Dad had repairs to oversee at the church. For once, I need my father both as a parent and as a pastor. I go inside through the unlocked side door and I follow the noise echoing through the empty dark halls. Dad and Elder Cain Blair are in the men’s room replacing the piping underneath the sinks. Immediately, Dad instructs Elder Cain to keep working and escorts me to his office.

            To endure the trek, he makes small talk with me.

            “We’re blessed God provided the means for these repairs. I’m tired of soaking wet floors, holy walls, and torn up carpet.”

            “God is good.” I say, still analyzing in my mind the best way to bring everything up to dad and to get some direction.

            Chuckling softly, dad says, “All the time…”

            Sure that’s only half the saying but when you grow up in church, Christianese gets old and boring quickly.

            Dad sits down in his brown leather, swivel chair behind his dark mahogany desk. The wall behind him sporting his credentials and awards over the years. I sit across from him, in a simple, armless green sanctuary chair, wide and sturdy enough to hold all sizes. To postpone the burden, I’m about to place on dad, I ask where Pastor Josiah is. Dad says the board decided he would handle maintenance needs for the church since Pastor Josiah holds many other responsibilities.

            “Enough with the chit-chat, what’s troubling you?”

            I want to cry, but the strength to fend off that urge sustains my plain countenance.

            “Melody Gartner−,” I go to explain, but dad chimes in.

            “The girl you bring to youth group sometimes?”

            “Yes, sir.”

            Dad chortles, “Son, I’m your father first and a pastor to you second. Drop the sir. Call me dad. What about Melody?”

            “She’s my girlfriend.” I say.

            The shock on his face could stop time with his wide-eye stare and slight agape mouth. I know my parents believe I’d follow in their footsteps and not date until college. My dad did a lot of research on youth dating and majority of the data reflects more negatives than positives.

            Taking a very deep breath, as I exhale I confess, “And she’s pregnant.”

            That knowledge causes his face to fall into the palm of his hand as a feeble attempt to hide his broken heart.

            “She also wants to get married.”

            Sighing as he wipes his face lifting his head, “When did it happen?”

            I knew the it inquiry referred to the night of conception.

            “She says the night of the homecoming dance…” Relief rushes over me. I used to think back on that night a feel ashamed, now I no longer do.

            “You’re not so sure?”

            I shake my head. Everything about her and me makes me completely uncertain. “No.” I say, but I explain, “Before I came here I was spending time with the Lord… I felt so guilty… I regretted going to that dance, I regretted becoming Mel’s boyfriend, and I deeply regretted creating that baby… I thought if I never went to that dance the kid wouldn’t exist and as clear as day the Holy Spirit told me that the baby would. If I never slept with Mel, she wouldn’t be my girlfriend. I would have never slept with her, if the punch wasn’t spiked, and−,” dad holds his hand up to stop me from talking.

            “Are you sure you had sex with Melody? If you were drunk, do you remember that night?” Dad asks a justifiable question.

            “The last I remember is getting in the passenger seat of my car…I felt so weird I just wanted to sleep it off…”

            “How far along is she according to the doctor?” Dad asks a good question. “If it happened the night of the homecoming dance she’d be about 5 or 6 weeks”

            “The dance was a month ago?” I say.

            “Maybe you should take that sex ed class at school. Son, women are pregnant before they get pregnant. That’s just how the doctors count.”

            Silence rises between us and creates a giant of awkwardness. It didn’t really matter how far along Melody is in her pregnancy. Dad and I had a mutually strong feeling the baby isn’t mine. When I muster the courage to speak up, dad beats me to it.

            “Let me see if I understand why you’re dating her… You took her to homecoming, to be nice. Then you thought you lost your virginity to her, so you asked her to be your girlfriend?”

            I just nod my head yes feeling a little embarrassed.

            “Why do you think you did that?”

            The horrid sensation of my masculinity dissolving as I think of the real reason why, I slouch crossing my arms over my chest as if this position could protect how I feel inside… Sighing I confess, “I’m gonna sound like a girl if I tell you.”

            “No, you’ll sound like my son. It’s just you and me.” Dad says.

            “I want to wait or at least I wanted to wait until I’m married to have sex… Any kind of sex…” I shift forward and dangle my arms from my bent kneecaps. Scratching my head, I try to feel less exposed then I do right now. Why does guilt rack my heart with trouble when I’m just being honest? I go on to say, “I want to be like you and mom. You two waited until you met ‘the one’. And—,” before I could go any further, dad bursts into laughter.

            “What?” I ask.

            Cupping his mouth, he takes a deep breath. Shaking his head, he removes his hand and grabs a push pen from his desk. He presses the button again and again, and makes the pen click again and again as the ballpoint tip plays hide and go seek according to his actions.

