A Vision of Angels
The Battle Begins by Alexandra Lane
Minty, a slave, was born into a world that offered no solace, no happiness but more than anything, no hope. But on a cold, bitter night, Minty will be forced into making one of the hardest decisions of her life; to leave everyone that she knows and loves behind. Her decision will bring forth an evil that will stop at nothing to keep her from reaching her destiny. For it knows, it sees what Minty does not.
Jack, a loner with a dark past, and a few men will pursue her in the dark swamps of Maryland, along with Red, a sinister gray-eyed man who is the perfect embodiment of evil.
Unaware of what’s waiting for him at Little Canyon, Jack will be faced with unbelievable events that will cast him into some of the most frightening experiences of his life. A weary search, wrought with unexplainable happenings, will begin to take its toll. Fateful choices will be made. Choices that will bring about an unimaginable outcome.
This story is a looking glass into the world of angels and the incredible feats they performed for the sake of these two lives. To understand why, you will have to read the story. This is about hope in the face of hopelessness and redemption when one feels there is none.
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Chapter Excerpt: The Beginning
(Readers, please keep in mind these are slaves, so they will speak differently.)
Zacharias quickly carried Minty to her mother’s quarters and stood before the door, kicking it and yelling for Old Rit to let him in. Old Rit opened the door with concern etched in her face. When she saw her daughter’s flaccid body draped in the young man’s arms, her eyes immediately reflected the fear that rose up inside her.
“She ain’t dead! She jus’ passed out,” said Zacharias.
Old Rit looked up at the young man to make sure she heard him correctly.
“She ain’t dead,” he repeated.
“Take her and lay her in dah bed.”
Old Rit scrambled around the room looking for salve and clean rags.
Zacharias gently laid Minty on the bed and then turned toward Old Rit with the front of his shirt soaked with her blood.
“I’s kin fetch some water from dah well fo’ ya, but den I’s gotta go and work dah fields befo’ old man
Brodess finds out where I is.”
Then Zacharias grabbed a small tin bucket on the floor and ran out the door.
As many times as Old Rit had seen her daughter like this, it never got any easier, for tears would still well up in her eyes, but this was the worst she had seen.
Almost immediately, Zacharias returned with the bucket, and with water spilling everywhere, he fretfully placed it on the floor in front of Old Rit then quickly left out running toward the lumber yard.
As she sat cleaning Minty’s cuts, she began to think about her daughter’s plight and what her end would be on this earth. Minty thought she had a right to humanity and to freedom, and because of that very thought, she was subjected to many beatings. She knew Minty’s stubborn nature, along with her illness, would either get her killed or sold, for she was as rebellious as a wild stallion.
However, some of the younger slaves didn’t agree with her ways. They said she was a twenty-seven-year old married woman, and she should know better. They never quite understood why she just wouldn’t humble herself and simply follow the master’s rules as they did.
After regaining consciousness, Minty realized she was lying on her mother’s bed, naked and bleeding. With her jaws tight and her face stern, she secretly promised herself and God that Ben would never beat her again.
“Ouch!” Minty yelled as her mother sat by her side spreading salve on the open wounds. But the constant writhing from the sting of the herbal ointments was making it difficult for Old Rit to apply.
“Now you’s gotta try and lie still why I’s fix yo wounds ‘cause you’s got quite a few of dem dis time,” she said.
“It hurts, Momma!”
“I’s know, baby, but you’s gotta go through dah pain to get to dah healin’.” Then silence filled the room as Old Rit worked on her daughter’s body like a skilled doctor.
“I’s had enough, Momma,” Minty suddenly said, breaking the silence. “I’s can’t take no mo. Two days ago, Zacharias told me ’bout a white man, a abolishnist that was helpin’ slaves scape ta dah North. So ’bout three months ago, I’s went to ’im, and he gave me a map showin’ me how ta get ta dah river where’s a boat would be waitin’ that would take me up north, close ta a place called a safe house,” she explained.
“Is that what got ya like dis? Minty, ba—”
“No, Momma!” Minty shouted. “I’s got no choice.”
“Minty, you’s can’t trust ‘im, baby. You’s don’t know nuttin’ ’bout ’im.”
“If I stay, I’s gonna die.” Minty paused. “I’s gonna die, Momma. And I don’t wanna die. Not like dis… not like dis.” Then Minty broke down and began to cry.
Old Rit tearfully looked at her daughter then reached down to embrace her, but she quickly let her go when Minty screamed out from the painful touch.
Then she leaned back and looked at Minty’s body. She saw the deep bloody cuts, her bruised and busted lip, and the welt marks that were grotesquely displayed on her body. She realized that her daughter survived, once again, but the day would come when she would not. She gently rubbed Minty’s head and began to slowly shake her head in agreement.
Old Rit could see that Minty’s once vibrant spirit was slowly fading, not only from the beatings but from the struggle to be free. She knew that it was out of her hands and that it was now in God’s.
Then suddenly the door to Old Rit’s quarters violently flew open. Minty’s husband, John, burst into the room. Minty raised her head. Then she strained a little harder, looking into his eyes. Her face quickly changed.
