The first in a two book series.
The world has become obsessed with perfection. Now only those deemed to have perfect genetic lines are allowed to exist. Anyone or anything that is flawed physicaly, or mentally is targeted for erasure. These imperfect people are called the Outalw children and now they are in a battle to be and to have been.
About fifteen years after we left New Eden all of the cities in the world were genetically pure. It was as if they had wiped out polio or cured cancer, which by the way they had, along with every other disease in the world, at least in the cities.
The Programs offered the Erasers retirement homes within the cities. Confident that they were all sterile and that eventually they would all die out, the Programs told the Erasers they were free to go and live anywhere they chose. Two years later Mike chose Ben's Valley.
Anna and I had been married almost seven years when Mike Bishop returned to live here in the valley. Anna and I had the blessing of four children, twin boys Jack and Jake born almost nine months to the day we were married, a three-year-old girl named Megan, and another boy William who was a little more than a year old. During that time, we had relative peace, there were no erasures, and, no one had come here to stay in more than four years.
Mike returned to the valley about two in the morning one early spring day. The valley was sleeping peacefully when he arrived, and we were all jolted from our beds by the ringing of the bell in the Hall.
I quickly dressed and rushed out of the house, which was about four blocks from the Hall. As I ran down the sidewalk toward the end of the street, I saw that everyone else was doing the same. Some of the men were still buttoning their shirts or pulling on their boots, and there were carts, wagons, and men on horseback coming from the farms to the town, to find out who was ringing the bell and what the emergency was. When we got the Hall, we found Mike Bishop waiting for us with a grim look on his face. He didn't speak to us he just stood there in silence until everyone was in the entrance.
When everyone was there and Mike did speak, it was only three words "It's not good."
As Mike led us into the meeting room, the bell in the tower ceased to ring, and my brother Aaron entered the room a short time later. We took our seats, and as was our custom, Joe Phillips called us to order. Joe then turned the meeting over to Mike.
Mike looked out on us in silence and on his face, was an expression of pain and sadness. The silence was the worst part, the silence gave your imagination time to work its evil magic on your mind, and that magic was working on every man in the room, there was no shuffling or fidgeting, no whispers. Mike cleared his throat and began to speak, the only sound was the echo of Mike's voice, whether that echo was off the walls of the room or in my own ears, I cannot say. I only know that when Mike began to speak our lives began to change. Nothing would ever be as it had been before, not for us, not for Mike, not for the world.
"New EdenUSA is under new leadership. The new leader is a man named Morgan Anderson. He is a suspicious little man with thinning hair and cold black eyes. Morgan Anderson has a zero tolerance at the possibility of anyone with less than perfect genetic makeup existing. Anderson claims that the previous leadership of New Eden was too soft at letting escapees continue to exist, and that these leaders had more of an out of sight out of mind policy. Prior to being named leader Morgan Anderson was executive in charge of the Movement Through Time Program for more than fifteen years. The Perfects decided (with prodding from Anderson) that it was time for a change of leadership. Morgan had brought to the public's attention that there was a colony of Imperfects, and now that the Perfects were aware of them they wanted them all erased. Anderson assured the citizens of New Eden he could remove this blight from their world and so they asked the former leader to step down and instated Anderson."
Mike paused briefly then continued.
"About two years ago, a former Eraser named Don Jones went to see Anderson with a fantastic tale. Jones told Anderson that some of the Erasers had falsified the jobs that they received, and hadn't erased some of their assignments at all, that they had instead helped them to escape. Jones told Anderson that although he didn't know where they were, there was a colony of Outlaw Children somewhere in every country in the world. Jones then told Anderson he didn't know who all of these rogue Erasers were but that he could name several. Upon hearing Jones's tale, Anderson ordered all former Erasers to report in. I reported to Anderson with the rest of them and listened as Jones called out several names, many these I knew to be sympathizers. Upon hearing their name, each man stood and left the room as Jones had told them to do. Anderson began to grill those of us who remained with questions. Anderson then told those of us that remained in the room, that although he had no evidence against us, he would continue to investigate our performance as Erasers and should he find that we had helped anyone escape, our fate would be the same as the ones that are currently in custody. I asked Anderson what that fate might be, to which Anderson replied," Partial Erasure," meaning he was going to turn them into transparencies. We never saw any of those men after they left the room."
"Anderson has appointed Jones to train what he calls the Hounds. The Hounds are specially designed clones, and it will be their job to find as many Imperfects as possible and bring them in for erasure. Not allImperfects live in the valley, people like Pete, Sara, and others who still have homes outside the city in the surrounding countryside. The Hounds are rounding up these people and then turning them in for erasure."
