Beasts of Commodore
Prologue: Troubled Waters
A lone car was driving through the heavy spring rains across a large bridge. The vast river beneath was a murky abyss as grey as the clouds above. The land seemed to be cast in a layer of shadow giving the surrounding area gloomy and borderline sinister look from the marshy shoreline of the Mississippi to the many farms that dotted the land. Karen Morgan stared out the window of the beat-up station wagon at the river and at her own reflection. The first thing people noticed about Karen were her unusual eyes. They were jade green with a small ring of sky blue around the pupil. Her straight chestnut colored hair was kept just long enough to frame her face. She was, though not in her opinion, a pretty girl blessed with an acne-free face that most other teenage girls would kill for.
The sound of someone snoring next to drew the attention of the fourteen-year old away from the window. Her twin brother Michael was fast asleep his head leaning against the car window. She watched him with a combination amusement and her own brand of sisterly affection as he slept. Her brother was the one person she trusted and the only friend she now had. Karen then looked at the large box in his lap with numerous holes poked in the top to allow airflow. Now the she did not consider herself a "girly" type preferring denim jeans and black clothing to skirts but couldn't help shudder at the thought of her brother's so called pet, "Talk about girl repellant."
"Could you wake him up? I need to talk to both of you." Their mother, a raven-haired woman in her late thirties asked from the drivers seat, "Gently" She added quickly seeing her daughter reaching for Michael's nose. With a quick rolling of the eyes Karen instead choose poke and prod his ribs,
"Mike wake up!" With a grunt and slight jump her brother's sky blue eyes opened,
"Stop it already! I'm wake."
"I know but I'm having fun." His sister replied giving him a lopsided smirk. She ceased her poking when she noticed a bit of drool on her brother's face, "Oh you might want wipe that off your face." Michael's cheeks turned slightly pink as he wiped the drool from the corner of his mouth on the sleeve of his shirt.
"Ok you two settle down." Their mother interjected, "I want to remind you that it is imperative that you two are on your best behavior when we get to your Uncle Phillip's house and don't you dare roll your eyes at me while I'm talking to you young lady!"
"You've told us a million times: Uncle Phillip is a hard ass so you can't have any fun while stay with him." Karen said in a scathing impersonation of her mother. What followed was an argument that would go on after long they crossed the bridge and passed a sign that said:
Welcome to Louisiana
Bienvenue en Louisiane
Mike could see his mother turn red at his twin's use of profanity, "Here they go again." He had learned long ago that it was best to stay out of the frequent mother-daughter squabbles that erupted. He stared at the choppy waters of the Mississippi wondering what awaited them on the other side. They had lost everything after his dad died so their mother had reached out to one of her last living relatives. Michael understood that she did what she had to do but for the love of God why did it have to be the South? Back in Massachusetts his mom had repeatedly told him that it wasn't as bad as people said it was. The thing he wanted to know is if it wasn't that bad than why did she leave right after high school? That was a question he never got an answer to, as a matter of fact his mother seldom answered any questions about her childhood. What little he knew had from bits and pieces from he had heard (and overheard) from both of his parents. Now Mike had just enough sense to realize he wasn't the sharpest tool in shed but he had the strong impression that his mom and her parents outright loathed each other. Eventually her entire family with the exception of Aunt Ann eventually stopped speaking to her. Apparently his mom marrying without their blessing had been the last straw for them.
He had to admit though that it really didn't seem as bad as he thought. A few rural areas they passed seemed to fit stereotypical image of the South, you know trailers, run down farms, and decrepit small towns but that was it. When they got to the other side of the bridge and passed the sign welcoming them to Louisiana Mike subtly reached inside the box. His mother had given him strict instructions to keep the lid on the box while it was in the car but since at the moment he could drop dead and not be noticed he saw no harm in it, "Well, we're almost there Lucy." The snake was one of the few things he had ever put any real work into and was proud of that. He had saved up a couple of month's worth of allowance to buy the snake and what was needed to take care of her. Mike had even done research on pythons at the library. That had both impressed and irritated his parents since he seldom read anything longer that a comic book. It was also the one time he had gotten his way instead of Karen.
Back in the days of normality Karen had been the favorite. Mike had accepted that fact the way he accepted rainy days, school, and chores. He didn't hold it against her, she was smart, pretty, and when she felt like it could be very charming. Who wouldn't have wanted to spend time with her? In the days of normality, guests would always want to meet Karen and the feeling was mutual. Mike on the other hand was content stay up in his room rather than hang out with strangers. Some might wonder why Mike wasn't more jealous or angry over this? It was because he considered his sister his closest friend, she was often his only friend, "I just hope she gets back to normal soon."
"We don't even know these people and we have to stay with them?" Karen's voice cut through Michael's thoughts,
"I know them; my sister and her husband are nice people and were very kind to give us a place to stay. Phillip was the minister who married your father and I."
"Oh God he's a Preacher!" Karen groaned,
"Yes, but he's a nice man in many ways but not very
" Their mother paused for moment trying to find the right word, "Open minded about some things. Look this isn't a permanent arrangement. Since I'm from here it should be easy for me to find a job and get us settled in a place of our own. Maybe if all goes well we could move back up to Boston in a few years."
"Great plan mom!" Karen gave her mother a sarcastic thumb up, "So we stay in the middle of nowhere with a religious loony waiting for you to get a job and then maybe after a few years we might be able to escape this hellhole and go back to civilization."
"Karen Morgan what have I told you about using that kind of language! I'm sorry this hasn't been easy for you but I'm letting in on a little secret: It hasn't been easy for your brother or me. Now unless you want us to have an accident be quiet and let me drive." Alexandria Morgan turned her attention back to the road ahead of her.
"You're the one who started it." The young lady thought feeling as though she won. The heavy rains continued to pour without end making it difficult to see ahead. The young mother of two was feeling something akin to defeat at the thought of returning to her hometown. All the hard work that went into building the life she and her husband had up in Boston was for nothing. After her husband, Robert Morgan, passed away everything came tumbling down like a slow motion avalanche. Not being able to make the car payments therefore not being able to keep the car. The loss of the car meant having to rely on not so reliable buses and cabs. That meant she eventually lost her job and as a consequence of that loss, the house a few months later. Worst of all though was the fact that this left her with next to no time to be with the kids. Michael had become even more withdrawn and aloof while Karen had become
well, "This", Was the only thing that came to the single mother's mind as she looked at the angry and brooding young girl in the rearview mirror. Alexandria's worst fear was that her daughter had gotten into drugs response to her father's death.
"Thank God for Ann." She thought wiping a single tear off her cheek. Her sister Ann over the years over the years had repeatedly tried to convince her to move back south of the Mason-Dixon line, or at least come for a visit. After learning that her family was getting thrown out Alex finally took her sister up on the offer. Her older sister had assured her that she welcome to stay as long as she needed till she got a job. Not that there really was much of a choice since her savings might have lasted a few months at best. So most of her money went to purchasing the piece of crap she now drove while the rest went to cheap hotels, greasy fast food, and gas. Amazingly enough it had made the journey without breaking down, thank God for the little miracles.