Twice Dead by Harlow Coban
Grayson experienced death for the first time on the cold, wet linoleum floor of her bathroom. Black dots appeared before her eyes just as she stepped out of the shower. “Charlie,” she yelled her son’s name before she hit the ground. She grabbed the shower curtain in a futile attempt to break her fall.
She awoke to find Charlie standing over her with cell phone in hand. He spoke, but the words sounded like gibberish to her. Her brain couldn’t process what he said. He had covered her with a towel. He was a good son.
Her head hurt. She touched her head and saw blood. She tried to sit up, but a wave of nausea hit her and she slumped back to the floor. The coldness of the floor felt good against her fevered skin.
She wasn’t sure how much time had passed, but when opened her eyes, paramedics were there. They hurtled question after question at her, poking and prodding as they went. She tried to think clearly. What had happened to me? She had a bad cold and her doctor had prescribed Amoxicillin. She’d popped a pill as soon as she’d gotten home from the pharmacy. That’s when things had gone south. She began itching uncontrollably—hence the reason for the shower. Her breathing and swallowing had gotten more difficult, but she had attributed that to a bad cold until now.
Inexplicably, her muscles locked in place and her body seized. She bucked wildly and uncontrollably on the ground. An instant later, she hovered above her body. Her son cried and called her name. This didn’t upset her. Despite the chaos around her, she was in a calm, serene space, even when she considered the impact her death would have on her son. She watched as paramedics worked valiantly to revive her. They charged a defibrillator and placed the paddles on her chest. The first pulse of the defibrillator forced her back into her body.
Death would have to wait.
Grayson faced death a second time in the hospital Emergency Room. “Her blood pressure is still too low. IV push Eppy,” a doctor ordered. A nurse injected a substance into her IV bag. In an instant, a whooshing roar filled her ears as a tornado danced inside her head. She convulsed. Doctors and nurses worked to stabilize her. Again, she left her body and hovered close to the ceiling, looking down on the flurry of activity. That’s when she saw it – words — there were words written on the wall near the ceiling: Quo Vadis. She committed them to memory.
A doctor placed defibrillator paddles on her chest. The charge pulled her back into her exhausted body and into unconsciousness.
When she woke, she recognized the familiar patterns of the hospital wall. Her son slept in a chair in the corner of the room. A nurse came in. She rolled her eyes to the ceiling and, in sudden clarity, remembered the words she had seen. She tried to speak, but only a croak came out. The nurse handed her a cup of water. She took a couple of sips and tried again. “I saw words.”
“I’m sorry, what?”
“I saw words.” She drew a ragged breath. “Quo Vadis.”
The nurse’s eyes widened in surprise. Smiling widely, she said, “It means, where are you going?”
So, she wasn’t crazy. She had actually died, but that wasn’t what horrified her now. She hadn’t seen a light, heard an angel’s voice, saw any dearly departed relatives, or felt the presence of God.
There may not be an afterlife and that shook her to her very core.
Author Harlow Coban was born in Kansas City, MO, but grew up in Denver, CO. She relocated to North Carolina five years ago with her husband, two dogs, and 16-year old twins.
She shares a birthday with the notorious Napoleon Bonaparte. In keeping with his legacy, she is currently working on taking over the world. Harlow’s positive attitude and fresh take on life are her tools and conquest is certain.
She spends her free time writing, dancing, traveling and defending mailboxes from her 16-year-old twins’ driving.
Her debut novel, LIFE IN DEATH (February 2012), is a murder mystery which pulls from real-life situations from her own family history. She felt compelled to share her story with the world while offering a thrilling, entertaining, and amusing escape for readers.
In keeping with her commitment to improving the lives of children, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of her book will be donated to the Boys and Girls Club in her home state of North Carolina.
She loves to connect with her readers and can be found on Twitter (@HarlowCoban), Facebook, and her website.