The Terminals: A Novel

The Terminals: A Novel

by Royce Scott Buckingham

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Overview

In The Terminals, Royce Buckingham tells the riveting story of a covert team of young, terminally ill teens who spend their last year alive running dangerous missions as super-spies for an organization that may not be all it seems.

When 19 year-old Cam Cody is diagnosed with a terminal illness, he expects to spend the rest of his shortened life in an adjustable bed. Then one night, a mysterious man offers Cam one chance to join a covert unit of young "terminals." They are like him, only they spend the last year of their lives executing exciting and dangerous missions to make the world a better place.

With nothing to lose, Cam is in.

A helicopter flies Cam to a secret tropical location, where he's tossed out with a parachute and an instruction manual. After a rough landing, he meets his nine teammates. The other terminals don't seem sick; Zara is beautiful, Donnie is an amazing athlete, and Calliope sings like a bird. He soon learns that they're enhanced with an experimental super steroid TS-8, which suppresses their illnesses' symptoms and heightens their physical and mental abilities. It's also fatal if taken for more than a year.

Cam joins this extreme spy team, and they begin pulling dangerous operations in multiple countries. As his teammates fall around him, he starts to receive cryptic messages from a haggard survivor of last year's class hiding in the forest. She reveals that the program isn't what it seems, leading Cam to question whether any of them are really sick at all.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250011558
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 10/14/2014
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

ROYCE SCOTT BUCKINGHAM is an American fantasy author with a degree in English from Whitman College and a Juris Doctor in Law from the University of Oregon. Buckingham's first foray into the young adult genre was Die Karte Der Welt, which spent more than eight weeks on the German bestseller list in 2013. The Terminals is Buckingham's first young adult thriller for the U.S. Buckingham lives with his wife and their two sons in Bellingham, WA, where he works at the Prosecuting Attorney's Office.

Read an Excerpt

CAM’S PLAYLIST

1. HELLO MISTER GRIMM

by The Fallen Angels

2. ROADKILL

by Suicide Squirrel

3. SOUL ON A STICK

by Dog Breath

“Hello, I’ve got some news for you.

It’s not all good, but it’s all true.”

God just screwed me over, Cameron Cody thought.

Cam lay in the adjustable hospital bed wearing earbuds with his music playing low and slow, like the tragic theme song of a nineteen-year-old who was supposed to be the Western Washington University soccer team’s starting right wing this year. “Wingman,” they called him.

He rolled over and glanced at his heart-rate monitor. It beeped steadily. Still alive, he thought. For now.

He felt wrong in the bed, like he wasn’t supposed to be there. He was supposed to be heading out to parties on Garden Street in a few weeks, getting a tux for homecoming a month later, and making the dean’s list by the end of the quarter. More important, he was supposed to be renting the ultimate party house with Kristi Banks and five other friends this term. Kristi friggin’ Banks. Heck, he was just supposed to get a girlfriend at all. He was supposed to finish college, interview for jobs, and then make his own way in the world.

He was not supposed to be dying.

The stamped metal label on the molded plastic rail beside him read DURA-CARE PNEUMATIC BED. He’d named his bed Numo. Numo boasted 124 different positions—more than the kama sutra—all of which Cam had tried in the first hour via the touch screen controls. He found Numo disturbingly comfortable.

No wonder people come here to expire, he thought. They make it easy. They give a guy a few months to live, this killer bed, all you can eat, Covert Ops with a wireless controller, some medication to take the edge off, then bingo! Next contestant, please.

Corridor 3C outside his door, on the other hand, felt sterile. The blank white walls made it seem freakishly wide, and it echoed like a canyon. It smelled like bleach every morning too. When he left his room, he felt like he was entering a whitewashed institutional version of the afterlife. Corridor 3C was the hospital’s “death wing,” a name the staff used when they didn’t think patients were listening.

The noise outside of his door was his mom and dad crying. They also thought he couldn’t hear them. But he could. It was embarrassing. Like his buttless gown. With flowers on it.

Cam groaned. Somebody please tell me I don’t have to die in this.

