13 Jan Confessions of a Belfast Cop
My mother died suddenly and unexpectantly sometime in the early hours of Sunday morning. The coroner said she suffered a massive stroke and her death would have been instantaneous. This brought me some small comfort, knowing that she hadn’t suffered in the end. I was the one who found her. I arrived at her tidy semi-detached suburban house at Sunday lunchtime, bringing with me her food shopping for the coming week.
I feared the worst when she didn’t answer the door after repeated knocks and rings. It was with great trepidation that I used my spare key and marched through the hallway, shouting my mother’s name in a panic as I frantically searched, hoping for the best but expecting the worst outcome.
I found her lying down on the sofa, her eyes shut. Mum looked peaceful, like she’d simply fallen asleep. For a fleeting second I believed this might be the case. But when I touched her skin it was ice cold. It didn’t take me long to realise she had no pulse and wasn’t breathing.
Finding my mother’s lifeless body was obviously a very traumatic experience. However, at the time I felt oddly calm, as I went through the ritual of calling an ambulance and waiting for the paramedics to arrive and tell me what I already knew.
My father had died one year before, having lost a long battle against cancer. My parents had been married for 36 years, and Mum dedicated herself to caring for her husband after his diagnosis. When he died, the largest part of her died with him. She was overcome with grief, barely able to function and having little interest in life.
I asked her to move in with us, thinking it would do her good to be around family, but she steadfastly refused to leave the home she’d shared with her husband for three decades. Instead, we compromised. I went to see her each and every day, doing her shopping and making sure she was eating, washing and looking after herself. I always hoped she would bounce back, but deep down I realised it was only a matter of time. Mum’s death certificate said she succumbed to a stroke, but I knew she died of a broken heart.
It’s tough losing your parents, even when (like me) you’re an adult with a family of your own. I’m married and have two children so I’m very blessed, but I still miss my Mum and Dad every day. Lots of people will be able to relate to my loss, but this isn’t why I’m writing this story. What I’m here to talk about is the forty-year-old diary I found in my mother’s attic.
I never met my uncle. My mother’s brother died a few years before I was born. Mum spoke fondly of her older brother and how he’d looked out for her when they were little. She didn’t like talking about his death, only saying he was a policeman killed in the line of duty. We took this to mean he served in the Royal Ulster Constabulary and was probably killed during ‘The Troubles’, the ethno-religious conflict that plagued our home country of Northern Ireland for nearly 30 years. Mum got upset every time the topic was brought up, and so she rarely talked about my uncle’s police career when I was growing up.
My sister and I had taken on the emotionally draining task of clearing out my parent’s house after Mum died. We found this quite difficult, as just about every photograph, ornament and knick-knack had some sort of sentimental value or memory attached to it. We shed more than a few tears during those days of work, and I found it upsetting to be in the house where I’d discovered Mum’s dead body. But we supported each other and persevered.
I found the dust covered old box in the back of the attic, buried under years’ worth of memorabilia and assorted junk. It contained what little remained of my late uncle’s possessions, mostly related to his service with the RUC. Inside I found his neatly folded uniform and peaked cap, both in miraculously good condition given their age. Thankfully the moths hadn’t gotten at the material.
Other than this, there were a few old black and white photographs of my uncle on his graduation day from the police training college. There he was, looking smart and handsome in his dress uniform, standing to attention whilst smiling for the camera. He looked very impressive. I guessed my uncle was slightly younger than me when these photos were taken, but I could definitely see the family resemblance.
I dug deeper into the box of forgotten memories, finding a number of dog-eared and faded papers relating to his service and postings. And there was something else…a small leather-bound notebook. I flicked through the first few pages and was taken aback to discover it was my uncle’s diary, recording his service as a cop on the frontlines of West Belfast during the 1970’s, some of the worst years of the Troubles.
I informed my sister of my discovery, but she wasn’t overly interested, and so I inherited my late uncle’s possessions, including his diary. I took the notebook home, intending to study the journal entries in detail. I believed the diary would be of historical interest and provide an insight into an uncle I’d never met. I hoped it would serve as a link to the past, a connection to my family that would otherwise be lost after my mother’s death. However, I became increasingly disturbed the more I read.
My uncle clearly had a very difficult job. As a CID detective he was tasked with investigating some of the most brutal sectarian murders of the period, while at the same time being a target for the paramilitaries. His entries demonstrated he was working under tremendous mental strain. I trained as a counselor and would conclude from his writings that my uncle suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.
