WINDOW BEYOND THE WORLD, CHAPTER 4, THE WINDOW

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 booksellers including Amazon.com.

WINDOW BEYOND THE WORLD, CHAPTER 4, THE WINDOW

The next time Lance took the eastbound trip on Rim of the World, he felt sure
he would have another encounter. He even left home earlier than usual to
allow time for it.

And, yes, the Firebird was parked in the turnout, in the same spot as before.
Maybe they just never left, Lance thought with a rueful chuckle.

There was no sign of them, however. Lance parked next to the Firebird, got
out, glanced inside the car, through its window. The car was locked.

He walked to the little picnic area. It was empty.

Feeling a little confused, he explored the heavily wooded perimeter of the
picnic ground. Almost on the opposite side he discovered an old trailhead,
obscured by a prodigious stand of chest-high bracken ferns. Pushing his way
through, he found himself standing on a distinct, though heavily overgrown
path. It climbed sharply for maybe 50 yards to a round clearing of blue sky,
surrounded by dense foliage.

The scene was familiar in some way, unpleasant. Lance decided there was no
time, really, to press on. He returned to his car, and drove to work.

He felt compelled, though, to make the trip again soon. And he did, later
the same week, and this time Art was standing next to the Firebird, as if waiting
for him. There was no sign of Gwen.

Art!

Hey, guy! The two hugged.

Lets go for a walk. Here, want a little sip? Art dug a flask of Jim Beam
from the front pocket of his jeans.

Cant. Work day again. Weve got to do this some time when Ive got the
day off or something.

We will, Art said, taking a hit off the flask.

The two made their way to the trailhead at the back of the picnic ground
and pushed their way past the ferns. Art, who was leading, pointed up toward
the round clearing at the top of the trails first short stretch. He turned and
flashed Lance a sly smile. Remember when we were in Africa?

That was it. Of course. It looked exactly like that spot on that other trail, the
one the two brothers had dubbed the Window Beyond the World.

It was a pretty image, a circle of sky at the end of a tunnel of dark woods, but
it stood for something ominous. Something terrible had happened there. This
was a tunnel leading backward in time to some doom. Years of alcohol abuse
had almost drowned out the image, the memory, but now, suddenly, it was
struggling back to the surface. An image of Art falling, Art screaming. It was
the image of his dreams. But it wasnt real. Was it?

Lance felt a sudden rush of anxiety. He couldnt move. Listen, he said.
Im not going to have time to do this. Some other time, okay? I just cant do it
right now.

Art gave him a searching look. You sure? he said.

Lance nodded.

Art took another pull on the flask of whiskey, shrugged, then turned and
proceeded up the hill toward the Window Beyond the World.

Lance, feeling sick, or maybe just ashamed, or afraid, or maybe a thousand
other things, all of them unpleasant, returned to his car and drove to work.
More slowly than usual, as it turned out.

It was an especially stressful trip. He ended up being late for work which
was not good, for a man in his position.

Who knows? He might never have gone east on Rim of the World again. Or
not for a long, long time.

But then he met Naomi Lake.

NEXT: CHAPTER 5, NAOMI LAKE.

“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.