I didn’t plan to write a prologue for this story, but that changed as I neared the end of the book. I felt some back story was needed. The entire book is written from a single POV—Jeremy. For the prologue, I wrote through Johinda’s POV.
Johinda met the scrawny young man, Jeremy, a few days ago, although
she noticed many people simply called him Jer. The practice of
shortening people’s names struck her as odd and something people didn’t
do at home—Dyra, the fourth world of the Designer. She didn’t actively
seek Jeremy and his band of misfits, most of who were hardly more than
boys, including Jeremy. They had found her and brought her to this
She’d heard stories of Jeremy, which most
people attributed to folklore. He fought against the Supremacy, the
oppressive power that ruled New Paradise City, as did she, although for
different reasons. Jeremy fought for liberty and justice, equality and
freedom; Johinda fought for revenge. Jeremy fought strategically, waging
a covert war, spreading truth and propaganda; Johinda fought
impulsively, brutally killing members of the Supremacy, sending a
message to the other members that hurt her. She muttered “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,”
a line Jeremy said to her when they first met. She believed he said
such things to win people’s trust, as if trusting any of these wretched
people of Earth were possible. If she could, she would burn them all.
The people had degenerated to little more than intelligent animals,
unwilling or unable to control themselves. Many people slothed around in
a drugged state, able to function, but suppressed of strong emotions.
The one desire they all had in common was to stay in their state of feel
good oblivion, a state meticulously planned and systematically executed
on the citizens of New Paradise City. The Supremacy, on the other hand,
differed. They ruled and appeared slaves to their wants and desires; to
their hunger for control; to their unchecked, salacious lifestyles. She
had been on Earth for five years and had witnessed nothing remotely
comparable to the peaceful society she had left. Dyra was far from
utopia, but it was nirvana compared to this cesspool.
Johinda believed she was sent to Earth as punishment. Why else would the Designer send her to this Hell?
“Have some, lady,” Jeremy handed her the sandwich, made from real
bread. “It’s not from the city. We grow and make the food ourselves.”
This was only the second time Johinda had met with Jeremy. She nodded
and accepted the sandwich, peanut butter and jelly. “Why s’ould ‘ha
ma’yer?” Johinda spoke with an impediment, a result from the soldiers
cutting off half her tongue. It was a form of humiliation and it worked.
Johinda spoke very little. Slicing tongues was something New Paradise
City soldiers did to whores that refused to work or worked poorly. She
wasn’t one of their whores that exclusively serviced the Supremacy, as
they had believed, but it seemed the physical body her energy slipped
into was. She had damned the Designer for playing such a cruel joke.
“The city food and water is processed with the dope that keeps the
citizens in a numbed state—malleable and controllable.” Jeremy eyed her
suspiciously. “You don’t know this?”
“Wha oo you wan from me?” Johinda spoke slowly, struggling to make the more complex sounds.
“Will you walk with me?”
Something about the young man drew her in, something in his deep blue
eyes that brightened whenever he looked at her. He didn’t fear her as
his band of boys did. As they strolled across a field, Jeremy explained,
“The doping began fifty years ago. Our government approved medicine for
the good of the nation.” Jeremy glanced at Johinda, waiting for sign
that she listened.
“I unhershand,” Johinda whispered. For the
first time since the soldiers held her down and brutally sliced her
tongue, she felt ashamed of the way she sounded. This tall, gangly boy
made her feel more self-conscious of her speech, looks, and mannerisms
than anytime she could remember. The soldiers had not stopped their
brutality at her tongue. She quickly repressed the images of that event,
not wanting to lose control of her emotions in front of Jeremy.
Jeremy eyed her as if recognizing Johinda’s internal struggle. He
continued with a softer tone. “They worked to suppress the aggressive
nature of a growing percentage of the population. The dope targeted the
most aggressive emotions and suppressed them. It was hailed as one of
mankind’s greatest achievements and for a short time achieved a sense of
harmony within our society as well as societies around the world.”
“All gone now,” Johinda said.
“Yes. It took five years for the problems to start. People gradually
developed immunity to the dope. Even those people who would never had
acted upon their aggressive thoughts, began to lash out. They dope had
been distributed in the water supply and affected most of the people.
Not just here, but around the world. It seemed once people developed the
immunity, they had no control over their aggressive nature. The
government response to this was to develop stronger strains of dope to
quell the rising violence. Of course, this worked for a short time, but
the cycle repeated until the government could no longer manage. They
knew they were only putting gauze on a gushing chest wound. The people
of power hid while the rest of us exploded with unrestrained aggression.
It took a generation for the effects of the dope to wear away. We
devastated ourselves. That was thirty years ago. It seems that while in
hiding, they perfected the dope, found the problems with it and fixed
it. Now we have this Supremacy that tracks the millions of citizens and
programs that control individual lives. They determine who will marry,
who will have children and how many, who will work where, and who will
die. They think themselves Gods.”
“A’ents of ‘he ‘ark,” Johinda whispered.
“Agents of the Dark? You know something that the rest of us don’t…I
can feel it and I never doubt my feelings. I can’t put my finger on it,
but you’re not from here and yet there’s nowhere else to come from.”
Jeremy spoke in a steady tone that belied his youth. His eyes stayed
focused on the distance as if contemplating life’s mysteries.
Johinda found him strange and intriguing. She opened her mouth to ask about his feelings
when a sharp sound cut through the air like a sword swoosh, sending
them both to their bellies on the field. Explosions roiled the earth and
rang her ears. She looked at Jeremy who lay unmoving. She rolled him
over. His chest rose and fell. She called to him. Jeremy fluttered open
his eyes and smiled. He spoke to her and it took a moment to realize he
spoke her native language. As he told her a fantastic story, she scanned
the surroundings, knowing the soldiers would come soon. She felt
incredibly vulnerable in the open. Then the things he said drew her
attention. When she looked up again, a man approached, aiming a pistol
at her. She stood, facing the man. She had become too complacent. She
should have never come out in the open with Jeremy. A bullet slammed
into her head before she heard the shot. She was dead before hitting the