Flashes of Life

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 4 (v.1) - Redemption

Submitted: August 10, 2019

Reads: 19

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Submitted: August 10, 2019

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(Hospice Center, late evening)

“He’s going into convulsions. Hold him down. Hold him down!” shouted Melanie.

I could feel myself stiffening as my whole body started thrashing involuntarily on the examination table. I could see several nurses trying to hold me down as Melanie filled a syringe with some liquid. I tried to cry out, but I couldn’t even do that. All that came out were muffled grunts. Make it stop. Please make it stop.

I felt a cold sensation spreading out inside my arm. Whatever Melanie had injected in me was having the desired effect. My convulsions started subsiding and I could feel myself calming down. But I still felt very agitated and I was still breathing very hard.

“Mel,” I said hoarsely reaching up with my arm. “Mel, I wanna go back. I wanna go back. Please,” I begged feeling a tear coming down.

“Julian, you’re okay. You’re gonna be fine. Just try to relax,” Melanie said soothingly brushing my almost bald head.

I started looking around the room searching for any signs of the boy. “Jules … Jules – where are you? Jules, come back for me. Please come back for me. I wanna go back. Jules, I wanna go back.!” I cried almost in a panic.

I felt another burst of cold liquid spreading into my arm from another injection. I could feel myself getting very sleepy and no matter how hard I tried, I could not keep my eyes from closing. “I wanna go back,” I whimpered. “Jules, where are you? … I wanna go back …”

I could feel myself going under, but this isn’t the way it’s supposed to work. Jules always comes for me in some form or fashion right before the beginnings of my visions. This … this is something else. This is …

 

 (Nuclear Power Plant)

I pressed my hands over my ears trying to muffle the endless deafening sounds of the klaxons blaring all around me. As I ran through the hallways trying to find the nearest exit, I passed by several chambers in which the containment doors had also been activated. I could see several people banging desperately on the small windows begging for me to help them. They had been trapped just like I was.

What do I do? What do I do? I ran to one of the doors and shouted out to them as loud as I could through the window trying to instruct them on how to override the door just like I did. But the window was too thick and the alarms were too loud for them to hear me. And even if they did hear me, their technical expertise was not as proficient as mine. And they may not even have access to the required tools to do the job.

“I can’t help you!” I shouted with tears. “I’m sorry … I’m so sorry.”

I felt myself immobilized and the sounds around me echoed inside my head as I stared into their faces. The look of fear; the look of despair – they’ll never see their families and their loved ones ever again. So much anguish and hopelessness and … this is so unfair. What do I do? I looked around in desperation looking for something – anything that I could use to try and open these doors. But I knew that the longer I stayed, the longer I’d be exposed to the lethal radiation from the ongoing meltdown.

I started walking towards the exit again trying to avert my eyes from my other colleagues who were also banging frantically on the other side of the containment doors. There’s nothing I can do. I have to keep going. As I was nearing the exit door, I thought I heard something that sent a chill up my spine. I shifted my head sideways and there it was again.

“Julian … Julian – help!”

It sounded very faint and almost lost under the deafening sounds of the alarms.

“Julian, help me!”

Wait a minute. I can’t be. Is that … “Jules? … Jules!

I ran back frantically looking through every window looking for him. What the hell is Jules doing in here? I came to a screeching halt when I finally found him. He was banging on the window on the other side of one of the containment doors. He looked about the same age as the last time I saw him.

“Julian, help. Get me out of here,” he shouted with terror in his eyes.

“Jules – hold on. I’m gonna get you out. Everything’s gonna be okay!”

I ran to the nearest firehose and broke the glass with my elbow. I grabbed the ax and ran back to the door. I looked through the window and Jules was lying on the floor with blood coming out of his nose.

“No … Jules, hold on. I’m coming!” I started swinging the ax against the window. I just kept pounding at the window over and over again. But no matter how hard I tried, I wasn’t even making a single dent.

Jules! Don’t die – please don’t die,” I cried. I tried prying the door open with as much strength as I could muster. “Goddammit, why won’t you open!”

