Fantasy Science Fiction posted March 20, 2017 Chapters:  ...18 19 -20- 21... 


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Archie and the others head north from the road.

A chapter in the book Humanity Project

Flight From the Road

by davisr (Rhonda)




Background
Archie, Koko, Ayala, and Sani escape danger at the road to find weary travel northward to Mine City.
The quick flurry of excitement and danger at the road, soon turned to hours of unending toil. The team traveled north for several nights with no sign of pursuit, and very little of relief. In spite of a lack of overt danger, they pressed hard and fast across terrain that was at one moment dry sand, and at others, uneven and treacherous rock. They were weary and sore, and their supplies, along with their patience, were beginning to run short.

"Our water bag is nearly empty," Ayala said. She held up a leather container she shared with Koko.

"We'll make a still later when we stop," Sani said. "It'll take most of the day to get all we need, but it can work while we rest."

"Can't we just drink from one of the streams we've passed?" Ayala asked.

"Not out here, Sweetheart," Sani replied. "There are too many bacteria and parasites in warm water. We could boil it if I wasn't afraid of drawing attention with smoke. Better to distill any liquids we find until we get to cleaner streams farther north."

"How will we make the still?" Koko asked. Professional curiosity lined her dirt streaked face.

"Archie brought some supplies with him we'll use," Sani said.

"I packed the plastic shower curtain from the hall bathroom in Hokee," Archie explained, "and two bowls I slipped out of the cafeteria. To make the still, we'll dig a hole in the sand and put one bowl of liquid in it, tent the shower curtain around it, then lower one section of the plastic to let the evaporated water run into the second bowl. Beyond that, the hot sun does all the work."

"Well, I hope you know what you're doing with it, Archie, because you told me we might have to distill our urine to drink," Koko said.

"I doubt it comes to that," Sani laughed. "There are the creeks Ayala talked about and plenty of barrel cacti, which make wonderful living canteens."

"So, we won't be drinking our urine, then?" Koko asked.

"Probably not," Sani replied.

Koko cut her eyes over at Archie, who winked. She shook her head indulgently and continued following Sani. "I guess men never grow up in your world, either?"

"Not if we can help it," Archie admitted.

For a while, the team fell quiet. A soft glow from Sani's torch illuminated the landscape and gave the illusion of cacti dancing in the moonlight. Adding to the ambiance was a cool breeze wafting across sweat dampened skin, and tossing tangled amber curls. Finally, Ayala spoke up, her strong voice cutting through the night air and causing her companions to startle.

"Did your father teach you to make stills?" she asked. "You said he taught you a lot about survival."

"Yes, though I didn't fully appreciate the lessons at the time."

"Looks like he taught you how to fight, too," Sani said.

"Not personally, but he did send me to Taekwondo and kickboxing classes for years."

"Admirable, but real life fighting didn't end up quite like competition in the ring, did it?"

"No, Sir. First of all, there were no referees to call the match off when those crazy cougar guys violated rules of engagement."

"They didn't violate any rules, the fight just changed venues. You adjusted with agility and courage. Your father would be proud."

"I look forward to discussing it with him. I'm afraid it's just one item on a long list we have to address."

"At least you have a father to talk things over with," Ayala said, "I had house parents who were only interested in our daily care and education. There was no warmth . . . no love. Of course, in retrospect, I guess they knew we were just subjects in a genetic project."

"Yeah, that's rough," Archie said, "and I wish I could change your past, but I can't, and neither can you. Try to focus on your future. You're free from Hokee, and might just find a degree of normalcy out here."

"Normalcy? I'm not sure that's possible. Maybe Junior was right. People will probably lock us up and do even more experiments."

"That's not going to happen," Archie said. "I won't let it, and neither will my father."

"I hope you're right."

"I'm always right." Archie smiled.

"Whatever," Ayala said. She punched his arm playfully. "I'm sort of glad we found you in the desert after your wreck."

