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View Full Version : The Gospel of a Madman (WIP - 4,500 words)



JonEd
December 15th, 2013, 04:46 PM
I didn't read anywhere about a word count limit, so here is the project I am working on. I'm loving writing it so far, and I hope some of you take the time to read it. It would mean a lot - Jon.

Prologue
Jack Roberts was only nineteen when I met him : nineteen and filled with imagination, ideas, and a talent for words. Jack bent words to his will the way a blacksmith bends metal hot from the forge. A talent he has possibly wasted.
He was six feet, two inches tall, with a muscular if otherwise average build and thick light brown hair highlighted by a few blond strands. His deep green eyes moved constantly, never missing the smallest detail.
A slight bump protruded from the bridge of his long, thin nose, and his thin lips could produce a contagious smile. He lit up any room he walked into. Few people disliked Jack.
He had an eager and caring demeanour, always willing to help out, give advice, or lend an ear to a troubled voice. Yet they say the line between greatness and madness is a fine one, and such was the case for the prodigy that was Jack.
Anyway I’ve begun to waffle on. I met Jack back in 2008, and have always had a soft spot in for him in my heart. He rarely leaves my mind, now that I think about it. In the many years of my life, I had never met anyone quite like him. But instead of me telling you how great he is, I’d prefer to show you, for I know Jack’s life story almost better than Jack himself.


The first time I met Jack, he beamed at me with that big, goofy smile of his. I walked out into the waiting room.

“Jack Roberts?” I called.

He was sitting in a chair between an elderly couple, talking their ears off, when he glanced up at me with those large green eyes and a large grin spread across his face. He nonchalantly pushed himself out of his seat; it rubbed and squeaked as he left. The elderly people waved goodbye to him as he walked over towards where I was standing.
He strolled over towards me, neck craning to and fro, eyes darting back and forth, surveying everything in the room. He gave me a quick look up and down before sticking his hand out to shake my own. Rarely does a person beat me in inciting the hand shake, but Jack Roberts did. Instantly I knew this young man was someone different, something else compared to the rest of the sheep in society.

“Hiya!” he said enthusiastically, still smiling largely.

I took his hand into my own, and shook. His grip was strong, but not overpowering. The more time I spent with Jack, the more I came to respect him.

“Hello Mr. Roberts,” I said gesturing down the hallway. He seemed to get uneasy being called Mr. Roberts. “Please head into the room, second on the left.

The hallway was about twenty meters long, with four rooms on each side. The walls were painted a bright white; no traces of dirt could be seen along these walls. It was always quite cool, down the hallway, it had this way about it that always made me shiver, and goosebumps dot my skin.
We reached the door and I opened it, allowing Jack to walk inside before myself.

“Thanks!” he said politely as he entered.

The rooms were similar to the hallway. Stark white, slightly cold and not a spot of dirt to be seen. The room was furnished with only the necessities. A desk of a deep and rich mahogany brown, atop which sat a computer which matched the walls and floors with its bright white. In front of the desk was a large black desk chair, made of comfortable leather.
Pens and pencils were in a cup, next to a stack of empty papers, and a printer for the computer. Next to the desk were two armchairs, with the same sort of plastic as the waiting room chairs. In the opposite corner was a small bed, which stood quite high off the ground.
I sat down in the leather desk chair, and Jack took a seat in the armchair closest to the desk.
I began to ask Jack the normal questions.

“How old are you?”

“19.”

“What are you currently doing?”

“What do you mean?”

“Are you working? Are you studying?”

“I’m a writer. I’ve had a few small works published, and am in the middle of writing something of length for a publisher.”

“I’d love to read some of your work.”

“I’ll bring some in for you next time.”

We continued on like this for about half an hour. I knew all the general information of Jack, but I still knew nothing. To truly understand Jack, you need to hear the story from the start. And this is where I shall begin the story from.





