All standard disclaimers apply. If you are below your local age of consent, or if material such as this is illegal where you live, don't say I didn't warn you…

Howdy, folks! Although I've written fiction before, this is my first attempt at anything like this, so go easy, huh? Yeah, you guys waiting in the back with the rotten tomatoes, this means you, too! Okay, now for a bit of background on the story. The inspiration for 'God Child' came to me after I saw the movie 'Gattaca'. For those of you who haven't seen it, it's about a near-future society where genetic makeup determines how one will be able to live his or her life. The protagonist, played by Ethan Hawke, is born naturally, which is very unusual in the movie's society-- most children, though product of their parents' genetic material, are sort of "engineered". Read my prologue for a more complete explanation. Anyhow, Ethan Hawke's character uses another person's genetic material to fake his way into Gattaca, a corporation that operates shuttle missions, intent on fulfilling his dream of going into space. I won't bore you with more plot explanation, but I do recommend that you see it; it's a great movie. Actually, I hope that not too many of you have seen it, because I fully intend on stealing all of its best catch-lines. ;-)  In any case, after I watched it, I got to thinking about what it would be like for a gay teenager to grow up in that society. Since scientists seem to be leaning towards the view that homosexuality is at least partially determined by genetics, that's going to be the assumption for the purposes of this story.  After all, if genetics determine one's success in life in the society depicted in this story, wouldn't being gay be even more socially damning than it is today, in 2000? Food for thought. Well, for me at least. To those of you who are still with me, I give you the Prologue and Chapter One of "God Child".  Oh yeah - this is primarily a love story with a little of my social commentary tossed into the mix, so there's not going to be too much sex.

 This chapter is dedicated to my first "test subjects", without whose gracious assistance, this story would not be possible.  Josh, Ben, Alex, Richard, Mike, and all those who helped out without knowing it - thank you!

Your feedback, positive OR negative, would be greatly appreciated!  Send comments/suggestions/critcism to

By the way...  'Gattaca' is a copyright of Columbia Pictures Corporation and Jersey Films.  No infringement of said copyright is intended.  (In other words, please don't sue!)

Consider God's handiwork: Who can straighten what he hath made crooked?

Ecclesiastes 7:13

God Child

…the future…


Of course, I don't remember it at all now, considering that I was born nineteen years ago. The only evidence is the tiny scar on my heel. Only a pinprick immediately following birth; a drop of blood, just a smattering of my DNA, but it told my parents all they would ever need to know about my life. Lifespan, susceptibility to infection, preexisting physical conditions, criminal proclivities - they knew every little detail of my physical and neurological life before I even had a chance to live it. In retrospect, I don't blame my parents. In fact, they were far more 'human' about it than was the norm. I suppose it was really the unspoken social mandate of the time. Every child was, and still is, sequenced at birth. Of course, most parents already know exactly what they're getting.

I've probably confused you. Here's how it works in this day and age. A couple decides they want a baby, so they schedule a trip to the local geneticist. The would-be parents are presented with a pool of the mother's most viable zygotes, and they fill out a simple form. They pick the gender, the hair color, the eye color, complexion, the height, and any particular talents they want their child to have. The geneticists go to work on a sample of the father's sperm and the mother's selected egg, adding in the genetic material responsible for the desired traits, removing susceptibility to diseases and medical conditions, and presto: the mother is impregnated with a baby specifically tailored to fulfill her and her husband's every desire. All in all, it's rather like buying a car. Pick your options, send off the requisition to the factory, and get exactly what you ordered.

Myself, well, I am just a little different. Every generation has its caste of conscientious objectors, and my parents' generation was no different. In their youth, the cause du jour was the practice of genetic selectivity that I just described. Along with a small but vocal minority of social dissenters, they were diametrically opposed to the very concept of determining my genetic makeup before birth. So, here I am - a "Faith Birth", an "In-valid" in a world of Valids.

