Welcome to my stop on another Random Things Blog Tour for Comatose by Tony Estrella. I will be posting an extract from chapter one of the book. Many Thanks to Anne @randomthingstours and Cameron Publicity for inviting me to take part!
You can follow the rest of the Tour here
About The Book
- Paperback: 470 pages
- Publisher: Cranthorpe Millner Publishers (22 Mar. 2019)
- ISBN-10: 191296404X
- ISBN-13: 978-1912964048
Comatose follows the lives of four strangers who are trying to cheat death. On the surface,
these people – a famous Hollywood director suffering from terminal brain cancer, a budding scientist in Artificial Intelligence whose honeymoon tragically ended with a freak plane accident, an angry orphan who lost her closest family to a tragic accident, and the leading medical expert in treating comatose patients – appear to have nothing in common. However, once they independently uncover a link between lucid dreaming and comas, their lives start to intersect.
They uncover astounding opportunities to ease individual suffering and pain as they crisscross different time periods and distant locations in their odysseys. The competing factions careen forward into a life-threatening race for survival and supremacy, ultimately leading to an exciting conclusion that explains why we really dream.
— Chapter One —
Milan, Italy. Present day.
“No, no, NO!” Daya jolted awake, her body soaked in sweat as she fought the urge to scream these words out in anger. She fumbled around on the nightstand on the right for her mobile. “PICK. UP. NOW!” The combination of her intonation, volume, and choice of keywords unlocked the device and immediately dialled the first number on its Favorites list. Under any other circumstance, the recipient no longer qualified as this essential for her. But now things were different. She needed him right away.
When nobody answered, she let out an exasperated groan. Daya pried off a caviar eye mask revealing her glowering eyes. Her fingers pounded furiously on the screen to initiate a video call. This time, she wasn’t disappointed.
“It’s early for you,” the Doctor on the other end of the line coldly responded. Skipping all pleasantries and studying his watch face as if something else more important awaited him, he continued with indifference, “So, what’s on your mind”?
“You sure took your sweet time to pick up,” volleying a brusque response at him. Given his apathy, she considered egging him on further. But because of the importance of the dream, she took on a steely tone. “I saw Him. Finally. First time in almost two FUCKING years.”
The Doctor leaned into the screen, his face contorted to betray genuine surprise. “Really? I wonder why he suddenly returned?” His eyes wandered off his device as he contemplated her words.
“Me too. So start your recorder,” she ordered impatiently, annoyed that he didn’t grasp the urgency of her call.
His gaze stayed on a point elsewhere in the office as he fumbled with something for a few seconds. Once he finished, he turned to her. “Yes, right. Go ahead now, Daya. Details, please.” Whatever inquisitiveness she initially created in him had quickly evaporated. As the Doctor’s questions started, his voice returned to the cold analytical tone of a physician grilling the junior staff for case information on a patient.
Daya ignored whatever gave him pause and jumped into describing her dream. “It was a new place, somewhere I’ve never been before. Some blonde babe in a white sundress had joined me. Pretty. And tall, definitely a model. But clearly dead from the neck up. When I took a quick look at my makeup in a mirror, I had straight black hair, Caucasian eyes, and light skin. Didn’t look like me at all, but clearly someone He’d be into. Based on how I felt, we’d spent the day partying and drinking.”
As she spoke, she got out of bed and walked to the kitchen to pour herself a glass of Pol Roger Prestige Cuvée to help calm her nerves.
“We sauntered into a crowded courtyard with an outdoor bar. Of course, it had to be the first nice summer Friday where all the corporate suits leave work early to enjoy the sun. Total meat market with lots of action. When I sat down, at least five people came up and offered me a drink. The last guy didn’t even ask, he just intercepted me with pink bubbly in a champagne flute. It tasted like a strong French 75, which I suppose is the only acceptable way to drink crap champagne. Maybe I desperately needed one at this point? Who knows? Anyway, as I took my first sip, this guy caught my attention. I’m not sure why. He looked a little like the food celebrity on American TV. You know, the one with dorky glasses and awkward hairstyle. What’s his name? Ah yes…I remember now, Alton…Alton Brown.”
