Summer Solstice in a Small Town

I like to take road trips, and the stranger the destination, the better. I like small towns that literally aren’t on the map. Breaker, Texas is one such town.

In Central Texas, scrubby trees grow up twisted from constant wind. The farther West you go, the hardier the stunted trees – at least, until you get to Breaker. There are no trees within the Breaker city limits, and no other vegetation of any kind: no grassy yards, no prickly pears, not even any potted plants. Breaker wasn’t always barren, but it is now.

That makes it all the more remarkable that the Makepeace Orchard survives at the edge of town. The peach farm has been continuously cultivated since 1822. Prior to that, a tribe known as the Cayalanzuvan grew sytra there. Urban legend links sytra to the bloodier aspects of atavistic paganism, and Goddess worship in particular. If that doesn’t compel you to put FM-6060 on your itinerary, consider this: a petrified tree stands just inside the gate. It is bone white, but certain sensitive people report seeing a black haze rise from the surface. Touch the tree, and those people say they hear a woman talking. Spooky? Perhaps, but even if you aren’t the type to enact your own personal episode of Supernatural, you can get a good deal on peaches. What’s not to love?

This is my fifth summer in Texas. I still haven’t made it to Treeletting, Breaker’s annual Summer Solstice celebration. Treeletting is a multi-cultural event held in the orchard, and gives prominent place to Cayalanzuvan ritual. The allegations of human sacrifice making the rounds of the tabloid circuit booked Breaker’s only hotel, The Gauss, for this whole week. I know because I tried to make reservations. Even without the (probable) journalistic embellishment of cannibalism, the true tragedy of 2007 is probably enough on its own to draw a certain kind of crowd.

Dubbed  “The Treeletting Tragedy,” the events of 2007 resulted in multiple deaths by fire and a possible abduction. Helena Makepeace, a mentally unstable young woman with ties to the orchard, is still on the Missing Persons register. You’ve probably seen her on those sad brochures that show up in the mail, the ones with a time-lapsed photo and information about what the missing individual was last seen wearing; she’s the one who would have been beautiful, if not for the accident that mutilated half of her face.

There is also bounty out for a father and daughter who disappeared shortly after the  ’07 solstice. The tabloids occasionally run with that, too, purporting that a small religious group known as the La Zaliites is behind the reward money. The La Zaliites think that the daughter, who was only three at the time of the incident, is the human incarnation of their Goddess.

If Breaker were on a map, it would at the epicenter of strange.

Happy Summer Solstice!

PS If you liked this post, consider adding Stolen Climates to your Goodreads bookshelf. You can also click Like on the book’s Amazon page. Neither costs you anything, but they mean something to me. Thanks!

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16 thoughts on “Summer Solstice in a Small Town

  1. Just had a minute to stop by and read your post, and without the time to do the research, I have to ask… Really?

    All of this is true stuff? Including Helena? Or is this like a “Blair Witch” type of marketing? :)

    Either way, it’s brilliant promotion for your book (which I’m loving… even if it’s taking me awhile to read. I get very limited free reading time at the end of the day just before sleep).

    I’m only a little over halfway through the book, but I recognize many details. But if all this is true, the great thing is the additional material. You might get some other opinions on this, but I think this would make a great addition at the end of the book.

    Just a thought.

    Paul D. Dail
    http://www.pauldail.com- A horror writer’s not necessarily horrific blog

    Like

    • Paul, hi! I’m glad you enjoyed the post, because had a lot of fun writing it. As for the absolute truth, well, urban legends and tabloids tend to be a bit shaky as far as sources go, but sometimes people say the same of fiction writers spinning a yarn…

      Thanks for reading Stolen Climates! I know reading time is scarce, and I appreciate you spending some of yours on my novel. It means a lot!

      Like

  2. Hello, Aniko! I came to you blog because Paul tweeted the link. I’m wondering if the history on Breaker, Tx is true? It’s a pretty interesting story if it is. And if not, kudos to you for some cool marketing. We’re doing that with one of our authors, as well.

    I went to Amazon, read a sample, and bought your book. I’ll leave a review when finished. Looking forward to it!

    Like

    • Welcome, Stacey! It’s a pleasure to meet you. Thanks for following the tweet, and huge thanks for purchasing Stolen Climates. It makes my day to know you’re interested in the story. And, yes, please leave a review, not so much for me, but to help out other readers.

      As for the history of Breaker, I’ll have to thank you for the kudos on cool marketing. :)

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  3. Creepy … well creepy, as we say in Britain.

    I’m a little confused now – is Breaker an actual place? I thought it was purely fictitious when I was reading the novel. Or is this a bit of Blair Witch-style marketing? If it is, that’s great too … it’s interesting, because I’m currently considering setting up a Facebook page for the protagonist in my WIP. Not because I seriously think it’s likely to drive sales – it isn’t – but because it would be a fun, whimsical sort of thing to do. :-)

    Like

    • Breaker is fictional. I’ve written a string of either serious posts or posts about me, and I wanted to do something different. Given that there are events in Stolen Climates that occur on the Summer Solstice, I decided to write a short piece of fan fiction related to the book. Yes, I am a zealot for my own book! The post was fun to write and, if my experience is any indication, I think you’ll have a great time setting up the character page on Facebook.

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  4. Hi Aniko-
    I hope you have a nice guest room where you are in Texas, because you just sold me.
    I am also fascinated by places that have supertnatural history or ties attached to them somehow.
    As a girl I read a story of a shack somwhere in the center of the US that had strange magnetic properties an unnatural tilt to its structure and almost everything in. If flour or ripped pieces of paper were tossed into the air in the shack it would fall to the ground in a swirling vortex, a mini tornado.
    I was too small to recall the whereabouts of this shack–but you know where the petrified tree is that speaks and excudes evil dark clouds, and that is good enough for me!!
    So if you are ever having a big picnic in the reach orchard please think of me! New Jersey is not THAT far…

    Like

    • You’re always welcome at my house, Dea! I do have a guestroom, with its own bathroom and a bed that everyone says is super comfy. :) Stop by!

      Breaker is the town I invented for my novel. This makes it convenient to visit, provided you have a Kindle. The Summer Solstice is a pivotal event in the book, and I wanted to have fun writing a post to commemorate those events. I wrote from the perspective of “what if Breaker were real, and what sorts of things would manifest around that reality?” It was fun, if a little gimmicky-Blair-Witchy.

      I’ve also heard of that cabin! I thought it was located somewhere in the PA-VA-WVA area, but that doesn’t really narrow things down, does it? Especially since now I’m thinking MD might also be a possibility…

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