Would you ever travel forward in time if you knew it was a one-way trip?
Mr. Martin James has no such desire, but after being injected with a mysterious drug against his will, Martin hurtles through the years. This cruel twist of fate forces him to watch his children grow up and his wife grow old in a matter of days. Only an elusive group of scientists have the ability to stop his nightmarish journey; the very people who injected him in the first place. And while Martin James hopes to find a cure before everyone he loves is gone, others are uncertain if his journey can be stopped at all.
W. Lawrence weaves a future history filled with the best and worst of humanity, highlights the blessings and curses of technology, and pushes the limits of faith and hopelessness. Above all, Syncing Forward is a tale of one man's love for his family, and their devotion to saving him from being lost forever.
I am a fast reader and I made myself slow down so that I would not miss anything. Even if you are not a fan of science fiction (I'm not)you really should read this book. It is entertaining, engaging, and thought provoking. What more can you ask for in a book. I will definitely be reading this more than once. - Goodreads
Blood test. Tissue sample from my mouth. A stress test that involved walking instead of running. Then it was dinnertime, but the delightful smells of Miranda’s cooking were absent. The meal was a near repeat of lunch, with the exception of a “special” shake that tasted more like grass than anything else. The ladies ate sparingly in front of me, and Bella picked cautiously at the salad her mother put in front of her.
The evening eclipsed into the late hours, and the girls’ eyes drooped. It was ultimately time for them to head off to bed, and Jerry came in to demand that I get some sleep. I shooed them away and told them I would go to sleep soon. With the kids ensconced in their beds and the duo of doctors in the guesthouse, it was finally Miranda and me alone in the living room. I tried holding her hand warmly, but she slipped it away slowly, giving me a consolation pat before breaking contact.
“So . . .” I let the word linger.
“I think you should get some sleep.” She started to get off the sofa, when I grabbed her hand and pulled her back to a sitting position.
“So.” I held her hand warmly but firmly. “Tell me what’s on your mind. It feels like you’re upset with me.”
Miranda gazed into my eyes for a while before speaking. When she did, I was surprised by what she had to say. “Well, Martin, I am upset with you.”
“I don’t know why. I just am.”
“That isn’t exactly true—”
“Damn it! Don’t interview me like I’m some thief! I didn’t like it when you used to do it, and I still don’t like it!”
“Miranda, give me a break and just tell me what’s going on!” I raised my voice but quickly softened my tone, not sure if the girls could hear us. “Honey, please, just say what’s on your mind.”
“Fine. I hate the fact that you are fine and perfect and have only had to lose days or maybe even just hours of your life while we’ve spent four years suffering through this nightmare.” My wife was tearing up, but her antagonism clearly shone through.
I felt myself stiffening in response. “So you think I should be suffering more?”
“No! But you’re like some transient father who disappears for a decade, comes walking in on his kid’s thirteenth birthday, and expects everyone just to accept you as you are.”
“How is any of this my fault?”
“Did I say it was your fault?”
“No, but you make it sound like I planned it all this way.”
“Martin, you don’t understand. This house, the money—it’s all a bandage. I’ve been fighting to keep this family together and barely able to take care of anything. I have no family out here. No friends. Lying to everyone I know about your condition. Lying to Mami and Papi! Mis hermanos. Your brother. Bella is impossible. Amara is worse than ever—”
“Jesus, Miranda, what kid would deal with this problem well? And if you haven’t noticed, I am back. I am alive and here and wanting my wife back, and you’re mad at me for that!”
Her arms went out wide. “For how long, Martin? How long do we get you back for? A day? A month? The doctors can’t guarantee you’ll recover.”
I shook my head. “No, you’re wrong. They told me specifically that they felt confident in the treatment I received.”
“Oh, did they now? And you know how many treatments you received that they ‘felt confident’ about that didnothing? They didn’t tell you about the dozens of medications and implants and treatments they tried that failed miserably? They don’t call it Dambra forty-four because they like the number. So sorry if I don’t share your excitement over Jerry and Lenny’s stirring speech.”
I looked down at my lap and fidgeted with my own fingers. What words could I say to put my wife’s heart at ease? I didn’t dare debate her, nor did I even want to question how hard it had been—how hard it still was. Miranda was going through what many soldiers’ wives went through: raising a family on her own, managing a household, trying to have a life she could call hers. But the worst thing for a soldier’s wife had to be not knowing what might happen to her husband. Would he die tragically early, or come home fine, or perhaps return with a handicap? There were no assurances in the life of a soldier’s wife, and Miranda had experienced everything they might go through.
