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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Todd Manning, Enigma Chapter 2

Chapter 2

Todd walked into the Rodi’s and saw Ray sitting a few tables away from the front door. He had never been more relieved to see his friend.

Ray was shocked to see Todd walking toward him without a cane. He had been told Todd was blind, but he had obviously been misinformed. “Well Todd, this is a surprise.”

“What do you mean Ray? I thought we had agreed to meet?“ Had he imagined calling Ray? Was this just a chance meeting? Todd ran his fingers through his hair, unsure how much more he could take.

Ray pulled back from the table a bit and folded his arms. He took a longer look at his friend. Todd’s skin was paler than he had remembered, and black semicircles were under his eyes. “Whoa Todd, I simply meant I didn’t realize your blindness was gone. Calm down, we did arrange to meet.”

“Sorry, just a little bit on edge.” Todd’s hands were visibly shaking.

“You’d better sit. You look like you’re ready to fall down. Something’s wrong, this isn’t just a ‘let’s have a drink type meeting,’ is it?” Ray watched as Todd hastily took a seat. “Todd, look at me.” Todd’s eyes met his, then immediately shifted looking elsewhere. He couldn’t sit still. Sweat formed on his brow, and his breathing was more audible. “Todd, you need to take some deep breaths and tell me what’s got you so disturbed.”

"Ray, I’m not sure where to start. I feel like my life is out of my control. I thought I had everything going my way. Sure the blindness threw me for a loop, but I was coping. Then Christian came after me. My life got turned upside down that day.” Todd gripped his hands because he couldn’t stop them from shaking.

Ray turned to the bartender and ordered two beers and looked at his friend. “That’s a strange thing to say. I know that Christian’s attack put you in a coma, but I would think you’d be glad to be back among the living.”

"You would think,” Todd said cryptically.

The conversation was just getting weirder. Ray watched as Todd began to take a ring on and off his finger. He seemed to be a million miles away. “That’s a stunning ring. I don’t remember seeing it before.”

“Blair just gave it to me. It’s the reason I can see you right now Ray.” Then he began to chuckle and said. “That’s funny you know. You don’t remember seeing it before, but I sure have. Even before Blair gave it to me.”

There was something a little forced about Todd’s chuckle and Ray couldn’t help wondering why the ring had him so upset. “You say you saw it before. Did you spot it at a jeweler or something?”

“No, it was nothing as common as that. I saw this little beauty two days after I was shot. It was the first time Blair gave it to me. Only you see, supposedly that was all part of a dream.” Todd frowned and took a huge gulp of his beer, almost choking as some went down the wrong way.

“What do you mean part of a dream? You saw Blair give you that ring in a dream. When was this?” Ray was curious.

“There’s the rub. It happened while I was in the coma. Funny thing about that coma. When I woke up, I believe I had just been shot and was in the hospital in Savannah, Georgia. Imagine my surprise when they informed me, I was in the Llanview hospital and Christian had just shot me.” Todd quickly finished his drink and ordered another. “The last couple of months that I had lived, gone in a blink of an eye.”

Ray ordered a second drink and studied his friend again. Whatever happened during the coma was the culprit behind Todd’s state of mind. Blair was right, something was happening and Ray didn’t like where it seemed to be taking Todd. “Todd, you were unconscious. Why does this dream bother you?”

“It won’t go away, Ray. I remember it as vividly now, as I did when it happened. If it was a dream, it should be fading, but it’s not. It’s worse than my nightmare about Peter.” Todd’s voice cracked and the hand holding the bottle started trembling. Todd stared at it in horror, a memory coming back. He could see Michael talking to him in Bo’s office about an extra piece of the implant still in his brain. “God no!” Just then, the glass shattered in his hand, but Todd was lost inside another moment.

Ray reacted quickly grabbing some napkins to staunch the blood. Todd was unaware that it had even happened. “Todd! Todd, snap out of it. Todd, we need to get this cleaned properly, it’s bad and going to need stitches.” Ray breathed a sigh of relief when Todd’s eyes finally focused on him. Ray took the clean towel, the bartender handed him and wrapped the hand up. “Come on Todd. Let’s get this taken care of.

