Chapter 9.21 – Sunset

Moira wakes from her nap, then breathes in a deep dose of invigorating, springtime air being offered to her by the French countryside villa she now calls home.
 chap9-21a
Gerard had taken Louis fishing, and left little Emilie behind, leveraging the pretense of mother and daughter enjoying a nap together. She smiles knowing what her boys really wanted, was time for fishing without an excitable, little toddler scaring away the day’s catch.
 chap9-21b
She stands and looks down over the slightly convex field to the lake, where she spots them, just in time to see Louis reel in and hold up his prize and receive proud praise from his approving father.
 chap9-21c
Moira smiles again and quietly admires her own perfect catch.
 chap9-21f
Life has changed for Moira since becoming madame Moira du Pont. It has been a blessing in more ways than she can count. After having suffered the loss of everything she had ever known, and gaining the unenviable understanding that most of it had been an elaborate deception, there is no telling what she may have done without the overt kindness Gerard had shown her.
 chap9-21p
At the time of their meeting, the only thing she had remaining was her vulnerable and susceptible state of mind. Malachi was dead. And poor Finn, a sim who had seen too much suffering, had gone to rest in his rocking chair during her absence. And as difficult as it was for her to lose those two, it was the affront of learning she had been manipulated and deceived for much of her life, that had left her questioning even the most basic truths. She had left Finn that day in search of answers. But by the end of it, all she had to show for her efforts was a broken heart and a brand new burning question. Why was she still alone?
chap9-21m
Hendrake, the creature responsible for all of this, had toiled for eons in an effort to learn the secrets of the algorithm. He’d slaughtered an entire race of beings like herself to learn it. But the beast had nothing to show for the scourge of merciless killing, corruption, and deceit it had perpetrated over the span of its vile existence. Then, under the bloated shadow of so much suffering, it had nearly managed to trick a silly girl into handing it over to him freely. The diary where she inscribed her insights, was the prize Hendrake had hoped to secure. Ironically, it was also a critical component responsible for bringing Adam and Kacey together.
 chap9-21n
Logic would seem to dictate that any deviation from the formula that had led to Adam and Kacey finally meeting, would create a scenario wherein that meeting would never occur. Clearly, this is not the case. The same diary that had played such a pivotal role in bringing them together will never be found by David Barimen in the library. Realizing the danger it posed, Moira had burned it to ashes. And the ashes, she had burned to dust. By destroying it, she also destroyed the only recorded reference of the algorithm. And likewise, by uprooting her little contraption and using it to slay Hendrake, she had also changed the course of history in a way she is incapable of comprehending.
 chap9-21o
Though it may seem impossible, both Kacey and Adam were brought into this reality as a result of the actions of sims, who, by her estimation, will never be born. Yet, she is here and she exists. But why?
 chap9-21d
A tugging at her skirt brings her back into the present. And she revels in the feeling of pure joy that accompanies nurturing the children she bore; and loving, with indescribable intensity, the man who fathered them.
 chap9-21e
After hugging Emilie then setting her down to play, Moira’s mind wonders back to the morning when she had first seen her amour de sa vie. Having dispatched Hendrake, she fled the cavern to find Finn, and tell him about Malachi. That’s when Gerard literally appeared from out of thin air, landing in a heap at her feet.  The timing couldn’t have been more perfect.
 chap9-21t