His detailed and visceral descriptions of murder scenes and atrocities make for difficult reading. But there are elements of his story that I cannot explain, incidents and occurrences beyond rational understanding. For this reason, I have decided to transcribe and post my uncle’s diary entries, in the hope that someone with more insight than me may be able to shed some light on the bizarre and disturbing events described by my late uncle. And so, here it is…
I’ve never kept a diary before. Never had any inclination to. The truth is, I’m not much of a writer. Essays and police reports…usually that’s my lot. That’s not to say I’m uneducated. I was the first in my family to go to university, an achievement my parents were proud of.
I grew up in a Protestant working class community in East Belfast. Our family wasn’t wealthy, but we weren’t hard up either. My father worked all his life as a welder in the shipyards, as his father had done before him. It was expected that I would follow in their footsteps, but I surprised everyone by excelling in my education, gaining a place in a prestigious grammar school before going to Queen’s University to study for my law degree.
By the time I graduated, my homeland was in turmoil. Civil rights protests had turned violent, with rioting on the streets. The Army was deployed to keep the peace, but the violence escalated, with hundreds of deaths during the early years of the decade. Bombings and shootings were an everyday occurrence and my home city was being torn apart in front of my very eyes. This made my decision of career path easier. I hated what the terrorists were doing to my country and wanted to play my part in ending the violence. And so, the RUC was the obvious choice.
To be fair, my motives weren’t entirely altruistic. Northern Ireland’s police force was being rapidly expanded due to the security situation, and so, thanks to my university degree, I was able to apply for a fast track into the CID, with the prospect of further promotions to follow.
I finished my training during the summer of 1973, graduating from the police college with my parents and little sister in attendance. A proud day, but soon I was thrown in at the deep end, with my first posting in Gough Barracks. I’ve seen some terrible things over the last 3 years – the aftermath of bombings, human bodies torn to shreds by bullets and shrapnel, and colleagues gunned down whilst carrying out their duties.
These atrocities had an impact upon me, but I got through my first posting. But, in a case of ‘out of the firing pan and into the fire’, I got redeployed to the CID section in West Belfast. In recent months, my life has spiraled out of control, as the stresses of the job have taken their toll. My girlfriend left me a couple of weeks ago as she could no longer deal with my erratic behaviour and violent outbursts. I can’t really blame her. I hardly speak with my family and friends anymore. My job has become all-encompassing and I have little time for anything else. When I’m not working I drink heavily, trying to drown my sorrows and forget the horrific things I’ve seen out on the streets. It doesn’t really help, but I can’t stop.
As 1976 draws to a close, I’m working on two major investigations. One is against a skilled and ruthless Provisional IRA bomb-maker, code named ‘Nemesis’. This dangerous individual has been responsible for dozens of attacks against the security forces and commercial businesses in the city centre. We’ve come close to capturing Nemesis, but the bastard keeps slipping through our fingers. I have no doubt that he’ll keep bombing until we either capture or kill him.
The second investigation relates to a loyalist murder gang, lead by a terrorist known as ‘The Butcher’. This gang specialises in kidnapping Catholic men and brutally torturing their victims before slitting their throats. The sheer brutality of this gang has shocked and terrified the population, even though this city has long become hardened to violence and death. Blood is running through the streets of Belfast, and we’re barely able to hold the line.
I was raised in the Protestant faith and was made to go to Sunday school when younger. Nevertheless, I’ve never been particularly religious. I’m not a superstitious man, but some of what I’ve witnessed over the last few months defies any logical explanation. I honestly don’t know whether I’m going mad, but I’ve become increasingly convinced that the bloodshed has unleashed something truly evil onto the war-torn streets of Belfast – a shadowy entity that stalks me and haunts my dreams.
For this reason, I decided to keep this journal and record what I see and hear, in the hope that one day somebody will be able to make some sense of it all…for with God as my witness, for the first time in my life I am truly scared.
November 21st, 1976
The Butcher has struck again. A housewife discovered the body dumped in a back alley off Agnes Street. At first, she assumed the corpse was a discarded mannequin doll as the wounds were so severe. The victim’s injuries were consistent with the previous murders. The man is still to be identified, but we’ve determined he’s in his early 20’s. There were multiple stab wounds and deep cuts across his hands, arms and torso, none of which would have proved fatal. The cause of death was the man’s throat being slit…cut so deep that the bone was exposed.
