Project Cainby Geoffrey Girard
This dark, literary thriller is a story about blood: specifically, the DNA of the world’s most notorious serial/b>/i>
Jeff discovers he’s a serial killer clone—and he’s got to track down others like him before it’s too late. A thrilling YA companion to S&S Touchstone’s Cain’s Blood, releasing simultaneously.
This dark, literary thriller is a story about blood: specifically, the DNA of the world’s most notorious serial killers, captured and cloned by the Department of Defense to develop a new “breed” of bio-weapons. The program is now in Stage Three—with dozens of young male clones from age ten to eighteen kept and monitored at a private facility without any realization of who they really are. Some are treated like everyday kids. Others live prescribed lives to replicate the upbringing of their DNA donors. All wonder why they can’t remember their lives before age ten.
When security is breached and the most dangerous boys are set free by the now-insane scientist who created them, only one young man can help find the clones before their true genetic nature grows even more horrific than the original models: a fifteen-year-old boy, an every-boy…who has just learned that he is the clone of Jeffrey Dahmer.
Gr 9 Up—Sixteen-year-old Jeff Jacobson, a clone, is named for his genetic source, Jeffrey Dahmer. This "lab rat with jeans" grew up with other clones who all had one thing in common: their source cells were from serial killers. The scientists who conducted Project Cain put morality aside and purposefully exposed some of the clones to abuse and neglect to replicate the upbringings of men such as Ted Bundy, Richard Ramirez, and Henry Lee Lucas. When his home is raided and his scientist father disappears, Jeff goes on the run with a military tough guy, Castillo, who was supposed to turn him in but instead works with him to track down boys who escaped and who are already taking actions that demonstrate their murderous genes. The story uses a scaffold of conspiracy theories including government payoffs and mind-control projects. Jeff is tormented by the knowledge that he may be programmed to kill, and, when he begins to see visions involving Dahmer's victims and seems to develop telepathic communication with the other clones, he and Castillo realize that the project involves more than just raising clones to see how nature versus nurture works. Project Cain includes real-life police photos of the killers, and some descriptions get a bit gory. Buy where Barry Lyga's I Hunt Killers, Paolo Bacigalupi's The Drowned Cities (both Little, Brown, 2012), and perhaps Thomas Harris's The Silence of the Lambs (St. Martin's, 1988) and James Lilliefors's The Leviathan Effect (Soho, 2013) have found readers.—Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TX
Read an Excerpt
You might not know who that is. I didn’t. I had to Google him.
There was some stuff in my file too.
Back in the 1980s, he murdered seventeen people. It was a pretty big deal because of the way he did it. Look up the gory details yourself if you want. I’m not getting into any of that here.
Most adults, I’ve learned, seem to know the name pretty well because Dahmer got famous in the news and became the go-to guy for the term of the hour: SERIAL KILLER.
Male. White. Higher IQ. Underachiever. Bad wiring. Troubled childhood. Started collecting dead animals as a kid. Jump next to adulthood and the quiet Loner-Next-Door-Who-Never-Caused-a-Problem until the neighbors couldn’t ignore the strange smells. Twisted murders. Pervert stuff. Über body-count. The ultimate cliché. Perfect for an easy joke or a quick name-drop on some lame cop show.
In 1992, Jeffrey Dahmer was found guilty on fifteen counts of murder and got sentenced to a separate life term for each and every one. Almost a thousand years in prison. Hard-core. Most people can’t even imagine one.
Didn’t matter anyway.
Two years in, another prisoner beat Dahmer to death with a broom handle, Dahmer’s head and face beaten so badly that the guards at first couldn’t figure out who’d been killed.
The guy who did it claimed God had told him to. Could be.
Other reports say Dahmer arranged the killing himself as some kind of suicide.
Again, could be. That wouldn’t surprise me.
Most of this happened more than twenty years before I was born.
Before they made me in that lab. Before they made us.
It’s all still very confusing. You’ll understand more soon.
This is a story about blood.
The blood of family. And of science.
• • •
Everyone’s always so interested in “telling the truth.” The virtue of TRUTH. Getting to the bottom of it. Being honest. Etc. The whole world imposes this principle on you right from the start. And it’s all such absolute bullshit, really. It’s, ironically, a gigantic fat lie.
If everyone told the truth, even half the time, we’d probably all jump off a bridge.
