Excerpt: Blood For Love by Chris M. Finkelstein

The book covers a few categories, such as thrillers, suspense, with action. It’s a combo of fantasy/adventure, with science fiction coming into play in the fourth book. It is a mix. This is the story of Jan, a clairvoyantly-gifted male D’otian living on a violent, predatory planet. His mother Martha is part of a love-preservation network — outlawed by a world in which love is punished by DeathBT.

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Chapter One: Martha’s Having a Baby

The underground room was larger than it needed to be. It was four stories down from the hospital top floor, which was the only floor aboveground. Martha was sitting there, uneasily, with the other pregnant couples. She was a member of LERN, the “Love’s Epiphany Requirement Network”. LERN was an underground group that upheld the traditions of love, and they were on the top of the NOV’s State Enemies List. Here she was, in their lair — and they were hungry for her blood. Her husband, Griswolt, did not have a clue. A group of twenty-three pairs of people, mostly husbands and wives, had spread out on the red-carpeted floor. Some were sitting upright, while others reclined, listening as the instructor spoke. The instructor had on a slick white ela leather lab coat, sporting a gray leathercloth suit underneath. Her spotless white blouse, tailored to the neck, was fashioned of a more finely woven leathercloth. She had a military posture and tone, which was the norm in the Nation of Vengeance, (the NOV.) Her voice demanded attention, and her words could not help but draw it — “Attention! Please! Attention! We will begin where we left off before the break. We were talking about the application of the Rules of the Temple of the NOV. This is critical! We must not let the heresy of love spread, for it will spread, like a virus, if we do not stop it now at its inception. We are entering into a very dangerous territory here. Twenty years ago, the Temple leadership had no choice but to allow newborns and their mothers a five-year waiver of the DeathBT penalty for the crime of love.” DeathBT, Death by torture. What a horrid thing, and these idiots act like its normal, Martha thought to herself. She was here with Griswolt for the maternal counseling sessions required by the NOV. Annoyed by the unpleasant subject presented before her, Martha changed her thoughts. She was enjoying the maternity robe that the day’s fashion allowed. She looked down at it, pinching a bit of the cloth and rolling it in her fingers. It was produced by loosely looming fine leathercloth threads, and had aquamarine shades throughout its length. Best of all, it was freely fitting — a nice change from the coarse leather outfits she typically wore at work, supervising in the mines. She was sitting cross-legged, belly sticking out front, with her tail peeking out from behind the robe. Her husband Griswolt was fresh from work, still wearing his NOV uniform. It was the usual black splint leather, but since he was in administration, he had a lighter weight jacket than most party members. Martha appraised the room, barely noticing those around her now. These walls and floors have the most uneven ferrist coat I’ve ever seen. Ferrist mixes were carefully applied, molten, on to the surfaces of almost all of the well-designed and very complex underground structures that everybody lived and worked in. These multiple underground rooms were first expertly sculpted out below ground, and then coated — forming hard, thick, metallic interior walls, floors, and ceilings. Our mine supplied the agrist to make this place, thought Martha. Ferrist was a mix of iron and agrist. They used a two to three inch coat of it inside all structures because it would stop underground digging predators, and water, from entering the premises. Agrist prevented the oxidation of the iron and expanded it, like foam. Because of the heat involved in the process, they had to do it in stages, which took time. Aboveground structures were rare and costly, and had one primary disadvantage — D’ot had extreme temperature ranges throughout each day. Heating and cooling costs were enormous, as ferrist was a conductor, not an insulator, in spite of its foam-like qualities. In an underground structure, this was not a significant issue as the temperature stayed the same year round, and only needed a small heat source. Martha, ignoring the instructor, continued to observe her surroundings. They keep these walls here polished instead of painted. She found herself appraising the designs on the walls. They had copper and chrome inlaid patterns of elaborate lines that looked like fine thread-like curls of smoke as it may rise from multiple candles. These appeared to clash with the squared off and geometrically conjoining darker lines that also covered the walls. Together, they struck Martha’s perception as smoke being held captive in a cage. The teacher was now talking about the paradox of love, although she was unaware of it, “The NOV allowed the temporary waiver for the crime of love because babies and children were dying at a rate that was climbing. This was due to failure to thrive, murder by mothers, or as the children grew up, self-destruction. Important research by the now infamous Dr. Re demonstrated that when the mothers were permitted to express and share the superstition of love with their babies and young children, they had a higher survival rate. While this lesser evil is productive, it opens the door to the viral nature of love, and that door must be closed one hundred percent when the child is five years of age. We cannot allow this disease to infect our population. It makes our citizens insane, lazy, stupid, unpatriotic, and serves no productive purpose but to drug its victims and blind them to reality. Males are warned to be the masters over their wives — particularly during this five year period when love is allowed.” Martha took a sideways glance at Griswolt. He always loved that part. Females and males alike were taught that males had a hormone that made them want to be the ruler of any group. The instructor continued along the same