The Dark Mr. Clark

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A time-traveling racist slave owner gets what he deserves...

Submitted: June 10, 2015

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Submitted: June 10, 2015

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The year was 1851.

Mr. Remington Clark sat at his kitchen table gobbling down pieces of bread, corn, beans, more bread, and a leg from a turkey killed earlier that day.  He scratched his fat, hairy, pale stomach; he scratched under his thick beard that was stained with dribbles of whiskey.  He coughed, an old man’s cough, bits of mucus spraying out in front of him.  Some of it landed on the glass of the oil lamp on the table.The heat from the lamp forced Mr. Clark to break a sweat that dripped to the wooden floor.  Had he been wearing a shirt some of the sweat might have been absorbed off him, but Mr. Clark preferred to spend his evenings wearing nothing but his trousers and boots.

Anita, a lovely young, dark skinned woman from western Africa, stood in the corner of the room.  She wore a brown, tattered dress that reached her ankles and revealed her bare, blistered feet.  She kept her head down and remained quiet.

Mr. Clark belched and leaned back in his seat.  He glared at Anita, and then with a swift arm picked up the turkey bone and hurled it at the girl.  It hit her in the stomach, startling her and making her gasp in fright.  “Take muh plate, girl!” he ordered.  “I’m done!”  He coughed and hacked as he picked up his cup of whiskey and drank what little was left in it.

Anita hurriedly picked up the turkey bone and then Mr. Clark’s empty plate.  She threw the turkey bone out the open door and into the dark night.  Shaking, she took the plate to a pale of water at the other side of the room and began scrubbing it clean with her bare hands.

“Ya’d better wash it good, girl,” Mr. Clark mumbled.  “I’ll do to ya what I did to yer sister.”

Anita paused a moment.  She dared not turn around to face him.  Her hand subconsciously moved to her lower back, and she rubbed it empathetically with thoughts of her sister crying in torturous pain.

“You know I know how to give a good whippin’,” Mr. Clark said.  His eyes closed.

Anita came to and scrubbed the dish until her fingers were raw; she scrubbed more.

“That plate better shine,” Mr. Dark said under his breath.  His head fell forward, eyes closed; he loudly breathed and Anita could hear his stomach churning to poorly digest his dinner.

“Pa!  Pa!”  They were the cries of Mr. Clark’s three sons: Al, Bill, and Remington Jr.  They spilled into the room, violently waking Mr. Clark from his snooze.

“What the hell is goin’ on!” Mr. Clark exclaimed.  For a second he tried to stand, but he could not roll forward enough off his wobbling chair.

The three sons came to stand in front of him at the end of the table.  They were scrawny, pale young men, with eyes wide and wild.  They each had a firm grip on a broad shouldered, strapping gentleman.  This man had skin as dark as Anita’s and wore the same style of tattered garments.  He stood still, his head low.

Mr. Clark squinted in the dim lamp light to focus on them.  “Now… now what the hell are ya boys doin’ with the plow horse?  Ain’t ya know he ain’t allowed in the damn house!”

“Pa-” Al started.

Mr. Clark pointed his finger at Al with murderous hatred.  “Ya know better than to talk to me.”  He held his deathly stare on his son until he was satisfied that he had terrified the young man back into silence.  When he was done he leaned back, making the chair creak under the immense pressure.  He put his cup to his lips and was disgusted to find it empty.  “Girl!  Where’s more drink?”

Anita raced to the cabinet and brought the whiskey jug to Mr. Clark’s side.  She was ready to pour him more when he stopped her.

“Just put the damn thing on the table!” the old, fat Mr. Clark demanded.

“Yessa!” she cried.  The jug slipped from her hand.  It fell from the edge of the table and nearly to the ground before she fumbled to catch it.

Mr. Clark roared drunkenly and snatched the jug from her hands.  He slammed it onto the table.  Anita raised her palms in shaking fright.  He grabbed her so hard he bruised her. He threw her away from the table so rough that she crashed into the wall and fell to the floor.  “Just stay there!” he yelled.

