Good morning! Well, we’re five days away from the end of the month and Halloween. I thought I would finish off the month with another tease from Echoes of the Past. Have you ever had a dream that felt too real not to be a memory?
In Echoes of the Past, understanding the past and accepting it are critical to being able to move into the future. Step into Michelle’s nightmare one last time.
Run! Run faster! Don’t stop! They can’t catch you. If they do, it’s over, and you’ll both die a horrible death. The thought spurs her on. The night air’s cold, colder than normal for this time of year, yet she’s soaking wet from her exertions. The stitch in her side cripples her in its intensity. Her feet ache from stepping on sharp rocks and twigs, and in one of her falls, she’s lost her left moccasin.
She’s felt her uncle’s anger before, and she knows if her father turns her over to him again, she’ll never survive another of his beatings. As chief, her father must set the example for his people as well as for her sisters. What she’s doing is wrong, and if she’s caught, she’ll have to be punished.
Exhaustion slows her movements, but she reaches the edge of the sacred waters minutes ahead of her pursuers. She slides into the marsh, its frigid water numbing her feet, and squats down in the bulrushes, waiting for her enemies to pass her by and continue to the edge of the lake where the village keeps its fishing canoes. She begs the spirits to forgive her for violating their waters this way.
The men have almost reached the place where she veered away from the path. Will they see the telltale signs of her passing? It’s dark, and the moonlight barely reaches the forest floor. She hears them approach, but they don’t even slow down, as they continue along the well-worn trail.
She moves slowly through the rushes toward the water’s edge where she’s hidden her canoe. Last night, she risked her life to save him. They’d beaten him so badly, and there were so many cuts on his beautiful body. His face was a mass of dark purple bruises, but he refused to leave the island without her. She hurried back to the village so no one would suspect that she’d been the one to release their prisoner.
All day long, she’d sat by the longhouse with the women grinding corn for the winter stores. She knew they hadn’t found him—they’d looked in the waters of the great river as she’d hoped they would. They’d launched canoes and scoured the riverbank thinking he’d tried to return to his people, but they’re wrong. He waits for her.
She sits shivering in the marsh, listening to their hurried footsteps as they continue along the trail. They’ve got no need for stealth, but she, on the other hand … Where can she go? The path leads to the lake and nowhere else.
She trembles, and her teeth chatter. As she moves toward the bank where she’s left the means of her escape, she glimpses the main body of the lake. Unlike last night, the harvest moon coats the surface of the water in silver, and she can see the gentle current flowing toward the waterfall and the man she loves.
Why did her father decide to give her to Annosothka tonight of all nights? He’s a handsome brave, but he isn’t the man she loves.
She hadn’t expected them to discover her missing so soon. Now, her uncle and her husband pursue her, and if they catch her, the punishment will be more than she can endure. She’s supposed to be a maiden. What will Annosothka do if he discovers she isn’t?
She moves stealthily to the edge of the water and slips into her canoe. She paddles slowly but silently along the shore. Thinking she is far enough away not to be noticed, she begins the trek across the water, but the moonlight betrays her. She hears her uncle’s cry when he spots her and the sound of their canoe being launched is loud in her ears.
They’re much stronger than she is. Two men paddling in a canoe eat up the distance between her and themselves quickly—too quickly.
Sisters, help me, she prays to the spirits of her people, but the men continue to gain on her. She knows he can see her and those pursuing her, but he’s unarmed, without a canoe of his own, and powerless to help her.
She’s only minutes from him and freedom when she feels their canoe nudge hers, and knowing she can’t let him be taken again, she does the only thing she can do. She throws herself into the frigid waters of the lake, feels the water tug at her, and sinks beneath its surface.
Kicking with all her might, she forces herself to start swimming and surfaces a few feet from the canoe.
She hears them calling her name and prays they won’t realize there’s a third voice calling. She strikes out toward the center of the lake where the spirit sisters dwell, as far away from his hiding place as she can get.
As strong a swimmer as she is, she can’t make any progress with the weight of her garments pulling her down. She slips under the water, the icy liquid filling her nose and her mouth. She kicks up to the surface again, coughs, and looks around her. Their canoe is moving closer. She ducks back under the water, hoping they haven’t seen her, and moves in the direction of the far shore.
Her lungs ache and burn from lack of air, she fights her way back to the surface that seems almost too far away to reach. Her hands and feet are numb, refusing to obey the commands of her mind. Her head breaks the surface of the lake, and she gasps, swallowing mouthful after mouthful of water. She chokes, unable to breathe properly as the current and her clothing work together to pull her under again.
She forces her weakened legs to kick, fighting to keep her head above water, and looks toward the shore, now much farther away than she expects it to be. Exhausted, she floats for a few moments, hoping to regain some of her strength. She’s so cold, so tired.
She hears the water sing loudly and realizes the sisters have refused to help her and have sent her in the wrong direction. A hand even colder than the water reaches up and grasps her right heel, pulling her down. She betrayed her people, gave herself to the enemy, and this is her punishment. Her fate is sealed. There’ll be no escape. She thinks she sees him run into the water. She thinks he cries her name—the sound of it carries on the wind. Goodbye, my love. She screams only once as she tumbles over the lip and the current carries her down the rocky slope into the waters of the great lake hundreds of feet below.
Echoes of the Past is on sale this month only for 99 cents USD.
Please visit the rest of this week’s teases.
This is a Blog Hop!
This list will close in 19 hrs, 25 min (10/26/2016 11:59 PM North America – Mountain Standard Time)