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I'm so excited to share the first two chapters of KEEPER OF THE WATCH's origin story here on my blog! I was compelled to write the story, so much so that I stopped in the middle of writing another book (Keeper 3) in order to get this one down 'on paper.' Sometimes characters can be very persistent! DIMENSION KEEPER released on January 1, 2020.
This story is about Elias Walker (Chase's ancestor), the original dimension keeper, and his struggle with learning to live with - and control - his unique ability to travel to other worlds.
This 117-page novella is meant to skip through Eli's life, showing you glimpses of key points that helped to shape the invention of twelve watches and allow others to visit twelve parallel worlds.
The tale takes place in the early 1900's when young Elias Walker was only seven-years-old...
(Keeper of the Watch: The Prequel)
Elias Walker’s Story
Kristen L. Jackson
Elias Walker, June 6, Early 1900's
Eli Walker curled into himself. Hunched on the floor, hugging his bent legs as tightly against himself as possible, trembles wracked his entire body, cold sweat running down his spine causing an uncontrollable shiver that seemed to never end. When one spasm slowed, another began as if on an endless loop. A tiny whimper escaped through quivering lips.
“M-Mama?” He’d meant to yell, but all that came out was a broken whisper through chattering teeth. The numbing cold came from deep within, spreading outward from the marrow of his bones.
His back was pressed up against the corner of a dark room. He knew this room. The shadowed space was familiar, yet foreign at the same time. The last light of dusk shined through the window, highlighting the shapes of a small table, sewing machine on top, wooden chair pushed in, wood floor and dark curtains in his bedroom.
His bedroom, but not his bedroom.
Someone’s things, but not his own.
He was inside his own house. Elias was sure this was his home. After all, it was the same place he’d been living for all of his seven years.
Only … everything was different.
Where’s my bed? Why is everything different?
Just this morning, everything in this room had been familiar. Comfortable. Right.
His worn baseball glove, the threadbare ball nestled inside. His Radio Flyer wagon with chipped red paint in the corner, filled with his prized Lincoln Logs. An old tin filled with his favorite Jacks game pieces.
Now, everything was … gone. His seven-year-old brain refused to accept the impossibility of the situation he currently found himself in.
And worse yet, he couldn’t find Mama or Dad. In fact, there were strangers in his house. Oh, they looked like his parents. Even sounded like them. But for some reason, they didn’t act like his parents. Not even a little bit. They didn’t even seem to know him.
“But I’m your son!” he’d yelled. “Mama, please! Why are you acting this way?”
Mama—or the woman posing as his Mom—had disappeared through the doorway of his room just a few minutes ago, a look he’d never before seen on her face causing him to swallow back the tears that burned behind his eyes. The moment she was gone, Elias felt the loss like a slap in the face. He didn’t know what to do.
Eli’s breath came in wheezing pants as the panic took hold of both mind and body.
Think! Think about what happened…
Maybe if I find the cause, I can make it right again, like last week when my Columbia bicycle broke and Dad discovered it was a bent spoke getting in the way of pedaling. We straightened the spoke, and the bike was like new.
Find the cause, and make it right. Like the bike.
Closing his eyes, he replayed the events that had led him here to this corner of his-room-but-not-his-room as if rewinding a film.
One Hour Ago
It had been just after his seventh birthday dinner, sticky vanilla frosting from his birthday cake barely dry on his upper lip when the wind picked up, rattling the windows just as rain began pattering the roof. His heart galloped. The first boom of thunder frightened a surprised shriek from Mama in the kitchen, but Elias had been anticipating it since the first raindrop fell from the sky. He had always been fascinated by storms. Drawn to them. This time was no different.
Mama was busy cleaning up from his party, Dad had his nose buried in the newspaper, a cigar smoking in the tray causing Eli’s nose to wrinkle as he snuck past. They wouldn’t be looking for him anytime soon…
Eli pushed through the screen door, careful to let it close gently behind him so the noise wouldn’t give him away. Once through, he squinted upward toward the churning gray clouds as he hurried past his neighbor Billy’s house.
I’m older than Billy now. He’s only six, and I’m a whole year older. Seven-years-old.
A small smile tugged at the corners of his lips.
Turning the corner, leaving Billy’s house in his dust, he broke into a full-out run. His feet knew which direction to go.
The beach was located only blocks from his home, and it was his very favorite place. If storms spoke to his soul, then the ocean waves sang to his heart. And a combination of the two? Eli couldn’t think of a better way to end his seventh birthday.
Raindrops pelted his head by the time his feet sank into the sand, the tumultuous clouds overhead darker than he’d ever seen them. There was a smell of electricity mixing with the rain, and he titled his head for a better view.
