Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Part Two, Chapter Thirty-Nine

Malone dragged Amalia out onto the front porch and prodded her down the stairs. Up ahead was a vehicle slightly different from the others. A lean man with blazing red hair stood outside the passenger door, overseeing operations. As they drew near, Amalia heard him say to a sergeant, "Well, catch the little Paul Revere, dammit! Shoot him if you have to, but don't tell me we can't move faster than some kid on a fucking donkey!"

Malone forced Amalia to her knees and saluted. "I caught one of the hoarders, Captain Strecker. She says she's a colonel's sister."

"Oh, really?" Strecker gazed at her with mockery in his eyes. "Where's your stockpiling certificate?"

"He didn't give us one," Amalia snapped.

"Well that's too bad, isn't it?"

"Can I shoot her? Bitch pulled a gun on me."

"No. Finish cleaning out the house. Dismissed."

Malone kicked Amalia in the knee, saluted Strecker again and went away. A few other men rushed up to the commander with questions, then made for the barn. In a lull amidst the confusion, Strecker assessed Amalia with a calculating smile. "So are you the veterinarian?"

Amalia felt sick. He knew everything. "No, that would be my sister."

"And are those your animals?"

Amalia twisted around in time to see a group of soldiers herding a pair of frantic goats toward a transport truck. "It would appear they're yours now."

"Yes. As a colonel's sister, you should've known better. Hoarding creates want and envy. You've been stealing from the people."

"What people? We don't take what we didn't earn. We don't beg, and at least we share with the poor. What will you do with your take of our things? Buy your wife a pretty dress?"

The commander gazed at Amalia coolly. "Stand up." As she struggled to her feet, Strecker grabbed her and pressed a blade against her throat. "Impertinent little bitch. I ought to kill you."

Amalia closed her eyes. "Go ahead. I'm not afraid to die on my own land." She held her breath, waiting for the knife plunge in and was startled when instead Strecker stepped back, chuckling, and began sawing at the rope that bound her wrists. When he was done, she faced him, rubbing her chafes and bruises.

"Aren't you going to thank me?"

"For what?"

"I could've killed you."

"You still can. You're obviously a rogue who doesn't care about due process, so go on and get it over with. Quit making a game of it."

"No, I don't want to kill a colonel's sister. It's bad policy and could turn into a messy business, even out here, where no one in high command would ever have to find out. Besides, I actually sort of like you. You'd have made a good soldier. A better one than your cowardly friend." He motioned to some men in the distance. "Bring Sloan over here."

Amalia's eyes widened as two men standing guard down the drive flung open the door of a truck and dragged out a man in rumpled khakis. They each took an elbow and marched him up to Strecker. Only the captain's hand on her arm and the presence of an aide a few feet away kept her from flinging herself upon Donovan with no other thought but to kill.

Donovan had been tortured, of that there was no doubt. One whole side of his face was swollen and rope burns ringed his neck. Amalia would've been moved to pity, except for what he had done.

He raised his head and looked at her and the shock of his pleading eyes was so great, she found herself saying the words before she even knew she had planned them. "What a shame I didn't kill you when I had the chance."

Strecker grinned like a cat. "Would you like another chance? I can arrange it."

Donovan looked at the captain, startled, but Amalia sneered. "I'm not playing your sadistic games."

The captain was about to comment when a commotion on the path commanded his attention. It was a group of several soldiers, some of them carrying dead chickens and one of them leading Carina by a rope tied in front around her wrists. She was stumbling and screaming curses, which the men found funny. They dragged her in front of Strecker, where she stood gasping, her face so streaked with tears that she didn't recognize Donovan and barely noticed her sister. "So this is the veterinarian?" Strecker asked.

Donovan nodded slightly while one of the men in the group said, "She's just a stupid cunt who cries over dead animals."

Carina turned on him in a fury. "You killed my alpacas!"

Before the soldier could respond, Strecker silenced him with a shake of the head. "I'm sorry my men got carried away. I was hoping we could do a little business."

"Business?" Carina spat. "Give me back my animals. That's the only kind of business I want with you."

"I'm afraid I can't do that." He looked her up and down. Her clothes were torn and she was covered in cuts and scrapes that would be deep blue bruises by morning. He took the rope from the soldier's hands and accepted his belated salute. "You know, we have a lot of animals in the Guard. Cavalry, mule teams, livestock for food. Trained veterinarians are hard to come by, and I'm willing to forgive a war widow who made a little error in judgment by hoarding a few things. I think we can make a deal, don't you?"

"Me look after your animals? I'd kill them before I'd ever think of caring for them." She launched herself at him, butting him with her head and kicking with her sturdy work boots.

Amalia made a grab for her. "Carina, no!"

A soldier caught Amalia and pulled her back while other soldiers threw Carina to the ground in a flurry of fists and kicks. One man raised his rifle over his head like a club and brought it downsquarely on Carina's head. Amalia lunged for her, twisting and kicking at her captor until she felt the muzzle of a pistol at her ear and heard a soft click.

Strecker tugged his cuffs and collar back into place, trying to regain his composure as he stared at the still form on the ground. He darted a glance at Donovan, slumped between his captors, eyes shut. Then he motioned to the man holding Amalia. "Let her go." The lines of his face and body were a study in fury, but his voice was as smooth as polished stone. "I don’t need to be defended with such enthusiasm against an unarmed woman. Leave us. Go catch the rest of those goats."



  1. oh dear Donovan has betrayed them when he was tortured and now there in terrible trouble.Hopefully Carina will give in and help them look after the animals as a vet just to protect them.

  2. Well at least he was tortured first. Do I get to see him die? I know, I'm so blood thirsty. :) I don't have to see Carina die, do I? Unless the two of them walk off into the sunset and that's how Amalia ends up alone with the kids. But I could swear Carina dies.

  3. What a dark reality can bring the world we live in into such sharp and painful focus..i have hope for Donovan...that he may atone for his betrayal..that they may build a life again on their homestead