Short Stories

Fender’s Ferry Road


The words jumped unbidden into my mind as I watched the girl disappear on my Windjammer. Somehow, somewhere, in the deep recesses of my mind, I knew I was in deep trouble, but everything appeared perfectly normal from all outward appearances. It would be some time before I discovered the true nature of my prison.

Turning away from the vacant landscape into which the girl had vanished. I faced the house that was inadvertently responsible for my situation. A table on the verandah was set with some iced tea and freshly cut lemon the girl had offered before I went for a swim in her waterfall. I could see beads of condensation running down the outside of the glass, making the drink look cool and refreshing, but my throat was constricted by fear, and the drink went untouched. I picked up the note she had invited me to read while she took my Kawasaki for a spin, and with the first line, I knew my hunch was accurate.  She caught me in a trap, possibly forever.

You are now a Tuck.   This note will explain all.  I’m sorry.

This whole experience started so innocently.  My wife and I are, or I guess I should say were, moving to Redding, California.  We’ve been to the area several times, looking at houses and ranches, trying to find the perfect place.  There were several that caught our attention, but none that were just precisely our dream house. While we continued our search, our friend Ric invited us to share his new house in Redding, which was temporarily vacant. So we moved in last week with only the essentials necessary for reasonable living, such as my wife’s cat and, of course, my motorcycle.

I have, or to be more accurate, I had a Kawasaki Windjammer. The bike fits me perfectly. I’m too young to quit riding but too old to drive the road warrior bikes. My bones and joints complain if I get on one of those loud-sounding, stiff riding, vibrating monsters, and dirt bikes are now a bore.  The Jammer is quiet, soft, and easy riding.   A perfect way for me to unwind.

During one of the many afternoons we had spent looking at new homes with Scott, our Realtor, he pointed out a little-used road named Fenders Ferry Road in the country off California State Highway 299. He assured us that this was a terrific drive that circled one half of Lake Shasta, eventually joining Interstate 5. It sounded like the ideal road to get lost on for a couple of hours, and for several days I had been looking forward to exploring it on my bike. It’s springtime in Shasta County, and there isn’t a prettier place in the world this time of year.

This morning the sky was brilliant. Sunlight lit up dew drops, blanketing the trees like miniature diamond ornaments so that the whole mountain was covered in bright rainbow-colored flashes. The air smelled fresh and clean with a hint of pine. Wildflowers covered the hillside in a multi-colored blanket of exquisite beauty, making a perfect contrast to the large, newly leafed oak and ancient pines. As I sat drinking coffee with my wife on the back deck of Ric’s house, I knew that this was the perfect day to explore Fenders Ferry Road.  My wife wanted to explore the town’s shops instead of looking at more countryside, leaving me free to go out alone and play on my bike for the next few hours.

It is a beautiful drive. After turning off Highway 299, I stopped and took off my helmet. The day was just too beautiful and the air too sweet to spend it beneath a plastic bubble. I figured there wouldn’t be any police on this back road, and if I was wrong, I couldn’t see how anybody could give tickets on such a perfect day.

Wildflowers were blooming everywhere. Lupine, bluebells, and yellow jackets covered the ground, intermingling with a forest of green grass and tall trees. Digger and sugar pines shared the landscape with mountain oak and scattered manzanita. The back road I was traveling threaded its way around and between mountains, over and along small streams, plus every once in a while providing a spectacular view of Mount Shasta or Mount Lassen and sometimes both. You could easily claim that this is one of the most beautiful drives in America, and on this day, it would be a claim no one could dispute.

I was on the road maybe twenty minutes feeling the wind rush by, experiencing the gentle warmth of morning sun, breathing in the freshness of clean sweet flower-scented air, and marveling at the spectacular beauty through which I was riding when a small, hand-lettered sign off in the distance caught my attention.


There weren’t any houses visible. There wasn’t even a road or driveway. Just the sign, 4 SALE, planted in the ground at a slight angle about one hundred feet off the road to the right. I stopped the bike and looked around.

The sign, which looked ancient, was in a small shallow valley between two gently sloping pine-covered hills.  The ground was smooth and firm enough to support my heavy motorbike, so I drove down the valley towards the sign to see if anything was beyond in the distance.

Driving down that valley felt kind of weird, although I didn’t pick up on the feeling the way one might typically. It was such a spectacularly gorgeous day that my senses were probably in overload.  Looking back on it now, I can see that all of my alarms were going off, but being lost in a jumble of new sights and fresh experiences, there wasn’t anybody home to pick up the signals.

It reminded me of when I was a child walking down the railroad tracks that ran by our ranch. Looking down the tracks in the distance, they merged into a single way, and if you looked hard, they disappeared into a black hole.  That’s what driving down this valley was like. The sign was visible in the distance into which everything converged.  The mountains, the valley, everything disappeared into a black hole in the distance. I was too busy looking at the scenery to notice until the last minute as the sign flashed by, and I drove right through.

