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Peer Through Time

Peer Through Time

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Peer Through Time

ratings:
3/5 (3 ratings)
Length:
412 pages
5 hours
Released:
Apr 28, 2015
ISBN:
9780990775829
Format:
Book

Description

In 2079, a time travel experiment sends physicist Carmela Akronfleck further back in time than she’d intended. Though she’s still in her small northern California town, the year is 1936 and she must learn to live without the technology she’s come to rely on. Her neurological implants should be dormant, but she receives a cryptic message, periodically accompanied by an audio transmission from the future. It’s the voice of her former psychotherapist, an android named Kass, stating his innocence in a series of murders occurring in 2079.

When Carmela deciphers the code as a hit list, she’s shocked to discover her mother and sister are among the intended targets. Further evidence reveals the killer’s true identity, but the inoperative time portal prevents her from returning to save her family and vindicate Kass.

She considers another option: hunt down the killer’s ancestors and avert his existence without radically changing history. She devises a plan to protect her family, haunted by doubts that she’s becoming the kind of person she’s always loathed—one willing to take another’s life.

Released:
Apr 28, 2015
ISBN:
9780990775829
Format:
Book

About the author

David T. Pennington grew up in a small northern California town called Paradise, but his home is in San Francisco. While his associate’s degree in computer programming has helped pay the bills, his bachelor’s degree in psychology has informed his writing. His love of fiction—mainly mysteries, science fiction, and thrillers—is balanced by his fascination with books on futurism, theoretical physics, and cosmology. Peer Through Time is his debut novel.


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Peer Through Time - David T. Pennington

Author

Characters

Alphabetical by first name

Alan Troche (1992-2010) - First victim of Eric Drake.

Carmela Akronfleck, formerly known as Carrie Dolphin (born 1994) - Lab Director at Wakeup Technologies; unwitting time traveler hoping to reunite with her family.

Della Payne (born 2051) - Carmela’s adoptive sister.

Eric Drake, a.k.a. Drake (1992-2079) - Carmela’s childhood friend, who served time in prison for murder, and recently committed suicide.

George Drake (born 1906) - Great-grandfather of Eric Drake.

James (Jimmy) Westmoreland (born 1918) - Member of the primitive clan living among the hills; Carmela’s love interest.

Justin Westmoreland (born 2051) - Della’s boyfriend in 2079; descendant of James.

Kass (created 2079) - Android psychotherapist created by Peer Industries; his patients include Carmela Akronfleck, Sara Drake, Phil Drake and Tracy Dolphin.

Lasha Westmoreland - Jimmy’s step-aunt; Carmela’s closest friend in 1936.

Margaret Akronfleck (born 1992) - Adoptive mother to Carmela and Della; lifelong friend of Eric Drake; co-founder of Wakeup Technologies.

Micah Westmoreland (born 1921) - Jimmy’s younger brother.

Paul Camfield (born 1992) - President of Peer Industries.

Phil Drake (born 1969) - Eric Drake’s father; Sara’s husband.

Rachel Westmoreland Eisenberg (born 1915) - Lasha’s stepdaughter.

Ruby Drake (born 1908) - great-grandmother of Eric Drake; George’s pregnant wife.

Ruth Westmoreland, a.k.a. Big Mama - matriarch of the clan; Jimmy’s grandmother.

Sara Thorne Westmoreland Drake (born 1969) - Eric Drake’s mother; married to Phil; formerly married to Spencer Westmoreland; Justin’s great-grandmother.

Spencer Westmoreland (1969-2059) - Co-founder of Wakeup Technologies; Justin’s great-grandfather.

Steph Eisenberg (1992-2010) - Second victim of Eric Drake.

Tracy Dolphin (born 1990) - Carmela’s older brother; Della’s maternal grandfather.

Trolley Dystra - Manager of the Peer Through Time office in Heaven’s Highest Hill; later a computer programmer at Peer Industries in San Francisco.

Will Eisenberg - Rachel’s husband; contractor who developed Leaf Lane.

September 19, 2079

Prowling around in an empty office late at night may have been a bad idea, particularly in high heels. Sara Drake stopped and leaned against the wall to remove her shoes. She dropped the left one, its heel clattering alarmingly loud on the corridor floor. Sara froze when she sensed something… a presence. She’d never believed in disembodied spirits, nor had she ever experienced an awareness of someone watching her—but someone, or something, was here.

Hello? she said, leaning slightly toward the end of the hallway. Kass? I got a message to come here. Are you in there?

