Tour Date: 4/12/12
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It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
Today's Wild Card author is:
and the book:
Great Nation Publishing (April 13, 2012)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
The Revelation Gate is a historical fiction/fantasy book named a 2011 five-star favorite read by Amazon 1000 reviewers Michelle Sutton and Cyrus Webb. It is the story of an enslaved race whose hopes rest on the shoulders of a boy with unbreakable bones.
In April, 2012, I will release The Anarchists: a speculative fiction thriller set in 2050. When a single mom, unemployed engineer, military hopeful, and psychiatrist are struck by tragedy, a supernatural force offers them a chance to improve their lives. Their decisions will either destroy the world or save it.
It’s obvious writing is my first love, but teaching comes in at a close second. I combine them both with Creating A Positive Environment: a training/mentorship platform to lead aspiring writers down the publishing path. Anybody can self-publish or even independently publish, but not everyone does it well. C.A.P.E. shows you how to do both.
When I am not writing, or showing others how to do what they love, I live in East metro Atlanta, Georgia with my family. I’m a fan of old school rap, classic literature, and all the major sports.
Visit the author's website.
SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:
Four people struck by tragedy are offered an opportunity to improve their lives by a supernatural force. When they return to a different world, their decisions will either save the earth or destroy it.
After a failed coup, a revolutionary named Noor is exiled and sentenced to die. Vowing to rule earth, but separated from his lieutenants, he is forced to use human beings instead. In the year 2050, tragedy strikes. Harper Lowe loses her son's father to a last-minute decision. A drunk Damario Coley is maimed in a freak accident. Quinne Ruiz is assaulted and arrested, and Teanna Kirkwood witnesses the death of her daughter. Weeks later, the alluring Kareza Noor, CEO of the Genesis Institute, pilots a psychological experiment, the "Begin Again" initiative. It affords Harper, Damario, Quinne and Teanna the opportunity to erase a past regret. One of them must be forced into it. All solve their former problems but create new ones. Noor, now the Prime Minister of Italy, is plotting a dangerous end-game - if they try to stop him, they will be treated as terrorists. The Anarchists answers the question "what if?" with high-stakes action inside of a page-turning, reality-twisting adventure. Readers will fall in love or hate with the textured characters, who confront their flaws and try to determine what is "the right thing to do."
List Price: $11.95
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Great Nation Publishing (April 13, 2012)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
MICAH AND HARPER
New Year’s Eve morning, 2049
Prior to committing what some considered murder, Micah Darrion James held a high resolution photo of his family. Meanwhile, Harper Lowe, his always punctual girlfriend, changed from a fire engine red, v-neck sweater shirt and grey dress slacks into a knitted top and jeans.
Harper was a slender and leggy Caucasian, with shoulder-length blonde hair she ponytailed and obsessively dyed black to mask the premature gray. For the picture, she let it down at Micah’s urging. Christian, then six months old, had been propped up between his father’s thick legs, a smile squeezing from his fat cheeks. Two-year-old Gabrielle, his ebony-skinned daughter from a previous relationship, held a plush toy. Still tanned from the vacation, Micah laughed. His natural curls were cut low. It was his 38th birthday, about a year-and-a-half ago.
Last night, he happened to coerce his mother into entertaining her grandchildren for a few hours on New Year’s Eve morning. He and Harper needed “couple time.” Otherwise, the former scientist would question her son into the ground about their doings, asking “where are you going?” and “why can't the family go with you?” A two-time divorcée, Laverne James heavily scrutinized the relationships of both her sons - especially this interracial one. She informed him that Harper’s enlarged breasts signaled pregnancy. He explained it as the effects of a push-up bra and hoped she left it at that.
Micah and Harper did not speak en route to the facility. It was their least expensive option, shoddy in more than a few ways, and situated in a dangerous location. Words had been previously exchanged on the subject, but nothing constructive. Harper was “irresponsible” and “forgetful.” Micah, who had gotten downsized months ago, was “jobless” to his face and “basically worthless” behind his back. Because of their collective gross inadequacies, they agreed to end it. A third-party’s involvement meant neither had to dirty their hands in the deed. The decision itself would remain a joint one.
