Short Story: The Timely Arrival of Barnabas Bead


The past year has been incredibly busy. There have been Hutchmoots (yes, plural), Kickstarter campaigns, Molehills, memberships, Anglican Ways, Wolf Kings, Slugs and Bugs, and a slew of other things to work on (many of which are still piled on my desk). Amid all that I’ve had people asking, “When is your next book coming out?”—in answer to which I have generally shrugged my shoulders and wondered the same thing.

Since Fiddler’s Green was published at the end of 2010, I’ve been telling myself that as soon as I have time, I’ll get to work on the next project. But the last few years have taught me that such thinking is a sure road to nowhere. If I’m going to write, I’m going to have to make the time. You’d think I’d have learned that lesson by now, but I suppose I’m stubborn (my wife is nodding her head emphatically as you read this).

unremembered-country-5This year, I’m changing my tack. I’m committed to writing a short story each month. Making time for a novel feels like too much at this point in life, but I can make time for something more bite-sized, and I’ve always loved short stories. I grew up reading collections of strange tales, ghost stories, and odd accounts about everything from the Bermuda Triangle to the Tunguska Fireball. I gobbled up Poe, Lovecraft, and King in my teens and have grown to love Chekov, Tolstoy, and O’Connor as an adult. Since the inception of the Rabbit Room I’ve written quite a few shorts of my own and have learned to really enjoy the form.

So I began this project, which I call Tales of an Unremembered Country, last month and I’m releasing the first fruit of it today. This tale, “Timely Arrival of Barnabas Bead,” is about a hapless colonel and his long-suffering lieutenant, who are reassigned to a Confederate outpost in the Appalachian Mountains. The road they take to get to their new garrison, however, might just lead them somewhere else entirely. If you’ve read the Fiddler’s books, you may recognize some parts of the world in which this is set. I’ll leave it at that.

The story is available as a PDF in the Rabbit Room store (you can read a sample here), and in the Amazon store via Kindle (Amazon reviews are much appreciated!). This month’s tale includes an illustration by Jonny Jimison, and I hope to involve a variety of illustrators in these stories throughout the year. I hope you enjoy it. I’ll have another for you next month.

Pete Peterson is the author of the Revolutionary War adventure The Fiddler’s Gun and its sequel Fiddler’s Green. Among the many strange things he’s been in life are the following: U.S Marine air traffic controller, television editor, art teacher and boatwright at the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch, and progenitor of the mysterious Budge-Nuzzard. He lives in Nashville with his wife, Jennifer, where he's the Executive Director of the Rabbit Room and Managing Editor of Rabbit Room Press.


  1. Pete Peterson


    Unlikely, Colin. Other e-reader outlets are a pain to work with, and as I mentioned in the post, I just don’t have time to wrangle all those details. The PDF in the store should be readable by just about anyone (though some e-readers will probably translate it into a goofy format).

  2. Laure Hittle

    Oh, Pete. This does not help me get through my own long list of projects—you nailed the first page (what an evocative beginning), and it’s blustery out, which both recalls that first beautiful page and makes me want to hole up and read and let the wind howl. But all my piled-up tasks are beginning to slide, starting with the fact that i am late for the library this morning. If i tell myself i cannot continue reading until i’ve gone over course offerings and emailed admissions, then i can thank you again for much-needed motivation to do what i know i need to do (as well as the reminder that our stories don’t write themselves).

    AP posted this morning that he’s finished the Creaturepedia. No rest for the weary! Back to editing and typesetting. You are the very model of throne wardens.

  3. Peter B

    New Peterson shorts! Thank you for the story, and for the gentle reminder to make the time.

  4. Joe Sutphin

    I read the story last month and I can assure all that it is fantastic. Its odd, gruff, a little creepy and holds well written comedy. I really enjoyed it a great deal.

  5. Josh Bishop

    I’m tempted to begin reading now, but I can tell already that this story will want a pipe and a pint. It can wait ’til the kids go to bed.

  6. Brenda Branson

    Pete, this story drew me in so well that I screamed “Noooooooo” at the ending because I didn’t want it to be over. Great storytelling! My favorite line:

    “As December stretched its arms and yawned, there followed in the train of winter’s gown a flicker of old magic that Barnabas Bead would not forget.”

    I’ll definitely read it again and again.

  7. Chris Day

    Will the “Tales of an Unremembered Country” be available as a full collection at the end of your journey? I like the smelly, loveliness that a new book has over the immense number of PDFs I’ve read in the past few months of Masters work.

  8. CyndaP

    Finally, made the time to read this earlier this week. It was wonderful. The description of Winter coming to the Cumberland Gap was both eerily beautiful and harsh. Looking forward to next month!

  9. Patrick Nix

    I can’t locate your short story about some spooky rabbits… Ia it published or caught in the web of lost blogs or hiding in a dark corner of the internet? I’d LOVE to read it to my kids.

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