Jana J.J. McGraw’s first full length novel, “Initial Kill”, grew out of her thirty years experience as a public servant in Hendersonville, not unlike Larsen, the setting for her story.
Following in her late Father’s footsteps, she became a Firefigther, and then a Paramedic. Later, she moved forward to a become a Detention Officer, until her current destination as 911 Public Saftey Telecommunicator.
In “Initial Kill”, the situations are believable, and the dialog emulates the language of law enforcement and rescure personnel.
J.J.’s lifetime of experience has guided her to splash images and characters across the pages. As a result, “Initial Kill” was born.
Here is a preview of chapter one of “Initial Kill.”
Jana J.J. McGraw
She was swimming upwards. The water was heavy and pressed against her. It tried to hold her back as her lungs screamed and burned for more air. Would she never break the surface? She was tiring quickly and yearned to give up. She wanted to stop and rest, but her lungs ached, desperate for air. The surface had to be just above her. Why couldn’t she reach it? Then, suddenly, her lungs exploded.
Leann’s eyes snapped open as she gasped for air and looked around confused. She wasn’t in the pool. Had she been having a nightmare? Had she been in the pool earlier? She couldn’t remember. Why was that? Had she been drinking and passed out? She must have, because she felt like she was drunk. Yes, she had to be drunk. She vaguely recalled she’d had one, or maybe it was two drinks?
Her vision was blurred, but she tried to focus on the shadowy forms in front of her. She was in her living room, she thought. Yes, she had to be. She thought she could make out her camel hair couch and the wet bar behind it. Why was it so damn dark?
She started to get up and realized she couldn’t move. Uneasiness slithered around her at that moment. Had she had a stroke or was she paralyzed? She didn’t think so. She could still wiggle her fingers and toes.
Without warning, an intense flash of light briefly lit the room followed by a heavy rumble. The storm had come in and knocked the power out, she thought.
“How’s the drug wearing off?” a voice whispered from the dark.
She flinched and started to get up again, but couldn’t. Confused, she glanced down at her body. Why was she naked and bound to one of her wing-back chairs? She felt so groggy that she couldn’t understand what was going on. Suddenly a stinging slap knocked her head sideways.
“Snap out of it, you stupid bitch!” the voice hissed.
Fear gripped her with its icy fingers, and she started to shake uncontrollably. Even in her confused state, she knew something was very wrong.
Lightning burst outside the windows again, and she had a brief second where she saw a figure; then it blended back into the darkness of the room. Had someone broken into the house? Oh God, was this one of those home invasions? What did the person want and what was going to happen to her? Were they going to rape her or kill her? Her mind frantically spun through every horrible idea she could drum up.
“Ms.Sheffield, I guess you’re wondering what’s happening?”
The intruder called her by name. How did the intruder know her name? Yes, she did want to know what was happening; who wouldn’t. She didn’t prefer to be scared out of her mind if she could help it. What the hell did the idiot think?
“You should have protected the innocent when you had the chance.”
She wrinkled her brow. What the hell was that supposed to mean?
“You have no idea what I’m talking about, do you?”
When she tried to speak, her mouth wouldn’t form the words, so she simply shook her head.
“No, you wouldn’t, would you? Too wrapped up in your own self would be my guess.”
She took several deep breaths, trying to clear the drug-induced fog from her brain. She tried again to make out the intruder, but the face was covered. The voice didn’t sound right either, like it was distorted. The intruder was hiding the identity well. Leann couldn’t believe this was happening to her. She was a pillar of the community and worked hard. She had a nice home, a nice life. She didn’t deserve this kind of treatment. What the hell was going on?
As she sat ramrod still, her senses were hyper-alert. The sound of the grandfather clock ticking in the hall pounded in her ears. The rain battering against the windows pulled at her senses. The deep breathing of the intruder put her nerves on edge.
Leann peered into the darkness and was startled by the sudden flick of a lighter. She squinted against the flame as a candle was lit and the room took on a somber glow. The intruder picked it up and was moving closer to her. That was when her skin started to crawl.
“How’s your brother doing?”
“I-I don’t have a brother,” she stuttered and looked away.
“You’re lying.” The slap came again, and her face burned from the contact.
“No, I’m not!” she cried out.
A picture was shoved in front of her. “Do you remember her?” The candles glow rippled across the glossy square. She stared in confusion as the seconds ticked by. Then the hands of realization squeezed her throat. She couldn’t get her breath, and her lip trembled. This was bad, really bad.
“Ah, I see that you do. Now again, how’s your brother?”
She jerked her head upwards. “Why are you doing this?” Leann whispered.
“Because you should have done what was right and you didn’t.”
Leann watched as the intruder set the candle on the breakfast counter and then turned back toward her. “You don’t mind a picture, do you, for a souvenir?” The camera’s flash went off, and she was momentarily blinded. Then her face was grabbed violently. The pain was excruciating as her mouth was forced open. A scream started building. It moved upwards along her throat, and just as she started to let it out, something was shoved deep inside her mouth. Wetness dribbled across her lips; then her mouth was forced closed. The force made her teeth rattle and the pain shoot through the roof of her head. Then suddenly, she was released.
She began to gag and tried to open her mouth, but she couldn’t. Her lips were sealed shut, and they were burning. Panic started to grip her. She was freaking out.
“I’d calm down if I were you,” the intruder warned.
She closed her eyes. “Don’t gag,” she told herself. “If you vomit, you’ll suffocate.” She started taking slow deep breaths through her nostrils, trying not to throw up.
From the faint glow of the candle, she watched the intruder digging around in what looked like an equipment bag. Some tools were extracted, and then the intruder headed toward the grandfather clock. Leann’s hazel eyes went wide as she realized the intruder knew where her safe was and was working to get into it.
“The one thing that you have going for you, Leann, is you’ll die quick. Your brother’s not going to be so lucky.”
Pure terror raced through her at that moment. The intruder said she was going to die. She fought against her restraints, but she was unable to break free. She wanted to scream but couldn’t. Somebody had to help her before it was too late; her mind screamed.
She leaned her head back and closed her eyes. She had to calm herself down, but her hearing was acute. Even through the noise from the storm raging outside; Leann heard the familiar click of the safe’s lock disengage. The intruder had just gotten to her precious money.
“My, my, Leann, look at what we have in here. You’re a greedy little girl, aren’t you?” The intruder loaded the bag full, and then walked back to her.
“You won’t need this anymore where you’re going.”
She wanted to scream to the top of her lungs but the only sound that came out was a muffled moan. How dare someone come in here and rape her of her things! Tears streamed down her face from her fear and anger.
“Oh Leann, you’re pissed,” the intruder leaned right into her, the hot breath brushing against her face. “It’s a bitch isn’t it, to feel helpless, used, and discarded? Maybe you should have thought about that a long time ago when it came to someone innocent.”
The sudden gleam of a dangerous looking blade caught Leann’s eye, and her mind screamed when it sliced through her skin. The pain was so intense, she prayed for unconsciousness, but it never came. When it was finally over, her head fell forwards from sheer exhaustion.
She blinked through a flood of tears and caught movement out of the corner of her eye. The intruder was moving toward the fireplace. What was the intruder doing? Slowly the figure bent over and cut the gas on. Leann’s eyes went from the fireplace to the candle on the counter, and she shook her head frantically, rocking back and forth as she again tried to get up. She had to get loose, get free, and save herself, but she couldn’t budge.
A light on the end table was cut on. The intruder made a quick check to make sure nothing had been left behind, and then the light was switched back off. The intruder grabbed the bag, turned, and went out the front door without a second look back.
That was when Leann caught the first faint scent of gas…