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The DeMon's Labyrinth (A South African Fiction)

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Summary

Nothing is as it seems and nobody is who they seem to be. A young woman who had suffered a tragedy and lost everything meaningful to her as a result, is determined to reclaim what is left without letting the people around her know about her journey... That is until she befriends people who have their own dangerous secrets to hide. When she gets to know more about her new friends, she inadvertently stumbles upon a twisted scheme that aims to disrupt her mission and cause her to lose the last thing she owns...herself. When she starts realising that not everyone and everything is as it looked, she's forced to choose who she can trust, and who has been a wolf in sheep's clothing. Because, one would never know a person's true intentions....

Status:
Ongoing
Chapters:
6
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
18+

Prologue

March 2003

Ever since her mother died less than a year ago, Layla Richards had come to accept her tendency to make bad decisions. Not decisions that would ruin her life per se, but decisions that would affect her significantly. Decisions that would bring in buckets of regret filled to the brim and dump every single one on her head, drenching her in shame.

The first one was leaving her younger sister Tazlyn behind to fend for herself, all alone without anybody to support and guide her through the rest of her teenage years. Both Layla and Tazlyn, or Taz, were teenagers when Layla decided to up and leave. Layla was 18, and Taz a mere 15, a volatile age where she was susceptible to influences that would corrupt her to the point of no return. Both of their emotions were unstable enough to be taken advantage of by opportunistic predators disguised as angels.

The steep decline for both girls started when their father, Detective Alfonzo Richards, died while on duty in a shootout between a group of eight men working for some crime syndicate. They were finally subdued and arrested for the murder of an office of the law, possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition, hijacking, attempted murder, and a slew of other crimes that the justice system managed to pin on them.

They each received between 25 years to life in prison, without parole.

Alfonzo was a family-oriented man, always putting other people’s needs before his own. In this case, it was his jurisdiction’s safety above his. That was what he swore to do for as long as he kept breathing. As the Americans said, “to serve and protect”…well, protection from the physical dangers of the world, but not the mental.

A week after their father’s funeral, their eldest sibling, Quade, committed suicide because he couldn’t survive without his Dadda. A whole twenty-three year old still called his father “Dadda”. Not dad, daddy, or “Pops” to sound cool. It was always Dadda.

Quade started saying “Dadda” when he was a year and a half (from stories told). Various attempts were made to correct it to the proper “Daddy”, but he was adamant just like his father, so “Dadda” stuck ever since, and the term earned its affectionate meaning.

They did everything together – father and son – from fishing to shooting targets at some remote area; whatever they could together when Dadda was free, they did.

There was nothing Quade and their father wouldn’t do apart, anything that could be done with Quade anyway. Who would be able to live without someone you called “dadda” for 22 years, sharing every memory for 23? Layla figured it was a silver lining that Quade, at his age, did not have a girlfriend at the time. Not that he never had one in his life; just that he was single at the time.

It was safe to say that Alfonzo was the most important and most vital glue that bound everyone’s morals, ethics, and humanity together. When he was killed, the adhesive was no longer there. Everything fell apart.

Two months later, the heartache of losing the only two men in the house was too great to live with. The girls’ mother had to join her ‘boys’ through a severe and profound heartache. It might’ve been a heart attack due to the extreme grief, but that didn’t change what happened.

No soothing and sympathetic explanation would change the heart-breaking results.

The Richards family was a closely knit one, everybody feeding off each other’s strengths and making up for each other’s weaknesses. That tight bond shattered within a matter of months.

After the death of Alfonzo, Quade, and their mother Elizabeth, the subsequent months dealing with the grief entailed filling the gargantuan voids with bottles of vodka, tequila, rum, and cheap wine, with countless Savannah ciders and other alcoholic drinks. Alcohol served the purpose of forgetting who Layla was, why she was still alive, who she spoke to, with whom she had sex, and how she got pregnant. Forgetting she had a sister that needed someone went without saying. In escaping her grief, she also escaped responsibilities and herself.

But the damage was done.

Tazlyn was somewhere, doing her own thing. Layla was too ashamed and too guilty to try and make amends. She knew, or rather assumed that Taz would be too angry to empathise and forgive her. Layla wouldn’t even forgive herself for leaving her younger sister like that. There were too many unresolved issues to fix at that moment. And neither of them knew how to anyway.

Nothing was going to be resolved because Layla was about to make another awful decision that would haunt her later on. A much worse decision would be to leave the new-born baby on the pavement, behind a dustbin, in front of someone’s house, or in a drain, as other equally scared and clueless young mothers who weren’t ready for the job would do. This was a disheartening reality in South Africa. Every teenager wanted to be an adult without being prepared. Sadly, Layla had just contributed to the statistics.

The hour-old, chubby cheeked baby boy wouldn’t know who his real mother was or why he was given away to be adopted. He wouldn’t know the pain and regret behind the tears that fell on his face or the truth behind the lie he was about to live.

Layla vowed to return for her son, however long it took.

But the path she would use to do that would mean going against everything her father fought for.

It would mean that she wasn’t done making bad decisions.


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