The Fractured States of America
In a not too distant future, political polarization, religious intolerance, and social differences have splintered America into eight different countries.
Fleetwood Castor is a sixteen year old from New England who’s mostly concerned about passing the eleventh grade without any drama. After sucking down his morning energy drink, Fleet accidentally punches out a new kid, Gideon. Since Gideon is gay, their principal assumes Fleet is a homophobe, instead of just klutzy, so he proves otherwise by inviting Gideon over for dinner. Just as the family meal begins, armored men storm Fleet’s house and kidnap the two teens. They awake to find themselves unwilling participants in a maze with seven strangers from around the former United States. The maze is not only deep underground and built with walls made of salt, but it’s rigged with deadly traps. The mysterious terrorist organization behind the madness films their every move, broadcasting live to the world.
Rumer Golden is a seventeen-year-old girl from Western America who has been in love with heartthrob actor Cassian Booth for years. She’s so in love that she’s been filming him for weeks without his knowledge to create a documentary about his life. She even sneaks into his home for more footage when terrorists kidnap Cassian and throw him in the salt gauntlet with Fleet and the other teens. Rumer is the only person in the world with any footage of the kidnappers, and soon finds her life on the line as she must figure out who to trust and how to save Cassian (and the others, assuming there’s any time left).
|Title||The Fractured States of America|
|Author||Troy H. Gardner|
|Release||April 25, 2017
|Tags||Future, dystopian, action, new world order USA|
We listened to the morning radio on the ride to school. Shock jockeys discussed the ongoing debate of electrocuting prisoners in the Republic of Texas along with loud honks and buzzes. I only half-listened, wondering if Dad, a New Hampshire Supreme Justice, would have ever sentenced anyone to die if New England allowed the death penalty, while I skimmed my email on IRA. There were a few updates about school events and upcoming concerts that could go either way. Besides that, most of my inbox consisted of recorded conversations of a couple of hot girls from school bitching about each other and spam screaming about penis enlargement pills. Apparently, the pharmaceutical advertisers didn’t care that I was only sixteen. Still, I didn’t have the heart to delete the emails, just in case I ever wanted to give the magic pills a shot. My last girlfriend told me not to worry about it, but when someone says that, it just makes you worry twice as much.
Mom drove up to the curb outside Niels Nielson High, parking near one of the many yellow and white school busses.
“Have a good day, honey.”
“Thanks,” I grumbled. I’d have a better day when you let me drive myself to school.
I had a learner’s permit, but after one or two fender benders, suddenly Mom and Dad didn’t trust me to drive on my own any more. No one died, and they couldn’t prove I knocked over the mailbox.
Mom pulled the car into the long line of vehicles leaving the school as I looked around to make sure no one saw me getting dropped off. Classes hadn’t started yet and dozens of students and teachers walked into the giant brick building like a funeral procession. Our mascot, a granite face, stared down at everyone from above the entranceway. I hated walking under that thing, picturing it collapsing just like the real Man in the Mountain had. Other schools had Indians, pirates, and zoo animals. We had a rock formation that used to exist and coincidentally looked like a face from the right angle. I stumbled into the entrance line in a tired daze but didn’t see my best friend, Easton Lestrange, anywhere. After passing the security check-in, I put my shoes back on and spoke into the pocket patch on my shoulder.
“IRA, tell Easton that I’ll be at my locker in a minute and to bring an energy boost.”
“Right away, Fleet.” Having an IRA made everything so much easier. I don’t know how people managed during the cavemen days when they had to pick up a phone and type out messages to each other.
Students strolled through the hallways, affecting looks of indifference so as not to stand out in a crowd. I affected a similar stance with my head angled down and hands stuffed in shirt pockets.
It took a few minutes to walk upstairs and to the back of the school, where the best lockers were located. I pressed the smudgy fingerprint pad and the blue metal door popped open. I stuffed all the contents of the messenger bag inside and stifled a massive yawn.
Show no signs of weakness in front of the others.
“You look horrible.”
I spun around and found Easton chuckling at me. He brushed the straight black hair out of his narrow eyes, the only traits inherited from his Japanese mother. The poor math skills and six-foot-three frame came from his French father.
He handed me a tiny can with neon lightning bolts printed on the sides. I popped the lid open and swallowed the caffeine shot. Maybe it was only imagined, but I immediately felt energized. I tossed the little can in my locker, where it clattered against a dozen others.
“Did you end up finishing your paper?” he asked me.
“I got the first paragraph done. Hey, you got to open strong. I’ll ask for a postponement.”
“What’s it about, or do you even know yet?” my right foot started tapping against the linoleum on its own.
“What about it?”
“The history of it,” Easton said with a shrug.
“We get every April Seventh off to celebrate New England becoming its own country,” I said. Each of the eight countries that comprised the former United States had its own Ratification Day that consisted of remembering the specific day some bills were passed, hardly deserving fireworks. “You’re planning on stretching that into a five page paper?”
“I already stretched it out to an entire paragraph.”
“Good luck with that postponement plan.”
I looked down at the empty checkered messenger bag hanging at my side and figured I should have at least some books in there for the morning classes. I spotted my best notebook in the locker and tried to pull it out, but it was stuck on something.
“Too bad your IRA can’t organize your locker,” Easton joked.
“Yeah, no app for that.” I grunted, tugging harder on the notebook, caffeine shot surging through my blood, but it was crammed in too tightly. “I heard they’re working on making an IRA with arms.”
“All you need is a trash bag.”
“Yep.” I pulled again but nothing. “What the hell?”
I flexed around the edge of the binder, screwed up my courage, and gave a mighty pull. The binder came free and I stepped backward, my fist flying—
Straight into the new kid’s face.
The kids in the hall stopped in their tracks and gawked as the new guy dropped like a brick. Through the shaggy yellow and blue hair covering half his face, it looked like both eyes were closed. I’d never been in a fight before, but apparently I won my first.
Someone rushed to the guy’s side on the floor as Easton whispered, “I think you just committed a hate crime.”
“I heard he’s gay.”