Note: I will be posting a chapter from The Dangerous Life of Agnes Pyle each day until the book has been fully posted. I am doing this as a way to entertain those who have been coping with the new life of social distancing, social isolation, and quarantine in the world right now in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Once complete, I will hold the book on in full on my site until 1/1/2021. On that day, it’ll no longer be accessible for free.
I ask people to share links freely while the book is available, but please do not copy or do anything else without expressed permission from me, the copyright holder.
If you would like to skip ahead, you are always welcome to purchase a copy, just click the link HERE (or click up top at the menu bar) to go to the book’s page where there are links to where it is available in both print and ebook. Enjoy and I hope that you and your family are doing well!
The Dangerous Life of Agnes Pyle
by Jeremy C Kester
(c) Jeremy C Kester – All Rights Reserved
The shaking was unbearable. They had trailed off of the paved roads taking instead a dusty, shoddy excuse for drivable terrain. The black sedan careened past each dead feature of the landscape surrounding them.
Majd sat in the front seat next to the strange man that had been given the task of escorting them. The man was short and wore a thick, black beard that covered the majority of his face. His hair was covered in a faded brown turban that he wore as though he were actually bonded to it. His eyes were soft and kind. Safiya was thankful for that. They were welcoming and it eased her.
“You were injured?” he kept asking to Safiya. Majd could have easily replied for her. Why hadn’t he?
Safiya ignored him mostly. Everything around her appeared as though it were just a dream. The clouds each appeared as a sentient being talking to her through the flickering light reflected from the midday sun.
She was close to hallucinating. The blood loss from the wounds that she took sparring against that evil woman crept up on her without warning. Adrenaline had kept her running up to that point. Without it being pumped into her blood any longer, her body couldn’t manage itself.
“Are you alright, child!” the man yelled once more.
She looked around the car. It was funny that Majd chose that moment to slump over and try to sleep. Why wasn’t he talking to the man? What was his name again? Did he even tell them? Ah, the clouds are smiling at me!
“I cannot stop now. I am sorry, child! Why can you not answer me?! Are you alright, child?!”
He keeps asking me things. Why? I do not know what he is saying. He looks so nice. I am just really tired and I wish he would let me sleep.
Safiya closed her eyes succumbing to the exhaustion. “NO! You must stay awake!” the man yelled as he hit the young girl. She winced instinctively, eyes flashing wide in response to the blow.
I want to sleep! Why isn’t he letting me sleep?!
It was another few minutes before a hillock came into view. The man pressed the gas pedal as close to the floor as it would manage. The engine roared in protest as the car slammed over another collection of holes and mounds. Safiya fell over again, her stomach retching now. Neither her wounds nor the man’s driving could claim more responsibility for that condition.
Suddenly the car came to a sliding halt over the desert sands. Safiya then only remembered the brief overwhelming intensity of the light followed quickly by a sudden darkness. Was she being carried? None of it made sense to her, but she let it happen. It was time to rest and she closed her eyes.
“Where am I?!” Safiya screamed as she jolted awake unaware of what happened to bring her there. The room was dark, lit only by a pair of incandescent lamps, one hanging overhead in the center of the room, the other on the wall in the corner of the room.
She was lying on a small cot settled in the corner. Next to it was a small table where various surgical instruments and thread were placed. They looked used as best as she could tell, but the light made it hard to truly determine. Lifting her eyes, she looked around more. A chair sat across the room with a large wooden cabinet with glass doors next to it. The cabinet was lined inside with bottles of various sizes, shapes, and in random conditions. The walls were a dingy white, stained in places with a dark splattering of what she could only guess had been blood. The floor was also ill cleaned, made of wooden slats that appeared to have a floating layer of dust hovering near it.
Over to the far corner, a small doorway led out to a dark hall. From it entered a small, feeble-looking woman dressed in a long grey cloak.
“Where am I? What happened? Is Majd OK?” she heard herself rattle off quickly as the old woman shuffled over to her bed.
Behind the old, the man that had driven the car entered the room as well. “My mother does not speak,” he said in Arabic. “Nor does she understand English.”
“My apologies,” Safiya said bowing her head to the woman.
The old woman nodded her head with a smile in response to Safiya’s words. Then without a shred of restraint, she began to peel away Safiya’s clothes careful to allow the young girl some modesty. The man who followed turned away so that he would not see anything that would be disrespectful to the young woman. Wanting to repel the onslaught of the woman’s attention, Safiya moved back although she allowed herself the moment to then realize that there was nothing to be concerned over. The woman’s hands moved efficiently over the multitude of Safiya’s wounds. She was surprised to have so many.
“You were terribly wounded. My mother was able to fix the wounds, although like your kind, they were already trying to heal. Your blood loss was more that you could handle though. We are amazed that you made it. By Allah’s grace.”
Many questions swirled around that she wanted to ask. The only one she could manage to utter though was, “How is my friend?”
The older woman nodded with a pleasant smile indicating the answer Safiya wanted. As quickly as that sign was given, the man answered as well, “your friend was gravely wounded, but he is alive.” She cupped her hands to her mouth and the old woman immediate pulled them back down to check them.
“How did it happen?” she asked quietly. “I am sorry. I cannot remember much.” She felt ashamed to ask the question. She should have done better. Guilt riddled her over letting Natalia pass on. Yes, her elder moved onto the spirit world, but it just wasn’t the same.
The man continued, “no need to apologize, young one. The terrible woman came out after you like a demon. Your friend helped to stop her until I got you into the car.”
“That was stupid of him. He was no match for her.”
“It would not matter. He delayed her enough for Ferdinand to aid.”
Admittedly, she did not remember who it was that the older man spoke of. Memories were there, but they were clouded over. It was difficult to remember anything clearly. Instead of asking of the stranger’s safety, she continued with the other questions.
The older woman ended her examination looking up with a soft smile while closing her eyes. Safiya admittedly felt a little safer knowing that it was that woman was who had been looking after her. Then with a jerk and a snap of her finger, she began to shuffle out of the room. Her son, the older man, turned and then stepped over to the chair that sat next to the tall wooden cabinet.
“Where am I?” Safiya asked as the man wriggled himself comfortably into the seat.
“You can speak now English if it suits?”
“That is alright. This is my tongue,” she replied still in Arabic.
“Good, it is more comfortable for me as well.” The older man licked his lips and continued while running his hand through his beard. “My name is Abd us-salam. My mother and I have hid this place here to serve your kind as so that you could continue the work of Allah.”
“What do you mean by my kind? Sentries?”
“Yes, as your kind call you in the English tongue. My mother’s sister was one of your kind, but she had passed on young from those who use Allah’s name to spread betrayal among your people.”
“Who were these men that you said were helping us?”
“They were both men who had helped my mother’s sister while she was younger.”
“Her master?” The man looked at her perplexed as though she were thinking the woman had been a slave. Safiya realized she used the wrong word. “I apologize. We call it that. As in learning a craft. She was apprenticed to a craftsman.”
“Ah yes! That is right.”
“Who were the people chasing us?”
“That much I do not know too well. I was told that they are those of your kind who have turned away from Allah.”
She nodded contemplatively. The memories would come, but for the moment she would be content. The pair conversed for a short while longer before she grew tired once more and Abd us-salam insisted that she get her rest. She let herself feel safe. If only for a short while.
If you would like to skip ahead, you are always welcome to purchase a copy, just click the link HERE (or click up top at the menu bar) to go to the book’s page where there are links to where it is available in both print and ebook.