This is the prologue to a new historical fiction novel I am writing. I hope it wets your appetite for more! The book should be out by the new year (hopefully).
Have you ever driven down a road and noticed off in the distance an old abandoned dwelling? There are no roads leading to it anymore. Tall grass and scattered trees surround it, growing wild without paths or trails. The windows stare vacantly out at you. Do you ever wonder as you glance in its direction, what story this old house could tell?
Somewhere in the Texas panhandle in the middle of nowhere on the wide-open prairie, dotted with mesquite and junipers, there is also such a place. Whether it is still there, I do not know; however, I am sure there must be traces of it. There has to be – after all, someone has to tell the story and it would be more convincing if I were to say, ‘look, here is where this story begins.’
As I say, I do not know but I can see it in my mind’s eye – the crumbling wood, rocks, clay, and Adobe bricks. Its wood, blackened with rot from time and the elements. A house long collapsed under the weakened roof. The front door is gone. Perhaps the wind took it or someone passing by years ago loaded it onto his wagon so that now a hole gapes open. On the other side of that hole, there is only darkness. The wind howls across the Texas plains carrying sand, dust, and the occasional tumbleweed. Some of it settles in against the old house – more than half way up on the west wall. There are no glass panes to fill the windows and there are no steps to reach the door. An old cottonwood tree stands in front of the house, its dead branches stretch grotesquely towards the heavens. Years of drought have dried up its roots and insects have buried themselves in the decayed wood.
About two hundred feet north of the vacant house is what remains of a barn. It was never a large building. It could hold the family’s small buggy, three or four horses, and perhaps several milking cows. The loft stored enough hay for a month of winter weather but no more. There is no sign of the corral anymore. Most of the barn’s roof is gone – blown away by the never-ending wind, and the east side of it has collapsed.
Close to the barn, there is another structure. At first glance, one would think it was some type of tower. It leans precariously to one side; the wood, gray and weathered with age. Most of the rungs on the ladder are missing. At the top, there is only a small platform – large enough for one person to stand on. The railing around the platform is gone.
To the right of the tower, there is an abandoned well covered over many years ago with boards and large rocks. It is almost invisible in the tall grass as is the old plow, now rusted and partially buried.
Perhaps only the house remains. I do not know. There are no sounds except for the wind whistling, murmuring, and moaning, as it winds its way around and through the long forgotten buildings. No one hears but me.
This will be my second historical fiction. My first is called Sarah’s Valley (by Sharon Mierke). I also write cozy mysteries for Cozy Cat Press – the Parson’s Cove mystery series.