Their transport rattled, halting at a traffic intersection where it moved no more. Micah cursed and authorized the ignition again, but the engine failed. Jupiter, an American auto giant, specialized in practical vehicles, but this one passed its prime 50,000 miles ago.
Harper started the vehicle’s warning lights and expectantly looked at her boyfriend of three years. We should have traded it in years ago, like I told him we should do.
“I’ve got it.” He cursed again before entering the pouring rain without Harper’s umbrella, protected by his stained, black leather coat. Beneath the hood, his patchwork had not held: a critical hose hissed steam from a tiny split. Wrapping the crack to the best of his ability, he reconnected the hose. This time, the hydroelectric engine sparked alive.
“Piece of junk,” she snarked. “We’re going to be so late.”
Completely drenched, Micah cranked the heat to high and cut his eyes at her. “At least we own it. We’ll get there in time.”
“These people don’t wait. It's not a drive-through window, Micah. You can’t just get there when you get there and expect a D&C like a Happy Meal.”
I'm not the one who changed outfits. “It’s New Year’s Eve. We’ll be waiting anyway.”
Micah tuned the satellite radio to something he could listen to and drown her out. When the station played a classical song he liked, Harper shut it off.
“Do you have to be like that, Harp?”
She crossed her arms. “I love the sound of falling rain, and I can't hear it over that.”
He knew that but did not care. Silence forced him to dwell on his lingering drowsiness. Micah lit a cigarette and took a long drag.
“Really?” Harper shook her tousled hair, which showed hints of gray and blonde at the roots. “Of all the things you can think of to do. . .”
Micah exhaled smoke. “You shut off the satellite, I'm soaked, and you want to piss and moan about a cigarette? Listen to your rain and leave me alone.”
Harper’s hands cupped the bottom of her growing belly. Micah noticed it. “It’s not a ‘him’ or a ‘her’ yet,” he said, his voice trailing off. “It doesn’t matter. . .not now.”
“It’s a boy,” she ventured. “I know it, and it matters to me. You would too if. . .”
She turned in her seat. “Your great great-grandfather. . .”
“It didn't happen. And you can’t have faith just because someone in your family did. That’s part of why church is so fake now. . .”
Here we go. “There were articles, pictures, eyewitnesses. . . what about all the people he healed?”
“. . .and you’ve got people pretending to love God, or even know him, or her, or it. People get leadership roles because they know how to work crowds. They put together shows with God slapped on them somewhere. I don’t understand how you can believe in that. It’s a con. I won't even get into the money thing.”
“My faith lets me sleep at night,” she shot back, “and I know that even after we do what we’re about to do, God will still love us. Faith isn't a scientific thing, Mike.”
The allusion to his insomnia irritated him. “God will forgive you, if you know it’s wrong and you do it anyway? That’s weak.”
“That's love and mercy.”
They said no more on the subject until Micah stopped at the clinic. Despite the rain, a line of silent but hostile-looking protesters blocked the entrance. A pang of fear hit his stomach. “These wackos make me nervous. Wait for me at the curb. I’ll walk you in.”
“Why, so we can be even later?” Harper opened the door, umbrella in hand. “Just park. I don’t care where those people post up our pictures. We had a nine o' clock and it’s eleven after. After twenty minutes, they cancel you, and I’m not going into the New Year without ending this.”
“Ending what exactly. . .us, or the pregnancy?” He suspected the answer. “Just wait.”
She departed without responding. Micah watched the canary yellow oval approach the gathering dressed in all black. If he abandoned the Jupiter in the unloading area and it got towed, that would be another financial burden. And then they would not have a way home.
Harper tried to circle the line, but a gaunt woman with a face painted like a skull blocked into her path. “Consider your options carefully,” she warned.
The irony of options humored Harper. “Snap a picture and get out of my way.”
“Give it up for adoption. Let a relative raise her. Take responsibility and raise her yourself. This isn’t just about you and how you live your life.”
Harper cursed Skull Face. “Then, who's it about: my unemployed boyfriend? The bills we can’t pay? What do you even know about anything?”
“I know women like you use abortion like an eraser. Murder's a sin!”
“Do you have children? Have you even had sex before?”
The brazen woman’s lip quivered a bit.
“Do you adopt? Take in foster kids? Show me one scripture that says ‘tell someone what to do, but don’t help them.’ That’s a sin. Tell me! We’ll turn around and go figure this thing out.”