She heard a soft, electronic click—like when the security system had granted her access into the luminous, vacant lobby of Peer Therapies. She had looked back at the darkness outside, wishing she’d asked QUINT to leave its headlights on. She could just make out the driverless vehicle’s silhouette through the fog creeping up from the canyon. The car waited for her in the soundless, somber night.

A shiver ran through Sara just before she turned her attention away from the window and toward the bright antechamber, sparsely furnished with but a few cushioned chairs and side tables. In the two times she’d been here, she’d never seen more than one other patient in this room, so there was no tangible reason for her apprehension. But the reception desk was abandoned, too. The message she’d received earlier had led her to believe someone would be here to receive her—so where were they?

This is what happens when you try to automate everything, she muttered. Robot psychologists. What next? She reviewed the message with her cybernetic optical implant:

Mrs. Drake, please return to your local branch of Peer Therapies. Earlier today you left behind an important item. Our apologies for the late hour, but we must return it to you right away.

It wasn’t that late—quarter to eleven—and Sara Drake wasn’t tired. She was bored and ready to try new things, venture into the unknown. Seeking psychological counseling had been a giant step into the unknown. Her son’s recent suicide had sparked something in her: a will to delve deeper than she’d ever allowed, a will to try and understand why she’d abandoned her own flesh and blood.

Eric was a killer. A failure. A piece of garbage that should have been incinerated instead of being allowed to rot and become fetid.

That had been her perspective for the past seven decades—until Eric took his own life. After that, all the other reasons faded away and she was left staring at herself in the mirror, as if reading her own mind for the first time. What she saw said that Eric was an embarrassment. That was the sole reason she had cut him out of her life. It was all about how his actions reflected on her.

She only knew one therapist employed here, a male named Kass. No last name. Employed and male may not be appropriate terms, because Kass was a machine. Not that it was polite to call them that—synthetic humans or androids were the more acceptable terms—but in the relative privacy of their own home, she and Phil referred to Kass and his kind as robots.

Did they have homes or did they sleep here in the office? Did they even need sleep? Probably not. Kass was likely here, in his office, powered down. Sara had walked past the reception desk and into a corridor illuminated by a soft glow. Now she picked her shoe up off the floor and held both shoes in one hand.

Hello? she called again, raising her voice.

The doorway to her therapist’s office was at the end of the corridor. She should march right up to it and announce herself. But something inside her made her hesitate. She couldn’t think of any items she was missing, and even if she’d left something here, she could retrieve it in the morning. There was no reason for her to be here an hour before midnight. Her boredom, along with her desire to momentarily escape from Phil, had brought her here.

That, and the message—and her own agenda.

One hundred ten years of life. So many things she’d forgotten—and others she’d like to forget. She’d heard rumors that such a thing might be possible—nanobots fiddling around in your brain, modifying or eradicating only certain memories—but all her connections to the scientific research community had denied anything like that was available. Her ex-husband’s company, Wakeup Technologies, hadn’t invented anything new in years, but Peer Industries had—and Sara suspected it was no coincidence that the previous therapist, the predecessor to Kass, had lost all its memories. If anyone could help her snoop around and find out more, it would be someone from Peer. Maybe her therapist, if it—if he—could be persuaded.

She heard the electronic click again.

The physical shock coming up from the floorboards overtook her instantly. With a jolt, her knees buckled and she lost control of her entire body. She couldn’t breathe. All her muscles clenched. In the instant before death took Sara Drake in its merciful arms, it was as though her every organ, her every blood cell, had burst into flames, searing her from the inside out.

1

Six days earlier

I killed another one.

I kept my thoughts to myself as I set off down the hill to meet Justin and Della at the security gate. My colleague wouldn’t be happy I’d lost another wormhole, but I was more concerned about how my sister would react to my immediately spiriting her boyfriend away upon their return from overseas.

I walked past the sprawling, labyrinthine main building of Wakeup Technologies on my right, past the undeveloped and overgrown acre of forest on my left, and out to the entrance. It was no longer a physical security gate—the facility now bared itself to the citizens of Heaven’s Highest Hill where once it had been shrouded behind a massive wall of granite and sandstone. The wall had been replaced by what we called a force field—which was easier than calling it a shield layered with plasma windows, carbon nanotubes, and a lattice of crisscrossing laser beams.

