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1 THE NIGHT THE STARS CAME TO EARTH Late that night – after the state police and the reporters and the television crew had all gone – Reverend Tuck told Abby she’d better make herself a decent place to sleep in the cottage. That small, flimsy two-room structure had not been lived in for a decade, and needed work and supplies. Tuck gathered sheets, blankets, and a pillow, a broom and dustpan, light bulbs, sponges, two kinds of soap, paper towels, toilet paper, some dishes, a small pot, and a frying pan. “But don’t sleep yet,” he added. “I need to talk to you before tomorrow.” Then he turned to Middletown Police Chief Santiago and Dr. Geraldine Bear to continue their discussion. Abby made five trips from Reverend Tuck’s living quarters near the sanctuary to the cottage in the churchyard, taking all of Tuck’s donations as well as her duffel bag, striped red blanket, a handful of tea bags, and some leftovers from their excellent dinner. Long after midnight she finished cleaning and organizing the kitchen and a place to sleep in the largest of the two rooms. Then she rewarded herself by taking an old folding chair outside and sitting under the amazing night sky. A breeze blew through the leaves of the giant maple trees. The world was blissfully empty of people. She thought over the tumultuous events of the day, and their happy ending. This happened to me, Abby thought. Something special happened for me! She leaned back and took a deep breath of the fresh air that had blown into Middletown a few hours before, sweeping out the huge thunderheads, high winds, and drenching rain, leaving a crystal clear sky and the feeling of a new world beginning. As the moon floated down toward the western horizon behind her, the stars to the east appeared unusually bright and colorful, dazzling in their swirling multitudes going on forever. Abby began to sense a strange shift in her awareness, a door opening into another world that she had experienced on and off since childhood. She normally avoided these intuitions whenever possible, and quickly tried to snap her attention back to the mundane objects close at hand. But it was too late. The stars had triggered her most powerful memory. Already she saw the stars coming closer, and felt an eerie sensation that she was ris-


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ing to meet them. Once again she was a skinny ten year old, following the small gray shape of Wendy through the dark forest. Once again she heard the uncanny melody, a melodic hum, grow in volume. Soon she could recognize the words. Through heaven and earth a tree is growing Around the world a river is flowing We can travel by secret ways Like a shadow through our days Follow me, come and see We’re climbing the world tree As the ages have gone by The abyss has grown so wide Heaven and earth are separate now By a journey, no one knows how Follow me, come and see We’re climbing the world tree Do you see how we come closer We’re on the pathway to the stars Reach out your hand and touch the heavens It’s not far, it’s not far! Follow me, come and see We’re climbing the world tree They arrived in a large meadow Abby had never seen before – a meadow like a great cathedral nave between rows of tall trees with branches arching above like a vault. “Wendy, what’s going to happen?” “The Guardians are coming,” Wendy replied. “The Guardians of this world.” The stars swooped down as many spheres of searing light, a throng that assembled around the meadow in a vast circle. Abby could distinguish their features by the shadows cast by the radiant glow from their bodies. They were strikingly beautiful, pulsing with color and the musical hum of the song that seemed to come from everywhere at once. One of these glorious beings stepped forward, bright with a reddish light even to the hair and skin. Another entered from the forest and stood next to the first. This second being appeared radically different, with dark green skin and a smooth head that came to a fin-like


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point. Its body was partly covered with clothing like leaves in autumn, and glowed with a greenish shimmer. Abby was sure that this green being had not come from the sky, but from the forest. She risked a look at its glistening eyes, and found them staring back with urgency and sorrow. Wendy appeared dim, frail, and tiny amidst these beings from the earth and sky, and Abby felt even smaller. Her whole body shivered. What am I doing here? she wondered. The being with the red glow advanced even closer, and Abby saw the pupils of its eyes sparkle with an intensity of life and color that she could hardly endure. The face was so beautiful she felt her heart jump. “Yes?” said the being to Wendy, in a warm and confident voice that held an undertone of anxiety. “As you see, we have come.” “I am forever grateful,” she replied in her broken voice. “I present one of the young warriors, as you have foreseen.” “Their future leader?” “No, for they will have many leaders. She will be their representative to you.” “Why do we need such a person?” asked the being. The sparkling eyes gave Abby a piercing look that made her turn away. “My work draws to a close in these coming years,” replied Wendy. “But the transformation on earth will go on for a long time, nearly a century. Trust me, this meeting will prove important for all of us.” Her work draws to a close? thought Abby in despair. Draws to a close? No! I need her! “We shall see,” said the being, conveying uncertainty and doubt. The glowing eyes of the multitude in the circle were riveted on Abby. Her heart raced. “Yes,” said the red being, who had stared long at Abby. “She has the talent, if it develops. Dreamstone will help her.” “So… you will know her,” said Wendy. “I will.” And then he raised his voice. “But tell us! Your long labors draw to a close? Yet the most important things are left undone. You stay in retreat and do not cooperate with Teresa.” The being paused as if to control the anxiety pouring out, and the voice became sad. “You have given complete devotion to this work, yet you have accomplished very little given the need. Yes, yes, we know you have strength and potential in reserve, but you don’t use it!” The red being glared at Wendy, and then said in a tone of fierce warning, “We also know that this vast era of time is coming to the crisis, and you do not seem ready. Eons of development are in danger.


