Thriller & Suspense

Able Hands

By

This book will launch on Jul 24, 2020. Currently, only those with the link can see it. 🔒
Synopsis

Jacob O’Connell just wants a simple life: a career he can enjoy, a wife, kids, and a home of their own. As he closes in on these modest goals, significant time lapses begin to develop in his memory, forcing him onto a precarious search for answers about the many mysteries behind who he really is, including the wondrous yet frightening truth of his hidden abilities.

But nothing is easy, and Jacob and his wife Sara will soon become aware of a formidable enemy — a malignancy that has been lurking in the shadows of their lives for years without their knowledge. As a supernatural force slowly reveals itself through the fog of Jacob’s blocked memories, Jacob must confront this enemy or leave everyone he loves at risk.

1

Light of Day

Part 1

2005

Parallel to the Blacklynn River was the old two-storey cider mill in

the midst of restoration. An overgrown wood lot blinded Jacob’s

view as he approached along Riverside Drive. An intense dread

flashed through him as he neared the building. An unmarked

cruiser and an ambulance sat by the front doors, with another

cruiser blocking the second entrance farther down. Police tape

covered the main entrance guarded by two young officers whose

imposing figures provided an added deterrence. People from the

area and drivers-by alike were gathering and murmuring as the

usual morbid curiosity developed.

In seconds the scene had Jacob shaking uncontrollably, his

abdomen squeezed tight and his knees felt weak. The contents in his

stomach curdled and immediately wanted out. What in God’s name

happened? he asked himself, as several horrifying scenarios played out

in his mind. He jumped out of his truck and raced for the entrance

when the two officers stopped him in his tracks. He began shouting

beyond them to a detective by the front doors; his queries for the

moment ignored. Just then the cruiser blocking the second entrance

backed up to allow the coroner’s car in. Jacob’s body went limp, an

agonizing fear weakening him completely.

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Part 2

1984

Standing on his third-floor balcony, Jacob took in the panoramic view

of the north shore of Lake Ontario, the water a combination of greys

and blues with small whitecaps. The sound of those waves slowly

slapping up against the posts of the old wooden dock, grey with age,

quickly became a welcomed pacifier. He drew a deep breath of warm

air into his lungs — in the nose, out the mouth, recalling his training

in judo. That was his mother’s compromise on the less violent of the

martial arts. Just like so many kids who grew up in the early seventies,

Jacob had wanted to emulate Bruce Lee.

He had grown into a solid young man. At twenty-one, his sixfoot,

one-hundred-ninety-pound frame helped with his chosen

career in construction. He was one of the lucky few who loved his job

and was eager about going to work every day. Being a part of a

working-class family of five siblings from the small city of Saint John

instilled in him a fine work ethic. On this promising day it was

unseasonably warm for early May, and he thanked the day as a gift. It

was a matter of seconds standing on the balcony, barefoot and in

boxers, that provided confidence to wear a cotton button-up and

leave the windbreaker behind. There were only a few brilliantly white,

puffy clouds following a slow stream to the east — dots in the vast sky

of tropical blue. The sun had a direct line with no interference for its

skin-piercing UV rays to try and do their worst.

For so early in the morning, on the start to an otherwise average

Monday, he was surprised at the heat penetrating his forearm hanging

out the window driving to work. The current project he was working

on, a condo-conversion in an old warehouse district, was a thirtyminute

drive away. Behind the wheel with a heavy foot, to get what he

referred to as his “a.m. nectar,” he approached the same turn he took

every morning. He could feel the piercing eyes of an elderly woman on

the corner across the street locked in on him as he completed his turn.

Oddly, her expression seemed almost happy, for the most part.

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However, a circle of cold formed on the centre of Jacob’s chest,

penetrating inward. In that moment, he was overwhelmed by the feeling

that she knew who he was, or she knew something personal about him.

