At the ripe old age of thirty-six, Sarah Cannon is quite a handsome woman if not a ravishing beauty, although that might not be so easy to discern under her bedraggled gray wig, the artfully applied wrinkles and crows feet on her face and the faded, loose-fitting summer dress carefully designed to add an apparent fifty or so pounds to her frame. The frazzled-old-hag look is, of course, exactly the image she wants to present to any visitors to her apparently humble abode. Sarah saves her well-constructed, alluring self for special occasions and special people. The old woman persona is Aunt Sarah Cannon and the younger version is her niece, Mona Cannon. She does NOT suffer from the rare multiple personality brand of schizophrenia.
She's a relative newcomer to the mountain. Very few people have seen her in her old woman get-up and even fewer have met her at all. She bought the mountain about a year ago after her male biological parent (she can't bring herself to refer to him as 'Father') did her and the world a big favor and died, leaving her more wealth than she could possibly spend. Her agent searched far and wide for a property with some special features and finally found one she agreed was suitable.
There were actually three families living on the mountain but they all gladly accepted the very generous offer of at least double the market value for their modest homes and land. As soon as they moved out, all the buildings on the mountain except the house nearest the top were taken down. It was a rather shabby-looking place but the appearance of living in very modest circumstances suited her needs. She didn't want to stand out in any way.
The mountain wasn't all that big, as mountains go. Purists or snobs living in the Rockies might have called it a hill. There was a little over four hundred and thirty acres of total surface area, but it had the features she wanted and so it became Sarah's Mountain.
There were several reasons why this now very wealthy, attractive woman wanted to live in relative isolation. First among them was that she didn't really care for people all that much. Nearly everyone she'd ever met managed to disappoint her in some way or another. She didn't shun humanity all together; no, it was more like she didn't care to waste brainpower and energy trying to decide whether the way someone presented to her was honest or crap. She was quite content with the one very trustworthy friend she possessed. It was her considered opinion that somewhere around the age of sixteen or seventeen, childhood innocence and trust faded forever into oblivion and grown-up affectations began to dominate and taint people's sensibilities, making them lesser creatures to her way of thinking.
Sarah hadn't always been so cynical. Even though she grew up in a mansion crawling with servants and sycophants, she and her mother somehow managed a relatively normal, loving relationship. That is, until her mother died. Sarah was eight at the time and was inconsolable for quite a long time afterward. Before that tragedy, she kept hoping her mother would divorce her male parent and the two of them could move away. Her mom's death killed everything in her that felt like family. Her male parent was so distant and aloof that he barely acknowledged her existence. There was very little in this world that interested him outside of accumulating more wealth. It was commonly gossiped among the household staff that he was supremely disappointed that his wife bore him a daughter rather than a son.
Although her nanny couldn't take the place of her real mother, she was a sweet, caring older woman who saw to Sarah's every need, including frequent hugs and pats. If it hadn't been for her, the girl would have probably grown up just another snooty, resentful, smartass rich kid. As it was, her nanny, Margaret, nurtured her through her difficult teens and into college where she eventually earned an MBA. From there, she worked in one of her male biological parent's many enterprises until his death. From the day she left home to attend college, she never again stepped foot inside his mansion fortress.
It was common knowledge that he was obscenely rich but even his daughter had no idea of the extent of his vast stock holdings in dozens of major corporations. His name wasn't well known by the public and he worked hard to keep it that way. He preferred to be a silent power.
The day he died and Sarah became the controller of his financial empire, she resigned her position and dropped out of sight. Millie Dougherty, her closest and only friend as well as her accountant, hired a staff of six whose job it was to sell off nearly all of her newly acquired assets and oversee all future financial dealings.
As was mentioned before, she had more money than anyone had a right to and had resolutely decided to spend the rest of her life giving it away. She and Millie's staff actively looked for organizations and individuals in need of help and found ways to provide it in the form of outright anonymous gifts. Sometimes it seemed that as fast as she gave it away, stock dividends and interest replaced it. Sarah wasn't interested in venture capitalism and the hope of making a big profit. Any self-respecting Republican would have thought her totally insane but to her way of thinking, her male parent's ruthlessness in accumulating his global holdings needed a lot of atoning for.
Sarah never married, though she came close twice. It didn't take a genius to quickly discern that her suitors were mostly interested in her money, or rather, her male parent's money. She was smart enough to give them their walking papers before any legal documents were signed. But being a very physical, sensual woman, she missed the regular sex. Her practically insatiable need for erect penises figured into the reasons she bought the mountain.
