Here is the sixteenth droplet of my novel Biotime. After Part 1: Breughel vs Jones, set in Accra, Ghana and Haarlem, the Netherlands; and Part 2: Pax Vobiscum, set in Harlem, New York City, we now begin the main part of the novel: Part 3, Biotime.
Part 3 begins in Santa Monica, California, with Biotime Enforcement Agent Jake Moonrath on his way to redeem a stolen lifetime. Within hours, he will be the suspect for over ten thousand murders.
Welcome to Biotime.
Don’t forget the “story so far” page, bringing together the excerpts published up to now.
Santa Monica, California, 1979 – Photo Robert Pimm
PART 3: BIOTIME
‘Chimeric Brain Mouse Speaks Out: ‘I WANT MY BABIES TO BE HUMAN BEINGS!”
Life Sample bit her lip as Jake’s Albuquerque Cheyenne Classic turned off Washington Boulevard. A shock of hair fell over his tanned forehead as he stepped out of the long, low, US-built convertible and fussed over the retro manual door lock. Even now after ten years on the job, he looked more like a surfer dude than a Biotime Enforcement Officer.
He turned towards her with a half-smile.
‘Hello, Sam,’ he said. ‘Great to see you.’
‘Jake.’ She hugged him. ‘Thanks for using my One Lifer name.’
‘What are you doing here in Culver City?’
‘We need to talk.’
He checked his bracelet. ‘Is it quick? I have a stolen lifetime to repossess at ten. And I’m due at Hughes to see Ed and Abigail at noon. She’s giving birth this morning.’
‘I can’t be late for a termination contract.’ Jake cracked a smile. ‘And Ed and me go back years. Now he’s getting a kid. This could be our last beer together.’
She gestured towards the building. ‘So let’s talk while we visit.’
Many architects admired the gleaming red-and-silver tower, inscribed “Culver” on each side, which thrust upwards from the Culver City Contribution Center. For Life Sample it stirred a sense of foreboding.
In the security airlock Jake raised his sun-bleached eyebrows. ‘How’s Zoe?’ he said. ‘She must be growing up fast.’
‘The usual. Fretting about friends at school. You know she’s the only one in her class not taking the Holiday?’
‘So long as she has the choice.’
‘She has a choice, Jake. That’s the point.’
A recorded voice told them they were entering a facility licensed by the Central Authority. When the inner door slid open there was a smell of fresh paint.
Jake led the way. ‘You came all the way from Kansas to talk? Why not holo?’
‘I wanted to make sure you heard what I had to say.’ She fell silent as they approached the reception booth.
‘We’re here to see Fernando and Mary Moonrath,’ Jake said with a broad smile.
‘Certainly, sir.’ The receptionist was a smooth-skinned woman with high cheekbones and almond eyes. She looked down, as if checking the screen set in the desk. ‘Welcome to the 4Cs. You are Jake Moonrath? And you are Rose Moonrath?’ She made it sound like a question.
‘Yes,’ Jake said.
‘My name’s Life Sample,’ Life Sample said. ‘Sam for short.’
‘Your DNA tab identifies you as Rose Moonrath, daughter of Fernando and Mary Moonrath, authorised to visit those contributors,’ the receptionist said. ‘Is your ID malfunctioning? Shall I summon a law enforcement officer?’
Life Sample shook her head. ‘OK. My birth name is Rose Moonrath. I changed it to Life Sample when I became a One Lifer.’
‘She’s still Rose to me, too.’ Jake winked at the receptionist, who winked back. ‘But cut her some slack.’
The receptionist nodded. ‘Thank you. Suite 33 is in Sector F.’ Another door slid open to reveal a broad, brightly lit corridor. ‘Enjoy your visit.’
‘And you can go fuck yourself,’ Life Sample said.
The receptionist’s smile never wavered. ‘A visit to loved ones in contribution is often stressful,’ she said. ‘That is why the 4Cs provides free of charge a selection of alcoholic beverages and other approved drugs which you may enjoy responsibly at the end of your visit. Thank you. Suite 33 is in Sector F.’ She gestured again. ‘Enjoy your visit.’
‘You are stressed.’ Jake showed his perfect teeth. ‘Why mouth off at a holo?’
‘I hate this place.’ Life Sample clutched the slip of paper in her pocket. ‘It’s always Suite 33, right?’
‘Yeah, they try to keep things familiar to encourage return visits. They always put in fresh flowers, too.’
Life Sample glanced at the buttons of the surveillance system on the ceiling. ‘If they want more visitors they should employ more real people. I’ve only ever seen the security guys.’
‘That’s because you never visit.’
‘This place is like a prison.’
Jake stopped. ‘If you mention the Biotime Oppression, I’m leaving.’
‘You’re part of it, Jake.’
‘Bullshit. Do you think Mom and Dad are propping up the system too?’
‘They’re victims, obviously.’
‘They volunteered. That’s what you One Lifer conspiracy theorists all forget.’
‘Mom and Dad were brainwashed.’
‘OK.’ Jake’s gaze was intense. ‘So what is it, Sam? You’re not really here to see Mom and Dad, are you?’ He wrinkled his nose. ‘I can smell it. They don’t call me a Biotime nose for nothing.’
Life Sample hesitated. ‘Look,’ she said. ‘We’re here.’
A heavily-built security guard was waiting outside Suite 33, his Big Fright unsheathed. His black leather uniform glinted in the bright light of the corridor. The visor of his helmet was closed.
‘Two visitors,’ he said without moving. ‘Coming in now.’
‘Do you have to wave that thing around?’ Life Sample said.
The guard took a step back and raised the weapon. ‘Are you challenging my right to disable you? If so – ‘
‘Why should we be a threat? We’re visiting our parents.’
‘Contributors are vulnerable people.’
‘OK, OK.’ Life Sample looked at Jake. ‘Let’s do this.’
The door clicked open.
The viewing suite was decorated in orange and red. A vase of yellow tulips sat on a low table. Two armchairs stood by the viewing platform. A second guard was crouched in the far corner of the room, his Big Fright trained on them.
‘No sudden movements, please. If I am required to disable you, you may be charged with a Biotime offence,’ he said.
‘Sure.’ Jake moved easily towards the chairs and sat down. Life Sample settled next to him. The second guard, who had followed her inside, took up position behind them.
‘Cosy,’ she said.
‘You didn’t have to come.’
Life Sample nodded at the platform. ‘They look so old.’
‘Eight years older than last time you took the trouble to visit.’
‘I can’t bear to see them like this.’
‘They’re not OK, Jake. They’re on termination contracts. Look at Daddy.’ She pointed to the tangle of tubes which encased their father’s wrist beneath the diaphanous plastic. ‘He’s producing right now.’
‘It’s called obeying the law,’ Jake said. ‘The day people stop doing that, society collapses. That’s why I became an Enforcement Officer.’
Now. Life Sample moved her hand to hold his. ‘Jake. I know you believe in all this stuff. But if you ask me, society doesn’t look so steady on its feet right now.’
Jake turned. ‘Says who?’
‘You’re the Biotime nose. Do you think what’s been happening on the New York markets is normal? Prices have been sliding for months.’ As she spoke, she transferred the slip of paper into his hand, her eyes staring into his. ‘The country’s falling off a precipice.’
[Excerpt ends][Next excerpt]
I hope you’ve enjoyed this excerpt from my novel “Biotime”. If you’re interested in hearing about further episodes, follow this blog by e-mail (top right, “click here”); or follow me on Twitter @RobertPimm (left hand side). I can promise you a fun ride.
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