Most naturally conceived children fall well below what has come to be accepted as the Validity Cutoff. Their Genetic Quotient simply doesn't qualify them to live and work in the World of the Valid. They are reduced to expectations of earning subsistence living at a menial job. Public Sanitation, maybe Food Service, but never anything higher. My parents considered themselves lucky, I suppose. Though I was a Faith Birth, or a "God Child", my Genetic Quotient just happened to be a good one. So, despite that fact that I've come to claim the 'In-valid' label as my own, I've lived the first nineteen years of my life as a Valid.

By all rights, I shouldn't be where I am now. I should be finished with secondary school and well into my first year of college.

Of course, there is no gene for fate.

I was born Jacob Michael Anthony, but I go by Jake. Only my parents call me Jacob. The obligatory physical description, I suppose, must follow. I stand at an even 6 feet, weighing in around 155 pounds, but that can fluctuate, depending on whether I'm on one of my health binges or not. My hair is moderately close-cropped, medium brown in color, accented by natural sandy highlights. My eyes are a sort of opaline green. I'm moderately slender, but not slight. I've grown up in Bangor, Maine, and haven't really been too far from there for any extended period of time, so I have a fairly pale complexion. Oh, I shouldn't allow myself to forget the point of this narrative; I'm gay. I suppose that my story really begins three years ago. I was 16 and I was naïve, but I knew then, as I do to an even greater extent now, that my sexual interests weren't limited to girls. So, for those who are still reading, this is my story.

Chapter One


The alarm, as most are, was an unpleasant one. It served its purpose, though. I managed to haul myself out of bed and made it most of the way to the bathroom before I stubbed my toe on the threshold of the door. I uttered a hushed curse, spared my toe a brief examination, and then fumbled my way into the shower. No, I'm not a morning person, especially on the first morning of a new school term. This summer intercession, up until the last two weeks, had been the best in my life; I had found what I thought was real, true love for the first time, in the arms of my beautiful Kara Oetsvold. She had always been the "girl next door", but that summer, Kara, with her raven-black hair, immaculate porcelain complexion and crystalline blue eyes, had made my life so incredibly complete that I fancifully thought that I should simply vow to marry her and be done with it. But then, as fate would have it, two weeks before the end of Intercession, her father was killed while training to be a shuttle navigator. Kara changed remarkably after his death, shutting everything out, including me. Her mother decided to move the family to her native Australia to start over. Kara and I reconciled before they left, but both of us felt that a long-distance relationship, especially between two sixteen year-olds, would be tenuous at best. So, that was that. They moved only a week before the end of Intercession, and I spent that week coming to terms with myself. Something in me told me that I'd never love another girl quite the same way I had loved her. Call it the foolishness of youth, puppy love, or what have you. I never will, though.

All of those memories dissolved as the water went cold and I shut off the shower. That chapter in my life was closed, and I realized that looking back, even just at the best of times, would serve only to anchor me in the past. Reluctantly, I toweled off, knowing with a sense of inevitable foreboding that each step I took towards getting dressed was also a step further towards the end of Intercession and the beginning of the school term. After I was dry, I slid on a pair of briefs, tossed on my bathrobe, and padded unenthusiastically back to my room in my slippers. I took the school uniform out of the closet, brushed off the light coating of lint it had gathered over the summer, and laid it out on the bed. The starched white dress shirt and beige slacks went on first, followed by the navy tie and blazer. Without much enthusiasm, I slid into the loafers, completing the uniform.

Breakfast was a painful affair. You see, my parents ship me off every school term to the Augusta Boy's Preparatory Academy, a hellishly highbrow boarding school in Maine's capital. Normally, the son of politically dissident parents would never be admitted to such an elitist institution as Augusta Prep, but my parents, frightened by the growing resentment of anyone who took exception to the Preselective birthing practices, took certain steps to conceal their past. Now, according to their profiles, they were merely an upper-middle class couple with a completely normal son. I think they really believed it, too. So, thanks to my above average Genetic Quotient and my parents' newfound political neutrality, I was admitted to the Academy.

