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The Gene Trap-A sequel to No Known Species
Most humans assume that our species will remain at the top of the food chain for all time. Donít bet on it if past history is a harbinger of things to come. Primacy on this planet has changed hands more often than women buy new shoes.
In January of 1987, Rebecca Cann, a research scientist from the University of California, Berkeley, published an article in the journal Nature suggesting that the origins of the human race can be traced back 200,000 years to the birth of a lone human female in central Africa. Her children were destined to become natureís kingpins, adding to a long list of creatures that at one time occupied that same position. Clearly the story of this woman is not evolution as described by Darwin. It was a large-scale change, occurring at a single moment in time that radically altered the nature of manís distant relatives.
It is axiomatic that anything that happens once in the natural world must happen again. In the cosmic cycle of events, it has come to pass that mankind is to be replaced as master of their world. This mysterious cycle of primacy on Earth is the premise of my novels.
My first manuscript, No Known SpeciesóThe Dark Secret of the Genesis Cycle, is a techno-thriller published in September of 2009 that is based on Dr. Cannís landmark study. The novel is a blending of Darwinís theories and a shadowy force that seems to control the destiny of all Earthís creatures. The first novel begins by reconstructing the biblical tale of Genesis; only this time it is not the story of our ancestorsí birth in Paradise, but the rebirth of a vastly superior race and it takes place, not in the Garden of Eden, but in the belly of contemporary society.
In 1984, two extraordinary babies are born on identical birth dates, 3000 miles apart, and under mysterious circumstances. Imagine for one moment that you are Peter Gault and Kate Donavon, lone mutants with advanced physical and mental gifts. How would they adjust to a primitive world that is ruled by humans? Moreover, would humanity ever accept a race of beings that had such vast superiority? One central question builds in the minds of Kate and Peter: If it were discovered that their birth meant the end of the human race as they knew it, would these special beings be permitted to survive?
As the story unfolds, the interwoven lives of Kate and Peter serve to unravel the mystery of the Genesis Cycle, and possibly wreak havoc on the natural order of man.
The novel ends as Peter and Kate escape with fifty members of their clan to a sheltered and untraceable island somewhere in the South Pacific. It is their task to actuate the rebirth of humanity.
Meanwhile, lingering in the old world are Kate and Peterís best friends, John Lynch and Gigi Thompson. Book II is their story and chronicles the impending apocalypse facing all those members of the human race who were left behind. It is the tale of The Gene Trap, and the story completes the cycle of human primacy.
Change is coming as it had for hundreds of centuries. A hidden force working in the shadows of the cosmos holds sway over the destiny of all living things, and the final chapter for mankind is about to be written.
No Known Species, a novel published in September of 2009, chronicles the recurrence of a bizarre kind of evolution clearly inconsistent with Darwin’s theories. The process is cyclic in nature and seems to be choreographed by a designing hand.
On October fourth, 1984, two extraordinary babies are born 3,000 miles apart, and under mysterious circumstances. Imagine for one moment that you are Peter Gault and Kate Donavon, lone mutants with advanced physical and mental gifts. Though the genesis cycle is not new, this time the paradigm has shifted. Mankind is the first species on Earth with the insight to recognize the cycle’s threat to his primacy, a risk that will ultimately endanger his very existence. The only choice is to go the way of the Neanderthals, or attempt to eliminate the source of the danger. And the earthly powers will not go quietly. The novel ends with an unsuccessful global manhunt followed by the sudden disappearance of Gault’s clan.
Meanwhile, lingering in the old world are Kate’s and Peter’s best friends, John Lynch and Gigi Thompson. The Gene Trap is their story and the story of the pending apocalypse facing those members of the human race who were left behind.
John is a young doctor thoroughly engaged in the rigors of his internship. The last thing he needs is to be caught up in is a titanic struggle for human survival, especially since it would entail pitting him against Peter and Kate. His girlfriend, Gigi, after landing a job with The Hawthorne Institute doing genetic research, comes with John to Pittsburgh and together they move into an apartment and prepare to start their new jobs.
After some initial excitement, Gigi soon realizes that things are not quite kosher at the institute and discovers that the geneticists are attempting to create a perfected human genome that rids DNA of all its negative mutations. To make matters worse, the process will be tested on some of Hawthorne’s own lab technicians.
