Castle Roland


by Joe Writer Man


Chapter 19

Posted: 26 Feb 15


Copyright © 2012 - 2015 by Joe Writerman and the Revolutions Universe Partnership.

All Rights Reserved

Friday, November 9, 2012, 6:15PM, CST

Centennial LogoShelly, a local police dispatcher knew that first responders would be responding to a shooting with a fatality and an injured subject, and that the scene was reportedly secured. She also knew law enforcement would not be convinced until they were actually on the scene.

She completely turned her focus to the kids who were clinging to her as though their lives depended on her strength. Then, much to her surprise, Marie scampered out from beneath the bed and threw herself into her arms, crying hysterically, completely terrorized.

Kaydyn, after placing kitchen ties tied together to restrain Missus Sanchez, walked into Tomas' room where Ken was sitting on the side of his adopted son's bed explaining to him and Jose that things were going to get very tense for a while until the police determined there were no further threats. He said, "Locals have been called. I want you boys to stay here. Also, Jose, EMS will be here pretty soon to take care of your arm. Stay calm. Truthfully answer their questions."

Nadine entered and offered the boys a Coke a piece. They popped the tops of their canned pops causing Jose to jump, startled, at hearing the noise caused by the escape of carbonation gases. Just as quickly, he relaxed while chiding himself for not being as brave as everyone had been telling him.

They heard sounds, way off in the distance, of emergency vehicles racing to their home. Ken and Kaydyn knew beyond any shadow of a doubt that law enforcement's arrival would be extremely tense. All shootings are assumed still in progress until proven otherwise. Kaydyn said, "I'm going to meet and greet." He securely handed Ken his weapon.

The young man then walked through the hallway to the crime scene. Then, stepping over the decedent's body walked to the garage door, exited the house and headed for the open garage door, held out his arms to a 90 degree angle to the ground and waited for law enforcement's arrival.

He didn't have to wait long. Within a minute or two the sirens were turned off and then they arrived and parked helter-skelter to block off all traffic and to provide them a shield against an active shooter, despite having been told that the scene was secure.

A male adult's voice, projected over a loudspeaker, told him to lay down on the pavement with his arms outstretched, followed by a command to not move. He did so without delay, knowing that his standing down and immediate compliance would take some of the tension away from responding forces. On his way down he saw no less than 8 police cars setting up a perimeter around the reported location. He knew that a lot of firepower was trained upon his body, just waiting for one or more indiscriminate moves from him. It had been a very long time since he'd eaten pavement.

With his face turned toward the left, he saw a pair of feet standing at the ready to blow him away should he change positions. Those feet approached and then he felt hands searching his person for any threats such as guns or knives. He said, "I'm Kaydyn Shaw, US Special Forces. We're now secure, here. One dead. One injured boy is awaiting EMS with one non-life-threatening gunshot wound to his arm. A total of four adults and four children are inside. My father, Ken Shaw, is armed. He's cool and is also a special operations guy, now mostly retired. My id can be found in my left rear pants pocket."

"Okay, stay down."

Officer Michael O'Toole immediately identified Kaydyn through visualization and knew him from high school and that he'd gone into the military immediately after graduation. He said, "It's Mike. I'll get you squared away here in a moment. As you can understand – the situation is a bit tense right now."

"Understood. FYI, you'll find a cache of weaponry in the trunk of dad's car. They are no threat."


"Yup. We returned from it early this morning."

"Okay, give me a few."

"The kids are scared shitless. Please don't storm."

"Where's the DB?"

"Dining room. Head shot. The kids saw it."


"One of the boys, age fifteen, is a fucking hero. Saved lives. The other boy, fourteen, is a hero, too. Took out Frederick Phillips. Long story."

"Okay, let me update the troops. Hold."

Local law enforcement confirmed that the scene was secure. EMS was allowed in. Because Jose was in no danger and the fact that Nadine told them, in no uncertain terms, that they would obtain medical care for him, he was not taken to the hospital via ambulance. Instead, Nadine took him to Children's Hospital and Medical Center, which started a nightmare in and of itself because she was not his legal guardian or parent. The hospital separated them and called Children's Protective Services.

Doctor Sabrina Hill, Jose's attending physician, gave him a complete physical examination since he was being evaluated for placement in a foster care setting where he would be 'safe'. He wasn't considered safe because of the bruises caused by a blunt object, such as a belt buckle. She sort of listened to Jose's account of what had happened to cause the injuries, his evaluation and treatment in Topeka, that his father, the abuser, was deceased, and that his mother was being admitted to the hospital for a mental breakdown.

When asked what hospital he had been treated at, he didn't know. Doctor Hill knew that the child had recent medical care due to the sutures placed in his penis, typical of circumcision.

Nevertheless, she treated his gunshot wound with irrigation, bandaging and a tetanus shot. The neurological examination of the arm was within normal limits… she told him that he was lucky he suffered no permanent damages to the extremity.

Jose, fed up at not being able to see Nadine, the legal bullshit that he did not fully understand, the prescription for yet another antibiotic despite him telling her that he was already on one, told a nurse that he needed to urgently use the restroom. He was led to a facility where, while he did pee, it was located in a lesser traveled area of the ED. When finished meeting his needs, he opened the door and peered up and down the corridor. He decided to just go for it. Staff and patients were going here, there, and everywhere, so he exited the restroom and blended into the crowd. He had no idea where he was going, but was intent to be somewhere, anywhere - else.

The boy followed the throng down a long corridor to where he came to a T. To the left was a set of large double doors with a sign "Surgery Department Authorized Personnel Only". A card key was required to enter. The opposite direction led to another set of double doors that had a sign, "Intensive Care Unit, Authorized Personnel Only".

He decided to backtrack toward the ED. There was a corridor that he'd not taken. When he had passed by it didn't appear to go anywhere, and his keen sense of direction it appeared to be going in the wrong direction. He decided to simply find an entrance and exit door to the outside of the hospital. He could then determine exactly where he was and find the parking lot where Nadine had parked her vehicle. So that's what he decided to do and headed that way.

The closer he came to the emergency department the more crowded the corridor became. Two security guards were walking toward him. They didn't appear to be looking directly at him so he stepped up the pace to walk behind a tall man walking ahead in his same lane.

They passed the guards. While one of them looked into Jose's eyes, he kept going and then turned right at the corridor's entrance. This corridor, less traveled, led to a closed in solarium that had no exits to anywhere else; in other words, a dead end. Several patients were sitting in comfortable appearing chairs. Most of them seemed spaced out and or staring straight ahead or to the floor.

A nurse approached him from behind. She asked, "Can I help you?"

Jose swiveled around to face the speaker and said, "I seem to be lost. I'm looking for a hospital exit."

"Well, there is an exit through the Emergency Room. Take a right at the end of this hallway then go straight. The doors will be on the right. That's probably the closest one."

"Thank you, Ma'am. I'm actually looking for the main entrance." Jose replied, then continued with a small white lie, "I am to meet my parents there."

"Oh, okay. Just go straight past the intersection. An elevator bank at the end will take you up to the Lobby."

"Kewl. Thank you, Ma'am. Have a good day."

The nurse nodded then walked into the room to attend to her patients.

Upstairs in the Lobby were the main doors to the hospital. He went outside, got his bearings and then headed toward the parking lot closest to the Emergency Room. He found their car and waited for Nadine to return to it, not thinking that she would be inside awaiting word about the paperwork shuffle and CPS interview.

Nadine, sitting inside of a conference room waiting for an escort to Jose's treatment room, or a CPS worker, or hospital staff to tell her something, became impatient. An inquiry to the front desk proved fruitless. The receptionist could neither admit nor deny any such patient was being treated in their facility, due to privacy rules and regulations.

She returned to her seat, pulled out a cell phone and dialed Ken's private number, "Hi Honey."

"Hey yourself. Look, we've got a problem. Do you have any paperwork showing we're Jose's guardians?"

"No, we don't. Won't they treat him?"

"Yes, they're treating him, but I cannot be with him. The only thing I know is that they are contacting CPS for authorization to treat him. The staff, for privacy concerns, will give me no information. Did you have this situation come up in Topeka?"

"No. We received permission for treatment from his parents. Hmmm. Okay, I'm going to do this: the police need to interview him. If they aren't already there, then no problem; I'll just let them know where he is. We'll work it out."

"Okay, that sounds like a good plan. How are the little ones?"

"Kaydyn and Shelly booked a hotel room for a few days until we can get the house professionally cleaned. I doubt that anybody can come in until Tuesday at the earliest. Monday is a holiday. I'm going to book you and me a room, too."

"How's Tomas?"

"Bruised. His legs are getting puffy and red. Indirect impact injuries. I don't think there are any fractures."

"I really feel for him. He finally gets on his feet, and now this. He'll get through it, though. He's got an inner strength that I knew was there but hadn't come out yet. Since I can't get any information, I'm going to the car and have a cigarette, or two."

"You really need to quit those things. They're bad for your health." Ken said, knowing that Nadine would defend her habit.

She just quipped, "We've had this conversation. Good bye. Love you." Click. Ken smiled.

Jose, shivering from the cool breeze and no jacket, huddled against the car, waiting for the nice lady who had welcomed him into their home.

A golf cart approached from the rear. Jose turned around to see who was driving it. Yet another security guard was behind the controls. The man pulled up alongside the car. Jose debated on making a run for it, but decided against it for it would bring a lot of attention to himself, something he did not want to happen.

The guard stopped and said from within, "You look cold. What are you doing out here?"

Jose lied, "I'm waiting for my mom. She should be along pretty soon."

"Why don't you get in? You look cold. I'm not doing much right now except for running through the parking lots."

Jose thought for a moment before accepting the invitation. He got into the cart and closed the flap. The inside was nice and toasty. The guard put it into gear and they headed for the emergency room entrance to take a look around for Nadine. The man chuckled, assuming Jose had been or was the patient, "The paperwork factory sometimes takes hours to complete, or so it seems. What happened to you, if I can ask?"

"I hurt my arm. You're right. She was waiting to get things straightened out."

"I'm sorry you were injured. Is it serious?"

"Not really. The doctor said I'd heal up and be back to normal in a few days. They made a really big deal out of it."

"I'm going to pop over to lot B. I have to drive through each lot every hour or so. You are certainly welcome to come with me. We'll be back here in about twenty minutes."

Jose nodded after visually sweeping the emergency entrance one more time. There were people going into and out of the hospital. He didn't see anyone who looked like Nadine, but then again it was crowded.

"They're sure busy." Jose offered once they were on a well-traveled parking lot road.

"That they are. Keeps people like me busy and employed." The man chuckled.

Twelve minutes later, the driver headed for the ER parking lot and drove by Jose's car. Just as they passed by, a woman exited the vehicle. Jose exclaimed, "There she is. Please drop me off here. Thank you so much."

"Good luck, Son."

Nadine looked to her side toward the sound of a small engine vehicle. She was shocked to see Jose approaching her. He smiled brightly. She said, "What are you doing here?"

"Looking for you, Ma'am. I think we should probably get out of here before they find me."

She tossed the cigarette to the ground. Jose stomped it out and said, "Those things are bad for you."

"Oh God, not you, too." Nadine grinned and chuckled.

Thirty minutes later they arrived home. The driveway was empty and the house was dark. Nadine pulled in and said, "We're going to be staying at a hotel for a few days until our house can be put back in order. I talked to my husband earlier, but I don't know where they're staying." She retrieved the cellphone from her purse, pushed speed dial #1 and waited for an answer.

Ken answered on the third ring, "Hi Honey."

"Back to you. I have Jose in the car. He's quite the kid. Anyway, where are you?"

"We're at the Hilton suites in west Omaha, on Chicago Street."

"I know where that is. We'll be there in a little while. See ya in a bit."

Topeka, Kansas, Burroughs West Baptist Church

Charles Stryker, Commander of Topeka's Police Strike Force, was called and informed that he needed to immediately return to the church to oversee a disturbing aspect of the investigation. Special Investigator, William Kimball, informed Stryker that a laboratory was found in the garage outbuilding. In it, they found a freezer containing various body parts of young people, and a large freezer case containing dozens of test tubes partially filled with frozen white liquids.

"Honey, I've got to go to a crime scene. This cannot wait until morning. Love you." Stryker said then kissed his wife of many years, and the mother of his children.

As he drove to the crime scene, he kept thinking of his children and how fortunate they were to be in a loving but strict home environment. At the same time, his mind would not shut out the visions of that boy, Jose, strapped to the table with the large black tube exiting his bottom, and the terror in his eyes.

Normally, he didn't talk 'shop-talk' with his wife, Sara, but did so this time. She spoke with the Department of Child Welfare (DCW) to see what if anything could be done by them since Jose's father was killed and his mother was incapacitated due to severe mental disease that made her unfit for parenthood. Although her doctors were fairly confident the conditions would abate with time, there was need for foster care since they couldn't say how long getting her back into his world would take.

Half an hour later, in plain clothes, he arrived at the church. Kimball, age twenty nine, and a five year veteran of the special investigations unit under Stryker, met his supervisor after getting out of his unmarked department issued vehicle. They went inside of the house. Kimball led them to a small bedroom and gave his boss a pair of lint free forensics gloves to wear. Once the gloves were on, they walked to a bedroom on the first floor. It was obviously a boy's room, what with posters of both male and female Christian singers and other artists Stryker was unfamiliar with, painted blue walls, dark blue sheets, light blue comforter, and clothing scattered about that needed laundered.

A dresser was standing alongside a wall just to the left of the door. Another was located across the room against the opposite wall. Both dressers had their drawers open. Kimball led Stryker to the first dresser, reached inside and pulled out a few digitally enhanced pictures of little children, both boys and girls, mostly boys, engaged in full anal and, in the case of the girls, vaginal, intercourse, and other deviate sexual activities.

Stryker immediately recognized a crescent moon birthmark on a younger appearing phallic structure. He was very nearly positive the birthmark belonged to Edmond. Further methods to positively ID the penis to those in the pictures were needed.

There were also pictures of a larger phallus fully engaged in anal sexual intercourse with some babies as young as eighteen to twenty four months of age. Most of the pictures clearly showed the older boy's, Jeffrey's, face, body and penis. Most of the children, however, appeared to be in the preteen and early teenage groups.

Although the pictures sickened both men, what really got to Stryker was the child victims' eyes. They, clearly, showed evidence that the victim was under the influence of drugs and or alcohol as they were often dull, even lifeless.

Kimball stated, "We've identified seventeen distinctly different youth victims. The older youth's identity is positively identified. The younger one, not so much. My first interview with both perpetrators reveals they were given the victims by their grandfather."

“This is what I want done: one - group the pictures by each victim, wherever possible. Two - if the victim cannot be determined, then group them together. Three - count each group and every picture under same.

"Each picture will be used to support a felony charge.

