The Deep South, 1955. Dr Jim Tucker (Doc) is collecting stories for his ‘living history’ project. When he interviews Nettie Hansum – a hundred and eight year-old African American and sole remaining inhabitant of the Back-Swamp Road – she tells him a tale of murder, revenge and supernatural terror so fantastic it can’t be true. Or can it?
As Nettie spins her story – a story which harks back to the years immediately after the Civil War, when Nettie was young – Doc hears how Nettie’s husband is lynched for a murder he didn’t commit. When heart-break turns to rage for vengeance, Nettie seeks the help of Ma Screech, an old voodoo witch who lives far out in the swamp. Using her dark arts, Ma Screech summons the Cunjah Man – a walking abomination with snakes sliding around in his bones – and unleashes him on Ned’s killers who, one by one begin to die horrific deaths. Aware of the hex, sick and dying from it, one of the condemned men visits Nettie with a tale of his own to tell – the truth about the murder which cost the innocent Ned his life – and Nettie is presented with a terrible choice and forced to make a decision which will echo down the decades.
Doc remains sceptical. Can such things really be? And does the Cunjah Man linger yet in the swamp-lands, waiting to be called once more from the shadows? This night will tell. If seeing is believing, Doc is about to find out a whole lot more about history and the dark underbelly of the old south than he ever dreamed possible. Except this dream will be a nightmare.
‘Ma Screech & The Cunjah Man’ is a historical horror tale of the occult and supernatural with a strong Southern Gothic flavour. Both moving and terrifying, it is propelled by Nettie’s dialogue toward an ending with a classic horror twist. Steeped in a humid, darkly-charged atmosphere, with a strong plot and memorable characters, this one-hour read is horror-writing for readers who enjoy the disturbing power of a well-constructed story with a traditional feel – a story which haunts and lingers.