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The Scroll


Harry Buschman

(The following flash fiction was written following the Yankees loss to
the Boston Red Sox in four straight games in the 2004 World Series.)

George C. Cartwright, Adjunct Professor of Sociology and Foreign Languages at Yale University was brought in D.O.A. to the Jodhpur Cardiac Hospital this evening at 18:00 hours. Cause of death as yet is undetermined. Authorities at the school and next of kin have been notified.


Above the line of low trees that grew at the base of the foothills, rose the towering peaks of the Kurghis.

Professor Cartwright turned back to look at them and saw the snow building up on the very mountain he left only yesterday. They would soon be covered in a mantle of white and all possibility of returning to see the Shaman would be out of the question until next summer.

“But I can solve this problem, and all other worldy problems without him now!” His braggadocio would come back to haunt him.

The first item of business, of course, was to get back to the United States. He had to prove to everyone at Yale that he really did get to the Kurghis, a dying city deep in the frozen mountains of the Himalayas ruled by a Shaman more than 400 years old.

The Shaman knew everything. Every item of the past as well as every item of today and the future as well. All this without contact with the outside world - without a book - without consultation. It was all written in the scroll, he said. He must have been right -- how could he know the things he did otherwise? What will he do now without it? Professor Cartwright had it, right there in his sack. He stole it from the Shaman just before he left and he laughed at the time because he wondered if stealing it had been foreseen, and if it had why wasn’t he stopped at the massive iron gates before he left?

“Well, it’s too late now,” he said to himself. “I’ve got the scroll, and what a triumph! My name will be on everyone’s tongue! I’ll have the world at my feet! To know what tomorrow brings before tomorrow comes!”

He put in a call to Yale University when he reached the tavern in the little town of Jodhpur, and while waiting for the call to go through he ordered a double brandy. To reassure himself of the existence of the scroll, the Professor reached into his sack.

It was when he unrolled the ancient parchment that he collapsed on the table.

No one in the tavern or the hospital in Jodhpur knew the ancient language of the Kurghis in either written or spoken form, so the last message inscribed on the scroll was incomprehensible to everyone except Professor Cartwright ... it read:

“The stars foretell the New York Yankees winning four straight over the Boston Red Sox, the last game being won in Boston by at least six runs.”

the end

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