            “What makes you think I was a virgin when I married your mom? I never stated that and I hope I didn’t imply that.”

            “You and mom both said several times you waited to sleep together until you married each other.”

            Dad raises his eyebrows, stops clicking the pen and sets it down as he looks me in the eyes. He says, “Yes, we said that… So I guess I see where you get that concept from, but I had a few girlfriends before your mother. One reason why I allowed your mother to leave that bookstore without saying anything to her, is because I was in a long distant relationship with my high school sweetheart. She went to Liberty University. We did a lot of fooling around. The girlfriend before her is who I lost my virginity to. We were both so scared that she could have been pregnant… Luckily, she wasn’t… And before that girl, I fooled around girls all the time at church camp since 7th grade. I actually got caught in 9th grade making out in the boys’ bathroom with the hottest girt at camp. And what we did is not safe for your ears to hear.”

            Dad gets real. He divulges the first time his eyes set sight on a dirty magazine when he was 11 years old. He admits that fantasizing and fondling himself wasn’t enough. He got the real chance to kiss a girl and explore the sensations of raging hormones. He added his middle school peers only inspired him with ways to explore the sexual desires within him without getting caught. In high school, his guy friends made it seem like a man was gay if he wasn’t having sex. For a long time, dad just flirted with girls on campus and went out on dates, and he allowed his friends to think what they wanted. However, it was different when he got a girlfriend. Making out and groping stories wasn’t enough to prove dad was a man. The pressure to prove his masculinity made him convince his girlfriend to have sex.

            When I asked dad, what about church and God, wondering if he felt guilty? He said he wasn’t serious about his faith. He added his church just preached on burning in hell a lot. If you weren’t a drunk, a homosexual, or an adulterer… no one feared going to hades. His church growing up taught him how to be a church goer not a Christian.

             His high school sweetheart, who was a different girl than who he lost his virginity to, was the girl who introduced him to the concept of a relationship with Jesus. They were never alone together. The only places she’d go out with him were to bible study, Sunday School, church, and church fellowship events. They would talk over the phone about the bible and he listened to what Jesus put on her heart. He wasn’t sure why he dated her for so long. He thinks it may have been because a few of his guy buddies were getting in trouble having sex. One caught Chlamydia, one got a girl pregnant, and the other got accused of rape, but was acquitted. All of them knew their friend was guilty, for he had no respect for women and was a very troubled young man.

           Dad planned on marrying the Liberty University girl, but that changed on their third-year-anniversary. She flew out to Tennessee and visited him at Belmont University. He was excited to see her. They went and grabbed coffee off campus and she explained this dream she had to dad. At the end of telling him about it, she confessed the dream made her realize she wasn’t in love with dad and didn’t think it would be a good idea to be together anymore. Simply because God was leading them both in separate directions and dad didn’t disagree with her. The break up lifted a weight off his shoulders and he felt free. He told himself when he saw mom next, he would talk to her. Liberty University girl left as mom walked into the café. The rest I know.

            “Looking back on things now, she showed me what it was like to personally know God. It was the process of growing closer to him, I thought about sex less, so I fed those desires less, and eventually, I didn’t think about sex again until your mom and I got serious. Then I had to practice self-control. It really boils down to where your mind is at, when you want God’s will more than anything else, because you trust God understanding that He knows what is best for you and that He loves you…”

History Lesson

Elle After Civil War 2.png

When I was a toddler,  the Republic of America declared independence against the United States of America. Sleeper agents for the RA within branches of military and intelligence agencies rose up. Those who considered themselves to be conservative, patriotic, capitalistic made of the RA. It wasn’t over race, even though race served as a factor. Minorities had a tendency of siding with the USA over joining the USA. Russia backed the RA sending aid and troops.

For three years, Americans were forced to pick sides that offered them the best chance of survival. It was clear the RA was never going away. Out-manned, out-gunned, and at the risk of losing territory, what remained of the USA on the East Coast signed a peace treaty with the RA… agreeing to new borderlines and recognizing the RA as a country.

Washington, Oregon, and California remained as a part of the USA. Everything between those states and the Mississippi River became the Republic of America.

The year of the treaty, the great lakes flooded, drowning Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and most of Pennsylvania and New York. A virus spread across Washington State, Oregon, and California killing 80 % of the population. The land also became incapable of producing vegetation. The survivors were forced to seek asylum in Canada, the RA, and Mexico because USA was found guilty of using biological warfare that devastated those three states. Their target was the was RA, but they miscalculated. Some think the RA did it and framed the USA. Those regions are now the “Dead Zone”, an unlivable place.

The next year, the USA reformed their branches of government and agencies forming the Democratic Coalition of America. The government gave more power to the people over policymaking, eliminated capitalism and started merit economy called meritism, and became determined to be the manifestation of Utopia.


