Thank you for coming and for being interested in winning a signed copy of Moral Authority.
I thought I would use this time to tell you how my idea for this novel came about. I asked myself what could happen in our country if the “moral majority,” namely the radical Christian right wing extremists received everything they voted and lobbied for? What would happen if our country began legislating morality and lifestyles for every American based on the definitions of a select group? After all, that’s what groups like the National Organization for Marriage, the American Family Association, and the Family Research Council (to name a few) want. Even politicians like Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, and Sarah Palin (again, just to name a few) vie to dictate their religion and their ideals on the nation, rather than letting the nation celebrate the diversity of her citizens.
When I started creating this future America, our land of freedom and the citizens who lived within changed dramatically. A pursuit of happiness was no longer the promise. Instead, citizens fled in fear. Amber waves of grain and purple mountains majesty dissolved. In their place, the landscape turned dark and menacing, a veritable hell on Earth, created by the politicians and the citizens who voted them into office.
As a result, what was once familiar turned foreign. Locales such as Provincetown, Massachusetts, and Austin and San Antonio, Texas (where the novel takes place) became warped versions of their present day settings. The prescribed ideals of a few cast a cold shadow across the land. Yet hidden underneath the pall of injustice and inequality flashes a glimmer of hope that a return to the true America, an America that is truly representative of all who dwell upon her soil, might lie upon the horizon.
Moral Authority is the first in a series of three books. The second book tentatively titled Moral Panacea will hopefully follow in the months to come. But for now, here is an excerpt from Moral Authority that provides a snippet of what this new America is like.
“Alright, you pansy ass butthole fuckers, it’s time to get going!”
The angry voice of the K3 officer screaming at them in the boat hold roused Mark from his tentative slumber. He couldn’t remember falling asleep, but he often drifted off when he escaped inside his own mind.
The K3 officer flipped on the lights in the boat hold for the first time since he shut them off four days ago. Mark tried to shield his eyes from the brightness, but the shackles and chains around his wrist prevented much freedom in arm movement. All he could manage was to squint and hope his eyesight recovered quickly.
“Hurry up and get on your God damn feet,” the K3 shouted while yanking one of the prisoners to his feet. Since no one had the chance to stand for four days, the prisoner crumpled to the ground, his legs numb from sitting in one position too long. The officer proceeded to kick the prisoner repeatedly. The man screamed for help as his body was mercilessly assaulted by the K3 who Mark now referred to as Officer Asshole.
“Stop it! You’re going to kill him,” shouted someone from up front. Immediately, Mark knew that to be a mistake.
“What the fuck did you just say?” Officer Asshole asked, while kicking the man on the floor one final time. Mark heard a snap on that final kick, no doubt a rib or two being broken.
Unfortunately, Mark’s eyes adjusted well enough now for him to see Officer Asshole pull out his side arm and fire it pointblank at the outspoken prisoner. The ringing peal of the shot blasted through the boat hold, and the noise frightened Mark. Most law officials now carried electrical weapons in order to subdue offenders without serious bodily harm. When discharged, those guns sizzled, not exploded like this one. Lead ammunition guns hadn’t been in use for decades. Apparently, at detainment camps, they were standard issue.
Mark averted his eyes as the man’s lifeless body fell to the floor, where Officer Asshole kicked it twice. Afterward, Officer Asshole looked around. “Does anyone else have something to say about me kicking the shit out of this butt fucker?”
No one responded. Even the man who sobbed for most of the boat trip remained silent.
Officer Asshole resumed kicking the man he lifted from his seat. The man no longer screamed but moaned in pain; his moans were interrupted by the wet sound of gurgling blood escaping his lips. Still, Officer Asshole attacked. The man’s anguished moans became too much for Mark to bear. He tried to block out the whimpers with his hands, but the chains restrained him.
Blow after blow filled the boat hold, and the interior walls of the boat amplified the beating until it sounded like a percussionist banging out a macabre beat in some nightmarish band.
Finally, the moans stopped. The man was most likely dead, but his death failed to deter Officer Asshole. He kicked the man, at least ten more times.
“That was fucking fun,” Officer Asshole said in delight. “Who’s next?”
The officer’s delight filled Mark with rage. More than anything else, even more than being free of this hellish place, Mark wanted Officer Asshole to die.
“That’s enough, Davies,” a voice from behind Officer Asshole commanded. “Bring them above deck. Now.”
“Yes, sir!” Officer Asshole returned his gaze to the prisoners. His smirk foretold even more hell to follow. “Alright, you fairies, let’s get those loose asses of yours up those stairs and off the boat for inspection.” Officer Asshole bent down and unlocked the chains of the two men he killed. Their torment was over while Mark’s, and the other hundred or so prisoners, had just begun. Officer Asshole then pushed another man toward the stairs leading up to the deck. The procession out began.
