“Okay, Hawthorne. You’ve not let us down so far, so here goes. The mission is to acquire information regarding a massive troop buildup in the northeastern quadrant. Three brothers, the Grimley brothers in fact, are in charge. They’re hateful, aggressive, and they are intelligent, the rumor is that their intelligence is matched only by their ruthlessness. You are to go to the town of Guntown and keep an eye for couriers. Once you’ve identified the spies, the documents, and reason for so many troops, we will meet in the abandoned swamp church west of Guntown.”
Goldilocks turned and walked out of the tent. Her mission would take her home and if she succeeded, her family and friends would live in relative safety. If she didn’t succeed, then her life would end violently. After two years of living behind enemy lines, gathering information, and hiding in plain sight, going home seemed like a godsend.
Annabelle sighed deeply and cracked her eyes open. Pop-Pop Abram and her mother stood next to the bed. Rebekah leaned over and kissed her forehead.
“Good morning, sweetheart. How are you feeling?”
“I feel fine, mommy,” Annabelle said before a cough forced her to cover her mouth.
“Say ‘aaah’ sweetie,” Rebekah said pulling out the thermometer.
Rebekah handed Annabelle the thermometer and she put it in her mouth. It beeped, and Rebekah pulled it out and looked at it.
“99.7, you still have a fever but thank God it’s no longer 101. Let’s get some medicine in you, and you stay in bed. I’ll warm up some soup and bring it to you.”
“Okay. Can Pop-Pop stay?”
“Of course. He has a story to finish, doesn’t he?”
“Yes, I do. If our little princess feels up to hearing it, I am up to telling it.”
“Yes, I feel fine.”
“Okay,” Pop-Pop said with a wink, “that settles it then. One exciting story for my sick darling.” Rebekah left the room to warm up soup, and Pop-Pop pulled up a chair next to Belle’s bed.
“Pop-Pop, I have something to tell you before you get started.”
“Okay, let it rip tater chip.”
“I had a dream about Goldilocks.”
“You did? Tell me about it”
“Goldilocks got asked to do a secret mission in a place called Guntown. She had to face off with the mean ole Grimley brothers.”
“Oh, so you met the Grimley brothers, did you?”
“You mean they’re real?!”
“Oh, they were real, as real as you and me. And mean, those ole boys were downright hateful.”
“So, did Goldilocks make it to Guntown Pop-Pop?”
“She did and when she got to the outskirts of town, she encountered Abel Grimley.”
“Oh no,” Belle gasped. Her brown eyes grew wide. “One of the Grimley’s…”
“Yep, Abel Grimley was the youngest of the three, and the meanest. Some said he had punched a preacher in the face for calling him ‘a dirty lowdown sinner.’ The preacher left Guntown unconscious and slung across the saddle of a slow horse.”