hard, smooth surface, she lowered herself onto her back and felt a tingle course through her body as the cool stone made contact with her warm flesh. Cyrus opened his cassock and let it drop, his eyes glowing with a fierce intensity. His body was as pale as his face, but his erection amply displayed his interest in her body.

She turned her head and studied the others. All had removed their garments, their flesh wax-like in the moonlight. All their cocks stood at attention. This promises to be quite a ceremony. She smiled again, spread her legs further, and offered herself to them just as Beelzebub had instructed.

Cyrus licked his lips, approached the front of the altar, and knelt between her legs. She’d read his mind and knew he wanted to forcibly penetrate her, but she’d prepared herself by mentally stimulating her vagina so that it was well lubricated. When he thrust his erection into her, he met no resistance, and she arched her hips and took him into her moist opening as deeply as possible. The other males crowded closer and jostled for position. Beelzebub had told her what to do, so she seized the nearest engorged organ, opened her mouth, and enveloped it. In seconds the man groaned, spasmed, and came in her mouth. She swallowed, pushed him away, and grasped another. Cyrus, meanwhile, watched her with wild eyes. All the while he thrust into her as though he wished to split her in two.

She grinned, sent out probes, and entered the minds of all twelve men. She located the pleasure receptors in each brain and stimulated them. Beelzebub had instructed her to send these men into a frenzy. This would set her on the path to immortality. This would prepare her mind and body for her mentor, who had promised to complete the ceremony.

In the moonlight, beneath the glittering stars, the men attacked her like animals. They pawed, sucked, licked, clawed, and fucked her over and over again. No part of her body was sacred, no opening off limits, no act too depraved. And through it all she controlled them, these twelve men who feasted on her carnal desires.

After three-and-a-half hours—despite her involvement, her mind kept track of time—she sensed a new presence. It began as an odour—the pungent smell of sulphur. It was strong, overpowering, all-pervading. And his eyes shimmered and glowed as if lit by the fires of Hell. Beelzebub. Just as he’d promised. Although he’d never revealed himself before, she’d have recognised the stench and his burning eyes anywhere.

Begone! Beelzebub swept his disciples aside with a gesture from one huge hand, the fingers of which ended in long, sharp talons. Step aside and let your master take his prize.

As one, the twelve males drew back and fell to their knees. All lowered their heads as if afraid to look into the eyes of the new arrival. Beelzebub stepped forward. He body still resembled little more than a dark shape, but his elongated face seemed lit by flames. From deep recesses beneath heavy, black brows, his eyes burned red and bright, and his tongue lolled from the chasm of his mouth like a giant scarlet slug.

Jane couldn’t see his erection, but when it slammed into the opening between her legs it felt as though it would split her wide open. She screamed with pain as she gave herself to her demon lover.

Hours later, she awoke bleeding in the centre of the towering stones. She was battered and bruised; every part of her body ached but was otherwise unharmed. She studied her surroundings. Sunlight glinted on the damp grass and the upright stones. Beelzebub had vanished, but the ground that surrounded the altar was coated with blood and littered with the dead druids who’d serviced her during the ceremony. She noted that the heart and liver had been torn from each of the bodies, the wounds scarred with ragged edges.

Who slaughtered these men? Did I do this, or did Beelzebub do so after they’d served his purpose? She had no memory of events once the demon took possession of her body, but devouring these vital organs formed part of the ritual. She looked down at her hands. They were covered in dried blood. I could have done this. I would be proud to do it again if need be.

As she picked up her cassock and donned it, she sent out mind probes but found no trace of anyone in the nearby fields. Then she examined herself, delving into the molecules of her construction. Cuts and bruises covered her body, and a raging fire burned between her legs. Despite this and countless aches and pains, she felt wonderful, all powerful. She was attuned to the grass upon which she stood and the stones that surrounded her. She seemed to merge with the sky and the stars above. She was one with the universe. She had achieved her desired result. She’d achieved immortality.

Chapter 1: Coping

~~~

Wednesday, May 8, 2002

~~~

Cold, alone in a prison cell, tortured by the death of his wife, Martin George Mitchell slept fitfully and dreamed of his childhood. He opened his eyes and grinned. Saturday. No school. It wasn’t that he disliked school. He loved it. Loved his classes. Loved interacting with his friends. But he also loved weekends. On Saturday and Sunday, he could be himself, be whatever he wanted. He could let his imagination run free.

Sunlight streamed through his bedroom window, warming the air in the room. From the position of the sun, he knew he’d slept late. He could hear his mum pottering around in the kitchen, washing dishes. Dad would be outside, probably working in the garden. His two sisters would be still buried beneath their bedclothes, fast asleep.

He slipped from his bed, pulled on an old school shirt and short pants—although he now had a pair of long trousers, he wasn’t permitted to wear them at home—and completed his outfit with woollen socks and scuffed leather shoes.

Morning, Mum, he said as he entered the kitchen.

Morning, Marty. His mother had her hands in the sink, and she kept her back to him, but she turned her head and smiled. Sleep well?

Like a log.

Can you get your own breakfast? I put some milk on to heat when I heard you get out of bed. It should just about be ready.

Sure. Thanks. There was a bowl on the table at his usual place. He grabbed two Granose biscuits from the packet in the middle of the table, sprinkled a heaped, dessert-spoonful of sugar over the top, and walked to the stove. Is this all for me?