There stood my sister with a small purse strapped around her shoulder. A loose, pink tank top revealed her lovely mulatto skin, which appeared to have turned a shade darker during the past ten months. As a pale-skinned, freckled girl, I’d always been a bit envious of Della’s beauty. To her left, our childhood friend Justin stood with a bulky backpack on the ground next to him. He looked the same as he always had, the same as all the Westmoreland men I’d ever met; six-foot-two, short dark hair, muscular, with a beguiling smile on a perpetually tan face.

Is this how she treats you, Justin? You carry everything for both of you?

I dismissed my thoughts, worried for a moment that I might have inadvertently broadcast them to others’ minds. That kind of slip-up happened to everyone from time to time, but it was always embarrassing.

Welcome home, I said. The force—

Hi, Carmela! Della ran toward me and slammed up against the invisible force field, bouncing backward and tumbling to the ground, all curls and breasts and flailing limbs. It wasn’t the first time she had done this. I was somewhat amused, somewhat annoyed, but mostly flattered by her enthusiasm at seeing me after ten months apart from each other. God, I had missed my sister.

Ow, she said, adjusting her tank top while jutting her lower lip out. She blew her dark, curly hair out of her face. What the hell? You mad at me?

And so the Della drama began.

As I was about to tell you, I said, while trying to suppress a giggle, the force field will be down in ten seconds. Okay. Now you’re clear.

Justin helped Della to her feet and grabbed the backpack.

Just like old times, he said, followed by his signature closed-mouth smile. Della scowled at him. I knew how her mind worked. She thought Justin was making fun of her. As usual, I was of two minds regarding my sister. Part of me wanted to come to her defense and tell Justin to knock it off with the teasing. Another part of me wanted Della to stop playing the victim. But those were the identities they’d fashioned for themselves long ago. People could change, but not easily.

They both came forward and we shared a group hug.

Sorry, said Della. I’m happy to see you, Carmela. Sorry.

She was a sweet girl when she was calm. I had to keep her calm because I didn’t know how much more upheaval our family could take. But I needed Justin back in the lab so I could share my exciting news. Even though I’d failed to keep the last wormhole stable, I may have succeeded in sending particles back in time.

I may have found a way home.

I mentally summoned a four-person QUINT to take the three of us, and the bulging backpack, up to our homes nestled in the hills above the research facility. The acronym for Quick Inter-Neighborhood Travel was outdated, since these little intelligent vehicles—fashioned in the style of golf carts—could now be seen throughout town, but we still called them QUINTs.

Welcome back, Miss Della, said the vehicle as we settled in our seats and Justin secured the backpack. And Sir Justin.

Justin laughed, slapping the top side of the vehicle’s frame. Oh, it’s this one. He remembers you girls talking about my parents’ house, calling it the Westmoreland Castle. He came up with ‘Sir Justin’ all on his own.

Justin grinned, looking from me to Della, who was still scowling at him.

QUINT, she said, will you drop Justin off at his place and then take me and Carmela home? But don’t go so fast. I haven’t seen this place in nearly a year.

We rode along Wakeup Tech Way, parallel to the front side of the main building, which had replaced the six residences that lined the street long ago. My family’s home, the Dolphin home, had been the sixth one on the left—there were none across the street, only woods—but that was in my former life, before I ever met Della and before Margaret Akronfleck adopted the two of us.

Once we’d passed the building, QUINT drove us around the corner and down into a valley surrounded by pines, oaks, and manzanitas, among other vegetation. After crossing the little bridge suspending Wakeup Tech Way over the creek, we headed up the opposite hill, toward our homes.

We ascended into the hillside, where there stood three homes, each separated by half a mile: the Westmoreland Castle—built by Justin’s great-grandfather—a curvy and architecturally unique structure where Justin grew up; the modest redwood house where Margaret raised Della and me, in which my sister and I still lived; and farther up the winding road, the remains of the old Payne house where Della had spent her first eight years.

After we dropped Justin and the backpack off, Della asked QUINT to return to normal speed. We were home within seconds.

I have to ask you something, I said as she plopped her purse on the kitchen counter.

She turned around to face me, reaching her arms behind her and placing her palms on the counter top. She arched her back. Is it about me and Justin? I know. We’ve been fighting.

No, I said, keeping my mouth shut about how common that was. Why didn’t you come back two weeks ago for Drake’s memorial service?

Della glared at me. She could appear cold at times. I’m not going to apologize for that. Eric Drake was your friend and Mom’s friend. Not mine.

