Book Title: Falling Awake III: Requiem
Author: Kristoffer Gair
Cover Artist: Kris Norris
Genre/s: M/M Suspense, occult
Trope/s: Love can conquer all.
Themes: Reincarnation, friendship, sacrifice, love
Heat Rating: 1 flame
Length: 149 000 words
There are two prior books, Falling Awake and Falling Awake II: Revenant.
Write What You Know, Right?
Lots of folks love to throw that “Write you know!” phrase out in conversation. I’m not entirely convinced that’s how it works. I’m pretty sure E.L. James didn’t live in the world she wrote about. Stephen King never experienced any of the stories he wrote. At least I hope he didn’t. And I am not an authority on the afterlife. Maybe that’s why I wrote comedies when I started publishing. Humor is something I understand and I’ve admitted in the past I tend to treat my life at times like a sitcom…fortunately one that hasn’t gotten cancelled yet. But there is one thing I know about that I’ve used in the writing of my last three books, grief.
I’ve spent many hours writing in airports waiting for flights. Why not set a story there? This little plot bunny stayed with me quite some time, but I didn’t do anything with it until I was walking through the airport in Atlanta. A sudden sense of déjà vu came over me, and I started to wonder what if a character woke up in a place like this, only he had no memory of who he was or where he was going. What would his story be? I started there and Falling Awake was conceived.
My own life at the time of writing Falling Awake revolved around helping my mother care for my father, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s. That was a very dark period and we know how Alzheimer’s ends. Badly. Mom and I went through seven years of this with my father. It’s easy to get lost, to constantly be exhausted, and to lose hope knowing things will only get worse for your loved one. The main character in Falling Awake, Daniel, faces an end before his beginning has even started. Those he meets in what he thinks is an airport know what could happen to him, only they make the decision to enter into his next life with him and try to stop this fate from unfolding.
Daniel’s previous two lives ended tragically, and this upcoming one looks to be even worse. There is good in the world, and also the opposite. Between them is a balance, only the balance has never been in Daniel’s favor.
The second Falling Awake book, Revenant, introduces us to the ones who will look for Daniel, and we see what they do to people they seek. It’s a dark, dark story, and when I look at the events in my life at the time I wrote it, I’d lost several close friends to cancer and other ailments. I continued to feel as if hope eluded me, and I desperately sought it out through the characters in the series.
A good friend of mine, my Grandmother, and my mother all passed during the writing of Requiem. I held my Grandmother’s hand when she passed, and I know I was fulfilling my mother’s wishes when she passed in hospice. All three losses hurt. They hurt deeply. And yet I can feel some small amount of peace knowing that if they were going to go, they went loved and with no regrets. Hope started to surface again, hope that I could do right by my loved ones even if I couldn’t save them, and hope that by helping them leave, it was the most respectful thing I could do.
Requiem continues Daniel’s story as he is born into his new life, and surrounded by the four people who chose to come back with him and stop the darkness from taking him. It may not always be a happy story, but it’s one that brings us back around to hope, understanding hope, and looking forward again instead of behind us.
Grief becomes the journey that leads to hope, and that is something I know about.
He will turn what is into what can be.
They targeted him before he was ever born. They will hunt him. They will execute anyone around him. They will rip his innocence away, corrupt him, and twist him into an instrument of terror. He will give the world reason to fear, fear the unknown, and he will do this lifetime after lifetime after lifetime.
Except this time, Daniel Davis hasn’t come back alone.
Four souls have returned with him, would-be protectors who’ve vowed to shield him from this fate. If they succeed, Daniel will turn what is into what can be. And if they fail, his light will dim and fade…forever.
“It’s okay, baby. It’s okay.” Amanda grabbed a blanket from the inside of the vehicle and wrapped it around Daniel, then took a clean cloth and held it up to his chin. He’d need stitches and there’d be one hell of a scar. “Look at me.” He did, still shaking.
She’d almost been a moment too late. A second of hesitation and he’d be dead. What did the intruder want? What had he been looking for? And why did he scream what he did at Daniel?
Let me see your eyes. It’s in there, isn’t it? Deep down you can feel it.
The intruder’s words. Why the eyes? What was in them? What had he looked for? And why would Daniel feel it? Why did all of this feel so familiar to her? She knew the answers somewhere in the back of her memory, just out of reach. Why couldn’t she remember?
You can’t hide from us! We’ll find you again and again and again!
This had happened before. It happened now. It would happen again. Unless…
She studied the young boy’s face, the remains of a kind of innocence now lost and something new dawning. He’d never be the same again. Ever. Nobody prepared him for this. Not this young. How did one recover? With time? Without his mother or father?
Daniel began sobbing anew, as if reading her mind about his parents, whom she was sure he already missed.
“You’re—” Her voice cracked and she struggled not to break down in front of him. He didn’t need that. He needed strength. “You’re safe, baby. You’re safe now, Daniel.”
He stared into her eyes now. Was he searching for truth, or to see the depths of her own demons compared to his?
She met his gaze with her own and peered into his eyes. Blue. The blue eyes she’d seen in her recent dreams when he’d appeared much older. Still there, but… She felt her head tilt to the side as she searched even deeper. Beyond the blue. Something else. Something new. Foreign. Fear? No. Fear was on the outside, on the surface, but below the fear in a place he couldn’t feel or know existed inside himself? Shadows. Something that didn’t belong. A blackness, a blackness that swirled around in its infancy, as if waking.
The intruder is responsible for this. He woke this thing.
The blackness stopped moving for a moment. Did it sense her? She stared at it and some part of it intuitively stared back at her. The blackness knew her. They were old acquaintances. And if the thing, this entity or presence…whatever the hell it was…could have sneered at her, she knew it would have.
Have you ever heard a child scream as if their soul was being ripped apart at the seams? Like there’s no safe place in Heaven, Earth, or in-between that’s safe.
Where did these words come from? When did she say them? Part of her understood she never had, and yet another part, the part far back in her mind, knew she had. But when? How could that even be possible? Amanda also understood Daniel’s soul was infected and this thing inside him would take great joy in ripping him apart.
“You’re safe now, Daniel,” she repeated, mostly to reassure herself, only she knew deep down it wasn’t true.
The darkness in Daniel’s eyes began its dance anew.
…it’s going to eat him from the inside out.
Her words again? When did she say this?
“You’re not going to get him,” she muttered.
The darkness found an opening and began to disappear behind Daniel’s eyes, hiding beyond the physical, beyond reach. Beyond her reach.
He’s already ours.
Daniel began to shake.
About the Author
Kristoffer Gair grew up in Fraser, MI and is a graduate of Grand Valley State University. He is the author of 7 novels—some written under the pseudonym Kage Alan—been a part of 6 anthologies, and currently lives in a suburb of Detroit.