Six months ago Aether Corporation sent Elena, Adam, and three other recruits on a trip to the future where they brought back secret informationbut not everyone made it back to the present alive. Now Elena’s dealing with her survivor’s guilt and trying to make her relationship with Adam work. All she knows for sure is that she’s done with time travel and Aether Corporation. But Aether’s not done with heror Adam, or fellow survivor Chris. The travelers on Aether’s latest mission to the future have gone missing, and Elena and her friends are drafted into the rescue effort. They arrive in a future that’s amazingly advanced, thanks to Aether Corporation’s reverse-engineered technology. The mission has deadly consequences, though, and they return to the future to try to alter the course of events. But the future is different yet again. Now every trip through time reveals new complications, and more lives lostor never born. Elena and Adam must risk everythingincluding their relationshipto save their friends.
About the Author
Elizabeth Briggs made her YA debut with Future Shock. She graduated from UCLA with a degree in sociology and now mentors teens in writing. She is the author of the new adult series Chasing the Dream. Elizabeth lives in California with her husband and a pack of fluffy dogs.
Read an Excerpt
Book Two in the Future Shock Trilogy
By Elizabeth Briggs
Albert Whitman & CompanyCopyright © 2017 Elizabeth Briggs
All rights reserved.
PART I THE PRESENT
There are three things that make the memories stop, if only for a moment.
This is the first.
The needle bites into my skin, but I welcome the pain. It's less of a prick and more like a wasp stinging me over and over, buzzing deep into my skin. The vibrations travel through my bones, across my upper body, and I grit my teeth. I've hit that point where I want to pull away, where I don't know if I can take it anymore, but I force myself to be still.
I close my eyes and let the pain block out everything else. It builds and builds until it crests like a wave, breaking over the shore. My mind goes blank. There's nothing but the sharp pressure and the hum of the tattoo gun, and in that instant I'm numb.
For a few seconds, the past disappears.
When José pulls the needle back to examine his work and wipe away the extra ink, the memories all come back in a rush. The salty smell of cold ocean air. An echoing boom of a gunshot. Blood dripping down bone-white tiles.
"Está bien, Elena?" José asks, jerking me back to the present.
My mouth is too dry to speak at first, so I nod. He brings me a mirror, and I turn my arm to get a better look at the design from different angles. The lines of ink are thick and stark black against my brown skin, which has turned red and blotchy around the tattoo: a stylized image of the origami unicorn Adam made for me six months ago.
"Perfecto," I say.
José covers the tattoo in saran wrap, but doesn't bother giving me the standard instructions on how to take care of it. This isn't my first tattoo, and I doubt it will be my last. But other than the tattoo of my mother's name, this one might mean the most to me.
"Gracias," I say, doling out a hefty tip on top of the fee he quoted me before. José used to tattoo me when I was younger, back when it was technically illegal since I was under eighteen. He's the older brother of the guy I was hooking up with when I got my first tattoo, the spiderweb on my other arm. Now I'm old enough to get them done legally, and I have money to pay him right. For once.
I head out of the tattoo parlor, and the bell on the door tinkles overhead while it swings shut. But as soon as my foot hits the sidewalk, I tense.
There, across the street, is that damn black car again.
I've seen it on and off for the last six months, ever since I was part of a "research project" that sent me — and four other teens — to the future, with deadly consequences. At various times the car has been outside my apartment, in front of my kickboxing class, or in a parking lot on my college campus. One time I swore I saw it waiting outside a restaurant when Adam and I were on a date.
It's Aether Corporation. It has to be.
The car waits, its windows tinted so dark I can't see inside, but I get that skin-prickling feeling like someone is watching me. I don't know what they want, but I wish they'd make a move already, instead of biding their time and following me everywhere I go. They're probably monitoring me, making sure I never reveal their secrets. Keeping tabs in case I ever get out of line. Getting ready to pounce when they're good and ready.
Maybe they want me to know they can get to me whenever they want.
There's a harsh, brisk wind in the air, heralding the fact that Los Angeles is finally switching from summer to fall after a hard-fought battle to hang on to those hotter temperatures. I pull my black hoodie over my hair and shove my hands in my pockets while I walk down the sidewalk, trying not to make it obvious that I'm watching the car while it watches me.
As I near the corner, it creeps down the street behind me. They're not even trying to be subtle anymore.