"I want it done by the book. I do not want those fucking kids walking the streets ever again.

Another thing is that the family has many lawyers within it. Most, if not all of them, are corporate types. This does not, of course, mean they do not have access to some real hot shots. Make this case completely airtight.”

"Yes, Sir. KBI and FBI resources are also looking into this case."

"What else do you have?"

"Phillips' wife was found dead from an apparent self-inflicted small caliber gunshot to the head."

"Good for her. That's one less piece of shit to deal with."

"KBI found at least twenty seven bank accounts, both foreign and domestic, that her husband had run money through. It seems the elder Phillips has a very large clientele, or market if you will, for underage children to engage in sexual acts, and various forms of interstate 'commerce' such as drug mules, child trafficking, etc. Which brings me to the next item of business, which is what I specifically called you in to look at."

"What's that?" Stryker asked, still looking at the pictures showing appalling acts between adults and children, and children on children, and even adult females on male children.

"This place has a laboratory. It has a chest-type freezer having dozens of test tubes with a white substance inside of them. Although we are presuming the contents are semen, they are being catalogued and examined under the microscope."

Stryker's eyebrows raised with questions emanating from his eyes. He remembered a discovery conversation that went along the lines of boy children being forced to ejaculate into test tubes – Jose. It was Jose who said that he was subjected to masturbation, not by his own hand, and felt a cold object applied to his penis during emission.

"Son of a bitch. This is even more fucked up than I originally thought."

"How's that, Sir?" Kimball asked while opening a bottom right drawer to show Stryker even more pictures of male child on male child, and male adult on male child sexual abuse.

"Look, we need to search for any evidence that those tubes containing what you believe to be semen, are being bought and sold onto some market. The markets are likely foreign. Ok, let's go see what you've found."

The men walked to the garage out building. Several forensic technicians were sifting through this, that and everything. From all outward appearances the garage had not been, for a very, very long time, used for vehicle parking.

They walked into a room having several chest style freezers arranged along each of the walls and two in the center.

Forensic technicians from the KBI were sifting through each of them. Special Agent Sam Rhodes looked up when Stryker and Kimball entered the room. He said, "You'll want to see this."

Stryker walked to a freezer the man showed him. Several dozen test tubes were lined up parallel to one another. Rhodes pulled out three tubes and showed them to Stryker. Inside of each one was a small piece of what appeared to be skin, very delicate skin. Stryker's blood ran ice cold as a realization came over him. "From outward appearances, these appear to be foreskins of preteen to early adolescent males. I'm going to have them sent to the state investigation lab for confirmation. We'll analyze DNA for matches against lost, abandoned, and murdered children through the entire US database. Based on numbers of rows, their depth and width – I'm estimating about eight hundred forty specimens. But, this isn't all."

Stryker groaned as they walked to another chest. Rhodes reached in and extracted four test tubes. "Until proven otherwise, these appear to be semen samples. As you can see, each are labeled with initials, a number that appears to be a date of birth, followed by a number ranging from one through ten."

Stryker looked at the tube very carefully before asking, "Look for a tube with the initials J.S., a first number of 12141997 and a second number higher than five. If these are in any order, then look for the most recent."

While looking through all of the freezers, there appeared to be over a thousand test tubes containing white frozen fluid.

Stryker looked into Kimball's eyes to see if there was more for him to see, remembering that he'd mentioned something on the phone, about various body parts.

To his dismay, Kimball led him to two more very large upright walk-in freezers in the corner of the room. He announced, "This will blow you away, Sir."

"Not too much will surprise me, trust me."

Kimball looked into Stryker's eyes. Kimball's eyes glazed over. Stryker noted that there was a bit of detachment in the younger officer's eyes. The younger man turned his attention to the freezer, opened the door then stepped aside for his elder.

Immediately, Stryker took in a deep breath and felt his muscles quiver as he looked at each shelf containing six fully formed male adolescent heads, feet, hands, eyeballs, brains, a row of twenty five penises, and a box with fifty or more testicles preserved in formalin.

Feeling a bilge of bile rising in his throat, Stryker ordered a full array of laboratory examinations to be carried out. Without any further delay, he quickly made his way outside, walked to the curb, and hurled, taking great care to not splatter his clothing, all the while thinking the violent exertions would never cease.

But they did cease. He walked back inside. Even though his muscles were quivering from the exertions and mental torture, he made every effort to appear professional, and by most outward appearances he appeared to be in control of his emotions.

Kimball saw right through the façade, however, for he'd visited the curb, too. "What else?"

They went inside of the residence basement. Kimball led Stryker to a bank of computer terminals, and said, "Sir, during the first response storm at the compound, and before the scene was secured, two of our agents witnessed three perpetrators frantically shutting down the system. However, in the melee the agents briefly saw a picture depicting the child victim covered in blood and Phillips falling to the floor.

"Despite repeated attempts to gain entry into the system and using all known typical and highly advanced algorithms – the efforts have failed. The cybercrimes lab in Kansas City is in shambles. They are however, resurrecting their systems in an offsite location. They hope to be operational this afternoon."

Stryker nodded his understanding. "Were there any servers found on this site?"

"No, Sir. However, once the middle aged woman's body was removed, we were able to get up into the ceiling. Two routers and a mass of wiring was found. The technicians continue to trace the wiring. So far they've found twelve cameras hooked into them. They are still searching. Before they can continue, we'll need your 'go ahead' because there is more than one crime scene that has not been fully investigated."

"Meaning the images were transmitted offsite. Find them, God damn it."

After what was planned to be a short nap, Michael awakened and turned onto his side to see the clock reading 6:14PM. Startled that it would be so late, he jumped out of bed, turned on the bedside table light then headed to the bathroom to take care of urgent business. He turned on the shower before sitting down on the can.

A knock on the door interrupted forward progress. "Hey, come on in." Michael yelled over the noise of the water jets.

Jared poked his head in. Seeing Michael taking care of business, he headed to the kitchenette for a Coke. He sat on a chair and waited for his middle brother to arrive.

Freshly showered and flinging his hair to and fro to dry it, Michael traipsed into the kitchenette without wearing a stitch of clothes, hugged his older brother then got himself a Coke and sat down.

Jared looked sharply to Michael and said, "Is everything okay? You slept all afternoon."

"Yup, all is well in paradise. Guess I was tired. I can't believe I slept all afternoon… have you seen Eric?"

"He's not been here that I know of. It's dinner time. It's not like him to miss a meal." Jared mused. He then reached across the table and pulled a loose eyelash from Michael's right eyelid.

"You're a good brother. Love ya, dude." Michael said then went into the bedroom where he dressed in bright yellow briefs, jeans, a flannel shirt, socks and shoes. He messed around with his hair trying to get it spiked, without much success. He looked to Jared through the mirror and gave him a 'help me' expression. His older brother rolled his eyes up into his head but eagerly applied a little more gel and gave a few extra tweaks, to Michael's satisfaction.

They took off for the cafeteria via the first and second floor commons areas to see if Eric and Wayne had returned. They hadn't.

Instead of going directly to the cafeteria, they doubled back and went to the kennel to see if Dog was gone which would mean she was likely with the two missing boys. She was there and ready for some serious human interaction. Instead of letting her out, the two boys petted her through the chain link openings with their fingers. Jared told her that as soon as they finished eating she'd get a good run and be fed.

Dog wasn't at all happy when the boys left the kennel room and closed the door behind them. She tried to tear herself free, but couldn't get out.

Eric, awakened by violent shaking and an elbow repeatedly striking his ribs, tried pushing himself away, but the more he fought the more his body meshed with Wayne's… until whatever they were in fell to the ground, nearly knocking his breath away. Wayne thrashed a few more times before settling down and then laid quietly, his breathing was shallow and rapid.

"Are you awake?" Eric asked softly.

There was no response.

Eric found he could move around a little more freely, but not enough to actually sit up. He ran his feet against the webbing, trying to find an opening big enough to get them out of the tight confines. His toe found a small open space. Fervently he began working to make it larger.

With their arms wrapped around one another's waists, Michael and Jared headed for the cafeteria, entered, grabbed trays and plates and started filling them with delectable food. The special for the meal was fried chicken, potatoes and white gravy.

Jared accepted a position next to Bradley and Melissa. Michael sat down next to John. The boy said, "Dad, have you seen Eric and Wayne?"

"No. No, I haven't. In fact, I haven't seen them all afternoon. I doubt they'll miss dinner."

Michael nodded then started shoveling food into his mouth and endless pit of a stomach. He was half starved. John watched him and felt good that his son's appetite was good and wholesome.

Between bites, Michael said, "I can't believe I slept all afternoon."

"Lazy boy."

"Whatever." The boy replied sarcastically as his mouth chomped into a perfect crispy segment of chicken leg. John just shook his head and took a bite of his own food while thinking his boy was growing up into the typical teenager. Jared had gone through a relatively short episode of being sarcastic and at times sullen, but noted that it was passing the longer they were away from school. He no longer seemed depressed and down in the dumps despite all of the changes over the past few days.

Tony and Adam then entered and sat down at a table close to the rest of the group. As expected, Tony looked like death warmed over. His eyes, sunken into his eye sockets and bloodshot, briefly looked to John then he placed his attention to Adam, his friend. Tony was moving the food around on the plate, not really eating, but not sitting there doing nothing. Adam took several bites to one of Tony's.

Michael wondered why Adam didn't appear to be all that concerned that Wayne wasn't present at the table eating his heart out of house and home as he usually did each meal.

In fact, Adam was concerned with Wayne's absence, however his attention and emotions were placed squarely on Tony's grief and despondency. In his head, he planned to go looking for the two boys once their meal was finished.

Minute by minute Michael's anxiety continued to rise. His stomach felt full even though there was still food on his plate. He knew that dessert was out of the question even though his favorite double-double-chocolate cake had been prepared and was available for consumption. "May I be excused?"

John looked at his son's plate and nodded. "How about you look around while I check with security?"

"Plan. May I be excused?"

"You may. Go ahead. I'll find you." John said then patted Michael's butt with affection as he got up and headed toward the tray depository.

Dalton, Christian, Robbie, Carl, Melissa, Lawrence, Aaron, Luke, and Jordan followed Michael and deposited their trays. Michael, when they were in the hallway, asked, concernedly, "Have you guys seen Eric and Wayne this afternoon?"

With all that had happened that afternoon, nobody had noted their absence.

Jordan offered, "Let's go look for them. We could split up or stick together."

"I think it best that we stick together. That way if we find them we won't be out of communication." Lawrence replied.

Jared and Bradley exited the cafeteria and joined the group. Michael updated them with the plan. They found it to be a good one.

The lobby, closest to the cafeteria was the first stop. Nothing. The same was true for the public restrooms, pool, shower room, bowling alley, weight room, gym, both common areas, and loading dock. They attempted to get into the supply area but it was locked.

Lawrence looked all around at the group then said, "Between all of us, we have access to all of the residential rooms. Let's go check them out."

Jordan suggested looking for the missing boys in the clinic, but Lawrence wanted to find John before they went over there.

John, Dale, Bradley, Bea and Steve, Stephen and Matthew headed for the administrative office area.

Adam and Tony soon joined them. Tony thought that if he could get his mind off of the trauma for a few minutes it would help.

They found Mister Masters and Marie talking in his office. They looked up when the group entered. Their expressions showed concern.

John said, "We seem to have two boys missing. Wayne and Eric haven't been seen since earlier this afternoon. We don't know where they are. The kids are checking this building. What information do you have available? We need to find them."

Mister Masters inquired, "Do you know if they had their card keys with them?"

Nobody knew if they had their keys with them. Probably not, they all agreed.

Mister Masters picked up the phone, pressed a couple of buttons, waited for ten seconds then said, "Theodore, we need to initiate a search for two boys who have not been seen since early afternoon. Their names are Eric Finnegan and Wayne McDonald… their profiles are on file. Meanwhile, I'm going to review property scans. Thank you."

The first order of business was to check entry and exit logins and logouts. The system could then match those transactions to visual scans which would give them the direction they headed.

Eric and Wayne had three logouts and two logins. The last logout for Wayne was 2:02:30PM that afternoon. The visual scan revealed him exiting the building. Problematic was the fact that he was nude. While nudity in and around the building was not then a problem, it was now because of the dropping temperatures. Eric's last exit was 2:02:50PM. He was dressed in a black t-shirt and blue jeans.

Both, walking hand in hand, were headed up the road and then disappeared from sight. Another camera followed them until they were out of its reach. Still, yet another showed their progress to the tight hairpin corner. The time was 2:20:17PM. The fourth camera, they found, much to Mister Master's dismay, was offline. No matter what he did, he could not get a visual.

The last camera honed in on the entrance to the Resort. The views were, unfortunately, very localized, mostly panning in on the gate. No boys were seen entering or exiting the property from that viewpoint.

Mister Masters tried a few additional methods to bring online the images from the downed camera, but the efforts were futile. He said, "This is where we need to start the search." He got on the phone and said that camera #4 was out of service and that the search should begin at the end of camera #3's periphery.

John's concerns rose at thinking the boys would probably have had to have gone into the ravine, directly disobeying instructions to stay away. His next words were ice cold, "I need one of those golf carts and a high-powered flashlight."

The boys looked to the adults expectantly, hoping they could be a part of the search team, but John said, "I want you to stay here. In case Eric and Wayne should come back, then… Mister Masters do you have a couple of radio or walkie talkie coms we could take so that we're in communication?"

Eric continued digging his foot into the hole attempting to enlarge it just enough to squirm out through it. Progress was extremely slow, but he felt he was making some progress.

Wayne continued to have less intense seizures, though one of them was almost as bad as the first one Eric was aware of. These seizures caused Eric to speed up the progress and to put more effort into getting them out of there so that he could go for help.

Twenty minutes later, John, Dale and Bradley, Adam and Steve took off on individual carts toward the Resort entrance, sweeping the area very thoroughly as they went.

Bea and Tony accompanied the kids as they swept the entire building. Mister Masters unlocked a few doors holding mostly linens and various supplies such as shampoo, soap, cleaning fluids and powders. One room was filled with various and sundry computer hardware. He entered alone as it was a sterile environment. He knew the lost boys wouldn't be there, but had to look anyway.

Matthew, completely bored, frowned and said in a little boy's voice, "Doggie. She'll find them."

Everyone looked at the little boy as though he'd just invented sliced bread.

"Good idea, little man." Jared said, approvingly. "Lawrence, Jordan, Luke, Christian, you guys take Dog and do what you have to do. Do not go into the ravine – going down there is not an option. If Dog goes nuts there then come get the adults."

Dalton said, "What about me? I'm going, too."

Jared looked into Dalton's eyes and said, "Dalton, bro, you need to stay here. We don't need for you to get cold. It would be dangerous."

"That's absolutely right." Bea added while putting her arms around the dejected child. He so wanted to be a part of the solution, but was being told he couldn't.

