It was dawn on the first day of the week or maybe it was the last, Carleen could not remember which it was, and really she didn’t care. She sat looking down over a small valley called Boundary, where the small town of Green Apple was hidden in the woods. She knew most of the town's residents, having lived there for the last four years. She didn’t have what anyone could call close friends, but she liked many of the people she had to deal with. She stayed there so she could buy as much of the Apple Honey as she could.
Green Apple was famous for some of the honey that they harvested in the valley. The bees in the valley feed on a flower, that grows only in the Great Woods east of the town, which has hallucinogenic properties that were passed on into the honey. Whenever she had a few gallons, she would make the two and a haft day trip to the town of Bridge Port, where she had grown up. She would sell the honey at a good profit, and at the rate, she was going she would only have a few more years and would have enough money to buy herself a small farm.
She looked over the valley to where the Great Woods began. Many have gone into to see if they could find the planets that the bees feed on, but all most none came back, and the few who did would say little about what had happened to them.
She had thought that most were story’s to keep the children from entering the woods and getting lost. Her pack pony, who was standing not far made a noise that made her jump. Then she realized why it had made her jump, the morning was by far too quiet. She could not hear even one bird. She looked around, but could not see any type of life at all.
As she led the pony down the path into the valley she was thinking, that this was a little strange. She had walked the path a hundred times and could never remember it so still before. She stopped when they reached the small river that ran the length of the valley. Green Apple was on its bank about five miles downstream. She let the pony drink its fill as she sat down and watching the water flow. She loved the valley but had her heart set on a small farm just outside of Bridge Port.
She had grown up in the streets of Bridge Port, more or less. Living with her elderly grandmother it was all most as if she raised her self. She learned young how to fight for what she wanted. She was 14 when her grandmother passed and the debt collectors moved in when it was over she had little more than the clothes she wore. She was 16 when she got a job as assistant to the cook of a pony train to Green Apple. For the next two years, she saved her money. She began to buy and sell the honey on her own. By moving to Green Apple she was able to buy the best from the farmers before the many traders could.
She had a studio apartment above one of the general stores on the main street. She would do deliveries to a few of the farms a couple of days a week for the store to help pay her rent. All in all, she had a good deal living in Green Apple, but it was not where she wanted to spend the rest of her life. She got up and went to the side of the path, picked an apple and give it to the pony.
“There’s a bag of oats waiting for you in town, my friend.” Patting the pony on its neck, and started down the path to Green Apple. She still felt uneasy with the silence. It was as if it was mid-winter, and all the creatures were hibernating, she thought. Fifteen minutes later she reached the only bridge that crossed the river, and before she had crossed there was a rustle in the bushes.
She stopped mid-way as a men came out of the woods running, tripped, fell down in the path. She pulled out her short sword, left the pony on the bridge to have a look at him. The first thing she noticed was the way he was dressed. He had on a white coat, that looked not much heavier than a shirt, with a type of black pants she had never seen before.
She tapped him on the leg with her blade, and he didn’t move, but she was not sure if he was playing possum or not. His clothes were the finest weave she had ever seen. They must have cost more gold than she had ever seen, she thought.
After a moment she rolled him over onto his back. He was about her age, and about as tall as she was. He had brown hair, that had a little dry blood showing on his right side. She decided that he was out cold, but other than the blood that showed he looked fine. She looked at his hands that were soft and thought he could not have done any kind of labor in his life.
She whistled and the pony came to her, after a few minutes she had moved the few packs around, making room to lay the man across the pony’s back. It took her a few minutes to get him up onto the pony. She noticed his shoes. They were not made from any kind of skin she knew of but were made of some kind of shiny material.
The more she looked at him the more she thought he did not belong there. He must be from some big city far to the west of Green Apple, and part of a ruling family, but what was he doing here all alone? She took one last look around before starting to Green Apple.
The first thing he noticed was the pain in the right side of his head. He kept his eyes closed, but he could tell it was light out or it was in the room he was in. He tried to remember what had happened, but it made his head throb. He laid as still as he could, it seemed to help. After a few minutes, he began to remember who he was. His name was Crawford Cain.
