Collector Cards

The air was crisp and clean with a blue sky overhead; Stephenson’s first impression was that he didn’t arrive in Lockport. Normally, the air in the city was sooty and dark. As he looked about, it appeared that he was in the middle of the dolomite prairie to the west of the city. Looking to the south, he saw the road that led to Lockport, but he saw that it ran to an unfamiliar bridge crossing the Des Plaines River. In fact, the entire river seemed to be misplaced. Looking east, he could make out the tops of buildings above the tree line. A church, that looked like St. Dennis, stood tall but a little too tall; a rather large, golden steeple now sat atop its high tower.
Well, that’s new he thought. He made his way to the river bank where he thought he saw a man. While still some distance out, Stephenson called, “Hello there! Is this Lockport?”
The man, who looked to be setting a fur trap, stood up and stared at Stephenson without answering. “I said, friend,” he repeated. “Is this Lockport?”
“Jim?” Answered the man, who was still staring back in astonishment. Walking closer, Stephenson saw that it was Joseph Standing Bear, a man he knew, though he looked a little grayer (and a little rounder) then he should have been. “Yes, that’s right,” said Jim. “Standing Bear? Is that you?”
“Who else?” He laughed lifting the empty muskrat trap to his shoulder. “I haven’t seen you in years. Where have you been?” Then with some incredulity, added, “You haven’t aged a day.”
Stephenson braced himself for the obvious news. “Look, I have a strange question for you. What year is it?”
“1907.” Standing Bear watched Jim’s face with great interest as it was clear now that something was afoot. Then, looking about as if for someone else he added, “Did you come back alone?”
“Yes,” said Stephenson. But, as the two men walked back into Lockport, Jim felt that same sense of watchfulness and dread he had at the Chrono Keepers’ compound.