"Jacob, darling, you haven't touched your oatmeal," my mother said in that fretting, motherly way, snapping me back to reality. Normally, I would simply brush it off, saying (truthfully) that I really don't care for oatmeal, but I didn't that day. I didn't have the heart to argue with her on the last morning that I would see her for two months.

"I know," I told her calmly. "I'm not too hungry." To appease her, I ate a few hesitant spoonfuls of the slop, drained the glass of milk, then beat a hasty retreat from the table to collect my things. There wasn't really all that much to take with me, just last year's datapads, should I need to review any notes. All the necessary class material and clothing I would need would be furnished by the Academy upon my arrival. I suffered through the usual lecture from my father about ethics and representing the family, and, after the farewell hugs, I managed to escape out the door.

The Transit Bus was already there, half full of other boys from Bangor on their way to Augusta Prep. I handed my modest bundle of luggage to the porter, who stowed it in the cargo compartment in the belly of the bus. I found a seat near the back, so that I could at least see all the conversations, even if I couldn't participate in any of them. I hadn't made many friends at the Academy my first year there, and I had no reason to expect anything different from this year. One of the results of spending so much time around other guys, though, was the discovery of my attraction for members of the same sex. I suppose, as they say, that the signs had been there all my life, but I had never really understood them. While I still found women attractive, as Kara could certainly attest, I was equally (or more strongly, I should say now, looking back) drawn to males. This self-discovery, I'm afraid, was a rather frightening experience. It's often said that Civil Rights have progressed by leaps and bounds in the past century and a half. That may be accurate to a certain extent, but in truth, discrimination simply works differently now. Instead of violent mobs attacking people because of the color of their skin or their country of origin, now it's heredity that starts riots. And, no matter what anyone says, a large element of homosexuality is genetic. So, the plight of the homosexual is worse now than it was fifty years ago. By sheer nature of the condition, most homosexuals are In-Valids, but those who manage to pass as Valid and are subsequently discovered, well… I'll just say that I had good reason to be frightened of my sexuality.

One of the advantages of the Selective Birthing technique is that a decent proportion of the population is more physically attractive than they would be otherwise. This especially seemed to apply to the male population at Augusta Prep. Glancing around the bus, I couldn't find a single really unattractive boy among the whole lot. The majority of them were engaged in lively conversation about the upcoming term, but, as usual, I was silent and alone. The chatter nearly drowned out the soft whine of the bus's electric motor, but not so completely that I didn't notice it fade to nothing as the big vehicle slowed to a stop. The doors opened, allowing three more boys to board. One of them looked very familiar, and I thought I saw him catch my gaze. For a fleeting moment, I entertained the thought that, perhaps, he might take an interest in me and break up the monotony of the bus ride by sitting down and introducing himself. Of course, I was only deluding myself. He made it about halfway back before an arm shot out of a seat in greeting, grabbing his attention. He sat down, disappearing from my field of view. So much for someone to talk to.

I leaned my head up against the bus window, gazing out at the rocky Maine Seashore, dreaming of a multitude of things. Life, love, loss… you know, things that a sixteen year-old shouldn't have to obsess about. I sat there, wallowing in a haze of self-pity for a good while before I suddenly realized that there was a presence looming over me. It was him, the boy I'd made brief eye contact with when he came on board! From the looks of it, he stood about my height, with a slightly more fleshed-out build. He had a loose, almost puffy mop of sandy hair, very uncharacteristic for the current style. Most guys wore their hair short, gelled tightly in place to keep from, for lack of a better term, shedding. No matter how many laws there were protecting Genetic Privacy, no one wanted to leave stray traces of themselves laying around. Maybe he was simply late waking up this morning, and hadn't had time to comb and gel it yet. That was the most likely story. Why did he look so familiar though? I didn't realize it until he said something, but I must have jerked up in surprise at seeing him standing there.

"Hey, sorry, I didn't mean to scare you," he said in a gravelly, almost raspy voice that I found sort of engaging.

