Saturday, February 2, 2013

"Bloodlines" Prologue Part 3 (Unedited First Draft)


Hey guys,

Here is part 3.  As I said before, this story is not for the kiddies and the disclaimer should begin here.  This story does touch on some sensitive issues and some content will be on the explicit side.

Part 3 of the Prologue also takes place in one of the three fictional towns I created for the story.

And as before, keep in mind that this is the unedited first draft :)

If you want to read the entire Prologue without "interruptions," you can do so here. 

Hope you enjoy!

You can also read everything in order at Sample Chapters




Plains, New York, United States
The Livingstons had been among America’s founders having been in the country since the mid 18th century.  They were among the most prominent of America’s aristocracy, owning large portions of the land surrounding the Hudson.  Many in the bloodline held prominent political positions including that of Chancellor, mayor, and drafter of the Declaration of Independence.  Others practiced law and where prominent lawyers and judges.  It was typical for a Livingston descendent to follow in the footsteps of their predecessors.  James Henry Livingston would be one of those in the bloodline who would pave a slightly different direction with his inheritance. 
James had been born in America and had had a love for literature since he was a young child.  He had studied business law at the request of his parents and would be a lawyer for a short period of time before opening his publishing company when he was just shy of his 31st birthday.  Livingston Publishing had it’s main office in New York City and James had been working at opening a branch in Plains.  James had been among the founders of the town of Plains, an area just short of an hour outside of New York City.  He would be among those who would oversee the building of the new town and would be the founder of it’s public library.  The Plains Public Library would open in 1832, the same year the Blakes would arrive in America. 

James was a handsome man and now just shy of his 48th birthday.  On this evening, he sat in a carriage on his way out to his house in Plains.  His wife Samantha was at their home in New York with their three boys, Jesse, Samuel, and Lawrence.  James and his family lived in New York City, but he had purchased land in Plains where he had built another house for weekend or holiday retreat. 
James carried a portfolio case containing paperwork he intended to finish that Friday evening and into tomorrow.  The documents concerned Livingston Publishing, new additions to the library, funding for the orphanage his good friends Cedric and Margaret Fleming were building, and the letter to another good friend of his, Charles Blake. 
James enjoyed the long carriage rides out to Plains.  When he was alone it gave him opportunity to clear his mind and if he was in the company of friends or family, it made for a pleasing ride of great conversation.  Tonight, James was grateful for the silence.  The only sounds present at the moment were that of the horse’s hooves clomping on the road in front of the carriage and the occasional call of a crow or hawk out in the distance.   It had a hypnotic effect on James, lulling him into a trance.
“Sir?”
 James was shaken to attention.  The carriage was no longer moving and now stood in front of his holiday home.  Bradley, the coachman, stood holding the carriage door open for James to exit.  James could see a rather puzzled expression on Bradley’s face.
“Are you quite well, sir?” Bradley asked.
“Yes,” James replied gathering his document case, “yes I’m quite alright.”
James stood, shaking away the last of his dreamstate, and exited the carriage.
“My lord,” Bradley said with a small bow as James emerged with his boots landing on the dirt road in front of the house. 
“Safe travels back,” James said turning to Bradley, “I will be needing a carriage back to New York tomorrow evening.  Seven ‘o’ clock sharp.”
“Yes, Master Livingston,” Bradley replied. “Will there be anything else before I depart?”
“No.  Thank you, Bradley.  You are relieved for the night.  Samantha has our servants in the home should she need anything.”
“Very well, my lord.  I’ll return here tomorrow at seven ‘o’ clock,” Bradley said before returning to the carriage and riding it back to New York.
James stood alone in front of the dark, two story house, peering up into the top window.  It was so quiet, so still out here.  A breeze traveling west lifted his cloak as he started up the pathway to the house.  James was halfway to the house when he began to feel as though he weren’t alone.  From the corner of his eye, he could almost swear to seeing a small figure run across the field toward the woods behind the house.  James turned toward the field but it lay open and empty.  The running figure was gone.  He thought he could hear an animal howling somewhere far in the woods. 
James quickened his pace up the rest of the path and into the house, shutting the door.  He lit a few oil lamps before settling into his study.  He set his portfolio onto the desk, setting everything in neat piles, and focused his mind on work. 
James’s sat at his desk looking over the new paperwork concerning the orphanage.  With his pen in hand, he started reading over the document.  But it wasn’t long before the words on the page began to blur together.  James slammed his pen down and brought his hands to his face, trying to will the throbbing in his head to leave him.  He shifted his gaze over to his liquor cabinet.
A drink…he thought, I could use a drink. 
James rose from his desk chair, walked to the cabinet, and fixed himself a brandy.  He swirled the dark liquid before taking a first sip.  In the dim light of the study, James’s mind began wandering back to that evening a week ago…

