An exclusive excerpt of The Dysasters...
The sun reappeared briefly, stretching its long, golden fingers through puffy white clouds. As if mocking them, sunlight caressed Cora’s fuliginous cheeks, seeming to brighten as her breathing became more labored and the glint dulled from her eyes. Foster knelt beside Cora, wiping rain and mud from her face.
“Cora, what’s wrong? Where are you hurt?”
Weakly, Cora snagged one of Foster’s hands, pulling her closer.
“Listen to me carefully, baby girl.” Her tremulous voice was barely audible over the roar of wind and the screams of people.
“Foster! We need to get off this field!” Tate’s voice interrupted.
Foster barely glanced over her shoulder at him. “No. Not without Cora.” Then she turned back to the woman who had been mom, dad, and best friend for the past five years. “Where are you hurt?” she repeated.
Cora squeezed her hand with surprising strength. “It’s my heart, child. There’s nothing you can do.”
“Yes, there is something I can do! Cora, come on. I’m taking you to the hospital.” Foster said, snaking her arm beneath Cora’s shoulders. “We’re making it to the hospital.”
“No, no child. It’s too late for that. Now you have to listen, and listen good.” Cora’s cold hand pressed Foster’s. “She’s here.”
“She? Cora, you’re delirious. It’s a bunch of freak tornados. We have to get out of here. You need a doctor.”
“No. Listen to me.” Cora’s gaze trapped her as Foster recognized her adoptive mother’s tone.
She’s not playing. She’s completely serious. Oh, God. What’s happening to her? To us?
“Okay, okay. I’m listening.”
“Foster! We have to go.”
Foster’s head snapped around. Tate had torn off his uniform shirt and tossed his shoulder pads to the side by his discarded football helmet. He was getting ready to sprint away. Foster’s insides roiled. “Then go! No one’s making you stay here!” She turned back to Cora. “Tell me.”
“The tornados aren’t accidents. I don’t know how she got them to manifest here, but they are not accidents.”
Foster’s breath caught in her throat. “Eve? As in Eve of Doctor Rick’s Core Four?”
Cora nodded wearily. “I saw her. If the others, Matthew, Mark, and Luke are here, too, you’re in great danger. You and that boy.” Cora cut her eyes at Tate, who was wearing a fresh trench in the ground with his pacing, but hadn’t gone anywhere.
“Tate? This doesn’t make any sense.” The pulse hammering behind Foster’s ears seemed to skip a beat. “Do they want to kill us? Like they did Doctor Rick.”
“Child…” Cora paused, gasping for breath as her face twisted in pain.
“Come on! We’re getting out of–” Foster began, but Cora’s hand, suddenly viselike, kept her from moving.
“I don’t have long. You have to listen to me. They’re all in this together. Your father isn’t dead. He’s gotten…” Cora winced, panting for breath. “He’s in trouble. Don’t know if he’s gone mad or if they have something on him. All I know is he’s alive.”
Shock seized Foster’s gut, pinching her stomach until she felt like she’d puke. Staving off the bile and the lump of despair growing suffocating large in the back of her throat, she swallowed several times before she speaking. “N-not dead?”
“No. And not trustworthy. He’s not the man we knew.”
“Cora, I don’t understand,” Foster dug her fingernails into her palm to keep from sobbing.
“Baby girl, there’s things about yourself you don’t know.”
“My Jedi mind trick?”
“More… more. You’re linked. You and that boy. And others. I – I believe your father and the Core Four are here for the two of you. You and Tate. You can’t let them get you, Foster. You can’t go to the police. You have to run. Now.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, and I’m not going anywhere without you.”