"I decided to leave New Eden three months ago because I realized that I could do more to help the valley by being here than I could by keeping an eye on things there. You should all know it is only a matter of time before the Hounds find us, but I have a plan. My plan will only delay the inevitable, but this delay would give us enough time to find a more permanent solution to the problem. "
By the time Mike had finished talking, it was almost four in the morning, and he was tired and wanted to rest. Before the meeting was adjourned Mike said, "I want you all to take time to think about what I have said and I will meet with you all tomorrow evening and go into detail about my plan."
We all agreed, and I took Mike to Mom's house where she made him a small breakfast and then showed him to my old room where he could get some sleep.
That afternoon Aaron, Joe Phillips, and I went to Mom's to see Mike.
In the years since Mike had brought us to the valley, I had gotten a chance to see him when he made his yearly visits. During these visits, I came to know Mike the man, instead of Mike the Eraser, and I respected him for the man he was. I understood that my mother had seen through the emptiness I had seen back then and that was why she had been so nice to him.
The next afternoon Mike, Joe, Aaron, and I sat around the table in the small kitchen. Joe and I were asking Mike questions, about the threat Anderson posed with the Hounds, and Aaron was sitting there as silent as he had been for the last seven years. No matter what you may think, silence doesn't indicate stupidity, far from it, during the time that Aaron lost his ability to speak he had acquired a great deal of knowledge. Though we didn't know it then we would soon find out that the knowledge Aaron had acquired would be one of our biggest assets.
Joe took a sip of his coffee and turned to Mike. "Do you know how close the Hounds are to locating us?"
"Well I can't be precise Joe but I think it will be long enough for us to build a defense. The number of Hounds necessary to do the job is greater than Anderson has available. You see although the Perfects have clones, many of these clones are only skilled in mundane daily tasks. Once trained, the clones are difficult to retrain in another area, so they will have to create new ones for the job of Hounds, it takes fifteen months just to create and mature a clone, and Anderson only has the facilities to create and mature two hundred and fifty clones every fifteen months. It takes another nine months to train them as Hounds."
I asked the thing that was most important in my mind." Mike how long before the first two hundred and fifty Hounds are ready to start seeking us?"
"Jacob I would say a good estimate would be in about eight months. Anderson started the Hound Program shortly after learning that some of the Erasers had been sympathetic to the Imperfects. Anderson wants all the Imperfects brought to him so he can witness each erasure himself, but the worst thing is, is that Anderson is developing a way of doing mass erasure, and he has built a chamber that holds about thirty-five people. A computer will do the erasing, it doesn't require a DNA sample, it scans the individuals in the room, and then it locates and targets the primary cells. The primary cell is the one created when the sperm fertilizes the egg. This cell stays with us throughout our lives, and it is our pattern. Once the computer has located the pattern cell, it then targets it and erases it. I'm not completely sure of the mechanics because it is still in the developmental stage but I am sure that it will be up and running in about five years. Until it is ready though Anderson plans to have as many Imperfects rounded up and erased the old-fashioned way as possible."
We sat there for a few minutes, all of us as silent as Aaron.
Joe was the first to speak. "You said you have a plan."
Mike nodded and then said, "It is best to tell everyone at the same time."
The Hall was full when Mike, Aaron, and I arrived that evening, so we took our seats on the first row and waited for Joe to call the meeting to order. There was a sense of anticipation mixed with fear in the air, as the men talked about the things Mike had already said, and speculated about the things he would say tonight. Bill who was sitting at my left leaned over and whispered to me. I nodded and returned my attention to the front of the room.
I had spoken to Bill after the meeting with Mike at my mom's house, so he was one of the few who would not be completely surprised, or at least that was what I had thought. I didn't know it but this meeting going to be full of surprises, and the first one came shortly after Joe Phillips called the meeting to order.
Joe began by giving a brief summary of the conversation we had with Mike earlier that afternoon, and then he said, "Mike will be speaking to you all very shortly, to outline his plan, but first I needed to make an announcement. I am stepping down as leader." Everyone in the room gasped and began to mumble. I looked to my right where Mike was sitting on the other side of Aaron, but Mike sat there not moving, not saying a word, his eyes locked on Joe with an expression of admiration and respect.
Bill turned to me and asked, "Did you know about this?"
I replied, "This is the first I've heard of it."
I turned toward Mike again, meaning to ask him what was going on, and that's when some of the men stood and began shouting at Joe. They were calling him a coward and a traitor, and others quickly joined in the shouting and it appeared that Joe might be in physical danger.