His eyes lowered to the floor then he looked up and reluctantly nodded, remembering John's words.

Bea, feeling pity for the child, added, "Honey, they'll likely need our help when they're found."

Jared added, "That's right. When you and Aaron were found, it took many people to bring you back, to get you warmed up and stabilized. You need to be a part of the team, just not outside, ok?"

Dalton's eyes lit up. He nodded, understandingly.

His eyes lit up some more when Aaron announced, "That's right. We can't be outside for very long. You and me, we're a team, right?"

With their solidarity renewed, they hugged deeply, both of them, for a brief moment, recalling their ordeal and how they were helped.

"Bea, Tony, if you're agreeable, we could go to the pool. If they come back cold, then the warm water would be really, really good for them?

"Perfect. To be honest, I was wondering how we'd warm them up. Thanks. Good idea!"

When they parted, Mister Masters headed for Building B to procure a company van. He took off for the gate after checking in with Marie to let her know where he was going.

Jared, Stephen, Matthew, Tony, Bea, Melissa, Dalton, Carl and Robbie headed for the pool. Tony and Bea sat down at a table to watch the exuberant kids quickly toss their clothes to the pavement and take off diving and jumping into the water.

Once the door was open, Christian was the first to race to Dog's kennel. He knelt down and was the recipient of a severe tongue lashing by one very happy and anxious 'puppy dog', as he termed the animal.

"She loves ya." Jordan said, grinning, as he walked to the door to release Dog. Luke grabbed the bag of dog food and set it next to the kennel door. Lawrence observed their interactions.

As soon as Luke opened the door, they both braced themselves for the onslaught of 'puppy dog', but it didn't happen. Instead Dog tore out, stopping only at the door leading outside. Her tail was wagging ninety miles per hour and she was looking back wondering why it was taking them so long to let her out.

While Luke filled her bowl, Jordan let her out. She made a mad dash to the middle of the field and squatted. Seeing that she was fine and preoccupied, Jordan returned and pulled the bag of food back to its original place in the room and said, "It's not fair that she can't be with us in the residential area."

"I know that's right." Luke replied as he picked up her water bowl and took it to the sink to rinse it out and replenish the supply with fresh cold water.

Meanwhile, Lawrence and Christian walked outside to see Dog squatting for what seemed forever.

The air was very chilly, so they returned and procured coats for everyone to wear.

There were no doggie 'messes' to clean up so the boys went into the dock area and accepted the coats offered them.

Dog was nowhere to be seen when the four of them went outside, thinking that she would want to play. But, she didn't come running to them. Instead, all they heard was silence.

One more thing that she liked to do was to disappear into the darkness and then pounce them unmercifully when they went to find her. Once again, it didn't happen.

Dog, with her olfactory organs on high alert, quickly finished her business and then tore out at breakneck speed toward the origins of those aromas that were driving her protective intuitions into full gear.

With plentiful ease and grace, she headed down a narrow incline leading to the beach approximately fifty feet below. She hesitated but only a moment before jumping in and swimming across the very, very cold water to the other side. On that beach, she shook violently then found a path leading up an incline of about sixty feet, and then worked her sleek strong body up through a series of switchbacks until she arrived at the top.

The scents of several young boys were nearly overpowering, however somehow she kept her calm and her concentration honed in on getting to them.

About halfway across the field, the scents included significant malevolence.

She looked back to the resort to see the boys she loved with all of her heart and soul looking for her, hollering for her to play like they always did. For a moment, she debated on returning to them, but stopped when her keen peripheral vision noted a light had turned on. The light was straight ahead approximately a thousand feet away. Two men walked down a set of stairs to the ground from a house. Dog growled incessantly. She'd found the malevolent source. The aroma was strong, very strong, and too strong to be ignored or put off until another time.

Security personnel accompanied the men. A couple of them took off ahead to blaze the trail and to set up a perimeter. Two more passed when they arrived at the gate. Two more went into the road to block any passing motorists.

Everybody started calling out Wayne and Eric's names. They walked the periphery of the overgrowth, but didn't walk in because the lighting, despite the bright flashlights, was not all that great.

"I'm going to check the other side." Steve announced. Bradley accompanied him. There they saw a very steep drop-off and quickly determined the boys would not have survived such a fall. The surrounding terrain was extremely rough and would require an experienced climber to scale the rocks and their surrounds.

To their surprise, two security men approached. They were indeed dressed in climbing shoes and heavy fireman type clothing. They also had ropes and a litter. The first man said, "This is a very dangerous area. We're going to go down and give a look around. You, please, stay back. The gravel is very loose and is still wet enough to be slippery."

Following instructions, Bradley and Steve stepped back far enough so that they didn't fall. Both knew they would not survive a fall of that magnitude.

Meanwhile, John, Dale and Adam, despite security's asking them to stay away, headed into the brush using their flashlights to light the way. They incessantly called Eric and Wayne's names, nearly screaming from the tops of their lungs. They knew they'd reached the ravine proper when their shoes filled with water, but they continued to slog along, with John leading and Dale following up the rear due to his back aching from having been shot several weeks before. He knew it wasn't healed properly, but he couldn't hold back and give in to the discomfort.

Eric, hearing shouting way off in the distance, started digging even harder, intent upon getting their asses out of the predicament. He was cold, but the exercise and exertions kept him from getting really, really cold. The hole in the netting, he calculated, was probably the length of his leg from the foot to mid-thigh. If he could slide down, he figured he might be able to crawl out from the bottom up.

Just as he was about to do just that, Wayne suffered another major seizure. Wayne's leg slammed into Eric's groin sending him into spasms from extreme pain. Then he hit again. Now desperate, Eric worked his body in such a position so that his butt was receiving the blows. He was afraid to start squirming down for fear that he'd get nailed in the back, knocking the wind out of his chest.

His voice, he found, was weak, but he called out anyway, hoping and praying that they'd be found before Wayne died. Eric was absolutely sure that Wayne was going to succumb from those violent outbursts.

Once again, Wayne calmed down, although his body was still twitching. Eric took the opportunity to bend his legs up tight against his body and then used his arms to push himself down, but found that he was getting tangled up instead of getting loose. Exhausted from the effort, he relaxed to rest before trying it all over again.

While relaxing, he moved the little bit of his leg that was free. Immediately, ice cold water filled his shoe. He wiggled his foot around to find softness against the surface of the ground. His mind started whirling. It returned to the Retraining Camp. He'd felt the coldness and softness before, many times, when he and the other Initiates were dropped into mud and water and left to fend for themselves, to get out on their own. He closed his eyes and concentrated heavily on how he'd gotten out of those situations. Not all of the kids had survived, and he had nearly lost it all because he hadn't been concentrating, paying attention to his surroundings, and from – fear of drowning.

He pushed his other foot over against the one in the water and pushed hard. It was true. This was mud. Ice cold mud, at that. But he knew what he had to do.Despite the freezing cold temperatures of both the air and water, he shimmied his pants down and kicked them off, rolled over onto his stomach and nearly shrieked when his genitals came in contact with the freezing cold mud. His thought immediately went to Michael. He remembered, in vivid detail, about how it had felt so warm inside of Michael's tunnel… he used these thoughts to ignore his current state and get on with the business of survival.

He remembered Discovery episodes that showed how alligators turned and twisted to get out of a tight situation. Although much slower and without nearly as much force, this is how he did it. Although slow, the efforts were sure and honed in. He found the opening once again then concentrated on how slick his legs and torso was getting, and used it to his advantage. At the same time, another area of concentration was remembering, feeling, and experiencing Michael's hotness to keep him from freezing half to death. He remembered how sweaty he'd gotten while running his body over Michael's and how he'd completely penetrated his main man, the same dude who made love to him, and made him feel completely loved.

He was nearly out, but his shoulder got caught in the maze of tightly woven netting, causing his face to go into the cold mud. While he concentrated on moving his nose and mouth out of the muck, he also honed in on how Michael had gone completely berserk when he'd used his nose to invade Michael's sanctuary, and how he'd breathed to continue life. When he needed to breathe, he'd just turn his head just enough to catch a breath and then continue onward.

When Eric got a good breath of air, he slathered the mud all over his upper torso, making it slick enough to wiggle around some more, just enough to break free of the entanglement. He realized he was so close to getting loose when he felt the netting scratching that area between his hip bone and rib cage. He then concentrated on getting his arms above his head so that he could push down to hopefully break free once and for all.

Feeling somewhat rested, Eric twisted his arms, rolled his torso, flexed his hips, brought his legs up and kicked free of the netting. At the same time, though, he fell into absolutely cold freezing water causing his muscles to violently contract. Eric kicked his way to the surface and stood up in the mud, taking care to not slip back into the water.

He still heard the shouting. Those shouts seemed to be getting closer. He thought he was hallucinating when a tiny pinprick of light was seen through the tree branches.

Eric took in a deep breath, fully concentrated on making his voice shout, and then tried it. All that came out was a very loud mouse squeak, or it seemed loud to him, but in all actuality sounded only like a cricket, one of many.

He knew that he had to do something, otherwise he was going to freeze to death.

Using the power of touch, the boy reached his arms down into the net and tried to find the opening so that he could concentrate on getting Wayne out of there. Wayne's seizures had scared the boy and instilled into him a sense of urgency.

After finding the opening, Eric reached inside, grabbed hold of Wayne's knees and jerked using all of his weight and strength. Although Wayne moved to within eight inches of the opening, Eric fell back into the water, mud and muck. Once again he got up, wiped away the stuff from his eyes then used his arms and hands to find Wayne. He repositioned his feet so that they were more stable then yanked as hard as he dared and pulled Wayne free.

Eric was afraid that he'd fall into hypothermia, like Aaron and Dalton, so he scooted into Wayne's body and held on firmly to keep them from falling into the water and to share body heat.

John, Dale and Adam, soon found the going was impossible due to the heavy undergrowth. Security was following on their heels, urging the men to permit them to lead since they had bushwhacker knives to cut through the foliage.

Seeing that the men were going to continue their trek despite requests from them to let them do their jobs, the men in blue forged on and passed the resort guests, taking the lead.

Wayne wiggled free but Eric grabbed him from falling into the water, and said, “Don't. Don't move around. Just stay here. Listen, they're shouting our names.”

“Where are we?” Wayne asked.

"We bees in da swamp, Niggah." Eric said, attempting humor. Wayne giggled despite gurgles coming from deep within his chest.

Meanwhile, remembering how, back at the Camp, to keep warm, began gathering dry, or as dry as possible, leaves and small sticks. He put them all over Wayne's body, then laid down and pulled some more over his own body. They used their body heat and continual movement that caused friction to become not quite as cold.

Wayne, felt around and found Eric's hardness and took hold of it. Eric pushed it away and said, "That's Michael's, not yours. But it's a good idea. Jack it, Wayne. Jack it hard… it'll help us to warm up."

And so it was.

Dog, nearly frantic from the increased human scents, forged toward a group of buildings huddled together. Her feet, battered and bruised from striking soybean and other plant remnants, continued as though they didn't exist.

She stopped at the outermost periphery of light. Standing there very quietly to get her breath even and quiet, and to pull in reserve strength, she saw the two men gathering up firewood. She looked to the roof of the house and saw what appeared to be steam exiting a flue, not a chimney.

On those cold nights, Katy had told her pup that she used both a furnace and fireplace to augment one another.

But there was no chimney.

What was that wood going to be used for?

Dog looked all around. Using the periphery of the light, stealthily she walked to the house and peered around the corner and looked toward the porch where the men were stacking wood. Her senses were becoming overwhelmed by the malevolent scents coming from those assholes. She sensed danger. Her vision then turned to a brick and mortar object located out in the middle of the side yard. The men started carrying the wood to that object.

She heard one of them, the taller man say, "This is absolutely nuts. The kids are not eliminated until they're sixteen years old. One of them is only twelve."

"I know. But hey, we're getting paid whether or not we argue about it. By the way, I get that kid without knees. Heh, he's a hot one."

"He'll be begging for more. But he'll not be begging as much as that freak, you know the one, without arms… he'll be begging for more, I swear it!"

"Heh, you better get the turd without legs. At least he won't be able to run away from you."

Both men laughed hideously then returned to their chores, completely unaware they were being stalked. Neither did they, nor could they see that Dog's fangs were bared and that her lips were dripping with saliva, and that her eyes were boring holes straight through their swarthy, sweating bodies.

"Which one are we going to do first?"

"The twelve year old. We'll use him as a test case."

"Yeah, ok, why don't we just do like we always have… you know, pork 'em, skewer them, and then just bury them out in the trees?"

"Yeah, bury them like the rest of them. No trace.”

“I want to yank out their teeth and use them to make me a necklace like yours.”

Both men roared with laughter.

"That twelve year old is something else. He's so fucking cute."

"That may be true, but he scares the hell out of me."

"Yeah, those eyes of his. It's like they cut your heart out and serve it for dinner."

"He's possessed. I'm going to put him face down so that he gets to see what it means to be a slab of meat. When he's about half done we could use one of those sticks to skewer him and let him slow cook." Bwahahaha.

"That'll take too long. We've got to get this done while it's still dark."

"Oh well, it was a good idea. Come on. Come on. Let's get this show on the road."

For the next half hour the men continued to stack the wood, taking care to keep the grates clear.

"Ok, that's good. Go fetch the diesel fuel. We'll get it lit up and hot."

The heavyset man approached with a five gallon container of diesel fuel. He scattered it all over the wood and then emptied the rest in the middle.

Both men then positioned themselves approximately three feet away, lit matches then tossed them onto the pile. The first time didn't work, but the second round did. The pile immediately engulfed in flames. The men felt heat from the inferno. They watched and waited. Embers began forming deep within. The heat caused them to step back another foot, then another.

What they didn't know was that Dog was standing in front of the porch waiting for the right moment. She wasn't sure she could effectively body slam a grown man…

Their screams were short and to the point. Within ten seconds their vocal cords were fried to a crisp. Thirty seconds later, four quick muffled explosions fanned the flames just a little bit more as their lungs exploded jets of air into the inferno.

When they stopped voluntarily moving, Dog quietly, stealthily, walked up the porch stairs, stood in front of the door and listened very carefully. The snap, crackle, pop from and within the inferno was easy to discern because there wasn't the overwhelming malevolence any longer. Instead, her senses picked up innocence that was longing for attention and affection, pureness, and dedication emanating from eleven distinctly different spiritual beings.

For five seconds, she debated on body slamming her body against the door to get their attention so that they could get out of the house of Satan, but sensing no further malevolence emanating from the dwelling, she turned on her heels and tore out to get help. Her senses of smell and hearing told her that Luke, Jordan, Lawrence and Christian were still outside messing around, waiting for her. The only difference on her return trip was that she found a sandbar to cross the large water body to use instead of going through it.

