One Last Prayer for the Rays
DCI Michael Yorke faces his most harrowing case yet.
When 12-year-old Paul disappears from school, Yorke’s only clue is a pool of animal blood. Fearing the worst, he turns toward the most obvious suspect, recently released local murderer, Thomas Ray.
But as the snow in Salisbury worsens, Ray’s mutilated body is discovered, and Yorke is left with no choice but to journey into the sinister heart of a demented family that has plagued the community for generations. Can he save the boy? Or will the evil he discovers changes him forever?
One Last Prayer for the Rays introducing DCI Michael Yorke.
Context: This is the opening from the debut DCI Michael Yorke thriller One Last Prayer for the Rays. Here we are introduced to the chilling recluse, Thomas Ray, who is about to receive a visit from the local district nurse, Danielle Butcher …
THOMAS RAY SCRAPED a chunk of sleep from the corner of his eye, uncurled and flattened his back against the arrow-shaped spindles of his rocking chair, yawned, and scooped his sawn-off shotgun from the floor.
Outside, it sounded like the thunder was going to split the sky in two. He smiled. It was time. The bastards were here.
He freed one hand from his shotgun to scratch at his beard. Dead skin rained down on his lap. He tugged at his sweat-stained shirt, ungluing it from his skin. A bath was long overdue.
Thunder licked the sky again; his hand darted back to his shotgun.
The rain began; now just a slow tap-dance on his roof, it would quickly worsen. His father always told him nature would retaliate when they came again. He’d also told him what to expect. Horrible twisted faces coming at you like ghouls.
There was the creak of old wood from somewhere deep inside his house. His eyes darted left. He waited for a repeat of the sound, but it didn’t come.
With his finger solid against the trigger, he moved his eyes back to the front door. He smiled again. He’d waited his whole miserable life for this moment.
All in all, local district nurse Danielle Butler’s journey had been unpleasant. Not only had the dark clouds above her swelled to bursting point, but her old mini had whined since she’d set off from Salisbury.
There was no improvement in the weather when she reached The Downs. Around her, bony fingers of mist clawed at the sprawling fields.
Ignoring her vehicle’s complaints over several sharp corners, she took a quick look at her watch. She still had plenty of time until she met her husband Harry for the IVF appointment, but this didn’t stop her checking every five minutes. The mere thought of turning up late and losing that appointment after waiting for so long, caused her mouth to go dry.
The distance between each clap of thunder grew shorter, and as she reached Little Horton, the rain came. She cleared her window with her wipers and saw the yellowing sign for Pig Lane. She thought of Harry’s words at their front door earlier this morning. ‘I don’t like it when you have to go there.’
‘He’s odd, but he’s harmless,’ she’d said. ‘You coppers are always so paranoid.’
The gravelly road crunched under her wheels as she drove up the entry road into the pig farm. The sky continued to squeal like the condemned swine which had once lived here.
Whenever anyone had asked Thomas Ray about his reclusive life, he’d always told them he wasn’t good with people. He’d never told them the truth. Never told them he was preparing for war.
He looked down at his small armoury. A handgun, a set of knives, pepper spray, a taser and a hand grenade from the Battle of the Bulge which his Uncle John had given him on his sixth birthday, four years after the actual battle; there had been a nail in it to stop him pulling the pin, but that was gone now. He smiled. If they got to him, he’d blow all of them, himself included, to kingdom come.
Rain battered his roof and the sky made a grotesque noise. It reminded Thomas of the bucket beside his chair that was a quarter full of his own crap. It must have been three days since he’d last emptied it onto the porch, but it would be dangerous to attempt to do it right now. The stench didn’t bother him, he’d been a pig farmer most of his life. Next to the bucket were some bottles of mineral water and several cans of baked beans, most of which were empty. He felt hungry and wondered if he should eat to raise his energy levels. Best not. Again, too risky. They could be here at any moment.
He reached into the top pocket of his shirt and pulled out a dog-eared black and white photograph of his family around the pig-pen outside when he was only two years old. Nineteen forty-four. Hard to believe there had been eight of them back then. His two cousins held his excited younger self in the air by his feet. He ran his fingers over his father’s face and remembered his warning. ‘Beware the aliens, son. Their fiddly tests have given me cancer. Don’t let this happen to you.’
He put the photo of his family back into his pocket.
February, nineteen fifty-two. The vermin had come for his father. Performed their tests.
Near the end, his father, in and out of delirious consciousness, had said, ‘It’s through this same door in fifty years, they will come back for you, they told me so. And remember, those creatures can come in human or animal form.’
Fifty years later, two weeks into February, Thomas was ready; he’d been waiting for them at his front door for the past two weeks.
Whatever happens, they will never be able to say they caught me by surprise.
About the author.
Wes Markin is a hyperactive English teacher, who loves writing crime fiction with a twist of the macabre.
Having released One Last Prayer for the Rays he is now working on the second instalment of DCI Michael Yorke’s wild ride, The Repenting Serpent. He is also the author of Defined, a prequel to his DCI Yorke novels, which takes the reader back to his blood-soaked university days.
Born in 1978, Wes grew up in Manchester, UK. After graduating from Leeds University, he spent fifteen years as a teacher of English, and has taught in Thailand, Malaysia and China. Now as a teacher, writer, husband and father, he is currently living in Harrogate, UK.