She instantly sensed an inexplicable connection with him. He was there for her when she found Finn’s lifeless body. He consoled her through the aftermath and helped her move past the pain of witnessing the manner of Malachi’s tragic ending. Without hesitation, Gerard worked with her to bury the two sims that had functionally served as her stewards in the absence of having her natural mother and father.
 chap9-21u
Gerard’s vocation as clergyman came as a surprise to Moira. She’d learned of this when he held an impromptu funeral service for Finn and Malachi. And though it was somewhat unexpected, it provided a great deal of context into Gerard’s outpouring of generosity and empathy.
 chap9-21v
Moira and Gerard became acquainted very quickly. It came as no surprise that, after the matter of just a few weeks, they had formed a nearly insuperable bond. It was during the course of this magical and beautiful courtship that he confided in her, his innermost personal thoughts.
 chap9-21r
He and a friend, whom he had referred to only as “Doc”, had been coerced into helping Kacey fix something she had broken. Gerard became separated from them shortly after stepping into a maelstrom; a tempest so fantastic, that it defied description. Being a simple man of the cloth, he did not understand any of it. Kacey, however, did seem to possess some keen understanding and insight into the situation.
 chap9-21q
The evening before the maelstrom, Kacey had revealed her true nature to him. The motivation for doing so, she claimed, was to thank him for helping her find her faith; simply by living his. Through this awesome display of trust, she was able to surface the lustful desire for intimate relations with other men he had fought to resist his entire life. And by experiencing the light of perfect love, those salacious cravings no longer seemed insurmountable. She stayed with him that night as he wept, both with joy and with pain, for the new source of strength she had uncovered inside him.
 chap9-21w
Moira smiles, remembering how she revealed her own angelic nature to him the night Louis was conceived.
 chap9-21z
So much has happened since then. Most importantly, she fell in love with Gerard. Shortly after moving here from Sunset Valley, he became Pastor for the small church nestled into their countryside village. The Sunday services are always full and Gerard’s message never dulls. She has come to accept the reality that she may never fully understand what happened to Kacey and Adam. The artifact that Gerard brought with him was the last link to them. But it too is gone, having turned to dust during the journey to France.
 chap9-21y
Moira waves and Emilie squeals excitedly as Gerard and Louis walk together up the path from the river to the villa. She laughs with Gerard, listening to Emilie scolding Louis for going off to fish while she was napping. Moira uses the distraction to gently kiss her husband. She finds his dark eyes with her own brilliant, blue gaze then whispers musically into his ear, Je suis enceinte, mon amour.
 chap9-21x
His smile is warm, happy, and genuine. He hugs her ferociously, then kisses her with the same sentiment. Then, after collecting the children, the du Pont family retreats into their villa, just as evening begins its watch over the French countryside.
 chap9-21h
Standing by the window, Moira welcomes a kiss from the sun’s last rays on her cheeks, before it disappears behind the rolling hills. She smiles before drawing the curtains. There is no more perfect place for her to be, and there is no more perfect man for her to be with.
 chap9-21g
Just as the sun’s setting foreshadows the start of a new day; this, by no means, is the end of her story. She prefers to think of it as the interlude before a new dawn. And what could possibly be a sweeter and more lovely way of honoring a new dawn, than by dressing it with these proud words,
 chap9-21i
“The du Pont Legacy”
 chap9-21j
…they have a rather fetching sound to them, wouldn’t you agree?
 chap9-21k
chap5rule
 chap9-21l
Some butterflies will dismiss it as ludicrous and irrational. But the ones that trust in faith and make the journey, become a part of something wondrous and beautiful. – Gerard du Pont (Chapter 6.12 – Butterflies)
Advertisements

