Authors: Willa Jemhart
By Willa Jemhart
This book is a
work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and events are the product of
the author`s imagination and are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to persons
living or dead, or actual events is entirely coincidental.
year, 2013, has been a very hard one for me. I worried that the personal
hardships I was going through might completely kill my spirit. For a time, I
stopped writing and wondered if I would ever be able to find the passion to do
it again. I have to thank the friends and family who were my rocks and my
sounding boards through this difficult time. There is no need to name them, as
they know who they are. Their love and support means the world to me. And it’s
what helped pick me up, eventually convincing me to find my passion and my
spirit once again.
far as this book, Drowning in Deception, goes, there are three women who I need
to specifically name. Without them, this particular book would still be laying,
incomplete, in the rubble that I thought my life had become.
Kasbrick of SIK Editing Services
of all, I thank her for her amazing and thorough editing skills. I highly
recommend her services. Please feel free to contact her for your own editing
the editing of this book, I also have to thank her for her belief in my
writing, for being my cheerleader, for making me smile and laugh from three
whole provinces away, and most of all for her tireless help with this project.
Though Sam and I haven’t known each other for very long, hers is a friendship that
I have quickly come to value, and one that I hope will continue into the coming
thank her for her understanding and for sharing her own thoughts and personal
experiences. I thank her for entrusting me with her own creative works. And I
thank her for the gentle, yet timely nudges that pushed me to get back to
writing. Her honesty, her critiquing, and her suggestions are appreciated more
than I can say.
thank her for being a supporter of my writing from the get-go, for encouraging
me to reach for my dream. I am grateful for her constant advocating of all
things creative and artistic. I thank her for always taking time out of her
busy life to read and assess my work. Most importantly, I thank her for her
understanding, her listening ear, and her hugs of encouragement.
Once upon a time there was a beautiful
yellow-haired maiden. Her life was carefree but for one thing. She lived in
fear of the ferocious man-eating monster that lived in the land adjacent to her
Fear… Clover paused, considering what
fear meant to her. She needed to think her story through before writing more.
She lifted her eyes from the page, squinting deeply as she gazed toward the
Wall. The very idea of what lived and breathed on the other side of that
structure was exactly what fear meant to her.
The Wall stood tall and firm, gleaming
brightly in the mid-morning sun. At least five stories high and fashioned from
a polished, seamless metal, it reflected a blinding glare. Clover was sitting
propped against her favorite tree near the edge of the forest. Pencil in hand,
workbook open to the page where her latest story would take life, she raised
her arm to shade her eyes from the brightness.
This great wall, only a few yards away
to her left, represented safety to all the citizens of Eadin. It was a great
long line that dipped and rose with the ever-changing terrain it was fixed
upon, stretching from north to south as far as the eye could see, getting eaten
up by the horizon, and as far as Clover was concerned, quite possibly to the
ends of the world. At the very top, criss-crossed in angles of every degree,
were razor-sharp blades, ensuring that no one and nothing could ever crest it.
Nobody could quite recall who had built it or when, but that wasn’t important.
What mattered was that the Wall was the
ever-constant reminder to the citizens
of this perfect city that they were protected, that as long it stood erect,
they would be safe;
from the horrifying creatures that lived on the other side.
They were blood-thirsty beasts with eyes
that glowed yellow, who
the chewy texture of human flesh and the crunch and crack of human bones breaking
between their teeth.
Yes, they were safe from the monsters on
the other side of the Wall, and that left them free to go about their days
without a care in the world. They were safe. And they were content.
The air was still and calm on this day, the
sky a soft, clear aquamarine.
Clover shivered in the warmth of the sun as she
thought about the monsters. She had never written a scary story before, had
never written about a monster, so this would be a new challenge.
Her pencil clicked rapidly between her
top and bottom teeth as she envisioned what the protagonist and antagonist would
look like. She knew the fair maiden would have long, flowing, golden blonde
hair that ended in curlicues half-way down her back, much like Clover’s own
hair. The monster would be repulsive, with slimy skin, grotesquely twisted
fangs and yellow eyes. She grinned with satisfaction. This was going to be
The pencil's pace quickened between her
teeth. To make it truly scary, she would need to evoke a sense of fear. This
wasn’t going to be easy for her, since she’d never felt real fear before. The
fear that held you when you accidentally spilled bright red juice on your mother’s
cream-colored rug would not be sufficient for this story. No. It had to be the
kind of fear that would fill the reader with terror, making them tremble and
want to hide under their covers.
She blinked to clear her inner eyelids
of the sunspots left from staring at the bright wall. Her eyes came to rest on
the line of large white stones. This line represented the city’s boundary. The
stones started at the base of the Wall near where she sat, and stretched all
the way around the lengthy outer perimeter of Eadin before ending miles and
miles to the north at the Wall once again. It was forbidden to cross that line,
and doing so was punishable by law.