The sad thing was, when he thought about it, he was already dead. Get good grades? To prepare for what? Improve his dribbling? It’s not like he’d be perky come playoff time. And women? He’d spent his younger years being everyone’s nonthreatening, nice-guy buddy, and helping his more aggressive friends get the girls. And now that he’d finally put on twenty pounds and figured out how to wear his wispy blond hair so he didn’t look like a bowl-cut dork—the secret was spray gel—some freaky disease nobody had ever heard of was going to kill him.

But there’s Kristi, he thought. She was perhaps the one upside to the whole dying deal. When he’d first told her, she’d felt sorry for him, and she’d lain on the couch and hugged him for the entire late show. Now maybe they’d kiss. A lot.

Just then there was a polite, almost apologetic knock on his door. Kristi. Right on time. He pulled the covers up over his drafty flowered gown.

“Yo!” Cam answered. It was too loud, he decided, and obnoxious. “I mean, come in, please,” he tried instead.

The door opened, and Kristi Banks peeked her blond head in. “Is this a good time?” she asked.

Unless you want to come back when I’m dead, Cam thought.

Kristi slid inside, but clung to the door. She wore a snug Western T-shirt and jeans with heels. Her fluffy, golden hair cascaded over her shoulders and flowed around her curves like a happy river winding through the hills. Cam couldn’t help but stare. He heard a rapid beeping and quickly threw a blanket over his tattletale heart-rate monitor.

“Sure,” Cam replied. “Thanks for coming.”

“Becky said I should,” Kristi explained. “I mean, I wanted to, but I wasn’t sure if it was okay.”

“It’s A-okay.”

She hesitated, cringing at the sight of all the medical apparatus. Tubes and wires were strung around him like Christmas lights.

“I know I look like a marionette,” Cam said. “But I’m not contagious.”

Kristi managed a weak smile. “Of course not.” She walked to the edge of the bed, where she did not kiss him a lot, or even a little. She was so close that Cam could smell the artificially scented apple shampoo she used on her amazing hair.

“How do you feel?” she asked.

“Strangely fine. Even my regular doctor thought I was healthy. Then this specialist did a CAT scan and found a tumor in my head. But honestly, I feel like riding out to the Whatcom Falls Park and going for a swim in my underwear. Can you drive?”

“You’re not too sick?”

“Well, I am going to die, if that’s what you mean. But my symptoms won’t get bad for a while. I’m just here for more testing today with the tumor doc. I should be up and around tomorrow.”

Kristi nodded carefully. “Will you be up and around the entire term?”

It seemed an odd question. Then Cam realized what she was getting at. Kristi stood waiting, tapping her long, fake fingernails on Numo’s metal rail. Cam felt the skinny nice guy awaken inside him. He tried to fight it, but couldn’t.

“If you need to find another roommate, I understand,” he said finally.

Kristi looked mildly surprised, but didn’t argue. “Really? Because Ben Richards needs a place.”

Cam saw her eyes dance when she mentioned Ben’s name. He winced. “It’s totally okay,” Cam added, “seriously.”

“You’re so nice.” She almost hugged him, but wires hung between them. She just patted his shoulder instead. There were a few more uncomfortable questions from her, a few more awkward jokes from him, but still no kisses.

“Well, I should go and let you rest,” Kristi said. She patted him on the elbow this time, another completely uninteresting location. Then she edged toward the door, fingering her pink cell phone in her pants.

“I’ve been lying in bed all morning. I’m not tired.”

“But you probably need some time to think.”

Cam thought Kristi probably needed some time to think about who she could call that wouldn’t be dying in a hospital bed on homecoming night. Ben Richards, perhaps.

“I’m glad I came,” she said.

Cam forced a smile. “Me too.”

She ducked out, and Cam could hear her fingernails clicking on her phone as she fled down corridor 3C.

The door had hardly closed shut when Cam’s sister shoved it back open. Trish was five years older than him, too old to be his friend and too young to have a mothering instinct. The result was that she found him annoying. She hadn’t gone to college—not the type. She lived on the freeway side of town in one of two hundred apartments that looked exactly the same, and she sold clothes at the Ready-to-Wear store by the mall.

