Death Marks: Chapter 11

Uncompromising, gritty, thrilling, and not for the faint hearted! British detectives suspect a serial killer is on the loose. With the support of American profiler Dr Tessa Davies, they soon realize that this could be the work of a druidic sect.

Please enjoy another chapter of my dark crime novel, Death Marks . For now, I will post a chapter every Monday and Thursday.

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Death Marks

Chapter 11

Redd felt a rush of hope. ‘That’s great. So I’ll go back to the autopsy.’

‘Okay, go ahead.’ Placing her cup of tea on the table, she crossed her legs, the denim hugging the sleek lines of her thighs.

‘The autopsy gave more information again; it appears they sawed through the sternum and ripped the rib cage open to extract the entrails. Having done that for some strange reason, they put them back into the body. It’s crazy – absolutely insane.’

Her eyes widened in horror, uncrossing her legs; she leaned forward as she said, ‘Did they mark the liver and the heart?’

Surprised, he said, ‘Yes. How did you know?’

‘Just a guess at present, but….’ her words faltered.

‘What is it?’

She hesitated again. ‘No, nothing – go on.’

‘The pathologist pointed out the markings formed the pattern of a wheel; the central axis was a stick and three spokes.’

‘I recognize that; I’m sure it’s a Triskelion, the symbol of the ancient Celtic religions and the Druids.’

‘I thought it was some insane message.’

‘No-one really knows what it means; some guess it could be the birth cycle – the three trimesters, or maybe the pagan triple Goddess. The three spokes stand for three bent legs. It developed from the prehistoric triple spiral.’

‘Pagans? I thought they were innocent, free sex, flowers, incense, and drums – the ones who gather at Stonehenge for the summer solstice.’

‘Some are like that, but I the group you’re dealing with, most probably read up the ancient rites and are re-enacting them—’

She stopped, suddenly putting her hands to her cheeks.

‘What’s wrong?’

‘You said one of the victims was decapitated?’

‘Yes – go on.’

She sighed deeply, ‘Then I suggest it’s the druids; they decapitated their prisoners and worshipped skulls. They would then clean out the skull and pour the victim’s blood into that, drinking and washing their faces in it. It was considered sacred; they attained the wisdom of the Gods. They’re called the Cult of the Severed Skulls. They also covered themselves with tattoos. It was a terrible – terrible time.’

‘Tattoos? The victims had tattoos.’

‘What kind?’

‘Circles, swirling lines in circles. What do they mean?’

‘The triple spirals again. It’s all connecting.’ Tess rubbed her forehead, putting her hand on her chest.

Seeing her distress, he realized he was dealing with a researcher, not a detective de-sensitized by vicious crimes or the traffic officer clearing up the gruesome remains of a road accident. He said, ‘Look if you don’t want to go through with this —’

‘I’m sorry; it’s such a shock. But, I have to help you. I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t. But my suggestions must sound way out to you.’

‘No – no. You’ve given me a lot to think about.’

‘Well, my work is still in the research stage.’

‘I think we’re really gonna need you. Go on about these druids.’

She bit her lip. ‘To them, there was no death; it was all about balance; to receive life, you sacrificed life. The Druid priest truly believed he would immediately reincarnate in the next life, as a God and the ordinary person would instantly enter another body.’

‘You’ve gone pale. Maybe a brandy would help?’

She flushed. ‘I think I need it.’ Rising, she went to the drinks’ cabinet, taking out two brandy glasses and a bottle of Hennessey.

‘Ah, Cognac no less.’

She smiled, pouring out a generous measure and handing it to Redd. Sitting down across from him, she took a healthy swallow, feeling the warmth flow down her throat and into her gullet. ‘God, that’s better. For a moment, I honestly thought I was going to pass out. I just can’t believe someone would do something like this.’

After sipping his cognac in silence, giving her time to recover, he said, ‘Okay, I have more information for you. The pathologist discovered a cocktail of drugs in the stomach contents, the main one being Salvia Divinorum. It has low toxicity and addictive levels, but quite lethal when mixed with the other agents.’

Tess frowned. ‘I’ve heard of Salvia Divinorum, originally a shamanic drug; it’s widely available on the net – cheap too.’

‘Yeah, we looked it up. It’s quite powerful on its own, let alone mixed with others.’

Taking another sip of cognac, Tess said, ‘If the perpetrators use it, they wouldn’t be in any fit state to plan and carry out the eviscerations. They must give it to the victims.’

‘Huh, we’re back on evisceration – is that okay?’

‘Yes, the cognac’s helping. I have to face it, Chief Inspector. First, could you tell me a little more about the crime scene, you say Kingsley Vale? Where were the bodies placed exactly?’

Looking into those chocolate eyes, he felt his pulse rate quicken. ‘Call me Dan.’

She flushed. ‘Okay, Dan, it is. I’m Tess.’

‘So in answer to your question, they were found in a grove of yew trees.’

She bit her lip. ‘It’s the Druid’s particular sacred tree, besides the Oak that is. They must be offering the victims as sacrifices.’


‘It was a different mindset in those times; today neo-druids are completely different and are non-violent; they see neo-druidism as a way of life, a philosophy. She paused; her hands gripped together, the knuckles white. ‘Actually – I have to tell you this before we go any further; I’m a neo-druid.’

‘Oh … err …’ for a few seconds, Redd was lost for words. Would this complicate matters? ‘So, you’d have lots of contacts with the neo-druids?’

‘Yes – there are a lot of interactions between the groups, especially at the festivals.’

He saw her face whiten. ‘You okay?’

‘No, not really, these crimes you’ve told me about cast a slur on today’s druids.’

‘These are different Tess – psychopaths looking for an excuse to kill.’

‘Mud sticks.’

‘Nonsense – look at this way, I think I’ve struck lucky. You can lead us into the groups.’ Trying to make her feel easier, he said, ‘You any good on the ancient languages? A scroll of rough old parchment was left with the body; we can’t make head or tail of it. I have a copy of it here.’

Taking it from him, she studied it for a few moments. ‘This is the Ogham alphabet of the ancient Celts; they used a system of lines in various positions. Just let me get down one of my books.’ Rising, she went to the bookshelves, picking out a black leathered volume. Coming back, she leafed through. ‘Ah yes, here we are – a list of Oghams and the meanings.’ Frowning, she picked up the pad and pencil from the table, her finger trailing down the lists as she wrote. ‘Ah yes – got it. How strange … so let me see … yes, I have it. It says, “The Oracle is defiled.” That sounds ominous.’

‘So the Druids used the Oracle?’

‘The ancient ones – yes. They had many divination forms, some quite benign – leaves, clouds, a flight of birds, the weather. But, they had a gruesome side; they used the human body in its death throes to predict important events.’

‘Christ.’ Her words cast a shadow over his heart. ‘It looks like we’re in deep shit. We had our suspicions that it was more than one but a group? How the hell would a group work as one in such a vicious crime?’

‘It could be one or two leaders working together, moulding the group. Being psychopaths, they know the members’ strengths and weaknesses; know how to push their buttons. Aided by drugs, they enslave them.’


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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and events are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.  Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © Katy Walters

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