Profit: Book 2 of the Joad Cycle

Profit: Book 2 of the Joad Cycle

by Gary Levey

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Almost seventy years have passed since 1984, the classic dystopian novel about a totalitarian future society, was published. Since then, the world has changed—and so has the future … In this second novel of the Joad Cycle, teenager Gil Rose and his great-grandfather, Bernie Rosenthal, have taken revenge on the chairman, but not without a price. They are now fugitives. They flee to northern Maine, where Bernie tries to instruct Gil so he can lead the rebellion. But Gil prefers to hike the hills of Maine with his friends and make virtual love to his avatar girlfriend. Everything changes for Gil when HomeSec, the omnipresent homeland security watchdog group, discovers his whereabouts. When he learns that an assault team is on the way to capture him and destroy the town, Gil flees the destruction. He begins a new life on the road as a fugitive, always striving to stay even one a step ahead of HomeSec. But he soon learns that no one can be trusted. He’s captured by former terrorists and held prisoner in the business town of Profit, a society based on the rampant greed of unbridled capitalism, autocratic government, and the new Christian religion, called Morgan. Gil’s struggles expose how greed, ego, and the selfish appetite for power have impacted the country, but his adventures also show the power love can have too. His modern love story ultimately restores freedom to America but, more importantly, restores its goodness.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781462033973
Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date: 07/22/2011
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 399 KB

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Book 2 of the Joad Cycle
By Gary Levey

iUniverse, Inc.

Copyright © 2011 Gary Levey
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4620-3396-6

Chapter One

Angel Falls, Maine — 2070

He came to life at first light and directed his solar cells to gather what little energy the cool dawn provided. When lifting power was achieved, he hovered, unsteadily, to access more of the sun's enabling rays. Impatient to earn what the day would provide, he headed towards the less charted Unincorporated Lands south of Canada.

Flying high above the emerging Gulf of Delmarva, he transmitted his coordinates so the core, Gecko, could transmit back today's to-do list of revenue opportunities. He earned his first commission of the day transmitting maps of the Mid-Atlantic coastline to update the model projecting long-term capital implications of the rising tides. Then he was off, confirming his assignments, and heading north and east toward New York, Boston, and points beyond.

With little recent terrorist history, Maine was not normally an assignment, but what few opportunities existed there had the potential for large income generation. And he could always identify conditions of potential aberrance for cataloguing and analysis. That didn't pay much, but it would cover his overhead, so he spent the day soaring through blue skies, among the high clouds and over green hills, diligently investigating opportunities that might provide value to the core. As much as anything, he was hoping to get lucky as he luxuriated in wave-after-wave of energy that rushed over him, as he crossed countless reflective bodies of water that bounced life-affirming sunlight up to his collectors. After passing over five or six small lakes in short order, the massive rushes of energy had him shivering, drunk on the power of the sun.

The day soon lost its energy, and his financial expectations waned as well. There were Waster Towns scattered below, but nothing suspicious, so as he approached the Canadian border with the sun now setting, he calculated the day's points earned and dutifully reported. Feeling something akin to disappointment, he turned and headed home. But as he was banking high above the tall pines of northern Maine, he detected curious motion in the distance. Perhaps it was work for another day, but reward was reward so he pressed on ...

The teenage boy and girl raced from the Angel Falls Meeting House, and out to the evergreen hills. They hopped fences, avoiding the livestock, as they sprinted until they reached the tree line. From there, they hiked the rolling sugar loaf hills between the lakes, discovering ravines for which they scrambled up and down utilizing rocks, branches, and each other for support. Here in nature's secluded calm, there was laughter as the two teens frolicked like the young of old, and even at a distance, could easily be identified one from the other, for though they were the same height, she was thin and blonde, and he was broad and dark. Gil Rose was nineteen years old and for the first time in his life, he had a real friend.

Five years had passed since he had met his great-grandfather, Bernie, at the hospice in Indiana, and rescued his grandfather, Mark, from a prison within a lavish mansion. Gil was tall, taller than the other boys of Angel Falls and aided by fresh air and outdoor hikes; his muscles had massed nicely. He was no longer the indoor, city boy who tended a tiny secluded garden after dark.

For all the fun and freedom a real, live friend provided, Gil remained intimate with his first love, Andrea, the joy of his life. In virtual they shared everything with each other, and outside the virtual confines of that cyber-world-within-the-mesh, Andrea was constantly in his thoughts. But on this summer day, after a brief, but torrential rainfall that had left the world smelling perfect, like a spring renewal, he preferred this live world to the old Virtuoso unit in his cabin, which provided a less satisfying replication of nature. Bernie had explained the lack of virtual realism as a bandwidth issue, something about frivolous rendering and wave transmissions, but whatever it was, here in real nature, Gil's senses reveled in the breathtaking depth and detail. With him, sharing this wonderment of reality was a live, local girl; his best friend in the real world, Stacey.

