Quoth the Raven Chapter 1 It Begins

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Quoth The Raven
by Jennifer Sue
Jenken
Chapter 1: It Begins

During the Friday after Thanksgiving fifteen year old Jane Raven was working in the family restaurant just like she did nearly every day. The pretty girl had become quiet and shy since she’d been drugged and date raped. As the second trimester was coming to an end, the increasingly active child inside filled her with love and concern for the child. She was at the cash register having just finished ringing up a customer when loud voices echoed throughout the dining area.

Looking at the source, Jane gasped when she saw a very angry man waving a pistol at a terrified couple seated at a table. As she watched the seated man threw his dish at the man with the gun and bolted for the door. The gunmen recovered quickly and began firing at the fleeing man. As the fleeing man ran, his path led by the register just as the heavy .45 slugs hit. Three slugs ripped fatally into the fleeing man’s back staggering him. Another hit him in the back of the head as he pitched forward. Jane was splattered by the blood and brains of the fleeing man as his head exploded. Two slugs also hit the cash register. The heavy slugs ripped through the register sending shrapnel in all directions. Dozens of pieces struck Jane’s pregnancy swollen tummy, torso, arms and face.

June, Jane’s mom, was in the basement office by the kitchen at the time of the gunshots, going over the orders for supplies they needed. She promptly grabbed the phone and called 911. Upon hearing the gunshots and commotion, James, Jane’s dad, raced from the adjacent bar area snagging the 9 mm he kept under the counter by the bar cash register. As James pushed through the swinging doors into the dining room, his combat experience as a Recon Marine enabled him to get an immediate grasp on the situation. “Freeze,” James shouted as with a steady two handed grasp he leveled the 9 mm at the gunmen. The furious crazed man started to swing the still smoking M1911A towards James. James fired a double tap into the man’s chest before the gunman completed his effort, killing him instantly.

The screams of terrified customers echoed throughout the dining area. JJ, Jane’s older brother who was a freshman at nearby Kutztown University, was working in the basement kitchen. Since he had trained as a First Responder he rushed upstairs to aid the injured just in time to see his dad fire. JJ knew the malefactor was dead before he hit the floor. Scanning the carnage he saw the gunman’s target was also dead. At first he hoped no one else had been hit, then he saw his sister. Jane still stood behind the register splattered by brains and gore with an expression of utter shock etched upon her face.

“Jane, are you all right?” JJ called as he ran towards his sister.

James looked about to see if there were any other gunmen but saw nothing. Putting the safety on his pistol he shoved it in his pants pocket so it would be near at hand if needed again. Then he tried to calm the customers down telling them it was all over. June entered the dining area at that point and saw JJ with the gore splattered Jane.

“I... I’m bleeding,” Jane gasped as she looked at her brain and blood splattered body. Immediately she began to tremble.

JJ reached Jane and wrapped an arm about her to steady her. “Try to relax, sis, take deep breaths.”

June was about to comfort her by telling her it was only splatter until she noted JJ’s expression. Following his gaze she saw blood was trickling from dozens of small wounds in Jane’s torso. “James!” June called out. “Jane has been hit!”

June was about to help Jane sit down when James reached them. “No, don’t let her sit down,” James brusquely ordered. “She has some belly wounds... sitting could cause more damage to her and the baby. Jane, we just need you to hang on until the EMTs get here. Can you do that for us sweetie?”

In shock and shaking like a leaf, Jane clung to her brother while jerkily nodding her head.

The EMT’s arrived before the police and rushed in looking to see who needed their help.

“The perp and his victim are both dead,” James reported. “My daughter’s been hit and she’s six months pregnant.”

The EMTs rushed to Jane to begin triage. A few moments later Police Chief Steve Stinsky of the Fleetwood Police Department which also covered Richmond Township arrived on site. Once he made sure the perp was down he questioned James and the customers. The investigation eventually revealed the gunmen was the ex-boyfriend of the woman who had been seated with the deceased victim. In his warped sense of reality he’d come in to claim his woman and kill the man who had stolen her from him. There were more than enough witnesses who stated that James had acted in self-defense when he took out the gunmen. (In the end the DA ruled it was a case of justifiable homicide.)

The ambulance crew arrived bringing in a stretcher. Together with the EMTs they helped Jane onto the litter being sure to prevent her from flexing the wounded area. Once she was lying down, they began to check to see how seriously she was injured.

Fortunately the majority of wounds while painful were superficial. It quickly became apparent that Jane had not been wounded by a direct shot but had been peppered by debris from the exploding cash register. Carefully they cut away her top to reveal her baby swollen abdomen. They couldn’t help but wince as they saw pieces of plastic, wire and circuit board deeply embedded in her flesh.

