The night was cold, breath fogging before her, the frosty ground crunching at her feet. There were so many stars in the sky, so many lights to twinkle about her. The beautiful stillness of the night. Only to be ruined as her ears caught the sound of someone banging on the front door. "James!" Someone shouted. Confused, she went to her door, candle in hand, slipping on her shoes quickly lest she catch cold like her brother. A maid scurried past to answer the door. But she hurried to her brother's room.
"Jenna?" She looked up at the frightened eyes of her sickly brother.
"It's all right Jimmy. Ma and Pa will handle it." She assured, dancing around Victor, her brother's best friend. "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine." He assured, though she didn't believe him and her look told him so. "Honestly."
"I'll honestly believe you when you quit lying." She tweaked his nose and he swatted her away with a tired smile. "Victor, could you- oh, thank you." She traded her candle for the rag he held out. The pounding at the door didn't quit, though the yelling seemed to intensify. "Is that...?" She looked to Victor, who's fear was almost palpable. The door opened and Jenna stood between them and it. Only to find her mother looking just as frightened.
"Victor, it's your father. You'd better go." She said.
"Ma-" A look silenced her as they listened to his yelling.
"That's not my name he's calling." Victor argued.
"Why would we send him back to that monster?" Jenna asked.
Suddenly, a commotion from outside grew intensely hard to ignore. Victor and Jenna followed her mother to the bannister. Only to find James was running. A gun went off. Jenna cried out. Victor held her close, despite his small frame and younger years.
"Don't!" He cried. But then James caught his eye and both were running for the boy. She wasn't sure what had happened, it was all so fast. One second there was yelling, then gunshots. Her parents were dead. And James had buried his hands into Mr. Creed's chest. Victor's own father.
A beautiful night marred with blood and death. "Jimmy!" Victor cried, running to his friend. Jenna stopped when she saw Mr. Creed slide down the wall, dead as well. And Jimmy's bones were sticking two feet from his knuckles, bloody and dripping flesh. "We gotta go! Jimmy!"
"But-" Jimmy looked at Jenna. Fear was on his face as well. She couldn't take her eyes off of Mr. Creed for a moment, but then, she was right next to Victor.
"He's right. You have to go. I'll be right behind you. I'll bring you boys food and whatever else I can find. Go. Go now!"
"But... How will you find us?"
"The tree. All right? I'll leave them by the tree." It was their spot. Their special place when they wanted to play or run away from the troubles of their parents and Keep Victor safe from his father. She kissed both boys on the foreheads. "Go!" She pushed them out.
The daylight was just new, though the frost wasn't letting up just yet. Wrapped in a shawl and cloak, she hoped the boys were all right. She tripped over a few stones, tiredness dragging at her bones, as she sat by the tree. Where were they? A twig snapped moments later. She turned to find Victor, but then Jimmy was running at her, dodging Victor and lunging into her arms. He was so cold.
She quickly took a blanket from her basket and wrapped him in it. "I've brought food and some things for you boys to survive with. I couldn't find Pa's flint, but I managed to snag this off of Creed." She handed that to Victor. It was a knife, large and good for skinning.
"Is it true?"
"Is what true?" She looked at Jimmy's wide eyes. "What's happened? What's wrong?" What could possibly be wrong now? She wondered.
"Was he my pa? And not... Pa?" Jimmy asked tearfully.
"Who- what?" Confused, Jenna let him pull away.
"Pa said that Jimmy was his." Victor supplied.
"Is it?" Victor flexed his fingers, his nails growing. Jimmy showed her his own, three long bone spears ejecting from between his knuckles, with a whimper.
"That man was no one's pa." She spat, fire in her eyes. She put her hands on Jimmy's shoulders. "That man was a drunken fool with nothing but hate in his heart." Her eyes went to Victor. "Don't you dare believe him. Either of you." She reached up for Victor, only to be interrupted by horses. She stood and pushed the boys behind her, only for Victor to stand between them.
"There they are!"
"They've got Ms. Howlett!"
"They got nowhere to run!"
Victor turned to Jenna, fury on his face. "You lead them here!"
"No I-!" She pushed Victor behind her. "What's the meaning of this?" She tried to put up a brave front.
"Ms. Howlett, you're safe now. Let out of the way now." A rather large man with a pistol trained at the boys peaking about her waist, demanded.
She glared at him. She would be damned if she let these men destroy the last family she had left. "Why? So you can shoot two innocent boys?!"
"Innocent?!" Someone in the posse called.
"Boys?! Those are monsters. Did you not see what they did to Creed?"
"Did you not see what Creed did to my family?!" She shouted back at the posse. "You leave them alone!" She waved her hands out in front of her, attempting to block the boys from all sides.
"We don't want to hurt you, Ms. Howlett."
"Then don't!" She cried. She turned to Jimmy, who had his hands balled into Victor's jacket. Victor just looked so angry. What would she do? "Please!" She turned her head back to the men before her.
Having had enough with the patience, Victor lunged, one of the horses reared and the gunfire and smoke resounded through the silence of the clearing. No birds, no insects, no chittering chipmunks or squirrles. Even the river seemed to silence itself for a moment. Victor had only placed himself between Jenna and the men, but Jenna's hand had flung of it's own accord, desperate to protect her family, and a strange light, like the sun that danced on the reflection of the water, was between the two parties. Everyone was shocked.
Victor was the first to recover. He grabbed Jenna and Jimmy and hightailed it into the thicket. No one had been hit. The bullets had missed their targets. They had been stopped by the light of a desperate woman. "Run for it!"