In a world where all seventeen-year-olds receive a memory from their future selves, Logan Russell's vision is exactly as he expects—and exactly not. He sees himself achieving his greatest wish of becoming a gold-star swimmer, but strangely enough, the vision also shows him locking eyes with a girl from his past, Callie Stone, and experiencing an overwhelming sense of love and belonging.
Logan’s not sure what the memory means, but soon enough, he learns that his old friend Callie is in trouble. She’s received an atypical memory, one where she commits a crime in the future. According to the law, she must be imprisoned, even though she's done nothing wrong. Now, Logan must decide if he'll give up his future as a gold-star swimmer and rescue the literal girl of his dreams. All he'll have to do is defy Fate.
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Prequel to the New York Times Bestselling Novel Forget Tomorrow
By Pintip Dunn, Stacy Abrams
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2016 Pintip Dunn
All rights reserved.
Logan opened his eyes. He'd been lost in a memory from his future — the memory, the one for which he'd been preparing all his life — and it took him a moment to readjust to the present. His surroundings melted into his consciousness like one of those screenshots that slowly came into focus. He saw color first, wide swaths of grays and silvers, which unfurled into the ordinary objects of the memory room. Dark, shiny tiles. A lounge chair with hard cylindrical cushions. Sheets hanging on the walls for privacy.
Privacy. Ha. Like that meant anything when there was a guard next door, peering into his head, seeing everything he saw, hearing everything he heard, feeling everything he felt.
He ripped the helmetlike contraption from his head, fighting the urge to fling it across the room. He'd told his parents he didn't want this memory. All these visions had done for the people he loved was cause them terrible grief. He'd be just fine without his glimpse of tomorrow, thank you very much.
But his parents had insisted. They said it would arouse too much suspicion if he refused his future memory. It might even clue in ComA, or the Committee of Agencies, to the existence of the Underground, the clandestine group of psychics working to escape the government's persecution. The last thing Logan wanted was to threaten the group that kept his brother safe.
So he came, and he received the memory from his future self, just like every other teenager who turned seventeen that day.
It was exactly what he expected — and exactly not.
The female guard rushed in just as he was winding up his arm to throw the helmet. "So, a gold-star swimmer, huh?" she cooed, taking the metal contraption from his hand. He swore to the Fates she hadn't been cooing a few minutes ago, before he received his memory.
"How does it feel knowing you're going to be someone so ... important?" Her cool fingers traveled up his arm, inch by crawly inch, like a spider he wanted to flick away.
Yep, she was definitely hitting on him, never mind the years separating them. Who knew a gold-star status could render the age gap irrelevant?
"Fine," he said, trying to sound bored, even though his insides churned. It wasn't the status that made him mad. He'd been working toward this future ever since his parents tossed him into the swimming pool when he was three. Becoming a gold-star swimmer was his every goal realized, his every dream come true.
It was the part ... after ... that made him feel like a flame was being held to his toes. He didn't understand what it meant. He didn't know how it was supposed to make him feel.
"Oh, I like the attitude." The guard batted her tattooed eyelids at him. "The confidence. The arrogance. Why, you must've known this was your destiny. You know what they say. A star in the future is a star today." Was this supposed to be sexy? By Eden City's standards, she was perfectly attractive. But the change in her attention made the bile rise in his throat.
Just once, he'd like a girl to be interested in him for him. Not for his swimming, not for the body that came along with his hours in the pool. But him. Logan Russell. His thoughts, his wants, his feelings.
The way she used to be interested in him. The girl he hadn't spoken to in the last five years. The one who had just appeared, unfathomably, in his vision from the future. The one who would one day meet his eyes across the pool hall and make him feel like he belonged.
Calla Ann Stone.CHAPTER 2
A couple of hours later, Logan's left wrist throbbed, although he couldn't tell if it was from his brand-new hourglass tattoo or the black chip implanted underneath. He raised his wrist in the air, and for a moment, he swore he could feel the chip moving inside, jiggling and jostling.
He couldn't breathe. He pounded his chest, eyes roving around the men's relief room, over the toilet stalls and the sinks, looking for a knife, a rod, an edge — anything that could dig into his wrist, rip open his skin, and get this ... thing ... out of him.
He was being ridiculous. All sorts of objects were implanted inside people all the time, and they certainly didn't move. Like eye scopes that allowed you to magnify an image at will or iron rods that made your bones stronger. He even had an ID chip embedded in his right wrist, but the operation happened when he was a baby. Most of the time, he was able to pretend it had always been a part of his body.
But this memory chip was new ... and freaky. He didn't care if it was the law. He didn't care if every seventeen-year-old had one implanted in his or her wrist. He wanted it out.
