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Guess who’s working on Mysteries of the Dark II? Well, of course that would be me. So, today’s Short Story Corner will feature one of the stories from the new book.

Short Story Corner

The Rapturing – Final Chapter

The Domicile

After cleansing, I surveyed my domicile.  I had a private social area, kitchen, and bedroom.  I shared a cleansing room with nine other domiciles.  My clothing was hanging in a closet and was the same for every day, black pants and a red shirt.  Approximately two ticks after my Rapturing, Administrator-Delta appeared at my portal.  Accompanying him was a young woman covered in dirt and soot.

“Ele-65545, this is your new domicile. Go down to the cleansing room.  There is a uniform for you to wear.  You have a quarter tick.”

“Yes, Administrator,” Ele-65545 replied then quickly scampered down the hallway.

“Spear, one question,” Administrator-Delta insisted, “How did you know she wasn’t the real Hope?”

“Hope taught me combat.  I knew her every fighting move.  If she had raptured forty-three people, her fighting skills would still be strong and she would use the moves that served her best for quick kills.  Additionally, she would stay in shape and not be soft to the touch.  And lastly, her scar did not start as high over the eye as the fake one.”

“Impressive.”

In a short period of time, Ele-65545 returned from cleansing and reported to my domicile.  Administrator-Delta addressed her, “Hope, this is Spear.”

At the mention of my designation, she quietly gasped and bowed.

“You are assigned to assist him until the end of your days.  Consider yourself his property.  Spear, our deal is complete.  Instructions will be listed in your goggles about procedures and schedules.  I’ll expect you at meeting exactly one cycle from today.”

“Yes, Administrator,”

He paused at the doorway, “I look forward to working with you.”

When Administrator-Delta left, I closed the door and turned to Hope.  I could tell she was studying me wondering who I might really be.  With so many Adm clones, it would be easy to mistake a familiar face with a friend.

“What did you say when we were in the combat room and you kissed me?” I asked.

Suddenly a flash of relief came across her eyes.  With a smile she answered, “I said, ‘Finally, I have you where I want you.’”

“Welcome home, Hope.”

She rushed to hug me.  Her embrace was firm and her muscles were taut.  “How did you pull this off?”

“Soon, but for now, return to your old domicile and retrieve your tools.  Is there anyone there who is important to you?”

“No.  Just good co-workers.”

“I assume you are still farming in the nature caste.  While you are there, retrieve some cayenne. Now go quickly.”

When she returned I had her grind the cayenne into a powder while I searched through her tools.  I found a small hinge-jawed tool for removing worms.  Walking into the kitchen, I boiled water and placed the pinching tool in the water for a few deciticks.  After making certain it was sterilized, I wet my finger and rolled it in the cayenne.  I then shoved it as far up my nostril as possible.

The pain was nearly overwhelming.  My eyes watered and mucous poured from my nose.  Grabbing the pinching tool I drove it into my sinus cavity, clamped down on a foreign object and yanked it out of my skull, feeling its tendrils as they ripped free from small arteries and nerves.  The world grew dark and silent around me.

Moments later, I came to my senses and Hope was holding my head in her hands, sponging my face to clean off the blood and mucous.  Wiping my eyes with my uniform sleeve, I looked around for the pinching tool.  It was lying on the floor a few feet from me with a small mechanical object still in its jaws.  I quickly got to my feet and took this monitoring sensor to the cleansing area.  After washing it, I examined its circuitry and tendrils.  “Heartbeat, respiration, and…looks like brainwaves.”  Quickly I dumped it into the flushing tank.

When I arrived at the domicile Hope asked an obvious question, “Why did you do that?”

“Administrator-Delta told me that they’ve monitored me since I was young.  The two Adms in sequence before and after me developed hemorrhages.  The only time they could have implanted me was when they put me to sleep.  Subcutaneous monitoring devices would be noticed eventually.  The sinuses were the only logical place for a device that could monitor breathing and vitals.”

She put her arms around me and I embraced her with enthusiasm.  We went to the bedroom and crawled into the bed. After this day, sleep would be required.  But lying next to Hope filled me with a sense of happiness that I could not release.  I looked at her still auburn hair, her beautiful green eyes, and touched her light skin.  The slicer had only cut a razor line down her face nearly exactly like the nick she gave me to keep my attention during combat practice.

“Hope, tell me about these last few annums.”

“Adm, I am Nature Caste.  These last few annums have been filled with hydroponic gardening.  My slab was surrounded with other slabs just like in Pod.  Well,” she chuckled, “not exactly like Pod.”

