The Angel Maker is a supernatural horror novella: Welcome to sleepy little Widow’s Bay island, where nothing interesting ever happens, usually. In the midst of a violent storm which has cut off the island from the mainland, a young woman is found wandering in a near catatonic state with someone else’s blood on her. She has witnessed something horrific for sure, but the reality is far worse.
The solitary figure sat hunched over the desk straining to see the conundrum in front of him by the meagre flickering light overhead. A mystery he had thus far been unable to unravel, despite what seemed like hours of trial and error the sequence of seemingly random numbers eluded him.
Behind him the tin door rattled on its ever weakening hinges, threatening to break his already tenuous concentration altogether as the storm outside threatened to edge towards the biblical.
He wondered what kind of diabolical oriental imagination had invented such an infernal torture devise as this. The light overhead dipped again and for a long moment he was left in darkness with nothing but the rain and wind beating against the window in front of him for company. He looked out through the rattling glass but the outside was as dark as within.
“C’mon,” he whispered and willed the light to come back on, the thought of spending the night here in darkness wasn’t a welcome one. But he knew if today was anything to go by, the day tomorrow wouldn’t be much brighter.
The light came back on and he breathed a sigh of relief and after taking a sip of coffee from the cup on his desk, he returned to the paper but it just seemed to make less sense than ever. Then, as if out of nowhere the numbers seem to fall in to place. He spoke out loud as he scribbled the sequence onto the paper. Of course, it had been right there all along.
“Right let’s see, one, two, three, four, erm, five. Shit! Got no six.” His heart dropped as the puzzle threatened to outwit him once again. “Got no six on this line yet.” He traced his pen along the squares on the paper. “Ten? Hang on how the hell did I get a ten in there? Oh, no hang on that’s crossed out, should be... Six, that’s it! One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine. Sorted. Finished, easy.” Victory.
The speaker of the powerful radio transmitter next to him sparked into life. “Okay smarty pants. Now you have to fill in all the other lines, making sure they all have one to nine in them, oh and each of those little boxes have to have one to nine in them as well. Then you have to make sure each row and each column all have one to nine in them too. Easy?”
The puzzle hater’s heart dropped. “Eh? That’s impossible!”
Thankfully this battle of man against mathematical puzzle wasn’t life and death to Pete Mulgrave, it was just another way to while away the seemingly endless hours of his shift here at the lovely titled Widow’s Bay island volunteer lifeboat station. Which was a good job because it had well and truly kicked his round arse square. He threw his pencil down in disgust.
Mooney’s distorted voice came through the radio’s external speaker again. “Not impossible, just bloody hard, mate.”
Pete threw the speaker a look of distain, he had the distinct feeling his colleague on the mainland was winding him up. He looked at the puzzle. Just what the hell did Sudoku mean anyway? Probably mental torture in Japanese. “Have you finished yours?”
“Yep, ages ago.”
“Bollards, fax it through.”
“No, then you’ll see the answers. Besides the faxes are down remember?” Mooney reminded him.
“Oh, yeah.” How could he forget? He had been cooped up in this shack all day due to the storm.
The increasingly strong winds buffeted the side of the prefab office at the back of the lifeboat station he was in sole charge of tonight, and he could have sworn he actually felt the whole building shift. The builders had been working on the new office building when the storm hit and Pete knew this would mean it would be another week or so before they all moved into it. Still at least the lifeboat was safe in the new boathouse which had been completed first.
“Christ I’m bored,” Pete said. He took great delight in screwing up the Sudoku and throwing the balled up paper into the waste bin across the office which he missed, of course.
“Anyway,” Mooney said. “Here’s something for you to wrap your tiny brain around. You’re only bored because you associate the word bored with that feeling.”
“Try not using that word, replace it with something else, see if that works.”
“Moon-man you’re not making a drop of sense, mate.”
“It’s psychology, you associate being bored with the word bored. Y’know? Just use something else, or simply say ‘I am.’”
