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“No,” he answered with painful honesty, “none of us do. But here’s what I do know. Your blood pressure has been steadily dropping despite experiencing stressers like the interview DHS conducted. Your body temperature is dropping. Your pupils are dilating slower than normal. You were complaining to the agents that they were talking too fast, and you’ve been describing your vision as blurry. As strange as it may sound, I believe this drug you were injected with slows the human body down considerably, and it does so on a subcellular level. I’ve never heard of such a drug before, and it doesn’t match anything Innovo Pharmaceutical research disclosed to us.
“Despite the fact that we can’t isolate the drug from any blood or tissue samples, we’re moving forward with the theory that these rogue doctors developed a drug that slows down cellular activity and—for whatever reason—they injected you with that drug.”
His voice sounded faster than normal. All of theirs were. They didn’t have the high-pitched fast-forward quality you might expect to hear when things speed up, but they sounded muffled, like I was listening to their words through a blanket. I rubbed my blurring eyes as the room seemed to pitch to a five-degree angle—just slightly off-kilter. The moment reminded me of a time from my youth when I’d had an inner ear infection. We were living in the hurricane shelters in Texas, and I remember stumbling around the house, bumping into walls and doors. Now, even though I was strung to the hospital bed with a dozen electrodes, I just knew that one step would have me toppling.
“Daddy!” Bella’s cute little voice pierced the air as she rushed past the doctor and nurses and everyone else in the room with blind enthusiasm. Seven years old and oblivious to everything except wanting her father. It was only when she grabbed my arms and got close that she realized my body was drizzled with wires. “Daddy, what is all this stuff?”
Miranda and Amara followed with a hospital worker in tow. Franciscus snapped at the worker that my family needed to leave, and the next few seconds were a buzz of everyone talking over each other.
“—they can’t be in here right now.”
“Martin, are you okay?”
“—isn’t the best time—”
“—going on with my husband?”
“—not going to tell you again to get them out of—”
“Nurse, check those connections to make sure it is reading right—”
“—let go of my daughter!”
Nurses and a new doctor quick-stepped past my family and the agents. One woman was talking to another so rapidly I couldn’t even make out what she was saying. The world turned about fifteen degrees sideways, and instinctively my hand reached for the railing. The air felt hot as nausea swelled, and I took a deep breath to keep from dry heaving.
Bella yanked on my fingers. “Daddy, can you take me to the vending machines?”
Amara snapped at her little sister. “Stupid, how is he going to take you anywhere! He’s in a bed!”
“Ma’am, we’re going to need you and your children to step out—” Agent Franciscus raised his voice.
I closed my eyes to gain my composure. They were moving and walking and talking as if I were watching a surveillance video through my own eyes.
“Hi, Daddy, how are you hey you look funny are you playing around Daddy stop playing around Momma Momma Daddy is acting weird!”
Bella’s sentences were all blended together, and before I could respond she was being pulled from the room by my wife. I blinked hard and flapped my eyelids to keep them from stinging and—hopefully—to clear my head. I tried yawning to pop my ears, thinking perhaps they were clogged. A second later Dave stood by the bedside, shaking my arm.
“Martin Martin are you okay can you hear me what’s wrong Buddy you’re not looking so hot can you please just say—” Dave was talking as if on fast-forward, his words riding one upon another.
“Slow down,” I started to say, trying to cut through their rapid speech and the concern on their faces. “I feel very strange—”
The nurse cut me off. My voice sounded raspy in my own head, and low-toned.
“Martin why are you talking so slow do you understand what I am saying?”
“Yeah, but you can’t talk so fast—”
“I need you to tell me what you’re feeling right now.”
I tried to get a word in edgewise. “I’m trying to answer, if you would let me—”
Amara had been standing in the doorway, watching the chaos from a distance after being yanked into the hallway by somebody on the staff. She ran back into the room with the hospital worker chasing after her. “Daddy why are you talking like that are you fooling around you’re fooling right come on Daddy tell the truth you are playing right you are pretending right Daddy?”
“No, sweetie, I’m not. I don’t—” I couldn’t even finish one sentence as the girls kept talking over me. The woman grabbed Amara with both hands and pulled her kicking and screaming from the room, her face flushed with anger as they rapidly sank backward toward the hallway. “Let go of my kid!” I tried to yell, but the command stalled in my throat and sputtered out like a whisper.
“We’vegottotransporthimtothelabrightnow . . .”
The room became a swirl of battered sentences strung together and overlapping. The doctors and nurses took the foreground, asking me questions, never waiting long enough for me to answer. For split seconds I could catch the movement behind them. Miranda was holding onto Amara now, dragging her from view. The hospital worker was bent over the crying face of Bella.
“. . . thereisnosignofastrokewe’veplacedacalltoLangleyyesIunderstand . . .”
“. . . sealoffthisareafromvisitors . . .”
“. . . goingtoneedtotransporthim . . .”
Life turned sideways as they wheeled my gurney from the room and raced to the rooftop. Tears were building in my eyes again. I had to resign myself to quick glimpses of the world as I shut my lids and peeked from behind them when something caught my ear or moved me enough to rouse my curiosity.
By the time they got me into the medivac helicopter, I finally understood what Bruchmuller had injected me with. Those four syringes were the culmination of what these doctors had been researching. The world wasn’t speeding up; I was slowing down.
I had become the rat.
Would you ever travel forward in time if you knew it was a one-way trip? Mr. Martin James has no such desire, but after being injected with a mysterious drug against his will, Martin hurtles through the years. This cruel twist of fate forces him to watch his children grow up and his wife grow old in a matter of days. Only an elusive group of scientists have the ability to stop his nightmarish journey; the very people who injected him in the first place. And while Martin James hopes to find a cure before everyone he loves is gone, others are uncertain if his journey can be stopped at all.
W. Lawrence weaves a future history filled with the best and worst of humanity, highlights the blessings and curses of technology, and pushes the limits of faith and hopelessness. Above all, Syncing Forward is a tale of one man’s love for his family, and their devotion to saving him from being lost forever.
Where to purchase Syncing Forward
W Lawrence was born in San Francisco, California, and moved two dozen times before settling in Pennsylvania with his extraordinarily patient wife and two precocious daughters. He wants a boy dog. He works in the world of corporate security as an investigator and professional interviewer/interrogator.
Lawrence is obsessed with 5K zombie runs, comes home empty-handed from hunting turkeys, and loves non-fiction books about pirates. He has no problem reconciling that his two favorite shows are Downton Abbey and The Walking Dead.