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A Time to Die (Out of Time Series #1)

A Time to Die (Out of Time Series #1)

by Nadine Brandes
A Time to Die (Out of Time Series #1)

A Time to Die (Out of Time Series #1)

by Nadine Brandes




How would you live if you knew the day you'd die?

Parvin Blackwater believes she has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside. In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the government’s crooked justice system.

But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall — her people's death sentence. What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her clock is running out.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781621840299
Publisher: Enclave Publishing
Publication date: 10/01/2014
Series: Out of Time Series , #1
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 13 - 18 Years

About the Author

Nadine Brandes once spent four days as a sea cook in the name of book research. She is the Carol award-winning author of Fawkes, Romanov, and the Out of Time Series. Her inner fangirl perks up at the mention of soul-talk, Quidditch, bookstagram, and Oreos. When she's not busy writing novels about bold living, she's adventuring through Middle Earth or taste-testing a new chai. Nadine, her Auror husband, and their Halfling children are building a Tiny House on wheels. Current mission: paint the world in shalom.

Read an Excerpt



There was once a time when only God knew the day you'd die.

At least that's what they tell me. I wasn't alive then — back when life bore adventure and death held surprise. I guess God decided to share the coveted knowledge. Either that, or we stole it from Him. Personally, I think He just gave the world what it thought it wanted: control.

My thin rectangular Clock sits on the carved shelf across the room, clicking its red digital numbers — red like blood. Today marks the first day of my last year alive.


Three hundred sixty-four days, seven hours, five minutes, and sixteen — no, fifteen — seconds to live. I've always thought it cruel they include the seconds. But people want absolutes. They demand fine lines in a fuzzy world.

My toes curl like pill bugs when they touch the cold wood floor. I creep to the open window, flick a shivering spider off the sill into the October breeze, and close the shutters. Wind still howls through.

I pull on a pair of wool socks — a frequent Christmas gift of which I never grow weary — and ignore the mirror. It's the same face every morning: tangled hair, bleary chocolate eyes, and a waspish glare that doesn't leave until after coffee.

I push through the bedroom door into the kitchen and just miss a collision with my mother. She sweeps past bearing a mixing bowl of steaming cinnamon oatmeal. Pity her morning greeting isn't as warm as the breakfast she slams on the table. "Twenty minutes, Parvin."

"It's my time I waste sleeping, not yours."

The rectangular kitchen glows under the heat of the cooking fire on the opposite wall. A metal wash tin and a red water pump sit to my left, beneath our only glass window. Cold morning light reflects off the soapsuds. The rough kitchen table crowds most of the walking space unless all four chairs are pushed in tight. I plop into the closest seat.

"It's already six-thirty." She blows a stray hair away from her face. "You've wasted seventeen years, let's not spoil your last one."

Ah, mother-daughter love.

She slides a wooden mug filled with coffee across the table with one hand, and reaches for the creamer with the other. My morning pick-me-up splashes over the rim. I shrug. More room for cream.

Once I've transformed my coffee into a liquid dessert, I spoon oatmeal into a dish and calculate my schedule: Five minutes to eat, five minutes to change, ten minutes to walk there. If I stick to my planned detour, I'll be late for Assessment. I don't care. The hearing is more important.

My coffee turns to vinegar. I force a swallow against my shaking nerves. I won't be nervous today. I have to be strong.

A life depends on it.

"Get out of those thin shorts." Mother barks the command as she stokes the cooking fire, then places the blackened kettle over it once more. "And stop sleeping with the window open. No wonder you're cold at night — you've got legs like twigs. I don't know why you make such impractical clothing."

"They're practical in summer." And more comfortable to sleep in than the wool underclothes you insist on wearing.

"It's October."

I take a bite of oatmeal. My sewing fetish is my version of rebellion and independence. At least I'm in control in some manner, although sewing never helped my popularity.

