Silence moved like a wave over the bayou. At night, the place was usually a symphony of sounds, some so loud a person couldn’t hear herself think. But tonight, the quiet started at the water and rolled out over the earth as if some great being slowly smothered all noise with a heavy blanket. And when all sound stopped, Elita stepped onto the stone path, shining her flashlight on the ground, looking for roots and snakes. She swung the light left and right because that oily smudge of a presence had hovered around her all afternoon, its anger prickling her skin. The hex removal spell must have pissed the creature off.
If Ma’man Raisonne had been here, she’d be clucking all kinds of disapproval over Elita walking toward the water in the middle of the night. But Elita felt compelled. Pulled by some powerful force because something in her gut told her those cries were from someone in the water. And worse, she thought they might be from Pryor.
Just then, another yell ripped into the quiet, this time strangled and hoarse as if the person fought to suffer in silence. Elita picked up the pace, passing the outbuildings. Instead of running onto the pier, she veered left and slipped into the trees, keeping her flashlight pointed to the ground.
The bayou smelled strange. The summer heat scents lingered but the over-cooked earthy smell was wicked strong tonight. The humidity was so thick, Elita felt moisture weighting down her eyelashes, sticking to her skin, creeping under her clothes. And the mosquitoes should have been eating her alive, but they too were strangely absent.
When she lifted her flashlight toward the subtle splashing noise in the water, terror froze her in place and she understood why.