Castle Roland

Chapter 1

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The weather forecasters warned that there was a storm headed towards central Texas, and when it got there the people were in for 'a ride of their lives'. They declared the storm as a possible Hundred-Year storm, if the precipitation amounts predicted materialized. The weathermen also indicated there was a good possibly that the area could get as much as 15 inches of rain over the first day of the storm, alone. They also warned that if the Low Pressure System stalled that the area could find itself with 25 to 30 inches or more of rain over the entire period which could last three to four or even five days.

In the days preceding the storm, area residents were urged to make serious preparations for severe winds and heavy downpours. Residents were strongly encouraged to fill their bathtubs with potable water in case electricity was interrupted and water supplies were hampered, since no pumps would be putting water into the system. Citizens were also advised to fill their vehicles' gas tanks and to buy extra food that didn't need refrigeration. This severe a weather advisory had never before been released for the area, and the residents were scared for not only themselves, but for their kids and homes, too. Every able bodied person did what they could to shore up their houses and then began praying that they and their loved ones would be kept safe.

Meteorologists from TV stations within a hundred miles explained to the area residents that a hundred-year storm was not a hundred years long, nor did it happen once but every one hundred years, but was simply a storm that is so bad it's only likely to occur once in every one-hundred years. The problem, the meteorologists went on to explain, was there are records of other areas getting a storm of this magnitude two or even three times during a ten year period, and it was more like a crap shoot. It was more like being in the right place at the 'wrong' time. Of course, this didn't sit well with the people. They knew that there was nothing they could do other than get things ready as they were asked, or, at the most extreme end, they could move away until the storm was over.

It was now early fall and October had just begun. It was not uncommon in those parts of Texas, mainly the North Central area, toward Fort Worth and Dallas and as far down as the city of Waco or even further down to Austin, where storms such as these could form, when the right conditions came together. The troubling thing, the weathermen were looking at, was that a low pressure area had just come in off the Pacific Ocean. They knew it was going to go through Mexico, and depending on the wind currents and associated High Pressures, the storm could go just about anywhere. On top of that, there was another low pressure area just off the coast of Texas out in the Gulf of Mexico. Everyone knew, if everything merged together, then the worst storm that anyone could imagine would happen.

People in those areas of Texas are always in need of the rains, but not in such huge amounts as were forecast. in many places, from out West, near Big Bend, to South West toward Del Rio, South toward Laredo and then East from there, toward San Antonio, the people often pray for rain, as they are more prone to drought than these predicted excessive rains. Only time and the Good Lord would tell who would get what amount of the projected unwelcomed huge amounts of water.

Sitting in his Study, as he often did, listening to some music as he worked on some financial reports, Mr. Ken Thomas was somewhat aloof to what the weatherman was spouting. He had just moved into his new estate home, only a few months ago, and wasn't too concerned about the storm he had been hearing about. He figured it would happen whether he worried about it or not, and if it came in the magnitude predicted, the house would either sustain damage or it wouldn't. There wasn't anything he could do, either way. He had his constant companion, a Golden Labrador Retriever named Chief, at his side, and she'd be his safe haven if anything happened. She was the 'one' who'd taken care of the house and him ever since he began building the huge mansion, over two years ago.

Chief was an unusual dog, to say the least. Where she came from, no one knew. She was a mid-sized puppy when she came along one day, and protected him and a young lad named Ryan from an overzealous night watchman. Ryan, a local boy, was apt to be at the property almost every day since construction began. He used to give the dog some bits and pieces he'd bring with him. This particular day, Mr. Thomas just happened to be visiting the job site at the same time as Ryan, and as they talked, for some unknown reason, the watchman came after them. Chief had sprung into action and protected them both by attacking the guard, before he could use his night stick on either one of them.

Unfortunately, Chief was injured from blows of the night stick and Mr. Thomas called for a Veterinarian to take care of her. During her recovery, Ryan kept her at his home until she regained her strength. Then one day, she went back to the site with Ryan to visit, and there she remained. No matter what Ryan did to try to convince her to come back to his home, she decided to stay right there.

Eventually, Mr. Thomas provided money for Ryan to feed Chief and she became friends to all the workers and the construction boss. Ryan was also welcomed to the site as Mr. Ken, as he came to be known, hired the thirteen year old to take pictures and videos of the construction, since he was there every day anyway, and Ken couldn't be there due to his intense college schedule.

Now, with the storm not far off, Mr. Ken called Mary Taylor and asked her if she and Ryan wanted to stay with him during the upcoming storm, as Ryan already had his own room there. Ryan was now a strapping fifteen year old and was given a room to call his own as a present from Mr. Ken for all the hard work he did, taking the pictures and videos of the house under construction. Ryan and his buds had stayed a few times already and they enjoyed the perks of that magnificent house. Mary thanked Mr. Thomas for his gracious offer but begged off as she had her own home to look out after and wanted to be there in case anything happened. The storm was only a day's time or less away and all anyone could do now was to wait for the storm to come and then pray it moved on quickly.

