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Sara Dwells and The Book Of Answers

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									 SARA DWELLS
      and the
BOOK of ANSWERS

           By


     PAUL WATERS




   © 2008 PAUL WATERS




                        MS REVISED2 : PDF vs
                                                CHAPTER 1


It was a night when nothing in the world moved but the wind through the frozen spruce trees that nestled
high in the mountains. The sky was a black so intense it could only have been painted, though it was
relieved by the illumination cast by a lonely moon that turned the snow-covered valleys and mountains
to silver and then gold. This was a place that time had forgotten except for the people of a small village
cradled between the great mountain peaks. Mephisto to the west, its summit soaring into the sky, had
fathered the mountain river whose icy caps melted in spring to bring water for the villagers and their
animals. This was the village of Whipper Wheel, so named by a mountain man on hearing the
distinctive, repetitive call of the mysterious whippoorwill—a member of the nightjar family—while
passing through the valley late one night. It wasn’t always so cold and dark. In the spring and summer
the valley and mountains teemed with life—lush grasses and flowers; the river with its rapids and
broken trees—and the cows, grazing contentedly on the steep mountainsides, whose milk gave
sustenance to those who lived in the village.
       One late November night the wintry silence was broken by the screams of Mary Dwells in labor
with her second child. Down at the end of an old dirt road there was a small farmhouse that had been
there longer than even Mister Kindle, the oldest man in the village (he was said by some to be more than
one hundred years of age). The house was weather-beaten with the cracks of time, and through a cracked
window pane on the top floor, candlelight could be seen flickering and casting shadows on the walls
from the people moving about within.
       Mary Dwells had only been pregnant for seven months when she went into labor. John, her
husband of fourteen years, called for Doctor Greenberg, the village doctor. It was 1:30 a.m. when
Mary’s water broke. Within minutes he and almost every other able-bodied man had arrived at the
farmhouse. That was the way things were in Whipper Wheel, everyone was like family—it had always
been that way. It was the only thing they had. Even Pastor Obride was there and dressed as if the event
was a Sunday Mass.
       In the back of the old farmhouse Mary sweated and screamed on the same bed where she had
been born thirty-nine years earlier. John held her hand as the tears and sweat mingled and dripped down
her face. It took three hours before the child was born and as soon as Doctor Greenberg pulled her away
from her mother, the little girl began to cry. Although a baby’s wail is always unsettling, their first cry is
an amazing moment; it is their announcement to the world that they are alive. A smile appeared on the
face of each person in the room at the sound of the little one having finally arrived; a truly beautiful
moment to be treasured.
       Doctor Greenberg dried Anna off, wrapped her in a little blanket, and handed her to Mary who
smiled as she wiped her face and then kissed the little one on the head. Anna was a beautiful child,
perfect in every way. Large blue eyes and a face as cute as a button, “Truly one of God’s greatest
creations,” opined Pastor Obride. He gave the child a short blessing and advised John and Mary to get
some rest for it had been a long night. Slowly everyone made their way out of the room and off to sleep
in their snug little homes in the village. Anna was put into the back room in an old wooden crib that had




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 2
been a gift for Mary’s new child a month earlier from Kenny Johansen, the village carpenter, an old but
brilliant man who had built almost half the stores and houses in Whipper Wheel.
          Everyone left except Pastor Obride, who was tired and decided to sleep on the couch as the
weather outside had worsened into a blizzard. Anna had fallen asleep and John and Mary lay together,
exhausted, but relieved and happy; relieved to have a given the world a beautiful and healthy new life,
and happy to have a new member of the Dwells family.
          “John?”
          “Yes dear?”
          “I love you,” Mary said, and I love our family. We have made another beautiful life together, and
I’m so happy that out little girl will have such a wonderful father.”
          John smiled at his wife and said, “We will raise her to be a great woman and if she turns out to
be anything like you, I know she will be.”
          They held each other for a while and then soon fell asleep while Anna rested in the back room
ready to begin her new life.


Around three o’clock in the morning Mary awoke sweating and feeling very strange. She sat up in bed
and felt her body in unbearable pain. At first she thought that it was probably just from the birth, and
nothing to be concerned about, but it began to get worse. She woke John and when she told him the pain
was extreme, he immediately called for Doctor Greenberg even though Mary insisted the Doctor not be
wakened at such an early hour.
          In no time, Doctor Greenberg arrived and entered the room, followed by all those who had been
in attendance earlier. “What seems to be wrong Mary?”
          “I know this sounds silly Doctor, but I feel like there’s something stuck inside of me.”
          The Doctor quickly examined Mary, “It looks as though you’re going into labor again, it must be
twins!”
          John beamed. “Twins!” he exclaimed. “I can’t believe it!”
          Mary, however, was not so thrilled at the prospect of giving birth twice in the same night but,
just as Doctor Greenberg had guessed, she began to go into labor with her second child. It was only
twenty minutes before the second child was born. The candles had almost burnt out, but in the remaining
dim light John and Doctor Greenberg got a glimpse of the infant for the first time. A strange silence
filled the room. Mary looked around at the faces staring down at the child she herself had not yet seen
and noticed that something was not right. Lifting herself up on one elbow, she stared down at her new
daughter then gasped for air and began to sob.
          The infant was somewhat frightening to the eye. The size of a grown man’s hand, her bones were
small and twisted, and her skin was as pale as a ghost. She could not have weighed more than one
pound. Doctor Greenberg quickly grabbed the baby, swaddled her in a cloth, and rushed into the
bathroom screaming, “Someone bring some candles; I need light!” He was in there for only five minutes
before he returned and asked everyone except John and Mary to leave the room.
          As soon as she saw Doctor Greenberg entering the room Mary screamed out, “Where is my
child? Where is my baby?”




                                    Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 3
        “Listen Mary dear, this is a hard thing for me to say. The child was born dead.”
        For a moment Mary said nothing and then the tears slowly fell from her eyes. She buried her face
into the pillow and began to weep.
        “I’m so sorry Mary, but sometimes these things happen. It is nobody’s fault; it is just God’s
way—it’s just a part of life,” Doctor Greenberg told her. After wrapping the infant in a cloth, he told
John and Mary that he would take her to the hospital that night, and the next day she would be buried in
the Whipper Wheel cemetery alongside her great-grandparents.
        Pastor Obride entered the room and said that he would like to say a few words before he left. He
sat down on the bed next to Mary and John and told them, “I know that at this moment there is nothing I
can say that will ease your soul or make you feel any better about what has just happened. God has his
reasons for everything and His reason should never be questioned. He created your life, and my life
and all that exists. He is a divine being with a divine plan for all things. Whatever reason He had for
your baby’s life, He chose to take her back—back to heaven where she will remain for the rest of time. I
will be at the funeral tomorrow to pray and grieve this terrible loss. Until then try to rest, and remember
that all things are in God’s hands.”


The windows of the Dwells’ farmhouse shook as the wind screamed off the mountains and hurtled down
the ice and snow covered valleys. Outside, Pastor Obride and Doctor Greenberg’s horses grew restless
as the wind sliced through their manes and cut deep into their hides like a frozen knife, penetrating
through to their very bones. Their tethers had been tied to the small pillars on which the house rested,
and had long since been buried beneath the more than two feet of snow that had fallen in less than three
hours. Steam poured from their nostrils, immediately crystallizing into droplets of ice that encased their
muzzles in a frozen mask. Their manes sparkled and glittered like diamonds in the moonlight, and the
snowy drifts subsumed everything in their path. The intensity of the cold had dropped to a level that
neither man nor animal could endure for any period of time.
        The door of the house creaked open, but the wind did its best to fight back, and soon slammed it
shut again. Doctor Greenberg and Pastor Obride said their goodbyes, the Doctor struggling to cover his
bald head from the cold with his hat as he clutched the small blanket wrapped around the tiny baby’s
body. Pastor Obride wound his scarf around his face to keep out the wind, but it blew sideways and
slapped against him like the cold hand of an angry woman. Somewhere off in the distance the lonely
howl of the ‘black cat’ train whistle could be heard echoing off the mountainsides, the only sign of any
form of civilization during the night. Village lore had it that one night a cat made its way into the engine
room and somehow or other managed to set the train in motion. It later derailed somewhere in one of the
valleys and took three weeks to rebuild after which the term ‘black cat’ was coined to denote the
whistle.
        “Let’s ride together Pastor; it will be safer that way.”
        Doctor Greenberg was not just a doctor; he was also something of an inventor although he had
never invented anything that actually worked except for his self-lighting lantern. Hanging from the limb
of a spruce tree that projected in front of his horse to act as a light when riding at night, it looked like
some kind of child’s contraption, but on this night his invention did little good. The curtain of snow




                                   Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 4
became thicker and the way ahead of them quickly began to disappear. The long muscular legs of their
horses started to sink ever more deeply into the snow-covered path and they struggled to make progress.
          “I don’t think we can go on much further Pastor. The horses are having trouble walking and I’m
losing any sense of feeling in my body.”
          “Let us stop a moment, and we will give the horses the chance to rest underneath those trees over
there.”
          As the two men dismounted, trying their best to keep moving and warm, the Pastor said, “The
church is not too far from here. It will be dry and I think it’s our best chance for a place to sleep
tonight.”
          “I don’t care where we sleep just as long as I can feel my hands again,” the Doctor replied.
          “Stay strong. The Lord is with us here, and He will not let us perish in this cold. There are
moments in the life of every man when the darkness sets in and all hope and light are gone. It is in those
moments that he finds his true strength—or his weaknesses and fails. But we will not fail. The Dwells
must have a funeral for their child. There has already been far too much death tonight. Get on the horse;
we will make it.”
          Whereas most any other man or beast would surely have frozen to death at this point, these two
were not ordinary, everyday men. They were strong in body and spirit. Their horses were powerful
beasts and had seen many cold winters, pulling their fair share of plows to plant seed in the spring and to
move snow in the winter. The wind pounded them as if every ounce of the earth’s energy was trying to
stop them, and leave them to die on the dark, empty and frozen road.
          “Pastor—Look I see a light up there in the distance!”
          “Yes, I put them there before I left in case the weather worsened.”
          Before leaving for the Dwells, the Pastor had lit candles in the single stained glass window of the
church—the village of Whipper Wheel was not exactly well off and its church could only afford one
such window. It was a small church and on a good Sunday Mass it could hold about fifty people, but
unfortunately there were only twenty-seven chairs. The cedar shingles on the roof were broken and
unkempt, and the chimney bricks came from an old schoolhouse that had fallen over many years before.
It had a triangular-peaked roof that leaned to one side and its old, weathered wooden door was cracked
far beyond repair, but although it wasn’t perfect, it was a castle to the people of Whipper Wheel and a
holy place where friends and family joined once a week to share stories and listen to the much-awaited
sermon of Pastor Obride, which always seemed to touch everyone in the room in some meaningful way.
It was the hub of the town; serving as town hall, church, meeting place, and home to all sorts of bunnies
and wilderness creatures who burrowed beneath its foundations to shelter from the sun during the long
hot days of summer. However, on this night there was no sermon or meeting of friends, just the coldness
of its hardwood floors and a few candles burning in the stained glass window reflecting a blurry image
of Jesus in the snow.
          “Well Pastor, I must say thank God we are here. I never thought we would make it!”
          “Believe me Doctor; I had my doubts as well!”
          “What about the ‘whole man must find strength in the darkness’ talk?”
          “Come on, I had to say something to give a couple of old geezers a little hope!”




                                    Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 5
        The men laughed a little and, as Pastor Obride closed the old wooden door everything seemed
alright for a moment. He struggled to pull off his boots, which had almost completely frozen to his feet
and said, “Do you know how to make a fire Doctor?”
        “Do you know how to give a sermon?”
        “Well I guess your answer is yes—rather witty for an old timer, aren’t you?”
        The Doctor placed the swaddled baby on a nearby chair. He crumbled up some papers and laid
them at the base of the fire he was setting in the fireplace, and then stacked the kindling as if he were
constructing some sort of little house.
        “You know I can’t think of a better place to die than in a church Doctor, but if you don’t light
that fire soon we’re all going to freeze in here tonight.”
        “You’re about a funny as I am witty, Pastor! By the way, where do you keep the matches in this
place?”
        “On the shelf above your head there should be a small box with Saint Christopher on it—they
should be in there.”
        In the darkness, the Doctor’s frozen hands fumbled around on the shelf for the box. A few
objects fell and hit the floor, the sound of their shattering amplified by the echo from the hardwood
floors, and reverberating around the room like a gunshot.
        “What have you done?”
        “Well it’s hard to find something when it’s as black as hell and your hands feel like they are
frozen stiff!”
        “Watch out, I’ll find it— just stand aside.”
        But Doctor Greenberg had found the box. He opened it and reached inside to find nothing more
than a single match, broken off at the bottom leaving only the stick end. “Little good will this do us,” he
said. “With no matches, how are we going to start the fire?”
        “I’m so sorry; I used the last match to light the candles in the window.”
        “Oh that was brilliant! What good are candles if you freeze to death in the middle of the night?”
        “Well would you rather freeze outside in the snow or find your way back to the church. I had to
light the candles and in doing so, I saved both our lives.”
        The two men looked at each other for a moment, thinking about their predicament, and then
began to laugh. The whole time they had been arguing about finding something with which to light the
fire, there were candles burning in the window. Soon enough they had a roaring fire and Pastor Obride
and Doctor Greenberg huddled as close to it as they could.
        Droplets of water from the melting snow fell on the Doctor’s already white beard and his glasses
fogged up from the moisture on his face. He smiled and remarked, “Ah, this fire is almost better then
coming home from the pub with a foxy little lady and a night full of—” but caught himself when he
remembered to whom he was talking.
        “Yes, a night full of what, doctor?”
        “Oh, you know . . . good conversation, food and talking about how good your Sunday sermons
are—things like that.”
        “Okay Doctor, you can stop. I think you’ve proved you aren’t as witty as I thought!”




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 6
          “Let’s get some rest then, Pastor. The sun will be up soon and I think we have had enough for
one night.”
          Pastor Obride picked up the body of the infant in its icy-cold swaddling and placed it under the
wooden crucifix of Jesus that hung from the wall at the front of the church.
          “Father” said Pastor Obride as he knelt down before the Cross, “this is the body of a baby girl
who never had the chance to live, and may you guard her soul through the night and let it rest peacefully
in the kingdom of heaven.”


As the roof of the old church crackled and popped with the rising heat from the fire, Pastor Obride and
Doctor Greenberg soon succumbed to the dark abyss of sleep. A silence descended over the little group
that was so quiet as to make it seem as though time had stopped, and in the frozen stillness there came a
calmness that was almost magical. The moonlight cut through the falling snow and the prisms in the
stained glass window, projecting an image of Jesus and the surrounding angels on to the infant’s blanket.
And in that frigid silence, the small quiet cry of a child was heard. It was not the cry of a newborn child
taking its first breath or announcing itself to the world. No, it was a frightening scream like that of a soul
caught between light and darkness, and echoed off the very walls of existence. It was the resurrection of
a life.
          The Pastor and the Doctor opened their eyes at the same time, and wondered if they were still
dreaming. They sat up and listened to the strange cry as it started and then stopped. It was at that
moment they realized where the cries were coming from. Despite the warm fire, a profound chill began
to spread over the men. They continued to sit in the darkness, saying nothing; each trying not to believe
the enormity of what seemed to be happening. It could not be real.
          “What in God’s name is that?” the Doctor asked.
          “Quiet,” Pastor Obride whispered. “Do not move.”
          There was silence as the two men waited for another cry and thus assure themselves that they
had not gone crazy, but a few minutes went by and still the silence continued.
          “It was probably just a couple of farm cats fighting over a mouse outside the window,” proffered
the Pastor.
          “Oh yes I’m sure—like there’s mice running around in three feet of snow?”
          “We’re just tired Doctor, I’m sure that it was nothing.”
          The two men settled back down on the floor and, as the deep silence returned to envelop them,
closed their eyes fervently hoping the disturbance had been nothing more than a farm cat.
          Suddenly, there came a scream so loud and so frightening it could only be called unearthly. The
Pastor jumped up and rushed to the altar. He opened the small blanket containing the body of the baby.
His eyes widened and he quickly covered his mouth, muffling the words that came tumbling out.
          “Oh dear God, oh dear God . . . This is the act of God. Doctor come quickly—Look!”
          A beam of moonlight illuminated the small body as the two men stared down upon the child.
Her mouth opened up so wide to scream that her face wrinkled and her eyes closed tightly. Her hands
were curled up and her body was cold as the snow outside.
          “Get the fire going, Pastor—we must save her before her heart stops!”




                                    Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 7
        “I think her heart stopped a long time ago. This cannot be. I don’t understand.” Once again the
Pastor said, “This is God’s work, this is a miracle—a gift from the heavens.”
        “Pastor the fire has burnt out and there are no more candles to light it with. What are we going to
do?”
        “Well I thought you were an inventor, so invent something.”
        “The only thing I have here that I invented is my light on the horse.” But then, just as before,
they realized how dumb supposedly sophisticated men could be, and the Doctor lit the fire with his
lantern as the Pastor clutched the baby close to his body, determined to do everything he could to save
the child’s life.
        “We must get this child to the hospital immediately,” the Doctor said. “If she stops breathing
there will be nothing we can do.”
        The Pastor held the small, frail body as she cried and squirmed up against him. “Look outside
and see how the weather is. Maybe we can leave now.”
        The Doctor grabbed the cold brass handle of the church door and gave it a push, but it didn’t
even budge. Again he tried, pushing even harder, and then rammed the door with his shoulder but it only
moved a few inches. “It’s no use Pastor, we must be snowed in. I can barely move it—what are we
going to do?
        The only other way out is through the stained glass window, but that has been there for a
hundred years and cannot be opened.”
        “Well then we will have to break it and crawl out.”
        “Are you out of your mind Doctor? It would be a holy sin to break a stained glass window with
an image of Jesus on it. There is no way.”
        “Listen Pastor, there is no food here; we are running out of firewood, and we have a child who is
breathing its last breaths of life. If I have to climb up there and break that window with my bare hands
then I will. If we do not leave how will anyone find us here? We will be trapped and we will all die in
here. Is all that really worth one window?”
        “Wait a second Doctor, isn’t it Sunday today?”
        “Yes it’s Sunday—so what?”
        “Well Doctor, what happens in a church every Sunday?”
        “You’re right. Everybody will be here soon and they will dig us out!”
        “What time does your sermon begin on Sundays?”
        “Well, if you attended my sermon occasionally you wouldn’t have to ask, but if you want to
know—it starts at 7:30.”
        “What time is it?” the Doctor asked Pastor Obride.
        “I have no idea,” the Pastor replied.
        ”You mean to tell me that you do not keep a clock in the church?”
        “There is no need for keeping time in the house of the Lord. When you are here, there should be
nowhere else you should have to be.”
        “The sun should be up in about an hour and everyone will be showing up. What are we going to
do with her Doctor?”




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 8
          “Take off your jacket and lay it close to the fire. Wrap her up so she will at least stay warm.”
          The Pastor took the infant and wrapped her up in the jacket, leaving her tiny head poking out of
the little cocoon that he had made. For a moment she had stopped crying. “I think she is going to be
okay,” he said.
          “She is breathing well and although her heart rate is a bit slow it may simply be from the cold.
Pastor, I’ve been caring for the sick and helping mothers give birth to their children for over thirty-five
years and I have never seen anything as extraordinary as this. How can a child be dead for more than
three hours and then be somehow reborn again? It is not medically possible.”
          “Doctor, there are things in this world that man will never be able to understand nor comprehend.
God has a reason for all things and He has His reasons for life as much as death. Ask yourself this; what
makes the wind blow and the stars shine from the heavens? It is not science and it is not man. It is the
act of God for He is the creator of all things, whether it is the apple trees flowering in the spring or the
river filled with broken trees and its rapids raging with all the power of the earth in the summer. It is He
who is painting all of existence with a single brushstroke to create His masterpiece; the masterpiece we
call life. This child was brought back from the holy light of the heavens for a reason, a reason that we
will not know until she is old enough to show us.”
          “I know you are right Pastor, you always are. Let’s rest a little before everyone comes, I’m
feeling very weak.”
          The Pastor ran his thumb over the infant’s tiny head and said, “Little one, stay with us. You have
had quite a journey already. Try to sleep a little, and in a few hours we will take you to the hospital.”
          The embers in their fire were fading, and far away in the distance a pale dawn was beginning to
rise over the mountains as the two men pulled the blankets over their weary bodies and were instantly
asleep.


                                                 CHAPTER 2


Blue jays and sparrows were singing to each other, reminding the villagers that despite the cold air that
gave a chilly edge to the acrid smell of chimney smoke billowing from the roofs of their little houses,
life still existed and was bountiful. It was Sunday, the day of rest, and throughout the village the women
were putting on their finest clothes and feathered hats as the men shined their boots and brushed off their
overcoats in readiness for Pastor Obride’s weekly sermon. The villagers were very poor except for
Chester Branson, an oil tycoon who made most of his money from taxing the villagers for all store-
bought goods and clothing purchased in Whipper Wheel. Branson was hated with a passion because
every week he legally stole from the villagers. It was as though he burst into their stores and homes with
his entourage of faithful servants and simply took whatever he wanted. He was allowed to do this
because he was appointed by King Solomon to collect a certain amount money from them each week to
pay for what he called the ‘royalty fund’ that was supposed to pay for military materials and food for
soldiers. However, most of the money was spent by the King on jewels and extravagant parties. Chester
Branson had never attended any of Pastor Obride’s sermons. He would never show his face in any
church unless it was encrusted with gold and diamonds and served fine food and drinks.




                                    Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 9
        The church of Whipper Wheel was just fine for the villagers though, and around 7:00 a.m. they
made their journey down the snow covered roads to the church. The fat old wrinkled hand of Mrs.
Smoot banged on the church door, causing a pile of snow to dislodge from the steeply pitched roof and
fall over her.
        “It’s probably just God’s way of telling you to relax!” Mr. Kindle told her. He moved forward to
bang against the door with his old oak cane that had seen more miles than any horse in the village.
“Pastor?” he called in a thin, reedy voice. “Are you in there? What in the Jack Sam Hill is going on
around here?”
        “There’s nobody here,” Mrs. Smoot announced. “There’s two feet of snow up against the door so
let’s go. The Pastor probably had a little too much holy wine again and forgot what time it is.”
        Inside the church, the sunlight shafted through the window and traced its outline on the hard
wooden floor as the banging of Mr. Kindle’s cane against the door stirred the two sleeping men.
        “Wait!” yelled the Pastor, rubbing his sleepy eyes. “We’re coming—hold on!”
        “What is that old bird doing in there? He must have been in there all night. I tell you, this town
gets stranger every day!”
        “Quit your jabbering Mr. Kindle, and let’s start digging out the door so we can get inside!” Mrs.
Smoot said, and then looked down at Mr. Kindle and realized there was no way a hunchback; a sickly
old man could give the least bit of help. “Watch out Mr. Kindle, she added. “You know in my day the
men did the work but you’re as close to a man as anyone else so I guess it is okay.” As she furiously dug
the snow from the door Mrs. Smoot reminded herself to keep her trap shut on the thought that ran
through her mind—given that he was likely to have been born before Jesus, they probably didn’t have
church in his day.
        Inside the two men pushed up against the old door as Mrs. Smoot pulled with all her weight,
which was quite a bit. By this time a small crowd of villagers had begun to gather outside the church and
everyone was asking what was going on. Finally, the old church door broke open, sending Mrs. Smoot
hurtling to the ground. A small mountain of snow broke her fall and Mr. Kindle laughed with utter joy at
seeing the fat, old, loud-mouthed woman planted flat on her behind in a snowdrift.
        Pastor Obride and Doctor Greenberg stood in the doorway as the crowd stared in amazement at
their dirty, unkempt appearance.
        “What in the world happened to you Pastor? Forgive me for saying this, but you look terrible.
What were you doing in the church? You must have been in there all night.”
        “It’s a long story Mrs. Smoot, and I’ll explain everything later, but for now someone must help
the Doctor and I must bring a sick child back to the hospital for she is in bad condition.”
        “Child? What child? Where did you get a child?”
        “It is the daughter of Mary and John Dwells, she was born last night.”
        “Mr. Johansen the village carpenter and I were at the Dwells’ home last night and Anna was born
perfectly healthy.”
        “I know,” said the Pastor, but Anna has a twin sister who was born later in the night and she is
very sick—we must hurry before it is too late.”
        The moment everyone heard of a child they immediately rushed into the church expecting to see




                                   Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 10
a normal sized child with perhaps a case of the flu. They had no idea what was to come.
           “Now everybody, just hold on a moment,” said the Pastor, doing his best to hide the baby from
view. “She is very ill and we shouldn’t disturb her. Now, who wants to volunteer to help the Doctor take
the child to the hospital?”
           There was a moment of silence while everyone thought and then Mr. Kindle spoke out and said
he would take her but the Pastor told him that although it was a very wonderful gesture, he did not have
a horse sled, and that an old man could not be held responsible for a journey in such horrendous
weather.
           “I’ll do it,” offered Ma Johansen. “I have a great snow sled and my horses are some of the
strongest in the village. Give the child to me Doctor, and you can ride in the back and care for her as we
go.”
           “Thank you,” said the Pastor. “We will very much appreciate it.” Then, turning to the others, he
told them he was so sorry, but he would have no sermon for them that day as he and the Doctor had
spent most of the night lost out in the blizzard, and slept in the church because they could not go on any
further.
           Everyone in the crowded room looked at each other and then Mrs. Smoot asked why they were
out in a blizzard with a little baby, and that was the craziest thing she had ever heard. Pastor Obride
explained that he and the doctor were taking the baby to the hospital overnight so that she could have
been buried the next day.
           “Buried? What in God’s name are you talking about?” one of the villagers asked.
           “The child was born dead and somehow or another by an act of God she was reborn last night in
the church right over there,” the Pastor told them, pointing to the altar where the child had rested under
the crucifix.
           “That has to be the strangest and yet most amazing story that I have ever heard,” Mrs. Smoot
said. “Do the Dwells know of this?”
           “No,” said the Pastor. “If anyone here would like to volunteer to take the back road to the home
of the Dwells you would make them the happiest people in Whipper Wheel.”
           “I’ll do it!” Mr. Kindle volunteered again.
           “Mr. Kindle you are one of the kindest souls in this village, but again I could not ask you to do
that.”
           “I’d love to!” Mrs. Smoot said
           “Great. How about letting Mr. Kindle ride along with you in your buggy—I have a feeling he
would like to go along too.”
           Mr. Kindle and Mrs. Smoot glared at each other until Mrs. Kindle weakened and said, “Well, all
right—just as long as the old bird keeps his jabber box shut on the way,” which made everyone in the
church roar with laughter as they knew the two had been feuding for years. The story goes that
apparently Mr. Kindle used to be quite the swinger in his younger days and had dated Mars Smoots’
mother Irene. Unfortunately, Mr. Kindle was also dating Irene’s sister Doris until they found out after
Mr. Kindle had a few too many Green River whiskeys and went home to Doris late one night and
accidentally called her Irene. Even though all this had happened before half the present inhabitants of




                                    Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 11
Whipper Wheel were born, Mr.Kindle’s reputation still held true.
       “Pastor,” Mrs. Smoot said, “will there be a sermon today?”
        “I do not think so, I am sorry but I have nothing prepared and I am very tired.”
       “Now hold on a minute Pastor,” Mr. Johansen said, “I have been coming to your sermon every
Sunday for the past thirty years and you have never missed one. I’m sure that you have something for
us. I mean we did get all dressed up and all, and we know whatever you say will be great.”
       “Well I am not as young as I used to be Mr. Johansen, but I guess I can give it a shot.”
       While the villagers set out the chairs, the sounds of the timber floor creaking as people moved
about trying to get comfortable in the crowded room, Pastor Obride walked up to the altar. He stood at
the altar and faced them, his shirt dirty and wrinkled from dried snow, and his white hair matted and
messed on his head. He looked about the church and searched his mind for the words but found nothing.
Silence filled the church as everyone awaited his speech. With a sigh, he removed his glasses and then
took a deep breath.
       “What is life?”
       The Pastor paused for a moment before continuing, and the congregation hung from his words in
silence as they all thought for a moment. “Is it the birth of life? Is it love or is it God. What are we all
searching for in this place and what is it that we are trying to find? Last night Doctor Greenberg and I
were lost in a frozen blizzard—alone, cold and very afraid. It was as if all the light of heaven had gone
and we walked beside the shadow of death as he waited to prey on our weaknesses and destroy our
existence. It was in that moment that I wondered if God really existed.
        “I know you are asking yourself why someone like me who is a follower of all that is holy
would have such a doubt. I asked myself how could God let me die this way after all that I had done for
Him. Then I realized that God could only show us the path; it is up to us to follow it. It is a strength that
comes from within. It is the fire of God burning deep down in the soul. Somewhere in the darkness I
found Him. I did not see His face nor did I hear His words but I felt Him in my heart and down to the
very depths of my soul. From that moment on, I knew that we would survive. It was not the blood in my
veins or the beating of my heart that kept me alive. No—it was hope.
       “There will come a time in the lives of each of you when you are alone and there is nothing left
but the cold despair in your heart and a lonely ache in your soul. You will find that you are in that dark
place You will reach out to find someone or something to help you but no one will be there; no friends,
no lovers, no family—just you lost and all alone. My friends, He is there with you in that moment,
staring down from the heavens. He will carry you across that fiery hell and past the darkness of all that
is evil. Where there is darkness there will always be light.”
         Again Pastor Obride paused for a moment, and once again the crowd awaited his next words so
expectantly that not even a breath disturbed the air.
       “When you have nothing you realize all that you had. You realize how amazing life truly was
before you reached that dark place. We often forget who we are and all that we have. If we could only
see how beautiful life really is we would never have fear, and we would always feel truly alive. Each of
us must find that place within ourselves but unfortunately few of us do. When you find that place, you
have found God. Imagine my friends that somewhere at this very moment there is a blind man wishing




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 12
he could see through your eyes or a sick man wishing he could feel as well as you do; a rich man
wishing he could enjoy something that he cannot buy no matter how much he paid. All of these people
are wishing to be you. I am thankful to each of you for coming to Mass every Sunday, but the truth is if
you are looking for God it isn’t at church where you will necessarily find Him. He is in your every
breath; in the leaves and trees and in the meadows; He is in the sun and in the moon and His song is
beneath the breath of the birds. If you stop and look—and not just with your eyes, but with your hearts
and your very souls—you will find Him there. And if you look even closer, you will realize that He is all
the pieces that come together to make up you. Thank you and God bless your souls.”
       Even though the Pastor’s sermon was short, it touched everyone in the room because he spoke
straight from his heart. He spoke the truth and after everyone had left, it was said by some to have been
his greatest sermon.


The morning sun tried its best to shed a little warmth and light over the village, but the chill of winter
still lingered in the air. The axe of John Dwells came down upon the piece of oak in the front yard with
such force that it shattered the freshly cut piece of wood into kindling. He swung the axe with a
vengeance, his sadness and anger smashing every piece of wood he struck as he released all the pent-up
emotion of the horrible night before. He had cut almost enough firewood in an hour to last the entire
winter, but Mary did not dare to bother him. She knew it was his way of clearing his mind. She stared
out the foggy frozen window from the warmth of the kitchen as the eggs and bacon sizzled in an old iron
pan on the stove and watched as John pounded away at the firewood. Mr. Cat, as they called him,
rubbed up against Mary’s leg and cried out as he stood up and scratched at Mary’s dress. He could smell
the bacon and eggs frying in the pan. He was a fat orange and white cat with a crooked tail and walked
like a duck because he was so overweight. He had once been a homeless farm cat, but had been
discovered after the Christmas ham was stolen from the dining room table two years before. The Dwells
could not help but care for him for he was cutest fat cat anyone had ever seen and after a while he
demanded to sleep next to Mary’s head at night.
       “Well all right Mr. Cat; here you go,” Mary said as she threw a small piece of bacon on the floor
and watched as Mr. cat wolfed it down like he hadn’t eaten in weeks—and then had the nerve to stare
straight back up at Mary and beg for more.
       “Get down Mr. Cat!” Mary said. “If you keep eating like that, you’re going to end up looking
like Mrs. Smoot and we all know that would be a curse on any man or cat!”


About a mile away Mr. Kindle and Mrs. Smoot were making their way down the snow covered road to
the Dwells’ house to bring the good news.
       “I am freezing my butt off out here—it’s colder than hell.” Mr. Kindle said.
       “Quit your complaining—you’re lucky I even let you come along!”
       Mr. Kindle fumbled to get his glasses straight and accidentally dropped them down into the
powdery snow.
       “Ah cranky jibbers, I dropped my damn glasses in the snow. Stop the horses!”
       “You old fool—how are you going to find ‘em if you cannot even see them?”




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 13
        “Let me off. I’ll find them. Stop these horses!”
        Mrs. Smoot stopped the horses and Mr. Kindle slowly made it off the buggy. He walked through
the snow, and every so often stopped and ran his hands over the ground around him. Mrs. Smoot smiled
and then yelled. “Ha-ha-ha! Go horses, go!” The horses began to take off with Mrs. Smoot laughing
uproariously as she left old Mr. Kindle standing in the snow.
        “You fat old bag! Where the hell are you going? Oh my Christ! I knew I shouldn’t have gone
anywhere with that fatheaded old woman!”
        Little did he know, Mrs. Smoot was only joking with him and was back just in time to finish
laughing as Mr. Kindle stood waiting, arms folded and a scornful look on his face.
        “Are you crazy or something? I oughta throw you off into the snow and leave you here to be a
Christmas feast for the wolves on a cold day like this!”
        “Get in the buggy Mr. Kindle, I was only playing with you. I see that you have found your
glasses—why don’t you put them on?”
        “I’d rather not look at who I’m riding with!”
        Mrs. Smoot smiled as the horses drew them closer to the Dwells’ house.


Back at the Dwells, Mary sat at the kitchen table. She was tired and it showed on her face. Her eyes
were downcast, and there were dark circles beneath them from lack of sleep, but even in her tiredness,
she was still very beautiful. Some said she was the most beautiful woman in all of Whipper Wheel. Her
waist-length chestnut hair flowed down her back, shiny and well brushed. She was slender and her finely
featured face always drew attention with its pale soft skin, a perfect setting for eyes as clear and blue as
a summer sky. Mary always dressed in beautiful long gowns and did her best to keep herself looking
good.
        John had his fair share of run-ins with many men from the village who had tried their utmost to
steal her from him. Not that they could be blamed. There really wasn’t much to choose from in Whipper
Wheel—unless they took a liking to the large and—for a few cents—always available women at the
village pub.
        Mary looked across the table at the picture that she and John had taken years before at the annual
Whipper Wheel Fair, a much anticipated event that took place every year at the beginning of summer.
The picture was old and faded from sitting on the table in the sun for so long, but the memories were
still as clear as they day they first met. She smiled and looked out the window at John still pounding
away at the firewood, and remembered those days when they were young and in love. She thought to
herself that she was so beautiful then; so in love and so free. Now she felt old and thought she looked
like an old woman. She wished she could go back to those endless summer days when she was beautiful
and in love; when there were no school lunches to be made or dishes to be done or clothes to be
scrubbed. Oh, she thought, how time passes by so quickly. Mary rested her head on her arms on the
kitchen table and began to weep. She felt as though everything in the world had hit her at once. Her tears
fell on the old table as she wept. Why? She thought. Why did my little girl have to die? Why God? Why
did you take her from me?
        Suddenly, from down the hall that led from the living room to the kitchen the sound of a few




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 14
notes being played on the old upright piano could be heard. It was Jason, Mary’s first child, and
although he was only seven it was not evident from his piano playing. When his mother was asked how
the little one could play such fine music with no prior training she would tell how when he was just five,
Jason made his way down to the piano late one night when everyone had gone to sleep, crawled up on
the bench and just started playing—not just banging a few keys and playing around, but really playing
the piano.
          Somehow the music calmed Mary and she listened for a while as she finished breakfast. She set
three plates out on the table and went to the sink to wash off her hands. It took a while for the water to
be brought to the surface through the old rusted pipes that lead down into the well, and it had to be
pumped by hand for about thirty seconds before a drop would even fall. She heard a few voices outside
and then John’s.
          “Oh my God,” he screamed. “Are you serious? But how? I don’t understand.” He sounded as
though he was bursting with joy.
          “We are not sure how it happened either, John,” Mrs. Smoot said. “He wouldn’t tell us the
details but she is alive. Doctor Greenberg and Mr. Johansen took her to the hospital to care for her until
she gets better. We just came to bring the news to you and if you like, Mr. Kindle and I would be more
than happy to give you a ride to the hospital to see her.”
          “I’ll get my coat,” John said. He rushed into the house, the front door exploding open as he
entered. “Mary!” he screamed. “She’s alive, she is alive!”
          Mary looked confused. “She’s alive?”
          “Yes, Mr. Kindle and Mrs. Smoot are outside. They just brought the news. We must leave now.”
They hugged each other as the weight of all the pain and sadness was lifted from them, and the
heaviness of their despair evaporated.
          “John, I cannot leave Anna here alone. I have to care for her—she needs to be fed. Believe me,”
Mary said, pointing to her breasts, “If I could leave these here with her in the crib, I would. You go dear,
give her all of my love and kiss her for me.”
          The sound of the piano ceased and Jason rushed into the kitchen. “What’s happening? Father
why is everybody yelling and screaming?
          “Your little sister is alive, Jason, and your father is going to see her now. She’s with Doctor
Greenberg.”
          “Can I go Father?”
          “No. It is a long ride and she is very weak so it’s best not to disturb her.”
          Jason looked to his mother as if she might have a different opinion, but before he could speak his
mother told him, “No, you are to stay home today and practice your piano. You have to play for Mrs.
Smoots’ birthday party this weekend and we all know that it will be the only interesting part of the
evening.”
          “Come on mom, I don’t have to practice. Besides Mrs. Smoots smells weird. I don’t even want
to go.”
          “You will go if I say you will go. Now say goodbye to your father before Mr. Kindle and Mrs.
Smoot freeze out there!”




                                    Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 15
       “Goodbye father.”
       “Goodbye Jason. Take care of the fort for a couple hours. Try to keep out the pirates!”
       “Sure, father,” Jason said as he watched his father pull his leather coat over his broad shoulders
and kiss his mother goodbye.


                                                CHAPTER 3


The morning had passed and the village of Whipper Wheel was like a ghost town. The cold weather had
kept most of the villagers inside by their fires and around the dinner tables. Except for the blacksmiths
who were always busily repairing something that the weather had destroyed, and the village store that
sold the basic essentials like canned foods, meats and a few garments, the local stores didn’t see much
business in the cold winter season. Mrs. Debra Johansen, wife of the village carpenter, had been the
owner of the village store since her father had passed on and left it to her some years ago. It was a small
store, old and decrepit, in the heart of the village, but it was the only place for the villagers to buy food
and clothing.
       Debra was kneeling down in one of the store’s aisles sorting the canned vegetable display when
the front door burst open. She had a dreadful feeling that it was not a daily customer and remained
motionless for a moment. Sure enough, her feeling was right. It was Chester Branson accompanied by
his ever faithful group of ‘thieves’ as the villagers called them.
       “How’s business?” he asked.
       “Not so good Mr. Bransen, you know how it is in the winter— not many people have much
money to buy many goods.”
       Chester Bransen walked about the store looking around as if all that he saw was his. He was a
tall man, dressed in a finely tailored long black trench coat. He twirled the curled ends of his white
moustache and puffed on his short wooden pipe. His boots squeaked as he walked toward Mrs.
Johansen.
       “Well don’t you get prettier every day Debra,” he said, running his hand across her face as he
puffed out a cloud of smoke from his pipe.
       Debra did not answer. It was better to keep quiet. Mr. Bransen had been known to knock a
woman down just as fast as he would a man.
       “How’s Mr. Johansen doing?”
       “He’s fine.”
       “Well that’s good. Maybe one day one you will want to come to your senses and be with a real
man, a man with power, and money—someone who can show you the finer things in life.
       “I’m perfectly happy with my husband Mr. Bransen. Now, what is your business here?
       “Did you hear that boys? Chester asked as he turned to the other men. “She wants to know what
our business is here.”
       They all laughed for everyone knew why Chester was there.
       “I don’t have all the money for you this week, Chester. Things have been slow around here. I can
barely survive myself.”




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 16
       “Open the moneybox and we will see just how bad business really is!”
       “I don’t have the key. My husband took it this morning so I can’t open it for you.”
       “You know Debra; there are lots of things in this world that I hate. Like for instance, I don’t like
cheap beer,” Chester said as he picked up a bottle from the shelf, looked at it for a moment and then
threw it straight through the giant windowpane of the store’s front window, shattering it into fragments.
       “Oh my God, what have you done Chester? You’ve destroyed my window! How am I going to
replace it? We don’t have the money for it— you evil son of a bitch!”
       “You know what else I don’t like Debra? Trampy little liars like you!” Chester slapped Debra’s
face, his cold hand sending her reeling down on the glass-covered floor where she sat there crying, her
hands covering her face.
       “Now . . . I’m going to ask you one more time. Where is the key to the money box?”
       “It’s here! It is here. Take it you bastard. Take it!” Debra pulled the key from her pocket and
handed it to Chester.
       He walked over to the box and jammed the key inside and ripped the top open. “Well Mrs.
Johansen, it doesn’t look like business is doing too badly. I’ll tell you what; I’ll do you a favor. I won’t
come back for two weeks. I’ll just take all the money here and we will call it even. “
       “You can’t, that’s all the money we have. We’ll starve to death. Have you no soul inside you or
is your heart as cold as the winter moon.”
       “You’re a tough one Missus Johansen, and if you weren’t so pretty I’d have to give you another
smack across the face but I’ll spare you this time. Bransen and his entourage left, the glass crackling
beneath their boots, slamming the front door and leaving Debra with nothing but a broken window, an
empty money box, and a bruised face. They were off to every store and blacksmith shop in the village to
collect the weekly tax for the King . . .


Back at the Dwells the table was set with breakfast. Mary always made sure that meals were perfectly on
time. Eating at the Dwells’ house was more than just a meal, it was almost a religion as it was the only
part of the day the family could spend time together. John was a tree cutter for the local village mill and
left the house before anyone—including the sun—was up. Mary would wake up him at 5:00 a.m. every
morning to make sure he was well fed for his long day.
       John loved his job but he had a true passion in life; something that had become a personal
religion for him—fishing. He was so obsessed with it that he would regularly skip work just to cast a
few lines in the sparkling water holes of Broken Tree River. He was a great fisherman and, during the
spring through fall seasons, he would fish almost every evening, returning after the sun had sunk below
the horizon. His love of fishing began when he was a young child. His father, Donald Dwells, was said
to have been the greatest fisherman in the village, and the proof can still be seen hanging on the walls of
the local pub. There had been many nights when John had come home from work a little later than
usual, and when Mary would ask as to his whereabouts John would just say that he had to work late.
Unfortunately, the smell of fresh fish on his clothing was always a dead giveaway. Mary got her mind
used to it after a while. Coming home late from work and smelling like fish was far better than coming
home reeking of liquor or women.




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 17
         Although Mary did not have a regular job she worked just as hard as anyone else. Caring for the
house, washing, cooking, and feeding the chickens and other animals on the farm was a job in itself. She
sat at the table and nursed Anna as Jason wolfed down his eggs and bacon.
         With a mouth full of food, Jason mumbled, “Mother what name will you give my new little
sister?”
         “Jason, don’t talk with your mouth full. It’s not proper. Anyway, I had planned to name her
Anna but I guess we already have one of those so your father and I will have to figure it out.”
         “Can I name her?” Jason asked.
         “Honey, you’re seven years old. You can’t even clean your own room much less give someone a
name that will be with them forever.”
         “When you’re finished with your food, start practicing. Many important people are going to be
awaiting your performance at Mrs. Smoots’ this weekend.”
         “I told you mother.” Jason said as he dangled a string in front of Mr. Cat who was far too fat to
make any real effort to catch it. “I don’t want to play there. I do it every year and it’s always the same.
The piano is never tuned so whatever I play always sounds horrible!”
         “If you practice, someday you’ll play on a fine piano in front of a huge audience but until then
this is all you have. I am putting Anna to bed for a while so keep quiet, and then you can practice.”


