How do you want to die?
Everyone has to go through it, but for the right price, you could choose how, when, and where.
Travis is one of the world's most well-known Deathwriters, a very rare group of individuals with the unique ability to bring about death through the medium of the written word. A personalized death written on one's behalf usually comes with a kingly price tag, but after a close personal encounter with death, Travis begins to question the entire system.
DEATHWRITER - Chapter 3
After that bomb drop, I made it down to the faculty garage in a matter of seconds, only to discover that my battery was dead, so I ran all the way back up to my office see if anyone could give me a quick jump. Turns out everyone already left for the day, except for one person.
So here I am, sweating through my plaid button up, cycling down Santa Monica Boulevard on the department assistant's bicycle, running through as many red lights as I can manage without drawing too many angry honks.
Of course, we couldn't possibly have chosen UCLA medical healthcare center, a mere ten-minute stroll from my office. The OB there was too cold, apparently. It just had to be Cedars Sinai. A twenty-five-minute ride by bike.
It’s a miracle I haven’t been hit yet. My mind is everywhere but the road. I tried calling Amber, but she understandably didn’t answer. Then I tried the hospital, but they just stuck me in a phone tree for longer than my patience allowed. So now all I can think about is every single worst-case scenario. Every last thing that could possibly go wrong.
I mean, babies come super early all the time nowadays, right? And they still live. At twenty-four weeks, though? Is that normal? That can't be normal. If we were expecting this, wouldn't the doctor have said something? I feel like the doctor would have at least given us a heads up.
I pull out my phone. Three minutes remaining. Good, almost there. Just have to—
A car screeches in front of me, and I slam into its side. The bike stops, but I keep going over the hood and onto the pavement, tumbling head over heels until friction brings me to a halt.
"Holy hell, are you okay? Sir, what in the—"
I stumble to my feet and limp back around to the bicycle, waving off the driver of the car. "Sorry! Sorry! Call my office if I damaged anything! UCLA, Professor Warren!"
The driver continues to stutter at me, but I ignore him and continue on, coaxing the miraculously undamaged bike back into gear. My shirt is torn all along the arms, stained black by the road, blood spotting it all the way from my wrist to my shoulder, but that’s the least of my worries. I don't even bother looking at the wound underneath. I already know what it'll look like. I can feel it beginning to sting as my adrenaline returns to baseline.
Two minutes later I'm in front of the entrance to the emergency room. I throw my bike towards the valet and toss a ten-dollar bill after it, then scurry inside in search of the maternity ward. We toured the whole facility just last week as part of the First Mommy and Me program, but my brain has decided to go on sabbatical at the moment.
"Excuse me, sir? Can I help you?"
The gentleman at the receptionist's desk has gotten up out of his seat and is staring at me with guarded concern—as are most of the others in the waiting area.
“Yeah, hi. My wife is Amber Warren. I was told she checked in here a little bit ago?” I have to break my sentences up with each heaving breath.
“Uh, right. Let me check. But is there anything I can do to help you?” he replies, looking me over from head to toe. I realize now that it’s more than just my arm; my right pants leg is shredded, too, and my forehead feels raw and tight. He probably thinks I’m here for myself.
“No, that’s fine. I need to see my wife though?”
“Okay, okay,” he relents. After a quick search on his computer, he directs me to the third floor and points the way. “Make sure to check in with the front desk. Good luck!” he calls out, but I’m already halfway to the stairwell.
It takes me less than ten seconds to get to the third floor, going two steps at a time, and despite my embarrassingly low lung capacity, I still manage to pull together a measure of coherent speech for the nurse at the maternity desk. “Hi,” I say, in between gulps. “Amber Warren?”
“Are you the father?” she asks, giving me a highly skeptical look.
“Yes, yes, I’m Travis Warren,” I say, throwing my ID on the counter. “They called me and said she was in labor?”
“She is, yes,” the nurse says, not bothering to look up as she verifies my ID. I grumble internally with impatience. The nurses were a lot nicer during the tour. That’s how they always suck you in. “Alright, let’s lojack you, then you can find her in room 3017.”
She clips some sort of wristband on me, then I rush off down the hallway in search of Amber’s room. Finally, near the end (of course) I find a door marked 3017 and burst inside to see Amber all smocked up with a nurse beside her adjusting bags of fluids.
“Hey! Hey, how are you?” I say with a false tone of soft excitement and serenity, poorly concealing my urge to panic.
She chuckles and gestures for me to come forward. "What happened to you? You look like crap!"
"Yeah, well," I say as she pulls me into a hug, "you didn't give me much time to put on my makeup before coming."
The nurse finishes fussing with whatever has her occupied and steps out in front of us. "Well, we've actually got a little while to go still, so you have plenty of time to do whatever it is you need to do to clean yourself up," she explains with a wry grin, gesturing to me as a whole. "Amber here is still at 2 centimeters, but we'll be back in a little while to check up on her. If things are progressing nicely, we'll get the anesthesiologist in and set you up with an epidural. Sound good?"
We both nod. Though, I'm not sure why she seems so calm. Aren't we supposed to be a little more panicky about the fact that we jumped the gun four months early? I don't know what I was expecting, I guess. Flashing lights, blaring alarms, speed walking surgeons taking in cryptic jargon? It just seems so…anticlimactic? Which is good! Don't get me wrong. I just feel silly for almost getting myself killed on the way over.
But that's alright. It's not how I die, pretty sure. I would know. My mother wrote my death.