You see, Sarah has a little quirk in her psychological makeup. She loves seducing boys. No, not little prepubescent lads who haven't even experienced their first ejaculation. That brand of pedophilia is a crime she considers worthy of capital punishment. She targets a narrow age range, looking for young men who are old enough to suffer from raging hormones and constantly priapic sexual organs but haven't yet lost their naïve innocence. Fifteen and sixteen-year olds seemed to fit that bill.
Naturally, the law takes a dim view of this kind of thinking. Well, they have to, don't they? But while nearly every straight male cop in the world would have sold his soul for a tumble with a woman like Sarah when they were fifteen, anyone with a lick of political ambition, like a prosecutor, for instance, will never miss an opportunity to publicly decry Sarah's sexual cravings as child rape and debauchery. Consequently, she has designed elaborate means to get what she wants and leave little evidence of her sins. She's made it a game in which she takes supreme delight. Perhaps the extent to which she goes to satisfy her one decadent self-indulgence is a bit over the top but she can't seem to help herself. But isn't that the way with perverts?
The property needed a great deal of work to fit into Sarah's plans. She could have provided a much-needed source of income for the local population but that would have been far too risky. She couldn't afford to have idle chatter and gossip focusing attention in her direction. Everyone who worked for her was discretely brought in from out of state and handsomely paid in cash. None of them ever met Sarah personally.
The house she would live in was the one near the top of the mountain. Over the crest on the other side, approximately one hundred ten yards directly through the mountain, there is a cave entrance. It's nothing special as far a caves go but it penetrates into the mountain to a depth of nearly ninety feet. A crew of out-of-work miners was brought in from West Virginia along with a mining engineer to extend that cave through the mountaintop and come out very near the back door of the house. The crew brought their own machinery and bunked in travel trailers parked on the property until the job was done. They arrived and departed in the middle of the night and they all took very nice pay packets back home with them when the job was done.
The next crew to arrive unseen by the locals built a room onto the back of the house that extended to the tunnel entrance and enclosed it. From inside the house, one wouldn't have a clue there was a passage to the other side of the mountain behind a cleverly designed false wall. At the other end of the tunnel at the mouth of the cave, a cabin was erected to disguise the opening and house certain amenities. It, too, had a false back wall. While the cabin was designed to appear of rather primitive construction, it was actually well insulated and quite energy-efficient. While they were at it, the crew refurbished the inside of the main house, making it comfortable and pleasant. They did nothing, however to dress up the outside.
The final touch was a rather sophisticated security and surveillance system consisting of hidden cameras and motion detectors around the perimeter of the mountain. Any motion would switch on the cameras in that immediate area and generate an alert beep inside the house. To prevent the system from activating every time an opossum or a raccoon wandered by, which was frequently, the motion detector was adjusted to be sensitive to mass. People, deer and the rare bear would set it off. Sarah didn't plan to be surprised by any drop-in visitors.
On the day it was ready for occupancy, Sarah arrived in an old Ford pickup that looked like it had barely survived a war. The back end was loaded with groceries, a few boxes of personal items and a few dozen books. Millie followed in her Land Rover. They inspected the work carefully and found everything was as they'd specified. In the back room, a remote control device opened the false wall and turned on the tunnel lights extending all the way through the mountain to the other building. When they were near the cabin, the same remote opened the other false wall.
Inside the twelve by fifteen foot one-room cabin were a rough wooden table with accompanying bench, an old-fashion sideboard with a hutch for dishes and utensils and a small counter with a porcelain sink and a hand operated water pump. There was a small refrigerator under the counter. In the middle of the room stood a pot-bellied stove vented through the ceiling and a full wood box beside it. An old iron bedstead with an honest-to-god down mattress and pillows took up a good portion of the remaining space. One item that looked out of place was the twenty-seven inch iMac sitting on a small computer desk and attached to a DSL modem/router.
Twenty yards from the building stood an outhouse. It would probably never be used but it's existence added to the 'ambience'. So the place was a mish-mash of the old and the new designed to look primitive and back-woodsy. It was a lot to go through to indulge her idiosyncrasies but she figured if she didn't succeed at her primary goal, it'd make a hell of a bomb shelter. Besides, it wasn't like money was an object.
Sarah turned to her friend and said, "OK, Millie. I guess I'm ready to set up housekeeping. Let's go bring in the groceries and I'll fix dinner before you head back."
"Great! What are we having?"
"Frozen pizza. I'll work on my culinary skills and do better next time."
Millie laughed, "I happen to be a big fan of frozen pizza. I hope you bought beer to go with."
"Lowenbrau! Nothing but the best for my friend."