The Beginning by Onyx-and-Moonstone

Category:Maximum Ride
Published:2006-10-21 13:06:55
Updated:2006-11-14 20:05:14
Packaged:2021-04-21 22:27:47
Summary:This is when the flock first met, back at the school.

Table of Contents

1. Ari
2. Screams in the hall
3. Free Room
4. Wolf People
5. It will all be over soon
6. I hate hot coils
7. Out for the Count
8. Flyin the coop
9. Burgers and Milkshakes
10. The rest of our lives

1. Ari

The Beginning- Chapter 1

Disclaimer- I do not own the flock, the talented JP does. Review pleaseeeee!!


Ugh. That little twerp is staring at me again. Why can't he go away? Isn't it enough that I'm cramped up in here, with out having him always poking around? This is the only time I get to myself. How does he always manage to sneak in here? Whatever. It's not like I can make him go away or anything, I'm stuck in my cage.

"Maxie.." he says, slightly cringing. Probably a smart thing to do. Last time he talked to me, I nearly bit his head off with snide remarks. This time, I just roll my eyes at him.

"Maxie Bird, wanna play a game?" he asks with childish pleading in his eyes. He's sitting, hugging his knees, behind a biohazard waste bin. His brown hair is sticking up in odd angles on his head. The rumpled Tonka Truck tee shirt he is wearing, looks to be about three sizes too big. He's only three years old.

"No," I sigh, he sticks out his lower lip. Amazingly, I keep my patience. I feel kinda bad for the kid. He doesn't have anyone around here to play with. "I'm tired, okay?" I hesitate, then add, "Maybe later, kid." Instantly, his face brightens. He thinks 'kid' is a pet name, it's not. I lower my eyebrows at him, and his smile fades. I soften my gaze. "How did you get in here again?" His grin quickly returns, this time with a mischievous twist.

"When the White coats were turned around, I climbed in that air vent, they were too pre…preoccupied to notice," he said, pointing at a small panel on the wall that only a three year old could squeeze through. He looked extremely pleased with himself, for finding yet another way in here. For three years old, he also has a pretty impressive vocabulary. I give him a small smile, and his grin stretches from ear to ear. See? I'm not all mean.

I hear footsteps outside. Heavy ones. He hears them too, and tenses up, his eyes growing wide. If they catch him in here, he could be in a whole world of trouble.

"Hide," I urge him. He runs to the only cover in the room, a glass and metal desk, and hides underneath it. I can still easily see him. Oh well. It's not my problem if he gets caught, I don't like him that much. Okay, I'm a tad mean. The footsteps halt outside, and I hear the familiar sound of digital buttons being pressed. My own eyes grow a mile wide.

It's not test time! Not again! Oh no, oh no, oh no. I can't do another test today! I'm still shaky from this morning! I haven't even got scabs on my open knee wounds from this morning's test. I had fallen on one of the hot coils in the maze, it tore my old scabs open. I didn't cry. I couldn't let them see me cry. They would just laugh at me.

The digital panel goes beep beep beep, meaning the code was valid. Quickly, I shift to the back of my cage and curl up as tight as I can. If any one of those stupid white coats sticks their rubber glove stinking hands near me, I'll bite it!

"Bring them in," I hear a voice say outside, there are more than one apparently. As the door opens, I see a cart being pushed by a white coat that I don't recognize. There are two cages, like mine, on the cart. As it's wheeled in, I see two people. Both boys. One's eyes are closed with his head resting in his hands, he has strawberry blonde hair. The other's eyes are fixed on the blonde haired one, he has dark eye, and dark hair to match. They look my age.

"Put them next to her," the white coat not pushing the cart says, pointing at me. I used to be all alone in this room. I used to think that it was because they separated us by our genetic alternations. So I figured I was the only one of my kind. With wings, I mean. Perfectly useless ones at that. I've never even gotten to fly, not that I really know how, but still. They are totally useless in here.

Hold the phone! I'm not the only one! That dark haired boy has some wings too! But his are darker than mine. The white coat has set both the cages down, in line with mine. The dark haired one is on my left, and the blonde haired one is on his left. The man directing the other looks around the room at me, gives me a scowl. Then he looks at the desk. He sees the little boy underneath, and gives him a cold stare.

"Ari!" he yells, "What are you doing in here? Go back to Sector G!" Ari scrambles out from his hiding spot and sprints past the white coat and out the door. I smirk, and the white coat sneers. "You think that's funny?" He comes over and yanks a metal bar out of his jacket and jabs it into my arm, sending wild electric charges through my body. He laughs and I hear the other one tell him to stop, but I pass out before he does.

2. Screams in the hall

Fang's POV

That jerk. All she did was smile. I hate them. Look what they've done to Iggy. Five years ago, he could see. Now he can't, not at all. The first couple years were the worst. He's better now, he's basically accepted his handicap. I can't imagine not being able to see. Like now, for instance, there is this totally beautiful girl in this cage next to me, and Iggy can't even see her. I wonder if he even knows she's in here. She's been out like a light for an hour. Ig has an eye infection, so the white coats gave him some anti-biotics, they make him really tired. So right now, he's asleep. I'm alone, kinda. Not that I mind, I was just saying. Oh, she's waking up.

The girl sits up and rubs her arm, frowning. She notices me beside her and looks me over. Our eyes lock and she smiles. Woah! My guts just jumped out of place. What was that?

"You have wings like me," she says, slowly extending her own pair of beautiful wings. They don't have much room to extend, so she pushes them out to the ends of the cage. "I'm Max, who are you?" she asks with a thoughtful frown. I frown, wondering whether to tell her or not.

Instead I say, "Shh," and point towards the sleeping Iggy. If he had been his normal self, he would've woken up at the first sound, but these drugs have him pretty out of it. She nods, then raises her eyebrows at me, expecting an answer. "Fang," I say, barely above a whisper. She, Max, leans back in her cage and sighs lightly. It's just about feeding time, back where me and Ig used to stay. I wonder if it's the same here.

As if on cue, a code is punched in the digital panel outside and a white coat walks in with three food trays. Iggy bolts upright as the door slams behind the white coat. the man goes to Max first. He tells her to stay back in her cage, so he can put the food in. She does so, and then lunges on the food the second her cage door is closed. He goes to Iggy and repeats the process, then comes to me. Our food is gone in minutes. I was more hungry than I thought. We haven't had food since yesterday, those jerks.

"Fang, is there someone else in here?" Ig asks, already completely aware of Max's presence.

"Yeah, Ig. A girl, her name is Max." I answer, picking some dry bread from between my teeth. "She's got blonde hair and wings."

"Is that all?" he asks, meaning other people.

"Yeah, this room's smaller ," I say quietly. I'm talking too much, but Iggy needs to hear so he can see. I already described the room earlier to him. I look over to see Max giving us a peculiar look.

"Hi, I'm Max. What's wrong with your eyes?" she asks.

"I'm blind," Ig says bluntly. "I'm Iggy."

"Oh," Max says.

