“The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast,
and you miss all you are traveling for.”
- Mark Twain
We are all fools just in different areas. Folks claim as fact what only has been until now. But Now is eternal. It always changes.
The more one learns, the more he understands his ignorance.
Up to a point a person’s life is shaped by environment, heredity, and changes in the world about them.
Then there comes a time when it lies within their grasp to shape the clay of their life into the sort of thing they wish it to be.
Only the weak blame parents, their race, their times, lack of good fortune or the quirks of fate. Everyone has the power to say,
"This I am today. That I shall be tomorrow."
Take Sammy Clemens. Since he was born at the time of Hailey's Comet, he always studied the stars.
He never thought that here on the Sandwich Islands in this year 1866, he would be snatched by strange grey creatures from the night sky. Luckily, he was with me, Samuel McCord, the man with the blood of death in his veins, when it happened. Luckier, he was liked by my blood-brother, Elu.
Since Elu's mother was the world her own self, Elu's blending his blood with mine cursed him and me both. Elu lived in a limbo from which he could view the world of his birth only from mirrors.
But if he decided to bear the pain, he could bring me into that limbo and plop me somewhere else, miles away, that had a reflective surface to it. Luckiest of all, those grey critters loved their shiny surfaces -- almost as much as they loved their damned nasal and anal probes.
So here I was in their star sailing craft, just outside the room where those maggots were doing their darnest to insert a probe where it had no right being. Sammy was just a'squawking: "Don't blame me, fish face. You went and scared the poop out of me and then commensed to pull off my drawers. You got no one to blame but yourself for what you found there." He hollared, "Hey! Only my wife can touch me there! What is that thing you're trying to jab into my personals anyway?" Sammy cackled, "I have you know that folks near the world over have called me a hard-ass.
And I want you to know that I come by that title honest -- or as honest as I get most things in life." Sammy growled, "Fish hands, you're a'going to have to do better than that to get that metal gizmo in my personals!
Hey, did I ever tell you about Sarah Wilkerson." I groaned silently. Not Sarah Wilkerson again. Sammy laughed brittle from the effort of keeping his personals personal.
“Sarah Wilkerson–good creature, she was–one of
the likeliest heifers that was ever raised in old Stoddard, everybody said that
I started to feel sorry for the grey aliens as Sammy gritted his teeth and kept on. "She was a good soul. She had a glass eye and used to lend it to
old Miss Wagner, that hadn’t any, to receive company in.
Now, wasn’t that nice of her? She had to keep pretending to scratch her
temple the whole time it was gone.”
I heard a buzzing which flowed into my head as words. Having the blood of Death in my veins there were no strange tongues since Death knows every language: 'Can I kill this one?'
Sammy's voice was getting pinched. “Now, that glass eye wasn’t big enough. And when Miss Wagner wasn’t noticing,
would get twisted around in the socket, and look up, maybe, or out to one side,
and every which way, while t’ other one was looking as straight ahead as a
He laughed. "Ha! Thought you had it in me, didn't you? Where was I? Oh -- that eye:
Grown people didn’t mind it much, but it most
always made the children cry. And truth
to tell it was sort of scary.”
I heard a clatter as the probe was dropped and a grey alien snapped, "We are trying to put it into the wrong end!"
Sammy cackled with glee. “Miss Wagner tried packing it in raw cotton, but it wouldn’t work.
cotton would get loose and stick out and look so kind of awful that the
children couldn’t stand it no way.”
The buzzing got shrill as Sammy continued, "She was always dropping that glass eye out, and turning up her old
dead-light on the company empty,
and making them uncomfortable, because she
never could tell when it hopped out, being blind on that side, you see.”
The probe clattered on the floor again, and I decided to have mercy on the grey aliens. I stepped around the corner and shot all three of them dead.
I ripped the metal restraints from Sammy as he leapt off the table, hurriedly putting back on his pants.
"Tarnation, Captain Sam. I was running out of story there. You got a plan to get us off this danged vessel?"
I smiled crooked, "Since I've shot the whole crew I guess we'll just have to crash."
I smiled wider. "It's April first, Sammy. Got you!"
Holding his nose at the stench of Sammy's loaded drawers, Elu snatched my friend into the reflective surface of the wall, bringing him to safety.
The vessel lurched, sending me to the shiny floor. Smoke and sparks started to fly from lighted panels along the wall.
The air grew hot, and my head fogged. Long, long seconds went by, and Elu was nowhere to be seen.
"Elu!" I roared. "This is not funny!"
His strong bronze fingers dug into my shoulders and whipped me into the mists of the mirror world in which he lived. "I thought so!"