Sunday, November 12, 2017

Arlynda and Little Lost Leon

Arlynda is better now, but the last 5-6 weeks have been a lot of "fun."  For her liver specialist took her off of all of her diuretics because of her kidney functions starting to not look so good.  During the same time period, her liver started dumping more excess fluid into her abdomen than ever before.  Well, at least faster, which required her having to go for a [paracentesis] every two weeks instead of once a month.  The two issues combined to result in her weight bumping the 300-pound mark, which is way too much to allow her to stand on her feet for more than a few seconds unassisted.  It even became so bad that she could no longer make it the fifteen feet from her recliner, which she sleeps and spends virtually all of her time anymore, down the hall to the bathroom--even with her walker (using a wheelchair is impractical).

I have not been all that much help lately.  For I am barely able to get around on my own less than usual--let alone have enough strength left to let her lean on me for more than balance.

All of this has made getting her out and back in the house to go get her paracentesis treatments an exercise in pure terror.  I was able to get her out to the car without a whole lot of extra drama on October 27th, but getting her back up into the the house was another matter entirely.  For she made it up the one step up into the breezeway, but she could not make it all the way up the two steps from the breezeway into the house.  Oh, she made it onto the door frame, but she could not actually stand up on her feet all of the way.  When I went to let her down on the edge, she lost her balance and tumbled down onto the concrete floor of the breezeway.  She was not seriously hurt, but an ambulance crew had to be called to pick her up and get her to her recliner.  This is the fourth or fifth time they have had to come out, but it is the first time in well over a year.

They had taken 10 liters of excessive out of her while leaving at least 4-5 more because it being a new doctor.  It was recommended that she come back in a week, which was faster than either one of us wanted to contemplate.

Ah, but I had a plan to get her back into the house much easier the next time.  It required a come-along and nylon two straps that I purchased and received from Amazon at a very reasonable price and in-time.  We already had some steel-reinforced boards that had been used as portable bookshelves at where Arlynda had worked several years ago.  I was going to put a couple of them down to use as a ramp and winch her into the house in her wheelchair.  As with almost everything else I have went to do the last few years, setting up was a lot harder than I anticipated.  It took over three hours to get the come-along cable pulled all of the way out, and this is a tool that I am intimately familiar with from my days of building fence back before I started driving a truck.  I do not know if the problem was because of it being so cheap or my head just not working right, but I was beyond exhausted be the time I had the cable pulled out, the tow straps put in place and the ramp ready to be put down when we went to get back inside of the house.

What I had not planned for was it being nearly impossible to get her out to the car.  She barely had enough strength to get down the steps into the breezeway while hanging onto me, but she could not make it down the step from the breezeway to the concrete in front of our house.  I pushed her wheelchair as close as possible to the front door to the breezeway while she was hanging onto the door frame, but when she went to lower herself down into the wheelchair, she could only get her left cheek in.  After what seemed to be hours of her trying to push herself all of the way in the wheelchair and us begging our Heavenly Father for help, she made it well enough to get her pushed to the car.  Thankfully, she still had enough strength to push herself up out the wheelchair and get behind the wheel of the car.  I do not trust my eyesight enough to allow me to drive on the road.  I was able to get her into the hospital entrance for where they do paracentesises without a lot of trouble, and around two hours later, she came out without 12 liters of excess fluid, with 4-5 more left in her abdomen.

Have you ever felt fairly confident while feeling scared to death?  This is what I was going through on the way back to the house.  Arlynda suggested putting down one of the bricks I was going to use to brace the makeshift ramp from the breezeway into the house on the ground next to the one step up into the breezeway to make the steps not be so high.  This worked well, and I had her sitting in her wheelchair in the breezeway while I set up the ramp, tow straps and the come-along.  It was going to work, but I did not count on there being so much stretch to the tow straps, and this did not allow for enough travel from the come-along to get her all of the way into the house.  I was at the edge of being completely distraught when Arlynda suggested that I put down a brick next to the two steps up into the house like I had the step up into the breezeway and place a sturdy kitchen table chair with the back towards the doorway so that she could use the chair (with me sitting in it) to pull herself all of the way into the house.  I did as she instructed and while I was sitting there fighting hysterics, she was up into the house.

