Halycon Sage was out behind the town messing around with a large brush pile which could make excellent kindling on the one hand or present an uncontrolled fire danger on the other. He was also thinking. He thought it odd that no visitors had arrived in town since the end of civilization several months ago. While everything was pretty much banjaxed, there were still roads, horses and bicycles, and the town, though fairly remote, was not that remote.

Either he was getting turning psychic in his late middle age or good old serendipity was at work, a ridiculous word if ever there was one*. Because just as he was noting the absence of visitors, he saw a wagon coming up the road. A small, dilapidated, one-horse kind of wagon, something from the Hollywood wagon trains he’d seen in his youth, but much less impressive. As far as he could discern in the fading light, it was being towed by a dark brown mule, and there was no visible driver.

The wagon pulled even with him as he stood unobserved behind the brush pile. He could still not see any driver. Squinting, he was able to make out the picture on the wagonside, fancy scroll work with lettering in bright colors.

“Cougar and Dark Pandemonium Shadow Show,” it said.

“Huh,” said Halycon Sage, making the sound generally transcribed by 1950’s screenwriters as “Ugh.” “This can’t be good.”  Sage was a reader, even more so since he had teamed up with Ruby, and he knew what the words implied.


*Though a quick consult with his dictionary told him that serendipity was supposed to be fortunate, so the word might not apply.