“Yessa!” Anita answered.  She lay there, quivering on the wood.

Mr. Clark turned his beady eyes back to his sons.  “Now, tell me, Favorite Son, what the hell is the plow horse doin’ in muh kitchen?”

Remington Jr., the oldest of the three, cleared his throat.  “Pa, he done let one o’ the horses free.”

Mr. Clark was still.  He grabbed the table and laboriously stood to his feet.  “He done what?”

“He set one o’ the horses free, Pa.  Just let ‘em go!  He’s gonna steal it.  I know he is!”

“We’ll whip him, Pa!” Bill cried.  “Whip him good!”

“Shut the hell up!” Mr. Clark boomed.  He stared down the gentleman being held.  “Well, what do ya have to say, plow horse?”

The gentleman gulped.  “I done no such thing Masta’.  It…it was your boys Masta’.  They wanted to ride the horse, so they untied him an’ he got away.  I swear Masta’ Clark!  I done no such thing!”

“Shut up Plow Horse!” Al exclaimed.

Mr. Clark slammed his fist onto the table.  “Shut the hell up all o’ ya!”  He grabbed the whiskey jug and moved slowly around the table.  He stood inches away from the gentleman.  “Ya callin’ muh boys liars?”

The gentleman shook his head.  “No Masta’ Clark.”

“It was him, Pa,” Remington Jr. said.  “I saw him doin’ it, too!”

“Muh boy don’t lie, Plow Horse,” Mr. Clark said coldly.  He looked the gentleman dead straight in the eyes.  “An’ you look like a liar to me.”

“Masta’ Clark I swear!” the gentleman begged.

Mr. Clark reared his arm back and swung the whiskey jug upside the gentleman’s head.  Anita let out a small burst of a cry before covering her mouth.  Whiskey splashed from the jug, and he had hit him so hard there was a crack left in it.  The gentleman’s legs buckled under him and his eyes rolled back and shut.  The sons struggled to hold him up as best they could.  He was moaning and bleeding.

Mr. Clark swigged from the jug.  “I don’t tolerate thieves, Plow Horse.”  He hocked saliva and mucus into his throat, and then spit it into the gentleman’s face.  “Favorite Son, ya know where the whip is.”

“Yes Pa!  I’ll take care o’ it!”  Remington Jr. smiled, delighted as he and his brothers dragged the gentleman across the kitchen and into the dark night.  “We’ll teach you!” they cried.  “Ain’t never gonna steal nothin’ again!”

Mr. Clark teetered from side to side.  He stared for moments at nothing, and when those blank moments passed he turned around and dug his sharp stare into the eyes of Anita that were as wide as a baby deer’s before a drooling wolf.  “Ya’d better clean this up, girl, or I’ll do to ya what I done to yer sister!”

Anita hopped to her feet.  She raced to the spilled puddle of whiskey at Mr. Clark’s feet and used her own garment to wipe it up.

The fat, sweaty old man rubbed his stomach.  “This supper ain’t sittin’ too well in me,” he grumbled.  He nearly stepped on Anita on his way across the kitchen and to the open doorway where his sons had left.  He stumbled out.

He stumbled onto the porch.  He stumbled over the old, sleeping hound and then kicked it, crying out, “Ya dumb ol’ dog!  Get out!”  The hound whimpered and hobbled to the corner of the porch.  Mr. Clark nearly fell off the porch as he gracelessly trudged onto the dirt ground.  The moonlight showed him enough to see his way past a field in front of the cottage, one that was overgrown with weeds and insects, and to a small, sideways leaning outhouse at the edge of the woods that surrounded Mr. Clark’s land.  “Quiet down!” he yelled as he made his way.  He could hear his sons screaming things.  He could hear the pain drenched wails of a man and the crack of a whip that echoed time and time again through the dying trees of the woods.  “You’ll wake yer mother out o’ her grave with all that racket!”

