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Project JB – Chapter 1

I’m Jack


"My mission is to find the body that Mother Nature Intended, not what McNature provided"

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August 2010
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Here is a very sneak peak of my yet untitled book.  I hope you like it.  It’s my first book and I don’t expect it to be very good, but it is a start.  If you wanna leave some feedback I would be appreciated.
Thanks and enjoy.

Jack

______________________________________________________

Chapter 1

I open my eyes to a new day. The early morning sun is shining in through the open blinds. The first thing I see through my bleary eyes is the ceiling. White.  An endless white.  I look to my left at the empty space next to me.  The place that until nine years ago was shared by my wife.

Further past the bed is the bed side table.  It holds a brush, a box of tissues, an alarm clock showing the time as 5.18am and a photo of my family.  The photo was of a happier time, that is still a clear memory in my mind.  In the picture it shows a moment captured in time.  Me, my wife, Jessica and our two children, twins, Jack and Amy.   At the beach. Blue skies and white capped surf in the back ground. Big smiles.  A group hug.  A perfect day.  Never to be repeated

I was getting use to waking earlier ever since my life changed on that horrific day nine years ago.  The bedroom is filled with memories.  On the dresser are more photos of my family.  Jack and Amy’s last school photo taken in the 2nd grade, in 2001.  Next to that is our wedding photo.  Eighteen years ago we had been married, a month before my 27th birthday. 

I stretch in my bed.  I have sore joints and am very tired.  I never slept well anymore.  I dream nightly though not the type of dreams you would share with anyone but your therapist.  I toss and turn all night.  The memories of that day, nine years ago, continue to fill my dreams.  The two police officers stopping at my office door, reading the name neatly stencilled on the door, “Matthew Gibson”, and then entering my office.  One, a male, was aged approx 50 and was immaculately groomed in his blues.  The other was a woman.  Mid 30’s.  She looked nervous.  I remembered word for word what they said to me because that is the day my world ended.

“Mr Gibson, would you please have a seat, sir?” The elder officer with the kind but sad eyes and streaks of grey in his dark hair, asked me.

I stayed where I was.  “What is going on, why are you here, is everything ok?” I asked not wanting the answer.  When the police make doorstep visits it is never good news.  I braced myself.

“Sir, I am Sergeant Jeff Michaels.  There has been an incident at your children’s school.  You may have heard it already on the radio….”

I didn’t let him finish.  “An incident?  At the school? Are my children ok?  What kind of an incident?”

“Sir, a man has entered the school, armed with a range of weapons including guns.  He went into your children’s class room and started opening fire….”

“Oh my God”. 

“I’m sorry to have to inform you, Mr Gibson, that both of your children were shot during the incident and both of them have passed away at the scene”.

The wind was sucked out of me.  I felt my knees starting to buckle and I lurched forward onto the police officer for support.  He held me up.  The female officer, I didn’t catch her name, placed a reassuring hand on my shoulder. 

“I am so sorry for this terrible news, Sir.  We have a car outside ready to take you to the hospital”, she said.

The next thing I know I am in the back of the squad car and on my way to the hospital.  A million thoughts are racing through my mind.  It’s gotta be a mistake.  Not my kids.  Who would hurt kids? 

My wife, Jessica was away on business.  How would I ever be able to tell her?  She was scheduled to be on a flight heading home.  She was somewhere in the air, immune to the news and about to fly into a tragedy that would ultimately end our marriage.

In the police car, the officers gave me more information on the shooting, though they were light on for detail.  The gunman was a father, distraught at losing custody of his son.  He decided that if he can’t have his child, then neither can his ex-wife.  He not only killed his own child, but also the teacher and another four students who were sitting next to his son.  My kids were killed instantly in a hail of bullets from the mad man.  The teacher died shortly afterwards.  The gunman turned the gun on himself and shot himself in the head.  He died at the scene.  Nine dead in total including the gunman.  Five critically injured.  A massacre of innocence.

At the hospital, it was a scene of chaos.  There were media trucks, camera crews, reporters.  All camped outside the front doors.  There was a multitude of police and people running inside, tears streaming from their faces. 