Dog began barking as soon as she got to the top and started heading for the boys. Luke and Lawrence dropped to the ground and covered their faces, anticipating a mauling. But Jordan thought differently. Her bark was different. His memory returned to when she was telling them that Aaron and Dalton were in trouble. He dropped to his knees and reached out his arms to his canine friend. She arrived, licked his face a couple of times then began running in circles and barking. He said, "Dog isn't fucking around. Something's wrong."

The boys stood then took off running to follow her. They stopped close to the ravine's drop off. "What's wrong, Girl?" Jordan asked with gravity dripping from his voice.

She exploded a series of quick barks from her larynx, followed by incessant whining.

Luke spoke first, "Dog, we're not supposed to go across the ravine. We're going to get some adults."

Jordan fell to his knees, put his arms around her neck and said, assuredly, "We'll be right back." He then kissed her nose.

The boys ran for the residential building with Dog on their heels, quickly scanned in and then ran to the adult commons area. Empty.

Lawrence knocked on Steve and Bea's door while Luke knocked on Dale's. Christian knocked on Adam's. There were no answers. The last room, Tony's, they debated on disturbing him. They knew that he was badly hurting and didn't want to bother him. But Lawrence knocked anyway.

There was no answer so they headed upstairs. After finding the commons area empty they headed for the residential rooms.

Two security guards were posted. They sat on chairs. One was positioned in Seth's doorway, the other in Wayne's.

Lawrence, for a moment debated about telling the guards of their dilemma, but thought otherwise because he wasn't very trusting of adults outside of the group.

He had access to his family's suites, entered each room but found nobody present.

Luke and Jordan had access to Bradley and Melissa's, and Robbie and Carl's room, while Christian had access to his and Dalton's. All rooms were empty.

Their next stop was the pool.

Bea, Tony, Dalton and Melissa were sitting at a table next to the pool talking about this, that and everything. The boys approached. Bea, seeing the very worried expression on Lawrence's face, reached out her hand to him, but Jordan spoke up, "Ma'am, our Dog is going absolutely nuts. There's something very wrong. She doesn't act that way… she hasn't acted that way since, since she led us to Aaron and you, Dalton. We're worried."

Jared, Michael and Aaron approached. Lawrence repeated Jordan's concerns.

Jared frowned. He too had seen Dog's reaction just before the rescue of his new brothers.

Carl and Robbie, Stephen and Matthew approached the table.

Bea, taking charge, asked, "Where is she?"

"Outside. She took us to the ravine, but we stopped knowing we aren't to be there."

"We're thinking that maybe she's found Wayne and Eric."

Michael took in a deep breath. "I'm going, too." He took off for his room to get dressed. He was nearly frantic with worry. And he was pissed at himself over the fact that he hadn't gone outside with the others.

Jared said, "Me, too."

Bea thought for a second before saying, "Jared, I want you to stay here with the younger kids. I'll go.

Aaron said, "I'm going, too."

Jared looked sharply to his new brother, "Bro, you need to stay here. The cold. And you're wet. Remember?"

"I can't just do nothing, sorry." Lawrence's boyfriend said implicitly.

Lawrence replied, sharply, "Stay here. If we find Eric and Wayne, then we'll need you. I don't want you outside. It's cold. And Jared is right, you're wet. Please. Do this for me."

"Ok. Ok, I'll stay here." Aaron said, giving in, knowing that his boyfriend was absolutely correct.

Bea added, parentally, "I want you guys to get dressed in warm clothes. Meet me at the front door. I'm going to get security personnel."

The boys headed for their rooms to follow Bea's directions. Within ten minutes they were taking the steps down two at a time. Bea wasn't there yet.

Momentarily, Bea approached. The group headed to the administrative area where the security command center is located. Marie was sitting in her office working on some paperwork. She looked up as Bea and the boys entered without knocking. Bea turned to Jordan and nodded.

Jordan said, "Ma'am, our dog is telling us that something is very wrong. She's only acted like this one other time. When we rescued Aaron and Dalton… well, she took us to them. If she wouldn't have then they would have died. The problem is that she's pointing to the ravine."

Michael took over, "Ma'am, maybe she's trying to tell us that Eric and Wayne… maybe she'd found them."

Lawrence nodded and continued with Michael's vein, "This is a security issue. If my brothers are in danger, then it's your responsibility to do everything in your power to find them. I'm not blaming you for their leaving the area, but we need your help, please."

Marie contemplated her options for a moment before offering, "Here's what I know. Our security detail has gone to the entrance where we feel the two missing boys are. They were seen walking up the road toward it. All of our available personnel are located there. We have two of our people maintaining two resident rooms. Two men, our last officers, are manning grounds monitoring and are maintaining all communications."

Michael groused, "Are you telling me that you cannot or will not at least investigate? Our dog is going crazy… whatever."

The distraught boy left the office and headed down the corridor toward the adult's common area. As soon as he got out of earshot, in a rare display of anger, he said angrily, "Bullshit. It's bullshit."

Lawrence hollered, racing up the corridor to get Michael, "Michael STOP! Just stop!"

Michael stopped and turned to Lawrence. Lawrence, seeing tears of anger in Michael's eyes, pulled the boy into his arms. Michael tried fighting, half-way anyway, but gave in and said, "I've got to go, Lawrence. My boyfriend is out there. I can't leave him out there in the cold. I just can't."

"I know. We're all going together. Right now."

Jordan, Luke, Christian, and Bea approached. Bea said, "Michael, calm down. You're not alone. I'm the adult here. We're going to follow your dog." She reached up and wiped away the wetness in his eyes. Michael nodded, relaxing, somewhat.

The group headed to the dock area, procured warm coats, hastily scanned out and were greeted by Dog. Bea, having only heard of the canine's activities, saw them with her own eyes. Her sense of urgency increased, but remained calm. She, following an exuberant dog, led them to the ravine.

Christian's sense of hurt and harm, something that had been dogging him all day, was rising with each footstep. He knew there was something wrong, but couldn't bring its source into his mind enough to have a clear mind. Add to that the death in the residence, Eric and Wayne missing, and the current anxiety expressed by the people surrounding him.

Dog, not wanting them to get wet, led them downstream about thirty yards to a sand bar where they crossed. Also, the incline was not as steep.

Christian was up first. Dog stepped on his feet and nuzzled his face when he reached down to pet her, hoping she would calm his troubling thoughts.

Bea and the rest observed the interaction, then surrounded the two, joined arms, and then received a slurp. Dog broke away from the group then walked about ten feet away and waited for them expectantly.

Jordan whispered, "That's love. That's love." He then leant in and touched Christian's lips with his. "Let's go."

When the group moved out, Jordan grabbed Luke then gave his boyfriend a kiss he wouldn't soon forget. They then ran to catch up.

Christian turned to Bea and said, "Some kids are in trouble. Unfortunately, they are not Wayne and Eric. But… Eric and Wayne are ok."

Michael, following shortly behind, heard Christian's statement. He approached, "What did you just say?"

"Michael, I feel that Eric is okay. He's strong…"

"Where is he? Where is my Eric?" Michael said loudly, very close to shouting. Michael's anger, though not unexpected, caused Christian to shiver. He half expected to be punched, but took the chance by putting his hands on either side of Michael's temples, not knowing if he could send what he was feeling from inside of his being. He closed his eyes and sent, as hard as he could, what he was feeling.

Although Michael had no idea what Christian was doing, he calmed down knowing that being angry was not going to get him anywhere. "Ok, I'm sorry for being an asshole. This has been a really bad day, and it's not over yet. I'm going back. Sorry guys."

Jordan looked to Michael to see him turning his back and taking a step forward. "Michael, wait up. I'll go with you." He looked to Bea for adult approval.

She nodded. He touched Luke's lips with his then took off with Michael and headed toward the resort's residential area to get their bearings before embarking up the road by foot.

Dog, meanwhile, seeing and sensing Lawrence, Luke, Christian and Bea were on their way, took off down the ravine to check on Eric and Wayne, and to lead the adults to them. Her senses told her that their conditions were becoming precarious, at best.

She very nearly scared the hell out of them when she wormed her body into their cocoon, fiercely lapped their faces with complete love, dedication and concern. She noted their skin to be very cool, very cool, but not cold.

After one last lap across their noses, she pushed her way through the undergrowth, walked a few paces and then started barking very loudly letting the rescuers know that they were getting close.

Wasting no time, knowing that the other search party would be getting very close to the house, she tore out through the thicket. As fast as her legs would carry her, she soon arrived just as Lawrence, Luke, Christian and Bea approached the porch. Immediately upon arriving, her keen sense of smell picked up eleven strong scents of humans, youths in their teenage years. These scents were distinctly different than the boys she'd grown to protect and came to love over the past few months. She climbed the stairs then stood attentively as they joined her.

Christian, too, sensed strong evidence of youth behind the heavy wooden door. He said to the others, "There are many people who are going to need our help. Do not be shocked at what you see. They need our love and support. I will lead the way."Bea was about to exert parental authority, however Christian turned the door knob, took a step inside, walked to a kitchen countertop and motioned for the rest to join him. He said, "This is something I must do. Please wait here."

Lawrence said, "We're here together. We'll all go with you."

"No, they'll be afraid of too many people entering all at once. Let me go in, first. I'll assess their situation. Please. These kids do not need to be scared more than they already are."

Lawrence regarded Christian for a moment before turning to Bea to gauge her reaction. She was thinking very deeply. Reluctantly, she nodded to Christian then looked into Lawrence's eyes. She saw that he was waiting for her decision.

Without knowing why, they observed Christian removing his clothing. He handed the articles to Lawrence then padded into the darkness beyond the light given by fixtures in the kitchen. Lawrence neatly folded them and placed them on the countertop, all the while wondering why Christian disrobed to his skin.

The strong scent of lavender incense led Christian through a wide expansive room into another smaller area lit only by candles. The room, richly furnished had three light-colored sofas arranged in a U. The sofas were centered along the periphery of a large coffee table. Large white candles sat on it. The glow clearly showed silhouettes of eleven boys with a candle in front of each.

All but one boy was oblivious to Christian's presence. The boy looked to Christian with wonderment emanating from his eyes. He got up from his place at the table, walked to Christian and reverently bowed toward the new arrival.When the boy returned from the bow, Christian honored the boy by bowing toward him, noting he was approximately five foot six inches and weighed about one hundred thirty pounds, and that he had dark brown hair and eyes.

Christian noted that even though the resident boy was standing, he was tilted to the right, and that he appeared to be in moderate pain. Christian said, "I bring you no harm. My name is Christian."

The boy, sensing no danger, responded, "My name is Zander. I am the leader for my brothers. We bring you no harm, either. Why are you here?"

"We were led here by a Greater Spirit, a rescuer and healer of children. The adults, I'm afraid, have transferred their bodies into The Next, and their spirits are banished to the gates of heat and terror."Zander nodded. His expression was emotionless, though his eyes sparkled from the dancing of the flames emitting from the candles.

"Those who accompany you, I am not frightened by them. Please let them join us. We will bring you no harm."

Christian nodded his understanding. He said, "I will return with them in a moment."Zander nodded then returned to his place at the table. Christian noted the pronounced curvature of Zander's spine, and sensed pain when the boy sat next to another older boy. He whispered something into the boy's ear. The boy looked toward Christian then returned his attention to the candle.

Christian walked into the kitchen to note Lawrence and Luke, waiting for him, had removed their clothing. He nodded his approval then said to Bea, "You all may enter. The inhabitants have physical deficiencies so please do not be alarmed. We will go in slowly so as to not frighten them."

With that said, they followed Christian to see the eleven boys kneeling before candles, largely oblivious to their presence. Once again, Zander arose and walked to their visitors. Like Christian, he sensed no malevolence in any of them.

Bea could and did readily realize that Zander was afflicted with severe scoliosis, and she observed he appeared to be in great pain with every movement of his body. She approached the boy, gently pushed his hair out of his eyes, and smiled letting him know that she was only there to help, not to frighten him or the others.

The boys around the coffee table began chanting with requests for forgiveness and strength of a Greater Being to keep them safe and free from sin.

They finished their prayer then opened their eyes and looked at the new arrivals. They gave no indication that they were afraid. Bea looked to each of those boys. Her heart rang out that they did not know what a Mother was or one's purpose.

A second boy arose from his place behind the table, approached Bea and held out his arms. She didn't know if the child would accept or reject her, but, taking a chance, held out her arms to him. Neither approached the other. When the boy lowered his arms, Bea followed suit.

Zander said, "His name is Leander. He is unable to speak, but is able to sense your emotions. His speech is replaced by gestures. He is gentle and is quite contented with his lot in life. If you wish, he will accept your arms."

Bea approached Leander then opened her arms. The boy took a tentative step toward her. At that time, Bea approached and wrapped her arms around him and pulled him into her bosom. Leander cautiously wrapped his around her waist, feeling comfortable with her gesture. It was quick, though. Feeling as though he was overstepping her generosity, he stepped back and looked to Zander for approval. Zander nodded. And, surprising to Leander, and to himself, as well, he opened his arms and joined Bea as had Leander. He too didn't hold the hug for any more than one minute, but did feel strength pass into his body, a strength he was unaccustomed to.

Bameel, kneeling on Leander's other side, got up from his position and approached Bea and Christian.

Luke estimated the boy to be approximately five foot eight inches tall and one hundred forty pounds. His long light black hair fell across his eyebrows above light blue eyes.

Bea immediately saw that Bameel's skin was covered with massive crusty and sores from psoriasis. She could also tell that Bameel was fairly toxic from other immune system disorders. To show the child that she was not afraid of him, she approached him and held out her arms. Bameel looked at her with confusion emanating from his being. Zander said, "She will hold you in her arms. It's good and just. Don't be afraid."

Bameel looked intently, first to Zander, and then to Bea. Bea walked to him and held out her arms. Bea's hug was firm while Bameel's was weak and unsteady. She ran her hands down his back to note that the immune disorder had a grip on all of the skin. She dared lower her hands to his bottom and felt the scales there, too. Bameel broke the hug, not because he was repulsed by her touch, because he wasn't, but because he felt safe that someone would take the time to pay him attention. He then held up his flaccid penis for her to see. She noted the scales looked especially painful. From her time around the boys at the resort, knowing they experienced erections at will, felt bad because this boy would and did obviously experience pain when he experienced them. Bea asked him, "Do you take medicine for your skin condition?"

"No Ma'am. We do not take chemicals into our body. Our Patriarch states that our infirm conditions are for the good and wellbeing of our brothers and sisters and are seen in favor with him."

Bea swallowed hard. "He will no longer hurt or harm you. He is dead. He died while hurting and harming another boy about your age. I have a friend, a doctor, who will see that you are properly treated. You'll get better."

"As you wish."

