First Page – The Thing with Feathers

In the midst of the machinations of a mad man, virtue and valor can persist. The Thing with Feathers is known to fly through wars, depressions, and natural disasters. Will the Marshall clan and the good people of Cloverdale find it in time?

      As the inhabitants of Cloverdale, Oregon, welcomed in the twentieth century, they were not unaccustomed to hard times and thorny situations. Small communities banded together for protection and hope. Heroes and villains were often difficult to decipher.
      When an itinerate Baptist preacher arrived with his baby daughter and a wife lost on the trail, there was no one prepared to suspect what lurid secrets and heartbreak he might be concealing. As the preacher sets his sights against those who might oppose him, the names, reputations, and even the very lives of the good people of Cloverdale, may not be spared.

The Thing with Feathers
Anne Sweazy-Kulju 
Chapter 1
The mule labored beneath the large man’s bulk as it trudged across the Idaho desert. The moon’s glow was thin and spare and his dark, retreating shape was growing less distinguishable to the woman walking many yards behind him. She did not appear to care. She had been walking for a very long time, quite swollen and struggling mightily with her intensifying labor pains. She stumbled again, but that time, she did not push on.

“Get up!” the mule rider hollered over his shoulder at the woman. He did not stop.

The young mother-to-be glared holes in the backside of the shadowy wayfarer. Her hatred of the man was nearly a tangible thing. Slowly, she reached down to the desert floor and grabbed up a scrap of wood, a bleached and splintered discard from wagon wheel spoke, left over from the heydays of the Oregon Trail. Still boring daggers at the distant rider, she jammed the wood in her mouth and bit down hard. Then she hiked up her dusty skirt, none too dainty, and laid herself down in the dirt.

* * *
A scream split the night. Other screams followed, of course, all of which seemed capable of tearing the very fabric of time with their tortured piercing. Two men were within a hundred miles of hearing those awful wails. One man, a good Samaritan by the name of Milton Blair, held the hand of the stricken woman and cried for her agony, not knowing what else to do for her. The other man, far less good, supposed the Oregon Trail had claimed yet another pitiful traveler. He held no anguish, though it was his wife who was dying.                                     

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