For a short time Greg and Emma sat there a little stunned by what they had just heard and both of them had an equal amount of questions for the professor. Chief amongst those were of course what the professor had actually seen and how he could have mistaken Cain for an animal and despite the professors best answers neither Emma nor Greg were completely satisfied with the answers they were hearing.
The conversation between the four of them carried on until both Greg and Emma had exhausted all reasonable and sane questions that one might put to someone having heard such a tale. The small gatherings ruminations were broken by a loud snort from Barnabas as he rolled over in his sleep. Glancing back from the golden retriever and smiling whilst placing his cup upon his saucer Jacob McMasters the current clergyman for the chapel simply stated
“Well now that we all know why we are here; shall we proceed to the crypts in the rear of the Cemetery. For that is where the resting place of the Cain family is located.”
As she placed her coat on again Emma tried to organize her thoughts into something resembling reality after what she had just been told by Marcus and Jacob over the pot of tea the four of them had just enjoyed. Her analytical scientific mind was certainly not swayed by the musings of two old but sweet men. She was unsure exactly how much Greg was buying into the story but could be certain that he had his doubts too; anyone hearing that tale for the first time certainly would have. As they walked outside into the chill air again towards the crypt she recalled once more Marcus recounting the tale of the man named Ian Cain and the murders of over thirty years ago which culminated in the shooting on the bridge. Her foot slipped slightly on the damp grass as she unconsciously reached out and caught hold of Greg’s arm. There was that brief smile between them again which was shattered by Marcus calling over to them
“Come on children keep up!”
They neared the crypt and Emma pulled her coat lapels up around her neck as the wind pricked her with its chill fingers. She watched as Jacob sorted through the keys in his hand for the one that would fit the large steel lock on the gates securing the crypt from unwanted visitors. Her vision wandered to the clouds above that were illuminated by the moon shining like an iridescent pearl in the sky and the stars beyond. It would have been a beautiful night to admire had it not been for the fact she was stood in the middle of a graveyard waiting to examine a dead body or some dusty old bones. With a sigh she shuffled her feet to keep warm and peered around her into the gloom that pervaded the edges of the cemetery. Although it was a night lit by the moon the tall ancient trees surrounding the chapel yard created a network of shadows that no matter how hard she peered into Emma could not see the bushes or trees within. The trees creaked and wind gently whistled between the branches causing the leaves to rustle in response as if a hand was gently stroking them. A small rustling in the bushes surrounding the chapel grounds made Emma swing her head around sharply to see what it was. Her eyes peering into the darkness just about making out the shape of the hedge line as she heard the rustling again. It was almost as if something was trying to come through the hedge into the cemetery. She stepped away from the group towards the hedge line her eyes narrowing and her brows furrowing as she tried to pierce the darkness with her vision but still the sound persisted and her vision failed to focus on more than the dark gloom of the bushes ahead. The wind picked up and blew a smattering of hair across Emma’s face obstructing her vision causing her to pause and brush her hair away. She hadn’t realized but she had gotten closer to the hedge line than she had intended and further from the group than she liked. It also became apparent that whatever was in the hedge line had now stopped moving and was watching her waiting to see what she did next. Emma tilted her head back and thought about calling for Greg to come over but instead slipped her hand inside her pocket and her fingers entwined around a small torch within. Sliding her hand out and towards the hedge line she shone the beam of her torch sweeping across the hedge with the military precision of a search light in war time. The wind picked up again and swept her hair back across her face obscuring her vision once more and it was in this moment the bushes parted as something leapt from them towards Emma. She screamed as she heard the loud rustling noise and movement of an animal near to her as she was temporarily blinded by the hair across her eyes. She felt something brush across her leg as she slipped and fell to the ground. As she hurriedly brushed the hair from her eyes she screamed again as a large shape loomed over her with its arm outstretched towards her. Regaining her composure she quickly realized it was Greg leaning down to help her up.
