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Excerpted from Deadmarsh Fey, Chapter 20, Warnings and Visitations
Oh, wait, I tell a lie! There was something in there. It was…
“Was what?!” Roger demanded of the paper. But the writing had stopped. He grabbed the next page and noticed that Iso had inked yet another date into the top of it. The twenty-second of May. She was catching up.
Here I am, finally coming back to this letter. I had started to tell you what was in that chest when I was called away. We finally made the move, Rog. I’ll give you the details later, but let me first finish up what I was going to say. In that chest was a curiosity that Evie immediately claimed for her own. I’m sure you’re dying to hear what it is, and since you are not around to say, “Get on with it, Iso! Spill!” I’ll take your silence as a yes and tell you. It’s the most astounding thing—the bust of a lady with a veil covering her face, but it’s all made of marble! Even the sheer-looking veil! Extraordinary, right? I’ve no idea how the carver managed it. The first time I saw this thing, I wanted to throw the veil back to see what color the lady’s eyes were. I really thought I could do it, too, but, of course, when I tried, it stayed firmly in place, and that’s when I realized what a ninny I was to have thought I could do so, even…
“Drat it, Iso!” Roger cried. “Why can’t you sit still long enough to finish a letter?!” His rage fizzled out when he saw what he’d been too angry to notice before. The sentence had been broken off with a wild streak of Iso’s pen. She’d pressed down so hard, the nib had almost pierced through the paper. What had happened to startle her so badly? Or had she been more than startled?
What if she’d been attacked?
Roger’s eyes flitted to the next section of the letter and he read a few lines, unnerved by the change in Iso’s tone. In the space of a few sentences, she’d gone from bubbly to sounding darn near paranoid.
I hate that statue. Evie somehow managed to smuggle it here without any of us knowing. If Father had discovered it up in Skye, he would have chucked it into the sea, which is what I’ve half a mind to do. I’ll never walk by that statue at night. I can’t even stand to go near it during the day. I swear that woman is looking at me through her veil. I don’t know how to explain it, but I can feel her eyes following me. And I’m not the only one who thinks something’s off with that statue. Jon said he’s felt the same way, but not Evie. Oh, no, never Evie. She dotes on the creepy thing. I even caught her talking to it once. Have you ever heard of anything so daft?
Roger paused to consider everything that had happened to him within the last day, then nodded. He had done more than hear of anything so daft. He had seen it with his own eyes. He went on reading.
I’ve carried this letter halfway around the world with me, Rog. It’s high time I send it off to you, but I’ve just not had the will to finish it. It’s rather hard to muster up excitement for anything when you’re stuck in the house with nothing but books for company.
Roger sat bolt upright. Was she sick? Was she in trouble? Why should she have to stay inside the house? He felt uneasy, but what worried him most was that he was running out of pages—out of space for Iso to tell him what was really going on.
I’ve learned something rather disturbing from Father. It seems that Mother had a near-fatal accident when she was pregnant with Evie. For some reason, Father blames the Deadmarshes for Mother almost dying. I’m not really sure why. He was rather vague on that point. But I tell you, Rog, it’s a good thing he didn’t hold a grudge against the children of that family, otherwise I never would have known Travers. And you’d have probably been deemed tarnished by the accident of sharing the same blood. How dreadful would that have been? After my brother and sister, you’re the closest friend I’ve got. True friends don’t keep secrets from each other, which is why I’m telling you this one, even if it makes you think Father’s gone off his nut. Here goes… He said the sins of the Deadmarshes had brought doom upon us all, that they are the real reason we find ourselves stuck on this rock in the middle of a demon-haunted sea. I still don’t understand why he blames your family, but he does. Nothing can make him change his mind about that. And he’s blaming them not only for our current circs., but for Mother almost drowning in Wales, too.
Roger upended the wastebasket next to his chair as he shot up from his seat. Wales?! Why Wales?! What had Iso’s mother been doing there?!
Ignoring the mess he’d made on the floor, he sank down on the chair and managed to calm himself enough to resume reading.
I would have preferred to live in Wales, you know. Anywhere would’ve been better than Cutwater Island. Ever heard of it? No? Neither had I. It’s an awful place. All jagged rocks and scrubland. And the people…we might as well be lepers. Not one of them has come to welcome us, and they avoid us whenever we show our faces in what passes for a village in this place. And at church, well… Come Sunday, we kids are the only ones in the pews. I don’t think we’ll be leaving this godforsaken rock any time soon, though. At least not till the thing circling the island leaves. He’s like a reaper, Roger. Three in the last week alone have been taken before they could even cry out. They were dragged under by the beast with the tail shaped like a scythe and skin that shines like an oil slick on the water’s surface. And yet he’s known as White Death. It must be because of the underbelly. Either that or the teeth. Rog…what do you know of sharks?
Copyright © 2017, 2018 by Melika Dannese Lux