View Full Version : A New Reacher Story - Please read disclaimer before reading onward

Dan M.
13-02-2017, 09:53 PM

First, this is not the unfinished story that I mentioned a while back. This is something else.

Back in the olden days at book signings and in interviews, Lee used to talk about ending the Reacher series by having him bleed out on the floor of a hotel bathroom. He even had that last book named already. He planned to call it DIE LONELY. The idea was that he doesn't want Reacher to keep going until the character is an old, boring guy with some good stories. He'd rather have Reacher killed off in Reacher style, on his own terms.

Those of you not on Facebook may not have seen an interview Maggie posted in which Lee is backing off of that ending, that he might have Reacher just sort of ride off into the sunset and disappear. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/event/article-4211668/Jack-Reacher-creator-Lee-Child-s-Brummie-roots.html

He is now hard at work on book number 22, but would he ever consider killing off Jack Reacher? He pauses.

‘It’s obviously no longer about the money for me. It’s purely emotional. The readers want more stories. I used to think about how I’d do it, how I’d end it. I used to think that Reacher needed a noble end, that he’d sacrifice himself for someone else.

‘But that would be gratuitously upsetting to the reader.

‘I think he’ll end in a more subtle way. Maybe he’ll just ride into the sunset, ride into silence forever.’

Some of us Reacher Creatures have noticed he's been backing off from killing off Reacher for a few years now.

"What's your point, Dan?"

Because Lee has been backing off from Reacher's ending story, I feel I've been released to post this.

I was intrigued immediately when I first heard Lee talk about the DIE LONELY concept. So much so that I had a hard time getting it out of my head. I ended up writing a Dan M. version of how the last chapter of such a book might play out. I haven't shared it with the group for a couple of reasons. The biggest one is that it felt a bit like stealing something. Other Reacher stories I’ve written are little stand-alones that can be fit anywhere into the Reacher universe and be okay, but Reacher’s only going to die one time.

If you were at a party and saw someone sticking his finger in the punch bowl, you might have a number of reactions, and probably none of them would be favorable. To me, posting this story would've been like sticking my finger in the punch bowl. But, as I've said, I feel released from that now.

The "last chapter" I've written is from Neagley's point of view. I've long pondered Reacher and Neagley's relationship. Everybody has their own ideas about who Reacher’s favorite girl should be. I've always thought eventually it turn out to be Neagley. To insert Neagley into that position in this story is a personal choice, even though Lee has hinted plenty of times that Neagley has feelings for Reacher, and even though this story never reveals exactly how Reacher feels about Neagley.

There are a number of events inferred in the story that bring the reader to this last chapter. Of course Reacher-scale mayhem and destruction are a part of that, but it's all just hinted at as a bare bones reason for this story.

There are three cameos in this story as well.

So that's the disclaimer. If you don't want to read about Reacher's death from Neagley's perspective, or Neagley's true (in my world) feelings for Reacher, read no further.


Final Chapter

Neagley reached the third floor landing and lifted her shirt tail to slide the Glock out of its holster. The slight scrape of the front sight on the leather seemed loud in the enclosed stairwell. She carefully opened the door to the third floor and peeked into the corridor. On the left and on the right a window at each far end of the hallway let in the dwindling afternoon light. She saw nobody in either direction. All quiet. She eased into the hall.

There were six doors on the left side of the stairwell, three facing three across the hall from each other. To the right, six more doors, same configuration. On the worn oak floor, drops of blood just like the ones she followed up the stairs trailed away toward the doors on the left. She followed them to the second door on the left. She stopped there with her back against the wall, the Glock at low ready.

If she could follow the blood, so could others. Maybe they already had.

She waited, listening for any sound inside the room.

She heard nothing.

She used her left hand to try the door knob. Unlocked.

She took a breath and pushed the door open, ducking around the frame in a low crouch, fast, muzzle of the Glock sweeping the room.

The room was dim, empty, faded bed spread in place, dresser drawers closed. No clothes, no luggage. Not that she expected any.

She smelled the blood right away.

The door to the bathroom was nearly closed. Through the crack of an opening she saw a dirty white tile floor that stopped at the door, meeting the worn gray carpet of the rest of the room. The grouted channels between the bathroom tiles were filled with thick, red-brown liquid that came all the way to the door, soaking into the carpet. A smear of something dark stained the bathroom door near the knob. Between her and the bathroom door, a few smudges and drops made the same kind of meandering trail she’d seen on the sidewalk all the way from the subway station to the hotel.

She stepped further into the room and closed the door to the hallway.


She heard nothing.

She crossed to the bathroom. Pushed the door all the way open. Stood there.

There are times when a person sees something outside the realm of imagined possibility. Something so out of sync with what they know to be reality that their mind simply freezes up. Goes into denial, shock, cognitive dissonance. In spite of years of training and experience, the mind slides into a nearly unrecoverable skid, like a speeding car hitting a wide oil slick and propelling into a spin. Just no way to bring it back around.