After three more mouthfuls of oatmeal, I practically inhale my coffee before going to change into a grey wool shirt and black vest — self-tailored to fit my short torso. I pull on my double-layered cotton trousers and boots lined with speckled rabbit fur. The blend of dark colors makes me feel serious and firm — exactly what I need for the hearing.

Mother brushes my hair into a burgundy-umber fluff. I scowl and braid it down one side before jamming on an ivory cap.

She tucks my Clock into my vest pocket. "Forty minutes."

No way I'll be home in forty minutes. "Eighty." I'll probably be longer.

I stride up the uneven stone sidewalk of Straight Street. Mother never bids farewell anymore, not now that the real Good-bye is so near.

Weak rays of dawn peek over rows of identical wood-and-thatch houses. Flickering morning candlelight shines through every shutter. In the few homes with glass windows, homemade gadgets or goods line the sills — socks, herb teas, paper notebooks, candles, wax tablets, hair ribbons. Tiny price cards sit beside them.

Sill trading.

I scan the sills for an old newspaper, rubbing my fingers over the last coin in my pocket. Crumpled black-and-white paper catches my eye. I stop and scan the headline:

10th Anniversary of Worldwide Currency 'Specie' Celebrated with Increased Dividends

My eyes flit to the date to confirm my sinking hopes: October 06, 2148 Three days ago. I've already read it. Besides, the price card tells me it costs two specie, and I have only one to spend.

With a sigh, I look between the houses to the horizon still shrouded in shadow. Barely, just barely, the Wall is visible through morning fog. The stone spine looks as menacing as ever, stretching a thousand feet high along the west border of my state, Missouri. It's hard to imagine it encircles the Earth's longitude, but that's what they say.

I break my stare and quicken my pace. Red maple leaves fly through the air like autumn snowflakes. I hug myself and cross the narrow, muddy street, nodding to the milkman on the corner as he organizes his various bottles between the wood slats of his pushcart. He waves a gloved hand, which returns to his side as if out of habit, rubbing a square bulge in his trouser pocket.

I've seen his Clock — four more years and a thimble-full of days until his zeroes line up. Longer than I have even though I'm younger, but I don't begrudge him. We're all a population of walking second-hands, ticking toward the end.

A wooden arrow painted white points toward the center of town — Father's handiwork from his carpentry shop. My fingers brush across the smooth top of the sign. The black letters glisten, painted to withstand the upcoming winter: Unity Village Square.

Unity Village. The insinuation in the name is far from the disposition of its people. Seventeen years haven't been long enough for me to change this. Instead, I've conformed to the cold separateness we cling to. The concept of unity is now a nostalgic whim from the past — like gentlemen doffing fedoras, free ice cream on a hot afternoon, barefooted children hoop-rolling. Selfless consideration is rare, except from the Mentors. And they only fake it.

Mentor. The word turns my stomach and my shoulders tense.

Assessment Day.

A few yards from the village square, my trudging slows like a dying wind-up toy. I stop and allow the mud to creep its fingernails into my boot leather. Straight ahead, a weathered wooden platform rests dead center inside a square of empty market booths. Leafless dogwood trees surround the square as if trying to fill the silent space.

Harman, the master gardener, stands rigid between his stocked vegetable stand and the Enforcer car parked beside him. It shines like a black stinkbug, its warning to the meager crowd of onlookers as palpable as any stench. A painted gold backward E shimmers against the black paint as the sun peeks over a thatched roof.

Atop the platform stands a middle-aged stranger. Grey facial hair quivers as he chews on his upper lip. Two Enforcers flank him, statue-like, with black coats brushing the dirty platform floor. A backward black E marks the left side of each of their faces.

I avoid their eyes and grip the Clock in my pocket. God, let today be the day.

"Martin Foster is reported of being an unregistered Radical," the Enforcer on the right says. "Is there anyone to vouch for his Clock?"

The square remains silent. A handful of people mingle, as if trying to ignore the question.

"Can anyone vouch he has a Clock?" The Enforcer widens his stance and clasps his fist behind his back.

