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From Time to Time - A Short Story

Updated on September 6, 2014

From Time to Time



It was one of the most talked about crimes of the century. Doctor Jeremiah Walters was halfway through a late term abortion procedure when a stranger entered the room, picked up a scalpel from the tray, and calmly slit Dr. Walters’ throat. The stunned nurse watched the abortionist sink to the floor, his life streaming out from between his frantically clutching fingers. She stared at the killer, wondering if she was next.

He motioned to her. “I will now deliver the child. You will assist.” He had a strange accent she could not place, but his voice was that of someone used to command.

He delivered expertly, and a few minutes later, the wailing infant was wrapped in blankets. The stranger bent over the terrified mother’s face.

“You do not deserve him. He is now mine.” He looked at the nurse. “You will attend to the mother. I am leaving.”

It was the largest manhunt in the city’s history, and it soon spread to the rest of the state. Later, it became a nationwide search after sightings in several other states. The killer had faced a security camera almost insolently, as if he wanted to be identified, and his face was posted everywhere. Several look-alikes were arrested but DNA and fingerprints absolved them all. Days became weeks, but all signs of the killer vanished, until there were no more leads.

The mother became a media sensation for a time, but her reputation soon caught up with her and it was revealed that she was a crack addict and had numerous prior abortions. She had intended to deliver this one, but after the father was murdered, she decided to get rid of it, although it was on the verge of being born. She had never met the killer, and had no idea why he singled her out.

Months became years, and no trace of the killer was ever found. Neither was the kidnapped infant, despite national school DNA registration samplings. Both had simply vanished.

“It’s him. Jerry! That’s him, no doubt about it!”

The two detectives were reviewing the bank surveillance tapes of a recent and bizarre holdup, when one of then excitedly pointed at the screen.

Fred Sheldon, a known felon out on parole, was attempting to rob the First National when a customer stepped out from behind the velvet ropes and leveled a gun at the back of his head. Suddenly, another man shoved something into the back of the armed customer, who collapsed instantly. He was then picked up with surprising ease by the third man, who quickly stepped out of camera range, carrying the obviously unconscious customer, but not before a clear view of his face was caught in the lens of a security camera. He was the same man wanted for the murder of Dr. Jeremiah Walters, three years prior. Two weeks later, he was on the FBI’s most wanted list.

The police showed up less than a minute later, arresting Fred Sheldon. They also cordoned off an area of eight city blocks, but neither the armed customer or the man who killed Doctor Jeremiah Walters were ever found. Once again, he was caught in the lens of a security camera, and positively identified. The armed customer was unknown to the bank, and no one came forward to identify him other than the usual attention seekers. Despite massive publicity, he was never identified.

Doctor Jack Leonard opened his eyes, wondering what had awakened him from a deep sleep. He was a physicist, working on several government projects at the university and a few of his own, so sleep was precious and carefully allotted.

He blinked away sleep and was reaching for a light switch, when the room was suddenly flooded with light. Near the wall, a man he recognized instantly was seated in his chair, a slight smile on his face. Doctor Leonard stretched and yawned, finally bring his hands back and under his pillow. There, his right hand closed on the familiar grip of his model 1911 forty-five autoloader. The man by the wall grinned.

“I took the liberty of emptying your pistol Doctor Leonard, not that you could kill me with it anyway. I just wanted to avoid the noise. You understand.”

He waved his hand absently at Leonard.

“Go ahead and check it if you wish. I don’t mind.”

Jack Leonard slowly brought the gun out and ejected the magazine. It was empty. He worked the slide and the chamber was also empty. All he could possibly do with the gun was throw it at the man sitting across from him, and he was certain that it would be useless to even try.

Jack Leonard’s hobby was gaming, and creating games. One he had been working on for years involved heavy hitter criminals of the past, like Al Capone, and Timothy McVeigh. After their own deaths, it would also involve current criminals, like the man sitting across from him…the man who murdered Doctor Jeremiah Walters.

“Have you come to kill me?”

“Probably not. You seem to be a reasonable man, so I think we can work something out.”

Since he was to someday be part of his game, Jack Leonard knew all there was to know about this man, including his odd accent. In fact, now that he was hearing it, it was not so much an accent as it was an inflection, with an odd cadence.