Again, I looked at Mike and I watched as his face became hard, and his eyes filled with a deep, yet quiet rage. Looking into Mike's eyes when they were like that was like looking into the eyes of death. Mike stood, turned to face the men, and then without a word, with only a glance from those steel gray eyes, he caused the room to fall into a complete and deafening silence.
Mike turned away from the crowd of men and walked to the front of the room where he took Joe's hand, shook it, and gave him a big bear hug. Joe then stepped aside a look of humiliation radiating from his face as he stared at the floor.
Mike stared out at the faces of the men in the Hall. Most of these people he had brought here himself. For several minutes Mike did not speak, he just stood there with his eyes moving from face to face, and as he looked upon them, he saw fear and hope mingled together in their eyes, and a word, a single word entered his mind, mercy.
The anger these men had brought just moments earlier drained from Mike's face and in its place was a look of understanding and compassion. He wore the look of a man who had just punished a child for misbehaving and then felt remorse.
At that moment when Mike looked out onto the faces of those people who continued to hope when there was no hope, a sudden realization came over him. Mike realized that these people were his family, all he could ever hope to have. This valley was his home and it would be in this valley he would cease to move and return to the ground. Then for the first time in his life that he could remember, something happened to him, something that hadn't happened when they took him from his parents and put him into the Eraser Program, something that hadn't happened even when he witnessed the erasure his wife and children. For the first time in Mike Bishop's life, he had an overwhelming flood of emotion, love, and passion for something outside himself that his eyes filled with tears.
Mike stared out at us, tears standing in his eyes but not spilling over onto his cheeks. He continued to stare, he did not attempt to hide his tears, nor did he show any embarrassment or shame by them. After several minutes of silence that seemed to grip every heart in the room, Mike cleared his throat and began to speak.
"Joe and I had a talk shortly before the meeting. Joe told me that he felt it would be in the best interest of the people of valley if there were a change in leadership. Joe said he felt that the valley needed a good strategist to lead them through the upcoming threat against their existence, and then he asked me if I would be that leader, if the men gave their support to the idea. I told Joe it would be my honor."
When Mike finished speaking Joe stepped forward again and brought forth the motion to instate Mike as the leader of Ben's Valley. A unanimous show of hands carried the motion, and, Mike shook Joe's hand again, then Joe took a seat in the front row, the seat Mike had vacated when he stepped to the front of the room.
Mike faced the men again, this time as leader of the valley. The tears were now gone from his eyes, and in their place was a look of hard determination and strength, and looking at him, every man knew we had made the right decision.
Mike spoke in a voice that had the edge of a sickle, a voice that was confident and lethal. "We have about eight months to build up a defense against the Hounds. Although it isn't fully developed yet, I have a plan for defending ourselves, and if it becomes necessary destroying every Perfect and clone in New Eden. We will have to carry out the plan in several steps and it will require the help of every man, woman, and child in the valley. Some of these jobs are going to be very dangerous, even risking the erasure of entire families if caught." At this, Mike could see uncertainty in the faces of some of the men, so he paused a moment and said, "I know you will need to discuss this with your families before you agree to it, but I want to give you full knowledge of what is expected and what the risks are before you approach your families." This said, Mike continued to outline his plan for our defense.
"The first step of the plan is to delay the Hounds from locating us for as long as we can. This will require a volunteer to go to New Eden and sabotage the cloning process by destroying the DNA files and the cloning chambers. Once we do this, we will have more time to train our men to do battle. I will personally oversee the training of whoever volunteers for this assignment. The training will last three months and then when the training is complete the "saboteur" will trek through the desert and enter the city."
Mike stood there silent for a few moments giving us time to take in what he had just said before continuing, and in the midst of that silence, someone spoke.
"I will go."
The voice had a quality that was deep and smooth, that I was certain I had never heard before. I wondered who had spoken, and so I turned to Bill only to find him wide eyed and staring past me toward my right. I turned my head to follow his gaze and to my surprise, my brother Aaron was standing. I still did not understand, and then Aaron spoke again and I realized that deep confident voice belonged to my little brother.
"Mike, let me do it. Let me to go into the city, and do what needs to be done." The tone with which he spoke was confident and commanding.
I was astonished, it was the first time in seven years that I had heard my brother's voice, and he was volunteering to do the most dangerous job on the planet, and dopey me all I could think of, was Mom isn't going to like this.
He stood there, a boy almost eighteen, but the determination in his face, was that of a man. He would do this and he would not take no for an answer.