The torture and killing evidently occurred at a different location, the body being dumped here by the murder gang. We’ll trace the victim’s identity over the next day or two after we trawl through the missing persons lists. The family will be notified, and the press will need to be updated. Doubtless there will be more sensationalist headlines in the tabloid papers.
This is the third murder by the Butcher gang in the last 6 months. All the victims have been young Catholic males kidnapped at random from the streets. Undoubtedly, there will be a statement released by some anonymous paramilitary spokesman, a generic claim that the victim ‘confessed under interrogation’ to membership of the IRA and had been ‘executed for crimes against the people of Ulster’.
Our investigation is focused upon three loyalist terror cells operating in the Shankill area. I have strong suspicions as to the Butcher’s identity, but so far we have no evidence. The gang has been good at covering their tracks, and witnesses are in short supply.
We spent most of the day at the crime scene, freezing on a grey drizzly afternoon. The army set up a security cordon as was our standard procedure. A number of locals gathered around the cordon – the usual combination of nosey neighbours and ghoulish voyeurs hoping for a glance at the body. A few journalists showed up during the course of the afternoon, snapping photos and taking notes. They asked for a statement but we weren’t willing to give them any information at this early stage.
Night had fallen by the time we moved the corpse, shifting his remains into a body bag and putting the poor fellow into the back of a waiting ambulance. By now, most of the crowd had moved on. They’d seen it all before, after all. I scanned the cordon as my colleagues moved the body, spotting one solitary figure lingering at the far side of the street, lurking in the shadows and glaring in my direction.
The stranger was clad all in black, with a hood covering his head. I couldn’t see his face or make out any of his features. I’m not a man who scares easily, but the sight of this mysterious figure brought a chill down my spine. He looked like a man out of his time, a throwback to a previous age. Nevertheless, despite his odd appearance, there was something strangely familiar about this interloper, and I felt sure I’d seen him before, although where and when, I cannot recall.
I stared at this individual for the best part of two minutes, trying to get the measure of him. He didn’t move an inch during the whole time, standing perfectly still and seemingly not reacting to anything occurring around him. Even though I could not see his eyes, I could nevertheless feel his harsh glare burning through me. My first instinct was to turn and flee, but as a policeman I needed to show strength.
This individual hadn’t technically committed an offence, but security legislation gave me the right to detain and question him. I decided to do so, but – before I could make my move – I got temporarily distracted by one of my colleagues asking me a question. When I turned back, the dark figure had gone – apparently disappearing without a trace.
I asked the army lieutenant in command of the security cordon about the mysterious man, but the officer could not recall seeing him, nor could any of his men. The whole incident left me feeling shaken and confused. Had I imagined this figure? I don’t believe so. I have an unnerving feeling that I’ve seen this stranger before somewhere, perhaps more than once…but always lurking in the shadows, somewhere on the periphery.
I fear I’m being stalked. Perhaps the IRA or some other paramilitary group is targeting me, gathering intelligence for a possible hit. I’ve therefore decided to become more vigilant regarding my personal security. Hopefully I’m overreacting, but you can’t be too careful these days.
December 5th, 1976
I’ve been receiving threatening phone calls to my home line – three nights in a row now, all during the early hours. The first night it was little more than heavy breathing and low groans, making me think it was just a sex pest. I told the caller to go to hell and hung up the phone. The next night I could hear low whispers down the line, so soft I couldn’t make out a single word. By the third night I could make out words, but they were spoken in a language I could not understand.
The male voice at the other end of the line has a detached, almost inhuman quality to it. I’ve been unable to make out any accent or speech patterns which could help identify the caller.
I’ve developed this unsettling feeling that I’m being watched, and these late-night calls seem to confirm a pattern of intimidation. Tomorrow I will make a report to the duty officer, and I plan to sleep with my service revolver close to hand from now on.
January 4th, 1977
I was called to the scene of a bombing this morning. An army patrol was hit on the Lower Falls by a small but deadly device hidden inside of a beer keg, detonated by a hidden command wire. Four soldiers were injured in the blast, but the man closest to the bomb took the brunt of it, losing both legs and also suffering severe chest wounds.
