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and raging torrents of brown water in the spring. Lying on a sloping,
flat rock he thrust his face into the stream and drank deeply, feeling
the life flow from the water into the weariness of his body. He washed
his face in it, splashing it over his head until his mind began to
function with familiar clarity.
But he still did not know who he was...
When he tried to search backward into the past, he could see only the
white flash and the darkness. It was frightening. It was as though
someone had taken a pair of scissors and cut away the whole memory of
his past life. He fumbled through his pockets, found the wallet and the
cigarette lighter and began flipping through the cards with the help of
the tiny lighter flame.
An identification card labeled him Nicholas Howard Danson and stated
that he lived at 2312 Weisman Drive, Everett, Pennsylvania. There was
also a draft, social security and drivers license card. The others were
membership certificates to various clubs and organizations. Finally
there were several pictures of himself and a woman; in fact, there were
a great many pictures of the woman. One was a portrait of her,
inscribed, "love, Beth", which told him that she was either a girlfriend
or his wife.
Nick extinguished the light and put the wallet away. In his shirt pocket
he found a crumpled pack of cigarettes. He shook one out, lit it and
dragged the smoke down deep into his lungs while he pondered over his
newly discovered self.
Of course the proper thing to do would be to get to a phone, call the
local authorities and explain the crash. The law would help him get home
and check him out. That was the proper thing - but he wasn't about to
do the proper thing. He was a stranger to himself. Who was he? What was
he? He could well be outside the law, a criminal... Then what? Turn
yourself in, Danson, he grimaced, and discover that you are wanted by
the law for something? To hell with that. Get to this Beth woman and get
some answers to a few questions before you bring in the law.
Apparently no one had seen the crash. No one knew he was here. Perhaps
it would be better to leave it like that until he had a chance to find
out just what he was up against.
He decided not to contact anyone. When it was light enough he would look
for a ride to somewhere. At a gas station he could find out where he was
and where Everett, Pennsylvania was. Then, by thumbing, he could get a
ride to where he lived. If this Beth woman was his wife, she could fill
him in. There was plenty of time to call the law.
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