Bad Grrlz' Guide to Reality: Wild Angel and Adventures in Time and Space with Max Merriwell: The Complete Novels

Bad Grrlz' Guide to Reality: Wild Angel and Adventures in Time and Space with Max Merriwell: The Complete Novels

by Pat Murphy

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Overview

Two novels of adventure: One set in the hills of the Old West, the other across the Bermuda Triangle

In Wild Angel, Sarah sits by the river with her mother, watching her father pan for gold. The calm of the California hills is broken by a rifle shot, the start of an ambush that leaves Sarah’s parents murdered and scalped and forces the three-year-old to flee into the woods. Hungry, cold, and terribly lost, she is rescued by a she-wolf named Wauna, who feeds Sarah as if she were one of her own pups. As Sarah grows up among the wolves, she will tame the wilderness, and her adventures—chronicled by a writer named Max Merriwell—will make her a legend of the frontier.

Unlike the hero of Wild Angel, the women of Adventures in Time and Space with Max Merriwell do not expect danger when they set off on their journey. But when Pat and Susan’s cruise ship sails into the Bermuda Triangle, reality begins to twist. As supernatural creatures menace the ship, these two would-be vacationers will have no choice but to hang on for the ride.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781480483200
Publisher: Open Road Media
Publication date: 04/15/2014
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 578
Sales rank: 592,863
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Pat Murphy has won numerous awards for her thoughtful, literary science fiction and fantasy writing, including two Nebula Awards, the Philip K. Dick Award, the World Fantasy Award, the Seiun Award, and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. She has published eight novels and many short stories. Her works include Rachel in Love; The Falling Woman; The City, Not Long After; Nadya; and Adventures in Time and Space with Max Merriwell, a novel that Publishers Weekly called the “cerebral equivalent of a roller-coaster ride.” Her children’s novel, The Wild Girls, received a Christopher Award in 2008.

In addition to writing fiction, Pat writes about science for children and adults. She has authored three science books for adults and more than fifteen science activity books for children. Her science writings have been honored with the American Institute of Physics Science Communication Award, the Science Books and Films Prize for Excellence in Science Books, the Pirelli INTERNETional Award for environmental publishing, and an award from Good Housekeeping.

In 1991, with writer Karen Fowler, Pat cofounded the James Tiptree, Jr. Award, an annual literary prize for science fiction or fantasy that expands or explores our understanding of gender roles. This award is funded by grassroots efforts that include auctions and bake sales, harnessing the power of chocolate chip cookies in an ongoing effort to change the world.

Pat enjoys looking for and making trouble. Her favorite color is ultraviolet. Her favorite book is whichever one she is working on right now. 
Pat Murphy has won numerous awards for her thoughtful, literary science fiction and fantasy writing, including two Nebula Awards, the Philip K. Dick Award, the World Fantasy Award, the Seiun Award, and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. She has published eight novels and many short stories. Her works include Rachel in Love; The Falling Woman; The City, Not Long After; Nadya; and Adventures in Time and Space with Max Merriwell, a novel that Publishers Weekly called the “cerebral equivalent of a roller-coaster ride.” Her children’s novel, The Wild Girls, received a Christopher Award in 2008.

In addition to writing fiction, Pat writes about science for children and adults. She has authored three science books for adults and more than fifteen science activity books for children. Her science writings have been honored with the American Institute of Physics Science Communication Award, the Science Books and Films Prize for Excellence in Science Books, the Pirelli INTERNETional Award for environmental publishing, and an award from Good Housekeeping.

In 1991, with writer Karen Fowler, Pat cofounded the James Tiptree, Jr. Award, an annual literary prize for science fiction or fantasy that expands or explores our understanding of gender roles. This award is funded by grassroots efforts that include auctions and bake sales, harnessing the power of chocolate chip cookies in an ongoing effort to change the world.

Pat enjoys looking for and making trouble. Her favorite color is ultraviolet. Her favorite book is whichever one she is working on right now. 

Read an Excerpt

Bad Grrlz' Guide to Reality


By Pat Murphy

OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA

Copyright © 2001 Pat Murphy
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4804-8320-0



CHAPTER 1

MURDER IN THE WILDERNESS


"Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot."

—The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; Mark Twain


Rachel Mckensie sat on the ground beside the canvas tent that was her temporary home. She was writing a letter to her sister, using a flattopped granite boulder as a writing desk. For just a moment, she had paused to appreciate the beauty of the California foothills.