All of that went down last Wednesday (November 8th) and around an hour after we were home, he liver doctor's office called and told Arlynda that she could go back on a higher dose of one of her diuretics.  She had to go see another doctor to finalize the process to get her an electric wheelchair last Friday (November 10th) and that went as well as Wednesday was awful.  She had lost over 40 pounds and could even pick her feet up into the car unassisted!

No, she has not started practicing her line-dancing again, but she is definitely in better spirits.  So am I for the most part, but my energy level is lower than usual.  That and me starting to write on Little Lost Leon again has had me being mostly socially inaccessible the last couple of months.  I have been a little more active on Facebook because of my oldest daughter's husband being in and out of the hospital, but I have not been visiting any of your sites, which I really do miss.

The writing process with Little Lost Leon has been going slower than it did for the others.  I suppose it will even out to be about the same in the end, but instead of writing all of the book and do going back to make changes 4-5 times, I am concentrating on getting each paragraph right before moving on.  This has resulted in just completing the first chapter and about half of the second one so far.  I will include the first chapter here as a tease.

The book is destined to have a very happy ending, but be thou forewarned that most or it contains varying degrees of darkness.  The first chapter is exceedingly dark.  Therefore, if your mind is not in a good place right now, I highly recommend not proceeding further.

Little Lost Leon

Chapter 1

This is the story of Little Lost Leon, which is actually a somewhat misleading nickname. For it is true that he was very young and rather small for his age when people started calling him this, but Leon was never really lost in a geographical-sense. It was in an emotional-sense, however, an entirely different story. Therefore, we must start at the behinning of that story in order to properly present the full story of Little Lost Leon.

Alfred and Ruby were as close as a brother and sister could ever be. A more cynical soul would insist that they had to be so close to survive the torturous abuse regularly administered by their father, but they genuinely had a very deep affection for one another.

Their father's name was Manfred, and he did indeed have an exceedingly black heart. For he hid it well when it suited him, and he was not opposed to turning on the charm when bullying would not be as effective to accomplish his objective.

I suppose it is arguable that Manfred grew up in an environment that cultivated such despicable behavior. For his mother died while giving birth to him, and his father spent a great deal of his remaining years spoiling his only child.

Manfred's father certainly did not intend to raise a rotten son. It was just that he had been so looking forward to finally becoming a father, and it helped ease the excruciating pain he felt over losing his beloved wife to cater to the boy's every whim.

Manfred's father most definitely had the resources to do so. For he founded Shire and had made a small fortune supplying wooden barrels to distillers far and wide, which grew into a huge forune manufacturing wagons, stage coaches and fine carriages, as well as some of the finest furniture ever designed.

Manfred enjoyed the gifts showered upon him by his father, but what he truly lusted after was power. To hold the fate of someone's life in his hands held more value to him than all of the gold in the world, but he recognized that the great wealh at this disposal was a means to his end.

Manfred's first experience with how intoxicating power was to him occurred when the house servants scurried to meet his demands, and it quickly became a game to him to see just how much abuse they would take. Since they all truly loved his father, they took a lot.

Manfred's father was very endearing to all of his employees. Aside from paying them very well, he treated them all with great respect. For he humbly made requests instead of demanding for this or that be done, which made his employees most willing to go above and beyond the call of duty.

Manfred found his father's attitude thoroughly disgusting and counted the days to when he could take control of his father's empire. In the meantime, he focused his attention upon learning as much as he could about his father's business interests in order to better recognize opportunities ripe fpr exploitation. He also studied how other titans of industry achieved and held their power. He was especially impressed with slave-holders and those who treated their poorly-paid workers like slaves.

As it came to pass, Manfred did not have to bide his time nearly as long as he had calculated. For while out on the family lake in a boat fishing with his father, his father fell overboard and drowned.

No, Manfred had nothing to do with it. For it truly was an accident, but Manfred could have been prosecuted for at least depraved indifference. For all it would have taken to save his father from drowning was postioning the boat where Manfred could pull him to the side and paddle back to shore, which he was perfectly capable of doing. Whereas, Manfred just sat there in the boat and watched his father floundering in the water until his head sank below the surface for the last time. Ah, but there were no independent witnessess to come forward, and Manfred was not inclined to feel any guilt—let alone enough to compel a confession.