THE GHOST GIRL

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The outcome is shrouded in darkness.” “I chose the dark path on purpose,” returned Wendy, her voice uneven and frail. “I am hidden until the end, but that does not mean I am unready. And never forget that I cannot force people and events. I must inspire them. People are as free as ourselves to choose their path.” Abby found herself watching a small, very bright sphere approaching them from above. The white light was surrounded by sparks or tiny flames of copper and gold. It grew so bright that Abby had to close her eyes. When she looked again a third being stood before her, with a body covered by a golden film. Within that light was the shadow of a very expressive, almost seductive face. “We are all overjoyed to see you!” exclaimed the red being, and then bowed with the others. “If you have advice, we sorely need it.” “As you probably expect, I have a message of both hope and fear.” The new arrival looked steadily at Wendy. Tiny copper flames flickered and grew around that beautiful head. “Please,” replied Wendy, “tell us. I have no secrets.” The being stared at Wendy as if no one else existed, and declared, “This much I know with certainty: Your mission hangs by a thread. The Adversary is free and active, more determined than ever to prove this long experiment a failure – here on earth above all! Whatever help we have provided, humans have not met the challenge. Over the coming twenty years the crisis will come like a flood, and if the tide does not turn, the destruction will become irreversible. But you have a chance of success. Follow through with your plan – your whole plan, mind you – and do not be thrown off course by anyone or anything. I bring you these words: ‘Take courage,’ they said, ‘you are our beloved daughter. This is your hour.’” Wendy’s face remained hidden in shadow. With hardly a pause the messenger added in a different tone of voice, looking around at the countless lights in the wide circle, “We are taking great risks here. Our presence will be discovered.” “Do not fear,” replied Wendy. “I am nearly invisible, one of many humans, nothing special. And now we are finished here. My purpose is complete. I am very grateful to all of you.” “Just a word before we go!” For the first time the green being’s powerful voice rang out, addressing Wendy. “I have served you across the heart-breaking years, and shared your hopes and labors here on earth. My power is limited – the work ahead will need the hand of the Hidden One to succeed. But all I can do is yours.” Then the green being turned to Abby and said softly, “Little One,


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I hear an unspoken request in this meeting, and my answer is yes. I will be your guardian.” The strange face looked at Abby and expressed a strength of identity and emotion that she would know forever. He will be my inner friend, thought Abby. “Call on me from your heart. You know me.” The being turned back to Wendy and said, “Is that what you had in mind?” Wendy’s eyes blinked and glistened. She bowed, concealing her tears. “More than I can say,” she said, trying to control her voice. In the next moment the throng of lights receded into the night sky, rejoining the swirling billions, the perhaps infinite lights in the vast and mysterious cosmos. All but the green being, who disappeared into the forest. The dream-vision ended there. The next thing she remembered was waking in the hospital, breathing through a respirator. Her desperately anxious parents were sitting nearby. She had been a very skinny ten year old with chronic asthma, recovering from pneumonia. Abby struggled to reenter the present, but felt her ten year old self as a living presence inside her. So, once again I am reminded that I have a job to do. Something specifically for me. But years have gone by, and I’m still not sure what it is. “A mission in the world,” Wendy calls it. But what is that?

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Protectors of The Wood #3 Chapter 1 Preview  

The Protectors of the Wood adventure novel series is a fully illustrated story of a group of misfit teenagers who save the world from climat...

Protectors of The Wood #3 Chapter 1 Preview  

The Protectors of the Wood adventure novel series is a fully illustrated story of a group of misfit teenagers who save the world from climat...

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