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Authors: J W Rocque

Soulshine

BOOK: Soulshine
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Soulshine
J.W. ROCQUE
Second Edition
Copyright 2008 by J.W. Rocque

Any resemblance of characters in this story to actual people, living or dead, or characters in other works of literature or film is purely coincidental, though there have been inspirations as noted in this book’s introduction.

Introduction

I have always been fascinated by young people who precociously conduct themselves in a positive manner as though they are much older than their years. I am also intrigued by literary characters that are timeless, yet maintain a youthful exuberance. This story combines those two elements into a tale of science fiction, romance and mystery.

The character of Michelle Fleming is inspired by a child whom I had the pleasure of knowing many years ago. She was sweet, mature and sensitive, but not at all childish. I"m certain that each of us has encountered at least one such as her. As I went through the decision process of choosing my heroine, it became obvious that she was the perfect inspiration. When I took on the task of developing a hero for her, I wondered just what type of boy or man someone like Michelle would choose to have a crush on.

The answer came back fairly quickly. He would have to be someone who is youthful, though perhaps somewhat older than she, and also possess the wisdom to treat her as the mature young lady she is. He would need to be someone other than the typical teenage boy. Then it hit me. Make him timeless, yet young, with the ability to share his eternal youth, and he would be perfect for Michelle. However, great gifts come at a great price, and the cost of losing something that is destined to last forever is greater than the cost of losing something we know to be temporal.

The character of Evan Troy is inspired by the main character in an episode of The Twilight Zone entitled „Long Live Walter Jameson" written by Charles Beaumont. Evan is much younger at the time he stops physically aging, however, than Walter Jameson. Still, the character gave me the idea of providing my heroine with a hero that does not age, yet remains a mortal who is capable of dying. This is a notable difference to many other timeless characters that possess the attribute of indestructibility.

Both our hero and heroine will discover first hand that possessing such a wondrous gift can be more of a curse than a blessing, and bestowing such a gift on another person could very well sentence the recipient to a long life of misery in exchange for a few brief moments of joy.

Combine an ancient elixir carefully transported to the twentieth century, a mysterious brotherhood ensconced with the ancient secret related to the mystery surrounding the hero, a tragic romance reminiscent of the one shared by Romeo and Juliet, and an epilogue that sets the ground work for a sequel that establishes a new rival to come between our hero and heroine… and you have the crux of „Soulshine".

J.W. Rocque
I
December 11, 1983

“What are you looking at, Frank?”
Dr. Frank DiLaurio stood staring at the x-ray before him. “Frank?”
“Huh… what? Oh, I"m sorry, Hugo. I… I"m just

completely baffled by thisparticular case.”

