Friday, September 4, 2015

I’m Tired and I’m Scared. I Don’t Want to Die.

An Excerpt from The 25th Hour (Book One in The Adventures of Mackenzie Mortimer):

“It’s like cigarettes or alcohol. It’s a drug, Marlene. Using it is exciting and exhilarating. The more you use it, the more you want to use it again. But like a drug, it’s deadly. Cigarettes destroy your lungs, alcohol eats away your liver, and the pocket watch’s chronal energy consumes your body.”

“But think of all the good you can do with the watch. You’ve already saved many lives. You’re a hero, Mac. Just like in your comic books. That watch gives you your own superpower. For some reason, the universe entrusted you with it. But with great power—”

“Comes great responsibility. I know. Spider-Man said that in Amazing Fantasy number fifteen. I’m a comic book geek, remember? But I’m not ready for responsibility. I don’t want it, either. I’m just a kid, with my whole life ahead of me. I won’t let it get eaten up by this watch.” Mackenzie tossed the pocket watch onto his desk. He resolved to dispose of the watch so neither he nor anyone else would ever be at risk from it.  

“I didn’t mean to shout at you, Marlene. I’m tired and I’m scared. I don’t want to die. The thought terrifies me. Sometimes, I have nightmares about the old man disintegrating. I wonder if it’s me, and I wake up screaming. Like you said yesterday, I haven’t come to grips with my own mortality… except at night, in dreams.”

She embraced the trembling boy. “You look like you need a hug.”

He sniffed her neck as she pulled him closer. “Are you wearing perfume… and makeup?”

Marlene nodded.

“I know why you’re doing this. The perfume, the makeup, the dress. You’re doing this for me, aren’t you?”

Marlene’s heart raced. She had dreamed of a day when Mackenzie would see her, not simply as a best bud, but as a young woman. Margo had been right, all she needed to do was dress the part to open his eyes.

“Margo helped you do this, right?”

Marlene nodded. She was flushed with so many new emotions and was searching for the words to express them.

“I thought so. Margo’s clever. She’s helping you fit in with Vanessa’s crowd so you can get tight with her and talk me up to her. Once Vanessa accepts you into her clique, you can pave the way for me with her. You’re awesome for doing all the for me, Marlene. I can’t thank you enough. It means a lot to me. And I promise, I won’t even make fun of you for wearing a dress.”

Marlene felt as if an icy dagger had ripped through her heart. She wanted the earth to split open and swallow her. She gulped. “You know I’d do anything for you, Mac.”

“I’d do anything for you too, Marlene. You’re my best friend. You’ll always be my best friend.”

The young girl choked back her tears. She nodded. “I’ll always be your best friend,” she repeated the affirmation and cruel curse. “I have to go.” She released Mackenzie from her embrace and fled.

Mackenzie put the watch in his pocket. He flipped off the room light and walked to the garage. He found the shovel next to the rake, in the corner by some fishing poles. He grabbed it and left.

He walked for several blocks and cut through the woods. When he heard the train whistle, he followed the sound to the railway trestle. He gazed down at the white stone beneath the trestle. This is a good spot, he thought. Mackenzie plunged the shovel into the ground, pushing the blade through the stony soil. The small mound of dirt he dug up, deposited by his ankle, steadily grew. As twilight fell, a full moon shone on the hole he had carved from the earth. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the pocket watch. He addressed it, as if the watch required an explanation for this act of betrayal. “I’m not a hero. I’m just a kid. All I want is a normal life. A long, normal life.” Mackenzie dropped the pocket watch into the hole. It vanished under the first shovelful of dirt. When the last shovelful had been cast, Mackenzie gazed up at the moon, which bathed him in its melancholy glow. The boy returned home, not realizing how much he had given up that evening.

Available in paperback or Kindle exclusively on

Time is running out… fortunately, Mackenzie Mortimer has a few more minutes than anyone else!

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