Fallout, p.1
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         Part #3 of Crank series by Ellen Hopkins

  Also by Ellen Hopkins







  Margaret K. McElderry Books


  An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division

  1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020


  This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

  Copyright © 2010 by Ellen Hopkins

  All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

  MARGARET K. MCELDERRY BOOKS is a trademark of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

  For information about special discounts for bulk purchases, please contact

  Simon & Schuster Special Sales at 1-866-506-1949 or business@simonandschuster.com.

  The Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau can bring authors to your live event.

  For more information or to book an event, contact the Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau

  at 1-866-248-3049 or visit our website at www.simonspeakers.com.

  Book edited by Emma D. Dryden

  Book design by Mike Rosamilia

  The text for this book is set in Trade Gothic Condensed No. 18.

  Manufactured in the United States of America

  10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Hopkins, Ellen.

  Fallout / Ellen Hopkins.—1st ed.

  p. cm.

  Summary: Written in free verse, explores how three teenagers try to cope with the consequences of their mother’s addiction to crystal meth and its effects on their lives.

  ISBN 978-1-4169-5009-7 (hardcover)

  ISBN 978-1-4424-0945-3 (eBook)

  [1. Novels in verse. 2. Drug abuse—Fiction. 3. Emotional problems—Fiction.

  4. Family problems—Fiction. 5. Brothers and sisters—Fiction. 6. Mothers—Fiction.] I. Title.

  PZ7.5.H67Fal 2010 [Fic]—dc22 2009048408

  For Orion, Jade, Heaven, Clyde, Eli, and Kalob, always in my heart. For Jason, Cristal, and Kelly, always my children, wherever they are. For John, always my own forever love. And with sincerest love and respect for my editor, Emma Dryden, who enriches my books with her wisdom and enriches my life with her friendship.

  With a special nod to Jude Mandell, whose keen insight allowed me to see the direction I needed to go with this book. Many, many thanks, Jude!


  RENO—Local author Marie Haskins’s fifteenth novel, Submission, debuted at the number one spot on the New York Times bestseller list. But this time, Haskins writes about a different kind of monster.

  “This is a complete departure from my previous books,” Haskins said. “I have finally fulfilled a very old dream and taken the plunge into horror.”

  It remains to be seen whether or not her fans will take the plunge with her, as the poems go beyond free verse, into the realm of formal poetry, specifically sonnets. Fortunately for Haskins, a number of words rhyme with “suck.”

  “I have long wanted to write about vampires, but chose to wait until the subject was no longer a staple of every publisher’s list,” Haskins said. “My vampires are sophisticated and totally sexy, but set in a future world. Sort of like Dracula meets Star Trek.”

  We Hear

  That life was good

  before she


  the monster,

  but those page flips

  went down before

  our collective

  cognition. Kristina


  that chapter of her

  history before we

  were even whispers

  in her womb.

  The monster shaped


  lives, without our ever

  touching it. Read on

  if you dare. This


  isn’t pretty.

  Hunter Seth Haskins


  All about her. Who


  really is. (Was?) Why

  she swerved off

  the high road. Hard


  to nowhere,


  indifferent to


  Hunter Seth Haskins,

  her firstborn

  son. I’ve been


  that down for

  nineteen years.

  Why did she go


  her mindless way,

  leaving me spinning

  in a whirlwind of

  her dust?


  Her story, I’ll try

  my best to enlighten

  you, though I’m not sure

  of every word of it myself.

  I suppose I should know

  more. I mean, it has been

  recorded for eternity—

  a bestselling fictionalization,

  so the world wouldn’t see

  precisely who we are—

  my mixed-up, messed-

  up family, a convoluted

  collection of mostly regular

  people, somehow strengthened

  by indissoluble love, despite

  an ever-present undercurrent

  of pain. The saga started here:


  Kristina Georgia Snow

  gave me life in her seventeenth

  year. She’s my mother,

  but never bothered to be

  my mom. That job fell

  to her mother, my grandmother,

  Marie, whose unfailing love

  made her Mom even before

  she and Dad (Kristina’s stepfather,

  Scott) adopted me. That was

  really your decision, Mom claims.

  You were three when you started

  calling us Mama and Papa.