Trish stood beside Cam’s bed in approximately the same spot Kristi had.

“Sorry if I was ever bitchy to you,” she said.

She was not specific—the apology seemed designed to cover all the mean things she’d ever done or said to him in one fell swoop. Despite its brevity, it was clear to Cam she’d been working on her speech. It was just the right mix of noncommittal regret and profane defiance to let him know that their parents had put her up to it. She said it quickly, and then waited for him to accept it.

“Okay, thanks,” Cam said, though it didn’t seem fair to let her off the hook so easily for a lifetime of resenting him. He knew, however, that she’d immediately complain to their parents if he didn’t, and he wasn’t about to spend an hour of his dwindling life “working out” the issue, with their folks playing emotional referee.

At least she’s efficient at cutting through the mandatory touchy-feely stuff, Cam thought.

Having delivered her speech, Trish stood chewing her gum loudly. She blew a small bubble, which popped and left a pink spot on her lip. The spot bounced up and down as she talked.

“Things have sucked since we found out,” she said.

“Uh-huh,” Cam agreed.

“Mom and Dad have been a total mess. They break down crying every time I need to talk to them about something important.”

“That’s really inconvenient.”

“Don’t worry about it. It’s not your fault you got sick.”

“Yeah, I didn’t mean to.”

“You’re funny. I’m gonna miss you.”

“I’m not going to die for, like, another twelve months.”

“Yeah, well, I’ll miss you after that, I mean.”

There was no hug or even a pat on the shoulder. Cam didn’t take offense. They hadn’t had physical contact with one another since she’d hit puberty and instituted the “no touching” rule, not even when passing the butter at dinner. Cam’s skinny nice-guy persona was still lurking, urging him not to make a big deal out of it. Trish seemed to be waiting for him to say he would miss her too, but he didn’t think he would when he died, and he hated to lie.

“Thanks for coming to see me,” he said.

“No problem.” She smiled as softly as was possible for her. “I was on my way to work anyway.”

*   *   *

The visitors kept coming.

Some guys from the soccer team dropped by with his jersey. Number nineteen. His age. It was neatly folded in a display box, where it would remain for all eternity, unless he broke the glass to get at it due to some sort of soccer emergency. The nickname “Wingman” was scrawled across the purple velvet backing in bright silver. Cam pretended to like it.

His mom’s aunt and her husband arrived next. They were very old and had somehow known him “since before he was born,” though Cam wasn’t sure how that worked. They talked about other people they knew who were dying from various diseases and touched his face with dry, wrinkly hands like a couple of grim reapers. Cam had grown tired of explaining that he felt fine, for now, and they seemed disappointed that his condition wasn’t more painful or interesting, so he began to make up strange sensations. He told them that he sometimes felt like spiders were burrowing through his hair and mentioned with a straight face that he’d had green stool samples lately. He stopped only when his great-aunt told the nurse and she rushed in to see what was wrong with him.

Finally, Mason walked through the door. Mason was his age, but lived in the twenty-four-hour quiet dorms and played HeroQuest online instead of soccer. And the odds that Mason would go to the homecoming dance were very low. But Mason had lived three houses down from Cam since elementary school, knocked on the door every Saturday to see if Cam could come out and play, and had been in Boy Scouts with him when they were eleven. Mason had even skipped the end-of-the-year elementary school trip to the water park in fifth grade to play Risk and Stratego with Cam when he’d had his tonsils out. Now that they were in college, they didn’t hang out so much, but Mason didn’t give Cam grief about his sports friends, and he still knocked on the door once in a while on Saturdays.

“Nice gown,” Mason said.

Cam laughed for the first time all day. “You like it? I think they have your size, if you’re jealous.”

Mason laughed too. He gave Cam a mind reader’s salute, holding two fingers to each temple and humming. Then he grew quiet, studying the heart-rate monitor and the chart hanging from the bed. “You get a second opinion?”

