Karen’s Killer Book Bench: INNER SANCTUM (Dystopian Novel) Book One by Darlene Oakley

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Dystopian Novel Book One


The underground city of Egerton has a sinister secret, one that threatens the survival of 4000 people. The only home they’ve ever known is slowly killing them all. Family Control Officer Aurora Cassle knows there is only one option – to return to the surface. A maniacal, power-hungry mayor and his supporters believe their fate is to die. Aurora challenges the mayor and wins over a majority of the people, but never imagines the lengths to which he would go to maintain their way of life – and to which previous mayors had gone in the secret bowels of the city. Her determination to save her people forces her to choose between death below and life above. A new life and a new world awaits, if only Aurora can survive the old one. 


Dystopian Novel Book One


Aurora sat back in her chair with a yawn and rubbed her eyes as she laid her head against the headrest. They burned and felt like they were going to pop out of her skull.

The overhead lights had cycled down long ago, and she’d been left with her windup desktop lamp which provided just enough light for her to see the screens of her stacks of pads, but little else. She’d spent many nights with this light since babies arrived whenever they decide to arrive, whether light or night cycle and recordkeeping was required regardless.

This night cycle, however, she was record keeping for a different reason. On the floor to her right stood several piles of Notepads containing birth ledgers and death ledgers – 400 annums’ worth of numbers and names, and she’d just counted them all. What Den had suggested was true. Egerton’s numbers were, in fact, not growing – the full accounting and comparison of numbers from the First Ones down to Baby Marshall clearly showed that.

The amount of births was no longer offsetting the number of deaths. Not only that, but most couples now had only one baby, not two, and there was a growing divide between the number of girl babies and the number of boy babies being born, so much so that it was impossible for each person born to find a mate with which to help the population along. It explained why there were so many singles like Dom, and so many empty residence units.

With her numbers done, she felt confident she could convince City Council that the city’s population was shrinking, but she still couldn’t tell them why. That part of the mystery could only be solved by looking back at annual medical scans and EOLs. She doubted she would be able to look at any of the results of the annual medical scans. Her position as FCO allowed her certain freedoms with information sharing, but not the annual medical scans. Although, if she could find sufficient reason through the results of the EOLs, she might be able to convince Dom to look back at those specific people or families to look for trends. She wouldn’t have to describe which families had which trends to City Council. She just needed to know what kinds of things had been developing over the generations that posed a threat to their society.

She still didn’t have an answer for her question about whether allowing more births would ultimately improve the health situation for Egertonians, or if going to the surface would provide any increased benefit aside from theoretically solving the vitamin D deficiencies. Going to the surface would give them the space they needed to accommodate bigger families, but that didn’t mean the resources – food, shelter, medical supplies – for dealing with the increased population and burden would be there. And there was no telling how long it would take before their bodies started reaping any benefits to being on the surface. Like it took generations for the effects of lack of vitamin D to appear – and Aurora assumed other medical conditions she hadn’t uncovered yet – it would likely take generations for the society’s genetics to work these conditions out of the population. The deterioration hadn’t happened overnight and it wouldn’t be solved overnight either.

She’d have to find pretty significant evidence that going to the surface would be the right and best option for managing the medical and genetics conditions already affecting them to counter the possible arguments from City Council that they’d be no better off than if they stayed in Egerton. To do that, she’d have to prove that living underground as long as they had that resulted in the increased incidents of these ailments.

That thought brought forward another question – what had the plans been for the First Ones? When the builders contemplated, planned and built Egerton, had they intended for people to live in it for 400 annums? The only way she’d be able to answer that question would be go back through the city’s history in the archives. She suspected the answer to these two questions would form the heart of her argument.

Aurora’s eyes shot open. When had she started seriously considering the option of going to the surface? Perhaps it had something to do with Den’s revelation that as a boy, he’d gone looking for the door. Even though they’d hung out together as children, she never knew of his searching. She certainly had never thought of going to the surface. At the moment, all the surface had going for it was the possible solution for the vitamin D deficiency.

There could be a whole host of other unpredictables that the surface could present, particularly re-establishing a civilization up there. What had happened to send them all into the inner sanctum of the earth? What had happened to the people of Upper World Earth since? Were there people still living up there? Would they remember Egerton? Would they welcome them if they suddenly appeared after twenty generations? Would any of the families from which the First Ones were chosen still exist?

As her fatigued mind played with all these ideas, it became clear to her that having more babies and going to the surface would need to be done together. If the UWE light source provided the nutrients they needed to keep babies and adults healthy, that’s what they needed to do. And clearly more births were necessary to bring their population back up to sustainable levels. But, it was also clear that her research wasn’t over.

She had half a mind to go home to bed, now. She knew she would need a clear mind to take in all the information she was about to unearth. And she knew there were a few babies due in the next few days, as well as a few finals.

She closed her eyes again. Perhaps just a few moments here. She didn’t know how long she’d been asleep when a triple-beep emanated from the cabinet. Mrs. Terrence’s final genetic scan results. Aurora was suddenly wide awake. It took a few moments for sensation to return to her legs after sitting for so long, but she made it to the cabinet, unlocked it, and retrieved the genetic scan unit. She returned to her desk and set it on top. With a deep breath of anxiety mixed with anticipation, she sat down and flipped up the digital display:

Name: Sharon Terrence (nee Solomon)

Age: 50.3 annums

DOB: Night Cycle hour 5, Week 25, Annum 351

DOD: Light Cycle hour 2, Week 37, Annum 401

Hair color: Brown; no anomalies found

Eye color: Blue; no anomalies found

Hearing: No anomalies found

Brain: No anomalies found

So far, pretty standard.

Bone density T-score: -2.0; diagnosis preliminary osteopenia; minimal but increasing risk of fracture

That one was interesting.

Meet Author Darlene Oakley…

Darlene Oakley is a freelance writer, editor, and transcriptionist. She has written over 200 articles that have been published online, and edited over 25 books. Her first title, Inner Sanctum (Dystopian Fiction) was released in 2014. Her second fiction title, Voices of Angels (Romantic Suspense), was released December 2016. She is currently working on Book 2 of Inner Sanctum.


Links to Darlene’s website, blog, books, etc.

Author of Inner Sanctum & Voices of Angels

Amazon & Amazon.ca


Darlene Oakley, Author on Facebook


Thanks, Darlene, for sharing your book with us!

Don’t miss the chance to read this book!

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3 Responses to Karen’s Killer Book Bench: INNER SANCTUM (Dystopian Novel) Book One by Darlene Oakley

  1. Kathleen Bylsma says:

    Now this is an interesting premise. To be continued! Thanks Karen and Darlene!

  2. Karen Docter says:

    Good morning, Darlene, and welcome to Karen’s Killer Book Bench. Love the premise. Unique! Thanks for sharing your story with us today!

  3. Linda Moffitt says:

    Great excerpt thanks for sharing it

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