Laekan is a writer and explorer extraordinaire who grew up in the flatlands of West Texas. She graduated from Texas Tech with a BA in Creative Writing and is the author of the multi-cultural New Adult novels The Things They Didn't Bury, Orphans of Paradise, and Breathing Ghosts. Follow her adventures on Goodreads, on her blog, or on twitter.
Bryn Reyes is a real life sleeping beauty. Afflicted with Klein-Levin Syndrome, she suffers episodes of prolonged sleep that steal weeks, and sometimes even months, from her life. But unlike most KLS patients, she doesn’t spend each episode in a catatonic state or wake up with no recollection of the time she’s missed. Instead, Bryn spends half her life in an alternate reality made up of her memories. For Bryn, the past is a place, until one day a boy she’s never met before washes up on the illusory beach of her dreams with no memory of who he is.
But the appearance of this strange boy isn’t the only thing that’s changed. Bryn’s symptoms are worsening, her body weakening as she’s plagued by hallucinations even while awake. Her only hope of finding a cure is to undergo experimental treatment created by a German specialist. But when Dr. Banz reveals that he knows more about her strange symptoms than he originally let on, Bryn learns that the boy in her head might actually be the key to understanding what’s happening to her, and worse, that if she doesn’t find out his identity before it’s too late, they both may not survive.
When it peered at me from between the trees I didn’t even flinch. It stood there like a man but bristling like a beast, shadow creeping across the road to where I stood.
The cold hit me but it wasn’t enough to stop the riot in my veins, to chill the rage that was pulling me to my feet. When the dark shadow reached the edge of the road, silhouette swimming with the night, my instincts weren’t telling me to run. They weren’t telling me to hide or to be afraid. No. Every cell in my body was telling me to burn.
I took a step toward the shadow, its pull making my chest ache. I felt like I was at the bottom of the ocean, an infinity pressing on my lungs, trying to hold me down. But I didn’t let it. Because this thing was haunting Bryn. It wanted Bryn and whether she found me or not, I couldn’t stay here. I knew that. But I couldn’t leave her with this. I wouldn’t.
I took another step into the vortex, then another, letting my instincts maneuver every muscle in my body. And then I saw it. What was under the shadow.
I saw my face. Eyes bloodshot and seething. Lips curled into a smile that made my insides go cold.
My mouth strained for words, and as the air cut between them, the shadow came with it. It filled me. It clawed its way into every empty space until I thought I was dead. Until I wished I was.
But then I saw the light. I blinked and it was brighter than it had ever been. Warmer. Stronger. Pouring from every inch of me.
I fell on the ground, blinded, the darkness thrashing inside me. It clawed at my insides, trying to rip free. But I felt the heat surge and suddenly I was the flame. I lay there, burning, forcing it deeper, deeper. It strained for other pieces of me—my thoughts, my memories. It tried to snake its way inside, destroying everything but I pushed back, pulling myself to the surface again.
The fire in me reached its apex and I was nowhere and everywhere at the same time. I was human and something else. I was dying and then I wasn’t. I snuffed the shadow out, clawing my way back into my body until the weight lifted, until the quiet settled, until there was nothing inside me but ashes.