"Not a problem," I squeaked out.

"Mind if I sit here?" he asked, a strangely hopeful look in his hauntingly gray eyes.

"Sure, have a seat," I answered him, gesturing at the seat beside me, all the while trying to contain my happiness. He sat down, surprisingly gently.

"You're Jacob Anthony, right?" he asked, looking directly at me. He knew my name? I nodded at him, following with a quick 'yep'. "I thought it was you," he said, as if confirming an itching suspicion. "We were in the same Composition class last year. I'm Thomas Hobbes, but it's just Tom to people I like," he said with a grin. So that's where I knew him from. I knew he looked familiar. Along with me, he had been one of the teacher's least favorite students. I was so thankful for a familiar face, but that grin was doing bad things to me below the waistline…

"Oh yeah," I said, shifting to a more comfortable position. "As I remember, we weren't exactly Doc Kuhn's star pupils, were we?" Tom chuckled in reply.

"No, I guess we weren't, at that." He sat there for a moment, looking like he was trying to prepare to say something difficult. "Jacob…"

"Just Jake, please," I interrupted. "I hate the name 'Jacob'. That's for my parents and for teachers."

"Okay, Jake then," he replied, still a little nervous, if I read his face right. "So, um, Jake…" he stammered. I gave him what I hoped was an encouraging, permissive look. "I, uh, do you remember that story you wrote for the Personal Expressive assignment last year?"

So that's what this was all about. I should probably explain what he meant. One of the very first assignments we were given in Dr. Kuhn's composition class was an open-ended prompt to write a story, fictional or based in fact, that made an argument concerning an issue we cared strongly about. I wrote a fairly lengthy short story called "Faith Birth", about a naturally conceived child who grew up to become a "Borrowed Ladder"- a person who, by using genetic samples taken from a Genetically viable individual, assumed a new identity. Using his new persona, my character entered the political arena, and was eventually elected to the Global Parliament, where he attempted to institute what I considered to be social reforms, until his death at an assassin's hand. To be perfectly frank, it was a pretty good piece of writing. The best I had ever written, at least. There was a level of emotional complexity to it that I can't replicate in the context of this narrative, but writing it was one of the most personally meaningful experiences of my life. Since I wrote it, I've been writing fiction nonstop in my spare time. Aside from dispelling boredom, it gave me an opportunity to express my distaste for Society as it existed, and still exists. But, I digress. Unfortunately, Dr. Kuhn didn't exactly warm up to "Faith Birth". In fact, he flunked it outright, calling it "subversive trash". He went so far as to make the entire class read it, then use it as an example of how NOT to write.  Write to express your feelings as long as your feelings are jake with the company line - that's what I learned in Dr. Kuhn's Composition class. So, here I was, on the bus, being asked by a fellow student about the story that had been my social undoing. I had no idea what to say. Fear welled up in me. Why did he want to dredge up these old demons?

"Umm, yeah, I remember it," I said nervously, hoping his initial friendliness hadn't just been an excuse to humiliate me. I stared at the floor between my legs, bracing myself.

"Jake, I , uh, don't exactly know how to put this, but… hell, it meant a lot to me when I read it."

"Really?" I asked, shocked more than anything else. Most of the other guys who had shared that class with me had never let me hear the end of how much they hated it and me. I had suffered through all the usual names; Ladderlover, De-gene-erate, all of it.

"Yeah, really. I still have a copy," he said, causing me to blush. "You summed up just about everything that I believe in sixty pages of type," he said. "I didn't think anyone could do that." This inflated my spirits even more. I tried to keep myself from bubbling over with excitement. Someone actually appreciated something I had written. Even better, apparently, someone I could relate to shared my opinions about society.

"Wow," I said, trying to come up with some way to thank him for his praise. I couldn't. "So, are you a Faith Birth?" I asked, wondering how he had come to embrace the same convictions I had.