Chapter 9.20 – Gold

Moira sprints away from the small cabin as her head swirls with confused images and conflicting emotions.
 chap9-20k
The flashes of her mother, pregnant and heavy with an unborn child (her brother), and of her father returning home from work, have become indelibly etched onto her mind’s eye. Why had these things been repressed, while other things came to her so clearly? The answer, she believes, lies within the cave where Malachi has spent too many years of his life speculating (unsuccessfully) for precious metals.
 chap9-20i
She approaches the cave entrance cautiously, weary of the complete silence within its dark interior. It occurs to her, that this is the same place where David had nearly been killed by Reid, and where Kacey had been hidden as an infant. Immediately upon crossing the wooden frame marking the cave’s entrance, she is met by an onslaught of hatred, jealousy, greed, lust, and wantonness. Like weapons, they are wielded against her with merciless force.
 chap9-20a
Hendrake approaches a stunned Moira; his naked, marvelous, and statuesque form beckoning her to release herself to him. No words are necessary for her to understand his invitation. She will know pleasure unlike any other has ever known pleasure, and she will indulge like no other being has ever indulged. No limits, no rules, no inhibitions. Just simple, unrestrained, and eternal hedonism. He reaches out his hand, but says nothing. It is an invitation to end the hunt and join with him.
 chap9-20c
Hendrake’s beguile is masterful. Moira, however, is no simple, silly, little girl to be easily swayed by flesh and bones. Out of the corner of her eye, she sees a shadow cast on a nearby wall. The shadow belongs to a man hanging by his neck inside an adjoining cavern. His lifeless corpse is swaying silently before the light shed by a bright, unseen candle. Though she can see only a silhouette,  she knows immediately that it is Malachi.
 chap9-20d
Moira digs deep to resist the arousal Hendrake has attempted to provoke, and manages to douse the lustful desires aching to be acted upon. She sets her jaw and looks squarely into Hendrake’s sinister eyes. Having broken his grip on her, she now sees Hendrake’s true form. He is not an impressive monster, nor is he a statuesque demigod. He is nothing more than a snake; sleek and vile, and dripping noxious venom from its vicious maw.
 chap9-20b
She is not afraid, nor does she feels any grief for Malachi. He had been tormented (likely for many years) and nearly driven mad, by Hendrake’s evil influence. She prays for Malachi, asking that he be reunited with is lost family and be absolved of his missteps in life. She regards Hendrake with a quirky half-smile. Her confidence restored, she observes that Hendrake has not only failed to tempt her with his wicked interpretation of paradise, but with Malachi’s death, he has also lost his primary foothold in this place and time. It is a place and time where he does not belong.  And as a result, he has left himself exposed and dangerously vulnerable.
 chap9-20e
Hendrake, nearly hemorrhaging with fury, spits his defiance toward Moira. With boastful narcissism, the creature claims victory nonetheless, warning that her destruction is an eventuality. It will only be a matter of time before he builds influence and power. His twisted, taunting laugh causes her some hesitation, as he announces that his path to ascension has already been put into motion. And as his power grows, hers will wane.
 chap9-20j
Moira’s mind races. In his arrogance, Hendrake had just given her the answer to everything. She shakes her head slowly in disbelief. The algorithm… and the repressed memories …the anxiety of wanting to know her parents. They’ve all been temptations coaxed out of her by the master of lies. But to what end? There has been plenty of opportunity; why hasn’t he just killed her?
It will only be a matter of time… his path to ascension has already been put into motion…
 chap9-20h
Moira squeals with a burst of sudden excitement, having made the realization that her parents are safe. She affords herself a small measure of pride and hyperactively offers the serpent a portion of her understanding that pertains directly to it. Adam and Kacey HAD escaped that night. And they now reside in a time and place neither of them can reach… Nowhere. Hendrake needs Moria, or more specifically, the algorithm. Without Moira, Kacey and Adam are lost to him.
 chap9-20l
Shielding her eyes from Malachi’s hanging corpse, Moira rushes out toward the deep cavern where she had let the little contraption begin it’s work solving the algorithm. Hendrake, desperate but powerless, commands her to stop. He attempts again to beguile her, suggesting that stopping the algorithm may seal off the only means between here and Nowhere. She may never meet her parents.
 chap9-20f
The tiny ball, having completed only a minuscule fraction of the algorithm, halts obediently upon her approach. She smiles and picks it up from the floor. Immediately, the glowing symbols it has etched onto the floor disappear; erased from existence. If a snake where able to scream in rage, Hendrake would have done so.
 chap9-20g
Holding the brightly glowing ball in the open palm of her hand, she watches as powerful, feathered wings unfold from it’s surface. A beaked head and tail feathers emerge from within it’s interior. Screeching victoriously, the bird of prey leaps away from Moira and deftly snatches Hendrake from the ground with its deadly talons. It flies off, screaming hungrily, then disappears into the blackness of the cavern’s bowels to feast on its catch.
 chap5rule
 chap9-20m
A soft, cool breeze and the sweet scent of lilac and periwinkles greets Gerard as he regains his lost wits. He opens his eyes for the first time after having squeezed them shut, when Kacey let go of him inside the maelstrom. Her amazing artifact, the strange, glowing hunk of wood she had taken from Khaliq, had fallen away with him. It lays beside him now, softly humming and pulsing a weak bluish-green.
 chap9-20n
As his eyes focus, and his head and gut both adjust to solid ground, he is quite suddenly aware that he is not alone. At first, he is worried that something had happened to Kacey; and that Doc had also fallen into the chaos. But as his vision clears, it becomes quite obvious that his mysterious companion is most definitely not Doc. Rather, it is a young woman, well into her teens, who is now standing and regarding him curiously.
 chap9-20o
He is immediately stricken by her astonishing, blue eyes and the most beautiful hair he had ever seen. It is shimmering and lustrous; nearly metallic, as though it had been spun from the purest gold…

