Chapter 3 of The Stone of Tantalus is live!

Check it out at

Here’s the first scene…

The cabin, dark and silent, chilled rapidly in the late fall air.  Outside, wind cut and slashed icy blades between shafts of barren old growth.  Inside, at a small table near the rough stone hearth holding the last dying embers of a warm fire, Jason took a quick, stuttering breath and his back spasmed, arching like he had been kicked in the spine.  His arms stretched wide, and hands flexed and tensed, dropping the snub-nosed revolver he held.  It tumbled with a clatter to the wooden floor, spun for a few turns, then lay still.  He watched it with calm detachment, rubbed the small circular dent the muzzle left at his temple, then stood on shaking legs and looked around the interior of the cabin.  Jason knew he should recognize this place, but the memory of where he was or how he got there hadn’t yet surfaced.  He looked at the gun again, but like the new backpack in the corner, it registered as just one more thing to inventory—one more piece of clutter to add to the puzzle of a new world.

This was his tenth trip down the rabbit hole, as far as he knew, and his only immediate concern was how much farther from home this trip took him.  He shivered and placed a shaking hand on the chair’s back for support, then walked the short distance to the heavy oak door separating this warm haven from the ravening wind on the other side.  His boots pounded a dull tattoo as he walked, and he looked down at the detailed stitching on top of what appeared to be alligator skin.  He curled his lip.  Not again, he thought, rolling his eyes skyward.  With one more deep breath, he reached for the handle and pulled the door inward on creaking hinges.  The lashing air, chill and damp, chased the remaining warmth in the room up the chimney, and left him shivering in the doorway.

Jason surveyed the landscape beyond the cabin.  Where the clearing in front of the porch ended abruptly forty yards out at a stand of trees, a gravel road cut neatly through and away.  The tall trees, stolid sentries around a prison yard, they groaned and swayed in the wind, speaking words only they understood.  To Jason their meaning was clear—go away, you don’t belong here.

He stepped over the threshold to the wooden front porch, and crossed his arms to ward the wind, a thick denim shirt his only proof against the chill.  Before he crossed there had been a hint of Fall in the air, but nothing like this.

Where the hell am I this time?


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