Todd cradled his injured hand with the good one. He followed Ray to his car and took a seat. After Ray pulled out of the parking lot, he said, “I think I’m losing it.”

"When did you sleep last, Todd?”

“Huh,” Todd replied sluggishly. “Sleep is a highly overrated commodity.”

“Todd this is serious. How long ago did you get some sleep?” Ray looked briefly at his friend. Todd was clearly exhausted but fighting to stay awake.

“I don’t know, I’m afraid to sleep. The dream won’t go away. Everything in it is like it happened yesterday. But that isn’t what terrifies me.” Todd paused, unsure if he can even tell Ray what he did.

“Todd, you can trust me. Why does this dream terrify you?”

“Because in the dream, things happened that changed me. I’m scared of that ‘me’. The one from the dream. Things occurred in that reality, things I don’t want to relive, but they won’t go away. What if they are going to happen just like this ring.” Todd looked down at his hand. If the dream was correct, he still wasn’t free of the implants. The implants, the ring they were tangible evidence the dream was more than a fantasy.

The coincidence surrounding the ring was a little disconcerting, but it wasn’t unheard of for people to get little DejaVu moments. “Todd, just because you saw the ring in your dream before Blair gave it to you, doesn’t mean other things from the dream are going to come true.”

“That’s where you’re wrong, Ray. You remember those implants that have been removed, I think I still have some pieces left inside me.”

“What makes you think so?” Ray felt a small shiver run down his spine. He was a little afraid of the answer Todd was going to give him.

“In my dream, we discovered that pieces of the implant were still inside my brain and beginning to shift. They began affecting my movements. Ray, I had no control over my hand back there in the bar.” Todd stared bleakly ahead. “Ray, here’s another thought. What if all this is a dream? How do I know I’m not lying in a bed in Savannah?”

Ray glanced sharply at his friend, where the hell had that thought come from. Well, that put a new spin on things. “Todd, I think that’s going to the extreme. I know this dream has you worried, but you don’t seriously believe it could be real. Pal, you’re not dreaming. Look at your hand. That’s real blood. I think you need some sleep. You’re making things worse by avoiding it.”

“Aren’t you listening, Ray? I can’t go to sleep! I know if I go to sleep, I’m going to wake up in Savannah and Blair will be gone. If I lose her, it’s over for me.” Todd slammed his fist down on the dashboard. His hand was killing him, but all he could hear in his head was Blair’s scream as Daimler’s men took her away.

Ray pulled into the emergency parking lot and brought the car to a halt. There it was, the truth behind Todd’s mental state. Blair. Todd was afraid of losing her, and from the sound of it, he had done just that in the dream. Ray knew now wasn’t the time to delve into it, it was clearly a subject that was going to require something more than a drink and a talk. “Todd, take it easy. I can see you’re upset, but let’s get the hand taken care of.”

Todd’s head had begun pounding and he didn’t respond to Ray. Larry had said he would experience headaches for awhile, but this was no ordinary migraine. His whole head felt like it was in a vise. Suddenly a sharp pain ripped through the back of his head and Todd instinctively reached for his head. He felt a shock run through his hand as the ring sparked. The pains eased up instantly and Todd looked at his ring as another ripple of fear washed through him. He glanced over at Ray and saw the same concern and fear written all over his face. Todd took a deep breath to steady his nerves and wearily exited the car.

“My God Todd, what was that?” Ray couldn’t believe what he had just seen. One minute Todd had been in a great deal of pain and then the electrical spark had briefly lit the interior of the car. Todd’s pain had evaporated with the spark, but Todd had reacted to the whole thing like it had happened before. That had been scary. Todd was beginning to resign himself to these strange occurrences.

Todd looked back at him as they entered the emergency room. “That was nothing, just part of a dream.” He was tired and he didn’t know how much longer he could stay awake. Maybe Ray was right. he needed to sleep but how could he do it without dreaming. Even if he did manage to get some sleep, what guarantee did he have that the dream would go away.

Ray was able to get Todd into triage quickly, and as the nurse began cleaning the cut and removing any pieces of glass still left in Todd’s hand, he went in search of Larry. When he found Larry he gave him a quick rundown on the events and then followed Larry back to the room where Todd waited.

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