Chapter 9.19 – Marshal

From the diary of Moira McAllister
I write this in the earliest hours of daylight, having woken up from another restless sleep.
 chap9-19g
All I think about now is the algorithm, which stubbornly refuses to be silent in my head. At first, I assumed it had originated from deep within my own mind, and was attempting to emerge through my subconscious and into the forefront of my thoughts. But recently, I’ve come to suspect otherwise. Just as my parents were physical expressions of the intangible concept of Love; this algorithm …this equation… it may be alive. Do I possess some manner of latent empathy through which am being essayed? It is communicating with me, but I don’t understand what it wants. It is impossible to ignore. But how do I begin to solve the unsolvable?
 chap9-19j
Employing skills I still do not fully understand, I have succeeded in assembling a wee, little contraption to assist me in this endeavor. I dare not claim any credit for creating such a thing. While necessary, my role in bringing about its existence was tiny. Like a farmer does for his crop, I provided the conditions necessary for the thing to thrive. More catalyst than creator; more paint than artist. It hardly matters now, as I have released the little wonder to do its work in solving the algorithm.
 chap9-19i
For now, I feel good about the accomplishment. Yet, there is still some part of me that fears what consequences might occur, should some unwholesome character gain access to it. All I can do now is pray this was the right thing to do. In the meantime, I continue to also pray for insight into what happened to my parents. By revealing the secrets locked within the algorithm, I hope to finally learn the ending to their amazing love story.
chap5rule
 chap9-19h
Moira closes her diary and breathes a depressed sigh. Like the many past and future circumstances into which she has had some uncanny, prophetic insight, Moira does not fully comprehend the meaning behind an intuitive notion suggesting she has just written its final entry.
 chap9-19z
She stares out the window and watches the rhythmic motion of Finn’s old rocking chair. She remembers the days when she fit neatly in the crook of his arm; and when that same rocking motion would lull her to sleep. She was not an unhappy child, exactly. Nor was she overly delightful. It has been a rather subdued melancholy. Though at the same time, it colors every aspect of her persona, which Malachi often describes as “silly”, “aloof”, and “brooding”. Still, it is deeply rooted, and it emerges at the most unexpected times. Now, actually, is one such occasion.
 chap9-19aa
Neither Finn or Malachi has ever spoken a single word about Kacey or Adam. All these years, they have lied to her; telling her she is Malachi’s daughter by his late wife, Fiona. And all these years, she has lied to them, never once telling them what she knows about the two angelic beings Malachi had found – and her knowledge that she is, in fact, their child. But she is not a child any longer.
chap9-19q
Today, she decides, is the time to put an end to the lies. Finn regards her with the same warm smile with which he always greets her. But upon sensing Moira’s resolve, it takes only one moment for the expression to change.
 chap9-19p
A range of emotions plays across his face. He struggles briefly to maintain the facade. But his animated expressions betray any attempted subtlety. Or, perhaps, he has just become weary of the deception. His rocking motion becomes a little bit quicker, as his lips purse into an unhappy frown. The sudden loss of color from Finn’s face, and the appearance of a gaunt expression, causes Moira’s heart to flutter. Hesitant to make eye contact with her, Finn quietly (and correctly) guesses that she has come to ask about her parents. She catches her breath, and manages to choke out the word, yes, despite her larynx threatening to close from anxiety.
 chap9-19r
Finn’s eyes, which had hardly ever shown anything but happiness and joy, begin to cloud over with tears. Finn starts to speak in a low, expressionless drone, which evokes a sense of the old sim having practiced this dialog many times in his mind. The words have barely left his lips when Moira is assailed with agitated flashes of past events. Each one of the disconnected and surreal situations fights against her, battling to remain hidden. She struggles with each one, forcing her will, and working to pull out as much detail as she can before it breaks free of her grasp.
chap5rule
 chap9-19a
Old Finn had found a nugget of gold worth thousands of coin; more than a year’s crop of potatoes would ever yield. Since then, Malachi has staked a mining claim to the entire hill and started working to find more. He’d worked together with Adam for hours, clearing rocks from the opening of a natural cave in the rocky hillside. Malachi shakes his head in wonderment, as he watches Adam continue to work under the blazing, hot sun. He has easily done the work of ten men today.
 chap9-19b
Signaling Adam to stop working and collect his gear for the day, Malachi thinks back to the evening he had found the young man and his wife. The circumstances were very suspicious, if not bizarre. They’d been terribly mauled, and by all rights, should have already been dead. Malachi would have bet every coin he possessed that they would not survive through the night. But they did survive. And not only did they survive, but had they healed with no visible trace of the grievous wounds they’d suffered. Impossible? …Aye. But he has never worked up the disposition to ask what happened to them or where they came from. And they’ve never volunteered any information regarding their appearance. Perhaps old Finn was right about them, after all…
