Fiction/Evolution & Transhumanism
Minted Prose, LLC
6" x 9"
14 and up
Worldwide Rights Available
Rethinking the Future®
|Perfect Gift For:
Sci-Fi Buffs, Adventure Enthusiasts
“I can highly recommend this action-packed adventure . . .”
Professor of Physics,
City University of New York
Green Eyes in the Amazon
Dr. Steven Sumpter, a brilliant biologist and mathematician, has a radical thesis: All the processes of life can be distilled to an elegant algorithm. His groundbreaking idea is a leap in evolution . . . and a heretical violation of the Mutant Laws. In a world powered by religion and a fear of science, Steven’s work is seen as an abomination that must be destroyed. Desperate Steven and his girlfriend, Eli flee to a remote part of the Amazon forest. There they must survive the elements, a murderous crew, and powerful factions hell-bent on finding them. Ultimately, the fate of humankind rests in the hands of Julia, the fruit of Steven’s algorithms and a young girl, a new Eve.Buy Now trade ordering information
“[A] thrilling page-turner...I can highly recommend this action-packed adventure to all readers who love science, unusual characters and, simply, a great story.”
—Brian Schwartz, professor of physics, vice president for research and sponsored programs, The Graduate Center of the City University of New York
“Heresy is still heresy, even when you’re right. Green Eyes in the Amazon is the story of biologist Steven Sumpter, a man who has made many great leaps in biology. But there are those who still hold faith as entirely too sacred, leaving Dr. Sumpter fearing for his life and the lives of his family, as they are forced to flee to most remote parts of the world. Green Eyes in the Amazon is an intriguing suspense novel that explores the conflict of science and religion.”
—Midwest Book Review
“Green Eyes takes a dead-on look at how science and religion both have the potential for good and evil, sometimes simultaneously. Set in an all-too-real world in which religion holds mind (and body)—destroying power and science is looked at as a fearful menace, this is a novel of adventure and ideas that packs more than a bit of a punch.”
—Dan Hays, freelance journalist
It was fall, and nature rolled out the welcome mat for another Halloween. The brown pumpkin patches patiently awaited. Soon diminutive goblins would descend in a mad hunt for the perfect jack-o’-lantern. The farms turned from summer green to gray, and the trees went crimson and yellow. Children played games of ghosts and graves, in a season of dying.
Eli half reclined in the passenger seat, arms crossed, eyes closed, introspective and peaceful, savoring a gentle moment of inner springtime. She thought about secrets. She was a secret. She held a mystery in her beyond the imagination of the ancients. She had become a vessel for a searing beam of immortality.
Eli thought about how science saw nature. She stretched a little and opened her eyes, seeing nature through the car’s windows. Trees and birds bared all their subtleties. Nature exposed its essence for all to see. That is why secrets among men are such an oddity.
She sat up in her seat, dressed in a pair of Steven’s oversize, worn jeans, his gray sweatshirt that hung loose on her, and she had on sneakers. She turned her head and looked at Dennis, Steven’s father.
“Thanks for the outfit,” she said, softly rubbing her arms.
Dennis glanced at her, keeping one eye on the road. “You barely got changed before passing out. How do you feel?”
“I’m still a little groggy, Dr. Sumpter.”
“No more titles. I’ve had enough titles for a lifetime. Anyway, I don’t think all our titles are going to help us right now. I’m Dennis,” he said with a half smile.
“Okay, Dennis, how long have I been out?”
He stared closely at the road. “Since our last break? About two hours, give or take. I tried to keep the daylight driving to a minimum.”
“It seems like forever.”
“We took a few long breaks out of sight of the highway.”
“It can’t be far now.”
“It’s not. We’re on the home stretch and we should travel pretty fast to get it over with.” An adolescent smile crept over his face. “This thing can do a lot more than the two hundred kilometers an hour we’ve averaged.”
Eli looked at the complex instrument panel. “I’m glad you brought a fast car; I think we’re going to need it.”