Aaron had grown a great deal in the last seven years. He now stood well over six feet tall, and had a head full of dark blonde hair and sea green eyes. His arms and chest rippled with muscles put there by the work he had constantly done since he was ten years old.
I looked at Mike waiting for his answer. He looked at Aaron then at me, and although it never crossed his lips, or showed on his face, I saw it flicker within his eyes, a smile.
Mike then turned back to Aaron and said," You will need to be tested first to determine whether or not this is a job you can do effectively."
Aaron replied with the same confident tone, "Mike, you will find that I can do any job effectively."
The remainder of the meeting was to set time lines for the task of delaying the Hounds. I barely noticed what Mike said, as I continued to look at my brother with admiration and wonderment. When did he grow up and how did I miss it.
Mike adjourned the meeting and everyone returned to their homes in order to discuss with their families the details of what had occurred and to get a feeling of where everyone stood regarding the matter. Mike asked Aaron, Bill, and me to stay for a few minutes more, he said he wanted to walk with us to Mom's house and talk to her about Aaron's possible assignment.
You would have thought that after seven years of not being able to talk, Aaron would have been unable to shut up, but this was not the case. When I asked him why he had not spoken for so long, he said, "Every time I tried to talk I got the urge to work."
The surprise on my face must have been as plain as the sky, because Aaron laughed and said, "Not really, it wasn't that I didn't want to talk it was like I forgot how."
We arrived at the house, and found Mom sitting in the chair by the window looking out at the night with a wistful expression on her face. We walked inside, I said, "Hi Mom," and walked over kissed her on the cheek.
Aaron walked over, kissed her on the cheek, and then whispered, "I love you Mom."
Still looking out the window she replied, "I love you too son."
Then it hit her, Aaron had spoken.
The realization of what had happened swept across her face so fast it was like watching a light come on in a darkened room. She jumped from the chair and threw her arms around Aaron. The joy that shone from her face was so overpowering that it filled the room. I saw a marked difference in the woman who had been sitting at the window when we came in. She wanted to know when Aaron had gotten his speech back. Mike told her that there would be time for that; right now, he needed to talk to her and Aaron alone.
Bill and I said our goodbyes and started to walk home together. When we reached my house, I went inside and Bill continued the walk back to the Hall to get his horse and go back to his farm.
When I walked inside the house, Anna was waiting up for me, as I knew she would be. In all the time we had been married, Anna had never gone to bed until I did. We sat down at the table and I began to tell her about the meeting, Mike's plan, and the risks involved. She listened without interruption and then I told her about Aaron's speech returning. A strange expression crossed her face. When I questioned her about it she said, "Don't you see the coincidence?"
For a second I was confused and then it hit me. My mother had been sitting by the window staring out into the night with that wistful look on her face. With everything that had been going on since Mike returned, I had completely forgotten. It had been exactly seven years since my dad ceased to move.
The next morning, I awoke to the smell of Anna making breakfast, and the noise of the kids playing. After breakfast, I walked outside and saw Mike and Aaron coming up the sidewalk toward the Hall. I shook Mike's hand and said, "Where are you two off to so early?"
Mike replied, "We're on our way to meet with Gabriel, and when the meeting is over, I have something I need to discuss with you and Anna."
As I watched them walk away toward the hall I wondered what it was Mike needed to talk to Anna and me about.
A little after Mom showed up, I sensed a nervousness in her that I had never seen before. I attributed it to the fact that Aaron may be going on such a dangerous mission, and I guess that was partly true. Then when Anna's parents showed up a short time later, I began to get an uneasy feeling. Mike and Aaron got there right after Anna's parents. We all sat down and I said, "Ok Mike what is it you need to talk to us about?
"The meeting with Gabriel went very well, Aaron passed all of his tests, and I will begin training him for the mission in a few days. Several things are necessary for the mission to succeed. The most important of these is the Mask to cover Aaron's imperfect DNA."
(This was technology we had been using for years in order to venture into the city to acquire things we needed and to keep an eye on our enemies. To make the Mask, Perfect DNA is required, up until that point, Mike had always brought the DNA when he would come to visit, but we were out and it was necessary, and there was only one way to get it.)
"Jacob, Anna you are key to the success of this mission but first there is something your parents needed to tell you that can't wait."
Anna sat close to me and squeezed my hand tightly. I sat there next to her trying to imagine what they were going to tell us, and although the imagination knows no bounds, I could never have imagined what I would hear in the next few minutes.
Anna's father stood in front of her and knelt down, he cupped her face in both hands, and looked at her with the love that only a father can feel for his only daughter and then he began to speak.
