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20 January 2010 @ 10:12 pm
Prompt 122.10: Being Locked in a Tower or Prison/ Writers Muses  
He had been in Carterson prison for goin' on three weeks as best he reckoned it. Prison? More likely this was as close to hell on earth as he would ever see in his lifetime, if he lived that was. With his shoulder healing, and the fever and sweats past him, Heath no longer spent his days shiverin' under the thin blanket he'd been given on his arrival, and instead, as the sun rose, so would he. After mixing a small ration of cornmeal porridge and eating, he rinsed it down with a swallow of brackish water before packing up the few meager belongings he owned. Over the next five or six hours the teen would make his rounds of the camp-grounds, picking up snippets of conversations from prisoners and guards alike, which he would then trade for food, or if he was lucky, a new shirt, or extra blanket in preparation of the winter that was still to come.

He'd been surprised at first how few people seemed to notice him as he lingered nearby as they talked. He's wondered if it were due to his size, or his age, or if people were just too numb by all they had been through, and at times he could almost talk himself into believing he was invisible. That though was a risky thought, for he'd found when he let his mind dwell too long there he tended to get careless and more than once he'd done something that had set off one of the Johnny Rebs. That of course was never good, for at the least it meant several blows from one of the sticks they carried, and at worst a good whippin'. Best not to think, but his mind went crazy if left idle too long.

He'd tried to find other things to ponder on as he walked, things to distract him from the dull throb in the pit of his belly. Sometimes it'd be the meals that Rachel and Hannah had made for him when he'd been back home, didn't even have to be nothin' fancy, could be biscuits still warm from the stove with butter and honey, or flapjacks with maple syrup, or a fresh made pie. The very thought of the food made his mouth water and set his stomach to grumbling, but, it wasn't enough to make him stop. Some nights, he would lay there, before goin' to sleep and close his eyes and picture whole meals, like he was sittin' there eatin' every bite, all the while knowin' that come mornin' it'd be back to another day of porridge and bacon ends. Still, it could always be worse.

How many of those had he seen die since he'd been here? How many had lost arms, or legs? How many had made the mistake of going to the camp doctors for help and were never seen again? His train of thought prompted him to remember one of the first things that Angus Campbell had told him when the elder Scot had taken him under his wing when he'd arrived. "They want us tae die lad, they couldna kill us on the battlefield so they mean tae do it here, and tis our job now not tae let tha' 'appen." It hadn't taken him long to see the signs himself of the truth to the man's words. From the filth, to the near starvation conditions they were forced to live in, how could anyone believe that the Rebs planned for anyone to leave the camp any way other than in a pine box?

"Boy, git yerself away from that there fence now, you hear me?" The Confederate guard's shout jolted him out of his thoughts and Heath immediately jumped and looked around to see where his idle wandering had landed him.

"Sorry, Captain." He offered the apology in hopes of appeasing the man and quickly put distance between himself and the barbed wire fencing that surrounded the guard tower.

"You'll find out how sorry you are if I see you near that fence agin, now git." The man's voice was harsh and rather then antagonize him further, Heath kept walking, all the while praying that he wouldn't be stopped by a guard less willing to forgive the misstep. Life in Carterson was not easy and if you weren't careful, it could be deadly, today, he'd been luckly, who knows if he would be the next time.

Muse: Heath Barkley
Fandom: The Big Valley
Words: 944
moira4ekumoira4eku on February 1st, 2010 05:53 pm (UTC)
I really enjoy reading your Heath in Carterson Prison stories. Poor young Heath! He hasn't been there long, just thinking of him there for 7 months trying to stay clear of guards, striving to live, etc...It's so heartbreaking. Looking forward to reading more.
heath_barkley: Quirky smileheath_barkley on February 3rd, 2010 01:34 am (UTC)
Thank you so much, both for reading and taking the time to share your feelings on the story.

I apologize for the delay between pieces, I'm dealing with a rough spell heath-wise and my writing is suffering because of it. Hopefully, we'll get a handle on it soon and I'll get back on track.