BY, ILLEANA NEXRY
The town was dead silent except for the town hall clock tower as it struck midnight.
The lights had been extinguished two hours after sundown and the ban on noise officially began. Even the dogs wouldn’t bark at night now, having been trained by their masters not to do so after what had happened the one and only time it had been suspected that a dog had barked after dark had descended.
What was left of farmer Johnson and his family had been discovered the next morning. Pieces had been strewn about the inside of their cabin, though not enough to make full bodies anymore which left many believing that parts had been eaten by the ‘Demon’ that had also drunk the blood as none was found. Not so much as a drop had been was inside the cabin or out.
Flaming footprints had been found throughout the town the same day, leading to the Johnsons home.
That had been the day the town elders had insisted on stricter bans. Everyone agreed with the bans because after the bans had been put in place no one else had been killed and eaten. It didn’t matter if the ‘Demon’ walked the cobblestone streets at night. So long as the town elders’ bans were adhered to everyone would be safe. For two years that had been the case.
And of the eight hundred-ninety-three people in Carestown, Montana, in 1872, only one dared to defy the elders’ bans.
Eight-year-old Cara Salik.
Blue eyed with wavy blonde hair, Cara was the youngest of ten and lived with her entire family just on the outskirts of town. They had moved to Carestown nine months ago and had been welcomed warmly by the townspeople. Their home had been constructed within a week and their barn had taken only three days more. They had slept in the homes of people who had room until their house had been completed and they had been very impressed by the town’s hospitality, so different from the last town they’d lived in.
It hadn’t been until the day they were to officially move into their home that the Salik family had been told about the bans and why they were in place.
To the townspeople’s faces, the family was concerned, a little afraid and willing to follow the bans. When the townspeople were not around however, the family laughed and joked about the superstitious people and their silly fears.
After all, why would a Demon bother a relatively small town in the middle of nowhere? And did the people truly believe that the Demon stayed out of their homes because they were quiet and left the lights off?
Strange town, but nice people, so the Salik’s had stayed and soon after had begun setting up shop for their business.
The Salik’s got along well with the townspeople and were accepted quickly. Mama Salik was invited to join the lady’s quilting group and had started a small group of non-traditional herb growing enthusiasts as well. Papa Salik had quickly become the go-to person when it came to questions about new agriculture methods, the older Salik’s had become friends with their own age groups and helped with chores around town when they were done with theirs, making them highly popular, and the younger Salik’s went to school.
Except for Cara, the Salik’s had integrated themselves into the happenings of the town and fit in quite nicely.
Cara, on the other hand, had been having some trouble fitting in with the new town. For one thing, her eyes had a tendency to look different colors depending on how the light hit them which had led to an accusation of witchcraft. Mama Salik had held Cara’s chin and turned her head this way and that for the town elders to see that it was just the light and had even sent off for a medical journal that had reported on a recent study on the strange occurrence.
The elders had been satisfied with the explanation.
Another problem that Cara was having with fitting in was due to the fact that she was quite tall for her age. Already five feet, six inches, she towered over every other child her age and some older. In fact, she was taller than her four closest-in-age siblings. This led to bullying by the town children until the other Salik children had put them in their place.
It had not completely stopped the cruel taunts and teasing however, because of all the problems Cara was having the biggest had to do with her gift. The one thing that she couldn’t ignore even if she wanted to. Add her penchant for talking to animals, and her high intellect, and sooner or later there would be problems.
To be fair, Cara had not meant to defy the town elders. Her family had been more than happy to pretend to stay behind closed doors with no lights these last nine months, while secretly sneaking into the large cellar and continuing discussions long into the night, and Cara had been right there with them discussing politics and the like. For nine months. Nine, long months.
Had it not been for the puppy, things would have continued for quite longer without there being any casualties.
The puppy in question was pitch black and only a few weeks old. She had been stuck in the woods out back of the Preacher’s house for several days and was getting hungry. Cara, having been invited over with her two eldest sisters for lunch that day by the Preacher’s wife, had heard the poor puppy calling weakly for her mother.
Cara had excused herself, lying and saying that she wanted a closer look at the garden, and slowly made her way to the forest edge. The forest was unnaturally dark even in daylight and Cara had been told not to go inside because no one ever came out again. The Preacher and his wife had issued the warning again before she’d left the house, her sisters had smiled in agreement with the Preacher, but their eyes had been laughing at the silliness of it all which told Cara that she had permission to go into the woods if she wanted to.