Inside the emergency room, doctors and nurses were working frantically trying desperately to save the wounded. 

I was introduced to an administrator who expressed her remorse.  She informed me that I would need to identify my children’s bodies.  She asked me if my wife was on her way.  I said no.  I would do it alone.

She led me through the white halls.  Each step was difficult to take.  I was minutes away from performing a task that no parent should ever have to do. 

We came upon a double wide door.  “Morgue” was printed on a sign above it in large, black font.  This was it.  The moment I was dreading.  Confirmation of the unthinkable was about to happen. I still prayed for a miracle and that this was a mistake.  I knew I was about to see a dead child, and that was horrible, but I hoped it was somebody else’s child.  As terrible as that sounded, I prayed it wasn’t my Jack and Amy.

The room was cold and sterile.  There were several empty tables made of hard, cold, stainless steel.  I was led to the middle of the room where two tables side by side each with a bulge under each sheet awaited me.  The next few minutes felt like I was in a trance.  One at a time the sheets were pulled back.  Beneath the first sheet was my Amy.  Beneath the second was Jack.  Both looked like they were sleeping.  They looked peaceful. 

I started crying.  Uncontrollable tears.  I kissed their faces.  I hugged them both.  I screamed out in despair.

The police officers, still with me, asked me to formally identify them.  I did.  My world had been shattered.  My pride and joys, my life, my reason for existence, were no more. 

Still lying in bed, I look at our wedding photo on the dresser.  Jessica.  We were so happy.   I was filled with remorse.  On that fateful day, she landed at the airport and I was there to meet her.  I had just left the hospital and wanted to be the one to tell her before she heard it on the news.

She was surprised to see me as she always drove to the airport and parked in the long term parking bay.  I think she could tell that something was wrong.  I must have looked like a wreck.

I hugged her and led her to a quiet corner of the terminal, sat her down and I then destroyed her world.  She took the news as well as you could imagine.  She was composed.  She didn’t cry but the colour rushed out of her face.  I think she was in shock, then denial.  She said I must have been mistaken.  Why would I make up such lies.  It wasn’t until we went to the hospital and she saw with her own eyes that she understood.

The death of the kids hit hard.  Both Jess and I.  They were my world and it took me a long time to go back to work.  To normality, though my life would never be normal again.  I remember sitting quietly in their room, day after day, week after week.  I lost weight.  I grew out my hair.  I was in a deep depression.  I was not prepared to face the world head on.  I wasn’t strong enough. 

Our marriage fell apart.  I can’t blame her for leaving me.  I was a shell of the man she once married.  My life had no meaning.  She’d been gone a long time now, yet I still miss her endlessly.  She went overseas to work. London, I think.  She couldn’t handle the constant reminders.  She had lost her family.  Myself included.  I looked at my ring finger.  My wedding ring was still there.  A little tarnished but still in the same place it had been for 17 years.  I still loved Jessica and I didn’t blame her for leaving me.  I’d leave me too if I could.

I get up out of bed and walk into the bathroom.  I look at myself in the mirror.  I am 44 but look 60.  The past decade has taken its toll.  My eyes are dark and sullen.  I have at least a five day growth.   My hair is scruffy and unkept. 

I bend down over the basin and splash warm water in my face.  I repeat this several times.  The warm water is refreshing and it wakes me up a little more.  I stand and look in the mirror again. What I see shocks me and I recoil in surprise. 

I recognise instantly the face staring back at me.  I haven’t seen this face for 20 years.  I’m in shock.  I step back towards the basin, slowly, surely and the face in the mirror grows larger with each step I take.  When I look to the left, the face looks to the left.  When I look to the right, the face in the mirror looks to the right.  When I rub my eyes to try and adjust my vision, the face in the mirror also does the same.  The face in the mirror staring back at me was me. Is me!  The me from 20 years ago.

I look down at my body.  It is firmer and leaner.  My small amount of greying chest hair is now gone.  The scar on my abdomen from when my appendix was removed seven years ago is missing.  The tattoo with Jack and Amy’s birth dates is missing from my upper left arm.   