He was still alive when we arrived at the scene; his body reduced to a bloody mess, his eyes mad with shock and pain as he screamed out and grasped for the bloody stumps that were once his legs. They rushed him to hospital in a Saracen APC but he died from massive blood loss before they got there. I later learnt the dead soldier was only 19 years old.
We evacuated the wounded and secured the scene. What remained of the device was removed for further forensic investigation, although the design and MO all pointed to the bomb-maker we were pursuing, an IRA operative code-named ‘Nemesis’. His devices are becoming increasingly lethal as he plies his deadly trade.
We didn’t get long to examine the scene. A crowd soon gathered on the edge of the security cordon, including a number of young men who jeered and mocked the wounded men. The soldiers manning the blockade were from the same company as the dead private, and understandably they were upset and angry. A few soldiers reacted to the provocation, moving into the crowd whilst swinging their batons and attempting in vain to make arrests.
Soon, more local youths arrived on the scene carrying half bricks and glass bottles, which they flung at the line of soldiers. Within minutes the situation has descended into a full-scale riot. As the violence escalated, the army officer in command on the ground told us he could no longer guarantee our safety, as intelligence suggested the IRA may use the riot as a cover to launch a gun attack upon our personnel. Therefore, we had little choice but to evacuate the scene, knowing all too well that potential forensic evidence would be destroyed in the rioting.
I was being shoved into the back of an APC when I saw him out of the corner of my eye. The dark figure, the same mysterious man I’d seen that night in November on Agnes Street. It was broad daylight this time, so I got a better look at him, not that I could see much, as his head was covered by a dark hood and his face by some sort of mask.
He blatantly stood in the middle of the street as all hell broke out around him, with rioters throwing missiles and soldiers firing rubber bullets. The chaos seemed to have no effect on the interloper, as he showed no fear of being shot or struck. I honestly couldn’t tell whether he was directing the riot or was oblivious to it. However, once again he appeared to be looking straight at me, as if he’d come to this violent place specifically to confront me.
But I only cast my eyes on the hooded man for a brief moment before an army NCO physically dragged me into the back of the vehicle, slamming the steel door shut behind me. This time I’m certain that the dark figure wasn’t a figment of my imagination. He is real and is deliberately turning up at crime scenes where he knows I’ll be posted, stalking me through these war-torn streets. I need to get this bastard before he gets me.
January 11, 1977
The late-night phone calls have become less frequent but more sinister in their tone. Last night he spoke in understandable English for the first time, speaking just three terrifying words in a low croaking voice – ‘I SEE YOU!’
I’m now convinced there is a direct link between the shadowy figure and the threatening calls. I must remain vigilant. I didn’t sleep at all last night but instead drank until dawn with my Webley service revolver by my side. These images keep running through my head – the butchered victim, the screaming soldier without his legs…and always the dark figure, watching and taunting me.
Honestly, I don’t know how much more of this I can take…
January 12, 1977
My boss saw the state of me when I turned up for roll call and sent me straight home. I’ve been ordered to rest up for a week before returning to duty. I told my commander about the calls and the stalker. He says he’ll look into it, but I got the distinct impression he thinks I’m mad. Perhaps he’s right.
I’ve been under extreme stress and haven’t been sleeping. Hopefully, the rest will do me good.
January 15, 1977
I’m still off duty but got a call from one of my colleagues. The chief suspect in the Butcher gang has been arrested on a weapon’s charge. With a successful conviction he’ll get at least five years. Its not what we’d hoped for. The bastard should be charged with murder, but at least he’ll be off the streets.
The news has boosted my spirits somewhat, but the violence continues across the city. Yesterday, there were a series of bombings across the town centre, and no doubt Nemesis played his role. The streets are awash with blood and terror stalks the streets.
What can one man do against such unrelenting hatred?
January 20, 1977
Last night was my first shift back on duty following my leave of absence. My boss has taken me off the murder investigations. I objected, but not too hard. I got put on night duty with a squad of uniformed officers. This was meant to be an easy job to get me back into the swing of things, but it didn’t turn out that way.
It was a freezing cold night, and me and the boys were warming ourselves up with hot mugs of tea when the call came in. A disturbance was reported on a back street off the Antrim Road in the north of the city. Local residents had reported strange activity and raised voices emanating from inside of an abandoned Victorian mill at the end of their street.