"No, but, well… I'm the second child in my family. My older brother was a Faith. My parents used to believe that a child conceived and raised in love was better than anything the local geneticist could do for them, so they conceived my brother naturally. He… umm…" Tom faltered. It looked like he might loose his composure, but he pushed on. "He contracted Leukemia when he was 5. He was really strong… he made it to 18, but…. When he died, I was just 12."

"Oh God…" I managed to say. So much for my good mood. "I'm so sorry, Tom," I said with all the feeling I could muster. He smiled weakly at me.

"Don't worry about it. It was really hard on my parents," he said, maintaining his composure. "He had already been diagnosed when they decided to have me, and they were scared that if I was natural, I'd end up… you know, the same way. So, they went to the geneticist to have me." He sniffled a little at that point. So, he wasn't a Faith Birth. That meant that there was practically no possibility that he was like me. Any proclivity for that would have been removed in the zygotic screening process, before he was even a fetus. I know it seems heartless for me to have been thinking about him in that way while he was pouring his heart out to me, but that's honestly what was going on in my head.

"My brother was such a great guy.  The In-Valid invalid, he called himself," Tom went on with a rueful chuckle.  "Since he was an In-Valid, it was so hard to find medical care. A doctor told us once that if he'd been a Valid in the exact same situation, the resources probably would have been made available to save him, or at least to keep him alive a little longer. So, as you can imagine, I have a rather unique perspective on this kind of thing." There was an indelible streak of world-weary bitterness in his voice. And why not? He, his brother, and his entire family had been practically robbed blind of a lifetime of opportunities, and they had no choice but to stand there and take it in the gut. "I was having a lot of trouble last year, memories and all," he said. "Your story just wrapped everything I was feeling up in a neat little package," he confessed. We sat in silence for a while, both gazing out the window at the blurred landscape. Finally, Tom broke the lull, in a forcibly perky manner. "So, how about you, Jake?" he asked. "Something had to inspire you to write it."  He was obviously trying to lighten the mood, and I loved him for it, but his question caught me flatfooted. As a general rule, I NEVER told anyone about being a Faith Birth. I had first broken my own rule last year actually, with one of my suitemates at the Academy. He was the only person there whom I had even come close to calling a friend, and telling him that I was Faithborn had ruined everything. It was like he thought it was contagious or something. Oh well. I still hadn't answered Tom's question, and it seemed that he'd probably take the news well.

"I don't ever tell people this," I answered, "but I'm a Faith Birth. I guess I wrote the story as a way of dealing with the frustration. I can't stand the way that we're treated." There, I'd said it. And, what's more, Tom wasn't running away. In retrospect, it was almost like coming out.

"Oh wow…" he mumbled, "you're a God Child? Wow…" He sat there in a comic bewilderment for a few seconds. I chuckled a little. "How'd you manage to get into the Academy?" he asked.

"I got lucky," I told him, honestly. "The right sperm hit the egg at the right time, I guess. I ended up with a pretty good GQ, so I'm technically a Valid."

"That's really amazing, Jake," he said. Why did this fascinate him so much, I wondered? Was it because of his brother? I guessed that had to be it. "I've always wanted to meet a God Child," he said. God Child. I liked that term. "Another one, other than John- my brother- I mean," he pressed on. "My brother… oh Jake, I miss him so much. He told me once that, more than anything, he felt misunderstood. He said that everyone he came across would offer their sympathy and their kind words, but they'd simply write him off in their minds as a poor In-Valid, only upset because he didn't get a 'fair shot' at life. They'd turn around and blame my parents!" He paused to catch his breath between well-harnessed sniffles. "Damnit, Jake, he knew more about life… he lived, really lived, more than anyone I've ever known. I don't know. Maybe it was his way of escaping the Leukemia, but I don't think that was all that drove him. He just seemed so much more at ease with life. Jake, is it like that, being a God Child? Is it that… free?"

I didn't know what to say. I certainly didn't feel free. Or, did I? I let my mouth take over. It had a certain way of rambling its way into a better understanding of things than my brain could ever offer.

