Word Count: 92,000
Genre: Adult Science Fiction Thriller
Systems of Oppression: Homophobia, Racism
Author's Identity: [removed], Black
Twenty-year-old Jason “Jay” Cunningham never concerned himself with the crime reports his parents read religiously over the dinner table. He heard of people getting their Neural Chips hacked, forcing them to do things against their will, but thought it would never happen to him. That was until a night with the mayor’s son, Asher West, ends with him wakes up covered in Asher’s blood & his chip recalling him brutally killing the man—a memory Jay has no conscious recollection of. Jay has become the thing he never thought possible: a victim to the rising epidemic of Thought Crimes.
Proving his innocence won’t be easy. With the mayor letting his personal opinions of his son’s sexuality and choice in romantic partner cloud his judgement & no evidence supporting Jay’s claim of innocence, his case is as good as lost. Until a mysterious savior ventriloquizes Jay’s arresting officer & gives him a way out—find a Jailbreaker to undo the limits preset by the neural chip on his brain & fight back. By any means necessary.
Though Jailbreaking is highly illegal, Jay knows his options are slim. Weighing the odds, Jay ventures into the criminal underworld of Philadelphia in hopes to find his own innocence. But what he finds instead will make him question not only himself, but the system, & most importantly, the value society places on free will.
With Jay’s first and only request, granted to him by the legal system, he asked for a glass of water. If he had another wish, he would have asked for a lawyer, but his priorities were slightly out of whack.
The scratching at the back of his throat, just out of reach of his tongue, was distracting. The tightness of the metal cuffs, teetered somewhere between irksome and painful. He had every intention of telling the guards he lost sensation in his rubbed raw wrists about twenty minutes back, but again—priorities.
But when he got the chance to speak, the moment the guard returned with his water, Jay opted for another declaration.
“Is that sparkling? I specifically asked for sparkling.”
The square jawed guard barely made eye contact with him. Jay narrowed his eyes, attempting to see himself in the curved reflection of the man’s black shades. He had to be a comical sight—just barely under twenty-two, arrested in only his tee shirt and black boxer briefs, chained to a Philadelphia Police Station chair, at 4 am, asking for sparkling water—while speckled in blood that wasn’t his own. At least he was confident (truthfully, only relatively confident) it wasn’t his own. It had been a wild night, after all.
'Note to self when I get out of here, flush out that joke. There’s certainly one there,' he thought.