Port Town Publishing
What would it be like to live in a world where paper is outlawed, and a citizen can be put in jail for using one single piece?
“You’ve softened since we first met.”
It’s 2416, and the world is completely electronic. Libraries remain, but in electronic form. The books of the 21st century are locked away in a high tech government vault. Everyone learns, communicates, and sends messages via Mind Effacers; tiny mechanisms invented and patented by the government. Citizens live safely inside invisible, city sized domes.
Even worse? Sex has been outlawed. Babies come from “the bottom of a long glass tube,” and human sexual contact—touching, feeling—has become a thing of the past.
Fortunately, a small faction of rebels opposes the government control. Their agenda? Restore the paper factories—and the barbaric atrocity known as human sexuality.
Shawnee Walters, the head of the North American Mind Efface program (N.A.M.E.), is hired to hunt down and prosecute the mutineers. On one spring day, barely a year into office, the infamous rebel leader Michael Che drugs Shawnee, kidnaps her, and takes her to a village hidden in the Rocky Mountains. The handsome dissident shocks her with revelations about the people behind the cause, the real problem with the 25th century society, and his own, earth-shattering secret; one that will change the future of the world.
Shawnee laughed, partly in relief, partly because she had succeeded in throwing him off the track. “We never met. You kidnapped me.”
“Yes, and you’ve released a great deal of anger over that. I’m pleased.”
“Well, I am not pleased. My purpose for visiting the libraries was because here, on the prairie, I have no way of recording information, since you have taken that from me.”
He leaned back, never taking his eyes off her. “Hmmm. There is a solution. A simple one.”
She knew what he was getting at before he ever finished speaking. Shawnee shook her head. “You have required much of me; things that I thought I could never do. But this, I cannot agree to. It would violate a sacred trust.”
“Would it? It’s a simple piece of parchment and a writing implement.”
Shawnee flushed and flew out of the chair. It nearly tipped over with her haste to stand. She glared at him as she stomped her foot. “I cannot use a pen or paper! I have never known anything other than the Mind Effacer!"
Michael sighed, and his jaw clenched with his effort to control himself. Shawnee stiffened when he dragged his chair next to hers and ran a finger down her silky cheek. “Just like...you’ve never known what it feels like to have a man touch you?”
Shawnee’s mind screamed that she should move away, but she could not. Just like in the dream...
His finger traced her trembling lips. “I’m sure that lots of twenty-fifth century men have the same impulses I’m having right now. Men are still men, especially when they’re around a beautiful woman like you. I told you last night that I know, deep down, you want me. Well, it goes both ways. It’s a fact of life that you need to accept.”
She tightened her lips as she took a step backward. “I accept nothing. Stop it!”
Michael’s eyes hardened with his rising frustration, and he grabbed her arms before she could retreat further.
“Think! Your ancestors didn’t believe that the touch between a man and a woman was evil. You know why? Because the Shawano tribe of Tecumseh’s time was right! But you don’t follow all the ways of your people, your tribe, and your heritage. Instead, you follow the laws and rules of people born centuries after Tecumseh’s death, government officials who violated everything the Shawano stood for. The Shawano loved, in body, not just in spirit. Children were conceived and born, and ceremonies took place whenever a new life entered this world in the perfect, natural way Nature intended. Shawnee, you told me last night that you have pledged your beautiful mind and body to living by the old ways; the ways Tecumseh and his brother adhered to. I, for one, think that’s great! So tell me this, babe. Why is it now wrong for a man and woman to wrap their bodies around one another and move in a sensuous, writhing rhythm for procreation and for pleasure? It wasn’t wrong when the men you most admire—and have modeled your life after—did it! I ask you again, why it is wrong now?”
A bloodcurdling scream blasted from Shawnee’s throat. She wrenched her arm from his grip and bolted toward the door. He caught her before she could whip the portal open.
“Undulating passion is not wrong, Secretary,” he gritted as his eyes flashed with sudden anger. “I’ll tell you what’s barbarian—not touching or feeling. You think it’s wrong because someone told you it was wrong. Well, let me tell you different. I was lucky enough to make love to a woman and, if I were to die right now—without ever seeing another sunset or taking another early morning stroll—I would do so a happy man. And do you know why? Because the part of my body that makes me a man has been wrapped in a woman’s intimate sheath, and I can promise you that it causes sensations that no one in your civilized world ever dreamed of! No one should willingly give up such ecstasy because the government says so! What you have now is nothing short of criminal!”
Shawnee shook so hard that her teeth chattered. Yet despite her sudden fear, she raised her chin in defiance as he continued.
“Paper, books and writing sound barbaric to you, I know, and physical intimacy between a man and a woman is even more archaic. Well, guess what, baby? Whether you want to admit it or not, people in the twenty-fifth century are still reading books, and they are still having good old fashioned sex; and they are enjoying it!”
“And if that’s true, then they are genetically inferior!” she screamed.
“No, they’re not.” His eyes held a challenge as they bored into hers. “I am a product of that same good, old-fashioned sex.”
Her lips curved with her smug reply. “Then I rest my case.”
His gaze took on an almost feral gleam. “I wouldn’t be so free with your insults, Shawnee...because so are you.”