Animal Graph by M. Black
This novel came to her in a dream.
Set in the Amazonian jungles of South America, M.Black weaves an action-packed tale in this original YA Amazonian Eco-Fic Dystopia set forty-two years after a nuclear war. Jin—a prisoner of King Borran—and Adan—another Graphed—have to fight for their survival in a utopia gone wrong. In a world where animal cells and neural tissue have been grafted into humans, and humans are connected by brain waves to chosen animals from the Amazon, will Jin and Adan survive? Will they ever find their Animal Graph counterparts? Can the Earth find harmony with humanity and the animals or will those wanting to destroy it all win?
Socially relevant, dark and sexy, with themes that hang on environmental concerns and animal welfare…ENTER TOMORROW with ANIMAL GRAPH. A novel along the lines of Hunger Games meets X-Men. If you’re a fan of The Treemakers, The Sowing, Simulation, Age of Order, A Brave New World or A Canticle for Leibowitz, you may also enjoy this novel.
My feminine bottom slides down the wet, slippery cliff at the end of the path of foliage, dropping me forty meters into the abyss below where I thrash, arms flailing about me in a sure drown, water gulping down my tight throat in a struggle for air. My long, auburn hair is drenched to my side like a second skin. I barely know how to swim, but I have no other choice but to sink down where I won’t be seen. They’re on my trail and the choking gas has almost reached me.
Glancing skyward, under a thin layer of water, I see a cake of the pinkish fog choke the plants and moss above, that grows off the dark stones there—the only elegance out here. Water cascades into a beautiful waterfall toward me in a steady stream, and I hear the loud fog horn-like sound from my pursuers alerting everyone in the vicinity that I’m nearby.
They’ll need to find me before sundown or risk encountering the savage wildlife of the Amazon rainforest, like Radguars, a mutated form of the Jaguar which began to appear after the radiation hit. No one ever lives after facing one. They’ll tear a man to shreds.
I hear them coming, five of them—they always come in fives—their thick boots hitting the forest floor in a scratch-scratch as they approach the end of my path. I’m not even sure how I do this—hear them. The distance is more than thirty meters away and the rush of water interferes with my ears. I never would have been able to do this before they took me.
Taken in the middle of the night by Borran's soldiers while asleep in my cell, a two-by-three-meter room in which I’d been locked for a year, since I was sixteen, after I’d stolen a loaf of bread from a village vendor. Too many of us end up behind bars for petty crimes, to ensure as a whole we comply with the laws. When they registered me for prison, they scanned the bar code on my upper arm, denoting my full name, region of residency, and any prior arrests. I didn’t have priors before, but now my bar code will always show I was in prison.
Block D, Cell 47; D47 was my designation. Hadn’t heard my real name—Jin Maharaj—in a year. Even my cellmate referred to me as D47. By cellmate, I mean he shared the concrete cell next to me and we could speak only through a barred opening between us, the size of my hand. We all got used to calling each other numbers. When they first took me, I’d sit in my cell for hours daydreaming about my family, about Lila—our good family friend. She was married to a medicine man and tried to help Papa and my sister May when they got sick. I’d remember her words of encouragement, ‘Nature has all the answers. Stick to nature.’ But I’d always be interrupted by our mandated chores: washing clothes, floors, toilets, gardening, or working in the shops to make rubber. Slop three times a day was pushed under the cell door to keep us alive for all the work.
Prisoners were the first to undergo the Graph procedure to enhance human abilities by grafting animal cells and neural tissue into humans. As a side effect, electrical pulses from animal brain waves would fuse—or Graph—into the human’s brain waves and form an intuitive bond with the animal. I struggled, kicked, and maybe even screamed before a team from Borran’s Animal Graph facility injected me with a sedative, their faces growing fuzzy, my hands grappling for something—anything—to hold on to, before I fell asleep in the arms of my enemy.
From under the thin layer of water, I watch the edge of the cliff, forty meters away, where two soldiers turn their heads left and right in a frantic search for me. I can see so much detail I shouldn’t, like the lines over their left chest pocket designating rank, and the mud splattered on the sides of their boots. Even the freckles splayed across the nose of one of them. They’ve been ordered to hunt me—to find me and then kill me, as part of their training. I feel weak, as if I could drown at any minute, because I can’t hold my breath any longer; surely I can’t. My brain tells me I need to breathe, and breathe now! Yet I’ll have to ignore the incessant thought creeping into my mind.
