Lumaworld Kindle release is set for December 20th, 2014.
In the meantime, enjoy an excerpt from Chapter 36.
Certain “spoiler” elements have been omitted.
Kaylen giggles. “Guess who our next one is… Number thirty-one?”
I raise my eyebrows expectantly.
“Miranda DeLange,” she replies.
We all look at each other.
“What do you think she’ll say?” I ask lightly.
Nobody offers a guess.
Randy happens to be in the very city we have been working in for the last two days: Seattle. Seattle, by far, has the largest concentration of people on the list other than the LA area.
Gabriel gives instructions to our driver, and we set off. I start laughing then at how silly it is that we’re doing this. It’s almost as bad as going to Louise herself.
“I know. It’s awful isn’t it?” jokes Gabriel. “I am ever so curious what she’ll say though. She always seemed a practical sort. I kind of liked her actually. She was abrasive but what you saw was what you got. She may surprise us.”
“But be ready,” I say to Farlen and Mark, who are with us. “We might need you for this one.”
“She was always decent to me,” says Kaylen, fingering the end of the folder in her lap. “I doubt she knew everything Louise was doing. She didn’t really become important to Louise until Dina died.”
We drive in silence, and when we arrive, we all look at each other without comment and get out of the car in front of a contemporary-looking ranch-style home. It’s immaculately well-kept, just like I remember Randy’s office was.
I hear a TV going inside and a person who sounds like they’re sitting still. Gabriel rings the doorbell and we wait. It’s a long time before we hear movement. I have Gabriel ring the doorbell three more times, assuring him that someone is indeed inside. They are probably just asleep.
Finally, I hear steps across a wooden floor and a person’s breathing on the other side of the door. Hesitation, and then finally the door opens a crack and Randy’s face appears there.
“Why are you here? I swear I’ll call the police.” I understand what she said, but it comes out more like “All calla pleese” as she begins to slur. Is she drunk?
She closes her eyes and I see her take a deep breath before opening them, and from her I sense frustration and a bit of grief. No. She’s not drunk.
Randy looks more disheveled than I have ever seen her though. She isn’t wearing any makeup, and her hair is pulled back pell-mell. She’s wearing something baggy. A T-shirt maybe? I barely recognize the woman who is ordinarily conscious of every detail of her appearance.
“Why are you here?” she repeats with concerted articulation. Her eyes roam over me with a bit of confusion and shock.
“Randy,” Gabriel says carefully, seeing, I think, what I do. Something is not right with Randy. “We’re not here to hurt you, just to talk to you. Are you… ill?”
Randy doesn’t answer, just glances among our group with indecision.
“We want to help you,” I plead, both curious and unsure about what being able to help someone who is sick will tell us.
Giving up on suspicion, probably because of what we look like, she opens the door the rest of the way. “Well, come in then,” she says and turns, indicating that we follow her.
Gabriel and I glance at each other briefly before following. Ezra looks like he is going to jump out and attack someone. Farlen observes every corner of the inside of the house, which is just as flawless as the outside. It’s big and open and airy with vaulted ceilings and fresh colors and sharp patterns. We make our way into a living room decorated in the contemporary style I know Randy likes. She turns off the TV and makes her way to an easy chair. It looks out of place in the room, like it’s been added after the fact. I notice then that Randy moves with a bit of stiffness. She looks like she’s taking extreme care with her steps.
When I look at her eyes, I see tears there. She wipes them away quickly and looks at both Gabriel and me and says, “I’m so sorry for everything I’ve ever done to you. I didn’t realize what was happening. Or maybe I just didn’t want to believe it.”
I shrug. “It’s really okay,” I say, feeling the sincerity of my words. I just don’t have the energy for animosity. Not with where I am now.
She shakes her head. “It’s not okay. And I got what I deserved. I was diagnosed with ALS just one month ago. It’s progressed at an alarming rate. I’m already experiencing significant lack of movement in my limbs. It will only be a matter of time before I can no longer walk. Or talk. You can help though?” She holds optimism rigidly in check.
“We don’t know,” says Gabriel. “We’ve never tried on someone that was sick. But we’d like to.”
She looks at nothing for a moment, absorbing the loss of a little more of her hope. It hurts to watch. “No one has ever been cured of ALS before,” she says in a faraway, very un-Randy-like voice. She turns her attention back to us. “But a slim maybe is better than a likely never.”