The Legend of Sam Miracle, Outlaws of Time, Book One
by N. D. Wilson
INTRODUCTION—THE LEGEND OF SAM MIRACLE
As you may or may not realize, I’ve been working through many of the suggested authors recommended by visitors in their response to the post So Many Good Writers, So Many Good Books. In some cases I’m featuring the recommended book, but in many cases, like today, I introduce one of the author’s more recent works.
If you aren’t familiar with N. D. Wilson, he writes middle grade fiction for the general market.
Sam Miracle has always been different. An orphan who lives in a group home, he often blanks out and finds himself in vivid dreams that seem almost real. Sam is also disabled; his arms were shattered in an accident he cannot remember, and though they are healed, they are immobile and painful at times. He soon discovers he is part of a small group of people who can walk through time and that he has lived the same life over and over—dashing around time trying to live long enough to stop an evil outlaw who wants to end the world. Now the time of the final conflict approaches, and with the help of another foster kid, a girl named Glory, and his companion through time, Father Tiempo, Sam sets out to meet his destiny.
THE LEGEND OF SAM MIRACLE — EXCERPT
There’s a kind of heat that can peel lizards, even in the shade. Heat that sends every creeping thing slithering under rocks and into graves, heat that floats the crows up and away to find whatever cool whispers of mountain air might be trickling in over the painted mesas.
If you’ve ever felt heat like that, you already know that the only thing a person can do is go looking for a basement and a cold drink or an air conditioner with enough courage to rattle and hum and battle the sun without so much as a minute to rest.
On those days, days like today, when even the cacti would be crying in pain if it didn’t mean losing their water, the boys of St. Anthony of the Desert Destitute Youth Ranch were actually happy. Because when the sun was in a killing mood, there could be no chores. And when there were a dozen boys and no chores, they would pour into the Commons—the mostly empty concrete-and-cinder-block building where they did their reading and resting and recreating when the sun was down or deadly. Then Mr. Spalding would unlock the Ping-Pong table and turn on the old pinball machine and fill two coolers with ice and Cokes and open the little library of paperback westerns and science fiction comics. And if Mrs. Spalding was feeling pleasant, they would even allow a little music on the old record player.
At SADDYR, those boys hoped for 115 degrees in the shade like most kids hope for Christmas. And if you lived there, you would, too.
Twelve-year-old Sam Miracle was tipped back in an orange plastic chair, perched as still as a stone. His desert-blond hair had been chopped short, but it was fighting back. He had a colony of freckles scattered across his lean sun0dirty cheeks that looked like little brown ants who had finally given up trying to keep his face clean. Stare at Sam for longer than a few moments and you’ll see that he might be young, and his skin might be smooth, and his teeth even whiter than the sun could make them, but he didn’t seem young. Sam was more like something new made from very old things. Timber fence posts sunbaked to rot. Tangles of barbed wire more rust than steel. Boots cracked and dry and missing soles. Things once useful now with usefulness lost. He didn’t look like those things . . . he felt like them.
“Sam!” The name had bounced all around the rocks thrown by the voices of eleven different boys searching eleven distant places.
Sam hadn’t felt himself fall in the heat. But his head had ached when he’d finally opened his eyes and the bright sky above him had come into focus. And in the sky, dark wings, descending in a circle. Three pairs. Black.
The scabby bald birds had shrieked and hopped as they’d touched down on the boulders around him, assessing his weakness.
A flying stone had sent the biggest bird tumbling in a squalling, flapping cloud of feathers. And then a long boy with broken glasses had hurled a boulder and kicked the next bird all the way out of Sam’s range of vision.
“Here!” he had shouted. “He’s here!”
Ten more boys had followed, urgent and angry and lofting stones after the disappointed vultures. Sam had been lifted and carried back to the ranch, where he’d been propped in his orange chair and filled with fluids. And after much scowling and irritation, Mr. Spalding had declared the workday over due to heat.
Sam rolled his neck. There was a little patch of dried blood in his hair from today’s collapse out on SADDYR land. And it itched. Like crazy.
Sam’s plastic chair was just beneath a badly painted mural made up of St. Anthony of the Desert—a bald man with a beard that looked more like a waterfall of noodles—alongside the giant words that Mr. Spalding though were inspirational.
S is for SAINTLY!
A is for ACTIVE!
D is for DILIGENT!
D is for DETERMINED!
Y is for YESNESS!
R is for RESPONSIBLE!
Sam turned his head to the side and ground the itchy scab spot against “R is for RESPONSIBLE!
All Around Sam, the little rectangular Commons echoed with the violence of Ping-Pong, laughter, and the blip and ring of the pinball machine. Two of the boys were rotating through Mr. Spalding’s antique disco records—squeaking one quick beat to a stop only to start up another identical one.
“Sam?” Peter Eagle, the tallest and toughest of all the Ranch Brothers, pointed his Ping-Pong paddle at Sam from across the room. His dark hair looked like midnight polished into glass, and his eyes were volcanic even when he was happy. “Need a drink? More water? A Coke?”
Sam shook his head just as Peter spun away, smacking his opponent’s stealth serve back across the net without looking.
“Ha!” Peter slapped his chest with his paddle. “Nothing sneaks past this! Nothing!”
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AUTHOR BIO—N. D. Wilson
N. D. Wilson is the author of Leepike Ridge, a children’s adventure story, and 100 Cupboards, the first installment in a multi-world fantasy series. He enjoys high winds, milk, and night-time. He received his Masters degree from Saint John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, is the managing editor of Credenda/Agenda magazine and is also a Fellow of Literature at New Saint Andrews College. His writing has appeared in Books & Culture, The Chattahoochee Review, and Esquire