"I've been meaning to ask you about that. Why did you take your students out that day? As nervous as you are about animals, I can't imagine you willingly going on field trips."

"We didn't go often, but I liked to take my classes to look at the ruins once in a while. You know, I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I sort of enjoyed those short desert journeys."

"It's nothing to be ashamed of," Archie said. "It's the human in you. We're a curious lot."

"But, I was scared too, even with the required Cougar Guards all around."

"I felt the same way," Koko said. "I got nervous going out with the Ant Kin to do research for my book. It was worth every minute of it, though. Just to feel free of those walls . . . even if just for a few hours."

"That's because of another human characteristic," Archie said. "We're notoriously averse to being confined."

"The human spirit struggles to be free," Sani added. "You can effectively fence in an animal, but not a human, and it's that fact that's driving your flee for freedom."

"That, and we're trying to rescue my husband and save my baby," Koko said.

"Yes, those things too," Sani said.

"People helping people," Archie added.

"As long as there is life, my child," Sani said, "there is responsibility to others."

Ayala looked around at the desert, then at each of her companions in turn. "I think I understand. Holding Archie in Hokee against his will was wrong. I knew it, but couldn't figure out how to act on it. I guess that's why I didn't put up a bigger fight when Archie carried me off."

"Really?" Archie said. "I have a few bruises to prove otherwise."

"You're tough," Ayala said. "You just told us you have a black belt in the martial arts."

"I never said anything about what color my belt was, and what do you know about martial arts, anyway?"

"They teach several forms in Hokee, including the Taekwondo you mentioned. Our people are big on personal fitness and competition, especially the Cougar and Deer Kin."

"Cool," Archie said. "That's something you have in common with the rest of us in the outside world."

"Yes, that's one thing. So, are you a Black Belt?" Ayala asked.

"What difference does it make? Those Cougar Kin guys kicked my butt all over the desert. Belt colors make no difference in real fights."

"You were terribly outnumbered," Koko said. In spite of her consolatory words, a playful smile danced about her lips, and her eyes sparkled with amusement.

Archie grinned back, and kicked a small tumbleweed in her direction. "Looks like I'm not the only one who hasn't grown up."

Koko poised her foot to kick the weed back, when Sani interrupted. "While I appreciate that you kids are feeling better, I think it's time to dig shelter and set up our water still. Dawn will be here soon."

"Yes, Sir," they both answered.

They all stopped and examined their surroundings by the light of Sani's torch. The terrain had changed during their nighttime journey. Soft sandy soil had given way to darker, firmer earth. Sagebrush was still present, but was now interspersed with stumpy mesquite trees and lusher grasses.

Archie placed his knapsack on the ground and pulled out items needed to build the still. He handed them to Sani, who gave him a shovel in return.

"Try digging over there, Son, just past the clump of sagebrush. I'll put the torch in the middle so there's enough light for all our projects. Ayala and Koko, you two weave us another cave covering, and I'll assemble the still."

Archie nodded and turned toward his digging spot. Before walking off, he glanced over his shoulder at Ayala.

"Third degree," he said.

"Black belt?"

"Yes."

Ayala smiled as she joined Koko.

"He's not so bad now, is he?" Koko asked.

"I never said he was. I just didn't like the way he tied me up like an . . ."

"Animal?"

"Yeah."

Ayala's eyes flicked up at Archie as though looking to see if he had heard the remark. He didn't look their way, but Ayala was sure he had hesitated a fraction of a second from digging. She couldn't help but wonder what he really thought about her and her people, and, when it came down to it, if she really cared?


Book of the Month contest entry

Recognized


A special thanks for the artwork, "High Desert" by MoonWillow.

A note on the purpose of the animal DNA discovery. This book is intended to be Science Fiction and Fantasy, but it has an underlying theme. There have been groups of people throughout time that have been treated as less than human, even experimented on in some cases. it's also to bring up any discrimination against other groups of people. It happened in the past, and is still happening today. The poor, ethnic groups, sexual orientation, mental illness, people from other countries, etc. There is a lot of different types of experimentation where we try to "cure" what we don't understand. It is my intention to use a fantasy environment to teach cultural tolerance, while telling a yarn. Thank you to those of you who look beyond the story.

