Jon Carlson and Sara Jenkins were childhood sweethearts who only wanted one thing -- to be married to each other and live their dream. But there was only one problem.
Sara and her family belonged to a strange church governed by an oppressive set of rules. Jon was told that in order to marry Sara, he would have to join the church and live by its rules. He was warned against it, but his love for Sara and his trust in her blinded him to all the warnings.
He began the training and soon realized things were not as he had originally thought. But he stuck to it, in hopes things would work out. Everything came to a head on the night of his wedding when Sara was taken from him.
Does Jon escape the clutches of the church? Can he ever repair his relationship with Sara? Does he get the justice he seeks? Find out in "Rules."
“Get this thing out of me,” the woman in the bed screamed as she dug her nails into her husband’s arm. “Aaaarghhh,” she screamed as another contraction hit. Her body thrashed back and forth as the being inside her fought to make its way into the world.
Dan Jenkins tried in vain to make his wife, Judy, breathe as she had been instructed in her birthing classes, but she paid him no mind. They had been informed that labor was hard and could be protracted, but this had been going on for hours.
“Shut up!” she yelled. “I’ll breathe when this... THING... is out of me!” Turning from Judy's outburst, Dan watched the doctor work feverishly between Judy’s outstretched legs. Eventually, the child worked her way through Judy’s birth canal, and the doctor was there to snip the umbilical.
Holding the child up, the doctor administered a slap, and the little child began screaming as she inhaled her first breaths of air. He handed the child to an assistant who cleaned her up. Once done, the assistant gave the child to a robed priest who, until now, had stood quietly in one corner of the room.
The priest inspected the child as he chanted something in a low voice. Dipping the end of one long pointed fingernail in the pool of blood between Judy’s legs, he placed an “X” on the child’s forehead, then inscribed some marks around it.
Once finished, the priest handed the child to Judy and turned to the doctor. Dan saw the afterbirth and thought he detected the remains of another child, but that couldn’t be. Judy only had one child inside her.
“Dispose of... that,” the priest ordered.
“Yes, Excellency,” the doctor responded. The priest turned to Dan, who shivered as the piercing blue eyes of the robed cleric bore through him mercilessly.
“I have done my duty. I provided the divine seed. Your wife has done hers by giving birth to the child,” the priest told him. “I will file the birth certificate and you will be listed as the father. Now, you must do your duty. Raise our girl right.”
“Yes, Excellency,” Dan responded quietly, afraid to meet the priest's gaze. He already knew what the priest and his proctor were capable of and dared not disobey or question the man’s directive. However humiliated he felt, at least he was still alive
“Look at me, Daniel Jenkins,” the priest commanded. Dan looked up, fear in his eyes. “I know all you want is a happy family with children to carry on your blood line. Unfortunately, that is not the Divine Lawmaker's will for you. Sometimes, one must... sacrifice... for the common good and be content with what we have been given. Do you understand?”
“I... understand, Excellency.” The priest accepted Dan's response with a slight nod, then turned and strode out of the room. Dan turned to see the newborn baby snuggling into Judy’s breast.
“Isn’t she beautiful?” Judy asked, suddenly a completely different woman.
“Yes,” Dan answered, hoping Judy wouldn’t ask him to hold the child.
“She has her father's eyes,” Judy observed. Dan noticed the girl's eyes were just as blue as the priest's. He wasn't surprised. It angered him to the core, but there was nothing to be done about it.