My capstone, titled Who Wants to Live Forever, is a
novel. That said, I’m aware writing
a piece of fiction is not considered to be nearly as complex as, say, creating
anything substantial engineering-wise.
However, it is a fitting testament to an aspiring writer’s
accomplishment and very existence.
Writing is my single greatest talent, and the thing I must continue to
improve on. My capstone, while
it’s not as perfect as I would like it to be, has taught me a great deal about
writing. Writing is, after all,
only learned through experience, and I just picked up a lot of experience with this thing.
Below is an excerpt from the book; the entirety of Chapter 1. Since I do have plans to do something with this eventually (namely, rewriting and publishing it), I have no intention of posting the entire novel publicly. I'm sure you all understand.
Chapter 1 - Welcome to the Force
“So what you’re saying is it’s just like that movie?” a young man
asked of the older man beside him, who seemed far more interested in the
store’s various hats. The old man examined one of the fedoras and mumbled
something about how the quality of hats just isn’t the same anymore.
After a moment, he responded.
“What movie?” he asked, glancing sideways at the young man.
Harry. You know, since all your partners die?” the young one asked.
the young one exclaimed, dropping the hat he was previously admiring.
“Never saw Dirty Harry? Jack, what’ve you been missing all your
life? Dirty Harry was so cool!”
uh, I, uh, hm... but you carry that revolver around with you, Dirty Harry did
that, how is that…”
I never saw this movie you’re talkin’ about. But yeah. My
partners all die. Now pick a fedora. A detective ain’t a detective unless
he’s wearin’ a fedora, chain smokin’, and calmin’ hysterical dames,” Jack said,
adjusting his own fedora. He glanced over at the clerk, who was staring
intently at the two. He lamented that he was unable to smoke in this hat
store. Why, fifty years ago, they never would have told him he couldn’t
do that. The young man interrupted his incredibly hard-boiled chain of
not too sure if you’ve noticed, Jack, but it’s 2013.”
“We’re not in the film noir era anymore. It’s not
Prohibition, and it’s not the 50s, it’s not…”
rookie. See, we can’t let the spirit of the 50s die. Hard-boiled
detectives are hard to come by these days. We’re a dyin’ breed, see, and
just because they tell me I should retire doesn’t mean I’m gonna,” the old man,
Jack, said. His new partner was unable to tell whether or not he was
offended. Jack always spoke the same way, whether he was elated, furious,
young man’s cell phone started ringing. He quickly answered.
Crucifix? Got it. I’ll be right over,” he said, and hung up.
He repeated the information to Jack.
to the car, Rookie, fedoras can wait. We got a serial killer to track
have a name, Jack, it’s…” he started. Jack turned his back and started
walking from the hat store.
cares what your name is, Rookie. Long as you’re in my company, it’s
rolled his eyes and followed Jack out. He became a detective not a week
ago. When he was told his partner was an eccentric old man, he rolled his
eyes like he did just now. He thought they were exaggerating. But
no, Jack was everything the cops told him he was: an elderly detective who thinks
it’s still the 1950s.
drive to the crime scene was uneventful. Drives with Jack always were.
All he did was smoke, play Vaudeville on the radio, pretend Rookie wasn’t
there, or sometimes muse about the “good ole days.” Rookie looked over
the case files in the meanwhile.
serial killer surfaced about a month ago. There have already been four
victims, and they still don’t have any leads. Most serial killers had a
certain kind of preferred target. Jack the Ripper had prostitutes, H. H.
Holmes had women, Albert Fish had children, but this guy… this guy seemed to be
killing indiscriminately. The victims so far were two women, a man, and a
child, all from different parts of the city and all completely unrelated. It
looked like he might have killed his fifth.
serial killer left several clues so the police would know he was the killer.
All of his victims were killed by strangulation, and he would mutilate
their bodies immediately afterward. All of the victims had marks on their
hands and feet, noted to be “not unlike Jesus when he was crucified.” A
cross was painted on their forehead in their own blood. These details
they released to the media. They neglected to mention the white crucifix
always left on the victim’s person, usually their back pocket. After all,
nobody wants a copycat killer running around.
