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Future Love Story
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ISBN-10: 1-55404-500-2
Genre: Romance/Science Fiction
eBook Length: 72 Pages
Published: October 2007

From inside the flap

Imagine a scenario where you’re so heartbroken that you move to another planet ... have your memories erased ... and get engaged to a stranger you’ve never even met. Is it possible that the faint flicker of warmth you feel toward a random face in the crowd is in reality an echo of love past? Or is this what we all have to look forward to; a new kind of ’Future Love’?

Jay spoke in the tenderest voice Julia had ever heard. And, yes, she had heard it before. She could remember that much.

"Always remember this, Julia. You don’t have to do anything, except what you believe God wants you to do."

Julia looked up, surprised. "I believe that, too. With all my heart.

But I am a person of scruples, and I gave my word."

"I’ll go, then. I understand. I’ll give you all the time in the world." He turned to go, then retraced his steps. He reached into his side pocket and pulled out a shiny card. "Please take this. If ever you feel any differently, I’ll come racing back for you. Well, Buddy, my glider, and I will. Want to see something?"

Jay reached into the glider and turned on the motor. The glider’s lights flashed on, and an automated voice spoke.

"Pleased to meet you, Julia Hummel."

Julia was charmed. "Oh! You have one of those intelligent vehicles."

She had a brief struggle with her logical mind. She wanted to trust Jay. But surely, the Venutian authorities knew better than she. She had agreed to abide by the rules; to be seen as a respectable member of the community. Shouldn’t she be fighting the feelings that remained, even now? Jay sensed her reluctance. He extended his hand with the card in it.

“Julia Hummel, you should be marrying me—if we’re not already married. We love each other. I know that beyond the shadow of a doubt. I know that sounds strange; anti-establishment even. We might leave this part of Venutia, you know. There are small territories; ones that are settled with those like us.” Jay kept talking softly. Julia knew he was seeking to reassure her.

She sure was feeling something, but she needed time to analyze what it was.

"I’m sorry," she said. "I promised to be here for Alpine, and I don’t wish to disappoint either him, or the authorities. As I said, I’ve given my word." ...

Future Love Story (Excerpt)

Chapter One

Julia Hummel awoke, startled. The air tube’s rocking had lulled her to sleep the night before, but a cessation of movement jolted her. Julia sat up in her small cabin. She pushed the stiff blue curtains back and looked out the windows. It was difficult to know where on the tube’s air-pressure line they were. They had traveled far from Starstate, her temporary Venutian home, and still had quite a ways to go before Deserta, where Julia was to meet her marriage mate.

It was the year 2050 in the Year of Our Lord. Venutia was the most recently discovered inhabitable planet in the Milky Way Galaxy. Venutia was just like Earth, in most respects, except that its atmosphere, being denser, had less circulating air.

Outside the air tube station men and women stood clustered on the station platform. Most people wore the optional state-issued jumpsuits. In the month since Julia had been on Venutia she’d determined that, on the whole, Venutians were conformists.

Julia looked down at her full-length sleeper T-shirt. It had been supplied to her-along with the blue, unisex jumpsuits-almost as soon as the inter-galactic rocket had touched Venutia’s terra firme. Along with the clothes, Julia was handed a ’Welcome Pack’ that first day. Its contents included a miniature houseplant. ’For air purification’ said the tag on the pot.

"You don’t have to wear these," the fresh-faced female office told the new arrivals. "But it’ll increase your standing in the community."

"How will it do that?" Julia wanted to know.

"It’ll prove to us that you’re a team player," the official said.

How will they know whether we wear them, or not? She wondered, but she hadn’t asked.

"Remember," said the woman at the Welcome Station, "you were especially chosen to be allowed into Venutia. That approval status can just as easily be revoked. Schedule your deprogramming session as soon as possible."

She had noticed that the woman’s eyes were unnaturally bright. That feverish look, the nurse at her first, botched deprogramming had told her, was one of the side effects of continual deprogramming. Julia had found her deprogramming process painless. She had sat in a high-backed chair and put on a helmet that reminded her of the old beauty salon hair dryers on Earth.

Deprogramming worked like this, explained the medical brochure she’d been mailed: the brain’s neuro-circuits, being wiped clean with biofeedback, forged new pathways, which resulted in uncharted brain territory. Her neurons were, in effect, re-circulated. The circuits with the ’emotional’ memories would be moved to a seldom-used part of her brain. After lack of use, they wouldn’t be accessible anymore.

The procedure was really that simple.

Most of that virgin territory memory gap was filled in by routine: taking out the garbage, setting the alarm clock, taking the glider in for a tune-up. All those efficient day-to-day tasks would fill in what had once been ’useless’ pathways of emotion. Any excessive creativity or new business ventures were discouraged. The nurse had looked mildly displeased when she removed Julia’s headpiece.

"You retained some emotions," the nurse said, peering at the printout that was spitting out of the side of the headset. "A hard case. Your nervous system isn’t ’taking’." The nurse had cast a curious glance at Julia. "Are you practicing self-hypnosis?"

"No. I pray. I’m sure there’s no law against that. Is there?"

The nurse frowned. "No, but you won’t find any houses of worship here yet."

Julia smiled. "Not a problem. I worship in private, too."

Julia had offered to undergo another therapy, but the nurse warned her to wait. "We’ve seen ’dulling’ in some people who do back-to-back sessions," the nurse explained. "You’re better off waiting three months, and then coming back. We’ll send you a reminder notice."

"Do you have any idea why my nervous system didn’t ’take’?

The nurse shrugged. "You’re not the first. You’re probably a die-hard Romantic. A couple more sessions will wear you down."

On the air tube platform there were a few kids in stonewashed jeans under long, government-issued coats. The way we used to wear them back on Earth, Julia thought, feeling nostalgic. The reunions on the air tube platforms seemed at odds with Julia’s fuzzy concept of what such gatherings should be. One by one loved ones walked up to the people standing outside. They touched, briefly. Then they walked on together. All faces remained impassive.

Julia looked around her at the tube’s interior for the mandatory list of Rules. Sure enough, the blue plaque was situated high in a corner. The list started out: No loud music. Included was: No dancing and No excessive displays of emotion.

At the Welcome Station the Venutian government had passed out leaflets explaining that the ban on loud music, dancing, and excessive emotion was to avoid using up Venutia’s air. A presentation on a movie screen that first day had warned that people listening to loud music or dancing or becoming emotional tended to develop rapid heartbeats. Thus, explained the grandfatherly announcer, these people were forced to take in more air.

"As you know," the announcer continued, "the air supply on Venutia is guarded ferociously, so be sure and do your part!"

"That makes sense," a couple of people around Julia had mumbled.

Looking in their direction, she had noticed that their eyes were unnaturally bright.