I smiled at the mention of our adjoining slabs.  After Hope had declared her emotions for me, I analyzed the wall between our slabs and devised a way to collapse it and reassemble it.  We spent many nights holding each other and kissing, but acted completely sterile outside of the slabs.

“I continue to practice combat, but I am the only one in my section.  Nature and Tech share recreational facilities and many feel like it’s not necessary after Pod.”

“I am glad you survived your Rapturing.”

“Yes,” she said sarcastically, “I survived it.  But it honestly wasn’t that boring.  I could have done without the half-day slide show presentation.”

“What are you talking about?  A form of lecture?”

“Well, yes.  First we met in a meeting hall filled with other podlings.  Then the lecture about civic responsibility.  Then we were separated by our Castes and divided into work groups.  We were given a tour of our facilities.  I met Administrator-Epsilon who is over the Nature Caste, then I was taken to my slab and workstation.  Was yours any different?  Other than the grand domicile, I mean?”

I explained to Hope the events of the last podling Rapturing.  She listened horrified at what I told her.

“That’s not normal.  That’s not normal at all.  Why would they impersonate me?”

“I can only surmise that they read my Rapturing journals.  The impersonator only referred to information I wrote in them.  And, of course, they were full of half-truths and misrepresentations.”

Silence descended on us as we both pondered the situation that we were in.  

Hope turned on her side so she could face me. “Why am I here?”

“Hope, I need someone I can trust.  Someone whose combat skills complement my own.  There is a very dangerous game being played.  I have changed the game somehow and someone is trying to use me or put me out of the way.  I don’t know if it has to do with breaking the lock code on the edugoggles or the herbs I used to season the food and counteract the serum in the protein base.”

“You did what?” Hope asked shocked.

“Didn’t you notice after I started preparing the food how much better we got in combat?  Faster, stronger, quicker reflexes?”

“I just thought it was training, maturing.”

“I need a partner who can play a role in public without breaking, but who can also dispatch an assassin.  Right now, all they know about you is that I have emotions for you.  Sentimentality.  But I’m hoping you will be my secret weapon.”

“What role do you want me to play? Companion? Slave?”

“Assistant.  I will send you on errands.  I will ask you to keep up with schedules.  And it has to be real.  But in addition, I will need you to be a bodyguard and a spy.  There will not be anyone like you.  No Caste prepares a person for what I am asking you to do.  Do you think you can do this?”

“Do I have a choice?  After all, I am now your property, right?”

“Oh, no, you have choices.  You can be this spy and go with me everywhere I go.  Or, you can be my companion sharing my affection and the benefits of my station.  Or, you can live here in this domicile and never have to work as long as I live, which could be decannums or just a few cycles.”

“Hmm, let me think about this,” she said playfully.  “Which one of these choices allows me to kiss you and hold you?”

“All of them.”

EPILOGUE

Administrator-Delta took his seat at the large conference table with the other Administrators.

“What happened, Delta?” asked a woman’s voice from a speaker located at the center of the table.

“Viceroy, it seems that Spear is far outpacing the other candidates.  I assume you saw the Rapturing?”

 “I did.”

 “Spear, I think, was incorrectly designated.  He shows more in common with Major than with Brute.”

“He was aptly named, Delta.  He is keenly able to make quick, decisive action without regard to authority.  He is fine-tuned, observant, and inventive.  He shall lead our Elite Squadron.”

“What about Hope?” asked Alpha.

“These last two annums her training has prepared her to be what he needs.  She is prepared to fulfill her purpose,” the Viceroy replied.

 Beta questioned, “Viceroy, why did you choose genetic clones for this experiment?  This has cost the Politic much in resources and time.  We could have used both to train…”

“Cease your babbling, Beta.  Unlike you and your kind, children never question how they are raised.  They simply accept it as the norm.  By capturing their minds from and early age, we control their thought processes. Our philosophies will guide their future. This experiment of ours will conquer and subdue this world, not with mechanical weapons, but with children.”

Short Story Corner

THE RAPTURING – Part 4

As Hope lay on the floor lifeless, the door to the room slid open.  I quickly placed two of the bed frame pieces in the doorway to keep the door open.  I immediately pulled the light cord out of a lamp and separated the two power wires.  Remembering my med lessons, I applied the electrical current across her chest.  The shock restarted her heartbeat, but not her breathing.   The door attempted to close again but was blocked by the two pieces of bedframe. I placed my mouth on hers and blew air into her lungs.  Seconds later, she gasped for air and her eyes fluttered.  As she regained consciousness she exclaimed, “You…you killed me?”

“It was necessary.”

“My head hurts.”

“That will pass in about half a tick.  Can you proceed?”