He looked over his shoulder, completing the turn, and squinting in an

effort to focus in on her through the rear-view. A chill enveloped him,

and for a second he experienced a pressing and almost uncontrollable

desire to crawl out of his own skin. He drove some distance, his chest

rose, and a pronounced sigh accompanied his exhale. He gently shook

his head and looked to his destination of dark roast and normalcy. Not

easily forgotten, the effects of the look were still resonating.

§

Sam Ellison came out from the back of his bright, clean, and newly

expanded bakery added onto the rear of his café. Sweat had glued

patches of flour to his face, neck, and arms. Jacob met his gaze and

they nodded to each other warmly.

Good crowd, Jacob thought. Looks like all the work paid off. They

exchanged smiles and asked after each other’s weekends.

“It’s a nice-looking start for a Monday out there.”

“It is at that. Are you finally able to keep your head out of those

ovens for more than five minutes at a time?”

“I would’ve been done an hour ago if I didn’t have to bake so

much banana bread. You know it’s inhuman to eat that much banana

bread, right?”

Jacob pointed his finger at Sam, and with a wink said, “It is

mighty fine banana bread. I must admit. With the coffee, it’s my

sustenance, or life blood, or however you say it. And, it’s almost as

good as my mom’s.”

Looking down and rubbing his foot back and forth across a

cracked floor tile, Jacob frowned, the vertical lines between his eyes

becoming more pronounced as they squeezed together. The notebook

came out from his back pocket and his pencil from behind his ear like

a doctor pulling out a stethoscope.

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“Almost as good as mom’s, eh? Hey, Jacob. Relax buddy; put the

pad away. It’s not even seven o’clock. And on a Monday at that?!”

“Hey, this isn’t the first time I called these guys about this.”

“Jacob, it’s not the end of the world.” But then Sam relented,

“Well, I suppose you’re right. That is where everyone stands, in front

of the till. I guess it doesn’t look so good, does it?” He shifted gears.

“So, am I gonna see you at the shop Wednesday night? I bought a set

of Marples, the chisel guide, and an oilstone from Lee Valley. We can

try them out.”

Jacob grabbed his usual, a large Colombian dark roast and two

one-inch-thick slices of banana bread. Just before reaching the door,

he spun around to see Sam waiting with his hands on his hips.

“Absolutely,” he exclaimed. “I’m looking forward to it. See you

tomorrow morning, Sam. Keep that banana bread coming.”

And Sam, shaking his head and smiling, raised his hand in

farewell. He was Jacob’s senior by almost seventeen years, but he saw

Jacob as mature beyond his years; most did.

§

The coffee was safely stowed away, and a smile resurfaced when he

looked at his watch; making the building department by opening was

in sight. He pulled out of the parking lot of Sam’s café and was easily

flowing into traffic before the congestion began. He hit the power

button and was surfing for something to listen to when he came

across “Sweet City Woman” by The Stampeders. The song, the smell

of banana bread, and there he was — five years old and back home

with his mom. She was wearing The Best Mom apron standing in the

kitchen baking a list of favourites, with the radio on as always. Of

course, banana bread was at the top. He put away the sweet memory

as quickly as it was found and changed the station. Aware that it was

an odd preference at his age, he sought out jazz.

The warm air blew in through his rolled-up, long-sleeve shirt and

tickled the hairs of his underarm and chest. Within seconds, he had

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5

undone his buttons. It wasn’t that long ago I was digging snow out

from the job sites. Rubbing his fingers together, he recalled the pain

from split and often bleeding fingertips from throwing salt around

the entrances and walkways. He took one more look at his watch as

he arrived at the office.

Henderson Construction & Design’s office was on the first floor

of a thirty-storey building by the lake downtown. As he came in the

entrance, Jacob saw elaborate furnishings, artwork, and plants

wherever he turned his eyes. He always stopped to admire how

everything flowed together — something new to him.

“Hi, Annie. Can’t help but notice you’re always the first one here

in the mornings.”

