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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Todd Manning, Enigma Chapter 4

      She looked beautiful standing there above him. He never got tired of looking at her. “Hi. We’ve got to stop meeting like this. My wife can be jealous at times.” He reached up and moved a stray hair to the side of her face.

      Blair leaned over and kissed him, but pushed him back down on the bed when he tried to get up. “Hold it right there, Mister. You’ve run yourself into the ground since you got out of the hospital. This is the result. We need to talk. Why didn’t you tell me about the dream?”

      Todd closed his eyes, all happy thoughts out the window with that one comment. “I don’t want to talk about it.” Everything that had happened the previous day came flooding back and Todd fought the urge to curl up and disappear. He was in the hospital, and according to Blair’s comment when he woke up, he had collapsed in the parking lot. That meant Larry had had plenty of time to run his test. “Give it to me straight, the reason you’re not letting me out of this bed is that I need another operation for the damn implants, right?  When is Michael coming?”

      Blair was taken aback, Todd sounded so angry and the scary thing was he had hit the nail on the head. He knew, without Larry telling him, that the implants were inside him and he was resigned to the surgery, no questions asked. “Todd, I’m sorry. Don’t be angry, I want to help you. Michael will be in shortly, I’m still having trouble understanding how you knew before everyone else.”

     “It’s simple Blair, I knew because of the dream. I can’t stand this. There are things happening I have no explanation for but one, and I’m scared Blair. “

     Todd had always held his emotions very close to the vest and rarely allowed anyone to see his vulnerabilities. For him to admit he was scared meant that something bad was going on. “Whatever has you so spooked can be dealt with. I think you just need to get your mind back on matters in front of you. Yes, you need another operation, so we’ll get it over and you can start recovering properly. Bo called. They caught Hesser and Kipling. We’ll get you well so you can testify against them for everything they did to you, and then you can get back to your life.”

      “Damn. Blair, you need to call Tea and Jake. Warn them that Hesser’s partners have put out a hit on both of us. He should be extra careful from now, until the trial.” Todd kept hearing John tell both of them of Jake’s death by sniper fire. “I’ve got to let John know, maybe he can find a way to stop it.”

     “Todd, what are you talking about? What do you think John can stop?” Now she really was confused. Why on earth did Todd think there were hits on him and Jake? Christian had been taken care of. He wasn’t making any sense. No wonder Larry and Ray were worried.

      “Jake’s death,” Todd answered.

       Blair was stunned.  Where the hell had that come from? She looked at Todd. Was she hearing correctly? “Okay, are you sure you’re feeling alright? What did you mean Jake’s death? Why would you even say that?” Todd just looked at her and Blair felt a chill run through her. He was dead serious. Oh God, had Jake died in the dream? Todd had dropped his eyes and was fingering the ring, it was like he had forgotten she was there. “Todd, explain what you meant. Todd?” Blair waved her hand in front of his face and got no reaction. This wasn’t good.

      Todd was lost in his daymare.  He was back at the hotel with John and Blair following the raid on the warehouse. He sat there as if a ghost watching it play out again.

     “John, what’s going on? Todd gets off the phone with you and all of a sudden he’s dropping me at Cassie’s and telling me to pack. What happened?”

     Todd held out his hand.”Blair, come here. Jake was killed”

      “Oh my God, how,” Blair asked John?

     “Hesser’s partners succeeded this time. He was killed at the Sun. Bo knows I came looking for Todd. He asked me today If I found him and I let him think I hadn’t. That’s when he informed me of Jake’s death.”

      “The children, we need to get home to the children. They’ll be devastated. Todd, you should rest, I’ll pack for you.”

      “Whoa Blair, I’m sending you home with John.”

      Todd shivered in reaction as the scene changed and the vision blurred to a solid gray as he heard:

       “Todd!... Let go of me you Monster!...Todd, they broke in shortly after you and John left, they brought us all here.”

       “Leave them out of this Gregor, this is between you and me.”

       “Todd, don’t worry about us, you need to get out of here he intends to kill you. I love you. Always remember that.”

         “Manning get down!”

         Todd’s whole body suddenly seized, as his body felt the bullets impact and he fell into darkness.

         Blair had hit the call button, when she couldn’t get a response, then screamed as she saw Todd jerk suddenly and collapse back on the pillow.

        Larry had been at the nurse's station when the call light lit up. He entered the room just in time to see Todd convulse and pass out. Immediately he felt for a pulse. It wasn’t Todd’s heart, the pulse was high but not dangerously so. His examination of Todd”s eyes showed little to no response to light, even though he was wearing the ring. “Tell me what happened Blair.”

       “I’m not sure. Todd, can you hear me? I need you to give me a sign you can hear us.”

