Read Chapter 5: Awakening


James holds out a sweatshirt and sweatpants. “Best I could find. There’s a bathroom down the hall you can use.”

My heart thumps in my chest, and I’m all smiles. James must be my man. My love. My rescuer. I grab the dry clothes but want to spring into his arms. Though I still have no memory, knowledge of our pre-accident connection fills me with hope that everything will be okay. The pictures on the door are all the evidence I need. He and I have a history together.

“James and Karyn. I like the sound of that,” I say.

His smile drops but returns just as fast. He glances at the cellar door beside me.

“It’s sweet,” I tell him.

His brow furrows. “I’m not sure what you mean.”

I pull the cellar door open and gaze into his eyes. How long have we been dating? “I have to admit, though, I’m having a hard time seeing myself as a ‘Karyn’.”

His eyes narrow as understanding flashes across his face. “I think I know what you mean.”

I scan the pictures again. “Weird place to keep these, but these shots are amazing.”

“You weren’t supposed to find them,” he says. “But I guess it was inevitable.”

I cock my head. “You remember?”

An almost imperceptible change in his facial features reveals the evil behind the facade. “I have all along. It was the easiest way to get you here, considering I lost my gun in the accident. You and her will be my first twofer. Two for the price of one.”

I process his words. “Her?” “Two-for-one?”

This isn’t right.

His eyes narrow and grow dark. He has me blocked in with nowhere to go but down the stairs behind me. I need to move; to get past him, but I can’t will my legs to comply.

 A sinister smile spreads across his face. He places a hand around my neck and squeezes. I claw at his fingers, desperate to keep him from robbing me of life. His grip loosens but before I can push his hand away, he shoves me.

The stairs descend behind me, and I lose my footing. Memories of my former life dislodge from their hiding place and ambush my consciousness.

My life!

Images of meeting James in a nightclub. I’m no floozy, but he invites me to come home with him. I say yes. But why? James doesn’t have his car, so we take mine.

The images flash to an earlier time. I’ve seen him before and flirted. I got his attention, which is all I wanted right then.

Another memory shifts into place. This time, even earlier. I’m watching him in a hardware store. Then he’s rounding a corner in his truck. Then at another club and he’s talking to a tall, dark-skinned woman with purple hair. She looks uncomfortable and finds an excuse to exit the conversation.

Flashing back further to images of a crowded bar. I spot the man that I now know as James, but I didn’t know him then. This was the first time I’d laid eyes on him. He’s talking to a black woman. She looks familiar. She’s connected to the pictures on the cellar door. The photos I thought were of me.

She’s Karyn.

The two of them leave the club together. My heart aches, but my memories haven’t yet shown me why.

I leave the drinks at the bar and squeeze between the throngs of people to make my way to the door. Outside I search up and down the highway. James and Karyn are gone. Who is she?

Another flash. I remember everything.

She’s my sister.

Reality floods back. I’m falling down the stairs. Reaching out in desperation, I grab hold of the rail and hang on for dear life. My back slams against the wall and my feet thump-thump-thump down the stairs.

The door above me slams. The unmistakable sound of the latch sliding into the locked position sends a chill through my bones.

Regaining my footing, I charge the door and pound on it with my fists. “Let me out! Now!”

My efforts are useless. I take a calming breath and process my restored memories. Everything is okay. I remember the plan. Tonight didn’t go exactly as I wanted, but I know what to do. I trained for this.

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BONUS: 5-Author collection of short stories titled “Dead Memories”.