A second life. Chapter 1


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  1. #1

    A second life. Chapter 1

    My first effort at a Novella. The following is the first chapter, about 1700 words. I have approximately 15,000 words so far so I can post further chapters later. Thanks, Buchan


    The man was dying, he was in fact experiencing a massive heart attack. This was something of a surprise to him, as he was actually in excellent physical condition, and only 52 years of age. Unbeknownst to the man he had a rare genetic condition that had caused the inner lining of his main aorta to peel back, microscopic at first but steadily growing larger until it trapped enough low density lipid material that the blood flow was stopped. Some poor luck had contributed as well, a small blood clot had formed in the area, normally this would have passed through perhaps causing some minor chest pains and then broken up, but not this time. This time it blocked enough of the oxygenated blood from reaching his heart that ultimately the muscle stopped working and the process of dying began.


    Alexander Ryder was the dying man’s name, retired Police Officer, single, parents deceased, one brother living a few hours drive away. Alex, as he was known to most people, had become something of a recluse since retiring from his position as a Major Crimes Detective with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. He lived with his dog, Odin, a 5 year old German Shepherd, in a comfortable cabin on Vancouver Island, Nanoose Bay to be exact. Most of his time in the 2 years since he’d left policing had been spent hiking the local trails, fishing, and generally exploring the island in his old Tacoma Pickup, camping here and there as the mood took him. Beyond these simple pleasures Alex was a voracious reader, and something of a collector of old books.

    Having never been married Alex had lived an almost monastic existence. He had been an extremely dedicated police officer willing to drive or fly at a moments notice to remote parts of whatever Canadian province he was currently stationed in. Investigating the crimes that met the standard of seriousness required to call in a Major Crimes Detective. For the last 10 years of Alex’s career these crimes had been exclusively homicides. And, as he gained in reputation for solving and successfully prosecuting anything he was assigned, these cases became increasingly more challenging.

    The only things of any significance that Alex owned were the cabin, which he now called home, and the pickup truck that he’d purchased brand new ten years ago. During his working life he’d been posted all over the country. Subsequently, he had always rented an apartment close to the detachment. He’d always planned to retire and live full-time in his cabin overlooking the quiet bay on the east side of Vancouver Island.

    Alex’s father had been an Anglican priest, and had it not been for Alex’s slightly more adventurous nature he probably would have followed in that vocation. A sense of adventure combined with a strong tendency towards defending the weak had made policing a natural choice. And, truly the career had fit him like a glove. But after experiencing some 25 years of human misery and corruption he had finally started to grow sick of the job. Towards the end of his career he’d found himself just wanting to be in his cabin with his dog, away from people. So, after much soul-searching, he’d retired.

    During his life Alex had taken his physical fitness seriously, staying in shape by running and cycling regularly, and at the cabin he had a small weight set and a heavy bag set up in an outbuilding on his property. At 5’ 10” and 175lbs he was lean and fit and had no need to be concerned about his health; that is until his heart stopped.

    The shaft of light penetrated Alex's eyelids and shocked him into wakefulness. He lay where he was moving only his eyes to explore his surroundings. There was no explanation for the almost painfully bright light that had brought him to consciousness. He slowly moved his head, then raised his upper body to better take in his surroundings. He was in his bedroom. It was sparsely furnished with a desk, a wardrobe and a bed, all made from the same heavy dark wood, his curtains were drawn against what was apparently daylight outside. He had absolutely no idea how long he’d been asleep.

    Alex grabbed his watch from the bedside table, nine a.m., o.k. not so bad he’d only slept in by a couple of hours. Moving carefully Alex climbed out of bed and stood in the center of the room. He felt strange, slightly detached from his surroundings, somewhat detached from himself he thought, almost as if he was experiencing dejavu. He moved slowly around the room, and as he did he touched the wood of his wardrobe, his desk, his bed.
    How very odd this feeling was, he thought, almost a sadness, a melancholy, something akin to a feeling of great loss. Then the feeling started to dissipate, and soon it was gone or almost gone, there was a residue of something there that he couldn’t quite describe but it had an odd familiarity to it. Alex moved to the window and opened the curtains. He looked out at the slightly overcast morning and enjoyed, with what felt like a whole new appreciation, the view of the ocean.

    He dressed in jeans, a t-shirt, a dark blue wool sweater, and laced up his favorite sturdy brown leather boots. Turning to his desk he grabbed his wallet, and keys. All very familiar movements, comforting in their own way, yet still something out at the edges of his mind was bothering him.