“This guy’s a specialist. It’s all he does.”

“So what’s your strategy now?”

“What do you mean?” Cam said. “I do treatment, obviously.”

“I heard treatment can’t save you.”

“True. It’s very unlikely.”

“Hoping for something unlikely isn’t necessarily the obvious thing to do.”

“Then what do you suggest?”

“Sympathy hookup?”

“Tried it. Didn’t work.”

“Kristi?”

“Yep.”

“Wow. I admire the attempt.” Mason tapped his narrow chin. “You know, you’ve always been a ‘doer,’ Cam. I remember when we were in high school and you volunteered our crappy little band to play the end-of-the-year party just to scare us into practicing more.”

“Yeah. You were so mad.”

“It made us good, though,” Mason said. “Best thing I was ever forced to do against my will.”

Cam watched his friend’s face, but there was no sarcasm.

“It seems weird to think of a doer like you lying here in a bed not doing anything,” Mason continued.

“Feels weird too.”

“So … do something.”

Just then, Dr. Singh walked in. The specialist. The tumor doc.

“I hope you’re not giving my favorite patient advice contrary to mine,” the grinning doctor said.

Mason gave Cam another salute. “I shall return as soon as I have a plan to vanquish the evil doctor who has condemned you to death.” He winked at Dr. Singh, and then exited with a flourish.

Dr. Singh stepped to the edge of the bed. He was Indian. India Indian, not Native American. He hadn’t told Cam he was dying at first. In fact, the perpetually chipper doc had come in smiling to talk about the results of the first set of tests. Smiling! He had the air of an expert and the credibility of a specialist. He flew in just for Cam’s case, knew the disease like the back of his hand, and the local doctors gave him a wide berth.

“You are a remarkable specimen,” he’d said in his thick accent. He apparently traveled all over the United States to find cases like Cam’s. Confident guy. Friendly too. But “remarkable,” in Cam’s case, wasn’t good, and the smiles didn’t keep the traveling doc from eventually delivering the news. Death. A year or less. Ninety-some percent sure, which easily rounded up to one hundred in Cam’s mind.

“I’d like to run some more tests,” Dr. Singh said. “We’re hoping that…”

Cam pretended to listen, but he’d already seen the vague image of the killer tumor in his head in the exact spot where the books said a kidney bean–shaped shadow meant you were doomed. It looked more like a pear to Cam, but he was pretty sure any silhouette of a food item in your primary somatic sensory cortex was bad news. The rest of it didn’t matter—the name of the disease, how it worked, why it chose his life to mess up. Didn’t know. Didn’t care. Didn’t listen. All he knew was that he sure as heck wasn’t going to see the world now.

Copyright © 2014 by Royce Scott Buckingham

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The Terminals: A Novel 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was amazing, I was fascinated in the first 5 pages. The whole book had me on the edge of my seat and yelling every other sentence. However, I was extremely disappointed by the ending. It left me wanting more and I have seen nothing to suggest a sequel. I must say Royce Scott Buckingham, good job.
SezjbSB More than 1 year ago
The Terminals is an action packed, pulse-pounding young adult thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat until you reach the very end. Nineteen year old Cam is told that he has an inoperable brain tumor and has a life expectancy of about a year left to live, when he is approached by a stranger to spend the last year of his life training to spy and undertake missions to save innocent people he jumps at the chance, wanting to know that he spent the time he has left doing something worthwhile. When he arrives at base he meets the other nine teens on his team, all around the same age, all with the same brain tumor, but these nine are also taking a drug TS-9 which enhances their natural abilities, once training is over the missions begin and it's not long before Cam's teammates start dropping like flies, when a survivor from  the previous year's team Siena who has been hiding in the forest all this time explains what happened to her and what's really going on with the program, will Cam find a way to escape before he finds himself dead just like his teammates? The ending was left open ended which I don't mind if I know that there will be another book but so far I've seen nothing to suggest that there is going to be a sequel. This was such a great book, I finished it in one sitting, it was very enjoyable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Now im looking to see if thete is a sequel?