Livin’ the Dream
I bolted upright, awakened by yet another dream. It featured the same alternate family in an alternate life, but a different scenario from dreams past.
The characters—husband, wife, and two kids who weren’t nearly as cute as mine—sat at a dinner table in a strange house that felt like home, eating General Tso’s chicken… and I liked it? Like I would ever eat that…or would I? And yet in my dream, which somehow hovered along my reality, it felt like I was watching my own family.
I rubbed the sleepy memory from my eyes. “Honey,” I said, tapping my slumbering wife next to me. “I had another dream.”
“It’s the same guy, the one who I think is supposed to be me but isn’t. But it feels so real…” My wife had heard it all before and showed just as much interest now as she did then as she buried deeper into her pillow.
For months, the dreams persisted until one day I brought it up to my doctor during one of my post-op visits. You see, I had undergone a double lung transplant after being diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, and shortly after, the dreams began. I didn’t know if it was worth mentioning, but the dreams, coupled with the changes in my food preferences, and the timing of it all, seemed too coincidental to ignore.
After a little research into my donor—a takeout-loving husband and father of two—my doctor confessed what he thought was an unusual but documented side effect to organ transplants: organ memory retention. Apparently my donor’s organs knew who they belonged to, and they didn’t want me to forget him … or how much he liked General Tso’s chicken.
The above is a real-life experience a friend of mine shared with me after he felt secure that he wasn’t going insane. It was me he was telling this to, after all—a fellow member of the crazy club, mostly onset by having lots of kids and being a closet psychological thriller writer. (Literally, that’s the only place I could find quiet enough to write—in my closet.) The concept of organ memory intrigued me so much that I decided to write a fiction tale about the phenomenon, using a murder victim’s organ memory to help catch the killer.
In researching this pseudo-science, where our organs retain parts of ourselves that can be transferred to an organ recipient, I read about haunting experiences that I transcribed into my own character’s life. My thriller, A Secondhand Life, is a story about this scary scenario.
Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to be possessed by another person? Luckily my friend’s memories weren’t anything creepy, other than force-feeding him Chinese food (I still don’t know why he detests it so much), but in A Secondhand Life, the protagonist, Mia Germaine, receives a heart transplant from a murder victim—a young girl, and the first in a string of killings.
Mia must witness horrid, chilling nightmares of this murder, which eventually lead her down a dark journey straight into the path of the serial killer dubbed the “Triangle Terror.” Being forced to relive gruesome details and physical pain that often accompany these memories, Mia must survive the havoc this wreaks on her psyche in order to dig for clues amidst the blood and guts.
Does she endure the ordeal and capture the villain, avenging the lives of the victims? Is she able to conquer these demons to find peace from these grim phantasms? Is it possible to recapture your mind once it’s lost? Luckily for my friend, the dreams eventually subsided, although now he orders takeout at least once a month.
Pamela Crane is a North Carolinian writer of the best-selling psychological thriller The Admirer’s Secret. She is also the author of A Fatal Affair and A Secondhand Life. Along with being a wife and mom of four rug rats, she is a wannabe psychologist, though most people just think she needs to see one.
She’s a member of the International Thriller Writers, and has been a literary judge for the Christy Awards and Romance Writers of America. Along with delving into people’s minds—or being the subject of their research—she enjoys being a literary reviewer and riding her proud Arabian horse, when he lets her. She has a passion for adventure, and her hopes are to keep earning enough from her writing to travel the world in search of more good story material. Grab a free book, A Fatal Affair, on her website at www.pamelacrane.com, or check her out on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pamela.crane.52.