The novel is intended to be a utopian, yet realistic scenario of a feasible and attainable future. Accordingly the story is interweaved with real and fictional documentation. Use is made of serious forecasts based on futures studies and policy research. The abolition of the social institution of war and militarism would indeed ensure the survival and prosperity of all life on our planet. Creative and positive solutions to global problems are available. We only have to rise to the challenge of implementing them.
The doctor entered the hospital emergency room. It contained the only too familiar sight of a grieving woman, and the man hooked to the life support system. But this was not the usual drunk driver setup. Her body's fullness showed maturity, but the face still had a youthful appearance under her gray hair. The tall patient -- obviously her husband -- seemed to be in his early sixties. His graying brown beard gave him the appearance of an intellectual, of a Semitic background. A glance at the name on the medical chart confirmed his Central European Jewish origin. But his blue eyes suggested that somewhere in the past some Teutonic genes also entered his heredity.
The nurse glanced up from the monitoring equipment. "Car accident," she said. "A drunken driver plowed into him."
The doctor gestured in acknowledgment. He turned to the woman. "You must be Mrs. Friedeman." The woman nodded. "Your husband is out of danger. But because of his head injury he is in a coma. Fortunately, his brain seems to function normally. He should be able to recover. You look exhausted. Why don't you go home?"
The wife kissed her husband and left with the doctor and the nurse. Only the hum of the life-sustaining equipment, and Paul Friedeman's slow breathing broke the silence of the room.
The familiar touch of Florrie's lips rose Paul from his drugged stupor. The frenzied activity around him earlier in the emergency room already made him realize where he was. He now strained to remember what happened before the wrenching shock of the accident. Slowly, he felt himself slipping into the past...
He was going home from the meeting in downtown Washington. The heavy rain and the rush hour traffic made driving difficult. As usual, Paul was glad of his foresight in buying a car with a four-wheel drive. During the occasional snow and the more frequent rain he was able to drive around with safety. He felt elated because of the successful interview he just concluded with a still influential member of the nation's power elite. The former secretary of defense and reformed military security hawk pledged his support to Paul's organization. The prestige of this gentleman's endorsement -- and access to plentiful foundation funding -- promised to give a big lift to Paul's campaign to "abolish war for human survival."
He was now approaching the last major intersection before his home. His frequent traversing of this road made him familiar with the traffic pattern of the area. He started to slow down, in anticipation of the changing traffic lights. Sure enough, the light turned yellow. Paul was stopping the car, for he disliked the dangerous drivers who ran recklessly through the yellow -- and sometimes even red -- traffic lights of this intersection.
The loud screech of brakes behind him made Paul glance into the rear view mirror. Behind the blinding lights he saw the outlines of the small truck. Then the tremendous shock of the impact blended with the horrible noise of the collision. Metal crumpled, glass shattered. Paul's car was flipped sideways. In spite of the seat belt he always wore while driving, he was violently thrown against the side of the car. His head felt the crushing impact of metal before he lost consciousness.
The approaching sirens of the emergency vehicles rose him from his unconsciousness. He smelt the strong odor of spilt gasoline. Paul suddenly realized that the slightest spark could set his wrecked car on fire and incinerate him. My God, he thought, I survived the hell fires of Auschwitz, only that I should be cremated here in this peaceful suburb of Washington.
He then sensed the powerful arms of the firemen prying loose the door with their crowbars. Their frantic, yet purposeful energies bore fruit. Paul felt his body moving from the wrecked car to the waiting ambulance. Then he again became comatose.
The life support system continued to pump into Paul's veins and lungs the miraculous sustenance of modern medicine. He felt his awareness fighting with the trauma of the shock to his body and mind. His mind was slowly retreating to the past. Again, he heard the sirens of the fire truck, and the frantic attempts of the firemen to break down the door.
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