I cock my head to the side as I hear a cart and footsteps outside. But that's not all I hear. Just as the footsteps stop, I hear a skin-shriveling scream. I jump, Max and Ig do too. I sneak a look at Max, she's huddled in the very back of her cage, shuddering with wide eyes. She looks how I feel inside. A code is entered as the screaming continues. As the door is opened, the screaming intensifies. These walls must be partially sound proof. They wheel in a cart, with two cages on it. One has a young boy, the screamer, and the other has a girl in in. The boy is thrashing around in the cage, desperately trying to get out. He must be new…

"Let me go! Let me out! Where is she? Let me go! Angel!" he yells, screaming the last part, the name. The white coat kicks his cage and yells at him to shut up. He won't, and resumes with the yelling and kicking and screaming. "Angel, Angel where are you?! Let me out of here! Angel!" A white coat grabs a syringe from within his coat and prepares it. I hear a girl wailing, down the corridor outside. The screaming boy stiffens and then starts yelling again. "Ange! Angel is that you?" The white coat comes closer to the boy with the needle and threatens to sedate him. But as another cart is wheeled into the room, he stops yelling and starts crying from relief.

3. Free Room

Max' POV

The little girl in the cart is sobbing, Angel, I presume. They stick her next to the little boy as more white coats come pouring in. They've no doubt been draw in by that dramatic scene. Most filter out when they see what's happened.

"Angel, Angel, I thought they were taking you away forever," the little boy manages to say, once he has his own sobbing under control. The boy has blonde hair and big blue eyes, now rimmed with pink. The little girl has big blue eyes and blonde hair too, they look so alike, they must be related.

"Me too," Angel says, whimpering. Her speech is not very good, but then again, she can't be more than two years old. As their little reunion continues, the last of the white coats leave.

"I'll always take care of you, Angel," the boy says. He pats her hand through the metal bars of their cages.

So far, we are all in a line, the cages I mean. On the far left, there's me. Then Fang, and Iggy. The screaming boy, Angel, and oh yeah! There's another cage. I'd forgotten all about it with all the ruckus. There is a girl in the far cage. She's laying on the base of the cage in a heap, she appears to be unconscious. She's got black curly, frizzy hair and has brown skin.

"That's Nudge," the boy says, seeing my eyeing her. "I'm the Gasman." I frown at the prospect of what this name could mean. "This's Angel, she's my sister," he says proudly.

"Yeah, I got that," I say. "Why did they move you in here?" I ask, addressing all of them, not really expecting the unconscious Nudge to answer.

"Our room got overcrowded with the Rejects. So they moved us out," the Gasman answers helpfully. I look to Fang, he shrugs.

"Same," Iggy says.

"I'm Max," tell the newcomers.

"I'm Iggy, that's Fang." What? Fang can't talk for himself?

"Do you all have wings?" I ask.

"Yep," the Gasman says, rather gloomily.

"Us too," Iggy says.

The buzzer outside beeps and white coat comes in. Suddenly, the whole room has stiffened up. He looks a little like Ari. I wonder if they know about Ari. Maybe it's just me he bugs.

"I'm taking you all to a Free Room," he says. What's a Free Room? I guess, I'll find out… He goes to Nudge's cage opens it, lifts her out, and carries her to a door on the backside of the room. This door leads to another room that I have never been in. He sets her down on a couch and comes back. He then comes to my cage, opens it and reaches a hand in for me to grab. I bite it. Told you so. He jerks his hand back and examines it. No blood, darn! "Now Max, I am not here to hurt you. I'm here to get you out of that little cage, sweetie." Sweetie?! He has an almost soothing tone, he doesn't sound angry at all that I bit him. I narrow my eyes at him, but get out on my own. I march straight to the room and plop down in the middle of the room, facing the door in which I came. The man goes back and takes Angel out and carries her to the room. He thrusts her into my arms. She looks up at me with those huge blue eyes; and I melt. She's just about the most adorable thing I have ever seen. The Gasman is still in his cage, his face pressed against the cage bars, staring at us. The man goes to Iggy's cage and helps him into the room with surprising care and cautiousness. Iggy's face is full of confusion. All the other white coats are cold and heartless, what's up with this guy?! He waits for Iggy to situate him self on a chair and goes back to the Gasman. As soon as his cage is undone, he runs to Angel and I, snatching Angel out of my arms. He has her in a such a hold that I think her little blonde head is gonna pop right off. But it doesn't and the man goes back to release Fang. Fang walks slowly into the room and takes a seat next to Iggy.

We sit in silence as the white coat stares at us, wringing his hands, like he's nervous. Nervous of what? Us? Psh.

"I'm Jeb. I'm going to be taking care of you six now," he says. At that, he turns on his heel and withdraws from the room.

I take a look around. There are windows on two walls, big ones, with chicken wire running through them, like veins. It's a fairly large room. Until now, Iv'e had two rooms: the hospital room where I was born, and that room I just exited. I've lived in a cage all my life. Sure, they let me out. But only when I don't want out. They take me out to perform experiments and make me take tests and exercise. The exercise is often mostly an experiment. I shudder just thinking about it.

There are three sets of bunk beds on one wall. There is a sad excuse for a couch on one wall and a desk on the same wall. There are two plastic chairs, one of which is planted firmly under Iggy's butt. There's a cabinet that reaches from the floor to the ceiling. And oh my gosh, shocker here, the walls are completely white! Not. Things around here don't surprise me very much anymore. I expect the unexpected. The floor is tile, just like all the other rooms in this prison. There is a surveillance camera on the wall above the door, its red light blinking rapidly. There's also a digital clock on the wall above the door. It's a little after eight pm.

I get up and go to the door. It's locked. No surprise, but I had to try. This isn't so bad, but I don't want to stay here, that's for sure. I can't take much longer here. I walk to the windows. Looking out side, I see desert. Lots of desert. The sun is just about set. Looking down, I see we are on the fourth floor. Too high to jump, but the windows aren't made to open. There is a courtyard outside. A barb wire topped wall surrounds it. I make my way over to the cabinet and open it. Inside, there are games and cards and children's books and pillows. A door catches me eye, it's not the one I came in through. It's tucked behind the bunk beds, previously hidden from my view. I go to open it, it opens! Now I'm surprised. I poke my head out the door, It's a bathroom. Complete with toilet, sink, and shower. Huh. Okay, cool. No more twice daily bathroom breaks from the cage. Other than the times when I have to do the white coats bidding, that's the only time I get out of the cage. Or got? Am I going back there? I hope not. If I have to stay in this jail, I would rather stay in here, even though I'm stuck with these five.

Oh hey, Nudge is waking up. As she sits up, she talks.

"Woah! What happened? Where am I? Oh my gosh! I'm not in a cage. What happened, the last thing I remember is them bringing in a little girl with bunny ears and everything going black. Gazzy? Ange? Oh, there you are. Who are those people? What's with his-?"

"Nudge! They moved us into here with Max, Fang, and Iggy," Gasman says, pointing at each of us in turn.

"Hi, I'm Nudge, nice to meet you all," Nudge says with a jovial smile. Wow she talks…a lot.

"Hi," I say vacantly, plopping down onto a bottom layer bed in the middle, claiming it as my own. Hey, wait a second. Why are there just the right amount of beds in here? I never saw them bring anything in. The only door into here is the one that comes from my old room. Unless they did it while I was out. Oh well. Whatever.

