Name: Chris Jones (writing as CJ Lehi)
Twitter Handle: @cjlehi
Title: CHEATING DEATH
Genre: Adult Speculative
Word Count: 92K
My Main Character's Most Fearsome Obsession is:
Sara Elizabeth Twopenny Rogers is obsessed with her father. Oh, she denies it, of course. He died back a few years, so it’s not as if she can hurt him any more, but she’s still trying to make a mess of her life to prove that his mistakes were impossible to overcome. Fate being what it is, she’s going to have opportunities to make her own mistakes, trying to get back at him. Some of those mistakes will have disastrous consequences, fatal ones, even. Maybe she’ll get the chance to have it out with daddy sooner than she thought.
Meet Sara Elizabeth Twopenny Rogers, the world’s most reluctant serial killer. She cheated death by surviving a bullet that should have killed her, and now she has to pay the price.
Death turns out to be a businessman, with responsibilities, deadlines and billions of bodies to keep track of every day. Anomalies like Sara threaten the fabric of the universe. Because Sara lived when she was scheduled to die, she has to fix this problem in one of two ways: one, she can, you know, die, once and for all. Or two, she can become part of a shadowy group that eliminates other anomalies like herself.
Die, or become a killer. It’s not much of a choice, and it turns out to be even worse than she thought. Being a transcendental hitman has perks, like a decent paycheck and a rent-free apartment, but as the body count rises, the questions mount with them. Gradually, she starts to suspect that she’s been lied to about the job, and that the people she kills aren’t cosmically dangerous, just inconvenient to the Boss. Deciding that even being dead would be preferable to being a mob killer, she quits.
But there’s only one way to quit the firm, and Sara’s options dwindle to just one: going gently into that good night.
Turns out, gentle really isn’t her thing.
I got to the diner early on the last day of my life. Our cook Julio got there at 5:30 to unlock the door and pinch my butt. I know one Spanish phrase. This is why I learned it. I told him I wouldn’t sleep with him if he were la hombre ultimo en el mundo, and he laughed at me.
The regulars trickled in. Billy, just off work as night security. The three dockmen arguing over their politics. Jessie and baby Peaches. Same faces, same places, same orders: stack of Vermont, Adam and Eve on a raft, burn the British. Like any Tuesday.
Until seven forty, when I saw this guy jaywalk Captain Hansen Boulevard, headed for the diner. He was shortish, and thin like quick-brewed tea. I’d never seen him before, but I knew as soon as his mug showed that I should run across and lock the door in his face. I guess I understand why I didn’t, but I knew he was trouble. Knew it like I know east from west.
Some mistakes are expensive. I will never finish paying for that one.
He looked like someone just in out of a rainstorm, metaphorically dripping on the checkerboard vinyl, shoulders hunched like he was carrying the leaden sky. Finally he sighed a little, shuffled over to the bar and sat. A new customer comes in fifty times a week, and fifty times a week the most dangerous thing that happens is our sausage links. But that was before this guy.