 chap9-19c
 chap9-19d
Adam jogs easily beside Shena, as though he had just woken up from a fresh night’s sleep. This, after working non-stop for no fewer than twelve hours. Upon arriving back at the cabin, he greets his wife and baby Moria with warm embraces. Kacey, now very heavy with a second child, returns his affection. After a bit of small talk, Kacey speaks to the matter of a telegram that had been delivered earlier in the day. Malachi opens the message and reads it out loud.
 chap9-19e
It had been sent by a distant friend of Finn’s from the Old Country, who now works for the federal government back east. Aside from a short greeting, the only other contents of the wire is a peculiar presage. A Federal Marshall, going by the name Hendrake, would be arriving in Sunset Valley by the end of the week to investigate Malachi’s mining claim. Although the text itself had contained nothing to suggest any malevolence,  just the simple presence of the letter seems to evoke a sense of dread.
 chap9-19f
If this visit from a Federal Marshall was simply an investigation into his mineral extraction rights to the hill, then why send a provocative warning? Caught up in his own feelings of uneasiness,  Malachi fails to notice the stunned and fearful expressions washing across the faces of both Adam and Kacey. Finn, however, does notice; and the only words he can think of to describe their reaction, is nothing short of pure, terrified, panic. 
chap5rule
 chap9-19x
The sound of Finn’s troubled voice eases her back into the lucid present. He is in the midst of verbalizing his recollection of sitting with Moira in the bedroom later that same evening, rocking her to sleep. She was, at the time, only just a baby. She had always been a fussy child, possessing a wail so shrill, that it may have been able to unsettle the dead. But she had taken a liking to old Finn, and seemed content in his company. And much to Kacey’s dismay, Moira would only sleep when Finn was rocking her in the bedroom.
 chap9-19t
Finn’s old voice quivers from the strain of revisiting these unwelcome memories. His words, shallow and weak, leave Moira feeling sick to her stomach. He regards Moira with as deep a sorrow as she had seen befall any sim. They wanted to take her with them… But it was Kacey, wanting to protect her first-born, who decided that it would be safer to leave baby Moira with Finn until Hendrake had gone. The old man’s entire body shudders from a memory he refuses to speak. After a moment, his tired, sober eyes meet hers. The words that leave his lips cause Moira to cringe. She was right.
 chap9-19u
The marshal arrived shortly after Adam and Kacey fled into the night that same evening. An unusually hot, dry wind had accompanied Hendrake’s arrival, which was a full week earlier than expected. Somehow, they had known…
 chap9-19v
Peeking at the Marshall through the bedroom’s keyhole, Finn understood what had provoked such terror. Marshall Hendrake was not human. Finn describes the sense of dread and bleakness he had felt from just being within close proximity to such a creature. That’s when everything fell into place for Finn. This creature had nearly killed Adam and Kacey, but they had somehow escaped. The beast, unwilling to lose its prey, had tracked them down. And it was eager to finish the job. Instinct alone (or perhaps it was his deeply rooted faith) had warned Finn to keep both himself and Moira silent. It would easily recognize the golden-haired, angelic child for what she truly was. And child or not, Moira was in grave danger.
 chap9-19w
Over the booming of his own heartbeat, Finn could hear muffled voices through the door. The creature had convinced Malachi that Adam and Kacey were criminals. The government was offering a permanent land trust within Sunset Valley as reward for capturing the “fugitives”. Malachi had not been able to see through the Marshall’s guise. So, in the pitch of night, Malachi led Hendrake and his contingent to the mine, where Adam and Kacey had taken refuge.
 chap9-19s
After a long quiet spell, Finn, now clearly exhausted, completes his telling with a hushed whisper. Malachi did not return until morning. And even then, he was too traumatized to speak about what he had witnessed at the cave. In his hand was the payment Hendrake had promised for his obedience; a deed administering full and permanent ownership rights to all land claims within Sunset Valley. As to the fate of both Kacey and Adam, Malachi has kept his account of what transpired that night, staunchly to himself.
 chap9-19n
 chap9-19o
Having unloaded his burden, and with nothing more to tell, Finn finds his usual rocking rhythm and begins to quietly hum the Irish lullaby he’d always hummed while rocking Moira to sleep. He had seen too much unhappiness over his lifetime, and Moira does her part to ease his broken heart. With tears still fresh in her eyes, she kisses the tired, old man lightly on his cheek, and expresses her gratitude and love. Then, filled with a surplus of nervous energy, Moira runs through the tall grass toward the cave …and Malachi. She looks back once, and understands that this is the last time she will see her dear, old Finn.
 chap9-19y
Afraid but determined, Moira continues on her path, unsure of how the day will end – but certain that it will end with her finally learning the truth.

