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Excerpt for Iconics, Volume 1 by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Copyright 2018 by Ron Knight and 9 Minute Books.

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Welcome to 9 Minute Books!

9 Minute Books Presents

Iconics

Volume 1

Written by Ron Knight

Published by 9 Minute Books

Future Icon: “A person who will become widely known and change the world.”

Iconics: “A secret society that protects future icons.”

It’s not understood how the Iconics started, or who funds their secret society. In fact, not many people in this world know they exist.

Here’s what we do know…

The Iconics protect people who will someday change the world.

No one knows which person the Iconics are protecting…not even the person being guarded.

There are many stories about the Iconics.

Here’s one of them…

9

Based on true events…

January 14th, 1967

When you hear strange voices at 9:09 in the evening, nothing good could come from it.

Jess Hobson rose from her bed, listening to her grandpa speak from the hallway.

“She’s only twelve,” her grandpa pleaded in a loud, frustrated whisper.

“We’ve taken them at a younger age.” The voice was deep with a slight British accent.

Jess scooted her blankets off and walked silently to the door, pressing her ear close so she could listen.

Grandpa: “Where are you going to take her?”

Voice: “Mountain View.”

Grandpa: “Mountain View?” Her grandpa’s tone became shaken. “Who will she live with?”

Voice: “Let us handle it. You know how this works.”

The door swung open, knocking Jess to the floor. She immediately sprung back to her feet, skin flushed with embarrassment when the light flicked on. Jess looked at her grandfather; his eyes lost in a deep place.

“What’s going on?” she asked.

“It’s time,” her grandfather said with a cold voice. He stepped to the side, allowing the strange man to enter her room.

He had blond hair waved to the side, wearing a brown polyester jacket and black wool scarf.

Jess took a step back. She already knew what was about to happen…the Iconics were ready to take her.

9

Jess’s parents were drug user’s and once left Jess alone for eight days straight to fend for herself. By the ninth day, she called her grandmother to explain that something was wrong and she’s all alone.

Three days later, Jess was picked up by her grandparents.

“Where’s mom and dad?” Jess asked.

Her grandmother answered the question without emotion. “They overdosed on drugs during a sit-in to protest the Vietnam War and the Bay of Pigs Invasion.”

Jess didn’t react for a moment. Suddenly, she went into a state of shock, then felt the world slip away, collapsing to the floor.

9

Jess’s grandmother told a story in which many years ago she had been assigned to protect a Belgian singer by the name of Jacques Romain Georges Brel, or better known as Jacques Brel.

“That was my destiny,” her grandmother explained to Jess. “I had been chosen to be an Iconic and protect Jacques Brel so he could change the world. Someday you will be chosen as well by the Iconics.”

Her grandmother went on to explain that the Iconic’s are hidden. They shadow the person who is assigned to be protected, but no one knows what they are doing, not even the person that they are guarding.

9

Jess’s grandfather was also chosen by the Iconics. He had been assigned to protect Lord Rutherford of Nelson, who went on to become the “Father of Nuclear Physics.” (Among other things.)

Shortly after Lord Rutherford died in 1937, Jess’s grandfather left New Zealand and moved to Paris, France, where he met Jess’s grandmother.

When her grandparents received the phone call from Jess that she was all alone and didn’t know where her parents had gone, they moved to Wisconsin to take care of her. They discovered a few days later that their daughter and son-in-law died from a drug overdose.

Despite all of this, it was a violation of the Iconics rules. Once you were assigned to protect someone, you must continue doing that until they die…unless you die first.

Jess’s grandmother refused to move back to France and leave her granddaughter and husband, so she told the Iconics her days of protecting Jacques were over.

She mysteriously died a week later in her sleep.

9

Jess’s grandfather knew there wasn’t anything that could be done. He also knew someday the Iconics would come after Jess. He explained the rules to Jess and taught her all the ways to protect someone else. This included fight tactics, how to research information, and how to live on your own.

At age twelve, the Iconics came knocking at the door to take Jess away.

9

Jess’s grandfather sat on the bed, pulling Jess close to him. “The man standing in this room is from the Iconics. You will call him John, although that’s not his real name. Do you remember what I told you about what your grandmother and I had to do?”

Jess glanced at John, then brought her eyes back on her grandfather. “I’ll be assigned to protect someone. The person won’t know I’m protecting them. In fact, no one will know except the Iconics.”

“That’s good, honey.” Her grandfather took in a deep breath. “Tell me why it’s so important to protect that person.”

“Because, they will be famous someday.”

“Not just famous,” her grandfather explained. “They will change the world.”

9

A tear spilt down Jess’s face. “I don’t want to leave you.”

Her grandfather pulled her in for a hug, then pushed her back and stood. “It’s time you understand how to be strong. You can’t walk away from this.”

Jess wiped her face with the back of her hand. “Where am I going?”

John stepped forward. “Mountain View. It’s in California.”

Jess pulled in a deep breath. “I’m only twelve. How can I protect someone?”

“The boy you’re protecting is supposed to be in the fifth grade, but he’s being forced to attend middle school against his will.”

Jess wiped away another tear that drizzled down her cheek. “I don’t understand. What’s the big deal about an advanced fifth grader attending a middle school early?”

John glared at Jess with eyes like steel. “We need you at the school, making sure nothing happens to the boy. The school is known for bathroom stabbings and students beat to death while walking home.”

Jess’s heart smacked against her chest as she stood. “What can I do? How can I protect him?”

John opened the closet and grabbed a jacket, then filled two duffle bags with random items. “You’ll have to figure that out.”

Jess looked at her grandfather. “Will I ever see you again?”

Her grandfather gazed at her for a long moment. “Probably not.”

9

Jess wanted to fall to her knees and cry, but she held it together and accepted the coat from John. “I need to change out of my pajamas and put on some clothes.”

John looked around the bedroom. “We will have clothes for you in your new home. You will have pretend parents and even a pretend older brother. They have nothing to do with you except provide you a home. They know nothing about the Iconics.” John leveled his eyes with Jess. “They are being paid to take care of you, but not help you in any other way.”