And yet somehow her life was even more stressful. I got that. There was no support group for husbands injected with mysterious substances by crazed terrorist scientists. My sweet wife had been going through this ordeal for four years truly alone. Dr. Gonzales’s words rang in my ears from back in Washington, DC, when she warned me that my family would suffer far worse than I would. She was right.
Miranda wiped her nose with a new tissue when I leaned over and squeezed her.
“I’m so scared, Martin! I just want to keep you home like this, and I’m afraid—”
“Don’t be. You had to go through a lot, and don’t think I’m unappreciative. But I’m not going anywhere. I’m home to stay.”
Miranda and I held each other for a long time before we finally unlocked our arms. Our cheeks slid slowly against each other, our lips brushing softly. At first awkward, our lips touched pensively until they finally remembered our marital relationship. The kiss was followed by another and another. Miranda silently stood up and guided me by hand to our bedroom on the first floor. The four-poster bed was lovely dark wood that—unlike the bed in our old house—matched the furniture around it. Curtains carefully coordinated with the borders along the wall signaled that Miranda had spent a long time designing and working on this room, unlike our New Jersey house, where we had bought whatever was on sale from an online store. This was everything she had always wanted in a master bedroom, and from the tone of her voice earlier in the day I could tell she was proud of how it had come out.
The bed was turned down and the air scented with a cinnamon candle; my wife knew I loved cinnamon and must have lit it during the course of the evening when she wasn’t angry with me. Smoothly we sank onto the bed, embracing as a husband and wife were meant to, touching, holding, grasping. I could feel her heat against my skin, and for those brief moments we were completely oblivious to the torment time had put upon us. Despite the days and years we had been separated, my wife and I were finally together.
Miranda’s kisses fell upon me faster and faster, along my neck and ear and cheek and mouth. Her hands moved so quickly I had trouble perceiving their movements at first. The bracelet alarm was going off, but it sounded like a Doppler effect, its pitch dropping and the sounds becoming increasingly muffled, as if the alarm were rushing down a country road and off into the distance. My wife stopped and stared at me for the briefest of moments before she spoke hurriedly.
“Martin are you okay Martin Martin no no not again notagain . . .”
I saw her grab for a tablet on the nightstand, and she called for the doctors to hurry to the bedroom. Lenny and Jerry stormed into the bedroom in a blur of motion with instrumentation in their hands, asking me questions I was too slow to answer. Even if I could, my hazy eyes and subdued ears were fixed on my poor wife, who sat on the edge of the bed rocking back and forth, pulling at her hair. All I managed to make out was her fading repetitions.
“Ican’tdothisanymoreIcan’tdothisanymoreIcan’tdothisanymore . . .”
“No,” he answered with painful honesty, “none of us do. But here’s what I do know. Your blood pressure has been steadily dropping despite experiencing stressers like the interview DHS conducted. Your body temperature is dropping. Your pupils are dilating slower than normal. You were complaining to the agents that they were talking too fast, and you’ve been describing your vision as blurry. As strange as it may sound, I believe this drug you were injected with slows the human body down considerably, and it does so on a subcellular level. I’ve never heard of such a drug before, and it doesn’t match anything Innovo Pharmaceutical research disclosed to us.
“Despite the fact that we can’t isolate the drug from any blood or tissue samples, we’re moving forward with the theory that these rogue doctors developed a drug that slows down cellular activity and—for whatever reason—they injected you with that drug.”
His voice sounded faster than normal. All of theirs were. They didn’t have the high-pitched fast-forward quality you might expect to hear when things speed up, but they sounded muffled, like I was listening to their words through a blanket. I rubbed my blurring eyes as the room seemed to pitch to a five-degree angle—just slightly off-kilter. The moment reminded me of a time from my youth when I’d had an inner ear infection. We were living in the hurricane shelters in Texas, and I remember stumbling around the house, bumping into walls and doors. Now, even though I was strung to the hospital bed with a dozen electrodes, I just knew that one step would have me toppling.
“Daddy!” Bella’s cute little voice pierced the air as she rushed past the doctor and nurses and everyone else in the room with blind enthusiasm. Seven years old and oblivious to everything except wanting her father. It was only when she grabbed my arms and got close that she realized my body was drizzled with wires. “Daddy, what is all this stuff?”
Miranda and Amara followed with a hospital worker in tow. Franciscus snapped at the worker that my family needed to leave, and the next few seconds were a buzz of everyone talking over each other.
“—they can’t be in here right now.”
“Martin, are you okay?”
