Excerpt – Chapter One – The Good As Dead: Olivya has just learned that her mother plans to upgrade their home-based hospice center to euthanasia, a service called “deliverance”. GAD is short for “Good-As-Dead”. The first “customer” as arrived:
Deliverance. Olivya hated that slithery word, that thin euphemism. Why not call it what it was? Murder. Her legs tensed, straining to run through the front door, down the street, east to Lake Michigan, and keep on going, right into the cool deep waters. Instead, she crept to the foyer, careful to stay out of Mama's line of sight.
The new GAD lay mummy-bound in a pale blue blanket. This one had no intention of hanging out in a tranquilized coma or happily zoned on Hypno-Peace. He just wanted out. She wanted to look into the soul of this death-wisher. Did it take courage to broadcast that invitation to the Reaper? You are cordially invited to escort me to oblivion.
The sickly sweet stench of diseased flesh and stale urine wafted from the GAD. His sweat-soaked orange hair lay like worms on his forehead. Straps held his wrists to the side rails. His lips fluttered with each labored breath. She frowned. He looked just like all the others. Nothing special - shrunken, coma-tranked, and reeking. Was he a coward or a hero? The answer didn't show in his face, but she could find it in his aura.
A chill breeze rippled, raising gooseflesh on her arms. Maybe the old Reaper was already standing right there, ready to claim his prize. If she allowed herself to fully Sight, would she see Death's black robes, its bottomless eyes rimmed in bone? She wanted to curse it, spit in its hideous face. Like Papa, this newcomer had set out a welcome mat for Death.
Mama would be furious if she caught her gaping, disobeying orders to stay away. Olivya would have to hurry, but a moment was all she needed.
She closed her eyes, lifted her defenses and willed the Sight to come. Colors, shapes and lights swirled behind her lids. She compressed them into a single point of white-light deep inside her mind, then she opened her eyes.
The GAD's aura, at first vague and wavy, sharpened into view. Despite the drug-induced coma, misery rose from him in sluggish waves. The dull red of malignancy throbbed against a background of greenish-gray - similar to the other Good-As-Deads, but somehow weightier. Intuition told her to look more closely.
Faint hues darted behind that auric death-shroud, ghosts of the man's former emotions. A streak of robin's egg blue, shimmers of peach. An eerie feeling came over her. Something looked familiar about this combination of gentle pastels in this particular pattern.
The face of a smiling man rose in her mind's eye, one who had always been patient with the friendless psychic girl. Mr. Gragg. Her Seventh Grade English teacher from the old brick and mortar. Could this be him? It looked nothing like him. Mr. Gragg had been thick-muscled and robust, his hair a riot of bright orange ringlets. Yes. That pastel aura was Mr. Gragg's. She recognized the colors of his unique, unflagging kindness. Why him? Then again, so many in the world had cancer. Why not him?
Olivya caught Mama's voice in the kitchen. “Any family?”
“Not any more,” the deliveryman said.
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