Luke approached and said, "You are a very beautiful person. She's right. Patriarch is dead. He won't hurt you anymore. Bea is a nurse. When she says you can be treated, then you can be treated. Don't be afraid. Doctor John is a really kewl man. I trust him. He's never hurt me." He put his arm around Bameel's shoulder and led him to the fireplace where they stood to observe events unfold. Leander didn't realize that he'd put his arm around Luke's waist and let his hand rest on the top of Luke's globe. Although Leander didn't notice, Luke did. He felt stirrings but pushed them away as another boy stood and walked to Bea.

Zander said, "This is Fajib. While he has no useful arms, he has learnt to use his feet to attend to his basic needs and to be largely independent."Bea looked this boy over. He appeared healthy in every regard except that his right arm was absent below his elbow, and that his left one was disarticulated at the shoulder. Neither site looked as though his arms had been removed. Instead their absence was the result of a gene disorder. Fajib, having seen the other boys touch her, quickly approached her and wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled himself into her bosom. Bea quickly drew him into a firm hug.

He then approached Christian, looked into his eyes for a very long second before drawing Christian into his arm and held on firmly. Christian's eyes watered as he felt the boy's pain … not physical pain … rather the pain was coming from his emotions. Before parting, Fajib touched Christian's lips with his. Their spirits and emotions, followed by certain physical attributes that set them apart from the female gender, melded for a brief moment. Surprised with their reactions, they parted. Lawrence then led Fajib to where Luke and Leander were standing, observing.

Zander then approached the next boy arranged at the coffee table and said in introduction, "This is Washamat. He has no legs and is mentally deficient. Washamat say hello."

"Hello." The boy said clearly and loud enough to be heard, though his voice was soft and gentle.

Washamat appeared to be about fifteen years old, approximately five foot nine inches and about one hundred fifty one pounds. Though he first appeared obese, when he sat on the sofa, he was seen to be very muscular throughout his neck, chest, abdomen and shoulders. He smiled and held out his arms to be hugged. Bea stepped around the table and welcomed this boy into her arms. She held him firmly and found that he was in no hurry to part ways. She observed his absent legs were not from amputation, but, also, from a genetic abnormality.

Meanwhile, Christian observing their interaction, approached. He sat on the coffee table to face Washamat then put both of his hands on either side of the boy's temples. Two minutes later, Christian announced, "He is not mentally deficient. Washamat is highly intelligent and logical. He will go far in this world."

Bea and Washamat parted. With no sense of shame or embarrassment, Christian and Washamat joined their lips. From Luke's vantage point, he determined that although the boy had no legs to walk on, his third leg, if he would put his mind to it, would carry him far.

Christian's demeanor, however, was grim and troubled for he knew Washamat, despite his deficiency, was found in favor by Patriarch. Christian winced as the boy passed into him the true nature of Patriarch's love for this male child. Yet, he was surprised that Washamat had no pain in his heart, soul or mind.

The true nature of the two deceased men and their activities became clear to Christian. Once again, he was very surprised at Washamat's responses and reactions to those two men were the same as The Patriarch. He held no fear or resentment toward the man.

Christian parted, stood and felt stirrings painfully emanating from his male gender assignment attribute. Without shame or embarrassment, Christian scratched his organ then turned his attention to the boy setting beside Washamat.

Zander, noting Christian's and Washamat's external affairs, smiled then urged the next boy to stand. He made introductions, "This is Muzi. Muzi is twelve years old. Instead of being deficient, Muzi is blessed. Show them, Muzi."Muzi stood. From all appearances, the boy appeared completely normal. For a moment, after seeing all of the boys, thus far, Luke and Lawrence wondered why this child was being held in captivity. As did Bea.

Muzi, using his hands, brought himself to a full erection. Although his stature was small, his physical development was similar to a late thirteen thru mid-fourteen year old boy. Once he was completely erect, he sat down and drew his legs up high.

Although Bea had read about the disorder she'd never seen a genetically engineered boy have both penis and vagina. Seemingly, as though they'd done it a thousand times, maybe more, Muzi lowered his legs, moved over and sat upon Washamat's organ. With considerable effort, Washamat's maleness disappeared deeply into Muzi's vagina. Before they consummated their union, Muzi stood and looked deeply into her eyes.

The woman stole back her composure and reached out her arms to him. He walked to her and accepted her hug and nuzzled his face into her bosom causing Bea to hold him more firmly. Zander softly said, "Patriarch found favor with him."

When they parted, Muzi accepted Christian's hands placed upon his temples. Christian swallowed hard as the boy was wide open to mental penetration. Yeah, Patriarch was proud of the child, but for reasons very different than that which Patriarch had used him for. Instead, the man had pretty much treated Muzi as though he was a circus act. He also found that Muzi and Washamat were emotionally and spiritual intertwined, and that they had a satisfying physical relationship as well. Once again, he felt no pain emanating from and or through Muzi's emotional state. Pushing away all sense of fear instilled into him by his friends and brothers, Christian found himself in need. His organ reacted quickly by becoming rock hard. The two boys pulled apart, intently looking into one another's eyes, and feeling intense need.

Lawrence and Luke, meanwhile, stood with their mouths agape at seeing the versatility of the boy.

Lawrence had at one time, extensively researched the subject of hermadrophytism for there was one or two times where he'd questioned his gender assignment. Not so much anymore for he was completely physically, spiritually and emotionally enmeshed with Aaron. Not only that, but he was comfortable with his organ. All along, because it was deformed, he'd wondered if Aaron would find it attractive.

He drew himself back to the present, realizing his body was reacting to his mind – again. He looked to Bea. Her attention had shifted to the next boy at the coffee table. Christian looked back to Lawrence and rolled his eyes up into his head then dismissed the bright blush on Lawrence's face.

Zander said, "This is Uman." The boy nodded then Zander continued, "Uman has no kneecaps and is missing his big toes on both feet, but, he, too, is very intelligent."

Uman, with some difficulty, stood and faced Christian. Their eyes met and locked. Uman's stiff legs presented no problem with approaching the new arrival. He was approximately five foot three inches tall and about one hundred twenty pounds, had white-blond hair and hazel eyes. His eyes were the most striking feature about him. Most of Christian's brothers and sisters in his tribe had similar hair color due to exposure to the sun for most of the year.

Bea noted the boy's legs had no scars indicating any trauma or surgical intervention that would make his legs stiff. She estimated that his knees were likely fused to the upper and lower leg major bones. She too was enamored with his hair. He said, desiring to take the attention off of him, "This is my brother Shada." He then drew Shada into his side and made sure the boy was facing the new arrivals.

Christian, though, wanted to enter the depths of Uman's mind for the boy seemed dismissive of himself, almost to a fault. Fear and shame was emanating, and he wanted to find out what it was caused by so that he could help.

Their eyes met once again. This time, though, Uman permitted Christian's hands to his temples. He then closed his eyes and concentrated deeply, attempting to get into Christian's.

Christian felt the invasion. He was shocked at how strong Uman was. Though he had no shame nor guilt, he felt somewhat uncomfortable with the intrusion. Quickly, though, he relaxed and gave access for he wanted to get into Uman's.

The boys stood in place, taking everything in, giving everything out. For several minutes, oblivious to all surrounding their beings, they learned who they were. Uman sent, "I want to join with you. You are kind and gentle, yet you are very strong and resilient, unlike me."

Christian returned, "No, you are stronger than I am. This is why our meld was, in the beginning, very troubling to me. I've never met someone like you. Even with my Elders knowing so much more than me, yours is different. Yes, I would like to join with you. We have much to explore."

They opened their eyes. Both looked around to see everyone looking at them. Christian, aware first, realized his legs were wet. He looked down to see trails of seminal fluids dripping down his thighs.

Bea, having seen their spontaneous emissions, clucked her tongue then turned her attention to Uman. She smiled and held out her arms. Uman quickly reached out his and accepted hers. He buried his head into her bosom and felt really good, really relaxed, and complete in every way.

Zander cleared his throat. Uman took a place next to Luke. Luke, fully ready for some serious playtime with Jordan, turned his attention to the next boy. Zander stated, "And this is Shada. Shada, we think, is thirteen years old. He is completely deaf, but he senses vibrations in the air to replace a normal sense of hearing. If he doesn't understand something, he'll put his hand on your voice box, so don't be alarmed. Shada is somewhat mentally deficient."

Bea observed that he appeared to be approximately five feet tall and one hundred twenty pounds and seemed to be an older thirteen year old what with his muscular body, fine chest development, and typical hair growth for that age group.Without invitation he drew Bea's arms around his shoulders. He leant in and wrapped his arm around her waist and buried his head into her bosom. He took in a deep breath and savored the moments. Unlike the others, he had no attractions toward the male body, but did very much a female's. Bea felt his attraction on her thigh, gave him one last very firm hug, and released the boy. He looked down to see his state of affairs, gave her an impish smile then took his place next to Uman.

Zander spoke, "And this is Naha. Naha is our most loving child. He suffers from obvious mental capacity deficiencies, yet with time and attention he is coming along with gaining new abilities to care for himself."Bea, sensing the boy's loving nature accepted his arms and bright smile into her being. Her hug was tight. His was bone crushing. Kids with Down's syndrome are frequently very loving, open and inviting toward strangers as well as their unit families. She's taken care of many such children in private practice.

The boy kissed her cheek then took his place next to Shada. Christian decided he would perform his assessment later.

Zander walked to the next boy and led him to stand in front of Bea and beside Christian. "This is Malawa. He's completely blind. He's highly intelligent and is a major source of encouragement and love to us all. In fact, his love is contagious. He's taught us much."

Malawa reached out his arms. Bea, thinking he was coming in for a hug, outstretched hers, but he reached his hands to feel the skin on her face. He carefully outlined each and every feature. The other kids had no idea that he was indelibly etching her features into his mind to build a picture. She spoke softly to him, telling him that he was a beautiful child, that he was smart, that he was sweet, and that he was very loving.

The child was not used to being complimented. He'd always listened to and believed all of the hateful things adults had said to him, making him believe he was that way. Bea felt his body shiver as he pushed his face up and into her neck, nestling his nose against her jaw. She kissed his cheek and sent into his being that he was very good, beautiful and worthwhile.

Leander approached Malawa then took him to where they were standing with the new arrival, took him into his arms and held him firmly.

Zander led Christian and Bea to the last boy, still kneeling, leaning over the table. He looked up to Zander. Zander said, "Ghassa is the sickest of us all. I hope you will be able to help him. He will soon die."

A tear fell from Bea's left eye as the boy turned his complete attention to her. It was then that she saw the extent of his affliction. Once again, although she'd read about and studied his condition, she'd never encountered such a patient.

"Ghassa is very unusual to our tribe." He pointed to a mass of flesh and bones protruding from the front of Ghassa's upper abdomen and lower chest; a mass which appeared to be a set of buttocks with a dimple in the center, a fully developed pair of legs, and what appeared to be the back of a scrotal sack.

Bea realized the boy had a condition known as 'parasitic twin'. She'd only heard of it but had never before seen it in real life. Ghassa said, "This is my brother. I call him 'Brother Being.'" Ghassa stood and gave support to the butt cheeks, showing the true extent of the errant twin's presence. She said, "I can tell that you love him very much."

Unable to stop herself, she brought the boy into a hug and held him as firmly as she dared. The boy, at first, having never before received a hug, was startled, however when she began rubbing his tired and sore back, he relaxed and melted into her embrace as much as his Brother would allow. At the same time, she rubbed the twin's buttocks. She felt the tension relax at her touch and ministrations. Curious, she ran her index finger between the globes and noted that it had an anus. Ghassa's grasp on Bea's shoulders increased and he said, "That feels very good. I do not have one of those, so my Brother takes good care of me."

She released the boy when she felt a protrusion nudging her hand. She looked down and noted Ghassa had normal male anatomy, and that it was responding to her inadvertent touches. She didn't understand the malady, but respected his reactions.

Luke found himself becoming overwhelmed by the outpouring of love, the desperate needs of these children, their stamina despite significant deformities and deficiencies, and how they accepted love without question, without fear, and without reservation. It made his minor problems seem minute, to be dismissed. His eyes filled with tears at thinking how well they'd been cared for since being taken by John's family, and now Dale's.

Bea, sensing that Lawrence was having big problems processing all that he'd seen, pulled him into her side and put her arms around his shoulders and squeezed firmly. She could see the boy was desperately trying to contain his emotions. Though he was mostly successful, the quivering of his muscles belayed his true feelings.

Although they'd never before shared person-to-person emotions and physical contact, the boy didn't push her away. "Lawrence, come over here. Let's talk."

Lawrence didn't reject or even make any effort to resist her arms as she led him to the sofa where Uman had sat. She pulled the boy into her arms and felt wetness as he burrowed his head into her bosom. He began shaking, sniffling, tightening up his muscles then relaxing them for a moment, before it would restart – even stronger than the last time.

Christian sensed Lawrence's imminent meltdown. He knew his brother, while acting strong and together, was having a big problem with processing these children into his head and heart. But he wasn't sure the exact reason why he was holding everything in. He knelt down at Lawrence's feet and ran his hands up to Lawrence's face buried into Bea's chest. The white hot searing pain assaulted him, the likes of what he'd never ever before experienced.

Test tubes. Ejaculations. Pleasure. Pain. Sexual abuse and horrors. Retraining. These thoughts were whirling into and through Lawrence's brain.

NO! It was impossible. His father would never ever in a million years stoop to the level of absolute wickedness… but if he did, then why?

While his father mentioned Undesirables… were there Desirables? And, if so, what did they mean?

Everything started coming back to him. The price on his head. The way he'd been sold and used – when others had not suffered the same fate. The pictures. The movies. How they were continually making him ejaculate in a controlled manner. The cold glass being applied to his penis as it spewed forth its nectars.

Christian, feeling himself being drawn into the complete chaos, pulled Lawrence away from Bea. He wasn't sure how much she was absorbing. He didn't want her to take Lawrence's pain into her being. It would be too much for her.

Uman, feeling Christian's strength waning, approached. His arms went around Christian's torso and held him firmly, accepting Christian's pain as his own, but he wasn't feeling all of it. Rather, it was shared. He sent into Lawrence a great bolus of strength and stamina. The results were immediate.

Using Uman and Christian's strengths, Lawrence sat up, put his head down, and choked, saying, "My father. I realize what he's done. I would never have guessed he would stoop to this level."

Bea knelt down and worked herself between Uman and Christian. Lawrence leant forward and rested his forehead on her shoulder, ashamed, guilty and filled with shame to disclose such matters, but she had to know. She had to know the gravity for he may never again be able to share it.

"It all makes sense. I didn't see it before."

"What's that, Honey? Remember, child, you are nothing like your father. What makes sense?"

He took in a deep breath, choked back a sob as the full ramifications of his father's dastardly deeds came into his mind. "My father. This can't be true. He wouldn't ever do this."