And she wanted to.
The first four steps were easy, but after the fifth step she had started to feel a presence. One that was far from benevolent. Under other circumstances she would have turned around and gone back inside, but the current circumstances meant that she instead strode forward towards where the puppy’s voice was coming from.
No light shown in the deeper parts of the forest, at least that had been what she’d been told, but she wasn’t going in that far today. Maybe another day with her family for an outing they could see what was in the forest instead of having to listen to the highly-dramatized stories from the people. The Salik’s were quite levelheaded and didn’t put stock in such stories where no one had actually ventured into the forest, but they knew of someone who knew of someone who had.
As far as she could tell, the light shown just fine deeper in where she located the puppy. The pitiful thing was all skin and bones at that point and firmly entrenched in the trap that had been set. Most likely by a holy man, though Cara didn’t think that the Preacher had done it.
She knelt down and cuddled with the puppy as best as she could, giving her warmth to the shivering ball, while also giving the puppy some of the bread she had nicked off of the Preachers table on the way out. She poured some water into her palm from her canteen, she was never allowed to leave home without it being full, and let the puppy drink.
Cara wasn’t going to be able to undo the trap until she had gathered some supplies and even than she would have to be careful and wait until nightfall so that no one would see her. It was a new moon so only the stars would be out that night. She patted the puppy on the head, assuring her that she would be back to get her out and take her home after the sun had set, and headed back for lunch.
The day had dragged on after that. Cara had, herself, been dragged around town by one family member or another in an attempt to get her to find someone or something that would make the town more appealing for her while they were there.
‘It wouldn’t be for long’ her mama insisted, ‘just for a few years until the others had become settled, then they would return home again’. Cara would have rather gone home, to their home across the ocean that is, before they ever left. Unfortunately, they always made such trips every ten years, had since before she had been born, and nothing was going to change her parents’ mind. It was culturally important for them to see new places and explore the world.
By the time they had finished dinner and were making their way into the cellar for a card game, Cara was done in and it must have shown because her Papa gave her permission to go upstairs to her room instead of joining the family.
Her room was on the third floor and had its own window right next to a very convenient oak tree. Cara had been gathering her supplies all day and only had to toss them in her pack before jumping out her window and climbing down the tree. She made one stop to the well, to fill her canteen again, and then started out towards the Preacher’s house.
Thought the moon didn’t shine, her eyesight had always been good at night and she made quick time to the forest edge. It would be much darker inside now so she would have to be extra careful where she stepped. She would light her torch when she was far enough inside that no one would see it.
Once the torch was lit, Cara picked up her pace and whispered for the puppy. She hadn’t heard a sound since entering the forest and she had begun to worry that something had happened to it. Just when her fears were going to overflow she heard a quiet whimper. Her shoulders fell in relief as she came around the trunk of a giant spruce tree and saw the puppy was okay.
“It’s okay little girl. I said I’d be back to get you out and here I am to do just that.” The puppy’s ears turned towards her voice and she quieted as Cara pulled out her supplies.
The vial of virgin’s blood came out first, then the dove feather, a scroll with applicable scripture written on it from the Holy Bible, an ancient Sumerian dagger, a wand and, last but not least, a mummified demon hand.
If her family ever found out what she did, they would kill her for it. They were as open minded as could be, but some things were just not allowed. Taking down a holy trap to free a Hellhound would be among the things not allowed.
Cara stood, dropped her cloak on the ground, and began to walk a slow circle around the puppy. When she had made her way to the northernmost point of the circle a second time, she uncorked the bottle of blood and poured it out in the shape of a star. The ground tried to absorb it instantly, but she chanted a few words and it subsided.
She walked around the circle a third time, stopping at the southernmost point and poking the end of the dove’s feather into the ground. The silence of the forest seemed to get louder and she had the feeling that something was coming. Something that she wouldn’t like at all.
Cursing in her head, Cara quickly walked the circle again, stopped on the western most point and set the dagger down, and began to walk the last circle. When she made it to the easternmost point of her circle she took the wand, hand and scroll and prayed really hard that her hurrying wouldn’t mess anything up.
