Nathan Harrow is a timid professor of antiquities traveling West to begin a new life. Along the way, he
meets many odd characters and eventually, the Spirit Guide.
When I arrived in Independence, Missouri, my funds began to dwindle. I had to buy a wagon and team
in order to join the wagon train going west by way of the Oregon Trail. The teaching post wouldn't last
forever. I had no time to linger and wait for ideal circumstances. Soon enough, I found that the most frugal
way for me to go west was by sharing a wagon with another traveler. And so, I met my fate in Muggan Dent.
It seemed like a good idea. Our wagon master, Josh Abel, came to me and told me that he had found only
one person willing to split the money and chores by sharing a wagon all the way to California. I was
pleased except for the fact that, for some reason, Josh Abel approached me with hesitation. He looked
almost apologetic and as nervous as the restless horses that stomped in the corral.
"You look upset. I sense a bit of apprehension," I said. I glanced up at the wagon master.
He frowned, rubbed his beard and squinted in silent deliberation. “Well, he ain’t exactly an ideal choice for
a partner, you know.”
"Why not? Tell me what's wrong with the man you suggested might share my wagon. What’s the
problem with this Muggan Dent? After all, I'll be traveling with him for a long time. Is he a worthy man? Is
he a criminal? A lunatic?"
Josh Abel shook his head until the part of his straw hair changed position. Then, he sighed. "Mr.
Harrow, just how desperate are you for someone to share the load?" He scratched his beard again.
In 1864, Pace, an illustrious war reporter, meets his fate in the form of a time traveler. Then, his entire life
is a series of unpredictable incidents.
"Well," said Samuel Ridge. "Did you notice the dateline, Pace? 1891. 1891! That's a long time from
now, isn't it? Just what is this piece of fairytale you've woven? Can you possibly explain it to me? Dare
"I told you to keep me out of harm's way, Mr. Ridge. Didn't I? I've been covering the social calendar
for the ladies' war committees and the local crime reports and human interest stories. I told you I couldn’t
cover the war. Just send me out when there's a cat up a tree. All right? Because every time I cover the
war, I write the story and it gets proofed and typeset and then something happens after my story goes into
print. Some article from a future time comes out in the newspaper instead of the piece that I wrote."
"From a future time? You mean to tell me you believe this event in New Orleans will actually
happen?" He eased himself out of his seat. He went to one of his file drawers and sifted through a mass of
newspaper clippings. "You mean to tell me that all of these things will actually happen? You believe that
these tall tales of yours that we printed during the past year or so are really going to happen at some
"I suppose so," I said. "I guess we won't know for certain until those dates have come and gone... if
we're still alive then." Deep inside, I winced from the incredible words I'd just spoken. I would have
ridiculed anyone for speaking those words. And this was happening to me!
"So, according to you, this murder will happen in 1894. Am I right?” Sheepishly, I nodded. “And just
what should we do about it, Pace? Should we interfere with the order of the universe and save these poor
souls from doom? Can we, should we, prevent a brutal murder? And where's my story about Bull Run that
you were assigned to cover? How much imagination does it take to write this nonsense instead of hard
"I tell you I covered Bull Run! I covered all the battles you assigned me," I said.
"Sure you did. But after you turned in your copy, I printed some incredible, unbelievable story about a
luxury liner named Titanic that got sunk by an iceberg in 1912 and some Indian fighter named Custer who
got himself slaughtered in a battle in Montana in 1876. Exciting as these stories are, the datelines are
confusing my readers. They want to know what’s happening to their sons and brothers and sweethearts
who are fighting today, Pace. They don't give a hang about some imaginary ship sinking fifty years from
now. If they want fiction, they can buy a book."
"I know, I know." I buried my head in my hands. "I understand your frustration, Mr. Ridge. I know that
something insane... something of pure madness, a form of evil trickery is happening to me. I just don't
know what to do about it."
From The Garrison
Trent and his comrade, Reed, get separated from their men after a Civil War battle. Their situation seems
to worsen after they meet the Spirit Guide.