She stood and steadied herself, then nodded.  Feeling prepared we left the room, taking the remaining two pieces of bedframe with us.  I carried a long piece in my right hand and a short piece in my left like slicers.  We walked down the hallway suddenly realizing that we were the last.  Two of my podmates survived and were bloodied and bruised, Grunt Z2 and Radar D8.  The rest were Raptors.  I walked swiftly toward the group.

“Where is Designation Phile?”

“I am here,” said a six feets tall man with black hair, pale skin and reddish eyes.

I continued my pace and used the long, jagged bedframe to stab at him like a slicer.  He predictably grabbed the bed frame piece and stopped it using both hands.  He smiled a wicked smile until I thrust the short piece into his abdomen and out through his back.  He released his grip on the long piece.  I spun on my heels to gain momentum and using the long bed frame piece I stabbed him directly through his heart.  He made a gasping sound then fell to the floor.  I pulled both pieces out of his body then faced the group.

“That makes eleven exactly.”

The hidden doorway appeared and opened.  The remaining Raptors exited quickly through the door.  Grunt, Radar, Hope and I were left.  Administrator-Delta walked in through the hidden doorway.

“Welcome to the Politic.  I am Administrator-Delta.”  At the mention of his name Hope bowed reverently.

“Hope, you surprised us today.  Remove the robe, I know about the clothes.”

Hope dropped the Raptor robe as if it were combusting.  

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” Administrator-Delta began, “The Politic is the world of adults.  We are a society of rules and contentment.  We look for innovation, creativity, and experimentation.  We foster peace and harmony and we expect adherence to the rules.  You will all be given daily tasks in accordance with your designations.  You will be given a domicile, goggles, and clothing in keeping with your station.  There’s much more to be discussed, but let’s continue after you have been to the meds for examination and been cleansed.  Grunt Z2, Radar D8 and Spear, please enter your new lives through this portal.”

Grunt Z2 and Radar D8 slowly shuffled cautiously toward the doorway. I turned to Administrator-Delta, “What about Hope?” I asked.

“Hope will not continue with you.  Her actions cost the Politic one of our best Raptors.  I’m afraid repurposing won’t do.  She will go to reclamation.”

“Administrator-Delta, please, sir, no,” she begged.

“Hope,” I replied, “Don’t you understand?  Repurposing doesn’t work on you anymore.”  I positioned myself to face her directly. “You are worthless to the Politic.  You have this disgusting scar and you can’t do the job you were assigned.  I’m alive, you failed.”

“Spear, you…how can you?” she asked confused with a note of sadness.

“Administrator-Delta, since she is to be reclaimed, I would like to offer a counter proposal.”

“I’m listening.”

“I’m Spear.  I can tell by my designation that I am significant.  I would like to keep Hope for a sparring partner and a domicile companion.  Since my rapturing never took place, I think a fitting role for her will be as a servant to me.”

“Don’t try to fool me, Spear.  You are important to the Politic, but remember we’ve monitored you since you were young.  We know that you’ve conspired with Hope and that she told you that information.  I will grant your request, but always be careful about who’s fooling whom.  Remember, she survived forty-three Rapturings and has today survived her forty-fourth by aligning with you.”

“So you agree to bring Hope to my domicile, this female that was one of my podmates?”

Hope smiled, obviously excited.

“It is acceptable.”

“Good.  Thank You Administrator-Delta.”  After bowing with respect to him, I turned and pulled the fake scar material off of Hope’s face.  Administrator-Delta and the other two survivors stared in disbelief.

“Her name is Ele-65545.  I’ll expect her before lightfall.  Send this imposter to reclamation.”

THE RAPTURING – Part 3

Rapturing Day

With the last eleven of us together, the Grunts had us assemble in the social area.  Administrator explained that we would be visited by eleven of the Politic to help us in our transition.  We will be given privacy rights to interact with the adult and given opportunity to ask questions and otherwise be oriented to adult life.  After Rapturing, we will be taken into the Politic and assigned tasks, I’m assuming based on our Designation.  After assembly we were taken through Administrator’s quarters to a new area.  It was a narrow hallway with doors every ten feets on each side, twenty in all.  The hallway opened to a living area with a couch that stretched across the entire back wall.  

The Grunts told us that we should sit while they investigated the rooms.  When they returned, they were confused and laughing.  They explained to us that each of the rooms had a slab big enough for three people and were soft like a cushion.  They had thick cloth draped over them and seemed to resemble a thermal.  The rooms were painted in different colors, yellow, red, blue, green and gray.  Each of us were interested in exploring the rooms when a short klaxxon rang out.

At the sound, we each sat at attention on the long couch.  A door suddenly appeared within the forward wall and slid open.  Eleven adults walked through the door wearing stiff robes that dragged the ground.  The robes were colored like the Grunts described the rooms and the hoods covered their faces.

