My new novella, Jekylls, is now up for sale. This is an SF thriller, involving genetic manipulation and set essentially in the modern-day San Francisco Bay Area, a biotech area I’m familiar with. Check out the excerpt below, and if you like what you read, consider purchasing it. (I should tell you, however, that I’m working on a collection of all three of my novellas, Dreampunk, Farwalker, and Jekylls, so if you haven’t picked up the others yet and want to hold off and pick up the collection, I’ll understand.)
Lou Lopez’s normal life falls apart when he’s diagnosed with a new genetic mutation. The beautiful CEO wants to date him. Members of his support group want answers. Lou just wants to know whether he’s changing into a monster–and how he can stop.
Once upon a time — that’s the way stories are supposed to start, right? Once upon a time, I was human. We all were. Or at least we were raised human, with no idea that there was even another possibility. We hadn’t heard about jekylls. No one had. Then Fleischer Inc. came along.
One of the big biotech firms that sits down near the Bay, Fleischer had been around for decades. Anything to do with hormones — birth control, test tube babies, testosterone supplements. They splashed into the news briefly half a dozen years back for playing part in a baseball steroid scandal. Unintentionally, of course, and the company didn’t even get a slap on the wrist, although people lost their jobs over the mistake. Now here they were, making news again. I was there from the start, before the first news story ever ran, and I can tell you, those stories missed half the truth. Intentionally? Some of it.
I still remember the letter I received from them on that sparkling October day. “Dear Mr. Lopez, We were contacted by your company’s insurance agency, Cal Core Care, about some irregularities in your latest urinalysis results. Please contact us at your earliest opportunity to schedule follow-up testing at our facility. This is confidential; results will not compromise your position at First Bay Bank.”
Irregularities? There shouldn’t have been any. First Bay Bank, the company I work for, does mandatory drug testing. No worries — I might go out for a couple beers with the guys occasionally, but I don’t do any hard drugs, and I stay out of the kind of places where I’d inhale enough secondhand pot smoke to test positive for using it myself. Just an average guy.
I flipped the paper over, looking for any more information, a sheet of results, anything. It didn’t make sense, especially the bit about not compromising my position at work. The kind of things that would show up in the drug screen would get me booted out without notice. Maybe there’d been some bad test, something everyone tested positive on, or some test that they had to double-check. I didn’t know, but staring at the letter wasn’t going to get me anywhere. I made the call.
It never occurred to me to talk to anybody about it beforehand, to ask my parents for advice (I’m 25. If I asked them for advice, they would want me to take a drug test) or to check with the insurance company to find out why they’d shared the results with Fleischer. This wasn’t a random piece of junk mail, after all. It mentioned my insurance company and my employer. Whoever wrote it knew that I’d taken blood tests for my job. It was official and seemed legitimate. Looking back, I can’t say I would have done anything differently.
Maybe I shouldn’t have responded so quickly. Maybe I shouldn’t have answered at all. In the long run, it wouldn’t have made any difference. Brigit and I still would have messed everything up.