The horses pulled the sled steadily down the snow covered road, a mile or so away from the Dwells
house, and were making good time on their way to the hospital. John sat next to Mr. Kindle who was
fumbling around in his pocket looking for a match to light the old corncob pipe that hung from his
mouth.
         “You know,” John said, “it’s really not that cold.”
         “You wanna talk about cold? I could tell you a few stories of my own. When I was just a boy we
had a winter so bad that everybody in the village died but me, my mother—and, uh . . . that damn
blacksmith—what was his name?” Mr. Kindle searched his mind for the name as he puffed on the pipe
but couldn’t seem to put his finger on it. “Ah hell I can’t think of it. Anyway, everybody froze to death.
My father talked about that winter for years!”
         “Fascinating story,” Mrs. Smoot said. “But I thought you said the only one in your family who
survived was your mother?”
         “Well my father wasn’t there that winter.”
         “And where exactly did your father mysteriously disappear to?
         “He was on an island in the Pacific, um . . . fishing for trout!”
         “Mr. Kindle,” John began, “trout don’t live in the ocean; they are indigenous to lakes and
streams.”
         “Ah hell, it was a long time ago. I think trout lived in the ocean back then—I can’t remember
everything ya know!” he said indignantly as Mrs. Smoot and John chuckled to themselves.
         They soon began to make their way down Laurel Street, which was the main road that led
through the heart of the town. They passed by the familiar businesses—the pub, and Walter Ship’s Meat
Shop, but when they came to Mrs. Johansen’s Market and saw that the front window was broken, they




                                   Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 18
knew that something was terribly wrong. A crowd of bystanders had gathered outside the shop and were
questioning each other about what had happened.
        “My God what has happened here?” John asked one of the villagers.
        “It was that damn Chester Bransen again— supposedly he broke a lot more than the window!”
        “What do you mean?”
        “Well Mrs. Johansen’s got a pretty big bruise across the side of her face and last I heard, her
husband was loading up his fox rifle to put an end to Mr. Bransen. He’s crazy—the King will have him
killed, but I don’t think he cares. He’s pretty upset.”
        With a look of disgust on his face, John climbed back up into the sled. “Hell, if Chester ever did
anything like that to Mary, I’d kill him too!”
        “That son of a bitch,” Mr. Kindle said. “If I was around when he did that I lay him down faster
than a chicken coon!”
        “Sure you would Mr. Kindle, sure you would,” Mrs. Smoot agreed.


Anna lay sound asleep in the little wooden crib. The aroma of sausages and eggs still lingered in the
smoke from the fire that blazed in the living room fireplace.
        “Jason,” Mary said in a soft whisper, trying not to wake Anna.
        “What is it mother?”
        “Look here out the window; it seems as though Mr. Cat has made a new friend.”
        Outside the window Mr. Cat and a neighboring farm cat stared each other down and when they
realized that neither was a threat to the other, they rubbed their faces together.
        “They are in love,” Mary said.
        “Love?” Jason repeated the word, his face full of confusion.
        “Yes, love. It’s like . . . well; there are lots of different kinds of love. For instance, you love to
play the piano right?”
        “Well yes, of course mother”
        “Okay, well there’s also another kind of love, the kind of love felt by two people or I guess in
this example, two animals. We may not understand the secret language that is in their gestures and it is
far more complex than we know, but it is love. It’s when you feel so strongly and so deeply for someone
you can feel it in every part of your existence. It’s something that is felt inside as well as out. It’s a
beautiful thing. One day when you are older you’ll find someone and fall in love and you’ll know when
it happens.”
        “Well I wanna fall in love right now mommy.”
        “Honey, love takes time. It’s not something that just happens when you’re seven.”
        “Well if I come home from school tomorrow and I’m in love you will have to believe me.”
        “All right Jason, that’s enough talk about love. I’m going to wake Anna and feed her so go into
the living room and start your practice,” Mary told Jason, giving him a little kiss on his head and
sending him on his way.


Meanwhile, Mrs. Smoots’ horses were pulling closer to the hospital where the baby was being cared for.




                                   Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 19
        “Are we there yet” said Mr. Kindle?”
        “Well maybe if you made an occasional visit to see Doctor Greenberg you might know,” Mrs.
Smoot observed sharply.
        “Oh bull droppings; hospitals are for babies and weak folk. My father lived to be a hundred years
old and never once went to a hospital.”
        “Oh yes, that’s right; your father the trout fisherman who lived on the island . . .”
        The horses rounded the corner and through its white blanket of snow the hospital could be seen.
        “There it is boys.”
        “That’s the hospital?” Mr. Kindle said. “It looks like some rickety old house!”
        He was right. It wasn’t much of a hospital—in fact it was Doctor Greenberg’s house, and the
living room had been converted into a doctor’s office. They pulled the sled up to the house and Mrs.
Smoot tethered the horses, and the trio then made their way up the stairs that lead to the front door. Mrs.
Smoot turned around and found John staring at the steps. “What is it John?”
        “Well it’s nothing really; it’s just that I can’t understand why these steps are not covered in ice or
snow when everything else around here is completely buried.”
        “Oh yes—that’s one of Doctor Greenberg’s silly contraptions. He somehow has hot water pipes
running underneath the steps so I guess they melt the ice before it can form.”
        John shook his head in puzzlement but followed Mrs. Smoot up the stairs as she proceeded to
knock on the door. Within seconds Doctor Greenberg was there to greet them.
        “I’m so happy to see you. I have been awaiting your arrival—come in, come in! Well here it is,”
he said, shutting the door behind them as the three arrivals looked about the room, wide eyed as children
in a toyshop—and well it might have been for it was not your regular doctor’s office, but more like the
laboratory of a mad scientist. There were tubes of strange liquids, some of which had steam billowing
from them, and all sorts of unlikely contraptions with parts and pieces of things scattered all over the
room.
        “Well Doctor, this is quite a place you have here. What exactly are all of these things?”
        “Well there are inventions of course For instance, you see this here?” The Doctor picked up a
banana-shaped piece of wood with wires hanging out from the bottom. “You see this? I call it the Talk
Box. What you do is talk in to this little hole here, and someone on the other end can talk back to you—
no matter how far away they are.” What the Doctor had in his hands was the first telephone in existence.
        Mr. Kindle, John, and Mrs. Smoot all looked at each other for a moment and then began to
laugh. “I’m sorry Doctor but I don’t think that one will ever work, Mrs. Smoots said. “Anyway Doctor,
how is the child?”
        “Well I have been caring for her all day and she refuses to eat anything, but she seems to be
doing better. She fell asleep an hour ago and it’s best if she rests.”
        “Doctor . . . May I see her?” John asked.
        “Of course, but you must be very quiet. We need not wake her.”
        John followed Doctor Greenberg up the old creaky stairs and down the hallway into the room
where the baby was sleeping. He walked over to the crib and stared down at his daughter in silence.
Although his face was calm, inside his emotions felt twisted and torn with sadness because she was so




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 20
frail, and so weak. But there was also joy because there was still a chance that she would live. They
made their way out of the room and retraced their steps back to the living room.
       “I know that she doesn’t look well John, but give it some time.”
       “She’s beautiful,” John said.
       “Well she is very sick right now—”
       But John interrupted and said again, “she’s beautiful.”
       “You are right John, she is beautiful and I’m sure that she will grow to be a fine young lady.”
       John shook the doctor’s hand with great gratitude. “Doctor Greenberg I can’t tell you how much
I appreciate what you have done for my family.”
       “It’s the least I can do John. I’m sure you know that she cannot leave today; she needs the care
and medicine of a doctor, but I assure you she will be home soon.”
       “Thank you Doctor,” John said as they began to take their leave from his hospital.


Daylight was fading and the pale orange sun began to slowly sink behind the mountains. In the village
warm fires burned in the stoves and the pleasant aroma of dinner filled the villagers’ kitchens. Jason sat
in the living room in front of the old upright piano playing away as Mary fed Anna in the back room.
Despite the coldness of winter that lurked just behind the kitchen door, the setting sun gave the frozen
village a feeling of warmth and calmness. The horse plows had been pulling all day trying to clear the
piles of snow that had fallen the previous night. No matter how horrendous the weather, life went on.
       Around nightfall Mrs. Smoots’ horses finally arrived at the house. John said his thanks and
goodbyes, and walked down the snowy path into the warmth of his home. Because the sound of Jason
playing the piano filled the house, John’s arrival went unnoticed. He walked down the hallway and stood
in the doorway of the living room, listening to Jason play. He stayed there for a while, just watching his
son, and feeling very proud.
       “Hello Jason.”
       “Oh hi papa, how was the trip?”
       “It was great! Say, did you see any pirates around the house while I was gone?”
       “Yes papa, there was a whole ship full but I fought them off!”
       “Thanks for holding the ship while I was gone—where is your mother?”
       “Oh she’s in the back with Anna.”
       John made his way down the hall into the back room and found Mary sound asleep on the bed
with little Anna peacefully sleeping in her arms. A smile spread over John’s face as the two rested there
looking ever so content and serene. John crept into the room. In the dimness of the candlelight from the
nightstand he leaned down and kissed Mary on the cheek.
       Mary slowly opened her eyes and smiled at her husband before whispering, “John—you’re
home! I’m sorry, Anna and I fell asleep. What time is it?”
       “It’s about eight or eight thirty. I’ve just returned from the hospital.”
       Doing her best not to disturb the baby, Mary carefully put Anna down on the bed.
       “So how is she? Did she look all right?”
       “Well she looked a little better but she’s still not good. Doctor Greenberg said that she still hasn’t




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 21
eaten anything, but you know doc—he can fix just about anything. You should have seen the place—it
was like some kind of crazy laboratory filled with all kinds of, well . . . things is all I can really say.”
        “Did he say when she can come home?”
        “Maybe in a few days or so, he wasn’t sure.”
        “John, there’s something I don’t understand, you saw her last night and I hate to say this, but she
was dead. How did she miraculously come back to life?”
        “On the way back Mrs. Smoot told us that she went to the service today and found the Doctor
and the Pastor inside the church, snowed-in. I guess they stayed there last night because of the weather
and she just—well, she came alive in the middle of night. Mr. Kindle said it’s an act of act of God,
some kind of miracle.
        “I guess there are some things in life that need not be questioned,” Mary said. “Listen, I made
supper an hour ago. It’s still on the stove if you are hungry. Jason and I waited for you to come home.
        “I’m starving! Let’s eat.”
        “Jason!” Mary yelled down the hall, “It’s time to eat.”
        By the time they had finished dinner the moon was up and blanketing the landscape in a heavy
glow. Mary had set to clearing the table when she suddenly stopped and said, “John . . .”
        “Yes dear . . .”
        “What are we going to name her?”
        “You’re right. I haven’t really thought about it—I’m sure something will come to mind soon.”
        Turning to Jason, Mary told him it was time for bed.
        “But mom I can’t go to sleep yet; the Whipper Wheel hasn’t started singing.”
        It was a tradition at the Dwells and many other homes in the village that when the call of the
Whipper Wheel was heard, just after nightfall, they stopped and listened for it told of the end of the day
and a time for rest. Wherever they were or whatever they were doing, the villagers would always listen
to the sound of its beautiful and magical call mimicking its own name with a plaintive cry—a lonely lost
soul departed from its love.


                                                CHAPTER 4


John and Mary were worried. A few days had passed and still there was no word from Doctor Greenberg
about the baby’s health. It was late afternoon at the Dwells house; John was far off in the woods at work,
Jason was at school, and Mary sat in the living room rocking back and forth in the old wicker rocking
chair. Anna had fallen asleep in her arms and Mary stared out the window into the frozen, snow covered
yard. There was a swing that hung from the oak tree, and in the long hot summer days Jason and his
friends could be found there playing. These thoughts ran through Mary’s mind along with her worries
about her little daughter’s health. Yet again, Mary found herself wondering why the little one had come
back to life, and how.
        Mary quietly carried Anna to the back room and sat her down in the crib. She moved about the
house trying to figure out what needed to be done. Although the chores seemed never ending at times,
on this day she was far too tired to do any more. She had been unable to sleep, the constant worry over




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 22
the new baby was keeping her up almost every night and, along with the constant care of Anna, she was
completely drained of any spare energy to scrub counters or wash dishes. Instead, she paced about the
house as she waited for John to come home.
          Above the fireplace in the living room, there was a wooden shelf that held family pictures and a
few odds and ends. There was nothing of any real material value for the Dwells were a poor family, but
Mary did her best to try to make things around the house look good. Above the shelf hung a painting
that had been given to Mary when she was a child by her mother Barbara. It was something that Mary
had cherished and kept with her all her life. It depicted a very dark and cold forest in winter. In the
middle of the forest was a small girl kneeling in the snow. In front of her was a solitary flower growing
up from the frozen and otherwise lifeless ground. To Mary the picture had always symbolized hope, and
reminded her that even in the darkest of places it is there to be found. She stared at the picture and even
though she knew every line and feature from looking at it all her life, it still evoked the same feeling of
strength within her. No one was really sure who the artist was, and Mary had always suspected that her
mother had done it, but as her mother was never very pleased with her own work, instead of claiming it
as her own she said nothing. In the bottom right hand corner of the picture the name of the artist was
painted in very small red lettering. There was no last name, only the name Sara. In that instant Mary
knew the name to be given to her child.
          Later, as the sun began to set, Mary stood over the stove preparing dinner while Jason sat at the
table reading a crumpled up note.
          “Jason, what is that you are reading?”
          “Oh nothing, just a letter.”
          “A letter? A letter from whom?”
          “Just some girl at school who’s in love with me, but I mean really how could she resist. It’s not
easy when you are really good looking.”
          “Jason maybe you have forgotten Pastor Obride’s sermons. I do recall him saying one mustn’t
dwell upon themselves or what they have, for in time they will end up with nothing.
          “Yes, I know but that’s not what good looking people say. Anyway, she is madly in love with
me, even more than she is with Tommy Branson and he’s the richest kid in school.”
          “Jason the only reason he’s the richest kid in school is because his father Chester is a low life
thief who steals from all of us. Don’t mention him or any other member of his family ever again, and
don’t you ever dare to run around with that Tommy—he’s no good, just like his father!”
          “Where’s papa? I miss him I hate it when he has to work.”
          “I don’t know. He is rather late. I’m beginning to worry about him.”
          “Can we start eating without him?”
          “Jason, you know that we never eat until your father comes home—I don’t care how long it
takes.”
          “I know mom but I didn’t eat lunch today.”
          “I made you lunch to take to school. What happened to it?”
          “I’d rather not say,”
          “What happened to your lunch?”




                                    Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 23
        “Alright, fine. I’ll tell you. Tommy took it. He said he’d beat me up if I didn’t give it to him.”
        “If I was you I would have taken the beating. That lunch took me quite a long time to make. I
will not let this happen again. I’m going to your school tomorrow and will have a talk with Mrs.
Herman.”
        “No mom you can’t! Tommy will find out and then he’ll really pound me—just stay out of it.”
        Jason ran out of the room and slammed his bedroom door, his mother’s words ringing in his ears.
        “Fine—then you will have to learn how to stand up for yourself!”
        An hour had passed and the cold food still sat untouched upon the stove. Meanwhile, Mary had
begun to be seriously worried about John’s whereabouts. She paced the house, becoming more and more
agitated as the night wore on. Around 9:30 she heard someone banging their boots outside the door. It
was John, kicking the snow off, but he was not alone. He opened the front door and before he could take
his coat off Mary had rushed into the room.
        “John! Where in God’s name have you been—” But before she could finish her question Mary
realized John was carrying something in his arms; something that looked like a bundle of blankets.
        He smiled at Mary, “It seems as though we have an unexpected visitor tonight . . . “
        Mary’s eyes widened in wonderment and then she too smiled. She knew what was wrapped in
the blankets even before John opened their folds to reveal the tiny body of their second daughter.
        “Oh my Lord, John! How did you get her?”
        “I was working out of town, about twenty miles away, cutting spruce in Basel. I passed the
Doctor’s house on my way back to check in and see how the little one was doing and, as it turned out,
Doctor Greenberg was just about to bring her home to us. I guess she’s feeling much better judging by
all the little noises she’s been making since I got her.”
        “Let me see her,” Mary said softly as she took the infant into her arms and held her close to her
body.
        “Well hi there little one, you’ve had quite the journey haven’t you?” Mary brought the child into
the light and for the first time was able to see her in plain view. Even though she was doing better, her
appearance was still disturbing.
        “She’s not perfect Mary,” John said, “but it’s just something we will have to learn to live with.
Meantime, we should let her rest—she is very tired.”
        “Well I wasn’t planning on having two babies. I don’t know where she’ll sleep; we only have the
one crib and we couldn’t possibly afford another one. I guess she will have to sleep with Anna tonight
until we figure something out.”
        Mr. Cat rubbed up against Mary and made a few meows as he climbed on to her leg trying to see
the new arrival.
        “Hello Mr. Cat. This is the new baby. You had better get used to her for she’s going to be in the
house for a while.” The truth was that Mr. Cat was really only trying to get their attention so he could
get something in his food bowl—his recent diet had been making him a little cranky.
        Mary carried the baby into the back room and settled her down next to Anna who was lying
wide-awake in the crib. The very instant her sister was placed beside her, Anna began to scream and cry,
apparently none too pleased with the fact that someone else would be sleeping in her bed. “Honey, don’t




                                   Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 24
cry. This is your sister Sara. You know her; you have lived together for nine months now.”
        “Sara?”
        “I’ve decided that we should name her Sara after the artist who painted the picture my mother
gave me.”
        “Were you going to tell me that you recently named our child without me knowing?”
        “Well I have to refer to her as something. If you don’t like it then we’ll find another name but
until then she is Sara.”
        Many years before John met Mary he had fallen madly in love with a girl named Sara. He
proposed to her when he was nineteen years old and she accepted. He was so madly in love he spent
almost every waking moment of his life with her, followed by nights of dreaming about her. Late one
summer’s evening, while her family was on vacation, John went over to her house to see Sara. He
knocked on the door but there was no answer so he made his way up the staircase and found Sara on her
bed. When he tried to wake her she would not move. She had mysteriously died in her sleep. When he
realized she was no longer alive, he lay next to her in the bed and held her body as he wept for his loss.
Every day of his life since then he had been filled with sadness over the loss of his love. Every Sunday
he would take the horse to the Whipper Wheel cemetery to leave her flowers, and he had done so for the
past twenty-three years.


At the Johansen’s house the candles continued to burn long into the bitterly cold night. An enraged
Calvin paced about the old house, and although close to two miles away from the town, his furious yells
could be heard in the village.
        “That son of a bitch, I’m gonna kill him. I swear Debra, I’m gonna put a bullet straight through
his lifeless cold heart.”
        Debra lay in bed holding a cold rag against the side of her face where Chester Bransen had
slapped her. “They’ll kill you. Just let it be, there’s nothing any of us can do about it,” she said wearily.
        “You know what—that’s the problem around here. Nobody in this town does a damn thing about
what he does to us. He comes into our stores and our homes and steals what we have worked so hard for,
and I will not put up with it anymore. You know what I’m going to do Debra? I’m going to kill him
right now. I’m going to find him and I’m going to kill him!” The sweat dripped off his faced as he went
down the stairs into the cellar where he kept his hunting rifles.
        Debra screamed at him from the top of the stairs, “Calvin stop! They are going to kill you!”
        “Then let me kill him—I’ll be doing this town a favor.”
         When he went off, trudging through the snow to make his way to the barn where he kept the
horses, Debra knew that he was serious and capable of killing Chester. She ran through the snow after
him, crying and screaming, “Don’t go! I love you—you are all I have!”
        Calvin walked the horses out of the barn, pulling the sled that he had made five winters before.
He went to Debra and told her, “I love you more than anything in this life and I love our village. I will
not let some evil cold-hearted thief steal all that we’ve worked so hard for. He kissed her goodbye, and
though it was just a goodbye kiss it seemed to Debra that it was almost a farewell. He climbed on top of
the sled and yelled “Ha!” As Debra knelt sobbing in the snow, her husband, his horses and sled




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 25
disappeared down the road into the blackness of the frigid night.




The thumbnail-shaped moon lingered high in the clear night sky and all was still and silent. The
mountains stood like giant sentinels, older than time itself, as the wind danced sinuously between them.
The Dwells were sound asleep—even Anna had finally cried herself to exhaustion—when a furious
banging at the front door roused them from their rest. John and Mary sat up in their bed, apprehensive
and wondering who could possibly be calling at such a late hour. Mary put a robe on over her nightgown
and silently made her way into the living room where, careful not to be seen, she peeked out the
window. She could discern a figure standing there, but it was far too dark to make out exactly who it
was.
       “Who’s there?” Mary asked in a tentative tone.
       A very low, sad voice said, “Mary, please help me. Please open the door. It’s Debra—something
horrible is going to happen!”
       Looking around and noticing there was no horse, Mary quickly let the shivering, blanket-
wrapped Debra inside and closed the door.
       “How on earth did you get here? There’s no horse.
        “I walked.”
       “You walked? That’s nearly four miles from here! Are you crazy? You could have died.
       “I know, but you have to help me. Calvin left with the horses. He’s gone mad. He’s out to kill
Chester Bransen.”
       Suddenly Anna started screaming from down the hall and, almost in unison, Sara began to cry.
Everyone, including Jason, had been awakened by the commotion. John walked into the room and Debra
turned to him.
       “John, John—you have to help, he’s crazy, he’s going to be killed. Help me please!”
       “Who’s going to be killed?”
       “Calvin, he’s on his way to find Chester—he left three hours ago. You have to find him before
he gets killed.”
       “Chester lives in Eagle River—that’s near twenty miles from here!
       “I know John, but please, he’s all I have. I cannot lose him. You must help us—just think of all
that he’s done for you.”
       “Okay. Mary, make me something for the journey. Debra, take our bed try to get some rest,
everything will be fine.”
        Mary went to the kitchen and cut up some leftover ham from their dinner while John rushed out
to the barn and got the horses ready. He struggled to pull the reins over their necks; it was cold and very
dark in the barn and his heart was racing, but in a short space of time everything was ready. With Debra
hovering in the background, Mary stood at the doorway of the house, Jason next to her, as John gave
them both a hug.
       “Wait, I forgot something” he said, rushing through the kitchen into the back den. Mary had a
bad feeling about what he was going to get and sure enough, she was right. John held his rabbit-hunting




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 26
rifle in his hands.
        “And what are you going to do with that?” she asked.
        “It’s only in case of emergency Mary, I promise I won’t even take it out.”
        “John, please hurry. You must leave at once,” Debra said nervously. “Please save him, my God
please save him.” She wrapped her arms around John and cried into his chest.
        “Debra, don’t worry. I will bring him back safely and we can all forget this ever happened.”
        As the sled moved down the icy forest road, even the horses seemed to disappear in front of
John’s eyes although he could hear their grunts as they strained to pull the sled in the icy conditions.
The night was so black that John prayed they would make the twenty miles that lay ahead. The severe
weather conditions would be grueling. The wind had stopped blowing, and all was silent except for the
exhalations of the horses as they sped past the skeletal trees with their ghostly branches a reminder of
what once was. John reached into the bag of food that Mary had made for him, and chewed on the ham,
hoping that he could find his way in the blackness of the void into which he was plunging.


The tired, ice covered horses drawing Calvin Johansen’s sled pulled within a few feet of the giant iron
gates and the drive that led to Chester’s estate. There, at the top of the hill, stood his immense mansion.
It seemed a palace; a residence for some great king, not a single man. It stood five stories tall and like a
great ship it towered over everything that surrounded it, even the great oak trees that encircled it were
dwarfed by its shadow.
        Calvin tied the horses to the iron bars and stared up at the house. In a quiet whisper, he said to
himself, “You evil lying fool, you paid for this with all your damn stolen money, the money we slaved
for, the money we could have fed our children with. This will be the last night that you ever sleep in
your castle my friend.” He pulled the rifle from the sled and began to climb the fence. Off in the distance
the call of a crow echoed through the forests, an omen that some would say foretold death. Like a
hungry animal about to feast on his long-awaited prey, Calvin walked slowly and quietly through the
front courtyard. His heart was filled with a burning vengeance fed by the anger that fueled it. He forgot
about his love, even about his life, and could only focus on one thing—the death of Chester Bransen. It
was quiet, only the crunch of his slow footfalls in the snow could be heard. He came within feet of the
huge front door, which stood at least ten feet tall, and paused. Suddenly he heard what sounded like
chains being pulled across concrete.
        Calvin realized he was not alone in the yard. A black figure stood in front of him, shorter than an
average sized man, but very broad. It moved slowly toward him and then stopped. His heart raced. What
could this be? A low gurgling growl came from the creature, an evil sound like that of an angry beast.
Then suddenly another figure appeared, about the same size. They were not ordinary farm dogs, but
Chester’s giant German shepherd guard dogs, beasts that had been bred and trained to kill, and that was
exactly what they had in mind for Calvin.
        “Okay boys, let’s not get too excited. I wouldn’t want to have to fire this here gun at you—now
just turn around and walk away.”
        But his words only made them more enraged. They surrounded him. Calvin pointed his rifle and
pulled the trigger. In an explosion of fire the gunpowder shot through the darkness. The lead bullet




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 27
lodged itself in the beast and it fell to the ground. The other dog jumped up behind him and with its
razor-sharp teeth began to rip furiously at his neck, tearing the skin. Calvin quickly began to bleed, but
he wrestled and struggled with the beast, now poised with mouth wide open, gums exposed—ready to
bite into him like a crazed wild animal. Calvin lodged the gun between him and the chest of the dog and
fired. The power of the shot at such close range sent the dog hurtling backwards up into the air and then
crashing down into the snow.
          In shock, Calvin stood frozen, blood still dripping from the wound in his neck and down his
back, but he did not feel any pain. The encounter only served to infuriate him more. He walked past the
dead beasts, through the snow and towards the front entrance while Chester stared out of his bedroom
window, watching his visitor make his way to the front door.
          “Whoever that is, he is going to die,” Chester said, before moving swiftly across the room to
unlock the gun cabinet. The weapons were not the ordinary hunting rifles of farmers; they were weapons
used for military purposes, and all of them had been given to Chester by the King. Chester grabbed one
of the guns from the case and began to load it with an arsenal of bullets, which were almost four inches
in length. The gun Chester chose for the death of his unwelcome visitor was known as the ‘elephant
gun’ and it had been given the name by the Bushmen of the African Kalahari Desert region because it
was just that—a gun so powerful that it had been used for hunting elephants.
          Calvin turned the front door knob but it had been locked from the inside. He quickly reloaded his
rifle, pointed straight at the handle and fired once. The door still wouldn’t open—the iron deadbolt
securing the entrance was still intact. “I know you are in there you heartless old bastard—show
yourself!” Calvin yelled. There was no reply so he made his way to the back of the house, the branches
tearing at his clothing as he fought through the trees and thick shrubbery. At the back of the house was a
door that led through to the kitchen. Unknowingly Chester had forgotten to lock it the night before.
“Aha!” Calvin said as the door creaked open. “Your time has come my friend!”
          The house was immense and very dark as Calvin ran down hallways banging into walls, and
knocking over furniture. Absolutely berserk, he would stop at nothing until Chester had taken his last
breath.
          Chester was also completely enraged—not so much because there was an intruder in his home—
but because his dogs Lance and Zeus had been killed. He had raised them since they were pups and they
even ate with him at dinner as though they were family. He positioned himself beside his bedroom door
and waited for the intruder.
          Behind one of the doorways in the hall a small line of light was visible. Calvin knew this must be
where Chester was hiding. Kicking open the door, he pointed his rifle—his finger squeezing the trigger
so tightly it almost went off, but just as well it did not because the only thing in the room was a toilet
and a dripping sink. Calvin continued down the hallway and wound up in an enormous room although
he could not make out what was in it. It was far too dark for him to see anything so he lit the lantern that
he had been carrying with him. What he saw was quite unbelievable. The light from the lantern flickered
against the walls and Calvin could see standing before him nearly a hundred dead stuffed animals.
There were great lions, buffalo, deer, and some creatures that he had never seen before in his life.
Chester had hunted throughout the world for the animals and by the looks of it, he was a master hunter.




                                   Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 28
It was a strange place to be in and it chilled Calvin down to his very bones. He immediately rushed out
of the room and slammed the door behind him. Down another hallway, he entered another huge room
illuminated by the light of the moon shining through the giant window at the front of the house. An
immense stairway, perhaps ten feet in length, led straight up.
        At the top of the staircase, Chester leaned up against the door listening, his hands clutching the
giant rifle. He had placed seven bullets in his front pocket in case he had to reload. One of the bullets
dropped from his pocket and hit the hardwood floor, the sound echoing down the stairs and confirming
Chester’s hiding place for Calvin who quietly climbed the stairs, doing his best to prevent the
floorboards from creaking. A small opening with bars on it had been built into Chester’s bedroom door
so that he could see anyone who knocked. He slowly opened the door and pointed the long steel barrel
of his gun down the stairs in the direction of the approaching intruder. He waited for a moment and then
pulled the trigger. The sound of the gun was so loud it was as if a bomb had gone off inside a cave. The
bullet ripped a hole in the stairs nearly three feet wide right next to where Calvin stood.
        Calvin quickly fired back but the bullet ricocheted off the wall. His gun could only fire a
maximum of two bullets so he had to reload. Chester quickly fired another round from the doorway that
ripped the handrail next to Calvin in half. He fired back at Chester and hit the door. There was silence
for a moment, and he wondered if Chester had been hit.
        “Who the hell are you?” screamed Chester from behind the door.
        “Maybe my wife Debra will ring a bell, you know the one you robbed and smacked the other
day.”
        “She deserved a lot more than that!”
        “You son of a bitch!” Calvin rushed up the stairs, oblivious to the consequences. He banged his
bloody knuckles furiously against the door, and demanded that Chester show himself. “Fight like a man
you coward. Let’s settle this face to face or are you too scared now that your goons aren’t around to save
you?”
        “Listen here Johansen, the gun I’m holding in my hands is pointed straight at the door and you.
It has enough power to put a hole the size of a prize pumpkin in ten inches of steel. The way I look at it,
you have two choices; you can turn around and walk away or I’ll put a hole in you so big that not even
your wife will be able to identify you. Okay—you want to settle this like men? Step aside, I’m coming
out.”
        The door slowly opened and Chester revealed himself. Calvin stood in front of him, blood
covering his neck and staining his clothing right through to his overcoat. “You want a real man’s fight
Calvin? Let’s do it without the guns. On the count of three you drop your gun and I’ll drop mine.”
        “Oh sure—you think I’m that stupid! The second I drop my rifle you’ll blow a hole straight
through me.”
        “Okay, fine. Here—”
        Chester threw his rifle down between them. Calvin then did the same. Both men stood for a
moment just staring at each other. In that instant Calvin knew he would never make it out of that place
alive. He had already lost enough blood to kill just about any other man. Without warning, the chance to
begin a fair fight had been sabotaged. Chester reached behind his back and pulled out the pistol he had




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 29
hidden at the waistband of his pants and fired. The bullet pierced Calvin’s already cold body and cut like
a knife straight through his heart. He slowly fell to his knees and then on to his back as the flow of blood
to his brain stopped.
       “One day you will get what is coming to you, you evil heartless—” but before he could finish, he
collapsed. Calvin Johansen had taken his final breath.
       There was a moment of tranquility outside the walls of Chester Bransen’s mansion. In the
distance, the pale light of dawn was rising above the mountains, a reminder of the continuity of nature
and the way that life just continues on its cycle; unaffected by men or beasts—without remorse, without
memory.


John Dwells could barely see the path in front of him for the glare of the bright sunlight on the snow. He
was tired and cold, and worried. He had a bad feeling about the whole ordeal. His exhausted horses
rounded the bend that led up the hill to Chester’s mansion. He could see Calvin’s horses tethered to the
huge iron gates—not a good sign at all. John figured that Calvin would have arrived at least four hours
earlier, and was pretty sure that Chester hadn’t invited him to a morning breakfast and some pleasant
chit chat. He peered through the iron bars of the gate and wondered how Calvin would have gotten
through to the house. In the snow, he could make out a trail of blood that led to the front door. For a
moment his heart almost stopped and a very strange feeling came over him.
       “Calvin! Calvin! Where are you? Come out at once?” But there was no reply, just the cold wind
blowing across the courtyard and whipping his frostbitten ears. The front door of the house opened and
out stepped Chester, gun in hand. He walked across the yard and along the blood-spattered drive down
to the gate where John stood.
       “Where is he Chester?”
       “Who? Oh, Calvin, well he’s taking a long nap. Of course we had quite a morning together. Hell,
I even made the old man breakfast—he was quite tired from that long journey.”
       “For some reason I don’t believe you Chester.”
       “And what leads you to believe otherwise?”
       “How do you explain the trail of blood leading to the front door?”
       “Lance and Zeus, my dogs, killed another raccoon last night—pesky little bastards thinking they
can just invade the privacy of a man’s home in the middle of the night, taking anything they want . . .”
       “Well that kind of reminds me of someone . . .”
       “You know what animal I do like, John; I like pigs. You know anything about wild pigs?”
       “What the hell do pigs have to do with this whole business Chester?”
       “Well they are actually incredible creatures. For instance, did you know that five pigs can
completely devour an entire human body in less than five minutes, leaving absolutely no remains?”
       “You sick bastard! If there wasn’t a gate between us right now I swear I’d rip you apart.”
       “Not so quick there John. Dinner for the pigs will be in about four or five hours from now and
I’m quite sure you wouldn’t want to be the main course.” Chester pointed the long steel barrel of his
rifle at John, “I suggest you leave now Mr. Dwells, but do have a safe trip back home. Oh, and by the
way give Mrs. Johansen my regards.”




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 30
        John gave Chester one last look of contempt before climbing up on the sled and getting ready to
leave. “One day Chester; one fine day . . .”
        Left only with his thoughts, it was a long, hard ride home for John. He knew that he was feeling
the same painful anger that Calvin had felt, but he was not about to lose his life over it. He wondered
what he would tell Debra; for the entire trip home it was the moment that he dreaded.
        It was late afternoon when John’s horses pulled into the front yard of his home. John took a deep
breath before opening the front door. He hung his cold jacket on the hanger next to the door and pulled
the wet, frozen boots from his feet. Except for just a few pops from the wood still crackling in the
fireplace the house was silent. John made his way into the back room and found Mary and Debra sound
asleep. He decided it was best not to wake them and he went into the living room where he promptly
fell asleep on the couch.
        “John, John! Wake up!”
        John groggily opened his sleepy eyes to see Mary kneeling beside him.
        “What time is it?”
        “It’s around seven or so. Tell me what happened, where is Calvin?”
        “Well, Calvin, he ah . . . he didn’t make it.”
        “What do you mean?”
        “I mean he’s gone. I don’t know exactly what went on in there last night but the front yard was
covered in blood and—” John suddenly stopped. He couldn’t bear to even tell the story. He began to
weep. Calvin was his friend and had been so for a long time.
        “It’s okay John, you don’t have to tell me.”
        Mary wrapped her arms around him as he wept—though not nearly as much as Debra did when
she heard the news. Debra was utterly devastated; the loss of Calvin was simply too much for her and
she completely broke down.


Strangely enough, three months later Debra married—an event that was regarded as quite odd by the
villagers. Even stranger was the groom. The couple had met at the traveling circus show called Mr.
Strange’s Traveling Circus, which passed through Whipper Wheel every year. And the groom—well,
Mr. Strange was just that; strange. Mr. Strange as he called himself was a midget, and said to have been
the smallest man to ever live. On tiptoe he barely reached the top mark of a yard measuring stick. Not
only was Mr. Strange short, he was also extremely overweight. At three feet he weighed in at nearly 146
pounds. As the leader of the strange circus and sideshow, he filled it with all manner of freaks and
peculiar characters, and for some equally strange and obscure reason, Debra fell madly in love with the
little man.


                                                CHAPTER 5


It was midsummer in Whipper Wheel. The Broken Tree River rapids were an avalanche of seething,
white water crashing and cutting through the soft landscape of trees and flowers that grew in wild
profusion in the village and across the valley and mountains. The warmth of the sun gave a renewed




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 31
sense of life and wellbeing so that it almost seemed as though winter had never been.
        Mrs. Herman pulled the long rope that hung from the bell at the apex of the roof of the Whipper
Wheel School. The clear chimes echoed across the schoolyard as the children rushed inside for the
beginning of class. It was a small school and there were only three rooms; the teaching room, the
lunchroom, and the bathroom—indoor plumbing was a luxury since the children had previously been
used to the old outhouse. For Whipper Wheel it was a very nice school although it was very poor, and it
was nearly five years since it had received any new books. Lunch was always dreaded by the children.
Mrs. Grady, the cook, was a scraggly-haired old woman who made the same food depending on the
particular day of the week and had done so for the past fifty-seven years despite the fact that not once
had it ever been enjoyed by anyone. She was, without doubt, one of the worst cooks ever.
       The children sat in their creaky wooden chairs facing Mrs. Herman who stood before them. She
was a mean old woman, skinny as a stick, with a dried up and wrinkled face. She was always mad at
something, and had been for so long that a look of disgust was frozen on her face. No one liked her, but
the children knew better than to ever mouth off to her, for she would spank anyone with a smart mouth
and even worse, she would bend them over and do it in front of the entire class.
       Sara, now twelve years of age, sat at the back of the classroom. As a child growing up she had
been very ill. Doctor Greenberg had diagnosed her with almost every possible sickness known at the
time, from allergies to scoliosis of the spine. She was unable to walk until the age of ten, and had been
so sick since birth that Mary had to spend almost all of her time caring for her. When most girls were out
playing and having fun Sara would lie in bed in her room too sick or tired to go out. To make matters
worse, nobody actually wanted to play with her.
       Sara did not look like the average twelve year old. Her skin was as pale as a ghost and because
she was so skinny, the bones in her face could be seen quite clearly. She wore a pair of very thick, round
glasses that made her eyes look huge in proportion to her small face. She walked with a limp because
her left leg was shorter than the right and was much smaller than the average child of her age; eight
inches shorter than the average twelve-year-old girl. No one liked Sara. She was constantly teased and
the kids at school had given her the name “little monster.” To them that’s what she was—a monster.
She refused to quit school even though her mother, along with Mrs. Herman, was of the opinion that it
would be better if she was home-schooled. Although Sara was sick, and very plain to look, at she was
very intelligent; much smarter than anyone else at the school. She had never gotten anything less than a
straight A all through her school years, and even with all her ailments, had never missed a day of class.
She had a vivid imagination and loved to write.
       With her back turned to the class, Mrs. Herman was writing the day’s lesson on the chalkboard.
Josie Bitterman, a twelve-year-old little snot of a girl, was crumpling up some paper. She shot a quick
glance at her group of friends as they all quietly chuckled amongst themselves, and then tossed the paper
ball at Mrs. Herman, hitting her smack dab on the back of the head. Mrs. Herman quickly turned around
and, holding her back as she bent down, picked up the piece of paper.
       “Alright, who’s responsible for this? Speak up. If you don’t I swear on the holy Bible itself that
I’ll spank every last one of you so hard that you will not be able to sit for a week.”
       While the class chuckled, she opened the crumpled up piece of paper and noticed that one of the




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 32
children had drawn a cartoonish picture on the front. The picture was of Mrs. Herman bent over her desk
getting the paddle from one of the students. The student was wearing a dress, and the artist’s name was
written in the bottom corner, Sara Dwells.
        “Sara, get to the front of the class immediately!”
        “But Mrs. Herman it wasn’t me, I swear. Josie made the picture.”
        “Josie would never do such a thing; she is a fine proper child with respect for her elders unlike
you. Now get up here or I’ll drag you!”
        Sara walked to the front of the classroom and stood before the class, tears starting to well up in
her eyes. She tried to stop herself from crying for the last thing she wanted to do was look like a big
baby in front of all the kids.
        “Guess what kids, today we are going to do something a little different. I’m going to sit right
here.” Mrs. Herman took a seat in one of the empty chairs belonging to Mickey Watson who rarely ever
showed up to class—he was always playing hooky, fishing down by Broken Tree River.
        “Since Sara thinks she’s so much smarter than the rest of us, she is going to be giving you your
lesson today. Okay kids, Sara will be giving a lesson on how life will be in a hundred years from now,
how the world will change and how you think that you can make it a better place. The floor is yours
Sara, enlighten us on how much you know; if you don’t you can do everyone’s homework for a week.”
        Sara stood before the class on the verge of breaking down, but then she thought for a moment.
She knew she had to say something—doing everyone’s homework for a week was not what she wanted
to do. “In a hundred years from now I believe that the world will be very different. I believe that even
people will be very different. As the world gets older, I believe that people will become smarter and
more educated. I also believe that the advances in education and inventions will create more problems
for society.”
        Everyone in the class began to titter and laugh and Sara began to cry in earnest. Josie Bitterman
turned around from laughing with her friends and said, “And how is the little monster going to change
the world. Please tell us, we’re just dying to know.”
        Sara suddenly became very angry. Her mood changed and her speech became sure and relentless.
Someday I’m going to change the world for the better. “I’m going to do something that will help people,
to make them feel happy, and all you brainless fools will look up to me. Someday I’ll give a speech and
not just in some crummy little school, but in front of thousands of people and they will actually listen to
what I have to say, so I can forget all of you!”
        Sara ran out of the room, tears streaming down her cheeks. She knew that Mrs. Herman would
never again let her back into the schoolroom for saying what she had said.