    Making his way through the cabin, he took in the polished wood floors, the sparse furnishings, the stone fireplace, the simple kitchen. I just need a bite to eat and a coffee and I’ll be fine he thought to himself.

    Alex turned and entered the small kitchen, grabbed a glass and filled it from the tap at the sink, he gulped the water draining the glass.
    He was about to set about making some coffee and breakfast when it struck him. “Oh shit, Odin”, he said out loud. Where the hell was his dog, had he left the poor animal outside all night.
    Two quick strides and he reached the back door, fumbling with the latch in his haste to get it open. The door opened and a large black German Shepherd dog stood there regarding him calmly through brown intelligent eyes. “Thank God, said Alex, “what the hell was I thinking leaving you outside all night”. The dog walked calmly into the kitchen turned and gave a small movement of it’s tail, not really a wag but still an indication that he, at least, was quite unconcerned at being abandoned for the night. Alex dropped down on one knee so he was at eye level with the dog. As he ran his hand over the dog’s broad head and strong shoulders he felt himself getting a little emotional, what the hell was wrong with him this morning.

    Breakfast was sausages, eggs, toast and coffee, after which he loaded Odin into the truck and headed out for a drive. He had the goal in mind of finding a new hiking trail to explore. He’d seen the area he wanted to visit on an old map he bought at his favorite used book store. He he did his best thinking while walking, and it was definitely time for some serious introspection. He couldn’t seem to remember going to bed last night, he had no idea why he hadn’t let Odin in before going to sleep, and he was mildly embarrassed by the sentimental feelings he’d been experiencing all morning.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Buchan View Post
    My first effort at a Novella. The following is the first chapter, about 1700 words. I have approximately 15,000 words so far so I can post further chapters later. Thanks, Buchan


    The man was dying, he was in fact experiencing a massive heart attack. This was something of a surprise to him, as he was actually in excellent physical condition, and only 52 years of age. Unbeknownst to the man he had a rare genetic condition that had caused the inner lining of his main aorta to peel back, microscopic at first but steadily growing larger until it trapped enough low density lipid material that the blood flow was stopped. Some poor luck had contributed as well, a small blood clot had formed in the area, normally this would have passed through perhaps causing some minor chest pains and then broken up, but not this time. This time it blocked enough of the oxygenated blood from reaching his heart that ultimately the muscle stopped working and the process of dying began.

    I'm just going to take a sample if that's alright. Then you can apply to the rest what I say here. Kill 'was', kill 'had', kill 'that' because they kill rhythm. The trouble I'm having here in offering alternatives is the fact you've structured the style in a way 'that' relies on those killer words. Also consider 'ing' words and overuse of 'but', as well as dead words such as 'maybe', 'almost', 'as if', 'really', 'very', 'began' etc. You can find lists of words to avoid online.

    I'll rewrite as best I can without changing your style but that's going to be difficult. These ARE fundamental things though and need dealing with immediately:

    The man experienced a massive heart attack and lay there dying. It came as something of a surprise because of his excellent physical condition and relatively young age of 52. Unbeknownst to the man he suffered from a rare genetic condition, causing the inner lining of his main aorta to peel back, microscopic at first but growing larger steadily until it trapped enough low density lipid material the blood flow stopped. Poor luck contributed and a small blood clot formed in the area. Normally it would pass through causing some minor chest pains and then break up, but not this time. This time it blocked enough of the oxygenated blood from reaching his heart and ultimately the muscle stopped working, and dying began.
    There's some nice flavour in this stuff but you've overburdened it with those killer words. If you try to avoid all of them, you'll start changing your style automatically to compensate. I know it's not what you want to hear having written so much but it is what you need to hear. Some good stuff here though, man.
    Last edited by TheMightyAz; February 11th, 2021 at 10:15 PM.
    Craft / Draft / Graft And Write To Entertain Yourself And The reader.

  3. #3
    Much appreciated. Thanks for taking the time and effort. I'll start making some of those changes and see how it feels.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Buchan View Post
    Much appreciated. Thanks for taking the time and effort. I'll start making some of those changes and see how it feels.
    I'd recommend getting your comment count up to 10. You'll then be able to post in the 'workshop' area which is for members only.
    Craft / Draft / Graft And Write To Entertain Yourself And The reader.

  5. #5
    Sounds good.

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