For those of you have read Books One, Two and Three of the Oz Chronicles, Book Four is coming. I’ve decided to post excerpts until such time the print version is available.
You will also find the first three chapters of Land of the Dead in the paperback edition of Lost Days.
I died when I was eleven. It was a family vacation on Oak Island, North Carolina, extended family; cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, even some foreign exchange student from France. My cousin Anthony and I swam out past a sandbar scaring the crap out of each other by yelling shark every five minutes. We screamed and laughed and drifted along the shoreline. That’s when it hit us. A current, riptide I think they call it, sucked us off our feet and started carrying us farther out from shore. We both panicked. I kicked and sputtered across the surface of the water, swimming against the current. My breathing was quick and shallow. I grunted and pounded my arms on the choppy surface of the ocean. I looked to my left where Anthony had been and all I saw was the top of his head as he submerged. I opened my mouthed to call out his name and sucked in a mouthful of salt water, causing me to hack and cough as if my lungs were trying leap out of my body. Anthony resurfaced. In between gasps, he managed to yell for help. I tried to do the same but only swallowed more water. My arms felt like lead weights. I felt myself sinking. I fought harder… attempted to fight harder, but I didn’t have the strength. I tilted my head back, keeping my nose out of the water, and tried to breathe through my mouth out of reflex. The water flooded my lungs. I couldn’t even gasp. A searing pain, as if my breast bone was about to crack and split open, was the last thing I remember before everything went dark.
I was dead.
I don’t know how long it was before they revived me. I was lying on my side on the beach. The foreign exchange student had her finger in my mouth shouting, “Ee is breading! Ee is alive!”
It felt like I was spewing a couple of gallons of water. My chest still felt like it was going to crack open.
I heard mom’s voice. “Oz! Oh my God, Oz!” Her knees popped as she knelt down beside me. She gently placed her hand on top of my head. “Sweet baby.”
“Where’s Anthony?” I heard someone ask. I think it was my Aunt Sade, Anthony’s mother.
I didn’t hear anyone answer her.
“Where’s Anthony?” she repeated, a little more shrill than before.
“They’re looking.” The voice belonged to my cousin Johnny. His too deep voice gave him away. He was the oldest and vastly most bored of the Griffin kids, and he usually talked with a dull cadence, but now he sounded defensive and scared.
“Who’s looking… for what?” Aunt Sade asked breathlessly.
An answer came after a long pause.
“Anthony,” Johnny said. “He’s in the water.”
He said it without saying it. Anthony had gone under. He’d drowned. He was dead like me, but unlike me they wouldn’t be able revive him. It would be hours before they even found him.
Until the world ended that was pretty much my worst day.