Angel jumps off of the Gasman's lap and climbs onto the bunk above mine with a little help from me. The Gasman takes the bed on top right next to hers. Nudge takes the one below him, leaving the bunk in the corner for Fang and Iggy. Fang directs Iggy towards the bunk and Iggy takes the bottom bunk. Fang whispers something in Iggy's ear and he smiles, nodding. Then he goes to sleep. Fang goes back over towards the couch and lays down on it. He falls asleep too. What's with him? He seems really distant. I look at the clock on the wall, it's about eight-thirty now. It's a little early for sleep, but I fall into it anyway. The little ones are still awake, and chattering away.

4. Wolf People

Later the next month

We've been living in here for over a month now. Still being forced to be lab rats for these crazy scientists. The only one that's shown us any compassion is Jeb, and It's throwing me for a loop.

We've grown pretty close, the six of us. Well, with the exception of Fang. He'll talk to me more than Angel, Nudge and Gazzy (as he's asked us to call him). But he talks to Iggy more than anyone. If you can call that talking. The two of them grew up together.

Nudge, Angel, Gazzy, and Iggy are all playing Candy Land. Ig and Gazzy have become pretty good friends. They have the same interests, I've noticed one in particular. They both dream of blowing this place up, well blowing anything up, that is. Gazzy once saw some white coats doing an experiment with explosives and that's all he ever wants to do now.

Nudge and Angel are pretty close too. Angel is only two, but doesn't really seem like it. I've also become very close to Angel, and she to me. I'll sing her to sleep or read her a book. She likes to be around me, Gazzy doesn't seem to mind, I think he trusts me. I think they all do. Well I can't be so sure about the Silent One.

Fang's lounging on the couch, his eyes closed, but I can tell he's not sleeping. I'm looking out the window, into the courtyard. A few white coats have gathered in the yard. My sight is pretty good, from four stories up and five hundred feet away, I can clearly see their faces and easily tell you their eye color. A large door on the side of the building opens up and people, no animals start running out. They look like monkeys, orange ones. There's about a dozen of them running wildly around the yard. The door they came from closes and on the opposite end of the yard opens. For a minute, nothing happens, just the monkeys keep running around like they're high on caffeine. Oh, now something is happening. Some more animals come running out of the door, but these aren't monkeys. These look like wolves! But they also look like people. Kinda. They have a bloodthirsty gleam in their eyes. I gasp as I realize what's about to take place before my very eyes. The wolf/people run towards the monkeys and rip them apart, limb by limb.

"Fang!" I screech. He jumps at my outburst and rushes over. He takes one look outside, and his jaw tenses up. They others run over as well and they all gasp, except Iggy.

"What?" He asks. "Guys, I need you to tell me what's goin' on, I'm blind remember?"

"Sorry," I apologize, and quickly relay the horrific scene to him. All the monkeys are dead, and the wolf/people are eating them. It's a bloody, gory sight, and I'm seeing it up close. The white coats are no where to be seen, I hope those things ate them. But they are probably just watching from somewhere safe. Sickos. What are those things? I'm about to voice my questions, when Nudge does it for me.

"What are those things?!" she squeals. "That is so gross, but I can't look away." Angel is silently crying, hugging herself. She's no longer looking outside, but is sitting at our feet. I pick her up and cuddle her. She buries her face in my hair. She shouldn't have seen that. None of us should've.

"Guys, lets get away from the windows, we don't need to see anymore," I've become the unofficial leader of the bunch. Iggy and the others don't mind, and Fang hardly speaks, so I took the role upon myself, besides, I'm the oldest. We sit down around the disheveled candy land game.

Right then, Jeb walks in, carrying food trays. He has a distraught look on his face. I think my appetite is permanently lost. None of the others seem to have much of one either, 'cept Nudge. She's always hungry. I learned that Jeb is Ari's father. I also learned that he seems to genuinely care for us. He's nice and never gets mad. I almost like him, except for one little detail. He's one of them.

5. It will all be over soon

3 months since the last chapter

Max's POV

Ahh, blissful sleep. And thank the Lord it was a dreamless sleep. I'd rather have a dreamless night that one filled with terrifying nightmares.

"Max," I hear, snapping me out of extreme happiness. I pry my eyes open.

"What?" I ask groggily, sitting up in my bed. Who said that? Looking at the clock, it hits me. Crap! It's ten o' clock! Crap crap crap. Now I know who said it. Jeb.

"Max, come with me," he says, waiting at the door. Reluctantly, I climb out of bed and follow him into my old room. When we get outside the Free Room, I turn to look at him. He closes the door.

"But Jeb, I don't want to," I whine, giving him my best win-you-over face.

"You need to," he replies shortly, content to leave it there. But I'm indignant.

"Why?" I ask furiously. "Why do I need to do these things?"

"All in good time, Honey, all in good time," he sighs. "Besides, it will all be over soon."

He takes my hand and leads me out the door. Inside I'm screaming. It will all be over soon?! What does that mean? Am I going to die? I don't want to die! Escape, yes. Die, no! wait, he probably just meant whatever the white coats are going to be doing today will be over soon. Yeah, that's all he meant. Psh. I'll do whatever, and then go back to my friends. Okay, yeah, this won't be so bad. I've survived the others. Yesterday, all they had me do was take a test, on paper. It'll probably be the same today. Getting all worked up over nothing. Shame on you, Max. Keep it together.

Jeb is leading me to sector C. I haven't been in this one before. It's underground. We stop in front of a door marked EX-7. Before he opens the door, Jeb squats down in front of me. He looks nervous, and glances behind him quickly. What's going on?

"Jeb?" I ask, a little worried. He's become a father figure to me, kinda. It confuses me to see him this way. He rarely shows emotion, except kindness towards us.

"Just one more, okay?"

"One more? Jeb, what are you talking about?" I ask, shaking my head.

"When you go in, be quiet, answer their questions if they have them, but stay quiet. Don't fight with them okay? I don't want you to get hurt," Jeb says, his eyes full of concern. I'm so confused. "I'll be there for a minute, but I can't stay long."

"Why, what's gonna happen?" I ask, biting my nails.

"Don't do that," he says, taking my hand from my mouth. "I can't tell you. Now, be good." he says, giving me a quick hug. He stands up and opens the door. Putting a hand over my wings, he gently pushes me inside.

The room is, gag me, white. Haven't these people heard of color? There's a metal slab in the middle of the room. A bunch of medical devices are placed haphazardly around it. Half a dozen computers line the back wall, lost in a mass of wires and gadgets. I have a bad feeling about this. I see what could only be white coats, but they are dressed in disgusting blue/green smocks, with booties and hairnets to match. They also have gloves and face masks on. The once white floor tile is littered with black scuff marks, and, oh gross. Blood stains. I have to give a round of applause to the clean up crew. I'm not squeamish when it comes to blood, but I definitely don't want to be the next donor to the floor bank. They've taken enough of my blood, thank you very much.

"Okay Max," Jeb says softly. "Up on the table." My heartbeat and breathing take off in a wild race. I think my heartbeat is winning.

Crap, I really don't want to do this, whatever it is. A little more firmly this time, Jeb pushes me towards the slab. I see needles. I hate needles. I hate them with all my being. I hate them almost as much as I hate this place. So I guess I hate this place with all of my being, plus Fang's being. Since he hates it just as much as me.

