GEORGE LEARNS THE DEEPEST SECRET
The air was cool and the sky was flooded with stars. Phoebe, Jeremy, and George stood near the tow truck for a minute.
“I’ve got to hear every detail,” George told them. “Tonight’s the night.”
They drove to the gas station. The usual jumble of things had become total chaos. Guitars and amplifiers filled the open space on the floor. Clothes were scattered amid tools and office supplies. They sat close together. “I still feel like an outsider,” said George. Phoebe replied: “George, look, this is the deepest secret that’s ever been mine to tell. We must keep it among ourselves…” They nodded to each other.
“Okay,” Phoebe said, “here’s what you don’t know. The Protectors of the Wood really does include an old man in the forest, and Wendy is his daughter, and there are others involved in the forest and the swamp. They are related to people who have been the guardians of dreamstone over countless centuries. They know the underground caverns where it can be found, and how it should be used. They are sharing this wisdom as a source of help amid the crisis of climate change. They protect dreamstone with such secrecy because if you look into a large piece you’re likely to see a vision that will be a challenge for you, a message from a higher power. You have to be ready for this… There really do seem to be higher powers that want to help us… bring good into the world.” George stared at Phoebe. “That’s… more than I ever dared hope for! But what about Abby?”
“I only know a little. She actually did fly over the town, or maybe a dream image of her did – something she calls soul-traveling. That’s why Tuck warned us against reporters. But the most dangerous thing is this: Morphy knows part of the secret! He’s sure that dreamstone was here years ago, and he’s trying to find and control it. He believes that Abby knows the source, and that’s why he’s been hunting her. That’s why Abby found a way to live in the cottage in the churchyard. Her only other option was to flee, and give up her friends.”
“Thank you!” George suddenly declared, as if to the whole room, or maybe the whole universe. “The world is a place I want to live in!”
Jeremy led Phoebe and George down Main Street to where his tow truck sat by the roadside. They climbed up into the cab. He put the old tank into gear, took a u-turn, and they were on their way home.
“Wait!” exclaimed Phoebe. “Turn left here.”
With a puzzled look Jeremy downshifted and turned up Oak Knoll Lane.
“I just want to reassure Glenda and Tiny,” Phoebe said. “They’re in a tough spot. Stephanie’s uncle was talking about a TV crew. This news will travel fast.”
“Why is it such a big deal?” asked George.
“As soon as they hear about a mob with torches and a haunted house and an innocent girl, we might have reporters combing the countryside.”
“A mob with torches!” cried George. “Fill me in!”
“You’ll hear it all,” Phoebe replied. She knocked on Glenda’s door.
“Oh my God!” shrieked Glenda. “Phoebe, George, Jeremy! What happened? Call your sister! They’re frantic!”
Tiny jumped into Phoebe’s arms. “You’re okay!” she yelled. “Mom, look, she’s okay!”
Phoebe called Penny and learned that her parents and Sammy had been released an hour ago. Photos of the afternoon’s arrests had caused an uproar.
Jeremy had been focused on the TV. “Here it comes!” he told them.
The room became silent as the newscaster spoke: “WBCS brings you more breaking news from Middletown in Half Moon County, where our reporters Stan Miller and Janet Rivera are on the scene with live interviews from witnesses of today’s bizarre and frightening events. Here is Stan Miller reporting from outside the Middletown United Church. It’s been quite a day, Stan.”
The camera zoomed in on the well-known newsman standing on the sidewalk near the gate to the churchyard.
“Thanks Tim! We’ve got quite a story developing here. Town Police Chief Daniel Santiago has apparently just returned with the Reverend Tuck, minister of this church, and Dr. Geraldine Bear of Middletown Hospital, and a young girl from Half Moon High School named Abby Chapman.
Tiny screamed. “Abby! It’s Abby!”
The camera zoomed in.
To all Protectors of the Wood fans!
We are now posting on our website the Podcast Episodes of Protectors of the Wood #1 , Phoebe Comes Home.
The episodes come alive with the many voices of our group playing the different characters! Please check it out at www.protectorsofthewood.com
And while you’re there on our website, get a fully illustrated copy of book 1! Just click ‘Order Books’, choose your favorite way to order, and receive a nice gift for yourself or a friend.
Many thanks from all of us at the Protector of the Wood
spending time Deep in the Far Away while I'm too sick to be [writing] trudging around a wild island scrounging stars from its fields of stone. This is my favourite page in the book. Am I allowed to say that? It's not very cool or proper of me, is it? But @kellesauer the gorgeous photographer taught me a long time ago that if you don't enjoy your art why are you making it? (Nonetheless I will probably delete this comment later!)
OUT OF THE FOREST
The lightning lit up the yard again. The wind blew the tops of the trees over sideways, and their branches moved like snakes berserk in the air. The fire steamed and hissed, and slowly went out. The wind blew the rain into their faces as they huddled together around the open door.
“Heavens above!” cried Phoebe. “Thank God you’re here!” Her sense of relief was so powerful she felt she might burst open. “But I’m still worried. Do you think that crew has had enough? They could easily wait for us down the road.” Phoebe could just make out Tuck’s face in the darkness. He was frowning and staring into space.
