Check out this excerpt from Replica, a sci-fi novel by Kelly Hashway, exclusive to the Wrath and Ruin boxed set.
Watching my dad stick a needle into a newborn baby never gets any easier, but it’s his job, and the rest of us are expected to silently observe as he and the other scientists of Theoria determine this child’s future. They only need a single drop of blood for their machine, which they’ve named Oculus because it sees what we can’t, but they take a full vial—for what I’m not sure. The baby’s cry pierces the air, making me cringe. I avert my eyes, and they find one of the Scientia Vincere Tenebras signs hung all over this place. “Science defeats darkness,” that’s our motto. Well, it’s the scientists’ motto anyway. Gabe squeezes my elbow and gives me a reassuring smile. He’s always there for me, but then again he has to be since he’s my match.
“Abigail Tennison,” Dad says as he drips the baby’s blood into the vial attached to the machine he wheeled out here on a cart. While he presses a few buttons on the control panel, another scientist, Emmitt Van Buren, etches Abigail’s name into the stone wall that surrounds our community. Her name will be up there on display like the rest of ours, for all to see.
No one speaks while we wait for the machine to spit out little Abby’s future. Who will she marry? What will she grow up to be? We’ll all know in a matter of seconds. Being Dad’s daughter, I have a front row seat to the ceremony, and I see the white screen flash with Abby’s future.
Dad smiles and turns to the crowd. His eyes fall on Abigail, who is back in the arms of her mother. “Abigail Tennison, future doctor and wife to Jared Simmons; mother of three.” Dad smiles like he couldn’t be more proud—of Abigail’s future or of the fact that he helped create this machine and our community.
If you ask me, he’s playing God. His eyes meet mine, and I do my best to force a smile. I’m supposed to be the supportive daughter, a model citizen. If anyone knew what I really thought of this community and our planned futures, Dad would probably lose his position and my whole family would be exiled. Sent back to live like the rest of the world. I wouldn’t mind, but I couldn’t do that to Mom and Dad. They’re happy, like everyone else here. Or as happy as any of us can be without free will. I wouldn’t mind following our society’s rules so much if it weren’t for one thing. We don’t really get to experience love.
Love is only for the people on the outside of these walls. Sure we can love our families, but true love—that feeling that makes your head spin and your gut feel like it’s turning flips—that doesn’t exist anymore, not since the scientists decided to meddle in everything and create this perfect society. I only know what love is from reading books Mom smuggled from her former life, the one she lived before she volunteered to be part of this experiment. I can’t help thinking Mom got her heart broken one too many times and decided a scientific match based on compatibility was the way to go. So at twenty-three, she signed herself up to have her blood tested and be paired with her “perfect match.” Nothing against my dad—he’s a great guy and all—but he’s one of the scientists who founded this place.
Mom’s lived here ever since and followed every rule. And while I’ve been here for seventeen years, I can’t say I’m one to play by the rules. I break them—often. I’m just smart about it and make sure I can’t get caught.
Dad and the rest of the scientists pack up the machine, along with the vile containing the rest of the blood Dad took from Abigail, and walk back inside the lab. Just like that, the ceremony is over. Most of the crowd hangs around to congratulate Abby’s mother on the future chosen for her baby. I lose Gabe somewhere in the mass of people and walk over to my place on the wall.
Emily Saunders, future educator and wife to Gabe Wilson; mother of two.
I bend down and pick up a rock by my foot, squeezing it in my hand until a sharp edge pierces my skin. Opening my palm, I see a small trickle of red. Something about my blood angers me, and I launch the rock at my name on the wall.
“Ouch. I think you hit my name that time.” Gabe bumps his shoulder into mine and smiles. “Dreading the day you have to say ‘I do’ to me already?”
I don’t take my eyes off the wall. It’s like a train wreck I can’t look away from. All our names and futures are chiseled into it for everyone to see, reminding us that our decisions aren’t our own. I remember reading that even the gods couldn’t mess with free will. I guess our government is above the gods, because they’ve sure taken every ounce of free will away from us.
If you enjoyed the excerpt and want to keep reading, preorder Wrath and Ruin for only $.99 and get Replica along with 23 other sci-fi/fantasy books!