A Labyrinth of Souls Novella #9
by Cheryl Owen-Wilson
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Horror
Veya Marie St. James has vowed to never again set foot on the Island of her birth—a strip of land buried deep in the swamps of southern Louisiana.
Her childhood memories are rampant with ancient superstitions and the bizarre rituals of her estranged mother.
Veya long ago rejected that life and those beliefs, but when a mysterious illness threatens her daughter’s life, it all leads to the Island. Veya swore she would never go back, but the Island calls to her, and now it’s calling with her daughter’s voice.
“Mom, Mom, wake up. I’m scared, Mamma. Help me. Please help me.” Triste stood at the foot of Veya’s bed dressed in an ankle length white cotton nightgown. Along its neckline were the tiny pink roses Veya had spent hours embroidering. Triste’s knee-length auburn hair whipped around her face like a wind was trying to steal each strand from her head.
“Baby, baby what’s the matter? Why are you here in the middle of the night? What scared you?” Veya attempted to clear her mind from its sleep-filled stupor. She tried to lift up from her prone position in bed and reach for her daughter, but found she couldn’t move more than her neck to see the end of her bed.
Her arms would not lift to throw the covers from her body.
Her legs would not move themselves over the side of the bed.
For the second time that day panic clawed at her chest. She strained her neck looking helpless to where Triste stood. A wind she could not feel tore at her daughter, twisting the gown tightly around her rail thin body.
This is a bad dream. A nightmare.
“Mamma where am I? Please help me.”
“I’m trying sweetie, I’m trying.” Wake up Veya. Wake up!
Behind Triste there should’ve been a wall filled with every picture she’d ever drawn for her mother. Instead there was a trunk of a leafless tree silhouetted against the night sky. The bare limbs reached out toward Triste.
It’s a dream, just a dream.
A distinct odor settled around Veya as the realization of where Triste could be came to her. The swamp—stagnant water filled with the heated muck of its underbelly—the very smell she’d labored through in the stairwell of her office building that morning. The stench melded with the overwhelming panic she’d always felt when attempting to retrieve childhood memories.
Triste was on—the Island!
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About the Author
The writing bug first snagged Cheryl Owen-Wilson through the penning of a personal essay, for which she received an award and publication. Today what drives her writing life is Southern Gothic fiction. Since her biological roots are buried not only in Oregon, but also deep in the bayous of Southern Louisiana the genre is a natural fit.
When not writing she can be found at an easel covered in oil paint. “When I write I usually have painting in mind to go with the story. The same holds true when a painting forms, a story generally follows.” In that vein one of her paintings is featured on the ShadowSpinners: A Collection of Dark Tales, book jacket. You can find her short story: Swamp Symphony, in the book’s collection. This is Cheryl’s first published novella.