I wasn’t sure what happened. No strange sounds or weird feelings.   Just suddenly, my vision became very fractured, forcing me to stop.  It’s like I suddenly found myself in a room full of broken-cut glass mirrors with beveled edges. I saw hundreds of images, but none of them clearly. There seemed to be several people, men and women, and many houses, each with a different look. The landscape behind the people and surrounding the homes also seemed to vary from seascape to mountain scape to desert. Although there were literally hundreds of images, the intersecting lines and overlays made them all seem disjointed and unreal. I couldn’t focus on any one image or get a single clear view of any person or object.

After shaking my head and rubbing my eyes, I looked up again, and the scene was stable, as though my earlier vision had never existed.

There, in a magnificent garden of flowers, only a few feet ahead, stood one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen. Long blond hair cascaded around an angelic face with dark eyebrows framing bright sky-blue eyes. Her skin looked like the cream that rose to the top of my mother’s milk bottles.  Standing about five feet four inches and wearing white shorts with a pink halter top, she looked like a model posed for advertising sunscreen or something. I couldn’t figure out what. She just looked very, well… appealing.  Stunning might be a better description.

Behind her and the garden was my dream house. A rambling southwest design with lots of windows surrounded by big shady verandas.   A waterfall was visible in the background, making a distant, soft rumble.  Two snowcapped mountain peaks provided a backdrop for the waterfall, leaving no doubt about the water’s source.   I had been driving through some pretty spectacular country, but nothing came close to the picture that now confronted my eyes.  It indeed was my Shangri-La.

The girl smiled and waved as I cut my engine.

“Welcome,” she said with a dazzling smile that would melt glaciers.   “Are you lost?”

“I’m not sure.  I was just out driving and saw the for-sale sign.  Is that for this place?”

“Oh yes. It’s gorgeous, don’t you think?” She responded, gaily waving both arms at the surroundings.

“Very,” I answered truthfully.  “Although I’m not sure I can afford even to look.”

“It’s quite affordable,” she exclaimed. “Why don’t you take a few minutes to look around. Then, go down by the waterfall. There’s a great swimming hole at the base of the falls.  I’ll fix you a glass of iced tea with some fresh cut lemons while you nose around, and when you get back, we’ll sit down and talk price.”

“Okay,” I answered, “Thanks.”  That was what I wanted to do anyway, and besides, it was just too lovely a day to be confrontational.

There was a well-worn path down to the falls, which sounded much louder as I approached.  They lined the route with stone markers and lamps for evening walking. I remember thinking how beautiful this would be in the evening, especially if the falls were lit as well as the path. By the time I reached the falls, I had broken into a sweat and thought what a treat it would be to jump in and swim around in the natural pool for a few minutes. So without even bothering to give it a second thought, I peeled off my clothes and dove into the crystal clear pool. The water was freezing, but I thrashed around long enough to get my blood flowing and became somewhat used to the temperature before swimming to the edge and crawling out onto the grassy bank. I laid there for several minutes, letting the sun dry me off before putting my clothes back on, and began a slow walk back to the house, taking my time to admire the beauty that seemed to surround me.

I’ve made mistakes in life. Some cost me dearly. I’ve lost an eye and a hip in various accidents, and careless thoughts or acts have resulted in several minor traumas.  But the mistake I made today is the worst.  What’s so funny, tragically, is that I didn’t know it was a mistake until it was too late.

Walking back towards the house with the sound of a distant waterfall echoing in my ears, feeling the warmth of a gentle sun on my back, breathing fresh flower-scented air while feasting my eyes on beautiful vistas, I had a thought.  “Man, this is like heaven.  I could stay here forever.”

At the very instant that this thought entered my mind, I felt a shift.  Something gave, inside or outside, I wasn’t sure which.  But at that moment, my fate was sealed.  I felt it then, and now I know it to be true.

The girl was waiting at the edge of her garden, a beautiful picture.

“How was your swim?” she asked, still giving me that twenty-four-carat smile.

“Fantastic,” I answered truthfully.   “You mentioned some iced tea earlier?  I really could use something to drink.”

“On the table,” she gestured with a nod.  “I’ve put together something for you to read while you rest from your walk back up the hill.  Would you mind if I take a little spin on your bike while you look at my notes?”

There was a buzzing in my stomach, but she was so damn beautiful.  She looked so earnest and innocent. How could I suspect anyone who looked like that?  Having looked at literally dozens of houses in the past few weeks, it wasn’t uncommon for the homeowner to present us with fact sheets regarding the property we were viewing, so her proposal was sensible. If I was genuinely interested in her property, I should at least look at her fact sheets.

