Chapter 1

My name is Zero. I used to have 1 other name, but I forgot it.

I live at Camp Greenlake.

One of the first things you learn at Camp Greenlake, is not to upset the Warden. Mom and Mr. Sir upset easy, and they'll only hurt you. But the Warden is much, much better at controlling her temper. You upset her… and you're dead.

Barfbag learned that the hard way. We all told him it was a mad idea, but he wouldn't listen. He was new at Camp Greenlake. He still hadn't come by Mom's fury, or even Mr. Sir's. There was no way he could have known about the Warden. He though we were exaggerating. We weren't.

He managed to slink through the camp, more snake than kid, and he spat in the Warden's water tank. She kept a tank separate from us Lakers. When X-ray realized what it was he thought of a plan to use it to escape, but barfbag had his own plan.

The next day, we were all asked to line up. We knew what it was about, and not even X-ray had the guts to disobey. The Warden was mad. In the rushed moments before Mr. Sir and the guards came in, we said our goodbyes to barfbag. I think he was afraid then, when he saw our faces.

But then he met the Warden, and he realized the Warden was a girl. Well, he never much cared for girls either way, so he didn't have a problem coming up with a snappy comeback when she politely asked him whether he did it.

His mistake.

We all knew that when the Warden is polite, when she treats us like we're human instead of rats lurking beneath her feet, that's when you have to be on your toes. Because she doesn't want to be rude when she kills somebody. She wants them to meet their maker and say; Yeah, the Warden killed me, but at least she was polite about it.

First, she offered him a drink of water. He accepted. After all, it's not like it could make him sick or anything. When he finished, he was smiling. I don't think many of us will forget that smile; the smile of a dead man who thinks that he's safe because the first bullet was 2 inches from his head instead of a hitting it.

The problem with Barfbag, as we later reflected, was that he thought he was invincible. He couldn't get sick, and he could make anybody else sick. He didn't take the time to think things through. He didn't think about things like liquid nitrogen in that cup.

A solid hit later, and he was 2,438 shards of frozen corpse on the cold granite floor. We all went back to our rooms, and the Warden took her picture. By now, we think she must have a wall of pictures. Before Barfbag there was Spider, before him Leprechaun, and before him Freak. And that's just the ones this year.

I counted them once. There were 57 pictures on the wall. I haven't counted them again.

Nobody upsets the Warden in Camp Greenlake and gets away with it.

Camp Greenlake is a place where the world puts the freaks. Every year there's more of us, from pollution, bruised genes, inbreeding, or just our mothers smoking while pregnant. Any way you slice it, nobody in Camp Greenlake is human. And that makes people scared of us.

There are 4 sections in Camp Greenlake. Each one has 7 mutants in it. We'd have more, but we have a pretty high fatality rate. The girl mutants are all in Europe. The respected governments of the world don't let out how they treat us, or else people would feel sorry for us, and they wouldn't report us. All the people need to know, is that we mutants are dangerous.

Camp Greenlake is buried under an abandoned military facility in Russia. The Warden is a sick twisted individual, who plays with us like we're chess pieces when she's bored. She graduated top of her class in social psychology studies in the upper class university she attended in Moscow. When the old Warden retired, she took his place. When we aren't going through our daily routines of survival, she likes to play games with us and write stuff that wins her nobel prizes. Nobody complains about the ethics or our treatment. As far as everybody outside is concerned, we're not human.

Mr. Sir isn't either. She was one of the Warden's first experiments, and we've had to fight tooth and nail not to end up like him. He used to be just another kid growing up in a ranch in Texas. Then when he was brought here he became our leader, trying night and day to find some way to escape. But he could never find a way. The Warden played her twisted mind games on him, and now he's her personal boy toy, and the top enforcer here at Camp Greenlake.

Compared to them, Mom is a girl scout. But that's why he's so dangerous. We've lost a lot of guys because they all thought they could take Mom. Then, he knocks them out with chloroform or something and takes them to his lab, where he gets to dissect us and map out our genes and find out what make us inhuman. I once made the mistake of telling him how he was going to die.