In fact, Manfred found it hilarious that his father had a hand in his own demise—albeit indirectly. For the beer his father was drinking too much of in celebration of his son's eighteenth birthday had been aged in a Shire barrel and hauled in a Shire wagon. Furthermore, the revelry led to the impromptu midnight fishing excursion upon the lake formed from damming a creek running through Rainbow's End, which was the name his father gave to the seculded estate he resided at with his family located around a mile away from the Shire complex.

Several of his father's close friends and business associates still demanded a thorough investigation be conducted, but the authorites shied away. For they did not want to risk losing any of the substantial amount of tax revenue they had been collecting from his father and wanted to contiune to collect from Manfred.

To say that Manfred was ecstatic over what he considered to be his good luck would be quite an understatement. For he had inherited more money than most people could ever spend in a lifetime, as well as hundreds of employees and their dependents to toy with like a cat does with a mouse.

Although, Manfred soon tired of treating his emplyees like slaves. For it was simply too easy to him, and he hungered for much more challenging game to savor.

No, that is not meant to be taken literally. For Manfred had no taste for cannibalism. Although, the initiation rite into the underground cabal he was a member of involved taking a bite of the heart of a potential enemy he had just cut out while the person was still alive.

Manfred had chosen the seven year-old son of one of his father's old business rivals, who was actually more of a friend than a rival. Manfred would have much preferred totally enslaving the boy's mind, body and soul, but he recognized that some rules were worth observing.  For the underground cabal promised to be an excellent source of information not widely distributed.

The cabal was indeed underground in every sense of the word. For gatherings were held four times a year in a cave with a hidden entrance and tunnels dug as possible escape routes. Membership was by invitation only, and only those greatly interested in things polite society found intolerable were invited.

During one of the gatherings, he learned about female circumcision. Manfred could see where it could have its advantages, but the thought of still being able to sexually arouse a woman after thoroughly brutalizing her in other ways aroused him even more.

After agonizing over every detail for months, which was much more a labor of love than a burden to him, Manfred was finally ready to start implementing his master plan in earnest. The first few steps could be completed in short order, and he looked forward to spending the rest of his life basking in the glory of his accomplishments.

The first step was the secret purchase of a very rough piece of land around five miles away from Rainbow's End and the Shire complex to prevent prying eyes from seeing too much. Manfred accomplished this by promising a long-time employee that he would be given clear title to the land after he completed the establishment of a Shire branch overseas, which should not take konger than five years. The man was then given the money to make the purchase in his own name, with a rider attached stipulating the reassignment of the title to Manfred if the man did not complete his assignment.

As soon as the paperwork was filed, Manfred killed the man and dismembered the body. He next dissolved the flesh in a vat of lye, ran the bones through a hammermill and scattered the remains over a sizable part of his newly-acquired property.

It should not be discounted that an evil genius is still a genius, and Manfred was indeed an evil genius. For he chose to use lye to dissolve the body parts instead of sulfuric acid because he could produce the lye himself without attracting any unwelcome attention. Whereas, a large enough purchase of sulfuric acid would undoubtedly attract a lot of unwelcome attention. Since too much bone would still remain, he pulverized them in a common piece of machinery generally used to process large grains, like dried corn.

Oh, but the memories of others could not be so easily disposed of. Therefore, Manfred chose someone who did not have any immediate family left in the area in order to avoid the person being missed to the extent of too many questions being asked, which would undoubtedly lead to a hunt for him. Specifying an extended stay far away bolstered this precaution.

At the end of a trail off of the main road was an abandoned homestead with some outbuildings of various sizes that was perfect for what Manfred wanted to accomplish. For the homestead was situated where one had to really want to go, and it would not take much to get ready.

Signs were posted warning uninvited visitors to proceed at their own peril along the trail, which was barely wide enough to accommodate a wagon. There was once a new tax assessor who ignored the warning. For he was focused upon assessing if enough property tax was being collected. He was never heard from again, and no formal investigation was conducted after Manfred strongly voiced his opinion against one. Yes, some were rather curious about why he would, but they thought better of pursuing the matter.

