This is the beginning of something that I hope will turn into a book someday...
|This is just the beginning of what I hope will turn into a book at some point. Please tell me your honest opinion. Thanks!
Cold. A strange kind of chill. That’s what he felt, but he had no idea why. Why. Yes, why was a good question to try and find the answer to right now. It was so hard to concentrate, though, so hard to think. The fog inside his brain was thick and it didn’t seem to be going anywhere fast. He was confused and the harder he tried to think, the further away the thoughts seemed to go. A headache was throbbing in the back of his head with colossal strength and it was quickly traveling to the back of his eyes. Just what he needed right now. A migraine. He tried to open his eyes, but it felt as though they were cemented together. The harder he tried to open them, the heavier they seemed and the worse the throbbing got.
Instead of trying to open his eyes right away, he decided to focus on using his other senses. His hands had that cold tingling feeling, which told him they were just getting their circulation back. That was a good sign he guessed. He flexed his fingers until all the blood had rushed back into them. He then used his right hand to try and feel the area around him because that was the hand he found he had the most feeling in. He moved it a little to the left and found that he was touching his head. That must mean he was laying down on the ground somewhere. That probably accounted for the cold he was feeling. He slowly started inspecting his head with his hand. As he got to the back part of his head, he felt something terribly wet. A few thoughts them crowded his tired mind. Weighing the factors that he had put together so far, he then knew that he did not have a migraine; he had a head wound because what he was feeling was blood. From the confusion and throbbing pain to the blood he just found, he knew there was no other explanation. What he was dealing with was not clear and how he had ended up with a severe head wound was another mystery, as well.
As he carefully started to move each individual appendage, he found out that they were all excruciatingly sore and, upon further inspection, with the same hand that had found the blood on his head, he found numerous other bruised and scratched areas. His head seemed to be bleeding the most but he presumed that was normal. There was also something wrong with his mouth. It had a horrible taste to it, but it was not the taste you get when you simply have bad breath. No, it tasted like metal. Moving his tongue around, he realized he must have bitten his cheek at some point and it had started to bleed. He must have bitten it hard, too, because he felt where there was a chunk of skin missing from the side of his mouth. As he took a moment to regroup, he realized that the majority of his pain was coming from his leg.
Slowly, he started to push himself up onto his elbows so he could examine his leg further. What seemed like a nauseatingly long time passed before the world stopped spinning. Very slowly, he worked on opening his eyes. Little by little, he was able to open them and focus on what was in front of him. It was another moment before the urge to vomit subsided at the sheer energy it took to be sitting up. As his eyes adjusted to the dim lighting, he looked at his aching leg. He was speechless at what he saw. Right there on his own body, on his own leg was a bloody hole where what he realized was a bullet hole sat staring at him. He had been shot in the thigh right above his knee and it was searing with white-hot pain and there was blood all over him. The lighting was too dim to be able to tell whether or not the blood was fresh or not, but he assumed that a gunshot wound did not stop bleeding very quickly.
Questions flashed through his mind at lightning speed, A gunshot wound? Was that even possible? How long had he been lying here bleeding? Was there anyone else around? Had it been an accident? There were so many things he wanted to know, but he could never seem to hold onto a question in his mind long enough to try and think of an answer to it.
He finally realized what the chill was truly from. It was from cold hard fear. He had no idea where he was or why, but he knew something was terribly wrong and he should unquestionably be afraid. No problem there, he was terrified. Fear would not help him, though. He was a man that was not afraid to show his emotions as long as he was still in control of them. Right now, however, he was very close to losing control. But he had never been one to give up and he was not going to start now. All he had to do was keep his wits about him and figure out what he could be doing to help himself.
He tried to force himself to push the haze out of his mind so he could concentrate. Concentrate on where he was. Concentrate on how he had gotten shot. More importantly, though, concentrate on what needed to be done. He obviously knew he was not in a hospital because he was lying on the ground and did he smell antiseptic in the air. What he did smell was something copper-like. At first he could not imagine what it could be, but as his mind became clearer, he realized what it was. It was the scent of his own blood that was spread all around him from his head, leg, and every other wound he had.
