Below is an excerpt from my second book in the Sophia Rey series: The Coven of Retribution. Book 2 is not out yet but will be in 2020. This is just a sneak peek. I hope you enjoy.
In 1692, Lenore, Odette, and Rose witnessed the hangings of their mothers at Gallows Hill in Salem, Massachusetts. In carriages with their heads down, tied up at their waists, their ruffled mob caps with blue ribbon covered their silent cries that yearned for help. But they knew; everyone knew their fate.
It was the Amur Cork Tree that took their mothers’ last breaths. The rope that constrained them at the waist on one end was tied into a noose at the other and thrown over the thick tendril branches of the Amur Cork. They didn’t have a chance. Lenore was thirteen years old. A wicker basket full of bread hung on her arm in the crevice of her elbow as she watched and tried to see her mother’s face hiding under that white mob cap.
“Mama, mama. Let her go,” Lenore said.
No one acknowledged her adolescent pleas. The only acknowledgment was that of the arms of men holding her back. The bread spilled out of the basket and onto the ground and Lenore fell with it. Gripping it in her fists, the bread broke into crumbs and mixed into the dirt. Sprawled on the ground, Lenore tucked her head down into her arm, hoping this madness of terror could be blindfolded. If she couldn’t see it maybe it wouldn’t happen but as she lay on the ground, the sounds of her mother fighting for her life pierced her ears. The wooden carriage wheels creaked as they slipped away and the heavy weight of her mother’s body dropped down; a small thud and the rope twisting from her jerking body. Lenore heard the gasps from all directions.
Next was Odette’s mother then Rose’s. Odette was ten years old and Rose was seven. Standing side by side, all three girls stared at the Amur Cork at the tangled branches that were weighed down by the women who brought them into the world. A world that separated them within seconds. Rose clenched a brown, ragged teddy bear and brought it to her face.
Looking at her mother hanging from the Amur Cork, Lenore said, “They can’t get away with this.”
“But they did, they did get away with it. They’re gone and we’re never getting them back,” said Odette.
Odette ran to her mother, now just a limp body and shoulders hanging like a weeping willow. Wrapping her arms around her mother’s legs, Odette’s tears soaked her mother’s long cotton skirt and lifeless fingers brushed against her shoulders. Death tickling and mocking her.
“I want my mama, I want my mama,” Rose said.
Odette hugged her mother’s hanging legs, turning them left and right, left and right.
“I want mama, I want mama,” Rose said.
Watching the rhythm of Odette’s movement and listening to Rose’s repeating plea against the breeze of the wind, Lenore stood with her hands at her side as everything around her spun into a dance of death.
“I want mama.”
The hanging bodies turned left and right.
“I want mama.”
Limp heads pulled tight by the ropes watched over the young girls with shocked, lifeless eyes. Lenore looked at her mother’s bloated face and bruised neck. Her almond eyes bulged with broken, popped blood vessels. Then, for a quick moment, everything around her fell silent like an empty house without a living soul. Odette was still there, rocking her mother’s legs. Rose was still saying she wanted mama but there was no sound.
Hanging from the rope, Lenore’s mother lifted her head and with a red stained sorrowful stare, she said, “Lenore, you must get retribution.”
“But how?” Lenore said.
“You know how Lenore. You’ve always known how.”
Thanks for reading,
Check out the first book in the Sophia Rey series The Cult Called Freedom House here.
I am Sterp. I write horror fiction and have a very unhealthy obsession with disturbing narratives. I am the author of The Cult Called Freedom House: Sophia Rey Book One. My short story The Lost Tea Cup will be in Issue 26 of The Literary Hatchet in 2020. I am also a painter.
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