Rebel With a Gigantic Cause—And a Gigantic Crush

It’s no mean feat to catch a glimpse of Jarat Ellington, let alone interview him. The guy has pretty much erased every image of himself that was published on the Net. Privacy is one of his abiding obsessions in life. And I suppose that’s one of the reasons why he was so intent on sabotaging the world’s most powerful media company.

At the same time, he was overwhelmed with passion for a girl named Luscious. Little wonder, because Luscious was transformed by a secret chemical substance that turned her into a supremely charismatic beauty who could get anybody to do almost anything.

Okay, you’ve probably figured out by now that I’m talking about two of the main characters in my cyberpunk sci-fi novel, THE JUICE, which is being released Feb. 9 by Dragon Moon Press.

I decided to interview Jarat for this blog post. And I pretty much drove myself nuts trying to find a stock photo image that conveys what Jarat looks like. It finally dawned on me that the “feeling” of him is kind of like the image of Keith Richards on his “Vintage Vino” album.

But the front of him looks different, in that he’s a 20-something guy without the weathered look Richards sports.

Jarat came from money, had a top-flight education, but he clearly doesn’t give a good goddamn about the Elite establishment. He was off in Arizona at the time I contacted him for this interview, and …

JARAT: Enough preamble. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

JANET: Ah, there you are.

JARAT: You can’t do better than the back side of Keith Richards?

JANET: I’m just trying to give people a flavor of you.

JARAT: Okay, so show us the best stock image you came up with.

JANET: Right.

JARAT: Oh, come on. I don’t look half that good. And the hair …

JANET: Yeah, I know yours is more pewter in color. But give yourself some credit in the looks department. Anyway, enough of that. Let’s get into your story.

JARAT: Shoot. What do you want to know?

JANET: First, let me give our readers a little background. In the day and age you live in—several decades past my own—there are three distinct classes, Elites, Middles and the vast lower class known as the Chav. In the two upper ranks, which are extremely

small in size, people rarely make physical contact. They don’t touch, unless they are intimate. Why is that, do you think?

JARAT: It’s lost in time, no one really knows anymore. Perhaps it was triggered by that frickin’ COVID crisis the world is going through in your own time. Glad we’re not rockin’ those masks you’re all wearing.

JANET: I’m glad, too. Did it bother you, the lack of touching?

JARAT: Yeah. It kind of drew to a head after that gruesome accident.

JANET: Explain. What happened?

JARAT: America, as I know it, has a vast navigational grid. If anyone wants to drive from point A to point B, your mag-lev vehicle is automatically directed on a very particular route so that it’s virtually impossible to get in an accident. The system knows where everyone is, and keeps them apart from each other and the physical objects they might collide into. The grid was devised by my father, Evander, whose company made a gigantic fortune off it.

JANET: But you didn’t like it.

JARAT: I am not interested in having the government direct me—know where I’m coming and going. So I used to hack into the system and go off the grid. When ol’ Evander found out, he was livid, and we had a huge fight. That led me to race my bike up the coast, from New York to Cambridge, where I was going to school. I was in such a blind rage that I hung a bad turn and ran straight into a truck. My body was totally wrecked. Even had a brain transplant. It was humiliating, on top of nearly getting killed.

Before then, I hadn’t fully realized how important the human touch can be. The only way to get my torn-up body back to some sense of normal, I had to go through a lot of massage therapy, and physical therapy. And while at times that was extremely painful, even the slightest touch, from people who were largely strangers, made me more human, more alive, than I’d ever been.

JANET: So you became a massage therapist.

JARAT: For a time, after I recovered.

JANET: Which pissed your parents off.

JARAT: Let’s just say it solidified their disappointment in me.

JANET: You get so angry when you talk about them. Why? What harm did they do to you?

JARAT: When it became clear that I needed a brain transplant, my parents had a choice. They could have directed the doctors to use an artificial organ, which was perfectly acceptable. I’d already made it clear, in years past, that if an organ in my body was badly damaged, they should use an artificial replacement. Instead, they had someone killed on my behalf.


JARAT: A poor boy named Jewles, who was imprisoned. His brain was “harvested” for me. My brain was carefully lifted out of my skull, and Jewles’ was settled in its place. The surgical team had tried to “cleanse” Jewles’ brain of everything he had known, every personality trait he’d accumulated in his brief life.

Then they repopulated Jewles’ mind with my own, downloading content from an external drive that had served as my brain backup since the time I was two. All Elites have one of those, and even some Middles. But Jewles’ brain didn’t work quite the way that was planned.

JANET: You’re talking about Jewles’ feelings and traces of memories that still remained, inside your head?

JARAT: Yes, most of the things that were still there were almost trivial, like the way I suddenly had cravings for artificial chicken, which I’d always thought of as nasty before. But other lingerings in his mind changed my life in significant ways—like the love that rushed over me from the second I met Jewles’ mother.

JANET: A Chav, who became your great friend.

JARAT: Yes. Mama Neeta and her children gave me some of my most contented moments, back then. There’s nothing I liked better than visiting her, trying to help her out. She was so stubborn and proud. We bickered a lot, but there was love underneath it all. Back then, she was about my closest friend, except for Thom.

JANET: Why don’t you tell everybody about Thom. Who was he?

JARAT: A fucking genius. That’s what I called him. FG, for short. We met when we were at MIT. Back then, he was working on an experiment. He’d created a substance called the Juice that made people stunningly charismatic. When he was testing it on himself, it was pretty shocking to see how he was transformed from this kind of skinny Asian dude without a lot of sexuality into a creature that the ladies couldn’t get enough of—like the way cats react to catnip, times 10. And they had no idea why they were responding that way.

Nobody knew what he was doing but me. Kind of made me crazy, how he was using it for personal pleasure. But Thom had larger ambitions. He wanted to use it for good things, like getting the leaders of armies who were fighting each other to sit down and figure out a truce. He was trying that kind of thing, more than I knew at the time.

After the accident, and my decision to leave MIT, we kind of lost touch, but the bond between us was still there. When he was violently attacked and the Juice stolen, he contacted me from his deathbed. He wanted me to find whoever had stolen the Juice and stop whatever was about to happen. Because it was clear that the thief was going to create super charismatic beings that could warp people’s minds. These creatures, which Thom called Charismites, could get people to do almost anything—kill other people, elect certain politicians, anything.

JANET: And you couldn’t stop yourself from falling in love with one of the Charismites, Luscious.

JARAT: It was really hard to control how crazy I was about her. Knowing that she was on the Juice helped me see what she was doing with clear eyes. But listen, can we stop talking about this?

JANET: Right. I don’t want to give too much away. Thanks for the chat, my friend.

JARAT: Anytime. You know where to find me.

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