Mask of Flies is my first work, rooted in literary horror. I have attached a passage from an integral point in the story where one of the characters discovers the Mask of Flies referenced in the tittle. The character, Angeni Kingbird is a Seneca (Native American) in her early twenties. The time frame is 1915, set in the wilderness (forest) surrounding Salamanca (a township of ingenious Seneca) in Western New York.
Angeni is on a pilgrimage for passage into the False Face Society, a highly esteemed group of spiritual healers that don carved masks to ward nefarious spirits. She travels deep into the forest to find her warding mask but finds something terrible instead.
At my wits end, I descended the hill, lost. And then found the basswood tree. It seemed a thousand feet tall. Uprooted tendrils jutted up from underneath its enormous trunk, like a den of starved serpents. The surrounding vegetation looked pathetic in comparison.
The air felt different there, damp and cool. Closer, I heard rushing water. Around the thick trunk, I found the great river cutting through the hills. I thought it was a dream, until I tasted the cool water. When I had my fill, I felt a rush of cold air behind me. I turned and saw an opening underneath the tree where two enormous roots split. An inaudible whisper came from within.
I walked inside the opening, into the tree from my dreams. Roots and caked mud hung down, forming a living ceiling. In the corner, a cocoon like shape appeared to be a malformed root, but closer I saw it had teeth: the skeletonized remains of a life lost. The corpse’s flesh resembled the old bark on the great tree. An old Seneca carving knife lay next to the skeleton. On the opposite side lay an unfinished wooden mask.
The mask’s detail was much rougher than the polished masks of the present society. Its face subtly hid in the basswood—the carver only had to chip slightly away at to bring its features to life. Its alien expression captured something terrible, something savage. The face only had an eyelet on the left side; the right was covered in petrified bark. The fangs were sharpened to a point, jutting outward in innumerable directions.
I'm looking for Angeni standing in front of the basswood tree. Or the Mask itself. I have attached some samples of Seneca masks.
Darkness is a large theme of the book; I guess that goes without saying in horror. I look forward to seeing what you come up with.