Maybe the water can take me, take my breath and end me, make it all come to a close. I’m exhausted, tired of running, and it’s been a year since I’ve seen my mother—Ariana, and my younger brother—Carlos. They were forbidden to visit me in the cell, as all visitors are nowadays. My padre and older sister, May, both died from illness six months before I was thrown into prison. It’s easy to die in this world where medicines are kept only for the Prestige—the upper class that makes up 3% of the nation’s population. The rest of us poor live in sporadic villages or face the nights alone, and food is hard to come by. Meat, including fish that survived all the radiation from the Atlantic or rivers, is supposed to be given to the village guards when they come in for their monthly visits. Villages only get to keep 5% of their catch. That’s why I stole that loaf of bread for my brother. He’d gone two days without eating. Some villages grow flax or chia seeds, and others wheat or barly, still some lucky ones have chickens and eggs—but it’s never enough. If we try hiding our fish or eggs, if caught—we’re killed on the spot. I’ve seen a family murdered when I was just ten in Guiana for storing forbidden meats. Because of the radiation, good meat is hard to come by.
Graph Secrets by M. Black
"I READ IT IN A FEW HOURS!" -Von
"ALL FIVE STARS, NO SURPRISE THERE. IT IS A GREAT STORY." -Marina
"I HAVE NEVER READ THIS CONCEPT BEFORE!" -Amazon Reader
Check out a new Survival-Fiction!
Animal Graph is an original, NEVER BEFORE SEEN CONCEPT, a YA Amazonian Eco-Fic Dystopia with themes on wildlife and nature conservation, which asks questions about what happens when a greedy dictatorship rules the nation, and the harsh consequences to the Earth of a nuclear war.
Animal Graph series is the third ebook release from author M.Black (Simulation, Exotiqa, Animal Graph) whose brand is ENTER TOMORROW, if you dare. Enter http://MBlackDystopianThrillers.blogspot.com for more dystopian thrillers that will take you into our future.
In Graph Secrets, Jin finds out her Madre, Marina, is kidnapped by King Borran Khan and she learns the truth about her origins, and she is propelled back into the Amazon...this time to hunt Borran down. Will she rescue her madre in time? Will she get her capture? Find out in this breath-taking, fast-paced unique thriller about survival and fighting for freedom---book 2 of Animal Graph.
Inking our backs with Borran’s mark feels like a betrayal to everything I believe in, a permanent stain to remind us that we belong to Borran—whether we like it or not. And if we’re caught, Borran has one more reason to kill us. Inking is illegal in the villages, to prevent any false Borran marks on Graphs.
I close my eyes, and focus on Mama’s photos as the needle pierces my back, leaving trails of blood to sink to the crevice of my bottom and splashing on the cave floor beside me. Memories of blood flood my mind.
…Blood slides down my inner leg and my palms clasp my round belly. Six months in this hell hole and I’m showing. I’ve kept my pregnancy a secret for months, afraid of being transfered to the white building. No one returns from the white building. No one ever sees their baby again.
As the inking needle pricks my back, I’m jolted back to the present. Juan inks me—performs yet another illegal thing—I begin to suspect that he was the one who leaked the Graph technology to the world. Who else? He’s obviously brilliant, and had mixed feelings about what he was doing. Ostir already confessed that he and she were both at a PAPE meeting.
As I wash up in the waterfall basin, Juan needles Klen and Ostir. By the time I return to the cave, the siblings are heading to the basin to bathe and Adan is biting on another branch. Seems all Adan does around me lately is get torn up somehow.
“Stay still,” Juan implores while leaning into Adan’s back. “I was stung by bullet ants once. Hurt like hell. Not going through that again.”
“I’ll stay still,” Adan says firmly, the bite over the branch harder as the needle goes into his back in a precise poke, poke, poke. Juan keeps both hands on the needle, instead of one on the back as he did with me. Afterward, Adan’s back is soaked with blood and he exits for the falls fast. Juan turns to Lila and she shakes her head vigorously.
“No way I’m getting one of those on my back. I won’t be flaunting my nudity anyhow.”
Juan half grins. We can all imagine what that image is.
I lean into Adan’s chest at the falls after he’s washed off the blood and shirted himself. I hang there like I could stay all day, letting my forehead and cheeks rub his stubbled chin.
Adan looks down at me, half-grinning, satisfied, but with a brow arched as if to ask ‘what the hell?’
I’m not sure what else to say. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”
“I do.” Adan explains.
I’m almost hopeful.
“But you’ve got to learn to control your urge to mark.” He laughs, and then I laugh with him.
“Don’t be. It’s cute.” He clears his throat. “And makes me feel guilty about being so curt with you when we first met in the Amazon.”
