Can’t wait to get your copy of Through the Shimmer of Time?
Here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite:
The sweltering heat had vanished. Goosebumps rose on Jim’s arms, and prickles ran down his back.
He glanced around for anything out of the ordinary. Thick, dark clouds still blocked the sun, just as before. A squirrel chattered high in a branch above him. Nothing looked wrong. But the cold had an eerie tingle to it, and he felt like he was being watched.
Jim rubbed his arms. He backed up a few steps, but the unsettling cold remained. It might be warmer in the clearing ahead, out from the trees. He took two steps, ducked under a low-hanging branch, and – oof!
Flat on his stomach, face-first into a pile of musty leaves. “Klutz!” he scolded himself, turning to see what he had tripped over.
He brushed aside the leaves near his feet and scowled at a bulky tree root. And a half-buried piece of pottery. He dug around it, scooping out dirt and leaves and a few crumbled pieces of terra cotta.
It looked like an Indian pot. Hadn’t the old storyteller said something about Indians? He ignored the frigid air and loosened the packed dirt with the awl on his Gizmo, scraping carefully until he could pull the piece out. He really should get back, he thought, but then the piece came free.
It wasn’t a whole pot, just a broken shard the size of his hand, etched with squiggles and curvy lines. He traced one squiggle with his finger, blew the dust off, and began digging around the next. It was a familiar shape somehow, but he couldn’t remember where he had seen it before. Maybe in some company logo. He flicked out some dirt and pulled the awl through the design again.
Suddenly the air turned electric. A low hum began, a vibrating bass thrumming through his body. He stopped, senses on alert. A blue haze shimmered on the edge of his vision, but when he turned, it vanished.
He waited, and the forest seemed to wait with him. A branch cracked behind him. He dropped the clay fragment and whirled.
The hum deepened and rolled through the air. The shimmer of blue reappeared, and this time Jim could look directly at it.
His feet seemed rooted into the ground. He needed to get out of this place, get back to Granger Village, but he couldn’t take a step. He crouched and hugged his knees.
His skin turned clammy, a rush of dizziness overtook him … he crumpled.
Seconds stretched to minutes. Jim didn’t know how long he lay there, huddled against the strange sensations. He fought it, whatever it was he was caught in, until the hum lightened and then disappeared. His dizziness passed and he warily opened his eyes.
His gaze followed the tree trunks up to the sun sparkling through the branches. Behind the berry brambles, corn stalks waved under a clear, blue sky. He sat up, pressing his hands into bare dirt instead of old leaves. And behind him, where he had tripped just a few minutes earlier, where there should be nothing but a small clearing, stood a weathered log cabin.
Can’t Stop There?
It looked empty. No smoke rose from the stone chimney. Cobwebs stretched across the face of the door to the wall. The door scraped dirt as he dragged it open.
A hint of sun came through a broken shutter, lighting the interior enough to show Jim the tilted outline of a broken-down table. He entered cautiously, stirring poofs of dust and musty leaves as he walked. Cobwebs covered the room, but he could see a bench tipped on its side and a shelf on one wall.
The longer Jim stood inside the shack, the creepier he felt. If it was cold outside, it was even colder in. How long had it been since someone had been here? He took a step toward the window and stumbled.
“Not again,” he muttered. He kicked the pile of leaves and found a piece of firewood. “Well, at least this isn’t magic.” He tossed the wood against the far wall.
“Who’s in there?” came a girl’s voice from outside. “Zeke, is that you? You know that place is haunted!”
Jim froze, his back flattened against the rough log wall.
“Zeke, I hear you in there. Mama’ll tan your backside if she finds out.”
Jim held his breath. He waited for the girl to give up and go away.
The log scratched his back and a cobweb slid across his face. He didn’t dare move. Long seconds passed. Had she gone yet, from wherever this place was?
Then her voice came again, quieter. “Must have been my imagination. Or maybe some critter.”
Rustling leaves told Jim she had gone into the woods and his breath escaped in a whoosh. He smacked the cobweb from his face and darted for the cabin door. Some normal, everyday sunlight should help him sort this out. Maybe if he lay down again, the dream would be over when he got up.
He bolted out the door and came to a shocked halt in the sunlit clearing.
“Ha!” the girl cried. “I knew I could fool you … ” Her voice trailed off.
They stared at each other.
She wore a long tan apron, with an even longer blue dress under it. Her hair was covered in a white cap. She looked about his age, or maybe a little younger.
Finally she spoke. “You’re not Zeke. Who are you? And why’d you cut your trousers off?”
He couldn’t get any words out of his mouth. Was she real, or was she acting?
“Who are—” His voice cracked and he tried again. “Who are you?”
“Me? I’m Hannah Cooper,” she snapped back. “Who’re you?”
“No, I mean, what character are you? You work at Granger Village, don’t you?”
“I don’t work for Mr. Granger. I’m Hannah Cooper and I live near a mile that-a-way.” She pointed, staring at Jim belligerently. “And I’m looking for my brother and you sure ain’t him.” She suddenly stepped back and whispered something he couldn’t hear.
Not a character. Looking for her brother. He rubbed his arms – despite the sun, it was still cold. He stared at the girl, then at the cabin, then back at her.
Time travel only happened in the movies, right? It had to be a dream.
“I said, are you a ghost?” she repeated.
“A ghost? Why would I be a ghost?” Of course he wasn’t a ghost. Just the same, he poked his cheek with one finger. It felt normal.
“Because you were in the old trapper’s cabin, that’s why. And it’s haunted.”
She stared at him for another moment, then dashed forward and pinched him.
“Ow! What was that for?”
“Just making sure,” she said defiantly. “Are you well? You’ve gone pale.”
He licked his lips and tried to swallow. “What year is this?”
The girl looked startled. “You are ill. Let me—”
“Please,” Jim cut in, “just tell me what year it is.”
She peered at him. “Eighteen thirty-eight, of course.”
“Eighteen thirty-eight,” whispered Jim, shaking his head. “Almost two hundred years – talk about time travel!”
The girl hunkered down beside him. “Beg pardon?”
“Oh, um, nothing.” How could he tell her he was from a different time? He’d probably get hung for being a witch or something.
“So what were you doing in the cabin? Where’re you from?”
“I, um, I got lost,” he stammered. “I-I really have to go now.” He stood up, swaying, and she scrambled up to steady him.
“You are ill. Where’s your—” She broke off suddenly, listening, peering through the woods. “It’s Amos Ramsay,” she whispered. “What’s he doing here?”
Jim followed her gaze, just in time to see a man in black disappear between the trees.
She shook her head. “Ramsay is a sure-fire expert at pointing fingers, and if he catches you with those strange clothes, he’ll find a reason to have you up in the Madison jail for certain. You still got the shakes – can you run?”
Jim nodded grimly.
“Best get moving, then.” She grabbed up her skirts with one hand, held tightly to Jim with the other, and they raced into the woods.