Book One in the CUSA series
(C) 2017 Adam Cole
Published by Nuncici Press, an imprint of Adam Cole Works LLC
Chapter Six, part two
Mr. Sattari cocked his finger again and the door became extremely solid behind Basil. As Basil ascended the arcing stair, Sattari looked down at him. “I’m sorry,” he said. “Did they hurt you?”
Basil shook his head. He was trembling a little, but he felt he had to keep himself under control. A Padre wouldn’t show his feelings.
Mr. Sattari sighed heavily and sat back down in his chair. For a while, he lost himself behind his hand, swimming in a wash of thoughts. Then his eyes flitted up to Basil.
“Here,” he said, gesturing in the air with his finger. The air lit up where his finger was for a second. Instantly a servant emerged from the wall bearing a huge glass of water, with real ice cubes.
Basil looked at it, stunned. Sattari nodded once, and Basil watched as the servant put it on the table next to him. He had never had Proper Water before, and had never even seen ice cubes except in commercials. When he touched the cold glass, it seemed even more real than he was, and the shock of it on his fingers seemed to revive him somehow.
“Why didn’t you give him the Rainpowder? Is that what it was?”
“I’m not allowed,” Basil answered quietly, seizing the glass as quickly as he could. The ice slid onto his face as he tilted the glass, and the water was cold in his throat. He relaxed in spite of himself and a little trail escaped to his throat. He wiped it distractedly with one of his long sleeves.
“Do you have it?”
Basil nodded yes. “I’m supposed to carry it in case I meet an addict. But I’m not allowed to give it to you.” He paused to consider his response. “It’s for the faithful.” Mr. Sattari considered for a moment. Then, as if he had been thinking about it since their earlier conversation that afternoon, he said, “It’s the mission of your believers to quit.”
“Yes,” Basil nodded, drinking the rest in a single go.
“How can they quit when you keep giving them drugs?”
Swallowing, Basil answered, “We support them so they don’t have any excuse.”
“What?” Mr. Sattari seemed baffled.
“Only they can quit,” Basil insisted. Still vexed, Mr. Sattari frowned at Basil. “Padre could explain it to you,” Basil said. He was pushing aside the ice with his fingers, trying to get the last drops.
“Wait for the ice to melt,” said Mr. Sattari. “What do you mean only they can quit?”
“They take the drugs to see,” Basil tried to explain. “We make sure nothing gets in the way.”
“What do they see?” Mr. Sattari wondered aloud.
Basil hesitated. “I don’t know,” he replied. “We’re not allowed to take the dru—the Body and the Blood.”
“You’ve never taken them!” Mr. Sattari repeated, astonished. Basil shook his head no. “Why?”
“We’re not allowed,” Basil repeated. At first, Basil appeared as though he either would not or could not explain. “Sometimes they see demons,” he said. He examined his glass carefully. The large glass beads on the outside resembled huge, frozen water droplets that would not surrender their treasure.
“Demons,” Mr. Sattari’s voice sounded hoarse, as if the word was heavy on his throat.
“Sometimes they see angels, too,” Basil said quickly. “They scream and carry on, or they sit for hours, sometimes days; some of them, they don’t eat unless we feed ’em, don’t drink unless we give ’em something. They just see and see.” He looked hard at the glass, hoping more water would appear so he wouldn’t have to ask for it.
“And do they ever quit?” Mr. Sattari asked.
Basil shrugged, putting the glass on Sattari’s desk. “Not when they’re with us. They come and go, they move from Church to Church. One day, maybe, they stop coming. We never see that part.”
“What do you suppose they see that makes them stop coming?” Mr. Sattari asked.
The secretary’s face appeared. “Siyo,” said the face. “Your wife wants to talk to you, but you’ve got her blocked. Do you want me to open a link?”
Mr. Sattari hesitated. Basil watched him curiously.
With a sideways jiggle of his head, Mr. Sattari shut his AVE off. The faces babbling around him vanished. Now only Basil and the Siyo were in the room.
Shifting, as though the weight of the light had been a huge burden on his head, the Siyo leaned sideways and cocked his neck to look at Basil. He seemed to be trying to decide something.
Abruptly, he spoke. “I want to quit Noke,” the Siyo said.
Basil jumped, quite taken aback by the words and tone of Sattari’s voice. “What did you say?”
“You heard me,” said the Siyo. “I hate this place. I hate what it stands for, and all the people who help it along. Every day I despise myself for doing my job.” Mr. Sattari paused to regard Basil’s reaction. “Does that surprise you?”
Basil shook his head quickly, emphatically. He thought it best to agree with the Siyo.
“I want to see,” Mr. Sattari said.
Basil pretended he didn’t understand. His eyes fell upon the objects on Mr. Sattari’s desk. Holographic projections were organized and stacked upon each other. One of the papers blinked.
“I want to see,” Mr. Sattari repeated.
Basil looked up at him as the dealer again. “You want to escape?”
Mr. Sattari’s brow wrinkled. “No,” he clarified. “I don’t want any party drugs. I want to see like the faithful see. I want the real drugs.”
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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