I amble into the kitchen putting the milk in the fridge, the smell of dinner invades my nostrils grinning as my tummy rumbles. Moving to where Rita is at the sink, I wrap my arms around her feeling her melt into me. My hands cup her swollen belly as she leans back to kiss me. This is the reason we have stayed here so long.
We were surprised and delighted when we realised Rita was pregnant. Although the amount of sex we are having it shouldn’t have been much of a surprise we are both Echo’s perfectly matched. Now with just weeks to go she is so excited about the birth and being a mother. She wants to call it Daisy which is cute. Sara says it is a boy not a girl she used to work in the city was a scientist until she retired out here.
I think I love Rita. I know she loves me and now we will be family. Sara pretends not to like me but has warmed to me, I think. Equally as excited about the baby as Rita. The knitting has got phenetic as they make cute clothes and shawls.
‘Humph,’ I groan, Rita giggles at my reaction and I can’t help but smile. As Sara throws bales at me to stack I think she is trying to knock me off. After a bit we send Rita to lie down. We are getting ready for winter again.
The baby comes the next week in the middle of the night. I hold Rita as she delivers our son and we all cry as he is laid in her arms. He is beautiful and strong feeding from his mother moments after birth.
Sara goes the next week to register his birth and the following week we get visitors. They arrive on horses their cloaks emblazoned with the royal coat of arms. I see Rita rush out and embrace one of them.
‘Aaron, where are you?’ Rita calls.
‘He is asleep with the baby,’ Sara’s soft voice. The door opening wakes me, Charlie is asleep on my chest his favourite place as he can hear my heart. By my side his empty bottle. Rita expresses so Sara and I can feed him so she can sleep. The door opening rouses me from my slumber.
‘Oh, Rita they are so cute,’ the girl gushes as she surveys us.
‘They are aren’t they,’ Rita answers her voice full of pride.
‘Aaron this is my sister Florence,’ gently I sit up adjusting Charlie so he stays asleep giving me chance to gaze at the girl she is fair like us and beautiful and I can see her resemblance to Rita.
‘Nice to meet you,’ I hold out my hand and she shakes. Rita has turned to the others with Florence.
‘Jeremy, Anton, I have missed you,’ she hugs them, and they laugh hugging her back I had completely missed they were men. Not as fair as me and much bigger but somehow the same.
Charlie is sat on a bale at eighteen months he is a round happy baby. He is watching me intently as he chews his toy car dribble on his chin. Rita says he is getting his teeth. I smile at him as I repair the chicken pen. He has grown and thrived, and I have never loved anything so much. He enjoys being out here with me helping with the animals. He is sleepy now sat on the bale and I will take him inside for his nap when I have finished this. He smiles back at me his little pudgy legs kick in his boots.
‘What’s that noise?’ I frown as I can hear a rumbling noise and it is getting nearer. Sara looks up in alarm and finishes what she is doing. She moves to the door and takes her shot gun from the doorway where it had been leaning. She peers out and swears moving back to me.
‘Aaron, you must do exactly as I say and keep really quiet,’ She looks at me and I nod my head a tremor skitters down my spine and I can feel sweat on my neck. I pull baby Charlie into me putting my finger to my lips in a shushing motion. His chubby hand pats my face.
Sara takes my hand and leads me to the back of the stable to another much smaller door. Carefully Sara lifts the latch and squeezes through the door taking me with her.
She leads me around the back of the house so she can get a better look. In the yard there are a group of motor bikes and two people stood guard watching they are dressed in long black coats and black leather tight trousers their faces hidden behind black helmets but they each hold a shotgun in their hands. They are possibly the most frightening thing I have ever seen, and I know they are after me and Charlie.
I am hidden behind some dense shrubbery with Sara’s body practically covering mine. We have a perfect view of the house and yard.
‘Vigilantes, they are really bad news, this is a very bad development,’ she whispers her breath in my hair tickling my ear.
‘What do they want?’ I ask even though I think I know the answer. Another black clad person comes out the house followed by Rita and two more people dressed like the others all holding shot guns I feel Sara stiffen against me.
‘Food, the horses possibly, you or Charlie or all three of you,’ Sara whispers a tremor in her voice. I cuddle Charlie tight he has his thumb in, his other hand in my shirt, I can see he is sleepy.
