SHORTS FROM THE SHELF features short serialized fiction by author Shannon Muir, administrator of SHANNON MUIR’S THE PULP AND MYSTERY SHELF, that may be later released as part of e-book or print collections. The story line featured currently is “Darque Designs,” the sixth installment of the Myanna Moore serial, which will run over the next several weekends. This is Part Two.

Myanna knocked on the heavy door of an old farmhouse miles away from any Eastern Washington town. Fallow fields surrounded it. Myanna started to question if anyone still lived here. Slowly, the door creaked open.

Duana waited on the other side, matching the description that had been given to Myanna

“My dear Myanna! I never thought I’d see you.”

“And I certainly never planned to come here.”

“Ah, but you coming here was inevitable. You have always been drawn to family.”

Duana took a step back.

“Why don’t you come in and make yourself at home?”

Myanna would never consider this home. Yet, she knew if she did not enter, all chances of finding the truth might be lost. Carefully, she stepped inside and took a look about.

Myanna noticed Duana kept a group of framed photos in one corner. She walked over to them, expecting to see photos of Darque in his youth. Instead, the pictures featured a young girl with darker pigmented skin and long brown hair. Myanna wasn’t sure of the girl’s actual ethnicity.

In one of the photos, the young girl looked straight at the camera, and immediately Myanna recognized those eyes as the ones of the lover in her dream turned nightmare. At that moment, her confounding illusion dropped away to reveal the truth. She remembered being heavy with her lover’s child while still in school. Myanna now remembered clearly that Darque and her supposed lover killed her husband and then together brought her to Duana, not Darque illogically snapping the lover’s neck as her memory so illogically tricked her.

Most importantly, her memory now allowed her to remember in full giving birth to her daughter here with Duana, her own grandmother. In her mind, emotions flooded back as she remembered that day as if it happened that very moment.

“Thank you for the gift of a great-granddaughter, my dear. I’m getting so lonely in my old age.”

“She’s my baby!” Myanna had cried out in her pain.

Duana patted Myanna’s shoulder.

“My dear, you’re just in college after getting your GED. There will be time for other babies. Someday it’ll all get through to you. But your dear grandmother is running out of time to know that love. That’s why I handpicked the man to father your child and sent him. Fortunately, you made it easy by wanting to try the new experiences he offered you and loving it so much.”

“How do you expect me to move forward without my baby?” Myanna had wailed.

“Don’t worry,” Duana had told her gently. “I know how to take care of that. Your father will see to it that you are able to forget this, and so much of the other trauma you have seen.”

Myanna focused her thoughts back on the present day. She would take control, break through the dark designs, and get to the truth.

“Your and my father’s mind tricks have worn off. Now, tell me where my daughter is!”

“My dear, why would I ever tell you? I know you have another child someone else is raising. After all you’ve endured, you certainly should not be taking care of children.”

“What makes you any more qualified than I? Besides, you’re not raising my daughter. And neither are Darque and Edana. So, I ask again, where is she?”

“Somewhere safe from all of us, should it make you happy. But she knows she’s loved because her dear Great-Granny visits her. I’m the only family she knows.”

Anger coursing through her, Myanna rushed at Duana. They might be blood related but to Myanna, she only saw a monster.

Duana deftly stepped aside.

“Now, now, dear. Do me in and you will lose the answers to all your questions. At least I’m letting you live. Your father would apparently rather see you dead.”

Myanna spun around to face Duana.

“What do you know about that?”

“Apparently, you know too much now. You’re seen as a threat.”

“By Darque or by Edana?”

Duana sighed.

“When he brought her to me I thought we would make great allies. In the end, she stole my son.”

“Listen. Get me back my daughter and I will help you get your son back, Duana. We’re both mothers lost without our children.”

“I wish it were that simple, my dear. If Edana and Darque knew where your daughter was they would hunt her too. The best thing to do is keep her safe.”

“I can keep her safe!”

“At times you’ve hardly kept yourself alive – admit it. Or maybe there’s still some things you don’t remember yet.”

Myanna really couldn’t counter Duana’s point. She couldn’t deny that at times she’d acted rash, risky, and impulsive. Part of that is why J.B., many years her senior, ended up having a son with her. She’d stayed his employee and they told everyone Myanna chose to be a surrogate Mom to pay her college bills: everyone seemed to believe the story. In the end, she’d agreed to let J.B.’s family raise the boy. Her daughter wouldn’t be that much older.

Then it began to dawn on her that Duana kept repeating a theme, but using different phrases.

“You keep talking about all the trauma I’ve endured, and all that I have seen. It’s true being raised by Firinne Knox and ending up in families intent on using and manipulating women has not gone without its issues.”

“It’s deeper than that, my dear. You really truly do not remember any of what happened after Truth and Lye reunited?”

Myanna scoffed.

“How would you know anything about that?”

Duana made her way over to a cabinet and opened up one of the drawers.

“So glad I decided to keep photographic evidence of this. It appears my son went even deeper in rewriting your past than I thought.”

Duana gently took some photos from the drawer and handed them over toward Myanna. She wasn’t sure she even wanted to look.

“How do I know any of this is real?”

“You don’t, my dear. But if we are going to build trust, I must share the truth with you.”

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