Now, James Henry Livingston was a reasonable and sane man.  He attended the Presbyterian church with his wife and sons every Sunday.  But James was one to always believe logical explanations for things and never entertained the notion of anything other than what could be physically seen and touched.  So one can only imagine the pains James was taking to explain what he had seen up at the Nathaniel Fleming Orphanage property a few nights ago.  The orphanage property was not far from James’s second home.  He was considering heading up there.  Going back up to the third floor of the second building and into the same room where he had seen it, just to prove that there was a logical reason for what he had seen there. 
But there is no logic.  None.
James was very fond the Flemings and was happy to help them in any way he could.  He had been up to the property to oversee the building of the orphanage a few times and it was nice to see Cedric and Margaret in good spirits.  The tragic death of their young son Nathaniel five years ago had had a profound affect on the Flemings.  But the orphanage, along with their daughter Maxine, seemed to have given them a sense of purpose again. 

James absently raised the glass to his lips, once again taking the sweet, warm liquid into his mouth.  As the brandy trickled down his throat his thoughts went to her.  The small, dark-haired girl he had seen at the orphanage. 
James had gone with Samantha and the Flemings to the new building that had just been finished on the property.  The kitchen and dining hall was on the first floor and classrooms would be up on the second.  The second floor also included a small library that Cedric insisted on naming after James.  The third floor held rooms and living quarters meant to house the school instructors.  James had wanted to venture up to the second and third floors to have a look around.  He had left Samantha, Cedric, Margaret, and little Maxine (who looked quite restless and bored as the adults engaged in seemingly endless chatter).  The voices of Cedric, Margaret, and Samantha faded behind James as he made his way up the stairs with a lantern.  He spent a considerable amount of time on the second floor, looking into all the rooms.  The building was, for the most part, completed only in need of furnishing.  James was feeling pleased that he had agreed to help sponsor Cedric’s orphanage. 
He was taking a look in all the rooms, satisfied with how everything was turning out.  James then went up to the third floor.  Everything seemed to be in place.  He made his way to one of the rooms located halfway down the hall, stepping into it as he had the others before it. 
James was leaving the room when the flame in his lantern flickered out.
Strange, James had thought, I didn’t feel a draft…
The room was cloaked in shadows, but it was early evening and there was still enough light streaming in through the windows.  At least enough for James to make his way back downstairs.  He had seen basically all he needed to anyway. 
He was at the doorway when he felt a vibration in the floor.  James paused feeling his skin prickle.  He turned his head back to the room to see shapes beginning to materialize. A bed and a desk appeared in front of him.  James shut his eyes tightly thinking that surely this was the evening shadows playing tricks with his eyes.
Perhaps I’ve been working too hard as of late...perhaps I need a holiday.
James counted to ten.  He opened his eyes, expecting to see an empty room.  But there they were, the bed and the desk, even more vivid than before.  Then he saw her.  The small girl with long, dark hair.  She appeared to be about twenty years of age and she wore dark clothing.  James’s heart began racing as he watched her, standing on a chair securing a hangman’s noose to a hook on the ceiling.
What is going on here?
James stepped further into the room in an attempt to get a better look at the girl.  He paused at the desk, placing his hand on the surface and nearly fell over as his hand went through it.  A current vibrated through James’s body as he stood, trying to collect himself.  He continued over to the girl and stopped right beside her as she finished securing the noose.  The girl then stood, staring at it.  James could see her delicate chin and hollow cheeks as her face was on the gaunt side.  He reached out to touch her arm and his had, as it had done with the desk, had gone right through her.  James could feel another current pulse through him, followed by a sudden wave of sadness.  Sadness, anger, anxiety took over his being and paralyzed him to where he stood.  James found himself unable to move.  It was as though some invisible force were holding him back. 
The girl turned in James’s direction.  He eyes met his, but it seemed she were looking through him.  Looking at him, but not seeing him.  The more James stared at her, the more her eyes told a story of who she was and what had happened to her.  Terror rose in James at the moment he knew who the girl was.  He struggled to move his legs as the girl turned back to the noose, placing her hands around it.  He had to stop her from what she was about to do.  The terror he felt rose from his chest into his throat.
“No! Please, stop!” James managed to lurch out. 
He was suddenly able to break free of whatever invisible force constrained him, lunging forward to grab the girl.  The lantern fell from his hand, hitting the floor with a crash.  James ran into the wall as the girl, the chair she stood on, the bed, the desk, and the noose disappeared leaving James alone in an empty room.  James collapsed, lowering his hands to his knees, his eyes on the floof as he willed his breathing to return to normal.  He noticed the tears in his eyes as he tried to blink them back. 
The broken lantern lay on the floor in shattered pieces.  James knelt down to pick up the lantern’s remains as he searched his brain for an explanation he would give to Cedric of how it had broken. 
James remembered Cedric, Margaret, Samantha and Maxine for the first time since he had stepped into this room.  He wasn’t sure how long he had been up there and surely they would be wondering what was keeping him.  James rose back to a standing position, holding the pieces of the broken lantern.  He jumped back at a small figure standing in front of him.  He relaxed when he saw that it was little Maxine Fleming.
“Maxine!” James had said, “good heavens, you startled me.  I didn’t even hear you come in here.”
“Sorry,” she said, “it was getting boring downstairs.  Momma and Daddy said I could come up and find you.”
“Well, thank you Maxine.  Tell your parents and my wife that I’m on my way down.” 
“Are you well, Mr. Livingston?” Maxine asked him.  The ten-year-old’s face was given a red tint from the rays of the setting sun trickling into the room.  Her eyes almost glowed as she gave him a rather peculiar look.  James could feel chills returning to his skin.  But he forced a smile at the little girl and said, “Yes.  Yes, Maxine…I am.  Run along and tell your parents and my wife that I’m on my way back downstairs.”
“Yes sir,” Maxine said.  The little girl turned and headed toward the hall.  She stood in the doorway, turning back to give him a final glance before disappearing out into the hall.