I dropped to my knees in anguish. “Jules! Juuuuuules …!”

 

(Hospice Center, the following morning)

I woke up slowly and groggily. I shifted my eyes around and found myself alone in my hospice bed under the covers. I could feel the dampness in the bedsheets below me as well as the ones over me. I must’ve been sweating profusely during the night. I could see the dust motes floating lazily in the sunlight piercing through the partly open blinds.

I just lay there thinking about that terrible nightmare I just had. This hadn’t been a vision like the ones I’ve been having with Jules. When I’m in that other place, I’m fully aware of my own self and my interactions with the surroundings. There is order and realism and continuity. They have been as real as me lying down on this bed right at this moment. Dreams feel more surreal and disjointed. No, this was no vision. This was an actual dream. More like a nightmare.

I heard a light knocking on the door. A nurse walked in rolling a food cart and pulled out a breakfast tray. “Good morning Mr. Edwards. How are you feeling this morning?” asked the petite oriental nurse with black short hair. She pressed the controls on the side of the bed and brought me up to a sitting position. She positioned the rectangular table attached to the bed over my stomach and set the food tray in front of me.

“I hope you’re hungry,” she said smiling as she removed the food cover revealing some scrambled eggs next to some biscuits and gravy.

I almost started gagging as I pushed the tray away. “I’m sorry ma’am. I’m not very hungry. Can you please just take it away?”

She looked at me with disappointment. “Mr. Edwards, please try to eat. If you don’t eat, we’ll have to start feeding you intravenously.”

“Believe it or not, that actually sounds more appetizing than the food. Look, I appreciate you trying to help, but right now, I can’t even look at the food without gagging.”

“Very well sir. I’ll just leave it over here on the counter in case you change your mind later on, okay? Dr. Grayson will come see you in a moment.”

I lowered my bed again and just stared up at the ceiling. I could feel the vestiges of depression slowly creeping in. I kept thinking about that other place and how good it felt to be there. Are they just visions conjured up by the cancer cells invading my brain? At this point, it really doesn’t matter to me what this is or what’s causing it. It feels real enough for me and that’s the only thing that counts.

I saw the door opening through my peripheral vision and saw Melanie stepping in. She studied the vital signs from the monitors next to my bed with clinical focus. “Good morning. How are you ff… Sorry, bad habit. I won’t ask you that anymore. What I will ask you is, do you remember what happened last night?”

“You mean with the thorns and the trail of mud? Yeah, I remember. Mel, I saw that boy again. But he was older. At first I thought he was a figment of my imagination. But you saw those thorns and you held them in your hand. You saw that trail of mud in the hallway that he was dragging with his bike. And then I … I found myself in one of my visions with that same boy again.”

“Julian, don’t start over analyzing this. It’s quite possible that one of our visitors put his shoes on the table and dropped those thorns that he brought in from outside. And that trail of mud on the hallway was most likely caused by someone in housekeeping dragging the cleaning cart in from outside when it started raining.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right,” I said grudgingly. “I also remember me thrashing around like a bluefin tuna on a fishing boat. You had to throw a damned net over me.”

“Yes, I was gonna ask you about that. You kept asking me to send you back over and over again. And you kept mentioning something about jewels or joules. Was that in reference to the standard unit of energy? Maybe something about the power plant accident?”

I shook my head sadly. “It doesn’t matter. It was just another one of my hallucinations. But the vision I was having was so beautiful and so real that I just wanted to go back. I don’t really remember much about my childhood, but I feel like parts of my visions are being drawn from my own experiences through my subconscious mind. And the other parts are coming from somewhere else that I can’t figure out.

“The only thing I know is that whenever I’m there, I’m a peace. There is no pain, there are no worries, and there is no cancer in my body. I’m as healthy as I can be and I have so much energy. And every time I’m ripped out of those hallucinations, it leaves a deep scar in my soul.”

“I’m sorry sweetie. I wish I could help you find some solace for everything you’ve been going through.”