Meanwhile John has come in contact with Dr Alex Meyer, the chief of medicine at the hospital. Meyer is an icon in the medical community and John has come to respect this man immensely. But he is conflicted by some of Meyer’s unusual beliefs, not the least of which is Meyer’s preoccupation with the pollution of the species’ DNA through the ages. He thinks that humanity’s compassion for the infirmed has eliminated the driving force of evolution… survival of the fittest. In the final analysis Meyer feels that it is either compassion or survival. He teaches that there is no real choice.
To get answers to some burning questions, not the least of which is the origin of an outbreak of an incurable disease caused by a synthetic germ, Gigi and John decide to break into Hawthorne’s top secret lab. In so doing, they discover hideous creatures in jars and cages created by the process of genetic engineering. John finds out that the experiments are part of a master plan to implant a perfected human genome into the DNA of a small number of elites so they can finally achieve the perfect society and thus compete with the likes of Gault’s clan. To John’s astonishment, Meyer is the ring leader.
Meyer discovers that Gigi and John have broken into the lab and know the elite’s closely held secret. He invites John and Gigi to join the secret society and when they refuse, instead of having them killed outright, he decides to send them to the CDC in Atlanta where a fellow conspirator, Dr. Haslett, can keep them sequestered and under surveillance.
At the CDC John and Gigi are assigned to the task of finding a cure for synthetic germs that are rapidly spreading to the four corners of the globe and killing millions of defenseless humans. What the couple doesn’t know is that the synthetic germs were created in a genetic laboratory near Cornwall, England. Their release to the biosphere, though accidental, will solve the perplexing problem of dealing with the world’s non- elites. The perfected genome will give Meyer and his kind complete immunity from the diseases.
Through John’s medical experience and Gigi’s exposure to lab techniques, they are able to synthesize a protective gene bit that can be injected intravenously into afflicted patients. A trial run on a patient is initially successful, but the patient later dies under suspicious circumstances. John discovers that Haslett has murdered their patient with an overdose of insulin to abort attempts to cure the disease. John and Gigi must take the offensive. After a secret and successful second trial, John confronts Haslett about his suspicions, and Haslett responds by incarcerating the couple. Haslett calls Meyer about the problem and Meyer tells him to release the couple and he will have them liquidated.
Things don’t work out as planned and John and Gigi escape with the help of a mysterious e-mail advocate. They are flown to Italy and, at the request of the US president, they are chased by an Interpol agent throughout Italy and finally to a cave high up in the Andes Mountains. Here Gigi and John find a strange teleportation device left by their advocates for just such an occasion. John and Gigi climb into the machine and John presses the ignition switch and all goes black.
When they awaken they find themselves in a primitive hut somewhere in the South Pacific. Peter and Kate join them in their home and Peter explains all to the couple, including the effect of the synthetic organisms on the general population, why human civilization has failed, the origins and meaning of the genesis cycle, and finally the reason for a gene trap imbedded in the DNA of all living creatures. This gene is set into motion if there is an attempt to significantly modify the genome of any organism. Once activated, it will cause a Progeria-like reaction in all cells and initiate rapid aging and death. The elites, with their perfected genome, will die out quickly and painfully. Peter thinks this function in the DNA reveals the hand of intelligent designer.
Even though Peter and Kate want the couple to remain with them on the island, they decide to return to their world. As John says, “We might be happier living and dying in our world with our own people. In fact, leaving this island may be simply the ‘design’ of things.”
Cornwall, EnglandóPresent Day
Silas Johnson was tending to the remains of his fall garden on a
beautiful late autumn afternoon in suburban Cornwall. As was his
custom, Silas was wearing an old pair of canvas boat shoes, the soles
of which had worn thin over many years. He had just removed several
shriveled geraniums that were well past their time and stepped back to
admire his handiwork. Silas was totally unaware of the extreme danger
that lurked in the tall grass nearby. To his left and behind him was a
foot-long two-by-four with a rusty nail protruding from one end of
the wooden plank. The board, with the exposed four-inch nail, was
a vestige from a minor construction job completed several years ago
by a local handyman.