Starting at the closest to the hallway, a red-robed figure removed her hood.  “I am for Grunt-Zeta-One,” said the woman.  Her eyes were yellow and her hair white.  Her skin was darker than ours.  Grunt Z1 stood and walked to meet her.

“Follow me,” she said calmly then she began walking deliberately down the hallway.

“Grunt-Zeta-Two,” said the man in the red robe, “I am for you.”  Grunt Z2 rose.  She looked apprehensive, but then followed him down the hallway as well.

One by one, this scene repeated until I was left with the last figure in a green robe.  She pulled down her hood and said, “I am for you.”  The woman had auburn hair and green eyes with a visible scar running from just above one eye across her face into the opposite cheek.  I could not move.  I could not speak.  After these few anums here stood Hope waiting for me.  My emotions almost got the better of me, so I calmed myself, stood and followed her down the hallway.

Once inside the room, I quickly looked around to know my surroundings.  Just like the Grunts said, a large oversized slab with cloth thermals and this room was colored the same as Hope’s robe.  As Hope closed the door, I excitedly called her name, “Hope, it’s me Adm-85546.”

She looked at me as if she were looking at a stranger.  “I am Designation Hope.  I am here to help you with your Rapturing.  Please, lie on the bed,” she said pointing to the slab.

Fearing I might be acting childish, I complied.  The softness of the “bed” was a comfort my body was not used to.  As I lay there trying to find an acceptable condition, Hope removed her robe revealing that she was only wearing her undergarments.  Shocked, I protested, “Hope, what are you doing?”

“I am for you,” she said with an unemotional look on her face.  She sat on the side of the bed and began trying to remove my clothes.

I scrambled to get out of the bed.  “Hope!  This isn’t you.  Stop immediately.”

She walked around the bed toward me and continued with her unemotional tone, “This is your Rapturing.  Return to the bed.”

“No.”

“Then I will rapture you where you stand.”  She walked swiftly toward me, but I dove across the bed to the other side of the room.

“No.  Hope snap out of this!” I backed toward the door, but it was sealed.  This situation would require quick thinking and finesse.  I grabbed a cloth thermal and started ripping it as she stood on the bed watching me and matching my position in the room.  After getting several strips of cloth I relented.  “Forgive me, I’m sorry.  Please rapture me.”

She stepped down from the bed and walked toward me.  She slowly ran her fingers from my hips upward until she began removing my shirt.  When it was nearly removed, I quickly reversed it and put the shirt over her face.  Grabbing one arm, I wrapped a strip around her wrist then quickly bound her other wrist until her arms were secured behind her back.  While she struggled with her wrists I did the same with her ankles and put her on the bed.  I straddled her hips and removed my shirt from her head.  I leaned in close and whispered, “Never let down your guard.”

In her eyes, I saw a flicker of panic.  “Adm?”

“Hope?  Do you recognize me?”

“Adm!  Adm!” and she began to cry.

I immediately got off of her and untied her bonds.  She wrapped her arms around me and cried on my shoulder.  I held her gently but firmly.  She felt soft as I rubbed her back.

“Hope, what is going on?”

She wiped her tears and stood up.  “I was sent in here to kill you.”

I was shocked, “I…I don’t understand.”

“After I was taken to the Meds, they discovered my scar could not be removed.  I was sent to repurposing.  They programmed me to…” her voice trailed.

“To do what, Hope?”

“To rapture.”

“I’m still confused.  What do you mean?”

“The Politic only wants perfection or as close to perfection as they can get.  When a pod turns of age, the Raptors are sent in.  I have been a Raptor for annums now.  Completely controlled by the Politic.  Almost all of the Raptors are repurposed.   My task is to have sex with the podling, then just after I am to kill him.  If he’s worthy, he’ll kill me instead.”

“The Rapturing is about sex?”

“No, the Rapturing is about not being swayed by pleasure.  It’s about surviving and joining the Politic.  I have survived forty-three Rapturings in three annums.”

“So, do you remember much about pod life?”

“I remember everything.  But the repurposing works like another person controlling you.  You cry, but no tears fall.  You scream, but no sound is formed.  They made me have sex with forty-three people only to kill them afterward.  You would have been forty-four, Adm.”

“I’m called Spear now.”

“You’re Spear?” she exclaimed. “You?  You’re Spear?” She collapsed on the bed and began sobbing, “They didn’t tell me.  They just said wait and take the last one.  How could I have been so blind?”

I put my arms around her to comfort her and she only wept more bitterly.  

“They didn’t send me to kill you.  They sent me to die.”

“What do you mean?”