“Eli, it’s almost an insult to call this a car,” Dennis said, pushing the speed up a little. “We need to get you somewhere safe, and quickly.”
She nodded, as they maneuvered swiftly past the other traffic. “I’m worried about Steven.”
“He’s safer in jail than we are here. He’ll be out in about two months, a pretty light sentence for violating the Mutant Laws. We can connect with him when he’s released and figure out something a little longer-term.”
“He sounded so down when I spoke to him.”
“This has been hard on all of us. And now I understand that we’re going to need to stay out of sight for about nine months.”
Eli’s eyes opened wide. “You overheard my call?”
“No. I tried to give you and Steven some privacy. I bet it’s going to be hard for him to get a secure line in prison.”
“Thanks. I needed to let Steven know I was all right.” She paused. “Bennie told you.”
“It’s okay for him to tell family, Eli. And besides, I heard a scrambled version of the same story from Steven.”
Dennis’ strong hand gripped the steering wheel while he inspected the car’s instruments, adjusted his jamming gear, monitored police frequencies for speeding cars in their vicinity, and managed to evaporate from the whole surveillance apparatus. Steven, Bennie, and Eli had been students needing a little extra money. They decided to make toys for fun and profit. Steven overdid it when he applied the mathematics of his dissertation to the project. It resulted in entirely new life forms, one of which was the child inside Eli. Steven was tried for violating the Mutant Laws that prohibited the development of alien life. He was jailed, and his girlfriend and father were implicated in the crime and under surveillance by the police. Even Steven’s teacher, Professor Bernard, testified against him.
Eli crossed her legs and pulled at the safety harness. “Scrambled is what our lives have been. All of our old plans are up in smoke. I know they’re looking for me. I didn’t get a subpoena before the trial. I guess the prosecutor thought he had enough evidence without me. By the time things at trial went against him, I was trying hard to be scarce.”
“That’s pretty much my story, too. I had to take the back door leaving a few restaurants and skip going to court. I didn’t visit Steven at the jail, either. We talked a bit on the vid here and there. It was pretty coded and brief. A rabbit knows every scent in the air, and the air just stunk to me. It still does,” he said, sniffing the air for effect.
She grimaced. “Don’t say ‘rabbit.’”
He was spared a response by the computer’s voice. “This car has not been identified as wanted. Event density constant. National police network traffic references to ‘Sumpter’ and ‘Dr. Sumpter’ 113 per minute.”
“Oh, Dennis, they don’t know where we are, but they really want us.”
“Somebody does. How many people know about our destination?”
Dennis fidgeted with the controls.
“Besides me, only Steven knows exactly where we’re headed. Of course, my mother and sisters know about our grandparents’ place. None of them would ever say anything, though, and my relatives barely know where I live, let alone what I’m up to.” Eli thought of her fractured family and winced.
“No. He thinks it’s somewhere close to our rendezvous. Besides, we’re officially going nowhere.”
“What do you mean?”
“Our destination has been removed from the public record. There may be some old paper maps with the location of my grandfather’s house, but the military and law enforcement master guidance systems have been wiped clean.”
“How do you know that?”
“Julia told me. And she suggested sending Bennie in the wrong direction.”
He glanced away from the road to look at her. “Julia, Steven’s computer simulation?”
“Yes, Steven started the process.”
“Of making your ethereal friend.”
“Digital, ethereal, but very real.”
Dennis rolled his eyes.
Eli turned to him. “Dennis, I know this is hard to accept, but it is true.”
“‘Hard’ doesn’t cover it.”
“Your son did it. Steven’s discoveries have brought humanity to a new level.”
Dennis searched in his rearview mirrors. “We can figure that out when we get there.”
“You’re right. This is no five-minute discussion.”
Dennis fidgeted in his seat, punching at buttons on the console.
“You gave me some general directions when we started, but we should be in the area now and we need something more detailed.”
“Show me the map.”
