The Anglic Gene

An orphan girl unsure of who she is or why a man wants her dead carries a secret. She will experience humanity.

Are you ready?

Join Sophia in a heart thumping adventure across England set in the 1870’s, exploring faith, doubt, love and fear. A story, quoted by the editor as “really something special”, you’ll continue to contemplate long after the journey unfolds

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39. Reunions

Eager for a place to rest, Anne pushed on the wooden entrance to Gilnockie Tower. It didn’t budge. She readied herself to give the stubborn doorway a heartier shove, said, “A battering ram sure would come in handy right about now.”

“Right,” Sophia said, but then her eye was drawn to a reddish stain around the base of the entry. She pointed down. “Is that blood?”

Michael focused on the spot. His eyebrows raised as he instinctively reached to grab Anne. “Anne, stop!” he shouted. Too late. The door swung open.

Anne froze staring at an armed crossbow mounted on a stack of crates on the far wall, aimed directly at her chest. She watched as a rock tied to the end of a rope dropped onto the crossbow—triggering the arrow’s release. She closed her eyes thinking this is it, I'm going to die and awaited the impact. The thwap of the bolt piercing flesh reached her ears. She awaited the resulting pain. It did not come. She opened her eyes and gazed at the ground. Blood, a lot of dark-red blood, pooled at her feet. Anxiously, she patted down her chest searching for the wound, expecting to feel the stickiness warmth of blood. None. Refocussing on the blood, she traced the source of the growing pool. To her left, lying motionless on the ground with a crossbow bolt protruding from her side, was Dash.

Sophia sprinted into the room and crouched beside Dash. She tightened her grip around the arrow in Dash’s side. With both hands, she yanked the cruel dart from the little dog’s flesh. Quickly, she laid both palms on the open wound. A brilliant white aurora surrounded her hands. Seconds later, a tear fell from Sophia’s eye. The curative light slowly faded. “She’s gone. I can’t heal her.”

Anne’s legs went limp and she folded to her knees. Her stomach tensed as if to wring out the sudden pang of grief. “Can’t be.” She stroked Dash’s head. “How?”

“She leapt right in front of the bolt,” Michael said. “Her senses picked up on the trap before we did.”

“Dash gave her life for me,” Anne said, her voice crackling. Grace and sorrow welled in her eyes.

After a good cry, Sophia sniveling, asked. “Why was the door trapped?”

Michael crouched before a skeleton sitting against a wall dressed in a cheap brown gown. “I think this fellow set the snare to protect himself from intruders.”

Anne glanced across the room to see what had triggered the trap. A rope fastened to the back of the door led up to the ceiling above the crossbow. From there it threaded through a hoop, from which the rock hung. She figured as the door opened, the rope slackened dropping the rock. The firing mechanism was rigged to activate by the weight of the impact.

Michael picked up a full-length arrow off the floor near the skeleton. “Looks like our fellow here was himself shot by a bow. He most likely came here to await help, which never came. He likely had a few days life left in him. Enough to set the snare a few times.”

“What about the bloodstains at the base of the door?” Sophia asked.

“Probably from a previous intruder who sprang the trap.”

“Then where is the body?”

Michael shrugged. “Dragged off by wolves, perhaps.”

Anne gave Dash a gentle kiss on her cheek. “I’m sorry, girl. I shouldn’t have been so eager to rush in.”

Michael picked up Dash gently and cradled her lifeless form in his arms. “The best we can do is give her a proper burial.” He carried outside.

The girls followed Michael around to the back of the tower. Once there, Anne searched the ground until she found a flattish rock with a sharp edge. On her knees, she used the rock to spade the ground. As she worked, Sophia glanced occasionally at Dash awaiting her final resting place. Each time she did, she blinked to clear welling tears of sorrow from her eyes. She found a thick branch and crouched beside Anne and together they dug the shallow grave. Neither of them said a word, for their expressions of grief revealed everything they needed to say to each other.

The girls wept then, heaving great sobs, as the death of Dash punctuated the other losses they had not had time to stop and bear. All lost because of … them. For them.

Anne mourned anew the loss of her parents in the carriage accident. Sisters Catherine, Mary, and Mr. Brumby. People she loved. Gone. Each beat of her heart pulsated a sense of longing to meet them again. “I’m not sure how much more of this I can take,” she said.

Sophia put down her stick, embraced Anne. “Me, either,” she whispered.

“At least we have each other,” Anne said, eyes red and cheek wet with the tears she had tried so hard to hold back. After a minute of solace, they resumed digging in silence.

Michael returned with a collection of stones large and small. He dropped them in a growing pile close to the girls. After his fifth trip, he said, “That should be enough.”

“I think we are done, too,” Anne said, rising from the shallow grave.

“Indeed,” Michael said. He placed Dash gently into the grace. Each of them, one stone at a time placed them over Dash’s body. When they were finished, a small rise of various-sized stones covered the burial site. To finish, Sophia took two sticks, one half again as long as the other, and fashioned them into a cross, which she lashed together with threads of rope, the very rope that had triggered the trap that killed Dash. Once finished, she hammered the cross into the ground at the head of the grave with a large stone.

Together, the three of them stood a few steps back from the base of the Dash’s resting place. They bowed their heads and closed their eyes as Michael began to pray. “Often we forget how valuable a friend a little animal can be. Dash accompanied us on this journey of her free will and gave her life to protect those she loved. We will be forever grateful for her servitude and we will miss her with each passing breath. Father in Heaven, take care of our companion if it please thee, as she comes back to you. Amen.”

Anne and Sophia simultaneously responded, “Amen.”

On reopening her eyes, Anne said, “Do you see that?”

“I do,” Sophia said.

At the head of the grave, standing behind the makeshift cross, stood a translucent Mr. Brumby with his wife Jill and six-year-old daughter Jane at his side. Next to Jane, tail wagging, Dash sat enjoying a pat. They appeared cheerful, glowing with a radiance of contentment and peace. Mr. Brumby mouthed some words. Anne read his lips as saying, “Thank you.” He smiled. Then they were gone.

“She’s with her family now,” Sophia said.

Two tears—one of grief, one of joy—squirmed down each of Anne’s cheeks. “Together again.”

“Who?” Michael said, shaking his head. “See what?”

“Do you think that was really them?” Anne asked.

“I don’t know,” Sophia replied. “Maybe it was a projection from wherever they are now.”

“A projection of whom?” Michael asked, eyebrows arched.

“Mr. Brumby and his family,” Anne replied, “with Dash.”

“Oh.” He paused, let his smile build. “Now that would be a pleasant vision.”

Anne moved between Michael and Sophia and grasped both of their hands, squeezing them lightly. “We are going to be okay,” she said.

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