Misfit Monday plus Excerpt: Ahead of her Time

I’m away again, so I’m going to leave you with another excerpt from Time’s Enemy. This passage takes place after Tony rescues nine-year-old Charlotte in the flood – twenty years later for her, in fact, when Tony comes to visit her as an adult in 1933.

Time's Enemy CoverTony followed her into the basement, her favorite room in the house despite its constant, damp chill. Her favorite because of the workbench that ran along an entire wall, a place she could lose herself for hours. She snapped on the two metal clip lights above her creation, a welded, metal cabinet with foil-covered panels. Tony craned his neck to study the water tanks and the pipes she’d twisted around it. “I’m experimenting with water to store the sun’s heat,” she explained.

“I’d say you’re on the right track.” She searched his face. Not a hint of the veiled reservations her brother always tried to hide when she showed him one of her projects. She seldom mentioned her work to her sister, whose usual response was to chide her for wasting time she could better spend on something constructive, like quilting or working in the garden.

Louie had gone beyond skepticism to outright derision. Among other things, it proved he wasn’t the man for her. If he hadn’t broken their engagement, she would have. Elmer’s lack of enthusiasm confirmed she’d best keep her activities to herself, should they eventually marry.

That prospect grew less likely the longer she spent with Tony. She let her eyes travel over him and remembered the bubbles of joy she’d felt when he took her arm in his on the way home from Rike’s. So different than Elmer. Tony opened the cabinet’s sealed door and ran his fingers around its smooth edges. “You might be onto something here.”

“You think so?” She clasped her hands.

“Oh yeah, this is cool.”

English: Solar oven Português: Forno solar

An actual, modern solar oven (Photo credit: Wikipedia). Read about my friend Athena Grayson’s adventures with solar cooking here.

“Cool?” Her shoulders slumped. “But it’s supposed to get hot. Or at least warm.”

He laughed, and heaviness fell over her body like a lead jacket. It was worse than Louie’s scorn. She started to turn away. “Oh, no, I mean it’s neat,” Tony said. “Good. Swell.” His face settled into a grin. “In my time, cool has another meaning besides temperature. It’s a good thing.”

Anticipation warred with unease, and she figured out why when they trudged back upstairs to start dinner.

She’d finally met a man who believed in her. Not only believed in her work, but wanted to help her. A man who could take her ideas and sell them. Do the part she hated and, she had to admit, was hampered in by the fact she was a woman. Tony could cross barriers she couldn’t. He could solicit interest in her work from men who couldn’t see the innovator beneath her feminine form.

He intrigued her, intellectually. And otherwise, she had to admit. If it weren’t for the fact that he belonged decades in the future, she’d want Tony to take her to the dance, not Elmer. Tony to be the one who spent his evenings with her. Tony who might ask her to marry him—

She couldn’t think such things. Especially about an Enemy of Time. A man she needed to convince to go to the Society House and turn himself in.

Later. First, she’d at least fix dinner. It would hardly be civil to send him to Theodore on an empty stomach.

What do you think? I’d love to hear from you! Please know that while I’m away I may not be able to reply to your comments for a while, but every one is appreciated, as are any retweets and Facebook Shares. I’ll be back soon, and will reply and visit your blog if you have one. Also, while the Booklovers’ Buffet sale is over, Time’s Enemy is still on sale for $.99 until tomorrow, so if you’re thinking about giving it a read, there’s no better time than the present. You can buy Time’s Enemy at Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Smashwords and many other online retailers. Thanks for reading!

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My Town Monday, plus Excerpt: Ohio’s Worst Natural Disaster

It happened in March, 1913. The perfect confluence of weather combined over the upper Miami Valley in west-central Ohio, and dumped massive amounts of rain on the area for several days. This was on ground already saturated from melting snows, and on Tuesday, March 25, it proved too much for the levees in Dayton. The river breached the first levee around 7 AM, and within a few hours, water 12+ feet deep covered the city. Downriver, the cities of West Carrollton, Miamisburg, Franklin, Middletown, Hamilton, and Cincinnati weren’t spared, but due to the joining of five rivers on the north side of Dayton, plus the Great Miami’s S-curve there, Dayton was the worst-hit. In terms of property damage and lives lost (anywhere from just over one hundred to four-hundred something – records were sketchy), the 1913 flood remains the worst natural disaster in Ohio’s history.

