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Gavin Ellisworth has an unusual ability--he can see the death of whomever he touches. And when the death of one young woman foretells the end of the world, it's up to Gavin to stop that from happeneing. (Chapters added whenever I'm not too busy with college and personal life. There's still a LOT of editing to be done, so please remember that in your comments.)
Chapter 1, Gavin Mitchell Ellisworth
Mere hours after their son was born, David and Sophia Ellisworth received their first indication that he was not entirely normal. Not that there was anything unusual about the baby himself, mind you. Young Gavin was perfectly ordinary in every possible way, from the tufts of blond hair sprouting from his scalp to the tips of his miniature toes.
He shrieked with rage when the first breath of cold air slipped into his lungs, and waived his tiny fists in a feeble effort to find stability in an alien world. His eyes, clear and grey as a winter sky, crossed with the effort of trying to focus on his parent’s cooing faces. Finally, he slept, quietly drooling on his new Mickey Mouse blanket.
No, Gavin Mitchell Ellisworth was, for now, spectacularly unspectacular. What was unusual was the amount (and the increasing oddness) of visitors he received.
The first uninvited guest came after all the relatives had been shooed from the room and things were beginning to quiet down. Sophia was sleeping and David was sitting by the crib reading a paper when a young man burst into the room and breathlessly asked:
“Is that your son?”
David folded his paper and nodded cautiously, warily eyeing the man. He was wearing a long brown overcoat and no shoes. A black fedora was perched crookedly on his head. His coppery-red hair, expertly pulled back into a low ponytail, was long and straight.
“Oh, good!” The man exclaimed. “I can’t tell you how long I’ve been waiting!”
He stepped forward, and David stood up, realizing quite suddenly that the man was rather small, and only came up to David’s shoulder.
“Wait just a moment,” David said. “Who are you? And where are your shoes?”
“My… shoes?” The man looked down at his bare toes and sighed in exasperation. “Dammit! It’s always something, isn’t it? Anyway,” he rushed forward and grabbed David’s hand, shaking enthusiastically, “I’m Alistair. Don’t really remember my last name, but I’m sure it was a good one! Now, let’s see that baby…”
He firmly pushed aside the stunned David, reached into the crib and joggled the sleeping Gavin until he woke with a confused look on his face. Alistair grinned like a delighted child.
“Look at those fine grey eyes! He’ll be a strong one, for sure.” Alistair solemnly rested his long fingers on the top of the child’s downy head for a moment and sighed. “I can’t tell you how long we’ve been waiting…” he murmured. He gave Gavin a final pat on the head a looked up at David, eyes brightening once more. “So? What’s his name, then?”
“Er, Gavin. Now, look here, who-“
“Gavin!” Alistair trumpeted. “Wonderful! I knew a Gavin once, fine man, and—hold up. Do you hear sirens?”
“Yes, you know, police sirens?”
David cocked an ear and found that he could indeed hear a faint weee-oooo-weee-oooo! He looked over and saw that Alistair was already halfway to the door, backing up as he spoke.
“Terribly sorry about rushing off like this, you know, I don’t understand why they’re so mad, it was only a camera—and a pair of socks, and maybe a cantaloupe or two, but the fact of the matter is they’re completely overreacting, and I really must be going now I’ll be in touch goodbye!” Alistair reached the door and fled quickly into the hall, disappearing from sight.
David stood where he was for a moment or two, trying to understand what had just happened. He peeked in the crib and saw that Gavin had already fallen back asleep. Sophia was still snoring softly in her bed, having never woken up throughout the whole encounter.
David’s mind decided (without consulting David himself at all) that what he had just seen must have been an innocent case of mistaken identity. Obviously the man was foreign. Nothing to worry about. He settled himself into his chair once more, picked his crumpled newspaper up off the floor, and promptly forgot about the whole thing.
