Read Flashback (1988) Online

Authors: Michael Palmer

Flashback (1988)

BOOK: Flashback (1988)
6.85Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
Michael Palmer’s Bestsellers


“A suspenseful page-turner … jolts and entertains the reader.”

—Mary Higgins Clark

“Terrific … a compelling suspense tale.”

—Clive Cussler


“Has everything—a terrifying plot … breakneck pace … vividly drawn characters.”

—John Saul


“Spellbinding … a chillingly sinister novel made all the more frightening by [Palmer’s] medical authority.”

The Denver Post


“Reinvents the medical thriller.”

Library Journal


Marathon Man
-style plot loaded with innovative twists … extremely vivid characters.”

Kirkus Reviews

Michael Palmer has been a practicing physician for more than twenty years, most recently as an emergency-room doctor and a specialist in the treatment of alcoholism and chemical dependency.

From Bantam Books

The Sisterhood
Side Effects
Natural Causes
Extreme Measures
Silent Treatment
Miracle Cure
Crìtical Judgement
The Patient
And in hardcover
The Society

The characters, events, institutions, and organizations in this book are wholly fictional or are used fictitiously. Any apparent resemblance to any person alive or dead, to any actual events, and to any actual institutions or organizations, is entirely coincidental.

A Bantam Book

Bantam edition published September 1988
Bantam reissue/March 1995

Grateful acknowledgment is made for permission to reprint lyrics from “Sixteen Tons” by Merle Travis. Copyright 1947 by Unichappell Music Inc., & Elvis Presley Music. International copyright secured. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Copyright renewed

All rights reserved
Copyright © 1988 by Michael Palmer
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher
For information address: Bantam Books

eISBN: 978-0-307-78126-0

Bantam Books are published by Bantam Books, a division of Random House, Inc. It’s trademark consisting of the words “Bantam Books” and the portrayal of a rooster, is Registered in US Patent and Trademark Office and in other countries. Marca Registrada. Bantam Books, New York, New York.


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the authors imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

To N.M.S

Over the three-year birthing of
a number of people have given me encouragement, criticism, and support. My agent, Jane Rotrosen Berkey; my publisher, Linda Grey; my editor, Beverly Lewis; my family; and many friends of Bill W. share my deepest gratitude.

Falmouth, Massachusetts

If I fulfill this oath and do not violate it, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and art, being honored with fame among all men for all time to come; if I transgress it and swear falsely, may the opposite of all this be my lot.

—Conclusion of The Oath of Hippocrates;
377? B.C.

Saint Peter don’t you call me
’cause I can’t go.
I owe my soul to     
    The Company Store.

—Merle Travis



Other Books by This Author

Title Page





About the Author

Excerpt from Fatal


January 10th

Two … three … four …

Toby Nelms lay on his back and counted the lights as they flashed past overhead. He was eight years old, but small even for that age, with thick red-brown hair, and freckles that ran across the tops of his cheeks and over the bridge of his nose. For a time after his fathers job relocation from upstate New York to the T.J. Carter Paper Company of Sterling, New Hampshire, Toby’s classmates in the Bouquette Elementary School had called him “dot face,” and “shrimp,” and had pushed him around in the school cafeteria. But things were better now, much better, since the day he had held his ground and absorbed a beating at the hands of Jimmy Barnes, the school bully.

Five … six … seven …

Toby rubbed at the lump at the top of his leg, next to his peenie, where the pain had started and still persisted. The doctors had said that the shot would take the pain away, but it hadn’t.

The music that the nurses had promised would relax him wasn’t helping, either. The song was okay, but there weren’t any words. His hand shaking, Toby reached up and pulled the padded earphones off his head.

Eight … nine
 … The lights turned from white to yellow to pink, and finally to red.
Ten … eleven …

Following the fight with Jimmy, the kids had stopped pushing him and had begun asking him to walk home with them after school. They hail even elected him to be the class representative to the student council. After months of inventing illnesses to stay home, it felt so good to want to go to school again every day. Now, because of the lump, he would miss a whole week.
It wasn’t fair

Twelve … thirteen
 … The red lights passing overhead grew brighter, more intense. Toby squeezed his eyes as
tightly as he could, but the red grew warmer and brighter still. He tried putting his arm across them, but the hot, blood light bore through and began to sting them. Softly, he began to cry.

“Now, now, Toby, there’s no need to cry. Doctors going to fix that little bump, and then you’ll be all better. Are you sure you don’t want to listen to the music? Most of our patients say they feel much better because of it.”

Toby shook his head and then slowly lowered his arm. The lights were gone from overhead. Instead, he saw the face of the nurse, smiling down at him. She was gray-haired and wrinkled and old—as old as Aunt Amelia. Her teeth were yellowed at the tops, and smears of bright red makeup glowed off her cheeks. As he watched, the skin on her face drew tighter, more sunken. Her wrinkles disappeared and the spaces below the red makeup, and above, where her eyes had been, became dark and hollow.

“Now, now, Toby … now, now … now, now …”

Once again, Toby threw his arm across his eyes, and once again, it did no good. The nurses skin tightened still further, and then began to peel away, until the white of her bones shone through. The red dripped like blood over her skeleton face, and the holes where her eyes had been glowed.

“Now, now … now, now …”

“Let me up. Please let me up.”

Toby screamed the words, but heard only a low growl, like the sound from the stereo when he turned the record with his finger.

“Let me up. Please, let me up.”

The sheet was pulled from his body, and he shook from the chilly air.

“I’m cold,” he cried wordlessly. “Please cover me. Please let me up. Mommy. I want my mommy.”

“Okay, big fella. Up you go.”

It was a mans voice, deep and slow. Toby felt hands around his ankles and beneath his arms, lifting him higher and higher off the bed with wheels, higher and higher and higher. That same music was in the room. Now, even without the earphones, he could hear it.

“Easy does it, big fella. Just relax.”

Toby opened his eyes. The face above his was blurred. He blinked, then blinked once more. The face, beneath a blue cap, remained blurred. In fact, it wasn’t a face at all—just skin where the eyes and nose and mouth should have been.

Again, Toby screamed. Again, there was only silence. He was floating, helpless.
Mommy, please. I want Mommy

“Down you go, big fella,” the faceless man said.

Toby felt the cold slab beneath his back. He felt the wide strap pulled tightly across his chest.
Just the lump
, his mind whimpered.
Don’t hurt my peenie. You promised. Please, don’t hurt me

BOOK: Flashback (1988)
6.85Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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