Looking down at her baby bump Jane screamed in horror at what she saw. The EMTs had to tie her arms down to the side of the litter to keep her from trying to pull out the debris. All Jane could do was scream “My baby! My baby!” They gave her an injection to calm her down then started an IV saline solution, rushed her out to the ambulance and headed for the Reading Hospital Trauma Center 20 minutes away. June rode with Jane to the hospital.

After sonograms and x-rays the doctors discussed what to do. The placenta had been pierced at six different places and most of the amniotic fluid had already leaked out. Their worst finding however was that a jagged 2" by 1" circuit board fragment had penetrated the baby’s skull lodging in the brain. Miraculously the baby was still alive but they all knew the pregnancy could not continue and the tiny baby’s survival chances were virtually nil. Jane had been fully sedated by this point so one of the doctors spoke to June.

The doctors assured June that Jane was not in serious danger and should be able to make a full recovery. While relieved to know that Jane would survive, her heart broke when they told her they had no hope for the baby. Horrified by the damage to the unborn child, she consented to an emergency C-section.

A baby born at the end of the second trimester is always touch and go for survival. To have a baby with a piece of a circuit board sticking out its head with three quarters of it buried half way through it’s brain didn’t leave much hope. Still the doctors and nurses did their best. Much to their surprise and delight, once removed from Jane, the tiny mutilated boy flailed his limbs while his mouth was goldfishing gasping for air to fill his barely formed lungs with air. As they moved the baby to a waiting neo-natal incubator the baby managed a few gasping short nearly sub-vocal cries. They immediately put the child in the incubator and flooded it with oxygen while they did rushed to another surgical room to perform further scans to try to determine if they could safely extract the debris in the struggling tiny baby’s brain.

The ultrasound scans and x-rays revealed it was not simply a single piece of circuit board embedded in the brain. There were literally dozens of minute pieces of wire, broken bits of solder and pieces of shattered microchips. The computerized innards of the register had disintegrated under the impact of the .45 caliber slugs. The chunk of circuit board in the baby’s brain carried those tiny extraneous bits with it as it punctured the baby’s pliable thin skull.

Having only had a gestation period of twenty six weeks the doctors had no idea how to safely proceed. The leading cause of death for preemies of that stage was bleeding in the brain. Yet much to the surprise of the doctors, there seemed to be little bleeding in the baby’s brain. The circuit board and associated shrapnel went in straight through the top of the skull embedding in the barely formed cerebrum. The cerebral hemispheres were perfectly split along the corpus callosum so that each cortical hemisphere was virtually intact but no longer connected.

No one seriously expected the child to hang on yet minute by minute then hour by hour the tough little guy proved their doubt was erroneous. Only weighing 1 3/4 pounds and measuring 14 inches, the baby was tiny, the area of the brain and wound considerably smaller than that. With the aid of a scanning device, the doctors began the ultra delicate task of removing the debris. They were able to remove the piece of circuit board without causing excessive damage hopefully avoiding further serious consequences. What they could not remove was the dozens of minute pieces of wire, solder, and micro chips. The metal fragments were scattered throughout the corpus callosum and the doctors were afraid if they forced their instruments into the tiny brain to pluck out each tiny piece they would cause more damage removing the tiny bits than the debris would create by leaving them in. After doing all they could, the doctors flushed the wound with antiseptic and closed up the baby’s wounds and prayed for the best. None of them thought the child would survive the night.

When James pressed the lead physician for the baby’s chances of survival he hemmed and hawed before finally saying they had no idea how the child was still alive. “As for odds on surviving the next twenty four hours, I think you’d have better odds picking the winning number in a five hundred million dollar lottery.”

Jane woke up a few hours later. Groggily she slid her hands down to feel her baby bump. Instead of the familiar plumping belly she found it fairly flat and heavily bandaged. Almost instantly she jerked awake. “Oh God, my baby, they took my baby!”

Fortunately she was still doped up enough that June was able to calm her down by telling her the baby, a boy, was still alive.

Once she was sure the baby was alive and receiving the best care available she relaxed a bit. “What happened to cause the shooting?”

“As far as the investigators can figure the gunman was an ex-boyfriend of the woman,” June explained. “Apparently he’d been following the couple and lost it. He came inside with the intention of killing the woman’s new boyfriend. The rest you witnessed. Your injuries were collateral damage.”

“The victim,” Jane whispered. “Was he killed?”

“Instantly,” June answered.

Jane shivered. “What was his name?”

“Gary Jenkens,” June replied.

