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THE TWILIGHT OF OUR DAWNA Novel
By J. Patrick Bick
Abbott PressCopyright © 2012 J. Patrick Bick
All right reserved.
Chapter OneSt. Abernathy, 2410
"And in conclusion, I would like to remind you that the menace we face now is, in my opinion, as great as any man has faced in history. Our way of life, our future, and our children's freedom are at stake. We must face this dilemma today before it snowballs to the point that we are unable to stop it. God placed Adam and Eve on the Earth as the first man and woman. They bore two sons the way the Lord intended, by union of a man and a woman. Not in a sterile laboratory with test tubes and beakers. I stand before you today asking—no, imploring—you to vote yes on this piece of legislation. Let us tell everyone that the planet of St. Abernathy says no!" He slammed his meaty fist on the speaker's table. "No to the clonies. Tell the Mother Church that we will no longer tolerate these creatures on our world!"
He paused now as the entire Congress stood to its feet, applauding Speaker Delmar Horton. He smiled. He had them in the palm of his hand, as always. The future of his legislation was now assured; it passed almost unanimously. There would always be a few of those bleeding heart liberals, but their day would come. Yes, it had been a good day for Delmar Horton.
Speaker of the Assembly Delmar Horton was seventy-five years old (or "young," as he was so fond of saying). Today he adjourned the Ninety-Sixth Congress for the Christmas holiday, but not before he passed the first ever Anti-Clonie bill. This should send shockwaves though out the colonies. "Someone had to have the balls to do it," he said to himself, smiling, "and that person was me. If I didn't do it, it might have been years before someone else decided to quit talking and act. By then it might have been too late." Delmar was a big man and in remarkably good health for a man of his age. He still had his original organs, which was rare. Today most people of his age had already replaced their heart, liver, and even their respiratory system. Delmar was a deeply religious man who believed that God put us on this world to do all the good we could, and when we are finished, the Lord would call us home. Replacing one's organs was man playing God, and that was wrong. It was for this very reason that he was so opposed to the clonies. They were a result of man playing God. For this reason he refused a bodyguard years ago, when the Assembly offered one; this would simply be cheating God for more time.
He turned the corner down the West Assembly hallway, the same route he took every day. "You're a creature of habit, Delmar, and you always have been." He looked down the dimly lit hallway, where there were the statues of previous Assembly Speakers. One day soon Delmar Horton's would be there too. This was the reason that he walked this hall wall each day. He imagined how his likeness would compare to those of his predecessors. He walked this hall as a boy with the same question burning in him. Now, seventy years later, he felt the same sense of awe that he felt then. In fact, it might've been be even greater today.
Delmar thought he saw movement at the end of the corridor. The building had been closed to the public hours ago and no one should be inside. "You're getting paranoid, old boy," he said to himself. That was the first time he had referred to himself as old. He proceeded down the hallway looking for any motion in the shadows. "This is silly," he thought. "No one can get past the security in this building. I don't care who they are." Stealthfully, the figure as it approached him from behind. He only felt the hands as they grabbed him by his head and lifted him into the air. He was hurled across the hallway into a column. Delmar tried to stand, but the pain was too great. He looked for the attacker, but his vision was blurred by his tears of pain. He worked his way up to his knees and rubbed his eyes, trying to clear them, but to little effect. The assassin was already upon him. Delmar felt the great pressure that the hands exerted on his face as he lifted him off the floor once more. He saw only darkness now as the assassin's thumbs covered his eyes.
"You should have had a bodyguard, Delmar. You might have lived longer."
Delmar felt the pressure increase against his eyes, and that was it. The assassin drove his thumbs into his skull, killing him instantly.
Security work at the assembly was for the most part boring to Lt. Andrew Watson. There was very little to do for a man who was feared by everyone on the streets of New Melbourne, St. Abernathy. Lt. Watson's methods were not always condoned by the department. Yet they were willing to admit that they were effective, earning him a promotion to security at the Assembly Building. In his mind this was not so much a promotion as it was an excuse to get him off the streets. The people on his beat feared him so much that when he entered the block, they fled to the safety of the buildings until he left. Merchants begrudgingly admitted that he had effectively stopped crime in the area, but they felt that the price was too high. How did they feel now that he was gone and the crime rate was skyrocketing? The rookie who replaced him was no match for that rabble. The promotion did have its advantages; the bonuses were excellent, higher pay, free housing, and his children's education was paid for. The one thing that he missed was the action of the streets. He honestly missed the rush of taking some punk down to the concrete and smashing his teeth with his fist. Now he just patrolled the hallways of this giant mausoleum and, on rare occasions, caught some punk writing political graffiti on the walls out front.
