Rebecca is driven to make her new life work. Lately, however, Rebecca has been having new dreams. This nightmare life threatens the current equilibrium of her tenuous real life; it threatens her marriage, because she knows, deep down, that Chase fears her-fears what she can do.
She thought the agency was destroyed with the destruction of the compound. She was wrong. The same people who once held her captive are tracking her again, and they're closer than she thinks. Now, someone else walks within her dreams. Will Rebecca keep control of her mind, or will her powers destroy everything she has come to love?
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.57(d)|
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By Jodie M. Swanson
iUniverse LLCCopyright © 2013 Jodie M. Swanson
All rights reserved.
Sand moves with the wind in gentle wisps between my toes as the breeze off the water pulls at my hair. The wafting sand makes ripples like after a stone is plopped into a lake. Its coarse texture teases the small hairs on my toes and the tops of my feet as I face the surf before me. Together the aromas of both the dry and the moist granules banter my eager nose. The sand is warm and welcoming. I guess I haven't realized how much I have missed its fragrant presence, until now.
My eyes take in all before me, as if it is a cherished face long forgotten. The small swells gently pull at the granules at my toes. The beautiful beckoning blue calls my name, softly, like a caress. And overhead gulls float in and out of my view. It is the view that belongs on postcards to send to jealous family and friends. It is, and feels like, a coastal paradise.
To the left and right of me is a beach and buildings that I do not recognize. My familiar wharf and stairs are nowhere to be found, but I do not panic. A deep surrounding calm fills me. The energy here fills me, and I welcome it. All of it. I am back. I am here.
Closing my eyes I lift my arms to allow the material of my flimsy shirt to be played with by the friendly breeze. The wind's fingers pluck and twist the fabric and I cannot help but smile. My long brown tresses whip and flick, and softly pull with the energy's assistance. Even my eyelashes tremble in the energy's wake. For the first time in a long time, a very long two years, I can feel everything, experience every sensation. All my senses are alive. I can even taste the air as it whips and whispers whoofing and splooshing noises in my ears. Every sense is heightened, and I have it all without any sense of fear.
The smells of the salty sudsy water and sand continue to mix and mingle in my nose. So I open my eyes and allow myself another look.
Paradise again. Oh how I have missed this. Missed this feeling, the smells, the warmth. I have missed the energy. My entire being is humming, alive.
Gulls flap by, casting tentative glances my way. I can both hear and feel them. They are so close. Closing my eyes I can feel the burst of each wing working through the air. I am reminded of reading the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull. "Hello, my friends," my voice offers gently. Their continued flapping tells me they have not left me alone out here on the beach. Opening my eyes again, I see the distant sun lowering itself into the sea. It feels good to be here, comfortable.
The distant sound of an alarm enters my mind, but not from here. Not from this place. Somehow this seems wrong, strange, like I shouldn't be here. But soon the warning sound dissipates and I am lost in my five senses again taking over. Yet, I cannot fully shake the feeling, like I am coming home, but to the wrong home.
What an odd thought.
The granules continue to float along the top side of my bare feet. The energy of both the breeze and the warmth of the retiring sun fill me, lifting my spirits. Sighing, I close my eyes yet again, and feel warmed by the poignant air around me. I can feel the energy take a controlled hold of me, caress me in its gentle yet powerful grasp. No longer do I feel the sand tickling my toes. I marvel at its tenderness and smile at it asks if I can feel it.
Gentle tickling on the bottom of my feet brings my eyes back open. The breeze has me in her grasp, and I am almost flying, moving slowly with her careful twirls up above the beach. Glancing down with a smirk, I see how high the energy has allowed me to float.
Where are my gulls now?
Testing my invisible wings, I reach with my left arm, all the way through my hand, to the ends of my fingers. My tips tingle with the power surging around them, and I go. Thinking of the controlled spin of figure skaters, my body and the energy around me make it happen. It is not like magic. It is more like comfort and excitement, an adrenaline rush of positivity. The speed of the spin slows, and I stop, seeing I am now even higher. Thinking of lowering, it happens, controlled, careful, and as if I have never stopped being with the energy. As if over two years has never passed since I found out about the Agency. The Agency, and my feet touch the wet granular surface with a soft jolt.
My eyes pop wide open.
The soft whimper in the other room must have awoken me.
Or was it the dream?
Slowly it creeps away, the soft caress of the energy of the dream.