         There was nothing to indicate that Todd was aware of the things going on around him. Larry wondered if he was caught in his dream. “Blair, this is very similar to sleepwalking, are you sure he was awake.” Larry had heard of people having waking dreams, but usually, it was in the context of their actual life. Todd, on the other hand, was experiencing a life that for all purposes wasn’t real except to him. The problem was, parts of that unreal dream or life were manifesting themselves into his real life.

       Todd began to moan and then they heard him say, “I shouldn’t have let her stay but sent her home with John? This is my fault. You hear me, God? Don’t let him harm her. I can’t do this anymore. Go ahead and take me. I’m half dead now, just finish the job.”

       He fell silent and Blair looked over at Larry. “I think I know what’s going on. Ray told me that Todd’s irrational fear is losing me. He said something about Todd’s last thoughts in the dream are of someone taking me and shooting him.“ She reached over and took Todd’s hand. “I think he might be reliving that again, but that’s impossible. How can one relive a dream? Memories I understand, they really happened, but he didn’t actually live what he’s been dreaming. How can things, that he saw in a dream, be happening? It’s uncanny. Is there some way to wake him from this?”

       “Blair, talk to him. I think he might be close to waking up. If he hears your voice he might snap out of it on his own. I really don’t want to give him any more drugs.” Larry again checked Todd’s eyes and noticed a little reaction to the light. “Come on Todd, Blair’s here and safe, come back to her.”

       Blair put her hand on his cheek, stroking his beard, “Hey you, this is getting old. You need to wake up, I hate talking to myself.”

       “Yes but I love hearing your southern accent,” Todd said, his eyes focusing on her. “Sorry didn’t mean to scare you about Jake, I’m just worried.” she flung her arms around him and hugged him like she was afraid to let him go. Todd patted her shoulder awkwardly, he knew something had happened but he couldn’t quite remember what. Then it came rushing back in a flash. “Oh God, I was there! John was telling me about Jake’s death and you were refusing to come back home. Why did I ever let you talk me into staying?” he pushed her off of him so he could really look at her. “Thank God you’re alright. I was sure Gregor had taken you from me permanently.” Even as he said the words to her, he realized his mistake. He wasn’t in Savannah, he was in Llanview, and Blair had no idea what he was talking about. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Why had the whole scene seemed so real? It wasn’t just his imagination. He opened his eyes looking for Larry. “Why is this happening to me?”

       Larry dropped his eyes, he wasn’t sure how to answer Todd. There were possibly two causes for this and neither was good. One was that Todd was headed for a major breakdown and the other was the manifestations were caused by the brain damage from Christian’s bullet. “Todd, we’ll talk to Michael, he’s the one with the expertise regarding brain injuries. If it’s something physical, well, hopefully, it can be rectified.”

      “But if it’s mental, then I’m screwed.” Todd wanted to hit something. He realized he was still holding on tightly to Blair and released her. “I’m right aren’t I, you and Ray both think this is mental? I’m finally losing it for real. Well, you better figure out a way to stop this, because I’ll die before anyone puts me in St. Ann’s. I didn’t fight my way back here to end up a blithering idiot.”

      “Todd I didn’t say it was hopeless, we’re all working very hard trying to figure out how to attack this problem and all I can tell you to do, is be patient and work with us.”

      Todd looked at Blair and said, “Find Michael, I want to go home, and get John, because whether you believe me or not Jake is in danger”

      Blair looked at Larry and he nodded so she left to try and find Michael.

     When Blair left the room, Todd looked at Larry “I can’t stop it and it’s taking over my life, but it’s not just taking over my resting moments, it’s starting to intrude on this reality. Can you tell me how a dream is doing that?”

     “Todd, I wish I knew. I think whatever is happening will become clearer but we need you to stay positive. I want you to start dwelling on the good things around you. Your state of mind is part of the key to breaking this dream cycle. You also need to sleep, so I’m going to prescribe something that will put you into a deeper sleep and hopefully keep you from dreaming at all.” Larry could see Todd getting ready to protest. “ I know you’re afraid the dream won’t stop, but if you don’t take care of yourself it won’t matter, your body will shut you down anyway.”

      Todd knew Larry was right but the thought of taking sleeping pills that might bring on the dream was frightening. The whole point was to get free of the dream, not have it hang over his head like a pendulum blade ready to take him out. “I’ll consider the pills Larry, but unless you can reassure me that I’ll have dreamless nights, the answer will most likely be no.”

        Blair arrived back and said Michael was currently in surgery, but that John would be by shortly. She could tell that Todd was still upset and whatever Larry had said hadn’t dispelled his fears. She started to say something and saw Todd shake his head at her. For the time being, the topic was tabled.

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