I’ve only set one of my novels in a real not imagined place; the novel is Flipside and it’s the story of a man’s struggle with PTSD as he begins a new relationship; the story is told by the new woman in his life, Jaz, the sister of his friend and business partner. They’ve known of each other for years, but it was love at first sight when they met properly – she had moved to Oldham to start a new teaching job, he was working with her brother in a garage they own. They actually know nothing about each other… until their first night together –
“Kill the lights! Kill the lights!” he hissed and jumped across me and grabbing the neck of the lamp, yanked it from its socket and hurled it across the room so it smashed against the far wall.
He bounded from the bed and went to the window and, standing back against the wall, peeped out and I was afraid that he might break the glass to fire from it.
By the light from the street lamp I could see he was terrified; he was saying something, the words stuttering out.
I leapt out of bed and tried to embrace him but his body was rigid, his skin icy and yet he was pouring with sweat.
“David! Wake up! It’s a dream, darling, you’re dreaming!”
He looked down at me, but it wasn’t me he was seeing. He jumped, as if at a tremendous noise, and crouched down, his arms wrapped protectively over his head.
“Down! Down! Get down!” and his body shook with imagined blasts or explosions.
It was like watching a movie without sound and it was utterly terrifying.
Slowly he stood, staring through me at something on the floor behind me. There was a look of such horror on his face and he was gulping and swallowing as if about to be sick. My heart was racing and beating wildly and I didn’t know how to help him.
His gaze moved and he focused on me, although it wasn’t me he was seeing. His lips moved silently and he looked into my face, into someone’s face, and then he said my name.
He stood back against the wall, arms spread, yelling now, forcing the words out but making no sense, a jumble of names and muddled denials.
“No! Don’t take her! Don’t hurt her! No! No!” almost screaming, yelling my name.
“Wake up, David, wake up! It’s a dream, wake up!”
He groaned in agony, his teeth chattering, sweat and tears sheeting his face, panting and gasping for air. I didn’t know what to do, it was so frightening.
His arms came down and his head bowed and I was able to hug him to my warm body. He was sobbing, stumbling over words so what he said was meaningless. He held me so tightly I could hardly breathe.
“They’ve got her, they’ve got Jaz!” and then his speech degenerated into incomprehensibility.
“I’m here, it’s me, Jaz, I’m here,” I spoke calmly as I would to a distressed child but he didn’t understand, just wept.
I took his hand and led him back to bed; it was the most scary thing I’d ever experienced.
This is the first page… if you want to find out what happens next, here is a link to ‘Flipside’