“Computer, map it,” Dennis instructed. A three-dimensional drawing appeared suspended between them with a small flashing light showing their location.
“Okay, we need to go in the back way. Take Highway 22. Just before the pavement ends, it turns into County Road 15. Turn off to the right.”
“I sure hope the postman doesn’t come out here often. Computer, do it,” he ordered, causing the autodrive to take over.
“Don’t worry, the country roads won’t be marked. We’re not going to be easy to follow, and there hasn’t been a mailman in these parts for years.”
“I see some farms around here.”
“The farms are abandoned for the most part, since the machines make food cheaper and faster. Even my family finally couldn’t make a go of it out here.”
Dennis wiped the dust off his instrumentation panel with a rag. “Well, one thing’s clear. We better get there soon,” he said, pushing the accelerator hard. “Hang on. Computer, max acceleration.”
The car jerked forward, tossing Eli back in her seat. The scenery disappeared as titanium plates moved over the windows to reinforce the plastic.
“Very impressive,” she said, gripping the door handle.
They went even faster, and she felt faint. Suddenly, the computer hit the brakes. The scenery reappeared as the metal slid off the windows.
“It’s exhilarating, isn’t it?” Dennis beamed.
And juvenile, Eli thought, shaking her long blond hair. She pointed Dennis to a rocky area that wouldn’t show tire tracks. He parked behind a small rise, on the edge of a farm. He clicked his knuckle on a temperature gauge and continued, “This machine is heat- and sound-insulated. We are as dead as a stone to police sensors.” In a couple of minutes the road behind them exploded in flashing red lights.
“Visual to Highway 22,” Dennis said quietly.
The computer projected the scene on the front window. Troopers flew by in their black-and-whites, looking for a speeding blip on their sensors. Sirens screaming, they shot off into the distance, spraying dirt and gravel.
“They’ll give up when it gets dark. That’s my guess,” Dennis said.
“It’s starting to now. Night settles in early out here.”
Suddenly he laughed. “You know they’re going to fill out their reports and head home, griping about the cheap electronics the county buys them.”
“Don’t get too smug. They aren’t fools.”
“You’re right. We can fool them for a while, but hiding here is a simple trick and I don’t want to press my luck.”
Eli looked closely at him. “Steven always said you were a brilliant engineer.”
“Steven is pretty smart, too. I tried to hire him into my firm a number of times. He could have been one hell of an engineer, you know. He could have made a lot of money.”
“He’s a scientist. He’ll work ’til he drops to prove a theorem, but he doesn’t care the slightest how much we bank.”
“Pity, too. My son the biologist. I should have sent him to business school.”
“No. Steven was supposed to be a great scientist.”
“I know that. But we would have made the greatest consulting firm anybody ever saw.”
“You did it by yourself anyway.”
“Did . . .”
The trial had been convulsive enough in their lives with its local fanfare. When it was over, though, the identity of the defendant became widely known. Steven was exceptional even by doctoral student standards. The military and academic community, quickly followed by the religious, began to take seriously the idea that Steven could have achieved a quantum leap in biology. Wild assertions about the creation of an antichrist began to circulate in sinister groups. Soon the mayor and public officials pressured the police to find out more about the case. It was clear that Bennie lacked the technical expertise in biology, so the focus fell on Eli. Dennis was implicated because he was paying for many of Steven’s expenses. What started as surveillance was turning into a manhunt. Dennis understood clearly what it meant. He and Eli had to hit the road.
“What’s going to happen to your company now?”
“Well, my senior executives are running it. I haven’t been able to show up at work for a while anyway. The cops have it staked out. We’ll have to see.” Dennis glanced around him quickly.
“See how far we fall. We’ve lost all of our privileges. That’s why it’s no more titles from now on. We’ve lived honored lives. That’s over. Now we fight for what we get.”
“It’s not so new for me. I’ve worked hard for everything I ever got. I come from a family of worker bees.”
“Don’t get me wrong. Steven and I worked, too, especially after my wife, Grace, died. I had a business and a son to look after.”
