While hydrologist Adam Swan is engaged in humanitarian efforts to bring water to a small, isolated village in the Congo, he is kidnapped by rebel thugs and thrown into a makeshift prison. He is left to die—or worse—if his ransom is not paid. In a surprising series of events, Adam escapes his brutal captors into an underground labyrinth where reality and sanity no longer rule.
Armed with a limited amount of magic which he does not understand, he survives by employing it boldly, recklessly, desperate to return to the village above, homesick for Minnesota and normal life with his wife and daughters.
Tested to the extreme limits of his endurance, Adam navigates the labyrinth with only the company of his past behavior, the baffling magic, and the seductive temptation to succumb to the mysterious and merciless gods of the underworld. The consequences of his actions, past present, and future, take him to the brink of death—and beyond.
A fun, fast, thrilling ride by veteran author Elizabeth Engstrom, inspired by Matthew Lowes’ Dungeon Solitaire: Labyrinth of Souls card game.
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Jolmy frequently spoke of the dark magic and its connection to the underworld. Adam listened with half an ear as Jolmy talked about the underworld gods.
“There is one big one. One big guy,” Jolmy said. “He is the king of the underworld.”
Adam kept working, cementing PVC pipe joints together.
He didn’t approve of that talk, didn’t believe in magic or underworld dark gods, and didn’t particularly want Jolmy and his family to be telling these tales to his girls.
“He like white meat,” Jolmy said, and then laughed. “He would eat you for a snack.” He cut another length of pipe, checked the plans laid out on a sheet of plywood on sawhorses, and measured it again, just to be sure.
“Superstition,” Adam countered.
“He has helpers. A queen and servants. Plenty servants to do his dirty work. They torment. Torment is what they do.” Jolmy stopped sawing and turned to look at Adam. “They rule the sun and the moon.”
“Now you know that’s not true.”
“Not this sun and moon. The underground has its own sun and moon. And stars. And Justice! Yes, oh yes, they have their own systems of justice. They would have such fun with you.”
Adam gave his best disapproving look.
Jolmy put his head back and laughed so hard he had to wipe his eyes. Then he went back to sawing pipe. “Yes, oh yes,” he said. “They would have such fun with you. You best stay above the ground.”
“I intend to.”
Elizabeth Engstrom is the author of fourteen books and has over 250 short stories, articles, and essays in print. She is a sought-after teacher and keynote speaker at writing conferences, conventions, and seminars around the world. She has a BA in Literature/Creative Writing, and an MA in Applied Theology, both from Marylhurst University. Her most recent nonfiction book is How to Write a Sizzling Sex Scene, and her most recent novel is Baggage Check, a thriller. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her fisherman-husband and their dog where she is on the board of directors for Wordcrafters in Eugene. She teaches the occasional writing class, puts her pen to use for social justice, and is always working on her next book.