Chapter One---It was him or me
11:55 AM | Author: Jeff

‘It was him or me’ Jay Sutherland could hear his inner voice repeating, ‘him or me’. Jay wasn’t really sure who ‘he’ was, all he knew was that his head hurt, his body ached and he was cold.
Slowly, he began to open his eyes, only now realizing they had been shut. His eyes felt so tired, almost burnt, as though he'd been driving all night staring into the headlamps of the oncoming traffic. He leaned back against a cold concrete wall, his vision blurred, slowly pulling focus like when you wake without having enough sleep. He looked around the room, his neck muscles tight and stiff, sending small shots of pain up and down his spine. The stark room in which he sat was a basement of some sort.
‘I don’t remember getting here or even what had caused me to be in such a place’ he thought, his eyes still blinking from the sudden influx of light.
‘It was him or me’ the voice repeated. The coldness of the wall was almost soothing, his back muscles ached, a throbbing sensation filling his body, drumming through his head, the dull beat pounding in his ears. The throbbing felt like it was originating from his heart beat, but it was hard to pin point where it was coming from. Jay’s legs felt so heavy. ‘Have I been running?’ he thought. There was a strange yet familiar smell in the air, a sharp metallic smell, a smell Jay could almost taste, but with his senses dull he just couldn’t place it. He reached into his front pocket and pulled out a packet of pal malls, the cigarettes his mother smoked. ‘When did I start smoking?’ he thought. Feeling more confused, he suddenly felt the urge to smoke. He fumbled around in his jeans pocket looking for a lighter.
Jay found his military issue Zippo and lit it with one strike. He held the flame to the end of the pall-mall, the heat from the flame drying his eyes more and causing his pupils to retract tightly, which only impounded his headache, he drew deep on the cigarette, the thick warm smoke poured into his lungs, tasting like charcoal, the heat from the smoldering tip warm on his face. ‘Funny’, he thought , ‘how cigarette smoke smells different when you are smoking it’. He couldn’t stand the smell of smoke when someone smoked around him, the smallest whiff of it gave him a headache, but the smell coming from the pall-mall as he exhaled the thick tar filled smoke was soothing even comforting. He coughed slightly, ‘weird’ he thought, ‘I don’t recall being a smoker.’
With each draw on the cigarette the throbbing in his body eased, his head was swimming a little. The cold from the cement was numbing his legs; a soft tingling sensation moved around within his leg muscles, he could only just feel that they, his legs were even there. Jay drew deep on the cigarette again, the smoke catching him in the eye causing it to burn and water. He wiped his eyes with his shirt sleeve, which felt wet already, a sudden jolt of pain seared through his arm racing around his body forcing all of his muscles to spasm on its way to his brain. Jay looked at his shirt sleeve, it was soaked with blood. The shock realization of the injury seemed to jolt him out from the dream like state of euphoria he was swimming in and send him hurtling into the true horror of his situation. Laying beside him on the left was a bloody hunting knife. To the right, his Beretta 9mm. All around him lay spent shell casings. ‘That would explain the smell’ he thought, ‘gun powder’. His legs were a mess, jeans soaked in blood, he knew instantly he had been shot, ‘that’s why my legs felt cold and numb’ he realized. Jay had taken one in the leg during Desert Storm and he recalled the sensation. It was not at all what he had expected it would feel like, being shot was a real, ‘you had to be there’ kind of thing, the sensation was hard to explain.
A few feet away lay a man's body, face down and motionless, his head pointed towards Jay, a pool of blood had formed beneath his head and chest. Jay drew on the cigarette again, inhaling a little too deeply, the smoke making him slightly dizzy again.
‘Did I kill this man?’ It certainly looked that way, he thought .
He strained his mind for a memory of what had happened here, but nothing came.
‘Were we attacked? Have I been left for dead? Where am I?’ The questions began flooding his mind, a symptom of the onset of panic and shock.
Jay began scanning the room around him.There were some steps leading out, no windows, and the only source of light came from the fluorescent bulbs above. He tried to move towards the stairs, but it was fruitless, his legs were too damaged to support him, and with only one good arm, dragging himself was also out of the question.
‘Maybe someone heard the gunshots’, he thought, ‘surely someone will come for me.’
He threw the cigarette away, the panic he felt combined with a desire to live, seemed to work alchemy on the cigarette, changing its smooth smoke, into a lethal death gas.
“Help!” Jay tried to scream, his voice failing somewhat.
His body fell against the wall,
‘I am so weak, how much blood have I lost?’.
The panic was pumping through him harder and harder, and the throbbing was getting stronger again.He knew he was going to die, he could smell his imminent death.
“Calm down Jay” he ordered himself, knowing that panic and his increased heart rate was only pumping the blood from his body quicker. He mustered all his self discipline, willing a calm over the stress, he rested his head against the wall and began to empty his thoughts from his head, something his grandfather had taught him many years before and it had come in handy more times than he cared to remember. One by one, Jay processed the memories of his life, focusing his energy on each memory as a way of blocking out the current reality. He closed his eyes, rested his head against the cold wall and let himself get swept away.
‘It was him or me’ the voice echoed again.
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On November 7, 2007 at 8:14 PM , chrisd said...

