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Mortal - Chapter 34

by Liv 5 months ago in Series
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What is life without death?

Mortal - Chapter 34
Photo by Stormseeker on Unsplash

Premise: In this young-adult dystopian novel, people can no longer die. But they still feel pain, and suffer--and it's maddening. Because of the chaos that ensued, the US Government created a program to figure out how to kill people. When Garrett, a teenager, falls into a coma for weeks as a result of an experiment, the Program sets its malicious sights on him.

This is the thirty-fourth chapter of the novel, Mortal. Click here for the beginning of the story. Or, click here to view all chapters.

The door opening jerks me awake. I roll my shoulders and involuntarily hiss against the kink in my neck, formed from the restless sleep against the wall of the room. Rubbing against the blur in my eyes, I look up to see an assistant looking down at me.

“Good morning,” he says curtly. He is a portly man with a pudgy face and small squinty eyes. His face is red and his arms continuously swing back and forth.

“What now?” I glower up at him, chin lifting in defiance. What else does the Secretary have in store for me?

The pudgy man shrugs. “It’s up to you.”

I raise my eyebrows, pushing the hair from my face. “Up to me.” The word, spontaneity blares off in my head.

“Yes,” he replies.

We stare at each other for a long moment, me challenging him to come forth with his agenda. But I guess there’s nothing to challenge. I rise to my feet, my gaze never leaving the assistant’s face. But my suspicion and my anger isn’t enough to deter me from what I want.

“Take me to Lucy.”

The assistant brings me to a square room with a steel table at its center. Two chairs sit opposite of each other. Stale fluorescent light falls from the bulbs in the ceiling. Turquoise tile meets pale paint halfway up the wall. It looks like an interrogation room.

I look over my shoulder, with uncertainty, to the assistant holding open the door.

“98076543 will be here momentarily,” he confirms.

Red fire scorches through my chest and up my throat, “It’s Lucy,” I snap, seething at him.

The pudgy man simply shrugs before exiting the room, the door closing behind him.

A terse sigh escapes me, and I take a seat, my gaze never leaving the closed door in front of me.

After what seems like hours, the door begins to open. I hold my breath in anticipation as Lucy is lead by the hand of an assistant who lowers her into her chair and then leaves us alone.

My breath hitches in fear. My eyes examine her. Lucy’s big eyes are wide, but instead of bright with passion, they are dull from its absence. The muscles are lax in her face, her mouth parted slightly. She looks gaunt, with long swoops of darkness beneath her eyes. A bandage is wrapped around her head, beneath disheveled hair.

Heart pounding deep against my chest, head reeling, I swallow thickly.

I wait.

And so does she, apparently.


Anxiously, I slap my sweaty palms against the cool metal of the table and hold them there, forcing them to cease their constant squirming.

“Lucy…?” I finally can’t take it.

Her pupils drift towards my direction, before falling back towards the table. Sweat slides down my temple. I bite my lip, hard.

“Lucy, it’s me. Garrett.” I state calmly, but earnestly.

No response.

“Lucy…” My voice trails despairingly. The skin on my face flushes hot, and my eyes begin to prickle. I scrunch them shut for a long second to subdue the sensation.

My chest tightens, and I jump out of my seat, rounding the table to meet her at her side.

“Lucy,” I kneel and grab one of her hands from her lap. I hiss against the coldness of what can only be described as soft porcelain. “Lucy, can you hear me?” I give the hand a tight squeeze.


I hiccup a sob before once again smothering my sharp emotions with a resounding calm. I press her hand to my chest, to my heart. “Lucy, please. Let me know…that you’re still…here.” My voice cracks on the last word.


Her head still looks straight ahead towards my seat, her gaze cast to the side and downwards.

Thick, murky emotion surges through me, followed by a thundering in my ear drums that forces me to my feet. “God damn it!” I exclaim, my words sharp and coarse.

Fingers trembling, I grip one of the armrests, and steer the chair, metal screeching against concrete. She now faces me.

Rage and hatred fill me as her blank stare pierces me. I can’t control my pain, my sorrow any longer. “He cannot take you from me!” I scream at her. The volume of my voice wilts when rage inevitably succumbs to pain. “You can get past this. Just how you got past living with your screwed-up mother, what your grandmother did to you, Edward betraying you!” I take a deep breath, “You can do this, Lucy. Please. He can’t take you away, anything but you.”


It’s difficult to describe how I feel. The only way I can make sense of this is the worst imaginable torture Project Eden has to offer. To see vibrant life stripped away; to leave only a shell behind. This is what death truly is.

I place a gentle hand on the side of her face. To my tragic surprise, a single tear slips from her eye. I hush her softly, my own tears threatening to break free. With my thumb, I wipe the tear from her face.

“You know,” I whisper, “With you, I wouldn’t mind living forever.” I swallow against the swelling in my throat. Grasping both sides of her face and with closed eyes, I kiss her brow.

Minutes later, when I reconcile what little I can, I pull away, and I don’t look back.

“Garrett. I’m so sorry.” Therese clamps a blistered hand on my shoulder.

We sit against the wall of the recreational room, my elbows digging into the inside of my thighs, hands propping up my face.

“Is…is there any chance of recovery?” she asks.

I grimace through my fingers. “I don’t know. But…she couldn’t speak. I’m not even sure she remembered me.”

Therese exhales noisily.

After a moment, I feel her hand tense on my shoulder, before it pulls away.

I drop my hands from my face and look over at her. She’s looking down at her fingers, occasionally picking at a piece of peeling, dead flesh. After a moment she looks up at me, the skin around her eyes creased with sadness. “You loved her, didn’t you?”

Her use of the past tense, that there’s no hope, makes me lightheaded. But I can’t deny the truth, the truth I never had the time to act on.

“Yes,” I manage, through the blur of tears.


About the author


Massive Nerd. Pursuing my MFA in Screenwriting!

IG and Twitter: livjoanarc

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