Chapter 1

Written by: Joe Labrum

Something about the timing didn’t make sense. Jason wondered why Albert left an empty container just before the ship sailed. A thought occurred to him. He jumped to his feet and hurried from the coffee shop.

Taking a detour on his way back to the ship, Jason stopped by Albert’s flat in the old Quilt Building. The door was locked. He slipped a credit card between the door and the jamb, then gave it a push. It swung away and he stepped in. A computer monitor sitting on a small desk showed the Windows screen saver logo floating across its face. Jason moved the mouse and Outlook came alive with a message dated February 3rd , 18:42pm.

Al, a container was dropped today while I was out. What gives?

            “What gives is right,” Jason muttered.

The email was sent the night he and Al were playing pool in the bar.

            Puzzling over the email, Jason pulled the door shut behind him and hurried to the dock. There he boarded a launch that took him out to the ship lying at anchor in Elliot Bay.

When he boarded, Jason went straight to Albert’s cabin looking for answers. He stepped inside, stumbled over an object and fell into the unlit room. Grunting as he struggled to his feet, he turned on the light. Albert’s overturned footlocker, with its contents strewn across the floor and unmade bunk, lay on its side in front of the door. A pile of papers from the wastebasket covered a small desk in a roughly organized way. He sniffed and frowned. The smell of stale tobacco filled the room. Dozens of butts filled a coffee mug. As he was leaving, something on the floor caught Jason’s eye. He picked up a discarded matchbook with the embossed name ‘Snohomish Exchange’. Pensively shaking his head, he rolled a butt between his fingers. Albert didn’t smoke.


            A cop stopped Jason in front of some yellow crime scene tape at the end of the drive leading to the Exchange..

Jason flashed his business card and explained he had an appointment with Whitehall. He quizzed the the cop, who told him that someone had made a nuisance report about an odor coming from a shipping container. A forensic team was investigating. Jason detoured to where the police were gathered.

The smell, noticeable from the end of the road, grew acrid as he got closer to the container. Sparks sprayed from a screaming abrasive saw a cop was using to cut the latching mechanism. The door flew open with a loud bang, releasing a cloud of flies. The smell of rotting flesh escaped and hung heavy in the air. Retching uncontrollably, Jason turned away.

The forensic investigator climbed into the container and flashed his light toward a scratching sound. Several large rats scattered. After a few minutes, the investigator came out and Jason heard him shout,

“Lieutenant, it’s going to be tough to I.D. this victim… the head is missing”.

Joseph Labrum, USA 


THE HEAD IS MISSING.....! Have you ever read a hook like this before. Joe is a man after my own heart. It's not a good story 'till somebody dies. Fantastic start to a real thriller that writers can get their teeth into. Well done Joe, you made my day and I'm sure there's a buzz vibrating through the rest of the writers. What a start.
Good job Joe, it is a story! Great grabber, you have left us a stink to smell out for the next nine chapters.
Good end line for this story. It makes what is happening visual and a good challenge for the next writer
This is a great chapter. I love the ending. Hopefully they can grab his prints from his fingers. I caught an error. Not that I should be grilling anyone about errors, but it stopped me from reading continuously.
He quizzed the the cop, - There are two 'the' in the sentence.
He's missing his head... fabulous.
There's always one little fish to be hooked in each chapter just to see who is paying attention. Well spotted because no-one else caught it. Goes to prove how important editing is. It also shows how we are teaching ourselves to look for other writers' errors, and in that we are improving our own. Headless corpse - such a juicy prospect. The cloud of flies got to me. Wonderful.
Good catch! I should have read through it aloud.
This chapter followed on from the Preface very well and made me wonder if I was up to the challenge to follow with something as good.
I did wonder about the email in regards to the empty container. I wasn't sure if this related to the comment by Al, in the Preface to Jason, where he mentioned that the location of the container might be known.
Maybe I was thinking on it too much.
Good stuff regardless. Ok, now to check if there are any comments on my chapter...