Fatigued almost beyond bearing, Anya’s head felt as though it would burst. Her jaw ached and blood drained from her left ear. Her stepmother, Bessie had deafened her right years ago, but now she’d developed a deafening roar in her left. Barely conscious, she struggled to maintain her death grip on the cow’s halter and half-walked and was half-dragged the final half-mile to the barn. Though she couldn’t hear it, the farm dog barked at her staggering approach, but for some reason didn’t offer to bite as she struggled to the barnyard. Instinct alone guided her into the barn where she collapsed on the haystack. Old Bossie followed her in and was grateful of the opportunity to get her feed early. Hay drifted over Anya as she slept, keeping the secret of her presence, though in her decreasing consciousness, she had no concern for anything. Unaware of anything except pain and fatigue, she slept late into the next day.
Anya’s mind was foggy when she awoke, only aware of pain, hunger and thirst. The beating she’d taken left her deaf and confused. She did vaguely remember trying to fire the pistol, but nothing after that. Her raging thirst drove her from the barn. With the pain in her jaw, eating would not have been an option. She made her way toward the cabin, seeking water.
Had anyone been there to see her, she’d have been a horrifying specter as she fell against the door. Wakening to find Jack licking the blood from her ear, she managed to hang onto the wall and table till she got to the water bucket. Slaking her thirst, she dropped painfully to the cabin floor, unaware she was in the world.