Donald Jacksons father is severely disabled but still partially mobile. He is in constant pain, however, which often makes him irascible and uncommunicative. Donald feels increasingly alienated from him, despite the mediation of his mother, who teaches at the local high school that Donald attends. The only adult Donald feels he can talk to is the Reverend Braxham, the local vicar. At home, Donald is made to feel guilty for jobs not done, lack of sympathy, or lack of faith; his parents are staunch Methodists.
Donald finds himself being taken back in time to a medieval town threatened by a “worm,” or dragon. He is befriended by a girl, Carrica, and given shelter. He is then pressed into the service of the newly appointed lord, Lord Breakbone. Previous lords and knights have perished attempting to slay the worm. Jackson, as Donald is known in this world, has to vie with Miral, Breakbones servant and an illegitimate son of the previous lord, but he is favored by Breakbone and made a squire.
When in each world, Donald has no memory of the other, and he has no control over the transitions. Each world seems equally bleak and threatening, and in each he seems equally isolated. His father becomes seriously ill and has to be admitted to the hospital. When he visits his father, Donald feels even further cut off from him and begins to wonder if he really is the Jacksons child. He also wonders about his dead sister, Cecily, about whom he knows or...
(The entire section is 450 words.)