100 (Utopian Thriller, Fiction)
In a world controlled by women, while searching for love, a young consort and his mother fight to liberate men. By 2092, poisoned food supplied by women has wiped out most men. Government controls allow one male consort for every hundred females, enough to provide sperm and some companionship. Self-centered, 15-year-old Calvin Carlisle from Beverly Hills ends up in Re-Education, facing indentured servitude, or worse, sex slavery in a foreign country. While torn between the lure of BIG MONEY in the grey market for sex, his love for one of the guards, and his yearning for freedom and family, he conspires with three other boys to escape. His celebrity mother, Cathrine, attempts to free him with lawsuits, a public relations war, and his father’s resistance group. Against the backdrop of a war between North and South, follow the two in their quests to outwit the system to be with the ones they love.
1. Goodbye, Calvin
“Mom! Mom! They'll kill me!” Calvin's screams made her blood curdle. “Mom, don't let them take me. Mom!”
Cathrine stood on the white front porch of her Beverly Hills house and looked at the ground. What could she say? What could she do? She had signed the agreement in 2077. Fifteen years ago. In her teens. When she had no clue and no cares. Her failure to live up to it may doom her son now.
Towering over petite Cathrine, a broad-shouldered lieutenant of the Enforcement Department, in her impeccable blue uniform, handed over a writ of attachment and a report with the big letters “SIS” on top. “By order of the court of Los Angeles County one Calvin Carlisle is hereby attached in satisfaction of your contract with the Reproduction Services Administration for failure to maintain the required Social Interaction Score.”
The dreaded SIS, bane of every consort wannabe. Ratings given by girls that went on dates with him made up the most important part. To Cathrine's amazement, Calvin had done poorly on his social outings despite his pedigree. After all, his father, famous Latin lover Rodrigo, was one of the most coveted possessions around. If only he were here. He would know how to deal with “The Woman.” But the early morning raid had taken her completely by surprise. Before her second caffè latte. Tears rolled down her cheeks. Her small Maltese, Buddy, stood next to her and barked incessantly.
The warming sun barely lifted its head above the tall palm trees lining the street. Among the surrounding carefully manicured lawns bordered by flower beds, a handful of women watched the procession marching past her azaleas.
“Is this about the bombing last month?” one of them shouted.
Two female Enforcement Department officers had locked Calvin between them and forced him toward the armored transportation van. A menacing water cannon on top pointed at the group. Two more women in light-blue shirts and blue pants marched a step behind, their hands clutching the batons and pistols on their belts. Helmets, with mirrored, bullet-proof visors flipped down, hid their faces.
“Mom! Mom!” His pitch had reached that of a little girl's. He dug his heels into the gravel walkway, stiffened his legs, and pushed hard against the pressure on his arms. The two uniformed women turned toward him and grabbed his shoulders for more leverage. “Mom!”
Cathrine could take no more. She rushed them and yanked an officer's arm back. “Run, Calvin, run!”
The two behind them wrestled Cathrine to the ground. Her head slammed down on the sidewalk.
“Don't hurt her. Don't hurt her.” Calvin looked at his mother lying on the asphalt in her summer dress, barefoot, motionless. He struggled to break free, but the second policewoman held his arm behind his back, his wrist twisted to the point of near breaking. Her pressure and excruciating pain brought him to his knees. “Ow, you bastards, I'll get you for this. Mom! Say something. Mom!”
Two officers pushed him to the van and up the step ladder. He turned and gyrated to get a last glimpse of his mother, lying face down, cuffed. The enforcers pushed him into the cage. Doors slammed shut with loud metallic clanking sounds. The sunlight disappeared.
Calvin brushed off his designer clothes, then looked at the other three boys in the windowless transportation van. Four LEDs, light-emitting diodes, bathed the interior in a dim white light. His pounding heart had yet to calm down. Over the years, he had spent many weeks without Mom during her on-location shoots, but she contacted him every day, often multiple times, to reassure him. And she always returned when the immersive experience wrapped. Not this time. He had witnessed the brutal officers womanhandle Cathrine. They and steel walls now severed him from her. Maybe forever, if the rumors proved true. But he would not let the others see him cry.