It was a very beautiful, sunlit day in Whipper Wheel, the sky was a bright blue with just a few gossamer
clouds drifting by, but none of it mattered during Sara’s long, lonely walk home. She walked down the
dirt road that ran beside Broken Tree River. The roaring rapids could be heard just down the hill,
crashing against the rocks, and ahead in the distance she could see Mr. Kindle’s truck parked alongside
the bridge. He was fishing down by the river, something he did regularly. Sara carefully made her way
down the old beaten path full of rocks and brush. As she drew nearer she could make out the shadow of




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 33
a fly line being cast across the river and then floating just above the surface. She walked a little farther
and sure enough, it was Mr. Kindle. He stood there in the river wearing his green hip boots, which
nicely matched his hat and fishing jacket. She leaned up against a tree and just watched him for a while,
but even in his old age he sensed her presence and turned to find her beneath the old oak. “Well hello
there Sara, what are you doing around these parts in the middle of the day? Shouldn’t you be at
school?”
       “I think I got kicked out today. Stupid Josie Bitterman drew this picture of Mrs. Herman being
spanked in front of the whole class and wrote my name at the bottom. Then Mrs. Herman said that I had
to teach the whole class so everybody laughed at me. I left. I’m never going again.”
        “Ah, school. I remember school. Oh wait, I never actually went, but I do remember someone
mentioning something about it once. Anyway, all you need to know about life you can find by just living
it. Sure math and English are important in this day and age. With the way things are going you have to
know that stuff, but the best knowledge you’ll ever learn is found right here.” Mr. Kindle walked over to
a rock that was half submerged in the river, stuck his hand down in the mud, and pulled up a slimy
handful of dirt and rocks.
       “Mr. Kindle,” Sara said, “That’s just a bunch of mud.”
       “Maybe to you and to most it is mud, but to me it is the blood of the earth. It is power, strength
and thousands of years of evolution. All it means is that there are many ways to look and things. Those
who look deeper; who see what’s really there, it is they who will find the truth.” Sara thought for a
moment and realized that what Mr. Kindle had said was true, and that she had been looking at things all
wrong. “You ever catch a fish before Sara?” Mr. Kindle asked.
       “Yes my pa taught me once. I wasn’t very good though.”
       “If you want to know the true secret of fishing, I will tell you. In fact, it’s the same as in life.
First you have to have the right bait, and you have to know exactly what the fish are feeding on. Then
you have to know exactly where they are in the most number and, most of all, you have to be patient—
any village idiot can throw a worm into a pond or river and catch a fish but he will never catch a great
fish. I’ll tell you now the way you catch a great fish is to become the fish. You must know exactly what
he wants, when he wants it, and how to get it to him. Oh yes, and you have to be damn lucky too.
Without that you are screwed.” Mr. Kindle paused for a moment and then continued. “Now you see that
hole over there; where the water is swirling across the river by those rocks?”
       “I guess . . .”
       “Now watch!”
       Mr. Kindle stared at the hole for a moment and then began to cast his fly across the river. Back
and forth it floated across the surface, very close but yet never once did it touch the water. To Sara it
was a moment she would never forget. It was not just an old man casting a line into the water. It was art;
it was years and years of endless summer days when he was young to the late afternoon of that day when
he was finally an old man. The fly landed directly in the center of where he had cast.
       “Now,” he said, “don’t move a nose hair.”
        Sara sat next to him and waited so long that it seemed like forever. Suddenly from beneath the
cold crystal clear water of the river, a great golden German brown trout arose and with all of its power,




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 34
ripped the fly and swallowed it. Old Mr. Kindler’s rod bent down so far it nearly went into the water.
       “Here now,” Mr. Kindle said. “Take the pole.”
       “But Mr. Kindle that fish is huge!”
       “Take the damn thing—it ain’t gonna hurt ya!”
       Sara wrapped her small hands around the cork end of the old fishing pole. The fish was so
powerful that she feared she would be pulled straight down into the water. After twenty minutes of
battling the fish, she finally pulled him to shore.
       “Oh it’s a grand fish Sara, a grand fish.”
       The fish lay there in the sunlight, his scales flashing bright gold as he flapped around on the
riverbank of the Broken Tree River. Mr. Kindle and Sara sat for a while and talked. She was always
amused by his stories regardless of whether they were true or not.
       After a little while Sara said, “Mr. Kindle, I think I should be heading home now, it’s getting late
and my parents may begin to worry.”
       “Surely, I’ll take you—that is, unless you would like to walk the rest of the way. I mean it’s only
a couple of miles. You know in my day we didn’t have the luxury of buggies or cars, not even horses.”
       “Well then how did you get around?”
       “Well we walked hundreds sometimes thousands of miles a week; it was hell let me tell ya.”
       “Oh I believe you Mr. Kindle,” Sara said with a smile. She knew that Mr. Kindle was just
fibbing again, but he was still very funny.
       Mr. Kindle’s vehicle of choice ran on steam, somewhat like the trains of the time. The first motor
vehicles in production had just become available to the public and were proving to be an absolute
revolution in transportation—provided spending fifteen to twenty minutes to get the thing started was
not a problem. Before the vehicle would move an inch the steam had to build up heat, but soon enough
they were on their way, and Mr. Kindle took a swig from a flask he had next to his seat.
       “Oh thank heavens!” Sara said. “I’m so glad you have some water. I’m awfully thirsty from all
that walking.” But the silver flask from which Mr. Kindle was taking a generous swig did not contain
water. It was filled with Red Foot’s Green River Whisky, a very strong brew handmade by Red
himself—an old Indian who lived up in the mountains who spent most of his days drunker than a skunk.
       “Oh no Sara, I can’t give you any of this. It’s ah, well . . . it’s medicine!”
       “Are you sick Mr. Kindle?”
       “Well I guess you could say that. When you get old things, well they start to hurt. Be thankful
for your youth.”
       By the time Mr. Kindle pulled up at the Dwells’ house he was so drunk he could barely drive.
He drove his car into the front yard—literally through the rose bushes and almost on to the front deck.
Mary rushed out of the house to see what all the commotion was about.
       “What in God’s name are you doing Mr. Kindle?”
       “What do ya mean, I’m dropping off little Anna. Here, we caught some fish,” Mr. Kindle replied,
slurring his words in his drunken state.
       “Mr. Kindle that’s Sara, not Anna. What is wrong with you?”
       “Mother, I think it’s his medicine. Ever since he started taking it on the way home he’s been




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 35
acting crazy.”
          “Medicine? What medicine?” Mary walked over to Mr. Kindle’s car and found the flask on the
seat without a drop left in it. “Why, you’re drunker than an Irish sailor! You could have killed yourself
including Sara! John will take you home. He will be here shortly. You just stay in your car—”
          But Mr. Kindle had passed out cold in the driver’s seat and was snoring like a train.
          Mary returned inside, slamming the front door after her.
          “Would you mind telling me what you are doing home three hours late from school in a car filled
with fish, booze and Mr. Kindle who’s drunk out of his mind?”
          “Mother, I don’t think that now is the best time to tell you—”
          “Well you better start explaining or else your father and I will keep you in your room until next
Christmas!”
          “I got kicked out of school, but it’s not my fault I swear. Josie Bitterman drew this picture and
said that I drew it, then Mrs. Herman made me teach the class and everyone made fun of me so I just
left.”
          “If you drew some bad picture of something and then blamed it on someone else you are going to
be in some serious trouble missy. I have had it with all your made-up stories and lies, these fairy tales of
imaginary friends you have. You are grounded for three months—that will give you some time to
think!”
          Mary’s words were harsh but she had her reasons. As a child Sara was far from normal. Her
room had been covered in strange drawings of characters she called her ‘special’ friends. Her parents
began to worry when, late at night, they could hear Sara speaking to someone in her room, but when
they peeked inside to see who it was Sara would be alone. Throughout the years of her childhood Sara
never once had a friend. She lay on her bed and began to cry, her face buried deep into her cotton pillow.
          “Now what are you crying about?” asked a voice from the doorway. It was Anna. She had
developed into a beautiful young girl. With her long blonde hair and perfect complexion, she had the
beginnings of a beauty that would someday make her one of the most striking women in Whipper
Wheel. Unfortunately, however, Anna wasn’t as beautiful and kind as she appeared. The two sisters had
despised each other and had done so since the day twelve years earlier when the two were put together
in the same crib. Nothing had changed. “Heard you got kicked out of school, you loser. Boy, is Dad
gonna go crazy when he gets home—you’ll probably be stuck in here with your stupid make-believe
friends for like ever!”
          Sara grabbed a pillow from her bed and threw it straight at Anna. “Get out of my room you little
witch, I hate you!”
          Jason was now a teenager and had just arrived home from his girlfriend Nikki Keller’s house.
Nikki’s parents had gone on vacation for a month and had left her with her grandmother who spent most
of the time sleeping, little knowing that the two had been making out in the living room for most of the
afternoon. Jason had also developed into a strapping young man and had honed his musical talents to
such a degree that he regularly played for the King. At the time he was said to have been the greatest
pianist that had ever lived. At only nineteen he had saved up enough money playing music to buy his
own house although he chose to stay at home and spend most of his time taking care of Sara. Jason was




                                   Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 36
Sara’s only friend and she loved him dearly.
        About two years earlier Doctor Greenberg gave the Dwells some devastating news, which was
never passed on to Sara. Doctor Greenberg told the family that if Sara didn’t get better soon she
wouldn’t live very long. Jason stopped touring with his music and decided to spend what little time was
left to Sara taking care of her. Anna was the only one in the family who was unaware of this, and John
and Mary thought it would be best if she didn’t know.
        Over the years Jason had made a lot of money playing his music and had given generously to his
family. The house was full of all sorts of expensive gifts that Jason had brought back from his travels.
John and Mary accepted his gifts but always refused any money that he offered them as they thought it
did not seem proper.
        Jason walked into the living room dressed in a finely tailored chestnut suit, black shoes shined to
a mirror finish, and a top hat to match. “Well aren’t you looking like a fine gentleman this evening,
what’s the occasion?” his mother asked.
        “Well, remember a long time ago when we had that cat—what was his name?”
        “Mr. Cat,” Mary said.
        “Ah yes of course, Mr. Cat. Anyway, remember that whole story about two people feeling that
thing called love between each other?”
        “I do recall that conversation.”
        “Well I am happy to say that I finally know what you meant because I am definitely a hundred
percent mad crazy out of my mind in love with Nikki Keller!”
        “Isn’t she Mrs. Johansen’s daughter, the one from the grocery store in town?”
        “That’s the one we met last month at the store. Love at first sight.”
        “I guess I must have forgotten to tell you when you were younger about lust at first sight. That
Nikki is trouble. I hear she’s got every guy in Whipper Wheel chasing her tail. I’d be careful if I were
you.”
        “I’m sure you’re right, but I mean who can play the piano like me, or serenade a woman and also
have knowledge of fine literature and poetry? Honestly mother, how could any woman resist?”
        “You’re funny Jason; you’ve always been funny!”


The stars twinkled over Whipper Wheel like small diamonds scattered across black velvet. Sara sat on
her bed reading a book her mother had given her when she was ten. It was a story of a young boy who
lived many years before. He had gone on a journey to find his long-lost mother who had disappeared
when he was young. Sara had read the story from cover to cover almost as many times as there were
words in the book. She asked her mother to get her more books, but when she did Anna would always
take them from her before Sara could read them, and then complained that she couldn’t give them back
until she was finished.
        Sara closed the book and lay on her back in the dimly lit room staring at the shadows that the
candlelight cast across the ceiling. She saw all kinds of strange figures in the shadows; monsters, a
rabbit and even a smiling face. This was her nature; very imaginative, always seeing what everyone else
missed. The curtains at her open window danced in the warm summer breeze that made its way into her




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 37
room. She could hear her parents talking in the living room down the hall, and she went to her door and
knelt down to listen through the space between it and the floor.
         “I really don’t know what to do with her, John. She’s always telling stories, and making up
things. She lives in this fictitious world that she’s created—you can never believe a word she says.”
         “What can we do with her? After all, she’s our child, Mary. I mean she doesn’t have any friends,
she’s always sick. What can we do?”
        As she listened, Sara became very upset. It was bad enough everyone at school hated her, but
now even her own parents were talking behind her back. Sara covered her face with her hands and
sobbed. She hated her life, and wished she could just leave, go far away, to some place where everybody
loved her . . .


Two weeks had passed and John and Mary remained determined in their punishment of Sara. It was
Jason’s birthday and the house was filled with what seemed like the entire population of the village with
music, drinks, and all sorts of food for the guests. Sara stayed in her room the entire day, trying her best
to shut out the noise. She hated being ugly and sick, and always upset, and it was even harder when
everyone in the family had something going for them whether it was friends, music or good looks. To
Sara she had nothing, and her life was meaningless and had no value—or at least it seemed that way.


                                               CHAPTER 6


The birds were sitting on the branches of the old oak tree in the yard and singing their hearts out. Sara
sat at her window and dreamed of all the things she wished she could be doing. The floor of her room
was strewn with papers; drawings of characters, short stories and her thoughts expressed in the form of
poems. She had created a world of friends and stories to replace what she was starved of in her own life.
A month had elapsed since she had been grounded and she was going crazy being stuck in the house all
day while everyone else enjoyed the summer. It was late afternoon and as she sat in her room, aromas
floated in from the kitchen where Mary was cooking.
        The door of Sara’s room creaked open and her mother entered the room. “My goodness Sara,
what have you done in here? It’s an absolute pigsty! What is all this?” Mary picked up some of the
papers that covered the floor. “Oh, I see—more adventures in the fairytale world of Sara Dwells. You
know you really need to stop all this nonsense and start living in the real world.”
        Sara coughed a few times before speaking. Her asthma had been acting up very badly. “They are
just pictures mother, I like to draw. Surely that can’t be a sin?”
        “Listen, dinner is ready in the kitchen if you’d like to join us for once.”
        “I’d rather not.”
        “Well suit yourself. I will bring you whatever is left later on.” Mary said, slamming Sara’s door
before returning to the kitchen.
        Sara grew very angry and muttered, “Maybe she’s right; maybe I should stop living in this
fairytale land. I’m sick of always being this way!” She grabbed the pictures and poems up off the floor
and furiously ripped them apart, destroying what she had taken weeks to create. Then, mad again at




                                   Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 38
herself, she returned to her bed and stared up at the ceiling.
        Down the hall and beyond the kitchen, Sara could hear someone knocking on the front door. She
listened to hear who it was.
        “Well, look who it is!” Jason said. “Look everyone, it’s Mr. Kindle!”
        Mary rolled her eyes at John as he made his way into the kitchen.
        “Well Mr. Kindle what brings you up into this neck of the woods this evening?”
        “Well to tell you the truth I just came by to apologize for what happened last month, sometimes
in my old age I do stupid things.”
        “It’s okay Mr. Kindle,” Mary said. “We all do stupid things from time to time in our lives—you
are forgiven.”
        “Listen I brought you and the family a little present to make up for my stupid antics, come on
outside I’ll show ya . . .”
        Standing in the front yard of the house was a very large white horse.
        “A horse?” John asked.
        “Ya, well you know how everybody is driving them damn automobiles these days? Well, I
figured he could pull your plow in the planting season. Maybe you could even ride him like back in the
old days when folk used to do things like that—he’s a strong one.”
        Everyone walked over to the horse. He was indeed a fine animal, white as Christmas snow and
by the look of the muscles that rippled down his fine legs he was also a very powerful animal.
        “I don’t know what to say Mr. Kindle . . .”
        “Don’t say anything at all. Listen, I was wondering how Sara’s doing? You know . . . if she’s
feeling any better.”
        “She’s still very sick,” Mary said. “I’m sure you know already. Doctor Geenberg gave us notice
that he’s unsure as to how long she will live.”
        “It’s a tough thing,” Mr.Kindle agreed, then added, “say, would you mind if I had a chat with
her—I mean, that is if it’s okay.”
        “Yes of course, I’ll fetch her for you.”
        As Mary went into the house, Jason climbed up onto the back of the horse and announced in a
theatrical voice, “Behold, it is I, Jason Dwells, the greatest sword-slinging warrior in all the land. I have
traveled many miles, slain many a man from up here on my great white horse. No man or beast can
stand in my presence or he shall meet his death at the end of my blade!”
        Anna laughed at his little speech, “Give it a rest Jason; you are far from a sword-slinging
warrior!”
        Meanwhile, Mary had gone to Sara’s room. “Sara, Mr. Kindle is here to see you.”
        Sara followed her mother out of the house and found the family gathered around the horse.
        “Mr. Kindle gave us a horse, Sara. What do you think?”
        “Oh,” it’s a fine horse,” Sara said as she ran her small hand along the horse’s flank.”
        “Ah Mary, would you mind if Sara and I went for a walk to have a little talk?”
        “I suppose, just as long as there is no fishing or drinking involved.”
        “Oh I promise nothing like that, just a friendly little chat. She’ll be back in no time.”




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 39
Sara looked up at Mr. Kindle, “Thanks for the horse Mr. Kindle,” she said as they walked along the dirt
road, away from the house.
         “It’s the least I could do Sara, I mean I did almost drive straight into the living room last time I
was here. So, how have you been feeling lately?”
         “Not so well. I just never seem to get better. I’m always sick, and being grounded for three
months isn’t helping. I just sit in that room all day and night—I hate it.”
         “Listen Sara, there’s something that I’ve been meaning to tell you, and at first it may sound a
little strange.”
         “What is it Mr. Kindle?”
         “I know of a way to help you. There’s something I must tell you, but you most promise, you
must swear never in your life to ever tell anybody what I’m about to tell you. You even have to pinky-
swear on it.”
         “Okay Mr. Kindle, I promise.”
         They engaged in the ancient art of the pinky-swear before Mr. Kindle would even say a word.
         “Okay, I’m gonna tell you. I’ve never in all my life told anyone this and believe me that’s a long
time.” Mr.Kindle paused for a minute before continuing, “A long time ago when I was a child, probably
around your age, I stumbled upon something very strange.”
         “Well what was it?” Sara asked
         “I was twelve or thirteen—it doesn’t matter. I was down at the Diablo Pit. Nobody is allowed
down there. Some folks say it’s like four hundred feet deep and there are all sorts of weird creatures
swimming around in it. Well back in my day people didn’t know much about it, anyway there were fish
in there that no one had ever even seen, and it was my little secret. So it’s a hot summer’s day—and I
mean one of those days so hot you think your skin is gonna peel right off. I was sitting on the bank just
waiting for a bite when I noticed something in the water. It was kinda glittering like gold. So I got a little
closer to see what it was, but for some reason I could not make it out. So being the stupid kid I was at
the time, I dove in to dig it out but the damn thing was heavy. Finally after about an hour, I could get my
hands around it but couldn’t pull it to the surface. I went home and got some rope to tie around the thing
so I could try and pry it up, and when I did I was amazed to see what I had found.”
         “Tell me Mr. Kindle, please tell me what it was. Was it a buried treasure or something?”
         “Well Sara, it was even better than buried treasure. It was a book.”
         “A book? You mean to tell me you wasted all that time digging the thing up and all you found
was a book?”
         “This wasn’t just any old book, and I found that out when I opened it. The strange thing about
this book was that for as long as it had been down there, not one page had gotten wet—it was as dry as a
bone.”
         “Mr. Kindle if this is another one of your stories, I’d rather not hear it,” Sara said. Angry with
Mr. Kindle, she started to walk back to the house.
         “Sara—Wait. This book, it’s magic and it can help you! It can make all your dreams come true.”
         “Okay Mr. Kindle, if this book really does exist then where is it?”




                                   Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 40
         “It’s in the library, in the basement. A long time ago, before even your parents were born, I
worked at Whipper Wheel Library and that’s where it still is. In the basement there is a room where they
keep all the really old books. Some of them are hundreds of years old. At the back of the room, down the
last aisle of books, there is a trap door in the ceiling that opens by just pushing on it. If you go there you
will find it. I promise you Sara. It will help you, but only if you are willing to do what the book says.”
         “Well what does it say?”
         “You’ll have to find that out for yourself. When I left the library to pursue other work I
accidently forgot to give the key back.”
         Mr. Kindle reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out an old rusted skeleton key and handed it
to Sara.
         “This is it?”
         “That’s the one. Now remember you promised not to tell anyone about this.”
         “I promise you, I mean you can’t break a pinky swear right?”
         “Right, Sara there’s going to be a great storm tonight, one of the biggest ever. You must leave
tonight!”
         “But Mr. Kindle the sky—it’s clear as a bell; there isn’t even a cloud—”
         “Oh believe me Sara,” Mr. Kindle interrupted, “It’s gonna happen and it’s gonna happen
tonight!”
         The two friends walked back to the house and just before they reached the steps leading up to the
porch, Mr. Kindle said, “Sara, there are places and things that you will see that you have never
encountered before; some things no man has ever experienced. Some of these places are very
frightening. They are very dark and at times you will want to turn back, but if you make it to the end you
will find something that is so magical and so amazing that the entire world will stand before you.”
         “What are these places Mr. Kindle, where can I find them?”
         “Find the book and you will soon find out,” he said as he hugged her goodbye.
         Sara walked slowly up the steps. The words that Mr. Kindle had spoken were very strange. She
wondered what it all meant. What were the places he spoke about she wondered, and then said softly to
herself, “Old Mr. Kindle, he’s probably just gone mad in his old age.” But then she looked down at the
key clasped very tightly in her hand and wondered what if Mr. Kindle wasn’t crazy, and what if, just
maybe, the stories were true.
         When she closed the door to her room Sara noticed that her dinner was sitting on her bed.
Potatoes lightly peppered the way she always liked them, and pan fried chicken—the skin crispy and
salty resting in a river of red juice that had seeped out of the fresh beets picked early that afternoon in
the garden by her father. Sara sat on her bed eating the half cold supper, still thinking of what Mr.
Kindle had said. Later, around nightfall, Sara sat on the floor playing with Willy, one of the relatives of
Mr. Cat who had long since passed away. She dropped a feather from above him and watched while he
catapulted himself into the air as it fluttered to the floor. Suddenly off in the distance there was a giant
rumble. It was so loud it shook the glass panes in the windows. Could it be thunder she wondered, and
then remembered Mr. Kindle’s words, “Sara there’s going to be a great storm tonight, one of the biggest
ever.”




                                    Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 41
        Sara felt a chill rising beneath her skin as she came to the realization that Mr. Kindle was right,
there was a storm coming. Another tremendous crack shot across the sky, this time even more powerful
than before. The wind outside her window blew so hard that the curtains were almost touching the
ceiling. Leaning out, she looked far off into the distance to the great mountain Mephisto and watched as
a bolt of white lightning struck its peak, illuminating the sky for a moment as though it were daylight.
The wind screamed down the mountains and through the trees like a gathering of wailing women. The
tin roof over the deck could be heard smacking up against the wood, mimicking the sound of gunfire.
She heard her father’s voice down the hall saying, “Nobody is to go outside, there a nasty storm brewing
above Mephisto. It should make its way here anytime now.”
        Sara sat on her bed and stared out the window. She was frightened; the storm sounded bad but
that was not what bothered her. It was Mr. Kindle’s words again ringing in her head.
        “You must leave tonight . . .”
        Sara looked at the old key, noticing how the white light from the storm was reflected on its
surface.
        All right Mr. Kindle, I’ll go, Sara thought to herself. I’ll leave tonight, I don’t care anymore if I
have to see these things you spoke about or whether they are real or not. I must leave or I’ll never know
the truth.
        Quickly grabbing her school bag, Sara packed it with a little food, some warm clothes and some
candles. After everyone had fallen asleep she snuck into the kitchen, trying her best not to make any
noise, and grabbed a lantern. If her parents caught her sneaking out, she would be grounded for at least a
year. She went back into her room and grabbed her note pad to write the family a goodbye letter:
        Dear Family,
        Please do not be alarmed by finding me gone. I promise you I am all right. I have gone on a
        journey. I do not know when I will return but I promise you I will. Don’t send anyone searching
        for me. There is something that I must find, and when I do, I will make you all very happy. I
        must leave. It’s just something that I have to do. I love you all very dearly and I hope that some
        good will come out of this whole thing.
                                                 Love, Sara Dwells


The heavy rain was beginning to pound the earth as Sara quietly closed the front door of her family
home and tiptoed across the deck. It was very dark and the only time that the road could be seen was
when the sudden cracks of lightning flooded the black night with white light. She grew very frightened
and stood in the rain and stared at the road before her, her thoughts running rampant as the fear of the
unknown set in.
        “I must go” she told herself, “I have to find the truth.”
        The rain smacked her face, stinging her skin. The sky exploded again and even the ground
beneath her feet rumbled as if there were a herd of a thousand elephants charging directly towards her,
but she pressed on through the unknown, the rain and the all-encompassing darkness.
        Sara had travelled two and a half miles by the time she reached the library, and her boots were so
full of water she could barely walk. The library had been in Whipper Wheel even longer than the village.




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 42
It had been built from local stone and legend had it that the place was once a milk house owned by an
old farmer who was said to have died inside after the cows went wild during a great storm, trampling
him as they tried to get out. Some say that his ghost had appeared many times throughout the years
since. Sara remembered the stories told at school about the incident and her fear began to grow.
        Sara walked up to the front entrance of the library and pulled out the old key from her pocket. It
was hard to see the hole so she had to wait until the next crack of lightning. Sure enough, within seconds
the sky lit up in a frenzy of fire-cracker bursts of incandescence. She slid the old key into the door. The
lock remained fixed. Sara tried again but still it would not budge. “The stupid thing won’t even budge,”
Sara said with a groan. “Crazy old Mr. Kindle—this isn’t even the key!”
        Once again she turned the key as hard as she possibly could, and heard a small snapping sound.
Infuriated, she realized that the key had broken off inside the lock. “I knew this was a stupid idea! I
knew I should have never come here!” she muttered, punching the door, and angry after all that had
happened. Just then, the door creaked open about an inch. “Well I’ll be darned,” Sara exclaimed.
        Sara opened the door and walked into the library. Not surprisingly, it smelled of old books and
mildew. Reaching inside her bag, she pulled out the lantern and with a few strikes of a match had it
burning. Above her head there were shelves of books towering in all directions—ancient philosophy,
music, bird house making—all sorts of books. For Sara, it truly was heaven. After all, she had been
reading the same book for the past five years. She wanted so badly to just sit down and gaze in
wonderment at all of them, but she knew that she had to find the basement.
        “Now,” she said to herself, “where is the basement I wonder?” She walked about the library for
some time until she discovered an old door at the back of the room. This has to be it she thought. The
door opened and the lantern revealed a staircase that led down to what looked like a basement. Sara
slowly began to walk down the staircase, running her hand against the stone walls for guidance.
        At the bottom of the stairs there was a room full of all sorts of very old books and newspapers. A
few brooms and mops were leaning against the wall. In the far corner there was a window at the top of
the wall, and she could see the lightning outside, flickering off the walls as its jagged forked flashes
illuminated the room. The accompanying noise from the rain and thunder eruptions along with the
extreme cold in the basement was very scary. Although Sara was frightened, she spoke out in a loud
voice, “Listen if there are any ghosts or spirits in here I would recommend you leave me alone. I’m just
a little girl and I beg of you, please don’t bring any harm upon me. I just need a book and then I swear
I’ll leave.”
        She walked very slowly, shining the light from her lantern against the old shelves, revealing the
bindings and pages of the books. She held the lantern in front of her and noticed that the aisles had
ended—she had finally reached the last one.
        “Okay, well here we go . . .”
        At the very end of the aisle Sara climbed up the shelves to make her way to the ceiling where the
trapdoor was hidden. At the top she ran her hands across the surface. A sticky cobweb wrapped around
her hands like a net, and she furiously rubbed them against her sides. If there was anything Sara hated it
was spiders. Feeling something like a crack in the ceiling, she pushed up against it. A cloud of dust fell
from the opening and covered her face. She began to cough and tried her best to rub away the dust from




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 43
her eyes, then opened them and shone the lantern upward.
        Mr. Kindle had not been telling stories. Before her, cut into the ceiling, was the trapdoor. She
took a deep breath and reached up into the dark hole, running her hands across the surface. Suddenly she
felt something. It felt cold, like steel. She reached up with her other hand and tried to move it, but it was
very heavy. She struggled to move it closer to the opening, but her foot slipped off the shelf and almost
sent her tumbling to the floor. Sara pulled with every ounce of energy left in her. A book fell through the
opening. She tried to grasp it but it was far too heavy. Both feet slipped from the wooden shelf and she
hurtled to the floor, landing on her back with the lantern shattering beside her. The kerosene from the
lantern spilt on the floor and over the book, the wick igniting it like a torch and engulfing it in flames.
        “Oh my God!” Sara screamed. The inferno shot upwards from the book and along with it
something very terrifying. Inside the fire she could see the forms of many strange figures, screaming like
wild demons; a chorus of tortured souls shooting from the flames. There were hundreds of them swirling
above the flaming book. A chill started to spread over Sara’s body and she began to cry.
        Flames of fire traced the outline of what looked like a skull and shot it across the room, stopping
only inches from her face. “Sara, Sara!” It whispered her name in a high pitched, almost silent scream.
And then, no sooner had the demons arisen from the flames than they vanished. The fire was sucked
back into the book, and its cover slammed shut as though an enormous iron door had closed, never to be
opened again.


                                               CHAPTER 7


The silence was absolute. Only Sara’s heavy breathing could be heard. She was again alone in the
darkness and so terrified as to be almost incapable of movement. A few moments passed before Sara
could bring herself to cast a fearful look at the book. But as she stared down at it, her fear began to abate
and was gradually overtaken by a sense of absolute wonderment. Moving slowly, she reached down to
carefully pick up the book and slip it into her bag before climbing back up the creaky stairs to the main
library floor.
        In one of the librarian’s desks Sara found candles and some matches. There was a massive oak
table stretching almost the full length of the room and she placed the lighted candles upon it. Pulling the
book from her bag and setting it down amidst the candles, Sara was astonished at what lay on the table
before her.
        The book was much larger than the typical hard cover volume of the time, but it was not so much
the size that was most intriguing, it was what was on the front cover. The candlelight flickered across a
metallic surface—either bronze or gold, it was difficult to be sure—but it looked as if it was from
antiquity. Beneath the encrustation of dust and dirt Sara could make out the strange images engraved
upon it. There were images of many evil things, and demons with bodies engulfed in flames that
appeared to be leaping out of the book as they tried to escape from whatever horrendous place they had
been entrapped. There were images of dead men’s bones, skulls, and bizarre creatures. There was a dark
thumbnail-shaped moon in the corner. The other cover was engraved with images of many beautiful
things. A bright sun hovered above a crucifix of Jesus surrounded by seven angels. Along the spine of




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 44
the book, where good and evil met, there was writing but it was difficult to make out what it said. She
blew the dust away and wiped the cover with her hand before leaning in close to read, ‘The Book of
Answers.’
         There was a huge lock to the side of the book, which was also elaborately engraved. Sighing,
Sara wondered how on earth she would open it. Eager to find some sort of key, she turned the book over
but all that appeared on the back were the words, “All things open to those who are true of heart.” Sara
thought for a moment about what the words meant and realized that they may indicate the possibility of
opening it without the key. She pulled on the iron hoop of the lock and, without the least bit of force, it
snapped open. Sara removed the lock and placed her hands on the cover. Closing her eyes, she opened
the book to the first page. It was old and weathered by time like the scroll of some long past pirate or
great king. Printed in black ink were the words, “The truth behind all that exists is in your hands.” The
words were written by hand; every stroke of the unknown author’s letters was by far the most amazing
penmanship Sara had ever seen. Every letter had been meticulously shaped to absolute perfection. Her
heart racing with anticipation, Sara turned the page to reveal the words, “Any wish that can be dreamed
will be forever yours by reaching the end of this journey. For all those who pass through the door, sign
your name on the following pages. For all who make it to the end, sign your name at the back of the
book.”
         Sara stopped and thought before turning the page. What was the door the book spoke of, and
how would she find it? She slowly turned the page and to her amazement found the signatures of
hundreds of people, some with dates written beside them, that went back over a thousand years before.
There had to have been over ten pages of names written so close together that the ink almost bled from
one name to the other. She leafed through the book and found the pages that followed were completely
empty, not even a number marking them. She went to the end of the book and again found empty pages.
No one had signed the back, which could only mean that no one had completed the journey.
         “I don’t understand. Where do I begin?” she cried. Suddenly, before her very eyes, on one of the
pages a few words began to appear as though written by a ghost, “Follow Broken Tree River to the
lonely tree that sits on top of the mountain for this is where you shall begin.” Sara covered her mouth,
trying to hold back from screaming. She grabbed the book and slipped it into her backpack and quickly
made her way out of the library into the still raging storm of the cold wet night.


The sky exploded with reverberations from the combined forces of thunder and lightning that seemed to
shake the sodden earth, and then turn it into a maze of small rivers. Within seconds, Sara was drenched.
With her dark brown hair plastered against her face she looked a forlorn figure. She knew that the
nearest stretch of Broken Tree River was nearly three miles away across town and getting there would
be no easy task and especially with the weather worsening. But such was her awe of the miraculous
book and the strange journey of which it spoke that the pitch blackness of the night and the horrendous
storm did not bother her in the least. As if to applaud her courage, the sound of the wind blowing
through the leaves of the trees seemed to mimic thousands of little hands clapping and she pressed on.
After a while, though, Sara began to worry about what her family would think when they found her
letter in the morning, but still she marched on through the darkness, approaching ever closer to the river.




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 45
       Then, in the distance—about twenty yards away—Sara noticed something very peculiar. In the
middle of the road she could make out what looked like a crowd of people walking about. Wondering
what on earth people would be doing in the middle of the night in such a storm, she approached very
slowly, but then realized there was no way she could be heard for the thunder and rain would drown out
any sound she might make.
       It turned out that it was not people that Sara was seeing, but a herd of cows, at least a thousand of
them. The strong winds had blown down the trees that the wire fences had been nailed to and, like freed
slaves, the cows had scattered in all directions. She knew there would be some very angry farmers next
morning. Cows were prized possessions and could sometimes mean the difference between life and
death. They provided the meat that kept the villagers fed along with milk and cheese and so they were
irreplaceable in the every-day day life of everyone who lived in Whipper Wheel.
       Sara waited a while until the cows made their way off the dirt road. She continued trudging on
through the muddy puddles along the way and, after about a half an hour, arrived at the old wooden
bridge that was used by automobiles to cross the river. She was overwhelmed to have actually reached
this point after walking so far in such conditions. There was a small hill leading down to the riverbank
and usually it was an easy task on a summer’s day to get to the bottom, but the dirt track had turned into
a miniature landslide of mud and water. Sara carefully began to make her way down, but the ground was
far too slippery. Her feet gave way and she slid at least thirty feet down the hill, coming to a stop only an
inch from the water.
       The river thundered and roared as its waters water rose up and crashed ferociously over the
boulders that lay beneath it, creating mountainous spumes of white foam. An odd mist enshrouded the
river like a steaming blanket. It was a horrible place to be on such a night but, at the same time, the rain
and mist, and the power of the river coupled with the knowledge that she carried the Book of Answers in
her bag was so exciting that Sara finally felt free for the first time in her life. Yes, she was alone and yes,
she was lost, but still she was free. “Well, which way do I go?” she asked as she looked to the left and
then upstream to the right, trying to figure out which way would lead her to the lonely tree.
       Something caught Sara’s attention, and through the darkness and mist she began to make out
hundreds of lights that had begun to illuminate the water to her right. “Well what in the heavens might
those be?” she exclaimed. As she walked closer, she realized that she was looking at hundreds, maybe
thousands, of golden fish that sparkled and gleamed as they swam through the water, shining like little
stars in the darkness of space. They were going wild, catapulting themselves from the water to swim
upstream. “Well if that isn’t a sign then I don’t know what is!” she told herself with a glad smile.
       Sara ran as fast as she could along the bank of the river, trying not to lose the golden fish. When
they stopped she wondered why. They began to form shoals at the far side of the river, swirling into a
perfect circle that transformed them into a ball of light. As she focused her gaze through the mist, and
upon the light that hovered just above the surface of the water, they magically disappeared.
       Instinctively Sara knew that she must cross the river, but how? There was no telling how deep it
was, especially since it had been raining heavily for hours. “How am I going to cross the river?” she
muttered. “I’ll get the book wet, and then I’ll have nothing.” It was then that she remembered old Mr.
Kindle’s story about how the book was pulled from Diablo’s Pit and not even a page had been affected




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 46
by the water. “Well, here goes nothing,” she murmured, and began to walk carefully through the rapids,
which were quite not too deep at that point.
       The water was icy cold and moving very quickly, trying its best to sweep her feet from under
her. Sara struggled to keep her footing and pulled as hard as she could, but the water continued rising
and soon she could feel it above her shoulders as the current tried to pull her down and submerge her
body. The current was flowing swiftly and far too strong for Sara to withstand. Her feet lost contact with
the river bed and she was upended and sent tumbling downriver, bobbing about on the surface like a
cork. She tried as hard as she could to paddle to the safety of the bank but it was no use, the current was
too powerful.
       Sara could hear the sound of water crashing ahead and her heart almost stopped. She knew
exactly where the river was taking her. Dead Man Falls—a waterfall that could not possibly have been
given a better name. Over the years hundreds of men and women had tried to make it down the falls
with their canoes or boats to at least claim bragging rights to say that they had done it, but unfortunately
no one had ever succeeded.
       A mountain of cascading white foam dropped at least forty feet. There was no deep open water at
the bottom of the falls; nothing but an unforgiving bed of jagged rocks and boulders awaited little Sara.
Like so much flotsam, she drifted helplessly ever closer to the precipice. Ahead, in the distance, Sara
could make out the branches of a huge oak that had fallen across the river, its limbs reaching far out into
the middle of the rapids. Paddling as hard as she could to hold her course, her mouth endlessly filling
with water, Sara managed to grab a branch, but the power of the rapids sucked her down into their icy
depths. She held her breath as she clutched the branch with every ounce of remaining strength, and
slowly pulled herself to the surface. Little by little she made her way along the branch and down the
great trunk of the tree until she was finally able to drag her exhausted body to the bank of the river.
       After a few minutes, Sara stood up on unsteady legs and hobbled to a safe place. She fell on her
back, coughing and gasping for air, the roar of the raging river filling her ears and the incessant deluge
beating down upon her exhausted body. For a few minutes, she stared up at the unforgiving moon that
glimmered through the mist above her head, and then reached into her backpack for some food, only to
find a sodden ham on rye sandwich. Though it was almost not worth eating, she knew it was better than
nothing and took a few bites. She knew the lonely tree had to be close. There was a hill behind her and
relying on pure luck, she had a strong feeling that she would find the tree on top of it.
       Struggling to her feet, Sara started to climb. The rain-soaked earth and grass made the ground
very slippery, but she slowly inched forward, noticing that the trees became less dense the further she
travelled up the hill. She could see what looked like a clearing at the top. The torrential rain continued to
pelt down as the trees and brush tore at her clothes and smacked her face but still she pressed on.
Finally, the trees and undergrowth cleared and she could make out a mysterious silhouette. It was a tree.
Only its skeletal shape remained, and it stood in the centre of a clearing at the very peak of the hill. With
its black branches extending out on all sides, the tree stood quite alone, perfectly silhouetted against the
backdrop of midnight’s blazing full moon.
       It became apparent to Sara that she was not alone for as she approached the tree, a black, hooded
figure moved away from its trunk. “Who are you?” Sara yelled, her voice quivering with a fear she tried




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 47
hard to contain.
       “Sara! There is no need to be afraid, it’s me—Mr. Kindle!”
       “Mr. Kindle! You scared me half to death! I thought you were the devil himself! What are you
doing here?”
       “I’m here to help you. This is where you begin.”
       “Well show me Mr. Kindle . . .”
       “Hold on just a moment Sara, there are a few things you must know before you leave. You will
be going to some very strange places. You may see some frightening things, but please continue on no
matter what. Here take this.” Mr. Kindle handed Sara a bag.
       “What’s all this?”
       “A few things you will need. Inside that bag are some small pouches filled with—well, let’s just
say a bit of magic. I’ve written instructions on them telling you how to use each one, but please Sara,
use them sparingly and only when there is no other alternative.” Mr. Kindle paused for a moment, and
then said, “Sara give me the book.” Mr. Kindle took the book to the tree and pressed it against the trunk
of the tree. “Now stand back!”
       A crack of lightning instantly shot across the sky and forked in multiple branches of electrical
energy. The rain completely stopped. The ground beneath Sara’s feet began to tremble and from the
depths of the earth something began to push its way up through the dirt to the surface. They were doors,
four of them, and they looked very strange as the drifting clouds parted and moonlight again flooded the
darkness in which they stood.
       “Sara these are the doors. When you enter each world, open the book and say these words.” Mr.
Kindle returned the book to Sara and as she opened it, words appeared on the page, “Through light and
dark, through night and day, Book of Answers show me the way. . .”
       “Behind these doors lies the unknown, each door leads to a separate world and you must make
your way through each one to the next set of doors that awaits you,” Mr. Kindle told her. “If you make
to the end, remember that any wish you desire is yours.”
       “Any wish?”
       “Any wish.”
       Sara stared at the doors for a moment deciding on which one to take, and then approached the
third door. “Well, Mr. Kindle here I go. Wish me luck.”
       “I do Sara.”
       Reaching out, Sara grasped the door handle and slowly opened it. White light flooded out as she
shut the door behind her and stepped into the unknown.
       Before her was a scene so strange and frightening she could scarcely breathe. The sky was red
and there were three black moons. A river of fire bubbled and steamed, and on either side of the river
were reddish-brown mountains that reached high into the sky belching fire. A strange smell of
something burning filled the air as though she was inside a smoldering furnace. Smoke from the flames
filled the sky and somewhere in the distance she could hear what sounded like thousands of people
chanting in muted voices. The air was heavy and hot and Sara felt herself beginning to sweat.
       Sara turned to the door to see if it was possible to leave the evil place that had been revealed to




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 48
her but there was nothing on the other side just the river of fire snaking through the red mountains. She
remembered what Mr. Kindle had told her to say, so she repeated the words, “Through night and day,
Book of Answers show me the way. . .”
       Suddenly, as though from the blank page, the words began to appear, “Welcome to the Valley of
Hell. Take the golden boat through the River of Fire to the Castle of the Slaves and find the Crystal
Oracle. Without it you cannot pass through the next set of doors.”
       Sara stared down at the river and saw the boat, which indeed was gold. She made her way down
over the rocks and climbed inside. The steam billowed from the blood-red surface of the river as she
grabbed the golden oars and, using all her strength, pulled them through the River of Fire. As the boat
began to move, something made its way to the surface with its humped back passing just inches away.
Razor sharp horns protruded from its scaly body.
       “Oh no, this doesn’t look good,” Sara whispered to herself. It didn’t come to the surface again
for a few minutes, but when it did Sara nearly collapsed with horror at the sight of a gruesome creature
unlike anything she had ever seen. She raised one golden oar as though to defend herself, but it was a
futile gesture against such a beast. Its huge head was close to eight feet in width, full of crooked horns
that twisted in all direction, and its two very large eyes resembled those of a snake. The skin of the beast
was black and bubbling and the slime that dripped from its face had a smell like melting tar. When it
opened its mouth several rows of jagged teeth were revealed as it slithered through the molten river like
a cat playing with its prey. Oh Mr. Kindle where are you, Sara wondered.
       Reaching into the bag that Mr. Kindle had given her, Sara pulled out the pouches. There were no
instructions other than “Use in case of emergency” and “Use in case of really big emergency.” She
pulled the string on the second bag and found nothing more than a claw of some dead animal, possibly a
hawk or an eagle. “Oh great—I’m about to be ripped apart by some creature from hell and all that he
gives me is a claw!” she muttered.
       As the creature drew nearer, she threw the claw into the river. The creature lifted its scaly black
neck nearly twenty feet out of the river and pointed its head at Sara like a snake waiting to strike. In the
midst of the turmoil that surrounded her, Sara heard a scream that was so piercing she had to cover her
ears. A strong wind caused the smoke to swirl and she could make out the sound of wings flapping.
Through the haze of smoke a great white bird appeared—no normal bird, it had three heads with razor
sharp beaks and its gigantic wing span generated gusts of such power that they nearly threw Sara to the
bottom of the boat.
       The great white bird wrapped its talons around the head of the fiery beast, ripping the scaly black
skin. Black blood squirted in all directions and splashed over Sara as she watched in horror from the
bottom of the boat. The giants battled each other as flames of fire shot from the serpent’s mouth,
singeing the great bird. The battle continued until the bird sank its talons into the head of the beast and
tore it from its body, dropping it into the molten river that melted the skin and revealed the creature’s
great skull. The bird landed on the bank of the river and Sara rowed the boat toward it, staring in
wonderment as she neared the magnificent creature. She pulled ashore and approached the bird slowly,
extending her hand to show she meant no harm. One of the three heads of the bird leaned forward, and
its great white beak reached out in a friendly gesture. Sara touched it and the bird let out a great shriek




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 49
and nodded to its back. She realized she was being invited to climb aboard, but it wasn’t easy for the
bird was nearly ten feet tall. It stood up and began to flap its immense wings. Sara held on tight as it
lifted upwards, the hot air warming her face as they ascended higher and higher.
        Its feathers were as white as snow and softer than the finest velvet, and the view from the back of
the great white bird at such a height was absolutely incredible. A landscape of great red mountains shot
fire into the sky that came within feet of the bird’s talons. The River of Fire could be clearly seen below
as it snaked its way through the hills. Sara wondered where the bird was taking her but most of her
concentration was taken up with hanging on for dear life. Finally the bird began to make its descent,
gracefully floating to its final destination—a massive mountain that was so high it seemed dwarf those
around it. Sara climbed off the bird and before long it lifted off and disappeared into the cloud of smoke
that hovered above the mountains.
        “Maybe I should have stayed home,” Sara murmured as she heard more of the same strange
chanting that she had heard earlier, although it seemed closer. She walked near the mountain’s steepest
side and tried to see the source of the chanting. Down in a valley she could make out what looked like
thousands of people. They walked in single column as if they were in some sort of army that stretched
for mile upon endless mile. They were all chanting the same, low eerie song.
        Sara wondered where the people were going, and then decided to look for a place to sit down as
she had grown very tired. In the distance she saw what looked like a cavern of some sort. She
approached it and realized it that it was a cave leading into the mountain. Not knowing what might be
lurking in such a strange place, she entered very quietly and cautiously. It was so dark she could barely
see her hand in front of her face.
        “Hello!” Sara yelled, listening as her voice echoed around the rock walls over and over until it
finally faded away in the dark abyss. She knew that the cave must be very deep. She lit a match and
cursed that her lantern had fallen and broken in the library. After pulling out a sandwich and a jug of
water—now warm enough to make tea—Sara sat in the dark listening to the still audible chanting of the
army marching through the valley below.
        Just as she was starting to doze off, she heard something.
        “Whooooo are yoooou?” a voice whispered.
        Frightened, and wondering what sort of creature was speaking to her, Sara sat up at once. “My
name is Sara. I mean no harm. Please don’t hurt me, I promise—I mean I really do promise—to leave at
once!” She rose to her feet and began to walk backward, slowly exiting the cave.
        “And who said you had to leave? Is it fear of the unknown that haunts you, Sara? Somewhere in
the abyss of the unknown lies the reason for all things, the answers to your questions. The core of your
being, the fruits of your life are rotting in the face of fear.”
        “I’m not exactly sure what that means but you do seem like an intelligent creature.”
        “Creature? I am no more a creature than you Sara.”
        “How do you know my name?”
        “I am Starchild, the knower of all things who transcends time. I am a philosopher of the universe.
It is I who they come to when the answers they seek are blank, painted in confusion and lost in sorrow.”
Starchild stopped after this sentence and began to laugh, but it was not a happy laugh and the wheezing




                                     Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 50
sound that accompanied the breathy chuckles echoed in the darkness and made Sara feel even more
frightened and uneasy.
        “Light a candle. I wish my eyes to gaze upon your flesh,” Starchild said.
        “I have no candle, I’m sorry I think I should go know.”
        “Gooooo? You can’t go. You need me. How else will you find the doors Sara? Hmm? How else?
On the pathways that lead up and down there are strangers in black. The burning ashes of death await
you Sara. They call you Sara . . . Without me you are nothing, you are lost. Oh, how you are all lost!”
        “Okay. I’m not sure who you are or how you know all these things, but how can I trust that you
will not hurt me if I stay?”
        The voice that replied was not that of Starchild, but the voice of Sara’s mother, Mary.
        “Sara, listen to Starchild. He will guide you.”
        More confused than ever, Sara began to cry. “Mother, are you here? Where are you, mother?
Please, mother—help me!” Grabbing her last match, Sara struck it against the box, the flickering light
illuminating the source of the voice. Starchild was a very skinny man, and from his appearance, quite
ancient. His face was so sunken that its bones could be seen just below the thin parchment-like layer of
skin. He was shackled to the wall by two great steel cuffs around his wrists, and his back was hunched
from being chained for so long. He stared at Sara as the match burnt down to her fingertips. His body
seemed to be dead and the only thing that was left alive was his head hanging low, and the two large
blue eyes that popped from his skull as he stared at Sara.
        Frowning, Sara put her signed finger in her mouth. “Ow!” she said, “stupid match!” and threw it
to the ground.
        “Here . . .” The ground in front of her lighted up with a small fire. Starchild lifted his head and
spat beside it.
        Sara watched in amazement as his gooey saliva ignited as if it was kerosene. “Are you a wizard
of some sort?”
        “Wizards . . . huh, they are nothing more than good magicians. I am the well of truth, firelight,
and the roots of enlightenment—”
        “Listen, if you are going to help me you really need to stop speaking in riddles for I haven’t the
slightest idea what you are talking about. Now, what is this place and how do I find the Castle of
Slaves?”
        Starchild looked at Sara in wonderment. How was it that a little girl could defy him?
        “The place—as you know—is the Valley of Hell, the epitome of darkness where tortured souls
swim, lost in the abyss of fire. The Castle of Slaves is just that, a castle built from a mountain of dead
men’s bones. The Lord of all Darkness watches over the eternal torture of those who are forced to
remain in that place as his salves. His name is Seth and, by the way, intruders such as you . . . well, let’s
just say if they are caught, as I was, they will spend the rest of time—eternity—here in this wretched
hell hole. I have been chained to this wall before time itself existed. I have sat in solitude in the darkness
with the smell of death and the fires beyond these walls always burning. Alone, I sit forever with the
company of only the thoughts in my mind, the outlines of the truth the—”
        “Okay Starchild! I’ve got the point. Listen, I must be on my way. Please tell me how to get to




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 51
this castle, and where is this oracle.”
          Ignoring her questions, Starchild said, “What have you there?”
          “What do mean?”
          “There, in that bag of yours. What do you carry with you? I must know Sara. I feel as though you
have something of great worth in there.”
          “Oh—in there? Well, it’s ah . . . just some food and water and . . . a book.”
          “A book? What sort of book do you have?”
          “You know Starchild, judging by the looks of you, I think you should be more interested in the
food than a book!”
          “Food, huh, I haven’t eaten in nearly a thousand years—little good that would do! No, I find
pleasure in other things. Now tell me of this book.”
          “Fine I’ll tell you, but you mustn’t tell a soul about it.”
          “Sara, look at me.” Starchild lifted his bony hands and the chains that hung from his wrist
jangled together.
          “I mean really Sara, who would I tell? The rats?”
          “Well all right then, I’ll show you.”
          “Come closer, closer!” Starchild took a giant gasp of air and his eyes became so big they nearly
popped from the bones of his ancient face.
          “It’s the Book! It’s the Book!” he screamed.
          “I told you to keep quiet!”
          Starchild reached as far as the chains would allow, stretching every last vestige of strength from
his frail body so that he could touch the Book. It seemed as though he was being pulled toward it; he
was mad with longing. “Let me see it Sara, please just let me touch it I . . . I must be near it—
          “No! Starchild, this is mine, and besides I need it for I am lost without it—”
          Sara’s words were cut short by the sound of men with deep gurgling voices who could be heard
traveling down into the cave.
          “Run, hide!” Starchild told Sara in a frantic whisper. She grabbed her things and ran deeper into
the blackness of the cave to hide behind a large boulder.
          The men began to speak again, “What’s all the noise!?” one of them asked in a deep guttural
gurgle.
          Frantic, Starchild replied, “Nothing master, just speaking to myself. Not too many people stop by
to chat you know.”
          “Are you trying to be funny you demented little freak?”
          A giant thud echoed throughout the cave. Starchild coughed and cried out as the monsters beat
him.
          After a while, when they had finished, and left him unconscious, Sara whispered into the
darkness, “Starchild, Starchild, are you all right?” There was no reply so Sara made her way back down
the cave where he was returning to consciousness. He was still dazed, and his head hung low; blood
dripped from his mouth.
          Barely coherent, he mumbled, “I’m fine, just a couple scratches . . .”