“Yea, what was up with that?” I glance up, my eyes meeting his.
“Impatience at needing you to keep up, and pressure. Lot’s of killing of people I knew, led me to save you that day. I guess a part of me was angry at you for being saved.”
“But you helped save me.” I feel my brows twist as I gaze up at him.
“Still, too many mixed emotions. You got to live. Friends I knew died. I couldn’t kill another illegal Graph, and yet looking at you reminded me of everything my dead friends would never have. I guess I expected you to learn quick—to be worthy enough.”
“And did I?”
“Yep, you did.” He grins, and leans his lips over mine, close enough to almost feel him, but not close enough to touch—to contract my blue dart poison.
We’re all exhausted and haven’t slept for over twenty-four hours, but we have to do this. Spider and Borran’s soldiers won't give up and we don’t have time to rest. We should wait until we’ve gained more distance. At least we all ate soup at Lila’s.
Before we head out, I grab Juan’s wrist.
“Wait. You need to take a sample of my blood.”
Adan nods. “Smart. Keep evidence here of your birthright.”
Ostir keeps her hand over my shoulder. “When you challenge him, you’ll definitely need proof.”
“And a fight to the death,” Klen adds. “We all know that’s how things are done nowadays. Borran won’t just give up his kingdom to his half-sister.”
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” I stretch my arm to Juan. “For now, I need a vial of my blood.”
After Juan shambles for a tube and needle in his supplies, he sticks my vein and withdraws enough blood to run several tests on my DNA to prove I’m a Khan. He adds some kind of fluid to the vial of blood, and then hands it to me to hide. I keep the blood in the basket with Mama’s things. Then, we head out to make new friends.
If we’re going to ambush Borran and his BAG facility, Juan is right we’ll need more than just us. Juan takes us to the outskirts of Annai, further southeast, to where several illegal Graphs that he’s performed operations on live. They keep quiet and off the grid. Living outside the cities and villages allows the illegal Graphs to avoid being discovered by Borran’s guards and killed. Getting to where we need to be to meet them is almost a diagonal path downward from the waterfall and takes about three hours. We arrive at just about two p.m.
After Jade sniffs the air, I hear a man shout “Over here!” He’s a robust man with no shirt on, shouting to another man of almost equal stature, girth and attire; except that the first man has black, matted hair and the other’s is blond. Both have dark complexions and are too muscular to go unnoticed. The blond man throws a small pinecone into the air and yells “Incoming!”
When the pinecone comes dangerously close to hitting the matted-haired man in the face, he whips out a long stick and bats the pinecone away, sending it across the field and hitting a palm tree trunk, the cone shattering.
“You are going to have to throw better than that!” the matted-haired man grunts in a chuckle.
“Right you are, Cai, right you are.”
Juan waves his hand, drawing attention to himself, causing both men to turn in our direction and jump into an attack stance. I then notice the matted-haired man’s set of teeth. His jaw crunches open and shut with an awkward smile on his face, as normal human teeth become sharp and long. Juan leads us ahead, toward them, gesturing with his hands in a downward motion for the two men to calm themselves.
Graph Lies by M. Black
A YA Amazonian Eco-Fic Dystopia!
HUNGER GAMES meets X-MEN!
JUNGLE BOOK meets DR. MOREAU!
Safe in San Felipe, the team will have to scrounge for food to survive which leads them to the lost girl who draws them into Guambi mountains with the Prestige. After Jin, Adan, and the misfit band of Graphs head to the Experiment Facility in the jungles on the Amazon to rescue friends, they'll have to face Borran head-on and their greatest nemesis, spider.
An action-packed series that leaves readers guessing. "Unputdownable!" "This Series Rocks!" and "I can't wait for the next book!" are just some of what reviewers are saying!
Pick up your copy and find out why!
“Dammit! They’re still coming!” Adan yells, entwined in a few vines. I toss up my head and glance back, my bottom still on the ground and my knees scraped with wet grass stains. My auburn hair whips around and slaps my cheeks. Sum frantically pulls vines off Adan to untangle him, but my eyes can only zero in on the oncoming madness.
Behind the thicket of swamp titi, I hear the booming screams of howler monkeys warning us to stay off their territory. I scramble to my feet, gripping on to a low-rotting branch. My neck is tilted back to keep my eyes on them. So many of them with spear-like teeth aiming for us, and their eyes—their eyes are crazy! Sum grabs Adan’s arm and yanks him forward.
“Come on!” I race in front of Sum shouting, Adan close to his side. “Get moving!”
I don’t hesitate. The monkeys look ravenous. My feet dart across the wet grass beside the Orinoco River in an anxious padding as we race toward Puerto Carreno.
“Just leave the raft?!” I ask worriedly. It took a long time to reinforce after our trip from Manaus. We lost about half the raft by the time we reached San Felipe.
“We’ll pick it up on the way back!” Sum shouts from behind, his voice gravelly, while I turn my head forward. My eyes catch the warm afternoon sun in the sky. It took just half a day to get here, but getting what we need and getting out will take longer.
I listen to Sum; next to Carlos, he is the closest thing I have to a brother, and I’m not sure when I’ll ever see Carlos again. Though Mama and I want to send for him, we know he’s safer where he is.
The large, embracing hand of Adan plops against my back when he and Sum catch up to me. “We’ve got our work cut out for us.”
Glancing to Adan, half teasing, I respond, “And you said we’d be in and out before the day ended.”
“How could I have known?” His cheeks glisten in the sun and rise with his trademark half-smile.
“What the hell is going on? Monkeys don’t act like this.” I see the worry line between his brows, the furrowing, like they did when we landed in San Felipe and found Cai’s village nearly empty. An illness spread through the villages there, killing three-quarters of their inhabitants. Vendors had been cleaned out by surviving village folk, leaving no food to spare. We ran out of our Amazonian supply in a day.
Adan shakes his head. “It’s like they’re drugged.”
“Crazed,” Sum adds.
I must stay focused on the goal ahead, and forget that we’ve become prey to a savage pack of hungry, wild beasts. They don’t look Burned, but they act like they are. We keep up our pace, but the loud screeches of howlers aren’t far behind, and the warning call reverberates throughout the shaking trees as they jump from limb to limb.
There are large mountains in the distance, some within the Puerto Carreno boundaries and most to the east where the Guiana Highlands sit, where the Prestige live high and mighty. We just need to make it to Puerto Carreno, and then we can steal a crate of food meant for the Prestige and return to San Felipe. Our friends haven’t eaten all day. We at least had some Brazil nuts and dwarf bananas on our journey. We even managed to illegally catch two fish from the river. Most of the area near San Felipe is barren, fruits and nuts picked daily and packaged weekly for delivery into Puerto Carreno, and there is no one left in the villages to make bread. If we can’t get this crate of food, we’ll risk starvation. There are just too many of us to rely on the sparse resources in this area. That’s why it’s so barren of people.
Suddenly, Adan pushes into me, knocking me over into more red and black titi. Two howler monkeys leap out of the trees, and all I can see are their sharp, pointy teeth as they pound on top of Adan and Sum. Sum’s apricot hues stain with dirty howler pawprints and I hear a thunderous scream before the monkeys open their mouths to bite, but Adan quickly expels his leathery bat wings, and the heavy flapping pushes one monkey off him.
When the other monkey is about to bite Sum, Sum instead bites the monkey in the neck, and the small primate howls in agony before leaping off Sum and scurrying away in a panic. Adan pulls me to my feet as Sum yells, “Keep going!”
The three of us traverse across the wet terrain, interspersed with shrubs and river plants. All I can think about is how pissed I am that the Prestige get all the goods. Even in Colombia, it’s no different than in Guyana—worse, even. At least in Guyana there are still sporadic trees with fruits. Of course, all the tasty food like guavas we have to give up to Borran. Exhausted, sweating, and hungry, I just want to get to our destination so we can head back to San Felipe. The sooner we return to our new home, the sooner we can devise a plan to free our friends, and the sooner I get to face Borran again. This time, it’ll be to kill him.
When we meet another thicket of trees, another howler lunges towards us, but this time at me, and lands on the back of my neck. It screeches like it’s caught a coveted meal, and bounces up and down on my back. I react instinctively, lost in the moment. I grab its neck with one hand twisting behind me, and grab its leg with my other hand. I yank the monkey forward, pulling it off me and tossing it with a jerk to the ground. Adan just stares at me, as dumbfounded as I am.
The monkey writhes on the ground as if I’ve twisted something in him—and maybe I have without realizing how hard I’d thrown him. When the monkey’s mouth falls agape, tongue sticking out and body lifeless, I can’t believe what’s just happened.
“How did I do that without feeling anything?”
“No pain?” Adan confirms.
“None. It’s like I have no Connection to it whatsoever.”
“I didn’t feel anything either when I hit the monkey with my wings.”
“That doesn’t make any sense.” I turn to Adan, while Sum just watches us a few meters away, unsure of how to relate to all this mysterious disconnection. He never had the Connection anyway.
“Maybe it’s us? Maybe something happened to our Connections?” Adan says fearfully, his almond-shaped eyes bending to mine.
I shake my head. “No, I can still feel my harpy, my Bengal. I’m still Connected.”
Adan’s contorted expression leaves me with no answers until Sum suggests something. “It’s not you two, it’s the animals. Look at ‘em. They ain’t normal. Something’s wrong with ‘em.”
“But what?” The three of us poke our heads closer to the monkey, now dead on the ground, a white foam sticking to its crooked mouth’s corners. “I think we should hide him, take him back with us for Juan to examine,” I suggest, as I tuck the dead monkey under a bush, and Adan nods.
We trek further up along the side of the river, keeping to the trees, and almost to the gates of Puerto Carreno. Howlers scream in the distance farther behind us, and I can even hear a few of them biting at each other and maybe even killing each other. At least they seem to have lost interest in us. We had to vacate our raft because of the monkeys, the moment we passed Puerto Ayacucho. Riding the raft on the mini river from San Felipe for a few hours worked, and then we had to walk till reaching the second mini river that took us into San Fernando, blending into the Orinoco.
We followed the Orinoco all this way, only vacating once when we spotted a BAG patrol heading downstream. Probably sent to pick up a crate of goods from Puerto Carreno. But things got bad after Puerto Ayacucho. More BAG patrols and crazed howler monkeys. Still, we had to leave our raft eventually anyway, because there is no way the Puerto Carreno port patrol will allow Adan and me through this time. Both of our arm barcodes surely now read wanted: dead or alive.
When we reach the gates of Puerto Carreno, I look to Adan. “What are we going to do?”
“The gate is made of wood,” Sum answers, “maybe silk floss. Can’t be too tough.”
“You suggesting we break it down?”
Adan shakes his head. “No, no, we need to climb it.” He points left. “If you look at the western wall, there aren’t many guards. Just one there, and one towards the end.”
Sum looks at Adan’s stump of an arm and his forehead twists in disbelief. Even with a wooden peg sewn into his sleeve, he can’t climb with that.
I squint, using my eagle vision.
“We can scale the wall,” Adan repeats.
“How?” I ask, perplexed, with Sum still eyeing his stump.
“You can stand on my shoulders and I’ll lift you up. You can reach the ledge if you stretch. I’ll stand on Sum’s shoulders. He can’t get in anyway. They’ll identify him as a Burned in no time.”
Sum looks at Adan, his brows all ruffled, like he must still be joking.
“This can work,” Adan insists.
Sum argues, “And how do we avoid being seen? There’s a guard right there.”
Adan’s face lights up. “I’ve got an idea.”
After Adan turns from us and races back into the thick trees, I shout, “What are you doing?!”
“Just follow me,” Adan insists.
If he were any other man, I wouldn’t. But we’ve been through so much together and he’s always come through for me. So, I follow him, with Sum beside me, both of us unsure of where this will lead and what Adan’s getting us into. After all, he told us that this excursion would be quick. He should know, being from Truezuela and having ridden the Orinoco many times. A quick trip to Puerto Carreno to steal a crate of food so that we could have food for the next few days while we rest, heal our wounds, and devise a plan to rescue our friends.
Sounded easy enough.
“What are we doing?!” I demand in a huff as I catch up to Adan. He looks up and I see the howler monkeys just staring at us, salivating. Drool spills from their mouths and onto my sleeve. “Howlers?”
“They’ll be our distraction.” Adan throws a fallen twig at two of them, which immediately stirs a reaction—the reaction he wants, I guess. After the two monkeys drop from the trees to chase us, another four monkeys come racing behind them, their movements erratic, eyes bloodshot, and mouths covered with white foam.
“Our distraction, or our death?” I ask as Adan, Sum, and I all sprint back toward the wall. When we push through a cluster of bushes, where the wall sits, Adan pulls me aside with his good hand and we duck with Sum behind a large Brazil nut tree.
The monkeys dart forward in reckless abandonment, leaving the safety net of the forest, and hurdle at full force into the wall, scaling crazily upward like ravenous beasts and toward the unsuspecting guard sitting in a chair, smoking a cigarette. The event takes less than thirty seconds. Before I blink, four howlers are toppling the guard while the other two are screaming in a frenzied dance on top of the wall. The two dancing monkeys snarl before lunging at each other, and the guard at the far end finally hears the commotion. When a crazed howler savagely bites his neck, the first guard screams and falls backward off the wall.
Adan looks to me. “Now’s our chance.”