Turning the corner into the West Hallway, Lt. Andrew Watson received a rush that would stay with him the rest of his life. His eyes locked with the empty sockets of Speaker Delmar Horton as he was seated on the pedestal that had been reserved for his statue. Lt. Watson stood there in horror. He had never encountered anything like this on the streets. His eyes broke away from the body as he ran screaming for help.
New Denver, St. Charles 2410
"This city is just too damned crowded." complained Representative Allen Burke. "There are just too many people and so little area to live in.
"What can we possibly do about it, sir?" asked his secretary, Susan Poston.
"Get rid of all of these damned clonies. Just get them off of this planet and send them to where they can do the most good."
"Where is that, sir?" She already knew the answer, but she knew how his ego was. She had to feed it with the question.
"One of those planets that we are colonizing. They need to be doing the hazardous work that humans don't need to be doing."
"The hazardous work?" replied Susan, again playing to his ego.
"Exactly! Clonies were created for this very reason, to do the work that is too dangerous for us, and besides ..." He was about to go off on his favorite speech. The speech that she had heard countless times before.
"Yes, sir, I know," she said, adopting a lower, more masculine voice. "If God had wanted us to be conceived in test tubes then why did he give us this equipment?"
"Don't make light of something so serious."
"I'm very sorry, sir." She suppressed a smile. There would be time for laughter later, when they were at her apartment. There they could be themselves out of the eyes of their fellow politicians, who were probably as stuffy at home as they were at work. They covered themselves in the past so that no one would suspect, not even his wife. To be caught would be political suicide. They would be excommunicated and 75 percent of everything would go to his wife.
They made their way to the elevator and waited. When the doors opened, they entered first. As was the social more of the planet, no one spoke a word until they left it. There was only one other person on the elevator who just stared ahead. Burke turned around to get a look at the man, but all he saw was the blur of the hand. He felt a sharp, painful sensation in his neck as it was severed from his body. Susan tried to scream as she saw her boss and lover fall and his head roll to her feet. She kept opening her mouth to scream, but still silence followed. The assassin turned toward her and in a low voice said, "Join your lover."
Her death, like his, was quick. The door opened on the first floor, and the assassin stepped off. Turing back, he reached in and pressed the fifth floor button as a man approached. The door closed. He heard the man utter an obscenity as he missed the lift.
Quad Cities, St. Andrews, 2410
Police Commissioner Phillip Wallace went for a walk through the Municipal Park each day just after 5 p. m. as per his ritual. Despite the urgings of the city government, he still walked without protection, though he did carry his sidearm. He had been on the force for twenty-seven years, and he was going to make it to the big thirty. It was so peaceful here at this time of evening. He looked about and observed everything around him. A pair of young kids sat on the bench, kissing tenderly. He thought back to when he met his wife in this very park. It was over there by the maple tree, where the custodian was working. He was a rookie on the force when they first met. They would meet every afternoon at 5 p.m. and they would walk for hours, holding hands and talking about their day. They would eventually lapse into a peaceful silence. That was years ago;, she had been dead now for five years but he still walked the park just as they did every day of their marriage. No amount of time could erase the memories of their time together. Especially those afternoons in the park. No one ever caught hem making love in the wooded areas by the lake in their younger years. It was the chance of being caught that made those moments so much more stimulating, almost intoxicating.
The Commissioner was so intent on his memories that he was unaware of the custodian approaching. He looked up to see him, but by then it was too late. The man drove his metal shaft through Phillip's chest, killing him instantly. The killer lifted the Commissioner off the ground with the pole and pinned him to the oak tree behind him. As the assassin turned to leave he found a young boy playing on the swings. The boy, realizing what had just transpired, began to back away as the assassin approach. He was within ten feet when the young lovers found the Commissioner's body and began to scream for help. This was followed closely by the sounds of police whistles. The assassin took one final look at the boy and slipped into the wooded area, escaping much as Phillip Wallace and his wife had years earlier. He would come back and deal with the boy later.
