Cover image for Parting the veil
Parting the veil
Davis, Jay.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Forge, 2004.
Physical Description:
383 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
"A Tom Doherty Associates book."
Format :


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FICTION Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
FICTION Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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For most of his life, John Creed never gave much thought to an afterlife.

That all changed the day he died.

He'd been clinically dead for ten minutes. At least, that's what the doctors told him when he woke up in intensive care. It had been a freak accident, they said. A school bus suddenly turned in front of his red convertible, smashing it to bits.

By all odds, that should have been it. John's injuries had been grave. His heart had stopped and been restarted. He'd flatlined. His brain showed no signs of activity. Only sheer stubbornness kept the doctors from pulling the plug. Then, days later, he suddenly, mysteriously woke up - confused, in pain, but very much alive.

At first, he didn't remember much of what had happened. But then, the dreams began ...

The accident itself, in vivid, second-by-second detail. The face of the woman who had been driving the bus - a face twisted with pure hatred.

The long hours in the trauma center, as he hovered over his own shattered body, watching the doctors desperately laboring to bring him back.

And the light - a faint but steadily growing glow at the end of a swirling vortex. A brilliant incandescence filled with joy, love, peace that beckoned him closer...

But there were other dreams as well...

A frightened, heartbroken boy from a desperately troubled family running for his life.

A pretty, red-haired woman whose life was crashing around her, tempted to end it all.

An embittered, broken man whose heart smoldered with despair, hatred, and murderous rage.

These lives were somehow intertwined with his own, in a way he did not fully understand.

With the visions, John Creed received a remarkable gift. He could share the pain of other souls, take their suffering and transform it into peace. But this same gift also opened him to darker forces. Forces which could shift the balance between good and evil for ages to come....

Exciting, suspenseful, moving, and inspirational PARTING THE VEIL is a powerful testament to faith, hope, and the triumphant human spirit.

Author Notes

Born in St. Louis, MO, Jay Davis has spent his entire life immersed in books-as a reader, writer, editor, bookstore clerk and publisher's representative. He was part of the rep team that launched Tor Books in 1981. After co-authoring two best-selling novels--the recently optioned Sins of the Flesh and the Bram Stoker Award-nominated Bring on the Night --he turned his literary efforts to suspense novels with a spiritual flavor. Parting the Veil , the first of a loosely-connected trilogy, was written in St. Louis, Seattle and Reno, which provide the trilogy's primary settings. The author currently lives in Reno, NV.