The spring air carried the sharp scent of the pines and the sweet green smell of new leaves. A few feet from the tent, a brook flowed through a tumble of boulders. Her daughter Sarah stood by the water, playing with pebbles. Barely a toddler when Rachel and her husband William had started the long overland journey west, Sarah was walking confidently now. She was three years old—small for her age, but bright and alert, fearless in her acceptance of the wilderness world through which they traveled. As Rachel watched, the child laughed and held her hands out, showing her mother a white pebble that she had found in the streambed. "Mama!" she said. "Mama, look!"

William was farther downstream. The shallow metal dish that he used to pan for gold was leaning against a boulder and his broadbrimmed hat was pushed back on his head. He was talking with a blond man who had just ridden down the trail that led out of the mountains. It was, Rachel thought, the same man they had seen riding up that mountain trail with a companion earlier that day. The man had his friend's horse tied behind his own. Rachel wondered idly if the man and his friend had a claim higher in the hills.

William was asking the man about gold—Rachel was sure of that. The year was 1850, just after that precious metal had been discovered at Sutter's Mill. In the California foothills, men always talked of gold. Rachel and her husband, like so many others, had come west to find their fortune.

Rachel shook her head, chiding herself for her idleness. It was time that she stopped daydreaming and prepared the midday meal. She corked her bottle of ink and set it and the pen on top of the letter to keep the paper from blowing away. Then she stood and shook out her long skirts. Just as she turned her head toward the tent, a gunshot echoed up the valley.

William lay on the ground at the blond man's feet. William's hat had fallen beside him and a dark stain was spreading across his blue-cotton shirt. Rachel froze, staring at her fallen husband. In that moment, the blond man turned toward her, lifted his rifle, and fired.

The bullet caught Rachel in the chest and sent her staggering. As she fell, she cried out—a wail of pain and surprise. On the long journey west, she had worried about Indians and wolves, about stampedes that would trample them and flooding rivers that would carry their wagon away. But now that they were in California, she had thought her worries were over. How could this be happening now?

She could feel hot blood seeping from the wound in her shoulder, wetting the rocky ground beneath her. The sunlight was warm on her face; the world seemed unnaturally bright and clear. In the distance, the blond man left his horse and began climbing the slope toward her. She could see her daughter, standing by the stream. The little girl was gazing up at her, eyes round in sudden fear.

"Mama?" Sarah said, her voice barely audible over the roar of the stream.

"Run, Sarah," Rachel gasped. "Run and hide."

Sarah knew how to run and hide. It was a game they had played together often. On the long journey across the prairie, the Indians that they met had admired the child for her coppery hair. More than one chief had wanted to trade for her—offering William buffalo robes and ponies. That was when Rachel had taught Sarah to run and hide, to find a place that was out of sight and come out only when her mother called.

"Run and hide, Sarah," Rachel called, in a voice barely audible over the rush of the stream. "Run and hide. Hurry." She closed her eyes against the sunlight.

Sarah scrambled among the boulders, searching for a place to hide. She squeezed between two boulders and found a slab of granite leaning against a rocky patch of hillside, making a tiny cave. She slid through the opening, which was just big enough to admit her, and crouched in the cool shadows, her heart pounding with fear. Through the opening, she could see the tent, see her mother lying on the ground.

The man had a knife in his hand and a rifle under his arm. Sarah sat very still motionless in the darkness. As she watched, the man bent over her mother with his back to Sarah. When he stood, a few minutes later, he held a handful of bloody hair. He glanced around then, as if he felt her eyes upon him, as if he feared someone had witnessed his crimes. For a moment, his eyes rested on the mouth of the cave where Sarah hid.

Sarah did not move. She was crying, but she did not make a sound. Her mother had told her that she must be silent when she hid, as quiet as a mouse. She squeezed her eyes shut, not wanting to watch, not wanting to see what the man would do next.

When she opened her eyes, he had yanked her mother's quilts from the tent. Boxes of food were open, spilling flour and beans onto the ground. He held up the feather bed, her mother's precious feather bed, and slashed it with his bloody knife. The wind caught the feathers, and they swirled and danced above the boulders, flying away into the mountains.

The man tossed the feather bed aside and turned away. Silent and motionless in the safety of the cave, Sarah watched him go.

She stayed in the cave, hugging her knees for warmth and waiting for her mother to call her. She waited. She was very young. It seemed strange that her mother had fallen to the ground, but the world was filled with events that she could not explain.

She could not come out until her mother called. Those were the rules. She closed her eyes and waited, her mind drifting like a feather on the wind. She listened to the roar of the stream as it flowed over the rocks, and the sound filled her head, washing away the sight of the man standing over her fallen mother. For a time, she slept.


When she woke it was cold in the cave, and she was hungry. She squeezed through the opening into late-afternoon sunshine and made her way to the tent. The spring air smelled of new leaves, pines, and freshly spilled blood.

