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Due to participating in a life extension experiment that subsequently combined with the leftover virus from a childhood bout of polio, Elizabeth Jewell is the only human to have vastly outlived her generation. The year is 2036 and she has a unique perspective on the effects of 9/11 on our society. The government agencies have complete access and control of all data, including the details of the publics' personal lives, and this does not sit well with her. These agencies have subtly modified messages and the use of language to mask these details. Classic books have been re-written to eliminate words that have been considered offensive, and all areas of our society have been changing words for years to shape and mold public perception of their world. Elizabeth has watched these manipulations over her lifetime, and knows very well how words controls thought, perception and reality. Elizabeth writes an allegorical story to warn people, but when she uploads the story into the central library database, she triggers an alarm that tags her as a cyber-terrorist. Suddenly, she finds herself being investigated by the CIA, and being accused of a cyber-crime. "The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words."
If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words.
~ Philip K. Dick 1928-1982
Can crucial government databases be hacked? Yes, according to the the news they can and have been. What if all the western world's information is eventually located in a central computer center, and a terrorist faction has infiltrated several of our government agencies? Can crucial government databases be hacked? Yes, according to the the news they can and have been. What if all the western world's information is eventually located in a central computer center, and a terrorist faction has infiltrated several of our government agencies? How much worse could it be? Just recently in the news, an illegal was discovered working at a nuclear power plant. This is a possible scenerio, and I think you may find we have reason for concern. This espionage attempt goes much farther and deeper than the stealing of information.
An Underground Jewell is an espionage, mystery novel set in the not too distant future. The story revolves around the power of language and how it can change how a society thinks and acts. One reader's review said: "An excellent read for all. Though a fiction it smacks with a lot of truth of what the future may bring. As one reads it becomes rather apparent that this could all happen, and the last page says it all. I enjoyed reading and had a hard time putting it down. Hooray for the new writer on the block.
The story is set in the near-future when man is living as much underground as above. All things are controlled by a central computer system. There is no such thing as "printed" material, it is all digital. The main character in the story, Elizabeth Jewell a sage and well-known author, finds herself caught up in a plot of intrigue. She decides to become her own sleuth to clear herself of all accusations, and in the process discovers there are multitutes of mysteries to solve.
One of my readers said, "Wow, that sounds like what is happening now!"
Another reader said, "This is an excellent book. It would interest people from 13-100 years of age. Although it is fiction, so much of it could actually happen. Considering all the problems within our governing bodies, it could be happening right now! I would recommend this book to anybody."
It was Christmas Eve; I was sitting in front of my plasma screen watching the snowfall on a lovely countryside. The scene carried me back in time to the days of my childhood when I could look out of a real window and watch real snow falling in huge fluffy flakes that turned the wooded countryside into a fairyland. Those were good days, and it was hard to believe they were gone. It was sad to think that I had to settle for watching such things on a plasma screen. As I watched the snow falling, I realized just how much I missed those days; life had been so wonderful. I had spent most of my life very involved in the act and, like most people; I had taken far too much for granted.
Watching the scene on the monitor brought back bittersweet memories of another time long past. I began to daydream, and I could visualize my sons and I out in the snow building that huge six-foot rabbit. The boys insisted that we spend the day playing in the snow because the family plans had changed. That had been the year that we got a blizzard for Thanksgiving, and none of the guests could make it for dinner because of the snow. The rabbit we built was a marvelous creation, and building it had saved the day from being one filled with disappointment, even if the task almost cost us a good taste of frostbite by the time we finished it.
We had such great plans for that Thanksgiving. We had just moved into a new home, and had invited friends and family to come share a big Thanksgiving dinner with us to celebrate the holiday and our new home. Unfortunately, the biggest storm recorded in years dumped about eighteen inches of snow during the night. I had been cooking for days, because I had looked forward to the feast and sharing it with the family. The snowstorm took care of all our celebration plans, and left me with mountains of food. As least, we were going to eat well while we were snowbound. The boys and I…
Suddenly, my daydreaming was interrupted by the chimes of my view-phone. Reluctantly I left the daydream to return to reality, and I forced myself to answer the phone. I was a bit irritated because my reminiscing of a time that was so dear to my heart had been so abruptly disturbed, but I was also puzzled. I could not for the life of me figure out who would call at this time in the afternoon. The children had called earlier to say that they would be arriving late that evening. It most certainly would not be them unless something had happened to delay their arrival. That thought produced a fair bit of anxiety as I walked toward the phone.
When I pushed the answer button, and switched on the screen of the phone, I saw the face of a strange man looking back at me. It was the face of a young man but there was something about his appearance that reminded me of a detective in a series of movies that I used to watch in the “old” days.
