Another Ten Seconds
Chapter 38 Beyond

by Jeff Rand

The storm continued for the better part of a day before turning to light snow. Clearwater Cabin had received its greatest snowfall since December 1, 1974. In spite of this fact, the group gathered for another Winter Camp. Besides John Howey, there were five others in attendance.

"Awake my friends," John began. "The secret truth which I now reveal has come at a great price. As you know, many thousands lost their lives in the French-Indo China War and to what avail? Even an ideal such as freedom is not universal."

"Let me say," he continued, "I am now sufficiently advanced in age that I can speak the truth without fear of serious repercussions. But which of you can open his mind to receive the message?"

"I am one," said Ethan. "Though I was not conceived at the moment you first broke free, I have now earned my station."

"And what of you?" asked John, directing his question at Sam.

"Why I believe it so as well," replied Sam.

"Brad and Zach nodded too, when put to the test. Only Andy, the deaf mute made no attempt to respond.

"Was there ever a time when we could whistle and chew gum?" John asked.

"We don't know, but tell us the true story."

"Three months ago," John continued, "I found myself on the brink of self-annihilation. I had consumed a quantity of dihydrogen monoxide, but to my surprise felt no ill effects."

"I had searched far and wide for the missing campers, spending weeks in the woods trying to keep out of sight of the Night Razers, while all about me desolation reined supreme. Had I known how to use the radio, I might have contacted the others. Now, I knew that our grand plans had failed. Our attempts to cultivate the fields produced little results -- and such arrogance we had in building the perfect society, only to end in anarchy. In the end, the sad truth of a future genetic disaster was all that I could bear."

"But John," asked Brad, "Certainly you tried to stop if before it all began?"

"Try, I did. Downes first knew of the change and more importantly, the cause. But as McGrath and Radtke discovered, it was of a different time and place. The cause, they knew, was of such trivial nature that no one should care. An aged Winter Camper, not content with what should exist, placed the images in a preceding time for such minor purpose as to amuse a few friends. Even this small thing set the wave in motion, the ripples of which eventually changed the form of all that was and all that will be."

"But why do such a deed?" inquired Zach.

"It was, I believe, due to the failure of a group of concerned English majors and a television production company. Their goal had been laudable, but it lacked details in its execution. When they befriended the group set on violating the moral reforms, the sad set of events had been put into motion. Their message to the future would cause the unconventional traditions to prevail."

The mute, hearing nothing of the conversation, made his own gestures.

"He wants to know what became of yesterday's half eaten apple?" asked Brad, serving as interpreter for the deaf mute.

"How could it really have existed?" said John, "Otherwise you'd be part apple yourself."

"As opposed to mountain oysters," said Brad.

"Well said. Now let me finish. The truth has been here all the time. Why do we come so far to celebrate winter? It is really quite simple, though we took great journeys to come back to this point. We who love the woods and camping, should have known."

Howey led the others out the back door of Clearwater cabin and walked a few steps to the north in the direction of the latrine. There with arm outstretched, he pointed at the sled stuck in the snow bank next to the john.

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