Her mother's body lay in front of the tent. Her scalp had been torn away and the rocky ground beneath her head was dark and sticky with blood. The wound in her chest had bled freely as well, and a dark stain had spread across her dress.

Sarah stood a few feet away, unwilling to approach too close. "Mama?" she said. In the past, when she made that sound, her mother had smiled and responded. But now the magic sound failed her.

"Mama," she said again, louder this time. "Mama!" A shout that echoed from the valley walls. "Mama!"

She ran to her mother's side and tugged on her hand. The skin was cold to the touch; the hand was stiff and unyielding. As the shadows grew long, Sarah crouched beside her mother's body, her small fists clutching the faded calico dress, her face wet with tears.

The hill to the west cast a shadow that engulfed the weeping girl. Sarah, chilled in the evening air, huddled by her mother's side, shivering in the cold.


The sun set, and the full moon rose, illuminating the valley with its cold silver light. In a clearing up the hill from where Sarah waited, a she-wolf named Wauna sat on her haunches and lifted her head to howl at the rising moon. Her voice rose on a mournful note, stretched thin by the wind. The other members of the pack joined in, their voices singing in harmony.

Wauna's teats were heavy with milk. Early that day, she had gone hunting with the pack, leaving her pups in the care of a younger she-wolf. The hunt had gone well. The pack had brought down a young deer, and Wauna had eaten her fill. But when they returned to the den, the wind was scented with gunpowder and blood.

The young she-wolf that they had left to guard the pups was dead by the mouth of the den, shot in the head. The pups lay beside her. They had been hauled from the den and their throats had been slit.

All her pups were dead on the ground. While the pack milled about in confusion, Wauna had licked the pups, trying to wash away the blood and bring them back to life. They were so young, their eyes barely open. She smoothed their soft fur with her tongue, cleaning them, trying to warm their cold bodies. Perhaps they only slept. If she tried, she might wake them.

Her mate Rolon and the other members of the pack milled around her in confusion. Buried in the den, where the pups had been hidden, was a wooden box that stank of man sweat. In the bushes below the den, there was a dead man, one of the two men who had carried that box. The dead man had been shot, and he had fallen facedown in the bushes. The other man—the man who had left the scent of his hands on the bodies of her dead pups—had ridden away. The smell of horses lingered in the bushes where the animals had been tied.

Rolon had begun to follow the killer, but Wauna would not go with him. She had stayed with her pups, lying beside them and offering her teats so that they might suckle. She nudged the largest one with her head—a black male, the color of Rolon. She whimpered to them, a low plaintive sound, but they did not respond. There was no life in them. Despite her efforts, the pups lay still.

Now night had come and the moon had risen. Wauna knew that the pups would not wake from their terrible sleep. She had followed Rolon away from the den and up a small trail that stank of man scent. In a clearing by the dead trunk of a lightning-struck pine, Wauna had stopped, raised her muzzle to the moon, and howled, a mournful cry that echoed through the valley.

When she paused to take a breath, she caught a scent on the wind. Gunpowder and blood—human blood this time—and the same stink of man sweat that lingered by the den and on the trail. She stood for a moment, growling low in her throat, then set off in the direction of the scent. Rolon and the other members of the pack followed.

Less than a mile from the den, she saw the tent, a flapping white thing on the side of the hill. That's where the scent of man sweat was strongest. The man scent was old—the man was gone. But mixed with the scent of blood was the warm smell of another human.

Rolon and the others headed downstream, following the man smell, but Wauna stalked toward the tent and found Sarah, still clinging to her mother's body.

When the wolf approached, Sarah looked up. She knew dogs—one of the other families on the wagon train had brought their old farm dog, a tolerant animal that let Sarah pull his ears and ride on his back. That dog had been her friend.

When Wauna sniffed her, Sarah released her grip on her mother's dress and reached out to stroke the animal's soft ears. Wauna licked the child's face, tasting the salt of her tears. The child hugged the animal's neck, drawn to the warmth and comfort she offered.

Such a helpless human, so small. Wauna let the child pull on the fur at the ruff of her neck. The tugging of the tiny hands reminded her of how her pups had wrestled with her, biting at her fur, tumbling over one another clumsily in their battles. So small and helpless.

What is it about a nursing mother that lets her recognize a hungry child? Mother cats have adopted puppies and baby rabbits. Mother dogs have nursed kittens with their own litters. What silent message passes between mother and child, cutting across species lines, communicating without words?

The child whimpered as the wolf licked her. She was tired and hungry, and she had no words to express her sorrow. She made baby noises, and Wauna responded, recognizing the note of hunger. The wolf turned on her side, exposing her nipples. With her head, she nudged the child toward her nipples just as she would have directed a wayward pup.

