Durango Novelist Takes On Alternate Realities In ‘Dark Matter’

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<p>Penguin Random House</p>
<p>Durango author Blake Crouch.</p>
Photo: Dark Matter Book Cover

Editor's Note: This story originally aired August 16, 2016.

What if the person living your life wasn't you? That's the premise of the new sci-fi thriller "Dark Matter" by Durango author Blake Crouch. Crouch may best be known for his trilogy 'Wayward Pines," which has been adapted for television.

"Dark Matter" revolves around physicist Jason Dessen who lives in Chicago with his wife Daniela and son Charlie. He's a brilliant scientist who put family life first, leaving a promising career in his field behind. But one night, that all changes. He's kidnapped, drugged, and wakes up in a world where he's unmarried and has achieved the professional success he only thought possible in his dreams.

Crouch spoke with Colorado Matters host Nathan Heffel.

Read An Excerpt:

I’m aware of someone gripping my ankles.
As hands slide under my shoulders, a woman says, “How’d he get out of the box?”
A man responds: “No idea. Look, he’s coming to.”
As hands slide under my shoulders, a woman says "How'd he get out of the box?"
I open my eyes, but all I see is blurred movement and light. 
The man barks, “Let’s get him the hell out of here.”
I try to speak, but the words fall out of my mouth,  garbled and formless.
The woman says, “Dr. Dessen? Can you hear me? We’re going to lift you onto a gurney now.”
I look toward my feet, and the man’s face racks into focus. He’s staring at me through  the face shield of an aluminized hazmat suit with a self-contained breathing apparatus.
Glancing at the woman behind my head, he says, “One, two, three.” They hoist me onto a gurney and lock padded restraints around my ankles and wrists.
“Only for your protection, Dr. Dessen.”
I watch the ceiling scroll past, forty or fifty feet above. Where the hell am I? A hangar?
I catch a glint of memory — a needle puncturing  my neck. I was injected with something. This is some crazy hallucination.
A radio squawks, “Extraction team, report. Over.”
The woman says with excitement  bleeding through her voice, "We have Dessen. We're en route. Over."
I hear the squeak of wheels rolling.
"Copy that. Initial condition assessment? Over."
She reaches down with a gloved hand and wakes some kind of monitoring device that's been Velcroed to my left arm.
"Pulse  rate:  one-fifteen.  BP: one-forty over  ninety-two.  Temp: ninety-eight-point-nine. Oh-two sat:  ninety-five  percent.  Gamma: point-eight seven. ETA thirty seconds. Out."
A buzzing sound startles  me.
We move through a pair of vaultlike doors that are slowly opening. Jesus Christ.
Stay calm. This isn't real.
The wheels squeak faster, more urgently.
We're in a corridor lined with  plastic, my eyes squinting against the onslaught  of light from fluorescent  bulbs shining overhead.
The doors  behind  us slam  shut with  an ominous clang,  like the gates to a keep.
They wheel me into an operating room toward an imposing figure
in a positive pressure suit, standing under an array of surgical lights.
He smiles  down  at me through his face shield and  says, as if he knows me, "Welcome back, Jason. Congratulations. You did it."
I can  only see his eyes, but they  don't  remind  me of anyone  I've ever met.
''Are you experiencing any pain?" he asks.
I shake my head.
"Do you know how you got the cuts and bruises on your face?'' Shake.
"Do you know who you are?"
I nod.
"Do you know where you are?" Shake.
"Do you recognize me?" Shake.
'Tm  Leighton  Vance, chief executive  and  medical  officer. We're
colleagues and friends." He holds up a pair of surgical shears. "I need to get you out of these clothes."
He removes the monitoring device and goes to work on my jeans and  boxer shorts,  tossing  them  into  a metal  tray. As he cuts  off my shirt, I gaze up at the lights burning down on me, trying  not to panic.
But I'm naked and strapped to a gurney.
No, I remind myself, I'm hallucinating that I'm naked and strapped to a gurney. Because none of this is real.
Leighton  lifts the  tray holding  my shoes  and  clothes  and hands it to someone  behind  my head,  outside my line of sight. "Test every­ thing."
Footsteps rush  out of the room.
I note the sharp  bite of isopropyl alcohol a second before Leighton cleans a swatch of skin on the underside  of my arm.
He ties a tourniquet above my elbow.
"Tust drawing  some blood," he says, taking a large-gauge hypoder­
mic needle from the instrument tray.
He's good. I don't even feel the sting.
When  he's finished, Leighton rolls the gurney  toward  the far side of the OR to a glass door  with  a touchscreen mounted on the wall beside it.
"Wish  I could tell you this is the fun  part," he says. "If you're too
disoriented to remember what's about  to happen,  that's  probably for the best."
I try  to  ask what's  happening, but words  still  elude  me. Leigh­ ton's  fingers  dance  across  the  touchscreen. The glass  door  opens, and he pushes me into a chamber that's  just large enough  to hold the gurney.
"Ninety seconds," he says. "You'll be fine. It never killed any of the test subjects."

Reprinted from DARK MATTER. Copyright (c) 2016 Blake Crouch. Published by Crown Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.