An Escape Into Routines



Scene Title An Escape In Routines.
Synopsis Two robots, both the latest technological wonder, eke out a life in the backwoods of Louisiana.
Date March 13, 2021

Butte La Rose, Louisiana

Exhale, pull the trigger. Her dad, no, Dean had long ago taught Abby how to hunt. She was more than proficient in the use of a rifle. She was more comfortable with a rifle than anything else.

Her forefinger pulled the trigger and the bullet shot forth from the barrel and sped through the air till it hit the deer that had been grazing and oblivious that the next breath it was about to take would be its last. The others with it threw up tail and immediately bolted off further away from the death that had just occurred. Abigail inhaled, lifting her head from the scope then let her breath out loudly. She closed her eyes and murmured a soft prayer of thanks for the animal she had just taken down. When she was done, she rose and started to gather the items that made up the little camp and headed toward the dead deer with the early morning light filtering through the tree’s.

It was nearly an hour later by the time she caught sight of the SPOT robot waiting at the treeline for her. “Yeah, knew you’d still be there. You’re good at that.” Blindly talking to the robot. “Five of em. I took the smallest. Figured that we didn’t need a big huge one. Didn’t dress it, will do that back at the barn and then we’ll see if the Petersons will come out and help.” She has a rope looped over her shoulder and is dragging the carcass slowly as she goes. When she comes to a stand beside the robot it’s with a tired droop of her shoulders and she grabs a length of rope from the saddlebags on the vest and looping one end around the deer’s neck, the ties the other end around the robot. “Mabelle, home.” She orders and taking up her own rope again, rifle slung on her back beside a bag, she’s trudging across the fields with the SPOT.

It hadn’t taken much for her to settle down into a routine after a few days adjusting. A few days putting emergency plans in place for worst case scenarios, namely another stroke. Taking stock of how Dean had left the place supplied before being called away. After getting the cows settled, mother and calf and the chickens with their coop. Spending an evening adjusting the orders and commands on the SPOT.

Only it had a name now. They’d had a dog once, a long time ago. A german shepherd that had followed her father everywhere and Abby had draped herself across more than once. Mabelle was her name and Doreen had made it a vest with saddlebags to carry tools and lunch when Dean was out working the fields. Abby had found the vest in the barn, buried in boxes in the loft and had adjusted it to fit the robot. Mabelle embroidered cursive across a pocket. She had figured that Dean would be fine without it and if she wanted a chance in hell to make it on a bad day, she needed what it could do. Mabelle as she now called it, could be her right hand when that part of her wasn’t functioning right. Help bear the burdens.

No doubt that Mabelle and Abby were a strange sight to the neighbours who would go on by on their way to their own farms or just stopping in. She held the bucket while It worked the handle of the pump and brought up water from the well to keep the cows fed and chickens. Pulling the little hand wagon for her while she scattered seed, collected eggs and moved hay. Pass her dishes to dry after a meal, open the wood stove and tuck in a new piece of wood throughout the night to keep the house heated and prevent pipes from freezing. Abby had even found the real Mabelle’s old bandana and fastened it around the base of the manipulator arm. Partly to make it seem less intimidating to neighbors who might show.

Where Abigail went, the not so little robot went with her. It was plugged in periodically throughout the day to keep the batteries topped up and so it could be alert during the night. For this moment though, it helped her to drag the wagon with the hunting supplies so she could focus on getting the buck to the garage where a bucket, some rope and a tarp were waiting to hang the creature and let the blood drain. After that was done, she washed up and headed into town to knock on the door of a few family friends. She knew how to dress and break down the deer, She just didn’t trust her right side to not fail her at an inopportune time and ruin the meat and she was tired. This was an opportunity to share the bounty as well, with those who might have need without it coming off as charity and hurting pride. She had a lot in common with these people clearly.

There was no surprise when two of her dad’s friends just nodded and hopped into the SUV after putting down what they were doing. These were her people and she was theirs. They’d been there cooing over her when she was the newborn brought home from Baton Rouge. Smiling as she had grown into the woman she was now. Gasped and bombarded Dean with questions when they found out that she was one of the Ferryman and a lauded hero. All those years they had been in on the secret of what she could do but there were more secrets? How many of them had had their hurts healed by her? How many had owed their health to her all those years ago. Showed up on the Beauchamp doorstep with a broken arm or called them up and told them they needed God’s touch, shaken hands on purpose after sunday service with the young woman. More than a few lived a lot longer than they would have without her. She had bought them more time with loved ones and spared them so many hurts. Breaking down a deer for her would be nothing.

