A Chapter by JayG

Zack has come to the desert seeking a quiet place to die. Ada has been left there to die. With no hope and no future, has there ever been a less likely pair to go Starfaring?


It took a long time for the noise to attract Zack’s attention"even longer to resolve itself into anything meaningful.

“Mr. O’Neil? Mr. O’Neil? Can you hear me?”

He was still alive. Not a happy surprise.

Disoriented, he gathered his flickering consciousness together and opened his eyes. As he’d feared, he was surrounded by a variety of high-tech appliances. The overpowering smell of antiseptics placed him in a hospital.

A face appeared in his line of sight"a professionally cheerful face.

“You had us worried for a while, Mr. O’Neil, but you’re doing fine, now.”

When he only stared in reply she patted his shoulder and said, “Just rest. You’ll feel better when you wake up again.” It seemed particularly stupid of her to wake him only to tell him to go back to sleep. But the effort of thinking was too great to sustain, so he let go of wakefulness and fell back into drugged slumber.


°  °  °


She was an exceedingly plain woman. Her white coat had Psychiatric Services stitched on the breast, and Zack assumed she’d gone into psychiatric practice as a form of revenge against an unkind world. She dragged a chair close to the bed, losing little time in diplomacy.

“They tell me you’re refusing your meds, and won’t eat. Why is that?”

He studied her for a few seconds before shaking his head. “You didn’t do me a favor by bringing me back when my heart stopped.”

“Why not, Mr. O’Neil?” She showed no reaction to his words.

How like a psychiatrist. Never say what you think, just ask questions that make the patient say it for you. But two could play at that, so he answered with a question of his own. “What do I have to live for?”

Before she could answer he snapped, “And don’t ask me trick questions, lady. Just give me an answer. I’m old…I feel like s**t…and I’m not in the mood for games.”

That rated a raised eyebrow, and, “At least tell me why you want to die, Mr. O’Neil, so I have something to work with.”

“I don’t want to die. But when my heart gave out it was my time. It still is. I don’t have a reason to live, and that’s not the same thing as wanting to die.”


“No…it’s not.” In spite of himself, she’d drawn him into discussing his reasons for refusing food and medication. But what else was there to do but talk to her or stare at the ceiling? He blew out a breath in resignation. She would have her way after all.

“Believe me, Doctor, I’m not suicidal, I just don’t have anything to live for. I’ve been waiting to die for nearly a year"since they told me my heart wasn’t repairable"but then, when my time was finally up, you people stepped in and took it away from me.”

At his use of the term, “you people,” she unbent enough to say, “I’m Dr. Malvern, Mr. O’Neil. Clarice Malvern.” She still sat ramrod straight on the edge of her chair.

Telling her to go to hell was an option, but in the end protests were futile. The drugs were added to the bags that dripped nourishment into his arms"rendering his defiance symbolic, only. And it made little sense to do battle with the woman.

“I’ve lived nearly seventy years, Doctor, and I’ve done everything I’ve ever wanted to do. I built a successful business three separate times, once out of boredom after I retired. I’m still bored. More so, since my wife died.” He glanced over at the doctor, to find her leaning forward, interest in what he said apparent. Deciding for the hundredth time to stop judging people by appearances, he went on.

“Amanda was both my wife and best friend. Without her there’s no one and I’m just coasting.”

“Friends?” she offered. “Children? Business? Surely there’s someone?”

That brought a long sigh. “No. We had no children, I’ve sold my business, and there’s no family left that matters.”

He shifted in the bed, easing himself into a less uncomfortable position before saying. “I have friends, doctor. I’m just tired, and it’s far too late to think of starting a new life.”

His voice was empty as he said, “It doesn’t matter, though. No matter what you’ve done, I have a bad heart, and unless you were stupid enough to give me a transplant, it’s still a bad heart.”


Dr. Malvern studied the man on the bed. He was stronger than he thought. His medical history, other than his heart problems, was unblemished. It was his state of mind that worried her. Still, this wasn’t a good time to tell him he no longer had a heart.


© 2016 JayG

Author's Note

People have asked me to post a sample of my writing. And since Starlight is something I just released—and believe to be section the best work I've done—here's the opening. If it does its job you'll have no choice but to go to Amazon to read the rest of the chapter in the excerpt. If it doesn't you can tell me what kicked you out of the story. And that will help.