The white coa- I mean, blue coats stare at me impatiently while I clamber onto the table. Oh God, I'm going to die, aren't I? Jeb did mean I was going to die! They're just itching to slice into me and take me apart, piece by piece. I can just see them drooling.

"Lie down on your back," one of them commands me. Reluctantly I agree, since I was told not to fight them. I know, I know. Why would I listen to one of them? Because for some out-of-this-world reason, I trust him.

I lay down, and icy metal numbs my bare arms, calves, and heels. I shiver, and they give me disapproving glances. Jeb gives me on last encouraging smile before he slips out of the room. I fix my eyes on a speck on the ceiling as one approaches me with a needle. He injects a stunning purple liquid into my arm. I suck my breath in just slightly. Ow. I tried not to look at it, I saw just enough to see the color and want to vomit.

Oh, it's an anesthetic. How do I know that? I don't. But I hope it is, since everything is slowly fading from my sight. And I can only hope that I wake up.

6. I hate hot coils

Fang's POV

Great. They just took Max. So it's almost my time. Yesterday, I had to run 'til I dropped. No, literally, 'til I dropped. But they didn't stop there. They picked me up, gave me half a cup of water, and made me run again. Barefoot, the whole time, on a special treadmill that zaps your feet with oh so pleasant electric charges the moment you slow down or stop running.

Now, I'm looking out the window. Since the first time we saw the wolves attack the monkeys, there have been several other incidents just like that one. Max tries to keep the others away and occupied when it happens. Ig doesn't care, since he can't see it anyway, so I stare out the window at them and tell him about it later. The others are more than happy to stay away.

"Fang," Jeb calls, just loud enough to reach my ears on the other side of the room. Iggy and Angel have already been taken for their times. We call them 'our time'. What else are we gonna call them? Time to go be brutally experimented on? I think not.

Max didn't wake up 'til it was her time. She completely missed Angle and Iggy's departure. She usually says good bye and hugs them before they go. Not just them, all of us. Well, except me. She says goodbye, we don't hug. I wish I could hug her, but I just don't do that. Let's just say, it'll ruin my image. She's like their mom. Well, how I picture a mom. Heh, a nine year old mom. I make my way over to Jeb.

Okay, let's go," he says, walking out of the room in front of me. He doesn't try touching me because he knows how I'll react. Max trusts him, but I don't. He's still one of them. He walks next to me in the corridor but gives me my space. He knows that I won't run. I don't know where to run. I couldn't leave Max or Iggy. The others maybe, well no, probably not even them. Even if I ran, they keep this place on pretty high security. They even keep those wolf things prowling around like guard dogs. They're huge and buff. I heard the white coats refer to them as Erasers. Gee, I wonder why. We saw them 'erase' a whole group of Orangutans.

We walk in silence down the familiar corridors. It's not long before we get to my least favorite room. LM-2. The maze room. Not just any maze room. This is a big one. The second biggest here. I've done it a few times. I've never done LM-1, nor do I want to. It's the biggest and most dangerous. At least, that's what Jeb says. I'll take his word for it.

Jeb types in a code. 3 - 5 - 5 - 3. He walks in, leaving me in the corridor. I start to turn back the way we came, but an Eraser jumps in my way. He folds his arms over his chest and grins smugly down at me. I hear another one behind me and I whip around, balling up my fists. I'm nine, I can take 'em!

"Fang," Jeb calls from inside the room, not bothering to look up from his clipboard. "Just come in and they'll leave you alone."

With a sidelong glare at my attackers, I ease into the room. I stare at the makeshift walls that make up the maze. Notoriously popular for their dexterity in changing the shape of the maze. Stupid walls. I wish I could just knock them all down so I could just get to the exit as quick as possible, but they reinforce them somehow. I go to lean against a wall when two massive Erasers, not the same as my attackers, grab my arms and haul me to the entrance of the maze. What's with all the hostility?! I look around so I can glare at Jeb, but I don't get the pleasure as a third Eraser wraps a blindfold around my eyes. Great! How am I supposed to do this now?! Iggy can do it. Right. I guess it's possible, but it's gonna take me forever. I feel a hairy paw/hand take mine and wrap a device around my arms. I try to yank my hands back, but can't. The metal device holds my arms out so that I can't bend my elbows. Crap.

I hear a buzzer and two clawed paws push me into what can only be the entrance of the maze. I trip over the door stop and fall onto the hot coils. Ssss. That is the sound of my flesh being slowly cooked to a crisp. I grunt angrily as I pick myself up off of the floor. The door seals off behind me, as I hear people laughing outside. I start to run forward. Thunk! OW! Idiot, put your hands out in front of you! You can still move your shoulders! I start to maneuver myself through the maze, more cautiously this time. Aaargh! Now I have a bruise on my forehead from the stupid wall, and a crisscross burn pattern on the side of my face! Probably looks like I've been beat up. And I have, by a maze.

The white coats probably had a grand 'ol laugh over that. Idiot. You just gave them two more reasons to criticize you. It's not enough that you have huge clunky wings that weight a thousand pounds each. You have to go and give them a few more chances to laugh at you. Okay, I'm not one to exaggerate, but these wings do weigh a lot.

How many walls have you run into now? Thirty? Probably, if not, more. How big is this one anyway? I haven't actually done this one in a while. Months, maybe. I've been stumbling through here for twenty minutes. Twenty minutes! I think it only took me nine point six minutes last time. Then again, I wasn't blindfolded. I have to hand it to them, this certainly has put a new twist on things.

Did I mention that the floor coils get hotter the longer you stay on them? No? Well they do. I look like a freak. I know. Running through a maze with my arms locked up, stretched out in front of me, bloody feet, and blindfolded face. Yeah, total laughing stock. Jerks. I hate being humiliated. Hate it. When I get older they are all so dead. Why wait 'til I'm older? I'll escape and tell everyone about them, and then, they are sooo dead.

My feet are going to fall off. First, my toes, then the rest of my foot will just die and fall off. Then, I'll just be stuck, lying helplessly on the scolding hot floor, while the burning coils eat through my whit shirt and gray shorts. And I won't even be able to see it. Because my eyes will still be covered. All I'll see is black. I guess that bit's okay. I like black.

But I don't think that my feet will really fall off. Burn to a crisp, maybe. So I keep running, leaving that gory image in a dead end behind me. After twenty five total minutes, the right side of my face hits cool air. I turn toward the cool air, and walk towards it. My feet hit cold tile and I let myself fall. The floor feel so good. It's icy cold.

I feel the blindfold being taken off. Then blinding light floods my eyes. Ah, even that feels good. I look down at the devices on my arms. They're quite simple really. A metal ring around my forearm and one around my bicep. Three thin metal bars reach from the bottom ring to the top ring. They take those off too and I bend my elbows. That feels really good. Heck, everything feels good now. 'Cept my feet.

I look at them, they are hideous. The bottoms look like they've been flogged. They are bleeding all over. I scowl as I look at them. A white coat comes over and pours anti-septic all over them. OOOOWW. I wince ever so slightly, so as not to give them more reason to mock me. She bandages my feet, as I hear a voice over the loud speaker.

