Jefferson City, Missouri Outlander Territories
December 9, 2055
Cassie pushed through the pain, her brow damp, her face fixed in a look of grim determination. She willed herself to stay quiet, but her contractions were fast and furious now.
The dimly lit room was a depraved space to give birth to a baby. But the little family of three, soon to be four, had few options at this point.
The doula kneeled in the tight space between Cassie’s legs as Momma Jessica took over her wife’s hand.
“Cassie baby, I need you to push. She’s coming, I can see her head.”
The couple had planned for this momentous occasion in secret, but it was all to be in vain. They hadn’t expected their miracle bundle of joy to arrive so soon.
It had been with an unwavering conviction, a dedication to be on the side of what was right, and a noble call to fight with the others in the salvation of planet Earth, that Cassie had joined the Revolution. She escaped SURFACE EARTH and went Underground with her daughter and warrior in training , Sydney.
She was motivated, as always, by her dedicated partner, and brilliant scientist, Momma Jessica. She too was driven by a fight to do what was right. When Momma Jessica told her the Revolution needed surrogate mothers to carry the stolen embryos from the Office of Pandemic Research, she knew how she could serve the revolution. In no time the Underground Scientists, led by Momma Jessica, had inseminated her.
The miracle child would be born with special gifts that should be nurtured and cultivated, for the good of all mankind. But Cassie and Momma Jessica already knew a newborn’s fate who was unfortunate enough to be cultivated in a laboratory in the Office of Pandemic Research.
It was agreed among the revolutionaries that 3 tickets would be secured for Cassie, Momma Jessica and Sydney’s escape on an intergalactic flight to the Sovereign Colonies on Mars. There, Cassie would give birth. Although The Underground Scientists where ecstatic over the rapid in utero development of the fetus, no one could have predicted this sudden turn of events. Cassie was in labor 3 months before her due date.
Momma Jessica looked at the thin ceiling as Cassie’s heavy moans grew louder.
Sydney held watch too with a cool compress. Her Momma’s hand was like a vice, but the girl wouldn’t complain. Before long, a baby’s cries filled the gloomy darkness. The doula had assisted in silence but now she hummed and swaddled the newborn. Sydney, a brand-new big sister, thought her heart would explode.
She could hear the mothers talking in hushed tones.
“Ain’t no way. Not gonna do it, Cassie said. From her birthing cot, she aimed a quick glance at Sydney, who tried to act like she wasn’t ease dropping.
“Then I’ll stay too,” Momma Jessica said.
Cassie gave Momma Jessica a look, part crazy, part hurt and disappointed.
“So, you're not gonna give us a scientist on Mars? All this sacrifice, bloodshed, we gonna just stay here and die because our lives aint shit.
Wasn’t it you that told me anything is possible, and you.... baby you created this.
Fuck those shady motherfuckers. Every day, for the last time, you put on that face, and dealt with those motherfuckers you hate. For us. For all the us in this world that ain’t got power or money.
But on Mars baby, you get the clout. Only a matter of time before the Office gets serious about our demands.
Baby Girl chuckled and cooed, already aware that she was the center of attention.
“If they find out about what, she, is....
Momma Jessica couldn’t live with what she’d seen. The soulless Infanticide and sadistic medical procedures done on thousands. How many had she witnessed, thrown away in a misguided attempt to save the rich and privileged.
Silence filled the room until the doula stood up.
“Who says they gotta find out," she asked, and stepped out of the shadows. She walked closer to the women. She wanted to see their eyes when she spoke from her heart.
“Just maybe … I could have a visit from my two granddaughters that I forgot to chart on my Universal Day Pad… Lost touch with their Momma and all…. “
Cassie knew where the old woman was going with this. She had confided that her real Mother was dead. It had been just her and Sydney until she met Momma Jessica six years ago.
“After you turn yourself in, your babies will be safe with me.”
Cassie Contemplated her options and felt herself surrender.
“Sometimes the only solution isn’t what you planned,” she said.
St. Louis City, Missouri
September 27, 2056
Granny said the world is dying, but it wasn't like that when she was a little girl. The decaying brick and mortar office buildings downtown were full of people back then. All kinds of folks, lawyers, city workers, waitresses and cooks.
Back then, they’d actually go out and socialize together. They ate and drank in the crowded restaurants and danced the night away in the hottest nightclubs. Granny said the viruses were always there, but it didn’t get bad until 2020. Those were the good ole days, according to Granny, but just thinking about all the people who were unvaccinated, breathing contaminated air, and touching each other without masks or government mandated protection, it seemed like a chapter from my worst nightmare.
Baby Girl was all big brown eyes, as she peeked over a mini bio face mask. Obedient in Granny’s arms, I wondered why Baby Girl never behaved like that with me. Maybe it was Momma that she missed, and Granny was the closest thing she could remember.
I couldn’t wait to pick Granny’s brain for answers. She liked to tell stories and after all, I needed to know these things, right? Mr. Goodwin from my Advanced Placement Modern American History class wanted a digital presentation on the Worldwide Pandemic of 2020 and Granny had lived through it all and I couldn’t wait
My best friend Kaylee thought it was a cool idea to include Granny as a part of my presentation. I was going to get her perspective on how life changed after the Pandemic. Kaylee was in the same virtual classes as I, but she was going to do something completely different. She had the time and resources to create a hologram of President Biden from the 20’s. During her presentation he would address the viewer, give speeches, and relive his declaration of Marshall Law from 2026.