Taking the mummified hand, she stuck it on the end of the wand and held it out from her body as far as she could before unravelling the scroll and reading the scripture written on it.
Her voice got higher and the words got faster as the thing got closer.
The hand began to burn on the end of the wand and she wrinkled her nose at the smell. It was disgusting. Around the circle the items she had brought began to glow and spark as she got closer to the end of the scroll and scriptures. The wind picked up and whipped around the trees and made her dress snap painfully against her legs. The glow from the items became so bright that she had to recite the scriptures from memory as she felt the power rise from the dagger, blood, feather and hand.
Just when she thought she couldn’t hold it a second longer, the power hit its highest point and exploded in a loud boom, flattening a few smaller trees.
Cara peeped between her eyelashes to see if she was still alive and breathed a sigh of relief. She was and it had worked, the Hellhound puppy was free of the trap. Her relief was short lived, however, as she felt a breath on her neck and smelled sulfur. She froze.
The puppy growled low and its hackles stood straight up, making her look bigger than she was and, had she been older, it would have unhinged the third set of ribs allowing the chemical reaction to begin so she could breathe brimstone. Unfortunately, the puppy was far too young at the moment which meant that it was up to Cara to get them out of this mess.
Hearing the soft scrape of a weapon being pulled from a harness gave her the adrenaline she needed to unfreeze.
Diving forward towards the puppy, Cara felt the whoosh as the weapons passing lifted her hair. Her dive had been strong enough to land her right where she needed to be and she scooped up the still growling puppy in her arms and turned around.
On the one hand she wished she hadn’t, but on the other hand it was good to see what she was up against.
Also, the way out of the forest lay behind her attacker so she really had no choice.
The demon stood eight feet tall with towering double curved horns that made him seem even taller and he wore human skins for clothing. As if that weren’t bad enough, he wielded a massive hammer in one hand and an axe in the other. Both were as big as she was.
Cara gulped and would have been cut in half had the puppy not bitten her arm in warning. She jumped back from the hurt and the axe whizzed past without doing any damage.
She knew she couldn’t rely on luck to keep her safe anymore. She had to get home.
Waiting for the demon to pull his arm back for a second strike, Cara spit on the ground and called up a quick golem. It didn’t have to be big or even very solid, it just had to trick the demon into thinking she was still standing in fear in front of him.
As soon as the demons’ eyes were slightly unfocused by seeing two kids where only one had stood before, Cara made a dash for it and made it behind the demon. She raced through the forest, running into trees and boulders as she went, but she didn’t stop because behind her she could hear the demon getting closer.
Her golem had given her the head start she had needed, keeping the demon occupied so she could get ahead.
The forest parted before her and she was suddenly behind the Preacher’s house again. She winced and prayed even harder than before that the Preacher didn’t try to get a look at what was going on outside. He had to be able to hear the bellowing of the demon and even if he couldn’t hear anything, the shaking of the ground as the demon ran made it obvious something was happening.
Her foot skidded out from under her suddenly and she fell back onto the ground, the wind knocked out of her for a long, terrifying, moment.
When she got her breath back she lost it just as quickly, as she screamed and rolled to get out from under the hammer that almost flattened her head. The demon swung again, missed her but left a small crater in the ground where she had been.
Cara scrambled to her feet and took off again, heading down the main road in the town towards home. She couldn’t waste time being sneaky and staying to the shadows ‘just in case’ as she had earlier. With God’s good grace the townspeople would stick to their bans and not peek outside tonight.
A cramp seized her side and she doubled over at the sudden shot of pain. At that exact moment she felt something whiz past her head and looked up just in enough time to see the demon’s axe take out the Church. It cut through it like it wasn’t even there and embedded itself into the ground so far that only a small portion of the handle was visible.
She couldn’t stay on the open road or she would die. Cara bolted to her right between two houses and winced as the demon roared in fury. What he was saying wasn’t fit for a child’s ears, but she was actually grateful she could understand because now she knew how she could make it home alive.
The townspeople, not really knowing what they were doing, had unintentionally given her a safe way home. Circuitous, but safe. Their true belief in God had meant that when they closed their doors at night and prayed before going to bed that they had been setting shields of sort around their homes. The demon was evil, no doubt, but it was a lower class demon that couldn’t stand the Holy protection that the people’s’ prayers gave them. He would have to find a way around the houses to get her now.