From the bed in his cabin, old and frail, Bernie stared through the window at his only view, the verdant hills that surrounded Angel Falls. Like too many times before, Gil was late and there was a good chance he wouldn't show at all. If Gil even spoke, his excuse would be that he had better things to do than to be lectured about his role in the world. So much like Bernie waited for death, he waited for Gil. He was over a hundred years old, and every minute should have been precious and the lost ones irreplaceable. He wanted to feel that way especially since every lost second was so vital, seeing as he had been hiding from an autocratic government that had issued a death warrant for him. But too frail, he waited, alone, and it was terrifying, as the diminishing seconds of his life ticked away.

Where was the boy? Bernie Thought. He's probably having sex in Virtual again, or with that real girl, heaven forbid.

From that day, five years earlier, when Bernie and his teenaged great grandson arrived in Angel Falls, he had worked diligently, but unproductively to enlighten Gil about his potential, the future, and more importantly, Gil's responsibilities. Bernie understood that the poor and oppressed in America had no choice but to hope for the savior that he was grooming.

But it wasn't working. Gil was immature and resentful that he wasn't home with Howard, his father. That and he had been so enamored by the capitalist-nurturing world he grew up in, that he trivialized everything Bernie pleaded for. On top of that, Gil had difficulty focusing, which caused Bernie, who was already exhausted most of his waking time, to expend effort as he struggled to find ways to kindle a spark of humanity in the boy. Gil had to succeed. The senseless deaths of forty million Americans, including the two most important, his beloved wife Jane, and his beautiful daughter, Franki, had to be avenged. The genocide was partly his fault; his past failures helped to put Andrew Crelli in power and cost Bernie his family. Even now, a worse evil in the guise of current Chairwoman, Tanya Brandt, had taken over for Crelli, and that was clearly his responsibility too. But that was for Gil and another generation to set that wrong right. America could be saved. There was still a flicker of hope, if only Gil would understand.

What made it harder was the boy was all he had and yet he was so closed. And so Bernie's instructions became lectures to a boy who didn't care and frequently just stopped listening. Gil was a tougher nut than this tired old man could crack, but the stakes were too high, so exhausted or not, Bernie had to persist. In truth, it was the only thing keeping him alive.

He smiled at a fleeting memory, as they all were these days. Angst and his old career had taught him patience and prudence. He remembered explaining it to his loving wife, Jane, once long ago. "Never try to teach a pig to sing," he had said to her as she smiled, knowing his aphorisms better than he, "because it wastes your time, and annoys the hell out of the pig." He smiled in the absence of her laughter, but he felt sad and hollow as the smile ended in a productive cough. He couldn't give up on Gil; in these days, becoming a hero can't be easy. If he could only figure out how to get through to him.

Bernie felt a touch. He was startled, but stirred slowly until he recognized the teen's form beside his bed.

"You're late," he muttered. Gil reacted as he usually did by shrugging and staring out a window at the lake. "It's important, pay attention." It sounded like whining, but he'd lost the ability to hide his feelings from his voice. "Son, for what I want for you-for everyone, it's critical that you understand before I die. Please, Gil, be kind to a dying old man and pay attention."

There was no home for that plea because Gil's mind was in another place; a beautifully kept garden with Andrea. And they were naked.

A shout ripped Gil back into the present. It was a tricky transition as Gil covered his engorged penis by forming his hands in the biblical fig leaf position. To hide it further, he moved closer to the bed before nodding that he was back.

"We can't keep doing this. Focus son, please. There's evil out there and it's up to us to end it." The boy stared, but gave no sign of recognition. "Gil Rose, I'm talking to you. Remember that joke, the joke I always tell about time and inclination, remember time and inclination?" It felt like Bernie was shouting, but fatigue quickly quieted him. "Remember? They moved the clock at Big Ben into the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Why? Why did they do that?" Gil stared, apparently clueless. "You know this. Why did-?"

There were so many things Gil wanted to say, but Bernie was dying, this time for sure, and he was uncomfortable. He'd never seen a dying old person.

"Bernie, I'm not stupid. I know Big Ben is in England and the Tower is in Italy. I get the joke. It's not funny. What's the point?"

"What good is the time if you don't have the inclination, that's the point?"

"I know. It's not much of a joke."

"It's more than a joke. You only get out of life what you put into it, Gil. You need to be purposeful, do important things, necessary things. Good people are counting on you. You're young, you have time, but without inclination, life is wasted. But there is even more at stake for you. I know. You don't want to live with the ghosts of all those depending on you but that's beside the point. You must care. Why are you being so obtuse? Invest in your future. Do it now." Bernie stopped, exhausted. His heart was thundering excitedly and he imagined each beat would be his last.

"Listen." Bernie knew this was his fault, but the fates, too, had been unkind. He was too old and lacked energy, and Gil was too immature and distracted to be energized. Bernie had risked so much for the boy; to bring him here to Angel Falls to learn the values America had sold out more than a century before. Teaching him to fight for the people against a business community that stole and defrauded America of those great values was proving to be too much. Gil was bored with the bucolic life, and uninterested in his place in history.