“That’s right,” she quickly replied, moving her stacks of papers

around like an orchestrated dance. “But I also get to leave between

three and four everyday. So, coming in early isn’t so bad. Anyway,

how are you coming along, Jacob? You’re into your second year and

still here; that’s a good sign,” she giggled.

“I’m doing okay. I love it, actually. The more I learn, the better it

is,” Jacob said, reaching across the desk to get the file and a cheque

for the building permit.

“Well, it’s not lost on the guys here how quick you’re progressing.

So, keep up the good work. Oh, speaking of work,” she slapped the

back of Jacob’s hand, “you have a couple of new files here.”

“This usually stays here. Don’t I have to review it with Donny?”

“Like I said Jacob, it’s not lost on them how well you’re

progressing. So apparently, Donny feels you’re ready to take the file

and get started on your own.”

“Thanks, Annie. Take care,” he said, unable to contain his

expanding smile.

With exuberance, he hurried back to his vehicle, but it was an

awkward-looking sprint across the parking lot in heavy steel-toed

work boots. His heels hit first, and his toes loudly slammed down on

the pavement like the clop of a horse. Prior to his second stop at the

building department, he had a quick scan through the file. It was like

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a gift he couldn’t wait to open. Before he pulled out of the lot, he

looked to the building across the street and he saw the same elderly

woman locked in another stare. Impossible. She wore a paisley

summer dress in multiple shades of brown. A beige scarf adorned her

silver and white hair with the balance of it wrapped around her neck.

Jacob’s eyes nervously darted back and forth a few times, while

pulling on the steering wheel to make the turn, but then letting it

swing back. He did this a few times. Looking down he paused with a

deep breath, then he looked behind him, to his left, then right. Finally,

he threw the gearshift into park. Once he’d summoned his courage,

he turned his eyes toward this strange-looking woman but was met

with an empty sidewalk and the grey stucco building behind it.

He swallowed a lump of air, felt the hair rise on his forearms and

neck, and shook himself from side to side to rid the ebb and flow of

goosebumps and cold tingling skin. He put the truck back in gear and

slowly drove away to continue his day. He forced his eyes wide open

to refocus and looked in the mirror several times. “What — the —

hell — was — that?!?” he said aloud. “She looked like a gypsy woman

or fortune teller, or … something. And where the hell did she go?

Jesus, Jacob, you’re losing it,” he said, as his voice dropped several

decibels. The last swallow of his dark roast painfully pushed another

dry ball of air down his throat, followed by yet another glance to his

watch. He swore at how much the ball of air hurt his throat. Then

another look in the rear-view and another glance to his watch…

Part 3

Arriving at the building department, Jacob’s knees started to feel a

little shaky as he approached the tall maple and glass doors inside the

vestibule. On the other side worked a lovely co-op student, Sara

Millen. Marching in like on a mission, he lost his footing

momentarily, slipping over a freshly washed terrazzo, and almost

completed the splits. After an ugly recovery, he scowled at the floor

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7

behind him where he just slipped. Well, can’t blame the floor for my

looking like an idiot, he thought. It would’ve been better if I tripped

over the caution sign that’s RIGHT THERE! He quietly chuckled.

Wondering if Sara had seen this, it didn’t take too long before beads

of perspiration started forming on his forehead, and his throat was

getting dryer by the second. Damn. I should’ve got another coffee. He

searched through his empty pockets for a candy or stick of gum, but

that only resulted in quietly cursing himself for not restocking. He

was grateful to see Sara wasn’t at the counter yet to witness his

ungraceful entrance. He was, however, surprised someone was

already at the counter being served. Did this guy sleep outside all night

to be first in line? he thought, looking at his watch: 8:36 a.m. Hmm, five

minutes after opening. Not bad. Taking a seat, he couldn’t help but

snicker at a sign posting the department’s hours straight across from

his seat. The sign, which was covered in clear plexiglass, provided a

reflection. He looked up to the counter, then quickly to his image to

pull a tuft of hair away from his sweaty forehead. No one had seen

anything, so a couple more times would suffice. He started shaking his

legs and tapping his hands on his thighs; at the same time, he surveyed

the place like he was watching a tennis match. He rubbed the sweat off

his hands onto his jeans, and with his fingernail, he tapped the glass of

his Timex. His classic timepiece, straps barely hanging on, with a

scratched and cracked faux crystal covering a barely visible face. It was

his eighteenth birthday present from his father.