                                    Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 52
         “Who were those creatures? Why did they come here and do this to you?”
         “Those are the master’s servants, evil creatures they are. I wish they’d all burn in the hell they
came from. You must go know Sara, before it’s too late. Tell no one of this Book. If it got into the
wrong hands your world could be destroyed.”
         “Thanks, how do I know which way to go?”
         “There is a pathway near the entrance of the cave leading down the mountain. At the bottom you
will find Skeleton Bridge, but beware of the keeper—he sometimes guards it . . . a strange fellow he is,
but he has a weakness.”
         “Well what is it, tell me?”
         “It’s music.”
         “Music, I don’t have anything I could play. I don’t know how.”
         “Well then you’ll have to sing something I suppose, that is unless you would like to be his next
addition to the bridge.”
         “Alright, I guess. Thanks again Starchild. I promise to find a way to free you from this misery.”
         “It’s a deal.”


                                                 CHAPTER 8


The path down from the mountain was a tortuous series of snaking twists and turns, a spiral staircase
that seemed as though it would never arrive at its destination. Just as Sara was beginning to despair of
getting anywhere, she saw the same violet light that she had first seen in the library basement. It hovered
in the air above her and to the path ahead. Off in the distance she could still make out the strange army
of marchers that stretched as far as the eye could see. Then, to her amazement, ten or twelve of them
suddenly ran swiftly across the path in front of her. They were as red as the sky above and they couldn’t
have been more than a foot tall.
         There was a hole in the ground to the left of the path and they scurried down it one by one like
rabbits. It seemed to Sara that the further she travelled into the alien world the more bizarre it became.
Her eyes itched and burned from the heat and smoke that filled the air as she proceeded down the last
leg of the path. In the distance she could see the River of Fire sinuously wending its way bubbling and
hissing through the disturbing landscape. Sara thought of her family and of the life she had lived before
she was cast into this strange world. In her heart, though, she knew that she must find the truth and the
meaning of her life and if it took walking alone through the Valleys of Hell, then she was determined to
do it.
         Finally the bridge came into view. With a span of close to a hundred feet, it was a very peculiar
bridge. It had been built entirely from old bones and the span itself was nearly the same distance from
the River of Fire boiling and bubbling below. At the foot of the bridge Sara noticed a very small man
lying on the ground, his head propped up against a post made of bones. She stood before him and looked
at him closely. He was an odd little man with a very short pencil-like nose and a moustache that curled
up at the ends. An ugly creature, there was something about him that nonetheless appealed to Sara. She
found the little fellow a bit cute.




                                      Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 53
          “Excuse me Sir?” she said, but there was no reply. The strange little man just continued snoring
as though he had not a care in the world. In a much louder voice Sara spoke again, “Excuse me Sir!”
          The little man opened his bleary eyes and stood up, the top of his head not quite reaching Sara’s
knees.
          “State your business here!” he demanded.
          “My name is Sara Dwells and I have come to cross your bridge. Now step aside. I have places I
need to be.”
          “You want to cross my bridge? My bridge! How dare you insult my existence with such
nonsense! Now be on your way—I must get back to my rest!” The little man then settled back down on
the ground and within seconds was snoring again.
          “I can’t believe the nerve of you, why you little screwball!”
          He opened his eyes and this time he was very angry. “All right, I’ve had it. I’m going to throw
you into the River of Fire and watch the skin melt from your pretty little bones!”
          “Well, they’re awfully big words for such a little man!”
          “I will have you know that I am one of the fiercest creatures in all these lands. Beasts and men
kneel at my feet in the presence of my greatness. They know of the powers I posses!” He raised his hand
and suddenly Sara was lifted up off the ground. With every gesture of his hand he twirled and spun Sara
around in the air until she was so dizzy she could barely see. “Any last words before I drop you into the
river?”
          Sara thought furiously, and then remembered what Starchild had told her about the music. She
could only think of one song. It was one that her father always sang around the house and so she began
to sing, “Somewhere across the fields where the lilacs grow, somewhere across the ocean where the cool
wind likes to blow, staring at the sky a pretty color blue, I sing you a song my darling I love you.”
          As she sang, Sara began to float back down to the ground, the little man staring up at her wide
eyed with a huge smile on his face. When Sara finally reached the ground she couldn’t help but stare at
him. He was in a state of complete bliss. Although Sara had stopped singing, he swayed back and forth
with the smile still fixed upon his face, as if the music had never really stopped.
          As the little man swayed and danced back and forth in some sort of euphoria, Sara quickly
gathered her things and made her way across the bridge. Through the cracks in the bridge the river could
be seen boiling like a cauldron and cracking and popping below her feet as she slowly made her way
across. When she reached the other side she found a path that led into a very unusual forest. The trees
were black and an oil-like sap seeped from their singed trunks. It was a very dark forest and Sara knew
that there would be many strange creatures living within its mysterious interior.
          Above her head, high up in one of the trees—one that was nothing more than a twisted maze of
crooked branches—Sara heard what sounded like a bird screeching and squawking. A giant bird was
perched in the tree that towered above her. No average blue jay, it was enormous and although she could
only glimpse its silhouette, it was more than enough to start Sara running.
          She ran as fast and as far as she could until her breath ran out and she collapsed. After a few
minutes, when she had recovered a little, Sara realized that the heat of the wretched place along with her
increasing hunger had left her very weak. She also looked a wreck; her face was covered with sweat and




                                   Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 54
dirt, and her dress was no longer white but a dirty brown.
        Sara decided to take some time to rest, and found a place a little way off the path. She reached
into her backpack hoping to find something left to eat but there was nothing other than a few bread
crumbs and the book. Pulling the book out of her bag, she opened it to the first page and stared down at
the words written there, “Those who pass through the door sign your name on the following pages. For
all who make it to the end, sign your name at the back of the book.” She realized that she had never
actually signed her name at the beginning, and ripped through her bag in search of something to write
with but found nothing. “Oh great, I’ve come all this way and have forgotten to sign my name in the
book,” she said.
        Sara took her glasses off and tried her best to wipe them dry of the stream and humidity fogging
them up. As she put them back on she noticed the oil-like sap dripping from one of the trees, and it
occurred to her that she could use the black ooze as ink to sign her name in the book. No sooner the
thought than she reached over to break a branch off a nearby tree.
        “Ouch! That hurt! What do you think you are doing?”
        Sara quickly jumped back. Where was the voice coming from?
        The tree with the broken branch turned toward her. It was clear to Sara that it was no ordinary
tree; in fact it even had a face. The tree spoke again, “Do you see me tearing off one of your arms while
you are trying to sleep? Huh? No, I didn’t think so.”
        This was so extraordinary to Sara that she was speechless for a few seconds, and more than a
little afraid, but she also found the tree a bit funny and she let out a little laugh. “I’m so sorry Mr. Tree,
but I have never seen a talking tree before.”
        “Well there are quite a few things around this place you’ve never seen before,” the tree said.
        Just then Sara heard another voice from a different tree, “Can you keep it down Peter Cedar, I’m
trying to get some rest over here!”
        “Rest, huh! You’ve been sleeping for the last four hundred years. It’s not like you need the
energy because you’re going somewhere!”
        Sara laughed. The trees were funny, and it was nice to have finally found something amusing in
such an alien world.
        “Oh don’t mind him—that old oak is going to croak one of these days. So, tell me, what’s a
pretty little girl like you doing in a place like this?” Peter Cedar asked, gently touching Sara’s cheek
with one of his branches.
        “I’m trying to find the Castle of Slaves so I can pass through to the next set of worlds.”
        “Oh, you’re another one of those Oracle seekers, huh? Well, it’s no use, you won’t make it—no
one ever has.”
        “Oh I will make Mr. Cedar, you just watch and see. Now tell me where this castle is?”
        “And what makes you think I’m going to help you?”
        “Well, I don’t really know—how about a kiss?” Sara walked over to the tree and leaned in and
kissed him. Peter Cedar immediately began to blush, his tough guy attitude dissolving completely as he
stood there, smiling and not saying a word.
        “What? Why are you being so shy?”




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 55
        Peter Cedar turned to Sara. “Well, no one has ever kissed me before, I mean I am a good looking
piece of cedar—heck, all the fine pines want my acorns, but a kiss! Well, that’s the first one I’ve ever
had.”
        “If it makes you feel any better, you are the first tree I’ve ever kissed.”
        Peter Cedar reached out with one of his branches. “Here, grab hold; I want to show you
something.”
        Sara grabbed the branch and was instantly lifted off the ground, rising higher and higher up into
the sky. At the top, she could not believe the panorama that unfolded before her eyes. The smoking red
hills rolled across the wasteland of ash and the raging Rivers of Fire. In the distance Sara could make out
a huge castle sitting on the top of a dark mountain, the spires of its black towers soaring into the sky—
most so tall they were lost in the smoky reddish-gray clouds that hovered above the fortress. Again Sara
heard the low chanting of the endless column below and was astounded at what she saw next. Like ants
moving in a perfect line, she could make out the strange army as it marched the final miles to the moat
that surrounded the dark castle. The sky rumbled above her but it was not the low booming sound she
was used to. The pitch was lower and more ominous, and it chilled Sara to her bones.
        “Let me down! Let me down, at once!” she yelled to Mr. Cedar who responded immediately.
“You know, I’m really starting to not like this place, it’s like some kind of bad dream, and the worst part
is that I can’t leave,” Sara said as she was brought back to the forest floor.
        Peter Cedar looked up at the sky for a moment, causing his trunk to groan and squeak like rusty
hinges on a creaky old door. “No, it’s not the best of places to be, but on the other hand it could be
worse, you could be one of them.”
        “What do you mean—one of them?”
        “Well, the lost souls, those creatures you hear chanting day and night, night and day; they are
tortured and evil things. Their hearts are as black as the ash beneath their feet. I call them the Dark
Angels. They emanate the purest of all evil. Stay away from them Sara!”
        “Well I wasn’t exactly planning on having them over for tea, Mr. Cedar!”
        “Your sense of humor might just save you in a place like this. Keep your hope and here, take this
before you go.” Peter Cedar extended one of his branches toward Sara, “Break a twig off and keep it in
your pocket, bury it in the earth when you are in great trouble and the roots of time will save you.”
        Sara selected a twig to break off. “Ouch!” Peter Cedar said. “Be careful, I’ve only got so many
of those!”
        “Thanks again Mr. Tree—I mean Mr. Peter Cedar—for all your help. You are indeed a fine
cedar. And, oh, yes, one last thing before I go; where can I find something to eat in this place?”
        “Oh yes, of course. When you come close to reaching the end of the forest, that is if you can
make it through, you will find the Tree of Deceit but beware; some of its fruit are very poisonous yet
others are so delicious and filling you won’t have to eat for days. Unfortunately, no one knows which
fruit is bad or good. I recommend staying away from it but it’s your choice Sara. Soon you will realize
that everything is.”
        Grabbing her things, Sara said her goodbyes and headed back down the path, but the closer she
got to the mysterious castle the worse the stench and heat became. The air was filled with choking




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 56
smoke that reeked of what smelled like burning hair. The intense heat made Sara so thirsty she could
barely stand it. There was no wind, not even the slightest breeze, just the hot sticky air and the rotten
stench that filled it. Sara had now reached the point where the path had petered out so she was relying on
pure instinct and luck to make it through the strangest forest she had ever experienced. It seemed as
though she had been walking for days and getting nowhere so she decided it best if she found a safe
place to sleep for a while.
       She found a small opening in the side of a hillock, but it was hard to see what might be inside so
Sara leaned her head in and said, “Hello, hello, is anyone or anything in here?” There was no reply, not
even the slightest hint of an echo from her voice so she knew the opening wasn’t deep. Crawling inside
and using her bag as a pillow, Sara made herself as comfortable as possible, but curled up alone in the
darkness with her stomach twisting and gurgling from hunger was not helped by the fact that she was
also very worried. In fact Sara was scared, and there was some sadness too for it seemed as though her
world was over, but she was so tired that even the intense anxiety could no longer keep her awake. As
she lay there in the small hole, there was almost nothing that Sara wanted more than to just go home for
a little while. And so she dreamed of being safe in her room with her poems and stories, and all the
things she had taken so much for granted. Even the ordinary day to day things like hearing her mother
yelling down the hallway, calling her for breakfast or dinner. She thought of the sound of her father
splitting wood in the yard outside her window while Jason played away on the old upright in the living
room. She was finally realizing how special all those everyday events were; and how she had done
nothing but complain the whole time.


Something was breathing over her, and moisture was dripping on her face. There was a smell that
resembled the carcass of a dead animal rotting in the sun. Sara awoke with a start. She could hear it
inches from her face; a deep gurgling sound that a wild beast might make. Her heart felt like it was
going to stop and a sudden chill rose to the surface of her skin.
       “Saraaaaaa . . .”
       Before she could reply, the creature wrapped an arm around her neck and dragged her from the
hole into the dim light of the forest. The beast dropped her on the ground and when she looked up Sara
saw that she was surrounded by the most hideous creatures she had ever seen in her life. They towered
above her as she lay sick with fear, upon the black ash that covered the ground.
       The beasts were gigantic, ten feet or more tall. In the dim light she could see that they wore great
helmets made of iron with twisted horns protruding from them. One of the beasts began to approach her,
but before he had the chance to grab her one of the others caught him by the throat and threw him nearly
fifty feet, smashing him against one of the trees. She realized that this had to be their leader. He was
much larger than the others and when he moved, they stood aside. Their speech was a language of low
and frightening mumbles and grunts and was unlike anything Sara had ever heard.
       Their leader approached Sara and grabbed her face. The creature’s hand was so hot it nearly
burnt her, and its jagged claw-like nails poked into her skin. As Sara began to cry, thoughts raced
unchecked through her mind; fearful thoughts about what sort of creatures they might be, and whether
they were going to kill her. She remembered what Peter Cedar had said about the Dark Angels and




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concluded that these must be the evil creatures of whom he spoke. The beast wrapped its hand around
Sara’s hair, and with a jolt, pulled her head back.
       “Oh my God!” screamed Sara, “Please stop, please let me go!”
       All she could do was sob as the bizarre creature ran its long tar-covered tongue up against Sara’s
neck. He then dragged her across the forest floor and threw her down at the feet of an even larger beast.
When Sara raised her head up to see what on earth could have a foot so big she could scarcely believe
her eyes.
       Some of the creatures were almost twice the size of an adult elephant. The colossal beasts wore
metal armor and their huge heads were full of horns that twisted at the ends like those of a goat. Smoke
exploded from their nostrils like the boiling steam of a train engine. The expulsion of their breath was so
powerful that the ash covering the ground was blown in all directions. The leader of the gruesome army
of mutilated soldiers approached Sara and ripped her backpack from her grasp.
       “No! No!” she screamed, “not my bag, anything but that!” But her words were lost, and she
began to sob hysterically. The beast tore the bag apart and when he found the book, he and the others
who were watching closely, knelt down before it as if he was holding the Holy Grail. As their master
held the book to the sky, they began to chant. A crack of lightning shot down from the blood-red clouds
and hit the book.
       Sara was lifted to the top of the strange elephant-like creature and placed inside a cage made
entirely of the bones of dead men. When the door was locked, the army of creatures marched on over the
crimson mountains that continued far off into the distance, the weight of the colossal beasts shaking the
ground beneath. She had to hold on to the side of the cage or risk being bashed against its walls as the
army marched on for endless miles, taking her closer and closer to the mysterious dark castle atop the
furthest mountain.
       Sara realized that she was in very deep trouble indeed.


Back in Whipper Wheel the morning sun was making its way over the frozen peaks of Mount Iger. Mary
was in the kitchen and John had been gone since before the sun had even looked like rising. The old iron
tea kettle on the wood stove began to scream as the steam shot out. The sound woke Anna; she had been
with one of her many boyfriends the previous night and had gone to bed very late. She was still wearing
the same short dress, and as she sat up in bed she wrapped the covers around her body, squinting as her
eyes adjusted to the light reflecting off the hills outside her window. She had snuck through the window
the night before and had left it open. Her room was freezing cold—the house was always cold in the
morning and an open window did not help. Before the household settled down to sleep John would
always load the old wood stove full of freshly cut wood, but unfortunately the stove wasn’t large enough
to hold sufficient wood to burn all night. By morning there was nothing left but ashes and a cold house.
       Anna walked down the hallway with her bed blankets still wrapped around her, dragging on the
floor like a tattered old wedding dress. She banged on Sara’s door as she read the announcement that
had been taped to it, “If I don’t answer, don’t come in!” Anna rolled her eyes as she kept banging on the
door. “Wake up you little brat, I need to borrow a blanket, it’s like living in an igloo in this house!”
There was no reply so Anna barged into her room. She looked about the room, noticing that Sara wasn’t




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there. “Whatever . . .” she said as she hastily grabbed the blankets from Sara’s bed, sending her sister’s
note to the floor. Anna knelt down and picked it up. “Probably just another one of her stupid fairy tales,”
Anna told herself, but decided to sit down on Sara’s bed to read it anyway.
        Dear Family,
        Please do not be alarmed by finding me gone. I promise you I am alright. I have gone on a
        journey. I do not know when I will return but I promise you I will. Don’t send anyone searching
        for me. There is something that I must find, and when I do, I will make you all very happy. I
        must leave it’s just something that I have to do. I love you all very dearly and I hope that some
        good will come out of this whole thing.
                                                  Love, Sara Dwells
        Confused, and not knowing if it was just another prank or whether Sara really had left, Anna sat
on the bed and stared at the letter. But her heart began to race when she noticed that Sara’s backpack
was missing. “Oh my God!” she gasped in a frightened voice, “Mother, mother, come quick, hurry!”
        Hearing Anna’s calls, Mary ran down the hallway to Sara’s room. “What is it?”
        “It’s Sara, she’s . . . gone! Look—she left this.” Anna said, handing the note to her mother.
        Mary read it quickly and then said, “Where on earth would she go Anna? What did you do to
her!”
        “Nothing mother I swear, I said nothing, I mean it!”
        Mary moved about the room, frantically looking through Sara’s closets and seeing some clothes
missing.
        “Mother, her backpack is gone. I don’t understand; where would she go?”
        “Okay Anna, you stay here. I’m calling your father’s boss. Richard must let him come home at
once. Richard was always easy to get in contact with because he rarely left his house, not because he had
nowhere to go but because he weighed nearly five hundred pounds and spent most of his days arranging
his bug collection. He was sitting on his couch when his phone rang. It was so loud it was as if a school
bell was going off.
        “Hello, Richard’s Tree Service?”
        “Richard you must find John and send him home immediately, this is a family emergency!”
        “What’s wrong Mary, is everyone alright?”
        “Sara’s missing; please send him home at once!”
        “I’ll call one of the boys to get him.”
        Mary slammed the phone into its cradle. She sat down in the rocking chair in the living room and
read Sara’s letter over and over again as she tried to make sense of the whole thing.


The convoy of mutant creatures continued its march to the black castle. Sara looked up at the massive
structure that sat on the top of the mountain reaching far beyond the smoky red clouds into the unknown
of the sky above. It looked as though it was made from lava or a type of tar and gave the appearance of
something out of a horrible nightmare. If the Devil had a house this surely would have to be it, Sara
thought. What manner of strange things were behind its walls and where were these creatures taking her.
        The giant beast reached the bottom of a huge stairway that led up toward the entrance. The beast




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 59
knelt down and the cage that held Sara was placed on the ground. The evil creatures grabbed both ends,
picked the cage up again and started climbing the staircase. During the ascent, Sara could see all sorts of
bizarre things going on around her, and many evil looking creatures and demons being tortured. Their
spine-tingling cries could be heard from all directions, and the stench in the air was sickening.
       At the entrance to the castle stood two giant guards, ten or fifteen feet tall, covered in twisted
armor. They stood motionless with their weapons resting at their sides, their faces covered with metal
masks that made them even more disturbing. They spoke to each other in the same odd, mumbling-like
language Sara had heard earlier. Using all of their considerable strength to do so, the guards began to
open the colossal doors at the entrance to the castle. The stench and the steam became even more
intense, and overwhelming. Sara began to feel very light headed and her sight blurred. Her eyelids
became so very heavy she could no longer keep them open. She lapsed into unconsciousness.


When Sara finally awoke she opened her eyes and immediately realized that her arms and legs had been
securely tied down. Lifting her head, she saw that her arms were wrapped in barbed wire and she was
tied to a sort of table, completely unable to move.
       The room in which she was imprisoned was very odd; extremely dark and reeking of the stench
of fowl, it seemed like the trophy room of a great hunter. The walls were hung with objects—not deer or
fish, but with the skeletal remains of a great variety of strange creatures and humans. Niches in the dark
brick walls were filled with steel plaques upon which the great prizes were mounted, their names
engraved below. Sara’s eyes widened as she looked about the amazing sight. She thought of screaming
for help, but then realized it would be futile for there was nobody who would be able to help her in such
a place.
       A red streak shot across the dark walls and emitted a bizarre scream. It landed on one of the
skeletons that hung from the wall. The lifeless carcass began to move as though the apparition in red had
taken on the form of the skeleton, which even seemed to be growing skin on its skull. Sara tugged as
hard as she could to free herself from her bonds but it was no use, and the wires simply cut deeper into
her skin the more she struggled.
       Suddenly the figure moved toward her, its new skin dangling from its hideous face. It slowly
approached the table where Sara was tied.
       “I see you have brought me my book, Sara. Now it is mine; everything, every soul, every drop of
good. All will be destroyed!”
       Rage overcame Sara’s fear and horror for the moment and she lifted her head, “That’s my book.
You have stolen it from me. How dare you!” Despite herself, she began to cry. “I just want my wish,
that’s all, please let me continue!”
       His evil chuckle filled Sara with dread. “And what makes you think I would do that?”
       “Because, I have the key that opens the book; without it, you have nothing!”
       The creature leaned in close. “What is this key you speak of?”
       “I will tell you where it is if you let me go.”
       “Well of course I’ll let you go.”
       “Okay, untie one of my arms so I can get it for you.”




                                   Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 60
         Without the least effort, the creature wrapped its skeletal hand around the wire and tore it from
the table. Sara reached inside her pocket and made a fist.
         “Okay, here you are, it’s in my hand take it!”
         As the creature reached out, Sara jammed the twig from Peter Cedar into its mouth. Stunned, it
stood still and for a moment nothing happened. She knew that deep trouble awaited her.
         “I knew there was no key you liar, now you will pay with your soul!” The creature reached out
and grabbed Sara’s head as she screamed.
         Suddenly the creature’s hand relaxed its grip. Sara looked up to see what it — he — was doing,
and what she saw next was incredible. From the inside of his mouth she could see roots shooting out
very rapidly, and in all directions. The roots entangled themselves around his face, and his struggles to
remove them succeeded only in enmeshing him more deeply. It was then that Sara realized what was
happening; that tree roots were sprouting from inside of him. He screamed and frantically struggled to
free himself as the roots twisted and snaked around him like a spider web.
         It was no use. Within seconds the creature was trapped in an impenetrable cocoon. The roots
then began to bury themselves into the floor, and Sara felt it begin to shake as the roots started shooting
runners beneath the flooring. The creature was dragged at a furious speed downward through each floor
of the castle, and she could hear his bony body slamming hard against each floor level as he plummeted
downward.
         Reaching over, Sara freed her arm from the barbed wire shackles and ran to the hole in the floor
where the creature had stood taunting her only seconds before and looked down. It was hard to believe
her eyes. The roots had not only pulled the creature straight down through every level of the castle, but
right down into the earth itself and through to the darkest depths of the hell that was this nightmarish
world.
         There was an awful pain in her wrists where the shackles had been tied, and her heart raced. She
was filled with immense fear. How would she escape? Surely the Dark Angels had heard all the
commotion and were on their way up to see what had happened. Sara also realized that amidst the
commotion she had forgotten two things—the Book and the Oracle, the whereabouts of which were
unknown. Sara frantically thought through the possibilities of where he would have put the book, while
at the same time wondering where the Oracle had gone.
         The only objects in the chamber of evil were skeletons, hundreds of them. In anger Sara began to
knock the skulls to the floor; they had been meticulously positioned within the various niches and
shelves almost as if they were family portraits. As they fell one by one, she looked around trying to find
any clue as to where the Book and Oracle might be hidden, but it was hopeless; there was nothing more
than old bones and cobwebs.
         Sara knew that it would only be a matter of moments before she was found, and time was indeed
running out. From a few floors below she could hear a commotion of some sort and knew exactly what it
was; the Dark Angels were ascending the flight of stairs leading upward toward the room she was in.
Sara searched desperately for somewhere to hide, but where? Where, she wondered, does one hide in a
room full of dead people? Just as she posed the question, she realized that was the answer—she had to
play dead. One of the peculiar looking bodies that hung from the wall was dressed in a garment that




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 61
resembled a cloak so the skeleton itself was hidden. The thought of even undressing the body was
frightening enough, but she had no option.
       Sara quickly undressed the body. The cloak that the nameless body wore was far too big for her,
but there was no time to fetch a tailor so she wrapped it around herself as best she could, then climbed
into the casket resting within its wall niche and lay there motionless. There was a great bang as the Dark
Angels exploded through the doors. She could hear their heavy breathing as they walked about the room,
and although they spoke in their mumbled language and there was no way to understand the words, she
knew they were infuriated. They yelled and screamed as they searched the room looking for any sign of
Sara. She remained still and silent, eyes closed and taking short breaths as she silently prayed, “Oh God,
please spare me, I don’t know what I’ve gotten myself into, but please help me find a way back home
and I promise you I will change. Please, please God!” Her heart nearly stopped when she heard
footsteps only two feet in front of the casket in which she was hiding, but they moved on and then she
heard them begin to exit the room. Sara let out a quick sigh of relief when they were finally gone, and
slowly removed the cloak from her face and threw it on the floor where it landed on the skeleton.
       She walked to the doors and peeked out. A spiral stone staircase snaked downwards and further
than she could see. The castle was so huge she wondered how on earth she would ever find her way out.
She knew that she could not leave without first finding the Book, and the Oracle. But just how she
would accomplish these feats inside a castle the size of a small city, and crawling with the strangest
most evil creatures she had ever seen in her life, was not only unknown but seemed an insurmountable
challenge. To escape from the room, let alone the castle, appeared hopeless, and she couldn’t even begin
to think where to look for the Book and the Oracle.
       It was at that point Sara realized she needed to find some way to protect herself from the cruel
heartless beings now tormenting her, but what would she use in her own defense? She still had a couple
of the bags Mr. Kindle had given her, but how long would they last, and how many other strange worlds
would lie ahead?
        “Wait a second,” she murmured to herself, “I’m surrounded by some of the greatest warriors and
beasts of all time, yet they have no need for their weapons.” There were many gruesome looking
weapons displayed beside the strange creatures that had once wielded them in battle and in murder.
Double-sided axes, swords of all kinds—blood of the victims still staining their razor sharp blades—and
a hundred other bone crushing weapons she had never seen before.
       The first weapon she chose was an old sword that still rested in the bony cobwebbed hand of one
of the skeletons on the wall. The sword was old and rusty, and time had tarnished its steel blade, but the
engravings on its brass handle were elaborate and it caught Sara’s eye. She carefully nudged the handle
from the bony old hand, “I am sorry to take your sword, kind sir,” she whispered, “but you are looking a
little tired for it to be of any use to you.” But before removing it completely, she got a glimpse of the
man’s face. It was nothing more than the dried up remains of the man he once was, but a huge iron
helmet rested upon his head. He wore the clothes of a great warrior; embroidered velvet and fine linens
draped his bony body. Sara felt a twinge of regret at taking his weapon for she knew he must have died
with it in battle, maybe with some beast from a time long, long ago.
       Sara pulled on the great sword but it would not budge. In frustration she tugged heavily on its old




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 62
brass handle and though she felt it move, it did not break loose. However, a peculiar sound came from
behind it. Bewildered, she stared at the crypt-like wall of stone behind the coffin recess and watched as
it begin to shake as though from the tremors of an earthquake. Sara quickly ran to the back of the room
and watched as the wall continued to shake with increasing momentum. As she watched, the wall began
to move and then turn. She realized that in pulling on the sword handle she had triggered something; an
action that had caused the wall to open into a room that would otherwise have remained hidden. She
wondered what lay behind the wall, but all she could do was sit and wait for it to reveal its hidden
mystery while the skeletal trophies fell from the wall and crashed to the floor, scattering a cloud of dust
throughout the room.
        When the wall finally opened Sara was amazed at what was revealed. Hidden in the secret
chamber was the Crystal Oracle. It was a glass sphere that hovered above a pool of golden water, the
whole completely suspended in mid air. Sara slowly walked into the small room and gazed in
wonderment. It was about the size of a large grapefruit and it was illuminated from the inside by a
golden light. She reached out and touched it, pulling away quickly as the imprint from her hand lit up
with light.
        In a soft woman’s voice the Oracle said, “Sara?”
        At this point that Sara felt as though she had seen it all; ghosts, evil creatures, talking trees, a
River of Fire, and now a Crystal Oracle who knew her name and talked to her. Nevertheless, Sara
replied, “Who are you? How do you know me?”
        The Oracle turned green and then spoke again, “I am the Oracle, Sara. Your questions are my
answers. All that is known and all that is to be are revealed.”
        “Okay then, where is the Book, and how do I leave this horrible place?”
        Again the Oracle spoke, “The Book is submerged in these waters below me, reach inside and you
will find it. As for your escape, there is only one way out.”
        Sara reached into the tepid water, and her hand tingled as it reached the bottom of the pool and
felt the Book. She pulled it from the water and made sure that it was intact. Just as Mr. Kindle had
pulled it from the dark waters of Diablo’s Pit, the pages remained dry as a bone.
        “Thank you Oracle, now how do I leave this place?”
        “Drink some of the water, it will make you invisible to anything evil, and then take the stairs
down into deepest part of the castle, this is where you will find the doors that you seek.”


Sara took the Crystal Oracle and the Book and began her descent down spiral stairs that seemed as
though they would never end as they snaked further and further down into the depths of the strange
castle. When Sara reached the bottom there was a door marked with an inscription, although the words
were written in a different language and she was unable to make out the meaning. She slowly opened the
door and peeked inside. It was a gigantic room filled with all sorts of strange, demented creatures
frantically moving about in all directions. There were hundreds, maybe thousands, of caves that had
been cut into the walls—almost like an ant hill with passages leading out. Breathing deeply and trying to
contain her fear, Sara shut the door and clutched the Book. “Oracle, what is this room?”
        “Those holes you see in the walls are where the Dark Angels pass through to different worlds in




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 63
search of dead souls that have done wrong in their world. They are brought here to be tortured for
eternity—there is no need to be frightened Sara, they cannot see you. You must walk silently until you
reach the last cave on the end; walk through it and you will find the doors.”
        Sara slowly opened the door and began to walk through the dark cold room. The things she saw
along the way where hideous. The souls of the evil doers screamed like wild animals as they were ripped
from their worlds and thrown down into the fiery depths of the wretched place. She walked as slowly
and silently as she could to the final cave. Inside it was dark and Sara was unable to see until the Oracle
began to glow and illuminated the path ahead in lavender light.
        “How did you ever end up in this horrible place Oracle?”
        “I was stolen by one of the Dark Angels from a place called Syra, a world far from this place. I
belonged to the wisest of all beings, one named Zulis. I was given to him by the gods to create harmony
and peace throughout the universes. I can make magic, but in the wrong hands I can be made to destroy
worlds, for my being becomes that of its beholder. If I was destroyed, the universe would crumble to
dust and then fade to nothingness.”
        “Wow! Well, I draw well, and have been known to make very good split pea and ham soup,”
Sara said as the Oracle laughed.
        When she finally reached the end of the cave, Sara stood over a great canyon that was in fact the
depths of the underworld. It was an intensely cold place, and the canyon stretched for hundreds of miles
into the unknown. Above it, suspended in the air, were four doors that seemingly appeared from
nowhere. Sara smiled; finally she could leave with the fervent hope that the next world would be a vast
improvement.
        “Which door should I choose Oracle?”
        “In the end Sara, that is up to you. They will all take you to the same place.”


                                               CHAPTER 9


The raging rapids of Broken Tree River cut through the lush green landscape of Whipper Wheel like a
scythe. Spruce trees shot high into the clear blue sky above as mayflies danced through the air. Standing
knee-high in water near the riverbank was Mr. Kindle. He wore his dark green hip boots with suspenders
and sported the same old fly rod he had fished with since he was a boy. His old fishing hat looked like
the windshield of a car splattered with bugs. It was where he kept his fishing flies, each one had been
meticulously tied by him and in the vast assortment there was the famous woolly bear—the mayfly. And
for damp days the mosquito fly was always a great choice. On the bank, wedged between two rocks, was
Mr. Kindle’s fishing creel. It was spilling over with trout, mostly rainbows—their silver bodies shining
with their distinctive rainbow striping.
        It was one of those summer days in Whipper Wheel that seemed timeless. The village basked in
the golden sunshine and the magnificence of the valley’s natural beauty; the meadows carpeted with
lush green grasses and flowers, and the river and its streams overflowing with the bounty and magic of
life.
        Mr. Kindle struggled to tie the leader of his fishing line to the fly. There was a time when he was




                                   Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 64
young when it would only take him a few seconds before it was tied and out in the water. He was older
now and his hands cramped and struggled to do what once they used to do so easily. It was hard for him
as his body aged and slowly fell apart for his heart and soul were still those of the young boy who once
fished the very same holes of the Broken Tree River all those many years before. For Mr. Kindle,
fishing wasn’t always about catching the fish; it was that moment of being alone and becoming one with
nature, a place where there was no time, no problems—just the golden rapids and the occasional strike
of the rainbow trout. To him it was life.
       Lost in his reverie, Mr. Kindle was startled by a man’s voice behind him yelling, “Mr. Kindle!
Mr. Kindle! Come to shore!” He slowly reeled in his line and trudged through the water. When he
reached the shore he found it was Sara’s brother Jason who awaited him. “What are you doing out in
these parts Jason?”
       “It’s my sister, Mr. Kindle, she is missing. No one can find her. Have you seen her anywhere?
Have you heard anything?”
       Mr. Kindle scratched his head and looked around the rocks and the riverbank, making it seem as
though he was searching his mind for the answer. “I am sorry Jason, but I haven’t seen her since—well,
the last time I was at your folks’ house.”
       “Listen Mr. Kindle, everybody knows that you are a great storyteller, but please don’t lie about
this. Franny Nickels, the librarian, found the door to the library unlocked a couple a nights ago, the same
night she went missing,” Jason said.
       “Now what the hell are you saying boy? That Sara and I broke into the library in the middle of
the night to read a bunch of out-of-print books in the dark? You . . . ya know, you’re crazy!”
       “Tell me this Mr. Kindle, do you still have a key to the front door of the library?”
       “Key? Are ya smoking old Barnaby’s green stems are ya? I haven’t worked there since before I
can remember and ya know that was a long time ago.”
       Jason looked around the bank of the river and spotted Mr. Kindle’s fishing creel. He smiled
when he saw it and said, “Well looks like the river has treated you well today, judging by all those fish
you got there.”
       “Ya well I been fishin’ so long it’s a miracle I haven’t turned into one of them!”
       “You gotta license to catch all those fish?”
       “License my ass! I don’t need no license. Ain’t nobody can tell me I can’t fish in this river, only
God can do that and He hasn’t done so yet!”
       “Alright Mr. Kindle, I guess I’ll be on my way. If you hear anything, please let us know.”
       “I wouldn’t worry kid; Sara is smarter than you think.”


Sara stood before the four doors and stared at them for a while, deciding which one she would open.
She reached out and grabbed the old brass handle of the first door, but before turning it, she paused,
closed her eyes and said, “I have no idea what is behind this door, but I can only hope it is a place that is
nothing like this one! Well—here we go again . . .”
       As the door slowly began to open, a delightful breeze fanned her hot sweaty skin and a feeling of
joy overwhelmed her. Sara could not believe her eyes. What she saw before her could have been




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 65
something from a dream. It was absolutely beautiful, but it was like nothing she had ever seen or even
dreamed. The rolling green hills were carpeted with flowers, and the sky was a sea of movement as a
million different colors swirled and coalesced in the great vault high above her. It was miraculous. Even
the wind that danced through the air was special and carried the fragrance of flowers and fresh mountain
air.
        From somewhere behind her, Sara could hear the crashing of waves and the sound of horses
whinnying. As she turned a beautiful ocean came into view, but it was no ordinary sea and many
peculiar things were happening there. The waves crashed on to the shore in great mountains of foaming
white spume and, as Sara watched, the molecules within the arching white foam effortlessly rearranged
themselves and morphed into wild horses that galloped along the rainbow colored sands that stretched as
far as Sara could see.
        A mysterious hand holding a paintbrush appeared in the sky, continuously painting rainbows.
And if Sara’s eyes were not deceiving her, a palm tree was chasing after two coconuts that were running
wildly down the beach. Far away in the distance a huge moon, a hundred times larger than the size of the
one back home, hovered low just above the horizon of the beautiful ocean. Great streaks of golden lights
shot out in all directions across the land. It was beyond Sara’s wildest dreams.
        “This must be heaven!” she said, laughing before remembering there was always an inscription
on the back of the door. Just as she turned, a cloud of bright butterflies engulfed her, covering her with
sparkling dust from their iridescent wings. She laughed again. What a beautiful place, she thought as the
butterflies flew off into the distance.
        Sara opened the book and saw the words, “Through light and dark, through night and day, Book
of Answers show me the way. . .” Then another message appeared, “Welcome to the Most Beautiful
Place in the World, a world of magic and endless wonder. Take your time here for there is no time in the
Most Beautiful Place in the World, only the things you dream . . .
        PS You won’t need to dream because no one has time to sleep and there is no time anyway.
        PPS I forgot; if you want to leave find the crystal ship at port–it leaves every full moon.
        PPS It’s always a full moon.”
        Wearing a smile as sparkling as the bright, beautiful world she was now entering, Sara gazed
about her in wonderment. As she stared, there was an odd sound above her. Looking up she was amazed
to see what looked like a fish falling from the sky. It was frantically flapping its fins and when it finally
hit the ground it somersaulted nearly fifty feet before coming to a stop and shaking its head. Although it
was indeed a fish, it was not any fish that Sara had ever seen before. Weighing close to two hundred
pounds, its scales were blue and slimy looking. With eyes almost the size of softballs, it resembled a
suckerfish.
        “You know I really need to work on this whole landing thing,” the fish said, standing up on his
tail and speaking in a very proper English accent. “You would think a great fish such as I would be able
to plummet from the sky and land accordingly! Well, what’s your name then?”
        Sara had never actually seen a talking fish or one that could fly for that matter, and tried to
disguise her smile. “Well sir, my name is Sara. What might yours be?”
        “Sara hmm, well then . . . Right, yes of course. My name is William Henry Jennings the




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 66
second—well actually the third if you count the marriage of my great grandmother to the King of
England in the thirteenth century, but technically he was named after his father who supposedly was
named Franklin but his birth certificate was lost at sea when he passed away—but people around here
just call me Mr. Galiwampus.”
       Confused, Sara was doing her best to figure out what the fish had said when suddenly, from up in
the sky, the giant hand with the paintbrush reached down and began to paint something on the top of Mr.
Galiwampus’ head.
       “Stop it! Stop it! You mad hand!” he yelled as he jumped away.
       But the hand was relentless and kept painting. When it was finished a fat orange cat sat on the
head of the fish. Mr. Galiwampus knocked the cat off and it went running away. After a bit, it stopped,
turned around, and began to laugh like crazy at the fish.
       As the artist’s hand returned to the sky, Mr. Galiwampus turned to Sara, “That mad hand, he is
always doing that—last time it was a bowl of fruit, which was mighty tasty if I do say so myself, though
it was more like split pea with ham soup for some odd reason. Anyway, you will find things a bit
peculiar in this place, but you will be fine as long as you keep your head on straight.”
       The fish had just finished speaking when a man dressed in a black suit with a top hat walked past
with his head on backwards and said, “He’s right, it’s no fun when your head’s on backwards like
this”—and then walked into a giant tree that on closer inspection was also a bit odd.
       Sara had never seen a tree with telephones as fruit and laughed when the man bumped into it. “I
guess you’re right Mr. Galiwampus. By the way, what are the telephones for?”
       “Well, to call other trees of course, that’s how you get directions here—the trees tell you.” He
picked up the phone that had a tree root as a cord, “Now you just ask the operator where you would like
to go and she will direct you in that direction.”
       “Okay then,” Sara said as she picked up the phone.
       “Hello, how may I direct your call?” the lady on the other end asked.
       “Well um. . . I would like to get to . . .” she looked at Mr. Galiwampus.
       “Here, give me the phone,” he said. “Hello Dolly is this you? Yes, I know last night was
something else huh? Well anyway the girl here . . . huh? What was your name again?”
       “Sara.”
       “Yes of course, Sara . . . She’s new at this whole thing and well, let’s see . . . Here—hold on one
sec Dolly. So Sara, where would you like to go?”
       “I’ve never been here before Mr. Galiwampus, how am I supposed to know?”
       “Oh, right, well then just make something up.”
       Sara thought for a moment and then smiled and said, “Okay, well I would like to go to a giant
carnival with elephants, monkeys, and tigers.”
       “That’s it? Well okay, it’s your journey. Dolly, are you still there? Okay going to the carnival . . .
Sounds good. I’ll put her on the phone. “Here,” he said, giving the phone to Sara, “she’s going to give
you the directions.”
       “Hello?”
       “Okay, here are the directions. Now listen very closely; they are very complicated. Do you have




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 67
a pen?”
          “Well no, I’m sorry, I don’t have one.”
          “Well then just imagine a pen and then start writing.”
          “Are you kidding?”
          “If I was kidding, you would be laughing right?”
          Sara did as the operator had said and thought of a pen and a piece of paper. To her amazement,
pen and paper immediately hovered in the air in front of her.
          “Wow! Does that work with everything around here?”
          The operator laughed. “Why yes,” she said. “Just as long as you believe it will, then it will, and
since you have a lot of will, it will always work. Now please take down the directions, if you will.”
          “Okay.”
          “Okay, the directions are . . . Turn around.”
          Sara slowly turned to see the most gigantic circus she could ever have imagined. It was
absolutely magical. The Ferris wheel was so big it shot straight up into the purple marshmallow clouds
and beyond for what looked like miles and miles into the distance. Sara was overcome with happiness,
“This must be a dream come true!” she said. “Thank you Ms. Operator!”
          “You’re welcome dear, now I must be going. You tied up all the lines.”
          “Oh, sorry,” Sara said and quickly hung the phone up on the branch, staring across the dreamlike
landscape at the magnificent circus that awaited her in the distance.
          “Okay Mr. Galiwampus. You are telling me all I have to do is just think of something—
anything—and it’s mine?”
          “Well that’s what she said, right?”
          “Yes . . . That’s what she said.”
          “I’d be careful though; it can get you into all kinds of mischief, if you know what I mean.”
          “I’m sure it could Mr. Galiwampus, I am sure it could . . .” Sara replied as the two of them began
walking toward the circus, and then added as an afterthought, “I wonder if they have cotton candy
there?”
          Mr. Galiwampus laughed. “Right, yes. Well, Sara, I’m sure they do. Now come to think of it, I
could go for a—” but before he could finish, a pipe appeared in his mouth.”
          “Wow!” said Sara “That was neat!”
          “Works with the female aquatic vertebrates too . . . feeling lonely . . . Well, you wouldn’t
believe it but it’s like they appear out of thin air,” he said with a smile of his big fish lips as he puffed
away on the pipe.
          They were nearing the entrance to the circus where a giant man wearing a suit stood at the
enormous gates. He must have been very close to twelve feet tall and the high top hat on his head made
him seem even taller, but the strange thing was that he had no face.
          Puzzled, Sara asked, “Excuse me sir? Is this where we get into the circus?”
          “Why yes it is Sara,” he replied.
          “Sorry to ask kind sir, but where did your face go?”
          “Well, you haven’t thought what it should look like so therefore I don’t have one yet.”