ONE The Light at the End of the Tunnel Life is a hit-and-run driver that smashes, upends, uproots, and confuses before moving on with seeming indifference. It is an act of terror that in one dark moment reshapes the whole world...or a single dreaded phone call in the middle of the night. It is a sudden, spreading pressure deep in the chest...a lump that appears where none was before...or awakening to discover that the previous night together was the last one as lovers. Sometimes, it is a stretch of road that turns out to be treacherous, unforgiving and deadly. Life is the split second in which everything changes, and the path that is chosen to make sense of those changes. Life--in all its perplexing glory--is what awaits John Creed a few miles up the road. Friday's classes had ended half an hour earlier, and the thirty-year-old teacher was on his way home from McQueen High School in Reno, where he had taught psychology for the last four years. He was seated behind the leather-padded wheel of his sporty red convertible, a car that he cherished, especially on days when the northern Nevada weather made driving a convertible the only sensible thing to do. Today was such a day: the temperature was perfect, with a warm, steady breeze, and the sky was cloudless, unbroken by anything except the snow-covered Sierra Nevadas to the west. The road, like the weather, was also perfect, practically deserted now that the students were gone. It was an auspicious combination--a wide-open road and a wide-open sky--and John found himself wishing that the five miles home were five or ten times that. Smiling, he reached for the black case on the seat beside him, flipped it open and scanned three rows of neatly alphabetized CDs. The selection was eclectic: classical, New Age, a smattering of jazz, and some pop and rock his students also liked. This being the first night of the weekend, rock seemed more appropriate than anything else, so he selected a CD that contained the tune already playing in his head. As the first few notes rang out from speakers in front and back, he smiled to himself, glanced up at the road, and waved at the approaching school bus heading back to McQueen after delivering its load. The driver of the bus was Ruby Mazzoni, the mother of one of John's favorite students. As she raised her hand to wave back, John smiled at the face behind the broad dusty windshield. To his surprise, Ruby's smile suddenly faltered and changed into an ugly, hateful scowl. The hand that had been raised to return his greeting abruptly slammed down hard on the top of the steering wheel and wrenched it to the left with a violent jerk. As John's bewilderment skidded toward dawning horror, the bus gained speed, crossed out of its lane and slammed into his car. The last thing he saw was Ruby's tortured grin. * * * As the paramedics handed over John's faltering body to the emergency room team at Washoe Medical Center, a grimness supplanted their professional stoicism. "There's no way that one's going to make it," one of them observed as John was whisked away. The other paramedic stared at the stretcher as it disappeared down the hall. "Shut up, Gordy!" he snapped. Privately, he shared his partner's sentiment, but he was superstitious enough to believe that if he actually voiced the fear, it was more likely to come true. "What if he hears you?" he whispered, knowing full well that the odds were against it. "Voices carry, you know." Gordy thought of the still, bloodied form of the high school teacher and shook his head. "Don't worry," he replied in a sad voice. "The only thing that one's going to hear is the soft, sweet sound of the heavenly choir. All the doctors are going to do is buy them some time to warm up." * * * "Get to it, people! We've got to work faster!" The doctor in charge of the trauma center emergency room frowned, more from frustration than any real concern about the efforts of his staff, who were already working up to capacity. The exhortation was superfluous, yet at the same time completely necessary, an ER ritual meant more to vent tension than to urge the troops on. John Creed was awash in brilliant white light, lying on a table surrounded by people and beeping machines, the center of a frenzied medical exercise that had been going on continuously for forty-two minutes. Yet nowhere in his mind did any of it register. Except for a broken arm and leg, the air bag in his car had initially saved him from serious injury, but the double flip-and-roll the convertible had done after being smashed off the road had given fate a second chance. The broken limbs were of no immediate concern to the medical team, but the injuries to his head and his weak, erratic heartbeat and faltering blood pressure were sounding the alarm bells of impending death. The ER staff heard them, even if John didn't, and they were trying like crazy to head off an outcome that they all thought inevitable. "Come on, people," the doctor said again, but with less emphasis this time. Even as he spoke, something began to change: the patient's heartbeat stayed erratic but grew frighteningly fast, his respiration remained shallow but grew more rapid than before, and his open, sightless eyes narrowed in pain. The nurse who noticed it first said, "Something's going on here," a fraction of a second before the monitors confirmed it, and then things rapidly fell apart as John's blood pressure plunged, his breathing abruptly stopped, and the beating of his heart grew more erratic, then ceased. * * * It took John a full minute to realize that the tall, blond-haired man lying on the table five feet below was actually himself. He was floating, like a bird or a cloud (or a ghost, perhaps), hovering above his bruised and battered body, watching as the medical team scrambled to save him. Despite his feelings of disorientation, he wasn't greatly upset by what he was seeing. Instead, the longer he watched, the more at peace he felt with his strange state, as if some atavistic coping mechanism had come into play, buffering his mind against the shock and fear that he should have felt. It was a strange sensation, but not an unpleasant one. Even as his body jerked when electricity shot through its chest, he felt none of the panic or urgency or frustration