As Silas stepped back, the entire weight of his body drove his left leg
downward, allowing easy entry of the contaminated nail through the
10 Stephen N Berberich
thinned sole of his boat shoe and into the core of his left forefoot. A
searing pain exploded in the sensory cortex of Silasís brain as the spike
punctured deep into the adjacent soft tissues of his foot. On reflex,
Silas jerked free of the painful object causing the surface material on
the nail to be deposited well into the flexor muscles and tendons of his
foot. Silas stood on one leg for a moment, paralyzed by the excruciating
pain. However, his mobility returned quickly when blood began to
fill his left shoe. Silas started hopping toward the house on one foot
and covered the distance in a remarkably short period of time. He
immediately went to the downstairs bathroom, removed both shoes,
and filled the tub to the halfway mark with tepid tap water. Silas soaked
both feet in the soothing liquid for about fifteen minutes then toweled
off, applied antibiotic ointment to the wound, and then bandaged the
area. Again on one foot, Silas hopped to the living room and promptly
slumped into his easy chair.
The early evening shadows were beginning to fill the room as Silas
recounted the harrowing details of his injury. More than anything else,
it was the presence of the rusty nail that bothered him. The thought of
getting lockjaw sent shivers up and down his spine. Silas remembered
that he had been given a tetanus shot about a year ago for a similar
incident, but decided to contact the urgent care center just to make
sure. After retrieving the phone number from his address book, Silas
spoke to the nurse on call. She checked his chart and then assured
him that he had received a tetanus immunization one year ago and
there would be no need for a booster shot at this time. Following their
conversation, Silas went to the refrigerator, took out a cold beer, and
was finally able to relax. After several large gulps of the premium lager,
he turned his attention to an equally pressing problemóplanning for a
The Gene Trap 11
crucial meeting with a group of venture capitalists that was scheduled
in just two days. The technology company that he owned and operated
was in real financial trouble, and unless he could secure a large infusion
of cash, the last thirty years of his lifeís work would be for naught.
That evening Silas retired at the usual hour but slept restlessly
through the night. His mind was swamped by an endless cycle of bizarre
dreams that frightened him, one more troubling than the next. The
following morning he felt uncharacteristically tired and was barely able
to throw together a suitcase of essentials for his trip. If the meeting
in Pittsburgh were not so important he would have rescheduled the
conference and cancelled his flight. But that was not an option. There
was, however, a bit of good news this morning. Silas found that he
was able to walk, though with a noticeable limp.
Silas had a quick cup of hot tea and a crumpet then called a cab
for the lengthy trip to Heathrow Airport. The driver dropped him at
the American Airlines terminal where he presented his passport and
checked his bags. After going through security, Silas retired to the
American Airlines hospitality suite where he awaited the business class
boarding announcement for his nonstop flight to Pittsburgh.
After locating his place on board the aircraft, Silas fine-tuned the
adjustable recliner to his liking and began reading the Wall Street Journal.
It was then that Silas first noticed a mild throbbing pain in his left foot
at the nailís point of entry. Several aspirin tablets appeared to solve the
problem, and he continued with his morning read. Just before takeoff Silas
stowed his newspaper and carry-on bags, adjusted his seat for the second
time, and prepared for the eleven-hour trip to the States.
Meanwhile, deep within the injured tissues of his left forefoot, a
life-and-death struggle raged on. The antibodies from the tetanus
12 Stephen N Berberich
immunization that lay dormant for more than a year had been
summoned urgently to the site of the infection. For hours the deadly
microorganisms fought for survival, but they had little chance against
the heightened response of Silasís immune system. One by one the
bacteria were neutralized until all but a single organism remained. It
was evident that this tetanus cell was different from the others. It was
a virulent mutation that had its cell membrane modified to make
it impervious to antibodies fighting the disease. More significant,
this bacterium had undergone yet another deadly change. Instead of
infecting a human host exclusively through a deep puncture wound, the
new form of the disease could be spread by inhaling air contaminated
with the tetanus bacteria. The airborne method of dissemination
was similar to that of an influenza epidemic, only with far deadlier
consequences. And if critical mass in the biosphere were ever achieved,
the newly modified bacteria would become the mother of all human
plagues. Once again Darwinís survival principles were poised to play
a role on the stage of history. Only this time the random confluence
of events affecting Silas Johnson would begin manís struggle to retain
his primacy on Earth.