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(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
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
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