Book One in the CUSA series
(C) 2017 Adam Cole
Published by Nuncici Press, an imprint of Adam Cole Works LLC
“Leave him alone,” said another man, interfering with his hand on the first man’s bicep. “He’s just a kid.”
“But this other stuff is like candy,” argued the accoster. “I want you to try the real thing, and I know he’s got it.” He glared at Basil. The boy returned the stare, outwardly keeping his calm over the panic that was making him tremble.
“If you lose control, you’ve got to go,” Padre had said. “Don’t let them see you’re afraid or they’ll take the bag.” Basil kept control. He kept his gaze fixed on the man who was holding him. “Remember, he’s off balance,” Padre told him. “When he’s in the clouds, you’re smarter and stronger than him.”
The executive frowned down at Basil. Even in his current state he did not appear as if he would be intimidated by an eleven-year-old. Basil began to be afraid that he’d given the man the wrong dosage or combination.
“Look,” said a woman from behind. “He’s just a little kid. Take him up to Mr. Sattari. He’ll make him give it to you.”
The accoster nodded. “You’re right,” he said. He grabbed Basil firmly by the wrist and began pulling him. The others followed, whooping, excitement surging behind them until, like a wave, they stood before the doorway to Mr. Sattari’s subdued, dark office.
One of the men made a tentative gesture at the door. It reluctantly became semi-transparent, as if begrudging him a limited access. An image of Sattari appeared on it. The Siyo was still dancing through holograms with his fingers, though the servant had vanished. He did not look up. Basil suddenly realized that Mr. Sattari was the only one who had not yet come to him. The Siyo was still attired in his work clothes, still penetrating the light-symbols with his fingertips.
“Mr. Sattari, why are you still workin-guh?” an older woman giggled like a child. Mr. Sattari looked up mildly, a patient expression in his eyes.
“Mr. Sattari, you’re missing the party!” said the first worker.
“That’s all right,” he said, smiling a little. “I’ll come down later. I’m sure the boy has lots of drugs still.” He had not seen Basil.
The boy dealer was pulled out roughly by the disgruntled employee. “Mr. Sattari, he’s holding out on us! I asked him for some Rainpowder and he said no. I know he has—“
Upon seeing Basil, Mr. Sattari’s expression changed dramatically. The Siyo surged to his feet. “Let him go! Now!”
Cowed and terrified, the man fell back into the shelter of his group. Everyone had fallen silent. They stood there like guilty children, looking away now, afraid to move.
“Mr. Artui,” said the Siyo. The man snapped to attention. Mr. Sattari spoke with icy deliberation. “There are twenty-million unemployed people in the Atlanta Hub. You are about to be one of them.”
Artui paled and his legs began to buckle. Mr. Sattari glared at him. “You have had enough. Go back to your office and go to bed. I will see you in the morning.” Artui hastened to comply and was gone in a heartbeat.
Mr. Sattari swept his grave eyes over the rest of them for a long moment. “Go,” he finally told them. “I’ll handle our dealer. If any of you lay another finger on company property, your contracts will be terminated.”
The cowed employees nodded their collective heads in a furtive way, no longer wanting to be seen. Half backing, half tripping, the group of workers made their way down the hall, a couple of them barely restraining a few giggles at last as they fell out of earshot.
Mr. Sattari cocked his finger in the air and the door vanished. Basil could see him now, farther away. The Siyo gestured at him to enter and he did.
More about Motherless Child
When Rosa’s mother loses her job with the Corporate United States, her family must flee or be killed in an employee purge. Taking the dangerous bus trip across the Unincorporated States, they are ambushed by bandits. Hopelessly separated from her family, Rosa is rescued by the people of Ascension, a small backwoods Virgilna town with a terrible secret.
Seventeen years in the making, Cole’s book about a girl trapped between two Americas serves as a reminder of what the United States has become, and what it still could be.
Adam Cole is an author and music educator in Atlanta, GA. He has written numerous books and stories for children, as well as a number of adult and non-fiction titles including The Girl With the Bow and Seven Ways the World Can End.
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