that played on the faces of the medical team. Instead, he felt a serene detachment, as if the whole scene involved someone other than himself. And then he realized that in a sense it did: what he was now-- who he was now and always had been--no longer was confined to flesh and blood. Evidently, that part of his life was coming to a close, and he was being allowed to linger at the scene of his death, perhaps to understand and accept the transition. The question, of course, was the transition to what . For John Creed, death had always been the ultimate bogeyman, the greatest and most private uncertainty in his life. He thought about it often because there were so many reminders: the news, which was filled with death from horrific terrorist attacks, wars, natural disasters or disease; the memories of funerals, especially his grandmother's; the lingering demise of a valued colleague who had developed AIDS; even trips to the doctor, which were constant reminders that the body was vulnerable and subject to the whims and laws of mortality. It was fair to say that at times he was almost obsessed with death, because of the great, blazing question of what came after. What then ? he couldn't help but wonder. What really happens when we die ? It wasn't as if he didn't believe in an afterlife. Down deep, he did. But there was always that small, persistent doubt that he could never dismiss. It didn't haunt his days or keep him up at night, and he lived each day like most people: pragmatically oblivious to the possibility of death, making plans for tomorrow, sometimes squandering today. But what he had come to think of as the Question was always lurking somewhere in his mind, waiting for something to call it to the fore. And when that happened, as it often did, he wondered about death with a hint of fear, felt guilty for doing so and wondered some more. Even though he had long ago resigned himself to never knowing the answer until the Question was moot, it didn't stop him from asking. And now, he realized with much curiosity and a little trepidation, it was about to be answered. He glanced back down at the room, as if expecting the answer to come from there. But there was nothing left to see; it was all but over. State-of-the-art devices had been used, injections given, and prayers and curses had intermingled in the air. Now that none of it had worked, the team simply stared at one another or found other things to do, each of them asking himself his own version of the Question, and on some level feeling cheated because he hadn't found the answer this time either. As one of the nurses slowly drew the sheet up over the body's head and turned away with brimming eyes, John Creed felt a sympathetic twinge of sadness, and suddenly found himself floating upward, away from his body and up through the ceiling. The air around him turned gray and fuzzy, and he felt a surge of anticipation as chimes began to tinkle and ring in the distance, like a windblown serenade of crystal and steel. Then the wind--perhaps the one that stirred the chimes--grew stronger and louder until his ears were overwhelmed with a great rushing sound, a sound of power that probably should have scared him but, surprisingly, didn't. He glanced around with curious eyes to see what was approaching, half expecting a train or a roaring rocket. Instead, the air began to darken in front of him and swiftly coalesced into great whirling clouds, like the top of a tornado or some gigantic portal. The chimes beneath the wind slowly faded and died, and he was drawn into the center of the swirling mass. Soon, the rushing sound was also a thing of the past, and he sailed into a void that was blacker and emptier than he thought was possible. He couldn't see where he was going, but he knew that he was moving--faster and faster, if his senses were correct--and after a short while, his anticipation and wonder began to be tempered by a creeping uncertainty. What is happening? Where am I going ? There were no answers, of course, but before the endless darkness gave old doubts and fears an open avenue to conscious thought, he realized that he was no longer alone. He sensed shapes in the distance on either side of him--people and animals, he was fairly certain--glowing so faintly that he had almost missed them; some appeared to be moving as fast as he was, while others seemed aimless and drifting in the void. None gave any indication of seeing him, though, and instead of being comforting, their silent presence seemed eerie and perplexing, and John began to wonder, in spite of his faith, whether the afterlife might be eternal limbo after all. But at the exact moment when he was tempted to despair, he felt a sense of utter tranquillity and harmony wash over him, and everything around him began to change. The wind that had borne him altered its direction and slowed to a gentle, guiding breeze, and a pinpoint of light appeared in the distance, growing larger and brighter as he floated in its direction. In the next moment, the spectral figures were gone and the darkness around him was no longer impenetrable, and he could dimly make out the circular walls of a long, gray tunnel. Soon, he found himself being set down lightly on his feet, and he began walking, as if in a dream, toward the source of the light. His fear was long gone, and in its place came a sense of excitement and anticipation that grew stronger and deeper with each step he took. The farther he went into the tunnel, the brighter it got, until he saw that the walls were pillowy, like clouds, and gleaming softly with a bluish light. Soon the twinkle in the distance was no longer a pin-point, but a growing beacon of brilliant light, a light that drew him forward and warmed his being with indescribable feelings he had never known. Up ahead in the distance, he could make out figures standing in the light, a lone form bathed in the bluish glow and two smaller ones behind it and off to one side. Although their faces were indistinguishable from so far away, he felt instinctively reassured and excited by their presence, and he quickened his pace and hurried toward them.... Copyright © 2004 by Jay Davis Excerpted from Parting the Veil by Jay Davis All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.