Lightning struck the sand mere inches from his sneakers, and his body lurched sideways, just in time to miss a second bolt that flashed to his left. He froze for a split second before moving again, as a third flash of lightning tore into the sand in front of him. The hair on his arms and legs stood on end, and the first sliver of doubt had his heart pounding a drum-beat.
Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea…
Eli turned toward home, intent on leaving the storm behind, but the lightning seemed to have another idea, striking repeatedly all around him. He looked down at the sand and saw that the lightning had formed a perfect circle, with him enclosed at its center. Surrounded by sand sculptures like dried sea anemones forever frozen in time, for a moment he was reminded of the drip castles he’d made while playing in the sand with his father.
The odor of electricity was now overwhelming, and his attempt to block his nose with the back of his hand failed miserably, the stench seeping through and burning his nostrils. If possible, the winds picked up even more, swirling around him, his short blonde hair blowing wildly around his head, creating a vortex all around his circle prison, followed by flashes of lightning bolts such as he had never seen before. The electrical currents, most blindingly white but occasionally interspersed with a deep cobalt blue that matched his eyes, continued striking in a circle all around him, and each time he took a step forward or back to leave his cage, another strike pushed him back to the ring in the sand.
Salty tears mixed with the rain, his clothing clinging to his small frame, he fell to his knees in the sand, body heaving with each ragged breath he took.
I want to go home. I just want to go home. Mama…
Lurching up, he made a run for it, but the storm was not to be denied—and it wanted Eli.
A flash of lightning struck him, and he felt the electricity hit his left arm, looking down at the point of entry. His new Elgin wristwatch—his only birthday present.
Ha! My watch saved me!
The timepiece, leather straps still attached around his wrist, was smoking, a tiny, black encrusted hole in the glass watch face where the lightning had hit.
Dad won’t be happy that my birthday present is ruined. I’ll probably get punished for it.
He tore his eyes away from his arm, intent on getting out of there. He’d deal with the recriminations later if he could only survive this and get back home.
The lightning was building. He could feel its growing tension like a coil ready to spring. His body stiffened, bracing for the strike. Each whip-like flash vibrated deep in his bones. It energized and horrified him in equal measures. Though his mind was screaming to run, his body froze. His head slowly tilted back as he raised his eyes skyward, and in that instant knew he was about to die.
But I’ve only been seven for less than a day … I’m not old enough to die.
A circle of light surrounded him, and insanity knocked on his subconscious mind as the picture in front of him shifted. Like a piece of paper tearing vertically in half, his reality was split in two. On each side of the tear, the same … but different. Familiar, but foreign. It was like seeing double, except the pictures weren’t the same on each side of the divide, and they didn’t quite match up. He squeezed his eyes tight, rubbing them with his fists. But when he opened them again, the same scene greeted him.
The light swirled around him, faster and faster until it was nothing but a blur of light above, and all at once it struck the exact spot where Elias had planted his feet in the ground.
Blackness engulfed him. He had no idea if he actually lost consciousness, or if his mind had temporarily blinded him to what was happening. Whichever it was, he was both grateful and disappointed to have missed out on whatever event had transpired. He sensed it was something momentous…
He blinked his eyes open, and he found himself sitting in a sandy hole. Clothing pasted against the length of him, hair dripping into his eyes. The storm finally receding.
Eli took a deep breath, and a slight smile turned the corners of his lips upward.
Can’t believe I let a storm turn me into a three-year-old baby.
He stood, shaking the sand off his hands, absently brushing his soaked attire. He shrugged. A nervous chuckle filled the air, an alien sound on the now-silent beach, and he started when he realized it was his own voice he’d heard. Shaking his head, he filled his lungs with oxygen, letting it out slowly.
Better get home before Mama misses me.
In his haste, he almost missed the small variances in the neighborhood’s appearance. Each tiny change registered in small degrees, until he couldn’t ignore it anymore. He blinked.
The house on the corner painted white instead of yellow.
How did they paint it that quickly, during a storm?
A pothole in the middle of the street that hadn’t been there before.
I must not have noticed it.
The missing towering Oak tree in his front yard.
Tiny things, really. And yet, inexplicable.
A shiver ran the length of his body.
How could a century-old tree just disappear? He’d just climbed to his favorite hang-out branch yesterday.
I’ve been gone for less than an hour.
Where is the tree?
Racing onto the porch, Eli reached for the doorknob. It rattled in his hand but did not turn.
Locked, though he knew he’d left it unlatched when he snuck out.
Now, there was no chance he wouldn’t be caught. The sigh was long and drawn-out, his shoulders rising and falling slowly. He straightened his back and knocked, braced for the imminent scolding.