"Anna," he said, "this is something I probably should have told you long ago, but there never seemed to be a good reason. It would not have made the slightest difference in your life. The truth is, our family is, you are, a Perfect."
Anna let out a great sigh. Her hand trembled in mine and she seemed actually relieved. She released my hand, stood up, and kissed her father on the cheek.
Thinking that that was all, I started to stand, but Mike but his hand on my shoulder and asked me to remain seated and my mother stepped forward.
She knelt before me just as Anna's father had done. She took both of my hands in hers and with some difficulty began to speak. "Jacob you also are a Perfect."
I sat there a minute and then said, "If I am a Perfect, then there is no problem that means that Aaron is a Perfect and doesn't need a Mask."
My mother shook her head sadly and said, "You were adopted Jacob."
I sat there in shocked silence unable to speak, with thoughts racing through my mind so fast that I could not grab onto them. The world began to spin I tried desperately to find something solid to cling to and that was when Anna sat down beside me and put her arm around my shoulder. Suddenly I was anchored back to earth, and at that moment, Anna was my only link to reality. Once Anna had touched me my thoughts began to slow to a more normal pace. Silence filled the room, every eye was on me, and every ear was listening carefully for what I might say.
When I was finally able to speak the first thing I said was the only thing I could say. "Mom, I love you." She began to cry, and I stood there and held her until she had gotten relief through her tears, then I asked her to tell me everything.
"Jacob you were born during a transition period. The technology for the testing of fetuses had not advanced yet. Your natural mother was the daughter of a very important high-ranking Perfect. She had had a secret affair with a married scientist, and you were the result of that affair. When she discovered she was pregnant, she went to New Eden UK for an extended holiday. Not because of the testing but because of the shame it would bring to her father whom she feared and the scientist whom she loved. I was also pregnant and in New Eden UK, and that is where we met and became friends. Your mother told me that she was going to give her baby up, and never speak of it. It would be too painful, and the man she loved would never know. Jacob I know she loved you very much, because she would rub her tummy and talk to you constantly. We both delivered on the same day within hours of each other. My baby had been stillborn. That was when we decided that I would raise you. I never told anyone not even your father. She I stayed in touch with your birth mother until we moved to the valley and contact was no longer possible."
When Mom finished speaking, my mind filled with questions about who my natural parents were, but when I saw how much it had taken out of her to say what she had just told me I decided it could wait. Then as time passed, it ceased to even matter.
When we were finished talking, Mike began to explain about the mask. "The newer the DNA the better the Mask, which means the younger the child the longer the mask, will last and it needs to last a long time. Jacob, Anna will you give your consent to allow us to use the DNA from William?"
Anna and I both knew that the extraction process would be very painful for the baby and that it would be necessary for him to go through it several times in order to obtain enough DNA to create enough Mask injection to last Aaron the length of time he was expected be in the city. We asked them all to come back the next evening for our answer.
After everyone left Anna and I sat down to talk over the prospect of little William (named after Anna's brother Bill) donating DNA. Mom had taken the children home with her in order to give us a chance to discuss it uninterrupted. We talked into the night until we could no longer talk coherently. We then woke the next day and continued talking into the afternoon. Both of us had difficulty with the fact that agreeing to this would subject our baby to extreme pain. At last, we agreed that if it could help save the lives of thousands of people we could not say no.
When Mike and the others came for our answer, it must have been on our faces, because before we even spoke Mike thanked us for the sacrifice. It was at this point I announced I was going to go with Aaron. Mike started to speak but I raised my hand and put him off. I continued by saying that since I was a Perfect there was no reason I shouldn't. Anna and I had discussed it and we both agreed that the chances of success would be greater with two of us working together on this, and I wouldn't need a mask. After much debate, I convinced Mike and the others this was the right way to go. Everyone left and I started the task of spending every moment with my family that I could. Once I left the valley, it could be more than a year before I would see them again.
"The things we are chosen to do are often the things we would not choose to do. Doing them regardless is what makes a man a legend.
Reader Reviews for "Outlaw Children Sacrifice and Redemption"
Reviewed by Carol Grellas
Fascinating to read, from the first page to the last, Marilyn Thompson's, Outlaw Children Sacrifice and Redemption, pulls the reader into her creative world of the future. The characters are so well written that you come to feel as though you know them personaly and find yourself emotionally involved in their situations. Unlike anything else I've read, this brilliant novel is captivating until the end. Her fluid, accessible style of writing is a pleasure to read and leaves the reader always wanting more. One of the best books I've had the pleasure of reading in many years. Carol Lynn Grellas