The Road of Things to Come by Benson Phillip Lott
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (38 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe
When Sheriff Keylee discovers escaped mental patient Simon Fielding wandering down the desolate road of Shepherd's Pass in a sleepwalking trance, he takes him into custody with the intent of returning him to Jessup County Hospital with few questions asked.
The sheriff's dispatcher Debbie is a bit more curious. She has looked into the matter of Mr. Fielding's escapes and come across some unsettling information regarding Jessup County Hospital and a former psychologist who was believed to be involved in a patient’s escape attempt from the hospital twenty years earlier.
Dr. Douglas Grover, a clinical psychiatrist on the ward, is a particularly strong advocate for Simon's discharge. He meets with him for sessions on a weekly basis where they continually discuss the haunting dreams that Simon has convinced himself are glimpses of the future. These visions involve an illuminate figure that appears on a brightly lit path and produces a series of images, the most disturbing of which involves a terrible car accident on Shepherd’s Pass, which Simon believes is the revelation of his death.
Dr. Grover is suspicious of the images and wants to know more. He reveals to Simon his own personal investigation into the history of Shepherd's Pass and even admits to having remarkably lucid dreams where he too is confronted with his own demise. He further confesses to have encountered a bizarre book, detailing several accounts of complex dreams similar to the ones that both of them are experiencing. The common denominator is, of course, the road: Shepherd's Pass.
As the doctor and patient continue to exchange theories, a decision is made to return to the Pass for further investigation. What happens next will forever alter the men's lives.
How do you know you’re not dreaming right now?
I started The Road of Things to Come confident that I knew what was going on and more or less what was happening to each one of the characters. I was wrong. No sooner would I formulate a new hypothesis based on the latest twist than I’d realize that I still hadn’t figured anything out. It isn’t always easy to blend the scifi and mystery genres but Mr. Lott combined the best elements of both effortlessly in his latest work.
It’s difficult to talk about Sheriff Keylee, Simon Fielding, Dr. Grover and everyone else without giving away spoilers but sufficed to say these guys kept me on my toes. First impressions here are about as likely to be correct as they are in real life. Some folks are exactly whom they appear to be. Others may surprise you.
The concept of this book is intriguing. It reminds me of a vivid dream that follows you into the waking world. In the moment everything in it appears to make sense and you’re eager to find out what the unusual imagery or unexpected plot twists actually meant. Unfortunately certain loose ends never quite come together again and I walked away confused about which scenes were real and what actually happened in a few of them. By no means do I expect a tale like this to answer every question for us but it would have been helpful for this reader to have a little more guidance on which narrators can be relied upon to tell the truth.
To be honest this isn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever read and I wouldn’t recommend it for people who prefer more easily digestible fodder. Follow the plot to the end, though, and you’ll find a story that cannot be forgotten. Ultimately this is where The Road of Things to Come shines. There’s something to be said for fiction that pops back into your mind days or weeks later and even with the questions that have yet to be answered about these characters I’m so glad I met them.