Jess forced herself to look directly into John’s eyes. “Okay…I get it.”

John stood tall, took one more glance around the room, then began walking. “Let’s go.”

Jess wanted to hug her grandfather, but it would have made her weak. She had accepted this was her fate.

As they walked outside into the brisk night air, Jess asked, “What’s the name of the boy I’ll be protecting?”

John looked down at her and said, “Steven Jobs.”

To be continued…

You have completed 9 minutes of this book.

Part 2

Jess had never seen a small airplane before. “What’s that?” she asked, as the frigid wind snapped through her jacket and thin pajamas, freezing her skin.

John handed the pilot two small duffle bags and helped Jess climb inside. “It’s a Piper PA-28 Cherokee.”

“How long has it been around?” Jess buckled her seatbelt.

“Three years.”

“What? Only three years? Can we crash?”

“Of course we can crash,” John said, climbing into his seat and buckling. He grabbed a copy of the New York Times newspaper that was left for him in the plane and began reading.

The pilot fired up the engine. Jess’s eyes became wide, gazing in fear out the small window as the plane moved forward. She was unable to see much in the darkness other than it began to snow.

She asked the pilot if this was safe, but the engine was too loud and he had on headphones.

Jess’s heart raced so hard, she could hardly breathe as the plane took off from the runway. She had once been on a rollercoaster, but this was a hundred times worse.

9

John was still reading the New York Times while the plane continued climbing into the night air, fighting the wind and snow. He grunted, then crumpled the paper up and tossed it on the floor.

“Problem?” Jess asked.

John took a moment before answering. “The United States Army was caught doing secret germ warfare experiments.”

“I don’t know what that means?”

John’s eyes snapped at her. “The army is trying to come up with better ways to kill people. One way is to spread bacteria, toxins, and even viruses in the air.” John squeezed his hand on the armrest of the chair. “The army even did experiments using the fog in San Francisco.”

“Wait a second!” Jess shouted over the rumble of the plane. “Isn’t San Francisco in California?”

“Yes,” John said. He smiled at her. “Don’t worry, it’s safe.”

9

The sun was low on the horizon when they landed and exited the plane. The morning temperature was much warmer than in Wisconsin, although a thick fog covered the airport.

All Jess could think about was germ warfare experiments being conducted.

A mint blue, 1966 Chevy Camaro with white racing stripes was parked near the plane.

“Rank!” Jess shouted. “Is that going to be mine?”

“No,” John said, placing the two duffle bags in the trunk.

When they climbed inside, Jess turned to John and said, “Do you realize I’m still in my pajamas?”

“Yes.” John fired up the engine and slammed his foot on the gas. “You’ll be in your new home soon.”

9

Jess turned on the radio to get her mind off the craziness. The popular new song Mustang Sally came on. Jess smiled, thinking it was ironic they were driving in a Camaro.

They pulled in to a gas station. John complained gas prices were getting too high at 33 cents per gallon. Moments later, they were back on the road again.

Jess rolled the window down, enjoying the sixty degree air, which was strange for her in the middle of January. She was more used to frigid temperatures and six feet of snow.

An hour later, they arrived in Mountain View.

The one-floor home was made of brick, with white trim. The neighborhood lived up to its name, surrounded by beautiful mountains.

John opened the trunk, snatched the two duffle bags up, and began walking to the front door. Jess stayed close by his side. She suddenly felt the urge to beg John if she could stay with him for a few months until she had gotten used to the idea.

However, Jess knew that answer would be, ‘no.’

9

John rang the doorbell with his elbow.

A short, overweight woman answered with pink curlers in her hair, wearing blue pajamas with red hearts. “Oh my! You’re here already!” She turned and yelled, “Kenneth! They’re here! Come quick! Kenneth! Kenneth!”

John glanced down at Jess and formed a grin.

The woman said, “Come inside.” She looked at Jess. “We’re so excited to finally meet you!” She ran across the house yelling, “Kenneth! What are you doing?”

“I’m taking a crap! What’s the emergency?”

“They’re here!”

John snickered as the woman hurried into the bedroom. Jess could hear them whispering loudly, “It’s early…what does she look like…hurry up…get dressed.”

Jess looked up at John. “Are you kidding me? Is this a joke?”

John kept his grin. “They’re perfect.”

“How so?”

“They’re idiots.”

9

The woman returned with the curlers out of her hair, although, she did forget one in the back of her head. She had changed into a dress, decorated with orange, brown, and peach flowers.

Her husband jogged into the room wearing a red button down shirt adorned with two big white circles, dark blue tie, and brown slacks. He was the same short height as his wife and similar round belly.

John put down the duffle bags. “I’m John Smith from the ICS Child Welfare League.”

“Oh how funny!” the woman shouted, then began to laugh as if she just heard the funniest joke in the world. “Our last name is Smith! How funny is that? It’s funny!”

“Yes,” John said, “It’s funny.”

The man stepped forward and shook Jess’s hand. “I’m Kenneth Smith...that laughing woman behind me is my wife Amy.”

Jess cleared her throat several times. “Nice to meet you.”

Kenneth stepped back. “What’s your name?”

Jess looked at John, unsure of how she should answer the question. Was she supposed to make up a name?

John gave her a light shove. “Tell them your name.”

“Um…Jess.”

Suddenly, Kenneth and Amy lost their smiles.

John tilted his head to the side. “What’s the problem?”

Kenneth scratched his head. “There’s no real problem. It’s just we were told there was a need for adopting Indian girls, which is what we thought she would be.”

“She can pretend to be Indian if you want,” John said sarcastically. He looked at Jess. “Okay…enjoy.”

Without saying another word, John left the house.

Amy formed a comforting grin. “You poor thing. You’re still in your pajamas. I’ll show you around.”

9

The couch and four chairs all were made of thin wood and had light blue cushions, except for one chair that oddly had a purple cushion.