He flung open the outhouse door.  Immediately a small swarm of flies buzzed and flew into him; his arms flailed about so violently that he knocked himself to the ground.  “Damn it!” he cried.  He regained himself and entered the outhouse.  He groped in the dark for the seat.  He dropped his trousers and sat over the hole.  “Bring me a lamp, girl!” he ordered.  His stomach churned the foul contents of his bowels, and he moaned a drunken moan into the dark, rancid space he was now surrounded in.  “Oh, this ain’t pretty,” he mumbled.

And then a strange thing happened…it seemed to him that something else was moaning.  It started as a moan, a creaking moan that would have appeared to be coming from all around the outhouse.  “What the hell is that?” he whispered.  The creaking moan grew to a hum, a low constant hum.  From a hum it grew into a whirring sound, a whirring sound that grew rapidly louder.  “What the hell is that!” Mr. Clark cried.  The wood began to shake beneath him.  The walls were trembling and the whirring grew deafening.  He screamed.  He reached to pull up his trousers but the whole outhouse began to shake violently, knocking him back onto his bottom with his trousers at his ankles.  Suddenly a faint light seeped in through the spaces between the boards.  Suddenly the light was violently bright and caused him to squint.  It came from every angle through the boards of the walls, the boards of the floor, and even through the hole he sat over.  It was a great, white light, and within moments it was all he could see – no darkness, no outhouse, just a blinding white light accompanied by the whirring that blocked all other sound.

And suddenly, with a final jolt, it all stopped.  There was silence.  Mr. Clark gripped the edge of the wooden seat so hard he was driving splinters into his palm.  When his sight was well enough to see again he saw the darkness inside the outhouse, but through the spaces in between the planks, he saw a dim light, and there were voices, men’s voices.

“What did you do?” one voice said.

“Nothing!  You calibrated it wrong!  What the hell is this?” the other voice answered.

Mr. Clark stood slowly.  He wheezed and nervous sweat dripped off him like a leaking faucet.  He pulled up his trousers.  He leaned forward and peered through the planks.  On the other side was a small, dimly lit room.  The walls were gray and the floor was made of wood.  A tattered, red rug laid in the center and on it a small kitchen table.  On the table were things Mr. Clark could not make sense of, boxed shaped things with blue light beaming from them, showing on a skinny, pale man that sat in front of them.  His hands were racing across something, his fingers furiously pressing on something that made clicks with every press.

“This is what we get for using computers from the twentieth century!” the other voice called out.

“Calm down,” the pale man stated.  “I’m sure it’s not that big of a deal.  We just need to recalibrate the machine and try again.”

Mr. Clark could stand no more.  He burst through the door and stumbled out into the room.  “What the hell is goin’ on!” he demanded.

The pale man whipped around.  He jumped from his seat.

Mr. Clark spun around and saw another pale man, only this one was taller.  He stared in awe at Mr. Clark.  “Who the hell are ya?” Mr. Clark screamed.

“You brought a person back?” the tall man said.

The pale man stuttered.  “I-I don’t know.”  He spoke to Mr. Clark, “Who are you?”

“Who am I?  Who the hell are you two?  Where the hell have ya brought me ya devils!”

“Sir, please.”  The pale man approached him.

Mr. Clark would not have it.  With a war cry he charged forward at the pale man and threw him back against the table.  He knocked down the table, sending the box shaped things into a violent crash on the floor.

“Hey!”  The tall man grabbed Mr. Clark, but the fat drunk whirled around too quickly for him to keep a hold; the drunk slugged him across his jaw and left him crying in bloody pain.

“Where am I?” Mr. Clark cried.  “Where am I?”  He ran from wall to wall.  He ran from window to window.  They were completely boarded up.  In minutes he stumbled upon a single door.  He ran through and escaped into a narrow hallway as dark as the night he had left behind on his farm.  He ran, and ran.  There were two blue doors at the end, and Mr. Clark spilled through them like a violent bull.  He spilled out of the doors and into the sunlight.

