In the 13-months since I began working on In His Words, it’s undergone so many changes it’s almost a completely different novel to the one I originally envisioned. Character changes, point of view changes, the climax. None of my original idea is there. I learned a lot writing this book. More than I expected and much more than I learned writing Book 1 of the Sin-Eater Collective, Confession
Despite the challenges, detours and hiccups along the way I’m really pleased with how it all turned out. And now that I’m only 4 weeks away from launch date I’m eager for readers to come along on Kevin’s journey. It’s bloody, and gory, and Kevin isn’t the most reliable narrator you’ll ever come across, but I think it’s fun.
To celebrate the finished product, I wanted to share with you the full first chapter of In His Words. If you like it, it’s available for pre-order on Amazon at the following link: https://amzn.to/2ZuB8Wp
And now, without further gilding of the lily, here’s Chapter One of In His Words, Book 2 of the Sin-Eater Collective. Don’t forget to leave a comment below and let me know what you think of it.
‘We interrupt your scheduled viewing to cross live to the Glenn Family Compound, in Kirribilli, for a breaking news story. Sally, what can you tell us?’
I open my eyes, blinking several times as the harsh overhead fluorescent light stabs into my dry corneas. Turning my head I focus on the television mounted to the far wall in the corner of the emergency ward.
‘Not much at this stage, Deborah,’ the news reporter says.
She stands outside the distinctive green wrought iron gates of the home of former MP, and Preacher, the Rev Preston Glenn. She moves to the side, sliding in front of the sandstone wall where she joins a large contingent of reporters waiting for a statement.
‘Deborah, reports are emerging the Opposition’s former leader and Member for Hawke; the Hon. Rev Preston Glenn, has died after a long battle with throat cancer. We’re waiting for a family spokesperson to address the media.’
‘Terribly sad news indeed, Sally,’ the news host says, her eyes downcast in a performance of mimicked grief. ‘We’re receiving word Joshua Glenn and his mother, Margaret, will address the media personally.’
‘Yes, Deborah. They’re just about to arrive at the gates now.’
Joshua Glenn towers over his Mother. At 6’1, and with a body designed by hours in the gym, the former model, and heir to the Glenn Family Ministries, has his arm wrapped protectively around his Mother’s shoulders. Margaret stands proudly beside him, her spine straight, and her chin high. Her blue eyes are red-rimmed, coated with a subtle veneer of tears, but she gives no other indication of her grief.
‘Thank you all for coming,’ Joshua says, coughing to clear his throat. He briefly looks at the assembled media before running a hand through his thick honey blonde hair. ‘We stand before you today with shattered hearts. My beloved father, the Rev. Preston Glenn, passed away earlier this afternoon returning to God’s eternal embrace. My Mother and I are grateful we could be by his side as he drew his final breath.’
As the clamour of journalists shouting questions at Margaret and Joshua rises to a fever pitch, I reach for the remote control and turn the volume down.
‘Vultures,’ I mutter under my breath as the deafening noise dims to a soft roar.
Joshua stands staring blankly at the assembled media an empty smile fixed in place. He looks, to me, like a little boy lost in a supermarket trying to be brave. Margaret reaches out, laying a hand gently against his forearm. He doesn’t appear to notice the gesture, but he steps to the side of the podium, making room for his Mother to address the media.
Margaret Glenn’s white hair is close-cropped on the sides and voluminous across the top of her head. It’s styled into a soft windswept look, brushed up and away from her face. Her skin is pale, showing barely any lines. Standing at the podium, she holds her thick mouth clamped tightly shut grimacing at the noise around her. She stares directly at the gathered journalists until one by one, they stop shouting as she commands them to silence with nothing more than a look.
‘My son and I appreciate your love and support,’ she says, her voice husky. ‘We, as do all of Australia, grieve the loss of a wonderful, loving, and caring man. Our pain is immeasurable, and we will not be answering any questions at this time. Thank you for coming and may God be with you always, and in all ways.’
Accompanied by dozens of reporters shouting, both questions and condolences, Joshua and Margaret Glenn turn away from the media pack heading down the gravel drive towards the sandstone mansion on the shores of Sydney harbour.
Security guards walk several steps behind the Glenn’s as the green wrought iron gates slide closed automatically. A hollow rumbling sound, from deep beneath the ground, acts as a warning to those assembled the barricades are rising. Two, black, bullet-shaped barriers rise from below the concrete; a pair of sentinels barring entrance to the compound to all but the select few.
Lying in my hospital bed, my back and shoulders are throbbing with pain.
I pull myself into a seated position and scratch at my stubbly face before taking a moment to look around the ward. A motley looking bunch of men, both young and old, lie in the beds lining the emergency ward walls. The narrow, crowded, room presses in on me, sucking the oxygen out of my lungs.
Wires and tabs are taped all over my torso. The machines they’re attached to are beeping and pulsing, keeping the attending medical staff aware I’m still alive. I kick my legs out from beneath the thin hospital blanket and yank several small patches off my chest before pulling a cannula out of my arm.