The Republic of America Government & Agencies

(Allies: Russia, France, Italy, Israel)

National Language: English

Agencies of Intelligence for the Republic of America

MIB: Main Intelligence Branch (CIA knock-off)

PAN: Protection Agency of the Nation (NSA knock-off)

CDI: Countrywide Department of Investigations (FBI knock-off)

The Eagle’s Senate

The meeting place of Senators of the Republic that represent each RA State. Just 1 Senator per state.

The Eagle House

The Eagle (President knock-off)

1st Olive Branch (First Lady/First Gentleman)

__________________________________

The Eaglet (Vice President knock-off)

2nd Olive Branch (Eaglet’s spouse)

The Democratic Coalition of America Government & Agencies

(Allies: Australia, England, China and Japan)

National Languages: Spanish and English

HORAI: Headquarters of Reconnaissance and Intelligence (CIA knock-off)

NDS: National Department of Security (NSA knock-off)

DDI: Division of Domestic Investigations (FBI knock-off)

Hall of Democrats

The meeting place of hundreds of Democratic Representatives from each DCA State. (Half the number of the USA Congress)

House of Liberty

Lead Democrat (knock-off president)

1st Assistant Democrat (spouse of the LD)

________________________

Associate Lead Democrat (knock-off vice president)

2nd Assistant Democrat (spouse of the ALD)


Opinions vary but each country still operates a lot like the old USA. Except on is highly conservative and the other is super liberal.


Mom speeds down the highway heading for east border. Clearly, she is not worried about getting pulled over or caught by speed regulator cameras.

The baby stays quiet in my arms. He’s sort of cute. But his constant hypnotic stare at me is totally creepy.

“In New Jerusalem, we’ll get a motel and I’ll go out and get us some things for our trip.” Mom says like she’s still thinking about a million other factors to flee the country successfully.

The RA has spent millions of dollars to rebuild and wipe the memory of the old America away. I hear the DCA mends what is broken, but they don’t generate enough revenue to start over and build everything new.

“Where are we taking a trip?”

“Well, if you never opened the bag, I was just going to take you to a safe house for a few days, but your disobedience changed our plans big time.” Mom sounds disappointed as she keeps her eyes on the road.

“I’m sorry… I didn’t think you were in the baby smuggling business… a weird smuggling baby business that has genetically engineers infants that imprint on their masters/caretakers.” I defend myself, weakly.

What am I talking about? This all sounds nuts! When mom explained it all, I felt more insane by every unfolding detail.

The Chinese were working on Project Hercules, which combined the research of the Prometheus II Project with the concept of coding the Theus Sphere properties into a genetically engineered human being. The Theus Sphere was designed to fuse with a person and make someone average into a superior human being that would a be killer machine taking orders from the boss. Project Hercules would breed humans that at birth would imprint on their handler, forming a bond to secure total allegiance and compliance. (Sort of sounds like a video game about assassins, huh?) The baby in my arms is the very first baby if the reality.

A wealthy mercenary, Baptiste Guyon, stole Project Hercules the Chinese and destroyed all their research and either kidnapped or killed every person connected to the project. At first, when the RA got the intel 10 years ago, they thought Guyon wanted to sell the project to the highest bidder, and the RA was prepared to purchase it, but then it became clear he wanted it for himself.

He set up headquarters for Project Hercules II in the RA near the Mexican border. Mom was sent in to infiltrate his organization. She played herself. A spy without a country to serve. For the past eight years, she’s been a field agent for Guyon, while feeding his plans and operations to the MIB. Occasionally, she would send misinformation to Guyon.

Mom’s original orders, once the first Hercules was born, was to destroy all the research and to bring the baby back to MIB central in True Dallas. But the day this baby was born, mom learned Guyon has several facilities around the world and more babies like Hercules I were about to be born. She called her MIB handler and got a new directive. Fake the baby’s death, bring the child to HQ, and go back undercover to find all Project Hercules Facilities across the globe.

Seeing what Hercules I was capable of, mom planned on killing the baby for real, lying to the MIB and to Guyon. But in case her plan failed and the RA was going to burn her for treason, she wanted to come take me to a safe place. If Hercules didn’t imprint in the first 24 hours of his life, he was going to die. Mom figured he could die slowly and peacefully in that duffle bag not wanting to add baby-killer to her repertoire. I screwed up the plan.

She’s going to still tell the RA and Guyon the kid died. It will be convincing because mom was on security detail transporting the surrogate in labor back to the facility from Guyon’s house, when Mara and her team were ambushed in a tunnel. Mara got out of the vehicle just as it exploded, unable to rescue the surrogate and the baby.

