Peter M Howard ::

wintermute.com.au

They cannot go back

22March2015 [writing]
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In which a dreamer wakes, a world emerging

Wrote this this morning. It comes, I think, from the opening of the second act of the new novel. Sam, Kate, and Luke are our protagonists; Kate has been in a coma for the whole of the first act, and when she wakes, things change.

Kate opens her eyes. Sam is there, talking to another woman she doesn’t know. She can’t make out the words, but something at the back of her mind tears at her. She wants to speak up, but can’t find the words. She wants to yell. Scream. Nothing.

Nothing. Black—

Kate wakes, opens her eyes. Sees— herself, looking back up at her. She’s floating above her body, looking around the room. Luke is there, dozing in the corner. Sam is outside the door, arguing with someone she can’t see. She tries to open her mouth. No sound comes out. She falls, crashes back into her body. Black—

Kate wakes, but it’s dark. Is she in the hospital room, or in that other place? Her eyes adjust, take in the moonlight. The moon isn’t as bright as in the other place, she must be here. As her mind catches up with her body, feeling slowly returns. The bed under her is still. The room is empty. She can’t tell what time it is, but it’s quiet out.

She remembers she had to tell Kate and Luke something. Warn them. She doesn’t know what it is, but she’s sure it’s urgent. She has to tell them now! She has to get! up!

She pulls her legs up, has to use her arms for balance. Props herself up on a pillow. Pauses for breath, her arms shaking from the smallest exertion. Deep breath and spins herself off the bed, legs hanging over the edge, and falls into a crouch.

Everything hurts, muscles tired, but she has to get out. Has to warn Kate and Luke. They can’t try again, it’s a trap.

She pulls herself up standing, stumbles towards the door, and crashes into it. She’s suddenly aware of the sound, a high-pitched whine coming from somewhere behind her, echoed somewhere down the hall, and there’s a nurse on the other side of the door, pushing gently against her, trying to get in, bundling her back to the bed.

“They can’t go back!” she’s crying, over and over, but the nurse isn’t listening, or doesn’t care. “It’s not safe there!”, as she falls back into a sleep, slips into the darkness.

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