“Adm, um, Spear, I’m dead, sure to be reclaimed.  They expected you would kill me because you are what they hoped this pod would be.  Intelligent, logical, emotionally disconnected and able to do multiple tasks, to lead, to kill when it is logical to do so. They have been talking about you for annums.”

The gravity of her words began to weigh heavily on my conscience.  I have been observed my entire life for a purpose within the Politic. I have mastered my own studies and stolen other studies and mastered them.  They watched me.  They monitored me.  A thought came across my mind like lightning.

“Hope, if they’ve watched me and monitored me then they sent you to me on purpose.  They must have read in my rapturing journal about my emotions for you.  They exploited our workout encounter to see if I would be able to kill you like Adm-85542.  You would not have stopped your assault and logically that means killing you.  Hope, they wanted me to be the one to erase my connection with you, to prove that I can do what must be done without respect for life.”

“You wrote about me in your rapturing journal?”

“Yes, I…”

She held my face in her hands and kissed me deeply.  She continued kissing me softly. Then she looked at me with tears in her eyes.  “I can’t kill you.  I have emotions for you.  I have thought about you every day since that single kiss in the combat room.  Every time I was forced to rapture, I pretended they were you kissing me and touching me.”

“Stop. This isn’t the time.  Now how do we get out of here?”

“Those doors won’t open until this room monitors only one heartbeat.”

It didn’t take but a centitick to realize that only one person is supposed to leave this room.  Either one of us kills the other, or we starve to death together.  They wanted me to be reunited with Hope only to lose her again. My mind went into hyper mode.

“Since I am to die,” she began, “then let my last moments with you be intimate and loving.”  She ran her fingers through my hair and began kissing me again.  I gently stepped away from her.

“No.”

She expressed a look of concern and sadness.  “No?”

“There has to be another way.”

“There isn’t.  The moment the other podlings died, the door opened.  I choked one with the bedsheets and I thought he was dead but his heart kept beating.  It wasn’t until I stopped his heart that the door opened.”

“Then that’s our solution.” Examining the rooms contents I asked, “What happens when you leave?”

“The survivors line up and wait for the others to finish.  When there are exactly eleven left, the main door will appear and open.”

“Exactly eleven…. You said that there are some Raptors that are not repurposed?  Who’s giving the orders?”

“Phile.  He’s the only one of us with reddish eyes.  He’s not repurposed.  He enjoys rapturing.”

“Perfect.”

Hope showed me a small wardrobe with a change of clothes.  These all were a shade of green that matched the room.  We both changed clothes and I had Hope put her robe back on to hide her shorts and t-shirt.

I flipped the mattress off the bed to reveal a polyvinylchoride bed frame.  A tough, durable, lightweight material that can serve many purposes.  We broke the bed frame into two long and two short pieces with jagged ends.  I placed the pieces next to the door.  When I felt like all was prepared, I asked her to kiss me.  She stepped close and leaned in closing her eyes.  I immediately put my arm around her neck and shoved her backwards to the floor.  Applying pressure to her neck, I squeezed, cutting off her blood flow and breathing.  I kept the pressure on until I choked her to death.

Short Story Corner

THE RAPTURING – Part 2

 DAY 4

            Emotions can be very dangerous.  It is expected that all emotions should be controlled.  Many emotions lead to carelessness and errors.  So emotions are not fostered nor rewarded.  Good manners and decorum are expected at all times.

Mentioning Hope in yesterday’s journal entry brought her to remembrance again.  Last night I reminisced about my time with her.  I never admitted to her or anyone else, but I experienced emotions with her.

One day during combat, we were working on grappling and wrestling techniques.  She began with a full body tackle.  I went limp and allowed her momentum to carry us to the mat.  After impact I continued the momentum by curling my legs under my body and rolling out from under her.  She slid a few feets before she could steady herself.  I capitalized on the moment of weakness and wrapped my arms around her waist lifting her off the ground.  While she was disoriented, I brought her to her knees on the mat, putting her into a choke hold.  As she had trained me I waited for her to tap my arm, a sign that she submitted, but she did not.  Deciticks later she fell limp.  I immediately released my hold on her and she landed on the mat on her back.  

Highly concerned, I leaned close to gauge her breathing and heartbeat.  From my kneeling position she suddenly grabbed my wrist and twisted it, removing my support, and I fell face first on the mat with my backside in the air.  She spun on the mat causing me to flip over and land on my back.  She then wrapped her legs around my waist, sat on my hips, and pinned my wrists to the mat with her hands.  