“—isn’t the best time—”
“—going on with my husband?”
“—not going to tell you again to get them out of—”
“Nurse, check those connections to make sure it is reading right—”
“—let go of my daughter!”
Nurses and a new doctor quick-stepped past my family and the agents. One woman was talking to another so rapidly I couldn’t even make out what she was saying. The world turned about fifteen degrees sideways, and instinctively my hand reached for the railing. The air felt hot as nausea swelled, and I took a deep breath to keep from dry heaving.
Bella yanked on my fingers. “Daddy, can you take me to the vending machines?”
Amara snapped at her little sister. “Stupid, how is he going to take you anywhere! He’s in a bed!”
“Ma’am, we’re going to need you and your children to step out—” Agent Franciscus raised his voice.
I closed my eyes to gain my composure. They were moving and walking and talking as if I were watching a surveillance video through my own eyes.
“Hi, Daddy, how are you hey you look funny are you playing around Daddy stop playing around Momma Momma Daddy is acting weird!”
Bella’s sentences were all blended together, and before I could respond she was being pulled from the room by my wife. I blinked hard and flapped my eyelids to keep them from stinging and—hopefully—to clear my head. I tried yawning to pop my ears, thinking perhaps they were clogged. A second later Dave stood by the bedside, shaking my arm.
“Martin Martin are you okay can you hear me what’s wrong Buddy you’re not looking so hot can you please just say—” Dave was talking as if on fast-forward, his words riding one upon another.
“Slow down,” I started to say, trying to cut through their rapid speech and the concern on their faces. “I feel very strange—”
The nurse cut me off. My voice sounded raspy in my own head, and low-toned.
“Martin why are you talking so slow do you understand what I am saying?”
“Yeah, but you can’t talk so fast—”
“I need you to tell me what you’re feeling right now.”
I tried to get a word in edgewise. “I’m trying to answer, if you would let me—”
Amara had been standing in the doorway, watching the chaos from a distance after being yanked into the hallway by somebody on the staff. She ran back into the room with the hospital worker chasing after her. “Daddy why are you talking like that are you fooling around you’re fooling right come on Daddy tell the truth you are playing right you are pretending right Daddy?”
“No, sweetie, I’m not. I don’t—” I couldn’t even finish one sentence as the girls kept talking over me. The woman grabbed Amara with both hands and pulled her kicking and screaming from the room, her face flushed with anger as they rapidly sank backward toward the hallway. “Let go of my kid!” I tried to yell, but the command stalled in my throat and sputtered out like a whisper.
“We’vegottotransporthimtothelabrightnow . . .”
The room became a swirl of battered sentences strung together and overlapping. The doctors and nurses took the foreground, asking me questions, never waiting long enough for me to answer. For split seconds I could catch the movement behind them. Miranda was holding onto Amara now, dragging her from view. The hospital worker was bent over the crying face of Bella.
“. . . thereisnosignofastrokewe’veplacedacalltoLangleyyesIunderstand . . .”
“. . . sealoffthisareafromvisitors . . .”
“. . . goingtoneedtotransporthim . . .”
Life turned sideways as they wheeled my gurney from the room and raced to the rooftop. Tears were building in my eyes again. I had to resign myself to quick glimpses of the world as I shut my lids and peeked from behind them when something caught my ear or moved me enough to rouse my curiosity.
By the time they got me into the medivac helicopter, I finally understood what Bruchmuller had injected me with. Those four syringes were the culmination of what these doctors had been researching. The world wasn’t speeding up; I was slowing down.
I had become the rat.
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About the author:
W Lawrence was born in San Francisco, California, and moved two dozen times before settling in Pennsylvania with his extraordinarily patient wife and two precocious daughters. He wants a boy dog. He works in the world of corporate security as an investigator and professional interviewer/interrogator.
Lawrence is obsessed with 5K zombie runs, comes home empty-handed from hunting turkeys, and loves non-fiction books about pirates. He has no problem reconciling that his two favorite shows are Downton Abbey and The Walking Dead.
Loved the expert was very good interesting.
Very cool giveaway, maybe I'll get lucky!
Thanks for the giveaway
Time travel is always an interesting concept. Thanks for the giveaway.
This looks really good. Quite liked the excerpt too.
Thanks for the giveaway!
Book sounds good! Thank you for the giveaway!
wow, awesome prizes.. I really need a GoPro.. thank you for the chance to win!
sounds like an amazing read, thanks
Sounds wonderful, thanks for the chance!
sounds like a great book! Thanks for the giveaway.
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