Requiem for the Ripper [The Final Episode of A Study in Red Trilogy] [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Brian L. Porter
eBook Category: Suspense/Thriller/Horror
eBook Description: Criminal psychologist David Hemswell receives a desperate call from a worried man. William Forbes, former solicitor to serial killer Jack Reid believes himself to be threatened by the living soul of the notorious Victorian enigma, Jack the Ripper. Convinced that Reid was a descendant of the Ripper and that the evil that first entered the current era through the inheritance of the Ripper's journal by psychiatrist Robert Cavendish, Forbes turns to Hemswell as his last hope to free himself from the demons he believes are pursuing him. Forbes travels to Skerries Rock, David Hemswell's private island home off the bleak, barren west coast of Cape Wrath, Scotland, where Hemswell soon realises that there is much about his visitor that is disquieting and frightening. Hemswell summons help in the form of paranormal investigator Kate Goddard, and together, the pair attempt to free Forbes of whatever strange phenomenon has assaulted his mind. As their investigation gathers pace, however, they soon begin to believe that the three of them are not alone on the tiny island. Has the soul of Jack the Ripper found a way to encroach upon the present day? Is William Forbes the living embodiment of The Ripper, or is he too a victim of the curse that appears to have been handed down across time by the unfortunate Cavendish family? As time begins to run out, and the danger surrounding them grows ever stronger by the second, David Hemswell must face his own demons and is faced with the most terrible decision of his life, as the story that began with A Study in Red - The Secret Journal of Jack the Ripper and continued in Legacy of the Ripper reaches its shattering and terrifying conclusion!
eBook Publisher: Double Dragon Publishing/Double Dragon Publishing, Published: Double Dragon eBooks, 2010
Fictionwise Release Date: June 2010
2 Reader Ratings:
Skerries Rock is, to most people who've heard of it, one of the most desolate and unwelcoming places in the whole of the British Isles. Lying just a mile off the coast of Cape Wrath, the most north westerly point of the Scottish mainland, the island, which is rarely, if ever, shown on any maps, is barely one and a half miles long and less than a half mile across at its widest point. Once home to a small band of hardy crofters who, long ago, abandoned their tiny homes and sought wealth, or at least a decent living on the mainland, it has long been my personal idyll. The place where, if I could, I always promised myself, I'd retire to one day, living in splendid isolation with nothing more than the seabirds and the sound of the constantly buffeting Atlantic winds for company.
I first visited Skerries Rock as a child, when my father brought me to the place during a fishing trip. We hired a boat from the village of Balnakiel, where my ex-ship's captain father was well known, and where he holidayed often, enjoying the panoramic views and the relaxation afforded by the local golf course, while staying in the village's only decent hotel. We landed on Skerries Rock on the third day of our fishing trip, accompanied by Hamish Foyle and his son Angus, comprising the oddly named Whispering Lady's crew. I never found out why the boat carried its odd name, who the whispering lady in question might have been, but, at ten years of age, such things were of little interest to me.
What did catch my attention, however, was the sheer beauty of the tiny island that my father had brought me to. Small as it may have been, it held a grandeur that penetrated my young mind and left a lasting impression upon me. On the cliffs that appeared to rise almost vertically from the sea on its eastern shore, I watched in awe as thousands (or so I estimated) of puffins, with their brightly coloured beaks, nestled together, gathered, as my father explained, for their annual mating season. Dolphins broke through the dark blue-green surface of the ocean as we approached the only practical landing point, a mile east of the towering cliffs. Here, a small wooden quay jutted out from a rocky beach. It stood in good repair; Hamish Foyle explained that the crofters, who once lived on the Rock, used this place for the receiving of supplies from the mainland, and for putting to sea in their own small fishing boat, from which they'd cast their nets, close to shore, in an attempt to augment their supplies with a regular infusion of fresh fish. They possessed the sense to build the quay on the leeward side of the island, where a degree of shelter from the towering Atlantic breakers existed. Anywhere else on the island would have made landing ashore a physical impossibility.
Nowadays, Hamish told me at that time, the island was privately owned and only rarely visited by bird-watchers and conservationists. The owner, a philanthropic millionaire, had decreed that the quay be kept in good repair so that those who wished to land and take advantage of the sights and sounds of the island could do so.