It was the way he wore his clothes that gave him that stereotype look of a plain-clothes cop. He looked to be in his mid-thirties, and for some reason he looked very familiar as if he should be someone she should know but did not. The face had a look about it that let you know immediately that he had already seen, and experienced more that most people experience in a lifetime. In addition, the expression on his face did not give Elizabeth the feeling that he was making a social call, or to merely wish her a Merry Christmas. It looked like trouble. The first thing that crossed her mind was that the Science Center had decided to begin again with the longevity experiments.
That thought caused her to pause before she spoke, or before she flipped the image return switch. Memories of her experiences with the longevity project raced through her mind, and she wondered if that was what this call was about. She wondered what they could possibly want now. She had decided a-long-time-ago that if the scientific community had the slightest notion that she would once again submit to becoming a human guinea pig, that they had another thought coming. She felt she was getting too old for such nonsense, and she had no intention of going along with anymore of their games.
With that thought in mind, she flipped on the return image switch and as she did, the silence was broken as the face on the screen spoke: “Elizabeth Jewell, my name is Dustin Scott. I am a special agent with the CIA. We have received an alert from the NDC that concerns your access to the center and your writing activities. It has been reported that you have made an attempt to infiltrate the central database when you recently uploaded a file. I am calling to inform you that you are confined to your living quarters until this matter is cleared up. You are under surveillance, so, do not try to leave.”
I was stunned to silence by the words I heard because I had no idea what the young man on the screen was talking about. The only writing I had done in years was my historical contributions on the nineteenth century culture for the archives, and the children’s stories that I had been writing to preserve the legacy of their ancestors’ childhood. How any of these could be considered infiltration attempts by the NDC was beyond my imagination. Before I could think of anything to say, the voice on the screen spoke again and jolted me back to the present, “Ms. Jewell, you are Elizabeth Jewell?”
I was still in a haze of thoughts, and I could only nod my head to confirm that I was she.
“Do you understand what I am saying?”
From somewhere I could hear myself saying, “Yes.”
As my mind whirled, I heard the voice again, “I will be contacting you again the day after Christmas and you will be required to answer any questions that I may have. Do not try to delete anything from your personal database because we also have it monitored and any activity will be noted. That would only make things worse for you. Do you have any questions?”
My mind was still running in circles as I thought, yes, I have questions, at least a hundred of them. Exactly what have I done to cause such an accusation? Which thing have I written that has been considered to be an infiltration attempt by the NDC? As much as I wanted to, I was incapable of putting these questions in to coherent words. Again, I could only nod my head indicating that I understood, but I did not really understand a thing!
I was aware that the man on the screen looked puzzled by my lack of verbal response to his message. Finally, he said, “Very well, Ms. Jewell, I will talk to you again, day after tomorrow, and maybe then we can get this matter cleared up.”
I still could not speak a word, and again, I responded with just a nod of my head. It was several moments before I realized the face that had been on the screen was no longer there.
I stood staring at the blank screen for a long time before I finally returned to my chair in front of the snow scene. This time my thoughts were not of pleasant memories of the past. I could not help but replay the young man’s words over and over in my mind as I tried to make sense of what he had said. I kept seeing that familiar face staring at me. I was puzzled, intrigued, and a little worried.
I could not imagine what I may have written that had caused such repercussions. I wondered if the government had incorporated stringent guidelines for censorship. No answers came to mind as I tried to recall the various things I had written recently. It was true that the Christmas story I had written for the children contained hints of control, by the government, by changing the words that affected meaning. As I reconsidered the elements of the story that I had uploaded to the main database, I wondered if I had come too close to a truth and had stepped on some toes without knowing it. If that were so, how had I become so out of touch with what been going on outside of my own little world? Whatever was happening, I did not like the sound of it, and it sounded like trouble.
As I became consumed with possibilities, I thought that if I had stumbled onto something that caused the computer to send out a red alert for an infiltration attempt when I tried to upload that story, then something was drastically wrong. I decided that maybe I should take another look at that little story to search for clues.
The story revolved around the Christmas theme, and it was a statement on what I saw happening to the present world. I feared that if the present trend of humans to act more like machines continued, and their lives were increasingly controlled by a central database without questioning its validity, mankind would lose the very essence that makes man uniquely human. I had deliberately set the story in a parallel world where the human race was being forced to prepare to live completely underground because it compared so closely with our present day existence.
I went to my desk and pulled out the hardcopy of the manuscript. I had to read it again, but, this time, I had to read it looking for clues that may explain why it could be the source of my problem, and why it would be such a touchy subject. I sat down in my reading chair next to the lamp with my favorite antique, my Tiffany lampshade. First, I began to read the prologue to the story: