Authors: Duane L. Ostler
Tags: #adventure, #mystery, #fantasy, #inventions, #good versus evil, #deception and intrigue
GEORGE BROWN AND THE PROTECTOR
by Duane L. Ostler
Copyright 2016 Duane L. Ostler
Book 1 in the 'Uth Stones' series.
All rights reserved. This book may not be reproduced,
copied or distributed without the express permission of the author.
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Cover art: Cosmic dust and gas known as "Mystic
Mountain" taken by NASA's Hubble Telescope.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
George Brown was
sitting on the bottom step of his back porch watching the stars
while rubbing DoorJam (his sister’s cat) behind the ears. It was a
warm, clear summer night, and the stars looked like shiny pebbles
that someone had scattered across a dark blue carpet. The world was
at peace and so were Doorjam and George, who both gazed sleepily up
at the night sky, basking in all of its silent glory.
And then it happened.
A brilliant star appeared, gliding slowly
across the night sky. Stretched out behind it as it came was an
amazing, impossible stream of purple polka dots, etched brightly
against the sky.
George rubbed his eyes. He thought he must be
seeing things. After all, falling stars might trail a great many
things in their wake, but he had never seen one leaving a trail of
purple polka dots.
But they were still there, trailing out
behind the glowing star like tire tracks in the snow. The polka
dots seemed to ripple as if they were in a stream of moving water,
fading gradually the farther they were from the star until they
eventually wavered out of sight.
The star was coming closer and getting
brighter, causing DoorJam to hiss and dart under the porch. George
sat transfixed, staring. The star was not moving fast like most
shooting stars, but seemed to be crawling along. The purple polka
dots stretched out behind it seemed to be getting brighter.
And then suddenly the star dropped straight
down like a bolt of lightning. It looked almost as if it was going
to hit George’s house, but instead disappeared behind a hill on the
outskirts of town and was gone. There was no noise at all when it
contacted earth. The purple polka dots all vanished, and the night
was again peaceful and still as if nothing had happened.
At this point most 12-year-old boys would
probably jump up and run into the house to tell everyone what they
had just seen. However, George did not move. He sat perfectly
still, continuing to stare at the black sky. Strangely, he wasn’t
frightened or overly excited at the star or the purple polka dots.
He was used to things like this happening.
Like the time when a little yellow bird had
suddenly started following him around everywhere he went—even the
bathroom. What was even more bizarre was that it was walking, not
flying. It even came into his classroom at school and sat on the
corner of his desk, staring at George until his teacher shooed it
out the window. The bird kept this up for 2 weeks before it
And last spring, during his science project
on rock crystals his fingernails had suddenly broken out in green
spots. The spots had lasted almost a week, changing slowly from
emerald green to orange before fading out altogether. (His teacher
had gotten very excited and happy, thinking that George had
contracted some deadly disease, and was disappointed that George
wouldn’t turn himself in for extensive examination and
Odd things like this had happened to George
ever since that dreaded night, one year ago, that his world had
changed—the night his father disappeared.
Somehow George knew that no one else had seen
the falling star with its trailing stream of purple polka dots.
There would be no bold headline in tomorrow’s paper about it.
Somehow, this was something just for him.
Finally, after a long time of staring at
where the star had been, George slowly stood up to go into the
house. He would tell his mother about the star and the polka dots,
even though he knew what her reaction would be. Like all the other
strange things that happened to him, she would just tell him he
must have been mistaken and then say that she had to peel some
potatoes for a casserole (even though they had just had dinner).
Then she would stand at the kitchen sink staring out the window
while whittling away at several unlucky potatoes until they were
the size of toothpicks. Deep down she knew that he was telling the
truth, even though she denied it each time. George’s father used to
have strange things happen to him too, which he would tell her
about. Before he disappeared.
DoorJam came out from under the porch and
followed George into the house. He was a smart enough cat to know
that after the potatoes were peeled to nothing, George’s mother
would sit in the chair by the fireplace and pet him for hours.
George sighed. It was times like these that he found himself
wishing he were a cat.
The next morning
after breakfast George got out his school backpack and filled it
with snacks and a canteen of water. His mother watched for a
moment, then said quietly, “Where are you going?”
“Oh, I just thought I’d ride my bike over to
McGee’s orchard and look around. Nothing much else to do.”
“This wouldn’t have anything to do with that
star you think you saw last night would it?” George noticed her
hand move involuntarily towards the potato peeler on the
George knew from past experience there was no
fooling his mother. “Well,” he said casually, “it did kind of look
like it went down over that way. But I also thought I’d climb a few
apple trees and steal a little fruit and get sick because they’re
green. You know, the normal stuff a boy is supposed to do in the
“George,” said his mother, worry clearly in
her voice, “why don’t you go over to Jason’s house and play
instead. Or go see Alex and Michael. I’ll bet they’re dying to see
“Jason’s on vacation the next two weeks,”
said George simply. “And Alex and Michael just got a new mini
George saw his mother cringe. He knew she
hated motorcycles as much as all the strange things that kept
happening to him.
“Well then, maybe Janet can go with you,” she
said. There was an immediate, forceful “I WILL NOT!” from the next
room. Then Janet, George’s 16-year-old sister appeared in the
doorway. “I planned to go swimming today with Sarah and Jillian.
There’s no way I’m going to spend the day in some orchard with
little weirdo!” She shot George a malevolent look.
George’s mother sighed. She knew when she was
beaten. “Well, at least take your cell phone with you,” she said as
Janet left the room. Then she added firmly, “and make sure you stay
in range so you can use it!”
Ever since George’s father had disappeared
the year before, his mother had insisted that he and Janet pack a
cell phone with them everywhere they went. She would try to call
them almost every hour—even if they were in school. It used to
annoy George’s lunchroom monitor no end (the lunchroom was the only
place he could have his phone on at school), especially since his
cell phone range to the tune of ‘You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound
“Sure mom,” said George, picking up his
backpack. “Don’t worry. I’ll be fine. It’s summer. What could go
Instead of answering, his mother clutched the
potato peeler in a death grip. Seeing his chance for another
rubdown, DoorJam jumped onto the counter and tried to paw the
peeler out of her hand.
“Bye mom,” called George as he hurriedly went
out the door. “Be back this afternoon.” Flipping his backpack on
his shoulder, he scooped up his bike from the front lawn and took
off, not daring to look back.
McGee’s orchard was on the outskirts of the
town of Bartletville, California, where George lived. It only took
him 10 minutes to get there, since Bartletville was not a very big
place. The trees in the orchard were full of little green apples
just as George had told his mother, but of course George didn’t eat
them. Instead, he circled the orchard, searching for any sign of a
He knew this was crazy. That star, or
whatever it was, probably fell hundreds or even thousands of miles
away, even though it had looked close last night. It was almost
guaranteed that he wouldn’t find it. Still, something inside him
told George that he needed to look, and if he did, he just might
George’s mother called on the cell phone when
he had only been gone for half an hour. Fortunately, he was still
in range even though the connection was a bit fuzzy. “George, are
you all right?” he heard his mother say in a static-ey voice.
“Sure, mom,” replied George. “I’m just riding
around the orchard. There’s no one around.”
“Well, stay off the state road,” said
George’s mother. “You know how fast people drive along there. And
don’t go traipsing off into the woods. I’m thinking now you
should’ve taken DoorJam with you.”
George cringed. He still had scars from the
last time he had taken DoorJam on his bike. “I’ll be o.k. mom,” he
said cheerfully. “Don’t worry. I’ll be home soon.”
George kept pedaling up and down the country
roads near the orchard, between groves of trees and fields of
alfalfa and potatoes, looking for any sign of the fallen star. The
sun was warm on his back, and the taste of the fresh, country air
made him feel good inside. Being out this way reminded him of the
time he and his dad had come out here to look for crystallized
rocks, like those he later used in his science project. They hadn’t
found any, but they had laughed and talked and shared a peanut
butter and tomato sandwich (his dad’s favorite) before coming home
Thinking about his dad made George suddenly
feel very alone. Maybe he should go home.
He was pedaling back toward town when
suddenly he stopped. He couldn’t have told anyone why. He just knew
he had to. He got off his bike and started walking across an empty
field. About halfway across, he stopped again.
Nothing moved. He couldn’t see anything. He
shook his head as if to clear away a fog. “This is silly,” he said
out loud. “I think I’ll go home.”
His legs paid no attention to what his mouth
was saying. Instead of turning and taking him back to his bike,
they carried him farther into the field. Suddenly he came upon a
shallow dip in the meadow that was not visible until you were up
And that is where he found what he was
Buried halfway in the dirt was a large, ugly,
greyish ball of rock, about three feet in diameter. It was
pock-marked and bumpy, as if it had been battered and slammed about
by a giant who was playing ping pong. On one side, a strange,
hook-like extension stuck out, about two feet long, pointed
curiously toward the north. Steam was rising from the dirt where
the ball had hit and skidded across the ground. The ball didn’t
look bright or impressive now, and there were no purple polka dots
As George stared at the ball, he shivered
even though it was a hot day. He couldn’t say why, but there was
something strange about the fallen star that made him feel uneasy.
He had thought he would be elated to find it, but now he wished he
hadn’t come at all.