Alison Gervais of Pueblo was only 16 when she started writing a paranormal novel about teen suicide. Now she's 21, the story has had some 24 million views online and she has a publishing deal. Her book “In 27 Days” was just released in print. It tells the story of a New York City high school student who travels back in time 27 days to prevent another student from taking his own life. Gervais spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner.
Excerpt from "In 27 Days" By Alison Gervais:
Excerpt from Chapter Three – The Deal
When I was four years old, I had the not-so-bright idea to jump into my aunt Theresa’s pool even though I had absolutely no clue how to swim. The shock of the cold water biting at my skin had frozen me to the core. When I’d finally been pulled out, I couldn’t hold back the shivers that wracked through me, and I’d spent several minutes gasping for air.
The same unpleasant, frightening sensation washed over me as I stood on the sidewalk outside the church, staring up into the depthless black eyes of the man who claimed to be Death.
“Er . . .” I snapped my mouth shut to keep my teeth from chattering. “Umm . . . I think . . . I-I . . .”
Every fiber of my being was screaming at me to move, to start running and to not look back, but I couldn’t force myself into motion.
An almost amused expression crossed Death’s face. “You must be made of much stronger stuff than I thought, Hadley Jamison. I was expecting you to have already take off running and screaming by now.”
“Give me another second and I will be,” I managed to say, unable to keep back a shiver.
“Oh, I don’t think you really mean that,” Death mused with a shake of his head. He dropped his cigarette onto the ground and snubbed it out with the toe of his boot. “I think you’re interested in what I have to say.”
“I-I . . . I’m not—“
“Let’s take a little walk, shall we?”
Death had a sudden vise-like grip on my arm and began pulling me right into the middle of oncoming traffic.
“What, are you crazy?” I shrieked, trying to yank my arm out of his iron grasp. “You’re going to get us killed!”
Death let out an annoyed sigh, sinking his nails into my arm “Oh, do be quiet, will you? I know when you’re going to die, and I can assure you, it’s not going to be tonight.”
Somehow, that wasn’t reassuring.
Death stepped up onto the sidewalk across the street and set off walking at a brisk pace, all but dragging me along behind him. I tried digging my heels into the ground, relentlessly tugging at my arm, but I was afraid that if I struggled any further I would end up breaking a bone. I thought about screaming at the top of my lungs, maybe making a grab at someone walking by, but not one person on the sidewalk would even meet my eyes. It was as if they were completely oblivious to the teenage girl being dragged down the street by some man who looked like an extra from Interview with the Vampire.
We made it two blocks before Death abruptly stopped and bent down to mutter in my ear, “You and I both know I’ll just catch you and drag you back by your hair if you try to make a run for it. So I suggest you play along for now, hmm?”
I swallowed hard, fighting back the bile rising in my throat. I did not consider myself a wimp. I was a New Yorker; I could look after myself. But right at that moment? I wasn’t sure if I had ever been so frightened in my entire life.
“Fine,” I said, my voice more like a squeak.
I stopped trying to bolt, even though the urge had now become overwhelming.
By the time Death finally stopped walking, my feet ached inside my heels. “Here we are,” Death said, pulling the door to a Starbucks open with a little flourish.
I stumbled my way into the coffee shop, holding my arms tightly around myself. This had to be some strange, terrifying nightmare; had a guy claiming to be Death really just shown up at my classmate’s funeral to escort me all the way to a Starbucks? Death’s hands descended on my shoulders and forcefully steered me up to the front counter. The girl at the register looked up with a cheery smile that was immediately wiped clean once she laid eyes on Death.
“Erh . . .”
“Good evening,” Death said, his tone suddenly formal. “We’d like two black coffees, please.”
The girl nodded robotically, fumbling around for the cups with shaking hands. Death slid a crisp ten-dollar bill across the counter, smiling kindly. “No change.”
“Erhm . . . thank you.”
From the way the girl stumbled around, not meeting our eyes, it was obvious my plan on mouthing help me was not going to work. I grabbed the two coffee cups when the girl handed them over, and Death steered me over to a table by the window that sat beneath a row of paper snowflakes. My stomach did a little flip-flop when Death took a seat, the fluorescent lighting above casting his face into brighter light.
It was like looking at someone terminally ill; his skin was the color of parchment, which stretched taunt across his sharp cheekbones, and his eyes were sunken in. No wonder he went by Death. He looked like it. Even stranger were the black marking crisscrossing every inch of his hands, slipping up the sleeves of his jacket, and creeping under the collar of his shirt. It took me a second to realize that the markings were actually small, crudely shaped clocks.
Death’s lips twisted into a grim smile as he stared up at me gesturing to the seat across the small table from him. As he moved his arm, I could’ve sworn I saw the tiny hands on each of the clocks moving. “Have a seat.”
I carefully lowered myself into the seat, clutching my cup of coffee. “Right.” I cleared my throat, hoping to muster up even the smallest amount of courage to get through whatever this was. “What is this about?”
Death set his coffee cup down and clasped his hands together, leaning across the table towards me. “I thought we could have little chat about Archer Morales.”
Taken from In 27 Days by Alison Gervais Copyright © 2017 by Alison Gervais. Used by permission of Blink. www.BlinkYABooks.com.