"That's enough for today." The white coat that bandaged my feet, taps my leg to let me know she's done. I get up, on terribly unsteady feet. My eyes water at the pain shooting up my legs. Jeb meets me outside. He leads me back to my empty room. The rest are all gone for the time being, no telling when they'll be back. Once inside, I plop down on the couch and fall asleep, thankful to leave the pain.

7. Out for the Count

Hey, Oryn here, could you all do me a favor? Could everyone who's into my story, review please? Just so I can get an idea of how it's doin. Even if you are anonymously reviewing. Thanks, besides, they give me something to look forward to! There are so many Euphemisms I wish I could make the flock say, but not having been in the outside world, they wouldn't know them. I doubt the white coats have much a sense of humor anyway.

Fang POV

"Aaargh! Stupid hot coils!" I mutter, looking at the burns on my face. I haven't looked at the ones on my feet yet. I think I'll just leave the bandages on them for awhile. My cheek and jaw are covered in swollen charred flesh. The coils are just big spirals, so I have fragments of circles burnt onto my face. Thankfully, they aren't deep or too serious, just unattractive. They'll probably be gone in a day or two.

I woke up about five minutes ago from an hour long nap. Everyone is still gone. I'd take a shower, but I don't want my bandages getting all gunked-up. I guess I'll just lay down and wait for someone to get back.

Max's POV

"Max, wanna play a game?" Ari asks me from behind a crate.

"Sure," I say, taking his hand. He leads me out of the white, windowless room and down familiar corridors. "Ari, where are we going?" I ask, just curious, not afraid.

"You'll see," he says, grinning. He leads me down flights of stairs, to the bottom levels of the school. We exit the stairwell on the very bottom level. I notice that there aren't any white coats around, or those Eraser things. What's going on?

"Ari, where is everyone?" he shrugs and keeps walking. On both sides of the white hallway are windows, all covered on the inside by white blinds. They make a kind of continuous mirror, I can see us walking down the corridor from two side views. Passing one of the windows, I see a huge eraser grinning evilly down at me. "Ah!" I gasp, nearly jumping out of my skin.

"What?" Ari asks, tugging on my hand. I look all around, but the corridor is empty, except for Ari and I. Creepy. The narrow hallway ends up a head at a door. A big, rotting, wooden door. Somehow, this doesn't fit into it's sterile surroundings. I almost think I see the faded outline of the word DESTINY on the door. Like a ghost had written there, but forgot to use a mortal marker. But then again, maybe me eyes are making things up.

Ari pushes the door open with one hand, still tightly gripping mine with his other. The door slowly creaks open, revealing a dark abyss. Ari steps in, unafraid. Hey, if he's not, I'm not! So I step in after him. My eyes take a few minutes to readjust to the dark, that hallway was brighter than I thought it was. Suddenly, Ari stops walking, causing me to run right into him. He looks up at me with a three year old's angelic smile. He sits down, and strikes a match. In the small light that it emits, I see a large kerosene lamp on the floor. Ari fumbles around with the lamp and lights it, flooding the room with a warm, soft glow.

I take a look around. The walls are (gasp!) wooden! The floor looks like dirt. It is dirt. What?! There's actually a room in this prison that isn't white? Well, folks, I've seen it all.

"Okay, let's play," he says, pulling out a pack of cards. "Do you know how to play Go Fish?"

"No," I say, shaking my head, pulling a stray chunk of hair behind my ear. We have cards in our room, but no one knows how to play any games. We mainly make big card houses.

"I'll teach you, Maxie," Ari says, proceeding to explain to me the rules of the game. So we play a few rounds. Then he teaches me Old Maid, Crazy Eights, and Slap Jack. We play for what seems like hours.

"Ari, I should start going back. I'll get in trouble if they notice I'm gone," I say, standing up. Brushing dirt of my butt, I walk to the…door! Where'd the door go?!

"You can't leave," Ari says, in a calm voice, staring straight into my eyes.

"Ari, where's the door? I have to go back now," I say, starting to panic.

"We're playing, Maxie," he says, a little firmly. Gee, well I guess I forgot that Ari! Let's go ahead and sit back down to another rousing game of-.

"Ari, where's the door?!" I scream, running my hands along the suddenly deathly dark walls. It seems like Ari is holding all the light around him in a luminescent ball.

"You can't leave." Ari says, snarling. He gets to his feet and I watch in horror as his little three year old body morphs into a huge six foot six eraser! I look up into his glaring eyes, saliva is dripping off his disgusting, yellow wolf teeth. He sees fear in my own eyes and grins. He lunges at me, taking a chunk of muscle and flesh out of my arm with his razor sharp claws.

"Ow!" I scream, glaring at him. He gives me a satisfied smirk, and I lunge at him. We fight, moving all over the seemingly endless room. He's so strong! He's three! When did he get so strong? Suddenly, we're fighting on a slippery platform, as if the wooden room got tired of us and spat us out to be some other room's problem. We keep fighting, and I push him, he slips and hits his neck on a metal bar. Snap! Oh my God! He's not moving! I've never killed anyone before! I turn to run to the door. Aargh! What door?

"Max!" I hear a little girl scream, I whirl around to see who it was. I see Angel, far off, being stuffed into a bag. Two erasers throw her into a big car.

"Angel!" I scream, running toward them. I feel grass under my feet. I've been chucked into another room, well no, another area. I can see trees around me. Run! "Angel!" I scream as they drive off, fading from view.

"Well, forget it!" I hear a male yell angrily behind me. I whirl around, and I see, Fang, only way older! He's come to save me! "The chip stays in. You don't get off that easy!" Chip? What is he talking about? "You die when we die!"

"Fang! What are you talking about?!" I scream at him, the whole room becoming darker and louder. He disappears in the blink of an eye. "Fang!"

Then I hear myself, across the room. "Yeah, an awkward Frankenstein puddy-tat against a fierce, bloodthirsty, undefeated, well-designed mouse!" What the heck am I talking about? A thousand fragments come hurling at me at the same time.

"No hospi'l"

"I like 'em fiesty"

"Tag, you're it"


"It was you or him, I'm glad you picked you"

"Tarp, cooking oil?"

"Make yourself at home, Figgy"

"They want us back"

"Oh, my God. Jeb is alive!"

"You look like Toto"

"You killed your own brother!"

"I just asked her, you know, with my mind"

"What were my parents thinking?"

"Erasers, version 6.5"

"You're gonna fall now"

"Max, get out of here!"

"A huge, freaking, unbearable headache!"

"You're going to bleed to death, you idiot!"

"We look identical"

"Boys, God doesn't like you"

I clamped my hands over my ears as the voices got louder and harsher and a thousand other voices said a thousand different things. And just like that, they stopped. My ears are ringing from the loss of sound.

"Save the world, Maximum." A lone voice echoes through the room, I'm back in the wood room.

What? Save the world? I've never seen the world. You're telling me to save it? I recognized all the other voices as those of my friends, but that last one, I don't recognize… Just as that last sentence echoes out of hearing range, the walls and floor around me turn to white. I'm almost thankful for the familiar surroundings. There's a boy sitting with his back to me on the floor. I walk to him and tap him on the shoulder. He turns around slowly. What I see shocks me. The boy's face is bloody and mangled. Torn up with claw marks, yet, he wears a small smile. It's Ari. I back away from him. Didn't I just kill him? This is way to gory for words.

