Ken McClure: Past Lives

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Ken McClure Past Lives
  • Название:
    Past Lives
  • Автор:
  • Издательство:
    Allison & Busby
  • Жанр:
    thriller_medical / на английском языке
  • Год:
    2006
  • Город:
    London
  • Язык:
    Английский
  • ISBN:
    978-0-7490-8251-2
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Past Lives: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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When successful neurosurgeon John MacAndrew performs a routine operation to remove a tumour, the patient undergoes a severe personality change post-surgery. Hartman’s Tumour is diagnosed, a rare condition which leaves its victims deranged and destined to be confined to mental institutions. There is no option but to have the patient committed. The patient’s husband blames MacAndrew for the dreadful outcome and sets about to ruin his career. With an uncertain future ahead of him, MacAndrew retreats to his native Scotland to lick his wounds and it there that he makes further discoveries about the mysterious illness and the chemical that induced it. The damage wrought by the chemical affects the brain cells that normally block out a person’s memory of past lives, with the result of the appearance of multiple personality disorder in sufferers. Armed with this knowledge, MacAndrew thinks he may be able to save his patient, until he discovers someone is deliberately using the chemical to regress selected individuals and gain eyewitness accounts of events in the past.

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Ken McClure

Past Lives

Better by far you should forget and smile

Than you should remember and be sad.

Christina Rossetti

(1830 — 1894)

Remember

Prologue

Jerusalem

September 2000


Ignatius stood motionless while Stroud slowly injected the contents of the syringe into the subject who was already heavily sedated and couldn’t quite keep his eyelids open for more than a few seconds at a time. Although it was quiet inside the room the muted sound of religious chant came from somewhere else inside the building. It contrasted with the distant sound of a muezzin calling the Muslim faithful to prayer at the end of another long, hot day — everyday sounds of Jerusalem.

‘You can begin now,’ said Stroud.

‘Tell me your name,’ said Ignatius. His voice had a calm hypnotic quality.

‘Saul... Saul Abe.’

‘What do you do, Saul Abe?’

‘I’m... a builder.’

‘Where?’

‘In Jerusalem.’

‘What are you building?’

The question seemed to cause the man distress. He started to fight for breath.

‘What’s the matter?’

‘The... stone!’

‘What about the stone?’

‘It’s falling on my legs!’ Abe let out a scream of pain.

‘What’s happened?’ insisted the calm voice.

‘The stone rolled off the cart... I couldn’t get out of the way... It crushed my legs.’ The painful memory seemed to put Abe into merciful white oblivion for a few moments then he stirred.

‘What’s happening now?’ asked the voice quietly but firmly.

‘Two men... They are trying to lift the stone off my...’ Abe let out another scream. He was unaware of a second needle entering his arm. The injection calmed him a little.

‘My legs are broken and bloody... They say they’ll have to cut them off!’

Saul Abe stopped breathing for a full thirty seconds, his eyes wide with horror as he relived the nightmare.

Stroud said, ‘We can’t hold him at this point. It’s dangerous.’

‘All right, take him back further,’ said Ignatius.

Another injection and Abe relaxed on the pillow in a seemingly content slumber but it wasn’t long before he became agitated again.

‘Leah! Leah!’

‘Who is Leah?’

‘My wife.’

‘Who are you?’

‘Isaac... I can’t find Leah! Where is she?’

‘Who are you, Isaac? What do you do?’

‘I’m a soldier. I’ve come home but I can’t find Leah!’

‘Where have you been, Isaac?’

‘Fighting the Romans. We set up an ambush near Bet Hakem but we were betrayed. I’m the only one left alive apart from my brother... Oh God, my brother...’

‘What about your brother, Isaac? What happened to him?’

‘The Romans have him.’

‘Take your time.’

‘I can hear his screams... The Romans are torturing him. He’s calling out my name and I’m doing nothing! I’m pretending to be dead down in the gulley. I’m too frightened to move. The sun is burning my neck. He needs me and I’m ignoring him!’

‘You can’t help him, Isaac. There are too many of them. It’s not your fault. Why are they torturing him? What do they want from him?’

