Outskirts of the Desert
by Frank Riccobono
The other night, I dreamed that I was bicycling from New Jersey to Nevada.
The other night, I dreamed that I was bicycling from New Jersey to Nevada. Obeying proper dream physics, I made the trip in a record four hours but never felt like I was traveling at particularly break-neck speeds. I was even able to take in the beautiful scenery: majestic plains, lush woods, dazzling rock faces. Traveling nearly vertically up and down the Grand Canyon (as one does in dreams) I gazed in awe at the many vibrant colors of each stratum as they rushed past.
Eventually, I felt tired and stopped to rest near a small general store in the middle of a vast expanse of desert. I was sure I could not endure the return trip without replenishing my water supply so I ventured inside. The shop was quaint, family-owned, and decorated in that archetypal old western style. "Decorated" is probably not the right word - rather the shop looked as though it had stood virtually unaltered since the days of the Old West.
The family that owned the shop had an air of mystery about them and regarded me suspiciously when I first walked in. The mother and father looked to be in their late 60s and seemed to fill a more supervisory role. They were standing around a table looking at some large leather books when I walked in. Their son and his wife (mid-30s) tended the counter and their daughter aged 10 or 11 did some chores around the store. The five of them wore clothes that were neither modern nor old-fashioned.
The son was the first to speak to me, extending a friendly greeting. I first introduced myself, which seemed appropriate for the setting, and then asked to buy some water. Still cautious, the man looked at his mother and father as if seeking permission. They held each other's eyes for a long minute and then the parents both nodded. The son looked back at me and said, "We can sell you some water, but I think you might be interested in one of our other wares."
He proceeds to explain to me that their family has, for generations, possessed the unique but hitherto useless ability to perfectly predict how minor alterations to past events would affect the future. Smiling, he says, that ability is useless no longer. Here in this dusty shop on the outskirts of civilization, the family has perfected time travel, which, combined with their particular gift, allows them near total mastery of reality. The family has spent the last weeks considering the implications of this great power and has decided to sell their services. I am the first person they've told.
Excitedly, he fetches one of the large leather book from the table by his parents. They wrote this book to describe all that the family could do.
It was called the Seers Catalogue.
My subconscious needs to work on its puns.