Here’s an excerpt from Time’s Enemy that shows what it might have been like that day, almost 100 years ago:

Time's Enemy Cover

An inhuman shriek jolted Tony awake. His gaze darted across sloped rafters, to the end of a long room where dim light filtered through a dusty, mud-spattered window. Church bells rang amidst the roar of hard rain, and whistles were going off everywhere, but they weren’t what woke him. He clutched the quilt. Where was he?

He sat up. Then the scream came again. Outside. It started as a loud groan, then escalated to a grating, high-pitched howl that cut to his soul.

It went on and on then faded as whatever it was passed. Tony threw off his blanket and scooted to the nearby window.

A torrent of muddy water coursed through the alley below, coming halfway up the doorway of the warehouse across the street. He’d never seen so much water where it wasn’t supposed to be. “Holy Noah’s Ark!”

He stood, then regretted it when his head smacked into a rafter. With a curse, he rubbed the sore spot as his memories of the previous day fell into place. The Saturn Society. Taylor Gressman. The wanted posters and Theodore Pippin. Goodwin’s Smoke Shop in 1913.

What had he warped into? He twisted around to search the rafters, as if answers hid in their dim recesses. The only reply was the beating rain. Then it hit him. March, 1913. He’d escaped the Saturn Society only to wind up in the middle of the worst natural disaster in Ohio’s history.

The horrible shrieks started again. He crouched and peered out the window. In the raging waters, a horse struggled to swim, its reins caught on the crossbar of a streetlamp. The yellowish-brown waters came to within a couple feet of the light globes. The horse raised its head, its lips drawn back over its teeth, and let out another ear-piercing cry. Tony cringed. A wooden crate bumped the helpless animal, knocking it free, then the current carried the crate and the horse away.

The view out the other window was much the same. A barrel floated by. Small, dark shapes clung to it. Rats.

Photo used on the cover of Time’s Enemy. Courtesy of Dayton Metro Library.

Tony leaned against the window, the glass cold against his hand and forehead, and stared in morbid fascination at the water below. The rain churned its rushing surface between pieces of broken furniture, crates and unidentifiable flotsam. Bumps and clunks came from below, probably furnishings, floating around in the shop’s lower level. He moved to the window, his fingers unable to decide whether to form fists or clutch at the window jambs. His breath formed a foggy circle on the glass. Another loud crash, then a few seconds later, a piano floated by, followed by a mass of splintered lumber that had once been a building.

The water swirled and eddied around the debris, lodging it between a telephone pole and the Smoke Shop. In the pile of wood beneath his window, a broken sign read ry’s Market. They wouldn’t be doing business any time soon.

Something moved in the wreckage. A small arm sheathed in a clinging, ruffled sleeve emerged from the water, and little fingers clutched at one of the larger pieces of wood. Slipped.

Grasped again, lost purchase.

A little girl. “Oh my God.” His voice echoed in the empty reaches of the rafters. The child groped again, failed to latch on, started to slide.

He grabbed the window sash’s blackened han-dle and pulled. Stuck tight. With a grunt he leaned upward and pulled harder. “Come on, open, dammit!” The sash didn’t move.

He could barely hear a thin, plaintive wail over the rushing water. He grabbed the sash handle, yanked upward, and this time the window obeyed.

The girl’s cry reached him again. Helplessness pinned his feet to the floor. Fear he wouldn’t reach her in time mocked him. He’d have to climb out on-to that haphazard pile of wood. One misstep could plunge him into the icy, raging current. But if he didn’t go out there, that little girl would die.

He yanked off his suit jacket. Cold as he was, it would only get in the way. “Hang on!” He climbed over the sash. She tried to grab hold of a broken timber. Missed. Then slipped into the water.

“No!” Despair stung him. The same way it had the night Bethany hadn’t come home, and a state trooper rang their doorbell. Tony had known his daughter was dead before the man said a word. “Hang on!” This little girl had a chance.

Want to read more? Time’s Enemy (e-book) is on sale for only $.99 as part of the Booklovers’ Buffet through June 22, along with over 150 other books, novellas, and short stories. You can buy Time’s Enemy at Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Smashwords and many other online retailers.

What do you think? I’d love to hear from you! I will be away from my computer today and won’t be able to respond to comments, but please know that I appreciate every comment, every re-tweet,  and every Facebook Share. I’ll reply and visit your blog, if you have one, when I can! Thanks for reading!