Mary frowned and looked around the room, as Kimmey ran to the toilet.
"Where are they?” She asked, as her heart beat a tattoo in her ears. She’d barely thought, surely, they didn’t just vanish into thin air, when Angelia appeared as if by magic.
“Where is my son? What have you done with him!” exclaimed Mary, brushing away tears as her whole body shook in fear.
“Mommy! Don’t cry! The Angel took Billy to heaven. Didn’t you?” asked Kimmey.
“I didn’t mean to scare you!” said Angelia, giving Mary’s hand a reassuring squeeze. “Billy’s whereabouts’ is no mystery. You can see him right now,” she said reassuringly to Mary.
Smiling at Kimmey she put her finger over her lips and said, “You must promise to be very quiet so he can rest, Kimmey.”
“After putting Billy to bed, I took the liberty of calling Henry’s son, Doctor Patterson. I explained that a very sick little boy was visiting me, and asked him to come as soon as he possibly could.” Angelia told Mary.
“Thank you!” Mary said, following Angelia through the door she had thought was only a closet yesterday.
Kimmey forgot her promise the minute she entered the bedroom, as squeals of delight, at the fairytale room, escaped her lips. Suddenly remembering her promise, she clasped both hands over her mouth, looked at the angel and cringed, as if expecting to be punished for her outcry.
“It’s okay, Kimmey.” Angelia said, giving the frightened child a hug.
I wish I knew why they’re so afraid of everything! What a horrible way to live! I can’t believe Kimmey actually thought she would be punished for being excited. I’ve known people that were afraid of several different things, she thought, but never have I known anyone that was terrified of practically everything, until now!
Kimmey was astonished! She’d never been hugged for disobeying an order before, “It’s so beautiful,” whispered Kimmey.
“What is?” asked Angelia, puzzled by the child’s remark.
“Billy’s room,” said Kimmey looking around her.
Mary was setting in a chair, by the bed, holding her son’s hand as he fought for every breath, when the words Billy’s room, caught her attention.
“No Kimmey! This is not Billy’s room,” she said in a gentle but firm voice. “Billy’s just borrowing this room until the doctor says he’s all better. Do you understand, Kimmey?” her Mother asked.
“Did someone call me?” hollered a deep voice as a door closed and footsteps were heard approaching the hallway from the living room. “I don’t remember you mentioning guests when you stopped by the house last night,” said the voice. “I brought you the morning paper. It seems the whole town’s a buzz with news of an escape and kidnapping.”
“The paper says: DEAD CHILDREN FOUND AT COMMUNE:”
"Late last night State police, following an anonymous tip, found two deceased new born infants, fifty three critical ill children and hundreds more that required hospitalization.”
“When Head honcho, Zachariah Snippet, was asked why he had refused the local hospital permission to treat the children, he’d replied, “That’s none of your business, now is it!”
“Upon questioning the residents, police learned the man had refused the children treatment, because one of the mothers had disappeared months ago with two of the children.”
“In a statement to police someone had verified that Mary Snippet and her children had escaped the commune and were running for their very lives. The informant had stated that their husband and his henchmen had bragged about all the ways they would torture her and her children when they were found!”
“The informant also had a message for the fleeing young woman, “Run Mary! Run so far and so fast that our husband will never find you! You’re dead if he does!”
“Police verified that seventy-eight=year-old Zachariah Snippet, had been booked on several charges including; bigamy, kidnapping, rape, and child molestation.”
“Our sources confirmed that the man has over forty- five wives between the ages of thirteen and seventeen.”
“His bail is set at three million dollars.”
“This psychopathic, poor excuse for a man, doesn’t even claim to be running a religious colony,” said Michael in disgust. “He’s just a good for nothing hoodlum that gets his kicks from abusing people and getting away with it! I don’t know all the facts, but a person would have to be very brave to do what this Mary did.”
“The paper also states that: Doctors at Mercy General told the police the two thousand plus residents, were so under nourished they looked like concentration camp survivors! Can you imagine?”
“Dad thought Mary could be the girl they helped a couple of nights ago. He thinks they may also be sick, but are too afraid to seek medical help!” Said Michael, looking up from the paper, he’d stopped just short of the bedroom entrance to read to Angelia.”
“Hold-De-Cow!” Exclaimed Michael pointing at Mary, “that’s them! They’re in all the papers! There is even sketches of them on the front page! Dad’s been everywhere looking for them.”
“They were asleep in my living room when I arrived home last night, and I didn’t have the heart to throw them out,” retorted Angelia dryly.