                                    Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 68
         Sara laughed, “Really? Well okay, how about this!”
         Suddenly the man had a face, but it wasn’t that of a man. It was of a panda bear. Sara laughed
again, “Well there you go . . .” she said.
         The man looked at his reflection in a mirror set high in the wall just next to him. “A panda
bear?”
         “Hey, you wanted a face!” Sara told him as they walked through the gates.
         Mr. Galiwampus turned to Sara with a smile, “I can see you’ll fit in here just fine.”


The circus was incredible. A band of monkeys played music, and there were Ferris wheels and games
and all types of interesting people enjoying the exciting atmosphere. There were so many rides and
lights that Sara was overwhelmed with the excitement of it all.
         “What ride should we go on first Mr. Galiwampus?”
         “Well something that doesn’t shake us about too much. I ate a school of shrimp before we met
and have this awful bellyache” he replied, placing his hand on his belly and letting out a huge fart.
         Sara started to laugh hysterically, “Mr. Galiwampus you are so funny! Let’s try the Ferris wheel,
shall we?”
         “Yes indeed the Ferris wheel will be quite suitable,” he said very formally and still holding his
belly.
         They climbed aboard the huge Ferris wheel and were approached by a very small fish dressed in
a tuxedo.
         “Well if it isn’t old Galiwampus himself! How are you, you old chum sucker?”
         “Hello Peter, how is your teaching job coming along?”
         “You know how the schools of fish are these days; no respect, no respect—bunch of little
plankton poppers they are. Anyway hold on tight. This one goes way up!”
         Peter locked the small door and started the ride. Suddenly the wheel began to lift up into the sky.
Sara, feet dangling, laughed with joy and gazed down at the panorama of the circus far below. Looking
at it from above was incredible, and it seemed like a giant city of flashing lights and music. The Ferris
wheel lifted them higher and higher into the sky until the circus below was so far away it appeared to be
nothing more than a small circle of twinkling lights. Higher and higher it reached into the sky, passing
the rainbow colored clouds that gave off the fragrant aroma of marshmallows and sweet candy. It was
truly amazing, but even so Sara could scarcely believe what she saw next.
         Above the clouds the sky was filled with giant butterflies. It was a truly magical sight for their
wing span must have been close to ten feet and sparkled in a magnificent kaleidoscope of iridescent
colors that glittered and refracted the light as they flew about. Sara was speechless at how amazing they
were, but then her attention was diverted by a loud chugging sound in the distance. “Mr. Galiwampus
what is that sound?”
         “Oh that! Well, just wait a moment and you will see.”
         From one of the puffy clouds a train engine appeared, followed by its caboose. It flew through
the sky without any sort of track whatsoever.
         “Mr. Galiwampus, why is there a train in the sky?”




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 69
          “Well that’s the Mr. Winkle Express of course. Mr. Winkle is the conductor; he’s crazy, and no
matter what you say, he just laughs. It will take you anywhere in the Most Beautiful Place in the World
that you want to go.”
          “A circus, giant butterflies, and a train in the sky—this is the most amazing place I have ever
seen!”
          By this time the Ferris wheel had rounded its highest point and began its descent from above the
clouds, down toward the circus.
          “I can’t believe all of this Mr. Galiwampus, it’s so . . . so—I don’t know how I can explain all of
this.”
          “Well actually you already did. Most of this is what you created in your mind. The rest was
painted by that mysterious hand in the sky.”
          When the wheel docked at the bottom, Peter was there to unlock the little gate. “So, what did you
think?”
          Sara smiled, “What did I think! It’s amazing, incredible! What can I say, but wow!”


Sara and Mr. Galiwampus made their exit from the Ferris wheel and walked back into the excitement of
the circus. There were all sorts of interesting characters on either side offering games to play.
          “Sara! Sara! Come and play the game!”
          “Sara, see what we have! Do come this way!
          “Sara! Look over here! Win this!” said another, holding up a giant stuffed frog.
          “Wow, it’s almost like I’m a queen in this place, and everybody wants to be my friend. They are
all so nice.”
          “What’s so strange about that Sara?” Mr. Galiwampus asked.
          “Well, back home nobody ever really wanted anything to do with me. I was just there; no one
would listen to anything I had to say.”
          “Well, you won’t have to worry about that here, everyone is your friend.”
          “Thanks Mr. Galiwampus. By the way, do you know where we can get some food? I haven’t
eaten in a long time.”
          “I know just the place!”
          Mr. Galiwampus took Sara to an enormous house that sat in the middle of the circus. Standing at
the doorway was a very well dressed man who opened the door and ushered them in to a vast room, in
the middle of which was a massive oak table.
          “Take a seat,” Mr. Galiwampus said as he pulled out one of the chairs for Sara in a gentlemanly
manner before walking to his own, his tailfins dragging on the timber flooring and leaving a wet gooey
trail in his wake.
          “Okay then, ready?”
          “Yes, I guess, but there’s no food, just an empty table?”
          “Well when you’re ready to eat just yell out, I’m ready!”
          Sara smiled, looked around and then yelled, “I’m ready!”
          Instantly, from behind each of the many doors set in to the walls of the huge room, out poured




                                     Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 70
thousands of waitresses. They surrounded the table and in a wonderful chorus, they asked in unison,
“What can we get you Sara?”
          One by one each of them spoke, “Candied ham, potatoes, steak, pork chops; how about noodles,
bread, ice cream, pie, fruit?”
          Sara looked up at the beautifully dressed waitresses with their little frilly aprons and said, “Well,
I guess I will have the candied ham, some potatoes, mashed if you please, a salad with vinaigrette
dressing—Oh no, make that olive oil dressing, and a bowl of split pea with ham soup first, and for
dessert . . . .Um . . . let’s see here. Oh I know! Cherry pie with ice cream on top!”
          One of the waitresses smiled as she looked at the list she had written down and said, “You got it
Sara!” She looked over to Mr. Galiwampus, “And for you sir?”
          Mr. Galiwampus looked up, “For my first course darling, I will have sautéed worms in garlic and
trout juice, and for my second course a bowl of lightly breaded salmon eggs with a touch of oregano,
and for the main course I will have squid tentacles with a side of mashed mayflies. I will let you know
later if I am in need of dessert.”
          Sara had turned a pale shade of green on hearing his order and gave him a strange look.
          He looked at Sara, “What? I am a fish!”
          Sara shook her head and just smiled.


As they walked out of the house and back to the circus, Sara pronounced that, “The meal was absolutely
delicious!”
          “Yes indeed, I don’t think I have ever had trout juice that good before.”
          “Whatever makes you happy Mr. Galiwampus . . .”
          They walked through the circus as Sara again stared in wonderment at all the rides and flashing
lights.
          “Well we should be going,” Mr. Galiwampus said.
          “Why?”
          “Well, because the party will be starting soon and you’ll need some fancy clothes to wear.”
          “Party, there’s going to be a party?”
          “Well of course, you didn’t think that you came all this way and there wouldn’t be a party did
you?”
          “Well actually I wasn’t planning on meeting a talking fish either, so I guess at this point anything
is possible.”
          “Talking fish? My dear I am much more than that! I am very highly respected gentleman in this
place, a connoisseur of the finer things in life you might say. When anyone hears the name Galiwampus
they know they are talking about a highly distinguished gentleman, a man of rare distinction and
prestige; a man of the highest stature!”
          Just as Mr. Galiwampus finished speaking a flock of miniature pink flamingoes flew above them.
They were laughing and Sara heard one of them say to the other, “Look, it’s that crazy talking fish
again!” Sara looked at Mr. Galiwampus and laughed, “Sorry Mr. Galiwampus, I just found the birds a
bit funny that’s all.”




                                     Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 71
       “Birds!” Mr. Galiwampus replied “What do birds know about fine wines, classical music and
literature? Hmm? All they do is fly around cracking jokes! Stick with me and you’ll see that I am a true
gentleman.”
       “I believe you Mr. Galiwampus, I really do. Anyway, how do we get to this party?”
       “Well first we must go back to the estate and clean you up a bit, you’re a mess, look at you—
covered in dirt and all. This will not be suitable for an event such as that planned for this evening.”
       Sara looked down at her once white dress, now a dirty black and brown. “Well you are definitely
right about that Mr. Galiwampus,” she said wryly, “so how do we get to this estate?”
       “Mr. Winkle’s Express of course. Now, all you have to do is whistle and he will arrive very
quickly.
       “Okay,” Sara said, and then pursed her lips together and let out the best whistle she could. They
waited for a while and then she saw the train emerge through the clouds in the sky above. The gears and
wheels screeched as the brakes were applied and the steam billowed out from its great engine. From the
driver’s side window the face of an old man wearing a conductor’s hat peered out. With his distinctive
mustache extending either side of his cheeks and curled at each end, he was a funny looking old man.
He wore a pair of old glasses that were fogged up from the steam and smoke, and laughed hysterically as
the train came to a screeching halt.
       “Now try not to talk too much. Once you get him going he’ll never stop jabbering about this and
that, and you can’t understand a darn thing he’s saying cause he never stops laughing,” Mr. Galiwampus
told Sara.
       Mr. Winkle climbed down from the engine and welcomed them with a laugh to, “Mr. Winkle’s
Wild Express Train, the fastest and ‘bestest’ train in all the land! All aboard!”
       Mr. Galiwampus and Sara climbed aboard one of the carriages and sat in a very elegantly
upholstered green velvet seat. Mr. Winkle could be heard up front laughing and talking to himself as the
wheels slowly began to turn, screeching and squealing. He pulled on the train whistle and it exploded
with a piercing scream that echoed around the flower covered hills and valleys as the train prepared for
take-off.
       Looking out the window of the passenger carriage was like staring into a beautiful dream. The
fields of flowers, the rolling hills, and the hand painted rainbows that filled the sky as far as she could
see, along with all sorts of other miraculous things, filled Sara’s heart with wonder.
       After a little while, the train finally began to slow down and Sara could see a magnificent
mansion sitting on top of a green hill blazing with colorful trees and flowers. The train pulled right up at
the immense gates of gold that led to the huge residence. “Well there it is; the entrance to the
Galiwampus estates!” Mr. Winkle said.
           “Oh my, its huge! There must be a hundred bedrooms inside!”
       “Actually a hundred and thirty seven to be exact—You see my family was what you would call
royalty, they were the greatest in all the land, and now it’s just me—they left it all to me.”
       “I am sorry Mr. Galiwampus, when did they pass?”
       “Pass? They didn’t pass; they just bought a bigger estate on the other side of the hill. Oh, that’s
another thing I forget to mention, no one here ‘passes’ as you call it. We live forever in this place.”




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 72
       “Wow, that’s amazing.”


The giant golden gates opened and Mr. Galiwampus and Sara made their way into the great mansion.
She was amazed at how grand it was. With its spiral staircases leading up to the many floors, fine
paintings, expensive tables and furniture, it was truly a house fit for a king.
       “Papa?”
       Startled, Sara turned and realized that the voices came from what looked like a pond in the center
of the huge room into which they had walked. As she looked, two small fish popped out, “Pappa?” they
said again in excited unison.
       “Hello Chinnook and Wally Eye!”
       “Sara I should introduce you, these are my children.”
       Sara stared at the cute little fish resting their fins on the edge of the little pond.
       “Well hello there!”
       “Hello,” they replied, still in unison.
       “Have you been good while I was gone?” Mr. Galiwampus asked his sons.
       “Why yes of course Papa. Wally Eye and I have been studying all day.”
       “Good job boys, now back to your studies. Sara and I have a party to attend very soon.”
       The little ones smiled with their wide fish lips and dove back down into the water.
       “They are so cute Mr. Galiwampus!”
       “Yes, though they are mischievous little fellows—always getting into some kind of trouble. You
can set your bag down in the closet over there.” Mr. Galiwampus said. “By the way, I have been
meaning to ask you, what do you keep in there anyway?”
       “A few different things, but most importantly a book.”
       “Hmm, a book you say. What kind of book is it, if you don’t mind me asking.
       “Well, it’s called the Book of Answers.”
       Mr. Galiwampus looked at Sara, but said nothing.
       “I take it you’ve heard of this book Mr. Galiwampus?”
       “Of course I know of the Book, everyone here knows of the magic possessed by that Book and I
have seen it many more times than you will ever know.”
       “But how Mr. Galiwampus, how do you know of this Book”
       “Well Sara, to tell you the truth, I have been the keeper of the book for a long time. You see,
after someone finds the book—oh, and by the way this is never by accident—they go on the journey and
in the end wherever they end up the Book is always returned to me, to pass it along to whomever I see as
being in need of it.”
       Sara pulled the book from her bag, “How long have been the keeper of it, and how did Mr.
Kindle end up with it? He told me he found it in Diablo’s Pit many years ago.”
       “I have been the keeper of the Book for hundreds of years and I have seen many people take the
journey. However, as you very well know, because no one has signed the end of the Book, nobody has
ever made it all the way. A few have tried and, shall we say, not been so lucky. As for the others, well
for obvious reasons they end up here of course.” Mr. Galiwampus paused before continuing. “As far as




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 73
Mr. Kindle is concerned, the story of how we met is quite interesting.”
        “You met Mr. Kindle?”
        “Well sort of . . . Ah, yes. I still remember it quite clearly.” He lit his pipe and stared off into his
vast living room as he searched his mind before telling his story. “When I was a young little aquatic
vertebrate my mother Namnibean told me that in order to become a great fish one must go on a great
journey, see the world and experience life outside of this beautiful place to see what life was like in the
outside worlds—and so I did.”
        Mr. Galiwampus motioned for Sara to follow him as he walked through the elaborately
decorated living room into his private office, which was yet another very beautiful room. The walls were
covered with pictures of generations of the Galiwampus family as well as certificates and diplomas from
various prestigious schools and conservatories. On his immense desk was a large ashtray containing a
half-smoked cigar about as thick as a pine tree root, a crystal decanter of what looked like a very fine
liqueur and all manner of other interesting bric-a-brac appropriate to the general ambience of a
residence owned by a clearly well established and prosperous businessfish.
        He sat down in front of his desk and puffed on his pipe. “Yes,” he said, “I still remember. I was
swimming along in Diablo’s Pit exploring the underwater world of the place you call Earth when
suddenly a giant worm passed over me. Well, being that I am fish and it was a worm, I naturally could
not resist.”
        Sara smiled with anticipation as she sat down in front of the desk and made herself comfortable.
Mr. Galiwampus was clearly a wonderful storyteller . . .


                                               CHAPTER 10


Mr. Galiwampus took another puff of his pipe and settled himself more deeply in his chair. “Now where
was I? Right—I was swimming in Diablo’s Pit exploring the underwater world of this place you call
Earth when suddenly a giant worm passed over me. “Keep in mind this was when I was young and in
very good shape, not like now . . .” He paused to grab a fistful of fat from his belly and shook it, but
even after he let go it still jiggled up and down.”
        Sara shook her head again and smiled gently at Mr. Galiwampus.
        “Anyway,” he continued, “it would have been a wonderful afternoon snack if not for the sharp
steel hook that had imbedded itself into my lip. Naturally I tried to shake it loose, but I felt an immense
pressure pulling me upwards. Through the murky waters I saw a man standing at the top with a line
attached to some odd stick, which later I learned was called a fishing pole. Anyway, at the time I had no
idea what was happening and I struggled with all my might to break loose from the strange trap. I swam
as fast as I could up toward the surface, exploded out of the water, and slapped the man against the face
with my giant tailfin! He was very startled and in great awe that a fish would do this, but I simply turned
away and made my way straight back down to the cold dark depths of the Pit and snapped his line.”
        Sara stared wide-eyed at Mr. Galiwampus as he told his story. As he spoke his gestures became
very theatrical, and his giant, scaly flippers flapped in the air. The more excited he became, the greater
his glistening eyes increased in size so that they were like softballs. There was no way Sara could do




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 74
anything other than give him her complete attention.
        “The man was so furious at me I could hear him at the surface yelling out, ‘You damn fish! I will
be back, everyday—every damn day until I catch you, and when I do I’ll have ya stuffed and mounted
on the pub’s wall so everyone can see I am the greatest fisherman to have ever lived!’”
        Mr. Galiwampus smiled with his big rubbery-looking lips at the memory. He knew that the man
was no match for him. “Well anyway Sara, the man fishing was Mr. Kindle. For days my mouth was so
sore I could barely even suck down a crawfish—it was hell I can tell you, and every day for at least a
year at exactly the same time, Mr. Kindle returned and sat, sometimes for hours on end. I would see his
worm sinking past me every day and sometimes I would even hit it with my tail a bit to get him all
excited. I was amazed by this man, he was relentless. But what he didn’t realize was that I was no
ordinary fish and, in fact, in some way I felt sorry for him. ”
        “Why would you feel sorry for him? He tried to have you mounted on the pub wall!”
        Mr. Galiwampus repacked his pipe and sat and thought for a minute or two before speaking.
        “Well sometimes when he wasn’t paying attention or he had just plain fallen asleep on the old
wooden stump he used to sit on, I would swim underneath the lily pads and watch him. He was a very
lonely man, with very little money, and wore the same old clothes every day—never changed them. I
remember one day he came to the Pit with a very sad look upon his face. It was strange. He did not bring
his worms or even his fishing pole, but just stood there and cried.”
        Sara leaned closer to the desk. “I don’t understand. Mr. Kindle was crying—why?”
        Mr. Galiwampus gave a deep sigh, his leather chair squeaking as he reached down into one of his
desk drawers. He pulled out an old wooden box with a rusted lock.
        “What’s in there?”
        “Well, when I was hiding under the lily pads I watched as Mr. Kindle tossed something into the
Pit that strangely enough hit me smack dab on my dorsal. Well, what he had thrown was this . . . .” Mr.
Galiwampus struggled to open the old box and then finally Sara heard a pop as the top sprang open. He
reached inside for something and then set it on the table in front of Sara.
        “Looks like an expensive ring, like a wedding ring,” she said with a confused look on her face.
        “Precisely.”
        “But why would he throw a wedding ring into the Pit?”
        “To this day I’m still not exactly sure what happened, but I have come to many of my own
conclusions.”
        “Well obviously he lost his wife or someone who was the love of his life somehow . . . Perhaps
she left him—I wish I knew,” Sara said sadly.
        Mr. Galiwampus picked up the ring and handed it to Sara. “Here take it, I have no use for it, and
besides it would look pretty on your finger. Maybe one day, if you ever see Mr. Kindle again, you can
return it to him.”
        Sara held the ring and looked up at Mr. Galiwampus, “I will guard it the best I can, I hope one
day I can return it to him,” Sara said as she stared at the ring and thought of Mr. Kindle. He really was
an amazing man for giving the book to her. She felt loneliness and sadness when she held the ring and
she knew that it held an amazing story, one she wanted to know. “But Mr. Galiwampus, you are leaving




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 75
out a very important piece of this whole story.”
       “And what might that be Sara?”
       “Well, how did Mr. Kindle get the book from you?”
       “Oh, right. Yes of course. Well, after I wandered through many wild and amazing worlds I
returned home to my family, and told them of my adventures through numerous magical waters. They
loved the stories and I became, as you would say in your world, rather ‘famous’ amongst the folks of
this place. Late one night, as I sat alone in my study with a glass of Scotch and a finely rolled cigar, I
stared out the window up into the sky full of magical color, the work of that strange hand. It was light
outside because, as you know, it never gets dark here.”
       Sara sat quietly, listening very closely as Mr. Galiwampus continued the story.
       “I was feeling a bit down at the time, I had just finished my studies at the conservatory and was a
bit lost, not sure what it was I needed to be, what my purpose here was; the reason for my existence. I
decided to take a quick swim in the ocean, and clear my mind a bit.” Again Mr. Galiwampus paused,
repacked his pipe and then struggled to get his lighter to light. Suddenly there was a knocking at the
window. Sara looked up and couldn’t believe what she saw there. It was the giant hand from the sky.
       Mr Galiwampus got up and went to the window to see what it was that the hand wanted, “State
your business here, Hand!” The giant hand was holding something but Sara couldn’t make out what it
was. “Well alright then!” Mr. Galiwampus said as he opened the window. The giant hand did its best to
reach inside but it was too big for the window, although it did manage to get a couple fingers inside the
room. They held out a lighter and lit Mr. Galiwampus’s pipe for him, then withdrew and returned to the
sky to continue the never ending painting.
       “Well, at least he’s good for something else as well as painting,” Mr. Galiwampus said between
deep puffs on his pipe. “At the end of this strange world you will find a ship that rests at harbor. In the
distance, across the ocean, there are lands beyond the strangest thoughts of man and so, being the crazy
fish that I was at the time, I decided to swim out past what we call the Dream Line. This is a line that
separates this place from—well, you don’t want know, but like I said, there are very peculiar things
beyond this world.”
       “I can only imagine Mr. Galiwampus,” Sara said.
       “Well, I encountered a great storm out of port. It was pitch-black and the waves were immense.
They pounded and crashed upon me and the currents below were fierce and icy. But I had to know what
places existed out there so I kept swimming as far as my fins would take me. I reached an odd island
somewhere in the middle of nowhere—in fact strangely enough there was a sign on the shore that told
me I was one mile east of the Middle of Nowhere. There were odd creatures living on the island, strange
hideous creatures. Late one afternoon I heard a man yelling, screaming out loud, ‘Stop, stop, please
don’t!’ I knew that the man was in need of help, so I waited until nightfall and quietly walked across the
beach only to find a man who was about to be fed to a giant beast that was chained and tied to the side of
a rocky mountainside. He looked like some sort of strange dinosaur with great teeth and horns upon his
lizard-like head. The villagers were feeding this man to the beast.”
       Sara rolled her eyes. “Is this a true story Mr. Galiwampus?”
       “I can’t believe you would ask such a thing! Of course it’s true. We fish never lie; except those




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 76
crappie’s—how else do you think they got that name?”
       “I’m just kidding Mr. Galiwampus, of course I believe you. I’m sorry, please tell me more.”
          “Well, alright . . . anyway, I had to save the man. I am a great fish, but no match for a crazy
island tribe of mysterious creatures and a giant beast chained to a wall! I peeked through the bushes and
watched as the man was about to be a late night snack for the villager’s pet monster, and then heard
something behind me. When I turned around I was staring into the faces of five of the grotesque looking
villagers. I can still remember how ugly they were; they had horns through their noses, and their faces
were hideous—like bats almost—and they reeked of a most awful stench. I was frightened for my life. I
knew this had to be it. I was going to be dessert for the beast, but then—well, you wouldn’t believe what
happened!”
       Wide-eyed, Sara stared at Mr. Galiwampus. “What happened? Mr. Galiwampus, what happened?
Tell me, tell me!”
       “Well they started to scream like little babies when they saw me. I was astounded. The other
villagers heard their screams and came running to where we stood and began to scream as they all went
running off into the jungle! I mean, I may not be the Prince of Whales but I’m not that bad looking!”
       Sara laughed at Mr. Galiwampus who was now puffing away contentedly on his pipe and well
pleased with the reaction of his guest to his storytelling prowess.
       “I guess they had never seen a talking fish with an English accent before! Trying not to disturb
the beast as he growled and yelled, I slowly approached the man. His arms and legs were tied and he just
stared up at me from the ground. Finally he spoke, ‘Who are you? You are not going to eat me are you?’
I stared down at the poor wretch of a man. He was a scraggly old fellow with a long white beard and a
long pointy nose to match. I told him that I had come to save him, and that he should hurry as we must
leave at once. ‘The Book, the Book, we mustn’t leave without the Book!’ The man said, and went
running off and grabbed a large bag that was sitting on a rock. We ran across the beach toward the
ocean. I jumped into the water and told the man to get on my back. We rode through the dark night back
to The Most Beautiful Place in the World. We knew we were getting close when we could see where the
dark black skies met the light in the distance. I took the man to the estate to rest and he slept for many
hours until he finally awoke to find me standing over him with a cup of tea.
       “The man reached into his bag and pulled out the Book. ‘You saved my life kind sir, I must
repay you! I want you to have this. It is the Book of Answers, one of the most magical books to have
ever existed in any world. You will be the keeper, it will always return to you, but you must always give
it to people in need for it can make miracles. In the wrong hands, though, it can destroy worlds!’”
       Mr. Galiwampus paused and took a few more puffs before resuming his tale. “I told him that I
knew of this book and that many seekers had come with it to this world and ended up staying forever.
The man told me that he was one of the seekers on the same journey until he ended up on the island! I
told him that I could not believe he would give me the magical Book—I was staring at it in awe—but
the man said that I had saved his life. He reminded me, though, that the Book does not belong to me, it
belongs to everyone, and that I should keep it with me until I found someone who is worthy of its
magic.”
       Setting his pipe down in the ashtray on his desk, Mr. Galiwampus looked thoughtful for a minute




                                   Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 77
or two and then said, “Mr. Kindle never left my mind, and as time went by I continued to remember
him—his loneliness and his sadness. I just had the feeling that he needed this book, I knew that it could
help him.”
          “So you gave him the Book?”
          “Well yes, you could say that I did. One day I decided to leave and took the long journey to
Earth, down through the great water-filled caverns that link the different worlds—there are caves
beneath the ocean that lead to all sorts of interesting places. Well anyway, I left the book for him in
Diablo’s Pit so that when he went fishing he would see it glistening in the water, and sure enough he
did—well, with a little help from me, of course! I poked my head out of the water and smiled at him.
You can imagine; he immediately jumped up and started yelling, ‘Why you . . .! I’m going to get you
fish!’ Well he never did, but I got his attention and then he saw it in the water.
          “And there you have it, Sara. But now, we will need to get going soon so we can get to the
party!”
          With this, Mr. Galiwampus escorted Sara out of his office and they began to walk up the spiral
staircase that led to the top floor of the mansion. They walked down a great wide hallway to a door at
the end that Mr. Galiwampus unlocked. It was a giant closet, the size of Sara’s living room back home in
Whipper Wheel. Sara gazed around the room in wonderment. It was incredible! There were hundreds of
dresses hanging in rows along the walls, and racks of all sorts of expensive shoes, hats and accessories
including hundreds of jewel cases filled with the most stunning jewelry Sara had ever laid eyes upon.
          “Mr. Galiwampus this is incredible! Where did you get all of these things?”
          “Well they belonged to my mother. She moved to the estate on the other side of the hill and only
uses this room as a closet. The clothes are from different sources. Some belonged to queens from ages
ago, but mostly they were tailored for my mother Namnibian, and since you are both about the same
size, I figured that they would suit you just fine.”
          “I don’t even know where to begin, they are all so beautiful . . .” Sara said as she ran her hand
over the rows of dresses hanging in one of the many aisles in the room, watching as the soft fabrics
swayed back and forth.
          “Well, I also need to make myself suitable for this evening’s event so I will be back in a bit to
check on how you are getting along.”
          Mr Galiwampus left the room and Sara stood before the elaborate attire that awaited her
selection. She had never before seen clothes so beautiful. One would need to be a princess to wear such
fine clothes, she thought to herself as one of the gowns caught her attention. It was magnificent—it was
exquisitely made from white silk and heavily embroidered with white flowers, and featured a broad band
of glistening pearl drops around the hem. Sara took the gown from the rack and tried it on. It was a little
big at the waist, but no sooner had Sara given a sigh and said to herself, “It’s so beautiful, I just wish it
fitted me,” than the length of the dress shortened a little and the waist began to fit her more snugly. The
dress had tailored itself to fit her and it did so perfectly. To her delight, the same approach also worked
for the white silk flat slippers studded with diamonds in the shape of a rose.
          “Wait a second,” she said, “I haven’t taken a bath yet!” Then she remembered and with a smile,
added “I wish I was clean, and bathed . . .” Immediately her hair began to twist and twirl into a topknot




                                   Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 78
on the top of her head, and she could see the grime fall from her skin. When it was done she felt like she
had just bathed in the purest mountain spring and cleansed herself with the finest flower-scented soap.
She looked at herself in the mirror and was amazed at her appearance. Sara looked like a little princess.
The only jarring note was her glasses. Their thick lenses made her eyes look at least twice their actual
size.
         “Oh, and I wish I didn’t have to wear these silly glasses and that I am able to see perfectly.” Sure
enough the glasses vanished, and for the first time in her life Sara had perfect vision.
         Sara was still staring at herself in the mirror, smiling as she turned from side to side to admire
her beautiful appearance, when there was a knock at the door.
         “Come in Mr. Galiwampus!”
         Mr. Galiwampus looked confused. “Okay little girl, where did you hide Sara?” he asked as he
looked behind the racks of clothes.
         “It’s me Mr. Galiwampus! What do you think?” Sara asked, doing a little pirouette.
         “Holy mackerel! You look amazing!”
         “Well, you don’t look too bad yourself Mr. Galiwampus!”
         Mr. Galiwampus was resplendent in a black suit, finely pinstriped in white. He completed his
attire with a white dress shirt beneath a white silk vest and a white bow tie.
         “Well, we should be going Sara. Many wild and fun things are waiting us at the party.”
         “So where’s the party?” Sara asked as they walked down the spiral staircase into the living
room.
         Mr. Galiwampus grabbed a bucket by the pond, and pulled out a handful of some slimy looking
fish food. He tossed it into the middle of the pond and suddenly the water exploded as his two sons
gulped down their dinner.
         Wally Eye and his little brother Billy Gilly came to the edge of the pond, “Where you going
Papa?”
         “Listen boys, Sara and I are off to a party so there is to be no trouble while were gone.”
         The little fish looked at each other and laughed softly. “Of course not Papa—we’ll be good,”
they replied in unison with a big smile, and swam back down into the pond.
         Mr. Galiwampus and Sara walked outside and back into the lush landscape of The Most
Beautiful Place in the World.
         “So we will take Mr. Winkle’s Express?”
         “He’s driving me crazy with all his laughing. I know of a better way to get there—hold on.”
         There were several telephone trees in the courtyard of the estate and Mr. Galiwampus picked one
up. “Hello Dolly, Sara and I need a ride to You Know Where, so send the You Know Who . . .” He
turned to Sara, “Okay, we’ll be taken by the You Know Who to the You Know Where . . .”
         “Huh? I don’t know anything about who or where for that matter.”
         “No silly, that’s the name of the place, and the name of the transportation.”
         “Whatever you say Mr. Galiwampus . . .”
         “We have to walk around to the other side of the hill where the ocean is. That’s where they like
to meet.”




                                   Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 79
       “Who?”
       “Well, the You Know Who of course . . .”
       They walked around the hill with its thick carpet of flowers. Sara bent down to pick one, and she
held it under her nose to smell its fragrance. To her delight, not only did it have a beautiful perfume, but
it played beautiful music as well; music that was unlike anything Sara had ever heard before. The music
from the flower was so magical that the very sound of it imparted a feeling of warmth and calmness.
       “Oh my!” she exclaimed, “The flowers play music?”
       “Well, you see the flowers are music, because everything that exists is music. Everything that is
beautiful must have harmony to exist. Every flower is different, and each carries its own music.”


They finally reached the shores of the magical ocean where the waves reared up, and from their masses
of bubbling lacy white foam the beautiful horses came forth and other beautiful creatures and animals
that joined them in cavorting along the rainbow sands of the endless beaches.
       “So where are the You Know Who Mr. Galiwampus?”
       “They will be here any minute now—”
       But Sara’s attention was caught by giant explosions of water being shot high into the sky from
the upthrust of a force beneath the surface of the ocean. Sara knew that whatever the force was, it had to
be gargantuan. Suddenly a creature surfaced, and then another. Sara got a glimpse of the You Know
Who for the first time. The giant, orange whale-like creatures were encrusted with all sorts of ocean-
growing barnacles and coral that formed part of their hides. While Sara stood staring in amazement, they
swam as close to shore as the depth of water would allow.
          “—Hello ladies!” Mr. Galiwampus yelled.
       “But won’t we get our clothes all wet if we go into the ocean?”
       “Oh Sara my dear,” Mr. Galiwampus said with a slight chuckle, “we won’t be riding them in the
ocean.”
       Sara stared wide-eyed at Mr. Galiwampus. “Well then, where will we be riding them?”
       He continued to smile as he looked out upon the magnificent creatures that awaited their
departure, “Well Sara, the sky of course!”
       Though happily diverted at the prospect of riding through the enchanted skies of The Most
Beautiful Place in the World, Sara was also a little apprehensive as the huge size of the creatures was
truly frightening. But with no further ado, Mr. Galiwampus dove into the wild waters of the ocean and
swam to the great whale-like creatures. Then, without warning, he exploded from the water and landed
on top of one of the You Know Who. He had with him some sort of seat connected to ropes that
wrapped around both him and the creature. It resembled a horse’s saddle, and its purpose was the
same—a place for a rider to sit. When Mr. Galiwampus had finished fitting another giant saddle on a
second creature, he climbed on top of one of the You Know Who and yelled a triumphant “Ha!”
       With Mr. Galiwampus seated high on top of one of the You Know Who, both creatures began to
swim away from the short and out into the ocean beyond. They swam quite a distance out and Sara
thought that they had left her, but then they suddenly stopped and turned. They remained motionless for
a little while and then began to make their way back to shore, their humps visible as they moved through




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 80
the water at ever increasing speed until there was sufficient propulsion for the magnificent creatures to
lift their enormous bodies from the surface of the water and became airborne.
       Sara stood on the warm sand transfixed at the sight of the colossal creatures lifting their giant
bodies from the ocean waters high up into the sky, their enormous flippers flapping like the wings of
some great bird. Their huge orange bellies hovered above her and as she gazed in wonderment, a ladder
fell from one. It swayed back and forth and Sara lunged, grabbed hold of a rung and began to climb. As
she ascended the ladder she began to see the eye of the creature. In comparison with its massive body,
the eye was very small, but its turquoise gaze watched Sara closely as she finished climbing and
clambered onto the saddle that rested on its back. When she had settled herself securely, the creature’s
huge flippers began to flap very rapidly and the rainbow colored sands below soon receded into a
sandstorm from the air turbulence that the creatures created as they resumed their ascent into the sky. To
prevent herself from falling, Sara held on to the reins with all her might and though terrified, she was
also excited beyond words.
        Mr. Galiwampus, riding the creature in front, turned and yelled back to her as they rocketed up
and over the beautiful ocean, “Hold on tight Sara, you are in for the ride of a lifetime!”
       The cloud drifts were like feather down upon Sara’s face and her hair danced in the wind. She
watched in amazement as they came closer and closer to a giant rainbow that was painted across the sky,
and then flew straight through it. Sara’s face was wreathed in smiles as they continued their ascent
through the clouds, accompanied by a flock of giant butterflies that had arrived to fly above them, their
iridescent wings glistening in the sunlight. In the distance, she could make out an island that sat like an
emerald in the surrounding sapphire waters. It seemed to be getting nearer. Sara realized they had begun
their descent.


                                              CHAPTER 11


As magical as the jewel-like island was from above, it was even more so on closer inspection. One side
of a monumental mountain was curtained for virtually its full height by a waterfall that cascaded down
into a vast pool of crystal clear water. Flowers surrounded the pool and as far as the eye could see. The
You Know Who made an immaculate landing upon the pool, although their giant bodies still managed to
create massive waves as they skimmed along the surface. But they braked and finally stopped and Sara,
who had been holding her breath, exhaled a big sigh of relief to have finally landed safely.
       The mist from the waterfall cooled Sara’s face as the You Know Who used their flippers like
oars to move close enough to the shore for their riders to dismount and climb down the ladders onto the
sandy shore of the mysterious and beautiful island. As Sara set foot upon the island for the first time, she
stared up at the magnificent waterfall that fell from the giant mountain. It was simply miraculous. It
seemed as though thousands of gallons of sparkling, crystal clear water were falling straight from the
sky in a mass of cascading pure white foam, spilling down into the magical swirling pool below, and
then continually spraying back up again in magnificent arches of glistening droplets of water vapor and
refreshing mist.
       It was a paradise of wild flowers, giant multicolored trees, and magnificent mountains covered




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 81
with the emerald green mosses that had made the island seem so lush and verdant as they had made their
approach from the air. The waters in the pool were so clean and translucent Sara could see straight to the
bottom, and even then it wasn’t just the bottom of the pool that she could see. Down in the depths of the
pool she could see forms that were larger than an average fish and glittered as they swam about.
       As Mr. Galiwampus climbed down from the You Know Who, Sara leaned over to peer into the
water to take a better look. From the crystal depths she could see the beings making their way to the
surface. The first one to do so was a woman; a beautiful woman with golden hair, who swam close to
Sara, and gazed at her with startling snow white eyes. Instead of arms she had blue fish-like fins, but her
face looked very human. More and more of the intriguing water sprites made their way to the surface.
       “Welcome Sara!” a voice called from a distance.
        Sara turned to see who was greeting her to such a magnificent island. At the base of the
waterfall, hovering slightly above the surface, and framed against an arching backdrop of sparkling,
effervescent plumes of white foam, stood a queen. She had to be a queen; she could be no less. She
wore a crown of beautiful shells and her flowing gown was a virtual rainbow of subtle color interplay. It
featured every shade of blue from palest aqua, to light azure and deepest aquamarine; cerulean and
cobalt through lavender, indigo and shimmering ultramarine-violet. Its bodice and the high collar and
shoulders of the matching cape that fell floating to her feet were encrusted with magnificent pearls of
bluish-grey that glistened and gleamed as her ethereal image glided toward Sara.
        “My name is Queen Elizabeth Azcott-Isleyl. Some call me the Water Queen.”
       Spellbound, Sara could barely find her voice. “My name is Sara Dwells,” she whispered.
       “We welcome you to the island of Coroneta. May you stay as long as you desire.”
       “Thank you, Your Majesty. These are the most beautiful waters I have ever seen,” Sara said
softy as she smiled and reached down into the cool, clear water.
       “You see Sara, water is the most powerful element of all, and it is alive. It can shape lands or, if
it chooses, even destroy them. It is more powerful than the fiercest wind, and not even the wrath of fire
itself can stand up to its great majesty. Water gives life to all things and shapes the stones and rocks that
lay beneath your feet. I am the Water Queen, but I still bow before its magnificence for I too must
understand the power of water and give it the utmost respect.” The Water Queen then turned to one of
the water sprites and said, “Gaudens, dive to the bottom of the falls and fetch a gift for Miss Dwells.”
       “Yes Your Majesty.”
       Sara watched as Gaudens dove down into the cool, crystal clear water and headed toward the
waterfall, and then turned to Mr. Galiwampus—she had noticed that his suit was sodden from getting on
the back of You Know Who at the ocean near his estate. “Mr. Galiwampus you should really dry
yourself off a bit, you are soaking wet.”
       “Right. Yes of course. Please excuse me Your Majesty for I am indeed soaked. Well, that’s the
beauty of this place, I hadn’t even noticed! He closed his eyes for a minute and Sara watched as the
water fell from his suit, formed a puddle at his feet, and then morphed into what looked like a seahorse
that jumped into the pool of water. “How’s that?” he asked with a cheeky grin.
       Sara laughed, “Impressive on both counts! You look dashing Mr. Galiwampus, very handsome!”
       The Queen smiled at them both and said, “I take it you will be attending the party at the You




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 82
Know Where today?”
          “Why yes Your Majesty, there is a welcoming party for Sara—it should be a grand evening.”
          The Queen turned to the water sprites and said, “You know what we do when we welcome a new
arrival to Coroneta don’t you?” The little water sprites swam together and formed a huge glittering
circle. Sara noticed they were holding up all sorts of shells and other interesting looking objects from the
waters.
          “What are they doing?” Sara whispered to Mr. Galiwampus.
          “Well they are going to play you a welcome song of course!”
          And so the water sprites began to play their lilting music in the most miraculous way. They blew
through shells that mimicked saxophones and larger ones that sounded like trombones; some of them
played drum-like instruments that were simply fish skins stretched over rounded pieces of coral. The
music was truly beautiful and it echoed around the mountains and through the wild jungles of the
Coroneta. It was all the more incredible to listen to the orchestra of the sprites because they had created
the amazing music from nothing more than what was provided by the waters. The song reached its
climax—the horns blew and the drums pounded and then, in perfect unison, it ended as though they had
practiced the performance thousands of times.
          Sara bowed before the beautiful Queen and thanked her for the amazing welcome gift. No sooner
had she finished than Gaudens appeared from the depths of the waters holding something that he placed
in her hand. Sara got a glimpse of her gift for the first time. It was a magnificent piece of jewelry; a pure
golden seahorse.
          “It is so . . . beautiful; I don’t know how to thank you Your Majesty,”
          “Just be kind to the waters, respect them, and keep them clean. It will always give you gifts as
long as you care for it. Oh, and the golden horse will unveil the power of water if you happen to get in
trouble. Of course you won’t need it here because there is no trouble in this place.”
          “Thank you again Your Majesty.”
          Mr. Galiwampus turned to Sara. “Well my dear, we should be going now—we do have a party to
attend.”
          “You’re right Mr. Galiwampus, just lead the way. And oh, thank you all again for the wonderful
welcome to your beautiful island.”


