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The magnetic road out of Indianapolis was completely disabled. Indian Air Force bombers had pelted it throughout the night as they blazed their way through the heartland of the United States of America. Now cars and trucks were crowding, bumper to bumper, on Old Route 75 in the rush to flee the city and suburbs of Indianapolis.
In a fourth-floor apartment, Marlena Madison hurriedly filled her backpack with bottles of water, bags of trail mix, and the stun gun she’d found yesterday on the street with a full clip. Gun shops were empty. Food shops were empty. Her mother, dying in the hospital, had begged her only daughter to get away from the city while she still could. Lastly, the young woman grabbed her electronic journal from the kitchen counter and threw that into her pack too.
Shrugging on the backpack, she heard the roar of airplanes. Seconds later, a squadron of Chinese bombers screamed over the city. She heard explosions and the rumble of collapsing buildings. Terrified, she sprinted for the stairwell, ran down the stairs two at a time, and threw her body against the door into the front lobby, opening it and sliding on the tiles in her panic. She heard a deafening roar and felt the whole building shake. Parts of the lobby ceiling fell and broke in pieces on the floor, and the middle of the room collapsed as she pushed through the front door and bolted across the street.
Shaking and breathing hard, Marlena turned and looked back. A tall black man, just behind her, had come through the door only to be knocked to the ground by an avalanche of falling debris from an overhanging section of the crumbling structure. With wide eyes, she watched him struggle to remain conscious as the rubble rained down on him. He would be buried in a minute. She knew him only as a friendly neighbor who had always smiled at her in passing. She struggled with indecision for a moment, and then ran back to help, frantically lifting and heaving away chunks of mortared bricks and broken cinder block while some detached part of her brain marveled at her own strength and daring.
Choking on concrete dust, she heard creaking, crashing, and glass shattering as the high-rise folded in on itself, and more chunks of masonry plummeted down to replace what she had moved. Suddenly fully conscious, the man fought to free himself as the young woman strained to lift a section of brick wall pinning down his leg. Another lethal chunk tumbled from far above, sending up a blinding dust cloud as it hit the rubble inches behind her. Pulling his bleeding body free, the big man crawled desperately toward the street, then, grabbing Marlena’s arms, hauled himself up onto his battered feet, his skin ghostly gray with dust. Marlena staggered under his weight as they crossed the street, now littered with chunks of masonry. The deadly avalanche ceased—the ruined building creaked and groaned, enveloped in its dust cloud. Gasping and coughing, they paused for a few moments while the man tested his limbs. They were bruised and bleeding, but bore his weight.
“Mensch,” he said to Marlena. “You’re safe with me, for now. But I have to get to the men’s camp before that changes. Where are you going?”
“I don’t know,” Marlena said. “Somewhere with women—and guns.”
“I know such a place. Let me take you there. We need to find a car.”
Marley had lost track of time, as fourteen-year-olds do, in the midst of making up her face. Her elbows rested on her lace-trimmed dressing table, and now her chin came to rest on her fists as she pondered her own reflection. Her decorative tasks forgotten, she lost herself in the contemplation of her own luminous dark eyes. An uncomfortable sense of longing persisted, but she did not know what she longed for, and those eyes were not telling her.
Her golden-brown face blended the genetic heritage of the planet: full lips and glossy waves of deep brown hair that could easily be lightened to gold when she so desired. Marley was just one more young, beautiful, healthy specimen of North American womanhood, a species that had gradually improved since scientific reproduction began in the late 21st century.
Early morning sun peeked through lace curtains, and specks of dust drifted on the yellow light, falling onto a hanging fish net and its plush occupants. Cats, dogs, and bunnies were packed in with cute, toy versions of extinct species—polar bear, otter, lion, and tiger—gathered from numerous visits to the animal museum. Vivid scarves spilled from a shelf where a grouping of dolls cuddled together, childish things still holding a place in the changing heart of a young woman.
Oversized tropical fish added splashes of bright orange, black, and white to walls of pale aqua and blue—lovingly painted fifteen years ago by two happy women anticipating motherhood. On the dressing table, the happy moms-to-be laughed and smiled at Marley from a worn photo frame. Mama Jo’s head was thrown back in laughter—mouth open, showing perfect teeth—her thick, dark hair falling freely over her shoulders. Mama Sue’s adoring eyes peeked out from under wispy blonde bangs.
This picture was how Marley thought of Mama Jo, who had died when Marley was very young. In the slang of the day, she was Marley’s egg-mama, the one whose egg had been fertilized to make her. Her mother’s partner was her heart-mama. And the sperm donor? Well, they never told you which breeder male the sperm came from. He was undoubtedly a strong, healthy specimen, or he wouldn’t have had his manhood preserved to pass on his genes. His progeny would now be scattered around the 102 states of North America.
Marley had seen vids of those huge, muscular young men brawling in their high security camps, shouting with deep, angry voices. She had no wish to meet one of them, ever.
I’m Tessa Rose, author of Escape From Enlightenment: Marley’s Journey. My mind was incubated in the Christian sect of Swedenborgianism, and I grew up in a close knit religious community in Pennsylvania with huge families and a Gothic cathedral.
I’ve been writing stories for as long as I can remember, ever since I grasped the alphabet. Publishing a novel has been a lifelong dream, but for decades, life got in the way. Wonderful and important things like college, jobs, marriage, a house, a business, a baby, homeschooling, and moving, never left me enough time to get a novel finished and published.
But one day, in an effort to empathize more deeply with LGBT people around me, I was imaging a society that condemned my own sexual orientation. Marley came to me like a vision–a spunky, thoughtful youngster waking up to her sexuality and realizing that she wasn’t “normal.” My imagination took off from there, and this story would not be put off. It turned into an epic novel and then into a series. I’m currently finishing the second book.
Now writing is number one, and gets in the way of everything else! The house is a mess and the budget is tight, but my daughter is all grown up, and I am busy creating intriguing characters for readers to love and hate in the brave new world of the Enlightened Society. So enjoy Marley’s Journey, and get ready for more …
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“I’m excited and gratified that you are reading my book. I believe you will enjoy it immensely.” -Tessa Rose, author of Escape From Enlightenment: Marley’s Journey
Have you ever imagined a society in which being gay was normal, and heteros cowered in the closets? Marley is a teenage girl in a post-World War III North America, where women have created a new, enlightened society. Boys and fertile breeder males are kept in camps, where their propensity for violence can never again hurt women or start wars. Women go to Reproduction Centers to have their eggs fertilized and brought to term in artificial wombs. Developing babies are hormonally influenced to have the same-sex attraction that keeps everyone content and happy in their segregated society. Heterosexual attraction is the gateway through which men could regain their destructive power, and is now considered an abhorrent lust. At fourteen, Marley is worried about her lack of attraction to other girls. Then she meets Maddy, a girl from a barely-tolerated subculture that believes in modest dress, saving sex for marriage, and birthing babies naturally. She may be in love with Maddy. But should she tell Maddy that she secretly looks at boys online, and can’t stop thinking about them? Or should she follow subversive rumors about an underground network that smuggles heteros away to an island where they are free to love their own way?
Find out with “Escape From Enlightenment: Marley’s Journey” by author Tessa Rose.
Our wonderful readers are the reason I write. Here are some of the great things they’ve said about my book Escape From Enlightenment.
“The LGBTQ community has found in Tessa Rose an unexpected friend.” ~ S. Humphries
A huge thanks to Tessa’s husband Larken for his kind words!
We are excited to hear from YOU with your Reviews of Escape From Enlightenment!