Thursday, October 21, 2021


 Hi All,

It is time for another WEP challenge! Woot! The ladies at the WEP are amazing hosting these challenges throughout the hat's off to you all! This October's theme is THE SCREAM!

So appropriate, don't you think?
There are some incredible entries this month, so I do hope you plan to visit the other authors at the WEP site, who put their talents to the test. You will not be disappointed.

My entry is an excerpt from my current work in progress MOMMY KAY. If you recall, I had submitted an early snippet a few years back from this memoir for the ROADS LESS TRAVELED prompt and won! If you have the time and would like to familiarize yourself with more of Mommy Kay here is the link.

Before you read my entry, I'd like to give you a bit of backstory. Mommy Kay and her daughter, Kim are visiting the impoverished Island of Haiti in the early 70s, the week after the Dictator, "Papa Doc" Duvalier died and his son was newly sworn in as President for Life. 

During their visit to Haiti, Kim mainly stayed inside the hotel. Mommy Kay would be gone for hours at a time. She was up to something, and Kim knew what it was. Mommy Kay had a new obsession. She wanted to experience a Haitian Voodoo ritual. 

I hope you enjoy this little teaser at 997 words.

The now, fifteen-year-old Kimmie tells the story...she didn't want any part of this trip, but Mommy ALWAYS got her way. 

Helplessness wasn’t an emotion familiar to me. For the first time in my life, Mommy wasn’t there. The walls in our suite seemed to press in on me from all four sides. The next few hours dragged as if carrying them on my back. 

The door slammed. 

“Kimmie,” Mommy called out.

A moment later she entered my room, wearing what looked liked white bedsheets. A turban covered her head.

“Put this on.” She dropped a bundle of the same white sheeting onto the bed. “We must blend in.”

I slipped on clothing and wrapped up my head in a similar turban.

“Fantastic. You’re so tan—you’ll pass for a native.”

“I wish I can say the same about you— you’re as white as that sheeting. You’ll never blend in.”

“Oh, stop worrying and try to have a good time.” 

Mommy stepped over to the dresser and stuffed a wad of cash inside her bra. “Antoine should be here soon.” 

“The sun is sinking fast. When do we leave?”

“As soon as it’s dark, around six o’clock. He’s meeting us at the back of the hotel by the kitchen entrance.”

Mommy paced a few minutes, then glanced out the window. “It’s time.”

My heart skipped a beat.

The hotel seemed eerily quiet. We met no one on the elevators, or at the back entrance.

Antoine was waiting for us in a beat-up jalopy. “Welcome my friends, ” he said with a slight quiver.

Mommy sat next to him in the front seat, and I slid into the back. Next to me was a large bottle of rum and a box of Cuban cigars. Antoine accelerated and off we went into the night. The twitchy manner in which he drove didn’t help the situation. Sweat beaded on my face.

“Where exactly are we going, Antoine?” I asked after a long pause of silence.

“Porte au Prince.”

“I figured that. Where exactly?”

He didn’t answer.

We drove on the main road and arrived downtown. The stench from the garbage in the streets barely masked the musky smell of human sweat and the lingering of cooked food. Several people sat on the sidewalks outside their front doors; their haughty expressions watched us as we drove by. We turned up a side street. At the top of the hill, we stopped abruptly. 

“We get out here,” Antoine whispered.

“Kimmie, bring the rum and cigars. They’re presents for the High Priest.”

My shaky hands gathered them up, and I exited the car. Antoine and Mommy stopped, facing a peeling red door.

“We go in here.” Antoine turned the handle.

He entered.

Mommy followed with her head lowered. I wondered what she was feeling. She moved normally; however, my legs shook as I stepped inside the dimly lit room. Flickering candles from a ceiling chandelier created dark shadows that performed a savage dance on the rough stained walls. 

Hundreds of scattered bones, entrails, and piles of white feathers littered the floor. A pungent smell of years of decay, Cajun incense, and dried blood loomed heavily in the air.

I dug my fingers into Mommy’s fleshy arm. “Are you sure about this?” I whispered and pointed to a glistening section of a fragmented wall. “That looks like fresh blood.”

“Yes, I see it.” She shrugged away her arm.

Antoine moved a few paces ahead of us.

“It’s time.” He pointed his finger up. “Follow me.” 

 Unidentified things squelched under our feet as we made our way toward a staircase at the back of the room. Antoine disappeared in a sea of creaks as he ascended. Mommy followed, squeezing between the walls of the narrow entrance. It was my turn now. I sucked in a deep breath and held it. 

Thump, thump, thump, pounded inside of my head as I climbed each of the rickety stairs. My heart threatened to tear away from my chest. 

Mommy’s breathing increased as we turned up the next flight. 

Then the next.

As we confronted the final flight, she stopped, clutching her heaving chest. “I-I need to catch my breath—go—a-head, Kim-mie.”

“No way.”


Antoine stared down at us. “We must not keep him waiting.” His voice cracked.

I stepped over Mommy and continued climbing. My legs grew heavy as if hundred-pound weights were attached to them. Mommy’s stomping feet and raspy breaths kept up with my slower pace.