The next morning, storm clouds began to slide into the area. A few showers fell during the late morning and then increased in intensity, into the afternoon. By nightfall, the storm picked up strength and began to hit the area hard and furious. Rain, at one time, was measured at falling at a rate of 3 inches an hour with visibility almost nonexistent as the winds were beginning to blow at gale force.

On a clear day, looking out the Great Room with its 32 feet in height and 30 feet in width of windows, Mr. Kenneth Richard Thomas, aka Mr. Ken, could easily look out and see the enormous lake and across to the other side, well over a mile away. That night, as it got dark outside, Ken could hardly see to the end of the brick paver patio because the rain was coming down so intensely, and the winds were blowing so hard. Even so, he and Chief felt safe and sound in the Great Room, hardly hearing what was going on outside because of the awesome insulation and triple pane windows he had installed on that Northwest facing wall.

Through the early stages of the storm, the lights would occasionally flicker as an indication of the distant power lines being whipped about by the storm's heavy winds. Ken wasn't worried, though, as he had two 100kw Natural Gas Standby Generators that would kick on within 15 seconds of a total electric failure from the incoming service. As the storm raged outside, Mr. Ken listened to the radio for storm reports and heard that there were massive power disruptions throughout the area, along with major flooding occurring everywhere. The reporters went on to describe how some buildings had been hit by lightning and major fires had erupted, causing additional traffic tie-ups all over. The storm had caused major problems already, and it had only just begun.

Around midnight, the storm increased to almost Category Three Hurricane strength as it began pulling in the moisture from the Gulf of Mexico's Low Pressure system. The two low pressure areas had indeed began to 'feed' one another with moisture, and now there was no telling how much rain would be deposited in that wide open Mid-Central Texas area.

Inside Three Finger Cove, the name Mr. Thomas dubbed his 17 plus acre property sitting along the lake, the radio was still on. Over it could now be heard the persistent reports of injuries from the fires, flooding and winds, and how the huge number of traffic accidents had overwhelmed the local hospital and emergency crews. The reporter went on to say that people needed to stay home, and if injured, they had to rely on neighbors for help, as rescue was nonexistent at that time, due to the severity of the storm.

Ken decided it was time to walk the entire interior of his 18,000+ square foot home, to look for leaks or other problems from the storm. He even went up into the wide open attic space to see how the special roof he had installed was faring against all that rain and high winds. His constant companion, Chief, was by his side the entire time, and she looked at the windows and walls and ceiling, too, as though she knew what she was doing.

After hearing the reports about the hospitals and rescue crews, Mr. Ken went on 'high' alert for Mary and Ryan. He was concerned for them, now in case anything happened to them, since rescue personnel would not be able to help them, or anyone, for that matter. He now wished they had accepted his offer to stay with him so he stopped his inspection and tried to call them to see how they were faring, but he could never get through. He then tried using his cell phone but that service appeared to be out, as well. He decided to try to call every few minutes as he finished his inspection.

It took quite some time for the man and his 'best' friend to walk the entire inside of the mansion, and it was now close to 1 AM. As the two continued to walk about the house, Chief stopped in her tracks as she was alerted to something outside. She ran quickly to the Great Room and began to bark at something outside. When Mr. Ken finally got there and looked outside, it appeared to him as if the wind had blown a piece of carpet, or something like that, onto the patio about 50 feet out. He gently petted his dog and told her to settle down, as it was only a piece of carpet and not to worry. They both walked over to Ken's favorite chair and he settled down to relax and read.

A few minutes later, Chief quickly got up and headed over to the large windows and again looked out. She made a few low gruff barks as she looked out and then looked back to Ken, who asked her to come back to her side of the chair. She hadn't been back at the chair for very long when she stood again, and barked, louder this time, and quickly headed for the windows once more.

This time, Chief was more animated and eagerly looked for her master to come, but all he did was say to her to be quiet. Chief did not like to be ignored, but ignored she was, so she continued looking out at the object outside and kept giving low growls and barks at it. Then suddenly, she began to bark and bark and bark as loud as she could. She was as antsy as could be, and this time Ken went to the window to pull her away when he saw the object move.

Ken couldn't believe what he was seeing. Without any regard to his safety from the winds and sideways blowing rain, he immediately ran out into the storm quickly followed by Chief. They got to the object at the same time and there they found a young boy who looked to be about thirteen years of age. He was naked as the day he was born and bloody all over. Quickly picking up the lad, he rushed back into the safety of the house and took the boy to his Laundry Room where there were loads of fresh dry towels he could use to warm up and dry the boy off, get him warm and try to stop the bleeding.

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