Excerpt from David O. Russell’s “Alienated”

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Reluctant Habits has obtained an excerpt of David O. Russell’s new book series for children, Alienated. The series will center around two children who work for “an old tabloid that covers the worlds of freaks and aliens.”]

The alien had come into the tabloid’s office for a profile piece. But why couldn’t she understand Penelope’s simple instructions? Why couldn’t she see that Penelope had greater plans for her?

“Fuck you,” said Penelope, whose cute golden curls glistened with venom. “I was trying to fucking help you. Do you understand me?”

The alien, whose name was Lily and whose curls did not glisten with venom, sat at the desk, puzzled that an eight-year-old girl would use such language.

“Try being a fucking collaborator. I was trying to help you figure out…”

Penelope had a point to make. She was, after all, a freak. Nobody understood her. And it was necessary to throw a tantrum so that the extent of her genius — her fucking genius — would be understood. Why couldn’t Lily understand her? But this was all for the best!

“Hey bitch! I’m not here to be fucking yelled at! I’ve worked on this fucking tabloid for three fucking years, and to have some cunt….”

Penelope kicked a binder on the desk for emphasis. Her genius extended into musical rhythm. It was good to be a freak. Good to be angry. Good to watch one of the secretaries cower near the door in the corner. They’d never treat her with contempt again. Penelope was surprised that Lily was calm the entire time.

“…yell at me in front of the fucking staff when I’m trying to fucking…fuck you, bitch. Figure it out yourself! Fuck yourself!”

Penelope began to beat her fists into the wall. It seemed the right thing for a genius to do.