The first memories from the future arrived twenty years ago, striking those lucky few randomly and without warning. But then, an interesting thing happened. By and large, these people became the most productive members of society. It made sense, really. Instead of wasting their time and resources on things that wouldn't happen, they were able to focus their energies on the things that would.
A decade later, ComA figured out that the memories weren't arriving randomly after all. Rather, every person received a memory when he or she turned seventeen. ComA created the Future Memory Agency, or FuMA, to oversee these memories — and legislated that these damn black chips be implanted into every recipient's wrist.
Logan shot to the sink, and with shaking hands, he turned on the faucet and splashed water on his face.
Calm down. Think of water. Clear, smooth, expansive water. Rushing over his body, engulfing him in another world.
It was weird. Some people had phobias about the water, but he breathed better when he was submerged. He thought he must've been a sea animal in another life, although he never said this out loud. Talk of past lives smacked too closely of religion, which no longer had any relevance in the post-Boom era.
The only person he could've told was her. Back when they were friends, he could've told Callie anything. She'd always paused before responding, her eyebrows twitching as though they were absorbing his words. He'd loved how she made his silliest thoughts feel important. And that made him feel important, too.
He wished he could share his future memory with her now. She'd like to know — at least, he hoped she would — that his hard work would pay off. All those hours in the water weren't for nothing.
The ambient noise changed from birds singing to the ocean roaring. Someone had just finished using the facilities. Quickly, Logan straightened and stuck his face inside the water vacuum. Every last droplet was sucked from his skin, and he knew from past experience that telltale red marks would appear on his cheek where it came too close to the suction.
A kid with black hair and a crooked nose strolled out of a stall. It was the guy Logan had sat next to that morning in the conference room when Chairwoman Dresden had welcomed them to their Memory Day.
The Chairwoman was scary, and it wasn't just because she was the head of FuMA. She'd probably toss him into Limbo for not paying attention to her speech. So, he didn't remember much about the kid other than his restless limbs: fingers tapping, knees jittering, elbows quaking. The kid was probably more nervous than he was.
"Hey, October Twenty-six," the kid said now, calling him by his school name. Well, their school name, really. Theirs and everyone else's in the conference room. It was how ComA organized them, by their birthdays. In cities all across North Amerie, every seventeen-year-old received their visions from the future on their birthday. It was just Logan's luck that he lived in the capital, Eden City, and received instructions from the national head of FuMA herself.
"Hey, man," Logan said, because he didn't know the kid's real name. "How's it going?"
The kid sighed. "Let's get this over with."
"Get what over with?"
"From now on, everybody's going to be asking to see our memories. As though it's public property — and it kinda is." He held up his wrist, an identical hourglass tattoo marking the location of the black chip. "Every future boss, every loan officer, Fates, even every girl we're crushing on. They all have the right to see our memories. And judge us because of them. So, we might as well get it over with. I don't know you from Tanner. You could be the father of future memory. But once I show my memory to you, it'll be a whole lot easier sharing it with my family, don't you think?"
"I'm not ready," Logan said. "I don't even understand what my memory means."
The kid snorted. "It'll mean whatever the watcher wants it to mean." He shook his head. "Man, I am so screwed. I got one of those memories that doesn't translate well. But ... I'm okay with it."
"See for yourself."
Logan followed the kid out of the relief room into an atrium off the FuMA lobby where memory scanners lined the walls. These scanners were open to the public, and the room was packed on weekend nights, when guys and girls came to view the memories of prospective dates, to determine whether they were worth a drink or an actual dinner at a Meal Assembler Café. Logan imagined many of his fellow recipients would be here with their families tonight, showing off their glimpses of the future.
At that hour, however, the atrium was deserted.
"Ready to see my future?" the kid asked, gesturing to a machine.
Not really. But the kid was right. The moment the black chip was implanted inside him, the memory was no longer his. It was now a tool for everyone else to evaluate him.
And so, Logan nodded. The kid put his wrist on the sensor, and Logan stepped up to the screen to watch the memory play out. These scanners weren't as high-tech as the ones in the guards' chambers. While those machines translated the memory across five senses, these scanners merely showed the images on a two-dimensional screen.
Which didn't explain the tug in Logan's throat when he saw a baby being passed to the ... well, he was no longer a kid in the future, but a man. A husband. A father. The baby had clearly just been born. So tiny and red. Wrinkled, like an old man that had been spelled back in time. The man pulled the baby to his chest and held him tight.
The memory ended. Logan stepped back from the machine and looked at the kid. He couldn't help feeling sorry for him.
"Well?" the kid demanded. "Whatcha think?"
"Sorry, man," Logan said. "There's some good stuff there, but your future self didn't do you any favors."