Chapter 9.17 – Beginning

From the diary of Moira McAllister:
 chap9-17a
How is it that I am able to know events that both precede and follow me, as though I had been there myself?
 chap9-17b
I’ve come to care about, cry with, and mourn for the many souls who have resided (or have yet to) upon this small plot of earth and its multitude of facets and reflections. How is it so? Why is this place special? I suspect that I am neither privy nor entitled to know the mechanics of such things. Or, perhaps, the threshold of understanding simply lays outside the realm of my comprehension. But what I do know, is that it began with the two lovely creatures Malachi discovered, late one unseemly afternoon.
 chap9-17c
Despite the grim condition in which they’d been found, Papa decided to bring them home, fully expecting to bury them come morning. He’d told his Father-in-Law, Finn, about the circumstances in which they’d been discovered. Finn, being a cheerful and empathetic old soul, had never really endeared himself to a humorless and overly sensible son-in-law. And his odd reaction to the pair did nothing to improve that particular dynamic.
 chap9-17d
I imagine that Papa must have needed a full two days away from old Finn (fishing, most likely), to cool his temper after listening to him rant about the two strangers being angels; sent to them from Heaven by his daughter (and Papa’s late wife), Fiona. He’d chided the old man for being a foolish, old goat. He also remained silent in regards to his own terrible pain, seeing the striking resemblance this grievously injured woman bore to his dearly departed Fiona. I suspect that Finn must possess some uncommon intuition. Because as it turns out, he was more right than wrong.
 chap9-17e
I suspect that Malachi quietly conceded to Finn’s observation, and recognized how special these two were. Could it be that in the process of saving them, he had also saved himself?
 chap5rule
 chap9-17f
Alive. As impossible as it may seem, they are alive.
 chap9-17h
Adam remembers clinging to Kacey’s lifeless figure, just before losing consciousness himself. It was a thing of pure malice, and persisted for just a few moments after Hendrake finally found them. The wanton, murderous brutality was perpetrated without hesitation or thought. Adam’s last conscious thought was a desperate search for escape. He remembered the Algorithm, and the effort he and Luke had undertaken together to traverse it to it’s core. He had escaped then; transported to a young girl who had called him Lukey’boy (see chapter 8.17). He thought of that place again, just as a brilliant white light engulfed them. He assumed it was his own death. But then he woke up here. Alive.
 chap9-17j
The first thing that registers in Adam’s senses is the particular sound made by waves crashing below the bluff. They produce a unique acoustic quality, as echoes from the beating waves ebb and flow up the steep slope, just as the water ebbs and flows at the shoreline. There is a stillness he is not accustomed to, however; and the sound of the gentle sea breeze whispering through a dense population of conifers. Adam opens his eyes and quietly regards Kacey, who is lying next to him on an old, dilapidated bed.
 chap9-17g
Kacey had suffered the worst of Hendrake’s malignant hunger. It was violence for the sake of violence; something far worse than sadism. By all rights, the two of them should be long dead, having been splayed open like pigs at the slaughter; ripped from sternum to pelvis by Hendrake’s own, bare hands (if they can qualify as such). How is it possible to survive such a thing? Adam stands, tracing an unsteady line up from his waist to the tip of his unblemished throat. Nothing …no disfigurement …no scarring …nothing.
 chap9-17k