“What do you want with me?”

The man reached for a can of Pepsi and took a swallow.

“That’s one of the best parts of coming here. I love Pepsi.” He belched suddenly, startling Jack.

“I want you to stop the G-Man project.”

Doctor Jack Leonard was stunned. He had mentioned the G-Man project to no one. In fact, he wasn’t even sure it was feasible.

“Who the hell are you?” Jack swung his legs over the edge of the bed and put his feet in his slippers. “I mean, I know who you are and what you‘ve done, but perhaps more to the point, why? And what do I have to do with it?”

The man laughed, and suddenly Jack had the feeling that whoever he was, he was not such a bad man…as murderers go, anyway.

“I’m a well-trained regulator. We got our name from a brand of clocks introduced by Seth Thomas around 1860.” He took a glowing card out of a shirt pocket Jack had not noticed, and held it up. “We keep straight time, so to speak, or perhaps time straight, as you wish. We are taught to handle just about anything.”

Jack put on his robe, and started for the refrigerator out of habit. He liked his orange juice on rising, but then he remembered the man and stopped.

“Can I get something out of the ‘fridge?”

The man shrugged nonchalantly, and waved him on. He found a glass, and poured some juice. He was about to close the door when he noticed a couple of Pepsi’s. He held one up with a question on his face, and the man nodded and grinned.

“I never turn one down.”

After they were both seated, Jack asked a blunt question.

“Who the hell are you and why should I cancel G-Man?”

“My name is Jonel Quage, and G-Man is causing me all sorts of headaches, because the rules are not being followed. You see, Doctor, you were right, and your theory works…for some people. In fact, moving through time and space is a breeze for certain people like me. For others, it’s almost impossible.”

For the second time in less than an hour, Doctor Jack Leonard was stunned. His G-Man game was based on freely moving through time and space in order to ‘kill’ the genuine bad guys of the past at the exact same time of their natural deaths. It was only a theory, and the game was so far-fetched that he had never gone beyond his own mind. He had just learned that not only did it work, but people were actually playing his game…somewhere in time.

“Not everyone can transpose through time, Doctor, and we don’t know why, so the lucky G-Man players operate at will with few to stop them, and some are actually killing historic criminals before their time. You can imagine the chaos that causes, so people like me, the few who can make the jumps, have to prevent those who would violate the rules from killing early, like that bank robber. Had he died there, he would not have lived to kill another would-be murderer who was going to go on a rampage.”

“So you want me to stop G-Man?”

“Yes. You will be famous for two other great achievements, if you agree.”

He belched again, loudly. “Can’t get Pepsi where I come from.”

“But what about killing the abortion Doctor? Why did you do that?”

“He was to die that day anyway from a heart attack, so no harm done. The mother’s dead boyfriend was a murderer and was on the G-man list. A player killed him early, so the mother decided to abort, and there was no good way to correct, so I just killed the doctor and took the child.”

“So what happened to the baby?”

“Not much yet. He’ll start school soon and in about thirty years, he’ll develop a way to prevent all but a few cancers." He glanced at Jack. "We do have our reasons, Doctor. They were about to abort the man who saved countless lives.”

He smiled at Jack. "If you're wondering about my accent Doctor, it's simply a generational oddity. Each generation develops its own accent. Just go watch some old newsreels and you'll see what I mean."

Doctor Jack Leonard agreed to drop G-Man for all time, but continue work on time-space movement. Jonel Quage shook his hand, and assured him that should he ever need anything, all he had to do was say so and he would return. Then Jonel Quage stood, smiled, and simply vanished.

It was just minutes later that Jack spotted the package on his bed. It contained a small black case, and several sheets of paper with math symbols. The note read: "A small gift for you, Doctor Leonard." He poured a cup of coffee and sat down to study the papers and the object.

It was several hours later before Jack Leonard’s associate and friend, Matt Clinton, got an excited call from the Doctor, and it was several minutes more before he got him calmed down enough to understand him.

“It’s the discovery of a lifetime, Matt! It’s cold fusion and unlimited free energy! I know how it works! The world is about to change forever.”

Somewhere, Jonel Quage opened the Pepsi he had stolen from Jack Leonard’s refrigerator, and took a long swig. He then belched violently and grinned, He was sure Doctor Leonard would not mind

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    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Carrie Lee!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Johan!