“Isn’t Sara working today?” Jacob blurted out.

The building inspector, Jonathon Vargas, mumbled in a barely

audible yet patronizing tone.

“Just take a number and have a seat, Mr. O’Connell. Someone will

be along to help you.”

Jacob said nothing and kept his thoughts to himself. There were

all sorts of design problems for his employer, with this particular

building department. There were more inspection failures here than

in any other municipality in a thirty-mile radius. Failures where there

should be none.

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This guy really is a dick. I can see why everybody gets so pissed off at

him. Damn it, I wish Sara was here. I got things to do. Jacob rolled his

eyes. Yeah, right. The shaking in his legs began to subside, then he slid

his back down, pushing his bum forward on his chair, crossed his leg and

began to drift. He closed his eyes and a smile returned thinking back to

an encounter with Sara on site only a couple of months after he met her

at the bar. He tried to ignore Vargas during his daydream. He was

becoming an intrusive factor in this part of his life. The few times he was

able to see Sara were exciting for him, providing Vargas didn’t ruin them.

That day was etched into his memory. It was like a movie he could

play over and over. Her fire-red hair, including the hair on her arms

and eyebrows, all caught his attention. He was amazed how it all

encompassed her; even the freckles crossing her cheeks and nose were

the same colour. His attempt to stay cool was failing, having great

difficulty hiding his bashful smile from her.

“Do you have the engineered drawings for the floor and truss

systems?” she asked. Vargas was furiously writing in his inspection

form, making furtive glances toward the pair. Jacob fumbled through

his file, dropping and picking up papers. He used the back of his

forearm to wipe the dripping sweat from his forehead. When he

finally gathered his papers, he stood up with a helpless look and

handed Sara a stack of drawings.

“Sorry, these aren’t the right ones, Jacob.” She held them out to

be put back in his file. “It is hot in here,” she whispered, looking at

him, and gently tapping her index finger to her cheek.

“Yeah, it is.” He used the side of his thumb to clear the little beads

of perspiration from under his eyes. “Thanks,” he said. His eyes

softened and his smile accented his crow’s feet and one dimple on his

left cheek. Sara couldn’t help but notice. When he handed the proper

drawings over, their hands touched, yet neither of them flinched or

pulled back. In his peripheral, Jacob could see Vargas quickly looking

back down at his own report and shaking his head. It wasn’t

accompanied with an observational smile, it was something else —

unclear, but definitely disconcerting.

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As the inspection continued, Jacob held his hand out, indicating

she go first up the stairs. When they returned, he purposely went first

in front of her, which caught her attention. He remained quiet while

she went through her checklist. He acted as a guide more than a

nervous contractor waiting for the inspection to pass. There were the

occasional questions back and forth, but no straying off topic. After a

year into his job, Jacob had come to learn it was a common practice

in the business to distract inspectors in hope they would overlook

some of the incomplete items or minor infractions.

Finally, the inspection came to an end with Vargas dramatically

tearing the top copy of the triplicate inspection form. Jacob held his

hand out, and Vargas, completely lacking in affect, didn’t even

acknowledge him. He pulled a stapler from his back pocket and

affixed the inspection failure to the wall by the entrance of the

building. This was policy, but only when the contractor, or a

representative wasn’t present. He turned to Sara, inappropriately

eyeing her up and down and pointed to his code book.

“This is what steers you, Miss Millen, not some attractive site

superintendent, or assistant.” He accentuated the word in a teenagelike

insult. “From now on, make sure these guys have the work on the

checklist ready for the next phase before we head out for an

inspection. You’re wasting valuable time and resources just because

you think…” He stopped himself there, looking at Sara’s face. Jacob

ripped the inspection report off the wall.