I think my father knew I'd be captivated by the place. He knew only too well that his son had a love for the natural world and for all the creatures that inhabit it, the puffins and the myriad gulls, terns, skuas, and petrels that swirled in the skies above us made the whole place seem alive. I felt as though I'd stumbled onto one of the last, truly wild places on Earth and, perhaps I had.
The place left such an impression on my receptive young mind that memories of Skerries Rock filled my head so many times during my teenage years. I would beg my father to take me there whenever he visited Scotland. My mother, reconciled to the knowledge that her husband and son were about to embark on one of their treks to the north, would usually remain home, at our comfortable house in the Port of Hull on the east coast of Yorkshire. I'd cheerfully wave good-bye to her, yet sadly, scarcely give her another thought as we headed towards the border, following the coast road along the east coast, then traversing the width of Scotland once Edinburgh trailed in the wake of our exhaust. I say sadly because, shortly after I'd attained the age of sixteen, my mother fell victim to a cruel cancer. Within six months of her contracting the dreaded disease, she passed away. My father and I were left alone with our joint grief and horror at the ravages the illness had wrought upon my poor mother.
So, it transpired that years passed without another visit to Skerries Rock, years in which I attended university, gained a degree and slowly built a career for myself. I became successful in my chosen profession, able to afford to ensconce myself in a house overlooking the North Sea in the coastal resort of Scarborough. A brass plaque on the wall announced my trade and my surgery hours, from where I carried out my work as a consultant psychologist. I carried out much of that work, of course, at the local hospital, and as time passed and my professional star rose, I became known to the police as something of an expert in the field of criminal psychology, not only in the local area, but across the whole north of England. I was often called in to provide suspect profiling in cases where such expertise was required or desired.
As with many childhood dreams, my thoughts of Skerries Rock remained firmly embedded in my mind, though they grew fainter and less vivid with the passage of time. Occasionally, I would promise myself that I'd visit the place again one day, but, after the death of my father (another awful cancer, damn it), fifteen years after the loss of my mother, such ambitions assumed less of a priority in my life.
My success continued until, one day, then at the age of fifty, while idly reading through a copy of 'The Times' as I waited for lunch to be served in my favourite restaurant, my eyes were suddenly drawn to an advertisement on the property page. The words Skerries Rock leaped out at me from the page as I read the advertisement offering my dream island for sale!
I could scarcely believe my eyes. The millionaire philanthropist, who originally bought the place, had died and the executors of his estate were selling Skerries Rock for a knockdown price. After all, they'd probably surmised, who the hell would want to own such a place, even less likely, who the hell might want to live there? They probably saw the tiny island as an encumbrance to the estate and seemed to be determined to off-load it quickly, or so the asking price implied.
From that day forward, the idea of owning Skerries Rock, of having the opportunity to live my childhood dream, became an obsession. I'd become financially sound; certainly I could afford the asking price. I quickly came to the conclusion that I could easily give up my general practice in Scarborough and augment my income through consultancy work, which could just as easily be conducted from a home on the island. After all, most of such work came via the Internet and the telephone; therein, I realised the enormity of what I'd just suggested to myself. Skerries Rock possessed no mains electricity supply, no gas, no telephone links to the mainland. It would take some creative thinking and a fair amount of investment to install a private generator and arrange for a telephone line to be installed.
My mind was made up; I knew I had to try. So, with an abundance of help from my solicitor, even though I found myself placing such a ridiculously low bid for the island of my dreams, I was surprised to find it was accepted by the executors of the estate. The generator cost less than I'd anticipated and the telephone line wouldn't be a problem with the advances in modern technology. All I had to do was build a habitable house for myself and Skerries Rock could become my home. I hired a team of builders from Balnakiel, in fact, the only builders in Balnakiel, owned oddly enough by Angus Foyle, with whom I'd first set sight on the island. In less than six months, Angus and his men had converted two of the old crofts into a single, warmly insulated and completely adequate dwelling for a single man such as myself. Power came from the use of the newly acquired generator, the telephone and computer links were soon established and, in far less time than I'd imagined, I found myself unscrewing the brass plaque from the wall outside my Scarborough home. As I took it down from its place of prominence, I read it one last time. Listing my name, David Hemswell, and my professional qualifications, that plaque seemed, at that moment, to stand for everything I'd worked so hard to achieve and was now poised to leave behind. I placed it, almost reverently, into one of the packing cases that were being used to transport my goods and chattels northwards, finally leaving the house on a warm Saturday afternoon in June, without looking back once as I drove towards my future.