OF ROYAL DESCENT Online Page 0,1

me a wave and headed up the driveway.

I put the Prius in reverse and pulled back into traffic. I considered Chuck's "monster gene" theory all the way home. I supposed his argument held some merit, but I just couldn't accept it was that simple. To believe some children would grow up with an innate predisposition to cruelty was depressing. Free will had to count for something.

When I got home, I saw my father was already sorting through boxes in the garage. An abundance of junk and miscellaneous items had been purged onto the driveway. I looked up at the white, 4 bedroom, 2 bath Colonial I had grown up in. My parents had bought the house in 1990, two years before I was adopted, having faith that their little family would increase in numbers. It was a nice house in a good neighborhood with good schools. When traditional methods of conceiving a child had failed, they filed as prospective parents with Caring Hearts, a local chapter of a nationwide adoption agency. Four years after I was adopted, they also brought home a little girl that I now call my sister.

I climbed out of the driver's seat and walked over to my father, still concentrating on the scattered boxes.

"Where would you like me to start?"

"Hey, Doyle," he smiled up at me. "Anywhere would be great."

An hour later, we had made a considerable impact, with most of the original contents of the garage packed up for easy delivery to the local donation center.

"I'm going to head in for a drink. You want anything?" My father asked.

"Nah, I'm good."

I sat down on the floor and pulled out the next box in line while my father went inside. It was small and filled mostly with various receipts, cards, letters, and photographs, which I filed into their designated sorting piles. As I neared the bottom, I picked up a photograph I had never seen before. It was older than the other pictures in the box and had faded. There was a small tear in the corner. The picture was of a man and woman standing in what appeared to be a jail cell. The woman was holding a baby. I flipped it over to see if anything was on the back. "William and Eva Clark 1970". I put down the picture and picked up the letter that had been directly beneath it. It read:

April 14, 1969

Dear Eva -

I'm sorry for having to relay bad news, but things are not progressing as the doctors had hoped. They say we cannot be trusted, but I am beginning to fear it is they who are keeping secrets. There's talk of increasing security measures and this might be the last time I'm allowed to write. I think about you constantly. I know I've apologized so many times that the words must make you as sick as they do me. But, again, I find myself begging for your forgiveness. I will never give you cause for fear again. You are everything to me. If I ever have the chance, I'll spend the rest of my life proving it to you.

Love always,

William

I had never heard of any William or Eva before but Clark was my birth surname and I was intrigued by the letter. I reached into the box and pulled out the next in line.

February 16, 1969

Dear Eva -

Why won't you come see me? They tell me you can. They say I have to stay in handcuffs but that it's allowed. I can't make sense of anything. They tell me things I did and I can't believe it. Only you're not coming and I am beginning to wonder if it is something more than nightmares that I remember. I feel like I'm going crazy. Please come to see me and help me make sense of it.

Love,

William

I reached into the box and pulled out the last letter. It read:

janry 2?4

Eva

I They tolded to me that I coUld wriTe you. I aM sorry.

Willm

I glanced over my shoulder, wondering if someone was screwing with me, waiting to see my reaction. These letters definitely had taken a turn for the creepy. But, as no one was behind me, and I had unearthed this box myself from the floor of my parents' garage, I was inclined to believe in its authenticity. I grabbed my unsettling discoveries and went into the house.

I found my dad in the kitchen, drinking a glass of water at the table.

"Dad, what are these? I found them in a box," I