“Take that outside, will ya?” Jacob said, feeling horrible for Sara.

“For Christ’s sake,” he added, spinning around, and walked to the

other side of the building so Sara wouldn’t feel any more

embarrassment than she was already experiencing. “Fucking prick!”

Jacob said to himself.

Out the building Vargas went, his long legs tight together as he

walked with odd short strides toward the municipal vehicle.

“Let’s go, Millen,” he barked out to Sara. “And get those

violations cleaned up. Don’t call for another inspection until you’re

ready next time,” he snarled.

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Sara was not only embarrassed, she was furious with Vargas. She

felt that for now, being a co-op student, she had to take the insults.

But she indicated to Jacob how she really felt. Jacob turned to see

Vargas walk out, and Sara taking a moment to shuffle some papers

and compose herself. He walked back over and looked at her with

raised eyebrows and a small smile.

“Does he always walk like he’s gotta take a shit?” Jacob said,

expanding his smile. He hoped to ease her discomfort a little before

she left.

She smiled back. “Yeah. Pretty much,” she said, holding her hand

at hip level, forming a fist, squeezing it as tight as she could. “Ooh!”

And she walked out the door. Message delivered to a comrade in arms.

But when she turned back around, her long red hair, brightened

by the sun, caught his eye. An overwhelming feeling of familiarity

about her gnawed at him.

Jacob now recalled more awkward moments interacting with

Sara when Vargas was present. And one in particular rarely left his

thoughts. Everything is under a microscope when working for the

government. The mid-eighties hadn’t exactly experienced a profound

revolution of enlightenment in the workplace. But Vargas’s

behaviour was more than growing inappropriate, it was beyond the

pale when it came to Sara, especially when Jacob was there.

He ran up the stairs of another job site to catch up with Sara.

While arriving, he slowed down his breathing with a couple of barely

announced exhales.

“Sara, you forgot to take the engineer’s report for the steel

columns and beams.”

“So, what exactly did they teach you in that school?” Vargas

quipped. Jacob had become familiar with his condescending tone and

look. “You’re supposed to know these procedures by the end of your

second year in school. What were you doing there? Or rather, who

were you doing there that made you miss so much?” Jacob looked at

him disgusted. Vargas continued, “Well? Did you spend all your time

partying and whatever else?” Jacob was about to call him on the carpet

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for that one, but he didn’t get a chance. Sara walked over to a

workbench near Vargas and dropped the file folder down. Her eyes

were a squint, but they still bore a hole straight through him.

Considering the level of anger she was experiencing, she acted with

poise and professionalism, and spoke calmly.

“Jonathon, I’ll be waiting outside in the truck while you finish up

here.” She started walking away, but only a few steps in Vargas’s voice

became elevated.

“Where are you going? We’re not done here. I’ll let you know

when we’re finished. Just because you make mistakes doesn’t mean

you get to run away.”

Sara didn’t respond verbally. She walked until she thought she

was out of earshot from Jacob, the client. After stopping, she slowly

turned around and subtly motioned for him to come join her.

Begrudgingly, he shuffled toward her, a clear look of anger quickly

became apprehension seeing the look in her eyes. The look on her

face was visceral as she stood her ground, and even though Jacob was

slightly taken aback, he was also pleased to see it. He could sense her

anger like it was a scent in the air to breath in.

“We are done here, Jonathon,” she said, with her hands on her

hips and leaning into him on her tiptoes within inches of his face.

“You can finish this inspection yourself,” still speaking quietly, but

with a fire behind her words. Vargas attempted to interrupt, but she

wasn’t done yet.

“Don’t you ever talk to me like that, let alone in front of a client.

You may have gotten away with that kind of crap with other people,

but it ain’t gonna fly with me, mister. I’ll report your ass so fast your

head will spin. Are we clear!?! And I don’t care if you’re the boss or

not. And if you want me to help you here, this stops now.”

