Someone must die before another can be born…
As sea levels rise and livable landmasses shrink, the Reorganized United States of America has instituted population control measures to ensure there are sufficient resources and food to sustain the growing population. Birth authorization must be paid for and obtained prior to having a child. Someone must die before another can be born, keeping the country in a population neutral position at what experts consider to be the optimal population. The new laws are enforced by a ruthless government organization known as Pop Con, responsible for terminating any children resulting from unauthorized births, and any illegals who manage to survive past their second birthday, at which point they are designated a national security threat and given the name Slip.
But what if one child slipped through the cracks? What if someone knew all the loopholes and how to exploit them? Would it change anything? Would the delicate resource balance be thrown into a tailspin, threatening the lives of everyone?
And how far would the government go to find and terminate the Slip?
In a gripping story of a family torn apart by a single choice, Slip is a reminder of the sanctity of a single life and the value of the lives we so often take for granted.
Targeted Age Group:: All audiences
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 3 – PG-13
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
While walking through a city one day, I was suddenly overwhelmed by the enormity of this world; more specifically, the sheer number of people who walk this earth, and the constant increasing of that number. I started thinking about what the ramifications of the growth in population would be if, say, our resources became more limited due to some natural event. And what lengths would the government go to in order to control the growth in population. Slip was born!
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
At the core of this story, I wanted it to be about a family and their struggles in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Each of my characters fill a role in this family dynamic that drives the plot of the story. There is the illegal child who should, according to law, never have been born. There is the confident (bordering on cocky) other, legal son, who suddenly realizes his life is a fantasy. There is the father who is struggling to hold everything together, and the wife who can't handle things anymore, losing a large part of her mind while gaining an entirely new perspective. These four people are the core of the story.
She likes the way the pretty colors shoot from the angel’s wings.
White light bursts through Janice’s window and hits the angel, which twists and turns and dangles from a string—it’s an invisible string, but she knows it’s there because she once stood on a chair and felt it—attached to the ceiling, with reds and yellows and blues and greens that sparkle.
So pretty. So mesmerizing. Sometimes she stares at it for hours. It helps her forget about the things she wishes she didn’t know. The things that make her want to claw at her arms, to pull out her hair, to scream and scream and scream.
All the things she’s not allowed to do anymore. They keep her nails short—her hair, too. She feels like a boy. Screams are allowed, but they always make someone run in, strap her to the hard bed, and stick a needle in her arm. She hates the needles, even if they make her feel better for a while.
The stained-glass angel was a gift from her son, Harrison. He gave it to Janice years ago, back when she was first committed—has it been seven years or eight?—back when he used to visit. But he hasn’t visited in a long time, something she’s glad for. A son shouldn’t have to see his mother like this. So broken, so incomplete, like a box of scattered puzzle pieces missing half the shapes. So—she hates the word but knows it’s the right one—crazy.
The funny thing about that word is it describes most of the people on the outside, too. The thought makes her laugh, which she knows only makes her appear even crazier. But no one’s watching her. Well, not in person. The dark purple Eye is always there, silently observing, and she knows there are real people on the other side, wearing their white coats and scribbling notes on clipboards. Making sure she doesn’t scratch, doesn’t tear, doesn’t scream. Staring vacantly at the twirling angel is okay, even if she makes funny noises, like ooh and ahh and heeheehee, which she does only to amuse herself. Janice knows all the tricks.
The padded door opens without a knock. They never knock. Knocking suggests she has a choice in who enters her room, which couldn’t be further from the truth.
The man who enters looks familiar, but at the same time, he’s not. She’s known him for twenty-five years, and yet doesn’t know him at all. He visits all the time.
She wishes he wouldn’t.
His dark blue eyes are jagged with red veins around the edges and he looks five years older than the last time he visited, which was only a week ago. Work must be stressing him out. “Hi, angel,” he says. She hates when he calls her that. She’s not an angel; the spinning, color-spouting glass figurine hanging from the ceiling is an angel. Her son was an angel.
“Go away,” she says.
“Harrison says hello,” her husband says.
“No he doesn’t,” she says, returning her gaze to the angel, which is still spinning, as if they’re not even there.
He doesn’t reply to that, because he knows it’s true. As he steps closer, she resists the urge to scream, to run to the window and shake the metal bars, to bang her head against the padded walls.
When he crouches down next to her, she resists the urge to fall into his arms, to let him hold her like he used to, before her whole world fell apart.
“Why don’t we sit on the bed?” he asks, his voice barely louder than a whisper.
“I like the floor,” she says, her bottom lip trembling. No, not just her lip, her entire body. She’s shaking from head to toe. And then his arms are around her and he’s saying, It’s okay, shhh, it’s okay—but it’s not okay, is it? Nothing will ever be okay, regardless of whether she’s in this padded cell or on the outside and free.
Because her baby is gone forever. They took him and they killed him and it’s all this man’s fault. This man who claims to love her. The memory hits her like a burst from a pulse gun:
She opened the door, like always, already smiling. Felt her body go numb and the smile fade from her face. The room was torn apart, the couch tipped over, the holo-screen shattered, glass shards littering the floor. “Michael!” she shouted, panic rising like bile in her throat. She found him on the floor, his face covered in a mixture of sweat and tears. He was staring at a picture of him—of their baby. The boy with no name. She could only get three words out of him, three words that changed her life forever. “They took him,” he said.
She leaps up like a cat, her husband’s teeth clacking together when her shoulder bashes into his chin. He falls backwards, grimacing. Sitting atop him like a roosting pigeon, she says, “Why is he dead and us alive? Why didn’t they hunt us and find us and kill us like they did my baby?”
She hates how calm Michael remains, even when she’s practically spitting the words in his face. “Janice, I’m sorry for everything that’s happened, but we’ve been over this before. I was out for a night swim. I was notified of the Slip on my portable holo-screen. I snuck around the neighborhood and pretended to arrive at the crime scene, just like they expected me to. A few Hunters hung around for a couple of hours and then I ordered them away, said I’d watch the place in case the Slip’s guardians returned. Then you showed up.”
“But they never found me. They never realized your tricks.” The words somehow slip past Janice’s gritted teeth, more growls than human speech.
“I pushed the investigation in the wrong direction to protect us. I controlled everything back then.”
“Not everything,” she says, pushing off of his chest.
She stumbles into a corner, anger and sadness and self-loathing rolling off of her in waves.
She opens her mouth—
—and she screams.
Michael scrambles to his feet, holding his hands in the air. “Okay, okay, I’m going now,” he says, reaching for the door.
She keeps screaming, feeling her face turn red with warmth and exertion.
“Goodbye, Janice,” he says, slipping out and slamming the door.
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