Summary of the book so far:

Archie Franklin is a United States Senator from the State of Texas. He's also the President's son.
He was traveling the west, scoping out New Mexico for a committee he was on, when a deer ran in front of his Ferrari and caused him to crash.

He was rescued from the desert by a group from a cult-like village called Hokee. In this town, the people are part of an experiment to improve the human condition by taking orphans and raising them isolated from many of the modern conveniences that make mankind weak.

The children, as young as 5, are placed in houses named after animals, but otherwise taught animals are dangerous and unclean. Each "house" has a particular job in the community based on the attributes of the representative animal.

The leader, Leander, chooses what children are brought to the village. He doesn't want anyone to know about the compound so they can maintain isolation. Archie is now a prisoner, but has befriended a young lady, Koko, whose husband has come up missing, and is assumed imprisoned in a penal mining colony.

Working against odds, the two hope to escape and protect Koko's unborn child. Having babies at stage one of the experiment is forbidden by the scientists in charge. Teens are sterilized at puberty to avoid pregnancies, but occasionally one will be conceived. Standard operating procedure is to perform an abortion, but Koko is willing to fight against all she's grown up to believe to give her child a chance at life.

Now, Archie, Koko and Sani have escaped the complex after the old miner, Sani, set off an explosive distraction. On the way through a fence, they ran into Ayala, Koko's "sister" who tried to stop them. In order to ensure her silence, they tied her up and took her with them.

After traveling all night, they stopped at dawn to dig a shelter under the sand. Covering themselves with a blanket they wove from plants, they are resting from enemies and the heat of the day.

Archie and Koko begin to read a book Archie rescued from Hokee before they left. It is the story of the experiment called The Humanity Project.

They are soon discovered by Cougar Guards, and are forced to flee across the highway where the other hufacs dare not go.

These are the 12 houses of Hokee:

Hawk: Where Leander Jr. lives. They are the strict rulers of the compound, answerable only to Leander Sr..

Cougar: The strong arms of the Hawks. They dish out whatever punishment is required, even to sending miscreants to another settlement they have up North in the mines.

Coyote: The one Archie and Ayala are in: Job: Teachers and professors. Allowed more knowledge of the "outside world".

Ant: Considered unclean, these people tend meat and fur animals outside the village

Tarantula: Architects, and menders

Donkey: Transportation and communication

Wasp: Prepare and serve food

Deer: Sports and entertainment

Hare: Make and distribute clothing

Rat: Childcare

Snake: healthcare

Buzzards: Clean up crew, maintain sewer and custodial chores


General Summary of the Book:

Young Texas Senator, Archie Franklin, finds himself marooned in the desert with a group of people who are more than they appear to be on the surface.

Hokee: Name of the village Archie is held in. It means, "The abandoned."

Characters:

Archimedes (Archie) Franklin: High energy, main protagonist, who is, also, a Senator from Texas, and son of the President of the United States, Andrew Franklin.

Ayala: Female head of household in the house Archie finds himself imprisoned.

Andrew (Andy) Franklin: President of the United States, and father of Archie.

Koko: Ayala's best friend in Coyote House, close as sisters, born on the same day.

Todd: Koko's husband

Sani: Old man. Used to be a miner up north. Another trapped refugee from the desert. An ally in the quest to escape.

Leander: Head scientist in charge of the structure of Hokee. His son, Leander, is in charge of daily operations.

Junior: Leander's son, who lives in the Hawk house. He's personally a coward, but rules Hokee with an iron fist.

Others to be listed as they appear in the book.
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Artwork by MoonWillow at FanArtReview.com

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© Copyright 2017. davisr (Rhonda) All rights reserved.
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