By desertdancer All Rights Reserved ©



“Hey!” The boy yelled. Hearing this, the crazed mastiff stopped, and turned its dazed glare back at him. With its doing so, the bracelet left his wrist. In a flash, Click flew at the dog's head. There was a thud and an eruption of blood and brains from the side of its head in the wake of her passing, and it fell dead. Even as this registered upon the boy, the bracelet re-seated itself. “I told you,” Click reminded, “I will not allow anything to harm you!” In the sudden silence resulting, Cathy finally gained purchase on the tree's trunk, and clambered up onto a branch. She had no more than done so, when the teacher, Ewing, Zak and Jenny rounded the corner, carrying sticks and rocks.


At the resumption of peace, there was some effort to shift the town’s standing back to an agricultural based economy. However, by that time, many of the original, successful farming families had moved on to better lands. So, where there was some rebirth of agrarian activity, it was anemic at best.

Realizing that the efforts to restore the produce-based economy were doomed to failure, the town leadership tried to catch the attention of manufacturing corporations. Yet, even as this was adding life to the flagging local economy, it was also attracting the attention of the less savory elements of society.

Promising the lofty benefits of a “Living wage” and “equal pay,” labor unions sat up office in the crumbling warehouses and offices. In their attempts to gain a stranglehold on local businesses, the organizations attempted to brutally suppress the truth of the matter: their agitating for “Worker’s rights” served little more than to bleed the already pallid economy all the more by forcing local businesses to depart for friendlier climes.

As in any such attempt to usurp power and wealth, the advent of the labor unions in the situation served as a harbinger for darker times. For, in the unions being predators of the local industrial attempts, they drew the attention of the super-predatory criminal. It was not long, then, before criminal gangs began to seep and slip into the small, half-dead town. With their piecemeal arrival, they threw in with the unions, strengthening the labor organizations’ clutches on commerce, further dimming the prospects of any economic rebirth.

In the midst of this odd mixture of economic stagnation and eddying, the common folk of the town fought to hold onto a semblance of a decency and hope. In their attempts, they made the church the third force of relevance in the town’s spectrum of reality. As a local journalist described the matter, “Where we have little else to offer, we hold an abundance of churches, with every denomination-from the ‘Hellfire and brimstone’ Baptist to the sedate, dour faced Lutheran-represented. If nothing more, this speaks volumes of the outlook in our humble little town, as it reveals the belief that one needs a strong faith to live here!”

Thus, the stage is set as a small family arrives in town at the beginning of the year 1880 . . .

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