Pain crushed Ethan into the bed while it also felt like it tried to explode from within. Two irresistible forces opposed each other with Watson’s meager body in the middle.
Each breath lit a fiery torch in his chest. He had to breathe, but he didn’t want to. Ethan fought as best he could, but this old man’s body was failing. He was amazed it had survived this long.
He tried to leave the prison of this body, but it was too early, too far from death.
Helen loomed above him. “I’ll save you, Mr. Watson.”
He felt her hands on his chest. In a torn voice he croaked, “No, Helen, no. Let me go.” Ethan knew he could not come back from this one. He hated that he had been so close to Beth and would now have to find another entry point.
Watson’s body thrashed without Ethan’s control, lurching with more strength than it had shown in years, fighting to save itself.
Now great explosions of light blotted out Helen’s face. Suddenly remembering something, Ethan fought back the void and clutched at the breast pocket of his smoking jacket. He dragged a folded sheet of velum from the pocket and held it out. He had written another note.
“Give this to her, Helen,” he gasped, battling each word. “The Hawley girl.” First he had to suck a searing breath into the furnace of his chest, then he had to master his tongue and his throat while the rest of his body vibrated out of control. “Promise you’ll give this to her. My dying wish.” Helen touched the paper, terrified, and pulled it out of his clutching fist. “Swear to me, or I’ll hunt you down, drag you to hell,” Watson’s voice croaked.
Just the day before, Helen had sworn she would never go back to the Hawley House. But she could not deny the old man his last wish. Though she had no idea what was in these notes or how Mr. Watson even knew Katherine Hawley, she said, “I swear, I swear.”
“Ahhh, God, help me. Help me.” Misunderstanding, Helen scrambled onto the bed and crouched over Watson. She set her hands as she had been shown and let her body weight press down on her patient’s sternum. He moaned and thrashed as the excruciating pain built to a crescendo. He felt a white-hot pillar rising through his chest. When it reached his head, his vision turned black and Ethan let go.
With a whoosh of energy, the pain vanished. Ethan rushed through star clusters like a freight train passing trees, hurling himself out into the cosmos in an eruption of joy.
Then he thought himself into the place he had been before, that special little nexus of time where had winked into the other place. He found the eddy and plunged into it. It felt more familiar to him. He knew where to find her. He just had to get back there.