"I wouldn’t say he was my friend per se—when we were kids, yes—but still, you could have some respect for him as a family friend. And I know Justin loved him."

Justin said funerals weren’t important to his uncle. He didn’t think it was that big of a deal. How did he die, anyway? Old age?

He was only eighty-seven, same age as Mom. She manages to change the subject every time I ask her about it.

Did he die in San Francisco? In their condo?

Yes, but she won’t go into details. Maybe you can get more information out of her. Come with me this weekend.

Della sighed. "I am so tired of traveling, but I want to see Mom. What day is today—Wednesday? It wasn’t a question for me. She nodded yes, her virtual personal assistant having answered in her mind. Okay. By Saturday I’ll be ready to go to San Francisco. Can we ride the hillbot up to Mom’s place?"

I suppose. I leaned back and looked out the front door, which we’d left open. QUINT was still there. Listen, get some rest. I have to catch Justin up on everything I’ve been doing at the lab.

Now? Della pushed herself up from against the counter, standing straight and towering over me by three inches. Jesus, Carmela. He just got back. You tell me to rest, but not him?

I’m sorry, I said. But this is important. No, it’s… momentous. This wormhole through time that we’ve never been able to control, we’re getting closer to—

Oh, God, not the wormhole again. Another loud, dramatic sigh. Will you ever stop living in the past?

Look, I’m sorry that you’ll never have the chance to see your natural parents again. I regretted my words as soon as they came out of my mouth. It was a cruel reminder of how she became an orphan. But I have that chance. I haven’t seen my parents since I was eight. Can you imagine? Twenty years.

I know! Della screamed. Hello? She pumped her fists against her chest. "What about me? What makes you so special?"

She was right. I had just described what had happened to her, too. I’m not saying that I’m the only one—

No, said Della in a more controlled voice. "I mean, why do you get to travel through time to see long-lost loved ones?"

We don’t know that’s true, I said. I traveled once, and a death-bed memory from Justin’s great-granddad indicated I might travel again, but I have no guarantee.

Stop calling it traveling, said Della. "It’s time traveling. What Justin and I did was traveling. We were in Paraguay right before we came home. That’s when the fighting escalated."

I won’t stop calling it that, I said. So your dimension of travel is space, and mine’s time. Why should that bother you?

Because maybe there’s no such thing as time travel, okay? I know everyone around here just accepts it as normal—

Oh, you want to talk about what everyone accepts as normal? I said. I’d broken my self-promise to keep Della calm, and now I couldn’t stop arguing with her. I hated the sound of my voice. Try murder!

Her face went slack. In a low, barely audible voice—more like my usual volume—she slowly spoke my name. Carmela.

I’m not talking about you and your parents, I said. I’m talking about Mom. And Justin. And Spencer, when he was alive. They were all so supportive of Drake. So forgiving. But he killed two people! No matter how long ago it was.

But he served his time, right?

I thought he should have been held more accountable.

How? The death penalty? That hasn’t been legal in California since—

Of course not the death penalty, I said. I would never wish death on anyone. He just shouldn’t have had so much support. I would never forgive someone who took another person’s life. Della’s posture became defensive again. Unless… I extended my hand toward her and she surprised me by taking it. Unless I was in your shoes.

Thank you, she said before letting go of my hand and waving her arm in the direction of QUINT. Go. Do what you need to do. I’m sorry I overreacted. I am tired. She reached both arms out to hug me.

Welcome home, I said. I love you, sis.

I love you, too.

Margaret had always made us end our fights that way, even when we were still so seething mad at each other that we didn’t mean it. As adults, we had continued the tradition ourselves. And now I always meant it. My sister exhausted me, elated me, frustrated me, fascinated me, annoyed me—but I loved her nonetheless. We’d each endured what no child should have to go through, but at least we weren’t alone in it. We had each other. Our time together would possibly soon come to an end, though, and I had made peace with that. I hoped she would, too.

I walked out the door while telepathically asking Justin to meet me in the lab. It was time to get him up to speed on the research he’d left me all alone to deal with nearly a year earlier.

2

QUINT zipped me to work, where I checked in with a couple of researchers before heading out back. As Lab Director for the facility, my duties were nowhere near as demanding as they had been years earlier. Our few remaining employees didn’t need much supervision or direction. They knew what they needed to do and what was expected of them.

I walked along the stone path that snaked between beautifully landscaped patches of gardens and some smaller buildings—most no longer in use—until I reached our lab. It was along the outer perimeter of the facility grounds, just before the path continued down to the creek.