“And now you’re taking care of me. Thank you.”
“No need to thank me. You’re part of the family. I agree with you, though; we better move on.”
“The rest of the way is going to be tricky. I think it’s time for me to drive.”
“Are you sure?”
Eli unbuckled herself and walked around to the driver’s side. He relented and changed seats. Eli settled into the driver’s seat. “Be patient; it’ll be slow going. We’ll have to use the headlights some, but I’ll keep it to a minimum.”
“Forget the lights. Computer, night vision.”
Eli squinted as she peered at the computer projection on the windows.
Dennis mumbled, “The color’s a little off.”
“It’s eerie,” she said under her breath.
“It takes a minute to get used to.”
Eli gripped the steering wheel and drove toward the farm, creeping down an old country road. Just as Dennis promised, there was enough light. Eli peered into computer-generated purplish blacks and overexposed whites.
“I recognize this place all right,” she said as she inched ahead. “It’s an old orchard road. When I was a kid, the region was woven together with these. They were threads connecting the county like a quilt. And look at these trees. I could cry. They used to be cared for like heirlooms.”
Eli blinked hard as her memory painted a picture of the road under the mat of twigs and dried leaves. The crackling branches flushed pheasants out in front of her. Lost visions of her youth leaped into her mind. She saw herself and her sisters running through these fruit trees. Eli was as thin as a rail, with long blond hair falling to the middle of her back. As she ran, it bounced like a braided yellow rope. The trees were laden with apples, cherries, and pears. Not the derelict and diseased wooden remnants here. She pushed her hair back with one hand and leaned forward, accelerating gently.
“We should pick up the pace a little, but I don’t want to hit anything.” She imagined herself being chased by the demons of her youth and the police from the highway.
“Agreed. We can’t be out here forever. Someone is sure to see us. I’m going to switch driving modes. Autodrive now.” The car slammed to a complete stop, throwing them forward into their safety harnesses. Eli looked at Dennis with both eyebrows raised.
“The machine is analyzing the problem. When you’re ready, lean forward. Pretend you’re a fighter pilot and have a little faith.”
“Here we go.”
“Release the steering wheel,” Dennis said coaxingly.
“If you say so. It’s your car.” Eli put her hands in her lap and took a deep breath. She stared directly at the center of the road. The car followed her eyes and accelerated.
“This is one smart machine, and it likes to be in control.”
Dennis laughed, pushing the sleeves of his shirt up to his elbows. “Well, I made it.”
The car took off into the night. The turns were sharp, and the ride rough. The jerks reminded her of the Dare, a stomach-convulsing twister at the county fair, and a favorite of the kids when she was growing up. The locals kept it going until the high school closed.
“Dennis, I hope I don’t break your toy,” she yelled as they bounced. She screamed as a deer bolted out of the brush and the car slid to a stop. They waited as the car recomputed the route.
Eli shook her head. “I guess I’ve been a little tense,” she said as the computer continued its analysis. “It’s just that I feel like I’m in school again.”
“So look at the bright side; there’s no final here.”
She looked at him for a second, and tilting her head toward him; she gave a quick half smile. “No final. That’s a thought. It’s over a few hills, if I remember correctly.”
“We should check it out from a distance first. We want to be sure nobody just happens to have an old paper map lying around. I’d hate to run into a welcoming committee.”
“I’m with you on that one.”
As they spoke, the machine figured out where Eli was heading and lurched into high gear, tossing the passengers side to side with quick turns. They hit a huge bump and Eli screamed again. “Holy shit. That was fun!” she shouted. “Safer route, my foot.”
Dennis looked over at her in surprise, as she relaxed her grip on the door handle.
The ride settled down for a minute; then the computer made a hard right turn and came to a sudden, jolting stop on the side of a hill overlooking a small, gray wooden house. The car slid a little in the dirt. Dust settled on the hood, dulling Dennis’ careful shine.
