“Tippecanoe, the Time Machine, and Tyler Too”

With another sudden burst of light, Tyler and the ghastly apparatus disappeared.

The time machine flashed into existence in the midst of the Battle of Tippecanoe, directly between William Henry Harrison and Tenskwatawa. Those present on the battlefield that morning were absolutely wonderstruck.

None other than John Tyler stepped from the contraption.

“Harrison! Stop this! You’ll end up in the White House and last only 31 days!”

With another sudden burst of light, Tyler and the ghastly apparatus disappeared.

Both the American soldiers and Native American warriors remained paralyzed with bewilderment.

Harrison finally regathered his determination and logic.

“Tenskwatawa!” he cried. “Sorcerer and prophet! Such magic is powerless against the United States!”

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William Henry Harrison

“Which Witch is Warlock”

“There’s a witch under the bed!” the youngest shouted.

Kevin unpacked another box while the oven preheated. Several distant thuds reminded him that his children were awake.

The death of their mother had necessitated a move, and his kids were struggling. The recent disappearance of a local child complicated matters.

Both children were in one bed.

“There’s a witch under the bed!” the youngest shouted.

“Who said that?” Kevin asked.

“Kids at school!” the oldest chirped. “A witch that eats children!”

“No more,” Kevin said coolly. “Go to sleep.”

Fatigued and alone, Kevin turned off the oven and checked the pantry lock. He would go to bed hungry again.

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“Drums of Tyrone”

No one in Tyrone ever saw Lawrence again or his wife and children for that matter.

Deindustrialization swept over Pennsylvania. Few were surprised when this wave of ruin reached Tyrone and the paper mill closed.

After his final shift, Lawrence had a couple of the old bleach drums loaded into the back of his pickup.

His inability to provide eventually undid him, but he kept the drums under the basement stairs.

When the bank finally foreclosed on his house, Lawrence caught a train for Pittsburgh.

No one in Tyrone ever saw Lawrence again or his wife and children for that matter.

At least not until the sheriff’s sale when someone knocked over an old bleach drum.

Tyrone, Pennsylvania

“Moths and Spiders”

Robert enjoyed watching the insects become ensnared, especially the feisty moths. He realized these arachnids had come to depend on him for sustenance, and he alone determined the fate of these creatures.

Robert had noticed earlier that three spiders had spun webs outside his kitchen window.

Due to some latent morbid streak, Robert stayed up late to flip the kitchen light on and off. This caused various insects to continuously leave and return through the tangle of webs.

Robert enjoyed watching the insects become ensnared, especially the feisty moths. He realized these arachnids had come to depend on him for sustenance, and he alone determined the fate of these creatures.

Robert had become a god with a click.

A light in his garage turned on unexpectedly, so Robert set out to investigate.

Lightbulb
The means of Robert’s ascendance – and transcendence. 

“A Grave Discovery”

When his grandmother disappeared, Eugene faithfully devoted a week to help his grandfather move from an antiquated farmhouse to a modern apartment.

When his grandmother disappeared, Eugene faithfully devoted a week to help his grandfather move from an antiquated farmhouse to a modern apartment.

Eugene even painstakingly transported the magnificent model railroad layout that his grandfather had carefully constructed over the previous four decades.

Eugene diligently rewired the layout inside the apartment. He took special care with the smartly designed model of his grandparents’ former home. This replica was positioned squarely in the center of the layout.

After careful inspection, Eugene discovered a very small rectangle traced in the painted backyard behind the wood and glue farmhouse.

He’d never noticed that before.

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A 2019 photograph of my grandfather’s model railroad layout in Dunbar, Pennsylvania. No grave discoveries (thankfully). He uses the bowl and spoon (center of the photograph) to place the replica ballast around the railroad tracks.

“The Elevator Repairman”

“It’s out,” the oddly familiar fellow said coolly. 

Angela returned to her building only to find an elevator repairman

“It’s out,” the oddly familiar fellow said coolly. 

Angela frowned. Her apartment was on the ninth floor.

The repairman hardly moved his satchel or ladder as Angela stepped through tools to the stairway.

After an evening out, Angela found her landlord aggressively scrapping a name from the apartment directory placard.

Late on her rent, she slipped around him. He caught up just before the elevator doors slid closed.

“Glad this is working again,” Angela offered.

“What do you mean?” her landlord asked.

The elevator plummeted into the foundation.

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Elevator panel – Fayette BuildingUniontown, Pennsylvania

“Long Live the Tsar”

The Tsar was alive. His wife and children were alive. The story about their deaths in Yekaterinburg was fabricated by those hoping to liberate – rather than liquidate – the imperial family.

This month marks the 102-year anniversary of the February Revolution (New Style March 8 – 16, 1917). The events that transpired over the course of those nine days forever changed Russia, opening the door for the October Revolution and the creation of the Soviet Union

The abdication of Tsar Nicholas II was one of the most pivotal moments of the Russian Revolution (which includes the February and October Revolutions). His subsequent assassination by the hands of the Bolsheviks was perhaps even more significant. The simultaneous murder of his wife and children proved to be one of the darker moments of this zealous movement, creating generations of folklore and myth. 

Anastasia, the youngest daughter of the Tsar, allegedly survived the tragic end of her immediate family. Although modern research has mostly undone such legends, there were certain factions present in Russia that desired to save the Tsar and his family. On the other hand, the survival of any member of that family may have undermined the sweeping reforms that divided and overwhelmed Russia in the years to come. 

Long Live the Tsar” is a short story that I wrote in April and May of 2017 – a century after the relative lull between the February and October Revolutions of 1917. The action of this piece unfolds in early 1918 in a timeline that sees the Tsar and his family liberated and whisked away by the Whites at the last minute. However, salvation awaited only beyond the scope of the Russian Civil War (1917 – 1922) and only a gambit along the Trans – Siberian Railway offered a true means of escape. 

“Long Live the Tsar” originally appeared with Slick Lit Magazine in May of 2017. 

To read “Long Live the Tsar”, click on the image below.

A locomotive steams along Lake Baikal