I peeked inside the lab and saw Justin wasn’t there yet, so I sat on a bench and waited. Two squirrels chattered, chasing each other around a pine tree and up its trunk. Quail and rabbits scampered among the knotweed and foxtail nearby.

I had memories of a past life. In that respect I was no different from anyone who had been kidnapped as a child and never returned home. We remembered the time with our parents as a past life, one for which we would always yearn, and we remembered the time after that as our present life. But my kidnapper wasn’t an evil man who wanted to submit me to unspeakable acts, nor a misguided childless woman desperate to nurture. My kidnapper was a time machine.

More accurately, it was a re-engineered wormhole embedded in the fabric of space-time, so miniscule in its youth that it was undetectable by humans—until we built tiny machines capable of peering deeper within the quantum world than we ever had. The wormhole was supposed to collapse as soon as it came into existence. It had borrowed so much energy just to have mass, and that energy had to be paid back instantly. But someone—or something—had cleared the loan with artificially injected energy and the wormhole was allowed to continue its existence. It was then filled with anti-gravity in the form of exotic matter until it was large enough to be used by humans and could be transformed into a time machine.

Or so the theory went. The wormhole already existed, and yet we were trying to create it. We sort of had to discard our classic notions of cause and effect.

The gray squirrels ran back down the tree trunk and up another.

Before Justin left, the wormhole had been enlarged but it wasn’t a time machine yet. A time dilation between its two mouths still had to be established by feeding one end into a particle accelerator and increasing its momentum to near the speed of light, while keeping the other end still. After ten months, we should be able to send particles back in time—for up to ten months back. That had been the plan.

Justin arrived and we went inside.

You killed another one? he asked. He was so nonchalant about what to me had been a deep disappointment. This last one had survived for the longest duration yet, and I had foolishly allowed myself to hope it would be the one to finally remain stable.

But I think it might have worked, I said. Not that it really means anything, but as soon as one mouth of the wormhole was fed into the accelerator, the detector found particles whose origins couldn’t be explained. They weren’t from a collision.

Did you beam particles into the mouth before you killed—before you lost the wormhole?

Justin had corrected himself, which I took to indicate he was ready to be serious. I could just ask him by way of our wireless brain-to-brain signals if that was his intent, but he respected my aversion to having a conversation and a sub-conversation at the same time. You could be saying one thing and thinking another, but both your spoken words and your thoughts would be transmitted to the other person. I found it maddening.

Yes, I said.

I think we’re very close to our breakthrough. We’ve talked about this, how the advancement happens exponentially. When we were kids, everything we’re doing now was just theory. It took half that time to take the first baby steps, but little by little, with increasingly narrow gaps between steps, we’ve gotten to this point.

What point? I asked, my arms spread out and palms up. Because I’m not sure where this leaves us. I needed Justin’s optimism to help pull me out of my disappointment over losing the wormhole.

You’re not listening to me, he said, and he was right. I focused on Justin Westmoreland, the intelligent man standing before me, and not on the adolescent boy with whom I’d spent so much of my life. I’m saying that this is happening soon and it’s not going to wait until we understand how it works.

You don’t know that, I said. My volume had involuntarily risen and I reminded myself to keep it in check. "It’s quite a few steps from sending particles back in time to doing the same with a person—billions upon billions of particles."

Maybe not as many steps as you think, said Justin. We have to be prepared for anything, at any time. Suppose it’s almost ready for us to go? We may never know why it doesn’t work the way we think it will.

Chronology uncertainty, I said. We build something that should take us back ten months, but instead it takes us back further.

Chronology uncertainty was the C.U. in W.A.C.U.P: the Westmoreland-Akronfleck Chronology Uncertainty Principle, after which Wakeup Technologies had been named. Justin’s late great-grandfather, Spencer Westmoreland—along with my mom—had coined the term.

Yes, and if that’s the case, said Justin, then I think we might be leaving soon.

You do realize that on the slight chance that we go to the past soon, we’ll likely be stuck there for a long time? Are you sure you’re okay with the possibility of not coming back? You might not see Della or your parents again.

I’ve thought about that a lot, said Justin. Unlike me, he was only in it for the adventure. We weren’t even sure if it would work for him. It’s a huge sacrifice… but you survived.

