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Synopsis

How can you trust anyone, when you can't trust your own mind?

Jarred Collins is not a real person. It is a fact he has known all his life, though he has never understood why. He has no memories of his early childhood before the age of ten, and no connection to his family beyond his mother, who has always warned him to stay away from his other relatives. His only clues to his true identity lie in a past that he's grown increasingly unable to confront, and in his vivid dreams of an ancient conflict that feel frighteningly real.

Jarred has kept himself hidden from normal people all his life, but an anonymous e-mail message leads him to an Internet chat room. He allows himself to be talked into a public meeting with one of his online friends, and seemingly by coincidence, he meets a homeless girl whose oddly familiar appearance causes Jarred to experience a sudden flashback of his worst memories as a sexual predator. With only a few words, she confirms Jarred's suspicions when she tells him "you aren't real."

The worst shock of all comes when Cora reveals that she is Jarred's daughter. Now Jarred must sort out how to explain his past to a nine-year-old daughter he's never known. That would be hard enough, but Jarred has also just learned that his "Internet girlfriend" isn't 18; she's 13, the victim of long term abuse, and after months of swapping stories with Jarred, she's ready to try for a real relationship with him.

None of these encounters are as random as they seem, and someone is manipulating Jarred to draw him back toward his family. As the pieces of the puzzle fall into place, Jarred prepares himself for a confrontation with his father. Returning to his hometown, Jarred begins to sort out the mystery of who he was as a child, while at the same time learning that he has a greater importance to his family than he ever could have suspected. Something inside Jarred is waking up.

With every passing day, it grows stronger, eating away at his false personality and reshaping him from the monster he has always known himself to be into something far more inhuman and powerful. The transformation is killing Jarred, and what emerges may be too dangerous for anyone to control.

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