James now stood in his study swirling and sipping his brandy as he recalled the events of that evening.  The image of the dark-haired girl and the noose burned in his brain.  He had seen the girl in his dreams almost every night since that evening and he would feel her torment before waking up in a cold sweat. 
James gulped down the last of his brandy allowing the liquid to burn in his throat.  He welcomed the sensation and poured another glass to take back to his desk. 
James took out the letter he was writing to Charles Blake, opting to put his other paperwork aside for the time being.  Finishing the letter to Charles did help to put James at ease.  James thought about another important document that sat in his safe back at his home in New York.  His Last Will and Testament.  James’s lawyer was coming that Sunday evening so that he and James could make a couple changes in the Will.

James put the letter to Charles in an envelope, stamped it, and put it into his portfolio case as something completed.  He then turned his attention back to his paperwork when something in the hallway caught his attention.  The door to the study was opened a crack and James strained to see a shadow moving passed the study.  Without thinking, James reached into his pocket, fishing out his keys and unlocked his bottom desk drawer where he kept his loaded pistol.  He picked up the firearm and crept out into to the hall.  He opened the door to his study with caution, peering in the direction he had seen the shadow move in.  The door to one of the rooms at the end of the hall was open ajar.  James frowned, certain that the door had been shut when he arrived. 
Armed with his pistol, he made his way down toward the room at the end of the hall.  He noticed the soft glow of a lamp coming out from the room.  He stopped just outside the room listening.  The sounds of movement from inside the room confirmed that he was not in the house alone.  James drew in a breath and whirled into the doorway, pointing his pistol toward a figure standing at a dresser at the far end of the room.
“What are you doing here?!” James bellowed.
“Master Livingston, please!”
James lowered his pistol.  “Winifred?”
It was indeed Winifred, the housekeeper of the Livingston’s holiday home.
“Yes, Master Livingston,” Winifred replied turning around.
James could see a bewildered expression on Winifred’s face.  He let out an exasperated sigh. “Good God, woman!  What the hell are you doing sneaking around in here?!”
“I’m sorry!” Winifred protested, “I had left my reading spectacles in here earlier today.  I let myself in with my key and I saw lamps had been lit so I called to let you know I was here.  You didn’t answer so I figured you were occupied…I…I’m sorry…”
“Winifred, it’s alright,” James said quickly, “I supposed I was so engrossed in my work I must not have heard you.  I apologize for my outburst.”
Winifred nodded as she made her way passed James heading toward the stairs.  At the top of the stairwell, she paused and turned back to face her employer.
“Master Livingston if I may be so bold…please.  Get some rest.  You do not look well.”
James looked at the gray-haired woman and nodded his head before waving her dismissal.  He stared blankly ahead as he heard Winifred leave.  He wondered how he had not heard her call to him.  A thought then occurred to James.  One that made him chuckle rather loudly.  That had been the third time that week someone had made the suggestion of his not seeming well.  First little Maxine Fleming, then Bradley, and now Winifred.
James leaned back against the wall, raising his eyes to the ceiling.  His thoughts returned to the small dark-haired girl and the noose.  The girl he knew. 
“Perhaps I’m not well,” James said aloud as a helpless feeling came over him, “perhaps I never will be again.”

Read on to Part 4 and the Conculsion of the Prologue 

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