There was one bathroom with yellow walls, matching yellow sinks, yellow toilet, and yellow shower, with green towels hanging from the two racks and a plant on the sink that appeared to be fake.

Her bedroom had two white walls and two walls with pink, polka dot wallpaper. Her bed had a purple blanket and pillow. On the side of the bed were two bookshelves filled with books that she read in elementary school. On the opposite side of the room was a pink dresser with three sets of drawers.

“You have a nice home,” Jess said, lugging in the two duffle bags.

Kenneth playfully grunted. “Well, we did pay over $13,000 for it. The prices of homes these days-”

Amy smacked him on the shoulder. “Shh…don’t talk like that.” She looked at Jess. “Remember, this is your home now. We want you to feel welcome.”

Jess glanced at the door across from her room. “Is that your bedroom?”

“No,” Amy said. “We’re on the other side. That’s Randy’s bedroom.” She opened Randy’s door and guided Jess inside. “He really needs to pick up his mess.”

The room was filled with clothes and smelled like a campfire had just been put out. There were dark blue walls covered in rock posters. She read the names on the posters knowing most of them; The Beatles, Steppenwolf, Jefferson Airplane, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Doors, and the Rolling Stones.

A voice appeared from behind. “What’re you doing in my room?”

Jess turned, seeing a young man, seventeen-years-old, long wavy brown hair, red t-shirt that said, MC5, and bellbottom jeans.

Amy led Jess back out of the room. “Randy, say hello to the newest member of our family…her name is, Jess.”

“Groovy,” Randy said with heavy sarcasm. He stepped into the room, turned, and said to Jess, “Nice pajamas.”

Jess’s skin flushed a beat red. “I didn’t change yet because-”

“Anyway, I have three rules. First, never come into my room…” Randy slammed the door shut.

Jess formed a nervous grin. “I guess the other two rules aren’t that important.”

9

Her dresser was full of clothes. Actually, it was better stuff than she had in Wisconsin. She pulled out her favorites and placed them on the bed. She really liked the baby blue skirt with turquoise stripes and a yellow flower.

Inside the bottom drawer of her dresser was a note from John that said, “Enjoy your new clothes. Make sure you locate Steven before the end of the day.” Jess read over the address and John’s final words. “Remember, no one can discover you’re an Iconic…Especially Steven!”

Next to the note was a wad of cash in all kinds of denominations. She quickly counted $5,000.

Jess smiled, kept $200 of the cash and hid the rest. She tore the note into small pieces, threw it in the waste basket, and continued looking around the room.

Next to the dresser, lined up against the wall, there was a pair of white patent leather boots along with shoes of all different colors, each with an adjustable buckle. Her favorite though was the pair of red Gazelles sneakers made by Adidas. She had begged her grandfather to buy her a pair, but he refused.

Jess put on her new sneakers, along with a pair of shorts and a white t-shirt, then headed to the kitchen to have the first lunch with her new family.

9

After eating meatballs with grape jelly and some sort of dessert with a gelatin mold, Jess asked her new parents if she could go outside and walk around the neighborhood. Both looked at each other and then back at Jess.

Kenneth said, “You can come and go as you please. Just make sure you’re home each night by supper time.”

Surprised by her newfound freedom, Jess borrowed a map from Kenneth to look up her next destination. They lived on Jones Lane, which turned into Crist Drive. At the end of Crist was a major street that would lead her to where Jess had to go.

With a mixture of grape meatballs and gelatin mold swirling in her stomach, Jess left the house to find a boy named Steven Jobs who she needed to protect the rest of her life.

To be continued…

You have completed 9 minutes of this book.

Part 3

Making her way to South Bemardo Ave, Jess placed her thumb in the air as cars passed by. According to the map, Steven’s house was over an hour drive from her neighborhood. She wasn’t sure why John didn’t send her to a family that lived closer.

How was she supposed to protect Steven from so far away?

A maroon 1966 Chevelle pulled up to the curb. “You lookin’ for a ride honey?”

Jess sighed, opened the car door, and slid inside. “Thanks.” She looked at the older man who had a pot belly, long straggly hair, and a beard with patches where it mysteriously didn’t grow.

He hit the gas. “My name’s Riff.”

“I’m Jess.” She decided not to put on her seatbelt in case she had to make a quick escape.

“Where’re you goin’, honey?” the man asked.

She almost gave Steven’s address, but remembered no one could discover what she’s doing.

“I’m going to Rock Street.”

Riff gave a daunting huff. “Rock Street? That’s over an hour away!” His eyes slid in her direction. “You goin’ to do me a favor for the ride?”

Jess grabbed the steering wheel, yanked it to the side, forcing it off the road. Riff slammed on the breaks just as they slid onto the curb.

“You crazy!”

Jess placed a twenty dollar bill on the dashboard. “Take me to Rock Street and the twenty is yours. If you so much as look in my direction, I’ll yank that wheel every two minutes until we dent your precious new Chevelle.”

If there’s one thing her grandfather taught her, its men loved their cars more than anything. One scratch and they would cry like a baby.

Riff grabbed the twenty dollar bill, shoved it in his pocket, and gently pulled the car back onto the road.

9

After Riff dropped Jess off at Rock Street and peeled away, she looked at the surrounding area, mainly Crittenden Middle School. The building was faded yellow and had several windows with wood instead of glass. Someone had spray painted, “Critter Middle School” near the entrance.

Jess shook her head. “Well, I’m looking forward to coming here tomorrow.”

She scanned the area one more time and headed to Steven’s street, which was only a fifteen minute walk.

9

When Jess was a few houses away, she noticed a boy and what she assumed was his father building a fence in the yard.

“Hello Steven,” Jess whispered to herself.

He had sweaty black hair and thin, lanky body. He wildly hammered nails into the fence while his father cut pieces and secured them in the ground.

Jess slowly moved closer, pretending to be walking around the neighborhood. She heard Steven yell, “I’m not going to school tomorrow!”

