The Joad Cycle
A dystopian tale of America in the 21st century, when money wins, wealth is everything and the poor are terminated.
Book 1: The Golden Rule
He who has the Gold makes the rules
It’s America in 2064 and GIL ROSE is a typical fourteen year old boy living in a Manager’s town in Indianapolis, IN. Gil’s father, Howard, the son of the former President of the United States, MARK ROSE, is financially well off and so Gil studies in Archive, a sophisticated virtual teaching tool and plays in Virtuoso, an even more sophisticated virtual reality game and life simulator. In Virtuoso, Gil creates a girlfriend, Andrea, and he spends his time in exotic simulated locations making love to her.
One day, Gil’s ancient and long thought dead great grandfather, BERNIE ROSENTHAL appears. The old man is a terrorist and a fugitive from the current Libertarian Christian American government. Bernie wants Gil to join his rebels so he explains how he and a small band of revolutionaries tries but fails to protect America’s First Republic from the tyranny of then President ANDREW CRELLI and his capitalist entrepreneur allies. Soon after Crelli’s election, a constitutional coup changes America into an autocratic meritocracy with Crelli as Chairman of the Board.
To convince Gil to join the revolution, Bernie explains the great sacrifices he and his family make in defense of freedom and how he fails to stop Crelli who is aided by an omniscient, artificial intelligence called GECKO that aids Crelli’s rise to power.
Bernie explains that after Crelli is elected, he unleashes a nationwide pogrom, an economic genocide that eliminates the poor and unproductive, murdering tens of millions while reducing the size of government and the taxes that productive citizens are required to pay. Crelli’s draconian measures create a golden age for American business.
Gil is educated by Archive and Virtuoso which are such effective forms of mass media that Bernie is unable to convince Gil that he is being manipulated.
When Gil discovers the truth, he helps Bernie to rescue his grandfather, the former President, and capture now Chairman of the Board, Andrew Crelli.
With Crelli now in a prisoner of the Underground, Bernie and Gil flee to Maine while TANYA BRANDT, Crelli’s assistant consolidates her power.
Indianapolis – 2031
The Monday after Bernie’s exasperating trip to Bermuda, he returned to his office. While catching up on his mail, a news item caught his eye. He clicked to the article and read it.
Automotive Executive Dies in Moped Accident in Bermuda
Chief Executive Officer Earnest Everhard of Auto-Brake Lining, Inc. and his wife, Avis, died yesterday in a moped accident near their hotel on the resort island of Bermuda. Everhard, owner of the San Francisco-based automotive company was attending a convention at the exclusive Atlantic Hotel. According to police, he was riding in tandem behind his wife when a truck driven by a local ran their moped into one of the many stonewalls that border the narrow Bermuda roads. This was the third accident of its type this year…
As he read, he had a disquieting feeling, first Bonsack and now this. Yet another business executive had died inexplicably and even though this occurred in Bermuda, he felt the two were related. He contemplated calling his son, Mark when a message appeared on his monitor.
Accept Our Blessing.
He clicked for his secretary.
“Carolyn, did a message just come up on your screen?”
“No, did you send one?”
“No, I received one that says, ‘Accept Our Blessing.’”
“That rules out the Toms.”
He laughed. “Yeah, they’re not likely to bless anyone. Thanks, Carolyn.” He clicked off.
He spent the morning reviewing the Angel Falls shut down files in preparation for his trip there. With each page, he got angrier. This was a travesty and he was frustrated. Being right and not mattering seemed to be his job description. It was his own fault, he lacked command presence. To the Toms, he was just a cipher, without what Gorman called fuck-you ruthlessness. If he had no other gifts but that, the Toms would have accepted him like a brother.
He stared at the vast array of numbers tucked into tidy cells and reflected how his limitations destroyed Angel Falls. Reluctantly, he accepted their appraisal. He didn’t have it in him.
Carolyn interrupted his reverie. “A gentleman’s here to see you.”
“Who is it?”
“I believe it will answer your earlier question.
“What? Send him in.”
Carolyn opened the door and the man entered. Before closing it, she gave Bernie a conspiratorial look. He just shrugged. The man was dressed in blue overalls, typical of an Angs equipment operator. He was in his late twenties and had slightly mussed brown hair, pale skin, with the wispy suggestion of a mustache and goatee. His eyes were light blue, almost translucent, and they were focused unwaveringly on him.