“No Mel. I’m the one who should be sorry. You have done so much for me and all I’ve done in return is try to bite a helping hand. I’ve never really thanked you for that. Thank you for being here for me. I really appreciate it.” I started getting emotional and quickly willed myself out of my melancholy. “Ahem, speaking of scars, can I see it?”

“Oh, you don’t want to see that old thing.”

“Sure I do. Come on – grant a last wish to a dying man.” After a brief hesitation, Melanie leaned over and parted the hairs on the back of her head. “Ahh, yes. There it is. There’s the little angel. Hey, tell me the story again.”

“You already know the story. You were there.”

“Yeah, but I like the way you tell it. Please. Pretty please,” I said giving her my puppy eyes.

She smiled and started blushing. “Well, I’m only doing this to lighten your mood. I remember that day like it was yesterday. It was our second date and we started making out on a wooden deck over the Duwamish Waterway. I was leaning against the rail while your face was wrapped around my neck and your dirty paws were on an exploratory excursion.

“Ahh yes. I remember it clearly,” I said dreamingly. “Go on.”

“Well – you were leaning into me so hard that the rail broke and I fell into the water. You tried to hold onto me, but you lost your grip. The current started dragging me away and I hit my head on a wooden log.”

“Yup. You ended up getting three stitches. When your wound finally healed and it was time to get those stitches out, you waited at the doctor’s office for so many hours that you just threw your hands up and walked out. You grabbed some needle pliers, some cotton swabs, some disinfectant and prepared yourself to pull those stitches out yourself.”

Melanie smiled warmly. “Not a very smart thing to do. It got really infected. But that’s when I decided I wanted to become a physician. If it hadn’t been for your hormonal inclinations, I wouldn’t have become a doctor.”

“Hormonal inclinations?” I said giggling. “Is that what you’re calling it now? I remember you calling it something entirely different,” I said with a raised eyebrow.

“Well that was a long time ago. It’s a little hard to remember,” she said with a crooked smile.

“I’ll say.” We both started laughing like a couple of hyenas. “And after that, you ended having a scar in the shape of an angel.”

“My guardian angel,” Melanie said rubbing her scar with her finger.”

“Thanks Mel. I’ll try not to embarrass you any longer. Thank you for indulging me with that wonderful memory.”

“Good memories,” she said patting my hand. "Um, I hate to change the subject, and this may seem like a delicate subject but, we still don’t have your last will and testament on file. We have an attorney on our staff who could help you with that. Would you like to speak to him?”

“Not really. Just write up a paper that says you’ll be my executor and you can decide what to do with my estate. Just pick some charities and some foundations with a good worthy cause that you can donate it to.”

“Julian, you’ve accumulated quite an impressive financial portfolio.”

“Yeah well, I was single and I didn’t have the expenses of having to raise any children or having to pay for their college. I lived alone, I didn’t eat much, and I wasn’t one to splurge. It really wasn’t that hard to save.”

“And you worked so hard for that money. Are you sure you don’t want to be part of the decision of where it’s all gonna go?”

“Well, come to think of it, I do have an idea. As a matter of fact, I have a perfect idea.”

“That’s great Julian. What is it?”

Just thinking about it brought a smile to my face. “Well, I was thinking that maybe …”

I was interrupted by the nurse who had brought me my breakfast earlier. “Excuse me – Dr. Grayson? There’s someone here to see you.”

“Okay, thank you. I’ll be right there.” She turned to me looking apologetic. “Sorry. Do me a favor – just write down your idea on this notepad before you forget. I’ll be right back.”

As I watched Melanie walk out, I grabbed the notepad and closed my eyes trying to put together the details of my idea. Then I started writing, and writing, and writing. By the time I was at the fourth page, Melanie walked in and looked at me with a guarded expression.

“What is it Mel?”

“Julian, you have a visitor.”

“What? I do? Are you sure it’s not for somebody else?”

“No sweetie. It’s definitely for you.”

“Well? Who is it?” I asked bursting with curiosity.

“Ahem, well it’s um … it’s Isabel.”

I just stared at her with my mouth open in disbelief. “W-what?”

