There may never be a feeling as odd as waking up and finding someone else shaving your face. But as Brent opened his eyes, he was pretty sure this was what was happening.
"You missed a spot." said Brent, sounding very raspy and forced.
"Oh goodness. You're awake." said the young, blond woman, as she dropped the razor on Brent's chest, and reached for the red button by the side of the bed.
A quick glance around the unfamiliar surroundings, confirmed that Brent had to be in a hospital.
"What the hell happened?" Brent said, but to no response, as the blond was rushing out of the room.
She was met at the door by a man who appeared to be a doctor. He wasted no time in making a nuisance of himself, by concurrently placing a stethoscope on Brent's chest while shining a small light in his eyes.
"And how do you feel, Miss Beacon?" he asked Brent.
"Are you speaking to me?" Brent inquired.
"Of course." the doctor answered, while thumping around Brent's gut with his forefinger.
"Please tell me I haven't gotten a sex change, and tell me what the hell happened." Brent said.
The doctor paused and stared at Brent.
"Are we ... Brent Madison?" He asked.
"Well I am, are you?" Brent answered impatiently.
"Mr. Madison." The doctor said, sounding delighted. "You have been a very elusive man the past six weeks. Weren't sure you were coming back."
"And .. so ..." Brent queried, leading the doctor on.
The doctor continued, "You have been in a semi-coma, Mr. Madison, and experiencing psychotic delusions, hallucinations, and mainly strange behavior."
"I'll admit to strange, but then, I am not the one who called me ...."
"Mavis Beacon?" the doctor interrupted, then laughed. "Yes, well, until this morning, that was the persona you communicated with."
Brent thought for a second and added "Mavis Beacon. I'm pretty sure that was a program name that I learned to type with."
The door swiftly swung open and Brent's publisher, Jerry Jackson, rushed in smiling from ear to ear. "Brent. Brent, my lad. You look wonderful. How do you feel, son?"
"Hello Jackson." Brent replied. "Not really sure yet, but I think I'm depressed that I don't have breasts."
"Ah, of course you are ... Mavis. Listen up, I brought your manuscript with me. We have so much to discuss." Jackson said, as he drew a chair up bedside.
"In due time, Mr. Madison needs rest." The doctor tried to intervene.
"Give me a break, Jackson." Brent said with a tone of resentment. "You hated my manuscript, and I understand. End of story."
"Quite to the contrary, lad. I have about fifteen edits marked here, and with your approval, it's on the way to the printers." said his publisher.
"And I thought I was the delusional one. You have ..." Brent froze mid-sentance. Standing at the doorway, staring in amazement, with teary eyes, was none other than Tara Saunders.
"Tara?" Brent blurted out.
She ran over to the bed, now with tears streaming down her cheeks, and bent over to hug Brent tightly. She pulled back when she brushed against the side of his face that was still unshaven.
"Honey, you're back." cried Tara. "We ... we just didn't know. I was so afraid you were lost forever. But then I knew. I knew as soon as you started writing. I knew you would come back ... and I knew you .. needed me."
Brent couldn't believe his ears. This was Tara, in front of him, talking just like he had fantasized a miliion times. Was he still in a coma? Worse, was he dead?
"I do, Tara." Brent said. "I do need you. I love - what the hell? Wait a minute, I was writing?"
Jackson piped in. "Oh my, yes, yes you have, Brent. You have been writing pure gold. Gold. Brent Madison is back."
Jackson set the manuscript on the edge of the bed.
"Okay, I am sorry, but everybody must leave now." The doctor said as he stood. "Mr. Madison has to rest, so please, if you will."
The doctor corralled Tara and Jackson and led them to the door.
Tara walked backwards, not able to take her eyes off of Brent.
"We will talk later, okay?" She said as she walked.
"Not going anywhere." Brent said and smiled.
"Read the edits, boy, I need a commitment by end of day." Jackson added.
Brent just gave him a thumbs up sign. A smile crossed his face.
"Who is the future of literature?" Jackson shouted as they dissapeared through the door.
Brent Madison lay still for several minutes.
"I am." he muttered, as he picked up the manuscript by the side of the bed.
"I, Brent Madison, am the future of literature."
And as he flipped over the first page of the manuscript, he thought to himself, ".. and I can't wait to find out why."