I turn onto the next block, but a flash of electric blue hair makes me freeze in place. A girl ahead of me, getting out of her car.
My vision blurs and panic shoots through my veins, but it's not her. It's not. I saw her body. I know she's dead. But I can't move, can't breathe, can't do anything but ride through the flashbacks.
Her limp body in the tub.
Blood and water mixing on their way down the drain.
The sound of my own cries as I realize I'm too late to save her.
The girl's head swivels in my direction before she walks into a sandwich shop, and my brain snaps out of it. Her hair isn't even the right shade of blue. Zoe is dead and gone for good, and no matter how many times I relive that moment, I can't go back and change the past.
Here's the thing about having a perfect memory: it makes it really hard to move on from the shit you've been through. And God knows I've seen enough death for a lifetime.
I check the time on Mamá's watch, rubbing the smooth face back and forth with my thumb. The familiar gesture grounds me in reality again, in the present moment. 4:18 p.m. Breathe in. Breathe out. Move on.
I shake the past off and continue forward like nothing happened, trying to ignore how I'm breathing faster and the way my muscles are twitching to punch something. I clench and unclench my fists, wishing I was at my gym in front of a bag.
The second thing that makes the memories stop?
In a few steps I reach my car, a Toyota so new it doesn't have plates yet. Once I'm inside, I grip the steering wheel hard until my pulse slows and I catch my breath. The therapist Adam convinced me to see told me this kind of thing is normal for someone who's been through a traumatic experience, but that doesn't make it any easier to live with.
And at the moment, the flashbacks are the least of my problems.
The black car hovers in my rearview mirror, dark and dangerous. As I pull away from the curb, it follows. I could try to lose it, but what's the point? They know where I live. They know where I go to school. They can come for me anytime they want, and there's not a damn thing I can do to stop them.
The car quits following me two blocks from the tattoo parlor, but I don't feel safe until I'm inside my apartment with the door locked behind me. Even then, it's only the illusion of safety. Today they let me go, but I know it's just a matter of time before they come for me.
I toss my keys onto the table in the entry, drop my bag on the hardwood floor, and collapse onto the soft, gray couch in my living room.
I love those words. My living room.
After years of being in foster care, moving from place to place all the time, and having zero control over where I lived, it's the greatest feeling in the world to finally have a home of my own. One that I chose.
It's nothing special, just a small one-bedroom apartment I'm renting for a year. I could have bought a condo or even a house with the money I got from Aether Corp, but that felt too permanent. I'm still getting used to a life where everything isn't temporary.
And with that black car following me around, I don't trust Aether not to take it all away.
I stare at the popcorn ceiling and run through my memories for the hundredth time, trying to figure out if I missed something, hoping to find an explanation stored away in my brain for why Aether is watching me.
Six months ago, they sent me — and four other teenagers — thirty years into the future for twenty-four hours. The goal was to collect data and technology so they could reverse engineer it after we returned. But it didn't work out that way.
We broke the rule Aether gave us to not look into our own futures and learned we were going to be murdered when we got back to the present — and all evidence pointed to me as the killer. Only by trusting Adam, one of the other time travelers on my team, was I able to uncover the real murderer.
Lynne, the project manager for the time-travel experiment, had been secretly working with Adam to bring back something his future self developed: the cure for cancer. Lynne wanted it for her daughter, who was dying and didn't have much time left. But once Adam brought the cure back to the present to save his mother, the three others on our team — Chris, Trent, and Zoe — stole it. They thought they could use it as leverage to ensure they wouldn't be killed, but Lynne tracked them down and shot them to get it back. The final step of her plan was to kill me and frame me for the murders as a cover-up.
With Adam's help, I was able to change the timeline and stop Lynne, but I wasn't able to save Trent or Zoe — and their deaths continue to haunt me. I failed them. I have to live with that. Forever.
Lynne's death is on my hands too. I'm the one who shot her. It was self-defense, but that does little to ease my conscience in the middle of the night.
Even though Aether Corporation had nothing to do with Lynne's secret agenda or the others' deaths, they could be trying to dig up the truth about what happened the night of the murders. Or maybe it has nothing to do with Lynne and the murders, and everything to do with Aether's other secret: future shock.
Our team discovered that Aether Corp sent time travelers to the future before us, and the ones who returned suffered future shock, which causes paranoia, memory loss, and delusions. They chose the five of us because they believed teenage brains might be immune to future shock — and they were right. None of us had any of the side effects when we returned to the present. But to protect ourselves, we lied about everything and told them we were suffering from it.
Now I wonder if Aether knows, or at least suspects, that we lied. Are they following us to see if we've recovered our memories or if we're suffering from any side effects? Or are they making sure we don't break the confidentiality agreement and tell everyone what they did — and how three people are dead as a result?
No matter how many times I go over it, I have no more answers than I did before. Until they come for me, I won't know what they're after.
I grab my bag and pull out my statistics textbook to read this week's assigned chapters, hoping that will distract me. Maybe if I pretend I'm just an average college student, I'll start to believe it.
At 7:14 p.m., there's a knock on my door. I jerk upright, and my textbook hits the floor with a thud. My fists clench, my heart thunders, and I'm instantly in fight-or-flight mode.
Knowing me, it'll be fight.
I already suspect who's on the other side, but I can't help this response. Ever since I came back from future, this is how my body reacts to everything. I'm always on alert, ready for an attack, expecting the worst.
I open the door. Adam waits outside my apartment, carrying a bag of takeout, and the tension drains out of my body instantly. His dark hair is messy and wet, hanging down almost to his blackrimmed glasses. A faint trace of stubble lines his jaw, like he forgot to shave for a day or two. My heart lifts as his blue eyes meet mine and a grin crosses his lips.
"I brought dinner," he says, holding up the large brown bag. Chinese food, from the smell, probably from my favorite place down the road. Even though I knew he was coming, it's still a surprise to see him. I keep expecting that one day he'll stop showing up. Or that he'll walk out of my life like everyone else has. But he hasn't vanished yet.
"My hero." I take the bag from him, leaning close to give him a kiss. I mean it to be quick, but he slides a hand around my waist and pulls me closer, against his chest. With my free hand, I grip his shirt, clinging to him as our kiss grows deeper, and everything else fades away except this moment. The past can't hurt me, not when I'm in his arms.
Adam is the third thing that makes the memories stop.
"I missed you," he whispers as we pull apart.
I should say it back, but instead I reach up to grab a dark lock hanging down his forehead. "Your hair is wet."
"I did some laps after class."
Adam's a swimmer, but like me with kickboxing, he doesn't do it to stay in shape. He does it because he says it helps him think. Or, I suspect, to forget.
We each have our ways of coping with what happened to us. Adam swims laps for hours. I beat the shit out of things.
He steps into the apartment, and his dark eyebrows jump up. "So did you get it?"
"Yeah." I pull back my sleeve to show him the tattoo. My arm throbs with a dull, yet constant pain, similar to a bad sunburn, but the design looks good. The origami unicorn is just like the one he made for me when we first met, like the one his future self gave me as a clue.
"Wow. I can't believe you did it." He adjusts his glasses as he examines the tattoo but doesn't touch the angry, inflamed skin lined with black ink. I can't tell from his expression or voice whether he likes it or not.
"I have lots of tattoos." I shrug and turn away, but my throat is tight with unsaid emotion. Maybe I shouldn't have gotten it. I'm not sure what I was thinking, anyway. I'd do anything to forget what happened to us, and instead I got a reminder branded right on my skin. But Adam is one of the few things in my life worth remembering.
Once in the kitchen, I pull out some plates for the food, avoiding his eyes the entire time. Adam moves behind me as I unpack the plastic containers, sliding his arms around my waist. "It's beautiful," he says. "Like you."
I close my eyes and lean back against him, relieved. He brushes my hair away and presses a kiss to my neck, his hands skimming up and down my sides. Adam is the first guy in a long time who can touch me without making me flinch. The only person I let get this close.
"I love it." He spins me around to face him, and his eyes are intense as they search my face. "And I lo —"
Every muscle in my body tightens up, and I jerk away from him. "I'm starving," I say, forcing a smile. "Getting tattooed always makes me hungry."
His face falls, but he's used to me pushing him away by now and he recovers quickly. "That's probably an aftereffect from the endorphin rush of getting a tattoo. Your blood sugar —"
I place a finger on his lips. "I don't need a science lecture, Dr. O'Neill."
"I don't have my PhD yet."
"You will soon enough."
"True," he says, but his voice has shifted. He begins opening the plastic food containers, but his face is tight. Closed off. Because of me.