The sudden movement of the van threw him onto the bench. At least the enforcers had not cuffed or chained any of them. A wire mesh panel with holes too small for an arm to reach through separated the prisoner compartment from the rear of the vehicle. The police seemed to consider it enough protection from any violent outbursts.
Three boys stared at him with expressions of terror mixed with curiosity.
The biggest one in the group, with parted brown hair and sporting a black vest over a white shirt, reeked of cologne. “What's your SIS?”
“What do you care?” Calvin lowered his gaze to the gray rubber mat covering the floor. How he cursed being at the mercy of fickle female opinion. Girls need not provide feedback, but it came with benefits. For one, it stopped the nagging messages and e-mails from the SIS computers until the next scheduled date. A quick response also earned a girl a better standing in date allocations. In the ferocious competition for the best slots, the algorithms considered whether and how fast someone responded, with exponentially more weight given to recent feedback. Missing a number of ratings in a row ensured a cheap date on a week day, hence voluntary compliance stayed above 97%.
To avoid recriminations, RSA only provided monthly summaries of all figures and the optional comments. He had received a few 1s, but never a coveted and rare 9. The average of all lifetime ratings, multiplied by 100, became the measure of success for boys. Secrecy surrounded the cutoffs, but counselors always sprang into action when scores dropped below 500.
“We're trying to figure out how high Repro goes on the West Side.” The big boy pointed to the smallest of the three, freckled and with curly hair in a red reminiscent of a Raggedy Andy doll. “Charlie here has 440 on Date. His 720 on Teacher didn't save him.” He nodded toward the third one, blonde, blue eyes, in a maroon wool pullover. “Devon's got 520 on Date and 560 on Teacher. I'm Paul. I have 693 on Date and 584 on Teacher. Never figured I'd be here, ya know.”
Monthly teacher ratings determined the other part. They often followed the grades a student had in his classes, but many teachers gave credit for effort. To Calvin's disappointment he regularly had deductions that he attributed to envy and resentment of his mother's fame. He had made sure everyone in school knew that she was a spokeswoman for Repro who made many popular commercials for the consort program. Boys, and men, watched them just to see her pretty face and then some. How could the offspring of such a celebrity possibly fail? “Those damn funhaters downgraded me unfairly. Bad luck with a few hos did the rest. I shoulda gotten better than fucking 516 and 477.”
The redhead looked down. The color of his cheeks approached that of his hair. Blondie also averted his gaze.
Paul maintained eye contact with Calvin. “Well, if the cut-off is somewhere in the 700s, ya had to do a lot better than that, ya know.”
Calvin's turn to study the floor. His teachers had warned him. He paid insufficient attention to his general studies, routinely handing in homework late or not at all, and doing poorly on tests. But why should he care? On top of finishing school, laws mandated high school education for boys, supposedly to allow them to intelligently converse with women. As if the girls lusted for talking. They wanted something more substantial, something to see and touch. He had sold his naked body, like his mother had advised him to do. The adults failed to understand the wants and needs of the youngsters, except for Mom. She never completed high school, and did quite well for herself, so why should he bother with such boring intellectual pursuits? He knew what the girls wanted. Once he got with them alone, he would dicknotize them and give it to them good under the sheets. That the immature teens did not let him under their skirts would pass with age. He was certain.
What does the preppy know? From the corner of his eye, he studied the tall boy. Envy, obviously, like all those stupid teachers who say I'm “impertinent” and “arrogant.” Comments in that direction by Calvin's dates, low-class skanks, showed just as little understanding of his world. He was the offspring of one of the prettiest women around and the best consort in the history of womankind. His classmates in both schools could not hold a candle to him. Unfortunately, all the conniving people had ratings power over him that landed him in the armored transporter. He had convinced himself that Mom and Dad would prevent such a fate. They always got what they wanted and certainly would move all seven heavens and earth to get him out of his misery. Condescending Paul and the two hapless milquetoasts will see in a few days. “It's all a mistake. Repro assured my mom nothing will happen to me.”
