The Thing About Fate: The Town with No Name Prologue

Delaware sat down on a bench in the park. The park was empty…not a soul in sight. It was about a month into autumn and the trees were beginning to change color. The air was nice and crisp. He gazed up into the trees and began to ponder life. "Was life, like nature, on a set path?" he wondered. Then he found himself speaking aloud. “Does any of it really matter?”

“Well, defining ‘it’ might be a good start if you’re to answer that.” A kindly voice rang out from next to him.

The voice from out of nowhere didn't really seem to alarm Delaware. After all, he was used to hearing voices. He reluctantly turned his head to see where it was coming from. Suddenly, to his right, an old woman was seated next to him, with both hands in her lap.

“You again,” Delaware said with some exhaustion.

He had also long gotten used to people appearing out of nowhere. And, for that matter, he was used to premonitions of what the future holds. But this was different. This old woman was a first for him. She had appeared to him before, claiming to be his grandmother. None of the other apparitions ever appeared again after he had helped them solve the mystery of their death.

“Now, is that any way to treat your grandmother?” the old woman said with a small chuckle.

“Is there something in particular you want?" snapped Delaware. "Or did you just appear again to start telling me something and then quickly vanish before you finish?” Delaware removed his arm that was behind her off the back of the bench.

She looked down at her hands in her lap then gazed at Delaware. “Things may seem grim, Delaware, but they’re far from it.”

Delaware smiled and turned to the old woman. “It must be great to have a clear view of what’s going to happen and offer assurance for the future," he said sarcastically. "But the rest of us have to actually live it.” His head collapsed into his hands in frustration.

Suddenly he felt a cold chill run up his spine. She had placed her hand on his back. “Nothing but yesterday is certain, Delaware," she advised. "You may not understand things this very moment, but time has a way of making sense of things.”

“Says Grandmother the Friendly Ghost--" Delaware snapped as he turned to discover she had disappeared. He shook his head in frustration as he stood up. “Just once I wish someone would just say what they mean.”

Delaware arrived at Bradford Books just as Kelly was closing up shop. She was counting the money in the register as Delaware entered the store.

“Hey, Del, what’s on your mind?” Kelly said, immediately picking up on his mood.

“Kelly, do you believe things happen for a reason? That everything is on a set path to happen a specific way?” he said, getting right to the point.

Kelly walked to the front of the shop to flip the "open" sign on the door to read "closed."
“You know, Del, in the three months we’ve known each other you’ve never said one serious thing. What brought this about?”

“What can I say?" said Delaware, "I’m full of surprises.”

The two headed to the backroom of the shop where Kelly began rearranging some books.

“Well,” she said, “when it comes to fate, I like to believe that things do happen for a reason. Especially when things are going bad, there’s some comfort in knowing that there’s a greater plan at work. That we’re all playing our part.”

“But don’t you think that would be pointless?" asked Delaware with frustration in his voice. "I mean, to live out our lives page after page, only to come to our predetermined end?”

Kelly had never seen him this way before, but she could tell he was upset about something.

“I guess since the outcome isn’t known to us, the journey is worth it,” she said. She stopped and thought for a second. “Wait a minute. Did you have another vision, Delaware? Is that what this is about?”

Delaware sat down on one of the boxes and grabbed an old comic book from a shelf. “No, no visions. I guess my mind’s just been thinkin' too much,” he said as he leafed through the comic book.

“Well, you know, I’m here if you ever need to talk about things. I guess I sometimes forget the downside of seeing glimpses of the future,” she said as she realized he was looking into a comic book. Maybe he wasn't being as serious as she thought.

Kelly shook her head and turned back to rearranging the books. She placed the last book on top of the pile and went to pick them up. But as she did, she lost her balance and bumped the shelf behind her. One of the books from the shelf fell and plopped open at Delaware’s feet.

Delaware put the comic book down and peered into the book. It was an atlas. As he leaned to pick up the book he began hearing voices. Someone was calling to him again….

 
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