A Tragic Warrior Lost in Two Worlds…
The war in Iraq ended for Lieutenant Freddie Williams when an IED explosion left his mind and body shattered. Once he was a skilled gamer and expert in virtual warfare. Now he’s a broken warrior, emerging from a medically induced coma to discover he’s inhabiting two separate realities. The first is his waking world of pain, family trials, and remorse—and slow rehabilitation through the tender care of Becky, his physical therapist. The second is a dark fantasy realm of quests, demons, and magic that Freddie enters when he sleeps.
In his dreams he is Frederick, Prince of Stormwind, who must make sense of his horrific visions in order to save his embattled kingdom from the monstrous Horde. His only solace awaits him in the royal gardens, where the gentle words of the beautiful gardener, Rebecca, calm the storms in his soul. While in the conscious world, the severely wounded vet faces a strangely similar and equally perilous mission—a journey along a dark road haunted by demons of guilt and memory—and letting patient, loving Becky into his damaged and shuttered heart may be his only way out of Hell.
Today, I’m going to share two excerpts from the book, Along The Watchtower.
This is a Contemporary Fiction with a Fantasy bent, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading the excerpts.
Excerpts from Along The Watchtower
By David Litwack
Excerpt One: Wounded Warrior
An echo of an echo. A dream interrupted by hushed voices talking the way people do near the deceased at a wake. One voice gruff, a man’s, possibly a smoker. The other mousy, almost a squeak. Three fingers pressed on the inside of my wrist. Thick fingers.
“His pulse is strong. Let’s give it a try.” The man’s voice rose. “Freddie, can you hear me?”
I recognized the name. Freddie. Short for Frederick. A name that must be me. Then panic. I’d been dreaming of castles and kings. Why would I want to be Freddie?
“Try his rank,” the woman said. “They’re trained to respond by rank.”
An image flitted across my mind. Iraq. An explosion. My mind recoiled. I groped about in the darkness, trying to find the castle again.
“Did you see that?” the man said. “His eyelids twitched.”
“Lieutenant,” the woman said, louder now. At least I was no longer deaf. “Can you wiggle your thumbs?”
There was somewhere else I needed to be, something important I was supposed to do. My mind was a jumble. When I couldn’t fit the puzzle pieces together, I sent a signal to my thumbs.
“Wonderful.” A touch on my palm. The woman this time. Slender fingers. “And can you squeeze?”
I did. She squeezed back. At least I wasn’t alone. I’d always worried hell was being alone for eternity.
“Good. Now your toes.” I felt a draft as she removed the sheet. “Can you wiggle your toes for me?”
I concentrated and wiggled my toes. She sounded pleased. But then I reached for the next level before I was ready. I tried to bend my knee.
My back arced like an electric shock had run through me. I wanted to scream but had forgotten how to make sound.
“A convulsion, Doctor?”
“Don’t think so, Mary. More likely pain.”
“Should we keep trying to wake him?”
I waited, not understanding the question but feeling it was important. The pain kept distracting me. Please, send me back.
“No. He needs more time. We’ve done all we can here. Put him back under and we’ll send him home. Let the boys in the States do the rest. He has a long road ahead.”
I wasn’t sure what “under” meant, but I had questions before I got there. What road was he talking about and why was it so long? I shifted my weight onto my elbow and tried to sit.
Oh Christ, my legs.
The smooth sense of plastic gliding across the small hairs on my arm. The pain subsided. My mind began to drift.
A bright flash. Soldiers screaming. Dogs barking. Where was my castle? Where was my quest?
Then slowly, sweet darkness. And the dream resumed.
· · ·
Excerpt Two: The Trials
“Come, Dauphin. Walk with me.”
The advisor led me up to the parapets of the castle. Despite the pre-dawn haze, I could make out the land below. I looked out past Elwynn Forest to the village of Goldshire, with its thatched-roof cottages and patchwork quilt of green pastures stitched together with stone walls. But beyond them, looming over the houses and fields, I could see the mountains of Golgoreth, high, jagged peaks where the world of the Alliance ended and the realm of the Horde began. Already, storm clouds gathered over the ridge. As I paused on the ramparts to watch, a wind gusted from the east, an unnatural gale that roared in my ears and caused ripples in my skin.
“You feel it?” Sir Gilly said. “Their power builds in the hope that you will fail. Everything is changing now, different than what you’ve come to expect.”
He stretched a trembling finger toward the distant mountains.
“Their evil flows like fog on a November day, seeping into everything. When your father died, the protection he gave to the countryside began to weaken. It will grow weaker still until only the walls of Stormwind provide protection. At the end of the thirty days, they too will fail.” He turned to me, his face inches from mine. “First lesson: you must not, under any circumstances, go beyond the castle walls during the days of anointment.” His brows wriggled and knotted. “And the castle itself will not be safe. The mist will enter the smallest of cracks and transform into strange beings, the source of the trials . . . .The castle you know will change. Stairways will come into being where none existed before. You’ll go down them, but when you turn back, they’ll be gone. Archways and tunnels will appear, leading to odd chambers where you’ll meet the beings I spoke of. Some will be guides—elves or priests or mage. Others will mean you harm, spectral demons, agents of the Horde. Assassins.”
“How will I know the difference?”
“Trust what’s in your heart. If that’s enough, you will save Azeroth for another generation. If not…” A sorrow came over him, weighing down his features . . .
I’d never seen him so downcast, my source of knowledge and strength. I fingered the hilt of my sword, as I had at the start of so many training sessions. My grip on the braided leather tightened.
He looked at my hand and shook his head.
“No, Dauphin. You cannot fight this enemy with a sword.”
“But to defend against assassins?”
“It’s not your body they seek to harm. These assassins can’t threaten your being.”
“Then what is their purpose?”
“To extinguish your spirit. To make you abandon the kingdom to darkness. Their purpose is despair.” He turned toward the watchtower, standing erect, every inch the advisor. “Come. It is time to begin.”
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