Sara followed Mr. Galiwampus along a path leading up one of the beautiful hills. It was covered with
emerald green mosses, and all sorts of wild mushrooms—some were as big as small trees.
          “Where are we going Mr. Galiwampus?”
          “Well to the party of course!”
          “Well, I already know that Mr. Galiwampus. What I mean is, where does this path lead us
exactly?”
          But Mr. Galiwampus just smiled mysteriously and said nothing. They continued walking up the
hill and after about ten minutes, Sara heard voices coming from somewhere near the top of the hill. Not
just a few voices, but a crowd of people talking and laughing. It must be the party, Sara thought to
herself excitedly.




                                   Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 83
       “Mr. Galiwampus, I can hear the party—hurry!” In great anticipation, Sara ran the rest of the
way up the hill, eager to find out what sort of party it was, and who the people might be who awaited her
arrival. Sitting on top of the hill and soaring more than a hundred feet into the sky was a giant white
castle. At the base of the colossal structure were crowds of people mingling about. They were
elaborately dressed in the finest of garments; the men and boys in tailored suits of many different colors,
and the women and little girls in long flowing gowns that swayed softly as the children giggled, and the
women laughingly fanned themselves. Mr. Galiwampus finally caught up and stood beside Sara as she
looked on in amazement at the grand event that was unfolding before her eyes.
       She turned to him, “Mr. Galiwampus this is amazing, look at all of them. It’s like a party for
some great queen or somebody!”
       “Well Sara, the queen would be you. This is your welcome party to The Most Beautiful Place in
the World! Just wait until we go into the castle . . .” he said with a wink as he climbed atop a small
boulder sat at the edge of the path.
       “What are you doing Mr. Galiwampus?” Sara asked in alarm.
       “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls” Mr. Galiwampus yelled out. “Will you all give a warm
welcome to the little girl who has come so far . . . May I present Ms. Sara Dwells!”
       All the people turned around and when they finally saw Sara, they cheered and made their way
toward her—there were many hundreds of them and each person was very excited to meet her. One of
the women who was dressed in a beautiful purple satin dress that flowed elegantly from her body, made
her way to the front of the crowd. The giant diamonds that hung from her ears and matched her diamond
studded necklace and bracelet were dazzling to behold.
       “Welcome Sara, we are all so excited to meet you. We have prepared a wonderfully fun-filled
extravaganza for you!” She motioned with her hand for Sara to follow her, “Come Sara, let us enter the
cloud castle.”
       Sara could see why they called it the cloud castle. Resting on the huge hillside, the gigantic
castle soared into the sky just below the clouds. If she had thought that Mr. Galiwampus’s house was
big, the pure white castle was nearly ten times the size. Following closely behind the woman in the
purple satin dress, they entered the castle’s vast ballroom. Immense crystal chandeliers the size of a
motor car hung from the lofty ceiling and a wild and amazing band played from an enormous stage at
one end of the enormous room. Filled with hundreds of people, their talk and laughter mixed with the
band’s music and echoed off the steep wooden walls of the ballroom as Sara stood in the centre of the
colossal room being greeted by everybody.
       Suddenly the band stopped and Mr. Galiwampus leapt up on the stage. Everyone turned to see
him and hear what he was going to say. “First of all I must give thanks to all of you who are attending
today’s marvelous event, and secondly I am glad to officially welcome Sara Dwells to The Most
Beautiful Place in the World. Please make her feel welcome!”
       The room erupted in applause as Sara stood and smiled at everyone. For the first time in her life
she felt important; all these people had come to meet her. She was so overwhelmed with joy that she
didn’t know whether to laugh or break down and cry. Mr. Galiwampus continued with his speech while
a man wearing a bowtie and carrying a tray full ice cream and cakes offered Sara some food, which she




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 84
accepted.
         Mr. Gallipwampus was coming to the end of his speech, “And please ladies and gentlemen, for
the sake of the other aquatic vertebrates in the room this evening, do go lightly on the caviar!” The
crowd broke into spontaneous laughter and applause as he made his way down from the stage and back
onto the ballroom floor. The band started to play and everyone began to dance. One of the younger boys
in the crowd extended his hand and invited Sara for a dance. Sara blushed at his words for back home
boys would rarely even talk to her, but here she was like a princess. With a smile, she said, “I can’t
dance.”
         “What did you say?” The room was so noisy from the people and the music that he couldn’t
make out what Sara had said.
         “I can’t dance!”
         The young boy smiled, “This is the Most Beautiful Place in the World; you can do anything you
want!”
         With a wide smile, Sara took the hand of the boy and for the first time in her life she danced. It
was a magnificent moment as they swayed back and forth to the sound of the music. Everyone smiled
and laughed. It was a beautiful event.


After the party had drawn to a close, Sara and Mr. Galiwampus said their goodbyes to everyone and
began their journey back down the mountain.
         “That was the most incredible party I have ever had the pleasure of attending!” Sara said.
         “Well, there is more where that came from, just wait and see, Sara. The parties and events here
never end.”
         They continued on walking down the hill with Sara smiling and happy, and enjoying the
wonderfully fresh, clean air and its fragrance of mosses and flowers.
         “How will we be getting back Mr. Galiwampus?”
         “Hmm, well I think that it would be best if we took a different form of transportation home.”
         “Gee Mr.Galiwampus, I wonder what it’ll be this time . . .” Sara said cheekily.


When they arrived at the bottom of the mountain and returned to the magical waterfall and its pool, Sara
was again struck by its beauty and stared in wonderment at the multitude of cascades and the flowers
that carpeted the mountainsides that rimmed the pool. She returned her gaze to the foaming white
waterfall and as she did so, two great white horses emerged above the pool, their magnificent eagle-like
wings fully extended. The horses were as white as Christmas snow, and their wings carried them
gracefully to the shore of the pool.
         “Well Sara, hop on!”
         Sara stood silently gazing at the magnificence of the horses. She ran a hand along the soft velvet
of the muzzle of one and after a moment or two, tried to climb on, but the horse was too tall and she
struggled. Of its own volition, the horse knelt down and Sara climbed on to its back and took hold of its
mane. Sara had ridden before; her father John was a great horseman and had taught her the art of riding,
and bareback too. With Mr. Galiwampus astride the second horse, they galloped toward the pool but just




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 85
before the hooves could touch the water they became airborne, the horses’ powerful wings bearing them
aloft towards the sky. Once again they flew above the magical ocean and toward The Most Beautiful
Place in the World, touching down right outside the gates of the Galliwapus Estate.
          Sara and Mr. Galiwampus dismounted and watched as the beautiful horses had galloped away
into the distance and disappeared above the clouds before making their way back into the residence and
Mr. Galiwampus’s living room.
          “Would you care for tea, Sara?”
          “Why yes, of course, and thank you,” Sara replied as she tried to tidy her hair after the ride and
sat down on a great couch upholstered in the finest of silk velvet.
          From the pond Wally Eye and his brother Billy Gilly popped up. “Hi Sara!” they said as one in
an excited tone of voice.
          “Well hello there boys. Were you good while we were gone, like your Papa told you to be?”
          The boys looked at each other and then smiled. “Why yes of course Sara, we love our Papa, he’s
the greatest fish to ever live.”
          Sara smiled, but then a feeling of sadness came over her. She realized that she missed her father,
and she missed her family. She wondered if they had gone looking for her, though deep down she knew
that they had even though the note she had left asked them not to. Sara sighed and said, “Yes boys; your
father is a great fish. If it were not for him—well, I’d be very lost here. Of course, it’s not such a bad
place to be lost in.”
          A few minutes later Mr. Galiwampus came in from the kitchen with a pot of tea and two cups.
Sara took a sip of the tea and then smiled, “Wow Mr. Galiwampus, this tea, it’s incredible. What is it?”
          “Well, it’s my own special brew. It’s made mostly from sea kelp and spices. I also add a touch of
sea urchin juice for a bit of snap.”
          All of a sudden the tea didn’t seem so tasty to Sara, but in appreciation she thanked him for the
gesture and drained the cup to the last drop. She placed the cup on the table in front of the couch and
sighed.
          “What’s wrong Sara, you seem bothered by something?”
          “Well, it’s just that, I miss my family. I miss home, my brother’s piano. My mom and dad, and
even Mr. Cat—Oh, I wish I could play with him again.”
          Mr. Galiwampus put his cup down and said, “You know Sara, I’m sure that your family is full of
wonderful people, but back in your world there are things about people that aren’t always so pleasant.
Here everything is pleasant, and you can live as you want.”
          Sara looked puzzled and then said, “But how could my family not be pleasant people, my mother
and father have always been good to me and my brother and sister too. We all make mistakes, but I’m
sure that they have never done anything terribly wrong.”
          Mr. Galiwampus sighed and then said, “Sara, if you knew the truth about the people you most
look up to, you may change your mind about wanting to go home.
          “Like who? I mean, take Pastor Obride for example. Now I’m sure that he hasn’t done much
wrong in his life, right?”
          Mr. Galiwampus looked pensive. He stood up and walked about the room and after a minute or




                                   Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 86
two, turned to her. “Sara,” he said, “If you would like, I can take you back in time. I can let you see the
truth of these people you think so highly of, but I must warn you; you will see things that will be most
disturbing, things you may not want to know about.”
        “Like what?” Sara said, “I must know, take me back so that I may see these things you speak of.”
        But Mr. Galiwampus did not answer straight away. Instead, he lit his pipe and puffed away as he
always did whenever he was in deep thought. “Okay then, I will take you. Come with me.”
        They walked down to the shores of the ocean and Mr. Galiwampus jumped into the water. “Hop
on Sara!” With no idea of where he was taking her, Sara climbed on his back and they made their way
out into the ocean. “Okay, I want you to hold on to me very tight, and take a deep breath!” She did as he
asked and suddenly Mr. Galiwampus dived into the crystal clear waters of the ocean. He began to swim
so extraordinarily fast that everything around Sara blurred. There was a great explosion of light and they
were catapulted through the center of something that looked like an upward pointing hole in a tunnel,
and onto land.


Although happy to be back home in Whipper Wheel, to smell the air and see the familiar mountains in
the distance, when Sara looked around she was surprised to realize they were in the backyard of Pastor
Obride’s house, and the hole they had been ejected from was in fact the Pastor’s well. “Mr.
Galiwampus, this is Pastor Obride’s house. What are we doing here?”
        Mr. Galiwampus was busy wiping the dirt off himself with his fins after landing so it was a
minute or so before he spoke. “I want to show you that not everyone is who you think they are. Now,
remember that no one can see or hear us so no worries there. Remember also that we will be traveling to
places without actually traveling at all . . .”


It was evening, the twilight time just before sunset. Sara’s father had always said that it was his favorite
time of the day. He called it the ‘golden hour’—a time when everything becomes warm and golden as
the sun sinks below the horizon; the time when the day reaches a peak of magnificence before
succumbing to darkness. Sara remembered her father’s words. He was right; it was the most beautiful
part of the day. Down the road she could make out the shape of horses and a carriage drawing nearer to
the house. When the horses finally pulled up, Sara could see that it was Red, the drunken old Indian who
lived in the mountains, and who had brewed the same whisky that Mr. Kindle had drunk before crashing
his car into the front yard of the Dwells’ house. But she wondered what Red would be doing at Pastor
Obride’s house. He had surely never attended a sermon, and was thought to be nothing more than a
drunkard who lived in the hills.
        Dressed in his usual old tattered clothes, his hair long and hanging in a pony tail down the back
of his battered old leather vest, Red walked around to the rear of the buggy as Pastor Obride opened the
front door of the house and came out to greet him. Together they pulled two big crates from the buggy
and hauled them onto the porch. Pastor Obride was acting very strangely. He seemed almost nervous
and kept looking about as if to make sure nobody was watching him. When he popped the top of the
wooden crate, Sara could finally see the mystery cargo—fifteen or so bottles of old Red’s Green River
Whisky.




                                   Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 87
       Sara turned to Mr. Galiwampus, “What on earth would Pastor Obride want with all of that
liquor?”
       “Well Sara, the liquor is for him. Your holy Pastor is a drunk.”
       Sara was speechless. Pastor Obride a drunk? The holy man who preached sermons about how
alcohol can ruin lives was a drunk?
       “But Mr. Galiwampus, Pastor Obride is a poor man. He doesn’t have enough money from the
donations to even repair the church or even enough chairs to fill it.”
       Mr. Galiwampus looked down at the ground before speaking, “The reason why the church is the
way it is, is because the Pastor has taken the donations intended to maintain it and spent them on booze.”
       Sara said nothing. She found it hard to believe, but there it was right before her eyes; the truth, a
sad truth. “I want to see more, I want to see everyone I look up to, and who they really are.” There was
anger in Sara’s voice. She was disgusted that after all the years that Whipper Wheel’s poor had been
donating to the church, the Pastor had taken the money and spent it on himself—that even a holy man
could be a sinner.
       “Sara, I have to warn you; it doesn’t get any better, but it’s up to you. Is there anyone else you
wanted to see?”
       Sara thought for a moment, “Yes, my father—I want to see my father.”
       “Okay, back down the well we go.”
       Sara climbed aboard and they went barreling down the well before being shot out of another, this
time it was a well in the backyard of someone’s home where she had never been before.
       “Who lives here Mr. Galiwampus?”
       “Sara, this is the home of Calvin and Debra Johansen.
       “But why are we here? I asked to see my father.”
       Mr. Galiwampus took Sara to the front of the house. Near the front door there was a giant
window—the curtains were parted and he told Sara to look inside. Sara covered her mouth and gasped,
for what she saw was not at all pleasing to her eyes. It was her father John. He looked much younger so
it was clear they must have gone back in time. He was kissing Debra passionately. Sara could not look.
She cried and ran into the yard.
       Mr. Galiwampus went after her. “Sara, I told you that these things would not be easy to see. It’s
the truth of people, they are not as they seem. This does not mean they are bad people. It just means that
we all make mistakes in our lives; this is what being human is all about. Without mistakes Sara, how
could anyone learn what is right? How could people not mess things up? Not lust for more, desire more
or feel more? Sara, this is just a part of humanity.”
       Sara dried her eyes, and looked at Mr. Galiampus. “You are right. You are always so right Mr.
Galiwampus.”
       “I’m only showing you the truth, that’s all. Now, is there anyone else you would like to see?”
Sara thought for a while. There were plenty of people she wanted to see, but the question was whether
she could handle the truth.
       “Yes, there is one more person I want to see.”
       “And who might that be Sara?”




                                   Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 88
        “Someone who I don’t like very much at all; her name is Mrs. Herman, my school teacher. I will
be very happy to see what she has done.”
        They went back down into the well and popped out of another in back of a broken-down old
building.
        “Where is this?”
        “I have taken you back some years, thirty-seven to be exact, and this place is called a pub and
brothel.”
        “A brothel? Isn’t that—Oh . . .” Sara said wide-eyed and with a knowing look on her face. She
knew that a brothel was a place where for a few cents any lonely man could find a lady to be with him.
Sara couldn’t wait to see Mrs. Herman, the perfectly proper, strict teacher in a brothel! And it turned out
to indeed be true. Sitting on the lap of a dirty old logger, and dressed in a skirt far above her knees, was
Mrs. Herman. The place was disgusting—an old shack filled with smoky loggers and bums—and Mrs.
Herman was kissing a dirty old man while he ran his hands over her legs.
        “Wow!” Sara exclaimed. “Mrs. Herman was actually rather beautiful, but she was a flapper!”
Sara laughed hysterically as she watched the scene for a few minutes more before walking back to the
well.
        “Anything else you would like to see Sara?”
        Sara looked back at the brothel, smiled at him, and shook her head, “No Mr. Galiwampus, I
believe I have seen enough . . .”


It was another glorious day in The Most Beautiful Place in the World. Sara had decided to take a walk
and do a little exploring of the magical place. She found a small tree bearing amazing violet colored
blossoms growing next to a beautiful stream that meandered gently through the flowered covered valley.
She sat down and leaned against the tree. It was a heavenly place; so calm, and quiet. The tinkling
sounds of water dancing over the stones in the stream were the perfect accompaniment to the picture-
postcard setting.
        Sara sat and relaxed, watching the stream wending its way, and thought for a while about all the
strange and amazing places she had visited. She thought about her return to Whipper Wheel with Mr.
Galiwampus, and reflected on the faults exposed in the people she had previously looked up to. She
remembered the Book—she hadn’t even looked at it since arriving in The Most Beautiful Place in the
World. Had she forgotten about the rest of the journey? Was she content with staying in this beautiful
place? As these questions turned over in her mind, Sara knew she still missed her family, but she also
wondered what other places and worlds lay past the ocean. She felt confused and just couldn’t seem to
come to a decision as to what would be the best thing to do. So she spoke out loud, “I wish I knew what
the answer was to my question. What should I do?”
        What Sara had forgotten was that in The Most Beautiful Place in the Word when something was
expressed as a wish, it was made true. She looked up and watched as the clouds parted and a
magnificent golden beam of light streamed down upon her. Something was happening; something very
peculiar indeed! There were little forms floating within the golden shaft of sunlight beaming down from
the heavens, and as they came closer Sara was able to see what they were. They were cherubs; baby




                                    Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 89
angelic beings. Neither male nor female, the plump little cherubs and they flapped their wings
delightedly as they laughed and danced along the golden pathway that flowed down from the sky. The
cherubs were smiling and rejoicing as if something miraculous had taken place, and they swirled in a
descending spiral above Sara’s head.
       As she gazed up in wonderment, Sara was overwhelmed by such a profound feeling of warmth
and happiness that she started to feel goose bumps. The cherubs made a circle above her head and then
she saw a much larger form descending within the golden shaft. When the being came close enough,
Sara realized it was a great angel. She was very beautiful and glistened in the golden light with her
wings of gold, her diaphanous white robe swaying gently about her form. The great angel and the
cherubs hovered above Sara as she stared wide-eyed and speechless in awe at the amazing heavenly
vision. And then the great angel spoke, “Sara, you must leave; you must follow us now. You asked and
now you shall receive the truth. We will guide your way. You must trust in our presence. Come Sara,
come now.”
        The great angel and the cherubs—laughing and playing as their little wings flapped in the air—
began to fly away with Sara following in their wake. Many questions lay unanswered but one thing
stood true, Sara knew that it was time to leave The Most Beautiful Place in the World. For an instant she
started to wonder where they were taking her, but then Sara remembered something that the Pastor had
once said in sermon, “One should not go against powers that are greater than thee.”
       Across the beautiful landscape she followed the little group as they made their way to the
Galiwampus estate. When they reached the great golden gates, the great angel spoke, “Sara, get the
Book. We will wait for you, and when you return, you shall begin the rest of your journey.”


       Sara found Mr. Galiwampus in the pool with the boys.
       “Mr. Galiwampus, I have to go,”
       He got out of the pool. “Yes Sara, I know.”
       “But how do you know?”
       “I have always known Sara. You are too strong and have too much that you are yet to
accomplish in your life to stay here.”
       After Sara had grabbed her backpack and said her goodbyes to Wally Eye and Billy Gilly, Mr.
Galiwampus followed her out of the house to where the great angel and cherubs awaited her. “I will
come with you and say my goodbyes Sara. I mean it is a full moon.”
       Sara looked a bit confused, “A full moon?”
       “Remember the inscription that was written on the door,” Mr. Galiwampus said. “If you want to
leave then find the Crystal Ship at port, it leaves every full moon.” Sara remembered that it was indeed
such a moon.
       Everyone made their way toward the dream line of The Most Beautiful Place in the World, and
the dock. Waiting there was an immense ship. Made of crystal, its vast sails billowing in the light
breeze, the vessel was a magnificent sight as it gleamed with a shining iridescence from the refracted
colors of the light streams swirling in the sky above.
       Sara looked out into the distance, beyond the dream line, to where the serene waters met a sea of




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 90
ominous black waves and a sky rent with storms; a scene illuminated all too clearly by the colossal
forked lightning that flashed intermittently—a very different environment from The Most Beautiful
Place in the World. She looked over at Mr. Galiwampus and her feeling of sadness at leaving was plain
to see. She would miss him for he was the best friend she had ever had. “Mr. Galiwampus, I’m going to
miss you, you are one of the reasons I thought about staying. You have been such a wonderful friend to
me. I wish I could repay you.”
       “Oh Sara, just remember me, that’s all I ask, and be strong. You are the only one who has ever
ventured past the dream line, other than that old sailor who gave me the book, but you are stronger than
him. Stay clear of the Island of the Middle of Nowhere. I will be here forever, we all will be. When you
get sad or worried, just remember this place, and you will find yourself here again.” Mr. Galiwampus
moved closer and gave her a hug and whispered, “Remember that The Most Beautiful Place in the
World can be anywhere you find yourself if you see the good in things.”
       Assisted by the cherubs, the great angel lifted Sara off the ground and carried her to the ship. As
she looked back at The Most Beautiful Place in the World, a cloud of brilliant butterflies flew above as
though in salute, and even Mr. Winkle showed up in his express train, blowing the whistle and yelling
from the engine driver’s seat, “Have a good trip Sara! We will miss you,” he said, followed by his usual
laughter.
       And then more and more people came. The waitresses from the circus, the entire band; all the
people from the party were there to farewell her. Sara waved and smiled. She was very sad to leave
them, and could feel the tears welling up in her eyes, but she knew if she did not go she would never
know the truth of what would be. Mr. Galiwampus untied the ropes that held the Crystal Ship at anchor,
the wind filled the sails and the ship was launched on its journey across a wild ocean of mystery, to
destinations far beyond the distant reaches of anything that had been seen before.


                                             CHAPTER 12


A lone figure stood at the wheel of the mysterious Crystal Ship. His face was unseen, the hood of his
long grayish-white white cloak keeping his face in shadow. He must be the captain, Sara thought.
Although he steered the ship’s course, the question of its unknown destination remained in her mind.
       Sara made her way to the bow of the ship, and saw the huge crystal angel mounted on the prow
like a great guardian whose unblinking gaze continually scans the unknown ocean and its horizon. The
temperature dropped sharply, and the wind began to gust with a fury, slapping against the sails. In no
time they passed the dream line, and Sara knew that what she saw in the distance would have no part of
anything she had experienced in the world from which she had just departed.
       The sky darkened and became pitch-black. Gigantic waves crashed amidships and spilled over
on to the decks. The ship listed to port as wave after wave pounded it relentlessly. The decks were
awash, and so too was the terrified Sara. The wind screamed and the sky exploded with mighty
thunderclaps. The cold wind became gale force and deepened into frigidity. Sara’s sodden clothes took
on an icy chill. The ship’s bow cut through the mountainous waves, but made little headway as the
vessel listed from port to starboard and starboard to port; mere flotsam in the powerful onslaught of the




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 91
horrendous seas.
        Sara held on to the main mast to keep from being swept away by the ferocity of the storm, but
the mysterious captain showed no sign of fear. In fact, Sara wondered if he was some sort of ghostly
apparition in his now drenched and dark phantom-like cloak. Flashes of lightning streaked across the
forbidding skies. Snow started to fall and within minutes the decks were covered in nearly half a foot of
slushy snow and ice. What had seemed like a hurricane had turned into an unexpected blizzard.
Suddenly there was an odd silence. Sara looked around and saw a colossal wall of water heading for the
ship at well over one hundred miles per hour. As black as the night, it must have been more than two
hundred feet tall. There was no way the ship or anyone on board would survive the impact of such a
massive force. Sara could see it coming closer and closer, and she knew that within less than thirty
seconds it would all be over—the journey, the search, and all that she had worked for.
        Mr. Kindle’s bags, the magic bags—maybe they could help. As the mountain of water neared,
Sara reached into her bag. They were gone. She had lost them, but where? Where were they? She
became frantic, how could she have lost them? Then, in the bottom of her backpack she felt
something—not a magic bag, but something else. She pulled it out and to her surprise found it was the
golden seahorse that had been given to her by Queen Elizabeth Azcott-Isley. She remembered that the
Queen had told her that it would harness the power of water. The giant wave screamed as it came racing
to within fifty feet of the boat.
        Sara threw the seahorse into the water, but the wave did not stop. It was only a matter of seconds
until she met her fate. Seconds . . . She closed her eyes and knelt down on the icy deck and prayed. Sara
prayed for her family, her life, and all that she would miss. She braced herself for the impact . . . But
then another odd silence came, and this time it was very peculiar indeed. When Sara opened her eyes all
she could see was a gigantic wall of water towering over her like a mountain, its top curling so high it
was almost lost in the darkness. The peculiar thing was that the wave was at a standstill; it stood
completely frozen, suspended within inches of amidships. It was the seahorse that stopped it. Sara stared
up in amazement and in fear of the colossal wall of dark water. It was as if the ocean had stood up on its
tiptoes, screaming with all its might and then just stopped. Sara could not say or do anything. All she
could think about was if the wall should collapse. And then another very odd thing happened. The sky
filled with streaks of light that resembled meteorites. They plummeted from the black vault overhead at
an incredible velocity, exploding in the water like ten thousand cannonballs.
        Astounded, Sara realized that what continued to fall from the sky in brilliant explosions of light
all around her were in fact stars. She dimly heard the loud clunking of what sounded like boots on the
timber deck, and stood silently as the footsteps approached her. She felt something touch her shoulder,
and when she looked she realized that it was a hand, the hand of the captain. He stood next to her for a
moment as the icy winds scattered the sparkling snow crystals that nestled within their clothing, and
then began to walk away toward the stupendous, still suspended wave. The captain stopped and stared
up at the water, and then with Sara watching, he climbed over the gunwale down to the still waters of the
ocean. She could not understand how the man could stand on water, but knowing she had to follow, Sara
walked closer. She saw that the entire ocean was completely frozen, and clambering down on to the icy
surface, she knelt before the wave.




                                    Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 92
       As though his role had been completed, the mysterious captain had already made his way back to
the ship. From the depths of the dark frozen water of the wave the next set of doors emerged. She
walked toward them, the snow on the ice crunching and crackling beneath her feet, but waited before
choosing a door as she wanted to make sure the captain was safe. Sara called to him, “Thank you, thank
you; whoever you are, thank you!” The man remained silent. He stood at the great wheel of the ship and
stared down at her. She wondered how the ship would be able to resume its voyage in the frozen ocean,
and then saw the great sails explode into life as if caught by an unseen wind. Sara watched as the ship
began to move forward, the sound of its bow cleaving the ice as though giant timbers were being split
asunder. It was an eerie sight to watch the ghostly ship making its way across the dark ocean.
       But Sara had to return her attention to the waiting doors. Which one would it be this time. There
was only one thing that was for sure—wherever it took her was going to be very interesting indeed. She
chose the second door and, taking a deep breath, grabbed the cold brass handle and opened it. Once
inside, all she found was the frozen ocean stretching beyond the limits of her vision. She did not
understand. The door had led nowhere, and in fact she was basically in the same place she had been
before entering the portal. Then, from the darkness of the night, the violet light appeared. “Hello Violet,
can you help me? Where do I go?”
       The violet light hovered around her backpack where the Book was kept. Sara pulled the Book
out and opened it, “Through light and dark, through night and day, Book of Answers show me the way .
. .” The words appeared, “Take the ladder down into the waters, travel through the black current until
you reach the Lost Abyss and find a coin dated March 11, 1111. Drop the coin into the Channel Well to
find the doors. Take with you this pocket watch. Once the hand has gone across every number and
landed where it started, your time is up and you will be lost in the Lost Abyss.”
       Sara grabbed the watch that hung from the door and noticed the time showed three o’clock,
which meant she would have only twelve hours to find the coin. She felt a tremor within the frozen ice,
and it began to shake and tremble. Sara knew that if the ice broke and she fell, she would not last long in
the icy waters. She heard the frightening sound of the ice starting to crack, and three feet ahead saw the
ocean split into two to reveal a long dark crevasse with something sticking out of it. Sara moved closer
to get a better look. It was a ladder but instead of leading upwards somewhere, to her disbelief it led
straight down to the breach in the ocean. Looking for options, Sara turned and gazed around her, but
there was nowhere else to go. The Crystal Ship had departed. All that remained was the endless frozen
ocean. The very thought of plunging into its dark icy waters filled her with dread. Kneeling down, she
looked into the crevasse and saw a light being emitted from somewhere within its depths. The strange
light began to entrance Sara; she became mesmerized by it and felt compelled to find its source.
       She removed her shoes and sat like a child awaiting the dreaded plunge into the cold water.
Dipping her foot into the water, Sara was startled to find out that it wasn’t cold at all, but warm like
bathwater. She took a deep breath and began to climb down the ladder. When she was knee-deep in the
water, she took the plunge. As soon as she opened her eyes again beneath the surface, Sara could see the
light twinkling on and off as she watched. Soon she could not hold her breath any longer, and was
forced to take a gulp of air, but when she finally did so, she was startled to find that she could actually
breathe without any difficulty whatsoever.




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 93
        Sara swam to the light and then, when she was within a few feet of it, paddled to keep afloat as
she studied it more closely. She could make out a beautiful flower bud beneath the light that began to
blossom as its ruby colored petals unfolded. Sara reached out to touch it, but quickly withdrew her hand,
frightened by what she saw. The light became intense and illuminated the features of one of the most
hideous creatures she could ever imagine. With row upon row of fierce, razor-sharp teeth, the head was
nearly the size of her entire house back in Whipper Wheel. The flower had been nothing more than a
trick to entice her closer. Its bubbly eyes were like giant, gooey balls of jelly that rolled about in its
massive half fish half monster’s head. When the creature began to speak, it was not in a monstrous scary
voice, but the voice of a dumbbell, reminiscent of one of her classmates, Joey Bonobo. Joey was a very
overweight child who had been in the fifth grade for the past three years because of his learning
disabilities. He always had a way of making Sara laugh, and he would do just about anything to do so.
In fact, he once ate three worms in the schoolyard just to get a smile out of her.
        Without warning, the monstrous fish began to cry, his forehead creased and his giant slimy fish
lips gaped as he began bawling his eyes out. Sara felt bad for him, and wondered what such a big scary
fish like him was doing crying. He began to swim away from Sara, but she sang out, “Please stop, I am
not afraid!”
        The fish stopped and turned his giant head towards Sara. With a child-like grin he said, “You are
not scared of me? You mean it? You really aren’t scared at all?”
        Sara smiled as he swam toward her, “Of course not, I’ve seen much more scary things than
you—believe me!”
        He swam about in circles, jumping and dancing, spinning and flipping, and yelling out, “This is
the greatest day of my life!” He was indeed a hideous creature, but for some reason, Sara found him to
be rather cute. He really was just a harmless brute after all.
        “May I ask your name dear sir?”
        Standing very proudly before her, as though about to give a military salute to his drill instructor,
the creature cleared his throat and announced, “I am the great Prince Abadon!” He yelled it across the
ocean as if he expected a crowd to erupt in applause, but all he achieved was the echo of his words over
the never ending ocean.
        “Well, a prince! Well, I don’t know if I ever met a prince. I am honored Your Highness,” Sara
said as she bowed before him.
        “Ah, jeeze,” he said in his low dunce-like voice, “you don’t need to bow—really, no one actually
cares who I am. In fact I don’t think they ever really did.” Suddenly he became silent and motioned for
Sara to be very quiet as well. The light that grew from the top of his head began to flicker and she could
make out what looked like a small fish in his mouth. Suddenly she saw a very unusual little fish
swimming about; it had been attracted not only by the light but the fish in Prince Abadon’s mouth. With
a shock Sara realized that he was fishing! With a giant snap his jaws locked down upon the little fish. In
a huge gulp he swallowed the little fish whole, and followed it with a large burp.
        “Prince Abadon?” Sara said.
        “Yes?”
        “Why didn’t you eat me when you saw me?”




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 94
       He smiled at Sara, “Well look at you. I figured the only thing I could do would be use you as a
toothpick. You have no meat on your bones!”
       Sara looked down at and returned his smile. “Yes, I guess your right about that, Abadon.”
       “Hey, I’ve got an idea,” he said, “Let’s take a journey somewhere you won’t believe; a place
none but a very few have ever seen.”
       “Where is this place Abadon?”
       “Down there, way, way, down there, but you have to crawl into my mouth. There are things
down here that are a lot more frightening then me.” He pointed with his fat, stubbly little fin.
       “Well I don’t know about getting in your mouth Abadon . . .”
       “All I’m going to say is that it’s either mine or his!”
       Sara followed his gaze and looked down to see what he was referring to and then screamed in
terror. It was some sort of ocean beast. Virtually the size of a mountain, its size was so immense Sara
and Abadon were dwarfed by its presence as it swam around them in circles. Sara had thought that
Abadon was ugly, but this creature was a hundred times more disgusting than the Prince. Gigantic eyes
protruded from a colossal head, and its body was so big it could fit nearly five whales inside and still
have room for a small automobile. She knew that it was getting ready to eat them both; there was no
choice but to hop inside Abadon’s mouth—and experience the ride of a lifetime.
       Abadon took off in an explosion of force as the great beast chased them downwards. It seemed as
though they were flying and although Sara could only see through the gaps between Abadon’s teeth, it
was enough. As they descended further and further into the depths of the ocean, she could see what
looked like great subterranean mountain ranges and giant crevasses and valleys; an entire world existed
beneath the surface of the wild and mysterious ocean. The question was, how far would they descend,
and what would they find in the deepest depths of the mysterious ocean.


Chester Bransen poured his second glass of whisky. Seated at a grand oak desk in the vast room he
called his office, he hummed the melody of the classical horn concerto that filled the room. The walls
were hung with gilded paintings of kings and scenes of great hunts. Chester was obsessed with himself
and his image, and on the wall behind his giant desk hung a huge portrait of himself proudly seated upon
one of his favorite stallions. He was becoming somewhat drunk and as he stood up, he was a little
unsteady as he walked over to the portrait. As he pressed a secret location, the picture swung open to
reveal a secret vault. His fingers fumbled with the large combination lock. It took three attempts before
it was finally unlocked. Inside was stored sufficient gold for at least two men to be overwhelmingly rich.
However, Chester reached beyond the gold for something else; an object that was even more important
to him—something that meant more than all the piles of gold. It was a picture taken of him and Mary
when they were younger. The black and white photograph was old and faded, the corners were bent and
the picture looked as if it had been damaged by water at some period. He was twenty-three years old at
the time, and dressed in a fine suit. Mary was about the same age and wore a beautiful gown. She was
giving him a kiss on the cheek.
       Chester returned to his desk with a handful of gold coins and the photograph. He pushed the gold
aside, sending a few coins to the floor, and ran his fingers across the picture, remembering the time long




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 95
ago when they had been in love. After she had met John, Mary had left Chester—a fact that still enraged
him. He could buy just about anything he wanted from anywhere in the world, but Mary was beyond his
reach. Chester had pondered many times about having John killed, but knew that his chances of ever
being with Mary would still remain close to zero.
       He could not stand the fact that she belonged to anyone other than himself. Getting to his feet, he
kicked the chair backwards in anger, and screamed out, “She’s mine! She will always be mine! And one
day I will have her, all of her!” The words had no sooner left Chester’s mouth than he heard the sounds
of rumbling and great explosions from somewhere off in the distance. At first he thought it was thunder,
but the eerie and unsettling sounds were from a squadron of German fighter jets that had been given the
name Halberstadt. It was the start of what would be one of the biggest wars in history, World War One;
a war that would claim the lives of over nine million soldiers and countless civilians. The allied powers,
led by Russia, France, Britain and, later Italy and the US, eventually defeated the centralized powers of
Bulgaria, Austria-Hungary, the German Empire and the Ottoman Empire.


Although he had done everything possible to avoid it, Jason Dwells had been consigned to the war
effort. His family told him that it was something a man must do for his country and in the summer of
1916 he was sent off to sea. In a letter he later mailed to his family he wrote:
       Dearest Family,
       Life at sea has not been easy, we are constantly on guard, and we never know when the next
       attack will be. Three days ago the ship and crew were caught in a horrific storm and we
        barely made any headway because of the immense winds. On the other hand, I have another
       story for you all—it seems I had an amazing bit of luck the other day. It was late at night and I
       couldn’t sleep. We were downstairs in our bunks playing cards when I decided to go up on deck
       to watch the giant waves pounding the ship. We could hear them smashing up against the ship
       and, well let’s just say I got a little too curious. You won’t believe this, but while leaning over
       the starboard side of the ship I was washed overboard by one of the biggest waves I have ever
       seen in my life. It hit amidships port side and washed me out to sea. What happened next was
       like a miracle. A second wave followed and catapulted me back on to the deck like I was a
       baseball. The boys haven’t stopped talking and laughing about it. I have been so worried about
       Sara. Has there been any word of her whereabouts? I miss her so, and I pray every night that she
       will return.
                                       Love, Jason


Clinging desperately to one of his giant teeth, Sara was taken by Prince Abadon to greater depths under
the ocean. The giant beast was still chasing them and Abadon did his best to evade the monster’s reach.
There were mountain ranges deep within the Abyss and Abadon thought they could be a good place to
lose the beast. He swam into a cave-like hole in one of the mountains. The beast tried to enter, but it was
far too small an opening. It frightened Sara to see the creature’s giant mouth chomping at the hole as he
tried to squeeze his fat body through the opening, but it was no use and eventually the creature swam
away. Abadon breathed heavily as he relaxed and got his strength back. He opened his mouth and let




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 96
Sara float out and she drifted on down to the point where her feet could touch the rocky bottom of the
cave.
        “I’m glad that’s over!”
        “You! What about me?” Prince Abadon yelled as he grabbed a fin full of fat from his belly that
was still jiggling about. “I really need to lay off the jelly fish. I think I’m becoming one!”
        Sara started to laugh.
        “Shh . . .”
        “Why?”
        Looking nervous, Prince Abadon slowly looked around and when he brightened the light that
hung from his head, Sara found out why. There was a shoal of some sort of little ocean monsters
approaching. They were covered in spines that protruded jaggedly from their slimy bodies, and their
mouths dripped with goo. Sara immediately jumped back into Abadon’s mouth as he yelled out, “Here
we go again!”
        Just before the slimy creatures could take a bite out of his tailfin, Abadon turned to see how close
they were. Something huge swooped by and in one mouthful swallowed every single one of the small,
spiny fish. It was the giant sea monster that had been chasing them before—it obviously found the spiny
fish a tastier prospect than Abadon. Sara couldn’t believe the depth at which they were traveling; it was
as if the ocean was bottomless. Abadon opened his mouth so that Sara could get a clearer look. With the
light that hung from Abadon’s head acting like the headlights of a car, it cut a swath through the
darkness and what she could see was a very eerie place but, at the same time, an amazing environment.
There were schools of strange fish swimming by, and endless mountains, valleys, canyons and other
remarkable things.
        “Abadon? What do you call this place we are going to?”
        “We call it The Lost Abyss,” he replied. “Now, find something in my mouth and hold on as tight
as you can, we will be entering the Black Current—it travels at about five hundred miles per hour!”
        “Five hundred miles per hour! Where will it take us?” Sara asked worriedly.
        Abadon said, “Down; down, down!” Suddenly, Sara felt herself being pulled backwards by a
great force. She held on to one of Abadon’s teeth as tightly as she could. They were going so fast that
she could feel her skin rippling under the pressure. As well as hanging on to the giant tooth, she also was
clutching her backpack—she didn’t want to lose it and the Book of Answers for who knew if she could
ever find it again in a place like this.
        They continued descending into the depths toward the Lost Abyss for another ten minutes.
Abadon’s giant belly smacked against the ocean floor and he bounced like a ball as he landed. When he
came to, he opened his mouth and gave Sara a peek at the Lost Abyss, and she couldn’t believe her eyes.
In fact at first she did not understand exactly what it was she was looking at. There were mounds and
piles of things, some the size of mountains, but the objects were very random. There was a mountain of
watches, another of dolls, piles of jewelry and all sorts of other things that seemed to be meticulously
sorted and categorized. It was almost like a junkyard, but one that stretched for miles in all directions.
Ships sailed between the never ending piles, their crews and passengers an odd mixture of half-fish and
half human.




                                   Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 97
       Sara walked out of Abadon’s mouth and stared in confusion and amazement. “Prince Abadon?
What is all of this?”
       “Well it’s the Lost Abyss. Tell me Sara, have you ever lost anything, maybe something you
could never find again, something that was never seen again?”
       Sara thought for a moment, “Well yes of course, who hasn’t?”
       Prince Abadon smiled with his big, gooey fish lips and replied, “Exactly! Everyone has lost
something in their life, something they could never find again; a watch, a hat, a coin, and sometimes
even a person. Once a certain amount of time goes by and the item remains unclaimed, it winds up here,
which is part of the reason we call it the Lost Abyss.”
       As they walked together between the giant piles they saw a mountain of old coins that was so
high and so perfectly stacked it was amazing. It seemed as if someone had meticulously placed every
coin in exactly the perfect place. When Sara moved closer to take a better look, she realized that the
coins were even stacked in chronological order and by country of production. “Abadon? Who stacked
these? It would take nearly a hundred years just to stack all of these coins, and this is only one pile, there
must be hundreds, maybe thousands of them.”
       Abadon looked around for a bit with a puzzled look on his face. “It is the Nirvits, they are
completely mad; they really are out of their minds. Every stack must be perfect; every stack, every
piece—everything. They are completely crazy, they never rest until their work is done, and sometimes
they will go back and redo everything, even if it has taken them fifty years to do it, they will start from
scratch again. It never ends, it never will.” He walked with Sara along the ocean’s sandy bottom and she
got a look at the Nirvits for the first time. They were like wild bees, and worked so fast she could barely
see their hands. They were very odd looking creatures. They were small, and although they had some of
the physical features of humans, they were far from human. Their heads sat on top of very skinny bodies
and were like those of a sucker fish. They had at least four arms, some even more. Sara studied their
neurotic behavior and it seemed that certain Nervits were assigned specific piles of things. The ships
they sailed from pile to pile were old, and battered and broken. They looked as though they had been
sunk beneath the ocean for hundreds of years after having been ripped apart by some catastrophe
although how they managed to float was another mystery.
        “I want to take you to the Channel Well,” Abadon announced. “This is where it all comes from.”
He led Sara through the maze of mountainous piles until they arrived at a huge black hole in the floor of
the ocean. A whirlpool of bubbles swirled upwards like a twister, and swimming within it were swarms
of Nirvits insanely grabbing anything and everything that spat out of the hole. There were all sorts of
strange things swirling about; spoons, old glasses, keys, shovels—anything and everything that could
possibly be lost by a person. The Nirvits gathered everything together and placed them into the hulls of
the giant ships. Afterwards they could be seen sailing off to somewhere new to begin their never ending
tedious work of ensuring the correct placement of every single object.
       Sara remembered the inscription on the back of the door, and then she remembered the
mountainous piles of coins. There was no way she could go through the millions of coins in less than
twelve hours. Worry began to consume her. She looked to Abadon and said, “Prince Abadon, you must
help me, it is very important that I find a coin dated March 11, 1111.”