"Don't worry, Maxie. When you wake up, you won't remember a thing." With that comforting line, he waves goodbye to me as the room turns to foggy mist around me.

Gasp! I shoot straight up on the bed, hitting my forehead on the bunk above me. OW! Stupid bunk bed! Grr. I close my eyes from the pain that goes shooting through my head. That's gonna leave a mark. I open my eyes to see Fang staring at me with an eyebrow cocked toward the ceiling.

"What?" I ask, like nothing happened. I just had the weirdest dream. Not that he would know.

He lowers his eyebrows at me as if to say, 'You're joking, right?'

"You were thrashing around in your sleep, and you just shot up and hit your head on a piece of metal." He's not one to beat around the bush, I'll give him that.

"Oh," I say, looking down at my blanket. My arm! I draw in a quick breath as I see the chunk of gauze wrapped around it.

"Ari did that!" I yell, pointing at my arm. I thought it was a dream! Fang lowers his eyebrows even more, and gives me a little smirk. How cute.

"Ari didn't do that…" he says slowly. "The white coats did." Oh, yeah. The slab, and purple liquid, and blue coats come flying back at me. I completely forgot about that.

"Oh," I say again, trying to see under the gauze. I see a few stitches, and quickly look away. What did they do? I try to think back to my dream, but find only a few fragments, even those are quickly escaping my brain. No! I want to remember that! I want to figure out what it meant! No!!! I must have screwed up my face or something, because Fang says something. I didn't catch it. "What?"

"I said, what's wrong?" He says, again, I guess.

"I think I just had the weirdest dream, but I can't remember a single thing that happened…" He gives me one last glance before glancing up at the clock. It's 10:08. PM! I've been out for half the day! And Fang stayed up for me…so that's why I put up with him. I smile at the back of his head, before he turns to look at me again.

"Get some sleep," he says. I've been sleeping for the whole day! But I nod and lay back down. He goes over to the couch and falls asleep.

Knock Knock Knock.

Sorry. Really, this was a completely pointless chapter, since she won't remember any of that ever again. I needed a dream, since she was out for the count, and that one just came to me. So I went with it. Don't hurt me. Hope you liked it anyway. I aim to please. Next chapter is more interesting, I think.

8. Flyin the coop

Chapter Eight


Knock Knock Knock.

Fang shoots up from the couch.

"Was that the door?" I ask Fang. It was so soft I can't believe he heard it. I cant believe I heard it. The others are still sleeping peacefully. He shrugs his reply.

"Pretend to be asleep!" he hisses, throwing himself back down on the couch. So I do the same and pretend to be asleep. What? Are they doing night experiments now? That's cruel! But, they don't knock, so it's possibly not them. Oh, please, don't let it be them.

The door opens, to reveal a white coat. Crap! In the moonlight I can make out some tousled hair, and a long white coat, that's all I can see.

"Max," it whispers. Jeb! I shoot out of bed, and walk over to him. "Good, you're awake. I hoped you would have come out of the anesthetic by now."

"Did you come to check on me, or something?" I ask. Still unable to see his face. Fang is still pretending to sleep.

"Or something," he says softly. "Max, have a seat." He takes me to the far side of the room, so the sleeping ones won't be disturbed. I plant my butt in a plastic chair, and he sits on the other.

"Max, how do you feel about your new roommates?" he asks, peeking out the window.

"My roommates? Oh, my friends," I saw, looking over my shoulder at them. "Yeah, I like them a lot." He nods his head, and looks at his watch.

"Good, good, I'm glad to hear that."

"Hey, Jeb? Why did you put us all together in here?"

"Well, didn't they tell you? There was overcrowding in the other sectors." he answers, giving me the same story as Gazzy and Iggy gave me.

"Oh, yeah, I guess they did tell me that." I say, looking out the other window.

"Now, getting back to the point," he says directing his eyes into mine, "You enjoy your roommates, they seem to enjoy you. How is your arm?"

"Oh, um, it's okay I guess. It doesn't hurt or anything. What did they do?"

"That's not important right now," he says, waving it off.

"And Fang's feet?" he asks. Fang's feet?

"What do you mean?" I can feel Fang boring holes into my back with his eyes. I turn around to glare at him for not telling me what happened. He's laying flat with his arms behind his head, staring at Jeb and I.

"Fang, shall you tell her?" Jeb asks, acknowledging Fang's presence.

Fang just stares at us. He's not going to tell me. He wouldn't if there was someone else capable of doing it for him. If his feet are hurt, he wouldn't tell me about it anyway. He's not one to complain, so I turn my attention back to Jeb.

Sighing, Jeb says, "Fang burned his feet earlier today. I see he didn't tell you about it. They are bandaged right now, I was wondering how his feet were holding up." I look to Fang again. Sure enough, his feet are both bandaged in white tape. How'd I miss that?

"So you did just come to check on us." I say. When he had said 'or something' earlier, I thought it meant he wasn't just here to check on us. It's making me nervous.

"No. Max, I'm sorry." he says, looking out the window again.

"Sorry? For what?" I ask. Just get to the point!

"Everything," he says standing up. "Max, wake the others. I'm getting you all out of here, out of this facility."

Fang POV

Getting us out of here? Psh. Yeah right. I actually snort out loud. Max and Jeb both turn to look at me. Okay, I can't help it. I laugh.

"What are you laughing at?" Jeb asks. I stop, but still smirk. Max comes over and sits on the couch by me.

"Jeb, what are you saying?" she asks.

"Just what I said, Max. We are leaving. Wake up the others," he says again. I narrow my eyes at him. Is he serious? What if this is trap? But of course, Max trusts him, so she goes to wake up everyone else. "Leave the lights off." Jeb says.


"Nudge, Angel, Gazzy, Ig," I whisper, shaking them gently. Angel hardly even opens her eyes. She's too tired to wake up right now. I can carry her, I guess. Ig and Gaz wake up and get out of bed. Nudge sits up in slow motion. I think all her talking during the day wipes her out, maybe if we didn't let her sleep she'd be too tired to talk… Maybe later.

"What's goin on?" Ig asks, rubbing his beautiful, sightless eyes. Nudge and Gazzy nod their agreement.

"Okay, guys, be quiet. We're blowin' this place." I say, trying to contain my enthusiasm.

"What?!" Nudge screeches. I hiss at her to be quiet.

"Everyone, I'm getting you out of here. You can trust me. We're going to a place were you can be away from everything here," Jeb says, coming up behind me. Their eyes get huge and they all jump up, 'cept Angel and Fang. I pick Angel up off the bed and hold her against my hip. Fang comes up beside me.

"Well, we're ready. It's not like we have anything to get together," I say. My friends all gather around me, with expectant looks on their faces. They follow me like a leader. If I trust him, they will too. And I trust him.

"Right, yes. Okay, most of the other scientists have gone home, but not all of them have. So this is what's going to happen. You all need to be quiet. I am going to have to put you all in cages, just to get you outside. Once you are all in the cages, I'll load you onto a cart. If anyone asks, I will say I am taking you to sector E-4. Okay?" we nod. "I'll take you down a few passages that you shouldn't recognize, and then we will be exiting the building in a small parking lot. When we get outside, there will be a car ready for you all, and myself, to drive away in. Is everyone clear? Do not speak. And you mustn't look excited. I don't want to attract any attention." We all nod again.

