The Magus Conspiracy

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Chapter Twenty-One: The Signs.

Clodagh Daly was a good cop. She was young and just months out of the academy, but she had a startling memory for detail and a mathematical talent for analyzing data. She also recognized the work of Satan when she saw it.

And Satan had been busy lately.

The omens weren’t exactly as the Revelation had predicted, but she acknowledged you’d probably have to refract a first century prophecy through the prism of two thousand years to see the spectrum of signs in a modern light. And while she wasn’t so prideful as to second-guess the minds of God and the prophets, the Apocalypse was coming; she was damn sure of that.

She had been taught in bible class the Apocalypse would start with the beasts of the Earth and that certainly seemed the case: In early June, missing cat posters had started to appear in Wicklow town and now every lamppost and store window was festooned with them. Clodagh's own cat, Alfie, a venerable and domiciliary ginger tom, vanished from her apartment. Weirdest of all, the volunteers at the local pound had arrived one morning to find all the cat cages still locked but empty, all the other rescues in distress. Soon after that it became apparent that all cats were gone.

She’d been looking at a picture of Alfie on her phone in the station when several of the other officers had come on duty.

“What've you got there, Clodagh?”

She held up the phone, tears glistening on her cheeks.

“Ah, there’s no need to cry about it. He’ll turn up – they all will. It’s some kind of stunt someone’s pulling.”

“It’s not just that he’s gone. I mean that makes me sad of course, but what does it all mean? It must be some kind of portent.”

She crossed herself, kissed the crucifix on the chain around her neck and dropped it back inside her shirt.

One of the officers snorted. “There goes Sister Clodagh, seeing the devil everywhere. Jesus, loosen up, girl!” They laughed and went to the locker room. Heathens, she thought. When God comes to save the righteous from Satan’s hordes, you’re all going to burn.

Then a satellite came down just off Wicklow Head. At least that was the official story. But Clodagh was on duty when the Americans arrived with an Irish army escort and winched that weird wooden UFO out of the sea. She’d taken a peek inside the forensics tent at the mangled remains of the occupants and didn’t sleep for nights afterwards.

At that stage Clodagh was sure that evil was afoot. She tried to warn her friends and colleagues but they ridiculed her.

And the signs kept coming.

On the last day of her old life – her ‘profane existence’, as she would later call it – serious and inexplicable disturbances occurred simultaneously in Ferrisfort in County Wicklow and in Churchtown in Dublin. People reported murderous women in strange garb appearing out of thin air to massacre dozens of people and lay waste to buildings. The women were variously reported as having red eyes, fangs and the ability to discharge fire from their hands. Many of the reports were contradictory, but the streams of fire came up consistently. All of it was discounted by her colleagues as hysteria.

That evening, Officer Ryan, who had taken a fatherly shine to her, confided (“and you didn’t hear it from me”) that the military had found something bizarre on one of the bodies in the UFO; an iPhone belonging to a well-known and missing Wicklow local, Fintan McHewell. That name resonated with her for some reason and she puzzled over it during her shift. On her break, she went to the church to pray for inspiration and (praise Jesus!) it came to her. She hurried back to the police station and logged in to her computer.

After the earlier madness in Ferrisfort, the squad car video from the roadblock and the officer’s notes had been uploaded to the police database. Clodagh had skipped through them looking for things out of the ordinary. While she didn’t find anything, her uncanny mind had processed and stored it in minute detail. In the serenity of the church, her brain had made the connection.

An SUV had been stopped coming out of Ferrisfort and the driver had given her name as Bree McHewell. The registration matched up to the name but that was where it started to get suspicious. The database listed Bree McHewell as being in her early forties, but the driver on the video was a young woman accompanied by a teenage boy. Clodagh had been stepping through the video frames to get a good still of their faces when Detective Fiona Kelly peered over her shoulder.

“Those two! What have they been up to now?”

“What?! Do you recognize them?”

“I do, unfortunately. Pair of degenerates. That brassy little madam ran away from home recently and got that young idiot to cover for her. Wasted no end of our time.”

“Ran away from home? How old is she, then?”

“About fifteen, I think.”

“Very interesting. Too young to drive, and she lied about her name.”

“What do you mean?”

“This video is from the roadblock near Ferrisfort earlier. She gave her name as Bree McHewell.”

“McHewell? That’s that young guy’s name. Mark McHewell. Bree is his mother, if I remember correctly. The husband is that rich guy that disappeared last year, remember? Actually, I think it was before you arrived.”

“What’s the girl’s name?”

“Er, Niamh Kinnear.”

“The cheek of her! She drove right up to that roadblock and you can hear her on the video telling the officer her name is Bree McHewell, that the boy is her brother and that the car is hers. What the hell are they up to?”

Detective Kelly’s teeth made a grinding noise. “I’m going to get Pat Ryan now, and that’s exactly what we’re going to find out!”

And that was the last time Clodagh had seen them alive.

Kelly and Ryan hadn’t returned when Clodagh was going off duty so she looked up the Kinnear’s address and drove out the coast road. As she pulled up at the Kinnear’s driveway she saw the squad car parked at the house, engine running. From the moment she stepped out of her car she knew something was wrong. She gripped the crucifix at her throat and sidled up to the passenger door.

Nothing in her police training could have prepared her for the butchery inside the car. The sheer amount of blood indicated the victims had been decapitated where they sat, but there wasn’t enough room inside the vehicle to swing a weapon or even to use a cheese-wire garrote. In other words, these murders were impossible.

She backed away from the car and looked around in a daze. The side of the house and been blown open and there were blood trails in the living room, but no further bodies.

The brutality of the killings left Clodagh almost insensate with horror but she prayed to Jesus and channeled her shock into decisive action. She’d never had much time for Fiona Kelly but Pat Ryan was like a father to her and she wanted to do right by his memory.

She knew her colleagues would not take the threat seriously and they were beyond redemption anyway, so calling this in was not an option. It took her all of ten seconds to decide what she should do.

She took out her cell.

“Hi Killian? It’s Clodagh.”

“Yes, I’m in good health, praise Jesus, but we are all in mortal danger.”

“Have you not seen the signs? It’s happening Killian, just as Papa always said.”

“Killian, I really don’t have time to explain but you do trust me don’t you?”

“OK, does Joshua Morton from the prayer group still have his car transporter? Can you borrow it from him?”

“When? Right now, Killian! We have a chance to thwart Satan and his hordes, but we have to act now.”

“Just meet me at this address as soon as possible.”

She gave the Kinnear’s address and rang off with a “Praise Jesus.”

As she sat in her car waiting for Killian, all that had happened played and replayed in her mind. Each cycle of the events climaxed in her finding her colleagues butchered in their squad car. The sense of Satan’s immediate presence disturbed her and she prayed to Jesus for guidance and strength. She felt terror at the coming Armageddon and she wailed in her car, pulling at her hair and knocking her head against the steering wheel. The waves of horror she felt eliminated any possibility of rational thought and thus it was that as Clodagh sat in her car, weeping and wailing and waiting for her brother, she had her epiphany.

Every omen was linked to those young antichrists, Kinnear and McHewell, and that was exactly what Clodagh believed them to be; demonic little harbingers of the End of Days.

The fear lifted from her and she stopped crying. In fact she started to smile, then grin, then shriek with laughter. She finally realized exactly why she had been put on this Earth and exactly what she had to do.

By the time her brother arrived and found her in her car screaming with laughter, Clodagh’s beautiful mind had finally, after many years of flirting with it, succumbed to complete and irrevocable narcissistic madness.

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