He slowly started to turn his head so that he could look around the room for something that could help him stand. He needed a chair or some sort of leverage to help him get to his feet. If he could only do that, he might be able to find something to tie around the bullet wound to stop the bleeding. He started to shift his body in order to get a better view of the room as a whole.
He never had a chance to regret the action.
* * *
“I have a meeting with a client tomorrow until six, so can we make it seven?”
“ Whatever you want, sweetie. I’m just happy you’ve finally found time in your busy schedule to come and see your father and me.”
“Sure, Mom, not a problem. I’ll see you tomorrow. Okay?”
“All right, honey. I love you.”
“I love you, too, Mom. Bye.” She cradled the receiver as soon as she heard her mother hang the phone up on the other end. Elizabeth Graham, Liz to everyone except her mother, had been severely lacking in free time ever since she started her travel agency last year. It was one of the greatest things she had ever done in her life, but also one of the hardest. It had taken her almost two years to simply plan everything before she ever took the first step to start the business now known as Start Packing.
Her mother had been worried about her ever since. Always telling her that she never gave herself enough time to relax and enjoy life while she was young. Well, at least going home for dinner tomorrow would persuade her that she could lay off for awhile because Liz was starting to get some extra time. Not much, but some.
Meanwhile, she had some more work to do before she could go home for today. Technically, the office was closed because it was already eight o’clock, but that did not mean that she was ready to leave yet. The demands of a boss never ceased to exist. That was first thing that Liz had come to learn in the short time that she had owned a business.
Liz heard a knock on her door and answered for them to come in. “Sorry to disturb you Miss Graham, but I just wanted to let you know that I was heading out for the night.”
“Not a problem, Amber. Thanks for letting me know. Have a good night and say hello to Matt for me.”
“I will, thanks. Good night.” She quietly closed the door behind her and Liz heard her gather he things and the clicking of her shoes as she walked down the hallway and out of the building. Amber Lane. She had been Liz’s secretary from the beginning of the business. She was a blessing wrapped up in a crisp business suit. Normal business hours ended at five o’clock, but Amber stayed almost every night until at least seven. After work, she would go home to her husband, Matt. Liz envied her for that, whenever it was that she finally left the office, she came home to nothing but the humming of the appliances. It was more than a little depressing.
As she was walking behind her desk to sit down and finish the plans for her client’s vacation that was coming tomorrow, she had a strange feeling in her stomach. She couldn’t place what it was at first because it could have been nausea, or pain, or so many other things, but then she realized what it was. It was the feeling of butterflies in her stomach. It was odd because the only time in her life she had ever gotten butterflies in her stomach was either when she was going on a date or when she got an intuition that she was about to find out something awful.
The fact that she hadn’t been on a date in over two months was something that was not very reassuring because that left option number two.
* * *
Liz woke the next morning when her alarm rang at six thirty. She had not gotten home until eleven thirty last night and had gone to be even later than that. After a little self-persuading, she forced herself to get out from under the wonderfully warm covers and padded into the bathroom. She followed her morning routine, which started with a nice warm shower. It felt wonderful and it was definitely one of the only things that could help her wake up in the mornings, besides her coffee.
When she got out of the shower, she went to the kitchen and poured herself a cup of coffee so she could start getting her caffeine fix for the day. She was most definitely a fan of the automatic coffee makers, otherwise it would never be ready when she needed it most.
Liz walked back into her bedroom and started to get herself ready. As she was brushing her hair, she suddenly remembered the feeling she had gotten last night in her office. It made her nervous and uneasy all over again.
Sipping her coffee, she thought back to the last time she had gotten that feeling. It had been last year, in November. She had been in a meeting with a client at the time that the call had come in. She had immediately known something was wrong when Amber had knocked on her office door. Amber never interrupted a meeting with a client unless it was an emergency. This had been absolutely been an emergency. Amber had told Liz that her brother, Jake, was on the phone and he sounded positively petrified.
Thankfully, the client Liz had been with at the time was an old friend and that had allowed Liz to immediately excuse herself after an apology. He had told Liz that it was not a problem and they would simply call later to reschedule their appointment.
When she answered the phone, Jake told her that something had gone wrong with Michelle in the delivery room. The twins were fine, but something was wrong with Michelle, she was not breathing. When Liz had asked for more details, Jake had started to unravel. He could barely even get the words out; he had been falling apart.