“It’s Isabel. She wants to speak to you.”

I started grinding my teeth. “Yeah, well I don’t want to speak to her. Tell her I’m asleep. Tell her I’m sedated. Hell – just tell her I’m already dead. Just make something up.”

“Julian, you saved her life. She wants to make peace with you.”

“Mel, don’t you understand? I’m here because of her. I’m dying because she disobeyed a direct order. If I could go back in time, I would’ve left her behind.”

“I don’t believe that,” she said angrily. “I don’t believe that for one second because that’s not who you are Julian. You’re better than that. If you had ever found yourself in a similar situation, you would’ve done the same thing. You would’ve jeopardized your life so that somebody else could live. That’s what I believe because that’s the Julian I know. And if you feel so strongly about this, then you deserve to be heard, don’t you think? This would be the perfect time for both of you to just lay it out and tell each other how you both feel. You need to settle this before it’s too late.”

I closed my eyes in frustration. “You’re not gonna leave me alone until I see her, are you?” I started rubbing my balding head in frustration. “Fine, fine – send her in.”

A couple of minutes later, I saw the door opening as Isabel walked in wearing a thick overcoat over her body. She looked older and more mature. She had her light-brown hair in a long ponytail that went down halfway down her waist. She seemed a bit bulkier than the last time I saw her but then again, I had put on some weight myself at some point.

She stopped about halfway between the door and my bed. Her expression was one of humility as she regarded me with her sad eyes. “Hi Julian,” she said trying to force a smile but couldn’t.

“Isabel,” I said curtly. “You can come closer. It’s okay.”

She walked slowly towards me until she was standing right beside my bed. She started rubbing her hands nervously on her coat as she seemed to be struggling with what to say. She would look at me and then turn away as if in shame. This was getting really uncomfortable. Regardless, I finally get to tell her what I think about her and how she ruined my life on that fateful day. Suddenly I saw her eyes pooling with tears and she started crying softly. I grabbed a box of tissue next to me and handed it to her.

“I’m sorry Julian,” she cried softly. “I’m so sorry.” Her crying started turning into broken sobs. It was like a dam had broken. Seeing her crying like this made me start questioning my perceptions of this woman. I had expected her to be an arrogant, uncaring and inconsiderate person who had no respect for the chain of command. Now her crying had started pulling on the strings of my heart. It was like when I was seeing Jules crying after he injured his fingers with his bike.

I reached out and gently grabbed her arm. I pulled lightly and the next thing I know, we were both crying on each other’s shoulders. Words were no longer necessary as volumes of unspoken sentiments were conveyed as we each tried to console each other. All the words of reclamations and accusations that I had planned on saying to her had suddenly become meaningless.

After recovering from our bouts of emotional release, she looked at me with tears. “Thank you for saving my life Julian. I’m so sorry it had to turn out this way. But I just wanted you to know that when you pushed me out that door and saved my life, you actually saved two lives.”

She started removing her coat and to my surprise, I noticed that she was pregnant. Not only was she pregnant, she was very pregnant. Now I knew why she wanted to see me before I die. She wanted to redeem herself for what she had done all those years ago when she disobeyed my orders. She also wanted to show gratitude for what I had done to save her life which then allowed her to create this new life inside of her.

She grabbed my hand and started moving it towards her belly. I had to admit that there was a certain giddiness and anticipation of wanting to feel the baby kicking inside her tummy. As soon as my hand made contact, the baby started moving. “I can feel it,” I said with a look of wonder. “I can feel it kicking.”

“Yeah, it’s been doing summersaults lately. I can’t wait for the little bugger to come out.”

“When are you due?”

“I’m already past due. It seems the little one doesn’t want to come out yet.”

“Do you know the gender yet?”

“No. We want it to be a surprise.” She winced in pain for a moment. “I’m alright. I’m sure it’s just gas.”

With my hand still on her belly, I closed my eyes and smiled as I felt the baby moving again. Then I heard someone calling out to me from a distance. “Hey Julian.” I smiled as I recognized the voice immediately and waited for myself to pass out.

But this time it was different.


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