Because we’d finally really know how terrible everyone else is. What we really thought about each other. All the disgusting things we’d really done that day. And so on.
It’s only the lies that keep everything going.
I know I was perfectly fine with the ones I’d been told.
• • •
I was told and believed my name was Jeff Jacobson and that I was born on April 18 sixteen years ago.
I was told and believed my mother and I were in a bad car accident when I was just five and this is why (a) I don’t have a mother, and (b) I can’t remember some things too well, and (c) my speech is a little off sometimes.
I was told and believed that the pretty dark-haired woman in the three photos throughout our house was my mother and that she’d loved me very much.
I was told and believed that my father was, well, my father. And that he also loved me.
Then that changed.
All of it. In a single night. Less, really. Fifteen, maybe twenty, minutes. The time it takes for a round of Call of Duty. It can happen that fast.
My dad—the eminent geneticist Dr. Gregory Jacobson, my fake father, the madman, Killer, Dr. Ripper; whatever we’re calling him now, whatever history will settle on—he comes into my room one night. And in that one simple everyday move, all those magnificent unspoiled lies went away and I got my first real fistfuls of Truth.
Pow! Wham! WTF?
I was told I’d been constructed in a laboratory just TEN years ago.
I was told I was a clone made from the DNA of some other guy.
I was told that other guy was a famous serial killer.
I was told this was all part of some top-secret science project to help make weapons for the United States government and that the government now probably wanted me dead.
I was told that I’d never had a mother beyond some Ukrainian girl paid to carry my fetus in her womb for only four months. (Even the egg had been genetically manufactured in a lab.) After that, I’d grown synthetically—brought to the physical/physiological maturity of an eight-year-old child in a little more than a year—in some sort of ultramodern tank.
I was told that there were others like me. Other clones. Some made from other killers. And also a few made from the same guy I’d been made from.
Finally, I was told that I was, therefore, a KILLER at the very core of my being.
And—my dad was quite clear on this part—there was absolutely NOTHING wrong with that.
• • •
This, apparently, was the kind of Truth everyone is so damn excited about.
• • •
After giving me this news, news I hadn’t even begun to process yet, my dad handed me a folder. He’d stopped talking, and the clear inference was I should now check out the papers inside. So I flipped through it while he watched me. I didn’t get so far. There was nothing inside that didn’t add to my total confusion.
I saw the name “JEFFREY DAHMER” for the first time in my life.
• • •
Inside the folder were pictures of a kid who I assumed was me.
But he wasn’t. He just looked like me.
And these were pictures of the kid in places I’d never been and with people I’d never met. Wearing clothes I’d never worn. In some of the pictures, the kid was even older than me.
There were also weird reports with confusing technical notes and charts.
My hands flipped through the pages in mere seconds. Or hours. I don’t know. (That whole night is still kind of a blur.) But I can tell you I didn’t understand what I was looking at. And any time I looked up to question or protest, my dad seemed to be looking right past me.
Not just like I wasn’t in the room anymore. But, worse, like he wasn’t.
I retreated back to the folder and eventually reached the pictures of—if I was to believe my father—dead people my “genetic source” had murdered. There were five faces on the first page alone. And a name beneath each one. My fingers hovering just over the page, tracing along their photos . . .
I slammed the folder closed and then down onto my bed.
My father smiled, something I’d not seen him do in months, and then stood. He first told me a phone number, a new number, and said I could call later if I ever needed to talk. What does that mean? Then he handed me an opened envelope stuffed with money and warned me again to keep away from DSTI (the company he worked for) AND the police. He said they were all working with the US government and I knew what that meant now.
But I had no clue “what that meant now.”
In fact, still nothing he was saying made any sense at all. Didn’t matter. Because that was it. The end of our conversation. Not one word about where he was going or what I was supposed to do.
He was just down the stairs and out the door and into the car and beyond the driveway and so on. Every preposition he could think of to vanish for good. To get away from me. If my dad even noticed me shouting in the driveway or chasing him down our street, I would never know.
I never saw him alive again.
• • •
Back into the house.
I called his cell phone. Nothing.
Tried a hundred times. Called his office. Nothing. Nothing.
Even tried that new phone number he’d just given me.
I checked out the money envelope he’d handed me. There were twenty fifty-dollar bills inside. A thousand dollars?!? I tossed the envelope onto my bed.