“Oh, really?” Paul showed an amused smile. “I heard ya crying for her. Didn't do ya much good, huh?”
Calvin balled his hand into a fist. Rodrigo never took crap like that in his school days. He made sure boys and girls looked up to him. Then again, the flamboyant Cuban immigrant, son of a doctor, had everything going for him: brains, brawn, and beauty. Calvin had inherited much of the latter from his mother. His hopes that his father's genes for the first two would express themselves had been dashed so far, but maybe he was a late bloomer. He made up for his lack of strength with fierce determination to stop anybody from stomping on him. The two enforcers took me by surprise. I could have licked them in a fair fight.
The small blond boy turned pale. “The…they're going to kill us, right?”
Charlie opened his mouth. “Nonsense. Where'd you get that idea?”
“I heard him, too, and there're so few men around.”
“A psycholoco Russian billionaire poisoned most of them, but that was tera years ago. They keep us around for entertainment. They're not going to kill us.”
Calvin glared at Charlie. “Oh, yeah? No one's ever returned from Re-Ed.”
“Let's not argue among ourselves. We have to stick together to survive. Where we're going is tera-times worse than prison.”
“Oh, really?” Calvin aped the phrase. “Who made you Mr. Fucking Know-It-All? And tera what? Speak English!”
Paul chimed in. “I've heard it around school a few times.”
“Tera, like in Terabyte. Big, huge, gigantic, a lot, bigger than a wiggajot. Anyway, two teachers came to see my mother. I bugged the living room.” Charlie straightened his back. “The guards make boys strip and play with themselves. Some have boys go down on them like Lolitos. Teachers do too, if you want favors.”
“Crapola.” The redhead rubbed Calvin the wrong way. “What do these sissies know? Only guys go to Re-Ed.”
“Guards and instructors have sisters, too.”
“Cock-and-bull to scare you into lapping up your school work, red doggy.” Calvin's voice broke. He waved his hand in fake defiance. Similar rumors swirled around Boys Finishing School every time students disappeared. No one ever came back to tell.
“You won't talk so tough when they stick something up your… well, you know.”
“ASS, doggy. Can't you say it?”
The redhead stared at the floor and continued with a muted tone. “We must, um, all stick together, or assuredly we'll all get the stick separately.”
Calvin turned to the door, his white knuckles locked on the metal bench. “You piggies go shit yourselves. I'm not worried.”
The William Tell Overture cartone repeated a few times. Devon spoke up. “Maybe… perhaps… we can form a sistership to fight evil, like in Lady of the Rings.”
Charlie looked at him. “You mean fellowship. Boys form fellowships.”
“Great idea.” Calvin added his sarcastic comment. “What a role model. Half the dykes die, and the armies of men get wiped out at the end. My mom's a big shot. I don't need no help from no fucking fellowship.”
Paul held out his hand, palm down, into the space between the two benches and alternated looks between the two boys sitting in the corners around him. “We form our own fellowship, ya know. Let loudmouth fend for himself.” Devon and Charlie laid their hands on his. He shook them up and down. “Like The Three Musketeers. ‘All for one, one for all.’”
Calvin kept his stare on the back doors. He wanted to lift his hand. I don't need them. I'm Calvin Carlisle, son of Catty Carlisle. No one can touch me.
A metal gate opened with a loud rumble that squelched the cartone. The transporter slowed down and came to a stop. Clanking noises. The doors swung open. An officer in blue wearing a helmet with visor unlocked the wire mesh panel. “You four, out!”
The boys exited into a completely enclosed courtyard. Four-story structures, in light-brown stucco interspersed with dark-brown wood windows, rose on all sides. A heavy, green two-panel gate with an arched top blocked the drive way. Cold air lay on the ground. A moldy smell came from the corners out of reach of the sun. Calvin hugged himself. The silk shirt displayed his mom's fashion sense but did not excel in providing warmth. Six security guards wearing black jackets with “Re-Education Agency” patches and two enforcers in blue surrounded them. All carried nightsticks, batons with side-handles typically used by the police.