At the top, hundreds of candles flickered in the room. Beams of moonlight filtered through the five large open windows. A soft chanting and a distant drumbeat played, as a two-story shadow appeared across a fraying, sheer drape.

Mommy stepped into the room, panting.

“He is in our presence. Keep silent until he addresses you,” Antoine whispered.

A massive figure stepped out of the shadows. Yellow light glinted off a jewel-encrusted medallion and rows of heavy gold chains. His frame cloaked in black robes stood rigid, and on top of his head sat an elaborate plumed headdress.

The whites of his eyes shone through midnight blue-black skin. 

“I know what you seek. Leave your offerings.”

I couldn’t move. His terrifying presence nailed me to the floor. 

Antoine pried the rum and cigars from my fingers and bowed, placing the offerings at his feet.

A split second later, he disappeared.

“We must follow him,” Antoine said, as he took hold of Mommy’s arm and dragged her through the drape.

I was convinced Antoine planned to have us sacrificed. And me, still a virgin. How appropriate. The beating drums grew louder and more sporadic. Or was it my heart? I wasn’t quite sure.

“Come, Kimmieeeee!” Mommy’s voice echoed through the rising of the heretic chants.

I willed myself to move. My left foot slid a few inches, followed by my body. 

And then, a dusty wind swirled around me as if conjured up by some strange dark force. It swept me through the curtain, my silent scream following.

Tagline: A tied-up Kimmie awaits her fate, as drums keep beating while her captor approaches a tear-stained Mommy, preparing a sacrifice for the Voodoo King.

I hope you enjoyed this teaser. For all of you LEFT hanging, I will post the remainder of the scene in a few days after the link closes... That is the least I can do. Have a Wonderful Weekend everyone!


Denise Covey said...

Michael, great to see you here and great to read this tantalizing excerpt. I'm glad you're going to post more as that cliff-hanger did indeed leave us hanging. 'It swept me through the curtain, my silent scream following.' Great ending for The Scream challenge!

I wish you every success when MOMMY KAY is published.

This time we asked participants to come up with a tagline. This excerpt offers tantalizing opportunities to tease us. If you come up with one, add it after your story so as not to give too much away.

Michael Di Gesu said...

I will get right on it Denise... thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed "SCREAMING" with Kimmie at the end...

Elephant's Child said...

Tense and engrossing. And thank you so much for putting us out of our collective misery by promising to post the rest of this excerpt.

Jemi Fraser said...

Nicely done!!
Great tension and attention to detail. I would NOT want to be Kimmie!

Olga Godim said...

Wow! So much suspense. I hope it will end okay for the poor, terrified girl.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Thank you, EA...I am glad you enjoyed the snippet. I wouldn't leave all of your hanging. LOL

Michael Di Gesu said...

Thanks, Jemi! Neither would I... writing that whole chapter was INTENSE to say the least, having to live through it.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Drop back in a few days, Olga and you can read it for yourself. Thankfully, she made it through and live to tell the tale.

Janie Junebug said...

I'm glad you'll post more. I have to know what happens.


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Michael - I couldn't think of being Kimmie ... the thought really terrifies me! But so pleased to see Mommy Kay is moving along and I do hope you get to publish it ... looking forward to reading your follow-up to how the story develops. Good luck - Hilary

Nilanjana Bose said...

Neat excerpt. Great tension and a whopper of a cliff hanger ending! Glad to know she survived to tell the tale. Hoping you'll post more of Mommy Kay/Kimmie for WEP again, Michael.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Wow! And knowing this is based on a true story make it even more terrifying.

Gwen Gardner said...

Nice build up! I did not want to go up those stairs!

Michael Di Gesu said...

You'll find out in a few days, Janie!

Michael Di Gesu said...

Thanks Hilary! Actually, the book is finished. I am in the process of querying it right now. Ugh. So many rejections so far. But, I hope to send out another fifteen or twenty to perhaps catch an agent's eye.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Thank you, Nila! I will be posting the remainder of this chapter in a few days, so you will all get to know what happens. Actually, for the Narcissus, I have the perfect flash that I wrote a TEN years ago. I just recently resurrected all of my flashes from the 2011 A-Z challenge. I did some good writing back then, lol.

Michael Di Gesu said...

So true, Alex. I was quite unnerved while writing it.

Michael Di Gesu said...

I don't think I would have, Gwen! Thanks...

Yolanda Renée said...

So mean to leave us all hanging! LOL But I forgive you, since you're gong to post the rest! Gosh the build up was magnificent! Superb, as always! Wishing success with the placement!
And, so glad to see you here again with the WEP. You've been missed!

Michael Di Gesu said...

Thanks Renee... Always a pleasure to post for the WEP. I find it's some of my best writing. I have the perfect piece for the next prompt!!!!

Debbie D. said...

Such a gripping story and, it's a memoir? Wow! Your vivid descriptive passages put the reader right in the middle of the action. 👌 I'm looking forward to reading the conclusion!

Michael Di Gesu said...

Thanks, Debbie! I should have the conclusion posted on Sunday.

Notes Along the Way with Mary Montague Sikes said...

