Okay guys, new chapter is up. Yay!

Shout outs:



The last chapter was really just a family moment that I wanted to add in somewhere, but I didn't know where. Sorry if it didn't really seem to fit. I actually combined two short chapters. This time there's a real chapter.

I'm sorry about this dream at the beginning. Someone close to me recently passed away and I needed to write it down. Also, sorry for the wait and the chapters a little shorter than I would've liked. Things have been really rough recently school, family matters, musical practice, etc.

Remember to review!

Race sat down on the chair next to the hospital bed. It was a small room. There was a large bed in the middle that took up most of the space. There were large machines hooked up to the patient that filled up a lot of room, too. There was a window behind the bed. There was a sink and TV mounted to the wall. Two chairs were pushed up against the other wall. Spot sat on the window sill and Crutchie sat next to him, eating a cookie. None of them were crying, although it was a pitiful sight. Jack couldn't get off work. He said he would come later that night, though. Every now and then a blond nurse would come in and check on the girl lying in the hospital bed. Sometimes he would check her oxygen mask, sometimes he would even give her her medication, sending her into a deep sleep, but it made the pain go away. That was the worst part of this whole experience. Race never knew when she would wake up or if she would wake up. They had been there all day and she was still alive, but who knew how long. This was her third week in the hospital, but she wasn't healthy enough to go home and the doctors said she might never be. If only things had been like they were years ago


Silent tears rolled down Race's face, etching pathways into the dirt and grime on his face. It was too cold a night to be spending it in the drafty basement.

After Jack's visit weeks before, Race decided it was time to make his first escape attempt.

Snyder had recently started letting the boys go outside and pick the low hanging fruit on the trees in the garden, with supervision, of course. Once, when Race was picking the fruit, he noticed some of the branches of an older tree in the back corner of the wall. It looked like an easy tree to climb. So that night, he began working on the window. It was an old house and the window hadn't been opened in years. Decades, maybe. It seemed to be frozen shut. He had to pry it open by jamming the metal dust pan under it. The screen was a completely different story. Race didn't understand why there needed to be screens on the windows if you couldn't open them anyway, but he didn't ask.

He couldn't force it open as he did with the glass, so instead he had to push through it. It was easier to pop out of the frame than he expected.

There was an old and creaky fire escape under the window, which made Race feel a little more secure about living in the refuge. Not that you could use it in case of a fire anyway, since the window was stuck closed. He took slow, careful steps to make sure the fire escape didn't wake anyone. Especially not Mr. Snyder. Altogether, it took about an hour to get outside and on the ground.

It wasn't the fire escape that woke Snyder up. In fact, Race could've made it out safely leaving them without a clue as to how. But then there was a fox. The fox screamed, waking up Snyder as well as at least fifty percent of the other prisoners. No one knew where it was coming from, so Snyder turned on the light in his room and looked out the window, down at Race, who happened to be in that area at the time.

"Higgens!" He shouted at him. Quicker than Race would've thought possible, two of the guards rushed outside and grabbed him by the upper arms. Race almost laughed at how they needed two guards to contain him. It's not like he was Jack, who needed three. Racer wasn't that strong and he didn't even struggle that much. He would've thought one would be sufficient.

Snyder took him down to the basement, which was more of a torture chamber and promised to deal with him in the morning.

Race lay there, dreading the morning and wishing that Jack had somehow won custody of him in the past month. He seriously doubted it. And even if he had, there was really no way for Jack to force Snyder to hand him over.

Maybe Jack would notice. He tried to check in on him every day, but most times only got in every two or three days.

He didn't remember falling asleep. All he could remember was wishing he had never met Lake. That stupid girl caused all his problems

"Katherine," Jack whispered loudly in through the open window. The girl was not stirring. "Katherine!" he finally said a bit louder. Katherine's eyes snapped open and she saw the boy at her window.

"Jack? She wondered as she opened the screen and helped him in. He was dirty and covered in sweat. "What are you doing here? Are you okay?"

"I'm fine. But I can't find Race!"

"He's at the Refuge, remember?"

"No, he's not. I check on him almost every night, but he wasn't there. I even asked some of the boys. They didn't know."

"Did he run away maybe?" Katherine resoned, trying to keep her own panic at a minimum. It must be serious for Jack to even consider coming to Katherine. Or it had to do with her father somehow.