Bernie extended his hand. “I’m Bernie Rosenthal, come in.”
“Blessing,” the man said. “Qade Blessing,” and joined Bernie in his office.
“Carolyn, I’m going out for a while,” he said as he and Blessing walked past her desk. “Is everything alright?” She asked.
“Yes, Everything’s fine. I shouldn’t be long.”
During the brief conversation in Bernie’s office, he felt that Qade Blessing was an emissary and he thought he knew from whom. They took the elevator to the first floor but when the doors opened, Blessing stopped him. The elevator doors closed and Blessing put a key into a lock on the elevator panel, turned it, and pressed the button marked “b”. The elevator descended to the basement, a place Bernie hadn’t visited in years, ever since angs’ Research & Development facility moved from there to its new, more elaborate and prestigious facilities dubbed the Taj Mahal, leaving the labyrinthine basement dark and empty.
“Mr. Blessing, I…”
“Please, call me Qade.”
“All right, Qade. You’re with the Moles, right? Where are you taking me?”
Blessing smiled serenely. “You mean Parker’s group? I’m sorry; I’m not one of them.”
The answer surprised him. If he wasn’t a Mole, how did he know about them? Blessing continued on, stopping only when he realized Bernie wasn’t following. He turned; his pale blue eyes colorless in the dim light.
“If you’re not with the Moles, where are we going?” Bernie demanded.
“To meet someone who has a great interest in you.”
“I’m afraid no one has any great interest in me, except my wife.”
“You’re wrong, not about your wife. We need a warrior,” Blessing said it in a calm, soft, surely-you-know tone.
It was so unexpected Bernie stopped and laughed. “A warrior? Whatever that means, I’m certainly not your man. Now if you were looking for a worrier…”
It was Qade’s turn to laugh. “No, you heard me right, a warrior, a fighter.”
Of all the words Bernie might have expected to hear, warrior was certainly not among them. He stared blankly at the young man. “Qade, look, I don’t know what you want but I’m not your man. I’m CFO here, not some… ninja.” He reconsidered the situation. “And you know what? I’m not feeling real comfortable here. Let’s go back to my office. We can talk there.”
“It’s not like that. No one wants to hurt you. It’s important you come with me.”
Concerned, Bernie glanced down the dark corridor. “Why?”
Qade hesitated. “It concerns your son.”
“Mark? What about him?”
“You’ll have your answer when we get where we’re going.”
Bernie stepped closer to Qade. “Is Mark in trouble?”
“Not from us,” With that, Blessing turned and walked on.
Bernie watched almost to the point of losing him in the shadows. Reluctantly, he followed, remembering what Ennis Parker had told him about the people accessing Angs internal business systems, the ones who went through the firewall “like smoke through a screen door.” e-rats? Bernie knew he shouldn’t be here but he had to know more about his son.
He followed Blessing until the corridor ended at a vertical metal staircase. Blessing climbed, opened a metal door, and stepped out. Warily, Bernie trailed after him. They surfaced outside in what was known at Angs as Jurassic Park, an expanse of huge, old, and no longer serviceable chemical storage tanks—rusting relics from the industrial age.
He followed Blessing down a row, the morning sun blinding him as it blipped intermittently though the gaps between the tanks.
“Over here, Mr. Rosenthal.”
Blessing stood by a rusted tank. Suddenly, a camouflaged door slid open. “After you.”
Considering the civil unrest outside and recent murder of Jim Bonsack and possibly the guy in Bermuda, Bernie hesitated. Finally, he steeled himself and stepped in. Blessing followed and the door closed behind them. Inside it was dark, empty, and foreboding.
“Stand closer,” Blessing said, his voice echoing inside the huge rusting tank.
“A little closer, here,” Qade said, gesturing with a flashlight to a spot on the gravel floor.
Reluctantly, he moved to the spot.
“Joad, Omega Level One, please,” Blessing said.
Bernie was startled when the area they were standing on slowly descended until it stopped on the floor of a well-lit subterranean room. When they stepped off the platform, it lifted back into position as a pillar and ceiling section.
“Thank you, Qade.”
He heard the woman’s voice and searched for the source. She was behind him, in her early forties and still beautiful with light, straight yellow-blonde hair and matching light, yellow-brown eyes— striking features that he, like most of the men at Angs, found unforgettable.