Mister Foster's chewing stops. He stares at his feet.

Look up, I think to him, as if he'll catch my projection of courage. Be brave. I've never seen his Clock, but I went to school with his son. Mister Foster has a life. He has purpose. He has a family.

"I vouch for his life," I squeak.

The Enforcer glares at me. "That is not applicable to the question at hand, nor will it affect our decision."

"But his life matters. Not his Clock."

The other spectators avoid my eyes. Will they ever speak out? Can't my village come together to save a single life?

Mr. Foster's gaze lifts, finding mine. This moment will burn in my dreams tonight, like with every other Radical I've unsuccessfully vouched for these past three months. Not that it's done any good. If only I'd started doing this sooner. Years ago.

His eyes hold glassy hope — not that his life will be saved, but that his life has made a difference and someone has noticed.

I have. But I'm helpless.

"If no one can vouch for Martin Foster's Numbers" — the Enforcer shifts into mechanical monotone — "then he is sentenced to the Wall."

"No!" I step forward. "That's not the law. Register him as a Radical."

The Enforcers lead Mr. Foster back to the car in three swift steps.

"He can choose relocation!" My courage withers. I can't swallow. My eyes never leave Mr. Foster's, even when a thick film of tears blurs the scene.

The door shuts and the car rolls away through the mud with a high-pitched electric whine.

I sink to my knees, immune to the wet chill the mud sends through my pants. Today wasn't the day. Another innocent will die, sacrificed to the mystery of the Wall. God, why do You allow this?

My Clock is cool against my sweating palm. I didn't even realize I had pulled it from my pocket. I can't look at it. I want to smash it, but if I do, I'll be the one on the platform.

My sorrow returns to its cage of resignation. I stand and leave the square, tense against the probing stares of others. When I reach the border of Unity Village, I stop.

The slick county building towers like a bland government pillar, resembling a giant Time Clock tilted up on one side. Even the windows have red rims like the Numbers. A long electronic post board covers the outside wall facing the village, still blinking: Hearings: Martin Foster — Oct. 09.

I hate Clocks. Each one is a constant reminder that my life is not, and has never been, in my hands. The possessive, all-controlling nature in me rears its irate head, but it can rear all it likes — The Numbers are never wrong.

I move toward the county building, and my fingers stray again to the lump in my pocket. 364. 364. That's plenty of time. Deep breath, chin high, and a perfected look of defiance. I ascend the steps and enter through the heavy doors.

The lobby has a marble floor with a trickling water fountain and stiff yellow lighting — one of the few Unity buildings with plumbing and electricity. My steps echo. A rat-nosed receptionist sits behind a desk across the room. She doesn't look up, but I don't care.

Instead, my eyes wander to the grinning man with dark hair standing beside the woman's post. My persona slips and I break into a run. "Reid!"

His arms envelop me and I breathe in his scent of forest and travel. "My little Brielle."

I laugh at the name to keep from crying. I haven't heard my brother's voice in almost a year. Brielle is my middle name — a name only Reid calls me because, he says, "It sounds so soft."

"I didn't think you'd come back so soon," I mumble into his coat.

"We're in this together, sis. You're not alone."

I sniff and survey his face. "You got freckles."

"Too much sun tends to do that." He tilts his head. "You got thinner."

Most girls seek this form of compliment, but when Mother calls me Twig Legs and Reid says I'm thinner in the same day, I'm irked. "So what?" I step away. Why must he point out my smallness the very moment we're reunited?

He frowns a little, but he'll say nothing more. I read his face as well as my own since they're nearly identical. We're triplets, well, what's left of them. Our older brother, William, died at birth.

"Parvin Brielle Blackwater?" Rat Nose asks in a nasal, smoker's voice. I flinch. Reid gives my arm a comforting squeeze.

I turn to her. "Yes?"

"You're here for your Last-Year Assessment?"