Jack drove to the scene of the crime, he passed by a graveyard. Rookie
thought to himself that the guys buried here must be almost as old as
Jack is. His highly sarcastic thought process was disrupted as Jack
is, Jack?” Rookie asked.
over there. That broad on the tombstones,” he said. He pointed
toward the graveyard. Rookie followed his finger to where he was
pointing. It was true! There was a girl leaping from stone to
stone, what looked like her unkempt knee-long hair flying about with the wind
and her motions. She was far away, but Rookie was able to tell she wasn’t
a child. She was too tall for that. She actually looked to be pretty
gosh darn tall, to use an accurate unit of measurement.
Kids will be kids, Jack,” he said.
in my day, they knew some manners,” he mumbled. He pulled up onto the
sidewalk and got out of the car. “C’mon, Rookie, we’re gonna go have a
word with her.”
sure do hope we don’t get a ticket for this… wait, wait, Jack, in case you
forgot, we’ve got a crime to investigate! She’s not worth wasting time
ignored his partner and quickly walked into the cemetery. For his age, he
was quite quick on his feet. When he was within reasonable distance, he
started shouting profanities at the girl. She immediately stopped leaping
and sat down on the stone she was standing on, an ornate cross. She
brushed the raven hair from her face and squinted.
Do I know you guys? I don’t think I know you guys! Then
again, I don’t know many guys! Or anybody! I don’t know anybody,
really. But do you know me?”
we don’t, but…” Rookie started. Jack cut him off.
matter what…” Jack started. The girl cut him off. Her eyes widened
with what was probably feigned shock.
should know me. Why? Because I’m the best. I’m
perfect. So much better than all of you. Why, I’m kind of offended
that you never heard of me! I’m the smartest, the strongest, the
awesomest, the… the beautifulest, the…”
yes, I’m sure you’re all of those things, but…” Rookie started. Jack cut
dunno about you, Rookie, but I don’t think anorexic broads with impossibly long
hair are that beautiful,” Jack said.
that like Japanese animation would like to disagree,” Rookie commented.
Jack ignored him.
to see we all agree here! Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve reached a
consensus!” the girl cheered, quickly raising her arms in the air and splaying
her fingers. She seemingly ignored everything that was said since she
you hear us?” Rookie asked.
And I don’t think I would appeal to those kinds of guys, guys. My
hair isn’t a strange enough color to be a Japanese animated character.
Maybe I should consider dying it. Special snowflakes need special
hair, after all,” she mused, waving her fingers in front of her face.
could we cut the talk about foreign animation and get down to business?” Jack
said, tossing his cigarette to the ground and stomping on it with more force
like Japanese animation,” the girl mumbled.
too,” Rookie sheepishly admitted. The girl looked at him and smiled, and
opened her mouth to say something before reconsidering. She instead said
something to Jack.
“But I’m interested: what business is that?”
should show this place a little more respect,” Jack said. “The dead
deserve it, and some of the guys here were cops and soldiers, they deserve more
than to have someone jumping all over their stones.”
assure you the dead people don’t mind,” she said, suddenly grinning.
It wasn’t a happy grin, no; this grin could best be described as being
somewhere between “not quite right” and “completely psychotic.” She
giggled. “Isn’t that right?” she asked, knocking on the cross-shaped
stone and leaning over to place her ear as close as possible to it.
Looks like nobody cares except you!”
opened his mouth to speak. The girl started speaking again before he got
no, wait, the stiff is telling me something. He says you smell and
you’re stupid and go away! But don’t worry, if it’s any consolation, the
dead guy loves me. He just told me so. It’s understandable.
Everybody loves me, I’m the smartest, the strongest, the…”
reached for his gun. The girl noticed and not only stopped talking, but
also quickly slid off the back of the tombstone to use it as some sort of
cover. She peeked over the top. Rookie grabbed Jack’s arm and
stopped him from brandishing his gun and perhaps shooting the girl, and started
gently pulling him in the direction of the car.
buddy’s got the right idea! Run along now! Go! Back to your
car! Go do old people things like play shuffleboard and rant about the
worthless ‘good old days’ and die!” she taunted from behind the stone.
nobody disrespects Jack Memphis. Let go of me right now.”
can do, Jack, we have a crime scene to get to. We’re already late,”
Rookie said, trying to reason with the man. Rookie already knew this was
impossible. Jack could not be reasoned with.
