Today we're spotlighting Beyond New Eden by H.S. Stone! Beyond New Eden is a science fiction story of a utopian society living in a dome after a war. Check out the synopsis:
“Eve 142 has lived her entire life in the domed city of New Eden, home to the only surviving humans after the War. Like all of the inhabitants of New Eden, Eve 142 is a clone. Together with the other clones, dubbed the Adams and the Eves, she leads a safe, predictable existence. However, Eve’s life changes when she causes a tragic accident to befall one of the Adams. As retribution, she and her counterpart, Adam 142, are banished from New Eden. At first, Eve 142 considers their punishment a death sentence because she grew up believing the world outside the dome was uninhabitable. She is wrong. Forced to live in the Wastelands, Eve and Adam discover many new truths about the outside world and, more importantly, the truths about themselves.”
Excerpt from Beyond New Eden:
Having never been in direct sunlight before, my first thought upon entering the greenhouse was whether its artificial lights felt the same as the real thing. The heat from rows of electric lamps overhead lapped my exposed skin in waves of warmth, and I imagined that was how the sun really felt.
I had seen pictures of the sun before, of course, and I knew the astronomical facts about the star that the Earth orbited, but I had never seen the glowing yellow orb with my own eyes. None of us had.
The pictures I’d seen were taken before The War. The War, which obliterated the planet and left it uninhabitable except for the domed city named New Eden where I was born and lived my entire life. The War, which wiped out all of mankind except for the hundred and fifty inhabitants of New Eden. The War, which defined the most significant milestone in human history. There was the time before The War and the time after it.
Once my eyes adjusted to the brightness, I saw my destination. I walked toward an apple tree, one of three in the greenhouse. A woman in her mid-twenties inspected the tree’s bark with a handheld instrument, her back turned towards me. The woman was a few years older than me, but she shared the same build, the same amber hair, and, although I couldn’t see them at the moment, the same light brown eyes as I had. If not for the age difference, the people before The War would have thought we were twins.
“Hello, One Thirty-Five,” I called out.The older woman turned around, put her instrument away, and smiled. “Hi, One Forty-Two.” One Forty-Two was what most of the citizens of New Eden called me, short for Eve 142.“I didn’t hear you. You’re early.”
“I finished classes early today.” I returned her smile in a way that I believed resembled hers.
Eve 135 and I weren’t twins. We were clones.
At any time in New Eden, seventy-five clones of Adam Zero and seventy-five clones of Eve Zero lived under its domed roof. Like our human originators, we clones grew old and died. Each of us lived for seventy-five years exactly, prompting the creation of a new pair of clones every year to replace the pair that passed on. I came into existence almost eighteen years ago.
My counterpart, Adam 142, who was born on the same day that I was, still hadn’t arrived at the greenhouse. When I left school, he was in the middle of his last assignment, but I expected him here within minutes.
A man with a fit build, brown hair, and dark brown eyes approached, holding two baskets in his left hand and a ladder slung across his right shoulder.
My pulse quickened upon seeing the baskets, and I asked my older companion, “Are we picking apples?” I had seen other Adams and Eves pick apples on previous visits to the greenhouse, but I had never been allowed to go near the trees.
“That’s right,” Eve 135 replied, adding, “as soon as Adam 142 arrives.”
I found myself looking in the direction of the greenhouse doors every few seconds, wondering what was taking the boy so long.
Adam 135 set down the ladder and baskets next to the apple tree. I noticed that the baskets had straps attached, two loops that slipped over the shoulders and another belt to cinch around the waist. I couldn’t wait to try it on.
Finally, Adam 142 entered, glanced around until he spotted us, and jogged toward us, huffing and puffing. Judging from his heavy breathing, I guessed that he had run all the way here from school.
“What took you so long?” I asked.
“Sorry, I’m not as fast as you in finishing my work.” He made it sound like a complaint rather than a compliment.
With a smirk aimed at the older Adam, Eve 135 remarked, “That sounds familiar, doesn’t it?"
The two Adams shared a silent exchange that, if I wasn’t mistaken, meant, Here we go again. But Eve 135 didn’t comment any further.