She didn’t have a newborn sister and a bossy Granny like me. Her parents were scientists who worked for The Office of Pandemic Research, and she lived in one of the Biohazard Protected Communities that had the best of everything. She didn’t have to wear a face mask indoors because their homes had Infectious Disease Decontamination units built in. Granny had the senior model provided by the Government. It worked ok, but she wouldn’t take any chances with Baby Girl. She made sure Baby Girl had a mask on whenever she left her steri-crib.
Kaylee was calling. We had finally connected our homes social interconnection units. Granny wasn’t even online when me and Baby Girl moved in 2 months ago. She was still socially connecting through her ancient 7G cell phone or via V-Pad.
“Hey girl, got it. Mrs. Taylor, can you hear me?”
Kaylee had set up a teleconference from her bedroom, all wild red hair, and freckles. We could see her loud and clear on my holographic screen.
“Yes child” Granny exclaimed. “Let's do this”
She was ready to go and excited to help me become the success she knew one day I’d be.
I looked about business top to bottom in full Oprah Winfrey mode. With my mature reporter voice, I faced the virtual camera as Kaylee recorded my presentation.
St. Louis City, Missouri
October 3, 2056
My True Self sat cross legged on the floor in my bedroom with Kaylee’s hologram and her pet kitty, Max. Our virtual classes were over for the day and she tele-projected to my bedroom to do homework and laugh about life, the way teenage girls do. She was in a better mood after learning her 2020 Pandemic project had earned her a grade of 98.5%. I was more than happy with my 92.7% but Kaylee was super smart. The assignments came easy for us, especially when we worked together.
Virtual reality was the primary way we socialized because physical contact was severely restricted. As Kaylee’s hologram solved the quadratic equation that had given me fits in a series of short simple steps, I watched her True Self stroking Max with one hand and eating out a bag of tortilla chips.
“What you think about Darius?” she asked.
Her True Self interrupted the hologram and the transmission exploded into a shimmery buff of particles that filled the room where she had been. I zoomed into her True Self face to face because I knew this was going to be a girl chat moment and the start of something big. I couldn’t tell what she was trying to tell me. Not yet.
“He alright. Kind of square though… “I didn’t want to say much more. Granny warned me against speaking my Third Eye to the wrong people. Sometimes I wondered if I could trust Kaylee with my thoughts.
“He’s in the Alpha Centurions like me. She started.
“We qualified for some of the same courses so we V Chat all the time. But yesterday he asked me if I wanted to get together… REAL-LIFE!”
“At his house, girl?”
I knew Kaylee was fast, but this was too much.
I switched to Split Screen Home Monitor on our transmission and watched Baby Girl sleep peacefully in her crib as Kaylee spilled details nonstop on all her secret virtual rendezvous with Darius. Something about this didn’t feel right but I tried to be happy. I knew Kaylee was lonely and I wanted to be ok with this, but she seemed to be moving too fast.
“When yawl gonna do it?”
I thought Granny was napping like Baby Girl. I swiped away the notes and the V Cards Darius had sent Kaylee, but I wasn’t fast enough. The look on Granny’s face said she had heard and seen too much.
“Who’s this boy?” she asked
Granny was a small woman, but she could get in your business big as day.
Kaylee was quick as her True Self projected Lifesize, and suddenly she was a hologram sitting next to me on the floor in my bedroom. We looked up at Granny, our faces innocent and composed.
“He’s my friend, Mrs. Taylor. I was just showing Sydney some of our notes from our Shakespeare project…”
I didn’t know what to say. Kaylee was clever and quick, but I could tell Granny wasn’t buying it.
“Shakespeare project huh?”
“Yeah, Romeo and Juliet.” Kaylee chuckle But Granny wasn’t amused. My Third Eye saw it clear as a neon sign in the middle of the day
Be careful around her….
St. Louis City, Missouri
October 12, 2056
Momma was at the Woman’s prison in one of the big incarceration complexes that made up downtown. I had been there with Granny to visit Momma, and when I told Kaylee about the SURFACE EARTH trip, she hung on every word. She said I was Lucky.
“Girl, are you serious?
“Your Momma is a scientist, and mine is in jail. How am I lucky?”
Her True Self rolled her eyes and did the little neck roll that made me laugh. With one white girl finger in the air, she began to break down what she really meant. I swear, sometimes Kaylee was a sister in a white girl’s body.
“At least you know your Momma, Sydney. You know what she stood for, RIGHT?
The question hung unanswered in the air between us. Had I shared too much when I told Kaylee Momma was in jail because of her protesting against the Office of Pandemic Research? It was the same shady government organization Momma Jessica had worked for and Kaylee’s Mom and Dad were still scientists at.
“I know my parents through VIRTUAL- LIFE, but REAL-LIFE time? NEVER…
“Sydney, I have so many questions. So many things I want to see and do. But it seems like they already figured out what I’m gonna do with my life.”
Her mood was sullen and suddenly I knew why we had become friends. I was there to lift her spirits and encourage her to fight back with all her power.
“Girl, that beat is hot.”
My Third Eye had tapped into a song she was thinking of. We vibed off old music that was new to us when we discovered it in Music Appreciation class.
“Public Enemy, Fight the Power….”
We both exploded in a burst of giggles because we knew what that was about.
Darius had sent her the song in his D LOVES K playlist
. We had shared so many secrets and now things were about to get REAL.
St. Louis City, Missouri
October 19, 2056,
I had just dozed off when Kaylee’s hologram tele projected to my room, waking me up with a breathless whisper. She said she had finally gotten with Darius SURFACE EARTH, but her face was sad and streaked with tears. She had just left him!
“Tell me what happened girl.” I demanded, and her look broke my heart.
“What am I Sydney? “She cried and her hologram projected out my bedroom, as quickly and quietly as she had appeared.