Just when she thought she had made it, the demon appeared at the end of the row of houses she was running in front of and grinned maliciously at her. She almost fell over again she stopped so fast. Cara was able to hold onto her balance enough to turn around and take two running strides away from the demon before coming to an abrupt halt again.
There, at the opposite end of the row of houses, stood another creature. A horse, if you could call it that.
The creature stood as tall as the demon with black flames for a mane and tail. The flames were so dark that they were literally eating the darkness around it, as if affronted by the mere audacity that something as small as night would dare be a similar color. As if the black flames weren’t horrible enough, the creatures’ eyes burned a sickly green and its coat was red as fresh blood while its hooves were shod in dragon bone.
The only reason Cara could tell was because the flames coming from the hooves were a sparkling, clean, blue flame. The kind that only an elder dragon could create.
Shivering in abject terror now, Cara backed up a step before remembering the demon behind her. she whipped around and looked between the two creatures. There were no more alleyways for her to sneak through to get away. This stretch of houses had been built in the city style where walls were shared with neighbors.
She had nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide.
She was dead.
The puppy whined and licked her chin, trying to comfort as the horse creature reared and let out a terrible screaming bellow before bolting towards her. The demon let out a war cry of its own and raced towards her at the same time as the horse creature.
The horse would get to her faster, a benefit of having more legs and being built for racing, and Cara wasn’t sure if she was happy about being trampled before being cut into pieces and eaten by the demon or if she was just hoping that would happen out of spite towards the demon.
Ground shaking so hard that the roof tiles began to loosen and fall from the houses, Cara dropped to the ground and curled into a ball with the puppy as sheltered as she could manage. Maybe the puppy could escape when the demon and horse were eating her. Not really a happy thought, but strangely it helped to calm her.
Tensing, she waited for the first strike of the hooves to hit her. She felt the horse run over her, but it didn’t hit her at all, simply kept running past and ignoring her.
Cara opened her eyes and sat up at the sight in front of her.
The horse and demon were fighting.
How she had missed the diamond sharp horn on the horse creatures head she didn’t know, but she watched, fascinated, as the horse used the horn to cut and slash open the demon. The demon raised his hammer and brought it down on the horse. Except that the horse was no longer there but behind the demon!
She hadn’t even seen it move it was so fast.
The demon swung around, bringing the hammer with it in a death blow. Once again the horse wasn’t there. This time Cara noticed a glimmer surround the horse right before and right after it disappeared and reappeared. It wasn’t moving at all, but transporting itself from one place to another.
She had never heard of such a creature and she knew more about such things than most. It was still terrifying, but since it was fighting the demon and leaving her alone, Cara felt warm and fuzzies fill her for the horse thing. It was not, however, enough to keep her there any longer.
With the demon preoccupied with the horse in the middle of the road, Cara made her way to the side of the houses and crept along, watching the fight the whole time, before making it past the creatures’ and finally racing away toward home one more time.
Cara stumbled up the stairs to the front door and banged on it hard, falling against it when her legs started to give out.
Her oldest brother opened the door and his eyes got big as he saw her state of disarray. He didn’t even notice the Hellhound puppy as he ushered her inside and yelled for the rest of the family. Everyone came running at his call and it was her Mama that first noticed the puppy.
“What, exactly, are you holding Cara Mari Salik?”
The room went dead silent as the others all took a step back away from Cara. No one wanted to be on the other end of that particular tone of their mothers.
“A puppy?” Cara tried a smile on, but by the grimaces on her siblings faces it wasn’t a very good one.
Her mother snatched the puppy from her arms and held it by the scruff of its neck. The puppy met her eyes and wagged her tail happily. Knowing, as all young creatures did, that Mama Salik would never harm them. Cara had gotten her soft heart and ability to talk to animals from someone after all and it hadn’t been her warmongering father.
With a deep sigh, her mother asked, “What’s her name?”
Cara knew she had won as her mother sighed again and handed the puppy over to her eldest son Bram with instructions to bathe it and get it fed.
Char, the second oldest of the boys, piped up from where he stood at the door. “Um, out of curiosity little sister, what exactly were you up to tonight?”
Cara turned to look at him only to find his back to her as he looked outside. “I went to rescue the puppy from behind the Preacher’s house.”