"But he did," the kid protested. "Look, I'm screwed when it comes to my future finances. I know that. That's not why I wanted to show my memory to you." His eyes shone with a passion Logan didn't understand. "I've never felt anything like that, holding my baby. It was unreal. And I'll get to feel that way, not just for a second, but for years, maybe even decades ... That changes me. It makes me feel like maybe life is worth living after all."
Logan blinked. "This memory won't get you a job."
"A job won't keep me alive," the kid burst out. "I wasn't going to tell you this, 'cause, you know, we just met. But you saw my memory. So now you know me better than my mother." He took a breath, heavy and labored. "Today was going to be it for me. The last couple of years have sucked. My days have been blacker than a wormhole. Fates, I didn't think I was going to get a memory at all, 'cause I didn't think I'd live long enough to send one."
His tone was low and matter-of-fact. "I had a plan. I even picked the spot where I was going to dive off the cliff. My skull would crash against the rocks, but the current would wash away the blood, see. That way, my family wouldn't have to see what was left of me. I planned to go straight from my memory to the cliff."
He looked straight at Logan. "My future self sent me the only memory that could've changed my mind. A job just pays the bills, but this memory gives me ... hope. And that's worth more than all the credits in the world."
Logan opened his mouth, but nothing came out. He didn't know how to respond to such a personal story.
So instead, he said, "I'm Logan. What's your name?"
The kid laughed, like that was the best answer Logan could've given. "My name is Nate, man. And I know you don't want to share. But at least tell me this: Does your memory give you hope?"
Logan swallowed hard. Because that was precisely it. That's why he felt so antsy. So unsettled. "Yeah, Nate. My memory gives me hope."
More accurately, Callie gave him hope. The future version of her. Now he just had to figure out what he wanted to do about her in the present.CHAPTER 3
Logan didn't want to go home, not yet. His parents had taken the day off work; they were probably pacing the living area, ready to whisk him to an eating establishment to celebrate, one with manual chefs and food prepared by hand. Still, it was customary for the Memory Day recipient to take a couple of hours to himself, to process this all-important glimpse of the future. His parents would understand if he showed up later.
He walked through the FuMA lobby, wondering where he should go, what he should do. The other seventeen-year-olds from the conference room milled around him. Some were subdued; others bounced across the lobby like springs were attached to their feet. Unlike Nate, no one else rushed over to share their memories. He, in turn, avoided eye contact with any of them. It was awkward. They didn't know one another. They were from different schools all over Eden City, and yet, they had one thing in common. All their lives had changed at practically the same moment.
A girl stumbled into him, her braid askew, crying so hard he thought her eyeballs might wash free.
He put a hand on her shoulder. "Are you okay?"
She turned toward his hand, but he doubted she saw it. He doubted she registered anything.
"I was supposed to be a star," she whispered. "My music was supposed to ripple through North Amerie. I was going to shock the world with my new sound." Her voice twisted, became so harsh it could corrode metal. "I guess someone forgot to send a memo to my future self. I'm just a mother. A child-rearer. I'm nothing."
"That's not true," Logan said. An image of Nate's newborn baby — the little fingers, the red skin — floated through his mind. "Some people think being a child-rearer is the most important occupation you can have."
"What people? I don't know those people." She flung his hand away. "Next, you'll be telling me it's better to know now rather than find out later."
"Of course not. I'd rather spend my whole life striving for a dream that never comes true, than to live without a dream at all. Wouldn't you?"
He didn't answer. He couldn't, not when he'd just seen his dreams realized.
Her eyes narrowed. "What did your memory show?"
What should he say? If he told the truth, he'd look like he was bragging. It was safer to avoid answering altogether.
But, to his surprise, he wanted to help her. Because her words about living without a dream reminded him of someone he used to look up to and admire — his older brother, Mikey.
"In the future, I'm a gold-star swimmer," Logan said, taking a chance, putting himself out there. Something he hadn't been able to do in his last moments with Mikey.
She lurched back from him as though he had just confessed to murder. "I knew it. Stop humoring me. I don't want your condescension."
"I'm not humoring you. Swear to the Fates, I meant every word."
But she was no longer listening. She glared at him and strode away, as though he'd said he was better than everybody else.
If she only knew how he really felt.
He was a coward.
Five years ago, he had made a racquetball levitate over the court. He'd been in a game with Mikey and his friends, and they'd pushed him to the side, refused to hit the ball to him, called him a "baby" when his lip quivered. He'd just wanted the older guys to take him seriously. Show them that Mikey wasn't the only Russell brother who could hold his own. So, he made the ball dance above the court, spinning and bouncing, tracing figure-eights, even though only a select few people had psychic powers. Even though TechRA, the Technology Research Agency, was so desperate to study these abilities that they locked up every known psychic like a lab rat.
Excerpted from Before Tomorrow by Pintip Dunn, Stacy Abrams. Copyright © 2016 Pintip Dunn. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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