Sample Chapters of ROAN : Tales of Conor Archer

Prologue

“Judas Priest!” swore Walter Johnson, “Damn brandy’s goin’ to be the death of me yet!” Wrenching a hook out of the fleshy part of his palm, he spat into the darkening twilight. He heard the gob hit the river, reached for his bottle, poured just a tad on his bleeding hand and took another deep drink.

“The mist,” he muttered, “comin’ in fast.” He watched the fog creep from White Creek into the main channel of the Wisconsin River. At night, the mist often collected around the river bottoms, sloughs, and 600 foot bluffs that made up this section of the great United States. This night was no different. The fog never rose from the great rivers. It always started in the backwaters and small creeks that fed them. As the mist crawled over the banks of the tiny tributaries, it made its way down to the rivers Wisconsin and Mississippi, just like it was doing this evening.

Walter knew this was going to be a very foggy night. He imagined the ranger at

Wyalusing State Park just south of Prairie du Chien, where the rivers ran together, had already radioed over to Iowa’s Pike’s Peak State Park [named by Zebulon Pike who paused on his way west and figured he wouldn’t get another chance to name any hill so high] and claimed that by midnight the tips of the bluffs would be the only feature the stars would reveal.

Dipping his fingers into the bait pot, Walter grabbed another moldy cheese ball and

stuck the hook through it, correctly this time. Just love fishin’ for the Great Cat, he mused. Lots of big catfish in the river, but not one worth catching except the silver beauty he had stalked since he was a kid. Must be over a hundred and seventy pounds by now. Its silver skin shimmered luminescent in his dreams. Like the mystical fish from the old country, Walter was sure the Great Cat would bequeath him wisdom, but more importantly, would give him status with the folk in Tinker’s Grove. Catch the Cat, he thought, and they won’t think me a loser no more. He was obsessed. Thus, the fishing trip in the fog.

He figured he had about fifteen more minutes before he had to get off the river.

Shouldn’t really be here though, it being the entrance to White Creek and all. Everybody stayed away from this place. Haunted, holy, whatever one wanted to call it, most folks stayed away. Unexplainable things sometimes happened here. Bad things.

Not that he was afraid, mind you. Grandma Swift Deer, his foster-mama in the absence

of his real mother, God rest both, told him that memories as old as the hills clung to the land and water around here. Earth and good old H2O were not ordinary in this part of the country. The water and the land—they remembered. Not like people do with thoughts that dart about like fireflies on a hot summer night. No sir. The memories were etched into the very landscape by Mother Nature, a sculptor with the patience of time. Each raindrop, every

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