WHILE RICHARD STIRRED in his sleep, caught up within the folds of some nightmare, others were awake this night. People bustled about Aubel Farms, where the working barns were well lit, a soft glow coming from the cast-iron wall sconces inside. Two of the Aubel family’s prize cows had decided to give birth at this late hour, and everyone involved was concerned due to the recent losses among the livestock.

The midnight laborers went about their tasks with frowns of worry knitting their brows, hoping for the best. One of these farmhands, though, a haggard man in his fifties known as Ditch Richards, stood outside in the field now looking up at the sky. He went out to smoke a cigarette in private, away from the barns and the others. He began to wonder if it’d be like the last time; he prayed that it wasn’t. Dreaded it actually, dreaded having to burn any more dead-born calves. He stayed outside in the cool evening air and smoked for as long as he could, his eyes rimmed in
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