I picked up the folder and tried reading its contents again. Other than the pictures, it was just more graphs and dates and numbers and some biographical stuff about this Jeffrey Dahmer guy.
Born 1960. Grew up in Ohio. Dad a chemist. Kicked out of Army 1981.
And so on. Blah, blah, blah. I didn’t get much farther than I had the first time. Honestly, I’d stopped reading after it listed his first murder. (1978, by the way. Dahmer was only eighteen years old.)
I mostly just sat in the house for hours and hours and basically stared at the walls.
It became the world’s longest, most sucky Night of Nothing.
That was right around the time I decided to finally check out my father’s secret room.
That’s where all the Something was.
• • •
Hint: If your father has a secret room, he’s probably lying about all sorts of things.
• • •
This room was on the second floor of our house in a space between the master bedroom and one of the guest rooms. From the outside it looked just like any other wood-paneled wall. Just behind, within, however, was a room the size of a big walk-in closet. The people who lived in the house before us had apparently built it as one of those “panic rooms,” a place to hide when, like, looters or robbers attack.
My dad used it as a second office of sorts. I’d seen him go in more than a dozen times over the three years we’d lived there, but I’d never stepped a foot inside myself. He’d told me it was important stuff for work and then lectured me about privacy and trust. That had been enough to keep me away.
But mostly I kept away because of the way he looked whenever he went into that room or came out. In his face had been something sad and lost. But also something strong. Focused.
I just knew that whatever had come in and out of that room wasn’t entirely my dad anymore.
And that whatever was inside the room was not something I wanted any part of.
(Funny how that turned out, huh?)
Still, I had the key. I’d found a ring of spares one afternoon when my dad had been out, and I’d tried every one until the special panel unlocked. It had taken me, like, twenty minutes just to find the keyhole, it was so well hidden in the paneling. But I kept running my fingers along the wall until I did. I did not, however, go in. I just locked it again and hid the spare key in my own room. Just having it, having the option to enter that room if I ever really wanted, had been enough for me.
Now, I realize completely he always knew I’d taken that spare.
He’d wanted me to have it. Just another one of his little experiments for me. Left it precisely where I’d find it. Wanted me to see all that he’d been up to.
So I guess he got exactly what he wanted.
Because when I opened the door, the very first thing I saw was the dead guy.
Meet the Author
Born in Germany, raised in New Jersey, and currently living in Ohio, Geoffrey Girard graduated from Washington College with a literature degree and worked as an advertising copywriter and marketing manager before becoming a high school English teacher. He is currently the English department chair at a private boy’s school in Ohio and is a Masters candidate in creative writing at Miami University of Ohio. Visit him online at GeoffreyGirard.com.
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Jeff Jacobson thought he was an ordinary kid. That is until his father hands him a file about Jeffrey Dahmer and lets him know he isn't his son and he was created in a lab. He is part of Project Cain and made of Jeffrey Dahmer's DNA. He isn't alone there is many kids made of different serial killers DNA and now they have been turned loose by the man he thought was his father. While some where raised in nice families the other 'projects' were sent to live with families similar to what the original serial killers had. There is a killing spree going on and Jeff maybe the only way to find them before they strike again. He is afraid of turning into a killer his self and knows he has to hurry. Jeff is a smart kid who thought he was normal. He now struggles with knowing he has evil inside him. He doesn't know who to trust and what to do. He is a great character because through his eyes you see both sides of evil and how much a struggle he has walking the line of being good. His really has had his whole world turned upside down and even he isn't safe from the bad people. I really felt sorry for him and liked the character. This book has a wonderful description about the book but it doesn't prepare you for the fascinating world you are about to dive into. The author does such an amazing job with this book you feel you are in the world with these killers. You get to see some of the things several of these killers did and I love that you can tell the author researched this subject when he wrote the book. That makes a big difference in the reading. From the first page you get drawn into the character of Jeff. You see him struggle and have it really bad at times. He uses his head and does what he thinks is right. At times you can see him slipping and it makes it that much better of a book. The idea of this book chilled me because it seems like something that could honestly happen. There is several hard scenes that will make your skin crawl but the author does a good job keeping it from going to far. If you want an amazing book that will stay with you and in a way have you rooting for a bad guy pick this up
Project Cain by Geoffrey Girard Geoffrey mainly tells the story through the eyes off Jeff. Can use just imagine 50 or more copies of serial killers being grown by a special military. Some of the clones are placed in nice homes some in bad homes. You know nurture verses nature. Well Jeff found out he was a clone by his crazy father a scientists and leaves. The DSTI is looking for him and his father Castillo finds Jeff after a school massacre and together they set out to find the killers and to find out they the DSTI made an almost unstoppable clones from all the DNA of all serial killers. The hunt is on the chase begins to stop the killings and Jeff is scared he will turn in to evil Jeff and not be able to stop but he don't feel evil just abandoned by his father ( ok not real father but the one who raised him). The adventure is long and very insightful to serial killers and nature verses nurture.