The next step was finding a fair maiden suitable for conditioning. Manfred stumbled some with this step. For the first one he chose proved more willing to die than conform to his will. Despite his bitter disappointment, Manfred was all to happy to oblige and dispose of the body in his usual way. Then the same thing happened again...and again...and again.

What is widely misunderstood is that one of the most significant aspects to true genius is the ability to recognize and correct incorrect thinking in spite of conventional wisdom. Consistent with this fact, it was becoming clearly obvious to Manfred that he needed to adjust his search parameters.

Manfred had been sifting the dregs of society in a town around fifty miles away. He met the first two women in different bars down by the docks, and the next two walking the streets outside of different bars in a different part of town. His thinking was that such women would consider it very fortunate to be rescued from a life so full of despair and would be eager to do anything to avoid being sent back. The trouble was that what Manfred started subjecting them to more and more of was the proverbial last straw that broke the back of their will to live.

Manfred considered it pure serendipity that he wandered upon a traveling tent revival one day. For standing outside of the entrance inviting people in to hear the Good News was a young woman of exceptional grace and charm by the name of Amelia.

Manfred entered the large tent and sat in the back. He frequently glanced over his shoulder to look at Amelia during the sermon, and he caught her looking back at him with a smile on her face every time. The smile grew wider as the evening progressed.

After the sermon was over, Manfred asked Amelia to come sit with him and talk. They talked for hours, and the more he listened to her talk about her faith, the more he realized the error of his ways. Well, at least in one respect.

You see, Manfred had never had any use for religion of any sort. Of course, it is arguable that he was actually very religious. For Manfred considered himself to be a devout Darwinist and strict adherent to the law of the jungle, but despite how tasty Amelia looked to him at first sight, he had never considered just how much religion could enhance the flavor of his prey.

Manfred knew that he needed to learn as much possible about something in order to fully exploit it, and Amelia was proving to be an excellent teacher of her Christianity. By the end of that first encounter, Manfred had fallen deeply in love. Not necessarily with Amelia, but most definitely with her beliefs and how well they blended with his original recipe. A Christian wife being subject to her husband and forbidden from committing suicide made his mouth water.

Manfred was having to do a lot of things differently in order to securely ensnare Amelia. For he only had to talk for an hour or so to convince the others to willingly come with him. Whereas, just the first encounter with Amelia had lasted around twelve hours, and it would take several more hours to get to the next step.

The next step was to formally meet and receive the blessing of Amelia's parents. Her father was the primary evangelist of the traveling tent revival, and her mother led the choir. They had been away on a short missionary trip to a more remote region nearby when Manfred first met Amelia, but they were back by the end of the week.

Amelia's parents were concerned about Manfred being almost twice their daughter's age. For she was still in her teens, but they could see how happy he made her.

Amelia's parents were even more concerned about Manfred claiming to have been just called as a missionary to Africa, which was to begin as soon as the reception after the wedding ceremony was over. For he was just a newborn from a Christian perspective, and they believed only those very mature in their faith should undertake such a challenge.

Manfred put their minds at ease by boldly proclaiming, "If the Lord is with him and Amelia, no one can stand against them, and unless they fall into unrepentant sin, surely the Lord will be with them always." He poured it on even thicker by telling them, "I was a sinner beyond measure when I first attended your tent revival, but your daughter led me out of the darkness and into the Light. Now, if she is able to soothe the savage soul of someone such as I was, who can she not reach?" The extravagant wedding Amelia had dreamed of since she was a little girl was held three months later.

Amelia could not remember a time when she was happier as she sat next to her newlywed husband driving a wagon to pick up some supplies to take on their African missionary trip. It actually made her feel a little guilty. For feeling the love of God in her heart should make her the happiest, but she was fairly sure He understood. After all, she would have never met and married Manfred if He had not brought them together.

Manfred was not feeling too bad, himself. For Heaven's Gate was just a few more miles away, and he was quite confident that Amelia would satisfy all of his despicable desires.

Calling his place with the abandoned homestead Heaven's Gate was an inside joke to Manfred. For he absolutely rejected the notion of Heaven and Hell actually existing as presented by religious doctrine, but he did like the idea of Heaven and Hell being what one made them. To further connect the dots, his Heaven was Hell to most, and this tickled his fancy in a very twisted sort of way.