We went out in strength – eight heavily armed officers travelling in two armoured land rovers, as we sped through the dark city streets. The area was mixed religion but known for IRA activity, and so we were understandably cautious, as we feared a potential set up and ambush.
Our suspicions were heightened when we reached the scene and discovered the street abandoned and eerily quiet. Proceeding with caution, the sergeant in command ordered two officers to set up a cordon at the end of the street, while the rest of us proceeded with guns drawn.
The road was typical of those throughout the working class districts of Belfast, with rows of red bricked terraced houses, old ‘two ups and two downs’ dating back to the Victorian era. The mill sat at the far end of the street, its dark structure casting an ominous shadow over the small houses beneath it. At one time the mill would have provided employment to the men and women in this area, but it had long since closed like so many others, resulting in high unemployment in communities such as this.
The abandoned industrial building held a sinister appearance, reminding me of a grim citadel from some kind of dark fairy tale. We had no idea what to expect. I hoped we were dealing with minor vandalism caused by bored teenagers, but something didn’t seem right about the whole situation.
There was a terrible tension in the air. We all felt it. Once again, I had the feeling that I was being watched. I carefully scanned up and down the road, but it was too dark to see anything. My fear was back, worse than ever. I worried then that I’d come back to duty too early. My head was still a mess and my paranoia was taking over…but there was nothing I could do in that moment except march forward.
Suddenly, the street was no longer silent. We heard a faint noise emanating from the supposedly abandoned mill, growing gradually louder the closer we came. It took me a moment to comprehend what I was hearing. There were multiple voices chanting in unison, singing deeply in a language that clearly wasn’t English. I thought I recognised a few words in Latin but couldn’t be sure.
This was a bizarre occurrence and the last thing any of us had expected to encounter on this night. There was something very sinister about the strange chanting. It felt out of place and time, but yet oddly familiar.
I could tell the other officers were as uneasy as I was. No doubt we all wanted to turn around and run for the hills, but we’re professionals and had a job to do. The unsettling chanting continued, growing louder and faster until it reached a crescendo…before it suddenly stopped. And then we heard the scream, bloodcurdling as it cut through the cold night air, chilling me to my very bones.
“Move! Move! Move!” our sergeant cried out, as he surely realised someone was in trouble. We began to sprint along the cobblestones, making for the sealed front entrance of the mill, clutching our weapons close, ready for action.
The Sarge reached the door first, smashing it open with his heavy boot. He barged inside and we all followed. I feared what we would discover inside, but what we found was beyond my wildest imagination.
The interior of the derelict building was largely shrouded in darkness, with the only light coming from lit candles and torches on the floor and hanging from the walls. In the centre of the empty space was a circle drawn in the middle of the floor and surrounded by candles.
The Sarge used a hand-held battery-powered torch to illuminate the scene. To my horror, I realised the circle was in fact a pentagram, and at its very centre lay a slaughtered animal – a goat by the look of it. The creature’s throat had been cut and its stomach sliced open, exposing its intestines and internal organs. The place stank like an abattoir and the ground was covered in blood.
It took me a second to comprehend what I was seeing here – the satanic symbol and slaughtered animal – it was some sort of sacrifice. How could this be possible? The sergeant nervously raised his torch and shone the light upwards to reveal a half dozen figures dressed in black robes and hooded masks. Each one stood perfectly still, glaring with menace in our direction. All were armed with daggers, stained with the blood of the slaughtered goat.
The Sarge screamed at them to drop their weapons and surrender. We covered them with our guns as we waited to see whether they would comply. I clutched hold of my Webley with both hands, aiming at the chest of the closest dagger-wielding maniac. I was perfectly prepared to shoot the bastard down if he showed even the slightest sign of resistance. But this proved unnecessary, as suddenly all six dropped their knives and calmly got down on their knees, allowing us to move in and handcuff them.
I breathed a sigh of relief, but this feeling proved to be short-lived. When we unmasked the suspects we discovered they were four males and two females of varied ages. They refused to give their names and carried no forms of ID or any personal items for that matter. We arrested them on suspicion of trespassing, animal cruelty, and possession of offensive weapons.
The Sarge seemed unsettled by the whole affair, saying he’d never seen anything like it in all of his 20 years service. But what really shook me to my core was when one of the suspects turned his head around and looked me directly in the eye, specifically picking me out from the crowd.
