Following are excerpts from the book:
Later when they were driving home in the van, Jeff could tell Dwight was still troubled by the explanation he’d given him about the attack on Quint. After all, it was a lot to swallow, even for a fantasy gamer like Dwight. And maybe the more he thought about it, the more he realized how outrageous it sounded. Why should anyone believe such crap? How could anyone believe it? There were irrefutable laws of physics, and what Jeff claimed to do had violated all of them.
Jeff suddenly hated what was happening to his life. He was changing, becoming more serious and reserved. And it wasn’t just because of his paralysis. It was because of his mom’s death, his Uncle Hank and the traveling dreams - everything. It was all making him more internal, more secretive. He wasn’t the same boy he was when he and Dwight first met as freshmen. Now he was different, very different, and he wouldn’t blame his friend if he decided to cut him loose. After all, who would want to put up with such drama. If their roles were reversed, he wasn’t sure he would.
So far, neither boy had talked on the ride home, then suddenly Dwight said, “How come you didn’t tell Klein what you told me?”
Jeff shrugged, watching the road ahead. “I didn’t think it was the time.”
“But you told me.”
“Yeah - I did.“ He thought a moment, then said, “You’re my best friend. I needed to confide in someone. I figured you wouldn’t automatically tell me I’m crazy - at least not at first.” He turned to Dwight, trying to read his face. “I don’t expect you to buy into it completely. I know I’ve got to prove it some way…and I will. Just give me a chance.”
Dwight began shaking his head
“Dude - you’re kinda weirding me out,” he admitted. “It’s creepy. I mean, how can you leave…how can you be…outside of yourself? And don’t say it’s like Dream Masters. You ain’t no video game.”
Jeff sighed. Nothing he said would make any sense, and he knew it.
He said, “This thing that happened - it’s going to change everything.”
Jeff didn’t reply, and slowly wheeled himself to the table. Hank took another pull from his water, studying the boy.
“Since your dad disappeared, I’ve worked hard to make sure you were protected,” he went on. “But an incident like the one on Saturday can make that harder. There are people who are…well, you have to be careful, Jeff. You understand that, don’t you?”
Jeff didn’t reply at first. After what happened outside Reese Perry’s trailer, he and his uncle had spent a quiet day on Sunday mostly avoiding each other. They didn’t say much of anything. It was as though they knew they needed time to think. Something new had come crashing into their lives, and there was a lot to absorb. Everything was different. Even things that always seemed normal looked skewed somehow.
Now Hank seemed ready to talk. Jeff wondered if he had made some decision, and what it would be. He knew what he thought should be the next step, but he wasn’t sure his uncle would agree.
Finally, he said, “Uncle Hank, my dad is alive. I’m sure of it. I need to try to reach him, to let him know we want to help him.”
The big man stared at his water bottle, looking troubled.
“How can you be sure of what you’ve seen? That it’s really him being held somewhere, and not just a dream?”
The boy shook his head. “I wasn’t sure before. I admit it. But now, knowing what you told me about mom, and knowing what happened on Saturday…it just has to be dad. I can feel it. I know I was there…with him…in that room.”
Hank closed his eyes and sighed deeply.
“Even if that’s true, what do you expect to do? James could be anywhere. It’ll be impossible to find him.”
“But I need to try,” Jeff argued. “I need to get back there somehow - to be where he is - and listen to conversations, maybe look for something that can tell me his location, a landmark or something.”
Hank took another swallow of water, then screwed the cap back on the bottle. Jeff felt himself grow anxious, and wondered if his uncle really understood how important his dad was to him. He saw his face settle in thought, hoping it was a sign of agreement.
Jeff said, “He’s alive, Uncle Hank. And you know that. I can tell.”
Hank looked at him soberly.
“I want to believe it - yes.” He stood and carried the water back to the refrigerator, then turned back to his nephew. “But what does it matter, Jeff? What you’ve experienced so far has been…random. You admit yourself you have no control. How do you expect to target the next event? In order to find your dad, you have to be able to…navigate some way. You’ve never done that before.”
Jeff thought about this, and realized his uncle was right. There was no way to know when he would travel next, or where it would take him. The dreams he thought he was having of his father weren’t planned. They just happened. But why? What had caused them in the first place? And the incident at Reese Perry’s house. Why had that happened? Was it the sight of his friends being beaten? Was it his own rage that had triggered something? How had that worked? And how could he ever plan such an event in the future?
He felt defeated, thoroughly frustrated, and it must have shown on his face. The next thing he knew Hank had pulled up a chair next to him, and had a hand on his arm.
“Jeff, you need to take a step back. Maybe it’s best to take things slow, see what happens from here on - not get too far ahead of yourself.”
Yes, of course, thought Jeff. It was the same old advice. The same old Uncle Hank telling him to be cautious, to resist temptation. The man with the one-track mind. Be careful. Be safe. Think before acting. All the bullshit stuff. What was his problem? Hadn’t he ever been young? Hadn’t he ever been impulsive, or passionate about anything? Couldn’t he understand what Jeff felt?
“Look,” the big man went on. “I know of a woman - a professor at Ridgemont University - not far from here. She knew your mom and dad. I’ve spoken with her a few times since James disappeared - and once since…since the accident. I think she might be able to help. If you let her, maybe she can give you some answers - open some doors.”
Jeff realized he was gripping his chair so tightly his fingers had gone numb. What did he say? Had he heard his uncle right? He looked over at him, his stomach churning with anticipation.
“What - ? Who is she?” he asked.
“Her name is Dr. Sharon Xavier,” Hank answered. “She’s a clinical psychologist. She’s familiar with your dad’s research - with CIEP.” He hesitated before going on. “If we meet with her and you tell her about your dreams - the traveling - she might have some insights that can help you.”
“You’ve known about her all this time?”
Hank sighed. “Yes. But I wasn’t sure - it wasn’t until recently that I felt I should call on her to help. She’s a busy lady. She has her classes and her research. I’m not sure how much time we can get with her. But I think it might be worth it.”
DREAM TRAVELER, coming October 5, 2012
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