As relief from reading Journal of a Plague Year, Station Eleven, and The Plague, the board of EPIC Group Writers penned a serial novel for your entertainment. Since each author could only see the immediately preceding chapter, there are numerous plot twists and wild goose chases. Fortunately the “instigator,” Diane Naab, was able to pull the whole novella together after it veered wildly off course from the original story. Enjoy!
The symbols his uncle was drawing seemed strangely familiar to Jason. It was as if they were in a language he’d known before he was born. Uncle Bill dropped the crooked stick he’d been using to scrawl in the dirt. He stood over his nephew and looked him straight in the eye.
“Roll up your left pants leg.” he demanded.
Jason stared back at him without comprehension.
“Just do it, Jason!”
Jason loosened his boot and carefully rolled up his pants leg revealing a thick wool sock, so unsuitable for the warm southern afternoon. There, on his calf, was a tattoo of the very same symbols his uncle had etched into the ground next to the Monopoly board.
The symbols glowed slightly under the shadow of the great tree, as if a little bit of sunshine had been used in the ink that made them. Suddenly Jason knew that this strange day was not all about his crazy uncle. It was about him. It was about finding out who he is and who he could be. It was as if he were transformed into a character in his own book, like Harry Potter or a hero of Greek myth.
“The power to go home, Jason, or really, to go anywhere, is all yours.” his uncle said. “It always has been. It is my gift to you to show you what already belongs to you. It may be the only thing I have worth giving.” Uncle Bill sat down next to him, leaning against one of the larger banyan roots. “To get back to Alaska, all you have to do is concentrate on exactly where and when you want to be. Or you could stay here in Tennessee with me, and have dinner with Lucille and Ruby to learn how and why this power came to be yours. Take a few minutes and think it over.”
Time stopped as Jason pondered his predicament. The Mukluk Festival, Alaska, and sweet Roberta felt more like dreams than reality. If he weren’t wearing this ridiculous dog sledding gear he wouldn’t be sure who he was. He took off his coat.
Here, in this moment, little brown birds were flitting and tweeting overhead in the tree’s wide canopy. Large black flies buzzed around Uncle Bill’s face, attracted by the heady smell of sweat and aftershave.
Uncle Bill waited, not quite patiently. He rolled the dice on the Monopoly Board and aimlessly moved the tiny metal boot around the spaces. Jason smiled as he watched. Even without an opponent his uncle cheated. He avoided landing on Luxury Tax in favor of Boardwalk. He cut corners to pass GO and collect $200. And he refused to go to jail, go directly to jail.
Jason took the dice from the board and felt the hard, cool cubes in his palm. He looked at them on all six sides, noticing how the black paint which was used to mark the indentations on the three was applied sloppily. He thought, “Nothing seems perfect if you look at it too closely.”
Jason gripped the dice loosely in his hands, shook them up and rolled them across the board. Double sixes. He picked up the little silver dog and moved it twelve spaces from the “just visiting” zone of the jail, around the corner to the big question mark.
“Alright, Uncle. Time to take a Chance and roll again.”