Yes. The girls won’t be up for a while, so it’s all yours.

Thanks. He lifted the saucepan, carried it to the table, and poured the hot milk over his cereal. Thankfully the milk hadn’t developed a skin on top. He didn’t like the skin, but his mother would have given him a lecture about starving children in some overseas country if he pulled a face or refused to eat what she’d prepared. He replaced the saucepan on the stove, returned to the table, and sat.

Done your homework? she asked.

Last night. After doing the dishes. He recalled how the whole family had settled down in the kitchen to share the warmth from the wood stove. His father had been reading the newspaper and hadn’t lifted his head for hours. His mother had been answering a letter she’d received from her sister. His sisters had been occupied drawing crappy pictures of trees and flowers. Only his baby brother had been in another room, fast asleep in his cot.

Oh, right. Are you excited? asked his mother.

About what?

Going to the Olympics.

He sighed and gathered his thoughts before answering. It was 1956, and his school had organised a trip to Melbourne for a select group of students to spend a day watching the Olympic Games. Somehow his parents had scrimped enough money to pay his way. Melbourne was more than eighty miles away, and he’d never been to the city. He wasn’t sure he really wanted to go all that way, but his parents wanted him to, and arguing would prove fruitless.

I guess.

Don’t be so negative. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

Yes, Mum.

Now finish your breakfast, go outside, and play.

Yes, Mum. He ate his cereal, carried his bowl to the sink, and slipped it into the dishwater. Then he returned to his bedroom to collect his Davy Crockett cap.

A few months earlier, he’d been to the cinema to see the movie starring Fess Parker, and games that involved the American frontiersman had been his passion ever since. Last weekend, his aunty had presented him with a cap—complete with tail—that she’d made from an old fur coat. This had instantly become his most prized possession, and he’d barely left it off his head when he wasn’t at school. As soon as he donned it, his imagination transported him to the American West, where Indians lay in ambush behind every tree.

Still love that silly hat, I see, said his mother as he walked through the kitchen.

Huh? Oh, yeah, he said, as his mind reverted momentarily to the present. He reached up and stroked the brown-and-gold fur. It’s the best. He stepped onto the back verandah, his mother’s chuckles sounding in his ears.

As the sound died, he collected the long, smooth stick he used as a flintlock rifle and descended to the back yard. In seconds, he’d retreated to the world of his imagination and the games he’d been playing after school yesterday.

The lawn, vegetable gardens, and clothesline vanished, replaced by hills and valleys clad with greenery. The fruit trees became giant redwoods. And the narrow gutter that drained the yard morphed into a wide, swift-flowing river. Martin became so immersed in the fantasy that the real world ceased to exist.

Soon, he was following the trail of a deer, his footfalls as silent as the breeze that carried his quarry’s scent to his nostrils. He smiled, primed the flintlock, and crept closer, hidden from view by a dense patch of scrub. He eased the leaves aside and took a bead on his prey. Holding his breath, he squeezed the trigger. He heard the blast as the gunpowder exploded, saw the smoke that billowed from the end of the barrel, and watched the deer prick up its ears before it collapsed to the ground.

Martin stepped from concealment, drew his hunting knife should he need to put the animal out of its misery, and strode towards where it lay. He knelt beside it and placed a hand on its neck. The creature was dead. The bullet had pierced its heart. No need for the knife.

Still smiling, he reached down to raise his kill to his shoulder and carry it back to the camp to feed his men. In mid-lift, he stopped. Disbelief converted his smile to a frown. Instead of a deer, he held the naked torso of a woman. There was no head, no arms and no legs and, although he’d never seen a naked woman before, it was definitely female. His eyes grew wide, and he released his grip and staggered backwards. The body fell to the ground with a thud. He stared at his hands. They were covered with blood. So was his knife.

Thirteen-year-old Martin turned and ran back to the house and his mother. From his throat issued a loud, piercing scream, filled with mind-boggling terror.

***

Wanda Jean returned to her home, her heart light, her mind filled with euphoria. Everything was proceeding exactly to plan. She’d taken care of the two agents, who’d ruined her schemes for the last time. The bitch, Claire, was dead. Wanda Jean’s little band of delinquents had accomplished their latest and most important mission. Martin had been arrested for his wife’s murder and even now languished in a holding cell. The spell designed to lure her new lover to her bed had been cast. All she had to do was wait for it to take effect. She needed only to cleanse her home of all distractions and make it ready for his arrival.

In the past, every attempt to establish a base from which to launch her plans for world domination had been foiled by the appearance of plagues of foul creatures. Spiders—the only creatures over which she exercised no control—had mysterious congregated to assist her enemies. Someone powerful controlled them. Of that she had no doubt. She suspected the coven of lower-level witches who’d secreted themselves in caves beneath the Tower Hill crater. If so, she and her cohorts had destroyed them, and they would trouble her no more. To be on the safe side, she’d employed magic to locate and remove each of those eight-legged little beasts that lingered in corners, cupboards, nooks and crannies. Not surprisingly—since spiders usually avoided her as she avoided them—she discovered fewer than a dozen.

Although she couldn’t destroy them, she confined them to a glass jar, materialised briefly on top of the cliff overlooking Logans Beach, and hurled the container into the ocean. For a moment, the crashing of the waves on the sand below took her back to another time, a

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