His mother—but not his mother—answered, a blank look on her face. Her brown hair was pulled up in a severe bun, causing her face to have a tight, stretched appearance. Mama never styled her hair that way. She smiled all the time and always looked pretty, and this stern woman in front of him was anything but.
“Yes?” she asked, tilting her head.
Eli stammered, “Mama. I didn’t mean to go, but the storm was brewing and I wanted to see it, for my birthday, you know, and I…”
“I’m sorry. You must have the wrong house. Do I know you?” Mama’s forehead wrinkled, a look of pure confusion crossing her face.
“Mama?” Eli’s voice hitched.
Absently wiping her hands on the dishrag she clutched, she asked, “Are you lost? I can help you…”
“M-Mama? What’s wrong with you?” His voice was rising with each word.
“I’m … not your Mama. I’m not anyone’s Mama.” A look of sadness washed over her face, and Eli could barely stand it. He took a step toward her, craving her hug like just a few hours ago he’d craved the chocolate cake she’d baked him for his birthday.
“But I am your son!” Eli shouted. “Mama, please. Why are you acting this way?”
Her eyes narrowed, voice taking on a hard edge, “Go away. If this is your idea of a cruel joke, I don’t think it’s funny.” The door started closing.
Elias blocked it with his foot, screaming as he ran past her into the house, “This is my house. I live here!” He ran to the kitchen, then on toward the living room. “Dad! Dad, where are you?” There was his father, sitting on his favorite chair. Relief washed over him. Dad would fix whatever was wrong with Mama. He was good at fixing things.
“What? Who…?” Dad stood slowly, looking over Eli’s shoulder to his mother behind him. She stood, wringing her hands in her stained white apron, tears streaking her tortured face. “Elizabeth?”
“I don’t know who he is, Thomas. He came to the door and claims to be our son. It’s the worst kind of cruel joke…” She ran from the room, her sobs echoing in the silence.
Eli’s heart flip-flopped, and his breathing became erratic. He raced past his father, darting up the stairs toward his bedroom.
His parents had never looked at him with such an air of distance. As if they didn’t even know him. Ice spread throughout his body. The cold was so complete he could barely move. He’d thrown himself into the corner, and refused to budge from that spot.
The tremors began.
Elias, now huddled for who-knows-how-long in the corner of his unfamiliar bedroom, couldn’t grasp what was happening to him. But he knew when everything had changed in his world.
It was the storm; the lightning.
When he’d been struck, everything he’d known had become alien to him. Including his parents.
The storm is the key.
Even as he thought the word, gusts of wind rattled the shutters by his bedroom window, just as his Dad came into the room with another man wearing a navy-blue uniform. An officer.
The policeman squatted in front of Eli.
“What’s your name, son?” the officer asked gently.
“E-Elias. Elias Walker, sir,” he stammered.
“Walker? You sure you don’t know him?” He raised questioning eyes to Thomas Walker. At Tom’s negative head-shake, he looked back at Eli. “Are you lost? Do you know where you live?”
The officer looked relieved. He stood, asking, “Great. What’s your address? I’ll take you there myself.”
“H-here. I l-live here, sir,” he whispered.
“That’s impossible, Elias. You don’t live here.” Again, the man glanced at his Dad, then back at him. “Are you feeling sick?”
“M-maybe,” Eli answered.
Thunder rumbled close-by, followed by a forceful streak of lightning right outside the window.
It’s here for me.
Courage building strength along with the storm, to the surprise of the others in the room, Eli launched himself from his corner. He bounded down the stairs and through the front door before anyone even knew what was happening.
Eyes blinking to adjust in the now pitch-black brought on by both nightfall and the bulging gray clouds overhead, his legs pumped faster than ever before. The wind picked up, and Eli didn’t know if he imagined it, or if the air really was swirling only around his body. Trees just across the street seemed to stand upright, their static branches not bothered by the wind that threatened to toss him aside like a feather. Fighting to stay on course, his body slanted into the gusts as he fought his way back step-by-step toward the ocean.
He didn’t know if he was following the storm, or if the storm was following him, but he headed in the direction of the beach despite the weather’s resistance. Before his feet made it to the soft, wet, sand, lightning struck once again, and blackness swallowed him like a sinking ship into the deep abyss of the sea.
Read on! You can find the rest of the story at the following links...AVAILABLE NOW FOR PURCHASE (Links Below), OR AS A FREE EBOOK DOWNLOAD FOR SIGNING UP ON MY WEBSITE *CLICK HERE!
DIMENSION KEEPER (KEEPER OF THE WATCH SERIES: THE PREQUEL)
Barnes & Noble
Kristen L. Jackson, author of KEEPER OF THE WATCH
Black Rose Writing