“She’s just—Liz, she’s not breathing. I don’t know what I’m going to do if I lose her. We have three kids now and I just love her so much and—” Liz cut him off at that point and tried to utter a few reassuring words, but she’d really had no idea what to say. As she had stood there in her office talking to him on the phone, she could hear the pain and worry in his voice and she had never felt so afraid for her family in her life.
She asked what he had done with Jonathan, their son, and he had told her that they had dropped him off at Michelle’s parent’s house before they went to the hospital.
“Jake, I’m going to hang up for a minute, but I’ll call you right back on my cell phone so I can talk to you while I drive over there, okay?”
“Lizzie, she’s not breathing.” Liz remembered that when he had used her nickname from when she was a child, it had just about ripped her heart out. The only time he had ever used that when they were kids was when he was trying to comfort her. It had been her turn then to return the favor to the big brother that had always been there to protect and help her when she had needed him.
Liz had never been a religious person, but she had promised that day that if Michelle pulled through, she would go to church every Sunday to thank God for keeping her here for her family.
Half an hour later, Liz arrived at the hospital. She had walked over to where her brother was wearing a hole in the floor and tried to think of something to say to him, but she didn’t have the words. When he finally looked up at her with empty raw eyes, she held out her arms and hugged him. That was all she could think of to do and it seemed to be the right thing because they just held onto each other for support. When Jake had been able to compose himself again, he stepped back and without saying anything, he started to pace the floor again. Liz remembered sitting there with her hands in her pockets staring at a clock on the wall.
All of a sudden, Jake stopped pacing the floor long enough to pounce on the doctor when came out into the waiting area. He informed them that Michelle was stabilized and had been put into a room to recover. The twins, Emily and Alexandra, were doing fantastic and they could go and see them in a few minutes. Jake had thanked the doctor, but it was not good enough for him, he would not be able to start breathing easy again until he saw for himself that his family was all right. He had raced out of the room to go to the recovery room to see Michelle first and then he was heading over to the nursery to see his two new daughters.
While he was gone, Liz had slipped out of the room and went to the cafeteria to get two cups of coffee. It was not the best she had ever had, but she had known she was in for a long night and knew Jake’s was going to be even longer.
When Jake returned to Liz, she handed him the coffee she had gotten from him. Almost subconsciously he had taken it and took a little sip before he informed her that Michelle was sleeping soundly and that she was going to be just fine. A small grin then started to spread across his face as he related to her, as only a new father could, that all ten fingers and toes were present and accounted for on Emily and Alexandra.
“That’s great to hear, Jake. Which one is older?”
“Emily,” Jake had chuckled a little before adding, “I can’t wait to hear her use that in an argument when they get older. You know what else? They have the cutest matching birthmarks I have ever seen. It’s in a shape of a heart and Alexandra’s is on her left shoulder blade and Emily’s is on her right.”
“Well, at least you’ll always be able to tell them apart that way if things get confusing.”
They walked into the nursery together so Liz could meet and hold her new nieces. Jake had been in and out of the room every ten minutes to check on Michelle, but was only gone for fifteen minutes at most because he did not want to leave the twins either. Finally, the nurses had confirmed that the girls were all set and agreed to let the whole family move into the room to visit with Michelle to make things easier on everyone.
As she had driven home that night after Michelle had woken up and she had visited with her, she thanked God one more time for saving her sister-in-law. She thought one more time about the vow she had given to attend church and told herself it was something that she would most definitely be doing from now on.
Liz had yet to break that promise to this day.
She spun her thoughts back into the present and realized that she was running ten minutes late. She hurried herself with getting dressed and ready for work. The thoughts of the past disappeared from her mind for the remainder of the day. She was too busy to sit there daydreaming anyway, she had at least six meetings today with clients and she still had a pile of paperwork on her desk that had to be about three feet high.
The feeling of uneasiness, however, stayed with her in the back of her mind all day. That was, until her fears were later made into a reality.
* * *
“Jay? Can you come over here for a minute?”
“What’s up, Steve?”
“Well, I just thought you would want to see this.” The deputy police officer handed Jay, the chief investigative officer, a small folded piece of paper as soon as the photographer had taken a shot of it.