“Yes you are,” his father said with a calm tone.

Steven threw the hammer on the grass. “I hate that school!”

“Lower your voice. Pick up the hammer. Help me get this finished so we can have an early dinner.”

Steven hesitated for a moment, snatched up the hammer, and went back work.

All Jess could think about as she walked by the house, ‘How was this little brat going to someday change the world?’

9

It took Jess another hour to find a ride home. Instead of a creepy man picking her up, it was an older lady who drove like a snail. At one point, Jess considered walking, because it might have been quicker.

By the time Jess got out of the car, her new neighborhood was lit up by street lights. She tried to pay the woman forty dollars for her trouble, but the woman refused to take the money.

Just as the car pulled away, a voice said from behind, “Where were you?”

Jess turned, seeing John. “I located Steven’s house, just like you told me.”

“Did he see you?”

“No.”

John raised an eyebrow. “Are you sure?”

“Yes I’m sure. He was too busy-”

“Building a fence,” John said with a grin.

“How did you know that?”

“I followed you.”

Anger built up inside of Jess. “Why didn’t you give me a ride!”

“I needed to see how you handled yourself.”

Jess pulled in a deep breath and sighed. “Well, I don’t get the big deal about Steven. He seems like a little punk kid who hates school and doesn’t mind arguing with his father.”

“Trust me,” John said. “Steven Jobs is going to change the world. We need to protect him.”

Jess looked around. “I have to head inside for dinner. Can you give you me a ride to school tomorrow?”

“No.”

Jess shook her head. “Why did you put me so far away from Steven’s house?”

John smiled. “You’ll see.”

9

After Jess showered and crawled into her bed, she felt exhausted. It seemed as if she’d been up for days.

Her mind drifted to her bedroom in Wisconsin. She thought about her grandfather and what he was doing right now. Maybe he’s sleeping? Or perhaps he’s lying awake, wondering if she was safe?

As Jess closed her eyes and drifted to sleep, a tear slid down her cheek.

9

“Wake up!” a voice shouted from the doorway.

At first, Jess thought it was John. However, when she peeled her eyes open, she realized it was Randy in the doorway, dressed in the same outfit he had on yesterday.

“What time is it?” Jess asked, forcing herself to sit up.

“Time for school. I have to take you, so hurry up.”

Jess flipped the blankets off and slid out of the bed. “Don’t you have school?”

Randy had already shut the door and left.

9

Randy drove a beat-up 1959 Ford truck that once was baby blue, but now more of a rust color with several large dents.

When they arrived at Crittenden Middle School, Jess handed Randy twenty dollars. “Thanks for giving me a ride.”

Randy actually cracked a smile. “Where did you get twenty dollars? Are you rich?”

Jess opened the door and slammed it shut without answering, giving Randy a taste of his own medicine.

Suddenly, she noticed a hundred pair of eyes on her. Every student had stopped in their tracks and gazed at her like she had a big sign attached to her saying, ‘Look at me!’

Jess turned, seeing Randy had already pulled away and was long gone.

She swallowed, then trudged forward.

“Nice skirt honey,” a girl said, who looked like a high school student. “Did your mommy dress you today?”

Jess gave a nervous smile and continued forward while thinking, ‘This is going to be the longest day of my life.’

9

Locating Steven wasn’t difficult. He walked around school with his feet close together as if each step he was avoiding a landmine. He kept his head down, eyes away from anyone who looked in his direction.

This would be an advantage to Jess if Steven never looked around, because she could keep a close watch on him without her being noticed.

Suddenly, four boys charged Steven as he walked by the bathroom. In quick fashion, they shoved him inside.

“Crap!” Jess said to herself. She looked around, but no one seemed to realize what happened, or they didn’t care…not even the teachers.

9

Jess grabbed her new history book and ran at full speed into the bathroom. Two boys had Steven pinned in a stall and were attempting to shove old cigarette butts into his mouth. The other two were laughing while collecting more butts off the bathroom floor.

Jess raced forward, swung her history book, connecting with the boy close to her. She continued swinging, hitting anyone that moved, breaking noses, knocking the corner of the book into their eyes, splattering blood from their cheeks.

When the book finally broke apart, Jess grabbed one stunned boy by the head and slammed him into the sink.

The other three ran out of the bathroom.

Steven kept his head down, never looked at Jess, and hurried out.

Jess took a moment to catch her breath while staring at the boy moaning on the floor. She kneeled down and whispered in his ear, “You tell all of your friends Steven Jobs is off limits. If you go near him, I’ll rip off a part of your body that will prevent you from having kids.”

Jess stood, staring at her bloody, day old history book. She scooped up what was left, smiled, and strolled out of the bathroom.

She was officially an Iconic.

To be continued…

You have completed 9 minutes of this book.

Part 4

Jess had followed Steven home from school. As he went inside the house, she heard Steven yelling at his parents, demanding they either move him to another school, or he would never go back again.

After a long debate, Steven’s father explained they would try to find a house in a better school district.

That night, when Steven had gone to bed, Jess remained outside the window so she could listen. Over the course of the conversation, Jess figured out that Steven’s father was named Paul and his mother named Clara. They seemed like humble, hardworking people, who didn’t have a lot of money.

Jess decided she would find a way to help them move.

9

Instead of hitchhiking, Jess took the bus. It was over two hours before she arrived near a place that was reasonable to walk home. On the other hand, it gave her plenty of time to think what she could do next.

She was hoping that John would be waiting at the house, but of course, he wasn’t anywhere around.

It was almost ten o’clock and she had another long day tomorrow. She was hungry and tired, but the problem of Steven going to ‘Critter’ middle school had to be solved. She couldn’t keep her eye on Steven every second. Some bully would eventually go after him again.

Jess realized she had walked past her house and around the corner to Crist Drive.

Suddenly, she noticed a sign in a front yard. She jogged forward to get a better look. Sure enough, it was a For Sale sign.

“Nice,” Jess said to herself. She wondered how much it would cost. Maybe she could put $4,000 of her money toward buying the home for Paul and Clara.

