I grew up in Salinas, California, the same hometownÂ ofÂ John Steinbeck, one of Americaâ€™s greatest writers.Â I loved to read (and still do) and frequented the John Steinbeck Library as a child. I discovered at an early age that I also enjoyed writing. In sixth grade, my teacher, Mr. Graham gave the class an assignment to write a story for a contest. The contest required that we create ourÂ book bindingÂ as well, which we did with cardboard, glue, and wallpaper. My book was called â€œMully Mullyâ€ about a creature who lived in an underwater lake city. I was sad when I didnâ€™t win, but I cherished my book so I kept it all these years.Â It wasnâ€™t until a few years ago that I decided to put other stories, roaming around in my mind, down on paper again, or actually, in my case, into a computer.
I took a non-traditional route toÂ writing, considering I have a doctorate in Educational Leadership. Aside from writing, I work full-time as a Training & Development Coordinator at Kaweah Delta, aÂ teaching hospital, and some semesters I also teach at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, California, where I currently live. When Iâ€™m not at my full-time and part-time job, I enjoy writing, reading, watching TV, and spending time with my husband and pets (cat-Smokey, dog-Princess).
The ImmundusÂ is my debut novel.
Would you sacrifice your humanity to save mankind?
ITâ€™S THE YEAR 2828, and Domus is the last remaining country. Divided into twelve walled cities known as genuses, Domus spans whatâ€™s known as the purist landsâ€”lands unaffected by the genetic modifications that killed all other species of mammals. But outside the walls of each genus the Immundus threaten the welfare of those within. From a young age, all citizens of Domus are trained for combat against these intruders.
At sixteen, Nia Luna knows little of the Immundus, except for the citywide alarms that ring any time an Immundus nears the genus walls. What she does know is that her own species is dyingâ€”their numbers dwindling as a mysterious disease called allagine kills many before their eleventh birthday. The same disease that ravaged her family when it took her sister.
When Nia is recruited into Genesis, a research company pioneering the path to a cure, she knows that her dream to find a cure for allagine is finally within her grasp. But within weeks of starting at Genesis, Nia witnesses something she shouldnâ€™t haveâ€”something that changes everything. As she sets down a dangerous path that uncovers national secrets, Nia will have to decide not only what kind of person she wants to be but also how far sheâ€™s willing to go to save humanity.
Just outside the door, a gray-haired but young-looking man, is speaking with Dr. Matus. Derek is by her side.
â€œNia.â€ She puts her hand out to stop me from passing her. â€œThis is Mr. Dyer. He would like to speak to you and Derek for a moment.â€
â€œA problem you may have experienced with an elevator this morning.â€
â€œNo problem,â€ Derek responds. â€œWe made it to the lab on time. Didnâ€™t we, Dr. Matus?â€
â€œYes, they did.â€ She shoots a concerned look at Mr. Dyer.
â€œI understand you went to the ostrich floor.â€
â€œNo. A man who was in the elevator went there. We were headed here,â€ I say.
â€œNevertheless, I must take you to administration for further questioning.â€
â€œWhy canâ€™t you ask them here?â€ Dr. Matus asks, her tone thick with confusion.
â€œThat is beyond your level.â€
She stabs him with a look of disdain. He walks us through the lab to the elevator. All eyes are on us.
On the administration floor, weâ€™re directed to a room at the end of the hall, where the light appears dimmer than the light on the other end. The room is bare, with white walls and a table with chairs in the center.
â€œWhat did you hear and see on the ostrich floor?â€
â€œNothing.â€ The word bursts from Derekâ€™s and my mouth simultaneously.
â€œDonâ€™t lie to me.â€ His words were razor sharp, cutting into my conscience. â€œI have video.â€ The room begins to feel more like a cell.
â€œThen why are you even asking us?â€ Derek says. â€œYou saw whatever we saw. Why are you questioning us like this?â€
â€œI want to hear from you what you think you saw and heard.â€
â€œI told you. Nothing. I donâ€™t know what I saw or heard,â€ I say.
His eyes are deep and dark, shaped like pumpkin seeds, but with a
â€œTell me what you saw now!â€
â€œWe saw the man. He pressed the ostrich button and scanned his hand and arm. He got out on the floor. We heard a scream. There was a flash of color. Thatâ€™s it. You know what we saw, and it was nothing, and we did nothing. Why are we here?! Tell us!â€ Derek explodes before snapping his mouth shut, breathing heavily through his nose.
Sweat forms in a single thin layer on my hands. â€œAre we in trouble?â€
â€œOn what?â€ Derek asks.
â€œOn whether youâ€™re both trueâ€”â€ The media light on Mr. Dyerâ€™s
temple flashes. â€œI need to take this call.â€ He steps outside and shuts the glass door. My fatherâ€™s hologram appears. Derek and I watch the interaction. Iâ€™m unable to hear the conversation, but I catch one wordâ€”Immundus. Mr. Dyer notices we can see him and touches the door, changing it from see-through to white.
â€œHeâ€™s getting chewed out. I wonder who that is.â€
â€œMy father,â€ I admit.
â€œWhat floor does he work on?â€
â€œI donâ€™t know. I donâ€™t know anything.â€
â€œWell, he looks like he has more authority than Mr. Dyer. Maybe heâ€™ll get us out of here.â€ Derek and I wait impatiently for Mr. Dyer to return.
He walks in, chagrinned, holding the door open. â€œYouâ€™re free to go.â€ He sends Derek a devious smirk. â€œFor now.â€
Tags: California, College of the Sequoias, doctorate in Educational Leadership., John Steinbeck, John Steinbeck Library, Mr. Graham, Mully Mully, Salinas, The Immundus, Training & Development Coordinator at Kaweah Delta, Visalia