“I think I’d better look at the braking system. Night vision,” he whispered, enhancing the natural light. Eli was silent as she looked with sadness on the fallow land.
“Welcome to our future,” Dennis said as he inspected the landscape. “It certainly looks serene. Now I understand why you and Steven came here after graduation. It’s the perfect place for a good rest,” he said, twisting his neck to make sure all of his vertebrae were still in place.
“Maybe it’s not that serene. Is that someone walking by the lake?”
“Computer, select motion in quadrant one. Enhance ten times,” Dennis instructed. A tall, thin man with a carefully groomed white beard jumped into view on the car’s window. He seemed in no hurry.
“Do you recognize him?” Dennis asked, wondering whether they had come all this way only to find the police one step ahead.
“My God, he’s older now, but that’s Samuel.”
“Yes, I haven’t seen him since I was a teenager, but that’s him all right. He was a neighbor and a close friend of the family. He had a house out here when I was growing up. He’s a professor, humanities to the bone.”
“Not another academic. What are you trying to do to me?” Dennis said in mock anger. “Actually, I’m just glad he’s not the police.”
“He’s harmless. We should just let him walk. When he’s gone, we can go in the house. That gives us time to ensure there isn’t someone else around.”
Dennis rolled down the windows, listening. They heard crows in the trees by the lake, and the pounding of their hearts. The cool night air was heavy with promise and laden with fear.
“Scan for bio,” Dennis said in a low voice.
Through most of his life, time had been fluid to him. One thing flowed predictably from another in a steady progression of accomplishments. That was before Steven got into trouble with the law. Since then, time had become lumpy. A chunk of time passed while they waited and listened to the last crickets of the season. As if instantly, half an hour passed. Dennis broke the silence again.
“The scan is complete. It’s time to go. Your friend is gone and there’s no one else down there. I’ve got a couple of thermal blankets in the back, plus a little food, and a couple of handheld lasers in case there’s no power. Let’s leave the car here. We’ll be a little less obvious without it sitting by the house.”
Dennis dug through a pile of hastily packed provisions in the trunk while Eli went ahead. She quickly opened the creaky screen door and the always unlocked front door. The lights worked, but dimly. They would have to fix the electric fireplace and the stove to get them to work at all. Dennis searched the house, locked both the front and back doors, and then latched the windows.
They ate Dennis’ military rations in silence for several minutes. But Eli needed to talk.
“You know what happened?” she asked, munching the hard dried meat.
“I know some.”
“Never underestimate what your son has done.”
“I am afraid of what he has done.”
“No, be grateful. His work is in me. It is the greatest joy I’ve ever known.”
Dennis shook his head in disbelief. “I love you and Steven. That is why I’m here. But I tell you, I have my doubts.”
“Have faith. This is our future.”
“Our future is to survive here for a while. We’ve got to make it on our own.”
A mutual exhaustion made the discussion brief, and they collapsed into their respective beds. He chose the couch in the front room to keep an eye on things. Eli went to a side bedroom and had a heavy night of dreaming. She saw herself picking blackberries with her grandmother in the bright summer sun.
Eli awoke to the smell of coffee and heard Dennis call, “The day is young, Eli!” She stumbled into the kitchen in yesterday’s clothes. Dennis opened a round of military rations and set them out carefully in small brown heaps in the center of two white plastic plates. He took a black plastic stick with dials on one end out of his toolbox. It was about the length of his hand. He set the laser on low to give off the heat signature of a wood stove, just in case they were being watched.
Eli was glad for the breakfast and for the day, which was cool but sunny. They were sitting at the kitchen table finishing the last bit of coffee when she said quietly, “We have a sad ritual to perform.”
“I know,” he said, dreading this moment.
She saw the wariness in his eyes but would not be dissuaded. His resistance stood for little compared to the profound duty she felt. For her, this was not an option. “There’s an old shovel with some tools at the side of the house. I’ll show you.” She headed out the front door.
