Synopsis, to chapter 16,
Washington State University, Pullman, Washington State, USA.
Next or last summer, your pick.
>Persona Dramatic, back story (provided via flashbacks.)
Freshman, eighteen. Arrived two months early to get a good apartment and a job to help on tuition and books. “Greasy” kills her before the start of the book. (see Greasy below) She refuses to die. Left with only the outer shell of epidermis, she learns how to move this empty sack attempting to find someone to help. She only feels pressure, relative temperature, and can sense the “inner glow” of individuals. She cannot eat, talk, and has no sense of time or sequence of events.
Ten years ago. her family, except her mother, were killed on her 8th birthday. At the funeral she first sees colored “blobs” where people should be. She forced the images away by ignoring them and has forgotten the incident.
Sophomore, twenty four. Committing suicide in the first paragraph of the book. Psychically damaged before age of 6 by games his grandmother “Babushka” made him play with Russian Nesting Dolls (Matryoschka). Saved by his friendship with the new kid on the block Quentin (see below) and Babushka’s early death.
He suffered battle injuries, and severe emotional and mental problems caused by events during his deployments in Iraq. He met Katie (see below) at Frosh orientation and they spend Freshmen year helping each other. His loss of Katie and Quentin precipitate the suicide.
>>Greasy (antagonist, the Greasy Man, the goat-faced man):
Always offstage, he kills Sarah. His plans for her outer shell of epidermis are unknown.
Also, ten years ago, he was at her school the day of the family accident, and at the after funeral family reception. Sarah blocked these memories.
Take action, no prisoners. Loyal to the point of psychosis. MP in Afghanistan and Iraq. She was kidnapped and saving her life required extreme violence on her part. Her violence hang on her soul. Her reaction to stress is violence. Alex, and now Quentin are the only men she allows within two arms’ length of her. She carries at least one military attack knife and a 10-millimeter automatic pistol (BMFG) at all times.
All around nice guy, goof off, and the only normal person. He provides the counter to the other’s less than stable existence. Strong interpersonal skills, can defuse any situation. A talent needed as Katie’s live-in squeeze. Pivotal person in several tight scenes.
>Start of Novel.
Alex believes he lost his only friends, Katie and Quentin (KatQuen) when they move in with each other. That combined with unresolved trauma from Babushka and military service drives him to suicide. Sarah, attacked by “Greasy,” is now only a piece of epidermis (shell). By now she’s lost cognizance, and is only a feral instinctual being. Sarah finds Alex and engulfs him as he commits suicide. This saves her as she now has a “core” or “host.” It saves him because of the distraction keeps him too busy to squeeze the trigger. When Sarah “deblends,” Alex is the same physical person as before. He continues his normal life except for at least 16 hours a day as “Sarah Beth.” Sarah will die without this minimum. During that period, Alex lives as Sarah Beth in all aspects. Importantly, to all external observers and tests, they are “Sarah” in looks, movements, and speech.
The first few days are difficult as Sarah fights to regain her intellect, and Alex fights to regain his emotional control. As the blended Sarah Beth, they regain their individual intellect, emotions, memories, and ability to control their body. They cannot use the same part of the body simultaneously without severe pain. They discover they communicate without speaking, both in words and emoted feelings. Their memories, and thoughts do not “leak.” Emotions, if strong, can be picked up by the other member of Sarah Beth.
Over the next two weeks, they come to grips with their bended existence. Together, they are a “hyper-sensed” “Sarah Beth” with abilities take days to sort out, normally coming to the incorrect conclusions. Aura is the first of this. Everyone has one. They perceive aura as a “color”, though some aura are “no-color” meaning only their mind does not process it into a recognizable color. They assume it is merely a “personality” marker, not tied to emotion, intent, para-senses, etc.
After several personal existential crises, by each of them, they realize that blended, they are not Alex “wearing” Sarah, but exist as a third, unique being, “Sarah Beth.” With this realization, Sarah Beth attains stability, and search to return Sarah back to full individual identity and to find Greasy.
The day Sarah Beth will go to the police to file an “assault and battery” on Greasy, Katie and Quentin discover “Sarah Beth”. Katie intimidates them to confessing what has been going on. Not convinced, she takes Sarah and Alex through a series of tests to sort out who is real, who is independent, and who is a puppet.
With the welcome addition of Quentin’s personal skills and Katie’s take-action tendencies, “Sarah Beth” is ready to go to the police. But the men-in-black (literally in black) arrive, nearly breaking down their door. This mystery secretive government agency threatens them and attempts to take Sarah-the-shell into custody and life as a prisoner. Katie pulls her 10 mm gun (BMFG), and gets them time to collect their wits and to identify a negotiation position. In the ultimate meeting at a tea house, surrounded by armed agents, they force a collaborative relationship with the mysterious agency. Beats detention under the byzantine homeland security laws. Katie’s brilliance gets them jobs as independent contactors for the agency. This maintains their freedom to continue their education, though their movements are restricted. They earn their pay with hours of tedious lab tests.
On the third day of this relationship, Sarah is ready to … (chapter 16.)