Excerpt from Madre Sombra
By Marcus Julian
She wore the face of the dead, leather skin stretched tight over her skull, a grinning mouth full of cracked and broken teeth while pale, nearly translucent hair hung patchy and limp from her head. Her eyes were dried out and shriveled in their dusty sockets, yet burned with points of pale fire. She wore a patchwork, crumbling dress over her skeletal frame, and despite her desiccated appearance, she radiated power, she was imbued with terrible force.
This was Madre Sombra, and for nearly every second, every minute, every hour, day and year since Shane was five she had been present in his mind. She was never far from his thoughts, and nothing could drive her away, not money, drugs or sex, not meditation, danger or excitement. She was a part of him. She was so deeply ingrained in his psyche and his soul that the only path left to freedom was death, and even that, he knew, was no guarantee.
She was a demon. Her fury, strength and fire could only be found in the heart of a devil.
Shane dreamt of her every night, every night she was there, in the mine, screaming her piercing awful scream. Every night he saw her take Elliot, saw her seize him by the throat, witnessed her bite his face, saw the blood spray, saw the dark and ragged hole open on his cheek. Every night Shane was forced to see Elliot’s right eye sag into the wound. He had been watching him die for 32 years, 3 months and five days, 8122 times since the day he had first encountered Madre Sombra.
Shane had never told anyone about her, not his mother or his father, not his grandparents, nor his councilors or psychiatrists. He had always blamed Elliot’s death on the cave-in, and there had been no reason to doubt him, so the truth had never been told. He had always kept Madre Sombra a secret locked away in the labyrinth of his heart.
“I have never told anyone what I am about to tell you.” Shane said. He sat beside Sheila on the couch, holding her hand. On her left hand she wore the silver ring with Celtic knots that he had just slipped onto her finger. Her eyes were wet with tears, but she was smiling happily.
Shane was pretty certain she would stop smiling soon.