"Bound to," said Adam. Lizzie laughed nervously. She's scared, he thought, and realized that he was scared, too. Deathers were dangerous. They had nothing to lose. That was the whole point.
Death had started out as a euthanasia drug, to give the terminally ill one week of great quality of life and a clean way out. No one ever imagined that the young would take it, too; but then, no one imagined what it would give the young super youth. On Death you were better mentally, physically, sexually, anyway you cared to look at it. It was the biggest high there was.
So they said. And, of course, at a price. Death cost thousands per pill.
And there was no going back. No one had found an antidote and most scientists didn't expect one to emerge. Jimmy Earle was a big star the biggest but in this respect he was the same as everyone else. If he'd taken Death, he was as good as dead. He'd gone on about it for ages, in the press, on his website. The concert had been canceled twice since he had announced that he'd finally gone and done it. The authorities were terrified. Death had already caused the biggest wave of suicides ever recorded among the under-twenty-fives. Only when he'd withdrawn his statement and sworn it was all just a publicity stunt had they allowed the concert to go ahead.
The question was, who was Jimmy fooling? The authorities, or the fans? Was he or wasn't he on Death? And if he was why?
"The bucket list," said Adam. "Oh yeah!"
"Not the point!" exclaimed Lizzie. "It's not what you do, it's how you experience it. Everything is for the last time. Every little thing matters. That's the point. When you enter the Death phase, life becomes so intense. Most people wait till they're old and tired. Jimmy decided to do it while he's still young . . ."
Adam snorted. "That's such a girl thing to say. Did you read his list? I mean come on!"
Jimmy Earle's bucket list was a thing of legend. It had cost over twenty million pounds. He had slept with a hundred girls in one week; at least twenty of them had come out of it pregnant. He had traveled round the world, eaten two kilos of caviar in one sitting, drunk thirty gallons of champagne, snorted a pound of cocaine, been into space, killed a man, hunted snow leopards, climbed Everest . . . the list went on.
Of course, it was a fantasy. No one person could have done all those things in a single week. Or could they? Death didn't just kill you it loved you up better than ecstasy and boosted you at the same time. With strength, fitness, and belief on your side, you could do anything.
Maybe, just maybe, it was all true.
Nah, thought Adam. Publicity, that's all it is. But how great would it be if someone, somewhere, really had done all that stuff in just one week? And how much greater if that person was him . . .
Lizzie fixed him with a look. "Would you do it, Adam? If you could have his bucket list? Really?"
Adam tensed up. He hated being put on the spot. If it was true, Jimmy Earle had done more in a single week than he would in his entire life. More girls. More fun. More everything. That was an amazing thought. But what Lizzie really wanted to know was if he'd jump up and start shagging all the girls he could find. It was her he wanted . . . But if you only had one week to live well. You would, wouldn't you?
"Dunno. What's your bucket list?" he asked her.
Lizzie smiled. "I'd have sex with as many attractive people as I could find," she said. And Adam, to his surprise, felt hurt.
She snorted with amusement. Winding him up. She got him every time.
It was all right for her. Her dad had a good job; she had it made. All Adam could see ahead was hard work, never earning enough to do what he wanted. It would have been different if he'd done better at the football trials he'd had a few weeks ago. He was a brilliant player, but now he was having to come to terms with the fact that there were too many others more brilliant than him.
Excerpted from The Hit by Melvin Burgess. Copyright © 2014 by Melvin Burgess. Excerpted by permission of The Chicken House. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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