Episode 28 - "The Inevitable Trouble"
by Camille LaGuire
There'd been some optimism lately, and he didn't like that, but there had been no focus to it. He might have seen the situation a bit sooner, but they were behind on their work, and Clement was screaming for another field to plant, so his mind was on getting the work done. It was purely chance that he saw Old Steve kneeling beside a fence post. And even then he almost overlooked it.
Rocken went to look at the post and saw the dirt disturbed next to it. He glanced at Steve, who was moving away fast.
"You, hold there!" he said as he scraped at the dirt.
Steve didn't hold. He knew what was under the dirt, so he ran. And then he saw it was hopeless, so he did what appeared foolish, though Rocken was never certain if perhaps he had thought it through after all: Steve grabbed the bush knife away from one of the other prisoners, and stumbled off, wielding it. One of the four guards who carried a musket was right there, and he shot him.
Old Steve, who wasn't really old at all, fell where he was and died. And it was an easier death than he might have had.
The sound of the shot sent all the other prisoners flat to the ground in fear. It was a good thing too, because Rocken could see the panic in the guards' eyes. He wasn't sure there wasn't a bit of panic in his own. He swallowed and surveyed the men, but he didn't see any sign of an uprising.
"Tim!" he shouted to the boy nearest to him. "Run down to the south field and tell them to keep the men working until I send for them."
"Yes, sir," said the boy, jumping to his feet, but stumbling as he looked at the body of Old Steve.
"And Tim, you just say we had trouble with one of the prisoners. That's all."
The other prisoners began to stir, but they were too cautious to get up. The two guards Rocken had with him started moving around, giving a knock to anyone who seemed too active.
"Damnation!" Rocken said through his teeth, and he stabbed at the dirt near his feet to find what was buried there. It was a knife.
Rocken knelt down and pulled it from the earth. He dug a bit more, and found a second one, but that was all. He heard one of the other guards beating at Tom.
"Where did he get that?" shouted the guard.
"I don't know," said Tom. "He was acting funny...."
It didn't matter. It was clear enough to Rocken where the weapon came from--crudely forged from scraps in the smithy. Rocken threw it down and charged on Jack, who was up on his knees and staring by the pile of brush.
"Damn you, Jack," he hissed, as he grabbed onto his shirt and dragged him up. "Damn you for making me do this."
"It isn't me that's making you."
"And it wasn't me that made you an idiot. You could have survived your whole ten, you know."
"This would have happened sooner or later." Even so, Jack looked pale and shaken. "I'll be dead at the end of this, won't I."
"You can be sure of that."
"Something to look forward to, then," he said, mainly to himself, it seemed.
Stay Tuned For Episode 29 - "Clement Proves Stubborn"
Available after 8am EST, on Monday
The first book in this series, The Wife of Freedom is at most ebook retailers.
Amazon Kindle Store, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Deisel, Kobo, and Smashwords.
Also, Amazon International: UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan.