The sounds from a mechanical ventilator pierce the air as the machine delivers a set amount of oxygen to Rachel's compromised lungs. Suddenly the ventilation cycle is interrupted when she takes a spontaneous breath. But it doesn’t deter the nurse who remains calm at the bedside as she adjusts the rate of a unit of packed cells that flows steadily into Rachel’s veins.
On the previous day, angry and shaking her head with confusion, Rachel pauses for a moment outside the investigator’s office clutching a handful of photos. After she stuffs them into an envelope, she climbs into the driver’s seat of her vehicle and immediately exits the parking lot. Minutes later, she presses her foot on the accelerator and pulls onto a nearby freeway. Suddenly a squeal of tires assaults her eardrums. The stink of burning rubber bombards her senses while the scrape of metal upon metal sends up a shower of sparks. The wail of sirens is soon heard as the ominous tones fill the countryside.
As Rachel’s body fights for a state of equilibrium, her episodic memories strive for a semblance of order as they slither like a snake through a quagmire of confusion. A bedside monitor displays her heart rate at one hundred and forty beats per minute while her blood pressure plummets to numbers requiring immediate attention.
Months later, Rachel lets out a bloodcurdling scream. Travis kisses her cheek once more and pulls her close. “Wake up, sweetheart,” he says. “You must have had another one of your nightmares.”