Slowly his memories were coming back to him, but they were full of holes, and for some reason, this didn’t fit well with him. He was a person that always knew what was what, or he thought so. He wanted to reach up and feel the knot on his head but didn’t want to move. He heard a noise, it almost made him jump, he was definitely not alone. A moment later he felt a cloth rub across his forehead.
He had to blink his eyes a couple of times before he could see. There was a woman smiling down at him, “How do you feel? You took a good hit to the head.”
“What happened to me,” He said in a dry voice. “and where am I?”
“As for what happened to you, you ran from the woods and fall in the road. Where you are is in my room.”
“What city is this?”
“City,” She kind of giggled, “This is the village of Green Apple.” It meant nothing to him but thought it should. She helped him take a sip of water.
“How long have I been here?” He looked around the room. There was only one bed, with a couch and chair. He tried to sit up, but she won't let him.
“Hold on there, not so fast. You took a hard blow to your head. You have been here for two days.” He didn’t fight her, he laid back and closed his eyes. “The Doctor said you should rest a few days, before trying to get up, and I think he's right.” His head was still throbbing, just not as bad as when he first woke up. All this was a bit overwhelming to him.
The next time he woke, it was dark out, and the room was lit by two gas lambs on the wall. His head felt better but he still had no idea of how or why he was there. He was alone in the room, the smiling lady was gone. He sat up on the edge of the bed, he was in a nightshirt. His clothes were on the chair, but before he could get up the door opened, in walked the smiling lady carrying a tray of food.
“I’m sure you are hungry.” Still smiled as she handed him the food. She was right he was. There were beans of some kind, corn, and what he thought was some kind of meat. He found this shocking, no one ate meat. He was not sure how he knew this but he did. She noticed how he was looking at the tray, “Eat up you need to heal proper.”
As he ate the meal, meat and all, they talked. They exchanged names, he told her most just called him Cain, and that it was really the only thing he could remember about himself. “I have no way of paying you back for your kindness, or know-how Carleen.”
“Whoever you are, there is someone looking for you, and I would wager your family would think you're worth it. That’s not why I helped you anyways if I had left you there some highwayman would have killed you just for your fine linen.” She pointed at his pile of clothes.
He had no clue what she meant by that, she really didn’t think someone would kill over clothes, did she? “A lab coat and pants are not worth a person's life.” He said looking a little bewildered.
“That, what did you call it, lab coat would cost a good year's wages here.” He could tell she was serious. He was going to need to live, and if it was worth that much it would help till he could remember where he belonged. “There’s a pony train coming in two days and I know just who to talk with.”
“Good, then we are partners. Can you arrange for my own room on credit till then?”
“No problem, the third floor is set up as an apartment like this one. The owner hoped to rent it to a local but I’m sure I can talk him into it.” She stood up and took the tray, “I’ll be back in 20 minutes.”
While she was gone Cain got dressed, and took a look out the window. He could see that across the street was a saloon not far down, there was a few ponies out front. There were a few gas lamps, that cast shadows everywhere. The lamps just didn’t seem right to him for some reason. He knew there was a better and safer way. He also noticed that the few people he saw were unarmed or had swords, there were no guns that he could see.
In the pocket of his shirt, he found a ballpoint pen. He looked around the room, and on a small desk were a few pieces of paper, quill and ink. He started two lists of things he thought he remembered or that he thought could use some improvement. He believed that with Carleen’s help he could help the village of Green Apple, and make some money at the same time, after all, he had no idea how long he was going to be there.
For the next two weeks, he remembered little about himself but did learn about life in Green Apple. Carleen and him became not only partners but also friends. With the money, they had gotten from the sale of his Lab coat he was able to rent a small shed behind the blacksmith’s shop, where he began to work on things that could improve life in Green Apple.
One of the first things he made was a small gas cook stove, with one burner that when shown to one of the dinners owner he was commissioned to make one with four burners and a flat grill. Payment came in way of 10% of the dinner's income. It didn’t take long for Carleen and him to become a power in local politics. After two months he still had no clue about his life before Carleen had found him on the road, but they were making a lot of money on the things he improved on. He was not sure where the ideas came from, only that he know they would work.
