Book Feature: The Kids from the River by: Mark Cosman

Publisher: Solstice Publishing

Publication Date: July 21, 2014

Synopsis: As the current age thunders to a close, five kids are playing together in a river that runs through a forest to the sea. All the while, the society they are soon to inherit is disintegrating. The story follows the diverse predispositions of the kids from the river into adulthood as they define their evolving personalities, amidst the chaos of their decaying world.

Marauding insurgents continually sweep down upon a teetering world government from autonomous northern frontiers, causing human suffering and misery.

As adults, the kids from the river take separate paths to finding love and losing it, to ascending on meteoric careers and plunging into the depths of self-destruction.

The desperate times open the way for Senator Aaron Mire, a charismatic charlatan, whose campaign is awash in conspiracies which polarize the kids from the river.

Amy Ramsey, a kid from the river, becomes the beautiful standard bearer for the Senator’s Genesis Party. Her position clashes with her father, John Ramsey, renowned as the “last great man.” Chairman of the world’s most successful company and the inventor of the mysterious Moon Glow project, John Ramsey is Mire’s most feared adversary.

Ramsey’s personal life is haunted by the memory of a fire-fight while on active duty patrol in the northern frontier, when he discovers his estranged son, born of an affair more than twenty years before, is among the insurgents he has killed.

James, a cheat and a liar when he was a kid in the river, maintains a twisted erotic passion for Amy, but her love since childhood has always been Max Morgan. With his powerful position in Mire’s New Order, James has Max imprisoned, using criminal connections and manufactured evidence to falsely link Max to terrorist activities.

Max’s claustrophobic isolation in prison is made painfully real by the prison experiences I witnessed as a prison corrections officer, while working my way through college, and years later, through interaction with my daughter’s murderer. While sequestered in isolation, Max battles ever encroaching madness to find liberation in a state of mind.  

With Max locked away, James uses Amy to exact his erotic victory. Soon thereafter, his company is involved in an air traffic tragedy in which hundreds of lives are lost. James is indicted and is facing a lengthy prison term. At the same time, evidence surfaces to exonerate Max, resulting in his release.

As Senator Mire’s mystique grows, John Ramsey becomes infected with the dreaded Tezca virus, a pandemic plaguing the world’s population. Ramsey is able to self-analyze his dying experience during intermittent bolts of awareness that rifle through the black night of his coma. When next the kids from the river reconvene, it is at John Ramsey’s funeral.

James is already a withered broken man facing years of incarceration. Max and Amy are, at long last, reunited. Together, they set the past is adrift downriver, around the bend and out of sight forever.

In these desperate times to come, the duration of life and memory diminish.

Author Bio: Founder, President and CEO Mark Cosman Consultant out of Los Angeles and Albuquerque

Mark created the Torch of Liberty Award, reserved exclusively for heads of state. Funding from corporate sponsors of the award is used to provide supplemental university scholarships for a nation’s economically poor, but promising young women.

Past recipients include: Her Excellency The Late Benazir Bhutto; Their Majesties, The Late King Hussein and Queen Noor of Jordan; Nursultan Nazarbeyev, President of Kazakhstan; Sulyman Demirel, President of Turkey and Hosni Mubarak, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt.

As consultant to the US-China Foundation for International Exchanges, Mark created the Marco Polo Award to underwrite the cost of sending volunteer medical and agricultural experts to China for humanitarian missions in areas targeted for poverty alleviation. Presented in Beijing, the award brings China’s State Administration of Foreign Experts affairs together with leading Fortune 500 CEO’s.

Mark also created a series of “Salutes to Working Kids” where luminaries from Los Angeles’ entertainment community honor working young people. Proceeds from the salutes provided supplemental university scholarships for “Working Kids.”

Participants include: Tom Hanks; Denzel Washington; Geena Davis; Mrs. Nancy Reagan, Henry Winkler; Ron Howard; James Cameron; Ron Meyer, CEO of Universal Studios; Peter Chernin, CEO of Fox; Sherry Lansing, Chairman of Paramount Studios, Richard Cook, Chairman of Disney Studios and Tom Freston, Chairman of MTV Networks.

Excerpts from The Kids from the River1) I think Dad’s angry because he has to work so hard. He’s mad because Mom stutters and he’s furious at the psycho dark ghosts. It’s their fault he has to serve in the SS, away from his business. He’s upset most of the time.

“Wh-Wh-Wh-Wh-Where d-d-d-d-d-did you wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-work t-t-t-t-t…”

Max cringed. Don’t Mom. Don’t try to say anything, he silently pleaded.

“For God’s sake, talk will ya? Just talk.” Max’s father slammed his fist against the table, toppling Max’s plate onto the floor. Max lurched, dropping a fork-load of mashed potatoes on his father’s sleeve.

“Damn you.” Max’s father backhanded him across the chest, knocking the wind from his lungs. Max sucked in hard to bring the air back. His face wrinkled into a frown and he was about to cry, but with a mouthful of potatoes, he knew he would choke. So, he just sat rigid as a post, afraid to move, afraid to swallow, afraid to do anything at all.

2) He held a miniature flashlight between his front teeth, as he rolled mangled bodies over, one-by-one, and searched their pockets. Working along the fortress’ battered perimeter, he rolled a body down from a mound of rubble. Like the rest, the fighter’s robe was shredded by shrapnel, bloodied and smoldering.

The harsh beam of Ramsey’s flashlight washed across the fallen warrior’s battered face, blackened with chemical soot. Ramsey immediately pulled back in horror, his face turning ashen, his eyes widening. Weakness spilled down his limbs.

“Shajon,” he whispered in disbelief. “Salah, I’ve killed our son. A dreadful fate has crossed our path. Salah, what a terrible evil I have done.”