Neagley stood in the doorway. Denial. Shock. Cognitive dissonance.

The cartel assassin, Cervantes, was jammed against the piping under the sink on one tiled wall, with his head twisted to an impossible degree on his neck, his eyes half open and glazed in death. His nerveless fingers still grasped a wicked-looking switchblade, stained with blood.

Reacher, still wearing the old canvas field jacket, was slumped with his back against the opposite tile wall, on the floor next to the tub, his legs spread out in front of him, one big shoe on each side of the toilet. His chin was down on his chest as if he’d fallen asleep. His left forearm was propped on the rim of the tub. His right hand was in his lap. The lower part of his shirt was shredded and wet with blood, as was his right sleeve, halfway up to the elbow. Blood soaked the front of his pants and the bottom of his jacket where it folded against the floor under him. The tile floor was flooded with it. It was a lake of blood, an ocean of blood. Already drying.

How he had made it back to his hotel room and climbed three flights of stairs was beyond her.

She crossed to his side. Closed the toilet seat lid and laid the chunky black Glock on top of it. She knelt next to him, automatically lifting her hand to check his carotid artery for a pulse.


Nobody, not even Jack Reacher, could lose that much blood and live.

He looked as if he was simply resting there, enjoying the coolness of the tile. Faint traffic noises came up from the street and in through the closed window over the tub, a tranquil drone that made her want to sit down on the floor next to Reacher and rest herself. He looked so peaceful and serene. More than she ever remembered seeing him.

Her vision blurred and she became aware of the tears on her face. The last time she had cried was on the day that all men had become dead to her, never to touch her or be touched by her unless precipitated by violent necessity. She swore that no man would ever again do to her what had been done that day. No man would ever again take what had been taken from her. And she had been satisfied with that choice. She’d reveled in the freedom of it. Her heart was untouchable. She was invulnerable.

Until Reacher.

And then she’d reveled in the knowledge that there was one man in all the world whom she could allow herself to love unconditionally.

One man who was worthy.

One man deserving.

He was the only man she’d ever wanted, the only one with whom she could ever allow herself to even think of being. She had known it from that first day back in the Army all those years ago. Known it throughout all of the adventures and all of the dangers they had shared. She had taken for granted that he was aware of it. How could he not feel it radiating from her, so strong sometimes that it was like an air raid siren going off in the same room. She moved through life with a primal awareness always of where he was, a kind of compass point feeling to which she was always attuned, no matter how far apart they were in distance or time.

It didn’t matter how many women he loved or had been loved by. She knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that he belonged to her and she to him. He might as well be the only man in the world, which in effect he was. Of course other women would want him, and have him, but the unspoken connection between the two of them was there, as real and as solid as anything in life could be. It was above what any other woman could possibly feel, and therefore other women posed no threat to what she felt, and what she knew he felt as well. A psychologist might’ve called it an obsession, a fantasy fixation akin to what stalkers believed about the people they were stalking. Except she didn’t stalk. No reason to. She knew someday her obsession would come to her.

So to think of him as gone was simply unbelievable. The sheer, massive presence of him striding through the world, confident, in control, was not something that could just come to an end. Expecting the sun to stop shining would be easier.

And there was so much she’d never told him. So much she wanted to tell him.


She leaned close, her hand on his cheek, and tilted his head up, and kissed him on the mouth for the first time in twenty-five years.

And his eyes opened. His ice blue eyes that could be so warm, like they were right then, looked directly into hers from inches away. He smiled a tired smile.

“Hey, Neagley,” he whispered.

“Hey, Reacher.”

She started to rise. He was alive. Maybe there was a chance…

“No,” he said. “Stay.”

“But I can call…”


She stopped.

“It’s okay. There’s too much … too much trauma. No way to put it back. Shotgun blast’ll do that.”

For a moment she stood there, then she reached down and with both hands grabbed Cervantes by the ankles. In a last burst of fading adrenaline, she dragged his body out of the bathroom and left it in a heap next to the bed. Kicked him in the ribs. She came back into the bathroom and sat down in the blood next to Reacher, her back to the tiled wall. She leaned against him, her head on his shoulder.

“We had a hell of a run, Neagley.” She heard the smile in his voice.

“Hell of a run,” she said. “Would’ve been nice to keep it going a while longer.” She reached out and took his bloody right hand, her fingers intertwining with his for the second time in twenty-five years.

“Reacher, I … I …”

Reacher squeezed her hand. “Shh,” he whispered. “I know. It’s okay.”

She sighed. Gestured toward the body of Cervantes with her free hand. “So he came to finish the job?”

Reacher laughed, a single, weak exhalation from which it took him a few seconds to recover.

