At one time I was writing a novel about a girl who by chance inherited the "divine genes" that had empowered the ancient race of Homo divinis, contemporaries of the Neanderthals, who became extinct through racial mixing. The girl was born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2033. As the story begins, she's beginning her a day at school. --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- You don't know me, but you will. My mom is Helen Hostetter, and through her I'm German and Swiss. My dad is Bren Jones, and his ancestry is mostly English and Scottish. I get my blonde hair from both sides. I'm a girl, but I was named for my dad. It's my eleventh birthday, and I have to go to school. I live in Atlanta in the same general area as Druid Hills and the Atlanta Botanical Garden. My home and my school are in one of the nicer parts of Atlanta, though that isn't saying much. I'd really hate to live on the south side because it isn't safe there at all. When I asked Dad where he was sending me for middle school next year, he said "Parks," and I was horrified because Parks Middle School is infested with drug gangs. It's a place where the teachers rape the students, or the students rape the teachers, and there's always somebody shooting a gun at somebody else. It happens every day. But he was only teasing me. I'm going to Inman Middle School next fall, which is bad enough, but not nearly as dangerous as Parks would be. Dad said that a sociologist at Emory University did a study and found out that some of Atlanta's high schools have higher mortality rates than graduation rates. It used to be that low test scores were the biggest concern. I really wanted to attend Brookstone, but it's in Columbus over a hundred miles away, and my parents' apron strings aren't that long. My school is about half a mile ahead. I glance around the bus as it changes lanes, and most of my classmates don't impress me much. These same boys and girls were reasonably normal people last year, but now they're all quite immature. I don't know what happened to them. Of course, some of them are less childish than others, but they all seem pettier and shallower than they should be, fighting over small differences of opinion, casting friendships to the winds over trifles. I've seen kittens play pounce games with more dignity. Dad says that humanity needs a functionality upgrade. He's a computer technician and software engineer, and that's just how he talks. He's right, though. The next version of the human software is overdue. Maybe the improved hardware has to come first. The bus has turned into the school's parking lot, and that's a good thing because the four boys in the rearmost seats are growing rowdy, and it wouldn't have been long before they started picking a fight with somebody. Now we must gather up our gear and prepare to head into the education mines. Parked. Begin mass disembarkation. My name is Brenda Lynn Jones, and I'm heading into Morningside Elementary School on this 20th day of April, 2044, to begin my last month in the fifth grade.