My wedding ring is gone as well.  I examine my left hand closely.  There is no indentation of the ring that had been on my finger only seconds earlier.  There is no tan line which was always there when I removed the ring for cleaning.

I stumble out of the bathroom back into the bedroom.  I am shocked by what I see now and I now feel I have completely lost my mind.

Laying in bed, is my girlfriend from 20 years ago.  Natasha. 

___________________________________________

 Click here for chapter 2.

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12 Comments

  1. I like it! Good start … just keep going with it.

  2. Natasha Gillatt says:

    Jack, terrific concept & outline for the story. And the way you lead from moment to moment is good. It does need to be padded out a bit, particularly conveying the emotions of what the two characters have experienced losing their children. The key that any good writer whether it is a book/play or film is research. I didn’t feel enough of the trauma that each of the characters would have felt. Best to hit people between the eyes & not sanitize any of it. I’ve got 2 books to recommend for research, Rise by Ingrid Poulsen, whose exhusband was like the mad gun man who killed her two kids & her dad, and Spirit Whispers by Charmaine Wilson who lost a child in a car accident but her book is about alot of people losing their kids. I can lend them to you. Or you can chat to me personally (unfortunately my life has had it’s share of trauma). But excellent story, I want to know more, and that’s the key, to hook them in to keep reading. Nice name choice for the old girlfriend, lol.

    • jackmcclane says:

      Thanks Tash! Totally agree with the padding. At this stage I want to write the general outline and then come back and add the padding. I am generally not very descriptive and I think this will be the hardest part of the process for me.

      I know Charmaine. We spoke last year and she is a remarkable woman having gone through the tragedy that she did. I haven’t read her book as yet. I’m not aware of Rise. That poor woman. I always say that no parent should have to bury their children!

      I am reasonably confident of portraying the emotions. Being a father my biggest fear is losing my kids. If I do struggle with it, I will definitely take you up on those books. That being said, if you don’t mind, I would love to have a chat with you re your own experiences. Glad you are smiling now though!

      I know a few Natasha’s and while she doesn’t feature too much more in this book, I did kind of imagine her look being similar to how you look! 🙂

      Thanks for your feedback. I’m glad you like the concept. The feedback is all good and worthy and needed. Last thing I want to do is write a dud!

      1,000 words a day is the target. I’m behind schedule. Back to it.

      🙂

  3. Michelle Messer says:

    Jack this is really GOOD! you can really write my only comment is about researching what happens when you have to go and identify a body. I think they’re in their own separate room and you don’t see other bodies. A very small point but maybe worth checking to give that part credibility. This is absolutely awesome I can’t wait to read the next bit!!

  4. shell says:

    only read chapter one so far. In the beginning your times seem to be out of wack. You said the tragic day one year ago. then you said the police came it was nine months. Later you said your wife had been gone for three months, and the first paragrah you had said she hadn’t been next to you for six months.

    Also around paragrah 3. It should be “used to” not “use to”

    (I am used to doing grammar checks for Caitlyn)

    Good story line. Will come back and read chapter two after, bit tired.

    • jackmcclane says:

      Thanks Shell. You can be my editor!

      The picture of the kids was taken one year ago and that is what is on the bedside table. They did die 9 months earlier when the police arrived.

      You are correct with point 2. I opened with 6 months and then said she has been gone for 3 months. Good pick up. Thanks Shell.

      I am going back all the time and looking at dates etc to be sure I am getting it right. That is the problem with ‘time travel’, you gotta be on it all the time.

      I’m not convinced re the whole use or used to. I think you might be right but it doesn’t read right.

      Don’t be afraid to pick up anymore errors.

      Thanks

  5. […] As many of my readers know, I have been ‘writing’ a book for a while now.  Click here for chapter one for anyone who would like to read […]

  6. […] Insanity – Exc… on Project JB – Chapter… […]

  7. Lynne Baker says:

    Hi Jack. I have finally had a read and I like it. It is interesting and takes you to a place no one ever wants to be in but sadly some are. I did notice the grammatical errors too and a couple of “tense” errors but I am sure they will be ironed out later.

    I think it is a good introduction to the story and I like it when the end of a chapter leaves you hanging so you want to read on. Good strategy.

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