Then, the boy appeared. He came out of nowhere from the brush behind the crumbled shed. The boy
strolled toward us with a relaxed air of confidence as if he belonged to the farm, as if there was no war, no
wounded soldier on the ground. He acted as if he'd just returned home from going fishing. Hands in
pocket, gaze fixed upon his shoes, the boy whistled lightly. He stopped instantly when he saw us. I stared
at the boy as I reached for my rifle. Then, I reasoned that I'd never shoot the boy.
"Hey, what are you doing?" asked the boy.
"Never you mind what we’re doing. Just get to where you belong and leave us be. Get out of here
now. Hear me?"
But the boy just kept moving toward us, steadily, deliberately, as if he intended to meet us here all
along. He appeared to be ten years old, a farm boy dressed in brown, knickers pants with a light, tan shirt.
He wore a wide-brimmed hat that he removed very slowly while approaching us. His face was chubby, yet
he was going to become handsome. His hair fell out in a dark lump once the hat was removed. The boy's
eyes were wide and brown and sort of... penetrating. He seemed harmless. A local boy was going
somewhere. Perhaps school was canceled because of the battle. Maybe he was on an errand. But
whatever reason brought this boy to Willow Farm, his presence made me extremely uncomfortable. And I
didn't know why.
"He sick?" asked the boy. "He looks sick."
"He was wounded," I said. "Hey, I told you to scat, didn't I? Get along with what you were doing."
"I wasn't doing anything much. I just came by here. That’s all."
"Well, we don't need anyone knowing about us being here right now. Understand?" Then, my eyes
narrowed as a thought entered my mind. "Hey boy, do you live nearby?"
"I suppose that I do live here.” His reply came from a cryptic voice. I started because I swear that the
boy’s lips didn’t move when he talked. I hedged away from him when he knelt down beside Reed.
From The Beyonder
Tanner was a war veteran who traveled to an old estate to complete a coffin for an elderly man. His initial
uneasiness grew into a journey beyond imagination.
That night, my dreams were too vivid. I was back in the heat of battle. Instead of climbing a normal
hillside, however, I was screaming and fighting as I climbed the green mound that seemed to grow larger
and more threatening in the dark. I woke up once, breathing hard, my muscles tight. I was drenched in
wetness. My bedclothes became like a washrag that had been used to clean up my very deepest emotions.
After I tossed and turned, I got out of bed and stretched. I shook off my nerves and walked toward
the window. The moonlight that squeezed through the thick trees was a comfort to me. The silence of the
walled garden offered peace. Then, the four stakes, the silent sentries that guarded the burial ground of
Jonas Marrek, saluted me. They cast their shadows in the images of guns and sabers. For some reason, I
slept very little that night and welcomed the dawn with profound relief.
So, I began my work at early light and the work went smoothly. The splinters were few and my hands
were busy. I spent the entire day carving the design, polishing the wood, attaching brass fixtures and
setting the lining. Occasionally, I heard some faint chatter from beyond the garden wall. A laugh here. A
call there. The sounds represented nothing more or less than the human presence that I craved. The
wood, however, was stubborn and unfamiliar to me. There was much added detail. As the hours wore on, I
realized that couldn’t finish the job in one day. So, I’d have to stay for another night and leave only if I
worked quickly on the following day. And after a long days work, the darkness arrived too soon once again.
I thought about Ellie and our long walks during these spring evenings. I missed seeing my friends at
the tavern after work. I hated the silence of the Marrek estate and wondered if my love for noise was a
love for life itself and if eternity was walled up in silence. The following morning, I opened the huge glass
doors and tried working in the company of spring buds. But even springtime didn't seem to provide enough
pleasure for me. As the hours were spent, I needed laughter, a lightening of mood, anything to break the
dreariness that was closing in on me like a coffin lid.
From Nesting Doll
Even though Gabriel could foretell the future, he knew nothing about his own life, including the strange boy
who might help him, or harm him.