Daya caught herself rambling and polished off the remaining champagne in her glass in order to stop. As she topped herself up, she took a deep breath and composed herself. “But the face didn’t give Him away. It was when He spoke. He had the same voice, the same fucking accent.” Daya’s eyes narrowed and her brows furrowed in anger. It infuriated her that she still vividly felt the pleasurable sensation of His hands running through her hair, massaging her shoulders, and caressing her face. At one point, His actions made her pain go away. And there were still times when she craved His touch and comfort. But the memory of His betrayal made those moments quickly evaporate into a fantasy, replaced with the pain of falling into a thicket full of thorns. As the uncontrollable rage welled up again inside her, Daya didn’t realise she had stopped talking.
“Daya. Please don’t pause now. You must continue,” the Doctor implored. His earlier apathy had dissipated, replaced with an eagerness to hear the remainder of her story.
She carried on despite the rage roiling her mind. “He didn’t come directly to me. The lung yung (similar to dickhead) focused on the blonde babe, who must have been halfway through her third drink since we arrived together. He invited her to do a photo shoot, and with a flirtatious giggle of course she said, ‘why not!’ He then turned to me and suggested, ‘you should come along too. There’s always room for one more’.”
“And was there anything familiar about her?” The Doctor asked, now fully immersed in Daya’s story.
She paused to consider his question, partially because she couldn’t tell why he cared, and also because Daya didn’t have a good answer. “Why the fuck does that matter?”
“Daya, please. You know every piece of information and detail is important,” he challenged her. “Do you honestly need me to explain why again?”
“Yea, yea, yea. Alright. No, I didn’t recognise her. At least right now I don’t. But I’ll let you know if I think of anything.” Daya cradled the champagne flute with both hands as she collapsed on the couch and put her feet up. The phone didn’t sit straight on its stand so the Doctor could still see her, but she didn’t care. “Anyway, I went along with them to watch, and whilst they flirted with each other during their photo shoot, a different twat came up to me. This one acted as if he knew me. He asked how long it had been since we saw each other, and why I didn’t return his calls. And you know the ironic thing? In hindsight, I think I recognised him. Someone I flirted with on a flight a few weeks ago. Regardless, I quickly forgot all about the idiot once I focused on Him. As He operated the camera and directed the blonde, I kept focusing on His voice.” Daya felt her blood boil again, “That FUCKING voice!” She pounded her side table so hard it almost sent the table lamp tumbling to the ground. “I can’t believe I’m saying this. But despite everything He did, a part of me is still attracted to Him, hoping everything else will melt away and it can just be Him and me.”
Daya picked up a small pillow and viciously wrung it, choking it with all her strength. She had forgotten how talking about her interactions with Him led to wild swings of anger and passion. She needed an outlet on which to vent her frustrations, and the pillow was the closest victim. “I wanted to stay,” she declared angrily. “I needed to ask Him why He left. So when I approached Him, I knew what my first question would be. When He turned to look at me, our eyes momentarily locked on each other. And at the moment when I started to talk, some sort of invisible shock went through my body. And then I woke up.”
“Interesting.” The neutral tone of his voice left Daya confused. She could never be sure which details would pique the Doctor’s curiosity. Before she could ask, he continued grilling her. “So tell me, how did you feel after being jolted awake like that?”
“Like shit! C’mon, what are you actually asking me?”
The Doctor wiped his brow as he rethought the question. “You described some sort of force. I want you to give me more details please.”
“Ok. I get it. It’s like I touched an electrical line whilst standing in water. My body seized up, and then it felt like I got thrown backwards like I got hit by a bus. My brain felt short-circuited, and I eventually woke up on my bed.”
“Hmmm…I wonder if it’s a defense mechanism he set up. We’ll have to track future occurrences more closely.”
The Doctor’s over-analytical conclusion was the final straw for Daya. If he couldn’t quickly decide what to do next, then she would take charge. She glared at him on the screen, thinking of what to say. Daya let him suffer an extended uncomfortable silence, and when he started rambling,she cut him off. “I think it’s time for you to get a group together and see if anyone else has had any new experiences with Him.” She declared firmly, “And, I’m coming to Lausanne tomorrow.”
About The Author
TONY ESTRELLA has worked in Asia, the US, and Europe as health startup founder & investor, corporate innovation leader, and strategic adviser.
Tony is a regular speaker and panelist at industry conferences around the world. During his talks, he provides insights as a serial healthcare entrepreneur and a corporate executive.
Comatose, his first novel was selected as a Semi-Finalist by the William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative writing competition.
Tony is an alumnus of University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School (MBA), London Business School, and the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science (Electrical Engineering). Tony currently resides in Singapore with his wife and daughter.
More information about Tony Estrella and Comatose can be found on his website