Welcome To Stone Lake

— Stone Lake is a property that includes a steep hill where logging trails were the only way vehicles could hope to reach the summit.

Kaeren

– Kaeren of Stone Lake – Parallel Earth designation =   { E/NorAm/US+Can+Mex # (-07) } –

— Kaeren O’Neill’s protective uncle George owned the property. When she was a bright-eyed five year old he’d promised Kaeren it would be hers some day.

— But George disappeared and everybody said he ran off with his secretary. Since uncle George worked for the US Government a lot of scary men came around and asked a lot of scary questions.

— But that was ten years ago.

— And a farmer named MacPhearson { Uncle George’s best friend since childhood } received a letter from Uncle George’s attorney explaining that if George disappeared for more than five years, Farmer MacPhearson should sell the property and make sure the money from that sale went to Kaeren so her alcoholic mother couldn’t drink it all up – The plan was that money would pay for Kaeren’s University Education.

— But nobody seemed to want to buy that property, heck, most of it was nearly vertical.

— And when an out of towner was interested, Farmer MacPhearson drove the potential buyer up the steep and partially washed out logging trail in a four-wheel drive vehicle that had been ‘customized’ for use as a farm utility vehicle. MacPhearson’s son had hacked off the back half of the once Station Wagon-like Power Wagon, put down a sheet of marine plywood and built a low wooden wall and working wooden tailgate and presented his father with one of the world’s ugliest hybrid pickup trucks. But Farmer MacPhearson thought it looked just dandy. All it had to do was drive forward and back, turn corners when he turned the steering wheel and stop when he put on the brakes. And that it did, in spades. And it was real good at carrying all kinds of stuff around his farm.

— Farmer MacPhearson had spent many hours in his youth, hunting with Uncle George – all over that hill. When George got his US Government job, the loggers thought they could squeeze him for big bucks, told him he needed to pay them quite a bit to cover their insurance and operating costs. But George wasn’t stupid. He knew how much the loggers were overcharging for the wood they ‘harvested’ from his land. And he basically told the loggers they should try one or two impossible sex acts with themselves and told his friends on the local police force to make sure the idiot loggers stayed the heck away while he was off working on classified government projects.

— But when the logging trail ended at a mound of debris, Farmer MacPhearson scratched his head, shrugged and told the young potential buyer, “I guess this is where we get out and look around a bit -”

— And when the two of them walked around the pile of twisted tree trunks and mud and who knows what else – Farmer MacPhearson gasped at what he remembered should be a hilly landscape full of old growth trees and trails left by deer and moose and smaller animals, and a gurgling brook that ran through those hills and over a couple small waterfalls – and saw only a nearly level area of exposed – not quite weathered smooth – stone. All the farmer could say was, “Well, that’s different -”

— As the summer afternoon sun blazed overhead, and heated that stone – several areas of almost spooky – mirage like – waving areas of heated air rose above the uneven ground.

— The prospective buyer – a young man only a couple of years older than Kaeren – smiled, “Looks like a stone lake -” and that name stuck.

— Like almost everyone she knew, Kaeren believed she lived in the only Reality there was – The planet she knew as “Earth” – And it never occurred to her that there could be anything like a parallel world —

But then One Morning – She Woke Up To Find:

Eslyn in Mer city

– A completely unexpected landscape –

— She thought she was still asleep and dreaming.

Midnight in the desert.

– But the people in this ‘dream world’ knew she was there and responded to her presence. –

— She could taste the air. She could feel the wind. The sand in this strange place smelled like wood smoke.

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