Sarah snuggled closer to the wolf's warm body, her hands gripping the animal's fur. The child was old enough to eat solid food, but young enough to remember suckling at her mother's breast. Wauna's nipples had a warm, milky scent that drew her.

By the time Rolon and the others had returned from investigating William's body farther downstream, Sarah was suckling at the wolf's teat, clinging to Wauna's thick fur just as she had clung to her mother's dress. When Rolon came near to sniff the child, Wauna growled, warning the male to keep his distance, just as she had warned packmates away from her own pups when they were first born.

Later, when Sarah had drunk her fill of the wolf's rich milk, Rolon's restless pacing indicated that the pack was ready to move. Wauna, not wanting to leave the child behind, nudged the sleepy girl whining low in her throat. Sarah put her arms around the wolf's neck, embracing her as she had the old dog on the wagon train. When Wauna whined again, Sarah swung her leg over the wolf's back, still holding tight to the animal's neck. Moving carefully, aware of the fragile burden she carried, Wauna followed the pack, carrying Sarah away into the mountains.

CHAPTER 2

IN THE MOUNTAINS WITH THE BEASTS

"The proverb says that Providence protects children and idiots. This is really true. I know because I have tested it." —Autobiography of Mark Twain; Mark Twain


Max Phillips tugged on his mule's lead. "Come along, Wordsworth," he said conversationally. "You're a lazy, good-for-nothing beast and an overrated poet. Let's move along, or we won't make Selby Flat by nightfall."

Max was eager to reach town, where he could sleep on a lumpy strawtick mattress, rather than on the cold, hard ground. He was thirty-three, older than many of the gold-seekers. After three weeks in the hills, he missed the comfort of a bed, however lumpy.

Max had been wandering the hills, panning gold from the mountain streams and sketching the scenery in his notebook. He was a self-trained artist—he could capture the likeness of a man or a mountain in a quick pencil sketch, a handy talent to have. Down in the mining camps, he drew portraits of miners, earning more gold from that occupation than he ever found in the California hills. Men asked him to draw their portraits, then bought the sketches to send home to their loved ones.

But sometimes Max grew tired of the company of miners, tired of all the talk of gold, tired of the drinking and gambling and endless conversations about women back home. When that happened, he struck out on his own, prospecting for gold and lingering to capture the beauty of the landscape. Now he had a notebook filled with sketches, a poke full of gold dust, and a hankering for the finest meal that Selby Flat had to offer.

The trail curved out of the pines and headed downward, following the creek into the valley. Max could see the white canvas of a tent. Someone had staked a claim beside the creek. A greenhorn, Max suspected. The spot didn't look promising.

Max made his way toward the tent. "Rallo!" he called. "Rallo!"

No answer.

Quilts were spilled in a tangle beside the tent's front flap. Boxes of food, some burst open, littered the slope. As he approached, three jays flew squawking from the body that lay in front of the tent.

Max knelt beside the body to examine it. A woman, dead for a few days, by the look of it. Shot and scalped and left unburied.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Bad Grrlz' Guide to Reality by Pat Murphy. Copyright © 2001 Pat Murphy. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

WILD ANGEL,
PART ONE: 1850,
1. MURDER IN THE WILDERNESS,
2. IN THE MOUNTAINS WITH THE BEASTS,
3. A CLEVER VILLAIN,
4. WANTED,
5. FIRST KILL,
6. ROMULUS AND REMUS,
7. THE BEGINNING OF A CORRESPONDENCE,
8. AN AMAZING YOUNG SAVAGE,
PART TWO: 1855,
9. STONE WOLF,
10. THE CAPTAIN'S WIFE,
PART THREE: 1859,
11. A YOUNG MAN'S GUIDE,
12. THE SAVAGE LIFE,
13. LITTLE LOST LAMB,
14. ANGEL IN THE WILDERNESS,
15. LEADER OF THE PACK,
16. HER OWN KIND,
PART FOUR: 1863,
17. PROFESSOR SERUNCA'S WAGON OF WONDERS,
18. UP A TREE,
19. A FORMIDABLE WOMAN,
20. THE CIRCUS COMES TO TOWN,
21. HAVE YOU SEEN THE ELEPHANT?,
22. UNEASY MEMORIES,
23. THE DEAD MAN,
24. POWER AND MERCY,
25. NELLY WAS A LADY,
26. THE END,
Mary Maxwell's Afterword to Wild Angel,
Max Merriwell's Afterword to Wild Angel,
Pat Murphy's Afterword to Wild Angel,
ADVENTURES IN TIME AND SPACE WITH MAX MERRIWELL,
Afterword to Adventures in Time and Space with Max Merriwell,
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS,
Afterword to Bad Grrlz' Guide to Reality,
About the Author,

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