“This Mortal Coil” from Peter David, Kathleen David, and Sean O’Shea asks the questions: Wouldn’t it be great to have someone sleep for us, because we have so much stuff to do? But what if a sleep surrogate discovers that one of the people he’s sleeping for is actually a murderer? Would he ignore it, report it …or investigate it himself?
To find out, here’s an early look:
This Mortal Coil
by Peter David, Kathleen David, and Sean O’Shea
My lover, whom I have never met, is dead.
I do not know her name. I have no idea where I might have met her. Her voice keeps changing every time I hear it, its tone shifting depending on what is being discussed. But she is beautiful and she is mine, and I can feel her moving beneath me as I thrust into her in an environment that keeps shifting around us.
Sometimes we are in a bedroom and sometimes on a beach and sometimes in a forest, oftentimes changing while we have sex, because literally anything can happen during that time. She is exquisite and beautiful and everything a woman could ever want to be, and I love her and I hate her. I know I hate her because I can see my hands wrapped around her throat, strangling her fiercely. Her eyes are bulging wide and there is pure terror in them. Does she know that I am about to take her life? What did she say to set me off? What could she have said, because I love her so much, and yet I despise her, the bitch.
She pulls away from me, somehow breaking my grip on her.
She staggers and I punch her as hard as I can, in the solar plexus.
She gasps, hurtles backward from the impact, and there is a window behind her. Her body slams against it, the glass shattering from the impact and she falls through it. I run to the window and look down, and I have only the briefest glimpse of her spiraling down, down toward the sidewalk. She hits it with a thud and, my God, there is blood just everywhere. People gather around her, screaming, shouting that someone should dial 911. No one does. They are all videoing her. No one is trying to get help for her. They are all racing to be the first person to post the video of her death on line, because that is the world that we live in now.
This is the stuff that dreams are made of.
And as she lies there, unmoving, bleeding profusely, her eyes snap open and she is looking straight up at me. I am now standing by her side, and she speaks in a shattered whisper. “Save me. Help me. Avenge me,” she says.
I am screaming when I wake up, but I am making no sounds when I do so. My mouth is open, but all the shrieks that I want to emit are locked in my throat. I do manage to sit up so violently that I knock loose the Dreambucket. That isn’t what it’s actually called. It has some long, technical name that is typically abbreviated as DMBKT, and that’s where Dreambucket came from. It is an elaborate metal grid on my head, carefully fitted to a series of tiny implants that run along the base of my skull. My hair has grown over them so only a close scrutiny would be able to perceive them, and even then the observer might not know exactly what it is that they are looking at.
The techie is standing there, studying the readouts. Her name is Doctor Grace. Once upon a time she might have been beautiful, but somewhere in her life she forgot how to smile and that omission has permanently screwed up her face, turning it into a twisted remnant of something that was once a caring human being. Now all she is concerned about are her readouts. She squints and sees only my reactions as they are charted on the large electronic screens in front of her, either not noticing or not caring about my startled rise from slumber. “Rough outing, Mr. Martini?”
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