Disoriented, I looked at my instructor as she smiled down at me.  She leaned in closer, inches from my face, and whispered, “Never let down your guard.”  Then she closed the distance between us and touched her lips to mine.  I felt emotions as my heartbeat raced and my breathing quickened.  I had the desire to stay there in that position with her.

Suddenly, she leapt to her feet and yelled loudly, “To your feet and back to position!”

I quickly went back to position.  We never spoke of this incident to each other again, although I found myself spending more time training with her, increasing my combat training to two ticks a day.

DAY 3

I do not believe I will forget the incident with Adm-85542.  We were two cycles away from turning fifteen anums.  Hope was preparing for her rapturing and I had taken on the responsibility of combat training for the pod.  I was teaching Ane-79952 takedown techniques in front of a small group of podmates.  I showed her an easy submission using the fingers and wrist and she applied it to me.  When I tapped to let her know I submitted, she continued to hold me in place.  She said she had always wanted to hold my hand and then she giggled.  I let her know that I realized she was only jesting, but I turned it into a lesson.  I explained to the group that every submission hold can be countered if necessary but through the use of extreme force.  She volunteered to be the example for the group.

To counter the submission hold, I simply jumped over in the direction of the hold and landed on my feet.  Using my momentum, I stepped into her hips and threw her.  When she landed, she did not tuck her arm as instructed and landed on her wrist, fracturing it.  The group heard the crunching sound of the bone as it broke and Ane-79952 yelled in pain.  Immediately I called for a medical team then knelt to tend to her injury.  

At that time, my stolen medical lessons from the edugoggles had only taken me through anatomy, physiology and first aid.  The other podmates in the combat room surrounded her and observed her injury.  Within a few centiticks a med team arrived and carried her out on a small wheeled chair.  

As I turned attention back to our lesson, Adm-85542 accused me of injuring her willfully.  I reminded him that he was not following protocol.  Then he roared with rage, his face flushing red, his eyes watering.  He lunged toward me and I easily sidestepped him.  I told him emphatically that he should return to calm.  He yelled, “I love her and you hurt her!” then leapt toward me again.  This time I resisted and he wrapped his hands around my throat and began squeezing.  Ane-79943 ran out of the combat room and reappeared moments later with Hope at the door.

I dropped to the floor on my back and placed my feet firmly in his abdomen.  As our momentum carried us downward and backward, I thrust my legs out forcefully and flipped him over, sending him sliding on the mat.  The room was silent except for our heavy breathing.  At this point I believed that he had come to control himself, but he rose to his feet and grabbed a slicer from the practice rack.  Since we were working on takedowns I was standing nowhere near any defensive equipment.  Yelling, he ran toward me.  I took note that, like all Adms he was right-handed so as he attacked I ducked left and down, bringing my right foot upward at an arc.  My foot connected with his nose, shattering the bridge. He fell to the ground, blood pouring from his nose.

I stood up and told him to report to the Administrator and that his actions were shameful.  Hope walked closer to see if I had any injuries.  Adm-85542 threw his slicer at me and as I caught it, the blade scraped across Hope’s face cutting her from her left eyebrow, across her nose and down her right cheek. I kept the momentum of the blade and redirected it back to him.  The blade followed exactly as I had thrown it and hit him hilt first in the middle of his chest.  “To the Administrator, now, sir!” I yelled.  He stood with slicer in hand and ran toward me again.  I stood still and he sped toward me, slicer out like a lance.  At the last second, I deflected the slicer to the right with my left hand, catching his chin with my right hand, then sidestepping him, I allowed his momentum to continue forward as I held his head still.  As his neck broke it made a loud snapping sound, and his body collapsed on the mat, slid for a few feets, then remained motionless.  

Administrator came running into the room.  After surveying the situation she calmly asked me to report to her office.  A med team quietly carried Adm-85542 out of the living facilities.  I was sent to a closet to sit while awaiting decision.  If I was found incompetent, I would be sent to reclamation.  If I used proper judgment, I would be released back to my pod.  Sub-Commander-1004 entered my closet and asked only one question, “Why did you kill Adm-85542?”

I kept my response simple, “After repeated attempts to stop his physical attack, he was unreasonable.  Only two options remained.  One, allow him to impale me and leave the others defenseless with an unknown number of casualties.  Two, stop his outburst with only one casualty.  I chose the one that left us with the least amount of unknown factors.”

Sub-Commander-1004 left the closet. Ten decaticks later I was in the pod.  Hope had gone to med for the gash across her face.  She never returned for her rapturing.

DAY 2

Designation Day is an important day in our pod.  A Sub-Commander comes into the pod and looks on her goggles, not edugoggles, something much more sophisticated.  I suppose she reads our files.  But she will call us to assembly then pass out designations.  Most of the time the words have no meaning for us.  They could be code words, but we don’t know.  We were the last clutch to receive our designations.  There are no new clutches in our pod, so ours was likely the last Designation Day.