“I’ll tell you one person who’s had enough. Me! Reverend David Tuck! I’m going to walk up Bridge Avenue with Abby by my side to my church, so help me God! Just try to stop me!” With tears in his eyes he shook his fist toward the departed mob.
“Abby,” he announced. “I’m inviting you to return with me and take up residence in our gardener’s cottage, and with your help I’ll persuade every last citizen of this town to accept my decision. You should have spoken to me months ago. But I must warn you, there will be rules, very strict rules I must say, and duties of course, but…”
“I accept. I accept! I’m going to grab a few things from my room here, and…” She turned and disappeared into the darkness behind them. The fury of the storm was already tapering off. Abby returned wearing her backpack and an old duffel bag in her hand. She walked out into the rain, dropped her bag, and spun around with her hands in the air. “Oh I’m so happy! I’m so happy!” she said and burst into tears.
They all walked out and joined her, and soon were marching down the dark, muddy road together. Suddenly out of the darkness came the flashing lights of a police car.
George’s face appeared out of the window. “Phoebe! Abby! Jeremy!” he called.
Chief Santiago leaned out of the driver’s window and asked, “Is that you Tuck? Dr. Bear! Well, well, there’s a story here. And who were those folks who scattered into the woods when I drove up past the bridge?”
“You’ll hear it all,” replied Tuck. They squeezed into the car and rode under flashing lights to Main Street.
THE STORM BREAKS
As Phoebe and Jeremy stood in the back of the church they listened to people coming through the door. “It’s this strange new weather,” said one man.
Another voice added, “Did you see that thing in the sky?”
Reverend Tuck rose up and raised his hands. “People of Middletown! I am offering this church for a town meeting, in an effort to come together as a community.” An angry man stood up and said, “It’s revenge, I tell you! The police arrest Sammy and the Hoods, and then this freak storm comes of the forest, and something flies over the town laughing at us!”
Another voice screamed, “And we know who she is, and where she is!”
“Please, everyone,” yelled Tuck. But many were already moving toward the aisles, and stormed from the church. Phoebe realized that her moment to join Abby had come. “Jeremy!” she said. “Get Tuck and follow as fast as you can.”
“This is it,” he nodded.
Phoebe limped out into the strangely quiet street. The crowd was already half a block down Bridge Avenue. The cars and trucks were dark and still. Phoebe crossed the bridge, gaining on the group ahead. Suddenly the open lawn and the haunted house loomed up before them in the darkness. Phoebe slipped through along the fringe of trees, and grabbed a branch along the way.
The mob began piling up the branches and sticks that covered the lawn. The flames leaped up, swirling in a gust of wind. The lead man approached the broken porch with a burning branch. “We know you’re in there. Come out if you know what’s good for you!”
Phoebe stepped out onto the broken porch, ready to defend the half opened door. Abby’s urgent whisper hissed in the darkness behind her. “Phoebe! Come back through the door!”
But the man was already close by, with others behind him. “A witch!” he yelled. Suddenly Reverend Tuck ran into the space between the crowd and the porch. He raised his hand and roared, “Go back, or you’ll regret it the rest of your lives!”
A bolt of lightening flashed, and the long-awaited rain poured down in sheets. The crowd turned and fled. Thunder shook the earth.
Colleen has teamed up with her sister, Nancy to bring an exciting story for teens to the spring Yellow Dog list. Check it out!
THE PROTECTORS OF THE WOOD BAND ON PODCAST
This week our podcast introduces The Protectors of The Wood Band recorded in a behind-the-scenes rehearsal. Hear songs from the Book Series including a new song never before recorded.
Find our Protectors of the Wood Podcast at protectorsofthewood.com
📸Photo Credit: @tainoimage
Screams from a Dying World video notes day 13! A brand new to this edition story written in 2017. Divine Wind is my favorite sci-fi short story that I have written. #horrorfiction#sciencefiction#ecofiction available now on Amazon.
Screams from a Dying World video notes day 8. The most controversial and brutal story in the collection is one called Surrogate. It is very black mirror style story but Decade old at this point. #sciencefiction#horrorfiction#ecofiction available now on Amazon.
Screams from a Dying World video notes day 6! Grandpy’s Spirit that Never Was. This is a ghost story inspired by my grandfather. This a period piece about a meat packing plant, a union fight and ghost. #sciencefiction#horrorfiction#ecofiction available now on Amazon.
THE FIGURE IN THE SKY
Phoebe and Geraldine scanned the crowd on Bridge Avenue in amazement.
Phoebe spotted Jeremy on the street looking frantically through the groups of people. He came up close to be heard without yelling. “Any idea what’s going on?” Phoebe asked. He leaned closer and said, “A car backed up into a bus on Main Street and blocked the intersection. But there’s something else… People are starting to panic. A man said the traffic is frozen by magic.”
“Magic…?” murmured Phoebe.