She was interrupted by her sisters at that point, “Is that what you went running off to investigate earlier Cara? You could have simply told us what was going on and we would have gone with you right then to get the poor thing.”
Cara began to squirm, knowing that she was going to have to come clean and the sooner the better. She opened her mouth to confess when a massive axe cleaved through the kitchen wall and the demon burst inside. Her family scattered, leaving Cara standing alone in the entryway.
Exhausted by the day and ensuing nights happenings, Cara’s patience ran out at that moment and she let out a banshees cry. The demon stopped dead in his tracks and looked at her in confusion. Strong he may have been and smart enough to find his way out of Hell to Earth, but he was obviously not well educated past the essentials because if he had been he would have known to run at that point because Cara was far from being human and having to live for nine months without giving in to her gift had been a lesson in patience that she was done with now.
Releasing her wings from the binding they had been under, Cara let loose another banshees cry and reached into the ether for her claymore.
“NOT IN THE HOUSE!” her mother’s cry was the last thing she heard before she found herself outside on the front lawn and in the middle of a Berserker’s rage.
Dimly, Cara could feel when the horse thing joined the fight again. Even with the two of them fighting it, it took at least twenty-five minutes before they reduced the demon into pieces too small to regenerate. Which was a good thing because any longer and Cara would have lost the rage and been in serious trouble. She wasn’t old enough yet to fully be able to keep a rage going longer than thirty minutes at a time and that was when she was at peak and not tired from running.
Shaking the remnants of the rage off, Cara became aware of a silence heavy with fear and violence. She turned away from the dead demon and saw that the townspeople were all gathered several yards away holding pitchforks, axes and, if she weren’t mistaken, a few rolling pins.
She opened her mouth to say something, but closed it when nothing appropriate came to mind. Telling the people she was an angel from on high sent to vanquish the demon plaguing them wouldn’t work because she didn’t look the part. Her wings were a vibrant blue and she knew her eyes had changed to their original gold color. Their suspicions from before were a factor as well, though from how they were looking at her she guessed her looks were the problem right now.
The crowd shifted and Cara felt the world tilt in such a way that told her the course the earth was on had just changed drastically because of the decision the people had made. The chances of the change being positive was slim considering the violence the people were almost happy to visit upon the Salik family.
Before the crowd could take a single step towards the house and her family however, a blinding light shone from above and a figure materialized out of the clouds. Clouds that hadn’t been there a moment ago.
The figure shown bright as day and alighted on the grass between the crowd and house. Wearing a flowing white and silver gown, the woman was radiant and everything an angel was reported to be with sweeping gold wings tinged with silver and an aura of peace.
“Gentle people, God’s children, I have been sent to cleanse this place of the evil before you. However, for me to do this you must return to your homes as your eyes will surely burn away if you witness the cleansing that is needed.”
Her voice was music and held enormous power. It was not, as Cara had first thought however, the voice of an angel.
The humans didn’t know that though and quickly laid down their makeshift weapons and, being prodded by the Preacher and town elders, made their way back to their homes.
Once they were all gone, and presumably inside their homes, the ‘angel’ turned towards Papa Salik and dropped her glamour.
In place of the radiant angelic looking woman was a twenty something human looking woman. Brown hair and brown eyes in an unremarkable face went well with the unremarkable body. Not flat chested but also not busty, the woman’s body was ‘meh’ at best and gangly was about as complimentary as you could be about it.
The woman looked over and beamed at Cara, laughter clear in her eyes. She felt the gentle nudge of admonishment and realized that the woman had heard her thoughts and been amused instead of insulted. Before she could decide whether to be embarrassed or mad that the someone had gotten through her shields, the woman let out a happy squeal and ran towards, then past Cara, screaming ‘Poins’ as she went.
Cara turned and saw the woman launch herself at the horse thing, wrap her arms around its neck and hug it tight. The fierce, terrifying horse creature from mere moments before suddenly became a giddy, prancing horse, happily nickering at the woman.
Feeling her mouth drop in astonishment, Cara asked her gathering family, “Does anyone else find that highly distressing?”
“Not really, what I find highly distressing is the fact that you TOOK MY MUMMIFIED DEMON HAND!”
Flinching at her sisters’ words Cara turned to face the music. “I was going to tell you, but the demon interrupted before I could.”