“What are you doing?”

Jess spun around, seeing John on the sidewalk.

“Why do you creep up on me like that?” Before he could answer, Jess pointed to the house. “Can we get that for Steven’s parents? They don’t have a lot of money, but this way I can protect him better. It’s only a few minutes’ walk from my house. Plus, he can go to a better school and it would be safer-”

John put his hand over Jess’s mouth. “Shhh…stop talking.” He removed his hand. “We’ve already been working on this problem over the last few months.”

Jess smiled. “So this is going to be their new house?”

“Yes,” John said. “Steven’s going to live here.”

9

Things went smoother with Steven in the safer school district. In fact, Jess had to protect Steven more from himself than from other kids.

One example was when Steven mustered up the nerve to approach every student, one-by-one, and convince them that giving him their bike combination was in their best interest.

Jess was amazed by Steven’s skills of influence. This was the first time she felt he had some sort of gift.

After Steven wrote down all the combination locks, he snuck out early from school and switched every lock on every bike.

When the students finished school and attempted to get their bikes, none of the locks would open because they were putting in the wrong combination.

It didn’t take long before everyone realized what Steven had done. However, he took off from school and headed home before they could catch him.

Jess had secretly stolen the paper from Steven’s backpack which listed the lock combinations. He even wrote down where he switched each one with complete details. Jess gave the list to the janitor along with fifty bucks to not turn Steven in.

Despite the trouble, Jess had been doing a good job protecting the future icon.

Now it was time to help Steven use his talents more productively.

9

The neighborhood Jess and Steven lived in was filled with engineering geniuses. When the United States fell behind the Soviet Union in the space program, it was a man from the neighborhood that President Eisenhower came to for help.

Several amazing inventions were discovered just a few minutes from Jess’s house, like the transistor radio and computer networking. Jess didn’t know what either of those were, but she could hear people talking about how this area was important to America’s future.

She didn’t think it was possible for Steven to be part of all this. He didn’t talk to anybody at school and certainly didn’t roam the neighborhood talking to the engineer geniuses.

Jess had to think of something to get Steven out of his shell.

9

One night at dinner, Jess heard Mr. and Mrs. Smith discussing how some guys name William Hewlett and David Packard had built a company from their garage which became the talk of the neighborhood. This inspired many others to do the same thing.

Jess figured if everyone was going to start these awesome companies from their garage, Steven could do the same thing one day, especially since Steven and his father work on cars all the time in their own garage.

Jess wondered if that’s how Steven was going to change the world. Perhaps he’s going to be the next Henry Ford?

Well, before that could happen, Jess had to get Steven on the right track. He was a punk-prankster who didn’t have any friends. His eyes wandered away from people, yet, sometimes he would gaze at other students without blinking, seeming lost in another planet.

It was creepy.

If that wasn’t enough, Steven refused to eat anything except for fruit. No hamburgers or pizza like normal kids…just fruit!

Seriously! What kid just wants to eat fruit and nothing else!!!

This would be a challenge for Jess to protect Steven from his own strangeness, but that’s part of being an Iconic.

9

While doing a search of Steven’s house to make sure he wasn’t taking any drugs, Jess discovered a document that Paul and Clara signed to save money in an account for Steven’s college fund.

Paul was fixing up old cars, with Steven’s help, and selling them. Paul would then put the money into the college fund.

Jess had first thought that somehow the Iconics forced Paul and Clara to sign the agreement, but instead, the agreement was made with some woman named, Joanne Carole Schieble who had lived in the Wisconsin area near Jess’s old house.

Paul and Clara had a letter from Joanne, sent from San Francisco, which apparently where she had moved. Jess wanted to know why Paul and Clara had made an agreement on behalf of their son with some woman from Wisconsin.

Was this woman a threat to Paul and Clara? If so, then she was a threat to Steven. Jess had to keep digging.

She waited the next day until their house was empty and searched every room, every drawer, and every piece of paper. That’s when Jess discovered something hidden in a box under the bed.

It was a document stating that Steven was adopted by Paul and Clara.

Joanne was his real mother.

9

Protecting Steven from this information was critical. Jess knew that if Steven discovered Paul and Clara weren’t his real parents, it would put him over the edge.

Meanwhile, Jess had to think of something to get Steven using his gifts. He seemed interesting in building things, but the more Jess watched him, it was obvious that fixing up old cars wasn’t his favorite thing to do.

One day, a neighbor named Larry who lived two doors down from Steven had put a large square box on the driveway connected to a wire which somehow projected the man’s voice when he spoke. All of the kids in the neighborhood became interested.

Steven had watched with his own special interest and even got the nerve to walk over to the neighbor and ask detailed questions on how it was possible for the box to amplify the man’s voice.

Other kids were fascinated by using the amplifier…Steven was more fascinated by how it was built.

That’s when Jess realized Steven had a special curiosity for electronics.

9

Jess did some research and discovered something called, Heathkits. The great thing about Heathkits was they came with a detailed manual on how to put things together like radio equipment and television receivers, all labeled with color coded parts.

This would be perfect for Steven. It would show him that cars and fences weren’t the only things needed to be built. Electronics such as transistor radios and television sets started with a bunch of parts just like the ones in the Heathkits.

Jess wrapped a Heathkit and mailed it to Paul Jobs with a note saying it was a free sample. From there, Paul gave it to Steven.

Sure enough, Steven loved it and asked Paul to order more.

Jess was pleased with the results, but she couldn’t stop there. Even though Steven was only in junior high, he needed a job working in electronics so he could discover firsthand what it was like to build a product.

Jess figured the best place for Steven to work was at a company started right here in the neighborhood called, Hewlett-Packard.

Steven could discover the true world of electronics…and computers.

To be continued…

You have completed 9 minutes of this book.

Part 5

How would Jess convince Hewlett-Packard to hire a junior high student without Steven knowing what she had done?

She came up with an idea.