“We can pick them up and then go to the car,” he said, following her.
They marched single file, a procession of two, solemn and deliberate, up the hill to the car. Dennis opened a sealed refrigeration storage compartment on the side of the trunk. Over his tight-fitting leather driving gloves he put on a pair of large gardening gloves he’d found among the tools at the house. Eli took his arm and stopped him.
“Now, you trust me,” she demanded.
“This is a dangerous specimen. Who knows what Steven made? It needs to be incinerated safely and in a place where no one is going to find anything left of it.”
“You’ll do no such thing. This is not a specimen. We’ll treat it with respect.”
“There is nothing to discuss here.” With that, she took a thick white cloth in each hand and reached into the refrigeration compartment, carefully taking out the small, cold wooden box. The plainest of things holding one of the most extraordinary, she thought. Her tears turned to ice as they fell on the cover. She held it, wanting to warm the remains of Steven’s birthday present with her heart. Dennis marched behind her reverently. They followed a rocky path running along the edge of the lake. After a while, she saw her destination and climbed a small rise to an ancient graveyard.
Kneeling by the little coffin, she said, “This was a Native American burial ground before my family made it theirs. We will inter my rabbit friend here, beside my grandfather. They would have liked each other. They were both pioneers, you know.”
With that, Dennis dug a very deep hole, almost as deep as the shovel was long. Leaning over, she gently placed the box in the ground.
Dennis watched her and wondered. This rabbit was the product of one of his son’s experiments. He hoped that Eli’s baby wasn’t the result of another, as Eli alleged. Dennis was silent, respectful, and fearful. Eli stood over the plot looking as though she had buried a part of herself.
“Is that you, Eli?” a loud voice called from the trail below them.
Eli looked up quickly. Wiping the tears from her cheeks, she replied as cheerfully as she could, “Sam, how are you? You startled me. I didn’t expect to see anyone else around here. It’s great to see you.” She stumbled down the hill and gave him a small hug. “What are you doing here?” she asked as she looked him over.
“Oh, I’m a retired old man now. I was just taking my morning constitutional. Look at you, Eli! I haven’t seen you in years, but I recognized you at once. You grew into quite a beauty.”
“You always were a charmer. I’ve been busy. I was a professor, too.” It surprised Eli to use the past tense about her profession.
Samuel turned to Dennis, who worked behind a small grove of trees before joining them. He finished covering the grave with sod and hid the shovel. “I’ve known Eli since she was ten years old.” The old man looked closely at Dennis. “And whom do I have the pleasure of meeting? Any friend of Eli’s is a friend of mine.”
“This is Dennis; he’s my father-in-law.” Dennis heard Eli say “father-in-law” and knew he had just progressed to a new level with her, as well as having to share another secret-that Steven and Eli were not married in any official sense.
“This is Dr. Samuel-”
The old man cut Eli off. “Sam will do,” he said as he shook Dennis’ hand earnestly. “And Eli’s father-in-law? Congratulations. When do I get to meet the lucky husband?”
Eli regained her composure, not letting the conversation lead her into any more lies. She turned to Dennis and said, “Do you have any more of that wonderful coffee you brought with you? I think we should all go back to the house and have a chat.” With that, she took Samuel’s arm and led the group directly to the kitchen, feeding them small talk until they got there.
Dennis looked with amazement on his newfound daughter-in-law. He thought about how his son had tried to prove evolution, looking at minutiae under his microscope. Now Dennis watched it happen right here, in this tall blond woman who had become his daughter-in-law. If this was evolution, he was happy about it.
Dennis walked a little in back of the others, looking behind him as he went. He decided to return later and remove every possible trace of the burial. He wanted to push the sod into place so that the edges of the cut didn’t show, and sweep away any lingering clumps of dirt. He didn’t want some curious visitor—Sam, for instance-disturbing the grave. He frowned and made a fist. For Eli’s sake, the rabbit must never be exhumed.
Copyright © 2009 P. J. Fischer