‘They want to know where the Nazarene is.’

‘The Nazarene?’ said Ignatius, his voice almost a croak as his throat dried with excitement.

‘Where’s Leah? Why isn’t she here at home?...’

‘Isaac!’

‘What?’

‘Tell me about the Nazarene!’

‘I must find Leah.’

‘Listen to me! You know him, don’t you? You’ve met the Nazarene.’

‘Why does everyone want to know about him? He’s all mouth and riddles. The temple’s full of talkers. It’s fighters we need.’

‘But you do know him?’

‘Leah, Where are you? Why don’t you come to me?’

‘Try to relax,’ said the voice.

‘Leah! Leah!’

‘He’s becoming too distressed,’ said Stroud.

‘We need to know more!’ insisted Ignatius.

‘You’ll kill him!’

‘Tell me about the Nazarene, Isaac.’

‘Leah... Oh, Leah, you’re dead.’ Saul Abe started to shake all over as if he had suddenly become very cold. At first it was a gentle tremor but it gathered strength until the bed itself rattled on the tiled floor.

‘He’s fitting!’ said Stroud. ‘I warned you!’

Ignatius looked down at the tremulous figure on the bed, his expression betraying nothing but disappointment and annoyance.

Abe went into rigid spasm. Every muscle in his body locked solid. For a brief, frightened moment he opened his eyes wide then his eyeballs rolled slowly up in their sockets and he was still.

‘I warned you,’ said Stroud.

‘But it works,’ said Ignatius.

One

Kansas City

USA

October 2000


John Macandrew got out of bed and walked over to the window in bare feet. He opened the blind and blinked at the early morning sunshine. The sky was blue and the leaves on the trees across the street had finally made the transition from green to gold, something he had been monitoring for the last three weeks with growing pleasure. Summer in Kansas City could be hotter than hell and winter could freeze your eyes but the Fall however, was pleasant.

This was especially true on days like this, when the sun shone down from a cloudless sky and the wind held its breath. The city, sprawling astride the Kansas, Missouri state line, could lay no great claim to beauty but when the trees turned colour and their leaves carpeted the sidewalks, a dreamer could narrow his eyes and pretend he was in New England rather than the featureless plains of the mid-west.

Macandrew decided that, today, he would walk to the Medical Centre and leave the car in the garage. He turned away from the window and switched on the radio before padding through to the kitchen to load the coffee grinder. He smiled as he heard the announcer report the success of the Chiefs in their pre-season game; they had won by more than thirty points.

Macandrew hadn’t had much interest in football before taking the job in Kansas City but now he was a regular at the Chiefs’ home games out at Arrowhead Stadium. He found diversion in the game. There was something therapeutic about watching two teams of athletes face up to each other in a contest of pace and strength. It afforded him some respite from the demanding precision of his own job. Macandrew was a neurosurgeon and jobs didn’t come any more demanding than that. For much of his working life he was within millimetres of disaster. Mistakes were not permitted in his line of work. Society was happy to accept that everyone had an off day except for surgeons and maybe airline pilots. Yes, definitely airline pilots.

As he poured his coffee he heard a time check say that it was a quarter after seven; he glanced at his watch. He had lots of time; the operation was scheduled for ten o’clock and it would only take him thirty minutes to walk to the Med Centre. Unlike most of the staff, who stayed outside the city in the pleasant avenues of suburbia, he had made a conscious decision to live inside city limits. It was an unfashionable choice but, being unmarried, he felt that he was a wife and a couple of children short of the requirements for living the American dream. Apart from that, he disliked suburbia: he saw it as society on a life-support system — comfortable but barely alive. Instead, he rented the top floor of an old colonial style house on Cherry. It had seen better days and was in the early stages of not so genteel decay but it was less than two miles from the Med Centre and the landlord and his wife, the Jacksons, didn’t bother him much. They spent most of their time visiting a nation-wide diaspora of grand-children. They were up in Michigan at the moment with their youngest daughter and her family but were due back next Wednesday.

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