“You could have prevented it.” Skull Face reloaded on rhetoric. “Contraceptives work almost all of the time unless you don’t know what you’re doing.”
Harper raised her fist to strike but a clinician kept her from doing so by restraining the expectant mother's wrist.
“That’s enough.” The woman had forced her way through the crowd. “The ban goes into effect tomorrow. Give this young lady the opportunity to exercise her right to choose today.”
“Choosing death is not God’s will!” said Skull Face.
“Maybe not,” said the clinician. “But what about free will?”
At that, the doors shut behind them at 9:19.
Inside the whitewashed and sterile waiting room, Micah imagined the programmers responsible for the trippy music had been lobotomized. Four magazines later, the power cell of his holographic phone, or “holophone,” had reduced to emergency levels, severely limiting his entertainment options. The spectacled nurse looked wroth and unwilling to change the HTV channel from the forum talk show airing. This type of holographic programming irked him even more than the judgmental assembly outside. He pushed his way through the ranks like a linebacker.
Irritated, Micah redirected his attention to the show, which, at a low volume, sounded like fighting turkeys. It featured five women of different walks of life analyzing and debating issues. Far stage right, a conservative pundit on the panel had a fashion sense as buttoned-up as her viewpoints. Next to her sat a wisecracking, middle-aged businesswoman. At center, Kareza Noor, a beautiful, middle-aged local executive, acted as guest moderator. To her left, a popular liberal provoked arguments to rankle the right-winger. Last on the panel, an Asian woman folded her hands and rarely spoke her mind.
The topic swung from trivial gossip to the changes in abortion legislation. The front desk attendant turned up the volume. Micah leaned forward and cocked his head. Though the James/Lowe family’s finances were in disarray, this one thing went their way. The law would not go into effect until midnight tomorrow. Had Harper’s boss Jackie not advanced them the monetary units, they would have had this child. Thinking about the diapers, formula, and healthcare expenses alone made his nights restless.
“Some of these peaceful demonstrations have turned violent, especially in Florida, and New York City - which has the highest number of legally-induced abortions. It’s not about ‘put-my-picture-on-a-website-
so-everyone-knows-my-shame’ anymore. People are getting killed,” said Kareza with definition.
“Well, abortion - it’s murder. Period. Point-blank.” The conservative crossed her arms. “The legislation squares with existing laws. Kill a pregnant woman? You’re charged with double murder.” She flipped her hand. “Can’t call it alive when on one hand, and deny it’s alive on the other!”
“Murder is illegal,” said the finger-pointing liberal. “But abortion shouldn’t be. I’ll put it out there. I own an Ordnance.”
The funny one ducked, drawing nervous laughs from the live audience. “You brought it here, on the set? Take her purse! Pat her down or something.”
“That's my Second Amendment right. How I use it is my choice. This new law takes freedom of choice away and enforces a system of beliefs on all women. That’s unconstitutional. That’s the decision handed down eighty years ago, Roe. Vs. Wade, and it should stand.”
“So, let me get this straight: citizens should have the choice to shoot someone or kill babies?” the conservative barked. “Why even open your mouth and say something so stupid?”
“Stupid? Free will is stupid? What do you do about the poor and impoverished without access to free contraception and educational services because our conservative president cut funding to it? Tell them not to have sex? We were all teenagers once. Trust me: ‘just don’t do it’ doesn’t work.”
Micah found interest in the topic, though his views were simple. They couldn’t afford it. Laverne couldn’t stand to help, and Harper’s affluent mother wouldn't. A couple thousand monetary units now were better than the millions they may spend in the years to come. Their answer was simple, even now, as he imagined his son or daughter being destroyed. My son. He wanted another boy, but not now. Not like this.
Kareza crossed her shapely legs. “So, playing devil’s advocate, should abortion be legal in ‘certain situations’ - like rape, incest, molestation, and the like?”
The funny one laughed. “Guest moderator for one day and you’re trying to start a fight?”
“We’re trying to get to pick at the heart of the issue,” Kareza replied.
The Asian woman perked up. “The Center for Disease Control reports that pregnancies from rape, incest and molestation make up a small fraction of the three million abortions performed last year - less than one percent. Almost 80 percent say they aborted because of finances, unplanned pregnancy, or inconvenience.”
