Amber Sand’s approaching postal delivery felt to her like a “Dear John” letter and a suspicious white-substance filled envelope, wrapped in one. She watched through the drapes as the carrier lumbered forward, toward her front door, nonchalant and absent of distress, like a true co-conspirator, playing out his part, nicely, with a poker-face envious of the high-stakes rollers in Vegas. But the problem, clearly so: it was 2029 and Vegas had yet to be re-established. Amber had fallen victim to a time warp, a rupture between worlds where, in one world, time suggested there was no such thing as time travel while the other world boasted “told you so”.
Now Amber bent down, big-bellied, and pulled on the local periodical shoved halfway through the mail slot and read the shutter-speed headline:
Fourth of July Johnson & Johnson Company Man o’ War of the World’s Greatest Loverboy’s Mike Reno, Nevada Smith and Wesson Corn Oil of Olay Soapbox Derby Hat In Hand Over Your Money
Amber found the news both sad and refreshing but then realized, after turning the page, she recognized the photo on page two, a mirror image of the girl with curious green eyes and thick raven hair, while realizing that today was, quite possibly, the Fourth of July. She listened for the sounds of fireworks, barking dogs and the swiftness of the punching darkness. But such things did not occur as it was still early morning. While someone ate a good breakfast, Amber stepped over the crack in the floor where a light shone with an echo of forever-speed and glare.
“If you can hear me, Master,” Amber spoke, trembling, “know this: I am not afraid.”
As soon as the words ascended from her lips, now roiling in a colorful cloud of disharmony near the ceiling, Amber realized at once that she was, indeed, not afraid. A pentagonal pyramid stood tall in the corner, over-flowing with misery, while a fat cat, black with red-speckled ears, beat it’s tail against the hardwood floor where it lay and told Amber, “Shut up, will you already?”
“Why should she?” asked the two-headed dog, a family fixture for more generations than could be recalled, leaning against a spinster-aunt clock with hands the size of pitchforks and a weeping, number-pocked face only Father Time could love.
“Go argue elsewhere, you two,” demanded Amber. ” I may be too young for today’s events but I know I’m much too old to listen to old foes bickering in a pool of sediment and malaise.”
“Bitchy,” whispered the cat to the two-headed dog.
“Wanton,” the dog suggested.
Amber returned to the newspaper headline and began to empathize with the weary-looking “&”. She saw how it stood all alone, between those mischievous Johnsons. Even the little “o” had the assistance of the ” ’ “, she noted. And then she spoke softly to the “&”. “We are alike, in name, shape and burden. But you may rest now. And thank you for the news.”
All alone as well, Amber then lay down for only the second time in her short life, resting and relaxing for but a moment. Hours passed and by the time the screaming ended and the crying began, she found herself no longer alone, in the dark and absent of soul. The flashy explosions outside from nine days earlier and the lowing of the animals inside filled her ears with noises and her eyes with unseen trials from the future. She was planning on a long one with someone known to be at times charming, but mostly not very kind.