Chapter 1

It was the 15th of June, 1989. It was a grey evening in Melbourne, rain cascaded down from the heavens, and the odd ray of sunshine cut through the thickness of the dark clouds, which hung ominously overhead. Every five minutes or so the sky would light up with a blue fork of lightning, followed by the booming voice of thunder calling after its visual brother.
In a small room, the sounds of a sobbing baby echoed around the emptiness of the room. It was not the usual cries of a baby you’d be accustomed to hearing, they were quiet sobs, almost inaudible. The new born was cradled in its mother’s arms. Its face was pink with splashes of red on the cheeks. The eyes of the infant were gently closed, and his mouth open only slightly, allowing the smallest sob to escape the gap. Occasionally it kicked its legs or clenched its fist.
The doctor entered the room. He wore the usual egg shell white trench coat, with black pants and shiny black shoes. In his hands he held a clipboard. Every so often he scribbled rushed notes down onto the paper attached, glancing up towards the new mother and father over at the rigid hospital bed.

“So Mr and Mrs Roberts, have you thought of a name for the young man?” the doctor asked, still glancing up and down from his clipboard.

The man and woman looked at each other. “Go ahead...” she said with a slight sigh in her voice.

“Jack,” the man said gruffly. “His name will be Jack Roberts.”

With that the doctor scribbled down more notes, the scratching of the pen slightly echoing around the under furnished room.


The first year of Jack’s life went fine. He had been sick only a few times, and had managed to remain healthy through his immunisations. His father had just landed a strong job as the lead architect in the major development of some rather large buildings in the middle of the city.
The Roberts’ were living comfortably, happily, with financial stability and a good home to live in. That is, until about two months after Jack’s first birthday.

The day started off like every other. Jack’s father, Peter Roberts, left for work, kissing his son on the forehead as he left.

“You forgot someone else!” Jack’s mother Louise said as Peter made for the door.

“How could I forget...” he said, slightly sarcastically. Louise did not pick up on the tone. He walked up to Louise and gave her a quick and unloving kiss.

“I’ll see you tonight,” he said as he walked out the door. The sound of a car engine roaring to life emanated from just outside the kitchen window where Louise was peering out from. He glanced over and she gave a quick wave. Peter pretended he didn’t see her and sped off down the road. She sighed as she glanced around at the empty house. It was a small, comfortable house. The kitchen was floored with a greyish blue tile, and overlooked the driveway of the house. The dining room was just to the left of it, only small, and led into the lounge room. Between the kitchen, dining and lounge room, there were no doors. The master bedroom was down the hall from the lounge room, where Peter and Louise slept, and Jack’s bedroom was to be situated at the other end of the house, but for now, he slept in the same room as his parents.

The house was already clean, so Louise decided to head out with Jack to the park. Peter’s job allowed for them to have two cars, she was thankful for this. Taking a baby on public transport isn’t ideal. It took about fifteen minutes to clip Jack into his car seat, he was restless and constantly squirming. Frustration covered Louise’s face, as she finally managed to buckle the restless baby into the child seat.
The park was only a five minute drive away from the house. Once again frustration plagued Louise’s mind, as she now had to unbuckle restless Jack from his safety chair. Jack had taken his first steps about two weeks prior to this day, so Louise sat down on a bench and watched her young son take a few steps and fall back on his bottom. He smiled largely; the odd tooth was visible here and there. The teething process had been fairly easy compared to some horror stories Louise and Peter had heard.
She watched on for about half an hour as Jack giggled and bounced and walked around before deciding it was time to go. After another struggle with placing the baby in his seat, she finally got into the car and began to head home. Whilst she was driving an idea popped into her head.

“Want to go see daddy?” She asked Jack, glancing in the rear view mirror.

Jack’s face lit up, and that smile covered his face once more.


They arrived at the office building where Peter worked. After visiting the building site Louise thought he was at, she was directed here by one of the lead builders. The building was one of the larger skyscrapers in the city, with a lot of windows, which reflected the light blue of the midday sky. Louise cradled little Jack in her arms as they entered the building, through the revolving doors. The large, unnatural building always had an uncomfortable cool breeze blowing through it, shivers went down Louise’s spine, and she clutched Jack closer to her chest.
She made her way to the reception desk.