What’s your name, anyway?” the girl asked of Rookie.
no, just kidding, nobody cares what your name is!” she exclaimed, standing up
and waving excitedly, shouting, “Byyyye guys! Bye! See you!
Goodbye!” After a good thirty seconds, she stopped shouting various
goodbyes, adjusted her long blue trench coat, shoved her hands into her
pockets, and walked away from the detectives without another word.
swore furiously all the way back to the car. If Rookie had a dollar for
every foul word Jack said, Rookie would likely be a few million dollars richer
and would be able to retire from the force about forty years early, purchase an
island, build a mansion on said island, and live in said mansion on
aforementioned island for the remainder of his days, and still have quite a bit
of money. Unfortunately, Rookie received no money for each word Jack
said. Rookie’s fantasies would remain just that.
two got to the crime scene about eight minutes later than expected.
Rookie was apologetic. Jack was not.
you know for certain it’s that guy?” Jack asked.
sir, it’s that guy,” the cop at the door of the victim’s house told him.
signs that the killer broke in. There were, of course, signs of a
struggle. Death by strangulation. Rope, like always.
Everything checks out. The killer is ‘that guy’ that we’ve
been trying to catch.”
I don’t need to go in, then,” Jack said.
you think we should investigate?” Rookie asked.
He’s too smart. We just wait until he slips up, and let him keep
makin’ bodies until he does.” Jack lit up a cigarette and left the scene.
Rookie stayed behind.
All these years on the force had made Jack a cynic, which was
obvious. Would the same happen to him? Rookie certainly hoped not.
Rookie believed several things Jack did not believe: that there is some
good in everyone, that everybody’s life is worth saving no matter who they are,
and that people should not be used as bait. Jack preferred to think that
everybody is inherently evil, lots of people just deserve to die, and if a
person dies for a cause – in this case luring out a particularly talented
serial killer – then it’s worth it.
“Alright, let’s start investigating.”
Rookie stopped his somewhat philosophical chain of thought and
looked up at the crime scene. “Right, let’s do… wait a second, what are
you doing here?”
The girl from the cemetery was standing in front of him, smiling a
bit more sincerely this time. Now that she was standing in the light,
Rookie could get a better look at her. She was pale. Easily as pale
as she was thin. Her jet-black hair contrasted well with her skin tone.
Rookie noticed there was something a little… off about her blue eyes.
He was not a religious personbut “soulless” seemed liked an adequate
description. She was still wearing the oversized dark blue trench coat
from earlier, which was open. She was wearing pretty normal clothes under
that, just a black shirt and blue jeans. Funny. Rookie expected
more of this girl, something ridiculous, absurd, or attention grabbing. A
glittery or otherwise sparkly rainbow blouse, for example.
beautiful, right? I totally am. That’s why you’re staring. I
know. It’s understandable.” The girl rambled on and on.
Rookie wasn’t really paying attention.
shouldn’t be here,” he finally said. The girl raised her eyebrows.
not!” she shouted.
business. No civilians.”
fine, I’ll go… but just know you’ve hurt my feelings! A lot! My
feelings are so hurt, you’ve got no idea how much my feelings are hurt right
now, and you have only yourself to blame, ‘Rookie!’ How on earth
will you sleep at night?” She kept taunting and whining and shouting until a
police officer escorted – that is, dragged her kicking and screaming – from the
then. Let’s start the investigation. For real, this time!” Rookie
exclaimed, pointing dramatically at the body.
all due respect, sir, I don’t think pointing dramatically is a thing that
detectives do in real life,” a police officer remarked.
Uh, sorry, I was, I was just, y’know, caught up in the moment is all
no, no, I understand. Investigation, right, let’s do that,” the police
officer responded, taking one last bite of his doughnut. The two went on
to have easily the most fascinating investigation in the history of
investigations, rivaling the investigations on those television shows.
no, it was pretty boring. Investigations usually are. Pretty much
everybody else in the area was having a much better time because they were not
investigating a crime scene where a highly skilled and clever serial killer
murdered a seemingly random person and left not a single speck of evidence.
a sec… hey, over here, I found something!”
rushed over to the cop. The officer handed him a black envelope, with a
white cross on the front and a white rose sticker sealing the envelope.
Rookie opened it.
was from the murderer.