Ante Meridiem

By Dr. Shelly McCoy

Genre: Romance, Drama

Characters: Peter and Charlotte

Rating: T

Author's Note: I have no idea what Peter or Charlotte's last names are, so I made them up. =)


Chapter One – The Boy

..

It was March 28, 1879. Austin, Texas. Saturday. 3:17AM. A beautiful, chilly night.

Perfect.

Peter DeForest and his two best friends, Ricky Donovan and Luke Simmons, ran down Koenig Lane towards the large farm that's owned by the church. They have numerous animals ranging from cows to goats to chickens to a few others. Whatever the animal produces is sent to a factory to be processed. Afterwards, the products are distributed to local general stores around the town.

The farm itself was fairly large. There were several pens in the back of the church which housed the animals separately and extended to the left side of the building. To the right of the church were the chicken coups and tool sheds. Only elected members of the church were allowed to directly handle the animals, but anyone, with permission, could volunteer to help clean the pens and gather the milk and eggs and whatever else there was to harvest.

The boys were holding hand saws and large hedge shears, grinning mischievously.

They reached the church within minutes, feeling slightly out of breath. They listened for a minute, making sure nobody heard them wandering around the building.

All was silent save for the random noises made by the animals.

"Over here." Ricky pointed near the centre of the pen where the cow half and the goat half meet. This is where they were starting.

"Okay. Y'all know what your jobs are?" Peter and Luke nodded. "Good. Let's go."

Luke broke off and headed towards the right where the chickens were and Peter went towards the pigs on the left. Peter looked back to see that Ricky had already started using the saw to cut through the post.

He admired Ricky's boldness and loved the schemes he came up with. It made living in Austin much less boring.

Peter got to the pig pen and started cutting away at the barbed wires. It was difficult cutting through them seeing as the shears weren't meant to cut through metal, but after a few tries he succeeded.

The space between each post wasn't large enough for the animals to fit through if the barbed wires were gone, so a few posts had to be removed. As he was sawing, he stopped periodically to hear if anyone was coming, but he only heard Luke and Ricky sawing and cutting away.

He sawed away until he cut through more than half-way into the post. Putting the saw down, Peter stood and kicked at the post, hearing the wood crack. It only moved a few inches, if that.

This is tough wood.

Peter huffed and put his hands near the top of the post and pushed hard until…

"Shit!"

He quickly moved away from the post and gripped his wrist as he squinted in the dark to look at the cut on his hand. He could feel the hot blood pooling in his palm as his two friends raced to his side.

"What happened?" Luke asked.

"My hand slipped and hit a barb." Peter winced as Ricky grabbed his hand to look at it. "Don't touch it!" Peter hissed loudly.

"Don't be such a damn baby. You'll be—"

The three boys looked up as the lights of the church came on. Before they could even flinch the back door swung open.

"Who's out there?!" The pastor's booming voice rang across the field. The farm was a huge deal to this town. Vandalizing any part of it, no matter how small the damage, would get you into serious trouble.

"Shit… run!"

Peter, Luke, and Ricky ran out of there as fast as they could.

Peter was the slowest because he was holding his hand up to his chest so the blood wouldn't drop to the ground and create a trail. Also, the pressure in his hand as he ran made it hurt more and holding it against his chest was less painful than letting it dangle at his side.

They could all hear the pastor shouting at them, but when Luke looked back he saw that the three of them weren't being chased. The boys had run far enough away that the pastor didn't bother chasing them.

The boys slowed down until they were walking and headed towards Peter's house so he could bandage his hand.

Luke started laughing.

"That was awesome!"

Regardless of what happened to Peter's hand, he nodded and laughed. So did Ricky.

"That old pastor will never know it was us."

"How long do you think it'll take for them to fix the fences?"

"Who cares?"

"Uh… guys?"

Luke and Ricky looked over to Peter, who had begun to look pale. Even in the dim light of the moon, they could see the glistening red liquid now pooling over Peter's hand and splashing onto the ground.

Peter started swaying.

Ricky and Luke flanked Peter and grabbed his arms, holding him up. They rushed to Peter's house, which was only a few minutes away now, while half-walking, half-dragging him. They didn't realize how deep the cut had been.

"Shit, Peter. How hard did your hand hit the barb? I've been pricked a few times and it's never been this bad."

"I didn't… prick it…" Peter's voice sounded weak and the other two boys were starting to get worried. They looked down and saw that Peter's hand was completely red.

Luke took off the jacket he was wearing and pressed it into Peter's palm, causing him to wince in pain, just as they got to the house. Ricky ran inside, but kept quiet as to not wake Peter's mother (His father had died in the war), as Luke walked Peter in and sat him on the couch. Ricky same back seconds later with a first aid kit he got from the bathroom. They opened the box and stared at it for a second before staring at each other.

