Death & Co.

Adam is a Luman, and it runs in the family. Escorting the dead from life into light, Adam must act as guide to those taken before their time. As his older brothers fall into their fate however, Adam clings to his life as a normal kid - one who likes girls, hates the Head and has a pile of homework to get through by Monday morning. When Adam gets a terrible premonition he realises that he must make a devastating choice, risking his life, his family and his destiny.

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1. Prologue

Nathanial Mortson stood in the darkness, hands thrust into the pockets of his camel-hair coat. In the physical world it was freezing, the road glittering with ice, but here in the Hinterland he couldn’t feel it. It was the middle of the night and he was tired. Usually he had company but on a job like this he preferred to work alone.

He stared at the car – or what was left of it, on its roof in the ditch. There were two people inside, teenage boys in a car that wasn’t theirs; racing along a road they didn’t know. Only one was still alive and he was hanging on by a thread, groaning softly in the wreckage. He didn’t have long. Nathanial made no attempt to help him; there were rules about these things. The groans were trailing off into ragged breathing. It was only a matter of time. His friend’s soul had already been taken care of.

Nathanial shifted from foot to foot, surprised at the pang of sadness the job was giving him. Usually one of his sons would be with him, learning the ropes, but there was something about a young person dying . . . He gave a rueful smile. His sons were hardly typical teenagers – and yet he still wanted to protect them while he could. He could handle two souls himself without help – or at least that was his excuse for coming alone.

On the other hand, no one knew better than him how tough his sons’ lives were going to be. Maybe he needed to throw them in at the deep end more. Aron, his eldest, was calm and steady, able to cope with anything. Luc, quick-witted and fast to learn, took everything in his stride. But Adam . . . Nathanial sighed and shook his head. Adam struggled with the life he was born to live – and Nathanial felt powerless to help him.

The breathing stopped, jolting Nathanial out of his thoughts and back to the present. It was shocking how quickly silence fell in the still night air. The soul appeared suddenly, blinking at him, scrawny in his tracksuit and baseball cap. Something about his wide, bewildered eyes reminded Nathanial almost painfully of his youngest son. It gave him a little chill but he ignored it, said the words he had to say and watched the boy’s soul disappear into his Light.

Usually Nathanial would have left immediately, but that night something made him stay. On the horizon he could see the dull haze of car lights. He stood in the Hinterland waiting as the lights approached, an invisible sentry standing guard over the twisted metal and broken bodies inside. He watched a shocked driver and passenger slow down as their headlights illuminated the wreck, steam still rising gently from the cooling engine. The driver, a middle-aged man, rang the police with a shaking voice while his wife wept into her hands.

I should be weeping, Nathanial thought wearily, but no tears came. There was no room in his world for tears. He stood rigid and listened to the dull wail of sirens in the distance.

It was time to go home.

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