He was an unpleasant looking man, perhaps in his late 30’s or early 40’s. He had one of those thin weasel-like faces, pale skin, and bloodshot eyes. His chin was covered in a thick, untidy stubble and he stank to the high heavens, which suggested that he hadn’t bathed or showered in days.
I experienced a cold chill inside me whenever he made eye contact, but I stood my ground, knowing I couldn’t show this lowlife any fear. He opened his mouth to reveal chipped yellow teeth and he spoke in broken English. I didn’t recognise the accent but thought it sounded Eastern European.
And what he said was this – “Our master…He sees you! He will come for you…Soon you will have nowhere left to hide!”
I stood glued to the spot, my jaw hanging in disbelief. His words terrified me and I had no response. One of my comrades reacted, punching the suspect in his stomach and telling him in no uncertain terms to ‘shut his fucking gob.’
Two officers dragged the man away while I remained frozen, unable to speak or move until the Sarge patted my back, telling me to head back to the waiting land rovers.
I didn’t sleep a wink last night after I got home. Instead, I turned to the bottle once again, drinking until dawn. I realise this isn’t a solution, but I needed something to settle me after what I’d been through.
In the morning I received a phone call from the duty sergeant. He told me that all six suspects arrested at the mill had been released without charge. Apparently, the orders had come from the top, but no explanation was given.
The sergeant mentioned reports of other ritualistic animal sacrifices and black masses occurring across Ulster, and of rumoured links to British military intelligence. The theory was some kind of psychological operation aimed against the paramilitaries and their supporters.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Is there no end to this madness? Has this entire city descended into the depths of hell? How much more can one man be expected to take?
February 4, 1977
I almost died today. They literally came within inches of taking me out. It had been a quiet couple of weeks, or at least as quiet as a cop working in Belfast could have. I was still on the beat with the uniformed patrols. There had been incidents of course, but none as bizarre and unsettling as that encounter in the old mill.
I hadn’t received any threatening phone calls in the last fortnight, had cut down on my drinking, and was even sleeping better. I truly believed I had turned a corner, but you can never take your eye off the ball in this job.
Our unit got called out to a crime scene in Ballymurphy. The switchboard received a call reporting a break in and so we were sent out to investigate. As usual, we went out in strength, attending in armoured land rovers and fully armed. Details were sketchy and so we were naturally suspicious. Rightly so as it transpired, because this caution saved our lives.
The device was hidden inside a dustbin left down a side alley. I was only about 12 feet away from the bomb when it detonated. I remember a blinding light and a deafening din, followed a split second later by a powerful wave of heat which blew me off my feet, throwing me backwards.
I hit the ground hard, feeling a sharp pain shoot through my entire body. After that, I lay dazed on the pavement; my head throbbing, vision blurred, and ears still ringing from the blast. The dark figure appeared from nowhere and stood right above me. My eyesight was still affected and so I could not make out his facial features.
In fact, he was little more than a dark shadow standing over my stricken body, blocking out the sun. Nevertheless, I knew it was him – the same shadowy figure who’s been stalking me for weeks. And now he had me, wounded and helpless – left completely at his mercy.
My vision was starting to come back, but I couldn’t bear to look at this hideous figure, and so I closed my eyes and prepared for the end. Seconds passed, and slowly my hearing returned. I heard men shouting and the heavy clump of boots against the pavement. Reluctantly I opened my eyes, and to my great relief the dark man was gone, his shadowy figure replaced by the concerned looks of my comrades as they came to my aid.
Miraculously, I walked away from the blast with only minor injuries – cut and bruises, and a slight concussion. A piece of flying shrapnel had grazed my head. A couple of inches to the right and it would have been embedded in my skull.
It didn’t take long for the investigating officers to establish that the device was the work of Nemesis, the IRA bomber responsible for so many previous attacks in this part of the city. The bomb design and style of attack were both very similar to that which killed the young soldier back in January.
It seems that, on this occasion, the IRA member tasked with detonating the device had missed his mark. The bomb had gone off a tad too early. If he’d waited just a couple more seconds to detonate, then I would be dead, and several of my colleagues severely maimed. As it turned out, we all walked away from the blast in one piece.
I should be feeling like the luckiest man alive right now, but I don’t. The dark figure is back. I don’t know whether he’s a man or some kind of ghoulish entity, but I do know he’s out to get me. My colleagues think I’m either mad or delusional, and my boss has put me on an extended leave of absence.
