Authors: David Estes
Book Three of the Slip Trilogy
Copyright 2015 David Estes
Kindle Edition, License Notes
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Discover other exciting titles by David Estes available through the author’s official website:
or through select online retailers.
Young Adult Novels by David Estes
The Dwellers Saga:
Book One—The Moon Dwellers
Book Two—The Star Dwellers
Book Three—The Sun Dwellers
Book Four—The Earth Dwellers
The Country Saga (A Dwellers Saga sister series):
Book One—Fire Country
Book Two—Ice Country
Book Three—Water & Storm Country
Book Four—The Earth Dwellers
The Slip Trilogy:
I Am Touch
The Evolution Trilogy:
Book One—Angel Evolution
Book Two—Demon Evolution
Book Three—Archangel Evolution
Children’s Books by David Estes
The Adventures of Nikki Powergloves:
Nikki Powergloves—A Hero Is Born
Nikki Powergloves and the Power Council
Nikki Powergloves and the Power Trappers
Nikki Powergloves and the Great Adventure
Nikki Powergloves vs. the Power Outlaws (Coming soon!)
For my dad, one of the most inherently good people I know.
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SamAdams: Corrigan Mars is dead.
JoseCuervo: You’re joking. That’s two Pop Con leaders in as many weeks.
BloodyMary: How can you be sure he’s dead?
SamAdams: His head arrived in a bag this morning.
ShirleyTemple: God. Any leads on who killed him?
SamAdams: There was a note. It was signed.
JoseCuervo: By whom?
SamAdams: The Destroyer.
omino Destovan, better known as the Destroyer, uses the UnBee Shack to warm up his muscles for the main event still to come.
The unauthorized beings are sleeping, of course. After all, they’re only babies. Babies that shouldn’t even exist. Like his sister had been, before he took care of that.
There are two pitiful guards. One raises a gun—some kind of stunner that would likely fry his part-machine/part-human systems—but the Destroyer manages to slip between them, his machine parts interacting seamlessly with the rest of him. The perfect machine.
The idiot swivels his aim, firing blindly. But the cyborg is already ducking, moving with inhuman speed, watching as the blue flash of energy rushes by overhead. There’s a grunt and the smell of burning flesh and a thud as the second moron guard is hit by “friendly” fire. Domino hopes he’s not dead—he’d like to finish him off himself.
Before the first guard even realizes what he’s done, the Destroyer is on his feet and arcing a metal fist at the guy’s gun arm, which he’s desperately trying to bring in the direction of his enemy.
The sound the guard’s arm makes as it breaks is almost as beautiful as the man’s wail of agony. A symphony of suffering. Melodies of the maimed.
The Destroyer grins at his own poetic thoughts, relishing his newfound freedom, which has seemingly brought him back to life.
, he realizes as he stomps on the guard’s face. He’s so caught up in his own reverie that he doesn’t even wonder how many of the man’s fourteen facial bones broke with the first kick. Corrigan Mars was holding him back in so many ways. It’s like he was underwater, drowning, and now he’s managed to fight to the surface, sucking in a life-sustaining breath.
I’m alive again!
he wants to shout.
Still smiling, he finishes off the first guard and moves onto the second one, who’s rolling around on the floor mumbling to himself. A retractable knife shoots from the cyborg’s palm, reflecting sparks under the neon glow of the stark security lighting. He wishes he had time for a little fun, drawing out the kill, but he knows the Hunters will be here soon. After all, if he was able to find the illegal birthing facility, surely Pop Con won’t be far behind.
Wiping his blade on the dead man’s shirt, he moves inside, casting his gaze on the rows of bassinets. Power surges through what’s left of his human parts. He’s a wolf amongst lambs. A prince amongst beggars. A god amongst mortals.
Somewhere deep in his brain he registers the fleeing doctors and nurses. They call themselves medical professionals, but they’re no more than common criminals, bringing unauthorized beings into the world to suck the resources dry for the rest of the population. All for a payout from the misguided parents who were stupid enough to get pregnant without a birth authorization.
His body moves instinctively, gracefully, like a dancer. Death’s dancer.
