I arrived at the designated spot in the middle of nowhere in Virginia. Why would Liz Carson, from the novel The Seventh Seed, by Allison Maruska want to meet here. I realize secrecy is a big issue for Liz, but seriously, there isn’t a coffee shop for miles.
The rumble of a motorcycle comes through the forest. A moment later I catch sight of it driven by a guy with dreadlocks and a bald guy with broad shoulders riding on back.
They stop in front of me and get off it. “You, Dana?”
“Yeah, that’s me.”
In a blur of movement, Baldy has me face down on the ground with his foot on my neck. Dreadlocks frisks me and digs out my wallet, then holds my driver’s license up to my face.
My attacker steps back and offers me a hand. “Sorry, we have to be careful. I’m Charlie.”
Dreadlocks introduces himself as Jonah.
Charlie stays behind while Jonah drives me through the woods to a cabin along a creek. Sitting on the porch is a slender woman in her fifties, who after introductions, I discover is Liz, the woman who helped Javier all through The Seventh Seed.
After we exchange greetings, Jonah stands to her side.
“We’ll be okay,” Liz says to him. “Allison vouched for him.”
After he leaves, she gestures for the railing for me to sit on. “Go ahead with your questions.” She’s reflects an unease, like she is not used to being the center of attention.
Where to begin with a book that had so many twists and turns? “Initially, you had no reservations of leaving your life behind and helping Javier escape the authorities who were chasing him. Even when people around you were killed, and you were almost murdered, you continued on without reservation. Halfway through the story, you had a change of heart, and wanted to stop running and leave Javier with the friends you had found. Can you explain why you changed your mind?”
“I’ve been on my own for several years. Part of the reason I worked at the shelter was I could just leave if I wanted to. There’s always another shelter somewhere. Anyway, I think I was getting more attached to the group, and to Javier specifically, than I expected. Once we found others for him to work with I didn’t worry so much about taking off.
Hmm… it seems the keyword in her answer is so much. Well, that’s two words. This begs for me to ask: “When you informed the others you were leaving them, Javier talked you out of it. To me, it seemed he ulterior motives than simply needing another body to fight LifeFarm. It seemed he had come to look up to you as a son would his mother. Did you feel this way?”
“To some degree. I told Javier he reminded me of Travis, my son, who was taken by LifeFarm, and he did. Javier’s mother ditched him so I can’t blame the kid for wanting to connect.”
I knew it. There was more to their relationship than her simply helping a young man who needed her assistance. “Do you feel you would have thrown caution aside and gone on the run with him if your husband hadn’t been killed in the wars and LifeFarm hadn’t taken your son?”
“Nah. I wanted to strike the beast that stole my family.”
I study my notepad while scratching my head. “From your answer I’m guessing you weren’t as rebellious as you became when Javier stepped into your life. Is that true?”
“I was a perfectly responsible adult before Travis was recruited by LifeFarm. I was one of those moms who arranged play dates and volunteered in his classroom. I even ran for the damn PTA. Once Kyle and Travis were gone, I didn’t care so much. Sold the house and bounced from place to place for a while.”
“Do you think you can find your son and undo the brainwashing LifeFarm has done on him?”
“I hope so. My husband got wise to LifeFarm when he was on his third deployment, but he was military, not necessarily brainwashed. Travis has a good heart. He joined them because he thought he could help people. Maybe one day he’ll see LifeFarm does the opposite.”
“Do you have any thoughts of where things might go if there is another story about your existence?”
“Nah. But if I gotta run off somewhere new, I’ll do it.”
What every crusade needs. A carefree woman ready and willing to go when needed. “Thank you for your time. Can I get a ride back to my car, or has Charlie stolen it?”