Friday, April 29, 2011

Chapter 2 - Eve

            I didn’t want to turn on the light in the kitchen in case it woke Micah. His little, closet-for-a-bedroom hung off the back of the kitchen like an afterthought. I thought maybe a long time ago it’d been a covered porch that someone remodeled out of necessity. He still had an hour of sleep left.
            I tripped over the laundry basket and barely caught myself on the edge of the counter. Scowling, I grabbed the basket and shoved it through the narrow doorway into the equally small living-room.
            Someday...I’ll have a real, full size washer and dryer--in a real laundry room...I stopped before the day dream went too far. Letting myself fantasize about that kind of thing always led to worries about Micah. He couldn’t take care of himself. Not yet.
            I won’t get placed anywhere until I’m 18, I reminded myself to stave off irrational concerns about Micah cooking for himself. Sixteen at the earliest.
            I put together our lunches, skimping on the jam when I had to open another jar from the pantry. My little garden hadn’t yielded many strawberries this year. I canned them with our sweet, old neighbor Mrs. Mae. I suspected she added some of her own strawberries to my harvest.
            I folded the laundry with quick, practiced movements, thinking about a rummage sale I saw a poster for while walking home from school the day before. Micah needed bigger shirts. I wondered when he’d stop growing. He already looked me in the eye. Dad had been well over six feet. I bit my lip and sighed. I was tempted to tell him to roll up the too short sleeves on the shirts he wore now, but that would just provoke him into stealing more food if he thought I couldn’t afford to get him more clothes, even just cheap hand-me-downs.
            The sizzle of pancakes woke Micah. He drug his feet across the floor and slumped into a chair next to the table in the corner. He scowled when I dropped the plate, piled with golden pancakes, in front of him, but he didn’t say anything.
            “They’re cheap, Micah. And they fill you up. Just eat, please.”
            He doused them in the watery syrup I made at home--water, not enough sugar, and not much more than a drop of maple extract. “I could’ve grabbed a dozen eggs from that SUV. The spoiled blond lady probably wouldn’t have missed them.”
            “Don’t talk about people like that. Eat.”
            We walked to school together, but in silence; Micah probably brooding over thoughts of scrambled eggs. If I stayed a few hours later at work on Friday, I could get an extra dozen eggs. I grimaced. They were so expensive. Over five dollars for a dozen. Two and a half hours of work.
            I followed Micah into the red-brick building that housed our school. He stared defiantly at the teacher-“cashier” standing by the door, waving his arm over the bar code reader Mom used to say reminded her of the grocery store.
            The teacher glanced down at the little screen on the desk. "Good morning, garbage boy," he sneered.
            I clapped a hand on Micah's shoulder, pushing him forward through the “check-out” and waving my own arm without a word. I knew what it said--Housekeeping, management--and I felt guilty for it.
            He shook me off. "Like he's so much better. He teaches garbage boys."
            "Try to stay out of trouble, Micah. Please."
            He rolled his eyes and took off down the hall.
            I turned at the sound of Headmistress Mason voice and smiled. “Good morning, Headmistress.”
            She took me by the elbow. “Come with me, dear,” she whispered in my ear. She guided me down the hallway, toward her office. I tried to ignore the kids in the other classrooms the closer we got. The kids inside the rooms labeled Medical, Corporate leadership, and Government--Executive weren’t dressed in too small clothes and faded jeans. A girl stepping into one of the Medical classrooms smiled warmly at me. I looked away.
            “What’s going on, Mrs. Mason?” I lengthened my stride to keep up with the formidable headmistress’s long steps.
            “We have official visitors, Eve. I need to show them something. You won’t mind giving them a tour with me, will you?”
            My cheeks warmed with pleasure. “Of course not, Mrs. Mason.”
            She beamed. “I knew you wouldn’t.” She slowed to a more lady-like pace when we approached her office. Placing her hand comfortingly on my back, she guided me inside. “Good morning, sir,” she greeted the small entourage in her spacious office.
            A man next to the desk turned. I couldn’t stop a small gasp from escaping.
            “May I introduce you to one of our hardest working students, Mr. Vice President?”

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Chapter 1 - Micah

       I always hated that color. I could say I don't know why, but I know exactly why. Red was my mother's favorite color. She wore a red skirt the last time I saw her alive. Red is corrupt, and it's power hungry. I didn't just hate red. I despised it for everything it represented. Red was the city I lived in. Phoenix in 2025 seemed to drip in red. I hated the government built up in that very city. I hated the people who lived there: stuck up, snobby and generally better than me. I hated the fence surrounding the city and guarded 24/7 by lasers. I hated the lasers because they wouldn't kill you, just immobilize you until "the officials" got there and threw you into prison. The colors of their sports teams were even red. I hated them for that. Worst of all their garbage dumpsters were red, scarlet red, as if they were stained with blood. I hated those dumpsters. I hated them because I was a garbage man.