“Not at all,” I answered. “However, it’s a pretty heavy bike.  Are you sure you can handle a bike that heavy?”

“No problem,” she said, grinning, giving me another view of perfectly even white teeth. I should have remembered that bared teeth in the animal kingdom are a sign of aggression, although it was probably already too late for me.

She jumped on the Kawasaki and, with a brief wave, turned around and began driving back up the valley. As her figure grew smaller, the clamoring in my head and guts finally broke through my senses, alerting me to my fate. But, unfortunately, far too late. Just as the image of her on my bike disappeared into thin air, the word jumped into my mind.


I sat down at the table with nothing else to do and picked up a sheaf of papers. Although my throat still felt constricted, I took a sip of the tea. It was perfect, just like everything else in this place. Then, scanning the papers she had left for me, I began reading.

“You are now a Tuck.  This note will explain all.  I’m sorry.

When they formed the earth, the mantle didn’t fit. Much like trying to wrap a cloth around a baseball. Try covering any spherical surface with something flat, and you get these folds.  No matter how cleverly you design the cover, there is always a little material left over, which gets folded over the top of other material. That’s what happens to the space around the earth. While it’s true that space is curved, space appears to be flat in comparison with earth dimensions. As it surrounds the earth, space has to have little folds here and there to make it fit properly, and there is this tiny opening where the folds meet; that is what we call a Tuck. This tiny opening is essentially a doorway to the fold.

Inside of the fold space is doubled over, which does weird things to time since you undoubtedly know time and space are related. Without getting too technical, what happens is that time behaves differently inside of a fold such that our thoughts are instantly manifested into a reality. They call those who live inside of folds Tucks. They generally got there by wandering into a tuck, either accidentally, which was my case, or by seduction, which was your case. In either case, once inside of a fold, you become trapped.  Since your thoughts are instantly manifested, the universe which surrounds you is your creation. There is no place you can go to that isn’t someplace inside of your own mind.

I’ve spent many centuries here and have developed some feeling for this particular prison. It’s roughly one mile wide and three miles long.  It’s also impossible to find the tuck from the inside since your thoughts are creating reality. Unless you pick precisely the right spot to manifest a tuck, it won’t work. Instead, you walk out into space, which dumps you back into the fold.  I’ve personally tried millions of times with no success, but perhaps you will be more fortunate.

There are other folds, and in most cases, they trapped someone inside—another Tuck. One quirk about folds is that all folds are somehow connected.  I like to think of it as the seam around a baseball. By following the seam, you can go completely around the ball. The same thing is true with the folds in space above the earth; you can go from one fold to another.  But you don’t want to do that, for two reasons.

First, two Tucks cannot live in the same fold.  Since each is capable of instant manifestation, their reality is only stable when both have precisely the same thoughts.  As soon as you get your universe set up just the way you want, the other person changes it, with any random thought, to suit their wants, and your universe disappears. So the other problem is that you need someone to create a universe that is stable long enough for you to discover the fold and escape.

You’ll come to understand that you, alone, can’t get out of this universe that you’re creating with your mind. When you try to make a fold in your universe, it’s still your universe so that when you go through the fold, you’re still inside of your own creation. However, if someone else is manifesting their reality, it is possible to feel gingerly around the edges of their creation with your thoughts until you discover the fold which will guide you back out. Of course, this only works if you don’t get sucked into their reality.

As you drove through the fold into this tuck, I could get a good bearing from which to start my escape while you were busy exploring your new universe.

The other problem with two Tucks in the same fold is that if they’re not fighting over their reality, they intentionally let the other establish reality to discover the folds and escape. When this happens, neither wants to manifest reality, so you wind up with two miserable people trying not to manifest anything.  It is better to stay where you are and wait for fate to send you a replacement.

I put that sign out many, many years ago on the very edge of this fold.  I had to wait for the shifting earth’s crust to move the sign out of the fold. This probably took a few hundred years.  I’ve lost track of time. Inside of a fold, time is meaningless.  I’m sorry for you that this sign was your undoing; I’m obviously thrilled by the chance to escape.  I’ll leave the sign up for you.   Maybe someone else will come by looking for the perfect house. Until that day, enjoy your creation.  K.”


I don’t know if K is a man or woman. I suppose it doesn’t matter. In my reality, K can be anybody my thoughts create. I’ve been here several weeks now, at least I guess their weeks, and my new home is still gorgeous, although it is already getting boring.  I filled it with my favorite paintings and fabulous music. I’m lonely, of course, and wish my wife was here. I miss people. Even those that I didn’t particularly like. I wonder what this world might be if we could all manifest reality with our thoughts.

Well…, I have an excellent home for someone. So next time you feel like a drive in the country, look for Fenders Ferry Road and watch for my sign.

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