Disclaimer: I've been wishing, but so far there's been no sign that Louis Sachar will give up rights to Holes.

Living a Nightmare

Chapter Two

The next hour passed by in a blur for Stanley. Nothing seemed real. More like some horrible dream that he wished someone would wake him up from.

His friend was dying. Dying. A five-letter word that could inflict so much pain. Whenever the word dying is heard, it always means suffering. For everyone. Everyone who knew and loved the victim felt as if they were dying to. Wished they were dying. But couldn't.

The boy glanced at Zero, lying on his bed, shivers wracking his body even though the temperature was easily past one hundred. A thin sheen of sweat dotted his dark skin; the curly hair plastered to his face, soft moans issuing from his chapped lips.

Stanley has pulled down Zero's orange uniform until it hung about his waist so he could better examine the snakebite. What he saw wasn't good. The skin was rapidly turning into shades of blue and purple, blood still oozing out of the cut right in the middle of Zero's lower arm.

"You have to hang in there," Stanley whispered, voice cracking as he gripped Zero's hand on his good arm tightly. "Come on man, you can't die on me." The child, just a mere eleven years old, remained unresponsive, his breathing growing harsher and more ragged.

Stanley knew there was nothing he could do. His hand involuntarily strayed up to his cheek, where three scratch marks from the Warden's nails had left their mark. But his discomfort was mild compared to what Zero was going through…and he could help in no way.

He'd tried…he really had. As soon as Mr. Pendanski had told him to go pick out a grave for Zero, he'd taken off with the boy across the desert to the Warden's cabin. As soon as he'd tried to explain that Zero needed help, she'd slapped him, her nails biting into his skin.

She'd told him the same thing Pendanski had. That no one would miss Zero and no one would care. She wasn't going to waste precious time healing a boy who didn't deserve to be healed. She'd then told him to get out unless he wanted some real venom in his blood and not just a few scratches.

All of the other D-tent boys were still out on the fields, digging their holes but Stanley had abandoned his. Who cared if it wasn't done? Sure, the Warden and Pendanski and Mr. Sir might mind, but they weren't important. Only Zero was important. And Zero was dying.

"It's not supposed to end like this," muttered the brown haired boy, tears beginning to trickle down his cheeks. "We were both going to get out here and you were going to find your mom. And I was going to teach you to read. Remember? You just can't go! You can't go…"

Slouching forward, Stanley rested his elbows on the edge of the cot and simply stared at Zero's face, drawn tight in pain. Large, brown eyes flickered open, much to the surprise of Stanley and he fell off of the chair he'd been sitting on. "Stanley?" the child whispered. "It hurts."

"I know," he whispered back, now kneeling next to the bed. "I know it hurts. But you gotta keep fighting. Please Zero! Don't die!"

The dark skinned boy gave a weak smile back. "Sorry Stanley."

"Hector! Please! Don't go!" The pleas fell on deaf ears as Zero once more fell back into his dream world, bringing Stanley back into his living nightmare. "Don't go…don't leave me."

The tent flap opened a while later, during the time in which Stanley had rewrapped the snake bite and put another cold cloth on Zero's head. "Hey, Caveman? Dinner's almost over," said Magnet hesitantly, shifting awkwardly on his feet.

"I'm not hungry," Stanley said softly, his eyes riveted on the small boy, still living but struggling for each breath.

"You've gotta eat, man."

"Why?"

Magnet shuffled into the room and sat down on the ground next to Stanley. "How's he doing?" he queried, looking at the boy with concern.

"He's dying," Stanley whimpered, blinking back tears that were threatening to overspill. "And I can't do anything."

"Hang in there, little buddy," Magnet comforted, his Hispanic accent sweet to hear. "I brought him some water," he said, looking at Stanley. "I'll watch him if you want to go get something to eat."

Stanley smiled at the Mexican boy. "Thanks Magnet." As he was headed for the entrance of the tent, Magnet's yell alerted him. Turning, his own mouth dropped in amazement.

"Is he supposed to be doing that?" Jose asked, backing fearfully away from Zero, who was glowing a bright blue. The light kept getting brighter until both delinquents were shielding their eyes from the harsh glare. And then…everything was blue.

"Is it just me man, or are we floating?" Magnet muttered, trying to find solid ground beneath him. Indeed, both were in a gigantic blue cloud and the floor was nowhere to be found.

"Protect him…"

"Did you hear that?" Stanley panicked, looking wildly around the blue void. Magnet nodded, his dark eyes wide with fear.

"Help him…"

"What the fuck is going on?" Magnet demanded, 'walking' over to Stanley.

"He needs you…"

A second later, both fell from the cloud onto hard packed earth. "Land!" cried Magnet thankfully, bending down and kissing the asphalt

"Where are we?"

They definitely weren't at Camp Green Lake anymore. They were standing in the middle of a street, with tall, buildings stretching up along the curb. Homeless people littered the streets on the corners, watching the passerby with hopeful eyes. And to make the picture perfect, a taxi was speeding right for both boys.

