According to Treyton Staub’s birth certificate, his heart will kill him exactly a month after his sixteenth birthday. No one outlives their expiration date. His best friend Hunter’s gravestone is all the proof he needs of that.
Hayleigh, Hunter’s twin sister, is unconvinced. Her neighbors are suing their pediatrician for giving their healthy 11-year-old daughter Charlotte a false expiration date. Hayleigh is sure that Charlotte and Treyton will survive their expiration dates—and that Hunter’s suicide at 11:58 p.m. was pointless. She and Treyton embark on a last-minute road trip to find a mysterious shaman who claims to know death dates, not just expiration dates.
Instead of getting the positive answers he seeks from the shaman, Treyton learns his cause of death will not be an enlarged heart, but instead a predicted date of suicide due to insanity. This insanity manifests as Hunter’s ghost, whom Hayleigh cannot see and who haunts Treyton with constant requests to end his life. When Charlotte proves she sees Hunter’s ghost, too, and Hunter demands her suicide as well, Treyton is determined to keep her alive. But no one’s ever won a court case about expiration dates before, and the ghost that haunts them might be nothing but evidence of their insanity.
EXPIRATION DATE is a YA contemporary sci-fi novel complete at 52,000 words. I am a regular contributor to the QueryTracker blog. My essay “The Dark Lord’s Descent” will be published in Harry Potter for Nerds II in summer 2015.
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My best friend’s funeral is so predictable I shouldn’t have bothered coming. Everyone wears black. No one cries. No one except Hayleigh, who’s sitting in the front row where she can’t hide it. Her shoulders shake and her head is bowed.
In front of the cross, Pastor Locklear takes another deep breath. I bet he’s about to start on Jesus. How Jesus embraced his expiration date, and everyone else should, too. How Hunter was a Good Christian for pressing that gun into his chin.
Not that anyone but his family and me knows how he died. The obituaries come out a week in advance.
The pastor doesn’t even open his Bible. “In John 7:30, it says…” Here it comes. I grab my phone from my pocket and open the file called “Notes for My Funeral.” For the love of God, don’t mention Jesus, I write. I’m aware of the irony. While I write, Pastor Locklear drones on. “‘No one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come.’ Jesus always had his enemies. But his expiration date informed the actions of those who hated him, and Hunter, too, was spared until…”
I don’t know why they always read this verse at funerals. It doesn’t even apply. For one thing, Hunter’s hour has obviously already come. For another, it’s not like people don’t have accidents. They get run over by buses. They find out the hard way they’re allergic to peanuts or bee stings. Those funerals are sad.