Dr. Hugo Chan leaned over to look at the xray. “That"s a leg with some extensive nerve damage. What"s got you puzzled?”
Frank drew a deep breath. “Right, Hugo.” Then he pointed at the image on the film. “This patient was in a car accident. He was the passenger. The car skidded on an ice patch and hit a tree. His leg was pinned as the door collapsed inward on it. You can see right here the damage to the lower leg… nothing unusual. Much to be expected in a situation such as this.”
“Right… and?”
Frank drew another breath. “Now take a look at this x- ray.” He motioned to another image hanging alongside.
“Hmm,” offered Hugo. “An amputee?”
Frank managed a smirk. “By all appearances. But the thing is… these are x-rays of the same patient taken minutes apart.”
“Minutes apart? Who did the amputation?”
“Nobody. That"s just it. This young man came into the emergency room with his leg intact, albeit with plenty of nerve damage. By the time I saw him, his leg… well, for lack of a better word… decomposed.”
Hugo held back a gasp. “Decomposed?”
“Yes, it"s like the nerve endings died and his leg atrophied almost immediately. Have you ever come across anything like this?”
“No. That second xray looks like an amputated leg.”
“Well, it wasn"t amputated by anyone on staff here or by any other human being.This man"s leg decomposed like that of a dead man who has been deceased for years, and frankly I am fearful for the rest of his entire body. It appears to be working its way up the leg. I"m worried that we are witnessing the decomposition of a man who is in the process of dying. And I do not have any answers for him… or his girl friend.”
“Where is he now?”
“He has been moved to room 324, but I"m seriously considering moving him to intensive care. This is ridiculous. I mean… he was admitted with only some nerve damage, but he still had his complete leg!”
“Fascinating. Do you want me to look at him with you?”
“Be my guest. The staff is doing their best to stop the bleeding, but it is not easy to keep up with the rapid decomposition. As his leg deteriorates, it creates new episodes of blood loss. This has to be stopped before it spreads to his whole body.”
“Is that possible?”
“The way the leg is decomposing, I don"t expect it to stop deteriorating when it reaches the hip. I have to expect it to keep happening through his whole body… as strange as that sounds.”
“Frank, you keep using the word „decomposing". What is it exactly that you see as residue?”
“Dust, Hugo. Just ashes. Like we are all at an archeological dig looking at the remains of an Egyptian mummy. Only the mummy is still alive because his vital organs have yet to decompose. I have no idea what to tell him or his girl friend. I just want to stop this from happening before it ever gets close to the vital organs.”
The two doctors hurried out of the lab and headed for the elevator.
Michelle sat nervously besideEvan"s hospital bed, visibly stunned as she gazed atEvan"s right leg, which now ended just at the knee. Her trance, seemingly surreal at this point, was interrupted by the voice of the attending nurse.“Honey, you need to get some rest,” said the nurse. “You"ve been here all night. It looks like we stopped the nerve damage from spreading.”
“Is… is this normal? I mean, for a leg to just… disappear into powder after an accident like he had?” asked Michelle, halfknowing the answer before she asked.
“Well… no, honey. Dr. DiLaurio has admitted that he has never seen anything like this. But he"s one of the best. He will figure it out. Don"t you worry.”
Michelle started crying… half in fear for Evan and half in fear for herself.
“Sweetie, you need some rest. Why not go home, get a good night"s sleep, and come back in the morning. We need to get some personal information from Mr. Troy.”
Evan managed a grunt. “I have no medical insurance and no personal identification… er… on me.”
“Oh, dear. I hope we didn"t wake you, Mr. Troy,” said the nurse.
“No… no. I was only resting my eyes. The night has been very long. Um… it looks like my loss of leg has stopped, no? May I get a wheelchair and leave? Just have your billing department get my invoice and I will make arrangements to pay in full.”
Dr. DiLaurio and Dr. Chan entered the room. “Get a wheelchair and leave?” exclaimed Frank. “Mr. Troy, your case is not only a unique one to me in all my years of practice as well as reading medical journals, but it is also a terrifying case. I am in fear for your life. You appear to be losing your body… strange as that may sound!”
Michelle started sobbing. “Please, doctor,” said Evan, “my wife is saddened because… well… as long as we"ve been together, I"ve never even set foot in a hospital. Neither one of us has. This is all traumatic for her.”
“Your wife? I"m sorry. I… uh… just assumed she was your friend or perhaps your sister. She looks so… young.”
“Um… well… she"s older than she looks. Everyone tells her that. And though we consider each other husband and wife, we have never officially married. Her name is MichelleFleming.”
“I thought the same thing,” interrupted the nurse. “This young lady was actually the driver of the vehicle that skidded into the tree, Dr. DiLaurio.”
“The driver! My God, you look not much older than my twelve year old daughter. Do you mind if I ask your age?”
Michelle hesitated. “You won"t believe her age,” said the nurse. “Forgive me, but I heard the surprise in the police officer"s voice when you showed him your driver"s license. You"re twenty- nine… if I heard correctly?”
“Y-yes, that"s right. I guess my height makes me look like a little girl. Maybe Ishouldn"t be driving a vehicle when I can"t control a car on an ice patch.”
“Twenty-nine!” said Frank. “And here I thought that Evan here was robbing the cradle. How old are you, Evan?”
Now it was Evan"s turn to hesitate. “Oh… uh… Michelle and I are actually just months apart in age.”
“Really? You don"t look much past twenty yourself! Well, let"s see what we can do about your medical curiosity.” Frank was trying to lighten the grave situation. “Um… Evan, let me be straight with you. I meant what I said before. I am in fear for your life. It looks like we have slowed down your bodily atrophy, but you still appear to be losing tissue. You need to be monitored closely.”
“Oh, please do everything you can, doctor. I want to stay with Evan. I… I have never been apart from him since I was a younggirl.” Michelle thought about what she said and gave a shy look.
How could I say ‘since I was a young girl’ when I look like one to begin with?
Evan spoke to relieve her tension. “I think it would be good for both of us if we kept each other company. It will be good for us to talk to keep our minds off the accident. Would that be okay?”
The nurse and the two doctors looked at each other. “I don"t see why not,” said Frank. “By the way, this is Dr. Chan. He will be assisting me in your case. Another head agonizing over this medical oddity cannot hurt.”
“Hello, Dr. Chan. I appreciate the extra help,” said Evan.
“Nice to meet you, Evan. I hope we can stop the damage. We will certainly try our best. We will just take another set of xrays so we can monitor the rate of change of your injuries, and then let you and Michelle have some time alone. We will continue to monitor your condition throughout the night.”
Frank, Hugo and the nurse left the room. Once outside the room, they looked at each other. Frank spoke up first. “What do you two think?”
“About the unusual atrophy?” asked Hugo. “You know what I think. I"m as baffled as you are.”
“No… about Evan and Michelle. He has no personal identification to provide us. She has identification that has to be doctored. There is no way she is twentynine. I don"t know who they are, but she should not be driving a car. But one thing I do believe by the way she has been crying… they certainly are special to one another. They may be brother and sister, or possibly lovers. But they are not being honest. The question is… do we alert the authorities with our suspicions?”
“It may impede our progress as doctors,” offered Hugo. “Our first job is to heal that man. So far, the only possible crime I see is that we possibly have an under-age driver with a doctored driver"s license. They may be hiding something, but let"s face it… at least one of them won"t be going anywhere tonight.”