“Hello Ma’am,” the reception greeted, “how may I help you today?” She said with a large but forced smile.

“I’m looking for Peter Roberts’ office.”

“And what business do you have with Mr. Roberts today?” The reception queried.

“I’m his wife,” Louise said bluntly, with a heavy set of aggravation on her breath.

The reception screwed her face up, and went to answer back, but politely held her tongue.

“Mr. Roberts office is on floor ten,” she began. “I’ll let the receptionist on that level know you’re coming up. She’ll help you from there.” Another forced smile crept onto her face.

Louise made her way to the elevator, as she was walking away from the desk she could hear the receptionist gossiping on the phone. She couldn’t shake the feeling that the receptionist was talking about her, but she decided it best to not make a scene. Jack wriggled around in her arms.

“Don’t worry, we’ll see Daddy soon,” she said as she comforted the restless baby.

The sharp bell rang as the elevator come down to the ground floor. Its chrome doors separated slowly, squeaking slightly. A red faced man in a suit, with a newspaper rolled in his hand, rushed out of the door in a hurry, nearly knocking Louise down. Once again Louise went to say something, and once more she held her tongue.


The elevator ride was long. People flocked in and out between the chrome doors, all rushing and hurrying. Louise impatiently waited as the elevator stopped on each floor, allowing the impatient people to explode out of the door, and the obnoxious ones to flood in.
Finally reaching the tenth floor, Louise hurried out of the elevator, realising it had changed her into one of the odious, intolerant people she had despised during her trip up to the tenth floor.
Inside was furnished nicer than the stark entrance to the building. Wooden chairs sat around the room, varnished wooden boards lined the floor, and the walls were painted an oaky brown. The receptionist sat behind a sepia coloured counter, with a marble counter top. A glass door with white metal edges separated the waiting room from the offices.
Louie wandered over to the reception desk, where a short, squat woman sat. She had auburn hair which reached to her shoulders and her face was chubby and round.

“Can I help you?” She asked with a sweet smile.

This is how a receptionist should act Louise thought.

“I’m looking for my husband’s office-” Louise began

“Name?” The receptionist rudely interjected.

Louise paused for a moment, regretting her previous opinion of the receptionist.

“Ma’am, what’s his name?” She asked once more, the impatient words fell to the ground heavily.

“Peter Roberts...” Louise muttered softly.

She began typing fervently, the buttons of the keyboard jamming echoed around the small waiting room.

“Roberts, Roberts, ah here he is. If you go through the glass door, turn right, and it’s the first room on the left. Have a good day.” She said again smiling. Louise eyed her carefully as the receptionist opened the glass door, and motioned for her to walk through. Her body jiggled as she bounced back towards her chair and desk when Louise left the waiting room.
The offices and the hallway were more like the entrance to the building, and nothing like the waiting room that preceded them. The walls were plain white, lined with the occasional paining of a tropical island or the ocean at sunset. All the doors were thick oak wood, and each had the name of the occupant on a metal plate in the centre of the door.
Louise placed her hand on the cool door knob, and stopped and pressed her ear against the door. A moan escaped from within the office, whether of pain or pleasure, Louise could not decipher. Shocked, her mind ran wild.

Could Peter really be cheating on me? She thought, clutching Jack tighter to her chest, bumping him up into a more comfortable position for the both of them. On us?

She took a long, deep breath in, her teeth whistling lightly, and twisted the knob, entering the room quickly.


Louise slid through the door silently and carefully. Another groan emanated from behind the mahogany desk, on the opposite side of the room to the door. Louise placed a gentle kiss on Jack’s head, wishing and praying to all the Gods that Peter was not doing what she dreaded. The sound of her shoes clicked and clacked on the hard concrete ground as she made her way toward the desk. Peter’s head popped up quickly from behind the desk, his eyes of dark sapphire glistened deeply in the sunlight protruding through the office window, his thin blonde hair shook softly as shock and surprise filled his face.

“Louise, what are you doing here?” He said, his face growing red and flustered.

“We came to see you,” Louise started, smiling. Her smile soon faded. “What are you doing behind the desk?”