"I don't know, Tom, most of the time I feel so different from everyone else, but, I think… well, I guess maybe it is kinda free. As a Faith Birth, no one really expects anything of me, so I can try things and fail without severe consequences. That's something that most Valids can't do. Failure is so frowned upon that no one takes any risks- no one strives beyond themselves anymore." I was surprising myself. Maybe my condition really was more liberating than I thought. No, I corrected myself; I was refusing to account for the one element that made it all so dangerous. The bittersweet pressure in my pants, hidden by my carry-on bag, gave me tangible proof of that. But I couldn't confess that aspect of myself to Tom. Not now and probably not any time soon; I had no intention of destroying what was beginning to look more and more like a burgeoning... friendship?  Oh, how I needed him as a friend. He was attractive, no doubt (That roguishly tousled hair! Those distant, gray eyes! That prominent, sculpted cheekbone!), but I resolved then and there that I would NOT let my baser instincts ruin us as friends.  The word, 'friends', had such a nice ring to it.

We spent the rest of the bus ride to Augusta just talking, as guys will do. We chatted about teachers and class and sports and, well, everything. Yes, girls, too. The way he talked gave me the distinct impression that  not only was he straight, but that he was so desperately straight as to make my own situation seem laughable. So, mostly to cover myself, I told him all about my summer with Kara, even though there hadn't been any sex. I found that I sighed a lot during that conversation. There was just no way he could be interested in me in the way I was interested in him, so I tried my best to put it out of my mind. We did discover, to our surprise, that we'd be in the same dormitory house, so if we got up there quickly enough, before the rooms were picked over and assigned, we could request to be roommates! Once we realized that, I was back up on Cloud Nine. Not only had I found a friend, but I'd actually get to be around him! Hey, straight or not, I took 'em as I could get 'em!

The school didn't appear to have changed much since last year. Not that I had expected it to, but you never knew. Tom and I grabbed our luggage from the bus as quickly as we could and tore off to our assigned dorm. We arrived at the Dorm Supervisor's desk in a huff, but we were among the first in line. Just as we had hoped, there were plenty of rooms still available. We were each given a key to a suite on the second floor. Most of the rooms at Augusta Prep are two-bed suites: one bedroom with two double beds, a bathroom, a living area, and a small food prep nook for the culinarily inclined. When we stepped in though, we discovered, to our surprise, that this was one of the school's few four-bed suites. Instead of the usual one bedroom, there were two. Apparently, the entire second floor of this dormitory was comprised of this kind of room, as an evaluation sort of thing - if it worked out well on this floor, the rest of the dormhouses would be renovated over the next intercession.  Something to do with economy of floorspace, I guess.  Tom and I quickly agreed to lay claim to one of the bedrooms right then, and left the other open for whomever was assigned to room with us. The second we had dropped our bags on the floor, Tom flung himself on his bed.

"Ow! God, these things haven't gotten any softer since last year," he said, peeling himself off of the mattress. I chuckled as he stretched out the kinks from his back, grabbed a set of casuals from his bag, then headed off to the bathroom, saying he needed a quick shower. I shrugged off my uniform blazer, hung it in the tiny closet in the corner of the room, then experimentally pressed on my own mattress. Nope, no better than Tom's.

I discovered our Portable Terminals in a drawer in the nightstand beside our beds and powered mine up. I typed my parents a quick letter letting them know that I was here safely and sent it just as Tom came out of the bathroom, wearing nothing but a towel wrapped around his waist. His auburn hair, now several shades darker thanks to the water, lay plastered back against his skull. How could I keep my eyes away? Glistening rivulets of water still clung to his chest and abdomen, trickling down towards his waistline and leaving moist trails in the shallow crevices formed by his gentle muscle definition. I watched him intently from the corner of my eye for a moment, just long enough to burn the vision into my permanent memory. Then I forced myself to look away. Self-control, I realized, would have to be my watchword if I planned to make this friendship work.