            On or about eleven ticks Administrator called us to assembly.  We were told to sit and learn, which meant to give our absolute attention.  A Sub-Commander entered the room through the Administrator’s quarters.  I had not seen her type before, her hair a mixture of white and yellow and eyes as blue as pure sapphire.  Unlike our pod, she was tall and thin, almost delicate, but she walked in with authority.  

The Sub-Commander gave us a lecture on the necessity of roles in society.  As Adms and Anes of a Tech Caste, we would be responsible for infrastructure.  Then she assigned designations.  Over half of our commencement group were given the designation Grunt Zeta.  Three were given the designation Radar Delta.  Four were designated Medic.  Then Sub-Commander designated me Spear and abruptly left the room.  

Grunt Zeta One stood at the front of the room and postulated that because of the sheer numbers of Grunt Zetas, that the Grunt Zetas must represent the governing body, able to calmly and rationally debate any issues amongst our commencement group.  There were no spoken objections and Grunt Z1’s idea showed maturity, so we all consented.

Over the next anum, Grunt Z1 showed good leadership skills and better than average depth of thought.  When an abnormality in our pod surfaced, causing cancerous tumors and ulcerative lesions, a number of our podmates died and were reclaimed.  Grunt Z1 conscientiously kept a record of all symptoms and health progress for the pod.  I traced the sickness to an abnormality in nourishment, a foreign chemical in the fat packaged with the meat.  I asked the Radars if they could assist in making a detection device.  After a cycle, we had a working prototype for safe food detection.  Grunt Z1 logged all the information and we were able to counteract the foreign chemical.  Once we had a working solution, Grunt Z1 made a request to the Administrator to investigate the poisoning of nourishment.

Short Story Corner

Today I am releasing the first part of a short story called The Rapturing. It is set in a dystopian future where genetic experimentation has been taken to a whole new level.

The Rapturing

By Brett Galen

Day 6

This is my submission as required by Administrator-21952.  My directions are to write a log of my days to help in transitioning to my Rapturing, which is, of course, the day I will become an adult and join productive society.  Considering the options of speculating about my role in the Politic or leaving a journal for posterity and frame of reference, I have chosen the latter.

My name is Adm-85546.  I was born in Clutch-10958.  I was born on the 28th day of May sixteen anums ago.  Well, everyone in my clutch was.  We started with thirty but now there are eleven of us.  I, like all my clutchmates, have black hair, blue eyes, dark skin and stand about five feets tall.  We are of the Tech Caste and in six days we will all have our Rapturing, where we leave the Pod and join the Politic, the society of adults.

Let me start at the beginning.  I was two anums old when I experienced my Day of Awareness, but, noticing Podmother-4588 and Podfather-4588 and how they interacted with the other clutchies, I continued to act unaware.  I don’t know if it was fear or intellect that held me back, but I watched as the days passed, mimicking the unaware clutchies.  Podmother-4588 began calling them by their names Adm-85542, Ane-79956, Adm-85547, Adm-85549, and so on.  After about seven clutchies became aware, I stepped forward to learn my name, Adm-85546.

The next few weeks were relatively procedural as we learned to use the restroom at the proper times, to keep our workspaces clean and operational, and to write our language.  By the time all the clutchies had become aware, most of us had already learned Common and were starting algebra.  We learned to sleep in our slabs and the lights stayed on constantly.  I remember everything being white: clothes, surfaces, eduscreens, and food.

Two of our clutchies, Adm-85545 and Adm-85547 began bleeding from the nose and were removed to the medical facilities.  They never returned, but we were told they were moved to a special care facility.  Because my name was between theirs, I was taken from my clutch to medical.  I was examined with hands and machines.  I remember the Meds taking my blood and giving me air that made me sleepy.  After two cycles, I was returned to my clutch.  Now, ten days behind, I had to accelerate my studies.  I somehow have not quite gotten a working understanding of sines, cosines, and tangents.

By the time our clutch turned seven anums we lost eight clutchies to various illnesses and accidents.  On the day our clutch turned seven anums, Podmother-4588 and Podfather-4588 celebrated our commencement.  We concluded our studies and cleaned our areas.  Using sterilizer foam and cloth wipes we hand scrubbed every surface we could touch including the eduscreens.  I knew they were hermetically sealed, but I still saw danger in spraying around the edges of the glass touchscreen, so I sprayed the center and scrubbed outward.  Ane-79952 noticed my pattern and mimicked it.

