My Failed Novel: Episode 10


It was around this time, while Tsu was walking, that the pilot of the something something name-of-a-plane, which was carrying the nuclear warhead, had the go ahead to drop cargo over the city below. His name was Drigsby Canterlever. Drigsby had been dreading this moment for the last week, when, drawing his name from a hat, he knew that he would be the one to drop the bomb that would ultimately decimate a whole city. An entire city, at one point bustling and humming with life and trade and all those things that go to make a city, there a moment, gone the next, engulfed in unimaginable heat. He would lay at night, unable to sleep, and think of the town. There was Maggie, the grocer. She was excited for her daughter’s own baby girl, about to be born any day. Maggie would brag and take up the time of her clientele, telling them all about what her little granddaughter’s life was going to be like. She would tell them that this little girl would be born, a health 7 lbs 9 ounces, an untroubled birth, without drugs. The little girl would reach all of the normal milestones throughout her life. Sitting at seven months, her first words around ten. She would take her first steps around the age of one; running another six months after that. The little angel, blue eyed and curly haired, would be speaking sentences near her third birthday; hopping and skipping a few years after that. The little girl, happy as a clam with her grandma, and her grandma likewise, would go to school: afraid at first, but she would quickly make friends. She’d begin to read and her mother, Maggie’s daughter, would be so proud to hear her read she’d weep tears. Her first menstrual period gave her a shock and a profound confusion that she had never yet understood. Now was the time that she was becoming a woman. She had heard it all before, from Maggie and her own mother (Maggie’s daughter), but nothing could have prepared her for that first day. This was quickly overshadowed by the fact that the other girls in her class would begin to bud earlier then herself, some of them growing full large breasts before she felt that hers were coming in. She learned patience this way; patience and frustration. She would have her first kiss in grade seven, from the cutest boy in her class. In highschool, now with her own pair of humble, medium sized breasts, she would meet her first love, Richard. Richard wasn’t the all-star athlete, nor was he the smartest boy in the school. No, Richard was much more. Richard was a romantic. Richard thought about important things, like life, liberty, justice, the environment, things that made her heart break, but at the same time flutter, because of the fact that Richard was saying them, and he was saying them with such passion. He was the first boy to touch her, but he did not deflower her. No, that privilege was given to a boy she dated in college, Cormac. She dated a few boys between her first love and her last, but none of them she really cared for. Cormac was a special boy, a man. He was a philosophy major, and, like Richard, she was in love with his passion; his conversation. She would go weak in the knees just staring into his eyes as he would talk to her about Hume, and Kant, Sartre and Marx, Rorty and Dennett. She was deflowered one night, at his parents’ cottage. They let the two love-birds have it for the weekend; by this time they were dating for almost a year. After dinner by the fire: marshmallows and hot-dogs, they drank wine inside and told stories of their youth and the confusion and struggle with growing into one’s own. They shared so much in common, so many mutual experiences. He took her into his strong philosophy major arms, and they made love on the couch, by candle light. It was painful, but he was gentle. In the morning they tried again, this time she could enjoy herself. He made her come that morning; she would compare every orgasm afterwards with that first one. They would be married three years later. On a trip to Norway, he proposed to her by a glacier in the fjords. She said yes, and called her mother, then her grandmother. Maggie, growing older, was so happy to hear the news, and immediately thought about the prospects of living long enough to see her great-grandchild. A year later, Maggie was diagnosed with cancer. When she called to tell her daughter the news, her granddaughter picked up the phone, “Nana! I’m so happy you called! You would never believe the news! We’re pregnant!” Maggie wouldn’t have the heart to tell her the bad news. She resolved to battle the cancer, not tell anyone, until she met eyes with her greatgrandchild. Nine-months later, still battling a secret cancer, Maggie’s grandchild gave birth to a little baby boy. She was too sick to come visit them in the hospital, so she would have to wait till they came to her. A few weeks later, her dream would come true. In her sickly withered arms, she held her grandgrandson in her arms, feeling a joy and warmth come over her. She was never as happy as she was that day, at that moment. In his eyes, she saw her whole life reflected back at her. She felt as though she understood the universe, that sharing love and life with others, connecting with other human beings was what it was all about, and that she had lived a truly wonderful life. She could only wish the same onto her children, and their children, and their children, ad infinitum. A few weeks later, laying on her deathbed, she confessed her terrible secret to her family. Somehow they understood, and they stood by her side as she took her last breaths. She died peacefully, with love in her heart, and a smile on her face.

Drigsby imagined stories like these for all the 300,000 residents of the town he would be ultimately responsible for destroying. Sure, he would also be destroying key military targets, and helping to bring the war to an end. But there were still people down there, people who wanted to live life, fulfill dreams, make love and feel joy. Wasn’t there another way to stop this war? Had it really come down to this?

His wife would try to console him. She would tell him all about how he was a hero, how he had to look at the bright side. But nothing could persuade him; nothing provided him with enough peace of mind to obtain a solid nights sleep. All he could think about was Maggie, the grocer, and the life he was taking away from her.

On that fateful plane trip, Drigsby consumed five coffees before six am. He had a two hour flight to make. Before taking off, hands fidgety with shot nerves, caffeine poisoning, and sleep deprivation, his copilot asked him if anything was wrong. He remembers he snapped at him. He immediately apologized, told him he was fine, and to please understand. He must understand. How could he not? He was in the same plane as him, carrying the Armageddon. How could he sleep? How was he alright? Drigsby tried not to think about it. Instead he tried to concentrate at the task at hand.

At around 8:14 am, he called in to headquarters, and told them that he had a clear view of the city below. After giving passwords and confirming this and that, he had the go ahead to push the release button. Flipping open the protective case, he let his finger hover over the button for a few moments. Everything was going through his mind, allowing him to think of nothing. He looked over at his copilot, who was unconsciously staring at the pilots hand, his face pale with lack of blood. They made eye contact, the copilot struggled down a swallow. Drigsby pushed the button. Immediately his mind became clear, with images flashing before his mind’s eye: children’s faces, sunny days, teenage lovers, old folks holding hands, a woman giving birth, a toddler blowing out the candles of a birthday cake. He immediately began to ball like a child. The copilot would have to fly the plane home.

Years later, after countless therapy sessions and AA meetings, Drigsby would end his life, with a photo of his wife in one hand, and a gun in the other. After the bullet passed through his spinal cord, his last thoughts, as the last pieces of oxygen were consumed by his brain cells, were of a better life, a life where he never had to drop a bomb on thousands of brothers, sisters, mothers fathers grandparents and grandchildren. Where Maggie lived the life he imagined, and she died happy. These were his last thoughts, as he saw the light and walked towards it.


About dontdontoperate

28 year old originally from Barrie, Ontario, Canada. H.B.Sc. from UofT with a major in chemistry and a double minor in philosophy and math. M.Sc. from UofT in physiology and neuroscience. Finished my Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at McMaster in the fall of 2013.
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