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Elixir Prologue:

    If the mass of warm humid air over the Gulf of Mexico had been later in the season, it would have spawned a tropical storm or maybe even a hurricane.  Instead, the unseasonably warm gulf waters generated a more conventional, almost monsoonal storm. This mass of warm, wet air moved northwards over north central Mexico, generating a hard rain as it moved.  Meanwhile, an unseasonably cold artic air mass had descended all the way from Canada, and was just reaching the northern parts of Mexico, causing severe frosts all across Arizona, New Mexico, and West Texas.  When these two opposing air masses collided over Mexico, chaos ensued. 
    Long ago, the tributary stream flowing into the Parras Valley of Mexico had contained water year round.  An ancient Mesoamerican culture had flourished along its banks, using the then ample water to irrigate crops, founding a small city.  However, the growth of the Sonoran Desert eventually reduced the amount of water to the point where agriculture sufficient to support the small city was no longer viable.  Now, the remains of the small mud brick city, the bricks long dissolved by rains, was evidenced only by the mounds of the collapsed buildings covered by the thousands of pits dug by pot hunters, the infamous looters of objects of antiquity.  The previous year had seen massive brush fires in the hills above this tributary, denuding the soils of most vegetation.  To top it all off, large scale earthwork had also been underway up valley to construct a new industrial complex in a half-baked attempt to bring jobs to the area.  Even worse, there had just been a few months of relatively light, but steady rains, making the soils completely saturated.
    When the wet, warm air of the gulf spawned storm met with the cold air mass from the Canadian Artic, the rainfall was every bit as intense as the worst tropical storms.  Within a few hours, several inches of rain had fallen and the tributary was swollen with muddy water. Flash floods ensued.  Large cracks began to appear in a steep soil slope part way up one of the ridges.  Sheet flow from the rain coursed into these cracks.  Soon large blocks of soil began moving down the hill, eventually turning into torrents of mud and water.  The tributary became filled with mud, rocks, and burned trees, the debris scouring even more material from the sides of the channel.
This mass soon reached the ruins, eating into the mounds far more effectively than any army of looters, tearing away entire ruins in moments and dissolving them into the hungry debris flow.   A part of one of the ruins collapsed into the torrent, exposing a relatively intact interior that had not been raided by the pothunters.


    Joe Gambaro dreamed in troubled sleep.  In discovering his Great Grandfathers seemingly magic wines, he had discovered how to dream things at a distance and how to read the threads of the present that led to the future, and sometimes even into the past.  These abilities came at a price.  After sampling these wines sporadically over the past months, and even using them to save the life of one of his friends, he found that sometimes the distracting dreams and visions occurred even without drinking the wines.  He found he had little control over them.  He had now not touched any of the special wines for several weeks, but still his sleep was troubled.
    Joe found himself inside an airliner.  The plane was rapidly descending; loose objects were flying about the cabin.  Passengers were either screaming or crossing themselves, terror permeating the plane.  The windows were dark.  Clearly it was nighttime.
    The descent stopped abruptly as the plane slammed hard into a mountaintop.  The screams were replaced by the deafening screech of twisting metal.  Gaps appeared in the cabin walls illuminated by flames on the outside of the plane.  Seats containing passengers were ripped violently from the floor.  The smell of jet fuel permeated everything.  Soon the whole interior of the plane wreckage was on fire.


    Joe woke up in a cold sweat.  He recognized the sense of a dream that was not a dream.  Somewhere, hundreds of people had just died in a plane crash.  He glanced at his alarm clock, 3:12 AM.  He quietly slipped out of bed so as to not awake his sleeping wife, and for the umpteenth time he resolved himself to yet another night of insufficient sleep.
    Stumbling into his den, he turned on the news station and sat down to read more on Alchemy.  Soon he was distracted from his reading by a story on torrential rainfall and severe flashfloods in north central Mexico.  A few minutes later, the news anchor read a flash about an airliner disappearing in the area, most likely the victim of the unseasonably violent storm.  Joe felt pain in the pit of his stomach.  Why him?  One more vision of far away events.  But no matter how far away, way to close for Joe.  At least this one was not of a future event that, like all of the future events he saw, he had no power to prevent.
    Sickened by the powers of the wines once more, he turned to something unrelated to alchemy or the magic wines, planning for the spring outdoor concert series.  The first such concert of this season was scheduled for Saturday afternoon, and would feature a locally popular rhythm and blues band.  Elise (Joe’s wife) had been making an extensive fare of gourmet finger foods.  The large expanse of lawn was ready.  Joe had even built a stage for this year’s events.  He was expecting hundreds of people.  Joe began to feel better.