He squinted.  He looked down.  He stood on hard, gray ground.  He looked up.  There were buildings so tall he could see no end to them.  There were so many loud sounds he covered his ears.  People were everywhere, dressed in glimmering garments that made him shield his eyes.  They moved by him coldly, shoving him out of their way.  He was on a street, a city street he assumed.  “I’m in the North!” he screamed.  “Damn yanks brought me to the damn north!”  He noticed the people closer – they were dark skinned, all of them, dark like Anita and the gentleman.  “What the hell is goin’ on!” he screamed.  All of them, every one of the people around them, were dark.  “It’s a revolt!” he screamed.  “It’s a slave revolt!”  He charged for one of them, and a crowd of them knocked him back down.  “Hobo,” he heard one grunt.  Back on his feet, he was again distracted.  There were gigantic pictures among the buildings, and the people in them moved and smiled.  There were words underneath their faces.  “What the hell is that?” he said.  “I can’t read, ya damn yanks!”

In an instant Mr. Clark stopped moving, stopped looking.  He looked at his hands and at his skin.  A heat was covering him, a strange heat that reached beneath his tattered trousers; it reached from the top of his balding head and even to the ends of his toes.  His breathing shortened as he witnessed his pale, sweating skin slowly growing pink.  It reached the color pink, but grew a deeper color, a redder color, and the heat within his skin grew hotter.  “Wh-what?”  He looked up.  The sunlight beamed above the sky-lining buildings.  It was searing him, slowly boiling him.  The heat in his skin became painful, a seething burning.  He started hollering.  Patches in his skin appeared, and they were dead skin, and they fell from his arms and he scratched some off his neck.  He screamed.  “What is this!”  He grabbed at his flesh.  His vision blurred and it became agonizing to keep his eyes open.  The pain gripped him so fierce that he could not scream.  He started running, and he ran and he ran.  He shoved people out of the way, some to the ground.  His skin felt on fire.  He moaned and collapsed to the hard concrete.

“Oh my God!” he heard someone say.

He could see a blurry crowd of dark people gathering around him.  “You can’t take me, damn slaves!” he mumbled.  However in seconds, his world faded to black.

 

*****

 

Mr. Clark’s eyes opened.  He was in a bed, a thin bed with a thin, white blanket on top of him.  His trousers were gone, and on him a paper thin gown with pictures of tiny flowers on it.  He was in a room, a cold white room.  Bright, white light was coming from a contraption attached to the ceiling.  He tried to make a sound, but nothing came out.  His skin felt raw; his eyes felt too big for his own skull.  He breathed heavily.  Looking down, he saw tubes, thin, colored tubes that led from behind him and into his arms.  He grunted.  ‘What are these?’ he mumbled.  He wanted out, out of bed and out of the room.  He could barely move.  It exhausted him to budge.  “Devils,” he muttered.  “I’ve been taken by Yankee devils!”

The door opened.  Mr. Clark shut his eyes tight.  He lay deathly still, and breathed as easy as his thumping heart would let him.  He heard the door shut softly, and then footsteps approached his bedside.

“See what I mean?”  It was a man’s voice, a young voice.

“He doesn’t look any different than any other hobo.”  It was a young woman’s voice.

“They’ve already taken his clothes,” the young man said.  “But they said they were unlike any clothes that have been around in decades.  They were made of cotton.”

“Cotton?” the young woman asked.  “Nothing has been made in cotton since –”

“I know, exactly!  They’re searching for time-pods in the area that they found him in.”

“I don’t know,” the young woman said softly.  “It just seems so unlikely.”

“I believe it.  It was only a matter of time before someone brought a person back.  You’d think it would be from a legal time-pod, though.  It’s amazing.  It was probably just some guy in his basement with some lousily rigged up, illegal time-pod that did this.”

“I doubt it.  He’s probably just from the street.”

The footsteps returned to the door and the voices grew distant.  “But then why hasn’t he had the treatment?  Everyone has had it, even the homeless.”

They were gone.  He fell back to sleep.