  The other kids in your playgroup

  had them. You wanted them too.

  We became an official

  legal family when I was four.

  My memory of that day is hazy

  at best, but if I reach way,

  way back, I can almost see

  the lady judge, perched

  like an eagle, way high above

  little me. I think she was

  sniffling. Crying, maybe?

  Her voice was gentle. I want

  to thank you, Mr. and Mrs.

  Haskins, for loving this child

  as he deserves to be loved.

  Please accept this small gift,

  which represents that love.

  I don’t really remember all

  those words, but Mom repeats

  them sometimes, usually

  when she stares at the crystal

  heart, catching morning sun

  through the kitchen window.

  That part of Kristina’s story

  always makes Mom sad.

  Here’s a little more of the saga.


  It started with a court-ordered

  summer visit to Kristina’s

  druggie dad. Genetically,

  that makes him my grandfather,

  not that he takes much interest

  in the role. Supposedly he stopped

  by once or twice when I was still

  bopping around in diapers.

  Mom says he wandered in late

  to my baptism, dragging

  Kristina along, both of them

  wearing the stench of monster

  sweat. Monster, meaning crystal

  meth. They’d been up all night,

  catching a monstrous buzz.

  It wasn’t the first time

  they’d partied together. That

  was in Albuquerque, where dear

  old Gramps lives, and where

  Kristina met the guy who popped

  her just-say-no-to-drugs cherry.

  Our lives were never the same

  again, Mom often says. That

  was the beginning of six years

  of hell. I’m not sure how we all

  survived it. Thank God you were

  born safe and sound….

  All my fingers, toes, and a fully

  functional brain. Yadda, yadda …

  Well, I am glad about the brain.

  Except when Mom gives me

  the old, What is up with you?

  You’re a brilliant kid. Why do

  you refuse to perform like one?

  A C-plus in English? If you would

  just apply yourself …

  Yeah, yeah. Heard it before.

  Apply myself? To what?

  And what the hell for?


  My underachiever status.

  I’ve found the harder you

  work, the more people expect

  of you. I’d much rather fly

  way low under the radar.

  That was one of Kristina’s

  biggest mistakes, I think—

  insisting on being right-up-

  in-your-face irresponsible.

  Anyway, your first couple years

  of college are supposed to be

  about having fun, not about

  deciding what you want to do

  with the rest of your life. Plenty

  of time for all that whenever.

  I decided on UNR—University

  of Nevada, Reno—not so much

  because it was always a goal,

  but because Mom and Dad

  did this prepaid tuition thing,

  and I never had Ivy League

  ambitions or the need to venture

  too far from home. School is school.

  I’ll get my BA in communications,

  then figure out what to do with it.

  I’ve got a part-time radio gig at

  the X, an allowance for incidentals,

  and I live at home. What more

  could a guy need? Especially

  when he’s got a girl like Nikki.


  And you’ve got Nikki.

  She’s sweet. Smart. Cute. Oh,

  yes, and then there’s her body.

  I’m not sure what perfect

  measurements are, but

  Nikki’s got them,

  all wrapped up in skin

  like wheat-colored suede.

  Delicious, from lips to ankles,

  and she’s mine. Mine to touch,

  mine to hold. Mine to kiss

  all over her flawless

  deliciousness. Plus,

  she’s got her own place,

  a sweet little house near campus,

  where I can do all that kissing—not

  to mention what comes after

  the kissing—in private.

  I’m done with classes

  for the day and on my way

  to Nikki’s, with a little extra fun

  tucked inside my pocket. Yeah, I

  know getting high isn’t so

  smart. Ask me if I care.


  To addiction. At least that’s what

  they tell me, over and over.

  The theory has been hammered

  into my head since before I could

  even define the word “addiction.”

  Your grandfather is an addict and

  your mother is an addict, so it’s

  likely you will become an addict

  too, unless you basically “just say

  no.” Much easier said than done,

  especially when you’re predisposed

  to saying, “Hell, yeah!” Anyway,

  I’m more of a dabbler than a dedicated

  fuckup. A little weed, a little coke.

  Never tried meth. Don’t think I ought

  to take a chance on that monster.