Michelle sighed as she looked pitifully at Evan. “Oh, Evan, I"m so sorry.”
Evan looked lovingly at his Michelle. “Michelle, do not worry or blame yourself. What is life without a little risk?”
“But you came this far without so much as a hangnail. I feel like I ruined your life.”
“Michelle, you are the joy of my life. You
have
been since we met. And just a few short years ago, you found out exactly how much I wanted to ensure that we would be together forever.”
“Evan, you may be dying.
Then
what will become of me?”
“Don"t think about it. If that is indeed the case, you will go on fine without me. You are young and beautiful. Enjoy the long life ahead of you.”
Michelle fought to hold back her tears as her mind drifted off to another time of her life.

November, 1966

Michelle Fleming was nervous as she stopped to catch her breath in front of the sundry shop. She clutched the envelope in her hand so tightly that she noticed a crease forming in its corner. She did her best to smooth out the bend against her tense chest. She tried to tell herself that it didn"t matter if Evan thought she was just a kid with a silly crush. She had to let him subtly know that she liked him. As she stepped inside the store, she knew he would be there, having memorized Evan"s work schedule for months. She liked the way Evan always made her feel special when she came in to buy either candy for herself or groceries for her mother. His smile was gentle and she was much more interested in Evan than in boys her own age. They were so immature… not that Michelle typically fell for older teenagers. Evan was special to her.

She made her way nervously to the counter, giving Evan a shy smile while hiding the envelope inside her blouse. She slowly picked out an ice cream bar and put iton the counter. “Hi, Michelle. How are you today?”

“Fine, Evan.”
“Just the ice cream?”
“Um… yeah.”
“Twenty-five cents.”
“Here you go.” She put the quarter on the counter. “Oh,

BOOK: Soulshine
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