Strange Suspense Stories
The Talisman of Liberty
by Drivtaan and Dan Swanson
A secret magical ceremony in Revolutionary War times creates a lasting powerful artifact for Good!
Author’s note: The Talisman of Liberty had some subtle guiding effects on U.S. history that almost no one is aware of, such as “Give-’em-Hell” Harry Truman being selected as Vice President eight years earlier on Earth-S than on our Earth.
From a trunk far greater in size than any single galaxy, innumerable multitudes of branches stretch forth; each extending, unseen, into a different universe.
Upon one of the branches, a mere one hundred million miles from the trunk, a hooded figure clothed in a robe of scarlet-purple stands. Around his right wrist there is a shackle. Forged from a metal unknown since before the dawn of time, it is connected by a chain of that same metal to a book far older which he clutches tightly to his chest.
A number of pages that outnumber the sands of the seashores of a thousand worlds are contained within. The skins of both an angel and a demon bind the cover, front and back, each tanned in the heart of a dying sun.
This is Destiny’s book. It is his curse and his joy, his burden and his freedom. It bears record of every individual that was, is, and ever shall be in a multitude of dimensions.
Upon the branch he now stands, the Solitary One, holding the book before him. Looking away from the trunk, his eyes gaze upon the world referred to by those who choose to designate the various dimensional regions as Earth-S. Trusting an instinct that has never failed, Destiny opens his book to the very page that requires his attention.
Before turning his attention fully to the page, his eyes focus on an individual on the verge of what, to his finite mind, seems to be a milestone in his journey of life. Destiny allows himself a smile, knowing that other such milestones lay in the man’s future. To see what will lead to such an incredible future, the Solitary One begins to read of the past.
There is a talisman on this earth. It is not unique. Such relics exist in other, parallel, worlds. The rituals performed to create them were nearly identical, and while their end purposes of liberty for all are the same, the manifestations required to achieve these purposes are as varied as the worlds themselves.
On one of these worlds, the manifestation resulted in an avatar, liberty made flesh, defending those unable to defend themselves. The most recent avatar chose to leave his world and fight for liberty on a world with no talisman. But that is a different page of Destiny’s book; one he has no inclination to read at this moment. It is this world’s talisman that he now focuses on.
On Earth-S, the magic of the Talisman did not manifest itself as an avatar, but merely lent its strength to those chosen to possess it.
Created at a time when one nation was undergoing the pains of birth, the Talisman of Liberty, as it was called, became linked to the spirit of the people who would fight the hardest to protect all that the talisman stood for. Intended to be placed in the care of the nation’s leader, to be bestowed upon a warrior of merit, the creators had to make that decision themselves. The first to receive the Talisman was Andrew Hunter; utilizing its power he became Minuteman, a symbol of liberty to the Colonials.
After the war, the Talisman of Liberty was given to the nation’s newly elected President until the time it would be needed again. Due to a certain part of the ritual, once it left Andrew’s possession its existence began to fade from his memory. When the President left office, he, too, soon forgot about the Talisman. It remained in the safekeeping of the President until America found itself in another war. And so it went.
Throughout the Talisman’s secret history, only two men ever possessed it more than once. Known as the Roughrider, the first was Teddy Roosevelt. He drew upon its power at San Juan, then became its guardian when he became President of the United States.
The second man was Jack Weston. In 1940, army private Jack Weston was personally picked by his base commander for a special project. A number of recruits were brought together by a special intelligence committee and groomed to become “official” mystery-men attached to the military.
Once their training was complete, the team was presented to the President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Days later, Pvt. Weston was summoned, under the cover of darkness, to the White House. In a ceremony attended by only three men, the President, Vice President Harry S Truman, and Weston, the young man received the Talisman from the hands of the nation’s leaders. (*) Calling himself Minute Man after the first man to wear it, Jack battled the Axis, first as an ally to America’s European allies, then as a defender of his own country when it entered the war. At the conclusion of the war, Jack returned the Talisman to President Truman who placed it in a secret vault with the hope that it would never be needed again.
Unfortunately, a mere six years later, the Talisman of Liberty was needed once more. As President Truman performed the necessary ritual, he was surprised to discover that the one chosen to bear the weight of the Talisman was, again, Jack Weston. The young man was not entirely surprised because the memories of the Talisman had not completely faded as they should have. Once again, Minute Man was going to war.
In 1953, Minute Man and several of America’s other costumed heroes encountered the mad scientist, Dr. Thaddeus Bodog Sivana, and were caught in what he called his “suspendium globe”. The heroes spent the next 20 years in suspended animation.
The creators of the Talisman could have never conceived the notion that one man would bear the artifact for so long, so they were unaware of what the outcome of such a prolonged exposure would be.
As the 20 years were slowly becoming a part of history, the physical substance of the Talisman of Liberty began to break down. Minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day, the mystic energy began to seep into the body of the man to whom it was entrusted. When the heroes finally were freed from their prison, nothing remained of the artifact, not even the memory.
Jack Weston noticed that there were a few changes he had undergone while in suspended animation, but accredited them to the science involved in the trap. He was somewhat faster than before, his strength was greatly increased-not on par with Captain Marvel by any means-allowing him to move far more weight than was humanly possible. As he took up the life of a costumed adventurer once again, he discovered that he healed much quicker that normal, and, as time passed, he realized that his aging had slowed down considerably.