Luke, seeing his brother stuttering and stammering for the right words to express his knowledge and emotions, walked to the sofa, then stood on the couch and sat down behind Lawrence and put his arms around him. He said, "Lawrence, go ahead. Don't be afraid. Nobody here hates you. You didn't know. I love you. I'll always love you. But, dude, I have no idea what you're talking about, so you're going to have to tell me."

Lawrence turned to Luke. "Did they make you ejaculate into a test tube?"

"Yeah. So. They're just a bunch of perverts. What are you talking about? I don't understand."

"How about Jordan?"

"Yup, him too."

Lawrence turned to Zander, "Are you guys made to ejaculate into test tubes?"

"Ejaculate?" The boy asked, clearly confused.

"Do you guys have to shoot your white fluids into a glass container?"

Zander shook his head in the negative, "No."

"Do you get into trouble? Do the adults punish you for making your sperms come out?"


"What kinds of punishment did you receive?"

Instead of waiting for an answer, Lawrence went to each boy, took hold of their penises and examined them for injury or evidence of botched circumcision.

Each boy was circumcised, however there was no scar tissue, nor were there jagged edges indicating mutilation. He returned to Zander, "Do you remember when they cut skin off of your penises? Did you know about it?"

Zander appeared to be confused for a moment before responding, "No. I've always been this way."

Lawrence nodded then nestled back into Luke's front. Bea looked into his eyes and asked, "Honey, just tell us what you're thinking. You can't keep this inside of yourself. It'll eat you up."

"I've got to talk to my Dad." Lawrence said, then turned to Luke, "They've taken our sperms. Imir told me that my stuff would be worth a million dollars because I was so sweet to him… It all makes sense, now. Do you remember my father saying all that stuff about Undesirables?"

Luke nodded then his eyes opened widely and his face began losing its color. “No. You've got to be shitting me. Are you telling me that… oh my God! It makes sense. Oh my God. Holy fucking shit. I don't believe this.” He then realized Bea was present … “Oh crap. I'm sorry ma'am. Oh God, I'm so sorry.”

Bea nodded approvingly then turned her attention back to Lawrence.

"My father hates Aaron. He blames him for making me gay… which isn't true… Bea, it's too much to go into right now. It's too complicated." Lawrence said then looked around to all of the boys gathered around the sofas watching him, wondering what he was talking about.

Christian's thoughts were, along with sending calming energy into Lawrence, all about how so much hatred there is in the world so different from his own. He decided then and there that he could not live in such an environment, yet, at the same time, chided himself on how selfish he was thinking. Uman sent, "Relax. Don't go there. Bring yourself back into the here and now. We've got things to do."

"I know. This is so overwhelming. I've never known such hate, greed, pain, and or disregard for our brothers and sisters. I just don't get it."

"You don't get it for a reason. Pay attention to your strengths. I know hatred, so let me handle that. Your family will need you more than ever. You can do it. Just concentrate on the positive."

"This is very hard for me. It is bombarding my senses."

Lawrence said, interrupting Christian's concentration, "Bea, these kids need to be removed and taken to safety…"

Luke interrupted, and said to Lawrence, "You stay here. I'll go get help."

Bea said, interrupting Luke's plan, "No. I won't have you going alone."

"Dog will come to me. I won't be alone. Please don't think that I'm disobeying you because I don't want to. Somebody's got to go, Ma'am."

Bea pondered Luke's statement for a moment before asking Zander, "Zander, are there any other adults that we should be concerned about?"

"No, there are just two men. They should be back within the hour."

Luke offered, "Uhm, that's probably not going to happen. I'm pretty sure our Dog has something to do with their not coming back."

Zander's eyebrows lifted for a moment, pondering Luke's statement, before replying, "Very well. Then, no, there are no other adults."

Luke continued, "I'll have no problem returning to the resort. It's not that far. Like I said, Dog will come running when I call her name."

Bea resigned herself. There was something about Luke that made her trust him, implicitly. Luke, sensing that the conversation was ended, walked into the kitchen, grabbed his clothes then returned and using the sofa for support, dressed. "I'll be back."

With that said, Luke took out. He stopped at the bottom of the porch stairs, stared into the fire for a moment before relieving his bladder on a boot lying on the ground next to the red hot grates.

Dog met Luke halfway across the field before the ravine. She kept herself close to the boy she was protecting and led him to the resort and out of the darkness. She barked twice, nuzzled his crotch then took off racing down the road toward the resort entrance.

Luke scanned in then headed to the adult commons area. Finding nobody there, he headed through the adult residential area, knocked loudly on Dale's door. There was no answer. Next was John's. No reply. He already knew that Steve had gone to find Eric and Wayne.

Hesitantly, he knocked on Tony's door. There was no answer.

His next stop was the pool. There he found Tony inside of the shower room sitting on a marble seat drying his hair. Seeing Luke, Tony grabbed a towel and dropped it in his lap.

“Luke! What's wrong, Son?”

"Sir, we need your help. To make it short, Dog led us to a farmhouse about half a mile from here. There we found some kids who… we think are being held captive. They're different in that they have deformities and mental conditions. They need our help, Tony."

Tony's eyebrows furrowed, "Are they hurt?"

"They don't appear to be. Christian knows more about them than I do. He put his hands on their temples, but didn't really say anything. Lawrence is upset, very upset… he thinks that maybe his father is somehow involved."

"How many kids need our help?"

"Eleven. Plus there's Lawrence, Bea, Christian. Add you and me."

"Wait right here. I'm going to get dressed."

Luke and Tony stopped at Tony's room where the man quickly dressed in warm clothes then they headed to Adam's room, retrieved the keys to the motorhome and then took off down the hill to the resort entrance.

Dale was sitting in a golf cart. John was standing close to it. They were talking between themselves when the motorhome approached. Tony left the motor home running as he and Luke disembarked and approached the two men.

Knowing it was very late and that the kids were tired, Jared debated on ending the pool time or letting them continue to lounge around in the water. He thought about what his dad would do at seeing the kids were so tired.

Better judgment won out. "Hey guys, let's get out now. We're all tired and worn out from a long day."

Nobody argued. Melissa, the oldest person, supported Jared's directions.

She went to the women's shower/changing room while Jared and the boys went to the men's.

The boys shared the four shower heads. For a change there was no bouncing and horsing around. They took their showers and everybody helped one another wash their backs.

Jared helped the boys dry those areas they could not get to, and then he took them to their respective rooms, supervised their bathroom relief rituals and got them into bed. Once Stephen and Matthew were in his bed, he went to the kitchen, grabbed a Coke, sat down and contemplated everything that had happened that day.

The boy, feeling his emotions wash through him, bent his head down and as tears fell from his eyes, prayed, "God, keep them safe. Bring them home. Please. Mom, if you're listening…"

Although a sense of peace didn't immediately fall over him, a feeling that everything was going to work out okay, did. He walked into the bathroom, closed the door, sat on the commode, relieved himself, and then took hold of that which designates him male…

Ten minutes later, feeling much more relaxed, he exited. He found Stephen and Matthew both sound asleep. Knowing they were out for the night, he leant down, kissed their foreheads, got dressed, grabbed a railroad lantern from a shelf in the dock area, and then headed down the road toward the resort entrance to see if Eric and Wayne had been found, and if so then their conditions.

Robbie and Carl grabbed a Coke apiece then sat down at the kitchenette table, took a deep gulp, swallowed, clenched their faces as the toxic substance burned all the way down their gullets.

Carl, the better showoff of the two, took in a deep breath then pushed on his stomach. A huge belch escaped. It sounded like a bullhorn. Robbie, of course, and Carl knew it, was the belch king of the capital. As expected, Robbie's reverberated through the room. Not only that, his butt, sitting on the leather chair, ripped a resounding, blubbering, and blasting burst of hot air causing them both to lose control and nearly fall to the floor from laughing hysterically.

Robbie took their empty cans to the trash compactor then returned, sat down on Carl's lap and began gently kissing his boyfriend's neck to get him interested in some extracurricular activities.

Carl, quick to realize something very pleasurable was about to take place, and that his Robbie was offering him something that he couldn't reject or turn away, used his hands to position Robbie in such a way that he was able, with considerable effort simply because they'd performed no prelude, to feel the warmth and blinding pleasure that he was coming to love and nurture…

Meanwhile, Aaron and Melissa headed to the children's common area, sat down on a sofa, grabbed a deck of cards and began playing solitaire, intent upon staying awake until they'd heard about their brothers and friends.

Forty five minutes later, bored to tears, Melissa put a pillow on her lap and urged Aaron to lay down. He did. And she worked her body around so that they were pretty much lying parallel to one another. They were soon sound asleep.

Tony said, "Luke tells me that there is a farmhouse about half a mile from here. He wants me to check out some kids to determine what we need to do for them."

Jared came walking over to the group. Seeing the concern in John, Dale and Tony's expressions, he asked, "What's up?"

John asked, "Is there any news, yet?"

"No, Dad. Not yet."

"Excuse me." John said. He put his hand on Jared's shoulder and led them a couple of feet away to speak with his son alone.

"Dad, what's the matter?"

"I want you to go with Tony and Luke. There are some kids who may be in trouble. Listen to Tony. If the kids need to come here, then help them out."

"Do you want me to go get our motorhome? How many kids are there?"

"Eleven, plus Bea, Tony, Luke, Christian, and Lawrence."

"Ok, Dad, can do."

John said to Tony and Luke, "Jared's going to go with you. Do what you need to do."

Tony said, "I'm not doing very well with driving this rig. I've never driven one before."

John patted Jared's back and said to Tony, "Jared can drive one of these things."

Tony said, "Thanks. I'll take you up on it."

Before they could head for the coach, John took Luke aside, "How did you find those kids?"

"Dog took us to them. Bea's with us. She said we could go through the ravine to get there. Don't get mad at us, John, please. We didn't just go over there for the heck of it, or to disobey you."

John nodded and patted Luke's back to make him believe that he wasn't in trouble. He would go into more details later on.

Luke added, "Sir, a couple of those kids are going to need your help. One has a skin rash all over his body. Another one – well… uhmm… he has a body growing out of him."

John's eyes opened wide, "What do you mean? He has a body growing out of him?"

"He's got part of a body growing out from his chest and belly."

John's internal alarms rang loudly. While he'd read and heard about such a phenomenon, he'd not actually ever seen one with his own eyes. Usually kids with such a condition do not live past their neonatal years. He said, "Do I need to go with you? I need to stay here, but will go if absolutely necessary."

"No… I mean he can kind of walk, but it's hard for him."

John nodded, "Is there anyone else that needs urgent medical care?"

"Just the kid who has the rash all over his body… but he can probably wait until he gets here. The rest have deformities. I think one of the kids has Down's syndrome. One's blind. One's deaf. A couple are missing arms and legs. Bea can tell you more about them."

John, feeling more assured there was not a medical emergency, asked much more calmly so that Luke didn't have to worry about yet another thing, "Are there any adults?"

"No. Not according to Zander. I can't prove it, but I think Dog had something to do with their disappearance… like maybe she knocked them into a fire or something… I don't know for sure." John swallowed hard.

"Do you feel overwhelmed, Luke?" John asked, putting his arm around Luke's shoulders and leading them back to the group.

"Maybe we could talk later. Right now, I'm ok. I mean, yeah, I'm ok."

John made a mental point to debrief Luke later. While they arrived, John couldn't help but to think about what Ashwood had said about Undesirables during the phone call with Lawrence. He said to Tony and Dale, "I've talked to Luke. I don't think there are any kids in any grave danger. Jared, I want you to go with them. If Tony doesn't mind, Tony? If you don't mind, Jared can drive these rigs just as well as I can."

"That's fine."

John turned to Tony, "How are you? Are you up to this?"

"I'm ok, for now. I would like to go to the camp. Maybe there's something I can do. It'll get my mind off of things for a while."

John nodded his understanding, now feeling better that there would be another adult to help sort things out. "I'll be over when I can. We should be hearing something about Eric and Wayne real soon. The rescue folks have been gone for some time, now."

Darnell Hensley, a large man and a long-term staff member of the resort returned to slashing through the dense undergrowth, carefully using a battery powered lantern to calculate and visualize the path the sharp knife took so that it wouldn't strike any flesh belonging to the two children he was charged with locating. Five minutes of calculating and double checking preceded each and every slash… but it was worth every minute. He'd work all night if it was required to find the two missing boys.

Theodore worked right alongside Darnell, clearing away that which was cut away.

"Help." Eric's small voice said from within the thick undergrowth as Darnell took another fistful of weeds, preparing them for slashing.

"We're in here. Don't cut us." Wayne pleaded.

"Nobody's going to hurt you. We're here to rescue you. Hang on, we'll get you guys out of here. Theodore, radio up. Are you guys hurt?"

"No, Sir." Eric replied.

"Good. Here's what I want you to do. Wiggle your legs so that I can see exactly where you are."

Eric wiggled out of Wayne's arms and from under the leaves they'd gathered up to provide them with insulation from the cold. Much to Darnell's surprise, he felt a small child's hand grip his wrist. At the same time, his heart soared knowing their mission was successful.

Theodore radioed to the top: "We have good news. The children have been found."

Mister Masters replied: "Good. That's really, really good news!"

Theodore responded: "Yes. We've just arrived. We haven't determined if they can get out of here on their own, or if a litter will be required. Stand by."

Mister Masters: "10-4."

Adam, standing fifteen feet away, with Michael and Jordan by his side, grabbed their arms. They raced to Mister Masters who held out his radio to Michael and said, "I'm sure Eric can hear you… just in case you wanted to say something."

Michael latched onto the communications device and said, "Eric, I'm going to bust your butt. You had me so damned worried."

Theodore handed the radio to Eric and showed him how to work the mic. Eric, grinning, replied, "Yeah, you can bust my butt all you want, please."

It took Michael a second to realize Eric's inference, and when it came to him, his face heated up as though it was deep within a blast furnace, temporarily leaving him speechless. Tears started flowing from his eyes as the anger transferred into relief.

Adam took the radio, keyed the mic and said, "Wayne. Talk to me."

Eric handed the radio to Wayne with a sense of satisfaction coursing through his veins. Never before had he heard Michael 'speechless.'Wayne said, "I'm here. We're ok. Adam, please don't be mad at Eric."

"Some things have to change Wayne, but we'll talk about them later on. Do as the men say so that you get out safely."

"No problem. I will."

The motorhome, with Jared in the drivers' seat, stopped when John gestured for him to open the window. The man said, "Eric and Wayne have been found. They're alive."

Jared whooped and hollered causing Tony and Luke to come up front. He relayed the information to them. The mood dramatically improved. A big relief was had by all concerned.

John then approached Mister Masters holding out the radio. John, both excited and feeling somewhat angry, said, hoping the excitement outweighed the anger, "Eric, are you and Wayne ok? Are you hurt?"