4.5 Stars 'Project Cain' is a young adult thriller/horror novel that tells the story of Jeff Jacobson - a typical 15-year-old guy who lives with his dad, a famous scientist. His entire life comes crashing down around him the night that his dad tells him the truth about who - and what - he is. Jeff's dad has been working on a project for his company and the government for the past twenty years to make weapons - human weapons. For "Project Cain," they took the DNA of the most notorious serial killers and cloned them, hoping to trigger the "anger gene" that causes serial killers to act. Jeff is actually the clone of famous serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. The worst part - he's not the only one. His dad vanishes into thin air and Jeff is left to fend for himself and told to avoid the police and the company his dad worked for. After a dozen people are killed at the lab and the nearby school and six other clones go missing alongside his dad, Jeff is teamed up with Castillo - the mean and scary looking guy tasked with finding the clones for the government. Will they be able to stop the boys before they cause too much damage? What about his father - what role does he play in all this? And the biggest question on Jeff's mind - is he destined to become a 'monster' too? Thrillers and horror novels are some of my favorite genres, so I was immediately drawn to this story. The thought of a secret project to clone notorious serial killers was really creepy and surprisingly realistic. The technology exists to clone people and that made this scenario even scarier - that it could possibly happen. The plot was completely unique and original. I was blown away by the plot itself, not to mention all of the twists and turns that kept me on my toes and eagerly turning the pages trying to guess what would happen next. The characters were all well written and realistic - especially Jeff, our main character. It was easy to sympathize with him - he was lied to his entire life, nothing he thought was real about his life, his family, himself, is true, and now he learns that he's a clone of a serial killer and to top it off - the only dad he's ever known has abandoned him. He's scared, lost, confused and afraid of what he's going to turn into. These weaknesses and flaws, along with his realistic personality made it easy for me to identify with him throughout the book. The writing was exceptional with an effortless flow and natural dialogue - both from the narrator (Jeff) and actual conversations in the book. The pace was fast and full of twists and turns that I didn't see coming, which is unusual for me. I loved that it had the ability to confuse and surprise me - that doesn't happen often anymore and when it does, I know that I've found a great author. I loved the descriptions and history tidbits thrown into the book as Jeff explains things. There are pictures along with actual statistics and historical information that spice up the book to a whole new level. I will definitely be looking for the author's next work and I highly recommend this novel for fans of horror fiction and thrillers. Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
This is a really hard book to both read and review. I'd wanted to read Project Cain based just on the cover and title. I didn't think to really read what it was about until a few minutes before I started reading it. I was really surprised. The fact is, this book is really far fetched and I just couldn't believe it. No matter what I'm reading, I still want to to be believable and Project Cain was just so far fetched. Who could make clones of serial killers? Even the 'why' that Girard came up with wasn't believable. A secret project not even the Pres. knows about? Really? C'mon, lets get real. But that's not even why I stopped reading at around 25%. The thing is, the book is about a clone of Jeffrey Dahmer. A man who killed and much worse 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991. I'm talking rape, murder and dismemberment. And cannibalism. The book is about a clone of this man. And the more I thought about it, the it just felt wrong to read this book. It was then just reading about a killer, it was just weighing on my conscience. How would those 17 boys and men feel about this book? What about their loved ones? How would they feel about a book about a clone of the man who killed their son, husband, friend, brother? I bet they would be disgusted. I would be. I am. And what about the other clones of other killers? What about the real life people who were killed? Overall, the whole plot and subject matter of this book is disgusting and far fetched. Why Girard would feel that's it's okay to publish this and why it was even publish is horrible. The more I even just think about it, the more disgusted I feel.