She started walking around the thick wooden desk. Peter was crouched slightly underneath the desk, in the gap where legs were meant to go. He shifted uncomfortably, fidgeting with his fingers. An awkward silence entered the room. Louise did not take her eyes off Peter. He kept his eyes down to the ground.

“Peter?” She queried after some time.

“Yes?” He retorted sharply, acting as though everything was normal. His cheeks began to redden further.

Louise glared at him, eyes wide with confusion and a rising anger. Peter looked up from his shoes, watching the sunlight dance in the onyx of her eyes, as he sighed with a bitter and heavy breath, a small wisp of steamy vapour escaped his mouth in the cool of the concrete room.

“I fell from my chair...” He started, mild embarrassment filled his words. “My leg seized and now I can’t stand.” His hand lay gingerly on his upper right leg.

Louise put her free hand out to help him out, when a loud and dull thud escaped from the storage closet situated on the right hand side of the room. Peter gulped deeply as Louise shot him a glare. Jack stirred in her arms, and she walked silently over towards the closet, her feet whispering with the floor as she crept. The free hand she had offered to help her husband up with shook violently, as it reached out for the door knob to reveal what lurked within the closet.

“Don’t...” Peter started, his words catching in his throat. “You don’t want to open that Louise.”

She paused, hand hovering over the door. Silent tears dripped down her cheeks, and her head dropped. Jack had fallen silent and still. She turned and faced Peter. The eyes he had once loved stared deeply at him, sparkling through pain soaked tears. Her soft lips quivered and her face had grown sullen. Peter stood up, breathless and teary, he tried to talk but words could not escape his mouth.

“Louise I’m –”

“Stop. Don’t speak,” she coughed through her tears. “Your words mean nothing. Don’t speak.”

“But -” He began.

“Quiet!” She interrupted, as she turned and grasped the door knob.

“Louise, don’t!” Peter started. “You don’t want to-”

Louise flung the door open and stood back in shock. She placed a hand over Jack’s eyes instinctively. Peter’s hands dropped to his sides, as Louise turned slowly, staring at him with a wild confusion.
Inside stood a man, naked as the day he had entered this world. With jet black hair and piercing blue eyes, he stared back at the once happy couple, smiling awkwardly. A fairly muscular man, with strong abs and a fit body, his hands covered his manhood.
Louise didn’t say a word. She turned and walked out the door, with tears of confusion soaked with pain streaming down her red cheeks, she sobbed silently. On her way through the building to her car, she received odd looks and curious glances from those impatient people she had passed earlier. The image of the man in the closet burned deeply in her mind.
Jack stirred in her arms, unaware as to what had happened, and how much of an impact it would have on his life from here on out.







Chapter 2

Jack walked down a rather large jetty, the waves crashed and splashed along the pylons, spraying a salty white mist into the cool evening air. The moon was out in full, its light winked on the stirring water. The sun had nearly dropped below the horizon, a few stubborn rays still shone through the clouds gathering in the distance.
Jack stood at the edge of the pier; arms spread wide open, accepting each drop of salty ocean water against his body. His shorts were soaked, and his naked chest and stomach were dripping, as he breathed in the fresh sea air.
A seagull cawed, battling the ever growing winds, and the waves began to grow with power and force. The oceans wrath began to shake the jetty, each wave more powerful than the last. The sea turned to an ugly wash of choppy lumps, ricocheting and bouncing off one another.
A young girl walked towards Jack, who still stood at the end of the shaking wooden jetty, arms spread accepting the embrace of the swirling winds. She had flowing blonde hair, blowing behind her in the strength of the wind. Her hips swayed side to side as she walked, her long, golden-brown legs shone in the fading light of the setting sun.

‘Jack,’ she called to him.

He turned and met her gaze, his green eyes glowing, his big smile spread wide across his face. She ran the last few steps and fell into his embrace, her head resting tenderly against his chest. They held each other for some time, before she lifted her head and met his gaze. Her light blue eyes filled with tears, as she leaned in and pressed her red velvet lips onto his. Her tears fell down her cheek and dripped onto Jack’s as he returned the kiss. As their lips parted he breathed in her scent, and looked down at her, as she shivered in the growing cold of oceans spray and the swirling winds.