"No, Dad. We're fine. Wayne's had seizures, though. Bad ones. It's been a while since the last one though. Gotta go, Dad."

Darnell, overhearing Eric's account of Wayne's seizures, shined his light on Wayne's chest so that it didn't point in his eyes, asked, "When was the last one, do you know?"

"I don't know for sure. Maybe an hour ago. Maybe. I don't know." Eric stammered.

Darnell, hoping John was still available, said, "The older boy's last seizure may have been around an hour or so ago."

"10-4." John replied. He turned to Adam to make sure the man understood. Adam nodded.

Darnell said to Wayne, "Son, can you walk out of here? If not, we'll carry you out."

"I can walk." Wayne replied.

Theodore looked to Eric. The boy replied to the unspoken question, which he estimated to be the same one asked Wayne, "I'm ok. I just want to get out of here."

"I can only imagine. We'll have you out of here in a jiffy. First, though, we're going to clear a path, so just hang on. Darnell."

"On it."

Darnell took the bushwhacker and started clearing a path. He arrived at the top, dropped the knife and said, "We'll have them up in a couple of minutes."

John and Adam nodded.

Darnell dropped down. Eric stood. The man grasped him by the armpits and lifted him to a stepping place then urged Eric to crawl up, that he'd push against his butt and thighs to help propel him upward and to prevent him from falling backward.

Theodore, meanwhile, plucked away leaves and other forest things, and pulled off as much partially dried mud as possible, then heaved him up to the small foothold so that he'd be ready when Darnell came for him.

Meanwhile, two security officers, Adam, John, Mister Masters, Michael and Jordan stood ready to receive Eric. They heard rocks scattering, small sticks being broken, and heavy breathing as Eric clambered up the steep incline with Darnell's assistance. Eric's face was brushed by small sticks jutting from the incline's rocky face, causing small abrasions against his skin. His only concern was to get to the top.

A small rocky overhang prevented him from making his own way to the lights where he saw Michael and John standing with their arms opened wide to receive him. John seeing his difficulty, braced himself, reached down and plucked the boy from the challenge. He pulled Eric into his arms and held him tight. Eric, too, grabbed onto John's neck and held on as though his life depended on the contact, which, at that moment, he truly felt to be true.

Michael, meanwhile, encompassed Eric with his arms and held on just as tight. Tears flowed down his cheeks and into Eric's muddy shirt.

Two minutes later, Eric released his hold, dropped to his feet then encompassed Michael into a bone crushing hug, and planted his lips against Michael's. After the incident at the truck stop, Michael had stopped demonstrating his affections in public, however this situation was different…

John cleared his throat causing the boys to part though they kept their arms tightly wrapped around their torsos. John observed the scratches on Eric's face, chest, back, buttocks, and neck. He noted the boy, naked from the waist down, was shivering, but not uncontrollably so. Seeing that the scratches and abrasions were superficial, his concern considerably lessened. At the same time, his parental authority arose. Eric, seeing the transformation in his soon-to-be dad's expression, whispered, "I'm sorry. I disobeyed the rules."

Michael nodded then touched his lips to Eric's and waited for John to respond. John said, "Yes, you did. What happened to you and Wayne tonight is why we put the ravine off-limits. We'll deal with this later."Eric nodded then dropped his chin onto his chest.

Thirty seconds later, after giving Eric time to think about the situation and his behavior, John said, gently, "We'll deal with this later, kiddo. Right now, you've already been through enough. I want you boys to go to the van, get in and wait."

The boys nodded their understanding, took off for the van, and were assisted inside by a security man.

Meanwhile, Wayne, making his way up the incline, sustained quite a few abrasions to his chest, torso, upper thighs, genitals and buttocks, and elbows due to the fact that he had no clothing for protection from the rocks, gravel, sticks and tree branches. His intent was to get up just as soon as possible, so he largely ignored the minor setbacks.

Adam, a big man, assisted by a security officer, also a big man, easily plucked the boy up, out and away from the lip. He crushed the boy in his arms, from concern, love, and relief. Mister Masters quickly wrapped Wayne in a warmed blanket then rushed them off to the resort van.

Once Wayne was inside the van, John entered and performed a quick examination, looking for fallout from the reported seizures. Finding nothing serious, he said, "You're going to need to take a dose of your antiepileptic medicine. Once we get to the clinic, I'm going to give you a short acting medication to hold your seizures at bay until your regular medicine takes effect."Wayne's response, "Are you going to get me a shot? I hate shots."

"Yes, you will receive an injection. I don't like to receive shots, either, but there are times when they are needed, and now is one of those times. You'll be fine."

The boy shrugged his shoulders and gently nodded. John could tell that Wayne would be compliant.

Eric reached across Michael's lap, leant over and accepted a kiss on his forehead by John. John said, "Remember what I said about consequences?"

Eric nodded his understanding and remembrance, allowing him to relax into Michael's arms.

The driver immediately took off for the clinic to get Wayne cared for. John gave him the injection then instructed the driver to take them to the residential building so the boys could go to bed. Once they were delivered, John followed them inside to make sure they were headed in the right direction, then returned to the van and had the driver take him back to the gate area.

Upon arriving, John found and said to Mister Masters, "I'd like to take a vehicle to the farmhouse. There are kids there and they need medical attention.”

"I'm sorry, Sir. Our van cannot be taken off of the property unless it is on official resort business. And, unfortunately, as much as I would like to be of assistance, we cannot be involved until they are brought here. I am going to prepare another bank of rooms for the children."

“Okay, fine, I'll catch a ride in the motorhome.” John replied then took off on foot for the motorhome.

Mister Masters returned to the resort's admin area. Marie was in his office. She said, seriously, "I've spoken with Mister Granger. He wants to talk to you."

"Thanks, I'll call him. The two missing boys were found. Thank God, they're healthy, save for abrasions, bumps and bruises. The older boy reportedly suffered from seizures. Doctor John gave him medicine to prevent another one.

"We are going to have to tighten up security even more than it already is. I'll need to speak with Jim and Mister Granger on exactly how to accomplish it. At the same time, we cannot and will not hold the children hostage. It's going to be a tight balancing act.

"Lastly, we need to prepare for eleven more children, most having physical disabilities of one kind or another. At least one of the children is not independently ambulatory – he will need to have a lower level suite, unless he is paired with another boy."

Marie nodded and got busy making arrangements for the new arrivals.

Adam and Wayne entered Adam's room. The two spent the next fifteen minutes pulling away dried leaves and mud before getting into the shower. Adam rinsed himself off then got out, grabbed a towel and exited the bathroom to give the boy his privacy as he'd started the age old ritual of pleasuring himself.

Michael and Eric did likewise. Once dried with towels, they grabbed a Coke, slammed it down and then headed off to bed where Michael gave his boyfriend a severe tongue lashing so that Eric didn't forget that he was loved and cherished.

Shortly after arriving at his moment, Eric turned flat on his back, lifted and spread his legs…

Jared, seeing his father approaching, switched to the front passenger seat and waited for him to arrive.

John arrived and said to Jared, “Take the wheel, son. You've proven yourself. Let's go.”

Luke came up front, "I can lead you there, I think." John nodded and urged him to sit close and to securely hold on to the seat.

The first two wide spots in the road on the left side were gated closed. The third wide spot had no gate but it did have a very sharp turn to negotiate. Luke estimated this was the correct one, however wasn't sure until they saw a light way off in the distance.

With considerable difficulty and three attempts Jared made the turn without running the wheels off of the pavement. The drop off was approximately three feet, far enough to make the rig inoperable.

Two hundred fifty feet past the turnoff, they found a large tree branch blocking the path. A trail large enough for a car was seen to go around the branch, but there was no way their vehicle would make that sharp of a turn.

John knew that he had a chain long and sturdy enough to move the branch in his motorhome, but wasn't sure that Adam had one in his. He grabbed the railroad lantern, exited the rig and went to the luggage box. He was grateful Adam had packed a large steel chain. John, Luke and Jared successfully wrapped the chain around the branch and then attached both ends to tow hooks on the front of the rig. The branch easily gave way after Jared put the transmission into reverse and gave the engine a healthy dose of fuel. John wondered if the branch wasn't intentionally put there because no stump was seen anywhere even close.

Jared easily passed through the opening, but saw a set of overhead power lines about fifty feet ahead of them. Due to the height of the rig he could go no further on wheels. There were approximately fifty yards between them and the house. He left the engine running so that they would find their way using the bright front lights, and to maintain heat since the evening was quite chilly.

Bea met them on the porch. After giving John a brief overview of what to expect, they entered and proceeded to the room where everyone was gathered.

Christian and Lawrence were attending to a boy, but the lighting was poor. John requested that an overhead light be turned on. When it was, John immediately went to them, knelt down and performed a cursory examination of Ghassa, the boy with the conjoined twin growing from his lower chest and abdomen. Although he maintained his gentle professional demeanor, he was very concerned because the boy was pasty appearing, was very much underweight, and was obviously suffering from severe malnutrition. Given his condition, John felt that the boy would not survive much longer, and he was definitely too old to attempt any kind of separation surgery.

John said to Bea, who had come over, "Bea, let's arrange a transfer to a major medical center." To Ghassa, he said reassuringly, "Son, we're going to get you to a hospital. You have some health conditions that need immediate attention that we are not prepared to give you. Right now, we're going to get you out of here to a more comfortable setting. Don't worry about anything, we'll take good care of you." He hailed Jared. Together they very carefully, with lots of support, carried the boy to the motorhome and got him settled into the big bed in the back of the rig.

When they returned, John turned his attention to Bameel, the boy with the severe skin condition. He could tell that this boy was very sick as well. The child had pressure point sores on both buttocks, the right shoulder blade, the middle of his spine, and the back of one heel.

John said to Bea, "When we get back to the clinic, give him injections of Penicillin, Decadron and Benadryl. He will also need to be airlifted to a major medical center." Bameel, ambulatory, was escorted to the motorhome and placed into bed with Ghassa. Malawa, the blind child, also ambulatory, was escorted as well.

12:05AM, Saturday, November 10, 2012

Another child, Muzi, a hermadrophyte, a male child having both male and female sex characteristics, was given a cursory examination by John. Although the physician had read about the anomaly, he'd never actually seen a case. Other than for this condition, the boy was healthy. He was escorted to the motorhome.

Naha, the child with remarkable Down's syndrome appeared to be healthy otherwise so he was escorted to the rig for transfer to the resort. Shada, the deaf boy was escorted as well.

Washamat, the boy born without legs, the largest and heaviest of them all, was carried out by John, Lawrence, Luke and Jared. He too appeared to be completely healthy, otherwise.

John next examined Zander. He found the boy had rather severe scoliosis, a curvature of the spine. At age fifteen and otherwise healthy, John estimated the he could undergo major surgery to straighten his spine using rods, plates, screws and bolts, but that it could wait for another time. He said to Bea, noting that Zander appeared to be quite uncomfortable, ordered low-dose pain medications taken by mouth.

When questioned, Zander related that all of them had lived there all of their lives. In the beginning, there were nurses in attendance, however, after Muzi, now age twelve, became a toddler, they left, and other than a couple of visits in the past year or so, the kids had received no medical care.

The boy added that other boys had come and gone, and that some had died while in custody.

John, disturbed that children had died, inquired, "I'm sorry to hear that, Zander. Can you tell me, were they sick?"

"Yes, Sir. A couple of them were so deformed that they could hardly breathe."

"Were they taken to the hospital?"

"No, Sir. We do not go to hospitals for any reason."

John nodded. This was worse than he thought. Further questioning revealed the deceased children were buried on the property in various locations. Zander didn't know exactly where, because the two adults living on and supervising the facility performed the dastardly deed.

"Can you tell me how many children have died?"

"Seventeen, maybe twenty. I forget. They did the work out in the fields to keep us fed, but we really didn't know them because they didn't live here. We gave of our services, though.”

“Oh, what do you mean 'services'?”

Zander, very slightly, shrugged his shoulders, but didn't answer verbally. He didn't need to.

John swallowed hard then cupped his hand and patted Zander's cheek, and said, "Okay. We're going to take you boys to where we're staying. It's not too far from here. The facility also has a swimming pool which I believe will help ease your pain. Bea is going to give you low-dose medicine to help take the edge off of your back discomfort. Things are going to be very different for you and the others."

Zander nodded his understanding. John saw a trace of hope emanate from the boy's eyes. He personally escorted the boy to the motorhome, then checked on the others to make sure they were doing okay, considering the circumstances.

Upon hearing Mister Masters say that there were eleven additional children about to arrive at the resort, Dale, Jeremy and Steve rode in Robbie's family vehicle to the farmhouse. They parked beside the motorhome and walked into the house. They met John and Zander at the door. John said, "We've got them all out of the house and into the motorhome. We'd like to take a look around to see if there any other children, and to see if there is anything else that is noteworthy."

Jeremy nodded as Jared exited the house. Jared said, "There is a room that has a computer and a couple of laptops. The laptops are in 'sleep mode'. The computer went to sleep before I could get to it. Before it did, I saw… Dad, this is sick… I saw the boy, I forget his name, who is blind being… engaged in full-out sex with a man."

John nodded then leant forward and kissed that small space in front of Jared's ear and whispered, "I love you. I'm sorry you had to see that. Why don't you go get into the motorhome? We'll take it from here, and we'll soon be gone for the time being."

Jared nodded then strode to the motorhome, entered and closed the door behind him. John watched his oldest son as he walked, thinking how so very bizarre and disturbing, and how they may very well have only scratched the surface.

Meanwhile, Steve and Jeremy went to the room with the computer in it.

Steve could tell the terminal was 'dumb', meaning it was not a computer in the conventional sense of the word, rather it was a computer hooked to a mainframe located elsewhere, but where?

Jeremy sat down and began trying to get inside while Steve took off and searched rooms to see if he could find a mainframe computer system.

Seeing that there wasn't much left to do from a physician's standpoint, John walked to the motorhome. Lawrence and Luke joined him, running to catch up. They then drove back to the resort and stopped at the Clinic.

Several times, Bea attempted to start and IV in Ghassa's arms without success. The last effort was successful, however unconventional as it may seem, the good vein was found in a nice firm vein in the conjoined twins' ankle. She gave him the prescribed medication injections then got him comfortable lying on his side, which removed the burden on his breathing.

She next turned her attention to Bameel. John advised her that he was going to take the rest of the boys to the resort to get them settled in. Before going, he retrieved two low-dose pain pills for Zander.

Jordan, Aaron, Rachel, Melissa, Adam, Marie and Mister Masters met the motorhome and assisted with getting the new arrivals inside and settled in.