‘Search the place, and find the other woman,’ the lead person instructs the other three.
‘Damn,’ Sara mutters. As the first figure grabs Rita forcing her to kneel as the other two figures come back, the two by the bikes have not moved.
‘We found the horses like she said, but no sign of anyone else. She could be telling the truth,’
‘I am, telling you the truth my sister is in the furthest field she won’t be back for hours. I am a princess of the royal house you do not want to do this,’ Rita says tears on her face and a small trickle of blood in the corner of her mouth as if she has been backhanded.
‘Aaron, I have to go out there,’ Sara hisses in my ear her body tense her shot gun in her hand. ‘You edge to the barn and hide okay,’
‘No, no, I have to protect my family,’ I beg terrified my hand on her arm keeping her with me.
‘No Aaron you will make the situation worse you need to protect Charlie. I have to prove I am here,’ Sara gazes at me before kissing me. ‘It will be fine Aaron, now go,’ she gets to her feet and I do the same. I grab her and stop her from going.
‘Go,’ she pushes me in the direction I have to go.
I haven’t run far when I hear a gun shot, Charlie whimpers as my body shakes from the noise as I continue running. The buzzing has grown into a deafening growl now that almost drowns out the two bangs of Sara’s gun as she places two shots in the front tire of the leading biker. The tire rips itself to pieces and the bike flips unseating the biker and hurling her through the air.
I make it to the barn and scramble up the bales crawling to a gap in the boarding I can see the house.
‘Hey! Hey you! Girl! You wrecked my bike!’ the injured biker yelled as she limped over to where Sara was stood.
Hey, I’m talking to you!’ the injured biker snarled as she reached to place her hand on Sara’s shoulder. This was a mistake. The second she touched her, Sara grabbed her wrist, twisting it and dislocating her elbow. A moment later the biker was once again on her back, groaning in pain.
The rest of the bikers laughed at this, ‘I like your spirit girl.’ One of the bikers, I assume their leader. ‘Let her through,’ she said and immediately two of the bikers parted to let her into the circle.
‘Thank you, now what do you want?’ Sara demands marching purposefully over and standing protectively by Rita’s side.
‘What do you think we want? The breeder, hand him over.’
‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ Sara bluffed suddenly cautious.
‘Sure, you don’t, now where is he,’ the biker demanded.
‘Look my sister is a princess of the royal house her husband is currently in the capital and will be annoyed if you harm her or the baby,’ Sara lied quickly as Rita is pregnant again.
‘Yeah sure he is,’ the lead biker replied, ‘I’ll tell you what, hand over the breeder and we won’t shoot you in the face and leave you for the crows.’
‘You could do that, or you could leave us and go about your business happily, like civilized human beings,’ Sara replied with a grin.
‘Yeah, no, that’s not happening, last chance, hand him over,’ The biker ordered.
I’m sure we can come to some sort of agreement,’ Sara said with a nervous grin.
‘No, I’m afraid the time for negotiation is ended.’ The lead biker replied with her own grin, before suddenly throwing her shotgun into a spin, grabbing the barrel and using it as a bat to hit Sara round the face with. Caught off guard, Sara had no chance to dodge and was quickly knocked down swinging the gun the biker shoots her.
‘Sara,’ Rita cries out fighting to get free, only to find herself staring down the barrel of the lead biker’s shotgun.
‘You are very valuable, do as you are told and you won’t be harmed, if you don’t do as I say I won’t be able to help you,’ understand?’ Rita nods her head.
I walk out holding Charlie. ‘I am here please don’t hurt her,’
Rita uses this distraction to punch the woman holding her grabbing the gun she shoots another woman. Shots ring out dropping Rita to the ground as I feel a burn in my side dropping me to one knee pain engulfing my side. The woman with the gun walks over to me. She pushes me to one side squatting down she looks at the blood blooming across my shirt.
‘Damn, such a waste,’ she mutters and then notices Charlie asleep tucked in my coat. ‘Maybe not a waste of time after all,’ she reaches in and pulls Charlie free and pops him into her jacket he hardly stirs as I try to stop her, she slaps me down shock making me too weak to fight.
The remaining vigilantes roar away but not before setting the house on fire.