Excerpt: The Kairos Mechanism

From Chapter One: The Dead Man Out of the Cornfield

(Missouri, 1913)

There were several streets in Arcane, Missouri, but really only one road that went into town and went all the way out again at the other side. That was the road called Heartwood, the one that, if you followed it out of town going east, lead to the crossroads at the Old Village. Natalie Minks, who had some experience with strange goings-on, definitely found it odd that the three men came from another direction entirely: from the north, where there was nothing but fields. It was odd because they were strangers, and because they came in on foot.

To be precise, actually, only two of them walked in on foot: two young men in rough white shirts, blue trousers, and flat blue forage caps. The third one rode in on a stretcher that looked like it was made of old flour sacks. His two companions set him clumsily down on the ground to wipe their faces and turn expectantly on Natalie, who happened to have stopped near the edge of town to watch the three approach. That man, the one on the stretcher, was unmistakably dead.