Jordan saw the boy with Down's syndrome, walked to him, and stood there looking into the boys eyes. His filled with tears. He remembered how he'd severely bullied a boy back in Florida at school. His heart was heavy. He didn't know quite what to do or say, until the boy walked to him and kissed his cheek. Jordan choked back a sob that was threatening to escape. He put his arm around Naha's back and pulled him in. It was then that his eyes filled with tears and ran down his cheeks and landed on Naha's bare back.

"Don't cry. I'm not sick." Naha said softly, lovingly into Jordan's ear as he once again kissed Jordan's ear to let him know that there were no hard feelings – mainly because Naha's slow 'mindset' had no idea what Jordan was so upset about, only that he was.

After seeing Jordan's emotional state, Luke and Christian walked over. Luke kissed Jordan's lips and gave him an inquiring expression. Jordan said, brokenly, "Something happened before you and I were brought together. It happened at my old school. Can I talk to you later about it? Naha's shivering."

"Sure thing. I don't know what the room assignments are, but let's take him to the common's area until they figure things out."

When they arrived upstairs, they cuddled together. Naha was asleep within a couple of minutes. Jordan gave a short account of what he'd done to a boy with Down's syndrome back in a Florida school. Luke said, "You don't do that now. You're going to be okay. Just take care of Naha… this will be your amends to that other boy. I love you. You're so sensitive, which is a very good thing."

Meanwhile, John got onto the communications system, courtesy of Jim Blake, called University Hospital in Columbia, Missouri, and was told that they were being slammed with casualties from a war-like state, and that they could accept no more patients, and that they didn't know when they could do so. They suggested University Hospital in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, but made no promises because overflow patients were being airlifted there. The alternative plan would be to Children's Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha. Another option would be to send one or both to Children's Mercy in Kansas City, but they doubted this would be a viable option due to a devastatingly severe bombing in the downtown area. The doctor had to terminate the call because he was being urgently summonsed.

There was one additional option that John hadn't thought of until just then. He was given a connection to Fort Leonard Wood's trauma center hospital. He had a cousin who, the last he'd heard, was the Commanding Officer of the facility. Although they'd lost contact with one another quite some time ago, they had conversed through email every now and again.

Mike Finnegan MD, Adjunct General, Commanding Officer, answered, "Doctor Finnegan."

"Mike, hi, this is John Finnegan. I'm sorry, I know you're busy, but I need to ask a favor of you…"

Thirty minutes later, arrangements had been made for transport to the Army hospital. Later the following morning the two boy's medical care would be transferred and they would be transported to Dallas Children's Hospital for further evaluation and treatment.

John sensed movement. He turned around to see Marie and a man that he hadn't yet met before. Marie entered and introduced Harold Rand MD, the county coroner. She said that he was there to extract Seth's remains and transport them to the medical examiners' office for further investigation and autopsy.

The two men, right away, hit it off. They'd studied at the same medical school, though several years apart. John estimated the man to be in his early sixties. John advised him that his first specialty was pathology, but he had changed to trauma surgery, and had devoted his life to it. "Marie, we've got it from here. Thanks."

Marie took off. Two forensic pathology technicians entered. John briefed them on what happened, what he suspected, and that he'd take them to the decedent's room.

The workers went to their vehicle and retrieved cameras and crime scene packets. Breaking the rules about access, John scanned them in. They headed to Seth's upstairs room at which time Doctor Rand inspected Seth's body, the surroundings, the needles on the bedside table, and the white-powder substance on the floor.

Mister Masters arrived with two armed security personnel. Once they were relieved that the men were not intruders, they took their leave and returned to their posts elsewhere.

Doctor Rand consulted with John in the kitchenette, "I agree. From all outward appearances, his death appears to be the result of a cocaine overdose, but we won't know for sure until toxicological test results are in and reviewed. In any event, due to bruises all over this body, I am not convinced there are no indications that another cause of death will be multiple blunt trauma. I will do a complete autopsy to rule out internal damage that is not seen by the naked eye."

John nodded, "I agree. For informational purposes, I have your same concerns. The boy was in an abusive sexual relationship, if you call it that. The boy was subjected to extreme S&M practices in his recent past. This, however, occurred at a remote location in Oklahoma. He and his father relocated here after a violent confrontation at his father's home. The perpetrators are believed to be drug dealers coming for their money and whatever else they were after."

Pictures and packets were taken and applied, respectively. Before Seth's body was removed, the technicians bagged his hands and feet. While the technicians performed their tasks, John and Doctor Rand went to John's room where they sat down and talked about not only Seth's case but the other children as well, and purported buried dead bodies on the farmhouse property.

Doctor Rand, as John expected, would launch a full criminal investigation. And, he told John that local law enforcement, headed up by Edward Brougham, the Sheriff, was a good agency, and that their investigation would commence immediately.

Knowing that there was nothing more he could do, John headed for bed, but before he did so, he stopped at each of his sons and soon-to-be-sons to check on them.

All of the boys were soundly sleeping, although Jared raised his head slightly when his father entered. He waved, then nestled his face into the back of Stephen's hair and quickly fell back into slumber.

When he entered Lawrence and Aaron's room, he was very surprised to hear both boys snoring very loudly. He knew they had to be completely exhausted from everything that had happened that day.

John professed a demand unto himself that he would make sure the boys got plenty of rest and relaxation, and that, if he had anything to say about it, they would be removed from as much of the stressors as possible. It wasn't fair that they were put into so many stressing situations, that they had to or were carrying so much burden upon themselves. It just wasn't right.

As he walked out of Dalton's room, he made a decision to remove them from the stresses, but then reality struck – they would be required to testify to investigators everything they knew about what had happened to them or to their friends, and or new brothers. Damn it.

Fox awakened, feeling his body screaming from being cramped up in the old pickup truck for way too long, looked down and saw Matt sleeping with his head on his lap. Although he didn't want to awaken the boy, his muscles and bladder said otherwise. He opened the door with his free hand causing Matt to awaken, startled.

Matt, hearing a noise he couldn't identify, sat up and looked to see Pa looking down at him. He relaxed for a moment before forcing his body, also cramped, to sit up. He looked all around and found himself confused for a moment. Still somewhat startled from the noise he rubbed his eyes to fully wake up. Since the war had struck Breckenridge, sleep was fitful, light, restless, and at least one nightmare of the event would tear him up and out of bed, dripping wet with sweat.

Fox, unable to hold off, stepped out of the truck and emptied his bladder. Matt, hearing the sound of running water, did likewise. Together they walked into the house after finishing their business.

Fox walked into his bedroom and lay down on his bed, and, contrary to what he wanted to do which was to stay up, fell back to sleep.

Completely awake, Matt quickly changed into raggedy plain white briefs, long-johns, heavy socks, jeans, an undershirt and a flannel shirt. He walked to his father's bedroom door, heard snoring from deep sleep, then went to the fireplace, put in another log and stoked the fire. Quietly, he opened the front door, walked out onto the porch to see only pitch black darkness. He took in a deep breath of clear morning air and returned inside, made coffee and enjoyed the smell and percolating sounds emanating from the pot. He put his head down on his elbows resting on the table, closed his eyes, and …

Fox awakened at 5:15AM. He opened his eyes to see the kitchen area illuminated by a lantern that would be sitting on the kitchen table. Knowing his boy would be awake because he was having great difficulties with sleeping, or staying asleep, the man arose, dressed in warm clothing, then seeing his boy sleeping at the kitchen table, stole outside, relieved himself, returned and said, gently so as to not scare his son, "Morning, Youngin'."

Matt gave no response. His breathing rhythm and depth didn't change. Fox smiled and nodded. He poured a cup of coffee, sat down at the table, taking care not to jiggle it, and watched his son rest and relax, all the while thinking how damn fortunate he was to have such a kind, gentle, and loving son, and how he was so glad they were forging a very deep father-son relationship, the likes of which he couldn't have imagined before the crisis more or less forced him into being a real Pa.

He knew that today would be a tough one. It was the day that a memorial service was planned for those who'd senselessly lost their lives to the terrorists.

Matt had immersed himself into preparations. He wanted it to be just right. He and the other boys who had survived, had come together with a purpose. They'd brought big and small tractors, graders, trucks of all types, carpentry tools. Once everything and everyone was gathered, they got busy with clearing away fractured rocks, bricks, mortar, splintered wood, and burned rubble. More than twelve hundred bodies were extracted from the war zone. Some were recognizable, most were not. Men, women, children, animals – all dead.

The adults, Fox included, were in charge of using front loaders to carry, en masse, the bodies to an area west of town that they'd designated a common burial ground.

Doctor William Harvey, a local osteopathic physician, one of the four doctors who survived the blasts, was in charge of taking tissue samples for identification … a process that would have to be performed at a later time.

His partners, Bill Goldblatt, Steve Blankenship, and Dave Helling, all osteopathic surgeons, were in charge of cutting bodies so they could be removed from the rubble. Doctors Blankenship and Helling had worked feverishly on one male and one female adolescent child found shot in a blasted up school bus, but both died from their non-survivable injuries and wounds.

Two adults were found alive beneath rubble in the hospital's basement. Though they'd been shot, they were ambulatory and intent upon helping folks less fortunate than they.

One man was quite elderly though he was strong of mind. He'd insisted on being put where he could be most helpful. It was decided that since many of the town's and outlying area's survivors had nowhere else to go that they would be put into the vacated Walmart building.

For some unknown reason, the new Walmart Super Center had been spared. They were able to provide many of the supplies and medicines required by the survivors, and if they weren't, then provisions were obtained from stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Some of the survivors left town, but most of them were resilient and didn't want the bastards who did this to them – to win the war. They may have won a battle, a big one, but the townsfolk made clear they would fight back with everything they had or could get to win the war.

The elderly man, nearly blinded from the blast, insisted on doing everything he could to make the displaced men, women and children as comfortable as they could be. He was always supportive. And amazingly, he held no ill will toward those who had reigned terror on their small city located in the middle of nowhere in central Texas.

Fox had asked the man how he could best help his son for he'd suffered from tremendous loss. The man told him to support his son, and to remind him that God would see the people through this great tragedy, and then he blew Fox away when he said that God loves all men, women, and children … and this included the perpetrators for they were severely misguided in their thoughts, deeds, and actions.

Matt moved his head in such a way to scratch his nose. He took in a deep shuddering breath then laid his head back down on the table. Fox reached for his son's shoulder and rubbed it gently to let the boy know he was there for him. Matt sat up then leant back into his dad's strong body, took those strong arms and wrapped them around him, and said, "Good morning, Dad."

"Morning, Son. Did you sleep better?"

"No, not really. Something, I don't know what, woke me up. Couldn't go back to sleep." Matt said then took in a deep shuddering breath.

"Bad dreams?"

"Maybe. Coffee's ready." Matt replied, dismissively.

With that said, Matt got up, stretched his arms out wide, and yawned so hard that his jaw popped. The boy reached his hands up around his neck and moved them very quickly which popped his neck several times, causing Fox to shiver, wince and shake his head with utter amazement. "You're going to hurt yourself one of these days doing that." The man groused.

Matt, facing away and walking toward the coffee pot rolled his eyes up. "I saw that." Fox chuckled.

They sat in silence for a few moments sipping their coffee. From out of nowhere, Matt asked, "Pa, do you believe in heaven and hell?"

"Yes." Fox replied, steadily.

"I don't." Matt said then got up, put his cup in the sink, grabbed his coat to go outside for chores and then headed for the door. As he put his hand on the door knob, Fox said urgently, "It's not like you think, Son. Come, sit down. Let's talk about this, Boy."

Disobedience is a foreign concept to Matt. While he and his Pa sometimes play around with words and gestures, there's a stop point that Matt's not ever thought about crossing, especially since they were building a different relationship.

Matt regarded his coat for a moment, then took it off and hung it on the door knob, sat down and looked to the tabletop before turning his eyes up to see Fox speak, "Son, I don't believe in the heaven and hell the preachers preach about. What happened to Breckenridge was created from evil which is hell on earth. Don't need to have any make believe myth tell me what hell is all about."

"What about heaven? I don't see it."

"It's here. Ya just gotta look for it at times. I'm looking at my idea of heaven right now. I'm experiencing it, too. Good coffee, by the way."

"Thanks. May I go?" Matt asked, standing up and reaching for his coat.

"Sit down, Boy, I'm not finished. Heaven is often misunderstood. Listen to me for a spell, please."

"I don't understand. You're my Pa. I'm blessed. What about those people in town who lost everything… most of them lost their lives? That's not heaven, no way."

"Hang on for a second. You want another cup?"

"Thanks, Dad." Matt said while returning his coat to the door knob.

Fox returned and set the coffee cups on the table. "Come to me, Son."

Matt approached his father. His Pa put his arms around the boy and pulled him in close and held him firmly. Matt, motivated by love, returned the gesture. A couple of minutes passed before continuing, "Pa, I don't understand. Most of those people have nothing. Their families were killed off dead."

Fox kissed his son's forehead, sat down on the chair then pulled Matt onto his lap. His boy was growing. "Matt, think about this long and hard as you will need it many times during your lifetime."

Matt nodded and responded, "I always listen to you."

"I know. I want you to hear. There is a difference between listening and hearing." Matt nodded while rearranging himself so that he was facing his Pa. Fox continued, "There. You've got the idea. Here's the lesson: bad things happen to good people. I'd say ninety percent of those bad things result from bad choices people make. Now, before you misunderstand, let me say this: people's lives were taken and our town was destroyed because of evil choices made by evil persons. None of our town folk asked for death and destruction, and God damn sure did not create nor approve of such actions. Never forget, bad choices hurt people."

"Why, Dad, why? Why did they make those bad choices and act on them? What did we do? We're a town out in the middle of nowhere. We don't bother no one. We're just trying to grow up or make a living to take care of our families."

"I don't have answers to your questions, my son. This is something we have to come to terms with in our own hearts. Tell you what… I met a man who seems to have answers to many questions. He's deep. He's a good man. When we go into town, I'll be sure to introduce you to him."

Matt leant forward into Pa's chest. Fox put his arms around his boy and hugged him firmly. Matt said, "I'll talk to him. If he has an answer, then I'll tell you, ok, Pa?"

"Yes, I would like to know, too. Thanks. And, one more thing. This is heaven right here and now. Think about it." Fox said then reached up to his eye and pushed away a drop of water threatening to leak. Matt reached up and scratched his nose and used his little finger to dry his eye.

Fox smacked Matt's butt. Matt jumped off Fox's lap and put up his fists as though he was going to fight the big brute of a man. Fox grinned, then before Matt could count to two, found himself being carried outside, mostly upside down, as though he was a sack of potatoes. Fox grabbed their coats on the way out the door and gave Matt his when he let him down at the horse barn.

They went on about doing their chores, finishing just in time to have a bite of breakfast before heading into town.

For the first time since the hell on earth rained death and destruction everywhere inside and around him, Matt took the wheel and drove them into town, arriving just after 8:00 AM.

To be continued

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