 

*****

 

Mr. Clark opened his eyes.  How much time had passed?  He didn’t know.  He looked around.  He was in the same room under the same bright, white light.  The tubes in his arms were gone.  He felt normal, exhausted, but normal.  A woman sat to the side of the bed, a pale, skinny woman.  She wore a strange dress.  Parts of it glimmered under the light.  Her hair was pulled back tight.

“Hello, Sir,” she greeted gently.

“What the hell is that?” Mr. Clark asked, looking at the object tucked in her arm.

She looked down.  “This is a tablet, Sir.  My name is Shannon.  Can I get you anything?”

“Yeah, some damn whiskey!”

“This is a hospital, Sir.  I’m not going to get you any alcohol.”

“Where’s my sons?” he said.

“Sir, do you know what year it is?”

Mr. Clark sat up and coughed.  He spit onto the floor.  “What kinda question is that?  Ya damn, dumb yank!  Ya know there’s a slave revolt?”

She was puzzled.  “Sir, are you aware of the treatment you’ve just received?”

“Treatment, what treatment?  Where’s that girl?  Is she up ta this?  I’mma whip her good when I get the chance, you believe me.”  He paused.  “What am I wearin’?”  He looked down at the flowery, paper thin gown over his skin.

“The nurses informed me that the ones with flowers were the only ones left,” the woman said.

He glared at her.  “What treatment were ya talkin’ ‘bout?”

“There’s a long, technical name for it, but you’ve probably heard of it as ‘skin salvation’.”

He stared at her blankly.

“I guess not.”  She cleared her throat.  “What is your name?”

“Clark,” he groaned.  “Remington Clark.”

Her fingers moved across her tablet.

“An’ I want some damn whiskey.”

“That’s not going to happen Mr. Clark.”  She set her tablet in her lap.  “You received a treatment that will make your skin tolerant of the rays.”

“Rays?  What rays?”

She was surprised.  “UV rays, Mr. Clark, from the sun.  Are you – are you aware of the dangers of sunlight?”

“Dangers o’ sunlight?  Ya damn, dumb yanks.  The sun ain’t dangerous.”

“Mr. Clark, does the term ‘The Great Burn’ mean anything to you?”

He did not answer.

“The Great Burn?” she asked.  “The event in which sunlight became too-”  She paused.  “Mr. Clark what year is it?”

“Eighteen fifty somethin’,” he groaned.  “Why in the hell does that matter?  Ya got any niggers here that could make me some breakfast?”  He scratched his belly.  “I’m starvin’.”

The woman’s eyes widened.  “Mr. Clark it is the year 2130.”

He laughed.  “Damn, dumb, devil woman yank.  Don’t even know what ya talkin’ ‘bout.”  He snorted back mucus and swallowed it.  “I want outta here.”

“They’re not going to let you leave, Mr. Clark.  We still have a lot of questions for you to answer.”

“What questions?”

She paused.  “You just need to answer a few more questions and then you can rest.”

“I don’t need to rest.”  He stood to his feet.  He swayed.  Dizziness plagued him.  He leaned against the bed, and then he forced himself back to his feet.  The woman stood and got in his way.  “I didn’t ask if I could leave, either,” he said.  “I’m leavin’!”

“Mr. Clark, I can’t let you-”

He grabbed her and threw her to the floor.  “I said I’m leavin’!” he growled.  He stumbled to the door and opened it.  The woman got to her feet and rushed to him.  She grabbed his arm.  He yanked his arm away and punched her in her eye.  She fell down unconscious.  “Damn Yankee woman.”  With that, he stumbled out into the hall of the hospital.

The hallway was empty.  There was a door at the end of it with a red sign above that he could not read.  Through the small window, though he saw light, and knew it was his way out.  He raced as fast as he could, and then he slammed through the door.  Immediately a deafening ringing sounded in the hall, making him move faster.  He spilled out onto the street as he had before.  It was crowded with people as it had been before, dark people, in their glimmering garments under the blinding sunlight.  He picked up his pace, faster and faster, barreling through the crowds like a cannon ball.  “Where’s my farm?” he groaned.  “Where’s my farm?”