Jack was ripped from his dreams by the sound of his mother’s calls echoing up the staircase. He groaned as he rolled over, clutching at the alarm clock, peering at the glowing red numbers.

‘Jack!’ Louise screamed. ‘Wake up!’

‘It’s only seven,’ he called back to her. ‘School doesn’t start for another hour and a half.’ He rolled over and closed his eyes, trying to recover the dream which his mother had rudely interrupted.

The sound of booming footsteps up the wooden stairs, made Jack stir from his state of half sleep. Large knocks of fist on wood made him jerk up in his bed, followed by the nags of his single mother.

‘Jack, when I say wake up, I mean wake up!’ She started.

Here we go, Jack thought, as though he knew what was coming next.

‘I’m not asking you, I’m telling you,’ his mother yelled through the thick oak of his bedroom door.

And there it is.

‘And why is this bedroom door locked? Do you not trust your mother? Do you have someone in there? If you have a girl over Jack, so help me God I will kick this bloody door down,’ she threatened.

Jack flicked off his covers, knowing too well that his mother was capable of such feats.

‘I’m up, I’m up. Jesus, you’ll wake half the neighbourhood the way you’re going,’ Jack replied, picking up some underwear off of his floor, and pulling them up to his waist. He knew she was still waiting outside his door. Frustration built up inside him.

‘Why are you still at my door?’ He yelled at her out of annoyance. He kicked himself as he realised what he had just done. Lecture number one of the day, starts now, at ten past seven on a Monday morning.

‘I am your mother, you do not speak to me in this way –’ Jack ignored the rest as he plugged his ears with some cotton buds he found lying on his bedside table.

He pulled them out after a minute or so, to hear the last few words of her lecture.

‘... live with your father,’ she had said.

Jack paused, went to reply, but the words caught in his throat. He tried to breath, but even air was struggling to creep down his closing throat. He swallowed hard, and the asphyxiating lack of breath stopped. Before he could say anything, the echoes of his mother’s heavy steps on the wooden stairs bounced through his head, and he stood in his room silent, half naked, with a tear sliding slowly down his red cheek.
Jack had not seen his father in some time. The last time had ended badly.
He sat back down on his bed; his hand brushed his cheek and wiped away the tear from his face. Silence crept into his bedroom. A maddening silence, where thoughts would run wild and the mind dramatised everything tenfold. His upper lip quivered and he inhaled deeply, blinking away the tears that glazed his eyes.


Jack meandered down the wooden staircase, the occasional squeak escaped the stairs as though they felt pain. The scent of freshly toasted bread filled the house, and Jack's stomach rumbled loudly. He clutched at his gut and hurried down the stairs to face his mother.
Jack entered the kitchen, and his mother, Louise, had her back to him. Her once ravishing beauty had begun to fall away with age. The blonde hair of her youth was now a dyed brown, though strands of grey had sprouted through the shoulder length hair. Her petite body was now pudgy, and the skin was sagging, where it once was toned and firm.
She turned towards Jack. Her eyes swimming in tears, which dripped down her cheeks, leaving small pink trails from her eyes to her jaw. The deep blue eyes still retained much of her youth, though around them were aged signs; crow's feet at the corner of her eyes, deep wrinkled lines on her forehead, from years of worrying, and the sunken bags below her eyes hung low.
Her lips of crimson red quivered, inaudible words escaped her throat with barely a squeak.

'Did you mean it?' Jack said with a shake in his voice.

Louise cast her eyes downward towards her feet, and her head sunk low. She kicked her feet around awkwardly, like a little girl who'd just been told off by her parents. Her arms hung beside her body, weakly.

'I-' she went to speak, but the sounds of the toaster finishing it's work interrupted her. 'Toasts ready.'

She turned her back to Jack once more, and began to butter the toast. The scraping sounds sent shivers down Jack's body, and the burnt smell of bread now lingered in the air.