Her papa sighed, “Cara, you know that you aren’t to take your siblings things without asking first. How would you like it if they just waltzed into your room and took the grimoires you check out from the library, used them in a ceremony, destroyed them in the process, and didn’t ask you first?”
“I know, but it was important and I guess I was mad that everyone else had something to do and I was so bored…” she let her words and voice trail off. The excuse was a weak one and she knew it.
“I suppose it’s for the best, this happening” Bram spoke up and held his hands out in a peace gesture as the others turned to him with glares on their faces. “Let’s be honest, we shouldn’t have gone on this trip to begin with. The only reason we did was because Cara has never been and she didn’t even want to in the first place. We were the ones who insisted that it would be good for her to get out of the court.”
Unsurprisingly, the siblings all ended up nodding in agreement with him. That was why he was heir, his ability to get people to see his point of view was legendary. It also didn’t hurt that the two oldest sisters before him had no desire to rule.
“In light of current events,” her mother gave Cara a pointed look before continuing, “I suppose we may as well cut the trip short and go home. Everyone go pack your things, we’ll leave before sunrise.”
Cara started after the others when she was pulled back by her mother’s’ hand on her arm. “Not just yet young lady. You are to apologize for your thoughts towards this woman who just got us out of a potentially destructive situation.”
She wanted to argue, it wasn’t like she had meant the thoughts to be mean or anything and the lady had been amused, but the truth was the truth and even though she was nowhere near her mother’s seventh century age, she still knew that had the townspeople been allowed to attack something would have gone terribly wrong with the world.
“I’d say war, but that wouldn’t really cover it.” Cara looked at the woman as she answered the unasked, “More like annihilation and early end of the world. These people would have become a sect of non-human hunters who could prove their claims and would eventually grow strong enough to have a presence on every continent and in every form of government known on the earth. When technology comes along they would have created ways to traverse the worlds and would have slaughtered entire universes without truly understanding what they were doing.”
Finding no lies in the answer made Cara very glad that the woman had shown up when she had, but that didn’t mean that she wanted her poking around in her head and thinking she knew everything.
“Why did you name him ‘Poins’?”
Her father gave her a look that was part amused at her sad attempt to divert the conversation and displeased with the fact that she had been rude while doing it and still hadn’t thanked the woman.
Laughing, the woman apparently decided to continue to not take offense with Cara. “I actually named him Poinsettia after the flower, but when other people started calling him that, and he didn’t like it, I decided I better shorten it so that he would stop killing people who displeased him. I was out getting some lunch when he bolted and I’ve been looking for him for about two, three years now? He’s always been good at hide and seek.”
“I’m sorry I thought those rude things about how you look. It was uncalled for and I apologize for my rudeness after you stepped in and helped us like you did.” Cara rushed the words together to get the apology done with and had to take a deep breath when she was done. There was silence until she looked up again and met the woman’s eyes.
She shrugged, “It actually doesn’t bother me and I can’t blame you for things you think when you choose not to say them in the end and you’re most welcome on the save. Just next time tell a family member what you’re up to so that you have backup okay?”
Cara nodded vigorously, knowing that she had dodged yet another bullet that night. Technically, for the offense, the woman could have asked or demanded anything and it would have been hers. Even if she had demanded Cara’s death.
She watched as the woman swung up onto Poinsettia’s back, waved in farewell and turned the horse towards the forest. Before she reached the edge and disappeared, Cara yelled a last question, “What’s your name lady?”
The word ‘Nexry’ floated on the wind back to her and she felt her mother and father stiffen in surprise. She cocked an eyebrow at them.
“Another time Cara. That is most definitely a story for another time.”
Shaking their heads they ushered her inside so that she could pack. By daybreak, they were gone and the house and other buildings had been mysteriously burned to the ground and nothing was left.
The townspeople eventually forgot what had happened and the town became lost to history as people moved away to the cities for better work. The flaming footprints, or hoof prints as the case was, that had led the people to put the bans in place to begin with, even before the demon arrived, were never seen again. After all, Poinsettia was back with his herd and had no reason to investigate a temporal Hell gate now that his Lady Nexry had destroyed it.
The Salik family went back to Tir na Nog, their home in the year 5089, where Cara became one of the most sought after Fae Princesses of the Light Court and spent the rest of her life happily breeding rare creatures and discovering new ones.
But that’s a different story entirely.
©2016, Illeana Nexry.