Woman in ChainsbyAdrian Leverkuhn©
He checked the leads feeding the EEG, watched Tomlinson's brain waves trace wild lines across the screen. He picked up the stream of graph paper that slipped out the side of the machine, looked at the gathering swarm of neurological activity. Whatever it was, whatever was happening, he saw it was huge, overwhelmingly so. He had never seen anything like it before, not even in healthy patients.
He could tell the decisive moment was fast approaching without even looking at Tomlinson.
"She's in REM sleep now." He said quietly as he looked up. "Look at her eyes!"
Tomlinson's eyes were still closed but they were moving around rapidly under the eyelids. This had not happened before and Wakeman's sense of expectation built even more.
Her hands began to move; slowly at first, but more rapidly as the decisive moment approached.
Somerfield concentrated on the music, yet she was torn between two contradictory impulses. She wanted to watch Tomlinson, watch her reaction to the music, but she wanted to be as technically perfect as she had once been. And the two of them alone, she knew, would never do this music justice.
MacIntyre felt the tension in the room increasing with each note of the music, the anticipation building ever higher as the music neared the anticipated breakdown point. Would she, could she make the transition? He held his old violin tightly with his chin; the bow in his right hand danced across the strings as if possessed, leaving little puffs of rosin on the down-strokes. He was beginning to sweat...
Tomlinson's voice was crystal clear and keeping perfect time to the music -- but as the moment approached it wavered, broke, and Wakeman hovered on the edge of a howling frustration, felt like screaming as helplessness tore through him.
And then the moment was upon them.
Somerfield and MacIntyre played steadily through the passage.
Tomlinson's voice held, broke again and held.
Wakeman looked at the EEG; all activity was off the scales, like the woman was in total sensory overload. It was impossible that anyone could remain focused on anything, he thought, let alone sing or carry a tune. He turned away from the machine, looked down at her...
"Her eyes!" he said in an excited whisper. "They're opening!"
Somerfield hesitated, looked away from the music.
"No, no! Keep playing!" MacIntyre pleaded, and Somerfield returned to the music without missing a note.
"Nurse, put some saline on a four by four, wipe her eyes please," Wakeman said, and one of the duty nurses bent to the task, gently wiped Tomlinson's eyes.
The final, powerful descending notes -- the long sigh of death and release -- crossed time and space, the room was full of strings and one human voice united in the common language of her song, and remained so until the song ended.
Wakeman looked at Tomlinson. Her eyes opened a bit, the EEG was meaningless now -- all readings nonsensical -- and Wakeman was aware everyone in the room was willing her on. The people and the music had united as one...
They all rose as if on a wave and as suddenly broke and fell. Tomlinson's lids just barely parted in that moment, and Wakeman gasped at the almost immeasurable power he saw in the woman's eyes; as suddenly Tomlinson's lids closed and the EEG fell back into an almost total flatline.
"Well Goddamn it all to Hell!" he howled in his West Texas draw as he stomped out of the room.
"She opened her eyes!" Tomlinson's mother cried. "Did you see that, Becky? My baby! My baby girl opened her eyes!"
Becky and Tracy had always been close; too close, some said. There was, it had been commented upon more than once, an unnatural connection between the two of them. But now, as Becky looked into her sister's eyes she felt a boundless, raging terror boiling inside her sister that left her feeling desolate and alone... and empathically terrified. As she fell back from impossible visions of warped stars that filled her mind, her body suddenly felt possessed by music -- illimitable, endless music that gripped her heart in cold fury.