Sitting up, I check to make sure my husband, Chase, or Mitch as we all have had to call him the past two years, is still asleep. Seeing he is, I carefully scoot from the bed and head down the hall towards the kitchen. Not bothering to turn the lights on I head to the sink and reach for a glass by the sink I keep for that late night sip purpose. After waiting a few seconds for the water to chill from the faucet, I fill my glass to the brim. Taking a few calming swigs of water, I look out the kitchen window, and gaze through my reflection.
It has been a long two years since I have had a dream like that. Two long years trying to rebuild our lives without talking with family or friends, and trying to make things like what had happened with that government Agency never happened. Like I never did what I had done by leveling the compound where I had been a shortly-held captive because I have weird dreams filled with energy and purpose. Chase and I were not sure we would ever get over it. To be honest, I am not even sure our marriage is going to get over it. In fact, I'm pretty sure it won't.
Right after the compound incident and my return home in the care of a sympathetic Jay Strebeck, Chase had become withdrawn. And since that event two years ago he has avoided alone time with me, and tries to prevent my time with Jay and Joanna, saying I wasn't well when the kids ask. I don't understand him, what he is doing, or why. There was one night when he had blurted out that it wasn't safe for me to be alone with the kids, and I still can feel that like a slap across the face. My face creases in memory of it as I stand at the sink.
"What? What is that supposed to mean?" I had challenged that night.
He had crossed the room to ensure the kids were out cold in their beds before he returned with a, "You hurt people, Bec. You killed people!"
I had just looked at him in shock over his words, much like I stare at my reflection now in the kitchen's window backed by darkness. "I didn't kill anyone."
"You were the only one there. You said it, the energy, moved through you. You sound like a serial killer or something. 'I only did what the voices told me to.'" His voice snapped, arms flapping in unison with some vision in his mind.
Looking at him like that, and not knowing, truly not knowing what was going on in his head had worried me. It was not like I had wanted to use it, the energy. Before the Agency had ever told me, I thought what I was feeling was just remnants of a lingering dream. But I hadn't even tried since that time at the compound, not really. My dream-version self, who I still think of as Two (and me One) and I hardly have communicated since that incident. We all, our government helpers Jay Strebeck and Mike Drake included, had thought the energy had left me. Two and I had been convinced. She told me it must have basically been shut off. It was a few days of checking in and then, she, and the energy I felt when she was around, or when I dreamt of her world, was gone. But I didn't know if it was permanent.
Even Kim had rarely talked with me after all that has happened. She never forgave herself for not arriving in time to save me from ever going to the compound that day. I had explained time and time again in my letters to her that I would have gone there eventually, that it had all been part of the plan. Nothing I wrote seemed to really help, her or us. She stopped taking my calls. Then the letters returned unopened. She had her guilt, and I mine.
Some history can never be mended it seems.
Unfortunately tonight's dream reinforces that sad truth.
But, it is so weird to have a dream of her world, of Two's world, after all this time. I was me there, not her. And in those few moments it was clear I was alone.
What does it mean? I muse.
I haven't dreamt like that, or dreamt much in general, at all. In fact, I have rarely slept, and so dreams have been non-existent.
Maybe it's nothing.
Didn't feel like nothing. Felt like I had before I knew what was going on, before I knew of the agency and experiments.
So? People do dream. Maybe this is a memory? A sign you are actually going to get some sleep? Think positive, for crying out loud.
Snorting, I catch my reflection's eye once again. With my emotions this high, I am confident that sleep won't return for a while. Knowing that my family will wake if I make too much noise, I decide to get on the computer. I sit at the little desk in the living room and wait for it to boot up. A quick glance at the clock shows it to be 2:47. Shaking my head, and tucking an errant hair behind my ear, I check my email. Nothing again, so I glance through some different websites. Not a normal web surfer, the mundane click, click, click has me perusing old, more meaningful files on the hard drive on the computer. One old folder sends shivers down my spine.
That's all it says.
It's all it says, but I know everything in there. I have lived it. It is the journal I wrote starting that night almost two years ago. I remember the night at the table grabbing a pen and writing. Here, two years later, same little house in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, I want to reread what I started on paper, then transcribed onto this computer's hard drive, and periodically have added to.
A couple of clicks and the first file is open, and I read:
Another day. Adjust my leather boots and get the kink out of the material, then grab my long trench coat. With a flick of my hair I pass through the small portal of my small dumpy home.
Methodically I read the lines before me, like I am in a trance. Page after page I read of the other world and of Two, my pet name for the other Rebecca I know from my dreams. I take in the dreams that I have stored in the computer's memory, like it is imbedded in mine. I cannot fully believe what I have written, even though I know every word is true, every description and feeling expressed on the screen is fact. Reading it seems futuristic, conspiracy theory, and new age all rolled into one.