The lightning flashed again, and Geraldine looked up, startled. “Now what was that?” she exclaimed, pointing toward the gathering storm. The lightning flashed again, and for a moment Phoebe saw a dark wavering form, like an unbelievably huge crow. Others had seen it too, and were pointing. The thunder crashed, and out of the storm clouds Phoebe saw a dark figure riding a sort of pole arrive low in the air. This apparition flew a quick, jagged course, and there was an uneven, high-pitched sound of screeching. It might have been laughter. Phoebe glimpsed pale face, and knew it was Abby. Thunder rumbled again, and Phoebe lost the vision in the enveloping darkness.
Someone screamed – and then everyone seemed to be talking a once. The crowd grew, and wild rumors spread. ‘What should I do now?’ wondered Phoebe. ‘Run for Tuck? Or the haunted house? Not yet. It’s not a rescue yet.’
Geraldine turned to Phoebe and Jeremy and said, “This group needs to calm down or they’ll start doing harm.”
“Where’s Reverend Tuck?” asked Jeremy. “That’s it!” interrupted Geraldine with great urgency. “We’ve got to get this group into the church. Come on!” She began telling anyone she encountered, that there would soon be a meeting in the church. The word spread like wildfire. Within minutes the crowd – like an enormous swarm of bees – began to move toward the wide church door.
Phoebe and Jeremy were swept into the large, dim cavern, lit only by faint chandeliers high above them. Once inside Phoebe gripped Jeremy by the hand and took refuge against the back wall.
He looked at her questioningly. “Got a plan?” he whispered into her ear. “I do,” she said. “You’ll see.”
CHAOS ON BRIDGE AVENUE
There was silence on the sidewalk. The police were gone, but so were Patti, Peter, and Sammy. ‘What should we do now?’ wondered Phoebe. ‘Should I be afraid for Mom and Dad?’ Phoebe noticed a group of men moving up the street, joining the crowd already forming on the benches in front of the Middletown Standard office. “You’d better walk over to the church and have a word with Tuck,” suggested Tom Winkle. “I’ll wait and drive you home.”
“No, please don’t wait,” Phoebe replied. “Jeremy’s coming for me.” She limped up the sidewalk. “Looks like she had a little accident,” she heard someone sneer. “Too bad about that.” They laughed openly at her. The mockery stung her, and she began to limp toward them. “Can I have a paper?” she asked. “I just wanted to see how fair your coverage is, Mr. Morphy. We young kids are all counting on you to make this world a better place.”
Morphy looked down on her with fierce disapproval. “You have no idea what this is all about, do you?” he asked, staring deep into her eyes. She could not keep a faint quiver of a smile off her lips, or the spark of understanding from her eyes. “Maybe you do!” he said in surprise. “So! Maybe you do!”
She tore herself away and limped toward the church. “He won that round,” she thought. “Now he knows that I know about dreamstone. It’s an advantage for him, and scary for me.”
Phoebe met Tuck and Geraldine in the churchyard. “I’m glad you’re here,” said Tuck. “We thought you might need some help.”
“I do need help! In fact, this very night. They’re going to trap Abby in the forest.” Suddenly they heard a crash from out on the street. Phoebe and Geraldine rose and turned to look. “Wait!” exclaimed Tuck. “When do you need us?”
“I’ll send for you,” she answered, shouting over the honking of car horns. Phoebe and Geraldine stepped out on the sidewalk. An 18-wheeler had tried to make the tight turn onto Bridge Avenue, and crashed into a double-parked car. Both lanes were blocked. The cars and trucks were just sitting there, and pedestrians walked everywhere. A long bank of blue-black clouds was rolling forward from the Half Moon Cliffs, blocking the setting sun. A siren wailed.
PHOEBE’S MOTHER OFFERS FLOWERS
With Sammy in handcuffs, Captain Bloward approached Patti and said, "Patricia Hood? You’ll be coming with us." Peter stepped into the group and the Captain said, "Peter Hood? You too."
"I’ve never seen you in my life," Peter declared. "How do you know me?"
"Just go quietly, and we won’t bother to cuff you or your wife."
Freddy Baez stepped forward and displayed his press identification. "Am I to understand that you’re going to hold these people without charges?"
"We’re just going to have a friendly chat down at the barracks. Don’t give us a hard time, Freddy. Why are you nosing around in this business?"
George stepped in front of Captain Bloward and took five or six photos in a matter of seconds. "Get out of here!" growled the Captain, and George slipped back among the crowd. "Hey Austin," said the Captain. "Grab some of that stuff they’re selling. A few toys would be good."
Austin walked up to Peter’s crates in front of the toy store gate. There were no toys to be seen. Patti stepped over to her flower display and scooped up a few remaining blossoms. She presented the captain with a bouquet. "Will this do?" she asked.
The Captain stared at her, refusing to take the offering.
A finger bean suddenly flew out of the crowd and slapped into Captain Bloward’s cheek. "God in heaven," he muttered. The sound of laughter broke out and spread through the crowd. The Captain grabbed Patti and Peter by the elbow and pulled
them toward the car. Austin took Sammy and hustled along behind. Once his prisoners had been pushed into the back seat with Austin in the front, Captain Bloward jumped into the driver’s seat and gunned the motor. The red lights flashed. The siren wailed. He screeched the car into a u-turn and roared down toward Main Street.