The criminals are dead before they get anywhere near the exits.
A baby cries, yearning for milk it will never get.
The Destroyer’s lip curls up and he gets to work.
enson Kelly won’t let his life be dictated by fear.
Not anymore. After all, it’s fear that’s made the world the way it is. Fear of hunger, fear of not surviving, fear of the great unknown, fear of oblivion. Some of the fear was created by nature itself, the earth’s great response to humanity’s destruction of the only planet they’ve been given. The rest of the fear was created by leaders, used as a stick to beat their people into submission, to hate babies and children and teenagers who hadn’t been “authorized” to be born, like it was their fault.
Benson’s lost far more than he can ever get back, and although he knows he has more to lose, he’s not scared anymore.
Luce speaks to him sometimes, in between the deep breaths of night, her words as real in his head as they were when she was alive. He doesn’t sleep anymore, afraid that if he does, her voice will disappear forever.
Thus, when his brother shakes his arm to wake him, he’s already awake. “Harrison,” he says. “What is it?”
“Mom,” Harrison says, the most powerful word in the world.
Benson throws back the blanket and rolls off the couch, steadied by his twin’s strong hand on his arm. He pretends not to notice that it would’ve been easier for Harrison to grab him with the other hand, which, heavily bandaged, hangs lifelessly at his side. It has one less finger than it should, the handiwork of a certain cyborg who’s supposed to be dead.
“What’s wrong with Mom?” Benson asks, as his brother shuffles him between rows of sleepers. There are no beds in the secret facility, which has to continue to look like a research lab in case it becomes the target of a random government inspection. Because of this, the rebels that occupy the space are forced to sleep wherever they can find a spot—lab tables, lounge couches, or the floor are all fair game.
“She’s asking for you,” Harrison says, stopping momentarily to face him. A shimmer of moonlight snakes its way through a high window, briefly illuminating his brother’s face. Benson holds back a shiver, still not used to seeing his own features reflected back at him in such a gruesome manner. Harrison’s face is a minefield of bruises, cuts, and swelling—more reminders of his time spent with the Destroyer.
More reminders that he should be dead.
“Is she lucid?” Benson manages to ask.
Harrison laughs. “Close enough,” he says with a grin.
They make their way to a large glass window overlooking Saint Louis’s main business district. The “Lab” is located high above the city, leasing the top five floors in one of the tallest buildings. The only structure taller is Pop Con headquarters, besting them by a half-dozen floors, staring over the empty space from a mere three blocks away. Benson can almost imagine his father still alive, his face pressed to the dark glass, their eyes meeting across a void that was always as much emotional as it was physical.
But he’s not alive, and Benson’s only just beginning to fully understand the man who threw him into the Mississippi River and told him to never come back. The man who joined the very rebel consortium that he now finds himself aligned with. The man whose code name was JackDaniels. The man who would’ve died a thousand painful deaths to protect his family.
“Mom,” Benson says, feeling breathless all of a sudden, despite the fact that their short jaunt through the facility was hardly exertive.
Janice turns, her smile as bright as a newborn sunflower. “My sons,” she says, her eyes dancing between them with child-like eagerness.
“It’s late, Mom,” Benson says. “You should be sleeping.”
Says the insomniac himself
, Benson thinks wryly.
“Sleep is too slow,” she says, her eyes wide and serious.
Reaching a pale hand forward, she takes Benson’s hand. For some reason he expects her fingers to be icy, but they’re surprisingly warm. Not sweaty; just warm. Comforting. The hands of a woman who used to hold him as she taught him to read. His nanny and teacher and protector. How he yearned for a mother back then! Looking back, he realizes how stupid he was. The whole time Janice
his mother, even if she and Michael refused to give her the title.
He wants to melt into her, to take back the years, to start over again, but instead he says, “Harrison said you were asking for me.”
She nods, releasing his hand and cupping his chin in her palm. He wants to close his eyes, to forget that she lost her mind when she thought he was dead. But he doesn’t. He watches her raise her other hand and similarly cup Harrison’s chin. Seeing his confident, tough brother’s face in his mother’s hand almost makes him laugh. “Symmetrical,” she says, and Harrison does laugh.