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 98
        His face wore a puzzled expression as he said, “I would be of no help to you as far as the
whereabouts of such a coin. The only ones crazy enough to remember something so completely random
would be the Nirvits. They remember everything, but they can’t know you are here or they will think
you are lost and then they will put you with the others.”
        “The others? Who are the others?” There was a look of fear on Sara’s face.
        He motioned for her to follow him, and they stood behind a mountain of old rulers and then
Abadon pointed with his fat fin. She looked off in the distance, and could see a city. It was filled with all
sorts of people, giant buildings and motor cars—anything and everything. The city was filled with the
lost.
        “I don’t understand. Why are the Nirvits trying to organize them?”
        “Well, they say that they only organize things that are not living. However, they believe that
everything is so special and unique that they all deserve their own place. Now, look over there,” he said,
pointing to another area. There were corrals for what looked like horses; others were set aside for
chickens, cats, and almost every other animal that could be imagined. They stretched for mile upon
mile—so far did they extend that they merged with the distant darkness of the ocean.
        “Wow, this is one complex place, it’s so strange,” Sara said.
        They walked through the City of the Lost. As they walked along, women would cry out all sorts
of things from their windows; “Have you seen Kyle?” Where is that spoon?” How do I get home?”
Please, please help me . . .” Puppies and cats and horses wandered around and came from all parts of the
city to greet her. The cats rubbed up against her legs; the dogs jumped about in excitement, and even a
line of turtles stretching half a block. Every living breathing thing crawled out to see Sara. In the
madness of different animal sounds and thousands of people talking and crying out to her, Sara looked
to Abadon and said, “Why are they all here? Why do they think I am so important?”
        “They are all lost Sara,” he told her with a smile. “They think that you are their mother, their
master, their long lost loved one. All they ever do; all anyone here wants to do is to be found. They wish
that someone would find them, so they do not feel so alone.”
        She understood, and although she was happy they wanted to see her, she felt so sad for them all.
Sara knew they may never find the ones who lost them; it seemed as though they just couldn’t believe
that this was where they would be. There was a tiny tiger-striped kitten that meowed and rubbed up
against Sara, but when she went to pick it up she could not feel its soft fur. Instead, her hand went
straight through it as though it was not really there at all.
        “Abadon, I don’t understand . . .”
        “You can’t feel it because it is not yours, you didn’t lose it; and don’t you love the way it’s the
owner who lost it—the truth is always the truth.”
        In some way Sara understood what, on the surface, appeared a conundrum. She glanced at the
clock and saw that it was 9:49 a.m. Time was moving along and she knew that she must find the coin,
but how? The only way to do it would be to have one of the Nirvits look for it, but they were so crazy
they would keep her forever if they found out.
        “Abadon, we must go to the piles of coins, I must at least look through them!”
        He shook his head, “No Sara, they will know the very moment that anything is out of place; they




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 99
will find you if you do so!”
        Sara sighed. “Well then, I guess I am stuck here.” She knew there must be a way; there was
always a way. She just had to figure it out, but time was running out—she didn’t even want to look at
the watch. Sara grew angry. She had come so far, and now this. It couldn’t be the end. She turned to one
of the piles of old fishing lures and kicked it. As she watched one of the lures started to fall from the
pile, and then very slowly through the water. All of a sudden Sara heard tremendous screams and yells
from all the people who, along with the animals, then scattered in all directions. They simply went wild.
At first she didn’t understand, and then she realized; she had disrupted the pile, something had fallen out
of place. Abadon scurried to the pile and caught the lure before it hit the ocean floor, doing his best to
put it back.
        Abadon had a look of terror on his face, and was staring at something behind her. Sara turned
very slowly to see nearly a hundred insanely angry Nirvits hovering above them like a swarm of mad
bees. In an instant Sara was swooped off her feet, dragged through the water and cast into a deep dark
hole where she floated to the bottom and sat watching as they closed a giant iron gate over her head.
Sara swam to the gate and tried with all her might to move it, but it must have weighed nearly five
hundred pounds. There was nothing else she could do but sit there in the darkness of the hole and wait
while the seconds could be heard ticking away.
        Hours had passed and Sara dreaded looking at the watch. How long would she be in the hole, she
wondered. How would she escape, and how would she find the coin. Then, being a realist, she decided it
best if she just faced the facts and took a look at the watch. It was 2:04 so that left fifty-six minutes. Just
fifty-six minutes until she discovered her fate. Sara was so sad and so depressed. She sat in the corner in
the darkness and remembered all the places she had been. And then more time passed, she knew that
there was probably only thirty minutes left before the clock reached three. She looked over and could
make out what looked like a shell. She reached over to pick it up, and pulled but it seemed to be stuck to
something, it wouldn’t even budge.
        All of a sudden someone or something yelled out, “Ow!”
        Sara jumped backwards. Who or what was the shell stuck to, and then the creature revealed
himself. In fact, it wasn’t a creature at all; he was human, even though it was hard to make his face out
because it had been covered with ocean crustaceans and moss, but he was a human.
        “I’m sorry sir, I didn’t know that anyone was down here but me,” Sara said in a timid voice.
        An angry voice replied, “That’s okay, who are you? Why are you here? Shouldn’t you be with
those crazy lost souls or whatever they call them?”
        “I’m Sara Dwells. I have come here because I am on a journey with the Book of Answers.”
        The man jumped up and some of the moss fell from his skin, “The Book of Answers! You have
it? You have the Book of Answers?”
        Sara smiled, “Yes, I have the Book of Answers. It seems you know of it?”
        “Of course I do,” he said in an excited voice. “I took it with me on the journey, just as you did,
until I was trapped in here. I have made a mark on the wall for every year I have been here.”
        She looked to the stone wall and could see what appeared to be a hundred or more scratches.
        “What is your name?” Sara asked.




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 100
          “I am called Fitz. I found that coin, but then they threw me in here, and I have been here ever
since.”
          Sara couldn’t believe it. He had the coin! That was all she needed, and then she could leave, but
how would they lift the grate at the top of the hole?
          As the minutes ticked away, they sat and talked. It seemed as though the man had taken different
doors and ended up in many other wild worlds, and then from above something drifted down. Sara
grabbed it and looked to see what it was. It was a diamond ring, old and tarnished, but it was indeed a
diamond ring. How could have it gotten in the hole—the Nirvits would have known it was out of place.
          Then Sara made out a light that was illuminating the sides of the hole and progressing
downward. It was Prince Abadon—he had come to rescue them! Sara watched as he exerted all his
strength and pulled on the bars. Slowly but surely he managed to remove the bars. As soon as he had
done so, Sara and Fitz immediately swam over to him.
          “Jump in my mouth, hurry!”
          “Abadon! You saved us—how did you get away without being seen?”
          He laughed and they felt his giant tongue moving about beneath their feet. “Take a look!” When
they peeked out of his mouth they could see thousands of Nirvits swarming around a giant mountain of
rings, crazily searching for the missing one. Sara laughed when Abadon added, “Couldn’t think of a
better way to keep them busy!”
          Abadon quickly turned with his fat fins so that he could swim out of sight of the Nirvits. It
seemed like they were floating above the ocean floor as the Prince made his way toward the Channel
Well. When they arrived Sara and Fitzs jumped out of Abadon’s mouth and floated down to the sandy
bottom. Sara looked over her shoulder and saw the Nirvits rapidly swimming toward them—they had
been spotted! As the Nirvits drew closer, Fitz quickly threw the coin into the Channel Well. They were
coming from everywhere, hovering about like flocks of angry birds. Prince Abadon, Sara and Fitz were
completely surrounded. Then the swirling vortex of water began to grow larger, it was like a wild
tornado that spiraled with immense force. It virtually created an underwater gale that was so strong Sara
began to feel her feet lose contact with the sandy ocean floor. The underwater current became too
intense for the Nirvits and they retreated. Sara and Fitz were also unable to withstand the immense force
of the water, and had no choice but to jump back into Abadon’s mouth.
          It was then that the doors appeared within the monstrous, spiraling tunnel of water. Abadon was
very large and very powerful, but even he struggled against its force, but little by little he inched his way
forward and finally reached them. Sara reached out and grabbed the third door—it was the only one that
she could get her hands on. As she opened it she knew that she must say farewell to Prince Abadon. She
was sad to do so for he had proved to be such a great friend to her, but the Lost Abyss was no place for
her or Fitz.
          Sara stepped inside the door, and was quickly followed by Fitz, but just before she was sucked
into yet another strange void, she called back, “Thank you Abadon. You are not just a prince, you are a
king!”


                                                CHAPTER 13




                                   Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 101
Totally at the mercy of the incredible forces within the vortex, Sara and Fitz were spun and swirled
about within the vacuum of spiraling darkness until the energy reached a magnitude that forced their
expulsion. They found themselves traveling at incredible velocity though the sky and down into a world
of giant forests that stretched in all directions as far as the eye could see. Sara became fearful as they
descended, wondering where and how they would land. Within seconds of impact she was able to make
out a clear body of blue and hoped it would be deep enough to prevent them hitting the bottom. With
Fitz following only seconds behind her, Sara hit the water and plummeted into its frigid depths.
       As she surfaced and caught her breath, Sara headed for the shore and looked around at another
new world. It was a wild untamed place, not unlike a tropical rainforest. She remembered reading about
rainforests in her studies at school, but what she was about to encounter had no connection with
anything she may have read in a book. There were giant trees that stretched hundreds of feet into the
sky, and everything was covered in a verdant, iridescent moss. There were giant mountains that soared
into the sky and massive plants springing out of the steaming, fecund earth. Everything was so big—the
plants were as tall as trees, and the grass towered above her head while the trees had such mammoth
trunks a truck could be driven through them. A clean, fresh fragrance pervaded the air and the sounds of
orchestral music being played by unseen creatures could be heard. It seemed an almost primeval place;
an enchanted, magical forest. Far off in the distance Sara could hear something roar; it was so loud that
the trees trembled slightly—as they might at the roar of a lion, though it was much more powerful.
       Sara looked about for Fitz, and found that he had surfaced a little distance away from her point
of entry, and was swimming towards her. Sara noticed something else; the water was rising and
something very large and very fast was surfacing behind him. She screamed out, “Fitz, hurry! There’s
something behind you! Swim, swim! Swim Fitz swim!” Fitz turned to take a look, and then with a
terrified expression upon his face, paddled furiously to reach her as the beast rose out of the water. Its
neck was nearly fifty feet long and on it sat a very small head in proportion to the creature’s dinosaurian
body. It gave another roar that was so loud it nearly deafened Sara. Within feet of the shore Fitz only
just managed to haul himself up out of the water, and beyond reach of the creature a couple of feet
behind him. He joined Sara and they ran into the forest while the thwarted reptile sank back into the
depths from whence it came.
       At the point of exhaustion, they collapsed against a giant tree to catch their breath. “What a
strange place,” Sara said. “I am so happy that he didn’t catch you, the last thing I want is to be alone
here. Did you see that thing? What was it?”
       Fitz simply shook his head and continued to wring the water from his shirt, but then he said,
“What are we to do here?”
       Before Sara could reply she heard a loud flapping from the branches above. It was a giant bird.
Fitz pressed his finger to his lips and motioned for Sara to be quiet. They waited, hoping that the bird
hadn’t seen them, but unfortunately it was too late. It hovered above them and then landed within feet of
where they sat. He was the biggest bird Sara had ever seen, except back in the Valley of Hell, with
beautiful multicolored, iridescent feathers like those of a wild parrot. She felt almost certain that it was
going to attack them. The bird made a loud screeching sound and looked at them in wonderment. In




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 102
disbelief Sara watched what happened next.
         Hands outstretched, Fitz very slowly approached the bird. “I want to be your friend, we are nice;
we are nice,” he said. As he moved nearer, the bird took a step backward then stopped, and so too did
Fitz. Suddenly the bird moved closer to Fitz and then leaned in with its long pointy beak and touched
his hand. Sara was amazed. How did Fitz know how to calm the bird? Fitz slowly moved closer to the
bird and began to pet its soft colorful feathers. Sara smiled; he was a nice bird after all. It was then that
she spotted something move behind the bird’s skinny stick-like legs—chicks! Though far from small,
she knew that they were still only babies. There were about five of them and very cute as they hopped
about making little squeaking sounds. The mother had only been trying to protect the little ones, but
after a short while she let the babies come out and Sara sat on the ground and played with them. They
were just about the cutest things she had ever seen. She looked up at Fitz who was stroking the head
feathers of the mother. “Fitz, how do you know animals so well; how did you calm her like that?”
         Fitz smiled, “Well before I went on this journey I was a zoologist. When dealing with birds you
must understand that after thousands of years of living in flocks, they have learnt to accept their place.
You must always approach them slowly; almost so that it appears in slow motion and they realize you
are a kind and unarmed creature. If you get scared and start making all sorts of noises you will scare
them, and they could attack you. Of course, they can attack you even if you are nice and kind, but I can
feel the thoughts of animals after studying them for so long.”
         “Wow, that’s incredible, it’s good you are here with me, I would have freaked out—I had no
idea!”
         Just then the birds began to act very strangely, and the mother ran off frantically with the chicks
following at a fast hop. What was it that had frightened them, Sara and Fitz wondered. Nearly a full
minute later they knew. They heard a massive pounding noise and the ground beneath their feet began to
tremble. Something big was coming and they knew it would be best if they hid somewhere. They heard
the sound of trees and leaves being heavily brushed aside, as though something was walking through the
colossal trees. The two friends could even hear the sound of their trunks cracking and splitting.
Whatever it was, the thing was huge.
         Sara and Fitz walked gingerly away from the sound until they found a fallen tree; it had been a
giant and the old roots were exposed, creating a hideaway hole. They climbed inside and waited for the
colossus to reveal itself. The sound became louder and the tremors in the quivering earth increased. The
trees shook and a chilling shadow began to blanket the forest. Then, through a gap in the foliage of the
giant trees, they could finally make out what it was—and it was like nothing they had ever seen or
imagined. It was a colossal creature, resembling a dinosaur but from another unknown realm. Towering
above the trees, its size was overwhelming. With its massive head filled with teeth and gigantic lizard-
like feet extending to enormous toenails that curled like the claws of a wild bird, it was a truly terrifying
sight.
         With every step that the creature took, the ground trembled ever more violently. Sara, wide-eyed
with fear, looked at Fitz. They didn’t dare speak, holding their breath as it moved closer and closer. And
then something began to come up from the earth—worm-like creatures crawled out of the dirt. There
were hundreds of them. They looked like giant slimy frogs, but with two feet instead of four, and once




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 103
they were on the ground, they scattered frantically in all directions. The dinosaur-like beast reached
down and grabbed an enormous handful of the toad-like creatures. The juices from their fat, gooey
bodies squirted out as they were ripped apart by the beast’s massive teeth. At this, the whole forest went
completely wild with the birds and animals panicking and running for cover in all directions.
       Sara and Fitz hid quietly amongst the great roots hoping not to be seen, but then Sara had the
horrible feeling that she was going to sneeze. She knew that if she did she would give away their hiding
place, but the urge was so overwhelming that she just couldn’t hold it any longer. She placed her face
hard against her arm to muffle the sound, and then sneezed. Fitz looked horrified and terrified at the
same time, and Sara was very ashamed. The beast became very quiet. The frightful sounds of its giant
feet came closer to the roots of the overturned tree where they were hiding. Sara and Fitz stood
completely silent, holding their breath, and doing their best to remain invisible. They felt the old tree
shake as the giant beast rocked it back and forth to try and scare them out.
       At that moment, the roots began to lift as though the giant beast had picked up the tree. It rose
higher and higher into the sky and Sara and Fitz clung on to stop themselves from falling off. When they
looked down, they could see that the giant beast wasn’t even touching the tree. It seemed that the tree
had risen on its own, though they could not understand how or why. The tree itself was a colossal size—
nearly as big as the beast—and the wood popped and cracked as it stood up. When Sara looked down
she became dizzy, they were so high up it was incredible. The tree began to speak in a low, gruff voice
like an old drunken man mumbling, and so loud that it hurt their ears. Although they assumed that the
old tree had died many years ago it seemed as though it was alive—and not only alive but very angry to
have been awakened from its sleep. The roots they held on to were the hair of the great tree. The giant
beast didn’t know what to do, and looked confused, roaring back at the tree as if challenging it. Around
them in the forest, they heard the popping and cracking sound of wood.
       From their small vantage point, Sara and Fitz saw the trees of the forest come to life and
surround the colossus. When the beast finally realized that it would be no match for an entire forest it
retreated off into the distance, probably in search of more of the innocent little frog creatures to eat. It
was then that the giant tree reached up with one of his arm-like branches, and rustled his giant hands
through his hair-like roots to see what was causing his head to itch.
       The tree pulled Sara and Fitz in front of his face and stared at them, growling in his old man’s
rumble. His breath smelled of old cedar and rotting wood and it blew like a wind, covering Sara and Fitz
in sap-like spit. The tree continued to hold them within his arm as they yelled at him. It was at that
moment Sara began to sing the old song that her father had sung when she was growing up—she thought
that maybe the tree would find it amusing. The tree stared in confusion, he had never heard such a
sound; his expression changed, and he smiled. Although Sara was a bit out of tune, the tree obviously
found it calming and enjoyable. He then looked to the other trees and waved a giant branch-like arm in
the air. The others rustled their leaves, the sound mimicking the clapping of a crowd. Fitz was amazed,
and his face was wreathed in smiles; Sara had saved them.
       Sara smiled at the tree, the tree smiled back, and they began to walk through the forest.
       After a while, Sara became a bit confused and asked Fitz, “Where are we going?” But he merely
raised his eyebrows and shrugged his shoulders. The trees parted to make way for their giant as it slowly




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 104
moved through the forest until they reached one of the most magnificent sights they had ever seen. It
was a magical tree, nearly two hundred feet tall, its branches hung with all sorts of different colored
fruits that created a rainbow effect. Each piece of fruit dripped with condensation. In a nearby tree was a
giant nest made from wild forest vines and green grasses; perhaps some massive bird lived there. The
great tree lifted Sara and Fitz toward the tree and placed them in the nest. Once they were resting in the
nest the giant tree stood back and in a deep, throaty voice said, “Eat!” and then turned and slowly
walked back into the forest, quickly disappearing in the canopy of the forest and its dense undergrowth.
       Fruits of all types dangled invitingly from the magical tree; some such as bananas and apples
Sara had seen before, but there were many that she never knew existed. And they were enormous! The
apples were as big as pumpkins and the pumpkins (Sara knew they were a fruit—she had read that their
name originated from pepon meaning big melon) were as big as barrels. She grabbed an exotic purple
colored fruit and bit into it. The juices dripped down her chin. It was sweet and sugary and tasted
incredibly fresh and alive. Fitz chose a giant red apple and closed his eyes as he took a bite so he could
enjoy the magical delicacy. Neither Sara nor Fitz had eaten in some time so they gorged themselves on
the wild fruits until their bellies were full, then sat and relaxed in the warm sunshine filtering down
through the forest canopy. They felt good and for once Sara just wanted to sit and relax; her travels had
made her very tired. She lay down and, resting her head on the side of the nest, closed her eyes and was
instantly fast asleep, with Fitz not far behind.


It was several hours before Sara awoke. She opened her eyes, but it took a minute or so before things
came into focus. She slowly turned around to see Fitz, but he was gone. She looked about to see where
he had ventured off to but he was nowhere in sight; it seemed he had disappeared—but why, where
would he go. They needed each other. It was then that Sara noticed something else. Her bag, and with it
the Book of Answers, was missing. It was then that she realized what had happened—Fitz had stolen the
Book. He wanted to make it to the end of the journey so that he could have his wish granted. He had
stolen the book from her—she could hardly believe it. She was frantic as she looked everywhere to see
where he could have gone. Sara knew that she was brave enough to battle any creature; conduct a
voyage through any land, sea or sky, but without the book she was lost.
       “Fitz! Fitz! Ah . . .! Where are you, get back here you scoundrel!” Her words echoed around the
forest but there was no reply. Fitz was long gone, and so too was the Book of Answers.
       Sara shook the tree and yelled to it, “Wake up! Wake up tree! Where is Fitz, where is the Book?”
The tree began to move and then spoke to Sara in a womanly voice, “He left an hour ago, he headed
toward the gorge.”
        “The gorge? Where—I mean how do I find it?”
       There was a moment of silence and the tree spoke again. “Walk westward to where the trees
meet a giant river of water. You must make your way down the river to the great falls of the gorge. Be
careful for the waters are wild and things live in it and feed there that are very dangerous.”
       Sara tried to climb down from the tree, but it was too far to the next branch. The tree extended a
branch and carried her to the forest floor. She thanked the tree, and for the fruit.
       “You must always eat things that are alive with life, they will make you strong and you will live




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 105
a long life, you are a tree too; you are a plant, and you are alive. Fill your body with pure things and you
will remain pure,” the tree told Sara. She smiled; the tree was wise, and it would be something she
would always remember. She started to walk through the dense undergrowth of the forest although the
plants and vines made it very hard to find her way. Because Sara was small, most of the time she could
simply crawl under them. Sara was on her way to find Fitz and the gorge, but most of all the Book of
Answers.


She could hear the roar of the gorge in the distance and it became louder as she made her way through
the thick jungle. Pushing aside some giant leaves, Sara finally stood above the gorge. A river raged
below and revealed its immense power as it ripped a swathe through the jungle, roaring over the giant
boulders that lay strewn just below its turbulent surface. Though it was a magical place, Sara wondered
how Fitz could have ever have made his way down such a wild river. She sat and pondered a way to
voyage down such a treacherous torrent and then noticed a giant fruit fall from one of the trees that
overhung the river. She watched as it floated down and then a great idea came to her. It may be possible
to make a boat out of the giant fruit by cutting away the soft flesh within, and carving out a place to sit.
       Sara walked down to the river’s edge and found a few sharp jagged rocks. Then she started to
look for one of the massive fruits that had fallen from nearby trees. She walked around and found a few,
but they had rotted from sitting in the hot sun, and were infested with all sorts of slimy bugs that
slithered in and out of the warm flesh of the fruit. Eventually she found one of the fruits and pushed with
all her might to slowly roll it to the river bank. Sara began to cut away at the soft, warm skin. The juices
dripped as she cut and removed armfuls of the warm wet pulp, which she stacked into neat piles until the
outer casing of the fruit had been shaped into a small boat. She hoped it would float, but then the
question arose as to how she would control it as it careened down the wild river. She would need an oar
or a paddle of some kind to keep her fruit boat from banging into the giant boulders and sharp rocks that
lay beneath the wild and raging waters. Sara searched the jungle floor until she found a long and very
stiff leaf that looked like one from a palm tree, which would surely suit her purpose.
       It was a good thing she had eaten and taken a nap before venturing down the gorge. Building the
boat was tedious work, and the heat from the blazing sun exhausted her. She rested for a while on the
river bank before climbing aboard her improvised transport. The wild, untamed jungle amazed her. It
was filled with all sorts of life that thrived in the hot, humid environment. With the steam rising from the
raging river and the humid air of the moist jungle, it seemed completely untouched by man. With a last
look around and, using her long leaf oar, Sara pushed off into the swirling river.
       The boat was immediately at the mercy of the roaring rapids. At first she struggled to keep a
straight course as the river eddied and churned around her frail craft, but after a while she got the hang
of it. It was a very intense and focused experience yet at the same time Sara was filled with excitement.
It was a wild ride into the unknown as the warm waters splashed against the front of the boat and soaked
her clothes. She wondered how far the river would take her, and where Fitz had ended up.
       A humungous bird swooped down in front of her, snatched a fish from beneath the roiling water
and flew away into the distance, and all the while a buzzing orchestra of bugs continuously swarmed
about. In the distance Sara could make out a large boulder ahead. She tried to bury the long leaf oar deep




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 106
in the water in an attempt to try to secure leverage to turn the boat and stay out its way, but it was no
use. The rampant rapids were too powerful and her oar snapped in half and she was sent helplessly down
the river toward the looming obstacle ahead.
        The fruit boat smashed into the large boulder and was ripped open. It began to fill with water and
sink. Sara jumped ship and held on to the giant rock as the remains of her boat disappeared into the
rapids. It was not a river in which to be sent helplessly floating adrift without protection, and she
climbed up on the large rock to get clear of the rapids. It was then that she realized she was stuck. The
current was far too strong for her to swim to shore, and she could not progress beyond the boulder on
which she was stuck in the middle of the river. She stood up and looked around but couldn’t figure out a
way to make it to shore. As time passed, however, she sensed the rock was moving. It was difficult to
say for sure, but increasingly she became aware that it had moved. And then it suddenly shifted so much
that she actually fell.
        A strange head lifted itself out of the waters. Sara stared at it wide eyed and then realized that
what she had been standing on was not a rock at all but a shell—the shell of a mammoth turtle. It lifted
its wrinkled old head and turned to see what was crawling all over its back. Although Sara was
frightened that she may be eaten by the turtle, there was no point in her abandoning it for the river
because that was an even more terrifying prospect. Just as she was speedily arriving at this conclusion,
the turtle put its head down beneath the water and launched Sara on the ride of a lifetime. The turtle
began to swim downriver and accelerated magnificently, the jungle speeding by so quickly everything
became a blur, and all Sara could do was hold on.
        After miles of river they came to an open area of water, its shores a meeting place of giant
turtles. Some were as big as houses, and there were hundreds of them bathing in the sun or napping on
the warmth of the riverbank. Sara’s massive turtle slowly climbed to the shore and a very relieved and
thankful Sara jumped down before it lumbered off.
        Sara walked along the riverbank, but there was still no clue where Fitz had gone. She had
traveled many miles down the riverbank, between the dizzyingly high cliffs of its gorge, but there had
been no sign of him. After several hours she noticed in the distance that the river cut through a giant
mountain to form a cave-like tunnel. At the base of the cave something was on the ground. When she
got closer she noticed it was a large tree, and next to the tree was a very frightening sight indeed. It was
Fitz, but he was no longer alive. There were strange black snake-like creatures crawling over his skin,
and in and out of his ears, nose and eye sockets. It was enough to make Sara feel ill and the horrid stench
in the torrid heat was almost overpowering. It appeared that Fitz had decided to use a hollowed-out old
tree trunk as a boat in which to float downriver, but the cave was as far as he made it. Next to him was
the Book of Answers. Sara leaned forward to grab it and one of the black leeches attacked her and stuck
to her arm. She could feel its little razor-like teeth dig into her skin as it began to suck. She tugged at the
bloodsucking parasite and pulled until she managed to remove it, then immediately took the Book and
ran off into the shelter of the jungle.
        Exhausted, Sara sat amidst the root system of yet another colossal tree and rested. She was so
happy to have gotten the book back. In a way she felt a little sad for Fitz, although she also felt that he
deserved what he got because he should have not stolen the Book from her. This was her journey, not




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 107
his. As the sun began to sink behind the great mountains beyond the forest Sara stared down at the
Book. She decided to open it, but something was wrong. The first page would not open. She tried other
pages but they too would not open. It was as if they had been glued together. Eventually Sara found a
page that would open; page number 319. She couldn’t understand, but the Book was a mystery—as was
the journey she had been on ever since finding it. Then she smiled and said, “Well I just rode a turtle
down a wild river so I guess anything is possible!”
       Sara closed her eyes for a moment then turned back to the Book and the open page and read,
“Through light and dark, through night and day, Book of Answers show me the way . . .” She waited
and watched as forms began to appear on the page. It seemed to be a map, and then words began to be
formed. “Find your way through the mountain cave. You will float until the river turns dry, and a great
heat will come. Cross the vastness of the Land of Whoa until you find the doors.”
       She looked across the waters to the dark cave that lay at the base of the giant mountain. It
seemed like her journey would never end, but go on and on. Sara pondered what would be at the end;
whether it would be some sort of oracle, a wizard—God or who knew what—but then she had always
wondered about the end of the journey, and it was one of the reasons that kept her going. She knew she
would make it no matter what it took. By this time, Sara was very proud of herself. She had come farther
than anyone had ever come; little Sara, not a great strong man, not a warrior or even a full grown
woman—just little Sara. She had laughed in the face of death, crossed magical worlds, and had been
close to losing it all so many times, and yet Sara felt strong as she sat in the forested area behind the
riverbank and its gorge, holding the Book of Answers close to her. For once in her life she was
accomplishing things, and the further she went along her journey the stronger she became.
       A high pitched sound, like the squeak of a small bird, reached her from nearer the river. Curious,
Sara walked to the edge of the forest and peeked out between the giant leaves. The little squeaks were
coming from a clutch of baby turtles playing together on the riverbank. She walked towards them. They
were equally curious about her, but she approached them slowly for at first they were timid and a little
frightened. Sara reached out her hand as Fitz had done with the huge bird in the forest. The cute little
baby turtles looked at each other and then began to walk toward her. Reaching out, she rubbed the little
green shell of one of the three baby turtles. It was so cute, and as she rubbed the little turtle began to
laugh in a high pitched squeaky way. Sara laughed too and said, “Hey little guy, you’re ticklish!” Just
then a swarm of wild bugs flew by and the little turtles chased after them. Sara smiled. Although the size
of a large dog, they were still cute and had taken her mind off her worries about the cave—at least for a
few minutes.
       Sara’s gaze shifted toward the dark cavern and again wondered how she would get through it.
Maybe one of the turtles could carry her. There was no way she would swim through it especially since
it was filled with the black leaches, and who knew what else. She also noticed that it was getting dark
and knew that she had to find a way very soon. In the meantime though, she was hungry again, and
walked back into the forest to find some food. There were giant fruit trees growing everywhere and she
found one that had huge raspberry-like fruit hanging from its branches. They were the size of a
basketball, and it took both hands to pull one from the branch. By the time she walked back with it to the
riverbank the soft veil of twilight was beginning fall over the gorge.




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 108
       Sara sat down and began to bite into the sweet raspberry fruit. The juices dripped all over her
clothes, but she didn’t care—they were so dirty it no longer mattered. As she sat munching on the fruit
she noticed that a few giant turtles were heading directly toward her, though for a moment or two she
couldn’t figure out why they were so interested. One of them leaned in and smelled the fruit. That was it,
they wanted her fruit! Sara broke off a piece and gave it to the turtle—there was no way she was going
to argue with a ten thousand pound turtle!
       It was then that Sara got an idea and ran off into the forest to find a long stick, and a vine. She
tied one of the berries to the end of a vine and then tied the vine to the stick. It was like a fishing pole
with a berry on the end. She walked over to one of the turtles and clambered up on its back, dangling the
berry in front of him. He couldn’t resist and moved toward it. Sara was using the raspberry as bait,
luring it into the water and beyond into the mysterious depths of the cave. She smiled to herself as the
turtle kept swimming while it salivated at the prospect of the berry just beyond reach.


It was a very eerie feeling traveling through the mountain’s cavernous tunnel as it quickly became quite
dark. It wasn’t too long, though, before Sara saw a group of small lights weaving back and forth ahead.
There were hundreds of them, and she wondered what were they were. They landed on the sides of the
tunnel and were so bright they illuminated the whole cavern. She lured the turtle nearer so she could
inspect them more closely and found they were some sort of a bug, like a firefly but huge, with silver
wings and bodies filled with a luminous green light.
       Realizing that she needed just such a light to prevent her getting lost in the gloom, Sara moved
very quietly and slowly so that she could get closer without startling them. She then took the end of the
stick and stabbed it through one of them. It went crazy, wings flapping wildly but within seconds it
stopped moving. Using the stick, she pulled with great force to move it onto the turtle’s shell, but it must
have been filled with five gallons of the gooey liquefied light. Once the giant firefly was on the turtle’s
shell she noticed the light seeping out. She knew she must do something with it quickly, but did not
know what. And then an idea flashed into Sara’s mind. She lifted up the sack full of light and carried it
to the head of the turtle. “I am sorry about this Mr. Turtle . . .” and poured the gooey light all over the
turtle’s giant head. He did his best to shake it off but it was no use. It worked perfectly—it was as
though the turtle literally had a headlight!


                                               CHAPTER 14


As Mr. Turtle pulled Sara through the mountain tunnel it seemed a chamber without end. Although he
was still in wide-eyed wonderment about the juicy berry that drove him forward, Sara’s arm was getting
tired of holding the fruit lure ahead of the turtle. She knew that it must have been torture for the turtle,
but for it was so obsessed with getting dinner that it didn’t seem to mind. Eventually Sara noticed a
bright light at what seemed to be the end of the cavern. The light grew progressively brighter and soon
enough the end of the tunnel came into view. At the same time, the water level began to drop quickly
and the closer they came to the exit of the tunnel, the less the water beneath them. When Mr. Turtle and
Sara finally emerged the water had dried up and there was only an arid riverbed cutting its way through




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 109
the landscape—the river had disappeared. The air was hot and a dry wind blew across what seemed to
be a never ending desert that stretched for hundreds of miles into the distance. Hills of sand were dotted
about, but there were no paths or tracks, just hundreds—probably thousands—of miles of desert that
seemed to continue into eternity.
       Sara pulled up on the berry so that the turtle would stop walking, and took out the Book. Other
than the odd, leafless trees with their thick dried-out branches that made her think of the skeletal remains
of those that once lived long ago, there was no sign of life. She opened the Book and said, “Through
night and day, Book of Answers show me the way. . .” and waited for a moment until the book
responded. And then the words began to appear. “Find the Alphatrogs, they travel in herds. They will
guide you to where the dead kings rest in shallow tombs. Find King Armillo for he carries with him a
great scroll. He will speak to you, and you will listen for he knows many great truths.” Although the
words were very helpful, the Book really gave no insight as to how to find the Alphatrogs or King
Armillo.
       Sara lowered the giant berry in front of the turtle again and he continued across the hot sandy
dessert. Where they would end up was uncertain, but one thing was already very clear. It was going to
be a tough crossing; a blazing hot desert and an unknown direction in which to travel.


After many hours it seemed as though they were still getting nowhere. The wind began to whip up a
sandstorm. The tiny grains stung Sara’s skin and the wind quickly turned into a furious gale. Even the
turtle had trouble seeing through the sandstorms that engulfed them. Sara decided it best to stop as they
would make no progress in the face of such a horrendous storm. She covered her face with part of her
skirt to help prevent the sand stinging her skin so badly, and sat against the large body of the turtle.
Although Mr. Turtle shifted from time to time, he acted as a windbreak, protecting Sara from the worst
of the wild wind and the gritty particles it blew around them.
       Sara waited out the storm, which seemed to last for hours. There could be no traveling in such
conditions, but after many hours the wind finally began to ease. Sara climbed back upon the great
turtle’s bony shell and continued onwards. Although the dessert was a dry and desolate wasteland and
extended in all directions as far as the eye could see, as she sat high upon the turtle’s back and stared out
into the distance, Sara also realized that in its own way the region had a type of beauty. As she studied
the terrain, she noticed something many miles off in the distance, a mound perhaps, although it was very
hard to make out exactly what it was. It was another hour before they came close enough to identify it.
       It was some sort of gigantic lizard. Its head looked as if it belonged to some unearthly monster,
and its body was covered with dried scales and extended for a length of nearly fifty feet. Sara stopped
the turtle and did her best to veer them away and thus remain unseen by the desert lizard. Unfortunately,
the sand had gotten into the nose of the turtle and he let out a sneeze so loud it must have traveled
twenty miles. Sara slowly turned and found the lizard staring directly at them. She whispered very
quietly to the turtle, “Oh, that’s just wonderful Mr. Turtle. Don’t you think you could have held that in?
You had better get a move on!”
       The problem was, of course, that Mr. Turtle was much slower than the lizard, especially one well
over fifty feet in length that had probably not eaten in a month. An overwhelming feeling of terror filled




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 110
Sara as the giant lizard approached. He opened his humungous jaws and let out a colossal screech that
shook Sara’s eardrums. Figuring she could run faster than he could walk, Sara jumped off the turtle as it
turned to see what had screeched at him. The two giant beasts stared at each other. Sara became upset;
she didn’t want the lizard to hurt Mr. Turtle for he had been such a great friend to her. The lizard’s spiny
scales were raised and she knew that something very bad was about to happen.
          Suddenly the lizard lunged forward and attacked the turtle, grabbing at his neck and tearing at
the skin with vicious thrusts. The turtle turned and slapped the lizard with a tremendous whip of his tail
at such force that it stunned the lizard, but that was not enough. The lizard came back and began to
furiously attack the turtle once again. Sara was so upset that she was unable to watch and covered her
eyes so that she would not have to witness the turtle losing the horrendous struggle.
          It was then that she heard a strange sound. The lizard shrieked as if in terrible pain. Sara took her
hands away from her eyes and gasped at what she saw. Arrows were falling from the sky in all
directions, piercing the dry, tough skin of the lizard. The lizard set down his massive head in the sand
and took his final breath as the arrows continued to pierce his skin. Sara walked over to the turtle and, to
her relief, found that although he was in pain, Mr. Turtle was alive. She was grateful to him for having
saved her life, and they rested together and stared at the enormous lizard, now still and covered with
arrows.
          Sara looked up and saw a herd of strange creatures standing together and looking down at them
from a small mountain of sand. Their heads resembled a bull or buffalo, and although they had human-
like bodies they were covered in fur. They looked very powerful, like a group of warriors from another
era. A few of them approached the lizard and dug giant hooks into its skin. On the end of the hooks were
ropes and as she watched, three of them pulled the giant lizard away. The creatures were like work
horses and, knowing that the lizard must have weighed thousands of pounds, Sara realized that the
creatures must have been hunting the lizard to have arrived so suddenly.
          One of the creatures approached and walked around Sara and the turtle, inspecting them as if
they had never seen such oddities before, which was exactly what Sara was thinking. The new arrival
snorted through his black nostrils and reached out with one of his huge paws and grabbed Sara’s hand.
He studied it and looked it over, and then leaned forward and pressed his forehead upon Sara’s. She
could feel his hot breath upon her skin, but curiously she felt no fear. Somehow she knew that this was a
form of handshake; a greeting of sorts. And then another of the creatures walked over to Sara and did the
same. Sara then walked to those who were standing around them in a circle, and pressed forehead to
forehead with each one in turn. The creatures looked from one to the other as she performed this
greeting. It was clear they were not evil nor did they mean her any harm. Sara knew that their power
would not be used to harm her.
          One of them walked over to the turtle, now bleeding badly from the wound in his neck. The
creature pulled out a leather bag and began to pour a strange powder over him. As Sara watched, the
powder closed the wound. There was a sense of the creature acting as though it was a type of shaman or
holy medicine man, and in some way Sara was reminded of the Indians she had once seen in the forests
of Whipper Wheel. The beings were clearly very intelligent and she could tell that although they looked
like a prehistoric people, they were in fact from a highly advanced civilization. Amazingly, it was only a




                                   Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 111
few minutes before the patient suddenly got to his feet—the unlikely doctor and his medicine had saved
him, and Mr. Turtle was back to himself again.
       The tribe of beings rode upon great beasts that resembled horses but were much larger. The legs
of the beasts bulged with strong muscles and they were saddled in the same way as horses in order to
seat their riders. Sara realized that these people were in fact the Alphatrogs mentioned in the Book of
Answers.
       The Alphatrogs started to pack the horse-like creatures with their goods and equipment and Sara
knew that they must follow. She climbed atop the great turtle and began the long trek, following the
Alphatrogs through the desert until the giant golden sun began to sink beneath the horizon. Shortly
afterwards, Sara saw a spot in the distance and, as they continued to get closer, it turned out to be a
village with two great stone statues standing proudly at the entrance. She decided the statues must be of
two great warriors who were now the guardians of the Alphatrogs.
       Inside the village the Alphatrogs were going about their business. The villagers were excited to
see their warriors dragging the huge lizard behind them through the sand for it meant dinner. They were
also very curious about Sara and the giant turtle. Alphatrogs both young and old came out in from their
little huts, which were made from the lifeless looking trees and branches Sara had noticed earlier. She
stepped down from the turtle to be greeted by each one in turn. She must have touched more than a
hundred foreheads until one of the great warriors led her to one of the larger huts. Inside were about
twenty Alphatrogs—Alphas as Sara had begun to think of them—and they were kneeling before a man
who appeared to be their king. He sat high up on a chair made of bones and fleeces, and he wore furs
and pelts from great beasts, some with their heads still attached. He was one of the oldest of the Alphas
and sat smoking on a long bone pipe with a hatchet at the end of it. How odd, Sara thought; maybe one
end for killing and the other to smoke for peace. No words were spoken and, along with the others, Sara
knelt before him.
       The King passed the pipe around for the others to smoke. Sara wondered what they were
smoking—it surely did not smell of tobacco; a cloud of the smoke drifted around the room and it was
much sweeter. Although the King looked very fierce, Sara knew that if she showed him respect she
would be unharmed. With his giant furry paw, he gestured for her to come closer. He grabbed at the
straps of her backpack and pulled it off, which scared Sara a bit as she thought he would open it and take
the Book. And that was what he did. He studied the Book but couldn’t seem to understand what it was.
He smelled it with his big black nostrils and stared at in confusion. His attention was then taken by a
loud commotion outside. The King returned the Book to Sara and she followed as he and the others went
to take a look.
       Sara was amazed to see a giant Alpha rotating a horizontal tree trunk, which had been skewered
through the huge lizard that was being cooked over a large fire. It seemed as though the lizard was
stuffed with some sort of plants and the creature’s dried up old skin crackled and popped as the flames
cooked him. The Alphas danced about, some playing drums while others sat silently puffing on their
pipes. As night fell Sara sat by the turtle and watched the fire cook the lizard.
       After a couple hours the feast began. One by one the Alphas ripped chunks of roasted meat from
the lizard. One of them handed a huge chunk of the meat to Sara and Mr. Turtle, and although she




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 112
thanked him and accepted the offering, it didn’t look that tasty. The turtle sniffed it and then looked back
at her, clearly wondering the same thing—should they try it? Sara smiled and said, “Well, we better at
least give it a try. I mean they did save us, and you have been chasing dinner all day . . .” She took a
quick smell of the warm meat before taking a first bite; it didn’t smell that bad so she took a bite. It was
tough and chewy, but she was hungry so she ate away, and so too did the turtle.
          Afterward the Alphas brought a bowl of some strange liquid and offered it to Sara and the turtle.
She was very thirsty so she took a sip. It was unusual and a bit salty, and she wondered where it came
from. Looking over, she noticed the Alphas pouring the urine from the lizard’s bladder into a huge pot.
Sara spat it out immediately and yelled out, “Yuck, I can’t believe I just drank lizard pee! She looked at
the turtle happily slurping away at the drink and said, “If you only knew what that was Mr. Turtle, if you
only knew.”
          After the feast was over Sara was taken to one of the huts and showed where she would rest.
There were blankets made of furs and a leather-like pillow filled with sand that turned out to be very
comfortable. She lay down in the darkness and relaxed, and soon drifted off to sleep.