"Mm-hmm." I haven't allowed myself to consider how I want my life to end. It seems too morbid. Truth is, I've been too scared to think about it. Now ...

I have to.

She peers at me through oval glasses. "Your Mentor, Mr. Trevor Rain, will see you." Then she turns to Reid. "And now that she's here" — she jerks her head in my direction — "will you please join Ms. Monica Lamb? She's on a tight schedule."

"Aren't we all?" Reid murmurs.

I giggle. It feels foreign. I lean close to him and lower my voice. "Thanks for waiting for me." I eye the snappy receptionist.

"Why were you late?"

Mr. Foster's face flits across my mind's eye. I sigh. "Oh, you know me — slept in too long." Someday I'll tell Reid about my recent attempts to vouch for Radicals. Someday ... when I save someone.

We step into the elevator. As the door closes, I place one hand on a wall and the other on Reid's arm. I never get used to moving upward in this metal box. I should have taken the stairs.

Mirrors cover three walls and I stare at Reid. He's grown taller, more rugged, and now he sports a five o'clock shadow. It's strange seeing something so adult as facial hair on him.

I pull the wood box from my pocket. "Do you want the Numbers?" Each second taps against my fingertips with a dull click.

"Ah, who cares about protocol? You keep it. Trevor's stricter about checking Numbers. I'll pretend I forgot mine. Monica loves to add another tally to her list of why men are immature and irresponsible. If today's the day our Mentors discover we've illegally shared a Clock, so be it. We've made it seventeen years."

We told the Mentors we have two Clocks with the same Numbers. It's a common occurrence between close friends or siblings, which often means they'll die from the same cause: a boating accident, natural disaster, or something of the sort. But our single Clock was an unfortunate mishap.

The elevator doors slide open. I try to clear my throat but seem to have forgotten how. To compensate, I take a deep breath and lift my chin.

"There's the confident mask I hate so much." But Reid adopts his own carefree façade and struts down the hall to Monica Lamb's door.

"I'll see you at home." I walk the opposite direction.

I push open the maple-paneled door into Trevor's long, blank office. He sits on one side of a mahogany desk, perusing my thin file, perhaps to appear as if he remembers me. An empty plush red chair rests on the other side of his desk, facing him.

My soft boots tap-tap over the slick marble floor. Trevor looks up. His hair is black, dusted with grey. A strand falls into his face and catches in his rectangular glasses for a moment. He pulls a comb from his suit pocket and smooths the strands back. His smile doesn't reach his eyes. It hardly makes crinkles in his face.

"Ah, Parvin." His voice is annoyingly soothing, as if he knows I don't want to be here.

I resist responding with, "Ah, Trevor." Instead, I give a curt nod.

He gestures to the plush chair in front of him. Like there's anyplace else to sit. "How are you feeling?"

Should I be honest? I settle for neutral. "I'm okay." I lower myself into the seat.

"Did you bring your Numbers?"

I place my Clock upright on his desk. He squints at it, then at the open manila folder. "You turn eighteen in April?"


"Your brother too?"


"And both of your Clocks have the same Good-bye, next October?"

I gulp. "Yeah."

The word sticks at the back of my throat, and something pinches in my chest. Every lie I tell is a mental tattoo that glows in the dark when I try to shut it out, to pretend I didn't say it. But this lie I must tell — to protect Reid's and my dwindling lives. Right now, Reid's probably lying, too. Does he feel the same guilt I do, or am I merely weak?

My eyes stray to the thin wooden box. The Numbers face away from me. If we could get a second Clock, then we wouldn't have to hide the fact we're stuck with just the one — and that we don't know whose it is. But no one controls the Numbers, not even the government. And Clocks are merged to a person at conception.

I dread this Last Year because one of us will zero out and the other will become a Radical with no Clock. We don't know which one will die.


Excerpted from "A Time to Die"
by .
Copyright © 2014 Nadine Brandes.
Excerpted by permission of Third Day Books, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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