  Catching a buzz is one thing. Yanking

  the devil’s tail is just plain stupid.


  I let myself in with the key

  she leaves stashed under the plastic

  rock by the door. Good thing

  she doesn’t own much in the way

  of expensive stuff, something

  I’m sure the neighbors are well

  aware of. This isn’t a bad street,

  but it’s heavily stocked with students,

  many of whom have forgotten

  the Golden Rule, if they ever knew

  it to begin with. Inside, the window

  shades are cracked enough so light

  filters through. A thin beam

  splashes against the hallway mirror,

  lures my attention. When I turn

  to find it, the eyes reflected

  in the glass are completely unique.

  “Piebald,” Mom calls them.

  Green-dappled gray. Definitely

  not Kristina’s eyes. What I want

  to know now, as always, is whose?


  “If Kristina is my biological

  mother, who fathered me?”


  was her man of the month?

  I’ve been told she slept

  with more than a few,

  but which


  the one whose lucky

  sperm connected with

  the proper egg? Whose

  genes sculpted the relief of


  cheekbones, the stack

  of my shoulders, the stretch

  of my legs? Do the eyes staring

  back at me now belong to my



  The story goes Kristina was

  date-raped by some low-life

  druggie lifeguard dealer.

  When I asked if that was true,

  Mom would only say that

  the book is fiction, based on

  fact, and that they aren’t one

  hundred percent sure about

  my paternity. But I think she

  was trying to spare my feelings.

  Who wants to believe they

  were conceived of a rape, even

  if the rape might have been

  somehow solicited? What kind

  of guy keeps going when

  a girl says no way? And if a guy

  like that really is my father,

  could I have inherited a rape gene?


  Insisted “yes” when a girl said no.

  I’m not that kind of guy.

  I’m smart.

  (Except when loaded.

  Then I can be kind of stupid.

  At least till the buzz wears off.)

  I’m witty.

  (Except when I don’t get

  enough sleep, which is often.

  Then I lose my sense of humor.)

  I’m compassionate.

  (Except when someone

  acts like a complete idiot.

  Especially in my face.)

  I’m understanding.

  (Except when it means I can’t

  have my way, so I try to avoid

  people who won’t let me have it.)

  I’m kind.

  (Except for those days

  when, for no apparent reason,

nbsp; I hate pretty much everyone.)


  And I’m not really sure

  how to fix it. Not really sure

  I need to. Not really sure I could.

  Life is pretty good. But once

  in a while, uninvited and

  uninitiated, anger invades me.

  It starts, a tiny gnaw

  at the back of my brain. Like

  a migraine, except without pain.

  They say headaches

  blossom, but this isn’t so

  much a blooming as a bleeding.

  Irritation bleeds into

  rage, seethes into fury.

  An ulcer, emptying hatred

  inside me. And I don’t

  know why. Life is pretty good.

  So, what the hell?


  A key turns uselessly in the lock—

  uselessly because I neglected

  to secure the door behind me.

  Nikki peeks cautiously around

  it, jumps back like she’s been

  bitten. Guess she didn’t expect

  to find some guy standing here.

  “Hey,” I yell, “it’s only me.”

  Nikki slams back across

  the threshold, almost knocks

  me over. Hunter! You scared

  the heebie-jeebies out of me!

  Heebie-jeebies. She’s totally

  cute. I pull her into my arms,

  happy to concentrate on her slate

  blue eyes, instead of the green ones

  in the mirror. “Sorry,” I say,

  meaning it. And to prove

  just how much, I give her one

  of my world-famous kisses.

  Okay, maybe that’s a bit of

  an exaggeration, but I have been

  told I’m an exceptional kisser.

  I give it my all, and Nikki responds.

  Her kiss is like a sudden fever—

  white-hot, unplanned, contagious.

  Too quickly, she cools, pulls away.

  Apology accepted. But no smile,

  and she never doesn’t smile. I study

  her face harder, find anger, concrete

  in the set of her jaw, but eiderdown

  sorrow in her eyes. “What’s wrong?”

  She slumps against me, takes

  refuge as her sadness flows, wet,

  in steady tears. My dad walked out

  on my mom. He wants a divorce.


  I’d like to feel sorry for her, console

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