by Grasshopper


"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy --- returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding darkness to a night devoid of stars."

Martin Luther King

Headline: McLaren Gazette, McLaren, Wyoming Sunday, April 15th, 2007:

Local Family Torn Apart By Bizarre Deaths

For this story to be told and understood, we have to go back seventeen years; back to what was the beginning for some and the end for others.

The Native Americans have names for each cycle of the moon; they know that all things in nature sleep, waiting until the moon wakes them. People's dreams and sins rise and fall to the whispers that travel on the moonlight. Perhaps, if the evil that lived in McLaren County, Wyoming had listened to the soft whispers of Niyol, the wind across the mountains, there wouldn't be a story to tell. But, we all know that evil never listens; evil just destroys.

April 3rd 1990

Katherine Violet Straihan stood at the bedroom window, her hands supporting her distended straining belly. She could see the attic window of the Harrelson's farm house in the distance. Her heart couldn't cry loud enough to be heard. The pain was consuming her. As another spasm shook her fragile body, she stumbled to the bed.

Katherine delivered her baby. It was a boy. She did it all alone with no help from anyone. She cut the cord, washed him as best she could, and wrapped him in a soft white blanket. The house was empty; her husband and the two older children at church services. She had been excused only because it was her time and she was too weak to make the drive to church.

Holding the tiny infant in her arms, she cried hot tears she thought were lost and long dried ... she cried for her children and the pleading place in her soul where love fought to be free . She would have to hand this child over just like she had the other two and they would all be his. She sang softly, her voice holding the crazed sounds of someone for whom hope is gone.

"Baby's boat is the silver moon sailing in the sky,
Sailing over the sea of sleep while the clouds float by.
Sail, baby, sail, out upon that sea,
Only don't forget to sail back again to me."

She hugged the baby tight, keeping him warm and soaking in his sweet baby smell. She counted his fingers and his toes, saw the sweep of long eyelashes feather his cheeks. He was quiet. No crying, just a sound like a kitten's purr coming from his tiny throat.

His eyes, dark green rimmed with circles of gold, opened and stared at his mother. She felt his differentness. He was strong. She feared for him much more than the others. He felt her fear. It ran in fiery crackles along her arms and channeled into his tiny body. The fear struck his eyes and they faded instantly from dark green to the color of mists and seafoam. His eyes became mirrors of her fear, shiny and silver as they reflected her heart. In that moment, when he knew he was losing her, that tiny soul took his mother's heart and hid it behind his pale pale eyes. His father's eyes.

She could hear the truck coming, rumbling down the dirt driveway and then stopping at the front door. She longed to hear laughter from her children one more time, but this was church day. No one laughed on church day. She lifted her weary head, the sun catching her silver earrings and making her appear, for a second, as the shiny innocent she had been so long ago.

His shadow crossed the doorway. "It is born?"

"Yes," she whispered. "My son."

He took the child out of her arms and left the room. She saw two little faces peer through the open doorway. Holding out her arms, she gathered young Karl Jr. and little Mercy Violet to her heart.

"You have a baby brother. Take good care of him. Love him."

Mercy was only two years old but still she could feel the tension in the air. She began to whimper, cramming her thumb into her mouth.

"Don't cry, little one. You have to be a big girl for your baby brother. He will need you always", words that would stay with Mercy forever.

Karl Jr., all of five years old, patted his mother's arm and rocked his sturdy little body back and forth nervously. "Don't cry. Mama. I'll take care of you. I love you very very much."

Katherine stroked her son's face, looked deeply into his dark eyes and sighed, "Life won't be easy. Follow the right path, little one."

The moans of the monsters under the bed, in the closet, behind the dresser. Cries in the night. The sounds of struggle, then .................. silence. Mercy crawled across the floor to climb into her big brother's bed and cling to his warmth in the dark of the moon.

The next morning, when the children awoke and came to find their mother, the bed was empty. Confused and scared, choking with tears, they found their father sitting on the front porch rocking the tiny baby's cradle with the toe of his boot.

"Where is Mama?"

"Your mother is gone. No tears. She could not fight the evil within her. Do not speak of her again. You are my children. I am all you need." Karl Jr. pinched Mercy hard on the arm when he heard her let out a strangled sniffle. Mercy learned, in that moment, that life isn't fair and she choked back the first of many sobs she would muffle in Father's house.

"Father?" Karl Jr. dared to ask, his eyes wide.


"What is our brother's name?"

Father looked into the cradle, a grim smile on his lips, "Wesley William Straihan." The baby made a snuffling sound and Mercy knelt beside the cradle to let the tiny fingers grasp onto her thumb. She peered into the baby's strange silver eyes. Father reached down and tore the struggling fingers from her. "Do not coddle him. He needs to learn. Go. I wish to pray." Mercy looked back over her shoulder as Karl Jr. dragged her away.

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