Chapter Fifty-Three

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In this dream, unlike the others, Scott felt himself surrounded in a shroud of light and warmth. Voices whispered near him, but he was unable to grasp any meaning from them. A trickle of cool liquid ran down the side of his face as something was wiped across his brow. His face stung, stung badly enough for him to realise that this wasn't a dream. He tried to open his eyes, but they felt unbearably dry and gritty.

"He's coming around," said a man. The sound of the voice was muffled, almost as if Scott was listening to him under water.

"Quick, Nathan, wet his lips and see if he'll take a sip of water." This time it was the muffled voice of a woman.

Scott felt his head being propped up and then wetness on his lips. Parched, he gulped at the liquid from a cup that had been raised to his mouth.

"Slowly, don't choke it down."

Scott downed the ice cold water, not caring that most of it was running down his chin and wetting the front of the garment he was wearing. Once his thirst was sated, he was pulled back into a fretful sleep.

Scott picked at the loose, golden coloured thread until it was long enough to take hold of. He gripped it between finger and thumb and pulled. He couldn't comprehend what it was that he was unravelling, only that the more he pulled, the longer the thread became and the more the uneasy he became. As the thread started to spool on the surface beneath him, the greater the resistance he encountered. Very soon, he was battling it out in some unseen tug-of-war contest, needing both hands to pull. At some point, the thread had transformed into a thin, taught wire and it began to slice through his skin, yet still he hung on; the crimson wetness in his palms making it slippery and difficult to maintain grip. A stronger force than his hauled the thread away from Scott, so he dug his feet into the ground beneath, leant backwards trying to anchor himself. The battle seemed endless. Close to exhaustion, he gritted his teeth, gave one final heave and the wire snapped in two, launching Scott flying backwards making him cry out in pain.

"Shush... calm yourself." Scott jolted back to reality at the sound of the female voice he'd heard earlier. His heart pounded and he tried to pull himself up; the urge to flee from the dream and from wherever he was now, overwhelming. A sharp pain in his chest knocked the breath from his lungs and he fell back into the bed.

"Take it easy. You've a couple of broken ribs there. Can you open your eyes for me?" It was the man again, although this time he sounded younger.

With difficulty, Scott tried, but the simple movement felt like the lenses were being ripped from his eyeballs.

"Here, this might help." Scott heard the rustling of a packet and then his right upper eye lid was pulled back and a thick, clear liquid was squirted in. The same was done to his other eye. The relief was immediate and he blinked several times until his eyes began to focus on his surroundings.

"I'll go get him some food." Scott focused ahead of him and saw the back of someone as they left the room. With his eyes now able to focus, Scott started to look around. He had expected to find himself in a hospital bed, in a white room, with garish strip lightening, but what his eyes slowly revealed to him was something altogether different. He looked to his left and could see a small room with roughly plastered walls that had gaping holes revealing flimsy wooden slats beneath. A window was boarded up and only a single prick of daylight peeking through. The dim light in the room came from a small gas lamp positioned on a table in front of the window.

"Welcome back."

Scott turned sharply, having briefly forgotten someone else was in the room with him. He was met with a familiar face, sat in an old rocker next to the bed.

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