I survived being torn from my family, but I didn’t have a choice, I said in a voice that was threatening to revert to its Carrie Dolphin shrillness. I went back to speaking just above a whisper. And it helped that I had a substitute family here. We don’t know what awaits us in the past. And another thing to consider is that in the past, you’re not going to be able to chase after everyone you find desirable. You’ll need to keep it in your pants, or at least be discreet.

Excuse me?

Justin wasn’t really offended. This was our usual banter. When he wasn’t with Della—they had been on-again, off-again for several years—Justin could bed just about anyone he wanted. His wiles didn’t work on me though, and he didn’t try anymore. He knew by now that I would never betray my sister by getting involved with the boy she had loved since we were kids.

Seriously, Justin, I don’t know if you have what it takes to blend into society the way it was back then.

Oh, and you do have what it takes?

"Um, yes. I was born in the twentieth century. I heard all about the 1940s and ‘50s from my grandparents. Plus I’ve been attending VR sessions to practice immersing myself in different eras."

I’ll do the same, don’t worry, said Justin. Where do you go—Peer Through Time?

Yes, and that’s the only reason I use them. I don’t see the point of fictional simulations of the future, but Peer does their homework on the past. I’ll give them that. I even learned how to drive a car myself.

Speaking of Peer Industries… are you still in therapy?

Yes. Why?

Justin shrugged while fiddling around with some equipment. I heard there was some controversy over a programming bug or something.

"Yes. They lost Srivette. Well, not her, but all her memories—gone. For several weeks, I had no therapy. Now I’ve had to start over with a new therapist because of their stupid mistake."

At home in bed that evening, my mind wouldn’t let me sleep. It was stuck on my conversation with Della about Drake. Why did it bug me so much that Della and Justin weren’t at his memorial service? I wasn’t that close with the man. Even more than Della, I had reservations about getting too close to a convicted killer.

One thing that set me apart from my family, and those surrounding me, was my unwillingness to forgive murder. Even though I told Della I understood, how could she still have fond feelings for her father, knowing he killed her mother when Della was just a baby? How could Margaret forgive Drake for killing two people, especially since she admitted it wasn’t entirely self-defense? How could Spencer Westmoreland have forgiven him? Everyone seemed to be willing to accept murder into their lives except me. I didn’t think I was better than them—not quite. But I was missing something, like they were aware of some truth that was beyond my grasp.

My mind needed to shut up so I could get some sleep before tomorrow morning. It would be my second session with Kass. I wasn’t happy about having to catch him up on my entire life. He was a stranger. I wanted to be alert because if I still had the same misgivings at the end of tomorrow’s session, I planned to walk out of there and, for the first time in twenty years, stop being a patient of Peer Therapies. I couldn’t pinpoint what it was, but something just wasn’t right about that place anymore.

3

He stared at his fingers, wiggling them to evaluate their dexterity. Each hand was equally manageable.

What are you doing? she asked from behind him. He didn’t think she’d seen, but she appeared to be hyper-aware of everything today, inspecting the walls, floor, and ceiling of the corridor while he led her into his office.

Nothing, he said. Come on in.

Kass tried not to have favorite patients, but he couldn’t help looking especially forward to Carmela Akronfleck’s visits. The young woman was a fascinating example of a well-functioning human with intricate delusions. Kass knew he wasn’t Carmela’s first choice for a therapist; that had been Srivette, whose entire suite of programs, including backups, had become corrupt. It was the first time any Peer therapist had been completely lost. It scared him that all his memories might one day simply cease to exist or become irretrievable.

Carmela seated herself in the chair in front of his desk. Some patients preferred the couch, but she had chosen the chair last time, too. She flashed

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  • (3/5)
    This book is Mr. Pennington's debut novel. It is a fine showing for a first book. For a time travel story it was a good one and I have not read a good one in a while. When I read the author's impressive background of computer programming and psychology with his love for futurism and theoretical physics, I was impressed but also a little worried that I was going to be reading a book that might be unbelievable with a few words that are outside of my vocabulary. All my worries were for nothing. In fact, with Mr. Pennington's knowledge and love, it helped with this book. The story was believable. This was not the issue. My issue was that although I liked the storyline, I found myself only liking the characters. I was not in love with them. Thus I was only semi-invested in what was happening to them. Particularly Carmela. Carmela was fine but there was nothing that really made her stand out. The one I found the most interesting was Kass and he was an android. He was more than just an android. As the story progressed, he evolved into more like a human. This is what made him exciting for me. At times I did wish that the action was turned up a few dials but still this was an enjoyable read. I am looking forward to seeing what Mr. Pennington comes out with next.