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Soul Fire By Sidney Williams

Soul Fire By Sidney Williams

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Published by Sidney Williams
In this story which formed the basis for the novel Gnelfs, a single mother must battle dark forces to protect her child. Only a mysterious holy man named Danube seems to hold the answers to what's happening, but can he stop the horror in time?
In this story which formed the basis for the novel Gnelfs, a single mother must battle dark forces to protect her child. Only a mysterious holy man named Danube seems to hold the answers to what's happening, but can he stop the horror in time?

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Published by: Sidney Williams on Jul 19, 2011
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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07/19/2011

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Soul Fire by Sidney WilliamsAuthor’s NoteThis short story, complete unto itself, originally appeared in Searching Souls Magazine and became the basis for my novel Gnelfs. The incidents from this storyform a central event in the novel, but there’s much more story beyond this confrontation and much more about the mysterious Danube in the modified and expanded version. It’s currently available as an e-book for Kindle and on other platforms. Look for it wherever you purchase e-books or from the publisher at http://store.crossroadpress.com***Heaven
 
s scream pierced the night, cutting like a razor through Gabrielle
 
s REMstage.Throwing back the cover, she jumped from bed and thundered down the hall towardthe sound. The child sat at the head of her bed, huddling between the pillows and clutching the covers about her like a shield.Gabrielle flipped on the light and rushed toward her. Tears streamed, and as Gabrielle embraced her, she felt the child
 
s small body trembling."What
 
s wrong, honey? I
 
m here. Are you hurt?""They wanted to get me, Mommy?""Who?" Her gaze turned to the window. Closed."The Gnelfs. Daddy Gnelf and his village folk. They had pitchforks and things with blades."Gabrielle cradled her daughter, gently touching her hair and rocking back and forth. "It
 
s okay. You had a nightmare. The Gnelfs are your friends."The bedtime story had evidently been the last thing on Heaven’s mind, and, mingling with the second helping of spaghetti she had demanded at supper, it had turnedinto a horror show.When Heaven was at last asleep again, Gabrielle closed the bedroom door softly and headed back to her own room with the Gnelfland Bedtime Story Book tucked under her arm so that Heaven wouldn
 
t wake and see the cover.The fear of her daughter being in peril had rattled her so badly she knew she wouldn
 
t be able to sleep again for a while, so Gabrielle turned on the light at her dresser where she sat in front of the mirror to brush her hair.She didn
 
t want to fight tangles in the morning while she was trying to get Heaven ready and to make it to the office on time. Working full time and caring fora five-year-old alone was exhausting.As she pulled the comb through the long brown waves, she went through her regular ritual of checking for wrinkles. She was twenty-eight, and there were gray hairs appearing far more frequently than she wanted, stalwart frontrunners of age’s full-scale assault.
 
Things like those isolated strands of silver made her aware of how rapidly yearspassed. In no time she had become a mother, then a divorcee, career woman and single parent.It didn
 
t seem that long since she had been in college, falling in love with Dave. It had all passed faster than a television commercial break, including the horrible experience with Simon last spring.Dave had not been a bad man, and he had not been a bad husband, but after a timethey had realized they were not right for each other. Their interests, their ways of approaching situations, even their way of thinking were different. While many marriages had survived such problems, they had decided to move on.His moving had recently carried him to the West coast to a better job. In a wayit was almost as if he had never existed, yet Heaven had his blond hair and blueeyes as reminders. Perhaps that had been the reason Gabrielle had turned to Simon. He was like a refuge from Dave
 
s memory. She
 
d met him at the office, a client of one of the accountants there.As an older man with hair graying at the temple, his manner had been elegant andcordial, and she had been smitten.They had dated for almost two months, even though she had quickly discovered himto be possessive. He expected her to be at his beck and call. When she tired ofit and told him she wanted to quit seeing him, his face grew red, and he unleashed a rant filled with vicious insults, which had driven her to tears. Threats followed.She had discovered Simon’s eccentricity during their time together. He had odd collections, strange books and seemed fascinated by world religions, but she had never expected such harshness from him. He made phone calls and sent notes for several weeks, apparently losing interest after it became clear that Gabrielle wasneither going to come back to him or give other response.She sighed and brought herself back to the present. Why was she brooding over that? She realized she was drumming her fingers on the cover of Heaven
 
s book.She picked it up and walked over to the bed, placing it on her nightstand as sheclimbed beneath the covers.Heaven usually loved the tales of the half-elves/half gnomes. With their smilingfaces and comic antics on television and in books, they had captured the heartsof millions of children. From the nightstand, their smiling faces bade Gabrielle pleasant dreams.There had been cries from some parents groups that the little creatures were demonic because they used magic, but Gabrielle dismissed them. All fairy tales werefilled with magic. Heaven had only had a nightmare, nothing more.The next incident came several days later. The nightmare forgotten, Heaven was in the living room watching a recording of The Saturday Morning Gnelf Hour for probably the jillionth time. From the kitchen, Gabrielle could hear Heaven
 
s laughter.Gabrielle was stir frying vegetables when the screaming began. Rushing into theliving room, she saw Heaven on the couch, thrashing about, tiny fists swinging wildly at empty air as she screamed again and again.Gabrielle tried to embrace her and calm her, but she would not stop struggling.It was as if she was fighting something.
 
"What
 
s the matter?" Gabrielle shouted. "I
 
m here. It
 
s all right.""They
 
re all around me," Heaven cried. "They want to hurt me.""Who?""The Gnelfs."Gabrielle looked at the television screen. The little green Gnelfs there seemedto be trying to avert floodwaters from their village. Quickly she switched it off, and a news man
 
s image replaced the cartoon.When it did, Heaven stopped struggling and sat on the couch breathing frantically with exhaustion and fear. Her eyes were red-rimmed, and her gaze was like thatof someone badly disoriented.Gabrielle again cradled the child and rocked and comforted her until she dozed off. Then she sat watching, afraid some other nightmare might be generated. Thistime, however, Heaven remained peaceful.While she slept, Gabrielle studied her features. They were so soft and innocent.What bugbears lurked in her mind? Undoubtedly there had to be scars from the divorce.Dave had taken great pains with Heaven to explain that his departure was not herfault, but perhaps complications remained.Gabrielle had been meaning to get back to church for some time to make sure Heaven was instilled with the proper values. Gabrielle had quit attending during school. Often she and Dave had talked about getting involved again, but it had never come about.~*~She wasn
 
t sure why she decided to go to a minister instead of heading straightfor the psychiatric hospital. The health insurance at her company would have covered any needed evaluation. Perhaps she just had some underlying fear that she had let spiritual training languish too long and that was part of the problem.She wound up at a Methodist church because that was where she
 
d always attendedas a child. The pastor, a Rev. Fillerman, was in his late fifties and seemed tohave an affection for children. He made Heaven laugh and listened intently to Gabrielle
 
s concerns.So that they could speak privately, they let Heaven sit with the secretary."I
 
ve never thought the show was frightening or anything," Gabrielle said, shaking her head. "I am careful about what I let her watch."The pastor laced his fingers and considered the dilemma silently. "It
 
s hard tosay what will frighten children," he said. "Their imaginations are quite active,and they haven
 
t developed the ability to distinguish between the real and theimagined like you and I. When I was a child I remember being terribly frightenedby Fantasia."Gabrielle smiled. "For me it was the witches in Snow White and Sleeping Beauty.""I don
 
t think such things are really damaging,” Fillmore said.

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