The Transition of Johnny Swift
by Kerry J Donovan
4.9 star average on 17 reviews
Before the accident …
Frank Brazier has the perfect life. A contract to drive for a Formula 1 team. A supportive family. A stunning girlfriend. On the surface, everything is great, but Frank keeps a secret. On race days, Shadow-man visits. He sits on the nose cone of Frank’s racing car, or floats above the grandstand, waving taunting, distracting, eating away at his concentration. An accident in the making.
After the accident …
Frank starts hearing voices. Strange voices. Impossible voices. He’s losing his grip on reality and Paula, his sister, is dying. Doctors say she is brain dead. They want to pull the plug, but Frank knows she’s still in there, fighting. He can hear her calls. Shadow-man finally speaks. He says Frank can save Paula, but can Frank pay the price?
Excerpt from The Transition of Johnny Swift by Kerry J. Donovan:
Race Day Plus One – First Class
Paula rummages through her handbag again. God knows how she finds anything in the bottomless sack, but her hand comes out clutching an e-reader.
“You gonna bury your head in a book all the way to London? I thought we were spending the day together. We could chat, you know. Be friendly.”
She turns the screen to face me, shakes her head. “Sheet music, Frankie. Hardly light reading. Thought I’d review my piano solo while you give Jenny a call.”
I check the time on my mobile. “Is it too early?”
Paula looks so much like Mum when she gives me the head tilt and the simultaneous sigh. “C’mon, Frank. Don’t be so dense. She’ll be praying for your call after the way you were last night.”
My neck warms and the temperature in the carriage rises from warm to bloody uncomfortable. Paula’s always been able to see right through me. Then again, if she’s psychic, why didn’t she see the Shadow-people? Are they visiting only me, and if so, for what reason? Bollocks, there I go again.
“Screech, I don’t know what you mean.”
“Go on, Frankie, give her a ring. But call me Screech again and I’ll tell Jenny what you’re really like.”
“Kind, considerate, generous, talented.”
“Yeah, yeah, in your dreams. Now stop messing about. Phone her.”
My fingers are sweaty and the handset slippery. Why do they make these carriages so damned hot? Reptile houses at the zoo are cooler than this. I dial the number and Jenny picks up before the first ring.
“Hi, Frank,” she whispers, her voice soft and warm.
“Hi, Jen, did I wake you?”
“No. I’ve been lying here naked, thinking about last night … and you.”
“Oh, Jesus, that’s cruel.” Her throaty chuckle brings back memories. “You could have come with us. There’s always spare places at one of Paula’s performances.”
Paula shakes her head slowly and pretends to carry on reading.
“I have to help tidy the workshop after the party last night. I’ll come meet you in London later today. Are you on the train already?”
“Yep. Boarded a couple of minutes ago. Paula’s been nagging me to call you since we left the hotel.”
“So why’s it taken you so long?”
“I … I didn’t want to wake you.”
“So, you think you wore me out last night?”
“Hey, c’mon. No fair.”
“Nobody said I have to be fair. Why did you call?”
“I wanted to hear your voice. I’ve missed you for the past hour and a half.”
“One hour and forty-seven minutes, but who’s counting?”
It’s my turn to chuckle. I stare through the window and lower my voice. “About last night. I had, er … a wonderful time. Are you okay?”
Paula puts a finger into her open mouth and mimes gagging. I make a grab for her knee, but she slaps my paw away with the e-reader.
Jenny answers, “Of course. Couldn’t be better. It was lovely … .”
The mobile is torn from my hand and the coach disintegrates around me.
With a rending squeal of tortured metal, the carriage jag right, tilts, and throws me from my seat.
Everything happens both lightning fast and in super slow motion. Fractured images mesh with stray thoughts and flash through my head as I fly, weightless.
Paula screams and disappears beneath me in a tangle of arms, legs, and flying rubbish. I’m helpless, in a tumble dryer full of broken hardware. For the thousandth time in my life, I prepare to die.
At least it’ll be quick.
Paula screams again.
Other sounds howl; tearing steel, cracking wood, and the booming crunch of shattering carriage panels. Sparks fly from metal grinding on metal. A tumbling pink suitcase flies past my head. I smell burning oil and hydraulic fluid. A sudden impact, and then the pistol crack of snapping bones, brings pain searing through my hand and chest.
A man’s scream is cut short. To my right, a crimson geyser erupts and splatters on the off-white ceiling. The gut-wrenching sound of crunching metal detonates in my eardrums, deafening.
Something hard and sharp drives into my left cheek. It burns, snaps my head back and around, tries to tear the head from my shoulders. Stabbing, tearing, agonising pain rips into my skull. A blinding orange light explodes behind my left eye.
The world stops.