"GET OUT OF THE WAY!" shouted Stanley, shoving Jose. But he wasn't quick enough. The car bore into him and continued on its way, never once looking back. Strangely enough, Stanley was standing in the street, perfectly unharmed.

"I don't think they can see us," remarked Magnet, waving his hand in front of a woman's face who ignored him completely. "It's like we're invisible."

"Does that kid look familiar to you?" Stanley breathed, pointing at a tiny figure running across the street, cars honking angrily at him.

"It's Zero, man! How'd he get so little?"

The child sagged against the wall of one of the buildings a second later, and Magnet and Stanley cautiously approached. This Zero was much different from the one they knew. He was as thin as a toothpick and his wild hair was uncombed and tangled with leaves. A ripped tee shirt and a pair of blue jeans were all that protected him and he wore no shoes or socks.

Gripped tightly in his hands was a granola bar, that he was preparing to eat when a shout made all three of them look up. As soon as Zero recognized the older looking boy, around fifteen, he took off running once more, ducking into the alley on his left. Magnet and Stanley followed.

It wasn't long before the fifteen year old caught up and tackled Zero, the small boy crying out as his face was ground into the blacktop. "Thought you could get away that easily, did you?" he snarled, yanking Zero to his feet by his hair.

"I-I'm sorry," the child cried, refusing to look at the teenager.

"Let's go through this one more time," he sneered. "Who's older?"

"You are," Zero whispered.

"Who keeps you fed?"

"You do."

"Who deserves your respect?"

"You do."

"Then why don't you show it?" he shouted, tossing Zero to the ground. "Answer me that, you little freak."

"I was hungry! I'm sorry Kyros!"

"Sorry isn't enough anymore, Zero," he said mockingly, kicking the boy in the stomach, who remained silent, his hands balled into fists at his sides. "It's time for you to pay the price for your need to go against orders."

"Stop it!" Stanley cried, rushing for Kyros, only to pass straight through him.

The spiky blond haired teen pulled a knife out of his pocket and knelt down next to the boy, who now lay shivering with fear. "Don't worry, it won't hurt too badly," Kyros assured. Picking up the back of Zero's shirt, Magnet stepped back in disgust and repulsion.

Thin lines crisscrossed all over the dark skin, scars and scabs from being cut with the knife. Navy bruises stood out amongst the brown and Stanley and Magnet both began to feel their blood boil. Tracing the knife gently down one of the clear patches of skin, Kyros smirked as Zero whimpered softly, tears leaking out of his tightly closed eyes.

"Stop it…" he whispered. "Please Kyros…"

"This is what you deserve, Zero. You know, you really do live up to your name…good for nothing. I wonder why I even waste my time on the likes of you. Though you do make a decent pickpocket, gotta give you credit there."

"Just let me go," Zero sobbed.

"Not until you've finished paying off what I gave you. And you'll be doing this kind of thing for the next few years to make up for it all. Besides, what is an eight year old kid like you going to do to make a living without me and the rest of the gang?" Zero remained silent. "That's what I thought. You've got no one cuz no one cares. Even your mom left-"

Kyros never got to finish his sentence as Zero rolled across the ground and slammed his knees into a very special part of the boy's anatomy. "Don't you dare say that about my mother!" he cried, brown eyes flashing with anger. "She's looking for me still! I know it!"

"You little-" Kyros lunged for the boy but Zero turned and began to run again.

As Magnet and Stanley watched, the shapes around them began to grow fuzzier until it all faded to black. Next thing they knew was they were flying away from the present day Zero and crashing into the beds across from them.

"What was that, man?" Magnet gasped, clutching his pounding heart.

"Dunno," Stanley answered, crawling over to Zero and sighing in relief when he realized the boy was still breathing. "Do you think it was some event in his past?"

"Maybe, but how'd we see it?"

"Who knows…maybe it's part of a curse of some sort."

"That didn't sound like no curse, man. That lady's voice was creepy! But it wasn't evil…hey, what are you doing?"

"Seeing if that was real or not," Stanley answered, carefully turning Zero onto his back. Rolling up the white shirt he wore beneath his uniform, both could only stare. Light brown lines were stretched all over his skin, some more faded then others but still there.

"We went back in the past," Magnet concluded. "But why? What did that mean?"

"That voice," Stanley said slowly. "She wanted us to help him…maybe by knowing this we can help him."

"How?"

"Good question. But," Stanley sighed, "I don't know the answer."

Author's Notes:

Wow! Normally, ten reviews isn't much but considering this is Holes , that's pretty damn good:P And as one reviewer said, which I take no offence in at all, this is an origanl plot. I was cruising thorugh the other fics, and almost all of them have girls coming to CGL. Not natural and not realistic.

I don't plan on having any romance or any girls coming to CGL. Though the boys do head to a girl, but not as a romance interest. You'll see in good time. Maybe if I get a good amount of reviews, I can update on Saturday again...So, please do review!