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GENE. SYS.

By

Aaron Denius

Copyright © 2014

Printed in The United States of America

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law.

ISBN-13: 978-1502743046

ISBN-10: 1502743043

Cover Design: Mousam Banerjee     IG: @illus_station

IG/Twitter/TikTok: @aarondenius

To the three strongest women I know:

Mom

Your courage and sacrifice have been a driving force in my pursuit of my dream. Thanks for being my biggest fan.

Kelly

You are one of the most talented people I have ever known. Watching you grow into the amazing person and mother you are has been one of the biggest joys of my life.

Pansy

Your life is an inspiration. After all you have experienced, you live your life with uninhibited joy. Thank you for showing me that it’s okay to laugh at yourself.

I love you all and am humbled by you.

CHAPTER I

The world is supposed to end in about a year.

My dad says that things will be very different. He won’t tell me why, but he says that it’s the reason I was created. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. At least since I found the ladder that leads to the roof. It’s tucked away in the back corner of the library. I came across it when searching for books on the beginning and the end of the world.

I like the library because it contains real books. I can look up anything I want on tablets, but the way the plastic feels on my fingers as I turn the pages makes me feel like I am part of the story being told. I also like that the library is always empty. Nobody ever comes in here, so I often go to escape and read. My dad tells me that it is more of a museum than a library, but I like it either way.

The electronic catalog at the front of the library directed me to the philosophy section near the library’s back section. I read everything I could. Everything seemed to have a different answer. Most of the books weren’t much help, and the books marked as religious texts were so broad that they only gave me more questions.

I had gone searching for a different corner to perch up against when I saw the ladder. I climbed up and opened the door that was cut out of the ceiling. Fresh air hit my face, and I stepped out onto the roof. I looked around and saw the entire compound I call home. I saw the walls surrounding the compound, and I saw the hundreds of drone guards patrolling the borders. The guards all looked exactly the same; carbon copies of one another.

The sky looked different from atop the roof. It was bigger. That was the first time I saw beyond the walls. I couldn’t see much because the walls are about thirty feet tall, but when I turned to the west, I saw it—a triangular rock formation jutting out from beyond the wall. I must have stared at it for three hours before I realized that I was shivering. All I could think about was how much I wanted to go beyond the walls to see what else was out there.

Dad told me that it was hazardous outside the compound’s walls, and that I could not go out there under any circumstance. He let me know that what I saw was the Great Pyramid of Giza. So I read. I would bring the books to the roof, and in two nights, I read everything there was about the pyramids and the ancient Egyptian culture. I imagined I was one of the pharaohs. I believe that I have the same olive complexion and light eyes they had. I’m definitely taller. I’m the tallest person at this compound, so I can’t really believe many people are closer to the stars than I am. I wanted so badly to be one of them. Their life appeared to be free. The pyramid became a symbol of freedom, and it only made me hungrier to see this five-thousand-year-old wonder.

I did some quick geometry and figured that the pyramid was only about two miles away. That meant I could run to it in about six minutes. I had it all figured out, but then thoughts about what else might be out there crept in. What else were those walls hiding from me? Would the end of the world affect them?

For eight straight days, those were the questions on my mind, but not tonight. Different thoughts are occupying my mind. Tomorrow I am supposed to meet Ev for the first time. We were created simultaneously, but the only time I remember catching a glimpse of her was two months ago when I was released from my incubation tube. They were carting me away when I rolled my head over and saw her floating in her tube. They released her the next day.

Dad and the other scientists did everything they could to keep us apart. We were trained and schooled separately. They ran tests on us individually, and they had drone guards making sure we never crossed paths. I would always try to steal a peek or sneak around to see her, but they were cautious.

Now, I wouldn’t mind if they pushed the meeting back a couple of days. I’m nervous and scared. I wonder what she knows about me. Is she nervous and scared too? Is she having trouble sleeping right now? I wonder if Dad told her about the end of the world as well.

These thoughts dominate my mind as I spread out on my blanket and stare at the stars. I close my eyes, and before I know it, the darkness of sleep has overtaken me.

I wake up shivering. I don’t know how long I was asleep, but the sky has become lighter. Daybreak is coming soon. I

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