That was so Mooney, if he wasn’t reading some Zen book or other during the considerable down time between lifeboat call outs, (especially in this type of weather) he was reading psychology, that or torturing him with the latest brain teaser craze.
“Okay,” Pete said drawing out the word. “I am, I am... I am what? I am a carrot, I am a chair? I am... I am still fucking bored!”
The radio’s speaker distorted as Mooney exhaled theatrically. “Christ’s teeth Mulgrave, you have the IQ of both a carrot, and a chair. Why don’t you watch tele or something? I’m sure there’s some Jeremy Kyle on or some such shite to match your brain capacity?” Mooney asked.
“No signal,” Pete lamented. The station didn’t have cable and the radio was supposed to be for urgent communications only. “I swear it feels like the dark ages on here. One little storm and the whole island goes to shit.” He complained. “We’re only a mile from the mainland for Christ sake! Might as well be on the fucking moon.”
The power had been in and out all night, the main phone lines to the island were down and you could forget about using a mobile at the best of times on Widow’s Bay. The place felt like it was twenty years behind the rest of the country, which was a blessing to the hundred or so residents who for whatever reason had voluntarily opted to stay on the rock. These were mostly made up of students who had a small campus on the other side of the island from which they monitored the local wildlife which was protected by the county side commission. That coupled with the isolated nature of the place made it an idea ‘spiritual’ getaway for those looking for some kind of peace and tranquility.
Pete wondered with a smirk how they were liking Widow’s Bay now. Intermittent power and internet, and worst still, no TV. “I tell you, Mooney, I’m half expecting a mob of internet starved students to come up here carrying flaming torches and pitch folks to demand our generator.”
“Well at least they can help you with your Sudoku!” Mooney offered.
Pete was about to tell his colleague, who had been lucky enough to be stationed on the mainland tonight where to go when there was an almighty crash from outside, followed by the sound of splintering wood and shattering glass. “Jesus!”
Pete jumped up and went over to the window and cupped his hands either side of his eyes as he strained to see through the rattling Perspex glass and outside. As he watched, the roof of the old storage building which sat adjacent to his prefab office was torn off and flew off into the darkness. The scene put him in mind of the Wizard of Oz and he wondered grimly if he was next.
“Fuck me!” He gasped. Pete did a quick recap of the last couple of days preparations. Yes as far as he remembered they had cleared the old storage building a couple of days ago and the old place was due to be torn down anyway soon enough so no harm no foul.
“What? What’s happened? Pete you alright mate?” Mooney asked.
Pete came away from the window. The lifeboat station was situated well out of the way of any of the other properties on the island, at the end of a half mile dirt road on the coast’s edge. He sat back down on the swivel chair. “Fine, mate. At least by the end of tonight the contractors won’t need to worry about demolishing the storage hut.”
“You did clear it out?” There was an uneasy edge to Mooney’s voice through the speaker which set off a spark of recognition in Pete’s head. He laughed out loud. It wasn’t completely empty.
“Ha! All expect your moped, remember? You were supposed to take it with you at the end of your last shift, but you couldn’t be arsed!”
“Oh, bollocks! Pete, get out there and bring it inside, would you?”
“Are you shitting me? It’s biblical out there I’d get blown away or decapitated by some of the crap flying around.”
“Shit,” Mooney lamented, but then added with better humour. “Ah well, it could do with a wash I guess.”
“Still as bad where you are?” Pete asked.
“Yeah, but hey, don’t knock it. At least no dickhead is going to go swimming or sailing in this weather. We can just kick back.”
This was true Pete thought and as long as the storm blew itself out in the two days before the weekend, he was happy enough. TV or no TV. “Have they said how long it’s going to last?” Pete asked. He knew Mooney had access to all the relevant info on the mainland office in Scarborough.
“One day, two tops,” he replied.
“Good,” Pete said. But if it hadn’t cleared by the time his shift was over, storm or no storm he was going back to the mainland, even if he had to swim back. He sat back in his chair for a moment, he knew he would have to sign off with Mooney, the radio was supposed to be for emergencies only. Still he couldn’t help adding; “God I‘m bored.”