"Okay, guys. Is everyone going to be able to do that?" I ask. They nod enthusiastically. "Right, okay, is everyone ready?" I ask, taking a deep breath. I really don't want to be stuffed into another cage, I can tell no one else does either. But it's our only way out. Again, they nod. Okay, enough with the foolin' around. Let's blow this joint! "Okay Jeb, take us to the cages."

"Follow me outside. Do not speak. The cages are all lined up outside in the holding room." He goes to the door and opens it a crack, looking outside. He must have left the lights off in there. "Okay. One at a time. Max first."

I take a deep breath, hand Angel over to Fang, and walk outside. He holds a cage door open for me to crawl into. I do, and he shuts the door gently. He walks back to the door and tells Iggy to come out. He leads his to the cage and helps him in. He goes back and gets Angel, then Nudge, and then Gazzy, and lastly, Fang.

One by one, Jeb loads us onto the push-cart. Lucky me, I'm right under Gazzy. He better not do anything while he's up there. Like leave me a special gift. Something is horribly wrong with his system.

Jeb begins to push us out into the corridor. I hope we don't get caught. What would they do to us if we were caught? What would they do to Jeb? They would probably replace him with someone terrible. Well, we can't turn back now. What kind of leader would I be if I went changing my mind in the middle of a humongous decision? Well, between escape, and not escape, I will always pick escape.

We ride the elevator down to the first floor, and down three hallways before we reach trouble. A white coat stops in front of us. I can feel everyone kind of start to panic. Okay, stay calm, Maximum.

9. Burgers and Milkshakes


"Where are you taking those experiments?" the white coat asks. We have names!

"E-4" Jeb coolly answers. The white coat gives him a skeptical stare. "Corbin authorized the transaction."

He looks at us, then back to Jeb. Us, Jeb. He seems to believe Jeb's phony alibi, and walks past us, giving us one last side long glance. Jeb starts to push us down the hall towards a door marked exit. I feel the cart speed up as we get closer to the door. He stops the cart only inches from the door. He goes to open it with a card. He scans the card under a red light and the door beeps and a pressurized lock releases with a hiss of air.

That was too easy. Wasn't it? Apparently not, because no white coats come running at us, no erasers sprint towards us to tear us apart, and no laser beams shoot out from the ceiling to chop us in half.

Jeb pushes us out the door, and cool, fresh air hits my whole body. Oh, that feels so good. I've only been outside a small number of times, but this, this feels like I'm breathing the air for the first time. It feels like freedom. Well, if I weren't in this cage, then! Then, it would feel like freedom!

The door shuts behind us, locking automatically. No alarms are set off.

I see a black suburban in the parking lot, well, I see many. The whole parking lot is full of big black cars. Shouldn't they be white? Well, far be it for me to try to get inside those loony's heads. Jeb heads to a black car on the far side of the lot and opens the back cargo door.

"Okay, we are almost in the clear. I'll let Max out, then she and I will unlatch the rest of the cages," Jeb says, moving to unlock my cage. I jump out, stretch out my legs and arms and give them a good shake, and unlatch Angel's cage. Jeb unlocks Iggy's and helps him into the back seat. I carry Angel to the opposite side and put her in a car seat that is oh so conveniently placed in the middle. After strapping her in, I move to the last locked cage, Fang's. Jeb has already let Nudge and Gazzy out. It took me that long just to figure out how to strap that darn car seat in. I open Fang's cage and he jumps out, shaking out his arms and legs and adding a neck twist for good measure.

Fang and I run to the car and sit on either side of Angel. Ig, Gaz, and Nudge are all seat belted in the far back, leaving Jeb to sit in the front alone. After figuring out the fairly simple mechanics of a seatbelt, we inform Jeb that we are ready to go. He flips the car around and heads out onto a dark road.

Like I said, that was too easy. It had to be too easy. I try to forget that as Jeb speeds down a lonely road. We seem to be the only mutants on the run with a traitor scientist at this hour. Maybe there will be more in the morning…somehow I doubt that.

6 Hours later

Aww, I dozed off. It's five thirty in the morning, I realize, looking at the digital clock on the dashboard.

I look out the window to see trees whizzing by at a deathly speed. The only light outside comes from the car's headlights. The trees are big and huge and green! They're really big! Like, three stories high!! We didn't have any trees like this in the desert. Sure, there were a few cacti trees scattered here and there, but no trees with bark on them! I put my elbow up on the arm rest to lay my cheek on. I hit a button and the window slides down. Nifty.

Icey cold air hits my face, and the smell! It smells so strange! Really really good strange! Like, well, I don't know, it smells fresh. I take a huge breath as my teeth start to chatter. Closing the window, I look to Angel, she is still sound asleep. I look over her blonde little head and see Fang. He's leaning against the door, arms crossed, smirking at me, but stops when he notices me looking at him. I grin at him anyway, and look back to check on the other three. They're all asleep too. No surprise, I'm usually awake before them.

I look over to Jeb, who, by the way, is driving at 80mph. Is that fast? I mean, I know it's fast, but is it fast for a car to be driving at? He looks over his shoulder at me and grins.

"You're awake," he states, bringing his attention back to the road. "Are you hungry? There's a town up ahead, it'll probably have a nice little sit-down restaurant."

"Yeah, I'm starving," I say, hearing my stomach growl viciously. My eyes stray to Fang, and his eyes say 'me too'. But he wouldn't admit that out loud.

"It'll be getting light here in awhile. Then you can see the beautiful mountainside we are traveling over," Jeb says, gesturing to the trees outside, shrouded in black.

I see a sign on the road that says, "Hungry? Take next right and head on up to Big Joe's Burger Hut!" in big red letters with a picture of a hamburger in the background.

"Ah, yes, here it is," Jeb says, eyeing the huge sign. "I hope it's open…" I do too, I'm famished. It's so nice to just be resting for a bit. But we can't have a calm moment ever, can we? No, we cannot, so this is how it went down.

"Me too! I've never been to a real restaurant before!" Nudge squeals groggily from the back seat. She rubs her eyes, accidentally elbowing Iggy in the jaw. This sends the whole car into chaos. Iggy yells out, as his jaw pops to the side, Gazzy wakes up instantly from the yell and hits his head on the window, causing him to cry out in pain. This wakes up Angel, who, confused at her current surroundings, begins to cry in fear and confusion. Jeb swerves the car to the side, as a rabbit jumps out in front of us, and that sends Fang's forehead into contact with Angel's plastic car seat with a loud thunk. Iggy starts yelling at Nudge, who tries over and over to apologize, only to make Gazzy more irritable. He joins in the yelling, but directs it at Nudge and Iggy. Fang sits with his eyebrows scrunched together 'cause he's too cool to show pain, and I try to calm Angel down. Jeb rights the car, and asks them nicely to please stop yelling.

No, we cannot have a peaceful ride. The yelling trio eventually stop arguing, resulting in Iggy staring arms crossed out the window. Nudge and Gazzy make up, not really having a reason to argue anyway, and I succeed in calming Angel down.

