The Witchery Way
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by Robert Ferrier
Category: Young Adult/Mystery/Crime
Description: A body lies in the path of an oncoming locomotive. Too late! At the controls for the first time, Josh is unable to stop. Who had he run over and why was someone lying in the oncoming path of the locomotive? And why is the body covered with snake bites? Can Josh and Amy discover why someone is determined to keep Number 88 from making its scheduled run? Will they find out in time? Find out the answers in The Witchery Way, the scintillating tale of a sabotaged railroad, drugs, witchcraft, and romance.
eBook Publisher: SynergEbooks, 2001 SynergEbooks
eBookwise Release Date: September 2004
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [206 KB]
Reading time: 136-191 min.
"The characters in The Witchery Way are likable and well drawn. The lead characters as well as the supporting characters are strong and original. The relationships between the characters are a vital part of the story. But the emphasis in the story is on the action rather than on character development. The plot rolls along as smoothly as a roller coaster, taking the reader on just as many dips and turns until you finally come, breathless, to a stop. Witchery Way is further proof to the fact that there is no truth in the myth that eBooks are of inferior quality. The Witchery Way is marketed as a young adult book. The Young Adult category seems to keep expanding its age limit so that now children as young as twelve may be considered young adult readers. I would caution parents to read this book before offering it to younger teens. The violence is graphic and there is one teen sex scene. Fortunately, parents should find this book as interesting as teens, so reading it together and discussing any sensitive subjects should not be a chore."--Loralee Peterson, Atlantic Bridge Publishing
Ish Maytubby leaned against a pine tree at the crest of a hill and sniffed the air. He caught the scent again, a faint acid smell that seemed to come and go. He wiped his brow with a red kerchief, then tied it around his forehead. He imagined it made him look like his ancestors. Some of them might be in the old burial grounds nearby, and he was going to have to walk past them, despite the rumors that it was bad luck to do so.
The sun sank low in the west, casting a yellow hue over the tips of the trees. Down below, he heard a squirrel scurrying through an oak. The draws and hollows were darker now. A quarter mile to the west, the rails of the Choctaw Railroad glinted in the fading light, steel ribbons stretching north toward the Ouachita Mountains of southeast Oklahoma. He was rested now, but he waited, wondering why he was afraid. At thirty-five, he was still rock hard from working in these hills all his life. He had made his living as a hunting and fishing guide in Senoca, 20 miles southwest. His instincts were honed, but those instincts made him cautious. Perhaps he should have brought the rifle. But if someone surprised him, it would look better if he was unarmed, he reasoned.
He caught the scent again and started walking north, down into the draw. The undergrowth was thick--greenbrier and thorny stay-awhile--and he worked through it slowly. Tonight he would be covered with ticks and chiggers, but for what he was being paid, it would be worth the nuisance. His employer wanted someone who knew these hills, who was not afraid of risks, who ignored rumors and myths. When he was home safely in Senoca, he would open a bottle of Jim Beam and laugh about his fears. Witches and wolves didn't exist. Not in 1997 in Senoca, Oklahoma.
Living in the white man's world had taught him that Native American spirits did not turn into wolves and night creatures. The only night creature he might meet here was Old Man Coyote who was everywhere in these parts. Damn trickster, sure, but harmless.
A sudden whoosh sounded. He jerked around, and watched an owl streak up the draw and disappear, its wings flashing in the last rays of sun. Not a good omen, he thought. His Choctaw grandparents had said owls were ghosts returned to earth to seek revenge, to fulfill needs not satisfied in life.
He encountered a small stream and walked 30 yards among the cattails and river cane until he found a fallen tree to use as a bridge. Pausing in the middle, he reached into his jeans and dumped some tobacco into the water. When his ancestors had come to Oklahoma from the east, they had offered tobacco to the water monster in the Mississippi. An offering must be made to him whenever water is crossed. Tonight, Ish would play it safe.
He reached the top of the second hill and looked down at the burial grounds. There were mounds spaced across a flat expanse as if Above Person had created this small flat spot among the hills for his ancestor's resting place. He hurried down the draw and began walking through the sacred ground, feeling the ghosts. Their spirits were everywhere: a rabbit darting into brush, a strange cloud forming near the moon, a lizard scurrying nearby.
Perhaps they would protect him from the evil in these hills. He could hear their voices, chanting against his greed, his whiskey, his worthless life. He had never earned a guardian spirit. The men of his ancestors had gone on vision quests soon after puberty. They went alone and naked to a remote spot, taking only their pipes and tobacco pouch. There they had fasted and thirsted for four days, praying for mercy and blessing. At some point they would receive their vision: a bird, an animal, a cloud formation. When their vision appeared, they were free to go home. Then the vision would be their guardian spirit for life. Tonight, Ish longed for a guardian spirit. When he had passed the mounds, he breathed a sigh of relief.
The bottom of the draw was covered with trees and brush. He smelled the acid, stronger now. It was darker in these low places, and he had to move carefully into a stand of shoulder high plants. He stopped and looked closely at the leaves; his employer would get double information for the money. In Viet Nam, he had survived on knowledge, caution, and instinct--now he must survive again. He looked around. There was no way around this patch. He must go through to the top of the draw, so he could confirm his suspicion about the smell. He moved forward slowly, examining the ground. He wished now for the rifle, even a knife. After several minutes, when he was halfway through the patch, he felt a thin wire with his hand. He followed it with his fingers until he touched the metal cylinder, concealed in a clump of grass. A fragmentation grenade. Backing away, he worked to the right until he passed the trap.
Still, he moved cautiously, praying that the top of the draw would show another way back. Sweat soaked his kerchief, and mosquitoes buzzed and stung him while chiggers started on his ankles. He ignored the itching, and fought the urge to slap the mosquitoes. Sudden movements and noise might get him killed.
He felt his way along the ground with his hands and feet. Seeing the owl earlier had frightened him. His ancestors would have warned him to turn back then, but the money had driven him on. Now it was too late. He felt softness in the ground, and he poked with his fingers. Some dirt gave way beneath a cover of grass. Then he heard the buzzing--rattlesnakes in a pit. He tried not to think of what would have happened if he had fallen in. His stomach heaved, but he calmed himself. It took him 20 minutes to cover the last 15 yards, and when he reached the incline at the far side, he stopped and rested, staring up at the rising moon and thanking Above Person that he was alive.
Whatever happened next, he would not cross the death patch again. The smell reminded him of his task, and he rolled over and crawled through the undergrowth, working his way up toward the crest of the hill. Sweat rolled into his eyes despite the kerchief, and he itched. His muscles were cramping. Still, he was getting close.