Adam 135 picked up one of the baskets and showed us how to slip our arms through the straps so that our hands were free for climbing and picking. Then he demonstrated how to secure the belt around our waist.
Next, he and Eve 135 taught us what to look for in picking apples. We wanted firm fruits that were free of bruises, ideally yellow or orange in color with splashes of red. The green ones weren’t ripe yet, they told us.
The older Adam raised the ladder and propped it against the apple tree. Eve 135 held onto the base with both hands while he climbed up to the nearest fruit-bearing branch. Adam 135’s fingers closed around an apple, and he deftly twisted and pulled it from the branch so that the stem remained intact. Without looking behind him, Adam 135 tossed the fruit into the basket on his back. After picking two more apples, he climbed down.
“Any questions?” Eve 135 asked.We shook our heads. “Looks easy,” I answered, but I immediately regretted those words.
“Is that so? Then I want each of you to fill your basket with fifteen apples. However, to make the task a little more challenging, once you go up the ladder, you can’t come back down until you’ve collected all fifteen, so carefully choose where you want to climb.”
Adam 142 glared at me, but he volunteered to go first. He sure-footedly ascended the ladder while I held onto it from the ground. I felt the vibrations travel through my hands and up my arms with each step he took, and I suddenly grew nervous about providing stability for my partner. He didn’t notice my tenseness and plucked ten apples that were easily within reach.Adam had to lean and stretch to grab the remaining five. On the last fruit, he leaned so far out that the basket on his back almost tipped over. I held my breath, afraid that if I opened my mouth, it would cause the swaying ladder to topple over with him atop it. After nabbing the last apple without incident, Adam returned to the ground.
It was my turn to strap the basket onto my back. The wood and plastic container was lighter than it looked and didn’t hinder my movement in the least. I walked around the tree until I found a spot with a cluster of apples. With Adam 142’s help, I leaned the ladder against the trunk near my destination.
Watching Adam accomplish the task gave me more confidence. With quick steps, I climbed the ladder, eager to show that I was as good as my partner. Thanks to my genes, I wasn’t afraid of heights, and neither were any of the other Adams or Eves. Near the top, I held onto a rung with one hand and began pulling apples with the other. Eight apples were within easy reach, but after I plucked them, I discovered that the others were farther away than they appeared from the ground.
I took two more steps up to the top of the ladder. Grasping the top rung with my left hand, I reached for another three apples. Then I shifted my position, now using my right hand to hold onto the ladder, and I was able to pick two more.
I looked around, gauging the distance to my next target. There were two apples next to each other just beyond my reach, which would make fifteen. I tried to stretch out with my left arm, then with my right, but the fruits lay inches from my fingertips.
Taking my supporting hand off the ladder, I leaned out and grabbed a branch. Eve 135 said that we couldn’t go back down the ladder, but she didn’t mention anything about climbing along the branches.
“Be careful!” I heard Adam 142 caution from under my position.
Mindful of letting my basket of apples tip too far, I inched my body along the branch. The first apple was finally within reach. I held onto the red and golden globe and yanked. The apple popped free from its stem. I forgot to twist and pull. Not ideal, but I still got the apple.
In my awkward position, I found it difficult to reach behind me to put the apple in the basket. I couldn’t just drop it behind my back because the basket’s opening had shifted to the side. I twisted around to locate the basket, and that’s when my grip faltered.
Suddenly, I found myself in freefall. I heard three voices shout “Eve!” and “One Forty-Two!” and then the ground knocked the breath from my lungs. I struggled to keep my eyes open, but the image from my prone position kept spinning.
Disorientation was quickly followed by pain as my arm and back screamed in agony, my nerves finally sending their report of the impact to my brain. I feared that I had broken my arm or worse. The sensation was foreign to me. I couldn’t think of a time when my body hurt so much. I clenched my teeth and felt awareness slip away as my body tried to protect itself from the pain.
Curiously, my thoughts turned from my own well-being. I tried to remember if a clone had ever suffered a life-threatening injury or died prematurely. I didn’t want to be the first.
Before I lost consciousness, I told myself, Clones always live to age seventy-five.
For more about Beyond New Eden check out these sites!