At 87, Solomon "Sol" Mayfield is taken on an otherworldly journey to discover what really happened to his family. Sol has been able to see ghosts ever since his mother and sister mysteriously disappeared when he was a child. When he dies in a nursing home in the second chapter of the novel, it's only the beginning of his story. He's reunited with his sister, Sarah, who reveals family secrets he was never able to learn while he was alive. The novel flashes back to 1909, when Sol was 12 and Sarah was 13. The day after Sarah's birthday, Sol wakes up to find that his mother and sister are gone. Many in their small town of Varner Creek, Texas, assume that Sol's mother, Annie, had finally had enough of his abusive father, Abram; others suspect foul play. Abram blamed Annie for Sarah's Down syndrome and for trapping him in a small town by becoming pregnant at 14. Sent to live with his Aunt Emma and Uncle Colby, Sol is visited one night by what appears to be Sarah's ghost. Is his sister dead? If so, who killed her? And what about their mother? Sol sets out to find the answers, some of which are not revealed until decades later. Weems' story unfurls slowly, at a pace that feels consistent with life in a small Texas town. He has an impressive knack for dialect, and regional accents and idioms help bring the characters into vivid relief. Also, Sol's self-deprecation and world-weary charm make him an instantly likable narrator. While it's easy to get pulled into his story, the narrative sags a bit in the middle when the reader is given a thorough history of how Sol's parents met, which doesn't feel entirely necessary to the main story. When the final mystery is unveiled, however, the solution is sufficiently unexpected if not completely shocking.
Monte wakes on a seemly ordinary morning to find an extraordinary event has occurred. An insidious sickness has cursed her hometown of Port Steward. Strangers, neighbors, friends and even her own family have fallen victim to the sickness. Monte soon discovers that a bite from someone with the sickness is how the gruesome disease is spread. Once infected with the sickness, it transforms normal people into ravenous monsters with a craving for flesh.
Monte struggles to make her way to safety in a town thriving with disease. As loneliness and paranoia set in, she finds that her newfound freedom from an abusive father is not all she’d hoped for. While faced with the near certain chance of defeat, Monte is unbending in her quest to stay alive, making grim decisions that test her humanity. With a tremendous will for survival, will Monte make it to salvation or fall victim, like so many others, of the sickness?
This short story is published as a "side-quel" to Endemic Rise of the Plague, book one in a trilogy, available for FREE on Amazon.
I am Jeannie Rae, not so plain & almost never simple. A person who is just as flawed as I am skilled. One who loves my family with all my heart in good times and in bad – through celebrations & times of tremendous grief, achievements and disagreements. A woman who knows how short