An Excerpt from Chapter Eight
“OH, HELLO, DEAR! WHERE HAVE you been all this time?” the lady’s voice said. Sam heard Jeremy walking up. He continued to pretend to be asleep.
“I jumped in the pond and then reconnoitered.” Jeremy sounded disturbed. “We’re sitting ducks here. This area is totally indefensible. The land just rolls on, almost flat, with no underbrush, not even a creek for cover. Arthur would have a fit if he saw it. We’ve got to get out of here. If any of those monsters from the underground get out, we’re dead meat.”
Sam almost opened his eyes at the mention of Arthur. He was one of Sam’s ancestors, a commando who went into the shelter instead of up into the angel Eliana’s world. He was the only one who could run the computerized life-support systems of the underground, so he made the sacrifice of staying.
“Getting out of here will be a good trick,” the lady said. “I don’t know how we’ll move this container. But I’m going to take a bath. Who knows how many years it’s been. Where was that pond?”
“Over there.” He shrugged in its direction. “I’m going to see if I can find any functional satellites. I want to get a look inside the shelter.”
“If anyone can do it, you can. Sam’s been sleeping all morning. I gave him some pain pills and they knocked him out. There’s a uniform for him when he wakes up. He hasn’t eaten, either.”
“Don’t worry, Mom. I’m on it.”
The lady left. Sam heard Jeremy moving things. He dragged something to the front of the container and sat down noisily.
“OK, you motherfuckers, I’m back.” Sam opened his eyes to see Jeremy seated before a computer. The screen shone brightly. He cracked his knuckles, and then shook out his hands. “We’ll see how bad the goldies fucked me up.” He began typing and talking to himself. “Most of the satellites are probably dead, but there should be some that work.” Sam heard a whirring noise from the computer. “I’ll run a search algorithm. If I can get a hot bird, I know the hardware in the underground will work. I designed it to take anything. I’ll bounce a signal off one of the tin cans, restart the surveillance systems inside, and it will be show-and-tell time down below.”
Sam couldn’t resist studying the Great Tek. Jeremy had his back to him, absorbed in the computer. The screen’s light shone on his hair, making it glow. He looked like Jer the Tek that Sam Baahuhd and all the headmen since him had described in the meetings.
Jeremy’s hair hung in a tangled mass down to his waist. He was tall, not a little shrimp, as Sam Baahuhd had portrayed him. Sam had never seen anyone with Jeremy’s skin color. “Café au lait” it was called, which he also knew from the legends. His mother was the lady and his father had been a famous Afroman. Chaz Edgarton was a musician beloved by the village. Whenever he had visited the estate, he came out to the barn to play for the villagers, though sometimes he was so loaded he fell off the bench.
Sam worked himself up to a semi-sitting position so he could watch the Great Tek. Awe filled him. The Great Tek was God. He had given them the Commands and the Book, which ruled their lives.
“I live by the Commands,” Sam whispered.
“What?” Jeremy turned to face him, eyes piercing. Sam could see his cocoa skin. His lips were wide and his nose broader than those of the villagers. Sam recoiled from his intensity.
“I live by the Commands, O Great Tek,” Sam stammered.
“You mean the Commandments?”
“No, the Commands.”
“What are those?”
“On the night before the end of the world, the Great Tek stood before Sam Baahuhd and gave us the Commands. He gave us the Commands so that we might survive and live to take over the world,” Sam spoke with the dramatic cadence of the Book Readers, who were the only ones allowed to read the book.
“You sound like a snake man,” Jeremy said, wrinkling his face.
“No snake men!” Sam invoked one of the Commands.
“You’re damned right. Those guys were poison, going around scaring everyone to death. But what are the Commands?”
“They’re from you, O Great Tek.” Sam touched his heart with his hand and bowed. “Your gift to us. They are the law in the underground.”
“What? My name is Jeremy. Who’s this Great Tek?”
“Sam Baahuhd told us you were the Great Tek. You could do anything with your powers.” Sam looked at Jeremy, disbelief on his face. Didn’t the Tek know this? “He told us how you gave us the Commands on the last night of the Earth.”
“What are you talking about? I’m a pretty good tech, but I’m not magic.”
Sam was shaken. “The Commands are written in The Book, a magic book of light that the angel Eliana gave you. The Commands were written in it when you spoke.”
“Oh, I remember that now. The notebook’s no big deal. That’s how they write in Ellie’s world. With light. There’s light everywhere––walls, billboards, across the sky. After a while, you start praying for an eclipse. El’s no angel. She’s my wife.”
“Did you give us the Commands?”
Jeremy wiped his face with his hand. “Jeez. What happened that night? It’s been so long. I remember being really upset. I tossed out some ideas that I thought would make the underground work. What are the Commands?”
“The first Command is to take over the world when we get out of the shelter.”
“Because the general is out there waiting for us and will kill us and take over the world if we don’t.”
“I’m not so sure about that. What were the other commands?”
“The headman has total power. He can kill all of us if he wants. Sam Baahuhd was the first headman. His oldest son would be the next headman, and his oldest, forever.”
“Well, Sam would do a good job. I don’t know about Rupert and those who came later. What about individual rights? The Constitution, checks and balances?”
“You took all Constitutional rights away. I don’t know what the other things are.”
“Oh, boy. What else?”
“We had to learn to read in six months,” Sam ducked his head. “O Tek, I tried to learn to read, but the Bigs closed the library. They took the Book from us so that only the Readers can see it. I tried . . .”
“They closed the library! They had no right to do that. I set that up for the people. What were the rest of the commands?”
“We were to exercise and come out warriors ready to fight the general. But they closed the gym.”
“The gym! I used to work out there with Arthur every day. You have to stay in shape or you end up like this.” He indicated his emaciated form. “What are the rest of the Commands?”
“Only one husband and one wife, fidelity. No boingy boingy with your cousins. No weed, mushrooms, or hooch. We had to speak regular English.”
“Those are pretty good. Do people follow them?”
Sam blinked and lowered his head. “I do, Great . . .”
“I’m Jeremy! Stop that Great business.”
“Jeremy. I follow them. Some others do.” He was silent.
“The leaders don’t.”
Sam shook his head. “No. They make hooch. Mushrooms and weed grow in the fields. The headmen have had many wives for a long time. When the Bigs came, it was different. The Bigs don’t have wives.”
“What do they do?”
“They have the Pit. The women go into the Pit.”
“What! What are you saying?”
“The headman can do anything he wants. That’s what he wanted.”
“What a disaster. OK, I’ll give you a COMMAND right now. Follow the Commands all you want, but if they’re bullshit or make life worse, don’t follow them. Do something that works.”
“Yes, Great . . .”
“Jeremy. That’s my name. I want to get a 360-degree view inside that shelter. I want to know what’s happening down there.” He looked at Sam as though remembering something. “Oh, yeah. You want anything to eat? We’ve got Russian army rations. It’s slop, but edible. My mom put some clothes out for you. She’ll be mad at me if I don’t take care of you. You should pay attention to her commands!”
Copyright © 2014 by Sandy Nathan
A Division of Vilasa Properties LLC
Santa Ynez, CA 93460
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review.
ISBN-13: 978-1-937927-00-4 (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-13: 978-1-937927-01-1 (eBook)
Library of Congress Control Number: 2011944248
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Genre – Metaphysical Science Fiction
Rating – R
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