She only got a sideways look for that vest-wearing robot dog that was on the porch waiting as per her orders for her return. But no one questioned it or the tired look on her face as she took the butchered parts and wrapped them up, preparing them for storage in the freezer. They knew she had been sick, it was easy enough to presume she was still ill after spending time near her. Especially when her right foot dragged just a little from time to time or a little uncoordinated with her right hand. Within the hour they were washing up, and with their new found venison - and one not so impressive deer head and hide that she had no use for - she was driving them back into town. Some venison was dropped off at the corner store to trade in for credit for things she may need later or credit for Dean in the future.

There were shakes of their head after she left, gossip flying between the in town residents for the next few days, especially when she hadn’t shown up for church on Sunday .

“Must have been an accident when working with the police force.”

“Such a shame.”

“Dean’s probably taking care of closing up her house in New York”

They would whisper then nod as if that was the answer while standing at the tables on the after service social. These things take time in the big city, one of the safe zones. They’d look after her till he came back with the granddaughter. This was what they did. More than a few prayers for her were said around the dinner tables that night for the young woman out in the house along with just that robot. A few clucks of tongue for the Terrible that had befallen the family and reminders of why they didn’t leave here and go to the safe zones.

The next day a casserole and two tea-towel-wrapped apple cakes were left on the front porch with instructions to drop in if anything else was needed. Southern hospitality (Or pity) at it’s finest.

She remained oblivious to the wagging tongues though and hadn’t been in to town since. Didn’t interfere with the ones who occasionally showed up to charge batteries. The farm had some electricity due to the nearly dozen solar panels installed not too long after she’d come back from Canada and over the time before she’d left. That had been an ordeal to find, brought to Butte by some scavengers from New Orleans way and then slowly building a battery bank to store the free electricity. But this kept Mabelle in power, kept the fridge and freezer going, water pump and lights in operating order The wood stove did a good job of making the forty-eight degree nights bearable in contrast to the high sixty days. Occasionally neighbors would walk up, bike up, drive up and go for the shed that sheltered the battery banks from the elements and drop off portable batteries for charging or pick up what they had already dropped off. She’d stop what she was doing sometimes to make small polite talk if she was feeling up to it and around but otherwise kept herself scarce.

So the days passed.

She escaped into her routine. She walked the fenceline with Mabelle to repair a few wires on the good days. Muck the stall, milk the cow, feed the chickens, find some of her mothers unfinished projects around the house or things her dad had needed done and tend to them. She replaced a wire that had been nibbled on by a mouse in the battery shed, split wood and tried to fill her day so that she didn’t have time to think. Because when she had time to think, it was when the anxiety and fear reached up and pulled her under till she was drowning in it and couldn’t breathe, stuck questioning who or what was she. Why her? Where was the real Abigail? Then the horror would overtake that something, a golem of some kind had been living her life for how long? How far back was this even a thing? It had been taking care of Kasha. Living her life. Living Abby’s life? She had been living Abby’s life? Was Kasha okay? Kasha wasn’t okay. Was Dean getting her to school on time? Making sure she was wearing the green coat and not the blue coat. Healthy enough lunches? Dean wasn’t an adequate substitute and would war in her head with the knowledge that Dean was likely a more than adequate stand in but that didn’t stop Abby’s mind from going up one side of her and down the other. It had happened a handful of times. Left her sitting in a tub of water until it was too cold. Another time bolting out of the house and running till she tripped and had skinned a knee and an elbow when she came to a skidding stop in the woods at the base of that unique tree. The evening before last it left her sitting on the front porch on the steps with a kerosene camping lantern and the shotgun till not even toothpicks kept her eyelids up.

But New York was far away, and the drugs kept things mostly to a point where she could function on the days when she dared to take some of her limited supply. Mabelle worked side by side with her and proved the Raytech robot could indeed do what they hoped it would do. Down in Butte La Rose, she continued to eke out her existence waiting for the next stroke but comforted that at least Kasha wouldn’t find her when it came.

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