Thursday, February 7, 2013

Test of Freedom - Episode 32

Episode 32 - "Misery and Angels"
by Camille LaGuire

Jackie was beyond misery.  They had him on his knees outside the cook pavilion, so that everybody could get a good look at him and the cuts across his back when they went in and out from the fields.  They'd fastened his hands behind him, and hooked the binding up on something so he was bent over, face near to the ground.

No matter how he shifted his weight, it fell painfully on his knees or on his twisted arms and shoulders.  Or both.  He had shifted a number of times, and worn out every position.  And to top it all off, they'd put the gag back on him, just because they knew he hated it.

But now he had reached an unhappy medium where he was equally miserable in every position, and could forget about easing anything, and just go on into a daze that was something like sleep.  At least it was dark, and the flies had let up on the wounds across his back.  The others were locked up in the pen, and there was no one to see him, but he was sure they'd keep him there all night.  It was a way to be sure he couldn't move well enough to act defiant when they hanged him.

Through his daze he could hear movement in the compound, and voices.  They buzzed at him from close by, but barely penetrated the daze.

But then he was awakened by a searing pain in his arms as someone yanked up on his hands to unhook them and dropped him to his side in the dirt.  All the recently balanced sensations reawoke into sharp pain, but it was still a relief to be out of that position.  He moaned and started to writhe a bit as the feeling came back into his limbs.

"Hold still, damn you," said Rocken, and he pressed a knee on Jackie's arms to hold them still as he used a chisel to remove the manacles.  Someone was struggling with the buckles on the gag.  He heard women's voices, and thought his mind had already simply gone.

Then he opened his eyes and saw Mary, and he knew his mind was gone.  And then he saw behind her that woman.  The one from the trial.  And she seemed to be glowing, like a spirit in a dream.

As the gag came free from his mouth, he coughed and swallowed to try to get the iron taste out of his mouth, which was probably as much his own blood as from the gag.

"Mary?" he said.  "Am I dead?"

"Do you hurt?" she said.


"Then you couldn't be, could you?"

"Then what's she doing here?"

The lady bent down, and he realized she was glowing because she was holding the lantern.

"I'm not an angel, Mr. Alwyn," she said.

"Then who the hell are you?"

Mary smiled, and nearly laughed, although there were tears in her eyes.  She took hold of his face to examine the injury on his brow.

"She's a friend," she said.  "A good friend."

By this time Rocken had knocked the shackles off his ankles, and then he and Mary and another man helped him up and got him to a carriage.

There was some trouble getting him in, and he couldn't sit on the seat, because he couldn't lean back against anything.  He was too tired to hold himself up, so he simply collapsed to sit on the floor of the carriage, one arm across Mary's lap, and his face buried in her skirts.

Available after 8am EST, on Mon

The first book in this series, The Wife of Freedom is at most ebook retailers.
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