But it won’t matter. He (or it) failed on this occasion, but he won’t stop until I’m in the ground. My days are numbered…its only a matter of time now.
February 7, 1977
The calls have started again. Worse than ever this time. The things I’ve listened to were surely never meant for human ears. I’m disconnecting my phone. There’s no reason for anybody to be calling me. I’m still on a leave of absence from work, but I find no respite.
I spend my nights drinking with my gun by my side. I can’t sleep for any length of time. Every time I close my eyes, my mind is filled by these horrifying images. He’s always there, haunting my dreams. I know he is watching me. I’ll never be free…
February 9, 1977
My sister came to my house this afternoon. I guess she’s worried about me. Probably she’s been trying to call me but can’t get through with the phone unplugged. She was at the door for more than 15 minutes, repeatedly banging the knocker and ringing the bell. I didn’t answer.
All my curtains were drawn and the lights turned off. She must have thought I was out, so she eventually gave up. I can’t bear for her to see me like this – her big brother, reduced to a cowardly drunken mess.
It’s for the best anyway. Whatever is happening to me, whoever and whatever is after me…I can’t let my little sister get involved. I need to protect her.
February 13, 1977
The IRA bomber known as Nemesis is dead. The security forces played no role in his demise. Ironically, he died by his own hands after a bomb he was working on detonated prematurely, blowing him to bits and demolishing the safe house he was sequestered inside. It’s an occupational hazard for those in his line of work.
My bosses would rather have arrested and convicted the bastard, but they weren’t necessarily displeased with the outcome. Neither was I, not at first anyway.
My commander invited me to attend the scene. I was still technically on suspension, but my boss was willing to bend the rules to allow me to be there when they carried the bomber’s dismembered body parts out from the rubble. The bastard has tried to kill me after all, so the hope was that his violent death would grant me some closure.
We arrived on the street to discover a chaotic scene, with the road cordoned off at both ends while soldiers and police officers dug through the rubble of the demolished house. While the security forces worked, the predictable crowds gathered around the cordons. Some young men swore and shouted abuse at the soldiers but mostly people were just curious. One woman stood out though – a young woman with long red hair tied back in a bun. She was clearly upset and very agitated, screaming at the troops about a missing child.
It took us some time to establish what had happened. The woman’s child was an 8-year-old girl called Aoife. She’d been playing on the street in front of the safe house at the exact moment the bomb exploded. We found her dead body buried underneath the rubble about an hour later. Her mother wailed in all encompassing grief when we carried her little girl out, grabbing hold of the tiny body and grasping it tightly to her bosom.
I’ve seen a lot of terrible things during my time, but nothing as tragic as this. And he was there of course – the dark man, lingering in the shadows just outside of the cordon, watching on and mocking me. It seems he is drawn to death, destruction, and human agony. I think he thrives on it. I attempted to ignore him, but I could still feel his hateful glare burning into the back of my head.
I returned home afterwards and instantly hit the bottle. I couldn’t stop thinking about that poor little girl. What had she ever done to deserve this? I thought of my younger sister and how I’d feel if something so awful happened to her.
Later that night I turned on the radio to listen to the news report of today’s incident. The IRA had released a statement describing the dead bomber as a ‘brave Irish patriot who gave his life in the cause of freedom’, while young Aoife’s death was ‘a tragic accident and a painful reminder of the British occupation of our country’.
I saw red when I heard those words, grabbing an empty vodka bottle and flinging it across the room at the radio, smashing both into pieces. I couldn’t stand the hypocrisy. There would be condemnations of course, but it would make no difference. The war would go on. The horror never ends…
February 15, 1977
He came to my home last night. My safe haven has been breached. It happened at about 2 in the morning. Finally, after weeks of insomnia, I had managed to nod off and get some sleep, only to be awoken by a noise outside my window during the early hours.
I rubbed my tired eyes and got out of bed, creeping across the room and sheepishly peeking through the curtains at the street below. My heart almost stopped when I saw him standing there, as bold as you like. Again, I could see little in the dim light, but it was definitely him – the same dark figure who’s been stalking me for weeks.
He stood perfectly still on the opposite side of the street, glaring up at my bedroom window, his dark shape casting a foreboding shadow across the pavement. I was frozen in fear for a moment, unable to avert my gaze or move from the window. It was one thing to see this dark stalker at a crowded crime scene, but now he was here, at my home.