Blood spurts from the small hole left behind after the cannula’s removed. I wrap the wound with a portion of the bedsheet, applying pressure for a minute or two until the blood stops leaking. Standing on unsteady feet, I close my eyes and take several deep breaths as I wait for my brain to regain its balance. Once I’m satisfied I won’t end up face down on the floor, I let go of the bed and stumble towards a rectangle of light halfway down the ward.
Locking the door behind me I squint, muttering curses as the overly bright light burns my eyes. The room is tiled in ugly avocado green tiles. A basin, toilet and standing shower in an off-white colour fill the cramped space. Mounted on the wall above the sink is a small, rectangular mirror.
My skin’s tinged with a pale, sickly-yellow, highlight that shows off the thick black smudges beneath my bloodshot eyes. I run the tap, cursing myself for a fool as I lean forward and splash cold water over my face. The water stings as it trickles against the grazed skin on my cheek. I lean into the mirror and snarl.
‘Dammit to shitting hell.’
I’m looking at the hole punched through my smile. The canine tooth on the left side of my mouth is shattered. Hardly any of it remains visible below the gum. I’m not sure what happened, but I’m vaguely aware of when. I stab the tip of my tongue into the exposed gum, grimacing as the soft flesh catches on a jagged piece of tooth. Sighing I flip my reflection the bird.
Some days it doesn’t pay enough to bother getting out of bed.
I find my clothes, and a cheap Bible, in the small grey metal cabinet beside my hospital bed. I leave the Bible where it is and begin dumping my clothes onto the mattress. I pull on my jeans, socks, and shoes and slide my bare chest into my old army coat. The t-shirt I remember wearing yesterday is nowhere to be found.
Leaving the ward, I make my way down a long beige corridor, the soles of my shoes slapping against the lino floor. My dry throat screams at me, and my left hip burns in pain. I walk into the Emergency Department, heading directly towards the exit.
‘Sir,’ a nurse calls as I walk past the admission counter. ‘Sir, where are you going? You can’t leave. Sir.’
I ignore her.
I stare directly at the glass sliding doors, trying to predict when they’ll open. Closer and closer, I step. The doors stay sullenly, almost confrontationally, shut.
‘Sir,’ the young nurse says again, this time aiming for a more confident tone of authority. ‘You can’t leave the hospital until you’re discharged by the Doctor.’
Sweat beads on my forehead as I glare at the doors. A pale giggle rides the air beside me. I close my eyes and smile.
‘Open the door.’
‘Yes, Master,’ the child-like voice laughs at me. ‘Certainly, Master. Anything for you, Master.’
‘Just get on with it,’ I say, laughing at Shadow’s Barbara Eden impersonation.
Air rushes past my head as two blood-red hands materialise in front of me. I concentrate, watching as Shadow’s small body builds itself out of thin air.
He stands no more than three feet tall. He looks pale and fragile like he’s spun from glass and dreams and could shatter at any moment. Hair, white as snow, hangs in curls framing a heart-shaped face. His irises are gold, glowing as though lit by candlelight. They flicker and pulse inside pupils of deep indigo as he focuses on the sealed doorway.
With a sharp gesture of his hand, the doors explode into action, racing along their tracks as if hyped up on steroids and caffeine. The speeding doors slam into the building’s concrete walls, embedding themselves deep into the building’s frame. Dust and debris rain down in a storm as the people in the Emergency Department scream and run for cover.
I step through the opening where moments earlier a pair of sliding glass doors had barred my way. Taking a deep breath of the smoggy Sydney air, I cough hard enough that I find myself bent over, wheezing to get my breath.
‘Get a job, loser.’
A well-dressed young man walks past me, crossing to the other side of the street. I follow him, moving across the road into the park until I’m standing in the shadows of a massive Moreton Bay Fig.
Typical of a person born with a silver spoon jammed sideways up their arse he turns and looks down his nose. With a sneer, he flicks his lit cigarette in my direction and, walking away, heads up to the traffic lights on the corner.
‘Wanna have some fun?’ I ask Shadow.
Shadow looks up at me. His port-wine-coloured lips pull back into a grin showing his sharp pearl-white teeth glistening in the late morning sunlight. Shadow rarely leaves my side. Not since the day he saved a terrified 4-year-old me from the junkies on Myrtle Street. The dead junkies on Myrtle Street to be more precise. The soft-touch of a breeze brushing against my cheek alerts me to the fact he’s ready to begin. I close my eyes, building a strong mental image of exactly what I want him to do.
When I know he understands me, I wave him off. Other people around us only notice a breeze blowing up the street, but I know Shadow’s shooting up the road. As he reaches the prick in the expensive blue suit, I throw back my head and howl like a wolf baying at the full moon. At the same time, Shadow bites blue suits butt cheek hard.
I roar with laughter as he leaps into the air; a near-perfect imitation of the Road Runner preparing to run away from Wile E. Coyote leaving him in a cloud of dust. For good measure, I howl again, and Shadow begins nipping at his ankles. He races across the busy intersection, not stopping until he crashes into a green metal garbage bin. As he flies over the bin and lands face-first on the footpath, I don’t even bother containing the grin smearing itself across my face.
Whistling a jingle, and with an extra bounce in my step, I saunter across the park and make my way home to Cielo House.