From a stone-enclosed balcony, an older woman with grayish-white hair tied into a severe bun peered down on them. Her olive suit gave her a military look. “Welcome to the Sheena McLintock Metro Los Angeles Re-Education facility, your new home.” Her stern face contradicted the warm message. “My name is Principal Elenora Cardozo Sanchez. Follow instructions from the staff, obey all the rules, and we will all get along fine.”
One of the women in black uniform, a petite brunette with a ponytail, caught his eye. She slowly scanned the boys. As her face turned toward him, his heart jumped. Mom! Or her younger sister. Big gray eyes and smiling pink lips sent Calvin's blood pulsing. He no longer paid attention to the speech.
Behind him, the bang of a metal sliding bolt preceded the creaking of a green door opening. He turned and gaped. A tall guard, in her thirties with short dark-blonde hair and a high nose, pointed inside. “This way please.” As he approached, she stared at his crotch with cold, deep set eyes. Before entering Calvin stopped, turned his head, and took one last look at the younger copy of his mother still standing in the courtyard. The blonde took the opportunity to gently stroke her nightstick across the bulge in his pants. A shudder raced down his spine. He read her name badge: Ingrid Holtz.
2. Welcome Cathrine
Cathrine woke with a jolt that banged her temple against cold glass. Her hand reached to the pain on the back of her head, but rigid metal prevented the move—electronic cuffs. She squinted and looked around.
Where am I? So clean. Squad car!
Around her, Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik played, a cartone typical of police patrols. State-supported classical orchestras offered governments royalty-free downloads for alerting unwary pedestrians of the otherwise silent electrical vehicles. Cathrine had made one of her recordings available too as a gesture of support for her country. A country that just robbed her of her precious son and now her freedom.
She stared at the hair of the two figures beyond the partition and struggled in vain to match them to one of the four officers that enforced the writ. The helmets had prevented a clear identification.
“Where's my son? Please,” she whimpered.
No reaction from the front.
Cathrine pushed her bare heels against the seat, pivoted forward as far as she could, and repeated her tortured plea. “Please, where's my son? He's only fifteen. Scared. He needs his mother. Please.”
The braking action of the car threw her forward. She fell back against the hard plastic shell molded to accommodate arms in hingecuffs. No more Mozart. The two women in blue exited the squad car, opened the rear, and dragged Cathrine out and through the huge double doors. She glimpsed the bronze letters inlaid into the concrete: East Central Los Angeles Correctional Facility—Established 2086.
The officer who towered over her by a head spoke to a black woman behind the counter. “Emergency incarceration for violent offender, Penal Code Section 245(c). No ID on her at arrest. I've downloaded her data onto this smartcard. We'll submit the evidence to a judge and give you the warrant later, as usual.”
The black woman, in a tan Sheriff's uniform, inserted the storage device into her computer. A name tag identified her as “Imelda Brown.” She looked at Cathrine and scrunched her face. “Assaulting a law enforcement officer? This little pinky, a ‘V’? I didn't even put dresses like that on my Barbies.”
The tall officer lightly slapped Cathrine's cheek. “Don't let this pretty face fool you. She attacked Daphne alright. Took both of us to subdue her. Throw the book at her, so she learns not to do this.”
“What do you mean, Pinky? V? My name is Cathrine! Missis Carlisle for you idiots.” A yank on her long hair elicited a scream.
The shorter officer spoke. “See, Pinky, that's what we call girly girls like you with a princess attitude. And ‘V’ is for ‘violent offender.’ Hey, we should just call her ‘Vinky’ for short.”
The officers laughed and punched Cathrine's cuffed arms.
She looked past the blonde strands dangling in her face. The flickering light of outmoded fluorescent lamps gave the white walls the sterile feel of an operating room. Uniformed women worked at cheap metal desks on ancient computers. She felt naked without makeup and in her casual dress. Enough of the humiliating treatment. “You can't do this to me. I want to contact an attorney!”
