One of my favorite dystopian authors lately has been Anne Tibbets, author of CARRIER. I love the way she crafts narrative into a fascinating story. Really, if you haven’t read CARRIER, read it now because the next book in the series, WALLED, is out and you want it. You do.
I asked Anne to write about Auberge for this blog post. It’s the corporation behind all the intrigue in her series. When I looked up “auberge” in the dictionary, the definition was “an inn, a place to stay.” I found that intriguing and asked Anne to expand on it.
Imagine 100 years from now, the world governments have corrupted themselves into bankruptcy. Too many governments have borrowed from one another, and now, none of them are able to pay. To save the world from collapse, corporations purchase territories around the world.
One such corporation, a French banking company, Auberge, purchases a section of North America and while other territories express interest in trading goods and resources, Auberge wants no outside influences – so they construct a wall. A massive, tall, cinderblock wall, topped with barbwire and guard towers. They isolate themselves from all other territories.
Auberge then militarizes the police department, and creates their own form of currency, which they call ‘credits.’ There is no cash. All transactions occur through the scanning of your palm print. They also assume control of all industry. Citizens in the five sectors of Auberge now work FOR Auberge, earning a meager wage. Any profits go to Auberge.
To open a small business, you have to obtain permits from Auberge, and send accounting and bookkeeping to them, at which point the Auberge bank will give you a monthly allowance to use for the purchase of merchandise and goods. This allowance proves to be insufficient, so the business owners begin buying slaves in order to cut costs. Families, unable to buy enough food for their children, sell them to these businesses as workers.
Eventually, Auberge figures out that slavery is a viable, and necessary trade, and they institute control over the selling and buying of labor – and then create their own facility for the use of sex slavery. They call it the Line.
When child laborers reach puberty, particularly the girls, they are then sold to the Line. They are sterilized (no chance of reproduction), conditioned (drugged and beaten into submission), and then placed on an assembly line. They work seven days a week, ten appointments a day.
Each day the girl is given two meals, hosed off and examined by medical staff, and then placed in an appointment room.
At first the system is quite lucrative for Auberge. Eventually, however, the interior of Auberge begins to deteriorate. With the landfills overflowing, plastic outlawed, industries closing (leaving the bare minimum of work available), Auberge decays.
Trash fills the streets. Unemployment is an epidemic. Businesses are unable to thrive in an environment so isolated, so controlled. The black market flourishes and helps compensate for the lack of credits, but eventually, Auberge takes control of that too, and then there is hardly enough for anyone.
As with the creation of Communism, the upper-class have all their assets taken by Auberge. But, with no trading partners outside the walls, Auberge is running out of options. Food is running out. People are getting restless. Corruption and crime is everywhere.
By the time Auberge has been in power for 100 years, the streets are falling apart, buildings crumbling. There aren’t enough resources. So, Auberge hatches a plan.
They want to take over the territories outside the walls, but don’t have the money or the manpower for a full-scale invasion. Instead, they create a biological weapon, a toxin, called Bio-Tox 6364, that they plan to release to the outside with strategic missile strikes. In the meantime, they inoculate the slave girls on the Line and began discreetly spreading the immunization to the bio-toxin through sexual transmission. The Board of Directors fear if the citizens find out their plans, they will riot – so they keep these immunized girls a secret. However, the situation inside Auberge is deteriorating so quickly, the immunization isn’t spreading fast enough.
Hoping to speed up the process, they begin impregnating the girls, and releasing them into the population. That way, their body fluids will immunize the public faster, and their children will as well, after they are born.
When they release each of these girls, they make them a deal. If they bring back a girl to take her place on the Line, the girl and her children are no longer categorized as slaves. However, if the girl fails to bring back a replacement, Auberge will take the children as payment for the girl’s release, and the girl will be euthanized for non-compliance.
A young veterinarian running a free medical clinic, Ric Bennett, begins to notice a pattern of pregnant girls from the Line, released into the population. One of them confesses to him about the bargain Auberge proposed, regarding her replacement. Horrified at the terms of the girl’s release, Ric enlists the help of two friends, Tym, a hacker, and Sonya, a thief. And together, the three of them begin helping the former Line girls escape.
Since there is no escaping the walls of Auberge, their only means of helping the girls is by erasing their palm prints from Auberge databases. Through a series of high stakes heists, Sonya breaks into Auberge headquarters and uploads a worm virus (constructed by Tym), to erase the girl’s palm print and replace her personal file with a false identity. Then, Ric surgically removes the girl’s tracking chip, and they set her up with a new life.
This plan, however well-intentioned and well-constructed it is, never succeeds. Each girl they attempt to save is either caught by Auberge, ends up selling herself on the streets as a prostitute (for lack of any other career or training), and gets sent back to the Line, or she overdoses on drugs from self-medicating her Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or commits suicide.
UNTIL – the day Naya walks into the clinic.
She isn’t about to let Auberge take her babies. She isn’t about to find them a replacement either. She isn’t going to curl up in a ball, take drugs, or commit suicide – she is out to protect her unborn children – whatever the cost. And if that means she has to burn down Auberge herself – she will.
WALLED (The Line #2) by Anne Tibbets
Published by: Carina Press (HQN)
Publication date: December 1st 2014
Genres: Dystopia, New Adult
Freedom means making brutal choices.
Rebel lovers Naya and Ric have survived one year in hiding, raising Naya’s twins from infants to toddlers in the shadow of the brutal Auberge dictatorship. They’re alive, and they’re together, but the city is crumbling around them and the haunting memory of Naya’s dark days on The Line have never fully left them. Living in isolation won’t be an option forever.
When a mysterious revolutionary seeks their help to infiltrate Auberge’s electronic heart and shut it down, it’s an opportunity—it’s risky, yes, but if it works they’ll get out of the city and taste freedom for the first time. Naya needs this. They need this.
Beyond the broken walls of Auberge, Naya and Ric find the paradise they’ve always longed for. But with anarchy reigning and Naya’s children lost amidst the chaos, they’ll need to forfeit their post-apocalyptic Eden…or commit an unspeakable act.
Book two of two.
Queue it on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23010077-walled?ac=1
Anne Tibbets is an SCBWI award-winning and Smashwords.com Best Selling author. After writing for Children’s television, Anne found her way to young/new adult fiction by following what she loves: books, strong female characters, twisted family dynamics, magic, sword fights, quick moving plots, and ferocious and cuddly animals.
Along with CARRIER, Anne is also the author of the young adult fantasy novella, THE BEAST CALL and the young adult contemporary, SHUT UP.
Anne divides her time between writing, her family, and three furry creatures that she secretly believes are plotting her assassination.