"Your turn, Jake," he said, whipping the towel off and tossing it on the bed with casual abandon. His back was turned to me, so I stole a quick glance, drinking in the sculpted vision standing so close to me. Close, yes, but so far away, too. My plumbing began to respond to the stimulus, snapping me back to reality. Control, Jake, I scolded myself, standing up to head into the bathroom.

"I'll be out in a few hours," I joked as I left. He chuckled a little. A very cute chuckle. I really had to stop this.

The bathroom was pretty steamy after Tom's shower. Apparently he liked them like I did -- hot enough to roast lobster, and then some. I fired up the water, checking the temperature. Still hot. This school definitely had its plusses, efficient utilities among them. I grabbed a bar of soap and began to lather myself up, doing my best to ignore my frustrated impulses, which had been bothering me ever since Tom had sat down beside me on the bus. Eventually, after washing my hair, I realized that it wasn't going to leave me alone until I gave it an outlet. So, vowing to myself to make it a fast one, I did the deed. Exhausted and caught up in a conflicting haze of emotions, I staggered out of the stall and shut off the water. I flicked on the ventilator (stupid of both of us not to turn it on in the first place, I suppose), started a steady flow in the sink, and splashed a cupped handful of ice cold water on my face.

As I was toweling off, I thought I heard Tom's voice, followed immediately by another. I thought about simply wearing my towel out to the bedroom, as Tom had done, but modesty won out. I pulled on a pair of the plain navy boxer shorts provided by the school, threw a matching terrycloth bathrobe on over it, and opened the bathroom door, intent on discovering who Tom had been talking to. The living room was empty, so I walked straight into our bedroom and found Tom sitting on his bed looking a little puzzled.

"What is it," I asked him, "who were you talking to?"

"One of our roommates is here," he answered, still wearing a slightly bewildered expression. I looked around the room again. No one there.

"Whaddaya mean? Where?" This was getting a little odd. Tom shrugged.

"He's in his room already," he said. "He looked like he was in a big hurry when he came in. I introduced myself to him, but he wouldn't even shake hands. He just told me his name, then he disappeared into his room and shut the door behind him."

"So what was it," I prodded him.

"What was what?"

"His name, idiot!", I said in mock reproach, punching Tom playfully in the shoulder.

"Oh yeah, sorry. It was something weird… started with an 'S'." He searched his memory for a second. "Senjen, that was it. New one on me." I had never heard it before, either.

"Yeah, that is an odd one," I commented. "Sounds Asian."

"No, he looked kind of Italian, actually, but not as dark." An electronic chirp from the nightstand between our beds interrupted us. Tom stood up to investigate while I slid open the walk-in closet to dress. I stepped out just a second later, wearing a pair of school-issue navy track pants and a gray PT shirt, the standard Augusta Prep dress-down uniform. Tom was gazing at his portable Student Terminal, apparently the source of the chime.

"Our class assignments are in," he said dejectedly, tossing me my Terminal. I flicked on the small screen, wondering why Tom sounded so upset, and saw that, indeed, my class schedule was waiting for me. As soon as I read the first class on the list, I knew what was getting to Tom so badly. "Please don't tell me that you've…"

"Yeah," I interrupted him. "First Period."

"Shit. Me too. What're we gonna do, Jake? I can't take another year like last year! And you… damnit all, you wouldn't survive it!" I knew he was right. I read my schedule again, just to make sure that I wasn't hallucinating. No such luck. There it was, bright as day. First Period. English Literature. Kuhn. In an instant, all my hopes for a better year fled my mind. Life is so bitterly ironic.

Well, there's Chapter One. I know it was a bit routine, but I'm just laying the groundwork. I have an idea of how I want the story to end, but I have no clue how I'm going to get from here to there, so if you enjoyed the first part, just keep an eye out. Chapter Two will be along as soon as I can get it out of my head and onto the Word Processor.

Again, address any feedback, positive or negative, to You can reach me via AIM at RedRockerVH, or via MSN Messenger at Thanks for reading!