First, Jess purchased a difficult electronic kit from Hewlett-Packard that Steven could put together.

Second, she removed a key part from the kit in which Steven would need just before he finished building it.

Third, she repacked the kit in the box, put William Hewlett’s home phone and address in the kit, and sent the kit to Steven’s house.

The chain of events occurred exactly how Jess wanted.

Steven put everything in the kit together, but couldn’t finish because there was a missing part.

With Steven’s short temper and stubbornness for completing a project, he became angry and called William Hewlett’s home phone, which of course the number was conveniently placed in the box.

Steven explained to Mr. Hewlett a part was missing from the kit and he wanted it sent to him right away.

After a conversation, Mr. Hewlett agreed to send the part, along with an additional free kit. They continued talking and Mr. Hewlett discovered Steven was from the neighborhood. He asked if Steven would want a summer job at Hewlett-Packard.

Of course, Steven agreed.

Jess had orchestrating a brilliant plan and it worked to perfection.

9

Between building the Heathkits and working at Hewlett-Packard, Steven discovered how creating something dazzling wasn’t magic. Everything had parts, which meant, anything could be built.

Steven joined an electronics club formed by Hewlett-Packard. He even signed up for an electronics class his freshman year at Homestead High School.

Just when things seemed to be going great for Steven, a new threat approached. It wasn’t directly aimed at Steven, but rather at Jess.

A gang called the Caskets had been formed back at Homestead Middle School, who were now in high school with Jess. However, the Caskets weren’t boys, but rather girls.

To make things worse, these girls dated the boys at Crittenden Middle School who had once bullied Steven. These were the same boys that Jess had beat the crap out of with her history book.

There’s one thing gangs don’t do, which is forget when something bad happens to them. The boys had been plotting their revenge for years with their girlfriends.

Now, the Caskets were coming for Jess.

9

You can’t protect someone when you’re dead.

That’s all Jess could think about when she heard the rumors about the Caskets girl gang coming after her.

It would seem obvious that being dead would have other problems for Jess in addition to protecting a future icon, but Jess had feelings for Steven and sensed he indeed was going to do something amazing one day, but only if she was around to guard him with her life while steering him down the right path.

Jess would have to fight off the Caskets and remain invisible at the same time.

9

A petition was passed around by the students, demanding the high school allow them to wear jeans during the day. Then through word of mouth, the students picked a day that all of them would wear jeans to protest against the school’s dress code.

When the day arrived, every student, including Steven, wore jeans. (Steven also rebelled the school dress code by not wearing shoes.)

The principal began kicking students out of the school, only to realize a half-hour later the school was now empty. The principal walked outside with the teachers and approached the jean-wearing-rebels who stood in the middle of a field behind the school, which just happened to be a place where the Caskets grew marijuana.

Jess looked around. She didn’t see Steven anywhere, nor did she see the Caskets or their boyfriends.

Not good.

9

The principal instructed all the students to return back to school. It was obvious that wearing jeans was the least of the school’s problem with the principal and teachers looking at a marijuana field just fifty yards away from the building.

Jess ran past everyone, anxious to find Steven.

As she raced through the building, looking down every hall and even poking her head in the boy’s restroom, she finally saw Steven in his electronics classroom, kneeling down at a storage door, trying to pick the lock.

This wasn’t a bad thing. Jess knew that behind the door was the electronics teacher’s secret stash of electrical kits, parts, and other things only kids like Steven would be interested.

Jess breathed a sigh of relief, when suddenly she was grabbed from behind, arms pulled back, mouth covered.

The Caskets were dragging Jess away.

What was even more frightening, was their boyfriends were walking down the hallway, heading to Steven.

9

While the students and teachers entered through the back door, returning to school, Jess was dragged out the side door by the Caskets and being taken near the highway.

Their leader, who they called Soul Girl, stood face-to-face with Jess.

“Here’s what’s goin’ to happen.” Soul Girl inched closer with spit flying out of her mouth as she spoke. “We’re goin’ to beat you for every plant that’s being ripped from the ground by The Man. Then, we’re goin’ beat you for every time you swung a book at our boyfriends when they were in middle school. When we’re finished, we’re goin’ to throw your butchered body on the highway.”

9

Jess didn’t care about taking a beating, or being thrown on the highway when they were finished. She wanted to get back to Steven and help him. Right now, he was going through hell and there was nothing Jess could do about it.

Soul Girl swung, connecting on Jess’s stomach, knocking the wind from her lungs.

The other girls let her go, laughing while kicking her.

Hot tears spilt from Jess’s eyes. She wasn’t crying from the pain, but rather from images of the boys beating Steven death.

Jess knew she had failed as an Iconic…John never should have counted on her.

9

A sudden rage emerged in Jess’s heart, pumped fuel into her veins, and traveled to every muscle in her body. She shot up with surprising speed, knocked three girls out of the way, and lunged towards Soul Girl, leading with a fist to her nose.

In quick fashion, Jess observed the location of the nearest four girls. She took another swing at Soul Girl, then hit the next four girls in the throat while maintaining the location of any others approaching her.

Jess was able to move the crowd of girls in front of her while avoiding them grabbing her hair. If they got a hold of her hair, the fight would be over in seconds.

Soul Girl spit up blood, pouring from her nose and mouth. Jess kept one eye on a way to escape, while keeping an eye on the girls. She sensed their hesitation with Soul Girl now crying on her knees.

Several girls retreated.

9

Jess sprinted forward, using her left hand to hit the throat of anyone close, then followed up with her right fist to the eye.

One by one, girls fell to the ground, choking, wheezing, trying to find their breath. Jess continued moving forward, picking up knives from the ground which fell from their pockets, throwing them at girls who were several feet away.

She picked up a garbage can, threw it at a girl, then turned and hit the throat and eye of the next girl. This caused them to scatter.

Soul Girl made it to her feet and stumbled away with thick blood pouring from her face. Jess continued her attack before they could group together.

A few minutes later, the Caskets had given up. Jess had fought them all off.

