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Today started out like any other. It wasn't until I got out of school that day that I noticed things were very wrong. People were running around in all directions, screaming to the top of their lungs like they had just seen a ghost.

Then I saw it: thousands of men in gray military uniforms were marching down the street, shooting people left and right, throwing out grenades randomly, and stomping across the remains of what use to be Delamare, the town where I grew up.
As the army of men got closer, I saw that each uniform had the same gold pin attached to the fabric; a picture of a burgundy star carved into each one of them.
"Claire!" my friend Isabel yelled, running ahead of me. "What are you doing? Run!"

"Isabel!" I shouted back, dashing up to her. "What's going on?"

"I don't know, I think the theonominists are starting a riot, but I've never seen those pins before."

"Neither have I, I've never seen a religious group with that kind of symbol before."

"Where's the-" but before Isabel could finish, a tiny click went off and the ground below opened up into a black hole and down she went, falling to her death.

"Isabel!" I cried, falling to my knees. Pound! Bang! Smash! went the army men as they got closer and closer. Turning around, huge masses of gray and black smoke rose from the burning buildings lining the street. My knees dirty from the rubble and ash covering the ground, I stood up and began to run.

When I reached my street, I saw that the army of men had already been through here. Most of the houses on Hollerford Road lay in piles of charred rubble. I dashed down the sidewalk to my house, part of me hoping to find my house still standing. But of course, it wasn't. I climbed across the pile of debris, sifting through the ash with my foot. My legs buckling beneath me, I fell to the ground. How did all this happen? I wondered miserably.

Millions of questions started piling up in my head, and with no way to answer them. But the one that kept coming up was dad. Where was my dad? I thought back to this morning when I last saw him. I was eating breakfast, and he came down in a hurry to get to work like he always did. He wished me a good day, kissed me on the cheek, and was out the door.

I spent the rest of the night wandering through the dark, tears spilling down my dirty face. Finally, too tired to see straight, I curled up under a tree, and closed my eyes.

The next morning I woke up to the gentle wave of wind blowing my hair across my face, causing it to tickle my cheeks.

Staring ahead of me, I noticed a boy, not too much older than myself, sitting on top of a hill, the overgrown grass brushing against the sides of his jacket.

Forcing my eyes to look more closely at him, I saw that he had chocolate-brown hair that curled perfectly around his face. From here, I could barely make out a pair of glasses that were perched lightly on his nose. As he stood up, I could feel my heart beating harder in my chest as I realized he was walking towards me. When he stopped in front of me, I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw his. They were the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen. His dark brown eyes stared curiously back at me, making butterflies dance in my stomach.

"Who are you?" he asked, crouching down in front of me.

"Claire." I replied, noticing his british accent. "Who are you?"

"Peter. Where did you come from? The next town is five miles away from here."

"Five miles?" I asked, shocked. "I couldn't have walked five miles last night."

"Well, I suppose if one is really determined to do so, then it's not impossible. Would it be wrong of me to assume you came from Delamare?"

"No, that's right. Did you come from Delamare too?"

"Actually, I came from Bangor. Its a bit farther than Delamare, but I arrived here earlier in the day." My eyes widened as reality started to sink back in. All the things that I had been through yesterday, all the things I had seen, flashed before my eyes in a collage of blinding colors. "Isabel! Dad! Oh, I totally forgot!" I shrieked, hot tears pouring down my face.


"You don't know! No one does! Oh I left them! I left them!" I interrupted. By now I had lost total control of myself, the tears streamed out, causing my cheeks to burn a fiery rose color. My head throbbed almost as if it were a gong that someone had whacked with a mallot.

"Calm down." Peter said, putting an arm around me to help calm me down. My body shivered as jolts of electricity tingled throughout my quivering body. Despite the state I was in, I couldn't help but notice how warm and safe I felt by Peter.

"Do you trust me?" he asked.

"Ye-yes," I stuttered. "Why?"

"If you'll allow me to I know of a trick that helps to calm people down. May I try it?"

"Sure." Slowly, Peter reached up and carefully worked his fingers to the back of my neck. He began to rub his fingers back and forth in little circles, melting away all the tense spots on my neck and shoulders. Working away at my shoulders, his eyes never left mine. His expression was curious, but in a guarded sort of way that didn't let anything in or out.

"Better?" he asked when he was done.

"Yes," I exclaimed, flexing my shoulders. "Much better. Where did you learn to do that?"

"My father taught me," he replied solemnly. Noticing the change in his tone, I decided to change the subject.

"You never told me what you are."

"A theorist. What group do you belong to?"