“Shoo! Shoo! Pesky creatures always rooting around the grounds at night. Foxes always running through the hedges probably after the hedgehogs.” Stated Jacob as he smiled down at Emma.
“Now I have the right key let’s help this young lady to her feet and see what is in this Crypt.” Jacob concluded as he held the key aloft for all to see.
Standing and brushing herself off Emma could feel herself burning with embarrassment as she followed the others through the gate into the Crypt. Holding the gate open Marcus dipped his glasses at Emma and inquired quizzically “Are you alright young Miss?” to which Emma simply replied “Mmmhmm” and fixed her gaze on the light of her torch as she walked into the crypt.
Proceeding down a short flight of steps into the crypt below the group of four found themselves in a crypt with three stone coffins laid out in the center of the room ornately decorated and showing different signs of aging. Looking around Marcus noticed that the stone work appeared to be around the middle of the 18th century and the patterns typical of the era decorating the inner walls and stone flooring. Approaching the coffins Marcus read the inscriptions.
“This is unusual.” Stated Marcus as he peered at the coffins. “Whats so unusual about them Professor?” Inquired Greg. “Well the coffins themselves are unremarkable but the inscriptions are in old Norse and quite an obscure dialect. If memory serves me right this seems to be from an area near Trondheim.” Marcus said absently as he studied the words.
Greg stood patiently waiting for the Professor to finish his revelations but with nothing forth coming he cleared his throat and added “and what do they say Professor?”
“What do they say indeed my dear boy. What indeed?” Marcus mused more to himself than in answer to the question.
“The first one here.” Marcus indicating the coffin on the left as they all stood facing the three family caskets before them. “It reads Alexander Cain born 1857 died 1901. May this death bring an end to the curse that has followed this family.”
“That’s a little macabre” noted Emma.
“The middle coffin reads Antoinette Cain born 1862 died 1901. The Sacrifices we make are often not those we would have otherwise chosen had we had the choices others do.” Jacob nodded his head and gently said “That is often so true of this world we live in.”
“So the final coffin is Ian Cains then?” asked Greg. The Professor half swung back to look at him nodding then continued on to read the final coffin.
“Ian Cain born 1882 died 1982. The light cannot extinguish a soul as dark as mine.” A silence descended over the group as they took in the possible meaning of the words chiseled upon the tombs.
Emma broke the silence by saying forthrightly “Well it’s clear that someone is clearly playing a twisted joke on you Professor? or their relatives perhaps? The dates certainly don’t match up and the inscriptions written as if it was the coffins intended occupier who wrote it? I think we need to focus on the task at hand gentlemen and open the coffin to see Cain’s body then get back to catching the real killer.” Marcus and Jacob exchanged dark looks with one another and Greg felt the hair stand up on the back of his neck as he positioned the crow bar into the lid of the stone coffin. With a heave the stone gave slightly; the dust of ages spluttering into the air and dancing across the torchlight. Removing the crowbar and positioning it at the other end Greg repeated the procedure until the lid could be slid by hand from the coffin. Marcus and Greg pushed the top half of the lid so it spun slowly in place to reveal its contents. As its heavy weight lumbered across the coffin it kicked up a cloud of dust that caused the small group to cough in the cramped interior of the crypt and wipe their eyes before peering into the coffin.
“But that’s impossible!” exclaimed Jacob as his fingers curled around the rim of the coffin and peered in to see it was completely empty of anyone or anything.
“It’s as I feared” Marcus stated as he looked at Jacob.
“OK. What exactly is going on here?” Emma asked.
The Professor simply shook his head slowly at Emma as if to answer her before looking at Greg; his eyebrows furrowed together and Marcus looked his age all of sudden before pausing a moment then quietly saying
“I think we need to contact John, your Inspector, and let him know what we have discovered here tonight.”
Locking the crypt behind him the Chaplain Jacob McMasters led the small group back into the chapel study. Marcus immediately picked up the chapels phone, an ornate styled old telephone with a circular facet, and began to call his friend John who he knew was on route to Cain’s old address.