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Melanie and Gareth Draper had waited so long. Years of trial and failure had started to fray the edges of their relationship, and the desire for a family had become an overriding passion for them since the wedding ten years earlier.

Now, when all hope seemed to have been lost, the last session of IV treatment had held out not just the chance of a family, but also the bond which looked set to re-establish their marriage once more.

Then the dreams began. At first, Melanie had put them down to the stress generated by her failure to become pregnant, but with each passing month the intensity had increased.

When she told Gareth for the first time of the substance of the latest images, the horror of the transatlantic plane crash was almost too much to bear.

With the birth of their son, Simon, the nightmares, for that is what they had become, abruptly ceased. It seemed that their problems were over, and for more than three years they lived in a state of almost utopian bliss.

On his fourth birthday, the boy told them of a strange dream that he had had the previous night?

'And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions'

Joel ii, 28


One of the earliest written examples of dream interpretation comes from the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh dreamt that an axe fell from the sky and the people gathered around it in admiration and worship. Gilgamesh threw the axe in front of his mother and then he embraced it like a wife. His mother, Ninsun, interpreted the dream, saying that someone powerful would soon appear, that Gilgamesh would struggle with him and try to overpower him, but would not succeed. Eventually they would become close friends and accomplish great things.
      In ancient Egypt, priests acted as dream interpreters. Hieroglyphics depicting dreams and their interpretations are evident, and dreams have been held in considerable importance in Egyptian culture.
      The ancient Greeks constructed temples where sick people were sent to be cured. It was believed that cures would be effected through divine grace by incubating dreams within the confines of the temple. Dreams were also considered prophetic or omens of particular significance.
      Modern theory has departed from this mythical stance, and twentieth century philosophers have taken a more reasoned and pragmatic approach.
      Freud stated that the motivation of all dream content is wish-fulfillment, and that the instigation of a dream is often to be found in the events of the day preceding it, which he called the "day residue." In the case of very young children, He claimed that they dream quite straightforwardly of the fulfillment of wishes that were aroused in them the previous day (the "dream day"). In adults, however, the situation is more complicated?since in Freud's submission, the dreams of adults have been subjected to distortion, with the dream's so-called "manifest content" being a heavily disguised derivative of the latent dream-thoughts present in the unconscious. As a result of this distortion and disguise, the dream's real significance is concealed - dreamers are no more capable of recognizing the actual meaning of their dreams than hysterics are able to understand the connection and significance of their neurotic symptoms.
      As a species, we inherently fear what we do not understand, and history is littered with examples of the persecution of individuals who appear to possess abilities beyond the comprehension of ?normal? people.
      Apocalyptic predictions for the end of the world as we know it have appeared throughout history from as far back as the Essenes in the first century AD. More recently a nuclear holocaust in 1967 was postulated by the People?s Temple in California, and Harold Camping foretold the Rapture and devastating earthquakes for May 21, 2011 with God taking approximately 3% of the world's population into Heaven - the end of the world was to have occurred five months later on October 21.
      The appearance of a ?prophet? with a proven ability to predict future events through dreams is about to set the world on a fresh trail of doom-laden activity. It all began in an ordinary Midlands city, and a young couple in the first throes of family life?

Chapter One

Melanie Draper looked down at the Clearblue pregnancy tester and held her breath. She was alone in the house now that her husband, Gareth, had gone to work, and she was going to be late herself if this damned thing did not hurry up. It seemed like ages since she took the sample, and the display was still blank. She sighed in frustration and tossed it onto the sink unit, carrying on with her makeup. She saw the change out of the corner of her eye as the display on the wand altered from blank to words. Hardly daring to look, she picked it up from the corner where it had come to rest, and read the content of the message:


‘Pregnant 2-3’


      These devices were now so sophisticated, that they not only told you whether you actually were pregnant, but also when the conception took place. Two to three weeks earlier – right in the middle of their holiday in Marbella. She yelled in delight, waving the wand like some trophy at the end of a competition. She’d ring Gareth from work – the smile faded from her face as she realised just how long she had been standing around in the bathroom. Damn! If she didn’t get her skates on she was going to be late for the bus. Spreading the news was going to have to wait a little longer.

      The tram ride from the Phoenix Centre in Nottingham took, she knew, only fifteen minutes to get to the Station Street terminus, but today it seemed to last forever. Melanie needed to get to the phone on her desk at Capital One in time to catch Gareth before his first lecture at the university at ten o’clock – this news would not wait. Fling her coat across the back of the swivel chair, she smiled at the rest of the team, ducked below the soundproof screening, and dialed his direct line.

      “Hi Mel.” His voice, with its tuneful lilt, always made her smile. “What’s up?”

      “Are you sitting down, Gareth?” She whispered, looking around to check for unwanted attention.

      “It can’t be the car again, I’ve got that.” He laughed.

      “I’m serious, you idiot. Pay attention.” The mild reproof, in the circumstances, sounded ridiculous.

      “Okay, then. What is it?” He cleared his throat and tried to suppress his natural humour.

      Melanie took a deep breath. There was no simple way of telling him. “I’m pregnant.” She paused – they had both agreed on the wish for a family, but no timescale had been fixed.

      “Alright, good joke. Now, what was it you really wanted?”

      “I’m pregnant.” She said it slowly this time – he could be so dense!

      “What, really?” The surprise in his voice came through clearly.

      "Really.” She said.

      “No kidding?”

      "No kidding.” Melanie sighed. “Gareth, are you being deliberately thick?”

      “No.” He had stood up, looking out of his study window and out across the Beeston campus of the Nottingham University grounds. He sat down again. “When is it due? I mean, how far…?”

      “Three weeks at most according to the test kit. You’ll be a dad by Christmas.”

      “Fantastic!” Now that the reality of the situation had actually sunk in, Gareth’s enthusiasm was unleashed. “Your mum’s going to be over the moon!”

      “Whoa!” She hissed. “Hang on there, cowboy. Now is not the time to put it in the Sunday papers. We need to keep this under our hats for a month or so; just to be safe – you know?”

      “Yes.” He nodded at the phone. “Sure; no point in counting chickens, is there?” Suddenly aware of the radical nature of the information, his voice changed to reflect concern. “How are you feeling?”