My dreams were sweet and pleasant. My one year old son and I were playing in the front yard, our traditional English cottage behind us. Little Addison couldn't walk yet. He crawled around on the green grass. In fact, the grass seemed greener than normal.
The air smelled sweet, and the sky was bluer than I had ever seen it. There wasn't a cloud in the sky. The sun was well in the west. It was late in the afternoon.
I smiled at Addy. Then, I smiled, laughing inside at the nickname I had given him. That's what he called me: Addy ... instead of Daddy.
Then, just as suddenly as the dream was there, it was gone. It was replaced with nothingness for a long time. At least it seemed like a long time.
The first sensation that came to me was my sense of smell, but I could have done without it. The scent of burning things was strong in the air. It reminded me of when I burned the bacon on the stove a few days prior.
"I told you I didn't know how to make bacon," I told my wife as she came running into the kitchen. Smoke was everywhere. She had one of Addison's shirts in her hand, waving it to and fro, obviously trying to disperse the smoke. "I shouldn't do anything besides sausage. I don't mess that up."
She ignored me, taking the skillet of bacon off the stove. "That's okay, dear," she spoke finally. "I'll leave the sausage for you."
The next sensation to return was my sense of touch ... or to say more correctly, my inner awareness. I could feel my muscles, and they were screaming back in dull pain. There wasn't enough pain to cry out. Not even sure if I could cry out.
I don't think I could move either. I tried, and my achy muscles didn't respond. My efforts were interrupted by another sensation: noise.
That's what it sounded like at first. It was like the noise you hear when your neighbor has his tele on too loud. You can't make out the individual sounds, just a muffled noise.
The noise came into focus a little at a time. Soon I could hear that it was conversation. People were talking. How many I couldn't tell yet.
Then, I clearly heard the phrase: "I didn't say that. I thought it." In response to that, I tried moving again with better success.
"Oh my God. That body just moved." It was the same voice as before. Was she talking about me? I tried to move my leg. No use. But, I was able to move my arm. I heard a rustling of feet. As I tried to move more, I could feel that I was putting my body through extremes that it had never felt before. I groaned.
This time it was another voice, an older voice. "Hello. Can you hear me? Can you move?"
I hadn't regained the ability to speak just yet, so I groaned again. I was getting better at moving, so I lifted my hand toward the stranger's hand. My eyes had been closed all of this time. I hadn't even considered opening them. I was afraid of what I might see ... if I could see at all.
But, I had had them closed long enough. It was time to rejoin the land of the living, so to speak. The scene that filled my eyes was strange. First, the light was not bright. Usually it is when you first wake up, but I could see that the ambient light was dull. What had happened?
The other thing I saw was a strange face, a woman's face. She seemed to be about my age. And, she looked like she could have lived in the same area of the country as me, but I didn't recognize her.
Normally, my speech was crispy clean, especially around my young son. But, this nightmare, whatever it was, was getting worse. So, I spoke the only words that came to mind.
"Who the hell are you?"