"Should we stitch it first?"

"Hell if I know. Do you even know how to stitch a person?"

Luke shook his head then took out a roll of gauze. "Let's just wrap it. It'll be fine." He paused. "Wait. We should clean this…"

Ricky went to the kitchen and got two towels and brought them back. Luke grabbed the alcohol bottle and soaked half of one of the towels before pressing it onto Peter's wound.

Ricky quickly covered Peter's mouth after Peter let out a cry of pain.

"Son of a bitch!" Peter muffled into Ricky's hand.

"I didn't know you're mother was a bitch."

With his other hand, Peter reached over and punched Ricky in the jaw, splitting his lip. "Fuck you!"

"Boys!"

Peter, Luke, and Ricky all froze and slowly looked towards the stairs where Peter's mother had appeared. She looked annoyed, but tired.

"It's the middle of the night. What are you still doing up?"

"Sorry, Mrs. DeForest." – "Sorry, mom." The boys said together.

Peter's mother nodded sleepily. She had turned on the hallway light upstairs and it wasn't enough to light up the living room, so she didn't see what they were doing. "Please get some sleep. Especially you, Peter, we have Church at 9."

The three of them nodded and Mrs. DForest went back upstairs. They waited until the hallway light turned off before looking at each other then at Peter's hand.

It definitely wasn't going to go unnoticed.

Peter clenched his jaw as Luke finished cleaning his hand with the alcohol and tried his best to wrap it as tightly as he could. With luck, the wound will stop bleeding by morning and Peter can hide the cut from his mother more easily.

Twenty minutes later, Peter and Luke were sprawled across the couch with Ricky in the chair, fast asleep.

..

Peter and the others woke up to find that they had managed to not get blood on the floor or couch last night and were even more relieved when they unwrapped the bandage that was around Peter's hand and saw that it had, in fact, stopped bleeding. Peter went to the bathroom and, carefully, washed off the dried blood before the three of them walked into the kitchen where Mrs. DeForest was busy making breakfast: Eggs, bacon, and rolls.

"You boys were up late last night. What were you doing?"

She wasn't looking at them as she cleaned the pans in the sink, but the three boys looked at each other before Peter spoke. "We… couldn't sleep. So we talked all night."

He heard his mother sigh before turning around and looking at them. "It's not healthy to stay up that late."

"Yes, mother."

The other two boys looked at each other and started snickering at Peter who glanced at them and glared. Mrs. DeForest silenced them by slamming her hand on the table.

"That goes for you boys, too." She glared at them until they nodded and then she smiled. "Good. Now eat. We're meeting your parents at the church." She pointed to Ricky and Luke before starting to leave the room.

"Mom, aren't you going to eat?"

She stopped and looked back. "I already did. Unlike you boys, I actually wake up early enough to enjoy the sunrises." She smiled. "You should do the same. They really are beautiful," she was heard saying as she walked into the living room to tidy up the house before the church service started.

When the boys had finished eating, they cleaned the dishes and put them on the rack to dry. They then went and changed into their church clothes: slacks, a dress shirt, and polished shoes. Normally they would wear a tie, but the three of them refused to, saying that it was pointless to get so dressed up for only an hour once a week. The boys' parents had long since let it slide.

They arrived at the church at 8:50AM and the three boys sat together, with their families sitting together in the pew behind them. They sat through the sermon bored as hell until, near the end, the pastor started talking about what happened with the farm. The boys perked up.

"Sometime in the middle of the night, our town's farm was vandalized. The fences were cut and some of the posts were sawed off. We had to place some of the animals into the same pen so they wouldn't escape. Does anybody have any information about who might have done it?"

Nobody spoke as people started looking around; looking upset and pissed off that anyone would do this. The farm was the pride of the town.

The boys looked between each other and then around the room as to not look suspicious.

"We'll catch whoever did this. One of the posts had blood on it, so one of the people involved will have a cut somewhere on their body."

Peter unconsciously, yet subtly, placed his hand over his injured hand.

The pastor ended the service and dismissed everybody. Most of them stayed behind to chat with each other or the pastor, but Peter, Ricky, and Luke managed to avoid this by getting permission to leave. Just as they reached the door, they heard a loud gasp.

"You! It was you!"

The boys turned around to see an elderly woman pointing accusingly at Peter, who had carelessly let his fist unfold and reveal the cut on his palm. Everyone in the room was looking at them now and their parents looked very, very upset.

Peter looked at his friend and then looked around the room.

"Shit."


Thanks for reading! =D. The first couple of chapters might be slow, but I promise it'll get more exciting =)