He stopped.  Something was different, very different.  He felt his skin harden.  He looked at his hands.  They were darkening.  He looked at his legs.  They were darkening.  “Ya devils!” he cried.  “Ya black devils!”  He ran faster towards anywhere.  People stared as he went by.  “Sons!” he cried.  “Sons!  Are you here?  Favorite son!”  He ran by a building with walls made of glass.  He saw his reflection, and he saw his skin.  Under the gleaming sunlight his skin had become dark, dark like Anita and dark like the gentleman.  He kept running.  He was panting, and coughing, and his feet grew sore on the hard ground.  He stopped again, this time to lean on a metal pole that was next to a machine on wheels.  “What is this?” he said.

He looked around.  He thought he saw his son.  “Favorite son!” he called out.  It was a lean, pale young man in one of the glimmering suits.  The young man stood under the shade of one of the buildings, holding something square and flat in his hands, like what the woman had held.  The young man stared intently upon the thing, and slid his finger across the surface.  “Son!” Mr. Clark cried again.  The young man looked up.  He gave a puzzled expression, and then he walked on, out of the shade and down the street.  When he entered the sunlight, his skin changed; it became dark, like the shade of Mr. Clark’s.  “What kinda devil is this?” Mr. Clark mumbled.  “Ya ain’t muh son!”  He picked up his pace again.  “I’m in hell!  I must be in hell!”  He ran, as fast as a fat old drunk could run.  He ran for minutes, or was it hours?  The people were everywhere.  Sometimes he would see one in the shade, a white one, but when they stepped into the light their white disappeared and was black again.

When he could move no more he stopped and leaned against the hard concrete of a building.  This street was far less crowded here.  He wheezed, unable to catch his breath.  “I think I gotta kill muh self,” he said.  “I can’t stay here, not with these devils.”  Then he saw it, two blue doors at the end of the alley next to him.  “That’s it!” he cried.  “That’s it!”  He stumbled further into the alley, fumbling from concrete wall to concrete wall.  He got to the doors and forced them open.

He spilled into the same, narrow, dark hallway he had found earlier.  “This is it!” he cried.  “Where’s my farm?  Where’s my sons?”  He raced down the hall.  He came to a single door and opened it.  It was the same room, with the same tattered red rug in the center.  The same table was standing again, with the same box shaped things on it, their blue light glowing beautifully.  And there, near the end of the room, where it had been before, stood his outhouse, seemingly tall and magnificent in its glory.  “Muh outhouse!” he whispered.  He noticed something above it this time.  It was a large, metallic, circular something.  It hovered several feet above the outhouse.

There was no one in the room, no one yet.  He heard the men’s voices approaching.  He ran to the outhouse and entered.  He held the door shut, while peering through the spaces between the planks.  The two men entered the room, the pale one and the taller, pale one.

“Let’s do it right this time,” the taller one said.

“There’s no way we can mess this one up,” the pale one responded.  “All we’re doing this time is sending it back.”  He sat at the table and moved his fingers along the contraptions.  The same clicking sounds echoed as they had before.  “It’s ready,” he said.

“Do it already!” the taller one commanded.  “The cops are gonna be here any time now.  We still have the big ass time-pod to get out of here.”

The pale man slammed his finger down on the contraption, making one final click.  “Here it goes.”

The outhouse shook violently, a single jolt that knocked Mr. Clark onto the seat.  “Kill me ya devils!” he screamed.  “I won’t live in this world!”

“There’s someone in there!” the taller one hollered.

“Stay back!” the pale one said.  “It’s already going!”

The outhouse shook more.  The shakes rocked Mr. Clark from wall to wall, and soon the whirring sound returned and quickly blocked all other sound.  He hollered and screamed.  “I’m ready, Lord!” he cried, though he could not even hear himself.  “Take me!”  The light returned, creeping in through the planks, and suddenly the light filled every space and became all Mr. Clark could see – that blinding white light that had taken him before.  He gripped the seat tight and shut his eyes.

