WINDOW BEYOND THE WORLD, CHAPTER 1, FIRST GLANCE

Enjoy “Window Beyond the World,” a supernatural thriller set in the Southern California mountains. The novel is being serialized here in weekly installments. The co-authors are Sun columnist John Weeks, writing under his full name John Howard Weeks, and William S. Thomas, former Sunday Editor of The Sun.

A new chapter will be posted each Friday. There are 37 chapters in all. This free online edition is somewhat abridged for language and adult situations. For those who wish to read ahead, and enjoy the entire unabridged novel, it is available now in book form.

“Window Beyond the World” (iUniverse, $14.95), by John Howard Weeks and William S. Thomas, can be ordered from local bookstores or from online book sellers including Amazon.com.

WINDOW BEYOND THE WORLD, CHAPTER 1, FIRST GLANCE

The first time Lance Segundo saw his brother, and his brother’s long-dead wife, he was able to dismiss it as a trick of the eye. He was driving down the mountain and suddenly, around a sharp curve of the road, there was his brother’s car, coming the other way.

It was his brother’s car, all right. Pontiac Firebird, gold and dirty, early ’70s, with that gaudy bird decal emblazoned on the hood. It was a pretty hard car to miss, especially in the year 2003.

The car was the first thing he saw. The second thing was that his brother Art was behind the wheel, and Art’s wife Gwen was in the passenger seat. It was only a glimpse, but it was startling, thrilling, and it sent a wave of gooseflesh across his arms. In fact, his brother was only two years younger than he was, almost a copy of himself, but this was the bushy-haired kid of 25 years ago. And the girl at his side was unmistakably Gwen, with her wide smile and all that curly blond hair pulled back loosely in a ponytail.

But of course it wasn’t really them. He hadn’t seen Art for years. They had been thoroughly estranged. Lance couldn’t remember why. There were a lot of things Lance couldn’t remember. He knew Art didn’t have that car anymore, though. And Art didn’t live around here anymore. And he wasn’t 20 anymore. And that sure wasn’t Gwen. Gwen had killed herself in 1985.

The third thing he saw, only it didn’t register for a few moments, was that the Firebird’s turn signal was on, indicating that the driver was intending to pull into the turnout at that curve.

Briefly, Lance thought about looking for the next turnout himself, and going back to investigate, to reassure himself that he hadn’t been seeing things. Or, rather, that he had been seeing things.

It would just be some young couple in an old Firebird. Big deal. There probably were thousands of old Firebirds still on the road, and probably hundreds of gold ones. And how many black-haired guys and blond-haired women? Millions? Billions? He had seen them only for a second. If he went back, he’d see two strangers getting out of their car. They wouldn’t look a thing like Art and Gwen. Not up close.

It might be worth a chuckle.

He didn’t turn around, though. There was no convenient turnout. And he was running late.

The moment passed. But he enjoyed the chuckle anyway, without the bother of checking it out. What was there to check out? It was just one of those weird things. You think you see a familiar face, you get all charged up, maybe you even shout, wave, make a fool of yourself, and then it turns out to be an “Oops, sorry, thought you were someone else.” Happens all the time.

Lance forgot all about it.

NEXT: CHAPTER 2, RIM OF THE WORLD.

“Window Beyond the World” (iUniverse, $14.95), by John Howard Weeks and William S. Thomas, can be ordered from local bookstores or from online booksellers including Amazon.com.