She shrugged. “That too. Hard to be someone’s friend or neighbor knowing that their proximity might get them tortured and killed. Not to mention some would have held me hostage in the hopes of ransoming Toxic Dust from my mother.”

“What? Why would they ask for dust?”

“Because of the price they can sell it for.” She rolled her eyes at the obviousness.

“But dust is worthless.” He frowned.

“Is it? Surely you’ve heard the stories.”

“You mean the dome myth that the particles in the air outside can turn people into raving lunatic deviants?” He laughed. “That’s such a load of shit. The dust in the Wastelands isn’t contaminated, just dry.”

“Wrong,” she said softly as they returned to their ride. “While most of it is useless as you claim, the stories are actually true. There is a toxic strain that is highly prized. It’s used in a variety of applications with the most popular being as a drug. Its existence is the only reason Emerald hasn’t collapsed. My mother keeps a tight grip on its location and trade.”

“Your mother is a Toxic Dust drug dealer.”

☢️ Twisted Metal Heart (The Deviant Future #3) ▶︎ Out June 30, 2020!