This year’s NaNoWriMo project. The winner is.

NaNoWriMo is a month-long creative writing challenge that takes place every November.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been trying to decide which project I’m going to work on for NaNoWriMo this year.

I’ve looked at all three. And I’ve made a decision.

The project for this year is,

I Remember Everything.

A psychological thriller.

It’s the big question. Where do we go, when it’s all over?
What happens to our unfinished business?
At 20:08, Detective Ian Gisbon is murdered.
At the same instant as he dies, on the other side of the country, Suzan Halford is born.
Nobody could have guessed that locked in her head is the key to unmasking Ian’s killer.

All Suzan has to do is grow up and remember it.

Before she’s aware of her knowledge, a chance discovery sets an unstoppable chain of events in motion, and Suzan’s life spirals out of control.

What’s happening is impossible, it’s destroying her family. And driving her crazy.

There’s only one person she can turn to, the only one who can help. But they’ve been gone for years. Finding them will mean that justice can finally be done.

The idea for this one came from thoughts about my childhood (no murders though), karma, manipulation and a whole lot of emotions. I only hope I can tie all the threads together in a way that does the story justice.

Wish me luck!

Here’s a longer teaser than I gave you before. It’s just about all of Chapter One, as it currently exists.

I remember the first day of this life, it started with pain, the same way that the last day of my old life ended.

I didn’t realise that it was a new life, not to begin with. It seemed to start only seconds after the end of what must have been my last one. In my old life, I had slipped into unconsciousness, now I was awake.

I opened my eyes, where was I? The last thing I recalled was the grin on his face, the cold, dark warehouse, the flash of a blade. Where I was now was bright and warm. And noisy, I could hear several different voices, male and female. Most of what they were saying was indistinct, voices overlaid on voices, accompanied by the bleep of machinery.

“What lovely blue eyes,” said one of the female ones, out of my sight. Who was that? We had been alone, it must be paramedics, I’d been found and taken to hospital. I was in accident and emergency, that explained the number of them, my squad would have been called as well.

This was good, despite what had happened I was alive and once I got myself sorted out, I could tell them who my attacker was. The person we had been looking for; he now had another charge to add to his long list of offences. OK, I’d been injured but I would recover, it would be worth it.

I should never have been injured. When I’d spotted his car outside the warehouse, I should have waited for backup. My mistake. I had known that as soon as I had been forced to retreat into the corner, dodging the thrusting blade until I had run out of room. But now, things were all going to work out.

There was a brief flash of light away to one side of me, it made me blink. They must be taking photographs of my injuries.

“Where am I?” I shouted, but all that came out was an unformed cry.

“Perhaps it’s time for a meal,” said another voice. What were they talking about? Food was unimportant, just get me better, so I can bring him to justice. I had his name, it needed to be told.

I must have been lying down on my back, all I could see was the ceiling, the white strip lights under frosted plastic covers. I tried to move my arms, it felt like I had no control over them. My legs were the same. Had the knife stroke paralysed me? I couldn’t even lift my head.

“Here, let me,” said the first voice.

I was grabbed around the waist, while another hand went under my head, at the back. I was rising, my neck felt useless; as if it was unable to support the weight of my head. Before I knew what was happening, my face was smothered in warm flesh.

“Isn’t she a beautiful baby?” said the second voice.

That was where the panic set in. I tried to push myself away so that I could see what was going on, but my arms and legs refused to cooperate.

I howled in frustration, what had happened to me? I wasn’t a baby, never mind a girl. Less than thirty minutes ago, I’d been a twenty-seven-year-old male detective. I’d been investigating a criminal gang, unfortunately, I’d been stabbed by their leader.

What was I doing here?

I heard a woman’s voice, “her name is Suzan,” she said, “Suzan Grace.”

All the experts tell you that babies don’t understand. I see it differently. We understand everything, it’s just that we can’t tell you. At first, all I could do was scream. “I’m Detective Ian Gisbon. I was attacked by Harold James Malvis, at Hendrix Metals Warehouse.” I shouted it time after time. All that anyone around me heard were screams, they thought I was hungry, wet, dirty or suffering from indigestion.

My parents thought that my screaming meant that I was sick. They took me to see doctors who poked and prodded and told them everything was fine, they were just worried because they were new parents. They cuddled me, fed me changed me, I could feel their love and kindness but they weren’t my family. My wife and son were who I wanted, my real family, my friends. Even the people that I’d worked with. It bothered me that everyone I had known would think I was dead, although in a way I suppose I was. I might as well have been.

My new parents persisted. Through all the anguish, I could feel their love for me. In the end, thanks to their persistence, I was sent for brain scans.

“There’s a lot more activity than we would normally expect,” said the doctor. I tried to shout again. “Of course there was, I’m in here and I have a story that needs to be told.”

As time passed, I gained control of my arms and legs, could hold my head up. In frustration, I thrashed them around, repeating my tale, even though I had realised by now that it was futile. The memory was starting to fade anyway, as my mind filled with so many other things.  

And one of them was Suzan. At first we fought, for possession of the right to speak, to think or to act. Then an uneasy truce developed, I wanted to tell my tale, she wanted to be left alone to grow. She couldn’t understand what I was doing in her body. Neither could I but as I told her, there has to be a reason and perhaps it’s just not obvious yet. At first, we agreed that I could tell my story but as she got older she became stronger and wanted no more to do with me and my desire for justice. Leave me alone to grow, she said. And I found myself less and less able to resist her.

All this inner turmoil meant that, as time went on, I quietened down and concentrated on trying to keep the memory alive until the day when I would be able to tell everyone. Suzan’s parents were relieved that their daughter seemed to have settled. Now they called me quiet. People who saw my thoughtful expression when I was wheeled around our town told my parents that I had the look of an old soul.

Our shared body learned to walk, by that time all I could try to articulate was Harold James. By the time I could actually speak, all I could say was Harold. Except it came out as Haral. It became a family joke, my mother wondered where such a word had come from.

Suzan couldn’t tell her and I wasn’t strong enough to make any more words come out. Suzan and I might have occupied the same space but I could feel myself slipping away as she became her own person. I decided to bide my time, after all, I wasn’t going anywhere. I would have to change tactics, instead of using force to try to get her to do what I wanted, I would be a voice in her head, a friend to help her navigate the world.

Until I was able to convince her to speak out. And to act. Malvis would never know what was happening; until it was too late.

I hope you enjoyed that.

I’ll be trying to get as much of the story told as I can through November. I have a self-imposed deadline with my editor. Look out for updates on my progress in all the usual places.

Why not comment below and give me your thoughts?

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