Chapter 12: Erik

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The sun was beating down with a vengeance. Mr. Baker rode out with a large sunhat on his head. He stopped with his overseer, Peter, which also happened to be his son.

"It's pretty hot out today, give them an hour lunch in the shade, and then 15-minute breaks every hour on the hour. Make sure the fresh water is stocked and I'll send over some girls with ice if needed." He said. 

Peter nodded, wiping his brow with a red bandana.

"You boys can take your lunch break over by the apple trees." He announced, stepping off his horse.

"Thank you." We chorused, trudging over to the apple trees just a few feet away.

Mr. Baker tipped his hat at us, using his walkie-talkie to order buckets of ice to be brought over. I plopped down at the base of the tree and unraveled the sack I used to carry my food. Mr. Baker had put me in a house with a family with three daughters. Lauren was the eldest, she was nineteen, like me and Laura and Laurel were the youngest, being around Emilia's age. There wasn't a day when I didn't think about my sisters. Was Davis treating them well? Everyone around here seemed to know that he was a son of a bitch who took advantage of all his servants, even when he was paying them well below the minimum wage. I swear if he's touched my sisters, I'll kill him with my bare hands.

The young house servants came over with buckets of ice. Peter dragged a metal tub for the girls to dump their buckets into. The girls also brought water from the well filling up the tub then placed a ladle into it. Everyone took their turn at the tub cooling off from the blistering heat. I leaned against the trunk of the tree eating the sandwich that Mrs. Lovelady, the matriarch of the family I lived with, had made for me. Mr. Baker walked towards me, taking off his hat to wipe the sweat that had formed at his hairline. "How are you adjusting?" he asked. I shrugged.

Mr. Baker had been kind to everyone; even his overseers were kind. But how had I adjusted? How could I adjust to becoming a slave in a month's time? I hadn't seen my sisters or my parents in a month. They could be dead for all I knew. Not well, that was the answer I gave him. He nodded and knelt before me.

"I have some news that might make you feel better. Andrew Jones just purchased two girls that go by the name Elisa and Emilia Fierro-Guerrero." he said.

The sandwich fell out of my hands onto the dirt. "They're alive?" I asked.

"Yes, they're alive and well."

"I was sure Davis tried to do something."

"Well, they escaped from the Davis plantation for a reason, so I can't say for sure he didn't do anything."

That broke my heart in half, but the thought that they were alive was enough to keep it together.

"As for your parents." He continued. "I haven't heard anything. Adults went into a different system."

"My mom's diabetic. She needs her insulin."

"I'm sorry Erik."

"Thank you for the news on my sisters." I said.

"Know that they're safe with Jones. He's a good boy."

He replaced his hat and hopped back on his horse, reminding Peter about the breaks every fifteen minutes. I picked up my sandwich beginning to dust it off when Lauren, Mrs. Lovelady's eldest daughter stooped down placing another sandwich in my hands.

"My mama sent this." She smiled, before hurrying back with the other girls to the house.

A loud explosion suddenly burst through the air. Everyone ducked as apples fell from their branches. Peter ordered everyone onto their feet and back to their cabins. Overseers from across the fields raced towards the edge of the property where smoke had curled up.

They shouted orders, some mounting back onto their horses and speeding for the house. I made it to the cabin where Mrs. Lovelady and her daughters were huddled together in a corner.

"Erik, what's happening?" she asked.

"I don't know, there was an explosion and all the overseers are over there." I answered.

Another explosion rattled the cabin.

"It's them, it's the rebels." Her youngest, Laurel squeaked. "They're coming for us!"

I stooped to at her level, running a hand over the top of her head. "Don't worry, they're not going to get to us." I assured.

The rebels had been breaking into plantations and helping people escape, but really they were just destroying everything in their path, unafraid of killing people in the process.

"Link! Did you see Link?" Mrs. Lovelady cried.

I shook my head. "Peter told everyone to run. I'm sure he's okay."

Laura, the second youngest, climbed into my lap wrapping her little arms around my torso.

She reminded me so much of Emilia. I squeezed her into a hug, in efforts to comfort her. One of the overseers busted in slamming the door behind him. His shirt was torn with bloodstains decorating the front of it. I shielded Laura's eyes with my hand.

"What's happening?" Mrs. Lovelady whispered.

"Rebels are trying to overtake the plantation, but the army is here." the overseer told her.

"Are you hiding?"

"No, we were sent to protect the cabins. They bombed the north field... everyone there is dead."

I dropped my eyes to the floor, slowly sliding them over to Mrs. Lovelady. Her skin had turned incredibly pale as her chest rose up and down with violent intakes of breaths. Lauren gripped her mother's shoulder, whispering soothing words. Mrs. Lovelady shook her head, letting it fall into her hands. 

"My husband was working in the north field."She sobbed. 

Laura looked up at me with tears forming in her eyes. I pressed her head to my chest, stroking her hair. The overseer took off his hat, offering comforting words, but Mrs. Lovelady wasn't listening. Her grief filled up the cabin. Laurel also climbed onto my lap holding onto her sister. I shut my eyes, hoping that Mr. Lovelady was still alive and would waltz through the door.

He never did.    

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