Hi Adam-

First, thank you for coming by and leaving a comment. I really appreciate it!


wow! What a first chapter. I'm going to try to read at least a chapter a week. I'm pretty swamped w/kid stuff all next week.

This chapter was really focused. You made the man's pain really palpable.

I just have no idea where this is going. I look forward to reading!

On November 7, 2007 at 8:40 PM , Adam said...

Thank you Chrisd,
Feed back like that really keeps me going, I hope to have chapter 6 written and posted by mid next week.
I hope you enjoy reading as much as I do writing.

On November 8, 2007 at 11:38 AM , KAK said...

Wow. I'm impressed. The first chapter is gripping, pulls you in right away. I will definitely keep reading the other chapters as I find the time.

On December 2, 2007 at 12:02 AM , Mike Tremell said...

Hey there,

Except for a few misused words (impounded should have been compounded - can you tell I was an English major ;)

That being, said, I liked it and will keep on reading. Nice intro. Makes me want to find out what's going on. Good hook :)

Best wishes and good luck to you with your writing!

, Mike

On February 27, 2008 at 3:23 PM , ToniBrolin said...

Wow. That's awesome. I like how you write, it's unique and descriptive and paints an image for you. when i was reading this first chapter, i could just picture this becoming a blockbuster movie or something.

also it's pretty great to find someone on here writting fiction. about a year or so ago i began posting my fiction novel on here, but then hit a writers block(which has thankfully now been cured). maybe i'll put it back on now.

But i'm going to read more tonight definantly. sweet. good luck with everything! =D

On March 6, 2008 at 6:05 AM , Suzique said...

Great job, Adam--I'll have to keep reading! (I also like your Japan blog--keep posting photos.)

On April 22, 2008 at 9:31 PM , BizyLizy said...


Just now starting to read your novel. Love your use of sentence structure. Your writing flows nicely and has a good cadence.

Excellent tension, too. I'm definitely coming back to continue reading.


On July 6, 2009 at 5:37 AM , Immo said...

Hi I like the first chapter. I am going to finish the novel. Keep on the good work.. :D

On July 13, 2009 at 9:02 PM , Jao Moragoat said...

surfing blovels, I happened here and was immediately pulled in with this first chapter of blood & smoke. Looking forward to unveiling the cause of this mayhem

On January 27, 2011 at 3:48 AM , allmyposts said...

Hey your work is really cool. I started reading this and decided that I too will start a novel online

I am writing it at

Please do visit the same and give me suggestions for improvement


Reader Reviews!

"Wow. That's awesome. I like how you write, it's unique and descriptive and paints an image for you. when i was reading this first chapter, i could just picture this becoming a blockbuster movie or something." ...Toni Brolin

"I'm utterly and completely hooked! The characters are so defined and the relations between them are extremely deep. Keep writing. I can't wait to read more. x"...Elise

"What amazes me about your work is that you have an incredible capacity to get into the minds of your characters, regardless of age or gender. That is truly a great talent."...Kathleen

I'm supposed to be doing all sorts of things--writing cards, laundry, decorating and what happens? You put up another Chapter! So much for my schedule. Ooh, it's a good one, though that's for sure. What a cliffhanger. Can't wait to see what Sabian has to say. Really good tense stuff, but with just the right poignancy."...