Chapter 1. Toward the Light
Floating -- wrapped in light -- white-on-white were the first sensations. Then, an earnest desire to gag, followed immediately by crushing pain that, O’Neill noted with odd detachment, started somewhere near his right ear, shot along his throat and burst in his lungs with each breath. Between breaths – lovely nothingness.
‘The trick,’ he reasoned, ‘is don’t inhale – worked for Clinton, didn’t it, or was it … Carter?’
The quip dissolved, half-formed, as the next pulse of life-sustaining air rushed down the tube in O’Neill’s throat, lifting and expanding his shattered chest, as bone, tissue and nerves raged. Then, agony blinked out and the merciful light reclaimed him.
Inevitably, the light took shape. Sun streamed through sheer white curtains. Curtains shifted slightly in a breeze. The breeze carried cries of gulls, surf-smells and garden scents. People moved behind a filmy screen like bizarre Indonesian shadow puppets he’d seen while stationed outside of Jakarta, or was it on PX-something?
O’Neill drifted, wrapping himself in the remnants of anesthesia. Reluctantly, he floated into semi-consciousness and became increasingly aware of the “secondary effects” of survival. Too-tight bindings pinched and chafed. Thirst raged and a spot on his right foot itched, furiously. Incessant mechanisms blipped and monitors chirped.
Disinterested, he observed the thousand indignities visited upon him, as a VIP beneficiary of modern medicine; or perhaps a particularly prized side of beef; or maybe just the latest scientific wonder, man-cum-mouse-cum-lab-rat. Whatever.
The primary effect – soul-numbing pain – had hung just at the edge of awareness, but the shroud of anesthetic shredded and dissipated and it hit him in vicious a double-fisted assault. Like any mortal, he prayed.
‘God, let them come now; let them give me something; make it something strong; God put me out!’
O’Neill was in no position to help himself. Mittens of bandages on both hands prevented use of the call-button, assuming his chest muscles could have lifted an arm to reach for it, or he could have turned his head or focused his eyes to locate it. His right leg, suspended from the ceiling, pinned him to the bed as effectively as any Goa’uld restraints. A hard plastic tube blocked his mouth and throat. No way to scream; no way to move. So, maybe he’d just let go and die. He tried. With all his vast Irish will, he tried.
Then, through the pain, O’Neill saw the one thing that would spur him to fight for life, no matter the consequences. Sara O’Neill. She crossed his field of view to the window and stood with her hand in her hair.
‘She always plays with her hair when she’s perplexed -- or worried,’ Jack thought with a guilty twinge, while something deep inside drank in the sight of her.
Sara. She leaned against a windowsill and gazed at the garden beyond. She was older than he remembered and exhausted. Yet, silver strands in her thick gold hair only heightened Sara’s earthy allure. Seeing her, O’Neill wanted very much to live.
An array of monitors dutifully recorded O’Neill’s change in life signs. Alarms sounded at a remote station.
A slight breeze blew the curtains. Sara turned and, seeing Jack gazing at her, smiled and stepped towards him. “I’m here, Jack,” she murmured.
O’Neill tried to reach for the wife he’d lost, but he heard a throbbing roar, like helicopter rotors. She was beside him. Lips close to his face whispered, “You can sleep now.”
O’Neill felt a white form hover over him. It administered something strong and he tumbled back into oblivion.
|Genres:||Action/Adventure, Angst, Drama, Hurt/Comfort, Missing Scene/Episode-Related|
|Summary:||As you die, they say, you relive your life. But is it the life you lived, or the life you wished you lived? What O'Neill experienced between 'You can sleep now,' and 'It was an honor serving with you...' (Solitudes)|
Author's Chapter Notes:
I'm told that dream-stories are cheezy. Well, I'm from Wisconsin and we like cheese. Hope you agree.