The beatings began as soon as Manfred gently carried Amelia over the threshold of the cabin and roughly threw her down on the floor of the front room. I will not go into much detail. For the horrors Amelia was subjected to should remain unspeakable, but I can reveal that Manfred did back off some when it became obvious that she was with child.

What did not ease was the chores Amelia had to perform each day. They included preparing meals with the foodstuffs Manfred would bring from the storehouses at Rainbow's End. He usually made the trip once a week and was careful not to attract any unwelcome attention. Since the employees at Rainbow's End would dive for cover whenever they saw him coming and stay hid until he demanded of them to present themselves, he could usually come and go without being approached. In regards to being spied on, his employees had been taught the very hard way that curiosity kills more than cats.

Another one of Amelia's chores was cleaning the house, which was mostly after herself. For one of Manfred's most effective conditioning tools was a narrow leather strap that would draw blood after a few well-placed blows, and this blood would splatter on the walls and floor. It would sometimes take hours of scrubbing with a lye solution to remove it all.

Of course, the blood would stain the clothes of both, and Amelia was required to wash them completely clean. She would not be allowed to wear clothes for a week when she failed to remove all of the stains.

Yes, Manfred was indeed diabolical to the bone. For even as bad as the physical abuse was, the mental/spiritual abuse was even worse on Amelia by him using her primary source of strength against her.

Manfred had become quite versed on the content of the Bible before they were married. Now that they were married, he would force Amelia to read out loud certain passages emphasizing how nothing can happen unless the Lord God Almighty wanted it to, along with passages about it being the righteous duty of a good Christian wife to always be subservient unto her husband.

When Manfred would sarcastically ask if there was anything she would like to refute about what she had just read, Amlia would remain silent. This had more to do with her simply not having anything to say in rebuttal than being too afraid to speak up.

Manfred could hardly contain his delight. For Amelia's faith had clearly failed her, but even with her spirit appearing to be completely broken, she remained alive and available for his good pleasure.

Manfred had told Amelia early on that he would kill her and the baby if she failed to provide him with a healthy son. Amelia evidently was not as completely broken as she appeared to be. For she secretly cherished the possibility of their early demise at his hands.

As the time drew nigh, Manfred hired a midwife to take care of any potential complications with the birth. She was an older woman with no remaining family in the area, who had been hired through a third party to keep Manfred's involvement secret. He killed her and disposed of the body in his usual way after her work was done.

Amelia gave birth to a very healthy boy by the name of Alfred. Manfred had already named him beforehand, and it was another inside joke to him. For he had no doubt about being able to completely possess the boy's mind, body and soul like he had his mother, but he did not want to make it too obvious to the rest of the world. Well, at least not yet. Oh, if you do not get it, Alfred was meant to stand for Allfred.

The birth of Alfred was rather bittersweet to Amelia. For his smile shined like a beacon in a world so full of darkness, but she had been dreaming of this awful existence coming to an end by now.

Amealia even seriously considered killing Alfred and herself, but she believed that this would surely condemn her to an eternity in the real Hell. Nonetheless, she did take some comfort in thinking that there was no way it could be worse than what she was enduring from Manfred.

Amelia hoped that it would not be as bad for Alfred, and it was not—at least not directly. For the older he became, the more his mother's beatings hurt him.

No, it did not take long for Alfred to learn that it would just make matters worse for them both to try to openly defend his mother against his father's assaults. Oh, Manfred first considered it high entertainment to see this toddler trying to shield his mother from receiving anymore blows from the strap, but it stopped being so funny when Alfred managed to burn his father's leg with a hot poker from the fireplace. Manfred almost killed both Alfred and Amelia in a blind rage.

Alfred's conditioning began in earnest as soon as he recovered enough from his first severe beating. During many of the sessions, Manfred would make Amelia chant, "Spare the rod, spoil the child."

Alfred soon proved to be of enormous help to his mother with doing her chores. This freed up some time for Amelia to start secretly teaching him as much as she knew about reading, writing and basic arithmetic.

Alfred especially loved caring for the matched set of Shire draft horses his father used to pull his wagon. He would sneak apples out to them, and they would start whinying and prancing about in their stalls as soon as Alfred entered the barn.

Amelia had three miscarriages after giving birth to Alfred. She hoped to never deliver another child, but Manfred eased off enough on her beatings to allow for a full term to be completed.