Now, she had to find Steven.

To be continued…

You have completed 9 minutes of this book.

Part 6

The pain in Jess’s stomach, ribcage and face didn’t matter. She ran at full speed to the school, seeing police outside and students being escorted from the building.

Jess sprinted to the front door, but was stopped by a police officer.

“I need to get inside!” Jess shouted. “Please, let me in!”

“No-can-do, little lady,” the officer said calmly. “We’re removing all students from the school.”

Jess looked around, then focused back on the officer. “Is he okay?”

The officer raised an eyebrow. “Who?”

“Steven.”

“Steven who?”

Jess about pulled her own hair out. “Steven Jobs! The student that was just beat up!”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. We’re shutting the school down to search for additional drugs.”

“Oh,” Jess replied.

She turned around and began walking away, not sure what to do next.

Suddenly, her eyes were locked on a boy walking along the sidewalk, using short steps, head lowered.

It was Steven…

9

But how did Steven escape unharmed?

“We need to talk,” a voice said.

Jess blinked several times, not realizing someone had been standing right in front of her.

He had curly dishwater-blond hair, eyes with a mixture of green and gray, wearing a turtleneck brown sweater and jeans. He looked sixteen or seventeen, but Jess had never seen him before.

She stepped away from him. “Who are you?”

“Shouldn’t you be following Steven?” he asked. “Let’s walk and talk so you can keep an eye on him.”

Jess’s heart thundered against her chest. “How do you know I’m following Steven?”

He tugged on Jess’s arm and began walking. “I’m an Iconic…just like you.”

9

“My name is Brian Donnelly,” he said as they stayed about one hundred yards behind Steven.

“I’m Jess Hobson.”

He glanced at her. “I know.”

Jess felt a sudden fear. “Were you sent to replace me?”

“No. In fact, John doesn’t know I’m here.”

“I don’t understand? Does your icon live here?”

“No, he lives in Doylestown, Ohio. There’s about a thousand people who live there, so I’m guessing my so-called future icon will be fine until I get back.”

Jess grabbed his arm and stopped. “What the heck are you doing here in California?”

“I had once lived in Wisconsin, just like you. I was recruited by the Iconics, just like you. I was taken by John, just like you.” His eyes became hard. “But unlike you, I want to know who the Iconics are and how they operate. I want to know how the icons are chosen and what makes them so special. How do the Iconics know these kids will someday change the world?” He paused, still gazing at her. “Most of all, I want to know why we are sacrificing our lives for these kids.”

9

They continued walking while following Steven home. Jess spit a few drops of blood to get the taste out of her mouth. Her ribs began to ache and head seemed like it was going to explode. Despite that, she wanted to know more of what Brian was doing here.

“You followed me from Wisconsin?” Jess asked. “How?”

“John assigned me to watch someone in West Allis, Wisconsin. He moved me to a new family and I took over my duties as an Iconic.

“We then moved to Doylestown, Ohio after my icon moved. About a year later, John came and checked up on me during the night when I arrived home from watching my icon. After he left, I stole the car from my family and followed John with my headlights off.

“To my surprise, we ended up back in Wisconsin, just a few blocks from where my aunt lived. I watched as John walked into the house.” Brian looked at Jess. “Your house.”

9

Jess couldn’t believe Brian had the courage to pull a stunt like that, especially at a young age. She remembered how devastating it was when John took her. She couldn’t imagine following him after being dropped off at the Smith house.

Steven walked up his driveway into the garage, talking to his father. Jess and Brian jogged across the street and stood behind a tree.

“Then what happened?” Jess asked.

“I waited outside your house in the car. I remember it being a cold night. I also remember the look on your face when you walked outside next to John.” Brian formed a grin. “By the way, why were you still wearing pajamas? You should have changed.”

“Duh…I wanted to change, but John wouldn’t let me.”

“He wanted you to feel like he’s in control.”

Jess shook her head. “John is in control.”

“Well, my aunt told me someday I would be an Iconic just like her. I knew deep down that when the day came, I wasn’t going to just bow down to them. I wanted to know more.”

Jess looked across the street. Steven stood next to his workbench, tinkering with something. “You lived with your aunt? Why? Where are your parents?”

“They left one day and never came back. My aunt told me they both overdosed on drugs.”

Jess snapped her eyes at Brian. “My God…that was the same story my grandparents told me.”

9

“After John pulled away from your house,” Brian said, “I followed you to the airport. I watched as the plane flew away, wondering where John was taking you.”

“How did you find me?”

“I asked an airport official where your plane was headed. They said Palo Alto Airport in Santa Clara, California. I bought a plane ticket and flew there. Then, I bought a used car and spent the next month looking for you. I searched Palo Alto, the Stanford area, Mountain View, then finally found you in Los Altos.”

“That’s amazing,” Jess said with admiration.

Brian ignored the comment. “I followed you for another month and even followed John when he checked up on you.”

Jess’s eyes became wide. “Where did he go?”

“I once followed him to San Francisco where he met with another Iconic.”

“Really? Who was the person protecting?”

“Some young woman named, Jann Wenner.”

“Is she going to change the world?” Jess asked sarcastically.

Brian cracked a smile. “I don’t know. The Iconic somehow convinced Jann’s family to give her $7,500.”

“For what?”

“To start a magazine called, Rolling Stone. In fact, Jann released the first issue in 1967, the same year you arrived here in California.”

Jess glanced at the garage across the street to make sure Steven was still there. Sure enough, he was working away on some sort of electronic project.

She brought her attention back on Brian. “Rolling Stone magazine? Did she name it after the band, or the Bob Dylan song?”

Brian laughed. “Both I guess. It costs thirty-five cents per issue, which is a lot for a new magazine.”

“Do you think Rolling Stone magazine could change the world?”

Brian thought about it for a moment. “I don’t see how.”

9

Brian continued. “After watching you and Steven for another few weeks, I flew back to check on my icon.”

“What’s he like?”