He made sure I could never talk again.

I know things. Things I shouldn't possibly know. That's enough for me to be sent here. I know all the stuff I just told you, about Camp Greenlake. And I'll tell you more, though you'll wish I hadn't. I'm writing this because I can't speak, and tell you in person. I didn't speak very much when I still could; I don't like saying things unless they have to be said. But just because you don't watch much television, doesn't mean you don't want your eyes removed.

I've been here the longest, back when I was only 1 year old, and I told my mom exactly who my dad was cheating on her with, and he called the Mutant Response Division. When I told them I was a mutant, they tested me anyway and I was positive.

I would have died if it weren't for X-ray. He came in just after me, and took care of me. And for a while, I was the Warden's favorite pet, after she took Mr. Sir. She decided to play with this new factor, a baby in their midst. Luckily, I told everybody what she was doing, and X-ray managed to spin the situation around so she got bored and left me alone. X-ray was smart like that.

When X-ray came here, he learned how to survive from Mr. Sir, and then he took control over the mutants in section D when he left. He can see everything. He can see through walls, he can see in the dark, he can see a fly on a wall a 20 miles distant. He doesn't even know how much he can see yet. He has 1 nasty X shaped scar carved over his face from his big fight with Mr. Sir. It gives him an extra air of authority with the other inmates.

Armpit is as close to X-ray as a brother, and if X-ray can sometimes beat the Warden's mind games, then Armpit can sometimes take on Mr. Sir and live to tell about it. Armpit got his name from the way his sweat glands overreact when he uses his powers. He can make himself denser than depleted uranium or lighter then helium.

Squid's French. Nobody really understands him except me, so he has it pretty rough trying to get people to understand what he's saying as well. Squid's not really squid-like, but he does have an octopus instead of a head which makes it even more difficult for him to communicate. Not very many people like him in section D, and the Warden's pretty happy about that. He hasn't been here long, but longer than zigzag. I think he's funny.

Magnet's the oldest guy in section D. It was a long time before he got caught, and when they did catch him, they put a collar around his neck to stop him from using his powers. We all protect him, because one day we might find a way to get that collar off and then he could help us get out. I don't like that idea. He's scary.

Zigzag is the latest newcomer to Camp Greenlake, if you don't count the dearly departed Barfbag. He's very violent. I've seen him take on 3 yellow-spots at once because his favorite TV show got cancelled. But when he's not breaking things, we like to use him for entertainment. His mind's a radio, and he can watch shows being broadcasted through the air.

Now, with these guys all together, you'd think we'd have broken out by now.

Well, the thing is the Warden's watching us all the time through her cameras. She watches each one of us, and if she thinks we're trying to start something, then she'll pounce. She'll add some new element to Camp Greenlake, or send Mr. Sir to stop one of the weaker members of the team. It's like she's playing chess, and we're telling her what moves we make before we make them. And her cameras are almost undetectable. Zigzag can't find any, because they're set in wires not broadcasted. X-ray can see them sometimes, when he squints. And sometimes my power will pick them up.

Yeah, my power isn't very reliable. I can only see some things, others I can't see at all, and the future is a complete blank unless it's set in stone. The one area where my powers are perpetually functioning is numbers. I'm good with numbers. If you ask me for the odds, I can calculate them to their farthest decibel point. Sometimes I can pick up other things, when the numbers add up to make them. But the odds of that happening are 43.22 % (precisely).

Camp Greenlake was designed by the first Warden. It was a complete maze of holes. 267 passages, 24 rooms, 34 deadly traps and 57 secret doors. I know my way around fine, but lots of newbies have died by being in the wrong corridor at the wrong time. And then there're the yellow-spots. A bunch of stormtroopers with special armor that walk around and try to beat us up every once in a while. And even if we do escape, even if we somehow get to the surface… there's a military base up there. And 0 tunnels to hide in.

Nobody leaves Camp Greenlake.

