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In the early 1900s, a silent plague swept the American countryside, creating pain, disfigurement, and shame. Leprosy was the unspoken disease, and those who suffered from it were shunned, reviled, and ultimately doomed—not by the disease itself, but by the hatred and fear of their community. In one rural farming community, that fear turned to the unthinkable. Each time a baby was born with leprosy, a new horror emerged for the family and the community itself. To protect the perceived purity of their crops, the farmers hid the afflicted, using them in the shadows to harvest. As these children grew and aged, they became so unsightly that the farmers decided the best thing to do was to banish the lepers to their own hidden colony in the woods. However, fear spread faster than the disease, and in a moment of horrific self-preservation, the decision was made to eradicate the afflicted. What happened from that moment of terror was the stuff of legend and conjecture. The truth of their fate is more horrifying than can be imagined.

An individual could enter the elevator, at the ground level of this ‘State of the Art’ observation tower, and press their right thumb against the ‘highly sensitive’ glass covered decoder, thus allowing it to accept, or deny, their specific thumb print. If the print failed, then the elevator would remain motionless, except for its doors. They, in turn, opened, and closed, until the passenger’s body weight was no longer an issue upon the elevator’s floor. It was also important to know that the elevator would not operate, with more than one passenger, at any given time.  This information was ‘classified and was only known by the operators of the observation tower.
 If the print was accepted, then, just prior to the elevator’s movement, its doors would close automatically. As if in conjunction with the print being accepted, and the doors being closed and locked, the elevator would then begin its assent to the observation section of the tower. Upon the arrival of the elevator, at its designated floor, it would stop, a bell would jingle, and the person within the elevator would have to re-enact the same process that happened at the entrance level.
 If the second print was not accepted; then the doors would not open, thus the elevator would eventually descend to the surface level. Here the person could exit the elevator and, using their cell phone, could make a call to a coded number, or simply exit and leave that area.
 If the print was accepted, as was usually the case, then the set of doors would mechanically unlock, slide open, revealing PC’s and other types of equipment, all appearing to be from a ‘Futuristic World’! The tower had a tubular design, housing a single elevator, and at its apex the offices and observation level were seen. The elevator traveled from the surface entrance to the observation level, and once accepted to enter, personnel had access to the offices by way of an additional elevator.
 The observation area, being the topmost level, was twenty feet above the topmost area of the habitat’s perimeter wall. When looking at this construction, from a considerable distance, one could visualize it to be in the form of a gigantic ‘T’. When exiting the elevator, a person could turn directly to the left, or to the right, and walk for quite a distance, either way, along an extension of the observation level; or simply walk, straight forward, for approximately fifteen feet. To the immediate front of the elevator’s doors was a grouping of large, outward curving windows, and these extended, in both directions, along the horizontal walkways?  Each could be used to see clearly through, but only from within; for the opposite view was impossible! These windows were quite large, and kept crystal clear.  The coating that covered the outside of each, and every window, wasn’t apparent to the naked eye, but it fully protected the staff from the outside world, and from any overexposure, due to the harmful rays of the sun. When standing by the front windows, it was easy to recognize that this tower was built to observe the ‘Creatures’, and their vast tract of land. At this vantage point, the entire complex could be viewed, but when attempting to see movement at its far end, the end where the Creatures had their exit/entranceway, one would need the use of the magnification lenses that were incorporated into the ‘futuristic machines’.
 The horizontal walkway, that paralleled the direction of the habitat’s wall below, was approximately fifty feet in length; twenty feet, being, to each side of the base tower. To the forefront of the elevator, and just inside the frontal window panes, was situated two of those ‘machines’. Each one had the seating capacity for one adult, and the seat could be electrically adjusted for comfort, to fit the height and weight of any individual.
 Depending upon the desired room temperature, each mechanism, within the ‘lounge type’ seating, automatically reduced, or elevated the over-all temperature. In this way it acclimated itself, to the room, but would fine tune itself, according to the body temperature of its occupant; causing its occupant to be constantly alert, but yet comfortable. The machine’s base was secured within four separate tracts, and each machine was available to travel from the center left, or the center right, until they traveled to an extension’s far end. At that point the ‘futuristic machine’ could be electronically redirected, so as to return along the same set of tracts. The seating apparatus, of each machine, had been calibrated so that it could rotate quite smoothly, upon enlarged ball bearings. After finding a comfortable seated position, it was then that its operator, using a variety of knobs, and a centralized joy stick, would cause powerful lenses to come back to his, or her face, and subsequently their eyes, rather than being inconvenienced by leaning forward, and into them.
 These lenses cold be adjusted up or down; far to the left, and also far to the right, all of the time remaining close, and comfortable, for the person within the designated seat. These lenses were so exact, that very small objects, being close, or a great distance away, could be brought into focus, and clearly recognized; the lenses were known to have no ‘equal’ when it came to distance, and or clarity.
 One of the perks of these seats was the ‘Shiatsu massager’ that was imbedded within the back support.  It could be extended, to include the neck and back of one’s head, or left intact, so its focus was upon one’s back. This type of massage addressed pain and discomfort, along the entire width of an operator’s upper shoulders, all of the way down the entire back, including one’s lower back, and all of the way to the base of the tailbone.  The knobs, that were situated along the sides of each armrest, could be easily manipulated so that the ‘eight’ movable parts, of the ‘electric’ Futuristic Chair, could be placed at pain points, a variety of stress triggers, and other release points.
 Slightly overhead, and within easy eye access, were several enlarged monitors, each next to the other, forming a horseshoe effect. Within each enlarged screen were several sub-screens, each allowing the ‘futuristic’ machine’s operator, to clearly view, and observe almost any type of action, or reaction, within the habitat, and be able to witness every movement within the enclosure. Off to the far right of the centralized area, and to the rear of the tracts, was a typing sound, similar to that of a printer, but this sound could be intermittently heard twenty-four hours of every day. Every so often printouts would accumulate, one upon the other, and once they reached a designated height, they would be physically removed, and then hand carried to office personnel, in the offices below. Once these pages were hand delivered, they were subsequently signed for, packaged, and then mailed to the Pentagon.
 Situated strategically, along the observation level, were audio and video machines, and these could be activated at any given time. If, or when, an occurrence would happen, directly related to the Creature population; it was then that the original tapes could also be sent along to the Pentagon.

Charles Lightcap is currently a pen-and-ink abstract artist and wood sculptor. He has a BA in psychology from Roanoke College. Forbidden is his first book. Currently, he is working on an extensive autobiography. He lives in Salem, Virginia.


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