At this point, Vargas was diverting his eyes everywhere but at her.

He only stopped long enough to focus on his words that were weakly

whispered out like a scolded child.

“I apologize. It won’t happen again,” he said flatly, waving his free

hand like an umpire calling safe.

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Before the two of them turned around, Jacob struggled to constrain

his smile. Watching and hearing bits of Sara taking a strip off Vargas

like that earned her his respect and admiration. Jacob quickly looked

back down at the blueprints like he hadn’t seen or heard anything.

However, when they returned, he couldn’t resist giving Sara a shy smile

of recognition. Witnessing Sara’s character in her rebuttal of her boss’s

behaviour, he found it difficult not to stare at her.

Wow, that’s my kind of woman, he thought. No fear that one.

Wow. Wow, and another wow.

He lowered his head a bit; bringing his attention to study the

blueprints. It wasn’t working very well. His eyes were looking

everywhere but at the details of the drawings in front of him. And his

thoughts were even further away. If it’s true that everyone has a perfect

match, I think I just found mine.

Part 4

The floor cleaner smell in the building department reminded Jacob of

grade school. He thought of the shrill of the principal’s secretary

paging kids to the office amplified by the intercom, its pitch creating

a piercing feedback that felt like an ice pick being driven into his ears.

He remembered it well. He would push his shoulders up as far as they

would go, trying to squeeze off the sound, and it always made him

shiver. But currently, it wasn’t feedback that broke the solace of his

daydream. It was the sound of screeching tires and some kind of

impact from the other side of the doors he’d just come through. His

head cocked to the side for a split second, discerning a sound that

seemed familiar. His abdomen pulled in tight and a dreadful cold

wave encompassed his body. Please don’t let it be…

It shocked him out of his daydream, and with eyes wide and his

entire body tense, he was in motion. He burst out through the doors,

cleared the stairs and landed on the sidewalk. It reminded him of

running hurdles. When the closer broke and the door slammed

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against the grey stone exterior of the heritage town hall, it had

sounded like a gunshot. The street was four lanes wide, divided by a

huge grass boulevard, but traffic on his side had stopped. His hand

went up to block the brightness of the sun, then his eyes quickly

adjusted. Jacob’s stomach dropped, and his knees wobbled at what he

saw in front of him — Sara lay on the ground. An unexplained

memory from a similar event flashed through, but it was pushed away

faster than it arrived. His focus centred in on Sara’s body, lying on the

asphalt, contorted and covered in blood and dirt from the street. He

was ready to act, and at the same time, the look of shock and

trepidation on his face was undeniable.

A quick study of her body revealed an obvious broken leg and a

compound fracture to her arm. The more pressing issue was the

injury to her head. He could see the blood coming out a large gash on

the side of her head and from her ear. A courier quickly dismounted

his bicycle, stepped off the sidewalk and looked to Jacob.

“I seen the whole thing. I know her — Sara from the building

department. I deliver to them all the time. What can I do?” His words

a rapid stream.

Kneeling beside Sara, Jacob reached up with his arms wide open

and waved his hands in to receive the toss. “Give me your bag.”

“What?” The courier had been wearing his light-blue canvas

shoulder bag like a prized possession.

“Give me the bag. Now!” Jacob yelled.

The courier stripped his satchel off and reached it out. “Yeah …

sure man. Here ya go.” He passed it off to Jacob. Jacob tore off his

white sleeveless undershirt and ripped it in two. One piece was

used to try to get the bleeding to her head under control; the other

was rolled around her fractured arm. Then he folded the

messenger bag and placed it under her head. The sirens in the

distance were a welcome sound. He began checking for vital signs

after clearing her throat; her breathing and heartbeat were absent.

He wasted no time — between counting compressions, he was

breathing into her lungs.

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14

“Sara! Wake up, Sara!” His own breathing was becoming

pronounced and perspiration began to form on his forehead. “Come

on now, Sara, wake up.”

