Sarah O’Reilly could see the lights of the approaching car shining through the window of her modest sitting room, playing of the collection of icons and clay figurines. It was late, well past midnight yet she had stayed up waiting. She thought it was them, back from what they had to do. She hoped that it was successful, that her boy was back. She got off her chair, walked to the window and pulled over the half-opened curtains to look outside and greet them back. Instead of the welcome site of her husband’s car however, Sarah only saw a Garda car and two sober looking guards getting out. “Something had happened” she thought “Something had gone wrong”. She moved to the door, preparing to open it and find out what it was.
Milton Jones, pathologist extraordinaire. Sauntered into the hospital, ready for his usual day shift. There was usual batch of unusual cases he had to deal with, mostly agreeing with the diagnoses that other doctors had come up with. There was one unusual case though. A body, of a child. Autopsy request from Johnston in the A&E. Milton was a bit confused by this. The kid had been in a car accident, should be an open and cut case, death by trauma. What in God’s name was he doing bringing Milton into this. Talk about your overkill. Maybe those knife-jockeys in the A&E needed a little more training? He asked the orderly to pull the body from the morgue for examination. He then put on a pair of scrubs and took out his voice recorder, so that he could make notes as he worked. He then entered the exam room and got to work. “January twelfth, 9:30 AM. Patient James O’Reilly. Aged 7 years three months. Brown hair, brown eyes, approximately 125 centimetres tall, weight 30.6 kilograms. Conducting visual examination. Heavy bruising on limbs and upper torso. Skin shows signs of… Hold on a minute! What the hell!…..”
Detective William Burke did not like to talk to the pathologist. Milton was a bit of a creep, a sense of humour that bordered on the grotesque. Still he was good at his job and the report could not be considered to be lacking in details. Foul play was definitely behind James’ death. The strangulation marks were conclusive. Not only that but the burn marks on the wrists and at least two broken finger bones where indicative of the boy being tied up and beaten at least once before death. It was a sorry tale. The case itself seemed pretty conclusive as well. The father, Robert O’Reilly, was driving with the dead body of his son in the back seat. He had not called any emergency services and was not driving in the direction of a hospital or large town. This was a clear signal of guilt on his part. He was dead though, killed in a car crash moving his son’s body for whatever purpose. The secret of what he had meant to do, what was going through his mind, may well have died with him. Burke didn’t have a séance to ask him. What he did have to do was interview his widow, Sarah. Not only was he going to have to tell her that it was likely her dead husband killed her dead son, but he was also going to have to question her for as long as it was going to take about what if any other abuse occurred. Two to one she was going to cry, Burke hated when they cried.
Sarah sat in the empty interview room. She was not crying because she had no tears left. Both, her precious husband and darling son had died. It was unthinkable, and it had happened to her. And to make matters worse, they had not let her see her son’s body. Some doctor, some young thing, Jennifer something had said that there was a procedure. “What procedure? I just want to see my son!” She hadn’t liked the way the doctor was looking at her. She had ended up getting a little irate then and had to be calmed by security. She hoped that was why she was here. But she knew there was another reason. That the truth was going to come out.
-Interview with Sarah O’Reilly, room B, January thirteenth, 11.05 am. Detective William Burke, investigating. I’m sorry Mrs O’Reilly, just a formality. I want to start by offering my condolences on your terrible loss.
-You are not sorry enough to not bring in here when I should be at home preparing for the funerals
-I understand Mrs O’Reilly, the thing is certain…Issues have come up concerning the death of your son.
-What kinds of issues?
-Autopsy results have shown. I don’t know how else to say this, but that your son was dead before the car crash.
-He was dead, we have reason to believe that he had been strangled. I know that this is difficult for you but can you tell me anything about unusual activities that your husband was getting up to?
-Do you think he did it?
-My job is to find out what had happened. As your husband is dead I am going to have to ask you what you know. You were one of the last to see them alive. Was there any conflict between your husband and your son. Any fights,, arguments recently?
That was when Sarah broke down crying again. William called for someone to bring in tissues. And let her finish. Unprompted she started to speak.
-We were both religious, both loved god. But Robert’s faith was so much stronger than mine. He didn’t believe, he knew. He saw Satan everywhere. We had no television, little James was home schooled, so that he couldn’t be gotten. But we had failed. James had changed, had begun to argue, question us. Robert tried to stop him, to rescue james.
-How did he do that?
-We would tie him down for hours and Robert would read scripture to him. But he would fight us. We had to be more and more rough to keep him under control. In the end Robert was going to make one last try to free James.
-What was that? Where?
-He didn’t tell me. But it was going to be dangerous.
-Did you not think that James’ problem might have just been him acting like a child. Or maybe something medical, that a doctor could treat?
-No doctor could have saved him! It was a demon! And trying to save my son, cost my husband his life!
William had heard enough. He arrested Sarah O’Reilly and made a recommendation that she be examined by a psychiatrist. She had been through a lot, But what she had done, what she had helped was horrible. Maybe she could get the help she needed.
Sarah was still crying as she was lead to the small cell at the back of the station. Memories of her son going through her mind. How he had changed, completely, the evil words, the threats. Then finally, Roberts confession. The foolishness of youth, experimentation turning to tragedy and the pact, the horrible pact, to save face. Robert’s deal cost them their sons soul. The only hope of saving it was even more horrible. Had it been successful, she would never know. All she could do was hope.