QSFer Carrie Pack has a new queer sci fi book out in her “In the Present Tense” series: “Past Imperfect.”
Now on the run from the corporation that turned him into a lab experiment, Miles finds himself in a fight for his life while trying to sort out the complicated relationships with his ex-boyfriend Adam, whom he still loves, and his wife Ana, whose allegiance he cannot trust. While Ana searches for answers about her husband’s disappearance, she struggles with her budding feelings for Miles’s best friend Darius.
Meanwhile, nineteen-year-old Bethany Carter is on the run from her past—an adolescence spent in the same institution that trapped Miles—and her present—untreated, the schizophrenia that causes her to time travel sends her into unpredictable bouts of paranoia. As their lives become more intertwined, Dr. Branagan, the man who made both Miles and Bethany’s lives a living hell at Longleaf Retreat, will stop at nothing to continue his research, even if it means destroying its subjects in the process.
Some readers may find some of the scenes in this book difficult to read. We have compiled a list of content warnings, which you can access at interludepress.com/content-warnings.
In the Present Tense Book Two
The gravel beneath her feet whispered with every step. Betrayal. Lies. Deceit. Bethany kept walking despite the voices assaulting her brain. You knew it was only a matter of time.
͞Shut up! she shouted at the sky.
The voices were creeping in. She’d need to take one of the pills stashed in her pocket soon, but not yet. She needed to save them. Fifty tiny green pills, just enough to get her through the next few weeks, if she was judicious about taking them. She’d have to wait until the voices got worse. The trick was finding that sweet spot between lucid and disorganized thought where she was alert enough to know she needed the medication but just before the paranoia took over and she was convinced the pills were going to kill her. She looked at her watch. She figured she had at least another eighteen hours before her last dose wore off completely.
Her steps were slow and methodical, almost plodding. The few hours of sleep she had managed were not nearly enough to fully recharge, and the exhaustion of the night before had yet to wear off.
They’d barely managed to escape from the mental health facility where she had been kept since she was twelve years old and had traveled all night from Florida to Tennessee. On the drive, she’d dozed fitfully in Michaela’s lap, but it wasn’t until they’d gotten to the cabin in the mountains that she’d been able to sleep peacefully.
When she’d awakened to find Michaela gone and the sound of the shower filling the room, she’d rolled over to try to go back to sleep. Her hand had hit something soft: Michaela’s purse. She’d started to shove it to the edge of the bed when curiosity had overwhelmed her.
And now here she was, walking a steep gravel road, unsure of her destination.
A stray tear tumbled down her cheek, and she wiped it away.
She lifted her chin and kept walking. She’s working with them. She’ll turn you in.
Bethany patted her pocket and felt for the pills. Maybe she should take one. “No,” she mumbled under her breath.
“Bethany, please talk to me.”
Michaela’s voice caught on the last word as she pulled the car alongside Bethany.
“No,” Bethany said louder. “You lied to me.”
She’ll do it again, the voices insisted. Bethany shook her head.
“I’m sorry,” Michaela said. The car lurched as she put it into park.
“Just let me explain. I’m not involved in the experiments. I swear.”
Bethany paused. She couldn’t do this alone, not with her meds wearing off. The rational part of her wanted to believe Michaela. Maybe she was telling the truth, and if not, maybe she could still use this to her advantage.
“If I let you explain, will you drive me to town?”
Michaela seemed hurt, but nodded. “If that’s what you want; I will take you wherever you want to go. I promise.”
Bethany kicked a rock, straightened her back, and grasped the door handle. The wind rushed in her ears, and the skittering of the rock down the hill seemed to go on and on and on.
Get in the car.
Carrie Pack is an author of books in multiple genres, including Designs on You (2014), In the Present Tense (2016), and Grrrls on the Side (2017). She is a recipient of a Foreword Reviews INDIES Book of the Year Bronze for In the Present Tense, and has been named a finalist for an INDIES Award and a Bisexual Book Award for Grrrls on the Side. She lives in Florida, or as she likes to call it, “America’s Wang.”