“Shy. Keeps to himself. No friends at school.”

“Sounds like someone I know,” Jess said, glancing at Steven.

“Well, my icon is a little weird. He kills animals and cuts them apart. He spy’s in people’s houses at night and wanders the streets looking in garbage cans for dirty magazines.”

“Gross. My icon doesn’t do anything strange other than his obsession with electronics. Although, he is short tempered.” She paused, staring at Brian with a grin. “So, you’ve been flying back and forth from Ohio to California, just to follow me around.”

Brian flushed with embarrassment.

9

He playfully tapped her on the shoulder. “I’m not obsessed with you, if that’s what you’re thinking. I just want to find out more of what’s going on with the Iconics.” He locked eyes on her. “Don’t you?”

“Of course, but I still have to protect Steven.” Jess realized something. “You saved Steven at school…didn’t you?”

“Yes. I stopped the boys before they entered the classroom and really gave them a whoopin’. Steven won’t ever know how close he came to getting beaten to death.” He looked at Jess. “I’m sure you would have done the same for my icon.”

“I’m sure I would have.” Jess didn’t know what else to say.

Brian paused, gazing at the ground for a moment. “But it still begs the question of why is Steven so important? What has he done that was so great?”

Jess thought about it for a moment. “It’s hard to explain. He has gift, but I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is, much less know how Steven will someday be important to our future.”

9

Brian’s voice rose. “My point is, why are we doing this and how did Steven get chosen?”

“I don’t know.” She noticed Steven was taking a break, eating a bowl of grapes. “What about your icon? Does he have any gifts, or talents that can change the world?”

“Other than he’s a freak who roams the neighborhood, peeping in houses, looking in garbage cans, and killing animals so he can see their insides, I don’t think he has any gifts.”

Jess had a thought. “Maybe he’s going to be a famous doctor, or surgeon.”

“What?”

“Think about it. He’s curious about the bones and muscles inside animals. He’s obsessed with the human body, which is why he looks for dirty magazines and peeps in houses. It makes sense.”

“I guess.”

“What’s your icon’s name?”

Brian looked at her and said, “Jeffery Dahmer.”

To be continued…

You have completed 9 minutes of this book.

Part 7

That night, Brian left California and returned to Ohio.

“Back to work,” Jess said to herself.

A talent show was scheduled for the high school. Jess got an idea from the rock band, Pink Floyd, who used laser lights in their shows.

Jess mailed Steven a “sample” kit of laser lights. It cost her $150 and had to be ordered from Russia. Jess repacked the laser and removed the directions which of course were written in Russian. Steven was talented enough to figure out what to do on his own.

Sure enough, Steven put the laser together and performed a lightshow at the school competition, bouncing the laser lights off mirrors and adding music. He didn’t win, but at least he was refocused on electronics again.

9

Picking a friend for someone isn’t easy. It was especially difficult for Steven, because he gave off the vibe that he hated everyone.

Jess refused to believe that.

She knew deep down Steven had an amazing passion to do something great, despite the fact he hated jocks, burnouts, deadheads, Casanovas, famoo’s, bunnies, turkey’s, operators, wizards, zipperheads, squares, pansey’s, jings, pinkpolod’s, preps, scarfs, geeks, grits, hoods, jelly brains, juicers, the man, narcs, shag wags, silver bullets, wally wally blood and dolly’s, kids who said, “Halla at me,” and “Mondo cool.”

Even worse, both teenagers and teachers thought Steven was a “Laker.” (A rude, crude, mean kid.)

9

It took a few weeks, but Jess found the perfect friend for Steven…Bill Fernandez.

Jess remembered Bill had attempted to hang around Steven in eighth grade because he felt sorry for him, however, Steven wasn’t easy to befriend.

It was time for Jess to take a chance. She waited for Bill to sit down at lunch in the cafeteria. She slid in next to him.

“Hey there,” Jess said.

Bill looked at her, then his eyes darted around the cafeteria. He probably thought he was about to be the butt of a sick joke. “Who are you?”

It was great that Bill didn’t know who she was. That meant she’s doing a perfect job being invisible.

“How rank is this lunch?”

Bill looked at his tray, adjusted his thick glasses, then looked back at her. “The school lunch program has been in existence for almost twenty-five years and is an important piece of social legislation-”

“Yes, that’s groovy,” Jess said. “Do you know a kid named Steven Jobs?”

Bill looked around. “You mean Steve? He likes to be called Steve, not Steven. At least that’s what I-””

“Okay…fine…Steve…do you know him?”

“Yes.”

“Well, he’s getting C’s in most of his classes, including electronics. Can you help him?”

Bill swallowed and scratched the back of his head. “Steve doesn’t like anyone.”

“Oh, that’s not true. He wanted to be friends with you since eighth grade.”

“Really?” Bill’s eyes lit up. “I think he’s um…rank.”

“Go to him in electronics class. He’ll be nice, I promise.”

Bill scooped his corn niblets. “Okay.” He looked at her with a full mouth. “What’s your name?”

Jess stood. “Nice talking to you, Billy boy.”

She hurried away before the other students began looking at her.

9

Steve and Bill indeed became best friends. This didn’t help Steve in electronics class. Perhaps it wasn’t challenging enough for him?

Over time, Steve and Bill began working on side electronic projects and attended lectures held by Hewlett-Packard.

9

Jess didn’t want Steve going down the same path where he was only focused on electronics and would eventually become bored. She slipped books in his locker written by Shakespeare and poets like Dylan Thomas, along with fiction books like Moby Dick.

Steve didn’t know where the books were coming from, but it didn’t matter. Jess saw him reading the books during lunch, while walking home, and even split time between working in the garage and sitting on a rocking chair, eating grapes and reading whatever book she had put in his locker that week.

By the time Steve was a senior, his grades didn’t approve, but the combination of electronics and literature clearly interested him.

9

Steve also loosened up a bit and gained two sets of friends; those who loved exploring the world of electronics and those who loved to explore the world of poetry and fiction.


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