The next morning Sara awoke to find her body drenched in sweat. It was extremely hot inside the little
hut and she threw the blankets off and went outside to take a look around. It was hot, extremely hot.
There was a trough full of water so she walked over and splashed some on her face. The turtle was still
asleep outside the hut and she walked over to wake him up, but then decided not to disturb him. He had
been on a long journey and she knew that it would be best to just let him rest a bit longer.
          She found one of the Alpha men and said to him, “Excuse me sir, umm . . . I’m trying to get to
the Tomb of the Dead Kings, and um . . . Well, I was wondering if maybe you know the way?
          The Alpha’s eyes widened and he spoke in a low voice, “The tomb rests beyond in the hills.” He
pointed to a distant range of mountains. Sara wasn’t sure exactly where he meant so she asked again,
“Can you take me and my friend over there to the tomb?” He looked out across the sandy desert, “Yes,
follow me.” The Alpha climbed into the saddle of one of the horse-like creatures while Sara woke Mr.
Turtle who, once again, couldn’t resist chasing after the elusive fruit that at this point was virtually a
dried-up pouch. They followed the Alpha across the hot desert until they reached a path that lead into
the mountains. Sara thanked the Alpha and they touched foreheads. She had noticed that the path would
be too narrow for Mr. Turtle so she asked the Alpha if he could take him back to the village and at some
point return him to his home. The Alpha looked at the turtle for a minute and then replied, “Yes.” Sara
walked over to Mr. Turtle and ran her hand along his wrinkly old head and said, “I’m going to miss you
Mr. Turtle, you have been a true friend to me.” She took the lure off the stick and gave it to him. Mr.
Turtle was so overwhelmed with joy at finally getting his reward that within seconds he had devoured
what was left of the berry. Sara smiled as she watched the turtle and the Alpha start their way back to the
village
          A path cut through the towering granite cliffs of the mountain range, and as Sara started on yet
another trek into the unknown, the violet light appeared, floating down over the path to show her the
way as it had done before. She still wondered what it was, and at its ability to turn up when she needed
help to find her way, but accepted its presence. Sara took a deep breath, gazed up at the steep cliffs on




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 113
either side of the path, and began to follow the light. The path twisted and turned through the ridges and
escarpments and eventually came to the ruins of what looked like an ancient temple. Sara approached
the entrance with a very intense feeling that at one time it had been a place of great importance. The
entrance pillars were cracked and broken—the temple must have been thousands of years old, perhaps
overlooking the ruins of a city that existed long eons ago.
       The violet light led her inside and she realized that the temple had been built of massive rocks
and huge upright stone slabs so tall they seemed like giant sentinels watching over an ancient city long
gone. As she stepped from the shadowy entrance to the interior of the temple, Sara felt a cooling current
of air that lingered and refreshed after the arid heat outside. The room was massive and its walls had
been cut from a grayish-white stone. She noticed another doorway to the rear of the room and walked
over towards it.
       Peering around the opening, Sara noticed a stairway leading down below the earth. There was an
eerie stillness, a profound silence. She had the feeling that it could lead to an unknown subterranean
cavern of some kind. As there was really nowhere else to go, Sara began her descent down the stone
stairway and arrived at a long and narrow hallway. At the end of the hallway was a massive golden door.
Engraved on its lustrous surface of pure gold were angels, holy men, and strange characters seemingly
captured in the act of leaping from their confinement. The door was heavily encrusted with precious and
semi-precious gems, many of which were the blood-red color of rubies. The door was absolutely
magnificent and represented a level of artistry and painstaking craftsmanship that she realized would
have taken hundreds of years to achieve.
       Sara paused outside the door for a minute or two before trying to open it. She turned the handle
to the left of the door and pushed, but its weight was so immense it would barely budge. She tried again,
exerting every ounce of energy her small body could muster. She pressed herself against the door until it
finally began to move, the creaking sounds made by its ancient hinges echoing around the hard stone
walls of the silent cavern.
       The room was a secret crypt; an elaborate lair filled with the most astonishing array of objects.
Exquisite multifaceted chandeliers hung from the ceiling, and there were chests upon chests overflowing
with gold and precious jewels; literally enough loot with which to buy an entire country or more. The
giant table in the centre of the room seemed as though it had been the focus of a great party thrown in
the distant past. The remnants of the feast were still visible, and cobweb-covered golden goblets of wine
still sat on the vast wooden slab.
       In niches around the walls were coffins. In the dim light Sara could make out that the statues
seemed to be those of kings whose bodies had been sealed in the individual stone caskets. In fact they
were sarcophagi, their lids featuring stone statues of the bodies resting within, and sculpted and carved
to perfection. With a shock, she realized that she was inside the Tomb of the Dead Kings. Sara felt the
swift onset of goose bumps, the chill in the air no match for the icy cold that overwhelmed her as she
gazed around the extraordinary scene before her.
       At the end of the room a carpet of red led to a giant chair; a throne. The throne sat upon a dais to
give it extra prominence and each arm curled back to form the head of a golden lion. Seated upon the
throne with his head resting on his chest was a man, but he was no ordinary man. It was clear he had




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 114
once been a king. On his head he still wore an extraordinary jewel-studded golden crown that partially
obscured his emaciated face, and his long cloak of crimson and black was extravagantly embroidered.
Sara knew he was a king of great significance, and she also knew that he must be Armillio. Head down,
Sara approached the throne and, in accordance with tradition, bowed deeply and knelt down before him
to show her respect.
         After a minute Sara got to her feet and spoke in a soft, reverent whisper, “King Armillio, I have
crossed many worlds, seen many things, and have come closer to death than I could ever have imagined.
I stand before your greatness and beg of you please, to receive your help so that I may find the doors.”
There was no response. Sara waited, for a sign—some sort of reassurance that the great King Armillio
would help her—but after a long wait, there was nothing. She decided to sit at the grand table and rest a
while; alone, in the cold, dark vault of the dead. Setting the Book upon the table, she opened it to where
she had left off. The violet light appeared and hovered over her as the pages fell open. “Hello again
Violet, what are you doing? Watching me again?” The violet light floated about the room, as though
curious; inspecting everything, and then—as it always did—simply vanished.
         Sara read the Book again. It spoke of King Armillio’s scroll, and she walked back over to him
but could not see any scroll. However, the beauty of his crown again captured her attention. She reached
out and slowly lifted it gently from the King’s head. It was very heavy and she wondered how it had
remained atop his bony skull for so long. Sara carefully carried it over to the table, sat down, and placed
the crown on her head; a queen before the great table and the remains of the last banquet. She stared at
the Book’s elaborate cover, awaiting some sort of a sign. And then she felt something pull the crown
from her head. Startled and frightened, she turned to see who taken the crown and saw a man, but a man
who looked as though he had been dead for many years. His back was hunched and the clothes that
proclaimed him a servant were falling apart. When he walked one of his skeletal legs dragged heavily on
the stone floor.
         The servant walked to King Armillio’s throne and returned the crown to the head of his King. He
did not speak, but turned to a sarcophagus and lifted its stone cover. He climbed inside and closed the
lid. Turning, Sara heard a voice; a deep, dry crackly old voice that sounded so ancient she nearly
stopped breathing. It was the King, his skeletal hand resting on the hilt of the giant sword that he
slammed on the ground with such force that it shook the stones beneath her feet. Sara walked to him and
knelt down again, her head bowed. She wanted to show him she meant no harm and to assure him of her
respect.
         “Find it! Find it! You shall decide, but the truth shall come about by paradox . . .!” It was the
King speaking again, but this time in a voice so immeasurably powerful that it shook Sara to the core of
her very being. Once more he slammed his sword on the stone floor and Sara heard a sound behind her.
The walls of the tomb shook and as Sara turned around she saw the doors emerge. With a huge feeling
of relief, she bowed and thanked King Armillio for his help and guidance. She had made it through his
world.
         What, she wondered, was waiting for her beyond the fourth and final set of doors? But no
amount of wondering could prepare her for a place that would truly be utterly unlike any other she had
seen before.




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 115
       Sara walked over to the doors and thought long and hard about which one it would be. She took a
deep breath and closed her eyes. When she opened them she knew exactly which one to choose; it was
the fourth, the final door of the set—she knew somewhere deep down inside that it was the fourth one
that was the final door.


Chester sat puffing on an extravagantly large cigar. Hot, clouds of tobacco smoke filled the room and an
orange shaft of sunlight lit the carbon motes as they drifted through the room to the open fourth floor
window. He swore as he fiddled with his old record player. “You pile of junk!” For some reason it
wouldn’t play. He banged the side of the player. Suddenly the needle hit the record and the melody of an
old classic filled the room along with various pops and cracks and other distracting noises from the
scratches on the old disk.
       Chester walked over to his massive oak desk and sat down at the large leather swivel chair to oil
one of his rifles. He was obsessed with his guns; it was a passion he had since he was young. He was
getting ready for a long journey to Africa where he was to join a safari and hunt elephants in the wild
terrain where they made their habitat south of the great desert known as the Sahara. Since they were the
biggest of all game, Chester loved to kill the beautiful animals, and he collected their ivory tusks to
display along with the rest of his trophies.
       The sun had almost withdrawn below the surrounding mountains and the night grew increasingly
dark and cold. Chester heard something outside his window—it was the Whipper Wheel. It sang its
high-pitched song, piercing the darkness with its distinctive sound that echoed through the forest, but the
bird angered Chester. It drowned out his music. He walked to the window and opened the curtains, “Quit
your squawking!” From the top floor of his giant mansion he noticed a figure near the gate. Chester
squinted so that he could see more clearly. “Who goes there?” he yelled.
       “It’s me, Debra Johansen. Please Chester, open your gates!”
       “And why should I do that Debra?”
       “Because I need to see you. I love you Chester!”
       Chester became very confused. He had not long fed her husband to the pigs—how could it be
that Debra loved him? But then, he had indulged in a few drinks and it was a bit lonely cooped up in his
mansion by himself so he figured why not. He made his way out through the courtyard to the gates and
stuck the key into the lock, pulling on the iron bars as the heavy gates swung open.
       Debra was mounted on a chocolate-brown horse, its reins tightly clutched in both hands. She
ignored Chester and rode up to the courtyard, dismounted, tethered the horse and waited for him. As
Chester approached her, he looked her up and down, and then again. “Well, Debra, you are looking . . .
ravishing; very ravishing tonight!”
       She did indeed look beautiful with her white dress and long, freshly combed chestnut-colored
hair. A vivid burgundy-wine colored lipstick drew attention to her full soft lips.
       “I did it for you Chester . . .”
       He smiled, “Well then, I won’t ask what the occasion is, but I will say that it all sounds mighty
fine to me. Please, do come in.”
       “Wow Chester, it’s so beautiful in here—look at that!” Debra said as she entered the mansion.




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 116
She was referring to the huge bronze of a nude female that stood by the grand fireplace, her hands
appearing to run through her flowing hair. “This is . . . incredible! Where on earth did you get it?” Debra
asked as she walked around it, studying the intricate carving. “Who created such a magnificent piece?”
         Chester gave her a cunning smile, lit another cigar and set it down on a nearby table. “Da Vinci,
around 1500 I believe. It’s titled Flora, but I call her Dora,” he said as he moved behind Debra and
pulled her toward him. He ran his hands over her shoulders and their covering of soft linen, and kissed
her neck.
         Debra smiled but pushed him from her.
         “Not so fast Chester, you’ll have to work harder than that . . .”
         “Well then, I guess I will won’t I?” he said, picking up his cigar and taking a long puff as he
squinted his eyes and smirked, staring at her liked a wild animal. “Come . . . Let me take you to my
room. Come—this way.”
         Chester preceded Debra up the long spiral staircase that still had the broken handrail, a legacy
from the blast of the Roger shotgun. He couldn’t figure out what she was doing at the mansion, why she
had ridden so far and most of all, how she had suddenly discovered she loved him, but decided to play
along. He led her to his office, the record player still blaring out the plaintive sound of a lonely violin,
and told her to sit down. He poured some whisky into a crystal glass and then took a sip, all the while
staring in wonderment at the beauty of Debra Johansen. He set his glass down and said, “You know, I
find it most interesting you would come this far. How is it that all of a sudden you love me? Why
Debra? It seems a bit strange wouldn’t you say?”
         Debra walked over to the desk as Chester stared up at her in confusion and then wonderment as
she took a swig of his whisky. It tasted of old oak barrels and burnt her throat a little, and she grimaced
slightly as she swallowed it. When she set the glass back down on the desk he saw that only the clear
stain of the alcohol remained—she had taken it all down in one gulp.
         Chester raised his eyebrows, “Well then,” he said. “That was an awfully big swig for such a little
lady.”
         Debra gave him a sultry smile and sat herself on the end of the desk, her dress draping off to one
side as she crossed her legs. “ . . . Because Chester, you are a real man, a powerful man, a strong man,”
she said, returning to his earlier question as she began to massage his shoulder. Silenced by her touch, he
closed his eyes as she began to knead his shoulders with two hands. It was nice to have a woman around
the mansion, and he really was alone far too much. He savored the moment as the music danced about
the room, the deep mellow tones of a cello now accompanying the seeming vocal-like ease of the violin.
         “So, Chester, aren’t you going to give me a tour of the estate?” Debra asked, leaning close to
him.
         “Well my dear that would take days. Is there anything in particular you would like to see? My
auto collection, my art, the trophy room—which one?”
         Debra thought for a second, then poured another glass of whisky and handed it to him. “How
about the trophy room Chester?”
         He shook his head, “Well then, the trophy room it is, though I must warn you, it’s a bit scary at
night for a woman.”




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 117
         Debra rolled her eyes at him, “Chester, I’m not just any woman . . .”
         The spiral staircase was flooded with moonlight as Chester was about to escort Debra back down
to the trophy room, but something flew past them and nearly hit him in the head.
         “Chester?” Debra said, “What was that?”
         Chester walked slowly around the room until he spotted something on top of one of the huge
bookcases. Lifting his pant leg, he pulled at something strapped to his ankle. It was a gun.
         Debra hid behind the staircase banister as Chester pointed the black pistol at the top of the
bookcase and fired two shots that reverberated around the mansion. Then all was silence again—until
something fell to the floor.
         “It’s a bat!” Chester said with a laugh. “Nearly the largest I’ve seen!”
         Debra gave a sigh of relief. She had thought it was some kind of ghost. Then something else fell
from the shelf, hitting the floor like a rock.
         Chester leaned down and picked it up. “My God,” he said in a low, fearful voice. “What have I
done?”
         “What is it Chester?” Debra asked, wide-eyed, anticipating something terrible.
         Chester did not speak for a moment. “It’s Hans Christian Anderson,” he whispered.
         “Huh?”
         Chester turned to Debra with a look of disgust on his face. “Hans Christian Anderson! Have you
no class, no sophistication at all? He is only one of the greatest authors to have ever graced a page with
ink, and now my priceless book is destroyed!”
         Debra leaned forward to get a glimpse of the book, complete with bullet hole through the spine,
though she could still read the title, The Great Sea-Serpent. “I am sorry Chester,” she said. “As a young
girl we didn’t have much schooling or the opportunity to get fine books such as this.”
         Chester placed the book on a large black marble table, walked over to Debra and squeezed her
buttocks with a firm grip. “Stay around here awhile and I’ll teach you a few things. Now come on, you
wanted to see the trophy room—right?”
         They proceeded down to the door of the trophy room. At the door Chester pulled a flashlight
from his belt to find the electrical switch, and when he turned it on, Debra became confused. She had
never seen such things, but after his remark about her being uneducated she remained silent as he
fumbled for other switches. Debra was amazed at what lay under the amber glow of the special overhead
display lighting. It was like nothing she had ever seen; huge buffalo, elk, deer, and even a giant elephant
with its huge tusks reaching outward. It was like a graveyard featuring nearly every great beast she had
ever heard of or seen, or could even have imagined.
         Chester walked about the room with a sense of pride, his arms folded, watching every movement
Debra made. As she looked up at the great elephant he said, “Ah yes, that is Valious as I call him—
nearly killed me and my men while on safari in those dry wretched plains of Africa. It was just before
sunset; my men were drenched in sweat from the long days we had been searching for him. We tracked
him for a week. They say he was the biggest anyone had ever seen; he didn’t go down easy, but he went
down—damn well deserved it too. Killed three of my men—trampled them to death. The gun I used is
one of my favorites; the Germans call it the Tankgewehr, the Mauser anti-tank rifle used in the First




                                  Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 118
World War. They used it to destroy British tanks, but mine was for a different purpose. Here, let me
show you,” he said, leading Debra to another door guarded by two great lions that he had also murdered
on safari.
        Debra had never seen so much military armament; there were racks upon racks of rifles, pistols,
and hundreds of other weapons. “Holy smoke, you have got nearly as much artillery here as the British
Army!”
        Grabbing a rifle from the wall, Chester cocked the hammer, and pointed it at Debra. As he came
nearer a bad feeling came over her. Then, when he pressed the cold steel barrel against her forehead and
said, “I am sorry Debra, but you shouldn’t have come here, now . . . you must go. Goodbye Debra. . .”
her heart stopped. She saw the cold look in his eyes. His finger shook on the trigger; he pulled it— and
snap! The hammer came down only to hit a flint—there was no powder.
        Debra opened her eyes, breathing heavily. The gun was not loaded.
        Chester laughed hysterically. “Haha! Thought it was loaded, huh? Well, this is your lucky day!”
Debra gave him a fake grin and just shook her head. They walked back to the trophy room. There was a
pool table in the middle although it wasn’t the baize green that covered the pool tables she remembered
in the pubs; it was black with the heads of golden lions as feet. Chester walked over to it and picked up a
cue. “Care to play?”
        “Can you get me a drink first, Chester. You know, that stuff you drink—in fact, make it a
double, I’m planning on staying up late!”
        “Good, because I’m planning on keeping you up a long time . . .” he said with a chuckle.


Chester stumbled as he walked back up the stairs. His foot caught on the edge of a riser and he fell.
When he got himself together he made his way to his office and found he had to open another bottle of
Scotch—they had downed the entire contents of the previous one. He held the amber liquid up to the
light, “Ah yes, us three is gonna have us a mighty fantastic night. Juice of the gods!”
        The record player suddenly stopped. Confused, Chester turned and looked over at it as he started
to leave the room. It wasn’t even halfway through the record and it had just stopped. “Well then, the hell
with you!” he yelled. Juggling the bottle and glasses, he tried to pour a drink as he staggered down the
stairs again. He pushed the trophy room door open with his back and looked for Debra, but she was not
there. Even more confused, he yelled out, “All right you sweet thing, get out here! Come to daddy . . .”
        “I’m right here Chester.”
        He heard her voice from behind, turned and caught a glimpse as she appeared from behind the
elephant. In an explosion that was so immense it threw Debra backward nearly ten feet, a shot fired from
the colossal barrel of Chester’s elephant gun. The hot steel chards ripped Chester to pieces. There was
virtually nothing left of him. His blood covered nearly the entire room, and all the animals in it that he
had murdered. In an immense fiery blast from his own gun—the very gun that he had used to kill so
many before—Debra Johansen killed Chester Bransen with a shot that was destined for him.


                                              CHAPTER 15




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 119
Sara turned the brass handle and slowly opened the fourth and final door to reveal a cosmos beyond her
wildest imagination. She stood in the midst of a galaxy. Luminescent gasses of greens, purples, vivid
pinks, indigo blues and magenta swirled about her in extraordinary fractal-like patterns as quasars, stars
and black holes underwent a ceaseless interplay of alchemical transformation; a kaleidoscope of
iridescent energy trails against the vast blackness. Utterly weightless, Sara drifted in the center of a star-
filled infinity; without limits, without borders—suspended at some point in space trillions of light years
from Earth, and awestruck by the profound silence, immensity and power of all that surrounded her.


Sara opened the Book of Answers and again spoke the well known words, “Through light and dark,
through night and day, Book of Answers show me the way. . .” As ever, the words appeared, “You have
traveled Beyond the Great Beyond to the infinite realms of space, eternity, and nothingness. There are
no roads, no maps, there is nothingness and eternity. You stand in the center and your direction is as
chosen by you. Following stars will take you in circles that lead to more circles that revolve around
circles. Travel beyond everything until you pass nothingness and find Nova 7. Place the book at the
center of its core of light. Find Maxey Mooney. Find your meaning of creation, and find the truth . . .”
       Trillions of stars enveloped Sara in a celestial cocoon, extending without end against a blackness
that seemed impenetrable. It was then that she noticed an enormous light emerging from the depths of
some outer realm that became brighter as it hurtled towards her. For a moment she thought she was
going to be hit by a giant star, but as its light became so intense it started to burn her eyes and she had to
look away. When she opened them, the light had stopped directly in front of her and began to grow dim.
As it dimmed Sara could discern the shape of a figure. It was a man, a very tall man. He wore black, and
his face was like the surface of the moon, cold and grey, but within his eyes shone a light so intense that
it suffused his entire body and gave him an aura-like glow.
       “I know of your quest Sara, I know of that which you seek.”
       “I seek the truth. I seek an end to this seemingly never ending journey to achieve my wishes, but
I am a bit lost. What might your name be, sir?”
       The stranger stood gallantly over Sara and looked down from his great height with glowing eyes
of light and raised his arms to the sky. As he circled his arms above him, Sara saw thousands of stars
swirl around him. “I am Maxey Mooney, Child of the Stars.”
       Child of the Stars . . . It reminded Sara of something she had heard before, and then she
remembered. It was Starchild. She looked up and said, “Maybe this is merely coincidence Maxey
Mooney, but do you know of someone named Starchild?”
       The great being seemed to be startled by the name and he leaned in closer to Sara. When she
looked into his eyes of light she was drawn in to a cosmic realm; other worlds, other galaxies that lay
within him. “Did you say Starchild?” he asked.
       “Yes, Starchild. I met him in the Valleys of Hell. He was chained to a wall, and told me he had
been there for thousands of years. He seemed to know a lot of things; do you know of him?”
       “Of course I do, he was my brother, and a Child of the Heavens, until . . . he fell to the blackness.
He was sucked into the darkness of things and used beauty for destruction. He will never be forgiven by
anyone, but me and our creator.”




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 120
       Sara looked around; she was still in disbelief at the wondrous and mysterious phantasmagorical
elements that coalesced about her.
       “I see you are intrigued by form in its metamorphosis from light and energy to become itself,”
Maxey said. “You are standing in the hands of the creator—in the center, the beginning, and the end.
You live in a world of lines and borders that has been created by the hand of man. That is the difference.
Here you will find no borders, only the infinite. Where reason cannot comprehend itself; where religion
and philosophy become the mere scratches on the eternal truths that are what this place is about.”
       Sara looked up at Maxey in wonderment. “How far does this place go? And the creator? It is
God of whom you speak?”
       “I will show you. Grab a hold of me,” Maxey said.
       Sara grabbed his arm, and then something so incredibly amazing happened that she nearly
collapsed in shock and wonder. At what felt like a speed of a billion miles an hour, Maxey shot them
straight up out of the galaxy into another, and then another, each becoming smaller and smaller than the
one before; one galaxy after the other—beyond the infinite—until they had voyaged through a billion
galaxies—only to reveal a billion more in a never ending progression.
       Maxey stopped in the center of a galaxy billions of trillions of light years away from planet
Earth; a galaxy amongst billions of others, its core unseen, its end incomprehensible. Sara was
overwhelmed. She looked around at a billion galaxies, but she was so disorientated that she could not
tell where she was in relation to their orbits. She could see moons and planets of gas, fire and liquids,
and stars that had died a billion years ago, but were so far away that their light still shone. She looked at
Maxey, speechless and humbled, her eyes revealing her awe and wonderment.
       “What you see before your eyes is merely a drop in an ocean, inside the belly of a billion more
oceans,” Maxey said as he looked up to the heavens. Holding Sara’s hand, he swooped down through
almost weightless space toward what appeared to be a planet or perhaps even a moon. As they came
closer its immense size was astounding. Its surrounding atmosphere was filled with glistening white
particles that sparkled in the light refracted from the two golden suns in the outer realms of its galaxy.
        They descended into the glistening atmospheric clouds that shrouded the strange planet, and as
they passed through them Sara felt a cooling sensation upon her face. Below the clouds the new world
came into view. There were great bodies of water, turquoise, orange and yellow, then strange looking
trees and red plants appeared. A city came into view, but a city unlike any other. Enormous white
buildings soared into the clouds. They were geometrical in shape; pentagons, hexagons, polygons,
nonagons, circles, crescents, ovals, spheres, triangles, rhomboids, octagons and many other forms that
could not be identified, but all perfectly constructed. Gleaming silver and white bullet-shaped ships sped
by in their thousands in all directions. It was a civilization; an entire, unique world unto itself.
       Maxey landed them gently in a beautiful field of what looked like vegetables of some sort, but
they were very unusual vegetables. They grew from thick orange colored vines that sprouted from the
earth and they all smelled very sweet. Maxey then took Sara into the city where once again she was
completely overwhelmed at the high-rising structures, which seemed to be constructed from a material
that resembled glass.
       It was then that she saw one of the beings or, more accurately, a family of beings. Their bodies




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 121
were thin and lanky, and with their pear-shaped heads, huge almond-shaped eyes and tiny mouths they
were curiously engaging and appealing. They were very quiet; it was as if they did not speak. Smaller
beings, maybe their children, flew by on strange contraptions that hovered above the ground.
          Sara knew that this civilization was much more advanced than the one on planet Earth, and it felt
as though they had traveled thousands of years into the future. Maxey led Sara down what looked like a
sidewalk where Sara noticed a grouping of the beings standing around some sort of outdoor stand. She
realized that they were eating, but it was a very different proposition to the meals that she had been used
to, even recently. The outdoor stand carried clear glass vials of different kinds of liquid, each with their
own color. The beings placed their lanky figures on a type of box and were served their liquids, which
they drank before going on their way.
          Sara looked up at Maxey Mooney towering above her. “Maxey, this place, it’s in the future—
right? Like a world we may be someday?”
          “In a way Sara, but these beings are far beyond the human condition; they are much more
intellectually advanced. They communicate by way of telepathy rather than speech, and they do not
require sleep as they have recharge chambers where it only takes a few minutes before they are
completely re-energized. As for food, in that drink there are enough vitamins, minerals, and sillitites to
keep them going for nearly a week.
          “What is a sillitite?”
          “It is a serum of sorts; it drastically stops the body’s aging process and kills all forms of
unwanted bacteria. There are no sick people here, none at all, and if a body part is destroyed or broken
there are machines that can repair them within seconds. Almost all of them are psychic; they exist on
another plane, their minds do not function like those of humans. They have little emotion and rely on
pure logic and reason. There are no wars, no famine or disease, and no crime—only complete serenity
and purity.”
          To Sara’s mind, everything looked completely perfect. Every line, angle and dimension of the
massive soaring structures was an example of pristine splendor. This was a civilization striving to attain
perfection. As Maxey and Sara moved about, she noticed a great mountain range in the distance with
giant statues of strange looking gods who towered hundreds of feet into the glistening sky. Pure white,
she knew they must be some form of homage to their gods. All around the mountains and fields were
other giant statues—some were of their gods; others featured strange geometrical symbols—all made
from the same white stone. Flocks of wild birdlike creatures flew through the skies and they too had an
almost geometric symmetry to their form. As she watched, something began to happen in the skies. She
could see a colossal metallic blanket emerge from the clouds.
          “Maxey what is that huge thing in the sky?”
          “It is the Solaris Web. The climate of this world is completely controlled. The civilization has
literally created a Utopia of climatic perfection; the perfect temperature, rainfall, humidity. It wraps
around the sky like a web and filters the amount of light that can enter the atmosphere from the sun. It
can also create weather patterns, including natural disasters if desired, and regulate temperature on the
planet.
          Sara looked on in awe as the silvery web stretched hundreds of thousands of miles through the




                                   Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 122
mesosphere of the planet. It was a world filled with never ending wonders and she thought it was
magnificent. “Maxey, these beings really do have an amazing world; it is virtually perfection!”
        “Yes Sara, they are an incredible race—in a way you could call them farmers . . .” Maxey looked
to the sparkly white clouds floating above them.
        “What do you mean by ‘farmers’ Maxey?”
        “They grow planets and beings to live on them; the agriculture, the life they lead—it is all
experimental. They are constantly monitoring their behaviors,” Maxey said with a smile.
        “Wouldn’t it be funny if Earth was being grown by beings in a far away galaxy . . .” Sara did not
continue, and looked up at Maxey.
        With another smile, he told her to grab his arm again. “I shall show you other places now.”
        With an immense blast of energy Maxey launched them like a rocket, bursting out beyond the
exosphere like a bullet and into the great vastness of the cosmos. They traveled for a while until they
began to descend into the thermosphere of another planet.
        As they descended, it became increasingly clear to Sara that it was nothing like the world they
had just left. It was dark place with the blackness that came from being burnt or singed, and it smelt of
burning steel and smoke. The destruction was complete; cities had been utterly destroyed, buildings had
crumbled and forests and nearly every standing form burnt to ash. Maxey landed them in the middle of
what appeared to have once been a large city, but all that remained were the singed steel structures, piles
of metal—like a junkyard that had been set on fire. The atmosphere was thick and oppressive, and the
orange-red of the planet’s sky only served to accentuate the gloom below.
        “What happened here Maxey?”
        “A civilization that destroyed itself millions of years ago,” he said as he picked up what appeared
to be a half crushed weapon; an extremely large rifle with all sorts of gadgets that were cracked and
broken and wires that hung from it like entrails.
        “But what happened? I mean, why did they do this to themselves?”
        Maxey threw the weapon on to a large pile of burnt debris and said, “War, greed and the lust of
one king in his search to rule this world. There was a horrific war. It ended catastrophically in chemical
warfare that poisoned and killed its own people.”
        Sara looked about the planet with a look of sadness. “Maxey I’m confused. If they existed
millions of years before, why is it that they seemed so far advanced?”
        Maxey looked to Sara with his glowing star-like eyes and said, “Sara, you must realize that your
world is not the time clock of the universe. In fact it is merely an infant compared to other planets and
galaxies that have existed millions of years before the creation of the one you know.”
        Sara grabbed hold of Maxey again. “Take me away from this place Maxey, it makes my stomach
hurt; I don’t like it.”
        “As you wish Sara . . .”
        No sooner had the words left Maxey’s mouth than they were catapulted away from the hellish
landscape. Sara looked back at the world they had just left and shivered. She saw forked lightning streak
through heavy skies; it was not a place she wanted to visit again. “There was a great deal of talk about
war when I was home, and a lot of death and destruction. Will that happen to my world Maxey?”




                                   Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 123
       His thick gray eyebrows moved closer together as Maxey’s forehead creased in a deep frown.
“The fate of your world is in the hands of its people. There will be many wars, much death and
destruction. Earth will do its best to replenish what is lost by mankind trying to destroy it, but in the end
it will be the actions of your people that will determine the destiny of your world. We can only hope that
your world does not become like the one we last visited.”
       “Maxey?” Sara said tentatively. “How old are you?”
       “Old enough to know not to ask a star how old he is,” he replied with a smile that broadened to
match the one that he saw spread over Sara’s face.
       Sara was grateful for Maxey’s kindness to her, and it was comforting to have him with her in a
place where she would otherwise have felt very lonely. The vastness of the universe made her feel so
alone and insignificant. The profound silence of space was deeply moving; it was all so quiet and still
yet stars and planets traveled at a velocity of thousands of miles an hour. “Maxey . . . What is
nothingness? It said something on the door about it . . .”
       A meteorite fragment drifted by and Maxey reached out to grab if before speaking. “If I broke
this fragment in half there would be two parts—right? If I did it again there would be four, then eight
and so on and so forth; each time the rocks would become smaller and smaller. Is it possible for me to
continue to do this forever? And if it never ended, would it never stop getting smaller, or would it just
disappear?”
       In deep thought, Sara stared out into the infinite for a while. “I wish I had the answer Maxey, but
I don’t have any idea. What is the answer?”
       “Sara, I want to take you somewhere that is so unbelievably beautiful there are no words to
describe it. Here, take hold of my side,” Maxey said, wrapping his long arm securely around her.
       As they rocketed through outer space they passed millions of stars that appeared as mere streaks
of light such was the speed at which Maxey traveled. They must have voyaged through hundreds of
galaxies before they came to a place that was simply beyond compare. There, suspended in the
overwhelming vastness of the cosmos, were countless layers of multi-colored gasses swirling,
separating, and coalescing in a kaleidoscope of ever-changing patterns and color; sulphur yellow, the
hard metallic gray of iron, and the bright blue of copper chloride. The crimson of strontium-sulphate
contrasted with the glistening sheen of silvery-white mercury, the deep red-brown of bromine—all
interspersed with violet and green and pink, and countless other incredibly beautiful colored elements
formed after bonding with the ever present colorless gasses of hydrogen, helium—and more. The
streams of color exploded, separated, merged and collapsed in an unending display; a dynamic sequence
that could only be called the ultimate light show. Sara felt a spine-tingling chill beneath her skin. This
must be God she thought, speechless in awe.
       “This is what will be known to your world one day as a supernova. This is an extremely rare
occurrence in a galaxy, say once every fifty years in a galaxy the size of Earth’s Milky Way. It is
catastrophic explosion; the death of a massive star, one that has as much energy as your sun would emit
in ten billion years. At its brightest point this supernova can outshine an entire galaxy—as it soon will.”


Soon they rocketed away, but this time in a different direction until Maxey suddenly came to a halt.




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 124
          “What happened, Maxey? Why did you stop?”
          Maxey extended a very long arm and pointed at a strange, swirling mass of blackness. “We
mustn’t get too close to that place; it is very dangerous.”
          Sara looked confused as she stared out at the massive dark vortex. “What is it Maxey?”
          “It is a black hole, a region of space time from which nothing can escape, not even light. It is a
void from which, depending on its size, there is virtually no return. We must not even get close to it
otherwise we risk being sucked in by its tidal forces.”
          The very sight of the black void was frightening to Sara let alone the prospect of being sucked
into it. She wondered, though, what was inside such a gigantic mass, but then decided it would be best
not to think of it at all.
          “I will take you now to the Seventh Nebula as you have asked,” Maxey told her as they sped
away from the black hole.
          They traveled beyond at least a million more galaxies until Sara could see something glowing.
As they approached, it became clear that it was a colossal supernova—at least ten thousand times the
size of the one they had just witnessed. It was a magnificent, riotous array of colors in a world of infinite
light and movement.
          “This is where the largest and oldest star in all of the universes died in an explosion that occurred
more than ten million light years ago. It was so powerful that it is still visible here after fifteen billion
years.”
          They continued their journey through the spectacular supernova until they reached the center of
the luminosity, and the brilliant white light at its very core. Sara took the Book from her bag and
attempted to open it, but found even more of the pages stuck together than been before—to the point
where there were many more stuck together than not. She wondered whether this was because there
were parts of the Book she was not allowed to read, and turned to one of the few blank pages remaining.
From the aged, weathered parchment the words appeared:
          “You stand suspended in time and space, a brilliant star who once felt out of place. From hell and
fury, heaven and love, may your wishes be granted from the gods above; a brilliant light as your story
unfolds, one that soon the world will know. With pen and ink shall you sign your name on the very last
page so they know you came . . . Place the Book in the searchlight of the stars, light your way as you
search your heart for the wishes that are right; close your eyes, believe in you, and all your wishes will
soon be true. Across oceans and worlds your name will be known. One last door and you will be home.”
          Sara smiled for she knew it was true; she was almost home. She looked to Maxey, “Maxey, I
umm . . . can’t sign my name in the Book . . .”
          Confused, Maxey stared at Sara. “But this is what you have dreamed Sara, this is what you
wanted, I—”
          “—No silly, I mean that I can’t because I don’t have a pen.”
          “Oh, well then, I’ll take care of that!” Maxey said with a smile. In a burst of light he rocketed
away into the blackness of the universe and returned in an instant holding a golden pen in his hand,
which he handed to Sara.
          “Gee Maxey, this is a fancy pen!”




                                   Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 125
       Sara turned the pages until she reached the last one. She pressed the pen against the page and
signed the name of Sara Dwells. As the ink started to bleed into the fibers of the paper, she noticed it
began to glow and sparkle like gold. Sara closed the Book and placed it into the light.
       “Good luck to you Sara, I hope that your wishes come true, and I know they will.”
       Sara looked at him fondly and smiled, and then remembered something that she had told
Starchild. She had told him that she would find a way to save him. She looked up to Maxey Mooney and
said, “Maxey, I promised Starchild I would save him from that cave. You know where he is, you must
save him. Please save him if you can find a way.”
       Maxey looked out on the vastness before them as he thought for a moment. “I will see what I can
do Sara,” and disappeared in a burst of light into the infinite.
       Sara closed her eyes and thought about her wishes. She spoke into the light, “I wish that I was
beautiful and the world loved me; I wish that I could help those who are in need; to make the world a
better place, and I wish that I could go home again.”
       Feeling very excited, she opened her eyes. Sara had wished her entire life to be beautiful and
wondered whether she had been transformed. Would she have golden hair, and skin as soft as silk? She
ran her hands across her face, but was puzzled for nothing seemed to have changed. And then a voice
spoke from the light, “Open the Book Sara.” She picked up the Book opened it to the light, and this time
the pages were free, but they were no longer blank. Almost every page was filled with words. She
wondered what they said and so she opened the Book to the first page and began to read:
       “It was a night when nothing in the world moved but the wind through the frozen spruce trees
       that nestled high in the mountains. The sky was a black so intense it could only have been
       painted, though it was relieved by the illumination cast by a lonely moon that turned the snow-
       covered valleys and mountains to silver and then gold. This was a place that time had forgotten
       except for the people of a small village cradled between the great mountain peaks. Mephisto to
       the west, its summit soaring into the sky, had fathered the mountain river whose icy caps melted
       in spring to bring water for the villagers and their animals.”
       Why was the Book talking about a cold night in Whipper Wheel? Sara flicked over a few pages
and continued to read,
       “You realize how amazing life truly was before you reached that dark place. We often forget
       who we are and all that we have. If we could only see how beautiful life really is we would never
       have fear, and we would always feel truly alive. Each of us must find that place within ourselves
       but unfortunately few of us do. When you find that place, you have found God.”
       Sara looked to the heavens and thought for a moment and then the understanding came to her. “.
The Book was the story of her journey; of her life, but she wondered why. She turned to the last page to
maybe find a conclusion, but all it said in the last paragraph was:
       “She looked to the heavens and thought for a moment and then it came to her . . .” The Book was
the story of her journey; of her life, but the question was why? She turned to the last page to maybe find
a conclusion, but all it said in the last paragraph was, “She looked to the heavens and thought for a
moment and then it came to her . . .”
       Sara’s eyes widened as she read the words. They explained everything she was doing. Every




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 126
moment had been recorded in the book, but again, she wondered why. She closed the Book and spoke to
the light, “Why are these words written here about my life, and why am I not beautiful? And how is it
that I will help the world be a better place? I don’t understand . . .”
       From within the light the voice replied, “Your Book will be known by all Sara. It will be read by
those in times of need, in desperation, and in love. Whenever anyone needs you and your story, there it
will be to give them hope, love and light. In so doing your story will show all those with a true heart that
anything can be done, any road can be traveled, any wish can come true, and any dream can become a
reality. They will see in you what they dream to see in themselves. Sara, in doing this you are beautiful.
Your Book will be forever known as the Book of Answers, one that will make the wishes of others come
true as well.” Sara smiled; the light spoke the truth, and she was happy.
       Sara heard a loud rumbling from afar, as though thunder, but a thousand times more powerful.
She looked into the distance to see a giant explosion of light and fire, streaking in all directions. Trails of
light fell like snowflakes followed by the violet light. It drifted towards Sara and once again she
followed it. From the center of the colossal explosion something emerged and as Sara approached it, the
light fell around her like a spotlight. As she drew near, she realized it was a door, not a set of doors, but
one only; one that would only lead her to one place—a place she had been dreaming of for a long time.
She watched as the violet light disappeared into the sky above, and smiled.
       “Thank you Violet.”
       She paused and looked back one more time in awe and reverence, and then turned the handle and
stepped into the known.


                                                EPILOGUE


It was the most perfect day. The sky was a sparkling bright blue and the warm sunlight welcomed her as
she stood beneath a magnificent tree covered with wild fruit and flowers atop a lush green hill. As soon
as Sara had set foot in the last world, she recognized it as her own. She realized that she was standing at
the very place from where she had left Whipper Wheel that dark and stormy night. The lonely tree had
flourished. It was no longer sickly and barren nor its branches old and bare. The tree was full of life and
color; the lonely tree had blossomed and was bearing fruit.
       Sara made her way down the grassy slope to the banks of Broken Tree River, its crystal clear
waters sparkling in the summer sunlight as it danced over the rocks and boulders. She followed the river
down to the road and smiled. It was good to be home.
       She heard the sound of a car behind her, and turned. It was Sheriff Dickinson. He rolled down
the window on the old squad car, “Excuse me little girl, where are you going?”
       “Home sir,” Sara said politely with a smile.
       He looked up and down the road. “There ain’t a house for near two miles in either direction—
what’s your last name?”
       “Dwells, Sara Dwells.”
       The Sheriffs jaw dropped and he stared at her in shock. He hopped out of the car and walked
towards her. “Sara Dwells, this entire town—everyone from Whipper Wheel to Eagle River—has been




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 127
combing nigh on every piece of this land for you. Where on God’s green Earth have you been?”
         “More places than I can tell you in a car drive home sir . . .”


Mary was in the yard pulling clothes off the line when she saw the Sheriffs car pull up. She put her hand
over her eyes to block the glare of the sun and then realized that he had Sara with him. Mary started to
cry as she ran across the lawn to hug and kiss Sara, checking every inch of her daughter to make sure
she was not hurt. “Sara, my God! Where . . . How . . . You’re here! Oh my God, you’re home!” Mary
looked at the Sheriff, “Where did you find her? Where was she?”
         “Well, she was walking down the road by Broken Tree River when I picked her up. I knew
something wasn’t right. Her clothes are filthy and she looks as though she ain’t had a bath in some
time.”
         Mary hugged and thanked him, and she and Sara began to walk toward the house.
         John appeared on the porch, Jason and Anna behind him. With faces beaming, they ran out to
greet Sara, to hug and kiss her for they had been torn apart since Sara had gone missing. As the fading
sunlight filtered through the windows and twilight approached, Sara’s family gathered around the
kitchen table, anxious to hear where she had been and what had happened to her.
         “Sara, you mind telling everyone where you disappeared to for so long? We have been going
crazy, we didn’t know what happened. Why would you do this Sara, why would you?” Mary said, the
expression on her face showing a mixture of concern and puzzlement combined with relief and
happiness at having Sara back.
         Sara looked down before replying, and then said, “I had to momma, papa, everyone. I just had to
go. There were some things I had to find, and do. I’d rather not say right now, but I am home and I am
okay. I didn’t mean to make any of you feel like this, and I promise that one day I will show you that it
was all for the best of reasons.”
         The silence that followed Sara’s remarks filled the room for a minute or two, and then Jason
spoke up, “Well . . . you better make her something to eat!” he said, brushing some dirt from his sister’s
dress. “By the looks of her, Sara hasn’t been eating much—probably about as much as she has bathed!”
         “You get into that bathroom and clean yourself up young lady, and we will have a feast for
dinner,” John said, giving his daughter a hug.
         Sara did as her father told her, leaving everyone still looking very confused and wondering what
had happened, but most of all relieved and happy that she was back.
         Willie appeared and rubbed up against her leg as Sara walked down the hall. She knelt down and
picked the fat cat up and kissed him on the nose, and hugged him. “Oh, I missed you Willie! Hey look,
who would have guessed you would get even fatter? Oh well, you’re still the cutest cat that ever lived.”


The sun had long sunk behind the great mountains and the Dwell family was still seated at the dinner
table. Jason had told his stories of the war; Anna brought Sara up to date about her newest boyfriends,
and for once in what felt like the longest time they were all together—a family again. Sara was happier
than she had ever been in all her life.
         After dinner had been eaten and the table cleared, Sara made her way to her room for the night.




                                    Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 128
She turned on the light and smiled. Everything was exactly as it had been when she left, not a single
thing was out of place.
         Sara felt her mother’s hand upon her shoulder, “When you left Sara, we couldn’t bear to even
come in here, it was too hard for us. I sometimes wondered if we had lost you forever, but I always
knew, Sara; I always knew that you would return.” As she knelt down to speak, Sara could see the tears
welling up in her mother’s eyes and then trickle down her face as they hugged. Her mother kissed her on
the forehead and then softly closed the door.
         Seated on her bed Sara looked around her room. There were still some papers and drawings on
the floor of her made-up friends and poems. She picked a few of them up and smiled for she had missed
drawing and writing. It was then that she noticed something very peculiar about one of the pictures she
had drawn. It was of a giant fish smoking a pipe. It was Mr. Galiwampus! Sara realized she had drawn
him before she had even met him! Amazed and smiling broadly, she stared down at the paper. Just then
she heard the sound of a loud knock on the front door. Sara wondered who would be calling at that time
of night, and she heard the creaking and popping of the stairs as her father struggled with his robe and
made his way downstairs.
         “Sara, you have a visitor!”
         Startled, and curious as to whom it could be, Sara made her way to the front door to greet her
mystery visitor. It was Mr. Kindle. Sara smiled—it was so nice to see him again.
         “Hello there Sara,” Mr. Kindle said, “I heard you were in town so I thought I would stop by and
say hello—that is if it’s not too late Mr. Dwells?”
         “Of course not Mr. Kindle, but don’t be long, Sara is tired.”
         “No, no, of course not, I just wanted to say hello that’s all—I missed her.”
         As they walked outside together, Sara looked back to make sure that they weren’t being watched
and then said, “Oh my God Mr. Kindle, the stories I have for you!”
         He smiled and lit his pipe, “Well actually . . . You don’t need to . . .”
         “What do you mean?”
         “Well . . .” he said, pulling something from his old leather shoulder bag, “apparently your
journey is all in here. I did notice a few empty pages near the end though. Make sure you give it back to
me when you finish it; I have the feeling that won’t be too long.” He handed it to Sara.
         “But where did you get it . . .? Mr. Galiwampus . . . ?
         “Well it was the darnedest thing, I was out on the river fishing for trout and I saw this shooting
star streak through the galaxies, and then it landed right in front of me! No kidding!”
         Sara smiled, took the Book and gave Mr. Kindle a hug. She thanked him for everything he had
done for her and they started to walk back to the front door. Just before he left, Sara remembered
something. “Oh Mr. Kindle! Wait, I have something for you!” She ran upstairs and returned to him with
her hand outstretched.
         “What’s this?” Mr. Kindle asked, holding it up to the light. When he saw it was a ring, a
wedding ring, he blinked in surprise. “But where . . .? Who? How Sara? How on Earth did you get
this?”
         “Well, let’s just say a fish gave it to me . . .”




                                   Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 129
       “Oh yeah . . . Did he happen to be a really big fish? You know, like he thought he was special—
a king or something?”
        “Actually yes, he was a big fish,” Sara said with a smile, “and apparently he really liked you.
But, if you don’t mind me asking Mr. Kindle, who was it for?”
       “You know Mrs. Smoot?”
       Sara nodded her head.
       “Well, that was for her—the fat-headed old nag. I still love her, but what can I do? We still see
each other from time to time, you know. But anyway, thanks for the ring, and I have a feeling this book
about your journey will be saying that I am going to be very popular soon!”
       Mr. Kindle climbed up into his car, but as he pulled away, Sara noticed that he was driving a bit
close to the hedge. Sure enough he took off nearly two feet of it with the car.
       Sara laughed and took the Book of Answers back to her room. She placed it near the window and
lit a candle, setting it down on the window sill. All was still except for a gentle breeze that drifted
through the warm summer night. In the silence, Sara watched as the candlelight shed a soft sheen over
the cover of the Book and cast shadowy shapes on the wall. She sat back and reflected upon all the
places she had been, and came to the realization that the only place she wanted to be for now was right
where she was.
       Outside her window the leaves of the trees danced in the warm breeze that wafted by that
summer’s night. Sara felt the calmness that comes from sleeping in one’s family home after a very long
journey. She leaned over and blew out the candle. For a long moment there was a silence so quiet, so
deeply profound it was as if nothing might ever be heard again. And then, through the soft darkness of
the night, somewhere far off in the distance was heard the mysterious sound of the whippoorwill. It sang
alone, but its voice was heard by all who would listen.




                                                 ~          ~




                                 Sara Dwells and the Book of Answers: Page 130

								
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