John, a tall, average-built man, stood in the doorway breathing heavily with his chest visibly heaving up and down. He had run all the way from town when he heard the news of Minty’s savage beating. Seeing her battered body and her blood-soaked clothes lying on the floor next to the bed was more than he could take. He was neither happy nor thrilled at the fact that Minty was still alive. Instead, he was furious.
“I’s told you you’d get a beatin’ if you didn’t learn ta shut yo mouth!” he said. “Sneakin’ round here, always talkin’ bout escapin’. Where’s ya gonna go? You’s need ta stop thinkin’ you’s better than everyone else. Thinkin’ you’s kin say or do whateva you’s want. Have ya forgot that you’s a slave?” Then he slammed his fist against the door, making a small dent. “Well, let me help ya! You’s a slave, dammit!”
John abruptly turned to leave out the small quarters, but he turned back around and pointed his calloused finger at Minty.
“You’s best start thinkin’ ’bout how you’s gonna change yo ways befo’ you get both o’ us kilt.”
Then he turned and walked out the door, slamming it behind him. He slammed it so hard that it rebounded off the framed doorway and swung back open.
“Minty, he’ll neva understand how you’s feel. He be a free man, bone that way. You’s runnin’ away and gettin’ yo freedom means him losin’ his wife and bein’ alone. Ya see how he acts when you’s talk ta him ’bout bein’ free. You’s kin see it in his eyes. He don’t want ya ta leave, and he’ll do whateva he can ta stop it. Even said he’ll tell ole man Brodess if you’s kept talkin’ bout it. You knows dis ta be true.”
Minty slowly laid her head back down and blankly stared at the open doorway. Something was changing…something in her.
Then unexpectedly, in the midst of staggering summer heat, the whisper of a cool breeze blew in through the open doorway and encircled Minty’s face and body. The breeze felt as if God was blowing his divine breath upon her battered and bruised body. So Minty closed her eyes and welcomed the comfort that the cool breeze bestowed upon her stinging wounds.
Old Rit looked at her daughter and smiled as she gently rubbed her head, for as the old folk would say, God was whispering to her soul.
( Continued... )
© 2014 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Alexandra Lane. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.
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Intimate Conversation with Alexandra Lane
Alexandra Lane was born in Fayetteville, NC but due to her father’s military career she has lived in various states and countries. To have the opportunity to become familiar with other cultures and their traditions was an uplifting and educational journey. One she was glad to have participated in.
She later returned to Fayetteville where she attended Fayetteville State University and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration/Management. Upon graduation she worked in the financial world of banking. Although she enjoyed her years as a Banking Center Manager she wanted to devote more of her time to writing and telling compelling stories. This is her first novel. She is currently working on her second.
BPM: Can you share a little of your current work with us? Introduce us to your book.
A Vision of Angels: The Battle Begins is the story of a woman name Minty, a slave and Jack, a slave hunter. Both their lives are shattered beyond what most people would be able to bear.
Minty will make a decision to run away to save her life and Jack and a few men will pursue her in the dark swamps of Maryland. However, Jack is unaware of what he is about to encounter at a place called, Little Canyon. Unimaginable, is how I would describe what happens next. Evil is amongst them, but more than anything, it is very aware of these two souls.
This story is a looking glass into the world of Angels and the incredible feats they performed for the sake of these two lives. This is a story of hope in the face of hopelessness and redemption even when one feels there is none. Of course, you will have to read the story to understand why.
BPM: Where do your book ideas come from? Are your books plot driven or character driven?
The idea came about one day when I was watching a daytime talk show. There was a man on the show that described an incredible situation where he survived a paragliding incident that should’ve robbed him of his life. But thankfully, he lived. However, he went on to say he was incredibly “lucky.”
I saw it different. I saw his angels safely guiding him to earth because his purpose had not yet been fulfilled here on earth. So I wondered how amazing it must look to see our angels in action. How does it look when they’re doing extraordinary things behind the scenes for us? Like saving us from danger, protecting us from harm and even guiding us through life? That is when the story was born.
So far as plot or character driven, I would have to say that this is more character driven because I wanted to focus more on the people in the story. Who they are, and what made them that way. We are all flawed in some way, but there are some people who have more challenges and bigger road blocks in their lives. As a result they develop certain “defenses” to help them cope with the more strenuous obstacles of life. It makes for some very interesting outcomes.
BPM: Give us an insight into your main characters. What makes each one so special?
Well the main characters are Minty, Jack and Red. What makes Minty special is her spirit. Even as a slave she doesn’t lose hope. She never stops believing that she can, one day, be free. Even when everything around her, the environment, the other slaves and her husband, says NO YOU CAN’T.
Jack is special because his life started out one way but made a drastic turn when his parents died. He tries hard to fight the dark emotions that try to rule over him but it’s difficult. He actually has a good heart but it worthless to him. So, he just drifts through life trying to run from a past he hates but realizes it follows you wherever you go.
