Wednesday, November 20, 2013

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

"What would you change?"

Em and Finn are in adjoining prison cells. Em spends her days staring at the floor drain inside her cell. There is something about it that pulls her attention to it. Stealing a plastic spoon for her food tray, she sharpens the handle for use as a screwdriver. When she is finally able to remove the drain cover, she reaches in to find a plastic freezer bag. Inside of it is a single sheet of notebook paper. It is covered almost entirely in her own handwriting. Every sentence but the last has a single line drawn through it. Em has never laid eyes on the paper before in her life. There is a name written at the top and the last unmarked line makes her physically ill. It simply reads, "You have to kill him."

When the prison guard, Kessler, comes back to the cells, Em quickly hides the paper and throws the broken spoon down the drain. Kessler demands the return of the missing spoon, but Em steadfastly refuses. When he asks the unseen person beside him what to do, Em realizes that the doctor is with him. Giving her one last chance, Em is prepared for her punishment. What she isn't prepared for is Finn being punished for her actions. Afterwards, Em feels guilty but Finn reassures her. They begin to discuss the note she found in the drain and what they must do stop the doctor. Em finds herself having trouble remembering what Finn looks like. Wondering how they can escape their prison, Em is almost relieved from her boredom when the doctor and his puppet master, the director, show up at her cell. They restrain and torture her to give up the location of the documents they are looking for. Through the pain, Em never wavers.

The next day, Conner, the guard newly assigned to them unlocks Em's cell door. He tells her a secret from her childhood and says that he is going to get her and Finn out. Their reunion is tender but fleeting because they need to leave. They need to reach Cassandra before they can be stopped. They survive a close encounter with the doctor and know they must hurry. When they reach the control room and Cassandra, the subatomic collider that will send them back four years in time, they disguise their arrival date in the past by three days. That way they can outsmart the doctor and kill him before Cassandra can be built. Conner helps Em and Finn get to where they need to be to carry out their plan to kill the doctor. Finn volunteers to do it but Em says she is a better shot. Finn was just trying to save her some of the pain of killing someone close to her. He tells her to quit thinking about him but about her. Em wants Marina to have a happy life. Finn finally tells her that he loves her. She raises her gun to pull the trigger damage is done.

Shaken but in the past, Em and Finn find themselves in an abandoned government warehouse that is the future home of the collider. Weakened by their trip, they eventually get themselves into standing positions. Laughing at their situation, Em does hear the click of a gun. Turning around, they come face to face with a soldier, Conner. Em pulls out the photo the future Conner gave them to prove their story. Em explains to him that they have traveled back in time to destroy Cassandra, a partial collider built by the government, so that it won't destroy the world in the future. In the future, the country is at war with China, Marines are on most street corners, the government monitors everything you do and terrorists are bombing cities along the East coast. Reading her notes from the past one last time, she and Conner place the sheet of notebook paper in the drain of her future prison cell. If killing the doctor doesn't work, nothing will. Maybe the next Em walking around out can succeed if she fails. As Conner replaces the drain cover, Em hopes the other version of her will never be in that cell.

Four Years Earlier

Marina Marchetti has been in love with her neighbor, James Shaw, for practically forever. James Is an eighteen year old genius working on his PhD at John Hopkins and Marina feels as if James will never reciprocate her feelings. When he rescues her from her disastrous winter formal dance, the air between them becomes electrically charged before they part for the night. They have spent the past three weeks apart with only one text message between them. Marina goes over to see James as soon as he and his older brother, Congressman Nate Shaw, arrive home. Marina asks James if he missed her why he didn’t call. He says there is something he needs to tell her. Just then the doorbell rings and James' other best friend arrives. Marina hasn't liked this boy since he first arrived at her school a year ago and wormed his way into James' life. She knew immediately that Finn Abbott would be a problem. She decides to leave when Nate does so that Finn isn't privy to their conversation. Later that night after she has gone to sleep, James calls her to invite her to a DNC fundraising dinner. She is thrilled to go to a black tie event with him. He also tells her that Finn will be going as well. Disappoint, she voices her concern over him. James reassures her that Finn likes her and he treats James as a normal person. He asks her to give Finn a chance. Marina reluctantly agrees. He asks her what she wanted to tell him earlier. They both agree to talk later when she isn't so sleepy.

The next night, Marina and James meet Finn at the DNC dinner. Marina and Finn are bickering verbally one another when James hushes them. Nate is about to speak. In the middle of Nate's speak, something explodes. Marina sees Nate fall to the floor and wonders why no one is helping him. Then she sees the blood on his chest and realizes that she is screaming. James rushes to his brother's side while Finn flees from the ballroom. Marina runs after James. Marina and Finn stay by James' side throughout the night awaiting word on Nate. The news is not good. Nate has a 50/50 chance of surviving and James has withdrawn into himself, seemingly to revisit when his parents were killed. He blows up over Marina's hovering and leaves her and Finn behind in the waiting room. He steps outside of the hospital.

Conner helps Em and Finn get to where they need to be to carry out their plan to kill the doctor. Finn volunteers to do it but Em says she is a better shot. Finn was just trying to save her some of the pain of killing someone close to her. He tells her to quit thinking about him but about her. Em wants Marina to have a happy life. Finn finally tells her that he loves her. She raises the gun when the figure she is waiting for steps out of the hospital. Thinking of Marina, Em pulls the trigger at James Shaw, only she misses.

Disappointed over how the night isn't going as she imagined and James pushing her away, Marina cannot help but watch him as he goes outside of the hospital. Finn is angrily shuffling a deck of cards. Seeing him pace outside the hospital, Marina screams when she realizes that someone has shot at James. Seeing two people fleeing from the scene, Marina is dumbfounded when they pause under a streetlight and she gets a look at who shot at James. The hospital goes into lockdown once James is brought inside. Pushing herself to James' side, he tells her that someone shot at the hospital. Marina turns to Finn and says that she did see someone shoot at James. She notices blood on James' head and the nurses whisk him away while a police officer wants to know what she saw. Marina has no idea how she can tell them what she really saw from that window.

With Em's missed shot, the future is now changed. It is a race against time, but in the present and the future. How did Em and Finn end up in the situation they are in? Can Em and Finn stop Cassandra from being built? Who is the doctor that they are trying to stop? How do Em and Finn from the future fit into Marina and James' story from four years earlier? What happens when the future meets the present and Em and Marina meet face to face?

An incredible time travel story where the characters' stories cross and become interwoven in their race to rectify the wrongs of the future. All Our Yesterdays is the first part of a duology. Book two is due out in 2014.

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