Soul Designers (Signed Paperback)
Soul Designers (Signed Paperback)
A half-breed seeks immortality for genetically engineered slaves.
Jack, the half-breed offspring of a human mother and a genetically engineered father, lives a life of pain, alienated by human society and by many of the gens created by mankind to perform heavy labor. Not only do gens live like slaves, but humans have withheld from them the one piece of DNA that would grant them a soul. Jack is determined to uncover this well-hidden secret and rescue his fellow gens from a meaningless existence with no prospect of eternal life. As he begins to infiltrate the ranks of the Ministry of Religion, he finds that the farther he goes, the more it could cost him—possibly even his own life.
Note: This is a paperback, signed by the author. Prefer a different format? Click here for ebook.
Advance Praise for Soul Designers:
"A magnificent tale of what it means to be human....This is a book with a killer premise and riveting characters, and I highly recommend it!" – USA Today bestselling author Merrie Destefano, Author of Valiant, Shade, and Afterlife
"An exciting debut novel! Soul Designers is a story of hope that would be a wonderful addition to any fiction lover's shelf." – Joanne Bischof, Christy Award-winning author of The Lady and the Lionheart
"Dona Watson's Soul Designers is a futuristic thriller that explores intriguing ideas. I applaud the originality. It really kept me guessing!" – Kerry Nietz, award-winning author of Lost Bits and Frayed
"Kept me turning the pages late into the night to a very satisfying ending. Recommended!" – Beverly Nault, award-winning author of Fresh Start Summer and The Kaleidoscope
"Dona Watson has penned a thoughtful tale of a society in which the very nature of salvation and the soul is up for grabs—and the dark consequences such a line of reasoning sparks." – Steve Rzasa, award-winning author of the Mercury Hale series and Deception Fleet
Enjoy a Sample from Soul Designers:
August 2261, New Santiago
Jack Metcalfe stumbled and wiped blood from the corner of his mouth, the officers’ laughter fading as they walked on. He scooped up the pieces of the handheld Orichi computer scattered on the ground and cradled the broken device in his hands. Six months of savings, now shattered.
Quiet hung in the air. Any nearby gens had probably fled for the safety of homes or darkness. Gens. That’s what they called his people, as if they weren’t human. It didn’t matter that he was half-human and half-gen. His dad was genetically engineered and that was enough to lower his standing in both camps.
Dad. The man who had abandoned his mother when she needed him most. With disgust, Jack pushed the thought aside, stuffed down the black hole his mind reserved just for that. His father didn’t deserve to be called “Dad.”
Jack leaned against the cold wall of a two-story apartment building and looked up into the dusky sky. Soon this day would be over. With a deep breath, he brushed the dirt off his worn pants, straightened his slightly too-small jacket and staggered toward the tiny, run-down hovel he called home. Curtains fluttered as gens peeked out like mice making sure the cat was gone. When the police patrolled the gens’ quarter, they took what they wanted and the gens typically trembled in fear.
Once home, Jack let himself in and ducked under the low doorway. As the door clicked shut behind him, his mother, Eva, rushed in, concern etched on her face.
“Oh, Jack.” She tipped his chin to one side with a fingertip and examined a gash across his right eyebrow. “They found you again, didn’t they?” She shook her head. “Have a seat in the kitchen and let’s get you cleaned up.”
He laid the shattered pieces of his handheld on the kitchen table and inspected the remains as he took a seat. Maybe it could still be salvaged, or at least maybe he could still save the day’s inventory logs from work. Over the years, he’d had to get good at fixing broken things.
Eva bustled in, torn bandages and a jar of antiseptic in hand. With a damp cloth, she dabbed at the dried blood trailing down his temple. His gaze lifted to a cracked mirror hanging on the wall. Against his pale skin, the blood stood out like a neon sign advertising the hatred of others. Sometimes he wished for the gens’ reddish-tinted skin and black hair. Then the blood they drew wouldn’t be so obvious. His fair complexion, blond hair, and tall stature guaranteed exclusion from the gens’ humble society. But his bright golden eyes left him despised by humans.