Red is different. He was born with these awful, menacing eyes that frightens everyone. But as he gets older and begins to partake in some unsavory acts, those eyes are not only frightening but they become occupied with something more sinister than himself.
And I don’t want to make light of Patty and Melinda because they are both instrumental in the story as well. Patty is the owner/madam of a saloon. Her reason for becoming a madam is very interesting.
Melinda is a young woman who was taken in by Patty when she was kicked out of her aunt’s home. However, things begin to take a turn when she and Jack meet for the first time.
BPM: Can you outline some areas where your characters dealt with issues that are in current affairs?
Yes. Although this story takes place in 1849 around the time of slavery, I picked this time to show that even in the direst situations, there is still hope. Keep in mind slavery can come in many forms. Sometimes we are enslaved to our environment: Poverty, crime, drugs, domestic violence, abuse and the list goes on and on. Sometimes when it's all you know and you don't see a way out, it's easier to give in and accept it as your fate. (Just as the other slaves did in this story) But I strongly believe you can change your outcome.
A Vision of Angels is a story about hope, looking beyond your circumstances and what everyone else is saying and doing and fighting for a better life. Start preparing, set a plan in motion, study hard, hold onto patience and above all have faith in God and follow your angel that He has assigned to you. Do these things and you can make it out of whatever hell you may be in. Is it going to be easy? No. Are there bumps and bruises in attempting to free yourself? Yes, many. But how great is the reward that awaits when you’re finally free.
BPM: What would you like for readers to take away from your writing?
Psalms 91:11 says, “For He shall give His angels charge over thee in all thy ways. The translation of the word “angel” is “messenger.” Simply put, Angels are God’s messengers. What I want people to take away from this story is that we have all been assigned an angel...or two. (Smile) God sent them to help guide us on this journey, therefore, we need to listen when they are trying to do their job.
Whenever you hear a still, quiet voice in your spirit saying, Take her some food and Buy the child some clothes or sometimes a strong urge may come over you to call a friend or family member you haven’t spoken to in years. Do it, there's a reason for it. And in some cases they have messages of warnings. For example, you’re getting ready to take a ride with someone that maybe you just met, but all of a sudden this overpowering feeling/warning comes over you and you know you shouldn’t get in that car or Stay away from that place. This is your angel trying to guide you in life as well as protect you. Each act we perform or obey takes us closer to fulfilling our purpose.
And have you ever noticed that when you “do” listen, you’re so glad you did?! Sometimes, it is revealed to us later why we were told to do what we did. Makes you smile. Makes you feel really good inside.
BPM: What defines success for you, as a published author?
When someone calls you or leaves a message and tells you how much they loved your story. As an author, at least for me, it’s not always easy putting a story together but when you finally complete your story, that is the most gratifying feeling. But what’s more exciting is when others read your book and get just as excited about the story as you did when you were writing it. When they say it made them feel good or how they really liked a certain character. When I hear the words, suspenseful, inspirational, blessing or better yet, it made them think. To me, that is success! A wonderful feeling to have.
BPM: Were there any challenges in bringing this story to life?
Yes, yes and yes to all of the above. Writing in a different time period is a challenge in itself. You have to research the clothes, the words, everything. You have to stay in that time and not forget that there are certain words we say today that were not used back in that time. Certain mannerisms and behaviors were more acceptable back then but not today. So, I had fun learning about those little details that we don’t really think about every day.
BPM: Our life experiences, challenges and success help define who we are on a personal and professional level. At what point in your career did you discover your real worth and own it?
Actually, there are several points in my life that I can reflect on that shaped who I am today but I will address this particular one. My first trial in life came when I became a divorcee and I had three children to raise on my own. Whew! That was a tough one. I had to move to a place that my kids weren’t use to living in, but that was so I could go to college and hopefully provide a better life for them. I had always wanted to go but I didn’t have the money or any scholarships or rich relatives. LOL. I honestly didn’t know where to start.
So, I went to the college and spoke to the administrators and they were wonderful in guiding me on where to begin. But in pursuing this journey, I had to “back up” in life in order to go forward and I also had to be patient and stay focused on the end game and not my current situation. You realize how strong you are as a mother and as a person when you have very little to live off of and nowhere to pull from. But when I finished college and walked across that stage to receive my degree the REWARD was far greater than the struggle and the pain I endured.
I can’t find the words to describe how it felt to get a good paying job and what it felt like to move your family into a better home and neighborhood and comfortably provide for them.
One day, while sitting at my computer and thinking back on my life, I wrote this short poem for myself. Of course, I titled it, New Beginnings:
**A new beginning represents the journey and transition of a woman. Her struggles through difficult times and the transformation she undergoes. Strength is the gift given to each woman that has had to start over in her life, for her choices were few, and her path reset. And for every dramatic change she endures, like the butterfly, she emerges stronger, wiser and more beautiful. When you thought you couldn’t run any further, you now realize you have wings…and you can soar. **
This poem hangs on my wall in my room as a reminder of what I was brought through. Thank you, God.
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