Everything seemed to be going great for there partnership, he was making money, and Carleen had doubled her income with the honey traded. In no time she would become the richest person in Green Apple. She had decided to build a small hotel and saloon at the edge of the village. It was to be the biggest building, a full 6 floors. She believes that when the people of Bridge Port heard of the new wonders that were happening in Green Apple there would be many new visitors, and they would need a fine place to stay, and she was going to provide that.
The work was moving along fine, and at the end of the fourth week, Cain and Carleen went to pay the workers, who were laying brick on the third floor. The scaffolding was loaded with a couple of hundred bricks, a good 20 foot off the ground. Carleen walked over and yelled up for the man to climb down to get payed when the scaffolding give way.
The man started to yell as the bricks began to fall right at her. Cain stood in shock with his mouth open, there was nothing anyone could do, she was going to die. He was shocked by what happened next, the scene in front of him froze in place. The group of bricks just hung in the air, and Carleen stood froze in mid-scream, hands covering her face.
After a moment for his brain to comprehend just what had happened, he ran over and picked up Carleen and mover her out of the way of the falling bricks. The moment he put her down everything went back to normal. The bricks hit the ground where she had been standing then the workers hit the ground. No one had been hurt bad, but they all looked at them with disbelief at what just happen.
Crawford Cain would turn 12 next week, and his parents had planned a party, and everyone in his class was going to be there, but now he was not sure if that was going to happen. He was smart for his age, always being one of the top students in his grade level.
Being so he would get away with things most students could not, so when he was told to report to the principal’s office, his teacher was shocked. He took a seat on a hardwood chair in the outer office to wait, setting his pack on the chair next to him, making sure his laptop would not fall out. He had never met the principal before so was not sure what to expect.
After just a few minutes, but what felt like hours, the door to the inner office opened up. A boy not much old then Sam walked out, head bowed down, and he thought he heard a sniffling sound as if he had been crying. He went out of the office into the hall but had left the door to the principal’s office open. Someone inside cleared their throat, and in a deep wispier, he heard “Crawford Cain.”
The voice give him a shiver up his back. He got up, grab his pack, went to the door. As he walked throw the door he seen an old baled head man, behind a big desk. Before he had taken two steps the voice said, “Close the door and take a seat, Mr. Cain.” He did as he was told, putting his pack next to his feet. The principal put down his pen, closed the notebook, looked up at him, who was staring at his feet.
“Well, Mr. Cain you do realize that there is a need to have rules, I hope.” he nodded his head. “Good, I need you also understand that there are rules that are not written or Spock of that need to be followed too.”
Cain looked up, “Sorry sir, I don’t understand.” This made the principal frowned.
“What I’m saying is that you are expected to follow the rules, but not only the ones that are pointed out to you but the ones that are not, also needed to be applied to your life. Example you know that it's not right to lie to a teacher, but yet no one needs to remind you of this.”
Cain was a little puzzled, of course, one should never lie to anyone, what did this have to do with him? “Are you saying that I broke one of these unwritten rules?”
“That young man is exactly what I’m saying, Mr. Cain.” He inner locked his fingers on the desktop, and look stern at him. “What was your mid-tern assignment?”
“The Green Apple scenario, sir.”
The principal nodded his head, “Yes, Green Apple. If I recall right the assignment was to make your avatar as wealthy as you could in the time permitted, right?”
He nodded his head, “Yes sir, that is what I did.”
“Hum,” He rubbed his chin with one hand, “Yes, you did do that, but it was the way you did it that is in question. Now I know that you were just trying to do a good job, so as to get a good grade, but in doing so you went about it in the wrong way.”
“But I just did what I thought the teacher wanted, that was to build wealth.” He was kind of shocked.
“Yes you did that, but you did it by means that you should not have. Even tho it's not a written rule, a young man of your age should understand that creating a clone avatar, of one's self to help in the assignment was not right.”
He let that sink in a moment, then said, “To top it off, when the AI had noticed what you were up to, the decision was made to eliminated the main avatar. At which time you stopped the program to save it.”
“But I couldn’t let her die!” He said a little louder then he should.
“Now Mr. Cain, you do know that the avatars are only programs, and being a teaching program it needs to be used over and over again, with new students each semester. We can not restart the program till the one running has come to an end. Do you understand this?”
Cain looked up at him, “You mean that she has to die?” with the realization a tear rolled down one of his cheek.
Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, Amad PainterWrite a Review