He quickly tends to Kacey as she begins to stir on the bed. Her breathing has accelerated, and she has begun to flail in her sleep. Adam gently hushes her, stroking her silvery hair. His eyes are the first thing she sees as she wakes form her terror. She quickly throws her arms around his neck and buries her face in his chest; trembling, but calm. Finally, her muffled question rises quietly from the tiny spaces between them. Is it over?
 chap9-17l
Adam breathes in a deep, cleansing breath and holds Kacey even tighter. For all he can tell, this may never end. There will always be a Hendrake and his ilk. There will always dwell, those who seek to defy, dismiss, and disprove any notion of divine providence. And they will continue a relentless and tireless campaign to crush and silence those who resist. No, this isn’t over. It will continue as long as he and Kacey exist, representing the one, true, and perfect Love.
 chap9-17m
His lips brush softly against her ear, his gentle breath moving wisps of silvery hair, causing them to fall in uniform strands to her shoulder. Her response is an embrace that is executed with such intensity, that it feels as though she were attempting to draw him wholly within herself.
 chap9-17n
No, love. It is only just beginning…

Chapter 9.16 – Threads

From the diary of Moira McAllister~
I’ve never spoken to Papa regarding my intuition about the two angelic creatures who left me here (my parents, presumably). He’s never told me about them, but I know they exist. I can’t explain how. I just know.
 
My long melancholy spells are usually a result of wanting to know who they are, and who I am. Though I don’t remember them, their story is fresh in my mind. Their tenacity to exist despite the insolent crusade to crush them (and the ideals they represent) is pure inspiration. Was it breath from Heaven that filled their lungs when the poisonous stench of perdition sought to smother them out? I cannot begin to imagine what bravery, what fortitude, what faith, they must have drawn upon to survive their encounter with the legions of Hell. Every claw, hoof, and flaming maw was brought to bear against their bid to escape. But they escaped. And they survived. The question I ask, is how did they get here?
 
The answer, in part, must rest in the relationship between time and space. And of all places, I discovered this while shopping to mend my dress. It was a comparatively mild encounter with a rather nasty patch of thorn bushes that had ripped it. Papa had taken me to the trading post where the shop-keep (who was not keen about the visit) noticed my general state of disrepair. He’d mentioned not knowing that Papa had a family. After a few tense words exchanged between them, I kindly introduced myself in an effort to ease the obvious ongoing feud.
 
The shop-keep was clearly taken with me, and the unusual quality of my hair; which Papa often compares to threads of spun gold. Granted, it does posses a rather unusual shimmering, almost burnished quality. I am quite fond of it, actually (and admittedly a bit boastful at times). After speaking for a time with the shop-keep  Papa was surprised to receive three times the usual sum for his potato harvest. With the extra proceeds, we purchased a hank of wool thread and some sewing needles. It’s curious that something so simple as watching the shop-keep wind thread into a neat ball, would manage to spark a wealth of insight. I had been confounded by the means in which they were able to transfer themselves from that time and place, to this time and place. Then it occurred to me:
Time, like the sewing thread, is linear. But collectively, it is tightly wound into a ball. Only forward motion is allowed on the thread, but it may be possible to “slip” to an adjacent thread on the ball while still maintaining forward momentum. The calculations would be monumental. But still, I am intrigued by the possibility of uncovering the “algorithm” which makes this possible. Perhaps solving it will afford me the honor of someday finally meeting them…
 
 
Malachi McAllister clicks, whistles, and reigns in his spooked mount.
 