"Please, son," he pleaded wearily, "You must understand what we're fighting for and against. America-," before he continued, he paused, remembering, "America was a great country, once for almost everyone. We did great things, and we did them for as many as we could. We made mistakes but we were human, not like today. It can be that way again. You can do that." Gil's eyes were riveted on him so intently that it was obvious his brittle attention would fracture long before Bernie could get to anything substantive.

Frustrated, Bernie closed his eyes. This conversation had occurred so many times before that they each had resorted to habit in order to survive it. Uprooting Gil from his sheltered existence and isolating him in northern Maine, even though it was for his protection, wasn't working. When they arrived, he endured Gil's constant whining over the early series Virtuoso unit because it lacked bandwidth. Who cared? Gil needed to be weaned off virtual anyway so what better place than here. What did he expect? Angel Falls was a tiny community of Quakers living in the furthest reaches of the Unincorporated Lands. They had no use for Virtuoso.

The residents of this isolated hilly, forest community between the lakes spent their time harvesting and doing chores. They kept to themselves and were no threat to the business community and thus the government showed no interest wasting money here. Bernie expected that life in Angel Falls would expose Gil to good things, kids his age growing up together with involved parents, plenty of fresh air and beautiful surroundings and a community that cooperated, shared and cared. If Gil would learn these values he could discard his cool commercial perspective and that would open him up to things that would help him mature into the caring individual the world needed him to be. It hadn't worked. Things seldom do.

As soon as Gil had arrived at Angel Falls, and the excitement of avoiding capture wore off, life became crushingly dull and boring and he became sullen and distant. Though Bernie tried, the only thing that worked, even a little, was friendship with the local girl who had befriended Gil on Bernie's insistence. All the girls noticed Gil, he was a tall, well built, good looking nineteen year old, but hell, all nineteen year olds were good looking. Stacey treated him differently. She was a tomboy and her parents were very watchful. It should have been safe, but even that didn't work as he intended because when Gil wasn't in Virtuoso, he was hiking in the hills with the girl, doing God only knows what when he should have been with Bernie committing to a greater cause.

What if they were having sex? Stacey had been a pretty girl at thirteen, but now, at eighteen, she was extremely attractive. This was his fault. America's great hope for salvation couldn't fall in love, not again. The boy had more important things to do.

A cough startled him and his attention returned to the teen staring at him, looking concerned. When Bernie spoke, it seemed to startle Gil.

"Don't make the mistakes I made. Listen to me. Be kind to this dying old man and learn. What I ask isn't fun, I know that. Its hard work, but I promise you it will be worth it if you just pay attention. If you don't-," fatigued, Bernie closed his eyes again and tried to quiet the numbing buzz in his mind. If Gil and Stacey were having sex, could the Council of Elders stop it or will they force Gil and him to move on? His eyes fluttered open to see the easily distracted teen now sitting beside a window staring out. Why couldn't he pay attention? Bernie thought. He knows how important this is.

"Promise you'll work harder, please. Promise you'll be what you must be. Promise you'll try." Bernie's closed his eyes until he heard Gil's voice. Good, Gil was here, but he was late again.

"Bernie, what's the point?"

"The point of what?"

"What you said. Promising to do better, to be better."

"The point? I learned everything too late. My actions, or the lack, caused so many to die. But I was deceived. I couldn't imagine bad things like that could happen. I didn't pay attention and lost everything. I carry that grief with me and it's a burden I can't give up until you take it from me. That's why you must work harder. Give yourself a chance, pay attention, feel, and give the stars a push so they can align for you. Be a leader. Overthrow that witch, Tanya Brandt, and restore rightness and happiness to America. It's on you to change things so people can have their lives back, fulfilling lives, lives like my Jane and I had ... once. You never knew her, that's a shame. She was special. We loved each other. I can tell you about her." A tear formed and he slowly brought up a palsied finger to wipe it away.

"You have told me, Bernie."

"It was the Chairman, Andrew Crelli. He was running for President and he murdered her. My Jane and my ... and my ... daughter, her, too. Capturing Crelli helped to avenge them, but it wasn't enough, not for all the others who died. It's time. You will make our country better. You will be what Mark ... wasn't."

The boy sat closer. "I'm sorry, Bernie, but that's impossible."

"Impossible, that's exactly it. Impossible things make for greatness. It's risky, sure, but that's no reason not to do it. Be a fighter, be a man. Don't let this government and the entrepreneurs who run it turn you into another Conducer. Take control of your life. Don't waste it working for the benefit of people who don't care about people. You're better than that. I know you are. And you'll avenge the evildoers. That's what you'll do. You'll avenge them all."

He felt a touch and his eyes fluttered open. "Ah, Gil, you're back." The teen was silent. "Son, work with me." An important thought fluttered into his mind. "Are you sleeping with the Grant girl?"

Gil looked surprised and either embarrassed or guilty and he replied angrily. "That's none of your business."

"You can't. Everything depends on you. You can't have sex with that girl."

"I won't, Bernie, I promise."

More silence. When his eyes fluttered open, Gil was staring out the window again.


Excerpted from Profit by Gary Levey Copyright © 2011 by Gary Levey. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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