"No. He wasn't with Medda or Weisel." This was the first time Katherine had ever seen Jack this close to tears. Actually, this was one of the first times she had seen Jack this dirty. She had just met the guy.

"Do you have any idea where he could be? Any at all?" she asked him desperately.

"I know exactly where he is. I want to pretend that I don't."

"Where is he?"

"I don't wanna say. Come with me." Katherine gave him a suspicious look. Could she really trust him? "Please." He begged


"Guys, this is serious!" Jack begged. He sat at the kitchen table at Medda's house with Crutchie, Katherine, Finch, and Hotshot. Spot said he couldn't make it, so he sent Hotshot to represent him. "Shut up!" he yelled over them. They all listened. "Race wasn't in his room at the Refuge."

They all gasped. They knew exactly what that meant.

"No," whispered Finch.

"So this is what it feels like to want to kill someone." Crutchie muttered.

"I'm calling Spot." Hotshot took his cheap flip-phone out of his pocket and called Spot.

"Jack, tell me what it means!" Katherine begged Jack. She hated being left out.

He's in the basement." Finch spat out. "Snyder's own personal torture chamber."

"I'm sure Jack spent his whole visit down there." Crutchie added

"Not the whole time, just most of it," Jack responded.

"But… But Snyder's not a bad man, is he? I know he's made some mistakes, like not sending you guys to school, but he's not that bad." Katherine protested.

"Oh no," Hotshot said, lowering the phone. "She doesn't know, does she?"

"She's still brainwashed?" Crutchie asked in disbelief.

"Brainwashed? What does that even mean? You're acting like this is some teenage alien movie, but it isn't. You're being ridiculous. nothing can be that bad."

"Oh yes it can." Finch responded angrily.

"It means you still think the high up staff is made up of saints. Well guess what? They aren't perfect. Your fadda is biased, Weisel is neglectant and Snyder is abusive."

"He is?" Katherine asked in astonishment. Maybe things were that bad. "Oh Jack, I had no idea! I knew he was mean, but he beats you? By torture chamber you meant literal torture?"

No one responded, but it sent a clear message.

"What happens in the refuge?"

"First they lock ya in a closet for a day, then they assign you a room but don't put you there yet They starve ya for about a week. But they do give you one piece of bread to last and one cup of water. You're in room twenty. Then you get moved to the room you was assigned to. In my case, there's three boys per room. Racer and I were together.

"Every day, you line up in the hallway for inspection. The Spider walks by with this baton, acting all hoity-toity. He'll check each room and if yours isn't perfect he'll beat ya. Every mornin' in fact, he'd choose some innocent boy to take down to the basement, if there wasn't someone down there already."

"But you said getting put in the basement was the worst. So why was it so common?" Katherine wondered aloud.

"Well it ain't common 'cause he always chose the same kids over and over. I was one of them, because I kept taking Race's turn."

"Who are the others? Maybe they'll help us." Said Spot as he entered the room. Jack stood and spit-shook with him. Hotshot nodded to him and Crutchie and Finch cowered away a little. No one answered his question. "Well?"

"It's just the four of you, isn't it?" Crutchie asked Jack. "you, Spot, Finch and Hotshot?

"Yeah. That's it. No one else was stupid enough to do anything like to get them down there."

"So how do you break in?" Katherine asked.

"You don't." Medda answered, speaking up from her corner. "Look, I hate it as much as you all's, but there's no way to get down into a basement that's completely underground. You need someone on the inside to break him out."

"Wouldn't it be easier to just wait for him to be released?" Katherine asked.

"Who knows how long that will take!" Jack erupted, "like it or not, this is the time to act. I know this don't mean much to you, you don't have much at stake here, but we do. Spot, Crutchie and I… we need Racetrack. He's our brother."

Katherine saw that Jack really meant everything he was saying. Race meant more to him than life itself.

"Besides," Hotshot put in "Race is the comic relief to their little brotherhood- Jack, Spot, Race and Crutchie. I'm sure Crutchie would die of boredom with only these two." He gestured at Jack and Spot. Jack rolled his eyes and Spot punched him lightly. Even though it was meant to be funny, there was a lot of truth to it.

"If we can't break in, how do we get in?" Katherine broke the awkward silence.

"That's why you're here." Jack finally answered