Tears started to drip down his cheeks. More people were

gathering around. The usual questions came from throughout the

crowd and morbid onlookers.

“What happened? Is that the guy who hit her? Is she dead?”

Jacob yelled at them to shut up and get away, and all the while, the

compressions continued. The courier stepped in and did his best. “Back

up, please. Let him do what he needs to. Please, step back.” The crowd

was barely shifting. “Back up, for Christ’s sake.” His voice rising to a

near scream got some results. Jacob was yelling out Sara’s name now,

begging her to come around. He turned his head and put his ear to

her chest, then to her mouth. He frantically continued making

compressions and emptying his air into her. He could hear an

ambulance or police car closing in now. He thought he’d make one last

effort before the paramedics forced him out of the way and took over.

“Come on, Sara! Do it for me. Come on now, sweetheart, breathe,

breathe, please, just breathe for me.” His voice was getting weaker by

the second, but he wasn’t stopping; he wasn’t giving up.

Jacob quickly glanced through a hole in the expanding crowd and

saw the same woman from earlier. His eyes opened as wide as they

could to make sure it was her. He was sure of. It was the same woman

standing on the sidewalk. This time, however, Sara was next to her.

He quickly looked back down at Sara and then back to the sidewalk.

He squeezed his eyes shut, refusing to look back up when they

reopened. “She’s not there. She’s not there,” he kept repeating to

himself. “Jesus, Jacob. Just don’t look back up.” He focused on the

compressions. His face had grown red, his cheeks wet with tears. He

did not deviate from his task.

Only minutes had passed since he had burst through the doors of

the building department. He felt that time was running out and he could

feel his energy leaving. Her broken and bloodied body lay below him,

and because he was completely exhausted, he was unable to avoid

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looking up. “No, Jacob. Don’t look. Ah, Jesus Christ!” It was

incomprehensible to him, but there she was. “You’re not seeing that.

She’s not there. Come on, Sara. You’re not there, you’re here — so wake

up.” Looking back up again, this mysterious woman next to Sara looked

directly into his eyes. He couldn’t turn away. The chills returned, with

his body hair standing upright. He could hear her speaking to him, but

her mouth wasn’t moving; and she was too far away to hear anyway.

Nonetheless, her words arrived directly inside his head.

“You will save her, Jacob.” In that moment, what he was hearing

in her voice was somehow familiar, calming, reassuring. “She will live.

It’s all right, Jacob. Everything is going to be okay. You’ve done this

before, and you will do it again.” She spoke with a soft voice, as if

making a gentle introduction.

In those few seconds, he paused compressions, and again closed

his eyes tightly. His chest heaved with a breath, and he brought his

hands up to cover his face and eyes. Weary and with his head

pounding, he slowly pulled his hands away. A yellowish orange light

glowing about them, forcing him to squint. He thought it was the sun

shining onto his hands. He tried — but failed — to ignore looking

back at his hands out of the corner of his eye. His body was vibrating,

his arms felt weak, and his hands started shaking uncontrollably. He

resigned to giving up the compressions, his head lowered, bent over

on his knees. Without reason or intent, he placed his hands on both

sides of Sara’s head, looking as if he was about to kiss her goodbye.

A completely surprising surge of warm energy rushed through his

entire body. It went from his chest, through his arms, and out of his

hands as he held Sara’s head. He closed his eyes and mind to what he

was seeing and experiencing. “This has to end. It has to. Please, let it

end.” When he looked back up to the sidewalk, Sara was gone, and to

her side, with equal relief, the older woman was gone too. His head

dropped, then he shook his head and belted out an awful sounding cry.

