Alternate Universe "For the Larabees"
First story in the Beginnings Collection
14-year-old Josiah Sanchez awoke to find himself sprawled in a pool of his own blood, upon his bedroom floor. He blinked against the bright light shining down upon his head from beneath the curtains of the window directly above him. He closed his eyes again and tried to think past the Indian drums beating a staccato in his head, and remember what had happened to cause him to be in such bad shape.
He remembered that he had worked at his apprentice job with Mr. Jenns, the local blacksmith, after school had ended and had been excited about getting home since he had been paid his first weeks wages. Where most young men his age would have been dreaming about what he was going to spend the money on, he instead was eager to hand the money over to his Ma, Maria, to stash away from his Pa. Isaac Sanchez had grown abusive as his dependency on strong drink increased. Although he and his Ma were the ones who took the brunt of the abuse, his little sister Hannah had recently been added to the receiving line of his Pas wrath, and that had been the last straw for his Ma. As soon as they were able to save up enough money, the three of them were going to run away.
A haunting image danced before his eyes of his Pa standing over him with his arms lifted above his head, his cane gripped tightly in both hands, and heard his own voice pleading with his Pa not to hurt him anymore. His cries had fallen on deaf ears, as a moment later he had felt an intense pain in his head, and then nothing. Even though that memory was painful for him to recall, it wasnt nearly as painful or as horrifying as the one that followed it.
It was of his Pas back and swinging arms, covering most of his Mas slight form in a corner of the sitting room, as she slumped against the wall, shielding his little sisters body from harm, as Isaac beat her. Hannah was clinging to their Mas legs and wailing for all she was worth, a high-pitched, tortured sound that sent shivers racing down his spine.
*Please please God I dont talk to you as much as I should but please let my Ma and Hannah be all right. I wouldnt even mind if they hightailed it out of here as soon as my Pa went to sleep and left me behind. I just want them to be okay. * Josiah prayed.
Ma? Hannah? he called out, wincing as the sound of his own voice reverberated through his head. He forced himself into a sitting position, and felt the bones inside of his head slide against each other, causing his head to swim, and his stomach to lurch violently. Bile raced up his spine and erupted out of his mouth and splashed onto the rug, mixing with the blood already staining it. When his stomach seemed to have emptied of its contents, Josiah lowered his throbbing head into his hands.
A moment or two passed before he lowered his bloodied hands, and lifted his aching head. He used one hand to wipe his mouth, and the other one to reach out toward the nearest wall and pushed himself up into a standing position. He lurched away from the wall and unsteadily made his way across the room and out into the hallway.
Ma? Hannah? Where are you? he called out again, feeling his heart hammering in his chest, as panic flooded through his battered body. As he moved slowly down the hall, he became aware of other injuries he had. There was a constant pain in his left side that made him clutch it with his right hand as he walked.
He saw her battered legs first as he came into the sitting area. She was sprawled out on the ground, knees bent, hips twisted to one side, bloodied torso with a kitchen knife protruding from her chest lying flat on the ground, and her bruised head turned to one side.
Oh, God! Oh, God! Josiah exclaimed, falling to his knees, as his stomach rebelled again and he retched uncontrollably for several minutes. He was shaking from a combination of the injuries he had sustained at the hands of his Pa, and the shock of finding his Mas lifeless body by the time he had finished vomiting.
When he could move, Josiah crawled toward his Ma, careful not to accidentally bump her for all it mattered to her, he didnt know. It just seemed right somehow. That didnt stop him though, from reaching out one bloodied hand and gently caressing her cheek.
Im sorry, Mama. Im so sorry I wasnt able to protect you from HIM. he whispered brokenly to her.
He allowed himself only a few moments to grieve beside her, before he began looking for his baby sister. Hannah? Hannah, are you here? Answer Josiah! Please, Hannah!
There was no response only eerie silence. Josiah pushed himself to his feet, and began to look around the sitting room, but finding it empty except for his Ma. He moved then into the kitchen, and it was there that he found her. The kitchen table had been knocked over onto its side, and her small body was hidden partially behind it.
Tears filled his blue eyes as she fell to his knees once again, shoving the table aside as if it was kindling, and pulled Hannahs lifeless form into his lap and cradled her to him and wept.
He didnt know how much time had passed when he heard a low moan, followed by grumbling coming from the direction of his folks bedroom on the other side of the sitting room. Renewed horror filled him as he realized that his Pa was still in the house, and had apparently fallen into a drunken sleep after his murderous rampage.
Josiah was frozen still for a moment, expecting at any moment for his Pa to stumble out of the bedroom, see him holding Hannahs lifeless body in his arms, and realize that he had to kill Josiah as well to prevent anyone from knowing what he had done. He lowered his sisters head onto the floor, scrambled to his feet, and hastily gathered food into a sack, before retracing his steps, and moving into his bedroom as fast as his weary and injured body could take him. He added clothing and a blanket, as well as a few personal items to the sack of food and not trusting that his Pa hadnt come out of his bedroom, Josiah climbed out of his window and stole away into the night.
2. Nathan's Story