Really I just hated the bar code on my wrist telling me that was all I could ever be.
       I hated the red suited Seazan that chased me the first time I stole a loaf of bread.
How could I ignore it, sitting unattended in the back of a shiny black SUV? I saw it from the back of the garbage truck in front of a tall house in one of the neighborhoods I really hated. I took it home to my older sister, Eve. Of course she wouldn't eat it. I stole it, and she said we were better than that. I knew we weren't and so did the poor neighbor family who accepted the gift and fed it to their half-starved children.  
Mom thought we were better than that too. Eve got her kind naivete from Mom. Mom wanted to believe everyone was good like her. But they weren't. They were cruel, selfish and unforgiving. She didn't know that kindness wasn't good enough. You have to do something. Maybe I shouldn't have stolen from the rich to help those I loved, but it was the only way I knew how to do something.
       After the war ended in 2012, “the officials” told us that Zair Vodnovic’s monumental breakthroughs in 2005 could change our world for the better. They told us that discovering a way to take DNA samples from newborns and identify genetic disorders and diseases would lead to something much greater. Like the socialist party that took control of the country taking advantage of a war ravaged people and using the technology to “track” everyone into career paths to end poverty.  And sure enough, they ended poverty.
       The night I got home from the Seazan chasing me after stealing the bread, Eve tried to get me to stop like she always did.

“Can’t you just lie low and wait for things to change?”
“I can’t just wait. People have waited for 13 years now and NOTHING has happened!”
Eve shoved the bread back at me, her eyes accusing. “That’s not true! After the war the socialists pulled everyone together. Those were hard times, and they did the best they could to make sure no one starved.”
“You’re blind just like THEY are. They used technology to make sure they stayed on top and we stayed on bottom. They said they wanted everyone equal, but it was never that way. Look at how they’ve divided into the haves and the have-nots! I’m sick of being stuck at the bottom!”
“It’s not all bad, Micah. We have what we need and nobody is starving.”
“You don’t understand, Eve. You’re happy being a maid because everyone at school treats you like a queen. Even the headmistress makes sure you never have to get your hands dirty.”
       I slammed the door and ran to my room. It wasn’t much privacy. Our “cozy,” two bedroom house kept us warm but that was about it. A quiet knock on the door interrupted my unsettled thoughts.
Eve slid into my room without waiting for a response. I’m sure she knew I wasn’t going to invite her. “I’m sorry. I know you’re just trying to help, but I worry about you. I worry they’re going to take you.”
“I’d rather have them just get it over with”
She bit her bottom lip. She swallowed. I knew that look. She was trying to hold back her tears. “I need you, Micah.”
       She was right. She needed me. I was her only life line. Since mom and dad died, she was constantly on the verge of an emotional breakdown. I definitely needed her. At just 13 years old I wasn’t much for a house keeper. She was only 14 but still more than capable of taking care of me. She kept me in line, and she was good at that, even if she was bossy at times.
Eve sat down on my bed and tried to rumple my hair tenderly. I jerked my head out of the way.
She frowned. “Remember before they took Mom and Dad? Remember what Dad told you? He knew they were coming, and he warned you because he knew you were like him.”
“I don’t remember. That was three years ago,” I lied.
She sighed. “He said to be careful and not let anything happen to me. How can you do that if they take you?”
She was being manipulative again, but I was too tired and wanted to be alone, so I played along. “Okay, I’ll be more careful. But I won’t stop taking the bread. Those families need it.”
       Tears started rolling down her cheeks, so I turned over and pretended to sleep. My sister was too naive, too good. She wanted to think everyone always had good intentions. But they didn’t. They all wanted power and money; we just wanted a chance, a chance to choose. I couldn’t choose though, my government scan said my DNA indicated the life of a garbage man suited me best.
So they printed a bar code on my wrist and nobody could forget.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Micah and Eve are destined for mediocrity--unless they can change their DNA.

Welcome to Garbage--a book published chapter by chapter, week by week. And the great thing is you’ll get to choose some of the choices Micah and Eve make throughout the book. Don’t worry, no multiple endings, just the opportunity for you to shape the action as it rolls along.

Making his debut as a fiction writer, DJ Savage has honed his skills as a blogger, writing about what he loves the most--sports! As the voice of Micah, DJ will show you the action through the eyes of the impulsive, idealistic, more-than-a-garbage-man hero.

Ranee` S. Clark has written several, yet to be published YA novels. She’s currently querying her debut novel, Bloom. Ranee` will write opposite DJ in a character probably too like herself than she’s willing to admit--bossy, protective, and careful Eve.

So sit back, slack off work, ignore Facebook for a few minutes and enjoy Garbage.

The first installment will be published April 27, 2011.