So, do I really blame Chase for what he feels, reading all that he and I have been through? Do I blame Kim? Or even the rest of our friends and family? Our? His, they are basically phantoms of our lives and I have none now it seems. This experience has changed us all. My family doesn't really exist anymore, and his family pretends I don't. I have no one, except the kids, and Jay Strebeck and Mike
I had her.
That was then.
I miss her. She understood.
She doesn't need me. She has Shadow.
I miss them both.
The sun peeking through the living room curtains tells me that alarm clocks will be chiming six soon.CHAPTER 2
Captain Roberts looks at the screen before him, and erupts, "Finally a breakthrough." After two painstaking years of rebuilding the agency manually, file by painstaking file, page by stupid line-filled page, the endless gurus and computer systems that needed rebuilding, he had a blimp on his experiment seeking radar. He slams his fist on the desktop in excitement. "A blimp, but it's a strong one."
Roberts works the kinks out of his neck and runs his fingers through his overly thinned-out hair. The past two years have done a serious number on his reputation and career. After six plus months of investigation and interrogation, the government had concluded that it had not been an air assault on the compounds in New Mexico, and Arizona. They also confirmed that no detonation devices of any kind had been utilized. They had found several unconscious "experiment survivors" in cocoon-like film amidst the rubble found at both sites. At first it was thought there had been no survivors, but with the clearing of the debris, they had found the six in New Mexico and the nine in Arizona. Roberts doubts "survivors" is a good word. They are either lacking their normal memory and "skills," or were still comatose. Most of the fifteen have been basically a waste of government money, his time and energy, but the agency had them and was told to keep them ... "Just in case." Luckily a few had come out of their cocoons and are back "working" and living with the agency. Actually the count came closer to seven subjects lost in one day.
Only one hadn't been accounted for.
Rebecca Stewart's capture had been reported, and then her not being found at the New Mexico compound started new questions, and more lack of answers. Roberts was sure she was the one behind the devastation at both sites, though he was unsure of how it could have been done. Though she had been coded "energy" he was certain no one had the ability to do what many suspected she had. He was confident she had help, and not finding Jay Strebeck after all this time had the uppers agreeing with the idea of his flight. Strebeck was considered a risk, dangerous, not to the general population, but rather to the agency, hence the government as a whole. Another person had been missing from the wreckage of the day, but little was known or on file for a Rob Jamison, so the uppers were also asking how people could come and go without their permission and know-how. It was assumed this Rob Jamison was also involved in the devastation.
Roberts shakes his head in both disbelief and disappointment. He wonders how these people could have so easily given up other personnel's lives just for the sake of one case.
"Maybe she can influence people's minds," Roberts mutters.
Roberts turns and looks at the middle-aged women at his office door. Her tired features a testament to the long hours the agency has had to utilize in order to get back on track, on her track.
"Yes, Sergeant Johnston?"
Her eyes are a little brighter than normal. "We have a hit, Sir."
"Yes. I saw that. I have it programmed to pop up on my screen right at first indication." Roberts smiles. "It must be her. Did you see the level on it?"
"Yes, Sir. But ... there was another, I think. Same time, same place, but much smaller. It almost didn't register."
Roberts blinks. "What did you say?"
Johnston's green eyes don't twinkle, just reflect. "There are two separate emitting energy levels, actually two emitting two separate levels for the exact same time span."
Roberts looks at his screen, and pulls up the necessary information to verify what the woman has said. It is indeed true. The new satellite software with all the new enhancements had registered two separate signals. It had also been able to triangulate a point of origination over the area of central Wisconsin. "She's turned to the dairy lands, has she?"
"Sir? The other signal. Could it be the other 'consciousness' reconnecting?"
Roberts takes in Johnston for a moment, then looks back at the screen. "Hard to tell. It has been two years since we have had a signal of any kind, and the new software hasn't been able to be tried out yet. Especially as the some of the experiments are short-circuited, so-to-speak. It might very well be that other ... consciousness, as you call it. Let's just keep an eye on that aspect of it." He looks at his screen again. "But for now, let's see who we can round up to head out to America's Dairy Land and round up our lost Rebecca, shall we?"
Excerpted from Another Time by Jodie M. Swanson. Copyright © 2013 Jodie M. Swanson. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse LLC.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was such a fun read & I had a hard time putting it down. I can't wait to see what the rest of the series has in store!