After cleaning we were given time for minimally supervised social interaction.  Instead of focusing on proper manners and procedures or debate topics, we were given free interaction.  Ane-79952 approached me for conversation.  Adm-85542 joined us and we discussed personal perceptions and opinions.  Adm-85542 had an obviously flawed hypothesis which I brought to his attention.  He huffed and walked away.  Ane-79952 and I attempted to make sense of his reaction, finally settling on an emotion of some sort.  We knew we would be tested by emotions and that they can be a strength when used properly, but we expected it would be an eduscreen assignment.  I suspected then that Adm-85542 might be in trouble.

The next waking, Podmother-4588 and Podfather-4588 had us make our slabs neatly and lead us to their observation room.  After sitting on the floor in a group, Podmother-4588 introduced us to Administrator-91766.  Administrator-91766 told us that commencement was a transitioning step and that we would move into a pod of older children.  Today we would begin studying physical training and social interaction.  We would no longer have Podparents to remind us of our schedules or to remind us of our manners.  Administrator-91766 said that she would oversee and discipline if necessary, but that we would be responsible for learning correct social interactions and working to promote a responsible pod.  She also said we would be introduced to new concepts like music, art, gymnastics, combat, deprivation, and night.  

As she finished speaking to us, she gave a single nod to my Podparents.  They, in turn, nodded to us.  We stood, faced Podmother-4588 and Podfather-4588, then gave them a nod of respect.  Administrator-91766 walked through a transparent door and we, the twenty-two remaining of Clutch-10958, followed her.

Day 5

I think I would be remiss if I didn’t explain the simple schedule.  Schedules are important and the schedule I was assigned hasn’t changed through my commencements.  At three ticks I wake up from slumber.  I push the button to open my slab door and eject my slab.  I fold my thermal and lay it at the head of my slab, then I quietly push my slab back into the three feets wide by three feets tall by ten feets long chamber so I don’t wake my podmates.  

I go to the physical room and run the obstacle course while doing my music study on my edugoggles.  At lightrise I go to the washroom and I do my art study while cleansing.  By five ticks I am dressed in my grey jumpsuit and am preparing nourishment for the pod.  

Since introduction to pods, each podmate is given a social responsibility.  Some prepare laundry, some tend the garden, some remove waste, some move and repair equipment, but I prepare nourishment.  It comes in sealed packages and is identical every day, meat packaged in fat and a liquefied protein base.  The ones before me boiled it every day which was good for routine.  But I, after walking the gardens with Ane-79952 noticed that many of the plants grown in the hydrochamber were aromatic and after tasting a few leaves, began to cook with them.  Pod morale rose.

After nourishment, the sanitizers would cleanse the area and fold the tables back into the wall while the rest of us engaged in social interaction.  I enjoyed debate until the day that Adm-85542 decided to transition from debate into anger.  His history is a tragedy.  Now I write letters of critique instead of debate.  During combat I train with bangs, small hand-held devices that send projectiles great distances.  I also train with slicers, thin but sturdy pieces of metal that extend from a hilt approximately three feets long.  I excel at hand combat, but my strength is in defense and counter-attack.

My first personal instructor was a female not from my original clutch.  She was a few anums older than I and taught me combat.  Her name was Ele-65545 when we first met, but after her second commencement she was designated Hope and was a Nature Caste.  Her podmates all had auburn hair, green eyes and fair skin and were, on average, a few inches shorter than my podmates.  She was strong and fast and on more than one occasion nicked me with a slicer to remind me to focus.

After studies, we engaged in tasks.  Since I prepared nourishment, my task was complete and I would work with the other podmates to understand each of their tasks.  Doing this, I was able to help in instances like the loss of a podmate to illness or accident.  I learned much about botany, recycling, chemistry, and repair and tried to incorporate my new knowledge into other areas of podlife.  I even modified my edugoggles to access lessons from each of the other social responsibilities.  One tick before lightfall, everyone went for cleansing and fresh laundry.  At lightfall everyone went to their slabs.  End of day.

New Worlds

Welcome! I’m Brett Galen and this page is a place to experience new worlds. Every reader looks for new experiences. Every reader wants to feel the rush of excitement or the grave disappointment or the unbounding happiness of the characters that they come to love.

I love to tell stories. Some writers attempt to find relevance by taking on social issues, and I wish them well. I do not want to take readers out of my stories and place them back into the real world, so I don’t tackle the big issues.

What I do, however, is keep it clean. I don’t believe that a good story needs cursing or sexually explicit scenes to keep readers interested. I want my stories to be enjoyed by Parents, Teens, and children.

So, welcome! I will update with original stories, excerpts, and even ask you for some help from time to time. Thanks for joining me on this rollercoaster ride of writing.

-Brett Galen