As they filed out, Mark looked around at his fellow prisoners all dressed in bright orange jumpsuits. Some were soiled by their own body excrement, which they sat in for the past four days. Even though Mark had to go, he fought the urge. He would be damned if he gave his jailors the opportunity to mock him for a simple human bodily function.
Most of the prisoners looked awful and defeated. Eyes wide in terror, they shuffled forward carefully since everyone’s ankles were also chained together. Dried snot caked some of their faces. Others showed no emotion, as if they detached themselves from this world, their bodies merely on autopilot.
Mark didn’t feel defeated or detached. He was terrified, but he was mostly furious. No human being deserved to be treated as they were being treated. Every fiber of his being knew this to be wrong.
How could anyone, much less the supposed moral majority of this country, think this was just or moral?
“Pay attention, man. Our line is moving,” the man behind him whispered while nudging Mark forward. The men in front of him shuffled forward. His lack of attention might have upset the line when his chain linking him to the man before him pulled taut. The man in front of him could have stumbled or fallen backwards, unbalanced, which likely would have resulted in a beating, or worse, for them both.
“Thanks,” Mark whispered back and shuffled forward.
As he made his way closer to the stairs leading up, the sunlight at the top shone brightly down on him; its warmth felt good on his skin. He closed his eyes briefly, freely giving himself to its embrace. The sun told him everything would be all right, that he would be watched and cared for. Mark found this soothing. He listened to the roll of the waves as they gently rocked the boat against the dock, and it lulled him into a tentative peace. Even the sea breeze that rushed down to him, carrying the smell of salt and sea life, filled him with renewed vigor.
Mark climbed the stairs toward the sun, exiting the darkness of the boat hold.
On deck, he looked around at Provincetown harbor. Boat slips surrounded the area, but there were no boats. At one time, Provincetown was home to many boats, both commercial and private. Now, the only boat was the one he currently stood on. No doubt all other water transportation was forbidden since Provincetown had been turned into a detainment camp. Forced by K3’s, citizens and businesses relocated off the cape.
The line of men in orange jumpsuits extended all the way down the pier, toward a New England styled building with white trim and a grey roof. No doubt the building was once a visitor’s center or some official site for Provincetown tourism. Now, it was where the processing of prisoners occurred. It even had K3 guards standing sentinel along the white ramps, their weapons drawn and their muscles tense, anxiously awaiting the opportunity to shoot someone.
He focused his attention instead on the cool sea breeze that continued to swirl around him, whispering to him that he wasn’t alone. Mark then stepped off the metal plank used for disembarkation and onto the wooden slats of the pier. As he walked forward, Mark imagined what Provincetown might have been like a generation or two ago.
Mark pictured the excitement his gay brothers in the past must have felt when exiting the ferries that used to shuttle them back and forth from Boston. When their feet touched these same wooden slats he now walked across in chains, they no doubt felt liberated from their daily selves. He imagined their excitement, as opposed to his dread, about their arrival. Instead of being detained like Mark, they had arrived at a destination where they were the most free, where they could be who they truly were and express that without hesitation or fear of reprisal.
He clearly saw them in the past, walking hand-in-hand as they hurried to join the rest of their kin at the local bars or shops. Each person they encountered was a potential new lover or friend. In the past, there were no limits here, no boundaries, like the rows of chain linked and barbed wire fences that extended for as far as the eye could see along the beach in both directions. Provincetown was whatever they wanted it to be. It could be filled with dancing and debauchery, shopping and sight seeing, or relaxing and lounging, or it could be all those things.
In fact, if he listened hard enough, he still heard the thumping bass beat of a long ago silenced speaker churning out the dance music to which the boys used to love to dance. The music drifted on the air currents, refusing to die and challenging the present to ever erase that part of this town’s past. The vibe was in the air. It was the essence of what Provincetown was and what it promised to be again. He felt it. This was no doubt what he sensed while climbing out of the boat hold. It was the spirit of Provincetown and the ghosts of his gay brothers from the past. They were here, they told him. They wouldn’t be chased away.
In the year 2050, America has changed. Profoundly. Homosexuality is a crime, cursing in public is a punishable offense, and lifestyle legislation keeps American citizens on a prescribed moral path. The country lives in a Moral Age, all thanks to The Moral Authority, the nation’s fourth branch of government, which has held dominion for the past thirty-five years. Yet the Moral Age comes at a price. Americans either live like mindless cattle or in fear. Told from three points of view, Mark, the brash young hero, who finds true love in the most desolate of places; Isaac, the renegade, who searches for redemption, and Samuel the dictatorial megalomaniac intent on maintaining his power, Moral Authority exposes what happens to a nation that continues to restrict, instead of broadening, civil rights.
The Contest Rules:
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Contest closes December 18, 2011 at midnight Central Time
Good luck and thanks in advance for playing.