Author: CL Gaber | @CLGaber
Ascenders: High School for the Recently Departed (Ascenders #1)
Is this Hell or is this High School?
THE ASCENDERS Book Saga Takes You to the In-between Where Teens Who Died Young Go On the Epic Adventure of an After-Lifetime
Walker Callaghan doesn't know what happened to her. One minute she was living her teenage life in suburban Chicago...and the next minute, she was in a strange place and in a brand new school with absolutely no homework, no rules, and no consequences.
Walker Callaghan, 17, is dead.
She doesn't go to heaven or hell. She lands at The Academy, a middle realm where teenagers have one thing in common: They were the morning announcement at their high schools because they died young.
These high school kids are now caught in a strange âin-betweenâ zone where life hasnât changed very much. In fact, this special teen limbo looks a lot like life in a quaint Michigan town complete with jocks, popular girls and cliques. "There are even cheerleaders in death," Walker observes. It's not a coincidence that the music teacher is a guy named Kurt who "used to have this band." The drama teacher, Heath, is crush worthy because back in his life, he starred in some superhero movie.
Principal King explains the rules -- there are none. Why? You can't die twice.
There is no homework.
You're just there to learn because the human brain isn't fully formed until you're 24.
By the way, you can't get hurt physically, so race your Harley off that hillside. But falling in love is the most dangerous thing you can do ...because no one knows how long you'll stay in this realm or what's next.
"Losing someone you love would be like dying twice," Walker says.
Walker Callaghan has just arrived at the Academy after a tragic car accident. âIs this hell or is this high school?â she asks.
She finds out her new life is a bit of both as she falls in love with tat-covered, bad boy Daniel Reid who is about to break the only sacred rule of this place. He's looking for a portal to return back to the living realm.
He needs just one hour to retrieve his younger brother who strangely never arrived at The Academy. Bobby is an Earth Bound Spirit, stuck at a plane crash site that took both of their lives as their rich father piloted his private jet nose-first into a cornfield on Christmas Eve.
Walker loves Daniel and risks it all to go with him.
Have they learned enough to outsmart dangerous forces while transporting a young child with them? Can their love survive the fragmented evil parts of themselves that are now hunting them down as they try to find a way back to the middle?
At the Academy, you learn the lessons of an after-lifetime.
Ascenders: Skypunch (Book Two)
In the Midstâa place for those who die youngâthere are no rules except one.
And Walker Callaghan, dead at seventeen, just broke it. She briefly revisited her earthly life
and the punishment is eternal. Longing for her rebel love interest, Daniel Reid, Walker finds an ally in Cass, whose attraction to her is as alive as he is. âLife is short,â he tells her. âIâm banking on eternity. With you.â
In the second book of the Ascenders Saga, a realm-jumping journey takes Walker and Daniel back to life again when they search for something buried in history. They team with students from several other schools in the middle realm including a place for teens born with oddities. Itâs home to the Claires . . . beautiful, ruthless, and quite dead seventeen-year-old quads who each have a different clairvoyant gift.
Can Walker survive another adventure of an afterlife-timeâor will she find herself on the downside of eternity?
Text Copyright Â© 2017 CL Gaber
All Rights Reserved
Now that it was absolutely dark, I felt like the world had faded to inky black. I
didnât have any idea where we were walking, but knew I had to get home before my
mother became frantic and called the cops, which would be mortifying in a new town.
âSo, how long have your parents been gone?â I asked, sliding along and breathing
not-so-heavily, while thinking that maybe his mother and father had a time-share in
Miami or Palm Springs during this time of the year and had just snuck away for the
weekend or even dumped the kids on him for a week.
âHow long have they been gone?â Daniel pondered out loud. His laugh was
beyond sarcastic; it was vicious. âTheyâve been gone years, months, and days. Who cares
about them? I certainly donât.â
Of course, he was kidding. Parents didnât take vacations from their four children
for years. It was called child abandonment and there were laws. Wait, maybe his parents
were in jail for breaking the law. Embezzlers? Ponzi scheme? My journalistic mind was
in overdrive. âSo, itâs just the four of you kids in the house? For years. Home alone.â I
said with a little laugh. âObviously, that was a bad joke.â
âNo joke. Itâs just us fourâweâre a family. Intact. For the most part,â said the
David Beckham look-a-like with the short dark hair and steel gray eyes, quickly walking
ahead again. He really didnât want to get into it now.
Intact? I thought. Now this was really getting interesting. I knew he was the
exacting type, and his choice of words was deliberate.
My next question would have to wait.
In what seemed like an instant, my back foot caught on a large fallen tree branch
and I fell forward with all my body weight. Crashing hard onto my hands and knees, I
cried out, but I wasnât in any real pain. Before I could stand up, I slipped again until my
stomach slammed against the surface of the thickly iced-over pond. The cracking sound
was like thunder. Then, in what felt like a sickening surge of broken glass and rushing
water, the ground suddenly ceased to exist. I didnât have time to scream as I dropped into
the dark, lifeless, icy chill of wintery water.
