Here is the twenty-fourth droplet of my novel Biotime. Jake Moonrath arrives in Beverley hills and finds a Neon-Glo blue Nagasaki commemoration stood in the driveway of 137 South Clark. We begin to learn more about how the Central Authority of the United States – and its elite secret agency, the Home Security Bureau – enforce the law.
Jake felt the Cheyenne slow for the Beverley Hills turn-off. The streets grew wider. Houses retreated beyond swathes of shrubs and lawns. Upmarket malls stretched for block after block.
It felt safe and prosperous. Yet according to Rose, this was all about to come crashing down.
The pulse tracker on his bracelet was red. His chest tightened as he imagined Jennifer and her boyfriend waiting to ambush him. He turned to face the back of the car and closed his eyes. Time for calm. Time to remind himself why he knew more about Biotime than Rose could ever imagine.
When Jake had become a licensed Enforcement Officer ten years earlier, he had sworn to fight Biotime crime and uphold the Central Authority Constitution. He wished his parents could have been there to see him as he raised his hand to take the oath. Enforcement had given him the best years of his life. To support the Central Authority and hunt down Biotime criminals was both thrilling and rewarding – even if it sometimes scared him senseless. The bonuses from ‘Time seizures kept him in classic cars. And he always kept a little extra to top up the secret ‘Time stash for his parents. If it ever became legal to buy out Termination Contracts, Jake would be ready.
Then, three months ago, everything had changed. That was when he had been recruited to follow in the footsteps of the great Roland Nelson and join the Home Security Bureau – a tiny cadre of elite officers within the Central Authority so secret that even the crime it had been set up to combat did not officially exist. That day, Jake had become an Informal.
Jake’s eyes blinked open. There were just twelve HSB Informals in the United States. Their identity was classified: the only one Jake knew, because they operated in the same state, was Ed Zipper.
Four more minutes to South Clark. Then seventy-nine minutes to repossess Jennifer’s lifetime, collect evidence, and drive to Santa Monica. Should he tell Ed he might be late? There was no time to holo. But Jake could at least check out the Birth Channel. He punched it in on his bracelet, and left the music playing.
…All men become brothers
Under the sway of thy gentle wings
The Birth Channel was a misconceived Central Authority initiative to encourage reproduction by publicising the joys of childbirth. The programmers had trouble finding content: today, Abigail was the only birth on-air. She lay under the covers, her dark hair spread out over the pillow. Ed stood at the head of the bed. A young doctor with a green face-mask stood at the foot. A display showed the baby’s heart-rate: pow, pow, pow, firm and strong.
Jake blinked and smiled. Soon he’d be in Santa Monica, sharing Ed and Abigail’s big day. But first, he had a job to do. To bring to justice a woman who was trying to steal something of immense value, which belonged to someone else: her own lifetime.
The Cheyenne coasted to a halt. Jake turned to face the front and switched to the Crime Channel. He’d be broadcasting himself in a few minutes.
A Neon-Glo blue Nagasaki stood in the driveway of 137 South Clark. All polished up and maybe now someplace to go. Jake recognised the mix of artificial bushes and flowers in the yard, Tropical Medley it was called. Only the super-rich had time for a real garden these days. The tab scanner in Jake’s bracelet showed no sign of life. The house must be data-shielded. The Crime Channel was chattering away behind him.
‘So, Jim, the clones were actually born with no livers?’
‘That is correct. And the brains of these poor babies are – I want to put this in a way which won’t shock our viewers – terribly malformed. The Reproductive Ethics Committee has ruled that they should be placed in terminal contribution.’
‘So at least some good comes of this?’
‘More Biotime for the Central Authority, yes.’
‘Isn’t deformity a constant problem with cloning?’
‘It is. All cloning carries a high risk of miscarriage, organ abnormality or premature death. And that’s without irresponsible germ-line engineering – ‘
Jake sat motionless in the car, watching the house where ‘Time-expired Jennifer had taken refuge. In a decade of Biotime enforcement he had never come across a cloning case. And yet the news was full of horror stories. He reached to open the car door. It was time to show the world what happened when the law caught up with a couple of Biotime criminals.
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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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