“But they . . .
“For heavens-sakes, Michael, will you please hush before you scare them more than they already are?”
“Mary’s son is really sick and is having trouble breathing. We’d really appreciate you examining him and maybe even giving us your expert opinion before we discuss my house guests?”
They were in the papers. Their friends and their children were either sick or dead. Someone had risked their life to warn her that Zachariah’s goons were closing in on them.
It was too much to bear. Scared out of her wits, she took one look at the doctor and fainted!
“Mommy! Mommy!” Wailed Kimmey running to her mother side.
Hurrying to Kimmey, Angelia gathered the frightened child into her arms.
“Nice job Michael,” she said.
Going to Mary, he gently scooped her up into his arms. He immediately noticed that she was too thin and undernourished to be so pregnant. She also had the most exquisitely beautiful face he’d ever seen. He could feel his heart melt as he looked at her.
He felt the heat of fever through her ragged shirt and jeans, although she was shivering. “If she’s this sick, the boy must be in really bad shape!” He said, as he laid her on the day bed and covered her with a light blanket, before hurrying to the boy’s side.
The thermometer read 104.6. “We must get this boy to the hospital immediately,” he said. “I can’t properly diagnose him until I get some x-rays of his lungs, and do some blood work.”
Mary, only momentarily unconscious, staggered to her feet. Dizziness grabbed her as she took one unsteady step after another, until she finally reached the doctor’s side.
“No! No hospital,” she said. “Once Billy’s at the hospital he’ll find us! You don’t know him like I do. He’s a mean, vicious, cruel man.”
“Believe me, I know my husband well. God help us all if he ever catches us!” she said, trembling with fright as tears ran down her cheeks, dropping steadily onto his shoulder.
The sudden urge to protect her totally surprised him as he drew her to him in a loose comforting embrace. “The boy should be hospitalized; besides I need to run several tests before I can determine how best to treat him. I don’t have enough equipment here to do that,” explained Michael in a firm voice.
Mary quickly looked around, frantic to escape. “Please, just let us leave! We’ll go someplace else. Just don’t take Billy to the hospital,” she pleaded. “For my children’s sake please let me keep them safe.”
Stunned at the utter terror on her face, Michael glanced questionably at Angelia, as she rocked Kimmey, in a rocking chair, older than his father.
“There’s no way I’m letting you leave here,” he told her. “In your weakened condition you wouldn’t even make it to the tree house in the back yard! However, because you’re that determined, I’ll try something else. Is the boy - - -
“His name is not boy, its William Logan Snippet, but we call him Billy. My daughter is Kimberly Lynn or Kimmey, and my name’s Mary.
“Now will you please stop calling my son, that boy,” Mary asked, stepping backwards and out from under his arm.
“Is Billy, allergic to any medications,” he asked, in a professional, no nonsense tone of voice.
“I don’t know,” said Mary thoughtfully, every resident was required by law, to have a full checkup every six months, but we were never informed of the results.
“There was a clinic at the commune. I was six when Zachariah slammed my head into a brick wall. I remember waking up in a dingy, closet size room where this vile smelling, disgustingly repulsive old man forced me to drink this awful tasting stuff. He did horrible, unspeakable things to me then laughed because he knew he was hurting me. When he was finished he threatened to bash my head in if I ever told on him.”
Michael considered the information, finding nothing pertinent to the present situation he shuffled it to the back of his mind for future reference.
He’d been watching Billy from the corner of his eye while talking to Mary. The child seemed to be getting worse and was now tossing and turning restlessly in his sleep as he fought to breathe.
Michael sent a silent prayer of thanks heavenward, as he suddenly remembered the small ventilator he’d forgotten to take from his van.
“Do I have your permission to treat Billy?” Michael asked.
Mary glanced at Angelia, who nodded ever so slightly as if to say, it’s okay, you can trust him.
“Yes,” said Mary, “please help my son.”
After asking for a basin of cool water and two small hand towels, he showed Mary how to soak, wring, fold and place them on Billy’s forehead. When she gave him a puzzled look, he explained that the cool cloths would help bring down Billy’s fever.
After another quick examination Michael ran out to his van to get the ventilator. It had taken hours of constant care to bring down Billy’s fever and stop the convulsions that had started shortly after Michael’s arrival. Then just as they thought the danger was past, Kimmey had also spiked a fever and gone into convulsions.
They’d breathed a sigh of relief when around two fifteen that morning the children had finely been stabilized.