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Excerpt for Forbidden: A Short Story by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Forbidden: A Short Story
By Jordon Greene



Copyright © 2017 by Jordon Greene.

Visit the author’s website at www.JordonGreene.com


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any way by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise without prior written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews or as provided by US copyright law. Franklin/Kerr Press supports copyright and thanks you for purchasing an authorized edition of this book.


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictionally and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locations, organizations, or persons living or dead, is entirely coincidental.


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Edited by Jordon Greene

Cover Image by 4Max/Shutterstock.com

Cover & Interior design by Jordon Greene


SECOND EDITION


Fiction: Dystopian

Fiction: LGBT



A hard knock on the front door echoes back into the kitchen where I’m stuffing another French fry down my gullet. I jump and almost choke on the crunchy stalk of potato and breading.

I eye Franco sitting across from me at the slate black table, his plate is half empty already. His thick, ruddy brown hair is wavy and messy, framing generous eyes, soft cheeks, and a small pointed nose all coalescing down into a triangular chin. For a second, his hazel eyes meet mine, a hint of worry escaping their depths.

“Who’s that?” Franco asks, crinkling his brow and sweeping his eyes toward the noise.

“Hell if I know,” I say, swallowing down the remainder of my fry with a grimace. “I’ll get it.”

With an annoyed sigh, I get to my feet and make my way through the small kitchen. I don’t need much, but with the Under Shepherd and his fellowship of Deacon's recent crackdowns on objectionable materials, my horde of belongings is even more meager now, or hidden. Before I can pass through the living room, another knock bangs on the door followed by a harsh command. I stop in my tracks.

“Open up,” a deep, commanding voice rings past the entry door just before beating on the wooden frame commences again. “This is the police.”

I gulp and take another step, then another which lands my feet on a small, bland rug just before the front door. I turn to my left and my eyes catch a picture from better days, before the church managed to sneak its way into everything, when we still had a president, a Congress and a real court system. Now it’s just the church and their holy book.

My parents are seated on a grassy knoll somewhere in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I’m sitting cross-legged between them, an only child. Everyone’s grinning, something I rarely do nowadays. Trees layered in browns, reds and oranges line the background just below a setting sun. I remember it being cool, bordering on frigid that day. I think I was fourteen. My smooth, pale, boyish face was happy then, brown eyes glinting in the light below the same headful of spiky chestnut hair I see in my reflection in the glass. There was a vibrancy in me that day that’s lacking now; hell, I've not felt that in years. I was a normal kid. I played basketball, chased after the girls, couldn't wait to get my license, took my parents for granted. It’s hard to believe it's been nine years since that day on the Parkway, seven years since my parents died at the hands of the church, the Fellowship as they call themselves. Their crime? They were God deniers, at least that’s what the Fellowship called them. It only took a matter of years after the church gained control, no, who am I fooling, took control, for such a crime to be decreed punishable by death.

My parents had instructed me to tell the government I believed in God to keep me safe. That wasn't a problem though, because I did, I do. I don't believe in their God, one that demands such intolerance and heavy-handedness, the denial of free will, but I do believe. Of course, they don't need to know that little detail.

I grit my teeth as another knock comes at the door. I swear if they beat any harder, they’ll splinter the wood. My mind's racing.

Why are they here? Do they know? No. How?

The Fellowship police don’t just show up at your doorstep for a quaint talk; no, they come because they plan to drag you out on the street kicking and screaming from your house.

No. Surely not.

I realize I’m breathing hard. I focus on calming down. I hear a soft padding on the floor behind me and turn to find Franco standing beside me, worry etched across his face. I try to grin, but it’s useless. My eyes lock with his.

“Open up!” the voice bellows again and I twitch. “Open up now, or we’ll break the door down!”

I’m sorry, I think. But I can’t seem to vocalize the sentiment. He nods like he understands. We can’t run. By now they’ve surrounded my tiny excuse of a home and are ready for any attempt we might make at an escape.

“Okay,” I whisper, taking another gulp and step toward the door, placing my palm against the cold knob. I take a deep breath and close my eyes for a brief second. Then I turn it and pull the door open.

The man behind the door, the one who was screaming for us to open up just seconds ago, pulls his hand back, apparently about to knock again. He’s a younger officer, late twenties, maybe earlier thirties, with a full head of hair and dressed in an all-black officer’s uniform, muscles bulging around his neck. The uniform is one of the few remnants of our society before the “ascension” of the church, before the church became everything. Behind him I count four others, all men, all standing at the ready, batons in hand.

“Kael Lawson?” the man asks, his tone calmer now.

“Yes, that’s me,” I tell him, trying to hide the worry in my voice. I see the man’s eyes shift from me to Franco.

“And are you Franco Wilder?” the officer asks, an air of importance and expectation in his voice, it almost sounds snide.

I nod slowly as Franco speaks up.

“Yes, I’m Franco,” he says.

The officer shifts on his feet, straightening, a grin forming across his thin lips.

“By order of the Fellowship, and the supreme Under Shepherd, you are both under arrest,” before he can finish speaking, the men behind him swarm in, swooping into my home and pinning my hands behind my back. I look over my shoulder to find Franco in the same predicament. A pained expression on his face sends a bolt of anger up my spine. I twist and turn, trying to pull my hands from their grasp. But I’m no match for the church’s police, trained from a young age, even before the church became all-powerful, to be master of both body and mind, to hunt and contain.

