CHARISS K. WALKER
Copyright © 2014 Chariss K. Walker
All rights reserved.
The Vision Chronicles, Book 8
Chariss K. Walker
Saturday morning, a little after midnight, James was lying against the breakfast room wall like a lump of mud. He'd been shot in the chest with a large caliber bullet. The forceful impact had thrown him backwards and he now sat where he'd landed. He couldn't move, but he could see and feel the life-force leaving his body. The sticky, red blood had soaked through his clothing and James realized he was a mess. The blood was first warm and then it grew cold against his skin. The darkness came and engulfed James. In a way, it was a blessed relief. James didn't feel the pain and hopelessness in the darkness. He didn't feel anything. He realized that he was no more and he reconciled himself to that state of being.
After he was past the darkness, James saw bright, clear light illuminating his mother and father. They were waiting for him, but they were far, far away. James could see them clearly because the light tunneled to them. He wanted to be with them more than anything else at that moment and, in an instant, he was standing beside them as quickly as the thought made itself known. James couldn't say where they were, but at least they were together. The peacefulness he felt was all-encompassing and complete; it was like sinking into a warm pool of pure love and acceptance. James felt whole for the first time in his life and it was in great contrast to the broken body that was lying against the wall in the manor. He reached out to take his mother's hand while he attempted to put his hand on his father's shoulder, but James realized with dismay that he couldn't reach either of them although they stood directly before him.
"Not yet, James," Dawn said as both she and his father smiled at him.
James was like a wisp of smoke, vaporous and insubstantial, and yet it was his consciousness. In a millisecond, the vapor was back in his body, back in the pain-filled world. There were moments of consciousness where the sound of the sirens blared in his head and the pain in his chest was white-hot lightening and terrible. There were moments when James was once again in darkness and then he felt the defibrillator shock him into awareness once again. James wondered why they didn't leave him alone and let him die in peace. What was with the damn life-saving heroics?
"We're losing him," a male voice said. Danny cried hysterically in the background as she begged her husband to come back to her. But, everything continued as a blur between darkness, glimpses of his parents, loud sirens, excruciating pain, and then darkness again, before the cycle was repeated. Two paramedics worked relentlessly and James was snapped back to life like a rubber band. The images of this were static, flashes of lights, sirens, and consciousness.
James fought the hands that restrained him, trying to return to and reach the place where he'd been only seconds earlier. He wanted that, not this. He wanted his mother and father and the love he'd felt in that far off place. He wanted to return to wholeness, not the broken body that he'd seen lying on the breakfast room floor. James was remotely aware that he was on a backboard while hands restrained him but, he continued to fight. He could hear Danny's voice somewhere, but he couldn't make out the exact words she said; it was more of a feeling. She seemed far away and the words she spoke bounced around in a long tunnel, dissipating before they reached James. Yet, he could feel her emotions holding him to this place of pain. He continued to fight to get free, and then, just as suddenly, he was back in that place of love and light with his parents. James rushed toward them, anxious to be there. The rest of it, all that was going on in the ambulance, was forgotten instantly. The only thing that mattered was that he felt safe again.
"No my son; it's not time," Dawn said as she shook her head. James knew that look and, in his past experience with his mother, he knew it never did any good to argue with her. He protested anyway.
"But, I'm dead. The gunshot killed me," James replied. "I want to stay here with you and Dad."
"No, you're not dead, son," James heard his father say. "And, you don't want to stay with us because Danny, Ryder, and Riley need you. Sands needs you and will never recover from this if you leave. None of them will. Your entire family needs you. You must go back. It's not yet time for you to join us. You must abide by the Universal laws and wait for the right time. Now, isn't the right time."
"I'm broken now," James replied helplessly as he recalled his body bleeding-out on the floor of the manor and the inability to move. "What good am I to them now?"
"You've been shot," his mother said. "That part is true; but, you're not broken. You're strong and brave, James. You'll mend if you set your mind to it. Go back, son. It's not yet time."
Dawn and Patrick moved away from him and James could see them slipping out of sight. He tried to reach out to his parents, but like a wisp of smoke, he was once again returned to his body and the blaring sirens. The shock of the defibrillator paddles hit his chest again. The force of the electric current lifted his body off the backboard, into the air, and then slammed it down again. It hurt like hell and James fought again to get away. Now, he could hear Danny crying and he felt his wife's heartbreaking sobs as she clung to his hand. Was that his hand, he wondered. James realized he was no longer insubstantial, he was flesh again. The words Danny cried pulled at his heartstrings and James could see beautiful and loving images of his wife and the twins flash before him. He could feel them in the core of his being and, at that moment, he wanted Danny and his family.
"James, please, please; don't leave me," Danny wailed. "We need you. Please, come back to me. You promised! You promised that you'd always find your way back to me. Come back, dammit. Come back to me!" James was back. In a blinding rush of searing lights, excruciating pain, wailing sirens, and unfamiliar hands restraining him, James returned to his body. His eyes and ears were assaulted by the clamor around him. He clung to Danny's voice even though, that too, brought him severe pain.
"He's back," one of the paramedic said. "Don't worry, Mrs. Lewis, they'll fix him up when we get to the hospital."
James was back in his body and it was gut-wrenchingly painful. He was acutely aware when the ambulance jerked to a sudden stop at the emergency room entrance of the hospital. He was placed on a gurney and rushed through more blinding lights, a steady stream on the ceiling of the long corridor. Then, James was wheeled into a surgical room and the stainless steel seemed as glaring as the lights had been. He was cold. The blood on his body was cold and congealed. James was lifted onto an operating table, on the count of three. Then, in fast clips, he was aware that his clothes were cut away, something pricked his arm, a mask was placed over his face, and many hands held him down. Although, he couldn't be certain of the sequence of these events, he knew they happened. He was aware at intervals and then he wasn't. James fought to free himself as long as he could, but the warmth of anesthesia washed over him, tugging for him to follow. It was hard to resist.
"Danny!" he gasped as he tried to sit up. But, another set of hands pushed at his left shoulder and James heard a familiar voice.
"You're in good hands, James. Dr. Elliot will take good care of you. He's our best surgeon. I'll wait outside with Danny. I want you to fight, James. Don't fight the doctors here trying to save your life. Fight for Danny and the twins," Dr. Kline said as James drifted into a medicated unconsciousness. Finally, James's hands fell useless at his sides. Then, it was black again, but this time he couldn't move by mere intention and he wasn't the vaporous wisp that had found his parents earlier. This time, there wasn't light leading him to them. He'd lost that thread of light the moment he'd decided to return; the moment he knew with certainty that Danny was all that he wanted. The choice had changed everything.
James didn't know how long the surgery lasted, but somehow he was aware that they were removing the bullet Nate Potter had put in his chest. The bullet had incapacitated him and it was a foreign idea to the strongly-built, determined man. It'd ripped through his body and torn through tissue that had to be repaired if James was to make it. Soon, it'd be gone and James was glad for that. He wanted the nasty reminder gone. He wondered if that meant that he wasn't broken after all. Could the skilled hands of a surgeon fix him? He'd heard Danny's voice in the ambulance; it had pulled James to her and tugged at his heartstrings, so he knew on some level that Nate hadn't shot and killed his wife. There were three rapidly fired gunshots. If Nate didn't fire them, who did?
Now, James was deeply under and could no longer concentrate on the attack Danny had survived. One last thought came to his mind before he was completely under, had the rest of the family survived too?