    • carrie Lee Night profile image

      Kept private 5 years ago from Northeast United States

      WillStarr: Very creative!!! :) You have taken time travel and added a twist! Thank you for writing an interesting story, I enjoyed it.

    • Johan Smulders profile image

      Johan Smulders 5 years ago from East London, South Africa

      Another interesting story from an amazingly talented writer. Keep it up!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Jackie!

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Great story, glad I caught it whizzin by somehow. But better late than...never.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, weestro!

    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 5 years ago from Virginia

      Wow WillStarr, this would make an excellent tv series, I was hooked from the start! Voted up all the way across!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Beth!

      Maybe I will!

    • bethperry profile image

      Beth Perry 5 years ago from Tennesee

      Will, I like a good time-traveling story and this one is great. Do you have further installments planned?

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you James!

    • SubRon7 profile image

      James W. Nelson 5 years ago from eastern North Dakota

      Loved how Jonel belched violently. Cold fusion--Yes! Will, you have created the next Superhero, both likeable and believable. I hope you run with it.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi drbj,

      I just got off the phone with Coke, and they have agreed to start putting real sugar in Cokes again!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 5 years ago from south Florida

      Great story which maintained suspenseful momentum to the end. But watch your back, Will. I heard Coke may be miffed; they want equal time.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Genna,

      In the future, Mayor Bloomberg's great great grandson bans all sodas, including Pepsi, so they have to come here to get it!

      ^_^

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Chris,

      I often wonder how many Olympic champions, doctors, lawyers, physicists, and discoverers of great things have been lost to the abortionist's knife? With over 60 million dead, there are thousands of potential geniuses gone forever.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, Maria, and thank you!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you Suzie!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, Docmo!

      Sci-fi was once my favorite genre, and I hadn't written any lately so...!

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Riveting from the very first paragraph. The theory that “all things happen for a reason that is beyond our grasp” meets the prolific imagination of Will Starr -- with fascinating and clever results. And I loved the touch of the chilled Pepsi. Very “cool.” :-)

    • CMerritt profile image

      Chris Merritt 5 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

      Very intersting and fun...I love it when you change gears from the old west and throw in a sci-fi or a modern tale...but, my heart will always be with your western saga's.

      It would be intersting to know how many "greats" that never got their chance to do so.

      Up and Awesome!

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      You have stretched most becomingly, Bill. This was a riveting read.

      Voted UP and everything. Hugs, Maria

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 5 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Something different for you and I loved it. :))

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 5 years ago from UK

      Nice segue into scifi and alternate realities/time travel Will. Well written as always and an engaging read. the character Jonel sounds like a keeper- he has charm and personality and I hope soon crops up in other stories... loved it.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you Jim! Of course there's always the time travel paradox with which to contend.

    • FitnezzJim profile image

      FitnezzJim 5 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia

      Time travel, gaming, a bit of physics, and a really well-told story. Good job, I'd add you to my list of folks to follow, but I'm already doing that. I love a good time travel story, and this one was good.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Amy!

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Don't know much about Star Trek, but it sounds like the great equalizer, God, has come to rectify things with his own brand of justice. I loved every moment of this story, but the time it took to read it just went by too fast. I'll have to enjoy it again in a second pass. Brilliant, Will.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Movie Master!

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      This story seemed to different for you Will - I was completely absorbed, loved it!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you so much, Deb!

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 5 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      Will what a great story.. I am sharing on facebook.

      I am writing a hub now called VIETNAM VET. there will be a surprise for you. I am getting ready to post it.

      Blessings

      Debbie

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Glad you liked it, Blossom!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Martie!

      It was fun to write!

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      What a different sort of story, and how interesting! Loved it.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 5 years ago from South Africa

      What a lovely fantasy! Jonel Quage and kie preventing crime and at the same time steeling important future discoveries to be of benefit in the present.

      This was an interesting and exiting flight to the land of fantasies where everything is possible. Thank you, WillStarr :)

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      LOL @ Ruby!

      I'll write about anything, including sci-fi. I like it all!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I kept thinking a cowboy was somewhere, but no. This is very different and i was glued to my chair. What a story! Your imagination soared with this one..Loved it..Pushed all buttons except funny..