With one final jolt, it all stopped as it had before.

Mr. Clark opened one eye.  The outhouse was dark again, but there was light coming in through the spaces between the planks.  He stood and peered out.  “Lord Almighty!” he cried.  He looked at his hands, his legs, his arms – his skin was white.  He smiled.  “Looks like things is back!  Looks like I’m back!”

He flung the outhouse door open and spilled out onto the pasture ground.  He kissed it; he rolled around on it.  “I’m back!” he cried.  He stood.  He took a glance at the flowery, thin garment on him.  He sneered and tore the garment off, and then he threw it to the ground and spit on it.  “Never again ya devils!”  He saw his cottage.  He saw the hound lazily sleeping on the porch.  He saw through the open door the girl, Anita, in the kitchen making supper.  “She had somethin’ to do with this,” he groaned.  “Gonna whip that girl for all she’s worth!”  Naked, he marched towards the house, out from the shade of the trees and into the bright afternoon daylight.

He heard voices, his sons’ voices.  He looked to the side, and in the distance he saw them, his three sons: Al, Bill, and Remington Jr.  They were running after something.  Mr. Clark looked onward into the distance in their direction, and he saw one of the horses carrying fast into the trees and out of sight.  He clenched his fists and began marching towards them.  They stood, hands on their knees, catching their breath.  “What we gonna do?” he heard Al say.  “Pa is gonna whip us for sure!”

“Ya damn right I’m gonna whip ya!” Mr. Clark yelled. “Ya let muh horse run away!”

They looked up and were stunned.  For a moment they simply stared, and then Remington Jr. cried, “Get him!”  They charged forward across the pasture.

“I’m gonna whip each o’ ya till ya skin burns on fire!”  His words were futile.  His sons met him in their rampage and knocked him onto the grass.  “What the hell!” Mr. Clark cried.  Remington Jr. punched him hard across his jaw.  Mr. Clark’s world began to spin, and his words were muffled by blood and a bit tongue.

“Looks like that ol’ plow horse!” Bill said.

“This one’s too fat to be the plow horse,” Remington Jr. corrected.  “Go get Pa.”

Al and Bill sprinted to the house.

“Fav…son,” Mr. Clark mumbled.  “I’m gonna-”

Remington Jr. hit him again, this time across his forehead.  Mr. Clark was barely conscious enough to see the hatred in his son’s eyes when he looked down at him.  “Don’t talk,” his son said coldly.

Al and Bill returned.  “We can’t find Pa,” they said.  “It’s a good thing, too,” Al said.  “He gonna kill us when he find out ‘bout that horse.”

Remington Jr. looked up, a twinkle in his eye.  “We didn’t let that horse go, boys.”  He smiled.  “Don’t you ‘member?”  He looked down at his bleeding father.  “This slave right here did.”

They smiled.  “Well what we gonna do with him?” Bill asked.

“Pa ain’t nowhere around?” Remington Jr. asked.

They shook their heads.

“Well, we all know what he’d want…”  He kneeled down over his father.  “Ya see, not only did he let the horse go, but he also tried to run away, an’ we all know what happens to runaways don’t we?”

Mr. Clark whimpered.  “Son,” he mumbled, but they didn’t understand him.  

“There ain’t no number of whippin’s for runaways,” Remington Jr. said.  “Ya just get it ‘till we feel satisfied.”  He grinned, and then he stood up slowly, glaring down at Mr. Clark.  “Tie him up.”

Al and Bill hollered.  They grabbed their father’s legs and dragged him across the dirt.  Mr. Clark looked up at his sons.  He tried to speak but could not through the blood and broken jaw.  But he saw it; he saw what they saw – his skin.  Under the bright light of day, it had grown dark, dark like Anita’s and dark like the gentleman’s.  He looked onward, and he saw the whipping post in the center of the pasture, far from any shade.  It was a single wooden post, nearly ten feet tall, and stained in blood that glimmered in the sunlight. 


© Copyright 2020 CalvinWedgefield. All rights reserved.

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