"I'm an agnosgalite. So you're an evolutionist?"

"Indeed. I see you're neutral among the groups."

"Yep. Did Bangor see the army that destroyed Delamare?"

"Yes, they now control it, that's why I came out here."

"Do you know what they are? I've never seen those pins before."

"No, I'm afraid I don't, though I wouldn't be surprised if they were a new form of theomominy."

"Well, that's some crazy new religious group."

"Did I hear you right when you said that they destroyed your town?"

"Yes, they did."

"I apologize. Do you know where any of your group members got off to?"

"No, I couldn't find any of them. Speaking of which, where are yours?"

"I wouldn't know. When Bangor heard there was an invasion of the town next door, most of us left." In the distance, I could hear a very loud BANG! Looking in the direction I had come, I saw a cloud of smoke rise up into the sky. The smell of burning flesh and ash filled my nose as I stood up. Peter followed my lead.

"I'll take that as our sign to start moving." Peter said.

"Our sign?" I asked.

"Unless, of course, you'd rather go separate ways."

"No no, that's not what I meant at all." I said, kicking myself for asking such a stupid question. Chuckling, Peter started to walk on as I followed behind.

When we arrived in Bangor, Someone had set up a white screen and a projector that was playing a short video that had lured a large crowd to form outside of the town hall. The same army men from yesterday stood in front of a stage that the video was playing on. On both sides of the stage a row of people were chained like prisoners waiting for a death sentence.

"There he is!" an older boy shouted pointing at Peter. The older boy pushed his way through the crowd, a younger boy following behind him. "Where were you?" he asked, standing in front of us.

"I left the minute I heard about the invasions in the neighboring town. I tried looking for you, but I couldn't find you anywhere."

"So you just left us? Because of you, I lost my sister." he snapped, grabbing onto the little boy's hand.

"How exactly is it my fault that you lost your sister?"

"Because while the rest of us were looking for you, no one was watching over her, and she disappeared."

"Michael." the little boy said, tugging on his sleeve.

"Not now Collin." he replied, shaking him off.

"Michael I see our sister!" Collin exclaimed. Now Michael's full attention was on the little boy.

"Where?" he demanded.

"Over there," he said, pointing to the line of prisoners. "Next to the guard."

"Trisha!" Michael called, shoving people in the crowd out of the way. I followed Peter over to the line of prisoners.

"Michael!" the little girl cried, trying to run to him, but the chains around her ankles got tangled, causing her to trip and fall.

"Trisha!" He yelled, helping her off of the ground. "Someone help her out of these chains!"

"Back away from the girl!" the guard ordered.

"I want her out of these chains!"

"Step away from the girl, son."

"Not until you unlock her."

"Very well," the guard said, pulling a gun out of the pocket of his uniform. "Move!"

"Michael, what are you doing?" Peter demanded. "Do what he says!"

"You'd like that wouldn't you?" he retorted.

"I'll give you one more chance boy," the guard warned. "Move away from the girl."

"Not even on my last dying breath."

"As you wish." BANG!

"Michael!" Collin shirked dashing over to him. "You killed Michael! You killed my brother!" he sobbed.

"Get out of the way!" the guard bellowed, kicking him in the stomach.

"Stop it!" Peter shouted.

"Then remove the boy from him!" The guard ordered.

"Collin, give me your hand." Peter said, holding his out. Reluctantly, he took it, his hand shaking in Peter's. I looked up at the sky as I felt a light rain drizzle down onto the gray earth. Blood from Michael had soaked into the ground, giving it a murky black color. But what confused me was the delicate little hand that stuck out from underneath him. Then I realized he had died protecting Trisha from the guard, the bullet had gone right through him and into her.

The horror of what I just realized slowly sinking into me, my vision began to blur as dizziness engulfed me, causing my head to spin like a merry-go-round.

The next thing I remember was the feeling of the rocky, cold ground beneath me, and the feel of warm hands lifting me from the ground, and carrying me off.

"That's not true Jenny. You know that." I opened my eyes to see what the noise was. Peter and a girl who I guessed was Jenny, sat on the bank of a tiny stream of water, everyone's feet but Peter's swishing around in the water. An old woman sat next to them, her gray hair blowing in the wind. Collin was curled up on her lap, in a deep sleep. Shifting in my spot against the bark of the tree that I sat under, the sun shown through the leaves of the tree casting gold rays of sunlight on the ground.

"Why don't you put your feet in the water Peter?" Jenny asked.

"You didn't answer my question."

"You didn't answer mine."