Manfred did not hire a midwife this time, and he was gone after more supplies when Amelia gave birth. A crashing wave of terror engulfed her when she saw her newborn daughter.

Amelia did not know what to do. She truly believed that Manfred would make good on his threat to kill her and the baby girl, which was not such a bad thought. For this would finally put an end to her torture, and stop it before it really began for her daughter. Nonetheless, she could not bear the thought of what would probably happen to her beloved Alfred after his father was left with only him to focus upon. Alfred had been doing a good job of pretending to be fairly well conditioned, but Amelia was afraid that it would not be enough to sufficiently appease his father.

Amelia's head was spinning too much to fully collect her thoughts for what seemed to her to be a long, long time. She was finally able to instruct Alfred to take his little sister out to the barn and hide her in the pile of straw used as fresh bedding for the horses. She managed a little smile in recognition of the irony to having her daughter hid in a pile of straw and her birth being the proverbial last straw that would break the back of her husband's self-control, and she hoped that he would kill her and both of their children in the blind rage that would surely ensue.

Manfred charged into the cabin carrying his daughter by her right leg and flung her across the room toward the fireplace. Alfred was able to catch his little sister before she landed in the fire, but he could only watch in horror as his father drug his mother out of the cabin by her hair. He did not hear his mother utter a sound, and he never saw her again. Alfred was not yet five years-old.

Manfred went back into the cabin fully intending to put the baby girl out of his misery, but he stopped short when he saw how tenderly Alfred was holding his little sister. For Manfred held out hope that Alfred could be molded into what he considered to be the perfect son with more conditioning, and his little sister looked like the leverage to use against any resistance the boy might harbor.

Both of the horses used to pull the wagon were mares, and one had just had a foal. So, there was milk with colostrum for the baby.

Alfred was not taught about such by their mother. He just observed how much the foal craved the milk and speculated that it must contain essential nutrients, which might be also good for his little sister. She thrived on it, along with more typical food items Alfred mashed to make it easier for her to ingest and digest.

Alfred was even more of a genius than their father. For he could master something after watching it being done once. Moreover, he could make adjustments to the process that would result in improvements most had never thought of.

In sharp contrast to their father, Alfred was highly sensitive to the needs and wants of others, and he would always strive to meet them when possible. He never condemned another for their shortcomings, and it was completely against his nature to seek to force others to do things against their will.

Unfortunately, their father recognized all of that in his son and sought to take full advantage of it. This created a lot of conflict within Alfred, and there was many a night when he cried himself to sleep.

Alfred's little sister had been born with fairly long red hair covering her head, as well as a smile bright enough to lighten even the darkest of moods. Therefore, Alfred concluded that Ruby was the perfect name for her—even though it would undoubtedly leave a hint of bittersweet upon his tongue every time he spoke it. For it would be in reference to a gold necklace studded with rubies that seemed to glow like embers in a fire pit that their mother had once coveted.

The full story to the necklace was told to Alfred by their mother during a lesson about the seven deadly sins listed in the Bible. She had seen it around the lovely neck of a lady riding in a carriage fit for a princess that was being driven past the traveling tent revival their mother's parents were in charge of. The lady in the carriage had been looking at their mother standing outside of the entrance to the tent, and had smiled sweetly when she saw their mother looking back at her. Their mother immediately felt awful for wanting something another had been given.

Their father never acknowledged the name his son had given his daughter. He just called her girl. Alfred and Ruby both wished their father would never acknoledgedge either one of their existences at all.

Manfred knew just how far to take the beatings without doing any permanent physical damage, but the blood aways flowed down the back of their legs before they were over. Sometimes he beat them just for his own good pleasure. Needless to say, the hideous scars left on their souls were permaanent.

As Ruby grew older, Alfred taught her how to cook and clean well enough to appease their father when it was possible. Alfred also secretly taught her how to read, write and count like their mother had done for him.

Alfred was worried that Ruby might slip up and make their father aware of their very rudimentary education. For Manfred wanted his children to be completely dependent upon him for everything, and being educated might encourage them to think that they could function on their own. Fortunately, Ruby always played as dumb around their father as her big brother did.

It was not always an act. For Ruby was generally as dim-witted as Alfred was bright, but her heart was every bit as good as his.