3) She needed to detect what was lying dormant in their skulls if she was ever going to become a leader like her father. Personalities, she suspected, developed from predispositions humans brought into life with them. It was their default.

We’re not born with a blank slate, she confirmed to herself.

Maturity only refined predispositions. The kid in the sandbox who hordes his playmate’s toys will do the same as an adult, only the toys will be different.

From her experience, she concluded people would eventually betray anyone to escape what terrified them or to get what they wanted. The corporate jackals and political gangsters nipping at her father’s heels taught her that.

Her teeth clenched, flexing her jaw. With regard to her peers, she vowed to respect them when they earned it and she’d use them when she needed to, but she’d never trust them.

4) Not only did Margo have to suffer the consequences of her own actions, but like everyone else, she must also bear the burden of humanity’s collective consequences, the human condition incurred over millions of years. Desire, anger, pride, jealousy - they were all collecting what was due from Margo.

By cavorting with people on the dark side, she’d hoped to find like-minded allies, but her unsavory acquaintances were born of the same human condition. Their interest was only in their own advantage. The discovery left her with nowhere to turn. There were no saviors.

5) Genesis made Amy an instant idol. It began with an explosion of publicity that asked, who is Amy Ramsey? Then, they answered their own question by creating the Amy Ramsey they wanted. Most important, she was endowed with the looks and innate talent to carry their investment through.

“It’s as though they drew her spirit from her and mass-produced it so everyone could have some,”

6) “The dismantling of Prescott Industries,” wrote one underground reporter, “is akin to slaughtering the noblest lion in the forest and feeding it piecemeal to jackals.” 

7) It dawned on him how pathologically oblivious he was to the misery of others. Even the awareness of his indifference had no emotional support.

“It’s the way I am” he answered to his inner-most concern.

Now, he was near panic for what “the way I am” had done. Human suffering he caused wasn’t what terrified him. It was his self-centered fear of being prosecuted. The thought frightened him to the bone. The consequences of his actions were coming for him and there was nowhere to hide. He had made a claustrophobic trap with no way out.

8) He had to create a resilient state of mind, like his father’s. If he didn’t he’d go mad.

“It’s only when a person ceases to be haunted by guilt that he can possess the necessary brutality to defeat fear,” his father once told him.

No one was watching. James bent low and gave the corpse’s foot a nudge, while uttering a desperate mantra.

“With this woman, I’m casting off my guilt. I did what I had to do. Fear be gone.”

The woman slid from her resting place and descended into the cold, dark water until she disappeared. He remained motionless staring into the slowly moving, blue-green river as it covered her.

9) He didn’t talk much about Margo in Amy’s presence, for fear of giving her the sense Margo’s martyrdom made her more important. So, he kept his thoughts in his heart, to open when he was alone.

Just before sleep, he often envisioned himself in the passenger seat of Margo’s sleek white sports car racing down the highway, with Margo at the wheel. It was late at night. He nervously watched the speedometer’s digital numbers rapidly ascending and could hear the engine’s roar.

Wind screamed past the passenger window. He glanced down at her foot, steadily depressing the accelerator. Then, he looked up at her eyes. They were glassy and closing.

Her head jerked back when she jolted her eyes open again. He was helpless to intervene. Like a ghost from another dimension, he was a voiceless bystander without control.

A tunnel with massive concrete pillars was fast approaching. Her eyes fluttered again and then closed. As she slumped forward against the steering wheel, her head turned to face him. She forced her eyes half open to look upon him for the last time and sighed, “Goodbye, Daddy. I love you.” Then, all would go dark.

10) Max looked up from John’s book in thought. Ramsey’s doctors said he may have coherent flashes from time to time but would be unable to communicate them.

How terribly lonely his isolation must be. I can’t imagine being disconnected from everything.

Max read on in John’s book. “Nothing other than the life force is there. It is the only one who has ever been. There is no other,” Ramsey wrote.

Max glanced over at John in thought. He couldn’t begin to fathom the loneliness of being the only living thing, as Ramsey described.

It would amount to total isolation, Max thought, without hope of any intervention because there would be nothing else to intervene.

Max read further. “Loneliness was disintegrated by appearances imagined by the life force. I knew these appearances as nature, the phantom self of the life force I loved so dearly as a boy.”

11) For John, awareness was fleeting. Clarity came and went, perhaps in eons or moments. All he could be sporadically aware of was the present when it arrived.

Clarity suddenly broke through the darkness again with a bolt of intuition that John’s body was dying.

I’m relieved to pass away from here.

John suspected his consciousness would lay dormant again until there was another break in the storm and clarity reappeared. Maybe it would happen tomorrow or even centuries from now. Perhaps the coming clarity would again be confined to another brief life in the illusory world of appearances.

At long last, I want to be free of myself, but I know of no other way to exist. Perhaps there’s a way unknown to me.

Colors began to disintegrate. Dark clouds were boiling, mixing, rumbling together again, blocking clarity’s brilliance.

Human consciousness was so precious, but he sensed thoughtless hibernation returning, the deep sleep.

Sweet is the release. River of my youth, I pray, take me downstream, around the bend and out of sight forever.

Electronic monitors whined. A nurse in a bio-suit quickly entered the cubical.

12) Our demons are concoctions of our minds, Max recalled from his days in D Block. Self-made shamans, they are what balance our lives in the wake of our most shameful deeds.

No one could really help James. His mind would release him only when his demons were satisfied and balance was restored. There was no celestial court where our accusers and defenders decide our punishment or reward in an afterlife of torture or bliss. We create our defenders and accusers as the gods and demons of our own mind.

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