She didn’t know what the purpose of the
boundary line was, nor did she really care to know. She had asked her mother
about it once, but the response had been anything but helpful.
She had been just a little thing then, a
child of maybe four or five years. She was sick with a horrible flu, one that
caused her to throw up everything she ate or drank. She hadn’t been feeling
like herself at all and she had asked her mother many questions during her
illness. It had been strange because curiosity wasn’t something that came
naturally to her. She had asked her mother, why, if the monsters were all safely
tucked away on the other side of the Wall, were the people of Eadin not allowed
to cross the boundary line. Her mother had pulled the thick blanket up to Clover’s
chin and placed a cool cloth on her forehead, cheerily saying, “It is not our
place to question why things are the way they are. We should be happy in
knowing we are safe and well. That’s all.”
The pencil now clenched firmly between
her teeth, she decided that had been a very reasonable question for a youngster
to ask. Even though the answer had been unsatisfactory to her at the time,
Clover now knew that her mother had been right. It didn’t really matter, as
long as they were safe and content.
This was the place that Clover always
came to write her stories, draw and color the pictures that went alongside
them. It was peaceful here, with a mix of tree species whose leaves mildly
scented the air, and long wild grasses that blew as if dancing in a gentle
breeze. Being at the edge of the woods, the nearest house was a good distance
away, and the only sounds she ever heard were those of the birds’ conversations
as they flitted from tree to tree. It was a place where a person could think, and
it was a place where a person could write and sketch for hours without interruption.
In all the time she had been coming
here, she had never once considered stepping over the boundary line. But on
this day, she was contemplating it. To her, the other side of that line of
white stones represented mystery and fear - the exact elements her story
required. To write true fear, she decided, she would need to experience true fear.
She pulled the pencil from the grip of
her teeth and dropped it, along with her workbook, into her shoulder bag. She
stood and hastily brushed off her backside as she slowly approached the line.
Clover always followed the rules and never
questioned them. They were in place for her safety and well-being. She knew
this and she respected it. But this was different. She didn’t believe that she was
being curious or rebellious. She wasn’t acting on the instincts of a criminal.
She was an artist in need of inspiration.
She stopped directly in front of the row
of white stones, close enough that the toes of her pretty flat shoes touched
it. After a careful look over her right shoulder and then her left, she found
that she was completely alone, as she always was when she came here. Sucking in
a large breath of air, she lifted her foot and placed it gingerly down on the
other side of the rock line. She held her breath and looked around again to
make doubly sure no one was watching. Finding it clear, she let her other foot
join the first.
She exhaled and smiled. It hadn't been
so bad. No alarms had gone off. People weren't suddenly swarming around to haul
her away. She placed a hand to her chest when she noticed her heart rate had
increased, which was a good start to experiencing fear. But it wasn’t enough.
The story needed to arouse more from the reader than a quick pulse. She told
herself she needed just a little more, and then she would go back. In fact, she
would be so quick that it wouldn’t even seem like she’d stepped over the line
She began walking, looking around at the
scenery which was identical to that on her own side of the boundary. The trees
were the same, as were the long grasses. It didn’t feel much different as she
had hoped it would. But still, as she walked, the story started to manifest
itself in her mind.
The little girl would be ten years old
and very naive and silly at first. But as the story progressed, she would grow
wiser and braver, and eventually save her land from the horrible monster. She
walked slowly, watching as her feet padded softly on the earth and grass. Her
characters were coming together nicely. Aside from being ugly, the monster
would be huge and have putrid breath. On and on her mind went, pieces of the tale
coming faster and faster, her legs swinging quicker and harder along the ground
to match the pace of the ideas that raced in her head. It was coming to her in great
rushes of inspiration, and she could feel that this would be her best story
She stopped with a jolt when she realized
the ground beneath her had darkened. She looked around and was astonished to find
that her previously unseeing eyes had brought her to a place where the forest was
different. Tall trees loomed thick around her, blocking out the warmth and
light of the sun. Their gnarled branches were reaching out and downward, trying
to get a grip on some unseen enemy. Thick green moss clung to the sides of many
of their trunks, creeping downward to the forest floor, creating a spongy
carpet at their bases. It was quiet here. Too quiet. This part of the forest
even had an ominous, dank smell to it.
Clover hadn't meant to come this far. As
she looked around, she started to feel dizzy. Her heart was pounding, banging an
echoing drumbeat in her ears, and making it impossible to hear what might be
hiding in the distorted shadows. Suddenly it was as if the trees had found
their unseen enemy: her. And they were reaching for her, stretching their
grotesquely twisted arms further to find their grip. She had found fear all right
- much more than she had been looking for. She felt the blood drain from her
head as she realized it was a mistake to have come here. She needed to get
back; back to the safety of Eadin on the other side of the boundary line. And
she needed to get there fast.