We serve ourselves and sit on the couch in silence with our plates. He's ordered all of my favorite dishes without even having to ask. He's the perfect boyfriend, and I can't help but keep him at arm's length. Especially when it seems like he might break out the L word.
As I eat, I notice he's distracted, staring off into the distance with a frown, but I get the feeling it's not only me he's upset with. There's something else on his mind.
"What's wrong?" I ask.
He blinks and then he's back with me again, giving me a small smile. "Nothing. I told them not to put peas in the fried rice 'cause I know you hate them. But it's just not the same."
"I'd never lie about Chinese food."
"Not that." I study him for a long moment. "Is your mom okay?"
"Yeah, she's fine. She went to the doctor the other day, and he said the cancer has completely vanished from her system. The cure really worked."
Despite his words, his frown has returned, and I lightly bump against his side. "Tell me what's bothering you."
He sets his plate on the coffee table, his food untouched, and scrubs his face with his hands. "I was volunteering at the hospital today, and another girl died. She was only eight."
I almost drop my fork. Not this again. "Adam ..."
"If I'd created the cure already, she'd still be alive."
"It took your future self over ten years to create the cure," I remind him for what feels like the hundredth time. "It's only been six months. You haven't even finished school yet!"
"My future self spent half his time trying to solve your murder, but I can focus solely on developing the cure, and I can get it done faster. I know I can."
"After you get your PhD —"
"Over eight million people die every single year from cancer. In ten years, that's almost a hundred million lives I could save. I have to do it sooner. I have to." He runs a hand through his hair, his eyes tortured. "If only I'd kept some of the cure we brought back, I could have studied it. I could have —"
"Stop." I rest my hand on his knee. "Some things can't be rushed. Not if you want to do them right."
Excerpted from Future Threat by Elizabeth Briggs. Copyright © 2017 Elizabeth Briggs. Excerpted by permission of Albert Whitman & Company.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
It’s been six months since Elena Martinez has returned from her trip to the future, courtesy of Aether Corporation, and she’s having panic attacks and nightmares. Not everything went well, her budding relationship with Adam O’Neill is progressing, but she still can’t completely shake off her trust issues. Recently, Elena has noticed a black car that seems to be following her, she’s positive it’s from Aether, and her fears are confirmed when, just as she was going out with Adam, they’re both asked to come to the Aether offices. It can’t be good, and it’s even worse than Elena thought, because Elena and Adam, along with their friends from the first mission, have all been tricked into participating in another mission: the voyagers from the latest mission are missing! I had been waiting for FUTURE THREAT since I had turned the last page from book one, FUTURE SHOCK, which had been one of my favourite books from 2016. My expectations were beyond sky-high, and believe it or not, they were met tenfold! FUTURE THREAT is phenomenal! The new characters are just as fabulous as our old friends, they all have their own voice, the cast is multiethnic, which is so refreshing and not one stereotype in sight. I loved Elena even more the second time around: I identify with her, I want to be her! She is loyal, eager to act, and will do what it takes to succeed, even at her own peril. Elena Martinez has become my favourite fictional heroine. For those who had missed the amazing first book, fear not, you will be able to follow with a problem, as Ms. Briggs recaps succinctly and clearly what happened previously, but I would recommend you treat yourself to FUTURE SHOCK nonetheless to enhance your reading experience, because these types of books seldom happen. The time travel aspect is even more riveting in FUTURE THREAT, as Elena and her friends go back again thirty years into the future. Not everything is exactly the same, and again Elizabeth Briggs nailed everything. The action starts early on, and sit tight for the ride of your life! The dialogues are spot-on, the action breathtaking, the writing seamless; the author becomes invisible and morphs with Elena. I just cannot believe how creative Ms. Briggs is, and I think her numerous plot twists would keep some authors in business for years. Ms. Briggs’ storytelling skills are such that never attempted to guess where it was all going, because I would have been wrong every single time. A bit past the halfway mark, I thought I would burst with excitement because, in my wildest dreams, I couldn’t have possibly wished myself what happened. Yet, amidst the death, the destruction, and the bitter deceptions, beautiful relationships bloom. I am not precisely a lover of time travel stories, because I always feel something is off, but Ms. Briggs demonstrates her absolute mastery of the trope: FUTURE THREAT is the best time travel novel I have ever read, bar none! And there will be a third book! Be still my heart! I voluntarily reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book.