Title: BETTER LIVES
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Word Count: 108,000
Seventeen year-old prep school student Marc Andrews knows stealing the physics final’s a stupid idea. But when his roommate and self-appointed conscience, Tim, suggests giving the test back is his last chance to do the right thing, Marc laughs in his face. He should have listened.
Soon Marc’s hearing voices in his head, all telling him what he already knows – he’s a shitty person. And only continuous drinking shuts them up. Then he meets hot, badass Bethany, a girl he actually likes, and hopes will make him forget his guilt. But after their first date, he wakes up, committed, after killing her, while driving drunk. When Marc discovers the loony bin’s a fake, he learns a more terrifying reality.
His caretakers are really aliens, disguised as humans, who are slowly taking over Earth. They believe it’s a fair deal for humans, preventing them from destroying their planet. As the future president who starts the nuclear war, the destruction’s Marc’s fault. And he’s forced to experience his victims’ suffering.
Marc’s initially grateful to his captors for preventing him from becoming a monster. That is, until he learns an alien faction which includes the doppelgänger who replaced him, want Earth for themselves and are conspiring to kick off Armageddon as previously scheduled. Marc can’t let the horrors he’s experienced happen for real. It’s up to him, with help from unexpected allies, to escape, save the planet, and maybe even become a decent human being in the process.
When Gil and Lew came to my dorm room with the idea of stealing the physics final, I normally wouldn’t have considered such a dumbass move. It wasn’t that I had any moral objections to cheating or stealing. An “A” in one class, even Jeffrey Taylor’s, just wasn’t worth the risk of being kicked out of prep school.
But these were special circumstances. I had opportunity, thanks to Gil and Lew. I had motive, thanks to a shitty semester with Mr. Taylor. And I had an ace-in-the-hole, thanks to hooking up with pretty, but already getting on my nerves, fifteen year-old Heather in Mr. Taylor’s classroom.
It was snowing by the time I reached Maple Street with its tidy cottages. The white stuff, powdering the sidewalks and clinging to the branches, sweetened the street’s already cloying charm and made me want to puke.
I slipped to the back of Mr. Taylor’s small Cape Cod. Gil was waiting for me.
“Door’s locked.” His breath was visible in the cold.
“I’ll open it,” I said.
Gil gave me a classic Gilbert and Lewis vacant look. The two of them might as well have been brothers, both with Nordic good looks, several inches over six feet…and not too bright.
I took out my tension wrench and wide-tipped pick.
Gil’s jaw went slack. “I’ve seen this shit on TV, Marc. You’re going to pick it?”
“Yeah, if you shut up and let me concentrate for a minute.”
The doorknob turned loosely in my hand, broken, so, I’d only the deadbolt to deal with.