The following is a second, short excerpt from Sustaining Utopia. In it, our main human character, Jazen, meets another main character, the Humanii female named Betzi. He also learns why he has been called to the Mayor's office.
This is unedited, so it very well may change before it gets published.
By nine hundred hours, Jazen left his apartment to head to his appointment. Since he was going to the Mayor’s office, he wore a long-sleeved white dress shirt, black tie, black slacks, and dress shoes. It was frigid and windy still, so he finished off his look with a heavy black jacket.
He took the railway train to the political district on the west end of Leikala City. The commute took about forty minutes, allowing for stops along the way. He was pleased with how clean the train car was; the walls, seats, and all the surfaces were almost shiny. The car itself was full of commuters who either enjoyed the plush seats or stood holding leather handles extended from the ceiling. Most of the travelers were either looking at their phones or engaged in light conversation.
Normally, Jazen was a people watcher, but he was too nervous and excited for that today. He kept looking out the window towards the political district as it grew nearer. Once he reached his stop and left the transit station, it was a short walk to the three-story building that housed the Mayor’s office. The overcast sky was unsuccessful at its attempts to dampen his mood.
Why does the Mayor’s office want to see me? he asked himself once again. He shrugged as he walked inside.
The lobby was small but had a high ceiling, wood panel walls, and a dark green carpeted floor. Jazen approached the bald male receptionist in a brown suit at the first table. Several people were patiently waiting on cushioned wooden benches along the back wall.
The dark-skinned man turned his attention to him and smiled. “How may I assist you?”
“I’m Jazen. I was told to report for a meeting at ten hundred hours.” He looked at the digital wall clock to his right that read nine hundred forty-seven. “I guess I’m a little early.”
The other man stood and smiled, extending a hand in greeting. “That’s alright, Jazen. I’m Ailton. I’ll let that team know you’re here.” They briefly shook hands. “Thank you for being prompt.”
Ailton made a quick call from his desk. Within thirty seconds, Olzai emerged from one of the back offices and quickly approached Jazen. She radiated excitement through her confident walk and smile.
“Jazen, it’s so good to meet you,” she said. “Please follow me.”
Jazen returned her smile and did as she said. He felt awkward passing by the men and women who were still waiting on the benches but continued on behind Olzai. She took him up a flight of stairs and into a conference room on the second floor. Like the lobby, this room had wood paneled walls and dark green carpet. It had a long rectangular oak wood table at its center. There were half a dozen small overhead lights in the ceiling, but the room still seemed dark and strangely cozy to Jazen. A couple of paintings of Leikala City graced the walls on either side of the table.
They were the first ones to arrive. She pulled out a black rolling office chair for him and he sat down. She sat down in another chair to his right.
“The others will be here soon,” she assured him.
A few minutes later, the human Mayor Relit and his Humanii female assistant entered the room. They were followed by a young auburn-haired Humanii woman. All took seats opposite Jazen and Olzai.
Mayor Relit was perhaps in his late fifties, with olive-hued skin and short, graying black hair. He seemed fit and healthy to Jazen if a bit stressed. Speaking first, he stood up again and extended a handshake across the table which Jazen nervously accepted. “Thank you for coming, Jazen. It’s good to meet you.”
“Thank you, Mayor. It’s an honor,” Jazen replied. “I — I didn’t expect to meet you.”
The mayor turned his head towards the quiet woman to his immediate right. Jazen had been so focused on the mayor, he hadn’t seen her stand up. “This is my assistant, Kadaline.”
The curvy Humanii woman appeared close in age to the mayor and wore oval-shaped glasses. That was unusual for Humanii, but not unheard of. Her shoulder-length black hair had silver streaks on either side. “Pleased to meet you,” she said in a hushed voice as she smiled nervously at Jazen. She gave him a weak handshake. A moment later, the mayor sat back down, so she did, too. Jazen followed their example.
The mayor gestured toward the other Humanii woman. “And this is Betzi.”
Betzi nodded and gave a half-smile. “Hi.” She didn’t bother to stand up or shake Jazen’s hand.
Mayor Relit cleared his throat and gazed right at Jazen. “As Olzai told you, Jazen, you’ve been chosen for a unique opportunity. You have been selected for a very special — and brand new — pilot program. It’s called Project Agnate.”
Not recognizing the term “agnate,” Jazen said, “I don’t understand. What’s Project Agnate about? What would my role be?”
Mayor Relit steepled his fingers and took in a breath before continuing. “The aim of Project Agnate is to bring humans together with Humanii…in marriage and then, hopefully, the creation of offspring.”
Jazen’s jaw dropped and he felt a chill shoot through his spine. “What?” He briefly looked at Betzi and then back at the mayor. “Is that even possible?”
About the author
Allen Steadham is a nondenominational Christian. Happily interracially married since 1995 and the proud father of two sons and a daughter. He and his wife have been in the same Christian band since 1997. He plays electric bass, she plays strings, they both sing. It's all good.
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