 
Normally docile and as steady as a sailor, Shena whinnies and snorts, and prances around in unsteady circles. Malachi fights to keep her on the trail toward home, but loses the contest. The moment he dismounts, she bolts into the woods neighing and snorting. Now completely infuriated, Malachi throws his hat to the dusty ground and pitches a loud, cursing rant. This continues for some time, but he finally regains his wits after hearing Shena squealing loudly in the woods. Breathing a heavy sigh, Malachi grabs his hat and ventures cautiously into the woods. His rifle, of course, is still with Shena.
 
He’d been returning from a trip to the trading post with a bushel full of nearly perfect potatoes to sell for a few coin. It’s no secret the Irish are not well-liked in these parts. And the shop-keep made pains to let this fact be plainly known the moment Malachi plowed through his front door hauling a giant, canvas sack of spuds. It is also no secret that the Irish have a hot-blooded streak that runs deep, and turns mean with little provocation. After verbally milling the old hoor, Malachi accepted half the coin he should have earned for such a fine crop.
 
He’d have carried the sack home again, if not for the promise he’d made to his late wife on her deathbed. He’d promised that he would look after her doddering, old father as an honor to her memory. Fiona’s passing had been tough on the old goat. Aye, and it’s been no easier on Malachi – especially so soon after losing their only son, an infant, to fever. The fact is, that both men have become lost since the tragic deaths. Tending potatoes seems to be the only thing keeping them from giving up and reuniting with their lost loved ones.
 
He had no idea what to expect upon reaching the spot where Shena had stopped running. Being a simple man of simple words, he finds he cannot express exactly what the peculiar sensation feels like. He is reminded of that same feeling of smallness he’d felt when trying to comprehend the night sky; or how it came to be.
 
It is not fear that Malachi feels. These days, fear is has nowhere to set up shop in Malachi’s gut. This hadn’t always been the case. He’d seen what suffering came with the famine, and the more suffering that came from weeks of living within the steerage of those great, floating, metal coffins; where the air was so foul that some prefer to simply stop breathing than continue sucking down the vile stuff. A man who lives through that, has little else left to fear.
 
Shena’s panicked agitation subsides as Malachi approaches. Honestly, he’d figured that she had spooked and ran *away* from something. This wasn’t the case. Sweet old Shena must have somehow sensed these two being attacked by …something. The pair had remarkably survived, but had lost consciousness, still huddled tightly together. The viscous bites and gaping claw marks on their bodies leads him to believe they’d been attacked by a bear; or more than one. But it’s the burns that cover each of them from nearly head to toe that has Malachi feeling skittish.
 
Malachi is no bleeding heart when it comes to charity, but leaving these two here to die would be nothing short of evil. Besides  there is something about them he finds compelling. It’s probably the strange quality to their hair, which shines like fine strands of metallic silver. Malachi quickly lays them both across Shena’s back and grabs Snenna’s reigns.
 
Ignoring the fact that no sign of struggle seems to have unsettled the woods where he’d found them, Malachi instructs her to follow by making a clicking noise. The complete absence of bear, wolf, any other kind of large animal tracks speaks to the suggestion that these two simply fell from the sky in this condition. What’s worse, Malachi ignores the overwhelming and eye-watering stench of brimstone that pervades, not from these two, but from the section of woods where they were found.
 
His anxiety does not subside until the tiny cabin he’d built for Fiona appears over the bluff. An odd smile tugs at the corners of his mouth upon seeing it. It’s a sentiment he’d never before felt living on this dreaded rock, but he welcomes it nonetheless.
 
I’m home.