Book One in the CUSA series
(C) 2017 Adam Cole
Published by Nuncici Press, an imprint of Adam Cole Works LLC
“Where are we?”
His voice croaked out of the darkness like the cry of a deep throated frog.
“Firoz!” she answered, just because she didn’t have anything else to say to him.
“Who are you?”
“I’m Rosa. Firoz, you followed me out here.”
He didn’t answer. She heard him grunt.
“I’m a girl!” she shouted, and she regretted it because it echoed through the hills.
“I only need the Body and Blood,” he said to his hallucination.
“I don’t have any,” she said.
“That’s a lie,” he said. “I know you have some in that bag of yours.”
“You crazy,” she said. She had no idea what else to tell him.
“Why do they take the Body and Blood?” he asked her, softly.
She was getting scared. It was like he was accusing her of something. Quietly, she said, “You said they take them because the drugs teach them a lesson.”
Firoz’s eyes opened wide. “That’s right!” he said.
She hesitated because she didn’t know what else he was going to say or do. When he didn’t say anything, Rosa asked what she had been dying to ask him since he had told her that.
“What’s the lesson?”
He answered her immediately, like he’d been waiting for the question a long time. “The drugs make everything backwards. You see from the outside looking in.”
He was silent again. “That’s weird,” she finally said, shrugging.
“Yes,” he agreed. “And it’s really weird because you find out in CUSA that everything makes sense only when it’s backwards.” She didn’t understand what that meant, but he kept talking before she could ask him another question. “The economy doesn’t support us. We live to support the economy. Backwards. I find something that conflicts with what I already believe, and so I decide that it must be wrong. Backwards.”
He stopped. He swallowed hard, and she saw his Adam’s apple drop.
“A million people die so that I can live. Backwards.”
“What are you talking about?” Rosa asked him.
“But I didn’t kill a million people.” He looked straight at her. “Angel? Did you hear me? I didn’t kill them.”
He was scaring her again. She didn’t notice her own tears until they were dripping down her cheeks. “Look, Firoz,” she said. “Stop, okay? We going to be okay, right?”
But he was just like all the other adults, just in his own drug way. He just kept on saying what he’d always said, only louder and louder, turning away. “Did you? Did you hear me, angel?”
“Why are you calling me that?” she demanded. She was getting tired of hearing him. Tired of looking at him, breathing in his pukey smell.
“Why do they have to die?” he wondered out loud.
“Shut up, Firoz!” He wasn’t paying her any attention at all, really. He didn’t look at her again. He didn’t cock his head like he had heard her. Just said the same thing again and again, like he wanted to shout it, but was afraid.
“Tell me why!”
“Who died, Firoz?” Rosa yelled, trying to be louder than him. She wanted him to say something else, anything else.
“Why do a million people have to die?”
She didn’t want to listen to him, or listen to her mother, or see her Daddy lying on the ground. She didn’t want to come out here on a bus and get nearly raped by some big greasy freak. She didn’t want to be in the middle of the woods with a drug addict who was coming down. She wanted to leave. She wanted to go home.
“It’s okay, Firoz,” she said to him. “Shut up!” But he had begun to shake and writhe on the ground.
His hands were on his ears. “Just tell me why!”
“Shut up, Firoz!”
“Tell me why, angel!!”
“I’ll tell you, Firoz! Okay?”
“I told you to tell me why!!!”
“I’ll tell you, Firoz, you chicope pinga! I’ll tell you!” She was starting to scream through her tears, not making any sense now. She didn’t know what she was going to tell Firoz. Her own voice was ragged, and it scared her how old it made her sound. That was okay. She didn’t care who could hear her anymore, or what was going to happen. Porter could go ahead and do what he liked to her, because it didn’t matter now. She didn’t have anything left to save. “I’ll tell! I’ll tell!” she wailed out loud.
It took her a minute to hear Firoz. She was too busy wiping her eyes, coughing snot. The addict was lying on the ground, looking up at her. His gooey eyes were bloodshot, and one of them was half closed. She imagined she could see herself in the reflection of that one eye. She was amazed by her appearance, bright, shining, like she was the moon itself.
“Don’t worry.” The voice came from behind her. She whirled around to face the person who owned it. Her hands were clenched in tiny rock-hard fists, and she would have tried to kill the man, if she hadn’t thought he was her Daddy.
He was the same height and the same shape. Rosa even said “Daddy” to him. But then she saw the gun, and she screamed.
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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