“Jenkens... that sounds like a nice name,” Jane sadly smiled. “Do you think I could name my baby after him? Jenken Raven sounds nice. Maybe we could send flowers to his funeral and let his family know my baby is being named after him.”

June smiled bravely and nodded her head as the nurses gave Jane a sedative to help her sleep. She had no idea how to tell her Jenken would probably not survive.

{:-(

Despite all the odds against him, tiny Jenken Raven was stubborn from the get-go, not only just clinging to life but actually growing stronger each day. The doctors sutured the head wound but left shunts to drain away any fluid build up. To their amazement, very little emerged from the tubes.

JJ reluctantly returned to school after the short holiday break. His mind was in turmoil as he wanted to help his sister and his struggling nephew. It was with even greater determination that he returned to his studies.

Jane was discharged a week after the shooting. Every day she came in to hold her tiny baby. Tenderly nestling him between her breasts for flesh to flesh contact, she spent the time just touching him, talking and singing. Jenken seemed to love snuggling with his mother. Jane also expressed her milk using a breast pump and the staff used that to feed him. Of course, at that point feeding had to be done using a tube down the throat directly to the stomach since preemies at that stage have difficulty swallowing. The head wound healed and after ten days they removed the shunts.

Jane returned to school three weeks after the shooting. The guys and most of the girls still guiltily ignored her but at least the rumors and taunting that had followed her since the start of the year stopped. A few sympathetic girls kept her company and did their best to keep her spirits up. Sometimes they even went with her to the hospital to see Jenken. They marveled at the change that came over Jane when she cuddled her baby. They could almost see the love between mother and child. They also marveled that the preemie baby was so tiny.

By the time he was a month old, Jenken weighed 3 pounds and was 16 inches long. In addition he was able to extend his tiny fingers and wiggle his arms and legs. The doctors had slowly weaned him off the oxygen masks and cannulas as he was able to breathe on his own. The covered isolette still served as an oxygen tent but he could spend 15 to 20 minutes outside with no severe issues. The only strange thing they noted was that while his eyes were able to follow bright objects for brief periods of time they seemed to work independently.

With each passing week Jenken became more aware of his surroundings and seemed to recognize those who regularly tended to his needs. For those who were simply doing their job, Jenken was cranky. For those who genuinely cared, he would smile and coo. The staff noticed that if the child was cranky, just by assuming soothing demeanor when near the baby he almost immediately calmed down. On the other hand if there were a number of people bustling about nearby, Jenken would start to cry and thrash until some people left the area. No one knew what to make of that behavior since the child was kept in an neonatal isolette and most certainly could not see how many people were nearby.

As time passed he it was noted that whenever there was a large number of people nearby his agitation increased. Yet as soon as a caring person tended to him he calmed. The staff of the neonatal ward quickly began to realize people were coming into the area before they arrived by noting the changes in Jenken’s behavior. This strange behavior was tested, proving to be 100% accurate. While no cause could be found, it was assumed the ability was somehow related to the brain injuries.

It took a while for JJ to relax his concern for his sister. Jane was almost fully recovered from her injuries. Despite the horrendous odds, little Jenken was still valiantly staying alive. On the days he drove Jane to the hospital for her daily visit with the baby, he discreetly questioned the attending doctors and nurses about the baby’s chances for a normal life. No one could voice an opinion. Frankly, no one could explain why Jenken had survived the first day. Yet despite the odds against him, Jenken grew stronger each day. The staff told JJ about Jenken’s ability to ‘sense’ people as well as how he reacted to people who truly cared about him. JJ quickly developed a rapport with the baby who visibly brightened as soon as JJ neared him. By the time he returned to school after the Christmas holiday semester break, JJ had decided to pursue minor studies in the field of psychology.

By eight weeks Jenken weighed 5 pounds and was 18 inches long. The nasty head wound healed and his red hair grew to hide the scalp portion. The remaining visible portion, centered in the middle of his forehead directly above his nose to form a capital ‘J’. JJ claimed it was the spunky baby’s initial. It was also noticed that the child’s eyes still did not work together. In fact one eye could follow one object while the other eye simultaneously followed a second object. The neonatal intensive care staff was convinced the baby could see separately from both eyes. They all assumed it had something to do with the cerebral hemispheres being split. Most amazing to the staff was that if he was placed on his tummy, he could raise his head.

