Author : Pierre-Olivier LOMBARTEIX
Translated by : Lisa McGARRY
Rain and dusk were falling on Dublin. In but a few hours, darkness would have gained the whole of the city that a cottony evening mist was already wrapping. Outside, the lampposts were giving off a bleak electrical light that reflected here and there in the pockets of water against the pavements and on the sewer grids. Comfortably installed at his desk, a man was reading his newspaper. Next to him, a mug filled with a dark liquid was giving off a heady scent. Sitting in the pool of light given off by the desk lamp, he was feeling good, warm and safe, protected by a thick dark green carpet that hushed his footsteps when he moved around. Not a sound troubled his repose. In this untroubled silence, he was, for the umpteenth time, reading an article in the Irish Times recounting, over a number of columns, the somber Ogham killer affair. The journalist presenting with much detail the abominable crimes perpetrated by the one that the whole of Ireland had come to know as the Druid, the first serial killer in the history of a country renowned for its tranquility. In rhapsodic terms, the journalist also saluted the courage and decisive role played by one Deirdre McNeill, an academic with Dublin’s Trinity College. She had not hesitated to risk her life to put an end to these crimes. The man smiled. That reckless young Dubliner was having her moment of glory. She should make the most of it. It would soon be his turn. And if she ever tried heroics or attempted to bar his route, he wouldn’t hesitate for a second. He would eliminate her. Without so much as a thought. Nothing and nobody could stop him.
In a slow and deliberate gesture, he folded his newspaper before setting it down on the top right corner of his mahogany desk, the pages precisely parallel to the two edges of the piece of furniture. He liked order. A place for everything and everything is in its place, was one of his mottoes. Happy with himself, he sat back in his large leather armchair and sat thoughtful for a while, his perfectly manicured fingers with short and well kept nails mechanically playing with a silver paper knife, a present from a person that was once extremely dear to him. On the finely engraved handle was a gallant scene. He lifted the point to his lips and, slowly, a disquieting smile disfigured his face. Everything was taking shape in his mind. Gradually, things were falling into place. Exactly the way he wanted them to. Everything would be perfect, brilliantly executed. He finally put the paper knife down; making sure it was lined up with his leather desk blotter, and took a little golden key from his pocket and introduced it into the lock of his desk drawer. He turned the key, opened the compartment and took out a rosewood casket that he put down on the blotter. With the tip of his finger, he slid the top open along its rails. The soft light revealed six small smooth flat pebbles, their colors ranging from white to grey striking against the blood red velvet covering the inside of the box. With precaution, he picked up the first stone and lifted it to his eyes. It was a perfect shape, no flaws, just as the symbol engraved in Indian ink on its surface. He stroked the pebble with his thumb for a moment, rejoicing in the sensation of the asperity of the edges of the engraving on the sensitive part of his finger. He liked the contact, both smooth and rough, all in contrast, duplicitous. These pebbles are like me, he thought. This Ogham killer story is really unexpected and auspicious, he murmured to himself. It was the missing essential element he had until then lacked. Now he would be able to put his plan to work. A diabolical plan constructed long ago that he had been adjusting and perfecting for years, all the while suffering in silence, waiting patiently for his time for revenge to come. All those years of suffering were going to cost a lot to those who had thus spoiled his happiness and heartiness… Still rolling the pebble through his fingers, he was already anticipating each gesture, each detail of the murders to come. His heart, black and hard as stone, was trembling with joy.
Nothing would ever be the same for him from now on, and nothing would ever be the same in Dublin. The Irish capital, so suitably cut in two by the Liffey river, would now know fear and terror but also blood and tears. He had decided it would be so. That was the price of his wrath. Tomorrow, the whole town would know chaos like that it had experienced a thousand years before in the times of the Viking invasions. Dubliners would once again live in fear of the bloody and murderous raids of the Norsemen. Certain of his fellow citizens were, unknowingly, about to walk what the ferocious Scandinavian warriors so poetically called the Serpent’s path, meaning the path of death.