'Mum?' Jack asked.

Louise kept buttering the toast.

'Mum.' Jack said.

Louise exhaled deeply, reaching into the pan to gather more for the breakfast.

'Louise!' Jack yelled angrily.

'What?' Louise snapped back at Jack. The tears had gone, and now her face, red with fury, stared at Jack.

Taken aback, Jack reached for his schoolbag, and tossed it over one shoulder. He paced out of the room in a mixture of sadness and anger, opening the front door and slamming it hard behind him.
Louise stood in the kitchen, holding the plate of freshly made toast, bacon and eggs, a glass of orange juice in the other hand. Both plate and glass slipped from her grasp, and smashed on the floor, a mixture of orange, white, pink and brown, as egg yolk and bacon grease mixed with the orange juice in an oily fluid.
She let a cry of pain out, as she kneeled down, her legs unable to bear her weight. The tears cascaded down her face and joined the mixture at her knees.
Jack peered in from the window at his mother, her slouched body heaving with every deep breath, heaving with every tear. He blinked away the tears from his eyes, and started his walk towards the bus station.

pheonix
December 20th, 2013, 12:35 AM
I liked the characters a lot, and I thought that the story seems very interesting so far, and draws the reader in quite early. I have only a few comments: First, the beginning paragraph is basically telling us a lot of information about the character early on. Instead of telling us all of that, my suggestion is to embed those details a little bit later on in the story. Instead of telling us that Jack is well liked, let the reader see people responding well to him. Instead of telling us about his personality, show us little things he says and does that reveal those things about him. This goes throughout the story as well; my advice would be to scan the story and whenever there's a sentence or phrase telling the reader how a character is feeling or thinking, delete it and show the reader how the character feels. For example, if Jack is angry and betrayed, show his face turning red, his gaze avoiding his mother's, and the door slamming behind him. It's more interesting and will stand out more to the reader than if you simply said "Jack is angry and betrayed."

JonEd
December 20th, 2013, 02:04 AM
I liked the characters a lot, and I thought that the story seems very interesting so far, and draws the reader in quite early. I have only a few comments: First, the beginning paragraph is basically telling us a lot of information about the character early on. Instead of telling us all of that, my suggestion is to embed those details a little bit later on in the story. Instead of telling us that Jack is well liked, let the reader see people responding well to him. Instead of telling us about his personality, show us little things he says and does that reveal those things about him. This goes throughout the story as well; my advice would be to scan the story and whenever there's a sentence or phrase telling the reader how a character is feeling or thinking, delete it and show the reader how the character feels. For example, if Jack is angry and betrayed, show his face turning red, his gaze avoiding his mother's, and the door slamming behind him. It's more interesting and will stand out more to the reader than if you simply said "Jack is angry and betrayed."

I get what you're saying about the showing and telling, I'll definitely look into that and try and change some sentences. Thanks for the comment :)

ToBeInspired
December 20th, 2013, 10:40 PM
It starts off pretty well and I have to admit that I'm curious as to the title. I would continue reading this. Let's see what else to say.

The prologue leads us to put interest in Jack. You automatically centralize focus on him as the main character. You also put attention on the psychiatrist(?) to be more of a narrative role. Your last two sentences, of the prologue, suggest this strongly. However your chapters consist of third person, dismissing him. I'm curious as to how you'll address this in later chapters when the narrator is introduced. Will you continue to use the third person, as you did in your chapters, or repeat the prologue?

I'll leave it at that since I have to work in five minutes and I have food left to devour. I liked it though and the title is interesting. Curious as to where you go with this.

JonEd
December 28th, 2013, 04:16 AM
Thanks for the comment. Yeah, I will be going back to the narrator. If you have read the book thief, I'm going for that kind of narrator, and if I can pull it off, I think it will work extremely well.

Badhorses Mare
January 3rd, 2014, 06:30 PM
Your character development is very good. I could clearly see them, feel them. I can't wait to read more.

JonEd
January 4th, 2014, 03:29 PM
Thanks for the comment :)