Copyright© 2011 Ethan Holmes All rights reserved.

Earth’s Blood,  By Ethan Holmes
Chapter 1: In the Beginning...

11 July, 2014: It’s three o’clock in the afternoon and snowing heavily on the diminutive former copper mine town of Jerome, Arizona. It’s a soft heavy snow chock full of quarter-size feathery flakes coming down just thick enough that you can still see the ghost-like outlines of the historical buildings planted precariously on the steep slope of Mingus Mountain. The enchanting scene is quickly covered with a downy blanket a foot deep and silences the world as only a heavy snowfall can. There are only two problems; it’s not supposed to be snowing here at this time of the year and the world does not need silencing. That happened a while ago.

1 June, 2012: Mary Ellen Siemes was proud of herself and justifiably so. The bottle-dyed blonde who managed to just crack a measuring tape at five foot two inches was sitting at her computer processing medical claim forms for insurance companies and doctors in a home she had purchased all by herself just two years ago. After getting her accounting degree from Mesa Community College Mary Ellen spent twelve years working for Bell and Thomas, Inc. in Phoenix as a certified public accountant. One day not long after her thirty sixth birthday and with the proverbial ‘big four 0’ looming in the not so distant future she had enough of the long, tedious, stress-filled days that could stretch to fourteen hours during tax season.

It was a profound yet rewarding step starting up her own home-based company from the house she had purchased on Black Mountain, the most notable landmark in Carefree, Arizona. Here at her modest late seventies ranch-style home she could do all the work on her own computer and never have to commute amongst the three million other inhabitants of the Phoenix Valley except when she had to drive into the city to pick up or deliver paperwork from her clients. All in all not a bad arrangement and the money was getting better all the time especially since installing the new accounting software which cut her computer time by a third.

On this particular day Mary Ellen planned to make the trip into downtown Phoenix from her home twenty three miles north of the valley to deliver some work and pick up a rather sizable check; the kind that makes a small business owner very happy despite the fact that there were still the occasional days it seemed as though she worked twice as long as she would at a ‘real job’.

Mary Ellen reached for the green print button on her new HP all-in-one machine when suddenly the whole house shuddered violently and the power went dead instantaneously. She had an APC Backup Pro to prevent any unforeseen power interruptions or spikes but cursed under her breath as she watched the monitor go black while her tan leather office chair tried to take an impromptu trip rolling across the floor. Frantically she aborted the unplanned sojourn to the other side of the room by grabbing onto the edges of her white pine office desk and hanging on for dear life.

“How am I ever going to explain this to those people,” She was envisioning the entire invoice she had just attempted to print disappearing into whatever universe lost documents go to, “unless they at least felt that? An earthquake in Carefree!? And when my computer comes back up I can’t wait to see what else I lost on there!”

The shudder itself was the strangest and most disconcerting thing she had ever felt despite the fact that she was a veteran of the 2008 Mission Bay quake that had brought down a chunk of San Diego and temporarily emptied the bay. This one didn’t shake or roll nor did it last very long at all like most quakes seem to do. The whole house just sort of jumped up sharply and then back down like someone snapping a blanket to spread it across a new-made bed.

All the software and music CD’s had fallen out of the flimsy white plastic storage tower next to her computer and the family photos on her office desk were either lying flat or had crashed to the floor. The three drawer metal filing cabinet was leaning against her pine bookcase with the top two drawers bent on their runners and sticking halfway out. Looking around she could see that her calendar, her wood-framed cork bulletin board full of multicolored post-it notes and anything else which used to be hanging on the walls was now lying on the floor in one chaotic mess.

Mary Ellen struggled her feet, kicking some debris out of the way and stumbled to the kitchen to find every right hand cabinet door wide open and dishes, boxes and cans of food and pieces of glass everywhere. The refrigerator and freezer doors were wide open. Most of the food and beverages were splattered on the floor in front of and to the left of the appliance. The white, four slice Cuisinart toaster, normally sitting on the counter on the right side of the sink was sitting cockeyed in the sink. It looked as though the whole room had abruptly shifted to the right and forgot to take all the contents with it.

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