We Are Watching (Mindshare #1)
by M. Stephen Stewart
Publication Date: December 16th 2014
Genres: Dystopia, Young Adult
Henry Malone’s childhood was shattered by the unexplained suicide of his father. Now a teenager, his days are spent studying to become a Neural Implant Technician for Planetary Link Corporation, helping them maintain an iron grip over his walled country and every iota of knowledge contained within—but he leads a double life. Henry’s nights are spent helping his mother wage a cyber war against them in her quest to find the truth behind his father’s death.
He’s managed to keep his two lives separate, a delicate balance that’s endangered after he repairs the neural implant of a stranger. He finds she’s in possession of illegal memories from the outside world, unauthorized knowledge of his father, and a message: speak to me later and tell no one. Henry has a choice to make—ignore the message and maintain his double-life, or answer and risk everything to uncover secrets Planetary Link would kill to keep buried.
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Henry looked at the distant night sky. Waves of revulsion rolled through him. Even from the city’s outer ruins, he saw the all-too familiar skyline of Houston tucked behind its walls. Skyscrapers outlined themselves against a backdrop of parading advertisements. ICAP’s mile-high ramp split the skyline into two halves.
Looking at that sloping crack in the sky, memories of seven years ago flooded back to him. He felt the morning dew on his feet as he and Mom both obsessively watched The Plink NEXt launch itself free of gravity’s embrace.
“It looks so different now.” His nervous eyes leered through the broken window Kurei had jumped through. He watched a twirling logo.
You loved that skyline once.
Riya stopped the SUV. She parked it beneath an oak tree that had burst through the long neglected asphalt.
“Let's get this done.” Henry's knobby knees popped as he made his way out.
“We're parked pretty far from the wall,” Henry said.
“Yes,” Riya answered, shouldering her pack and rifle.
“So, how are we getting back in there? Have another contact in Sec that’ll smuggle us in?”
She raised an eyebrow at him, “You're assuming there's only one way in.”
“I assumed there weren't any ways in or out before you came along. You can drop me off up front, and I'll go knock on the gate. The truck isn't too far.”
Riya shook her head and moved past the oak tree.
The two of them kept close to the abandoned buildings. Old flimsy bricks blocked line of sight from the wall, which was probably a mile off. It’d be difficult to spot them from that distance, especially at night. Better to be too careful, than not careful enough. There were gray patrols out here, drones too.
“I could climb over the wall,” Henry said, side-stepping an ankle deep pothole.
She laughed, but it was a tense, barking thing.
“Are you alright?” he asked.
She’s lost a lot, Hank.
Henry scolded himself immediately—of course she wasn’t alright. “I’m sorry. That was a stupid question.” Embarrassment crept up the back of his neck.
Riya stopped. Her chest slowly filled with air, and her shoulders sagged. “I'm scared, Henry.” She clenched her jaw. “That’s all.”
The sudden admission shocked him. Through everything, she had been the picture of bravery. From the night they went on quiet hours, all the way through the chaos of the riots, she managed to keep a brave face. But to see her now, admitting to her fear—that was a new thing to Henry. He wondered if he should be more apprehensive about their undertaking than he was.
“What's to be scared of?” he said, stepping over a knee-high bush. “We're only the two most wanted people in the Gulf Market, going into a place swarming with security officers.”
M. Stephen Stewart is a graduate of Indiana University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He makes his home in Indianapolis with his wife and two dogs. In his spare time, Matt is an avid sports fan, gamer, and reader, who loves to connect with new people. You can usually find him around town with his wife, exercising, or in front of his computer working on a new project.