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Cognati – Inferno World
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An Inferno World Novel
I’m alone. All alone.
Uncle Charles is a real man. A strong, commanding man. Someone who teaches his two children how they must present themselves in this hard, confusing world.
His world isn’t like mine, though.
Rather than shy away from his unusual teachings, I thirst for them.
Most men want to be like their father when they grow older.
And when he is no longer able to teach, I have a few lessons of my own…
Cognati is an Inferno World story that follows a young man named Luke Greene, or later known as Pater, just after the book Sparks and before the book Inferno by Yolando Olson. This book is written to fit in her world and is based on the character she created but may stand completely on its own. However, you’ll most certainly want to dive into Inferno after reading Cognati to see what the devious, yet oddly charming Pater, is up to next…if you dare.
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The black vinyl in my grip remains pristine despite the continuous abuse it takes at my hand. A learned behavior from my mother. Repetition is beautiful and necessary. It conditions the mind and the soul. Something as simple as a record that plays on repeat can teach the heart to beat the same way every day.
And that is what I do.
I beat in the same thump-thump-tha-thump way because she taught me to.
Steady. Steady. Steady.
The world around you grows unfocused so that what’s in front of you becomes clear as a shard of glass in your palm. Nothing else matters.
I stare at the record and smile. It’s her favorite one. There was a time when I’d even dance with her to our song. Hold Mom close and nuzzle my nose in her soft hair.
She’s too fragile now.
At one time, she was in mind and spirit, and now she is in body too.
My heart breaks again and again and again.
As steady as the pounding of my heart.
The breaking is a constant and as repetitious as the breaths I take. The grumbles in my stomach. The weight that sheds from my emaciated body.
Every day is the same.
Though not for long. The neighbors have noticed my tricks and they’ve managed to have the water shut off. It won’t be long before the electricity goes too. I could go to the diner—Mom’s favorite one—and seek out familiar faces in hope of receiving their help, but I won’t.
“I’ll be back,” I promise Mom, toying with a strand of her long blond hair.
We don’t discuss why I’m leaving in the first place.
I’m a failure. I tried and I failed. Mom took care of me, but I’m unable to take care of her. I’m no man. Nothing more than a boy pretending to be one. Eighteen years on this earth and I have nothing to show for myself. I’m fading away and I can’t even care for her like she cared for me.
The bitter tears of disappointment burn in my eyes, but I blink them away to smile at Mom. She loves it when I smile now. At one time, my smiles reminded her too much of my father. But I’m not him. I’m my own man. Boy. One day I’ll be stronger and better than he ever could be. And then I’ll come back to her as a man. I’ll show her I have it in me. I can be a good man.
With a heavy sigh, I lift the wooden lid of the record player and secure it with the foldout bar. I place her favorite record onto the device and then lift the needle. Carefully, I set it down on the edge and then turn the power on.
Always the same.
It makes the hairs stand up on my arms and a small shudder of anticipation ripple through me. Then, like a sad sigh, the piano begins playing. Moments later, the voice of an angel sings out “Ave Maria” composed by Franz Schubert.
The stress and self-doubt bleeds from me. I’m reminded that I’m a good boy. I’m doing the right thing. Mom knows this. That’s why she doesn’t argue the matter. These days, her mind makes perfect sense. I understand her now.
“You shouldn’t dance,” I chide, noticing the playful way she holds her head tilted just so to one side. She’s missing the smile I used to love, but it’s not necessary in this moment.
A laugh escapes me. It’s been far too long.
“I could hurt you,” I explain, though we both know she’ll win.
She doesn’t let up and continues to look my way. Waiting. A good boy doesn’t disappoint his mother. Not anymore.
“One last dance.” I chuckle for both of us. “I’ll be gentle, Mom.”
Life has a way of sucking the soul out of you. My poor mother has been its victim for far too long. She deserves peace. I believe this because I’m a good son. A terrible son would wallow in the horrible things she did when she wasn’t well and argue that she deserves something awful. Those things are in the past. She wasn’t right then. It wasn’t her fault. I’ve forgiven her.
I kneel in front of her on the sofa and push a strand of her blond hair from her face. Easily, I hoist her frail body into my arms. She weighs next to nothing lately. I may be half starved, but I will always be able to carry my mother. It’s a son’s duty in life. Why we eventually grow to be strong men.
The singer is belting out her beautiful words and I sway to the music with Mom in my arms. I kiss her forehead. I’m going to miss her so much.
We dance and dance and dance until the song ends. I’m conned into one more dance. This one is surely the last. I’ll need to leave soon. The hunger is a gnawing beast that eats me alive from the inside out and if I have any hopes of surviving so I can come back to Mom, I need to leave. To find him. To grow strong again.