“Cut it out, Mom,” Harrison says, gently pulling her hand away. “Say what you’ve got to say.”
“You are good boys,” she says. “But I’m your mother. I know things you don’t. Your father trusted me. I hated him, and he trusted me. It’s time for me to save you the way you’ve saved me.”
The string of sentences is impressive for a woman who’s as easily distracted as a mosquito drawn to a bright light. She’s more focused than Benson’s ever seen her, her blue eyes like lasers. Which is, of course, exactly why he flinches when she suddenly releases his chin and throws herself against the window, pointing at something far below. “A parade!” she says gleefully.
Benson and Harrison exchange an eyebrow-raised look and follow her gaze to where a string of blue lights race along the streets. Hunters. A shred of his heart peels away.
How many will die tonight at their hands?
he wonders. Why is he alive—a seventeen-year-old Slip—when most unauthorized beings never make it to their first birthday?
, springs to mind, but he knows it’s not the answer to his question, not really. The answer is a list of names:
Michael Kelly- dead
Lucy Harris- dead
Janice Kelly- alive
Harrison Kelly- alive
Check, Rod, Gonzo, Geoffrey- alive times four
There are others, too: a man who was once Benson’s dud Death Match, Boris Decker (dead); a hacker nicknamed Wire (alive); the Lifer leader, Jarrod (grudgingly alive). Minda and Simon and Destiny and many others whose names Benson doesn’t even know. All having risked their lives for his.
“We can’t stop her from doing this,” Harrison says, still staring out the window.
“I know,” Benson says. He’s known it since he first found out his mother was the key to the consortium’s plans to bringing down the Department of Population Control. His father’s backup plan.
protect her,” Harrison adds.
“Yes,” Benson agrees.
Harrison looks up and smirks, and Benson finds his own face forming a similar expression, an inside joke passing between them. He knows exactly what his brother is thinking.
Maybe we’re not that different after all.
Article from the Saint Louis Times:
Breaking News: Assault on Retirement Home Leaves One Dead
A late-afternoon attack on a retirement home known as Golden Age Village resulted in the death of one resident, one-hundred-and-one-year-old Boris Decker. Decker, who was known to be an amicable man with an energy for life that’s rare amongst those that reach lifespans into triple digits, was shot twice before succumbing to blood loss. The tragedy is being called ‘the loss of a patriot’ by those who have studied Decker’s decorated history as a war hero.
At approximately 4:15pm, multiple gunshots were heard by a dozen witnesses, followed by shouting and more gunshots. At least one of the shots was from Decker’s own licensed weapon, which records indicate he’s owned for years.
Although law enforcement officials are remaining tight-lipped as to potential suspects, an employee of Golden Age Village told us that Decker had four unexpected visitors moments before he was killed. One of them was described as ‘a giant’, and was later seen fleeing the building, trailing blood and three others, two females and a young-looking male. This same employee is working with sketch artists to determine their identity.
Crow chief, Charles Boggs, had no comment when asked about the motives behind the attack. Corrigan Mars was unable to be reached, although early-commenting rumor mills have insinuated that the murder may have been related to a birth authorization, given the victim’s advanced age. Thus far, we’ve been unable to determine who held the Death Match for Boris Decker.
The mystery has already gained a cult following due to an unconfirmed report that a square of fabric was missing from Decker’s shirt, cut out before emergency responders arrived on scene.
Have a comment on this article? Speak them into your holo-screen now.
NOTE: All comments are subject to government screening. Those comments deemed to be inappropriate or treasonous in nature will be removed immediately and appropriate punishment issued.
ConspiracyTheorist7: This smells like a cover up to me.
TheJohnBoyd: This Death Match murder fad has gotten way out of control. Should I be scared because I’ve been labeled as a Death Match for some random couple hoping to have a child? Should I expect them to show up on my doorstep, guns blazing? Someone has to stop the madness and bring these criminals to justice.
Lily1: Wow! John Boyd! I’m a huge fan, I watch your holo-show every day. I couldn’t agree more with everything you said.