"Oh would you two stop arguing?" the old woman snapped. "You're going to wake up Collin."

"I'm going to check on Claire." Peter said, standing up.

"Look who's up." Peter said smiling, as he sat down in front of me.

"Hey there." I replied smiling, my voice a little shaky.

"How are you feeling?"

"Fine, I guess. What happened to Trisha and Michael?"

"The guard had them hauled away with the rest of the prisoners." Tears threatened to fall, but I blocked them off. I was sick of crying. I was sick of feeling sad for other people. Sick of wondering where people were, and having a million questions in my head with no answers to them.

"You didn't try to help them?" I asked.

"What could I do? They were already dead."

"So you just left them there?"

"I don't think you realize that I had to carry you, and walk Collin all the way over here."

"I'm sorry. I've just been through alot lately."

"I understand. We all have."

"So just to make sure I'm getting names right, that's Jenny?" I asked, pointing to the girl with long blonde hair.

"Yes, how did you know?"

"I heard you call her that."

"I see. Did you hear my conversation with Rose?"


"Well, that's her. The old woman."

"Wait, how long was I out for?"

"A few hours, though that's understandable considering what you've been through."

"Speaking of which, how have you been dealing with all this? Peter are you alright?"

"Yes, I'm fine." he sighed.

"Are you sure? You don't sound like it."

"I'm just upset about what happened to Michael."

"It's not just that. Something else is bothering you."

"How do you-"

"I knew something was wrong when did that trick to calm me down. The way you answered me about your dad. It has to do with him doesn't it?"

"Yes, it does," Peter said gravely. "The story of how The Five Groups came to be has been told many times, but that's only because anyone who tells it has their own version of how it went."

"What's your version Peter?"

"I'm sure you'll recall the days when our government was a socialism government.

"Yes, I remember. I was about four years old then."

"The Five Groups. Also known as beatilite, theorist, agnosgalite, athesominist, and theonominist. They were formed around the time the economy started to crash. People were losing jobs, being moved from their homes because they couldn't afford to live there anymore. Our country was falling apart, so as a solution, a man with the name of Richard Harding was elected by the government as Party Chairman. As I'm sure you can imagine, most people didn't like the change Mr. Harding had done. A socialism government meant everything everyone did was by consent of the government. It meant that everything was owned by the government, but what people disliked the most about it was that it meant that everyone was the same, that everyone was in the same group and there was no changing it. As a result, people revolted, riots broke out, and the country turned into an even worse mess than it was before Mr. Harding was elected."

Peter paused for a minute. "I remember the riots. I remember when there was talk about starting one in my own group. This riot was different though. Instead of protesting, my father planned to do something different. Something that wouldn't be easily forgotten. There was a wooden statue of Mr. Harding in town that had stood there since the day he took office. My father had planned to burn it down, to show that he and the men with him were not afraid. My mother would plead with him, beg him not to do it, but it was too late, for my father had already made up his mind. I remember those nights very clearly. I would sneak downstairs when it was past my bed time just hear them. On the night of the riot, my mother and I sat up late waiting for him to come home, but he never did." Again, Peter paused, almost as if he was bracing himself for what he was about to say next. "Mr. Harding had heard about his plans and was prepared on the night of the riot. My father and the men with him were easily overtaken by the thousands of military men Mr. Harding had waiting for them. My mother and I found this out six days later in a newspaper article. It was the last time anyone dared to go against the government."

Peter said, controlling his voice. I sat there for a moment, real quiet, trying to make sense of it.

"What did you and your mom do?" I asked, breaking the silence.

"We did what everyone else did. We went on with life. Well, some of us did anyway. Some us stayed right there, lost in time."

"And you're one of those people." For the first time, I saw tears forming in his eyes, old tears. The kind of tears that get bottled up inside you, and sit there until they find a way out. I scooched over to him, and wrapped my arms around him. I knew what he had been through. I thought about my dad, and about how much I missed him. As Peter pulled away, I saw Rose walking over toward us with Collin in her arms, and Jenny beside her.

"Are you feeling any better dear?" Rose asked me, settling Collin onto her lap as she sat down next to me. Jenny kept on walking. "Peter have you been crying? she asked incredulously.

"Yes, I'm fine," he said standing up. "Excuse me."

"Peter where-"

"Let him go dear. He needs time to think." I watched him walk over to a small hill and sit down. I looked back at Rose.

"You say that like you've known him a long time."

"I haven't, but I don't need to. Everything you need to know that boy is right in his eyes."

"His eyes do say a lot." I agreed.

