Excerpt: The Journey by John A. Heldt

The Journey
(Northwest Passage, #2)
By: John A. Heldt
Publisher: Self-published
Published: Nov. 3, 2012
Genre: Historical Fiction

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Seattle, 2010. When her entrepreneur husband dies in an accident, Michelle Preston Richardson, 48, finds herself childless and directionless. She yearns for the simpler days of her youth, before she followed her high school sweetheart down a road that led to limitless riches but little fulfillment, and jumps at a chance to reconnect with her past at a class reunion. But when Michelle returns to Unionville, Oregon, and joins three classmates on a spur-of-the-moment tour of an abandoned mansion, she gets more than she asked for. She enters a mysterious room and is thrown back to 1979.

Distraught and destitute, Michelle finds a job as a secretary at Unionville High, where she guides her spirited younger self, Shelly Preston, and childhood friends through their tumultuous senior year. Along the way, she meets widowed teacher Robert Land and finds the love and happiness she had always sought. But that happiness is threatened when history intervenes and Michelle must act quickly to save those she loves from deadly fates. Filled with humor and heartbreak, THE JOURNEY gives new meaning to friendship, courage, and commitment as it follows an unfulfilled soul through her second shot at life.



When the frightened-looking young man dropped his hat, Nick stepped on the accelerator. Shelly heard tires squeal as her head slammed against the top of her seat and both cars lurched forward. Within seconds Nick shifted into second gear and steered the ‘Cuda back to the center of the road, correcting a fishtail that had pushed Shelly’s pulse to triple digits.

Shelly ignored both Nick and Waylon Cooney and focused instead on the dark road ahead, which dipped and rose like a mellow stretch of a roller coaster track. She squeezed the handle and said a silent prayer, asking God to keep her in one piece, instead of eighty-five, as the ‘Cuda approached a rise in the road and visibility of oncoming traffic fell to a hundred yards.

The Trans Am started to pull away.

“Hold on,” Nick said as he shifted gears.

With one hand on the dash and another on the door, Shelly silently screamed. This was insane, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest insane. She glanced at the instrument panel just long enough to see the speedometer needle pass 135 and the tachometer needle hit its max.

For two hundred yards the muscle cars moved in unison, as if attached like a motorcycle and a sidecar. Neither driver managed to gain a significant advantage over the other.

When the cars passed blindly over yet another rise, Shelly looked into the distance and saw oncoming lights. She put her hands on her face and then on the dash. She pushed herself back as she tried to will a quick end to an adventure that had rapidly become a nightmare.

“I think I’ve got him,” Nick said as he pulled the stick one last time. “Sit tight.”

“This is crazy!” Shelly screamed.

Apparently focused on the task at hand, Nick did not respond. He instead tightened his grip on the wheel and floored the accelerator. Seconds later he pulled ahead of the Trans Am, veered into the right lane, and shot through the intersection ahead of his rival and ahead of an oncoming pickup whose driver had already hit its horn.

Nick tapped the brake and eventually slowed to a reasonable speed. He drove another fifty yards to a wide spot in the road, did a U-turn, and pulled onto a narrow, sloping shoulder on the east side of Route 10. He turned off the ignition, laughed, and faced the girl at his side.

“So much for the shit kicker,” he said triumphantly. He extended his arm behind Shelly’s head. “What do you think? Did we kick some ass?”

Hearing no reply, Nick leaned toward his passenger.

“Shelly? Are you all right?”

Shelly let go of the dash, dropped her head, and turned away. Shaken and most definitely stirred, she took a moment to collect herself before looking at Nick with an ashen face.

“I think I peed my pants.”


John A. Heldt is a reference librarian who lives and works in Montana. The former award-winning sportswriter and newspaper editor has loved reading and writing since writing book reports on baseball heroes in grade school. A graduate of both the University of Oregon and University of Iowa, he is an avid fisherman, sports fan, home brewer, and reader of thrillers and historical fiction. Heldt is the author of THE MINE and THE JOURNEY.

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