by Daniel Solomon Kaplan
(Elevated Saga #1)
Publication date: September 23rd 2014
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Most kids can’t wait until Elevated Day, when they can finally unlock their hidden superpower. Rose remains a skeptic. While the treatment reveals a power, the outcome is irreversible and abilities can range from amazing to a nuisance. On top of that, she holds a deep rooted grudge against the treatment that turned her father into an Unsound, one with abilities so dangerous as to force them to a life of exile.
Her choice sends her down a path of discovery, as she seeks to learn more of the truth around the treatment and what really happened to her father. Fed up with lies, Rose wants nothing more than to learn the whole truth–even if it means accepting her fate as an Elevated.
Our server returns and there’s an awkward silence as he places down our drinks. He begins to leave, but I call out to him before he does. “Excuse me, but, do you—I don’t know how to ask. You see, it’s my Elevation Day and I, do you—”
“Do I regret not getting zapped?” he responds.
Mom chokes on her cup of coffee. “Rose. What a rude thing to ask.”
“It’s fine,” the boy says as he brings himself down to eye level. “Nah. Not for a moment.”
I’m surprised at his lack of hesitation. “Never worry about what might have happened?”
“Curious? Perhaps. Worry? Never. Look, this is a big day for you, but I’ve got a piece of advice. Don’t forget that it’s your life. No one else’s.”
He gives a quick nod, stands up, and walks away. My insides glow warm. Mr. Roberts gives me that look. As if judging my every move, down to the molecular level. I sink down in my seat.
“What did you expect him to say?” he asks. “That he hates his life? He has to cope with this. Working in this dump night after night, serving—”
“Lots of people don’t need GEMO to do what they want.” And I’m right. All I’ve ever wanted to do is work as a botanist somewhere, growing flowers and planting trees. While some abilities wouldn’t hurt, it’s not like anyone gets a magical green thumb or something.
“When you’re sixteen, how do you know what you want? You don’t even know your full potential.”
Full potential. There it is again. The carrot dangled in front of every would-be GEMO participant. Wish I could brush it off, but it keeps finding a way into my imagination and holding it hostage. Mr. Roberts tries to smirk, but the muscles in his face don’t seem to work that way anymore. Bet he thinks my lack of a response comes from me not having an argument. But he’s wrong.
Mom’s face remains frozen in shock. I wonder if she realizes that I might not go through with it. She refuses to talk, probably scared to find out her suspicions are correct.
The server returns with our food. A feast of goodies not seen in my house in ages: chocolate milk, maple syrup, and breakfast sausage. Mr. Roberts examines his plate as if it’s from outer space. Can’t wait to watch him handle all of this “toxic food.”
I plunge into my blueberry waffles and there’s a huge bite in my mouth when he decides to speak up again. “I’m not sure why Aaron’s worried. GEMO is perfectly safe.”
“No, Mr. Roberts. Sugar is safe.” I pour a huge glob of maple syrup on my waffles while Mr. Roberts shifts in discomfort. I enjoy the effect it’s having on him, so I dump out some more.
“It’s madness. That’s what it is. He’s a conspiracy theorist cuckoo.”
I drop my fork. “Aaron is not crazy. Choosing to be a Basic is not crazy. Living a normal life is not crazy.”
Mr. Roberts keeps slicing his breakfast sausage, then patting down the pieces with napkins to soak up the grease. “It’s absurd, giving up your future. Do you have any idea how hard it’s going to get for Basics? Businesses will require Elevated powers to get work. Accountants will need enhanced brain processing, chefs will need enhanced taste, and marine biologists will need to be able to breathe underwater. Those without will suffer. Is that what you what? Dependence on the government? Leeching off society?”
His rant begins to create a stir in the restaurant. Embarrassment flushes his face and I wonder if he finally realizes how insensitive he always sounds. He just insulted most of the people there. Their angry faces fuel my resolve. I don’t need these powers anymore than they do. He has no right to speak this way.
My hands dig into the booth, rubbing against the duct tape holding the cushion together. “You just can’t understand why anyone would make another choice, can you? That some people might be okay with being simple, living as a normal person.”
The tone in Mom’s voice breaks my heart. “But is that what you want, Rose? Working in a dive like this? Fooling yourself?”
Now I understand why she took me here this morning. It wasn’t only to get on my good side. She wanted to display my fate if I chose not to be zapped. Working in a greasy spoon and serving the Elevated. As if that's the only option.
Daniel Solomon Kaplan is a playwright turned author after much arm twisting from his wife. He currently has several novels in the works, including CATALYST, the next book of the Elevated Series, scheduled to debut before the end of the year.