Annville, St. George, 2410
It was not the greatest of apartments; in fact, it did not deserve to be called an apartment. The room was just ten feet by fifteen feet with a seven-foot ceiling. It was kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and living room all rolled into one. The room was dimly lit by the light bulb which hung from the ceiling by an electrical wire. This was a safety hazard that he might have reported the landlord to the proper authorities, but he couldn't. He was a clonie, an artificial person. Most places wouldn't even rent to clonies, so he was lucky to get this rats nest and he was not about to jeopardize his position. It was not always like this for the clonies. In the beginning they were special. Originally they were called test-tube babies and they received special status. They were the first and therefore celebrities. However, certain religious groups had begun a crusade about the time the first few reached adolescence. These groups claimed the these "clonies" were not human because they had not been conceived by the union of man and woman. These groups rallied many to their "holy cause," and they placed great pressure on the politicians whom they could not sway to their cause. The Congress of the United States passed a bill in 2020 that outlawed marriage between humans and clonies. The word clonie was now an accepted term in the English language, and by 2022 it appeared in the dictionary. By 2035, clonies were not allowed to be educated in the better institutions. Clonies were allowed to intermarry, but they were barred by law from having children. They had become second-class citizens.
By 2050, genetics had developed new methods for creating better and stronger clonies. The latest generation of clonies were faster and stronger than normal human beings, and as a result they were attractive to many businesses. Colonization of space was in full gear, and the process of terraforming a planet was extremely dangerous. The clonies were the answer. The governments of the world were offering contracts to groups or companies for development of the newly discovered worlds. The contract went to the highest bidder, and in return the company received all profits for the first twenty-five years, after which the colony reverted back to the government. Essentially this meant that a government could colonize an area at no cost to themselves, while the developer became immensely wealthy in a very short time. Should the developer fail in his venture, the government kept the money and reopened the bidding. Normally the contracts were awarded to large corporations, who could afford the exorbitant bids needed to secure a contract. These were able to make up some of their losses by hiring clonies very cheaply, along with the promise of first-class citizenship if they survived. The clonies took these jobs because, while out there they had a very slim chance of survival, that was better than no chance on Earth. This seemed to have solved many problems for the clonies. Although 82 percent died in the first five years, those who survived enjoyed their newfound freedoms. When the governments took over, they granted official citizenship and full rights to the surviving clonies. Finally there seemed to be new hope for the clonies. They were now considered equal to humans in every way, except marriage. They were still prohibited from marrying humans.
In the next fifty years, the clonies made great progress in every area of life, but this would not last for long. The colonies governed many of their own affairs through the legislative process. This eventually gave way to the Federation of the Colonies and the Earth. Each colony elected legislators who met on earth for six months. A new power was emerging on the Earth which claimed almost absolute control of the Federation.
In the 2050 religions began to amass great amounts of money by loaning money to contract bidders. They became more like corporations than religious groups. Eventually they joined the New York Stock Exchange. This was followed by a great employment drive. Every major religious group canvassed the major universities for the best financial minds available, and they were willing to pay for them. Many religious groups fell out of the bidding when their donations were unable to keep pace with the expenses. These groups were then taken over by a rival group in a stock purchase, thus becoming the majority owner. They would then merge the two churches and sell off any unwanted assets. This process continued for fifteen years, until there was just one group left. The Church then turned its attention to the religious groups that were not playing in their world. There were many smaller religions that did not subscribe to the financial wars, trying to simply be religions. While this worked for a while, they found themselves in the crosshairs of a great conglomerate Church that would not accept any competition. There was a ten-year period of Holy Wars, resulting in tens of millions of deaths, before the Church emerged victorious.
By 2080, the Church controlled virtually every government on Earth. Slowly the influence of the Church spread throughout the colonies, first through religious philosophy, then politically.
If a colony refused to accept the politics of the Church, then the Church would use economic means to gain control of the colony. The Church would then send in its private army, known as the Office of Religious Re-Education, or more commonly known as the Inquisition. The Church's servants proved to be excellent administrators and were able to unify the monetary systems of the colonies. They improved the communication and transportation systems, followed by an overhaul of the tax systems to make them more equitable. These actions made the Church very popular with everyone, except the rich. Under the new system, there would be no taxes for anyone who was willing to donate 10 percent of their earnings to the Church. Anyone who was not willing to tithe was taxed heavily. In addition to heavy taxation of the rich, the Church began to nationalize the major industries that, in their opinion, were vital to the improvement of everyday living.
Excerpted from THE TWILIGHT OF OUR DAWN by J. Patrick Bick Copyright © 2012 by J. Patrick Bick. Excerpted by permission of Abbott Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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