We arrive at the burger place, only to find it didn't open for another half an hour.

All right then.

"Kids, we aren't even very close to our destination. We aren't even in the same state yet. We still have a day or so ahead of us. I know this is your first time out in a public place, so have fun. But remember, we are on the run. The School has been using the Erasers as guards, so they may send some after us. When we get to the house, I will show you how to defend yourselves against them, and anyone else for that matter. I'll even teach you to fly," he taunts, winking at us.

All of our eyes grow as big as suburban wheels. We never dreamed of actually getting to fly! Well dream, yes, but I didn't think it would ever happen. Back at the School, if we tried to fly, they would stick us in an isolation chamber for three days. I never took that chance.

Twenty five more minutes.

"Where's the house at?" Gazzy asks, climbing into the middle seat to sit on my lap.

"A state called Colorado. On a mountain with trees and flowers and strawberry patches," Jeb describes.

Iggy, being particularly fond of strawberries, perks up, taking him out of his glum and gloom mood.

"Wow! I love strawberries!" Nudge says, smiling brightly.

"You love all food," Gazzy says, grinning at her.

"You'd probably eat an eraser and like it if you got hungry enough!" Fang sneers.

I look to Fang astonished, he doesn't usually joke about erasers like that. Well, he doesn't actually joke at all, really. He jerks his head up and looks around, angrily. Like he's confused or something.

"Fang," I say sternly. Erasers are a touchy subject with us. They did terrible things back at the school.

"I didn't say that," he protests. My mouth drops open.

"I just heard you!" I say, shocked that he was denying it. I mean, we'd all heard him. Everyone was staring at him. Gazzy had a weird smile on his face. What's up with him?

"Yeah, I heard you too," Angel says, backing me up. She's so cute when she tries to be tough.

"I swear, I didn't say that," he says, a note of urgent anger in his calm tone. I can't believe he's saying he didn't say it. It wasn't that bad, what he said, it just makes me angrier that he is denying it. Just then, Gazzy bursts out laughing. Now, all attention is on him.

"You should see all your faces!" he gasps, striving for air. He clutches his stomach with both hands and rolls around on my lap laughing.

"You said that?" Jeb asks, looking intrigued. "Amazing. You sounded just like him." Jeb hasn't really heard Fang talk, well, not when I'm around. I wondered how he could be so sure.

Gazzy giggles himself to pieces and then pulls himself together. He's still grinning, as Fang gives him poison dipped glares. I shake my head at him. It did sound just like Fang.

"Where'd you learn to do that?" I ask Gazzy. He shrugs his shoulders.

"I just can, I did it to the white coats all the time," he leans up to my ear and whispers, "It even got me out of a few experiments when I pretended to be a white coat!" I lean back to look at him, totally proud of him. He's beaming. I lean in to whisper to him.

"That's awesome, just try not to do that to Fang again, okay?" I ask him, and he nods.

"Hey, looks like they're open a little early," Jeb says, taking the keys out of the car. He opens his door and we all do the same. "Most restaurants require shoes and such, so I will walk in first, then you all come in and quickly make your way to a booth. I don't want us to get kicked out before we get any grub!"

"Okay," we reply. The ground is cold under my bare feet. I look down. My feet are filthy. I need to take a bath or shower, soon. The other's feet are about in the same condition. Angel walks up to me and takes my hand in hers. Together we walk to the front doors. The other four in close tote.

Jeb walks in and goes up to the counter to order our food. I guess that's fine since I have no idea what I want. We choose a booth at the far end of the room and squish in. The cracked fake leather seat squeaks under our butts. I sit by Angel and Iggy, across from Fang.

I look to Jeb. The guy behind the counter gives him a bored stare. I see Jeb talking, but I don't know what he's saying.

"Max," Nudge says. "Isn't this so cool! I can't wait 'til we get to the house! Will I get my own room? Or can I share with Angel? That would be so fun. Can I Max?" She pauses to take a breath.

"Um, yeah, I guess you can share with Angel, but we will have to just see when we get there. 'Kay?" I reply, smiling to myself. She's so happy. I really hope this turns out okay. I don't want a heartbreak for my friends. Or for me.

Jeb comes back with a piece of paper in his hand.

"This is a receipt," he says sitting next to Iggy and showing me the paper. Big black letters say ORDER 1.

"What's order one?" I ask.

"When our food is ready, they will call our number, then we go and pick up the food at the counter," he says, placing the paper on the table top.

"What did we get?" I ask.

"Oh, asparagus and collard greens," he says with a sly smile.

"Oh," I say, scrunching up my nose.

"I was just kidding!" he says, smiling broadly at me. "They don't serve that here."

"Oh," I say, a little happier.

"I got each of us a burger with fries, oh!" he says, jumping up from the table and walking over to the counter.

He comes back with seven plastic glasses.

"I completely forgot our drinks!" he says, shaking his head. He hands one to each of us and tells us to follow him over to a machine on the wall.

"Put ice in your cup, then pick a soda. Don't have too much, it'll make you sick." he warns, putting ice in his own cup, then pressing the Orange Soda tab. Orange liquid shoots out of a hole and into his cup. Cool!

"Whoa! Me next!" screams Nudge.

"Whoa, whoa, calm down Nudge," Iggy says. "What kind of soda is there?"

Gazzy comes up beside him and lists them all. Ig picks Pepsi and everyone else picks orange soda. The guy at the counter calls our number and we go get our food.

Whimpers of delight can be heard all around as we eat. Food had never tasted so good! It only takes a few minutes to devour the food, but we spend the next half hour talking and laughing. Jeb goes and gets some chocolate milkshakes for the ride.

He says we should get back on the road, so we all pile into the suburban again. It's daylight now, 6:56 am.

I've never seen them so happy. I can't wait 'til we get to the house either. It's gonna be great. Like one big family.

I couldn't ask for anything better.

10. The rest of our lives

Chapter ten


Well, I am happy to report that after two days, twelve bathroom breaks, five fast food joints, eight Gasman 'gifts,' and two car sick spells, we made it to Colorado. We even stopped by the Grand Canyon, and I have to say, WOW.

"About five more minutes," Jeb says, turning onto yet another mountain road.

"Yay!" yelled Nudge from the back. Everyone was getting really excited.

As we go up the road, the trees start to thin. Before long, we've reached a flat grassy area with a house. It looks like an 'E'.

"Here we are…" Says Jeb, pulling to a stop.

"Let us out!" Yell the three in the back. Jeezums, you'd think they'd been stuck in a car for the past two and half days! Fang opens the door as slowly as humanly possible, much to Ig's, Gaz's, and Nudge's dismay. He lets them out, and they sprint to the house. Nudge holds Iggy's hand to show him the way. I unleash Angel from her car seat and gather her in my arms. Walking around the car, I see Fang staring at the house, arms crossed. But he has a small smile and a twinkle in his eye. A-dorable.

Jeb walks to us and says, "Ready to take a look at your new lives?" Grinning, I nod yes. The four of us walk up the path to the front the door: the rest of our lives.

A life of hiding, fighting, deception, and disappointment.

Sorrry, guys, this story just kinda died out. Good nighttttt!