My Review

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I am wondering why he simply would not have a DNR (do not revive) stipulation in his medical records if his heart is no good and he wants out so badly.

I feel the first paragraph goes a long way to draw the reader in, unfortunately the follow on did not have enough to hold me there longer.

I felt your dialogue was rather realistic.

Posted 10 Months Ago

1 of 2 people found this review constructive.

I enjoyed this very much, and am intrigued to read more.
You have a nice grasp of grammar and structure, and a griping story started.

Posted 11 Months Ago

0 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Best edit out the unwanted quotes ( year"since ). My advice is if you're going to present something that may be brilliant or may be awful make sure that it's physically reasonable. writerscafe software converts the - into the " and this needs to be put right. I see this has been here since Taurus and I'm surprised you haven't come up with more. Maybe you don't think it's worth it?

Posted 11 Months Ago

0 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I'll admit to this, I only read the first paragraph and I will tell you why. Just the first paragraph told me what I needed to know about you and your writing. You seem to have menatlly have access to every word an author might need for when they attempt to be discriptive and you write it well. you don't just attempt but actually DO. I loved how you wrote:

Disoriented, he gathered his flickering consciousness together and opened his eyes. As he’d feared, he was surrounded by a variety of high-tech appliances. The overpowering smell of antiseptics placed him in a hospital.

Alot better then many writers that I know when it comes to word placement and word usage. I was intriged to read more but that was why I stopped as I did not want to stop in the first place, due to only having access to a so vary small portion of your novel. If I may offer something that I can only really offer to you, there are two other websites that I use as well fro writers: for only novel writing.
and... which is also just for writing novels.

I shelf'd your one chapter for later reading, and I hope to read the rest when I find a good portion of time to read it flat out. From one writer to the next, I hope that you might be as hard of a critiqe on my novel though I did not give yours any critism as there was none.
: Nick Flame - The First Spark

I will give this chapter 100/100, good luck with the rest of the novel.

Posted 1 Year Ago

2 of 3 people found this review constructive.

Great opening. Most definitely want to

Posted 1 Year Ago

1 of 2 people found this review constructive.

Hi there. I found this very engaging, very easy to identify with. I love the final line, and I want to start Ch 2!

I've dabbled in writing the sort of opinion/mood transition Mr O'Neill goes through here, and at some point I can't believe what I have tried to write. It feels like the person has made an unrealistic inconsistent jump, and I've seen that too here on WC. I'm not sure I'd give Mr O'Neill's change of heart (sorry) 10/10 but it's way closer and more authentic than anything I've seen in a long time.

Typographically there are some glitches in how WC has laid out this piece. I'm assuming this happened when you copy pasted something that looked fine on your screen. Examples here are
- very first line ... attention"even
- about half way through the 2nd block ... nearly a year"since
- very next line ... repairable"but

Hope this helps!


Posted 1 Year Ago

1 of 2 people found this review constructive.

Great cliff hanger!

The middle section felt like floating heads. There is such a focus on the dialogue, that all I know about the setting is that the doctor is in a chair and there's an IV bag - and from context I assume he's lying in a hospital bed. Then again I suppose a hospital room isn't all that interesting to describe.

favorite lines: too great to sustain, losing little time in diplomacy, ramrod straight, there's no one and I'm just coasting.

Posted 1 Year Ago

2 of 3 people found this review constructive.

This is very good, you took a story I would likely find boring and made it more interesting than things in I'm favorite genres. The cliffhanger was great too. I'm not really sure what to say bad about it, honestly. The only thing I could say is that I don't get why the last sentence before he goes to sleep again starts with "But". I don't get how that's needed. Maybe that's a reading comprehension issue I don't know. Anyways probably the best story I've read on this out of like twelve, just giving you a review I owe you, sorry for not doing it in the first place and just following through with what I promised. I will stop spamming you.

Posted 1 Year Ago

1 of 2 people found this review constructive.

Well written. The character developments in such a short piece are great.

Posted 1 Year Ago

1 of 2 people found this review constructive.

Wonderful first chapter, I was completely drawn in.

Posted 1 Year Ago

1 of 2 people found this review constructive.

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36 Reviews
Shelved in 6 Libraries
Added on May 5, 2016
Last Updated on May 5, 2016



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