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I'm looking for a short story I read probably 15-17 years ago, although it might have been written long before that. I only remember it vaguely, but it stuck with me.

It's about a man who can see what he'll be doing one year to the day in his future, so he knows how his life is going to turn out before it does. The chilling/memorable part is when he sees his own death, and then over the next year experiences being buried and then the slow decay of his higher mental functions as his brain breaks down. I think it's described as first having the capacity of an animal, then a plant, then only inanimate rock, or something like that. It ends with his actual death.

I remember it as being scary but I was very young when I read it! I think it was in an anthology of science fiction stories, although I'm not certain about that.

Any help would be appreciated!

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Might be "The World Jones Made", by Philip K. Dick. It's a single novel with so many different plot elements that it could be remembered as a collection of short stories. The title character does have the ability to see one year into the future, and described his death they way you did.

Jones foresees his own assassination one year before it actually happens. Not only does he not attempt to avoid his execution, but he actually facilitates it by leaping into the path of a bullet meant for a bodyguard.

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  • While The World Jones Made is a dead-on match for “can see a year into his future”, it doesn't have the aspect of mental functions breakdown described in the question: Jones remains largely sane until his death. It's also a novel, and as far as I remember not a fix-up. – user56 May 17 '14 at 17:07
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    "Deterioration would begin at the uppermost levels. First, the highest faculties, the most cognizant, the most alert processes, would fade. An hour after death, the personality would be animal. A week, after, it would be stripped to a vegetable layer. The personality would devolve back the way it had come; as it had struggled up through the billions of years, so it would go back, step by step, from man to ape to early Primate to lizard to fish to crustacean to trilobite to protozoon. And after that: to mineral extinction. Final merciful end. But it would take time." The World Jones Made, ch.16 – Joe L. May 17 '14 at 23:42
  • If by "fix-up" you mean short stories welded into a novel, it's not. It's a rather short novel with a lot of seperate story lines, which IMHO could easily be mis-remembered as a collection of shorts. – Joe L. May 17 '14 at 23:50
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    That's it! Thank you so much for finding it, despite my misinformation. I misremembered it as a short story collection, yes. I can't have been older than 11 when I read it, and looking at the Wikipedia summary I expect a lot of it went over my head at the time, too. It's definitely the right story, though. I've been looking for it for years, no wonder I couldn't find it! Thank you again. – Arishel May 24 '14 at 23:50

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