An echo of an echo. A dream interrupted by hushed voices talking the way people do near the deceased at a wake. One voice gruff, a man’s, possibly a smoker. The other mousy, almost a squeak. Three fingers pressed on the inside of my wrist. Thick fingers.
“His pulse is strong. Let’s give it a try.” The man’s voice rose. “Freddie, can you hear me?”
I recognized the name. Freddie. Short for Frederick. A name that must be me. Then panic. I’d been dreaming of castles and kings. Why would I want to be Freddie?
“Try his rank,” the woman said. “They’re trained to respond by rank.”
An image flitted across my mind. Iraq. An explosion. My mind recoiled. I groped about in the darkness, trying to find the castle again.
“Did you see that?” the man said. “His eyelids twitched.”
“Lieutenant,” the woman said, louder now. At least I was no longer deaf. “Can you wiggle your thumbs?”
There was somewhere else I needed to be, something important I was supposed to do. My mind was a jumble. When I couldn’t fit the puzzle pieces together, I sent a signal to my thumbs.
“Wonderful.” A touch on my palm. The woman this time. Slender fingers. “And can you squeeze?”
I did. She squeezed back. At least I wasn’t alone. I’d always worried hell was being alone for eternity.
“Good. Now your toes.” I felt a draft as she removed the sheet. “Can you wiggle your toes for me?”
I concentrated and wiggled my toes. She sounded pleased. But then I reached for the next level before I was ready. I tried to bend my knee.
My back arced like an electric shock had run through me. I wanted to scream but had forgotten how to make sound.
“A convulsion, Doctor?”
“Don’t think so, Mary. More likely pain.”
“Should we keep trying to wake him?”
I waited, not understanding the question but feeling it was important. The pain kept distracting me. Please, send me back.
“No. He needs more time. We’ve done all we can here. Put him back under and we’ll send him home. Let the boys in the States do the rest. He has a long road ahead.”
I wasn’t sure what “under” meant, but I had questions before I got there. What road was he talking about and why was it so long? I shifted my weight onto my elbow and tried to sit.
Oh Christ, my legs.
The smooth sense of plastic gliding across the small hairs on my arm. The pain subsided. My mind began to drift.
A bright flash. Soldiers screaming. Dogs barking. Where was my castle? Where was my quest?
Then slowly, sweet darkness. And the dream resumed.
WINNER: Readers' Favorite Book 2013 Bronze Award Winner, Drama Category - Fiction
A Tragic Warrior Lost in Two Worlds...
The war in Iraq ended for Lieutenant Freddie Williams when an IED explosion left his mind and body shattered. Once he was a skilled gamer and expert in virtual warfare. Now he's a broken warrior, emerging from a medically induced coma to discover he's inhabiting two separate realities. The first is his waking world of pain, family trials, and remorse--and slow rehabilitation through the tender care of Becky, his physical therapist. The second is a dark fantasy realm of quests, demons, and magic that Freddie enters when he sleeps.
In his dreams he is Frederick, Prince of Stormwind, who must make sense of his horrific visions in order to save his embattled kingdom from the monstrous Horde. His only solace awaits him in the royal gardens, where the gentle words of the beautiful gardener, Rebecca, calm the storms in his soul. While in the conscious world, the severely wounded vet faces a strangely similar and equally perilous mission--a journey along a dark road haunted by demons of guilt and memory--and letting patient, loving Becky into his damaged and shuttered heart may be his only way back from Hell.
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Genre – Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy
Rating – PG
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