Jenken was 3 months old when he was deemed ready for release. Like most NICUs, there was no minimum weight requirement for discharge. Jenken met the medical guidelines for discharge which are body temperature is maintained while the infant is in an open crib, the infant feeds by mouth well enough to have a weight gain of 20 to 30 grams per day, the infant is not receiving medications that require hospital management, and no recent major changes in medications or oxygen administration have occurred. He weighed 6 pounds and was 19 inches long. That size was at the bottom of the range of a full-term baby. Jenken could enthusiastically kick his legs and wave his arms. His eyes had started to work together although there were still times they worked independently. He was able to play with his fingers and look at his hands.

{:-o

In the village of Moselem, just 25' from the Moselem Spring Road, also known as Pennsylvania Route 662, is the Moselem Hotel. The original hotel had been 35' wide and 25' deep. A wing 35' wide and 65' deep was added to the back a few years later. That building burned down in 1892 but was rebuilt as a four story building on the original foundation in 1900. Built on sloping land, the basement is at street level in the front but the grade increases so that the first floor has a ground level entrance in the back. A basement addition 30' wide by 75' deep was built in 1960 with a flat roof. A sturdy wooden deck was constructed atop the flat roof to serve as an outdoor dining area.

James and June Raven, both third generation Irish Americans, bought the hotel after the last owners had retired, closing and leaving it vacant for twenty years. After upgrades and restoration the first floor consisted of a bar in the 35' by 25' area in the front of the original building with a pool table, a shuffle board table and pinball machines. The 35' by 65' area behind that became a brightly lit dining area with a small dance floor and a stage for live entertainment in the back. Thursday nights were designated for live music, open to anyone wishing to perform. James on the Irish bagpipes, flute or penny whistle and June on the accordion or concertina usually opened the evening. The decor of the pub celebrated the Celtic background of the Raven family. It captured the character of Gaelic people, well known for their dedication to merry-making, music and craftsmanship through the centuries. The rough-hewn doors, furniture and bar counters gave a natural feel to the interior. Hand-crafted metalwork fixtures complemented the texture of the timber, adding a touch of finesse to the overall design. Inspired by distinctively Gaelic art forms stories from the rich heritage of Irish folklore and mythology were illustrated in delicately painted wall murals. The pub, with its combination of natural materials and artistic traditions, provided the ideal backdrop for modern-day musicians and storytellers to recreate the unrestrained Gaelic way of enjoying life.

The upper two floors of the hotel were renovated into three 2 bedroom and 2 efficiency apartments each. The Ravens lived in the neighboring house just to the northeast. Separated by a 20' thick row of trees the 40' wide by 35' deep home sat 70' off the main road and 75' off Railroad Street. They opened the business as the Raven’s Perch Pub & Restaurant. The bar was open 1:00pm to 2:00am and the restaurant 11:00am to 9:00pm Monday through Saturday. Both were open 12:30pm til 9:00pm on Sundays. The Raven’s Perch Pub & Restaurant was an immediate hit and never wanted for business. Rowdy elements were made unwelcome and it became a welcoming site for family gatherings.

The Raven family grew. Firstborn was a son James Junior, JJ, followed three years later by a daughter, Jane. As could be expected in a family business, the children helped out as they could. JJ bussed tables and helped deliver food and drinks to the customers. Jane worked her way up to waitressing by the time she was twelve. The kids joined their parents on the Thursday night open stage, JJ played the bodhran (Irish frame drum), drums or bones/spoons while Jane played a mean fiddle. They played tunes similar to The Coors. The family was happy and content with good employees they could trust. With the business well established and profitable, James and June decided to slow down a bit and take time for themselves and the children. Since Saturdays and Sundays were prime days, they decided to shut down Mondays and Tuesdays.

{:-)

At the end of the school year when Jane was a fifteen year freshman and JJ a senior, things changed. A popular athlete, JJ planned to hit several graduation parties with a few fellow jocks. Jane felt left out since her parents told her she was too young to go to such parties. After moping for days, on the night of the parties she claimed being too ill to work in the Pub. The parents allowed her to do so because her sour attitude didn’t make for a good atmosphere in the pub. Thus left home alone she slipped out her bedroom window and hopped into the car of one of the school’s juniors, who had cajoled her into disobeying her parents, to head to an undergraduate end of school bash. A somewhat nerdy straight ‘A’ student desperately trying to fit in, Jane never expected the punch to be spiked and took a hit every time someone passed around a joint. She wasn’t sure how she managed to get back in her bed or what time she’d made it in. The only thing she knew for sure was that she had one hell of a hangover. Taking stock of her situation she found she was still wearing the shorts and top she’d worn when she left but quickly discovered her panties and bra were nowhere to be found. Heading into the bathroom she also discovered there was pink tinted semen oozing from her vagina. In a state of shock she realized she lost her virginity but couldn’t remember a thing about it. Wracked with guilt and shame she broke down in tears. Pulling herself together she cleaned herself up and took a shower being sure to douche three times while hoping she would not get pregnant.

