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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Featured Review

Mr. JayG
Read your dialogue again, I think the person talking over there does not sound like a patient, nor someone just reluctant to continue. The conversation is drastically opposite. I perceive two people talking in an office or at a table facing each other.
It sounds like it may be a good story, nonetheless, check it out.

Posted 1 Year Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


1 Year Ago

• I perceive two people talking in an office or at a table facing each other.

In a.. read more


A great first chapter. I can't help but picture Mr. O'Neal as Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over The Cokoo's Nest no matter how superficial the association may be. He just has that kind of attitude, but at least the doctor seems to be nicer.

Posted 2 Years Ago

1 of 2 people found this review constructive.

This was absolutely enthralling. I must confess, I scrolled down to check the length and I cannot tell a lie, I was wondering what you could possibly develop in such a succinct passage. I loved it. You had me by the end and it's something that I would most definitely read.

Posted 2 Years Ago

1 of 2 people found this review constructive.

This is... masterful.(In my British accent) I'm I searching the title on Amazon to find it? Cus' I would like to read the rest. This was really good in all seriousness. Good Luck with it.

Posted 2 Years Ago

1 of 2 people found this review constructive.

It hooked me, and I am a writer as well as an avid reader. :) Nice job!~

Posted 2 Years Ago

0 of 1 people found this review constructive.

this surprised like sh** the story is really really surprising i loved it

Posted 2 Years Ago

1 of 2 people found this review constructive.

Thoroughly enjoyed your opening here. Fantastic way to tie it up there at the end. You've opened enough questions and invested me enough in the characters that I'm very curious where this will go...*whistles his way over to Amazon*

Nice style, brief and to the point. Good characterization. I'm feeling both O'Neil, who seems like a piece of work, and Dr. Malvern. Watch out for those em-dashes on loves to convert them to double-quotes. I suggest replacing them with '--' (two dashes). Cheers and happy writing.

Posted 2 Years Ago

1 of 2 people found this review constructive.

I am definitely intrigued. I like how you quickly you have shown us O'Neil's character, and I appreciate how many layers are going on in just a short time period. The only thing that I could critique on was the first sentence could be stronger to attract attention more efficiently, but everything else is very well written. Good job.

Posted 2 Years Ago

1 of 2 people found this review constructive.

Very talented. I thought you articulated your thoughts clearly. This work is probably someone of the best I've seen on here so far.

Posted 2 Years Ago

1 of 2 people found this review constructive.

Good mix between thoughts and dialogue. Intriguing ending of course.

When I click the link in your profile I get an error message but maybe that is because I am in Beijing right now.

Posted 2 Years Ago

1 of 2 people found this review constructive.

This is a great style! I really enjoyed your set up and your characters and I could see myself reading a story like this. I'm interested to see who these people are! It's a well done hook for an opening.

Posted 2 Years 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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