Today, Tracy Krauss is sharing an excerpt of her latest Astraea Press novel, Wind Over Marshdale.
Marshdale. Just a small farming community where nothing special happens. A perfect place to start over… or get lost. There is definitely more to this prairie town than meets the eye. Once the meeting place of aboriginal tribes for miles around, some say the land itself was cursed because of the people’s sin. But its history goes farther back than even indigenous oral history can trace and there is still a direct descendant who has been handed the truth, like it or not. Exactly what ties does the land have to the medicine of the ancients? Is it cursed, or is it all superstition?
Wind Over Marshdale is the story of the struggles within a small prairie town when hidden evil and ancient medicine resurface. Caught in the crossfire, new teacher Rachel Bosworth finds herself in love with two men at once. First, there is Thomas Lone Wolf, a Cree man whose blood lines run back to the days of ancient medicine but who has chosen to live as a Christian and faces prejudice from every side as he tries to expose the truth. Then there is Con McKinley, local farmer who has to face some demons of his own. Add to the mix a wayward minister seeking anonymity in the obscurity of the town; eccentric twin sisters – one heavily involved in the occult and the other a fundamentalist zealot; and a host of other ‘characters’ whose lives weave together unexpectedly for the final climax. This suspenseful story is one of human frailty – prejudice, cowardice, jealousy, and greed – magnified by powerful spiritual forces that have remained hidden for centuries, only to be broken in triumph by grace.
Thomas shot up in bed, panting. The T-shirt he wore clung
to his body with sweat. It was not the first time the dream had
come to wake him.
He took a deep breath, disentangled himself from the sheets,
and rose to get a drink of water. No point going back to bed now.
He wouldn’t sleep anyway. He padded down the narrow hallway,
passing the half closed doorways that sheltered his sleeping
children. Ducking to avoid hitting his head as he entered the tiny
kitchen, he paused for a moment to look at the expanse of
landscape beyond the window. Mostly flat, with a rise of gently
rolling hills in the distance, it was clothed with a carpet of rippling
grass except for the odd patch of dry fallow. Just like in the dream.
The early morning sunrise was just beginning to filter in,
reaching to shed some light in the shadowed corners of the room.
Thomas had managed to rent a house near the outskirts of town.
Correction. It wasn’t exactly a house. The realtor called it a “double
wide.” Okay, it was a trailer, but it was the only property for rent in
Marshdale at the moment. At least, that was what the realtor had
said. It wasn’t the nicest place—rather dingy if truth be told—and it
was farther from school than Thomas would have liked, but it was
still within walking distance. Better than the overcrowded and
dilapidated homes he’d been used to as a child.
But that was another time. Another life.
He was here now, for better or for worse, and the people of
Marshdale would just have to accept it. He was Thomas Lone Wolf,
proud of his Cree ancestry, and determined to do something about
it. As a community liaison, he’d worked with dozens of indigenous
groups all over the western provinces trying to set up business
propositions. This time was different, though. It was personal.
With practiced fingers he undid his nighttime braid and
shook out his hair, which fell well past his shoulders. Even at forty,
there was no sign of graying or hair loss. It was straight, coarse and
black, just like his ancestors’ – he was the perfect picture of a Cree
Now that he was awake, he allowed himself to replay the
dream in his mind – at least the parts that he could remember. Like
most dreams, the initial clarity soon faded after just a few waking
moments. There were buffalo – always buffalo. And they seemed
bent on suicide, careening to their deaths before he could stop them
He was going to start writing it down. The theme was too
familiar; the mixture of fear and power too real. Some people said
you dreamt in black and white. Thomas wasn’t sure about that. He
knew there was blood in his dream – and lots of it. The redness of it
stood out in stark contrast to the muted prairie landscape. And the
stench. That unmistakable metallic scent filled his nostrils to such a
degree that he could almost swear he still smelled it. Almost. But
that was ridiculous and he pushed the memory of the coagulating
stains out of his mind.
With a sigh he turned back to the cupboards and started
readying the coffee. It would soon be time to wake the children and
get ready for work himself. Another grueling day of lobbying for
something that should be rightfully his to begin with. Reality didn’t
stop for dreams.
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