Ethan, his adopted brother who had been taken in by Eva when he was just an orphaned toddler, walked into the room, studied Jack, and grabbed one of the few glasses they owned from the cupboard. “What happened to you?” He turned on the faucet and waited a few seconds for the water to run clear.
Jack shrugged. “The usual.”
“Sit still,” his mother commanded. “I’m almost done.”
“I’d think by now you’d find a different route home.” Disdain colored Ethan’s voice.
“It wouldn’t matter.” Jack tipped his head to one side as his mother applied an adhesive bandage above his eyebrow. “They’d find me anyway.”
She placed the first aid supplies on one corner of the tiny kitchen counter and uncovered a bowl resting on the back of the well-worn stove. Jack gently pushed aside the various electronic components and she placed the food in front of him. Beans again. He stifled a sigh and instead shot her a slight grin. At least there was enough to fill his stomach. He shoveled a spoonful into his mouth and chewed, forcing a swallow.
She poured a glass of water for each of them and sat across from him in one of the three creaky wooden chairs. “How was work?”
Jack swallowed. “Nothing exciting. Just the same old stuff.”
Ethan snorted. “Listen to you. You sit in an air-conditioned office and play with your computers while I’m out picking up garbage in the gutters. You should be grateful.”
Jack took another bite, choosing not to answer. He didn’t disagree but any reply would stir up the old argument with his brother—and that would just grieve their mother.
Eva cast a warning glare toward Ethan. “Jack, did you see Robert today about your application?”
Muttering, Ethan placed the glass in the sink and stomped out.
As his footfalls faded, Jack shook his head. “No. He was out.” Robert might have gotten him the job as a favor to their mother, but that didn’t mean Jack saw him often. He had little to no reason to frequent Robert’s office and his half-brother obviously had no desire to associate with a low class half-sibling. But Eva didn’t need to know that. “I tried to make an appointment but his schedule was full. His secretary said to come back later.”
“Again?” Her thin shoulders slumped. “That’s what they said yesterday. And the day before.”
“Don’t worry, Mom. He knows we need the extra income this job would bring, just to make ends meet.”
The back door creaked open and a young woman poked her head into the room, puffing a breath of air through platinum blonde bangs. The rest of her hair was dyed black, matching the black straight hair built into the gens’ DNA. Amber and Jack had been close, if unlikely, friends ever since they had met as teens at a rally for gens’ rights.
Amber eyed the bandage on Jack’s forehead and her smile morphed into a frown. “Are you okay?”
He gently fingered the wounded area and nodded.
Amber’s gaze fell to the table and hardened with anger. “Oh Jack. Not your handheld. Who was it this time?”
“It doesn’t matter.” Amber didn’t need to know the police had knocked it from his hand and beat him up. She’d just get herself in trouble.
“Jack! You have to stand up for yourself.” Amber plunked down in the remaining chair.
Eva scooped up Jack’s empty bowl and rinsed it in the sink. “I’ll leave you two alone. I need to finish the laundry.”
Amber watched her with compassionate eyes but made sure she was out of range before speaking. When she did, her voice was quiet. “I spoke with Ryan today. It sounds like he might be willing to pull some strings and see if he can get you that appointment.” Although Ryan’s position in the government administration offices was new, Amber’s friend had been very helpful so far.
Jack nodded. “That would be good.” There was more at risk here than just a promotion for Jack. The outcome could determine the future for all gens. If he could get access to the main databanks, he just might be able to find out how to gain a soul for the gens. Just because they can genetically engineer people doesn’t give them the right to withhold the one gene that grants us a soul, he thought.
“Oh, just a minute. I have a call.” Amber reached up to tap the tiny communicator barely visible in her ear.
Jack took advantage of the interruption to fetch a few tools from his room. When he returned, Amber’s face had drained of all color and her jaw hung slack. She stared into his eyes with a distraught expression. His heart skipped a beat.
She paused a few moments before answering. “They just found Ryan’s body in an alley near his apartment.”