Chapter One

Appalachian Mountains, 1964

The storm clouds hung heavy over the mountains of West Virginia. It didn’t look as if there would be any end to the weather that had plagued the area for over three weeks. The creeks had overflowed their banks, mountain roads had washed out, and life was dismal at best.

The mountain folks up the hollows had the toughest times of all. The torrential rains had caused some of the steep mountain slopes to shift, and danger was all around them. Most had to keep to their small cabins and hope for the best, but one poor soul was fighting a losing battle, if she didn’t get help soon.

Alma Lee Holcomb, a young woman of nineteen, lay in her sweat-soaked bed, writhing in pain. She knew something was terribly wrong, but had no idea what. She had been in bed for two days, unable to eat, let alone keep anything in her stomach. The old bucket beside her handmade bed reeked with stale vomit. The heat from the wood-burning stove didn’t help her fever-torn body. But the cold rain had made everything unbearably damp, and without the heat she would be racked with uncontrollable shakes.

Jacob, her younger brother, had been gone for well over an hour in search of Granny Harris—the local Healer. She knew it would take some time to fetch Granny, but what could be taking so long? She lay on her cornhusk mattress, her stringy red hair plastered to the tattered quilt. The constant rocking of her legs back and forth was the only thing she could think of to keep her mind off of the excruciating pain. She moaned non-stop. “Jacob, Jacob,” she pleaded. “Where is ya? I is powerful sick an’ I shore do needs Granny.”
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