Somehow she managed to keep her parents from discovering what she’d done. Chagrined by the whole episode she vowed to never sneak out to another party. However she was quite embarrassed to discover photographs of the party on Face book with several shots of her drunkenly making out with different guys. Again she managed to keep her family from discovering her indiscretion.

With school out she spent most of her time as a waitress in her parents pub as she’d done for the past four years. Things got a bit rough when people from the party showed up. There were nasty comments and lecherous looks from the guys about her indiscretions at party. The days ticked by and to her dismay there was no sign of her monthly visitor. Guiltily she managed to get a pregnancy test kit. The results were positive. Very briefly she thought about abortion but quickly discounted that option. She had made the mistake and the baby was her responsibility. Plucking up her courage, she prepared to face her parents.

It was not an easy discussion and as expected June and James were deeply upset. At the same time they acknowledged her decision to take responsibility for her actions was the right thing to do. What really upset June and James Raven was the fact that Jane had no idea who the father was. JJ wanted the name of the guy she went with but Jane steadfastly refused to divulge it rightly fearing JJ would seek revenge and wind up in prison rather than college.

For the next several months life went on fairly normally for the Raven family as they accepted the situation. At the of August JJ began his classes six and a half miles away at Kutztown University as a commuting full time student. The motivated young man was pursuing a double major in Business Administration and Marketing taking six classes his first semester. When Jane began her sophomore year of high school the rumor mill promptly went into overdrive when it was discovered that Jane was pregnant. Hurt by the turned up noses of most of her nerdy friends, Jane put herself fully into her studies and preparing for the child.

Jane’s plight did not go unnoticed. Several teachers who knew Jane felt she would never have consented to sex. It didn’t take much effort for them to discover the photographs and demeaning remarks about Jane posted on the web. The husband of one concerned teacher was a state police detective. It didn’t take much to convince him that Jane most likely had been a victim of date rape. Prior to beginning a formal investigation he approached the Ravens. During the questioning of Jane with her parents present, she broke down and identified the boy who had picked her up. JJ was purposely kept unaware of the questioning so he wouldn’t seek revenge. During the questioning she recalled she’d stuffed her soiled shorts in a bag and stuffed it in the bathroom vanity behind the plumbing. Retrieving the bag, the detective hoped he had DNA evidence that would identify the guilty boys.

The three boys who had posted the pictures and nasty comments about Jane on the web were the primary suspects. The demeaning photos of the under the age of consent girl as well as photos of their ‘trophies’ posted on their Facebook accounts was deemed to be child pornography which was enough to convince a judge to issue arrest and search warrants. With search warrants in hand, the police raided the homes of the three boys. In one home they found Jane’s panties. In another they found her bra. All three had even more incriminating photos and videos on their computers that showed them ravishing the obviously drugged girl in the car of the boy who picked her up. They even had video of them manhandling her unconscious limp body back into her bedroom. The boys were smart enough not to post the clearly incriminating photos and video on the web, but they had kept them for their own viewing pleasure. The videos revealed the boys talking about how effectively the "roofies” (Rohypnol) had incapacitated Jane. The threesome ravished the poor girl in every way.

With the damning evidence in hand, the three boys were locked up without bail. Although they were 17 when the rape occurred and were currently seniors, due to the premeditated drugging of Jane, they were prosecuted as adults. With the overwhelming evidence, the three agreed in a plea bargain to plead guilty. Two of the boys were sent away for 4 to 8 years each. The third boy, who picked up Jane and had supplied the Rohypnol, was sentenced to 10 to 20 years.

With the arrests of the three boys, the teasing and haughty looks from her fellow students virtually ended. Most were too embarrassed to attempt to mend fences so they simply ignored Jane. The pregnancy was advancing well with no major issues and it appeared as if the baby would be born near the end of February.

About week 16 Jane started to feel occasional tiny butterfly-like flutters. At first she thought the feelings might just be gas. Naturally June was keeping a close eye on Jane and recognized the signs. After questioning Jane, June smiled as she told her it probably was the baby moving. With the knowledge the life growing inside was becoming a separate being, Jane found herself gently massaging her tummy and speaking to the baby several times a day. Each night as she settled into bed, she massaged her swelling tummy and sang to her baby. By week 20 Jane started to really feel the baby's first movements, called "quickening." By week 24 the movements started to become more established. She also began to feel slight twitches as the baby hiccupped.

Then came Thanksgiving.

{:-(


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