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you for the kind words, Joyce!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Johan!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Wow! Thank you, John!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Ginn!

      I have lots of interests, so I might write about any of them!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Ronnie!

      Actually, it was a nod to to Billy Bonney, who called himself a 'regulator'!

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 5 years ago from Southern Nevada

      You are an amazing writer. This is an awesome story you had me glued to the screen reading this morning, love it.

      Voted up awesome and very interesting, Joyce.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, QudsiaP1, and thank you!

      A part two? Hmm.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Pop!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, slcockerham, and who knows what the future might being...if we have a future!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you so much, Richawriter!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Nan!

      Babies who will grow up to find a cure for cancer or some other miracle are well worth saving. I wonder how many geniuses have already been lost?

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Rosemay!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hey Mike!

      As I told Ruby, I also like sci-fi!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Don!

      They'd tax it!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, Ruby!

      As a teen, I read mostly sci-fi!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Conservative Lady, and thank you!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you Audrey!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Becky,

      Yup! Saving the baby who would grow up to cure cancer was the reason the abortionist was killed.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, Lela, and thank you.

      I have on novella under my belt and a full novel underway.

    • Johan Smulders profile image

      Johan Smulders 5 years ago from East London, South Africa

      Keep going! Voted up and awesome.

    • aguasilver profile image

      John Harper 5 years ago from Malaga, Spain

      Keep the character, build him and develop his story lines, you have another Jack Reacher here (Lee Childs).

      Great stuff ans usual, and out of your normal genre.... loved it.

    • Ginn Navarre profile image

      Ginn Navarre 5 years ago

      Yes in deed, glad to see that you're great story telling is as they say---"THE SPICE OF LIFE IS VARITEY."

      I see so many people that only limit their reading an writing to one type and subject---

      Curiosity=imagination created everything we are enjoying today. Yes my friend KEEP REACHING OUT JUST A LITTLE FARTHER WITH YOUR TALENT. I'm watching ya.

    • resspenser profile image

      Ronnie Sowell 5 years ago from South Carolina

      Great story Will and was the "regulator" a nod to Stephen King?

    • QudsiaP1 profile image

      QudsiaP1 5 years ago

      Absolutely thrilling and wonderful Will! You had me gripped from the very beginning. Will there be a part 2? :)

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 5 years ago

      Amazing and enjoyable piece of writing. You always shine. Up and awesome.

    • slcockerham profile image

      slcockerham 5 years ago from Tallahassee, Florida

      Another great story Will. Loved that twist in the abortion clinic and how time travel was used for good and justice. Time travel and many things we can imagine are possible.

    • Richawriter profile image

      Richard J ONeill 5 years ago from Bangkok, Thailand

      Well done on another masterpiece!

      Your imagination knows no bounds.

      That teacher of yours planted these seeds in your mind all those years ago and as we can all see, they are blooming in the summer sun!

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      Nan Mynatt 5 years ago

      Will this is very powerful and one of the best stories that I have read. What a switch, why did he want the child? Suspense and an ending what is unsurpassed! I marked you up on your brilliant story.

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      Awesome story Will, different to your usual but just as enjoyable.

      Had me enthralled from start to finish

      Hitting most buttons

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      Old Poolman 5 years ago

      Another WillStarr masterpiece. Wow, what a great way to start the day. This is a side of WillStarr I have not seen before, and I loved this story. Is there to be more like this or is this one of a kind?

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I'm getting synical, I think. If they discovered unlimited energy, would the government find a way to make it unavailable?

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      This story is different and so entertaining. I used to read Sci-Fi faithfully and this is up to par with any I read. It is really good. Thanks for a great start to my day.

    • Conservative Lady profile image

      Sheila 5 years ago from Surprise Arizona - formerly resided in Washington State

      Just hopping hubs and saw your name - knew it would be a good read and it definitely was. You are an excellent story teller WillStarr

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      I hung on every wordof your story, eager to continue on to find out what happened to that baby. Very well written Will. Love the ending.

      Thank you and voted up and across.

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 5 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      This was a good one. I liked that the baby was saved and will become so great. The bank robber being saved to kill a murderer was good also.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 5 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Jonel sort of reminds me of Q from Star Trek. I loved the story as usual. Have you written a novel yet?