I didn't fear him. He seemed to belong to the place. His name was Katalie. He blended with the forest
as if he was one with the trees and shadows. He might have been another neighbor who shared my home.
Like the Tlingit people, Katalie had beautiful skin that was the color of wet sand on the bottom of a creek
bed. His eyes were also brown and worn soft at the edges. The young man seemed harmless and friendly
toward me on the day that he found me wounded and alone after the tree fell. He stooped down and smiled
at me gently while trying to comfort me. But somewhere in my inner vision, the image of this young man
existed with as much substance as a cloud. And so, I spoke to him.
“What happened to you, little one?” he asked. He paused to show me an odd stone he picked up
from the ground. “You’ve been hurt. Don’t you know me? I came here before. Didn’t you see me?”
"I saw you,” I said. “And in my mind, I know that you're the one who might save me now. But I also
see that you are a savior and a betrayer in one. Aren't you?"
Suddenly, the young man frowned as he stared into my eyes. Soon, he began to study me with
enormous interest. He lifted me up as he locked his eyes into my expression. I remember both the wonder
and the agitation and then, the cruelty within his expression.
"You're the one the elders talk about. You can see into the future." He seemed to be crazed with
excitement. "Look at your eyes. You can see into the future.” Katalie paused to arrange the fulfillment of
my prophecy. “You're all alone here now. You're alone and hurt. I’m going to take you somewhere. We’ll
find help for you. It will be all right." Then, he grabbed me. He locked me into his arms and ran with me
though the forest.
From The Questing
Alexa finds herself in forced quest for legendary treasure and a desperate quest for a normal life.
As the months passed, I became much too weary, too heartsick when I knew that my own life no
longer belonged to me. Just before sunset one afternoon, we were climbing on a path up a steep cliff.
Finally, we reached a ledge hundreds of feet above ground. Here, we paused to look out over a grand
expanse of mountains that seemed to drift above the western horizon as if they were islands in the sea.
The moment was glorious. Breathtaking. The landscape was vivid. Hardy plants struggled for life.
Multicolored rocks seemed to be alive themselves when touched by the brilliant sunlight. But after a brief
moment of exhilaration, I became dreary once again because the scene was not equal to our own lives,
our own colorless and bare lives.
"Matthew, end it," I said. "We find nothing. There's nothing to find. There's no end to the clues, no
end to the leads. Listen to this clue for the hundredth time. The hands of God cradle the four corners. Only
the eyes of a messenger see the gateway to his holy bed." I was angry as I recited the words found within
a verse of the Litany. "What are the four corners? Is it a meeting of rocks? Mountains? Creeks? And just
where are the four corners? Where are the walls or the hills that we seek? I know that you don't care
about me. But Matthew, you must do your job. The people need help. They're sick and poor and defeated.
"They can rot for all I care," he said.
"Matthew, what exactly happened to you during that battle? You were wounded, but did you lose your
mind? This is a fairytale. You're living in a pretend world. Can’t you see it? You never were a philanthropist,
but you never seemed this irresponsible. You've become quite mad. Do you know that you're destroying
your life as well as mine?" Then, I broke down and cried. I put my face in my hands and closed my eyes as
if I was praying. "Maybe if I went back home now, you'd end this madness.” I sniffed and blew my nose.
“Without my help you might come to your senses."
"Oh, so you think you can simply return home? You want to go back there in defeat? Of course, you’ll
tell everyone about the circumstance of your marriage. Then, you can live in dusty bookshelves with your
father and in a stale, old house with your sister for the rest of your life. So, try to go back home. Just try."
"At least at home my life is my own. It's sane."
Matthew stared at me for a long, still moment. He frowned intensely. His eyes narrowed with a look
of menace and disgust. "So, I can't trust you anymore, can I? Well, do you really think you'd ever make it
back home?" Madness transformed his features into someone deadly. “Just try, Alexa. I’d kill anyone who
took my treasure away from me. Do you understand? I’ll kill them.”
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