line, “God is wise, and He saw that males fought males for the top of any power structure. It was therefore natural for them to do this in the home. God decided to put males in control of the family because they were already beating and killing their wives in order to be the ruler anyway. God gave his answer, the Temple enforced it, and the fighting over control dropped considerably.” Great, so God allows the bigger psychopaths to run our homes, Martha thought to herself. The instructor was pacing slowly back and forth in front of the classroom. She had the air of NOV “nobility”, however Martha knew the kind well, and was aware that this instructor was an imposter. The NOV top crust came from old families who considered themselves “above” ordinary emotions such as hate and anger. That was for the masses. The noble ones prided themselves on self-control, eliminating all emotion from their mental state. Of course, that is until one would strike — and then the full fury hidden beneath the calm cool veneer would be displayed in all its venom. There were usually no witnesses when such an event would take place, excepting the recipient of the attack. She continued speaking, “During the time of this five-year waiver, any excessive expression of love is not to be tolerated in the home. It is to remain repressed, although endured. If love is not actively subdued, it will grow, as it is, of course, a disease. You have been warned. “You know that when the child reaches the age of five years, the NOV separates the mother and child, and each must go to love de-programming rehabilitation for a period of four weeks. You have all heard about this. It is harsh, and it is a test. If we can still elicit any sign of love after four weeks of love-deprogramming school, we separate the mother and child forever. The mother, being the responsible agent, must enter a one-year incarceration in a love-destruction institution, where any and all traces of love will be replaced with a burning hatred of the concept of love through well-programmed torture. Any such mother is of course neutered before being sent home, because they have a tendency to kill babies afterwards.” The instructor gave her head a slow tilt, looking down and left — followed by a grim grin. She continued, “By the time the mother is set free, if she is to return home, the child must be moved to a foster home or orphanage. These are bad alternatives. You must decide now if you are willing to go on with the pregnancy.” The instructor paused to let the whole thought sink in. She kept a keen eye for any signs of weakness, any sign of love’s presence in the mothers. The mothers in the room were fidgety. Good, the instructor thought, They are reacting. She scanned them as they squirmed on the floor as though trying to get more comfortable. Martha was feeling it. She was trembling inside. I have to face this, she thought. Her fear was familiar. It came from what she had been dreading ever since learning she was pregnant. She had to face what the instructor was bringing to fore. She had to keep the baby no matter what. I must keep it together. I can do this. I can, and I will pass the test. Holding those thoughts helped, but she was still quivering. Tail, don’t twitch, she thought. The instructor continued. “Let me remind you that any expression of love before childbirth is not protected by waiver, and cause for DeathBT.” She scanned the class again, searching, searching. There was always one there. She went on, “Considering what you must endure, is there anyone present that would like to go with our attendants standing by the door, and simply abort it now?” Martha saw three mothers get up immediately, scared to death, and one of them was a LERN member. No — Sandra’s going for the abortion! She wanted to get up and grab Sandra and scream, “Turn around! You can do this!” Martha was suddenly more horrified, because with the pregnancy, the stress, and the emotion, she felt it coming — no! She felt a tear developing. She could not stop it. No! Tears in the maternity class were often a sign of an underground LERN member, or simply a predictor of someone who would not make it through love-deprogramming school. “Love-lovers” was an epithet used against them on the news, whenever they were found and arrested. The instructor was keen to watch for any signs of emotion. She received a sweet bonus for detecting a LERN member, and she was good at it. She abruptly spotted Martha, and was on her like a giant eight-legged trachna. The instructor practically climbed over the ones in her way to get into Martha’s face, her tail whipping anyone who did not duck or get out of the way. Griswolt suddenly noticed Martha’s tears and instinctively backed away, with an awful look of shock and concern on his face. He knew what this meant and wanted no part of it. Martha watched in horror as the instructor came straight for her, and her insides turned a new twist she hadn’t felt before. Is this it? She asked herself. Is this the end? What can I do? What? What? She just stared at the instructor, frozen. “What’s this?” the instructor shrieked, as she reached out with one bony finger and touched the narrow tear trail on Martha’s face. Martha was staring back at her, paralyzed out of numbing fear when a thought arose — bite your tongue! In a panic, she bit her tongue, hard. She could not give a twinge of expression as her razor-sharp piercing teeth dug deeply into the tender flesh, releasing a flood of blood into her mouth. “I bit my tongue!” Martha spat the words out, getting some blood on the instructor in the process. The instructor recoiled, disgusted. She stood back and looked Martha up and down. “Clean yourself up!” the instructor ordered, then just as quickly looked around the room for anyone she may have missed. Martha was still shaking inside, but she had the composure to get out a cloth, and hold it to her mouth. The instructor pulled her own cloth out of her lab coat, and coolly returned to the front of the class. While wiping the blood off her lab coat, she continued, “As I stated before, should a mother fail, for her protection, and the protection of the state, she will be then