Unfortunately, David was only one-third right. Although the man was indeed foreign, it was not a case of mistaken identity, and there was definitely something to worry about. Over the next few years, the increasingly frazzled Ellisworths were hosts to several strange visitors, including: Nav, a dusky boy of about eight who spoke with a heavy Romanian accent and brought with him a bag of large glass beads to give to Gavin; Jack, a weathered old man with one eye, who waved religious pamphlets in Sophia’s startled face while he tried to peer behind her into the house; and Velika, a stout old woman with tangled grey hair and a cane made out of what looked like human thigh bones. She simply dumped a bag of ash on the porch and yelled a good bit about the end of the world before stumping off down the street. A few times David thought he saw Alistair skulking around their bougainvilleas, but on closer inspection it always turned out to be the wind.
Many came (some with better disguises than others), but they all came because of one thing, and that was Gavin.
Gavin, meanwhile, was growing up into a fine young boy. His limbs grew long and slender, his hair curled and darkened to a deep brown. He had a handsome, likeable face, and got along with others well enough. He discovered a love of the written word, and would happily spend hours tucked away in a corner, surrounded by stacks of books. The years quietly flew by until, at thirteen years old, he found himself teetering on the brink of adolescence.
And that was when Gavin Mitchell Ellisworth learned how truly special he really was.
It happened on a crisp November afternoon, three weeks after Gavin’s thirteenth birthday. He had stayed home from school with a cold, and was lying on the couch twitching his pillows and stirring a bowl of melted ice cream with a spoon, bored out of his mind. He fidgeted for a few more moments before kicking his pillows to the floor and sitting up.
“Mom!” he hollered. “Mo-om!”
Gavin’s mother poked her head out from the kitchen. After taking the day off of work to stay home with Gavin she had decided that it was a good opportunity to catch up on some cleaning, and was currently elbows-deep in sudsy water.
“Yes?” she called back. “What is it?”
“I’m bored,” Gavin whined.
“Then come in here and help me!”
Gavin quickly lay back down and buried his face in the cushions. “I can’t—I’m sick, remember? The only thing that can help me now is leftover Halloween candy. Preferably in the form of candy corn.” He sat up again and grinned hopefully at his mother.
Sophia grabbed a sponge and tossed it at Gavin’s head. He caught it with a scowl. “No more candy. If you’re well enough to complain, you’re well enough to help. Now come on. You. Kitchen. Now.”
Gavin groaned, pushed himself off the couch and shuffled into the kitchen. “This is child abuse,” he announced. “I’m in a weakened state. I could collapse at any moment.”
“Ha! I’ll bet you don’t even have a fever any more.”
“I’ll bet you I do! Here, feel my forehead.” He reached out to grab her hand, and as his fingers wrapped around his mother’s wrist, pain exploded behind his eyes.
Gavin screamed and grabbed his head in his hands, falling to the ground. The kitchen faded around him, replaced with a sterile hospital room. Lying on a bed in the middle of the room was a vaguely familiar looking elderly woman, surrounded by tubes and monitors.
The pain in his head faded, replaced by a heaviness in his arms and legs. He could feel bed sheets under him, and the thin needle of an IV piercing his skin. As the woman on the bed struggled for breath, Gavin did the same, gagging as his lungs filled with fluid. He tried to cough, but found he was too weak. His heart raced in his chest, and his mouth gaped, but no air came. Thoughts of drowning filled his mind.
His heart stilled. Darkness crept over his eyes, then the hospital scene fled and suddenly he was laying on his kitchen floor, drawing air into his young, healthy lungs. He felt the cool tile against his bare arms. Above him he could hear his mother franticly pleading with someone on the other end of the phone, but that seemed far away and unimportant. He closed his eyes and let himself drift into darkness once more.
When he opened his eyes and saw the white walls of a hospital room, Gavin felt a brief moment of panic before realizing that he wasn’t back in his vision. His head felt as it was stuffed with cotton, and he could taste metal in his mouth. He lay quietly for a few moments, trying to gather as much information as he could without moving.
The air was cool and moving slightly. Occasionally he caught whiff of the cloying scent of illness, but for the most part it smelled of disinfectant and bleach. He could hear a doctor being paged out in the hall, and the slow, steady beeps of various monitors. He heard, very close by, the distinctive sound of a page being turned, and quite suddenly knew that he was not alone in the room.