“Waste. Good thing about a gut full of double-ought—not afraid to get stabbed.”

The door to the hotel room cracked ajar soundlessly. After a pause it opened just enough for a lean Hispanic man with a shaved head to slide into the room, a gun in his hand. He heard quiet voices coming from the bathroom—a man and a woman. The bathroom doorway was at a right angle to the door from the hall and he couldn’t see who was talking, but he recognized the voice of the big man. The one called Reacher. The woman could only be the one whom he’d shadowed from the subway.

He moved along the wall, facing the bathroom door as he went, keeping his gun leveled toward it. He paused at the sight of Cervantes crumpled on the floor beside the bed. He saw the blood on the tiled floor in the doorway. Saw the bloody footprints and drag marks on the carpet.

Cervantes had been a careful man, but the blade was his vanity. He enjoyed looking into the eyes of his victims as his knife cut into them. He enjoyed being close and seeing the surprise and dismay and the terror.

“Ah, Miguel, there is nothing like it,” Cervantes would say. “To have such power!” But for all his skill, Cervantes had been a fool. Miguel tightened his grip on his pistol and wheeled through the door into the bathroom.

Neagley was on her feet, Glock in her outstretched right hand. The bridge of Miguel’s nose bumped hard against the muzzle. He saw her finger squeeze the trigger, but he didn’t hear the sound of the shot.

The 9mm hollow point glanced off the inside rim of Miguel’s left eye socket and blew off the left side of his head behind his ear as it exited, spraying a good percentage of his brain and skull over the body of Cervantes and the bedspread. Miguel collapsed straight down like a puppet with its strings cut and hit the floor at the same time as the brass casing from Neagley’s gun. A wisp of smoke curled from the Glock’s muzzle.

“One more for you, one more for me,” she said to Reacher over her shoulder.

Reacher said nothing.

* * *

NEW YORK – Vessels from the Port Authority, the New York Fire Department, and the U. S. Coast Guard responded this evening to multiple reports of a burning boat on the Hudson River off of Battery Park.

Lt. James Grant, a spokesman for the Coast Guard confirmed. “The reports started coming in just at dusk of a small boat, maybe a dory, on fire, drifting into the harbor with the outgoing tide.”

The craft appeared to be an open boat with a stack of lumber or pallets. “Early reports spoke of a body on top of the burning material, like some kind of Viking funeral pyre, but we can’t confirm that,” said Grant, “We were first to reach the vessel and when we arrived, the fire seemed to be at a peak and we just couldn’t get close to it. There were concerns of a possible explosion, so we kept other boats away and monitored the scene along with the Port Authority.”

No other craft were endangered. By the time a FDNY fire boat was free to respond, the vessel had burned to the waterline. It sank near the Statue of Liberty.

One of the first reports indicated that there was a woman on board, standing in the prow of the vessel when the fire broke out.

“Again, that’s something we can’t confirm at this time,” said Grant. “We certainly saw no sign of anyone on board. We’ll have divers in the water to investigate first thing in the morning.”

The flames from the burning vessel were seen from a wide area, with reports coming from Jersey City and Manhattan, as well as Staten Island.

“It was kind of eerie,” said Jodie Jacob, who had recently returned to Manhattan after living abroad in London. “The way the flames reflected off the harbor and all the black smoke going up with the Statue of Liberty behind it gave me chills. It felt like 9/11 all over again.”

The Port Authority and FDNY declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

When asked about a possible connection to a massive warehouse fire in Union City the day before and the running gun battle that took place in the Lincoln Tunnel and over several blocks in Chelsea yesterday, NYPD detective Theresa Lee also refused to elaborate. “The fire on Thursday and the gun fight yesterday afternoon appear to have been drug related cartel-on-cartel conflict. The vessel fire is not connected as we see it, but we’re still sorting out all of the recent activity, so it’s too soon to say for sure,” she said. A source close to the investigation added, “Drug trafficking in New York and the surrounding boroughs, and by extension the entire Northeast, had a significant blow dealt to its infrastructure this last weekend.

“Authorities are still compiling a body count, but several high ranking cartel figures as well as a number of underlings were killed in the fire and the violence that followed. Hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of drugs and cash are estimated to have been destroyed.”

“Even though we weren’t involved, it was a big, big weekend for the good guys,” Lee said. “We should all be very happy.”


13-02-2017, 11:37 PM
Wow, really dramatic Dan!

14-02-2017, 08:26 PM
Very good, Dan.

15-02-2017, 06:51 PM
good dan! like the way you work Neagley & Reacher, perfect.

15-02-2017, 07:45 PM
Nice writing Dan. :thumbsup:

16-02-2017, 12:57 AM
Fantastic Dan!

Dan M.
16-02-2017, 05:05 PM
Thanks, folks!