Well, here it is. The 1st chapter of my 1st novel. I know. Big deal right? Can you feel that increasing thump of your heart beat? Yeah. I did that.
If you haven’t read the prologue yet, I highly suggest you do so. Go on. I’ll wait. No you won’t. Sssh… don’t tell them.
Alright. Read it? Good. Now close your eyes… Dude, they can’t read this if they close their eyes. Shit. Never mind. Just get ready to be put into a world that’s going to be unlike anything you’ve read yet. I think you’ll enjoy it. This isn’t for me. It’s for you: The reader. I hope it pulls you. I hope it haunts you. I hope you beg for more and more chapters and itch to know what happens next. Enjoy.
“A man who has known nothing but four walls, a bed, and unimaginable amounts of pain for as long as he has, has no choice but to reshape the landscape of everything he touches once he has tasted the sweet flavor of freedom again.”
The last entry in the journal of Avery Washington, Investigative Journalist.
Cargo hold of New Ducky,
1937 hours, Feb. 22, 2324 Central Earth Time
It’s not the flashing security light that bothers me. Even with the pulsing red in an endless tug-of-war with the black of darkness that hasn’t let my eyes focus in hours, that’s not what bothers me. Jackson’s thoughts were the only thing keeping him company, and he couldn’t seem to shut them off. This was nothing new though. He’d spent the last seven years alone for the most part, unless you count the guards. I definitely don’t count the guards.
He floated a few meters off the floor, looking down at the aluminum and steel crates, arms folded behind his head like he were lounging in a chair on a sunny day at the beach. Only he had never been to a beach. There aren’t that many beaches in space. That doesn’t bother me, either.
He raised his trembling hand up to look at the crust on his knuckles—his well-earned reward for punching a few deserving faces. A lot.
Sweat pooled around his bloodshot eyes, unable to fall free in the zero gravity. He wiped them dry, but they burned anyway.
He shifted his focus from the blackish red scabs to six pink lines: scars stretching from his palm where they formed an intersecting triangle—almost like the old Celtic knots he’d seen as a kid—and up his right forearm. He remembered the days when they were a lot longer and scratched the raw flesh with his free hand.
Jackson let his hand drift to Darla, his energy pistol, and also the source of his scars. His pain. His addiction. She was his protection, and his drug.
She was beautiful. Her outer surface was deceptive in that it looked brand new, flawless. The marble-like swirls of silver and gold that rolled on the surface of the slide looked like cracks in a black window trying to hold back a supernova. Her frame was silver normally, but it would glow a bright gold when fired, and for a short while after. The ivory white grip was a perfect fit in his rough hands, but it’d been years since he’d fired the gun on his own accord.
I’ve gotten used to the smell too.
The stagnant air in cargo hold was filled with so much dust and rust that he could taste the rivets used to hold it together decades ago. His shirt—old earth cotton that he had lifted off a dead guard—pulled over his face did little to keep him from choking on the metallic must. His throat itched with iron flavored phlegm. But still, that’s not what bothers me.
What has really been getting under my skin is that God-awful PING. It’s not too loud, but each ear-bleeding echo that rings through my bones makes me hate every inch of steel that lies between me and the peaceful vacuum of space.
Could he really prefer to be in the cold emptiness of space?
You’re damn right I could.
“Get me out of here!” His voice bounced and faded through the hold without so much as an acknowledgment that the words had ever existed. He pushed himself off the wall, started his motionless breaststroke to the other side of the compartment, and waited. There was no response. Not that I expected one.
He had reminded himself that at least in here, he had room to move around, a far cry from the twelve by twelve cube he’d been confined to. But I’m free now, and I’m never going back. I’ll die first. Jackson looked around for the hundredth time and took in his surroundings. Anything was better than where he’d been.
It was a cargo ship, the New Ducky. The originality of the name had already lost its brilliance to Jackson. A Titan-class, large, but nothing special. Perfect for a space truck crew though. And for anyone trying to catch a free ride. It wasn’t the newest of birds in space, but that was the point. Jackson picked one old enough to look familiar.
The skeleton crew that manned it, taking goods from one planet or colony to the next, probably didn’t even know he was back here. Stuck. And who knows how long I’ll be here before they find out? I mean it’s been two days of this fucking alarm!
Lucky for him, Earth was a short trip from Ares Station. Three days at most. Maybe he’d put enough distance behind him that he could go unnoticed for a while. Long enough to get some answers, he thought.
Seven years on the moon was bad enough. Seven years being forced through addiction and withdraws repeatedly without end was unbearable. When they first took the gun from him, it almost killed him. It slowly got easier though. They weened him off—waited until the scaring had almost completely retracted into his palm—but then that’s when the experiments started.
It wasn’t all for naught though. I learned to sense her.
They would hide her, force him to tell them where the gun was. Then they’d force him to use it, killing subject after subject—the unlucky bastards deemed expendable—until all he wanted to do was kill and the scars were wrapped around his neck and torso. Then they’d take her from me again. They would see how far away they could take the pistol before his heart flat lined, then they’d revive him, and ween him off again.
Seven years. Seven fucking years. He grabbed Darla, pointed the gun nowhere in particular and shot. A crate of fruit exploded with an orange glow and a mist of melon juice and produce guts clouded the air around him. Jackson instantly regretted letting his memories get the better of him.
He thought about the escape. As much as he wanted to feel like he was some great mastermind and had been planning this jailbreak for months, he wasn’t. I was actually on the verge of giving up. Almost. He ran through everything in his head for the umpteenth time. No. Someone helped me escape.
Seven dead guards, two stolen speed-crafts, and one unconscious witness later, and Jackson found himself at Ares station, the closest major colony. From there it was easy to get onboard the Ducky. And even easier to get into the cargo hold. Security for commercial space crews was decent at best, but for private truck crews like this one, it was almost nonexistent. Unless you count the alarm that tripped when he opened a crate of food. Or this ship is just an old piece of junk. Still, I shouldn’t have been so careless.
Since then he’d eaten two mars-melons, tried to make out the writing on most of the crates, and relieved himself into a box of straw. Luckily for him, the rust in his nose overpowered the smell of piss and rotting fruit in the air.
God, if you do exist, flush me out of an airlock right now.
Well? Are your eyes bleeding? Can you sit still? Are you hooked? Tell me all: The good, the bad, and the fugly. Leave a comment if its your heart’s desire. Share this with your geeky cousin and your crush’s boyfriend. I’ll be waiting with my ear to the floor like the great Apache warrior, Bethoven. Until then, have a nice day 🙂