The real story is that mom stopped in a tunnel the MIB was sending a drone to attack. She killed everyone under her charge. Then she ripped baby Hercules out of the surrogate’s womb and fled for cover with the baby in the getaway SUV she parked nearby. She drove away as the drone bombed the tunnel.

I’m not sure how she’s going to fill in the holes to the MIB or to Guyon, but she’s survived being a spy for over twenty years, I’m sure she’ll figure it out.

“Do we have to call him Hercules?”

“You can call him whatever you want. He’s your new baby son.”

“Why can’t he be your kid?”

“I’m not going on this trip with you. I can’t and it will be easier to keep the cover that he’s your son and not your brother.”

I don’t see her logic. But the last time I didn’t listen to her I became a mom, so if I don’t want to end up dead, I ought to do what she says.

“Milo Xavier Taylor.”

“Xavier? You like that name, huh?”

“It’s dad’s name…” I say.

That much she has told me. My father is Xavier Douglas Wace. When they met he was an analyst for the CIA. They fell in love while he was a field agent after fusing with the Theus Sphere from the stolen Prometheus II Project. She was sort of in love two different people for a bit. When dad first used Theus, his own consciousness would be suppressed by a the persona built into the sphere. Agent Xavier was Agent Theus, a different man in attitude, demeanor, decision-making, and personality. But eventually dad figured how to use the properties of Theus without letting the Theus-persona loose. Then they got married and were working on impossible missions as part of a deal with the CIA that would end in their early retirement to enjoy civilian life. More than anything my mom wanted to start a family with my dad and they didn’t want to be spies raising a family.

Their last mission was to intercept a piece of technology similar to Theus, but instead of fusing with the technology, the tech was a giant download onto some willing person’s brain. All this information would be in their mind to learn without having to take time to learn how to do things. What would take months or years to learn, only took seconds after finding the info on the hard drive of their brain. There was one version before the type they intercepted but it killed the person was the guinea pig. The Traverse 1.0 fried their brain into liquid… literally. Good thing that didn’t happen to my mom. Neither of us would be here.

Dad wasn’t as good of a spy as Theus. He got himself captured by the bad guys they took the Traverse 2.0 from. Mom wanted to save him, so she used the stolen tech– the Traverse 2.0, and it worked long enough to save dad. But her brain couldn’t handle all the information and she passed out. When she woke up she could talk and walk, but she couldn’t remember the last five years of her life… She couldn’t remember dad at all.

Mom got pregnant before that mission, but she didn’t find out until that mission was complete and she had already left my dad in the dust. Her mind rebooted during her pregnancy  and by the time I was one, she remembered her whole life with my dad, and was in love with him all over again. But thanks to Civil War 2, there was no family reunion.

Now, all my life, she told me she picked up a regular civilian life after the war. The truth is, the MIB formed and drafted her services. If she refused, they were going to kill her and put me in an orphanage, because they didn’t want her joining the former USA now DCA.

Until a few months ago, I believed her civilian life lie. But then I began to wonder why my mom forced me to learn to Spanish, German, French, and Mandarin. She’s taught me Kung Fu, Krav Maga, and how to use guns, swords, and knives. I know how to read a room to find a way out in case of an emergency. Every once in a while, we would go on free shopping sprees where she taught me how to shoplift without getting caught. When I was 12, she ditched me on a camping trip and left a note for me to get home using what I had and without getting help. If didn’t make it home in three days, she would come for me. Sometimes in sparring she would beat me to a pulp just to increase my pain tolerance. I know how to make a bomb out of household cleaners and house items. Need I think on this more, she trained me to be a spy! So I started snooping on her.

First, I cracked the code to her safe in her closet and found her journal. I know it is a major invasion of privacy but reading someone’s inner thoughts is the fastest way to discover what is going on with a person. I learned fast mom was still in the spy game. I just didn’t what she was doing. I know if I read about this Baby Hercules Project, I wouldn’t have removed that blindfold and I would be childless now.

“You want me to be his mom because if he loves me like a mother, that’s the best way to ensure he won’t become a monster… Right?” I check if I figured out her angle.

“Um, I guess… He’s designed to only form a personal connection with a parent figure. I’m not sure he’ll have the emotional intelligence to care about siblings… But I’ve been thinking. We should kill the baby.”

“What? Why?”

“You’re not ready to be a mom and if my plan goes south, it will be easier to survive on your own. Plus, if anyone ever figures out the truth. They’ll kill you just to get him. Then whoever has him, will make more of him.”

“Cloning people doesn’t work.” I point out.

“No, but anyone with the right background could make an army like him with his DNA. And they wouldn’t hesitate to train him and use him in the field. It’s better to kill him and burn his body.” Mom argues.

Before we make any rash decisions, I have to know, “What is the plan, with me as his mom?” I ask.