When our new teammate was coming, I went to get X-ray. He was at the wall. The wall was a massive granite wall that covered the whole north side of the camp. Nobody could dig through it; it was far too hard. X-ray used it as a calendar. There were 7,539 chalk marks on it, each one representing a day he survived Camp Greenlake.

I got his attention with a tug on his sleeve, and gestured for him to come with me. He and Armpit followed, and we came to the Elevator. Smack dab in the center of Camp Greenlake, the elevator was the 1 way in or out.

Mr. Sir was riding down the elevator with the new guy. He was pretty huge, 7 feet and 2 inches. That's bigger than Armpit. He was about, 19 years old. He was from 51.488224,-0.142822 latitude and longitude. London, just like me.

"What's his power?" X-ray asked.

I shook my head. I couldn't tell him. Thankfully, X-ray knows enough not to rely on my power too much. I see numbers, and I see how numbers effect the world, but I can rarely see the world outside of numbers.

The elevator slowed to a stop, mere feet above the ground. "Welcome to Camp Greenlake Yelnats." Mr. Sir said. You're with Section D."

Yelnats looked around. "What's Section D?" He asked.

"Section D is where all of the people who aren't in Section A, B or C go." Mr. Sir said. He pushed Yelnats out of the elevator, and onto the metal grating on the floor. "Try not to die quicker than the last fellow. I got money riding on you." He shut the elevator doors and the elevator carried him back up.

"I know my rights!" Yelnats yelled. "This is inhuman!"

"So are you!"

The elevator climbed out of sight and Yelnats stared up at it angrily.

"Let's go." X-ray said. He walked out into the courtyard followed by me and armpit.

Yelnats caught sight of the 3 of us and backed away fast. "Who're you?" Yelnats asked.

"My name's X-ray." He said. "This is Armpit, and Zero."

Yelnats scoffed. "What kind of names are those?"

"Ours. Society abandoned us, so we abandon the names they gave us. You'll get a name too, later."

"Hah. Not likely. Listen, just tell me where section D is."

"Section D isn't a place, it's a family." X-ray said. "I'm its leader."

"What, a runt like you?" Yelnats sneered. X-ray was quite small. I was the only one smaller than him. "You're the family's little daddy?"

"You should be a little more polite." X-ray said. "There are three other sections, and any one of them would tear you a new one. Section A would tear you two. If you want to survive Camp Greenlake, then you've got to learn some manners."

Yelnatz laughed. "Yeah. Right. Listen short stuff, I don't know who you used to be, but as of now, I am in charge here."

X-ray shook his head. "You're right. You have no idea what's going on. Which is one reason why you should follow my lead. Do you want to hear the other reasons?"

"What's your mutant power?" Yelnats asked.

"Listen kid, I want to be clear on this; I am in charge here."

Yelnats punched him in the face.

Armpit started forward, but X-ray put a hand out and stopped him. I didn't know everything, but I know numbers. There was a 0% chance X-ray would lose this fight. "I don't like infighting in Section D." X-ray said. "But if it'll teach you not to question my authority, I will beat your face in so hard, your acne will be bruised."

Yelnats stepped off of the metal and onto the stone. "My power is, depending on what rock I'm touching I get stronger, faster, more powerful. And this is some good rock. You can take your best shot little daddy."

"'S got all the class of a caveman." Armpit said. "Lemme at 'im X-ray."

"No." X-ray said. "I've got to teach him some manners."

Yelnats threw another punch, and X-ray dodged it, coming up underneath and slamming his fist in between Yelnats' legs. Yelnats was in his element, surrounded by stone walls on all sides. It didn't stop X-ray. He hammered away at Yelnats' face, then grabbed his hair and plowed his face into the rock floor. It should have actually healed Yelnats, except X-ray had slammed his face so relentlessly, that he'd broken Yelnats' nose. From there, it was an easy matter to break him. I won't go into the details, but by the time X-ray stopped, Yelnats was a broken man, and X-ray was standing on his back, 1 bruise on his arm from where Yelnats landed a single flailing hit.

"Welcome to Camp Greenlake Caveman." He whispered in his ear before letting Armpit carry him into the holes.