They pull my arms back together and slap a pair of handcuffs tightly around my wrists. I yelp as the cold metal rakes against my skin.

“You have no fucking rig—“ I try, but my words are cut off by the blunt impact of a large fist against my mouth. If it weren’t for the men holding me up from behind, I’d be on the ground right now.

I drop my face, squinting away the pain and letting my vision clear up. I lick my lips and taste the bitter flavor of blood trickling down my mouth and chin.

“I have every right. And watch your mouth,” the officer says before nodding to his men. “Bring them outside for public judgment.”

My eyes bloom open at his words and immediately I’m searching for Franco, craning my neck around to see behind me. I find him a few steps back to the right, as the officers march us out onto the concrete sidewalk that leads up against the edge of the road. There's a sorrow in his eyes, much like my own probably, but it's tempered by a strength he's always managed in the harder times. That’s something I could never master, not with all the shit I’ve been through. Not after every sin in the Bible was codified into law and interpreted by some high-minded bunch of so-called deacons who thought they knew what was best for everyone and what wasn’t. Pharisees, I call them, the whole lot.

At first it hadn’t been bad, at least compared to now, that is. At first the big sins where punished with fines, or public humiliation. Then it became jail time and "restitution" to the church. The first crime to be newly minted worthy of the death penalty had been blasphemy and denying their God. Since then the list has grown and public judgment usually meant an immediate death penalty.

I twist my body to the side, trying to escape the grasp of the two men holding me. It's useless, though, as they continue to press onward as if my struggle is nothing to them. I break my gaze from Franco and scan over the neighborhood, cast in the glow of the evening sun. I swear that everyone is standing outside, gawking at our misfortune. I wonder what they're thinking.

What did they do? I guess they're getting what they deserved. Damn ingrates. Sinners.

I wonder how many are cheering on the police. Our neighbors. People I’ve talked to almost every day, or at least passed on the way to work or town. They just stand there on their lawns, watching.

Do something! Help us! I scream inside, but I know it’s out of the question. Helping us would implicate them in whatever it is the church has deemed us criminals for. There will be no help coming.

To my left I catch David, my neighbor of three years, who I wish a "good morning" to every day before I drive off for work. He's grinning, lips pursed and expectant, hands clasped.

Did he know about the plan? Had he somehow overheard Allison, Franco and I discussing the rebellion? Or what was left of it at least? That has to be it. No. They'll come for her, too, then.

At the edge of the sidewalk, against the road, the officer barks an order I fail to make out. Without warning, the men behind me kick my knees in from behind and a hand shoves me forward. I collapse to the sidewalk, my knees scraping against concrete. I grit my teeth at the pain as another hand grasps my shoulder to keep me from planting my face onto the road. I glance to my right as Franco is dropped to his knees next to me. I try to smile. I don’t know, maybe I did.

This is it.

I refuse to break my eyes away from Franco as the officer who announced our arrest stomps around and stakes his place in front of us, demanding our attention.

“Kael Lawson,” he bellows, a proclamation to be heard by all around us, but especially for our busybody neighbor, David. “Franco Wilder. For the crime of…”

I drown out his words. I don’t want to hear them. I don’t need to hear them. I know what’s coming and I know why now. It’s hard to believe in this moment that there was a better time. A time when men and women chose their own destinies, when people were free to speak their mind, to disagree, to be a rebel. But now is not that time, and I know now that I’ll never see that time again.

“I’m sorry,” I tell Franco, tears pouring down my cheeks. I can only imagine how I look right now to the people standing around us, watching the night’s spectacle, but I don’t care.

“No. Don’t be,” he tells me between a stutter. A weak yet perfect smile interrupts the tears running down his face.

As the officer's words touch my numbed ears, a few words hit me from his decree. They're not here because of our involvement in the rebellion, they apparently don't know.

“…by order of the Fellowship and the Under Shepherd, you are hereby sentenced to summary execution.” His voice is strong and commanding as he utters the end of our lives. I want to hate him so much, to hate everyone around me, the church, everyone. But I can't. I hate what they're doing, what they've brought us to, but I don't hate them. I pity them.

In that moment, I glue my eyes to Franco as the sound of the officer racking the slide of his pistol back reaches my ears, a bullet in the chamber, ready. Time slows as I focus on those hazel eyes. I clench my bound fists behind my back and hold on to a scared smile.

Franco grins back at me through tear-stained lips, eyes sad but somehow happy in the same instant. As I hear the faint click of the trigger just before the finale, one last thought rolls through my mind.

What was my crime? I had done a forbidden thing. I loved him.




ABOUT THE

AUTHOR



Jordon Greene is the Award-Winning & Amazon Bestselling Horror Author of The Reserve & To Watch You Bleed. He is a full stack web developer for the nation’s largest privately owned shoe retailer and a graduate of UNC Charlotte. Jordon spends his time building web applications, attempting to sing along to his favorite rock songs, driving way too fast, and reading. He lives in Concord, NC just close enough and just far enough away from Charlotte.



Other Stories by the Author

They'll Call It Treason (Novel)

To Watch You Bleed (Novel)

The Reserve (Novel)

Anywhere But Here (Short Story)

The Maze: An Extreme Horror Story

Far From Home (Short Story)



Visit Jordon Online

www.JordonGreene.com

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