What in God’s name just happened? What’s happening to me? He

couldn’t understand why he had failed to save her. The paramedics

finally arrived on foot and were within steps of them, when suddenly

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16

Sara took a gasping draw of air and began to cough. Jacob’s burst was

a combined laugh and cry. His tears were still flowing, fluids came

from his nose, and his undershirt was soaked in sweat. He was a mess,

but it couldn’t stop his growing smile. He put his hands over his face

again. His large frame was bent over, nearly collapsed from his spent

energy. More short gasps of laughter escaped as his cries began to

subside. His adrenaline waning, he was still shaking and weak,

watching over her as she kept fighting to keep her eyes open between

breathing and sputtering coughs. He looked at her, and not caring

what he looked like, he pulled the bottom of his shirt up and wiped

his face. “Hey, what’s say you never do that again, all right? The

paramedics are here; they’re going to help you. You’re going to be

okay, Sara. You’re going to be okay.” He saw a look in her that said

she somehow knew everything that just happened. It was an affable

look of gratitude, of recognition undeniable.

The paramedics gently pulled Jacob away and started their

procedure of securing Sara’s vitals. Once stabile, they placed her on

the backboard and onto the gurney ready for transport. Jacob stood

as close to her as he could throughout, and although he was happy,

he was spent. In the time that passed on what he thought was a perfect

day, Jacob stood up with an expression of an amazing epiphany. He

was taking in a near three-hundred-and-sixty-degree survey of the

surrounding area. He was elated, giddy. Sara was alive; she was going

to be okay. All else was secondary.

The supervisor, and most experienced paramedic, recognized

Jacob’s gaze floating in every direction. He managed to get his

attention and focus. Standing in front of him, he pulled his shoulders

together and looked into his eyes. Jacob was almost limp, giving the

medic full control.

“Sir, how are you feeling?” Jacob looked up at him, clearly shaken.

“I’m fine; I was just looking for someone. Ah, here he comes.” He

was still hanging onto the courier’s bag. “Hey man, thanks so much for

your help. I’m sorry, there’s blood on your bag.” The courier looked

like he was ready for the Californian surf. He had on a bright tie-dyed

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17

T-shirt with a yellow background. His long blonde hair was tied in a

ponytail and he wore camouflage shorts with Dash running shoes. He

extended one hand for his bag and the other to shake Jacob’s hand.

“I’m Gary by the way, and the blood doesn’t matter, buddy. And

I didn’t do anything; it was all you brother. You did a fine job today.”

Jacob responded with his name, but barely acknowledged the

compliment by the courier. He turned his gaze back to the sidewalk

where the mystery woman had stood next to Sara. He looked lost, in

need of direction.

The paramedic came back over to Jacob. “You did absolutely

everything right for that young lady today. She’s alive because of you.

Where’d you learn first aid?”

“Oh, uh, through work … St. John’s course at the Y.”

“Uh, that explains it. Well, it was a hell of a job. You sure

you’re okay?”

Jacob’s words were coming out as a tired soul ready for slumber.

“I’m good. Hey … thanks, all right.” Jacob could barely raise his arm,

weak and worn from the compressions and expended adrenaline, but

he managed to shake the paramedic’s hand.

The medic was about to leave when he turned around to Jacob

once more. “Oh, by the way, she’ll be at South Central. In case you

want to see her.” With those words, he hopped into the supervisor’s

Suburban and was gone. Jacob pulled in the longest breath and

exhaled like it was the sweetest air he ever tasted. He paused for a

minute, standing still trying to get his bearings.

My God, Jacob. What happened back there? He held his palm

against his temple. Before he made it back to his truck, he tried to

replay everything. I was giving her CPR, but it seemed too late. She

seemed already… But then she started breathing again! How? A

massive piercing pain in his temple overtook him, and, leaning over,

he vomited himself empty. He slowly stood up, still dizzy and

spinning. When he finally got his bearings, he looked down at his

hands, palms turned up and, with a blank look on his face, he thought,

Maybe I just need some rest before I can think straight and remember.

About the author

I was born and raised in Canada, a country I've travelled many times from coast to coast. This has provided much of my inspiration for writing. After 30 years working in construction, time, at last, allowed me to create this story. It's my first foray into fictional writing. It’s only the beginning. view profile

Published on January 20, 2020

Published by Iguana Books

90000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Thriller & Suspense

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