The days passed like sorghum molasses flowed during cold weather, and both children dreamed of leaving their hellish existences far behind. Alfred had been quite confident for some time that he could easily make good on his own escape. For years of decadent living had taken a great toll upon their father's overall health, but he feared that Ruby was too frail. So, he would wait until she was strong enough.

By the time Ruby reached ten years of age, she was unwilling to wait much longer. For she had noticed a certain look becoming more and more prnounced in their father's eye when he watched her doing chores around the house. She did not understand just exactly what this could mean, but she had a very omnious feeling growing in the pit of her stomach.

One of the wisest things Alfred had done up to that point was keep his brilliance obscured from their father's sight. For Alfred did not want to be perceived as threat to his master plan, but it sometimes felt so good to push their father past the boundaries of his comfort zone. Besides, the beatings were far less severe when he was too tired to swing his favorite leather strap or whatever he could get his hands on at the time with the usual amount of force and repetition. This was one of those times.

Ruby recognized that it was probably now or never while watching their father chase after Alfred with a wooden barrel stave in his hand and blood in his eye. For at the point where Alfred usually doubled back toward the house to keep their father's attention focused upon him and spare her from being too much on the receiving end of his wrath, Alfred kept going away from the house.

When they were out of sight, Ruby took off as fast as she could run down the trail that led from the cabin to the main road. She did not know this because neither her or her brother had been allowed to travel down the trail, but it went in the opposite direction of where Alfred was heading with their father not far behind.

Ruby made it out to the main road and turned downhill toward the south. She desperately wanted to keep going, but her spindly legs were telling her that they would not go much farther without some rest. She spotted a thick patch of tall grass beside the road and decided to hide in it for a little while.

Riding upon a dark wave of physical and emotional exhaustion washing over Ruby was the thought that surely her beloved brother did not have much longer to live if he did not make good on his own escape. She started to visibly shake as the tears flowed down her cheeks.

Ruby was tired to the point of her bones aching, but she fought with all of her remaining strength to stay awake. For she so wanted to see her big brother coming down the road to find her. Weariness won the battle, though.

It so happened that Alfred did not have to make good on his own escape. For while their father was chasing him, their father started gasping heavily for breath. As their father turned around to head back to the house, he grabbed at his chest and collapsed in a heap.

Alfred had already stopped running away, but he remained where he was at for quite some time while keeping a wary eye upon their father, who lay motionless where he had fell. It looked like he was not breathing to Alfred, but he was deathly afraid their father was merely pretending to be dead so he could grab Alfred when he came close enough.

Alfred finally started to approach their father with great caution, and after poking him really hard with the barrel stave, Alfred could see that there was no trick being played. Their father was indeed dead.

Alfred wanted to immediately rush back to the cabin to tell Ruby the good news, but it was hard for him to wrap his head around the truth being that the nightmare might be finally over. He had to make sure before heading back to the house to tell Ruby.

Alfred struggled with his dilemma for a few moments and decided to drag their father's lifeless body over to a low place in the ground nearby. He then piled rocks over the body until there was a sizable mound. No, their father was not going to be able to crawl out from his makeshift grave. Alfred planned on coming back to add even larger stones to the pile just to be more securely on the safe side, but he now needed to go tell Ruby that they were finally free.

Ruby awoke to the loud sound of wooden wagon wheels creaking. It also felt like she was being jostled some in the back of a moving wagon, but she could not see for sure because her eyelids were simply too heavy to raise. Just before drifting back into a deep sleep, a smile crossed her face while thinking that Alfred must of escaped and driven their father's wagon to pick her up. For surely she would have been writhing in agony by then if he had not.

Alfred made it back to the cabin to find Ruby not there. He next searched the barn and the rest of the outbuildings to no avail.

Alfred finally spotted her footprints in the dust on the trail heading away from the cabin, and he tracked her to where she had lain in the tall grass. This is where she appeared to disappear. There were some adult boot-prints coming from where it looked like a wagon had recently passed, and the boot-prints were a little deeper on the way back to the road from the patch of tall grass. Alfred could only hope that whoever had came upon Ruby had good intentions as he followed the wagon tracks toward what he would soon discover as being more than he could have ever imagined.

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