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Mortal - Chapter 39

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

Mortal - Chapter 39
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-ninth chapter of the novel, Mortal. Click here for the beginning of the story. Or, click here to view all chapters.

“Tessa, please don’t cry,” I tell her, whispering in her ear as I cradle her from behind.

She sobs, squeezing my hands tighter to her chest, so I can feel her thready heartbeat, her shaky breathing as her frail collarbone rises to meet the insides of my elbows.

I press my lips to her ear and shush her before planting a tiny kiss to her neck. She flinches away, and I frown, not knowing what else I can do to comfort her, to scare away her fears.

We sit in her bedroom, on the window seat, but the curtains are pulled shut so only a bright, opaque glow fills the room, making the room look gray.

“Garrett, please! Wake up!”

Maybe her room has always been gray, I’ve just never noticed.

There were a lot of things I never noticed.

“Tessa,” I whine, cajoling, “Talk to me. Tell me what’s wrong.”

Eventually, she squeezes out a brittle breath and pulls away from the embrace of my arms to look at me.

Mascara bleeds down her cheeks, her wide hazel eyes just as haunted. Dark hair, silky but tangled, is pulled back in a lop-sided ponytail.

“Don’t do this, Garrett. Not now…”

Tessa blinks, “You don’t love me, do you?”

“What?” I gape at her as she slides off the seat, the quilted blanket around her shoulder falling to her knees. “I do, Tessa.”

Tessa whirls around to face me, her bony arms tense. “Then say it! Say it to me!” she shrieks. More tears fall from her eyes.

I recoil, my stomach lurching uneasily. What can I do? What should I do? “I love you.”

“You do,” she states, as if unsure how she feels about it.

She turns away from me, walking towards her dresser.

“Yes,” I reply, stiffly, the patience in coaxing her out of her numb stupor, out of her near panic attack, out of her crying, taxing.

“I don’t believe you,” she murmurs, voice low and raspy.

My irritation with her finally takes control and rise to my feet, running a hand through my hair, “Oh my God, Tessa. Yes, I love you. How am I suppose to convince you?”


“I meant,” she snaps, turning back to me, “I don’t think you mean it.”

I can only manage to stare, at a total loss.

Tessa frowns at me, her lip twisted tight in the corner. She turns back to the dresser, opens a drawer, “And it hurts because,” she chokes on a sob, “Because I love you so much, Garrett.”

She faces me again, her face a blotchy red. My heart seizes when I realize she’s holding a gun, tight at her side.

I barely manage to scrape a word out of my straining throat, “Tessa…”

“I loved you!” She screams at me, “And you couldn’t… you couldn’t love me back.”

“I’m so sorry…I didn’t mean…I—“

Tessa raises the gun to my head.

I cry out, one more time, “Tessa!”

She shoots, and I’m falling away and the world is fading, and I can’t seem to breathe…

“Goodbye, Garrett,” she whispers.

There’s a second gun shot and another heavy thud.

The world started as it ended.

I wake up to a constant beep. My eyelids flutter from the heaviness against them, as if the weight has been building over centuries. Maybe it has. I stop pushing, sinking slowly back into a familiar nothingness, but something squeezes my hand. A voice calls to me, whispering soothing things, urging me to keep fighting, fight against whatever holds me.

So I do.

I regain awareness gradually. Although I’m still not able to open my eyes completely, I start to feel thin sheets on top of me, a pillow cushioning my head. Muddled voices become words, and words belonging to more than one person.

“Come back to us, Garrett…that’s it…”

And then I feel something in my mouth, hard and wide, my lips puckered around it. The panic of choking yanks my eyes open.

A man and a woman crowd my hazy vision. The woman starts to cry into the man’s shoulder, and I feel the pressure on my hand increase. Behind them, a doctor and a nurse, I guess, from the scrubs they wear. I’m in some sort of hospital room, and I can tell I’ve been here a while by the decaying vases of flowers.

“I told you, Greg,” the woman sobs, “I told you he wasn’t lost.”


With a hitch of my breath, I realize these people are my parents. But instead of wild-eyed and hungry, they stare on at me with warmth and love, albeit with a little exhaustion. It doesn’t make sense.

The beeping sound is now wailing in my ears, getting faster and faster, and the doctor and nurse push my frantic parents aside and descend upon me, muttering things to each other a mile a minute, sticking lights in my eyes and putting firm gloved hands on my chest and face.

I don’t know how much time passes before the beeping begins to slow, but when it does, the doctor sits beside me with a thin smile and an admiring glitter in his eye.

“Welcome back, Garrett. I’m Dr. Abovo,” he says.

I try to respond, but can’t, forgetting the tube jammed down my throat.

His hand finds my shoulder, soothing me, “Take it easy. You were pronounced brain dead months ago. It’s a miracle you’re still here.”


About the author


Massive Nerd. Pursuing my MFA in Screenwriting!

IG and Twitter: livjoanarc

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