We were in Haiti in 1986, the week before the fall of Baby Doc.
I was so sick from the food I ate in a restaurant near the front of the palace. The lack of trees was so sad!!

Thanks for sharing part of your book!

Natalie Aguirre said...

What a great snippet from your story. You kept the tension up throughout it, and I loved the description of city life.

Rebecca M. Douglass said...

Wow! That’s some scary stuff. I will be waiting for the follow-up!

Michael Di Gesu said...

It is a very sad place, Monty.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Thanks, Natalie... try to make it back for the conclusion in a few days!

Michael Di Gesu said...

Terrifying. I'll look forward to seeing you back for the conclusion, Rebecca.

Cherie Colyer said...

Creepy in a good way! It's a great snippet with great descriptions that had me cringing just imagining being there.

cleemckenzie said...

Darned scary, Michael! Great excerpt from your WIP for the WEP. Congratulations.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Thanks, Cherie! Hope you come back to read the finale.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Thank you, Lee. I am glad you enjoyed it! I hope you come back for the conclusion.

Susan B.Rouchard said...

Chillingly suspenseful. You leave us hanging in horror. Loved the pace of your dialogues and descriptions which create such an eerie atmosphere. Thank you.

Susan B.Rouchard said...

Chillingly suspenseful pace. Loved the dialogues and descriptions of the eerie atmosphere. Thank you Michael.

Pat Garcia said...

Hi Michael,
Your excerpt is very descriptive. The imagery drew me in. You have written this passage and brought forth the realness of Voodoo.
I wonder what happen to Kimmie.
Excellent selection for the WEP and good luck with writing your book.
Shalom aleichem

Damyanti Biswas said...

This is a creepy tale well told, Michael.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Thank you, Susan! I am so glad you enjoyed it. Pop back tomorrow for the finale...

Michael Di Gesu said...

Thank you, Pat. I am glad you enjoyed it. Please come back for the conclusion!

Michael Di Gesu said...

Thanks, Damyanti!

L.G. Keltner said...

You did such a good job setting the scene and building tension. I feel for Kimmie here. I can only imagine being in that position. Well done!

Lenny Lee said...

Hi Mr. Michael.
Love your story. What a great build up. Lots of cool imagery. You took me on a ride through the pot holed streets of Porte Au Prince and left me stranded with Kimmie and her mom in the middle of a frightening voodoo ceremony. Anmwe! For sure you left me hanging. Ugh! Can’t wait to read more. Mesi mon ami.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Very tense. It's terrifying to think people really do these things.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Here is a comment from my pal, Lenny, who is also part of the WEP. For some odd reason his comments are not coming through to me. Thanks, Lenny for the very thoughtful comment!

Hi Mr. Michael.
Love your story. What a great build up. Lots of cool imagery. You took me on a ride through the pot holed streets of Porte Au Prince and left me stranded with Kimmie and her mom in the middle of a frightening voodoo ceremony. Anmwe! (Help!) For sure you left me hanging. Ugh! Can’t wait to read more. Mesi mon ami.

Michael Di Gesu said...

It certainly is, L. Diane. When I heard this from Kimmie, I couldn't believe what I was hearing. She is not a writer, so she basically told me what happened and I put it down on "paper."

Michael Di Gesu said...

Thanks, Laura! I am so glad you enjoyed it. I don't know of anyone who would want to be put in THAT position. Shivers.

Steph W. said...

Poor Kimmie! I do hope she makes it out alive!

Michael Di Gesu said...

I have the conclusion posted now, Steph, if you'd like to read what happened next...

Susan B.Rouchard said...

Great ending. Thanks.

Kalpana said...

Very eery and disturbing. The pace is excellent and the writing sparkles.
I don't know why, but I thought Kimmie and her mother are of African descent till it became clear they are white. This is slightly problematic for me because here we're looking at the rituals of another culture through the lens of a white person.
Obviously you can't stop in the middle of such a compelling scene to give backstory and explanation. However, since this is part of a larger work I hope that somewhere you do show it from the Haitian's point of view. There must be an explanation as to why they do what they do.
The writing is impeccable of course, as always.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Thank you, Kalpana, for such an insightful and thoughtful comment. Yes, the whole story is part of a narrative non-fiction told through eyes of a very Anglican woman. Mommy Kay is extraordinary because she was truly one of the most non-prejudiced people of her time and even perhaps now. Her best friend was an African-American woman and she treated ALL people the same, which was extraordinary, especially since she was a "Daughter of the Mayflower," and having an uncle who was a Grand Wizard of the KKK. She despised them and and lived her life accordingly. She married men of different faiths and nationalities. As for your statement about a Haitian POV on Voodoo, YES, there is a passage where Zaxai (their Haitian rescuer), explains to MK about the true VOODOO and what their religion means to him (them). This particular ritual was performed by a BOKOR, which represents the darker side ... I did a lot of research into this religion and it is quite beautiful in its natural state, but, as with all society, there is always a dark and sinister side, and sadly that is mostly what is represented in the media.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Great job. I read these backward, but still enjoyed them. But I would have been way more scared for her if I'd read them in the right order. I'd have thought she was going to be sacrificed for sure.