I had no soldiers or police colleagues to back me up and I’d never felt so alone in my whole life. I knew he’d come for me and was sure this was end game. But suddenly, my fear was replaced by angry defiance. I was determined not to go down without a fight.
Tearing myself away from the window, I grabbed my revolver from my bedside drawer and stormed out from the room, tearing down the staircase and making for the front door. I flung the door open and dashed out onto the pavement, brandishing my loaded revolver as I went.
I was determined to unload six bullets into the bastard’s head, but my enemy was gone, having seemingly disappeared without a trace. I frantically searched the street in both directions, but there was nothing. After several minutes I realised it wouldn’t look good if my neighbours saw me brandishing a gun out in the middle of our quiet suburban street, so I retreated back inside my house.
I knew the bastard would be back, so I barricaded the doors and stood guard by the window, my weapon drawn and at the ready. I didn’t expect to last the night, but I made it to dawn. I’m sure the dark man is taunting me, prolonging my misery before he finally strikes.
I’m not a religious man, but tonight I prayed. I don’t think anyone is listening. I just want this to end, one way or another…
February 16, 1977
I spent all day keeping guard, drinking cheap vodka and clutching my gun, keeping a weary eye on the street. I know he (or it) will be back. I’ve had a lot of time to think during these long and tense hours; to recall all the awful scenes I’ve witnessed over these last few weeks.
I truly believe that evil has taken hold of this country, infecting the hearts of men, making them commit the most heinous of crimes. It seems like God has abandoned this land, leaving us in the hands of demons that walk the earth. What is this creature that stalks me? I am sure its not of this world.
The morning was quiet – a calm before the storm. At lunchtime I heard a mighty blast in the distance, probably caused by a bomb attack in the town centre. The violence continues unabated, and this evil entity feeds off it. I’ve made it to dusk but know he’ll come for me under the cover of darkness.
February 17, 1977
He’s here. Standing in the exact same spot as last night. I’m watching him as I write this, and he’s staring right back to me. I’m tired of living in fear. I’m going to confront him…whatever the hell he is, and this time he won’t slip through my fingers…
I SAW ITS FACE! I LOOKED INTO ITS EYES! Dear God, those eyes! He is not a man, not a human being. Of this, I have no doubt. When he lowered his hood, I saw something I could not comprehend. Those demonic orbs in place of its eyes stared into my very soul. It took everything from me, leaving nothing but an empty shell.
I can never forget what I saw…every time I close my eyes I see him…I see the bodies, the bomb sites. All the evil that has taken hold. I can’t go on like this. There is only one way out. Whoever finds this diary, please tell my parents and sister that I love them, and I’m sorry. Please God, show me mercy…
Well, that’s it. My late uncle’s lost journal, transcribed word for word. Needless to say, I found it very emotional to read and I’ve been having difficulties coming to terms with his story. I now understand why my mother refused to talk about her brother’s death throughout her whole life.
After reading his account, I dug deeper, carrying out my own research in an attempt to verify the details. As you probably guessed, my uncle killed himself soon after writing his final entry. He shot himself through the head using his service revolver.
Sadly, suicides were all too common for serving RUC officers, unsurprising given the immense stress of their job.
I was able to confirm most of the incidents he described, including the murders and bombings. They all happened. However, there is no record of the arrests at the black mass. If this sort of thing did occur it must have been kept out of the history books.
I really don’t know what to think about my uncle’s account. The most logical explanation is that he suffered a mental breakdown due to the stresses of his job or was suffering from PTSD. Isolated and without professional help, he was unable to sleep and drank heavily to dull his pain. This in turn could have resulted in paranoid delusions, making him see things that weren’t really there.
I would like to believe this and find some closure to the whole affair. However, there is one detail I’ve not been able to explain away. While making my inquiries, I was able to speak with one of the officers who attended my uncle’s house after his suicide. The man has long since retired from the police force, but he remembered that day vividly.
He described manning a cordon while my uncle’s body was removed from the house and loaded into a waiting ambulance. During this grim procession, he recalls seeing a solitary figure watching from the end of the street – a hooded man dressed in dark robes, his face covered.
The officer says he was momentarily distracted by the ambulance driving off. When he turned back, the figure was gone.