I braced for the first slap of bitter freeze, instantly calling up some stupid fact
from science class at Kennedy High where we learned that Titanic survivors described
hitting the freezing ocean water as thousands of tiny knives stabbing every inch of their
I expected excruciating pain, but there was none. There was just numbness as I
entered the earliest stages of being converted to ice.
Resistance was only natural and I fought hard as my hands flailed through the
water trying to keep my head above the murky freeze, but it was pointless. The water was
hungry that night and my thrashing almost made a game out of its impending conquest. It
only took a second or two of my desperate survival dance for the lake to swallow me
Daniel must have heard the crack and he stopped in place. Slowly, he turned
around as I struggled to pop up again, but by putting up a fight I only succeeded in
making it worse. As my body was being carried under the heavy sheet of ice in an
involuntary dance, I could see Daniel above, the soles of his black boots carefully
following my route as he calmly watched me drown.
In a way, it was fascinating to watch him ever so gradually shuffle along as my
hands desperately reached from under my new icy roof for the bottom of his boots. The
only thing that separated us was about five solid inches of deadly winter soup. By the
time he found me in an even darker spot where the lake mingled with several dead,
embalmed trees, all he could see from under the thick coating was my face looking up at
him, frozen in horror. He saw my pouty mouth almost kissing the ice and frantically
trying to say one word to him.
âHelp!â I mouthed.
I gulped down murky green water, ingesting long tentacles of lifeless leaves and
thick clumps of sludge-dirt, and it all slid easily into my lungs while he just stood there.
He. Stood. There.
Frantically, I maneuvered away from the spot by the trees, which made it worse
because now I was pinned under even thicker ice, my milky-white face pressed up
against eight to ten inches of immovable crystals.
Casually, Daniel walked to where I was wildly waving my arms underneath the
water. When I looked up now, he was a hazy dark blur that made me suddenly dizzy.
Thatâs when I shut my eyes to wait for the inevitable.
But I didnât black out. Long minutes passed, my eyes sprung open, and I
continued to push upward again as the water became midnight black. For some reason I
was still alive, but I still couldnât free myself from this wintry prison.
My mind raced. How much time had passed? How much time could pass before I
would be brain-dead? How much time before I died?
Daniel still stood above the ground and calmly watched me struggle. âTo hell
with this,â he finally said, loud enough for me to hear him under the ice. Was he telling
me to stop struggling and just accept that I lost?
After another endless minute passed, he shook his head and, though apparently
talking to himself, said even louder, âOkay, enough . . . but you need to know.â
Kicking through a thinner spot of ice, he made a small hole and then pummeled it
into a bigger passage with those clomping boots. Reaching down into the crack, he
offered me a strong hand and a tat-covered, muscular arm. Somehow through the dark
water, I saw human fingers moving and grabbed them like they were my only lifelines,
which is exactly what they were to me.
All it took was one big hoist and I was in his arms, pressed body-to-body up
against him, soaking wet, freezing cold, and mad as hell.
With my right hand, that had absolutely no feeling in it, I slapped him squarely
across the jaw as hard as possible. When he didnât budge much, I slapped him again,
which made my hand tired, but it didnât hurt. When I attempted to punch his face, he
grabbed my hand in a firm way that signaled we werenât going another nine rounds.
âEasy there, tiger,â he said with a smirk that made those soft eyes twinkle. âI
guess youâre a fan of the Rocky movies.â
âWhy . . . you bastard . . . why . . . you didnât even try to save me,â I sputtered,
but I wasnât really coughing and certainly my brain was perfectly fine. For a split second,
I counted to five backward. Again, it was amazing that my mind was still functioning.
Maybe the water was cold enough to save me. Is that how it worked?
âI saw you. You were just standing there! Watching! Watching me die!â I
screamed, shoving him again. This time, I took him by surprise and he landed butt-first in
a pile of snow.
Calmly, he stood up, lurched forward, and grabbed both of my arms, holding me
against his rock-hard chest until I stopped struggling and gave up the idea of trying to
knock his block off. He held me tightly like he was protecting me from some danger
worse than what just happened. Tears formed in my eyes and I began to touch my arms
and then tested my breathing, which was perfectly normal. He still refused to let go. Big
white puffs of my breath filled the dark sky and I watched them evaporate slowly like
little clouds. Then I looked up.
âWhy arenât I dead?â I said in an anguished voice.
Daniel took a deep breath, carefully released me, and then answered slowly.
âBecause, baby, you canât die twice,â he said.
C.L. Gaber is the author of the ASCENDERS SAGA including "ASCENDERS: High School of the Recently Departed" (Book One) and a ASCENDER: SKYPUNCH (Book Two). C.L. is also the co-author of JEX MALONE.
She is an entertainment journalist who interviews Hollywood's A-listers for the New York Times wire and several other publications. Daniel Day-Lewis and Bruce Springsteen are two of her favorites! C.L. lives in Nevada with her husband Ron, daughter Sabrina and two unruly dogs.
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