“It’s a sad state of humanity when bringing a life into the world becomes ‘inconvenient’,” said the conservative, drawing a small pocket of applause.
“Let me point out,” said the liberal, “those numbers are documented cases of incest, rape, and molestations. It happens off the record all the time. How does a 12-year-old girl report that her stepfather or mother’s boyfriend impregnated her and get someone to believe her story? This law forces her to keep a daily reminder of a sick act or seek a dangerous and illegal alternative.”
Micah became so engrossed in the conversation that he failed to notice his name being called. A different nurse tried to mute the HTV in vain.
“Mister James, by now your wife should be in recovery.”
“That was quick.” Micah rose and quietly approached her. “Is she alright?”
“She’s still under anesthesia. She will need you to fill a prescription.”
“Any idea of how much this’ll cost?”
“Not sure. I can’t access that information at this time.
Probably 300 units or so.”
Micah’s eyes bulged. “Generic?”
“That's the generic version.”
He would have to pay a fraction of the utilities again and pray that they did not get cut off until Harper’s next paycheck. Thankfully, her position as a psychiatrist paid reasonably well. But with the cost of living, the note on her transport, and their burdensome student loan debt, 1.2 million units a year did not go far.
“Here,” she said, handing him a thumb segment-sized, blood red disk. “I know Kareza Noor, the woman on the HTV. She’ll be able to help you with whatever you need. Be back at a quarter ‘til one to pick her up.”
Hands in pockets, Micah started the half-mile trek back to the free parking lot. “It was our decision,” he told himself, though he knew that he pushed for it more than she did. He regretted forcing her to do anything and hoped she did not resent him for it.
More than halfway there, he checked the time. Ten minutes past noon. He stopped inside a busy Dunkin’ Donuts on the next corner. Harper had not eaten breakfast, so a bran muffin and a shot of hazelnut-flavored caffeine might do her some good.
Fifteen minutes later, he ordered and paid, hustling the rest of the way. With all green lights, he’d still be on time - barely.
He docked his phone to charge it, placed the coffee in the cup holder, the muffin on the passenger seat, and started the Jupiter's engine, which turned over without reservation.
The sun broke through the clouds and shined on him. Thinking it a sign of good things to come, he turned on the radio. One of his favorite classical pieces, “Mars,” played. He smiled, backed out of his space, and turned onto the street. When Harper got in, he would turn it off, and they would peaceably talk.
Since his layoff from the structural design firm, they had been under financial pressure. Harper’s pay didn’t cover the bills, so budgeting became a complicated balancing act. Unexpected expenses meant begging or borrowing to make it work. Micah’s job search had been so unsuccessful that he even applied for menial jobs that preferred humans over droids. “Too educated” for those, and “not educated enough” for high-level mathematics positions, he was stuck. But, with this pregnancy out of the way, he felt better about their future.
Micah braked at the light a block away from the clinic. The song continued to build and he pretended to conduct the strings. Up the street, the protesters had vacated the property. Almost half of the tune had played before Micah realized the light still had not changed. His holophone lit up and projected an image of Harper in front of him. “Mike, where are you?”
“I know you’ve been waiting. I’m sorry. I’m stuck at the light out front. Be there as soon as it changes. And I have a little surprise for you.”
Harper spotted the Jupiter from a café across the street. “Can you see me?” She waved behind the front window. “Baby, I didn’t. . .”
“Plus,” he interrupted, “I think I’ve got a lead on something good!” The signal turned green. Micah accelerated and pulled over thirty feet from the entrance. We can finally afford to talk marriage! he thought “Do you know Kareza Noor? Is she in your department? Never mind. Tell them to wheel you out. I’m on time for once. And, we need to talk about. . .”
“Mike, listen, I’m across the street. I told them to stop. . .”
Suddenly, a raucous explosion blasted through the clinic, turning the Jupiter over and upside down. The suicide doors swung open, but the vehicle’s collapsed dashboard pinned Micah into his seat. Shards of window glass jutted out from his face. He struggled to breathe.
“Harp. . .” Micah could not finish her name without coughing out the blood pooling in his mouth. He hoped someone heard his pleas.