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JP’s pistol tastes like bourbon.
Sergeant JP Grimm didn’t pull the trigger. Now his Marine brothers are dead. All victims of a child in a suicide vest…a child that resembled Sgt. Grimm’s very own. But how are you supposed to take a child’s life? How can you kill someone that looks just like your own son?
Those same hazel eyes he saw in his scope continue to haunt him long after he left the desert death lands as he tries to reconnect with his son, Adin. JP battles another war at home against PTSD and the worthless, dejected thoughts that he is the reason his friends are dead. His wife, Lisa, struggles to let her stubborn husband work it out on his own terms. She does all she can to give him space, support, and strength—but her love can only go so far.
As the world shows signs of impending doom from a weakening magnetic field and flaring sun, JP, too, shows signs of his own impending doom. After pushing everyone away, JP must face his nightmares to restore his relationship with his son, save his marriage, and save himself before the modern world burns out in a fiery, electromagnetic disaster.
A thin mist sprayed his face while the letters of his family and friends danced around him. They swirled with the leaves, tumbling in the breeze. Those not secured by the weight of water, mud, or the bottle of Jim Beam fluttered away in a blur. He sobbed and shook in defeat. Then he lifted his head and watched the arms above him whip back and forth, like hands frantically trying to get his attention. Crimson streaks rode the rain down his face. He slapped himself on the cheek.
Again, but harder.
Stop it, right now! You know where you are! You know what you came to do! It’s just a fucking storm!
He squinted up and hollered at the sky. “You’re just a storm! You ain’t nothin’! I’m not afraid of you!” His pistol stabbed at the air as he shouted. His chest puffed and rocked with a deep, shaky breath.
The rolling black clouds churned above him. He looked beyond the branches at the different swirls of gray, black, and blue. He felt connected, like the sky was a mirror, and he was staring at himself.
“I can’t live like this! God? Do you hear me?”
The thunder rolled across the farm, dampening his cries above. Or was it a reply?
“I can’t fucking live like this,” he confessed, defeated, to the damp tombstones.
The pistol slowly shook back toward his temple. He pressed it hard into his skull.
“You feel that, don’t ya?” He pressed until his neck slanted to the left, until the muzzle dug into his skin. Its pressure biting down above his jaw, throbbing and ricocheting through his head.
“Good. Cause it’s the last pain you’re ever gonna feel!”
The click of the safety sounded exactly like his M4. His gut turned as he blew rain from his lips. His finger trembled with the thunder on his trigger. He closed his eyes one last time to think of anything worth living for, anything he hadn’t already lost or damaged or hurt—anything he hadn’t pushed to the edge of hating him.
Then, in the buzz of the wind, something wet and flat slapped against his face, sticking there. He flinched, growled at the interruption, and snatched it—one of the pictures from the letters scattered around the tree. The photo felt heavy and awkward, like an unfulfilled promise.
He smeared the water drops from its color and shook it before bringing it closer to his face. He gasped at the image of the hill and oak outlined by a sunny sky. He remembered the picture well. Flipping it over, he read what his boy had written in orange marker on the back.
Don’t forget about me and your favorite spot! Come home soon, Daddy!
your best buddy Adin
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Jacob Paul Patchen is an award-winning author and poet of inciting fiction and provocative poetry.
Jacob earns his inspiration through experience and believes every book has a purpose. He writes powerful, emotional, and thrilling stories about mental health, war, social stigmas, and other taboo subjects in order to bring awareness, change, and hope to those who need it.
Raised in Southeast Ohio, he’s a sucker for fast workouts, long laughter, and power naps. Snacks are his love language, and he thinks he’s a Pisces. Check him out and join his newsletter at Jacobpaulpatchen.com.