sent to love-destruction prison for twelve months. This one year imprisonment should be considered a merciful act of the state, because otherwise the penalty for love would be DeathBT.” She looked about the room for emphasis. “To reiterate, DeathBT is a process that is prolonged as long as possible, serving as an extreme example to others for the prevention of crime.” She paused again, and took a breath. “OK, is that all? The ones still here are all staying for this now, correct? Have I given a good warning of what is to come, and the risks involved?” The group responded affirmatively, most were happy to move on. “All right then, let’s discuss the clinical aspects of your pre and post natal care.” The instructor proceeded to review the issues of hospital admittance, methods of delivery, and protocols. This went on for the rest of the evening, and the class was eventually dismissed. Martha was glad to be having a child at such an age as twenty. The life span of people of D’ot averaged forty-seven years, primarily because diseases would overtake them. Any one of them was rarely in perfect health on a given day. Body sores with various etiologies, coming from any number of pathogens were common problems. Sores would start under the scales, and spread to the softer skin underneath. Sometimes a D’otian would have a section of scales surgically removed, just to let the skin dry out and heal. These sores would eventually overcome most people in old age, if something else did not kill them first. Laws, which, in the end, discouraged childbirth, were hardly needed. Conceiving a child was difficult. There was still a relatively high death rate among babies from disease. Females’ breasts had slowly ceased functioning over the last five thousand years. It was now assumed that they never worked. On the ride home traveling westward, Griswolt and Martha were sitting together in the exposed back seat of their contiss-drawn taxi. It was pleasant to ride on the outside of the taxi, facing backwards. This was the way they would typically choose to ride, if weather permitted. The night air was cool, and the lesser moon was out and full. The dark rolling hills to the north lay in contrast to the streetlights and traffic ahead as one entered the NOV’s capital city, Justilant. Not only was Justilant home to the central committee of the NOV, it was also the location of Strakna Laboratories. This is where they produced the “hundred-year poison” vaccines for the entire nation. The homes, being underground, were marked by their mounds a few feet in height, the outline of which typically reflected the structure beneath. The entry door enclosures usually extended ten to twelve feet aboveground, with similar dimensions in width and depth. The entrance was characteristically the tallest structure of a house. As they approached the city, they would see more and more “aboveground” homes. The wealthy owned those homes. One could occasionally see this type of domicile in the upscale neighborhoods outside the city, as well. The average temperature range was sixty-seven degrees in a day, with the average temperature being anywhere from thirty degrees to as high as seventy, depending on the season and location. It was much more efficient to build underground, and take advantage of the temperature stability there. To the east, the rolling hills became a harsh landscape of solid iron-based shafts jutting thousands of feet jaggedly into the sky. These were the outgrowths of highly magnetized iron-based vein formations that had been forced vertically up through the ground by opposing magnetic polarities below. The iron shafts were made of a crystalline matrix, and so they were squared off on the sides, and extremely sensitive to magnetic forces. Some were still very active, rising almost fifty feet in a single year. Not much was said on the way home until Martha spoke first — and then wished she had not. “Thankth for thticking up for me in there,” she said with her swollen, wounded tongue. Griswolt was just waiting — “What the hell was all that about? I’ve never been so humiliated in my life! You looked like a damn love-lover up in ‘ere! You could have gotten us both into DeathBT!” His voice was as deep as his body was big. He shifted his large frame in her direction, waving his hefty dark gray hands for emphasis. They hit a bump in the road. The metal alloy wheels of most means of transportation had only their suspensions to buffer the roads. Griswolt’s rising voice was a concern to Martha. The taxi driver up front might hear. Griswolt did not know she was in the LERN underground, and Martha had to keep it that way. “I bit my tongue!” Martha protested. Many LERN members had marriages with non-LERN members since it served as a good cover. Because of their knowledge of how to love, even covertly, their spouses were generally happier with their marriages than most couples were. They simply did not know why. In some cases, they did know why, or at least had suspicions. Still, they “didn’t want to know”, or let it come to the surface, because they could not face such a fearful thought. Griswolt gave a skeptical look at Martha, and said, “You bit your tongue, huh?” he sighed, “When was the last time you bit through your tongue like that?” Martha realized she did not want to go down this path because it was a loser — and the talking was making her tongue hurt. She retorted, “That inthructor thcared the hell out of me! Weren’t you lithening, or do you only look out for yourthelf?” Owww.Griswolt thought about the class they had to sit through that day. That was really rough, he thought to himself. What hell these girls have to go through to have a baby. My baby. He looked at Martha. She had her scales done for the class, and they looked positively beautiful in the moonlight. Under the full, lesser moon, their polished surfaces seemed to glow with a deep, gray-almost luminescent-blue. Griswolt smiled. Our baby, he thought.

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“Chris M. Finkelstein” Blood For Love by Chris M. Finkelstein, Crave Books, 346 pages including extra material, ISBN: 978-0615454474 Reviews of Blood For Love