He sat up quickly and immediately regretted it as the room started spinning before him. He moaned and fell back on his bed, aware that whoever it was had gotten up and was now leaning over him.
“Gavin?” The unfamiliar voice was filled with concern. “Can you hear me?”
“Yes,” he whispered. He focused his eyes on the man above him. He looked to be about twenty years old, and had a long red ponytail. “Who are you?” Gavin asked. “You’re too young to be a doctor. Where are my parents?”
The man dragged a chair over to Gavin’s bed and sat down. “I’m Alistair. Your parents have agreed to let me speak with you. I’m… someone who can help you. You have talent, Gavin.”
Gavin inched his way up until he was sitting with his back to the wall. “I recognize you now,” he said. “You’re always hiding in our bougainvilleas.”
Alistair wrinkled his nose. “That would be me, yes. It’s not a very good spot—bougainvilleas are covered in spikes, you know.”
“Yeah, I know.” Gavin looked around the room; they were alone. He turned back to Alistair. “What did you mean when you said I had talent?”
“Well—it’s more of a talent, to be specific.”
“Okay, so what talent do I have?”
Alistair leaned back and crossed his arms. “You tell me,” he said. “Something happened when you touched your mother, yes? You saw something?”
Gavin nodded. “I saw an old lady on a bed. I think she had pneumonia or something—she couldn’t breathe. I could feel it, like I was her. She kept trying and trying to breath, but she couldn’t get any air, and I think—I think it was my mother.” Gavin felt a wave of sadness wash over him, and before he could stop it he started crying. He quickly struggled to regain composure and wiped his face on the bed sheets. “Where are my parents? I want to see them.”
“You’ll see them soon, now hold still.” He placed his hand on Gavin’s arm. “Well? Do you see anything?”
Gavin shook his head no.
“Really? Excellent!” Alistair took a small notebook and pencil out of his pocket and started scribbling.
Gavin waited for him to start talking, but after a few minutes it became obvious that Alistair had forgotten he was even there. Gavin cleared his throat loudly.
“Well?” he said when Alistair finally looked up. “What’s going on?”
“Oh! Right, right, sorry about that. Um, you see deaths.” He jotted down a final note and stuck everything back in his pocket. “Whenever you come in contact with another human being, you will see their death.”
Gavin stared. This man is insane, he thought. Completely insane.
Alistair gasped. “I am not insane!” he protested. “How could you think that?”
Gavin’s eyes widened. “You just read my mind,” he said. “Did you not just read my mind?”
“Um. Maybe?” Alistair grinned nervously. “Please don’t tell anyone, I’m really not allowed to read without permission.”
Gavin leaned back against his pillows. “This is crazy. You can read minds-“
“Among other things.”
“-I can see the future… Oh my God. I can see the future! Is that really how my mom is going to die?” Gavin shuddered. What he had experienced hadn’t been at all pleasant.
“Yes… and no.” Alistair shifted to a more comfortable position. “The future isn’t set in stone. Picture a giant tree: there’s the solid trunk—that would be the now. As you get further away from the trunk—or further away in time—it splits into many branches. Each branch is a different choice—do you take the right path or the left path, steal the laptop or the DVD player?”
“Never mind. The point is there are hundreds of possible futures. You’re just seeing the one that’s most likely to happen.”
Gavin shook his head in disbelief. “This is crazy,” he repeated. “How do I not see death?”
“It will take some training, but in time you should be able to control your talent enough to lead an average life. Of course, you’ll need to keep in touch with the rest of the community.”
“The community? You mean there’s more people like me?”
Alistair grinned. “There’s a little bit of everything out there. Brownies, witches, selkies—all hidden from sight, except from those who know how to look. There’s people like you—and people like me.”
Gavin raised an eyebrow. “So what are you?”
Alistair stood up and walked to the door. “You remember how when I touched you, nothing happened? You didn’t see my death? That’s because I don’t have one. I’m one of the Immortals.” And with a swish of his brown overcoat, he was gone.
Gavin stared at the door, unsure of whether he should laugh or cry. He was sure of one thing, though—from here on out, life would be a whole lot more interesting.
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