This was originally first presented at superherouniverse.com.
Time-Rider's First Christmas
(From the perspective of John Martin the Time-Rider)
It was around the Christmas of '57 when the story happened. Really amazing, even after all the things and all the times and places I've ever been, this one time sticks in my mind like no other. I'd just put Time-Reaver into custody with A.T.T.A, or so I'd thought at the time. The family and I had just had a wonderful Thanksgiving a few weeks before. Jill and I had all of the presents already hidden from the boys. We had the Christmas tree out and all the decorations. Looked like it was going to be a wonderful old fashioned family Christmas, but there was something eating at me. Something I just couldn't get out of my subconscious mind.
My neighbor from over the ridge was an old school buddy of mine. I didn't really talk to him much over the years, but I knew his crop didn't do so well this year, and some folks at church were saying he might have a drinking problem. I hate it when people gossip like that, especially at church, but at the same time I couldn't help but listen to the rumors. His boy was about the same age as my boys, and it was easy for me to understand how being low on money could get a family man to
drinking, especially this time of the year. So I decided to go pay old Charlie a visit, and maybe wish him a " Merry Christmas".
I found him in his barn working. He looked a little older than his late 30's which is about how old we were at the time. Stress can age a man pretty fast especially when you add booze to the mix. I could smell it on his breath. He was already drinking and it wasn't even past 2 o'clock in the afternoon yet. I tried to pretend I didn't notice the smell or the slight slur in his voice. I asked him how things were going and he said in a slightly grumpy voice, "About as well as it's ever been".
"Nothing ever changes around here in Shadow Town. Nothing," he said. After a little small talk I wished him, "Merry Christmas," and I was leaving when I saw Charlie's boy walk in behind me, and I turned to look just for a second. Charlie asked the boy, "What have you been doing around here the last couple of hours? Lazy good for nothing runt I ought to...," and then he slapped the boy to the ground. It took a lot out of me not to go running back and give Charlie a taste of his own medicine, but back then people minded their own business. So I just watched for just a few seconds more, just enough to see that Charlie wasn't going to continue hitting his son, and then I got into my old beat up truck and drove away.
Now, I don't consider myself an overly religious man. I pray, go to church, and read my Bible, as most folks did back then, especially in the hills of Tennessee, where the only entertainment for most people was church or the radio. It's not like today where people have millions of distractions and electronic gadgets to fill their spare time. No, I never really considered myself a perfect man, but like I said I did pray and that night I prayed for old Charlie for a couple of hours and then some, and then it hit me. Maybe the good Lord was telling me something, I don't really know, but it occurred to me a man with a time machine ought to be able to do something about Charlie's sad state of affairs. Maybe I couldn't go back and save his crop or change history in any way without messing up the whole blamed space time continuum, but surely I could do something your average Joe couldn't pull off, but what?
Maybe, the key was Christmas itself maybe the first Christmas!