“Yes, we can, and no, you can't. Emergency incarceration. You don't get anything for 48 hours, and then we'll see.” Imelda gave her a pretend-smile then reverted back to her business face.
“You will regret this. I'm a star—with powerful friends. Give me my com contact, you assholes, or else.” Cathrine kicked the laminate panels decorating the front of the counter. A hand hit the injury on the back of her head, sending forth a jolt of pain. She swayed and let out a heart-wrenching scream. Tears flowed.
“Or else what?” the shorter officer asked.
“Feels different when you're on the receiving end, doesn't it, crybaby?” Imelda grinned and read the foil, then studied the small woman in front of her. “Cathrine Carlisle, hair red, eyes green, 166 centimeters, 53 kilograms. You look a bit chubbier than 120 pounds, but no worry, a couple days on our lovely diet here will get you right back down to your dream weight.” She pulled Cathrine's hair forward to study the roots. “Sure looks like real red.” Imelda grabbed a wand and scanned the arresting officer's badge while her colleague removed the hingecuffs.
Cathrine rubbed the wrists of her liberated arms but kept her gaze locked on the white Formica counter top. A swarm of bees buzzed in her head. She had to wake up. This all had to be some nightmare. No way could it be real. The beautiful, sunny morning had begun with a caffè latte and croissants with raspberry jam. At least for Calvin . She had nibbled a bit of one of the calorie bombs and finished breakfast with some fresh fruit. Then, as he prepared to go to Boys' Finishing School, Buddy's ominous barking heralded the tragedy to come.
Why had she ignored the certified e-mail from the Reproduction Services Administration (RSA)? Calvin's grades did not measure up. When girls posted devastating reviews about their dates with him, she ignored them. Her son socially inept? Unsatisfactory as a male consort? Impossible. Granted, he had inherited more of her fair, feminine features than the strong male body of his father Rodrigo, a handsome, intelligent, smooth talking, charming stud who swept hundreds of women off their tony high heels. Earned him millions. He gave Cathrine the idea to raise a son to begin with. A good breeder would ensure steady income and a luxurious retirement. The contract said so. At least the few portions she remembered from the pitch of the saleswoman at RSA. Instead, her child had gone on a journey of no return—so she heard—to “re-education,” while she stood in prison, confused, helpless, and barefoot.
Another woman in a tan uniform took Cathrine through processing. Digital mug shot, finger print scan, DNA probe, all the things she knew from television. Then the first of many horrors that TV shows did not tell her about: a humiliating body cavity search for weapons or drugs. The women delighted in making her assume the most uncomfortable positions and shoving as many fingers into her as possible. Resistance was met with more blows to her already mistreated head. Her guard made sure to tell each of her colleagues to teach the officer-assaulting ‘V’ a lesson.
A cold shower and a cloud of disinfectant later, Cathrine received orange overalls with a long Velcro strip in front from the neck to the crotch. But not to wear the garment. The corrections people made her go through the rest of the procedure naked while holding the folded jumpsuit in a neat package with bra, briefs, and socks, and topped off with orange-and-white canvas slippers. She finally stood waiting in a corner.
This can't be legal. I'm a star, get me out of here!
In twenty years of immersive experience making she had not read about such outrageous treatment in any script. The many hits made the headache from her fall on the pavement worse. Her shoulders hurt. The cold linoleum floor reeked of industrial cleaner. A failing neon lamp projected a flashing shadow play onto the white dry wall. Tears pooled in her eyes. She blinked and swallowed the best she could, fearing one of the officers behind her would make good on the threat to teach the crybaby an extra lesson, give her a real reason to bawl.
A burly woman with a long, black ponytail entered the room. “Why's this suspect not dressed?”
The other women in uniform shrugged.
She grabbed Cathrine's chin and turned her head. “I'm Sergeant Angelique Duqaine . What's your name?”
“Your last name! We're adults here.” Angelique gave a fierce glance to her colleagues. “And say ‘ma'am’ when an officer talks to you.”
“Okay, Carlisle, put on your clothes and follow me to V block. Lucky you. Violent offenders get their own private cell for a few days to cool down.”