Water engulfed Dr. Larn Wintel and pulled him down as if starved for human flesh. His flesh. The more he struggled, the faster he sank, and as the pressure increased, his muscles grew stiff and cold. His heart hammered, his lungs burned.
"God help me!"
Larn jolted awake in his bed and gasped for air. Or at least tried to. Although he no longer felt the cold water, still he couldn't breathe as though something heavy sat on his chest.
He tried to sit up in the hopes it would decrease the pressure, but his entire body felt made of lead. What was happening to him? A heart attack? Stroke? Was this the continuation of a nightmare? He begged God that this was so and he would awaken any second.
Movement at the foot of his bed grabbed his attention.
A woman stared at him, fists clenched at her sides. Blue-white moonlight streaming through the gossamer drapes highlighted her loose black pants and tunic, and made her skin appear to glow. She was short and lithe as a teenager, but her large, dark eyes revealed the hardness of someone who'd committed many acts best relegated to the shadows.
Larn felt an invisible force exerting pressure on his mind equal to that in his chest.
This was no phantom, and this was no nightmare. He tried to call for help, but his muscles still refused to respond. It felt as if someone else controlled his body. The pressure in his chest increased and a sharp pain waved outward throughout his extremeties.
It seemed impossible, but his terror intensified. Only a telepath could accomplish that. He'd never felt the total loss of self before, although he'd heard it described. He tried to push the woman out of his mind, but her telepathic hold kept him pinned and silent.
The room began to fade in his peripheral vision, and his gasping grew shallow. His will to fight dissolved. This would happen someday, he knew that. Accepted it even. But why now? So many things he'd not yet finished, some not even started.
Or was he done? Had his sins finally decided to exact their final justice this night?
For an instant, in front of him stood not the woman who had been abused and exploited in ways he helped make possible, but one full of love, kindness and with a greater purpose only God could accomplish. Larn felt a tear run down into his left ear and understood what God wanted his last act in this life to be.
Larn lifted his head, an amazing accomplishment considering the telepath's control and stared into her eyes. "Take the book," he whispered through shallow breaths. "On my nightstand. Handy, too. Please. Read them. Understand. I'm so terribly sorry."
She blinked, but her control over him didn't waver.
His heart stopped moments later.