"I saw you two talking. I never thought I'd see anyone get him to spill like you did. What did you say to him?"

"I don't know, we just started talking about things."

"Well, whatever you did say, you should feel proud of yourself. Its not everyday a person can make someone like him talk like you did."

"Thanks, I guess."

"Yep." Looking up at the sky, I noticed it had gotten considerably darker then it was when I had woken up.

"Where did Jenny go?" I asked.

"I told her to go check on Chad. In case Peter hasn't told you, Chad's a beatilite like the rest of us, him, Jenny, and me."

"Oh so he's part of your group?"

"Yes, we came out here to get away from Bangor. As I'm sure you've probably guessed things are a little crazy right now. People are getting mixed up with different groups, because they lost theirs and are just trying to cope with the changes in government right now."

"What is happening with the government? I got out of school the other day and people were running around in all directions screaming."

"You didn't hear? Mr. Harding's been re-elected as Party Chairman and he's going to switch the government back over to a socialist government."

"He was unelected?"

"Dear, where have you been? Its been all over the news."

"Well, I haven't exactly been able to watch the news."

"He was unelected Party Chairman a few years ago. That's why we've all been able to reform The Five Groups."

"What do you think will happen?"

"Nothing good. If it didn't work the first time, why would it turn out any different the second?"

"I don't know."

"Exactly. No one does." In the distance, I could hear the faint sound of footsteps crunching in the grass.

"We're back!" Jenny exclaimed, stepping into view, Chad right behind her, with a load of firewood in his arms.

"Where's Peter?" Chad asked, as Jenny plopped down besides me.

"He's over by the stream," Rose replied, standing up. "I'll go get him, lord knows that boy has had enough time to think."

"Hey good to see your feeling better." Chad said, crouching down to start a fire. I couldn't help but notice how his curly golden hair haloed in the moonlight. His eyes looked warm and inviting despite the dark blue sea color that they were.

"Thanks!" I said, hating how stupid that sounded.

"Sure thing. Hey Peter." he said, him and Rose returning. It was a minute before he responded.

"Oh hello Chad." Peter said, a lost look in his eye. I could tell he had been thinking, it was the kind of thinking that takes you far away from reality, and that takes you awhile to find your way back.

"Do you mind giving me a hand here?" Chad asked Peter.

"No, of course not."

"Great, I left some firewood a little that ways," he said pointing from where he came. "Could you bring back here?"

"Sure." Peter said, and he disappeared from view. Rose sat down next to Jenny.

"What are we going to do for beds?" Jenny asked.

"Oh we're not sleeping here, we had beds made up while you were fetching the firewood." Rose said sarcastically.

"I just thought we'd do more than the ground."

"Its the ground or nothing sweetheart." Jenny frowned. When Peter came back, his arms were loaded with more than just the firewood. He was also carrying a basket of what appeared to be fish.

"I didn't know you fished Peter," Rose said noticing the basket. "And wove."

"I can't."

"I caught those," Chad said. "I didn't make the basket though."

"When did you do that?" Jenny asked.

"Earlier today."

"Well nice job son," Rose congratulated. "Looks like we won't be going hungry tonight." By the time the fish had been cooked, eaten, and everyone was fed, most of us had fallen asleep, except me. Figures I thought to myself. Sighing, I stood up from my spot by the fire, and went by the stream to dip my feet into the water.

Slipping my shoes off, I slowly lowered my feet into the stream.
"Couldn't sleep?" asked a voice.
"Who's there?" I demanded, my eyes searching the dark wildly.
"Peter." he replied, calmly.

"Oh, sorry," I said, relieved. "I couldn't see you, you blend in so well with the dark wearing that black jacket of yours."

"Sorry about that." he said, sitting closer to me.

"That's alright. There was a minute of silence before I said: "So what are you doing up?"

"Same as you. Couldn't sleep."

"What kept you up?" I asked, noticing how close Peter was to me now.

"Nothing in particular. I suppose its my own fault this time."

"What do you mean?"

"Its not a rare thing when I'll have a sleepless night. Most of the time its due to wandering thoughts, nothing serious that keeps me up."


"What about you?"

"Same I guess. I've just got a lot on my mind." Another minute of silence passed.

"Have you always known Rose?" I asked.

"No, it was just today that we met. Why do you ask?"

"No reason. You guys just seem to get along really well."

"Ah. Well, I will admit that she does remind me a bit of my mother, though I don't understand why."

"Why not? Rose seems motherly enough."

"Its not Rose, it's my mother. The relationship that we shared wasn't exactly what you'd call standard between a mother and a son."

"Why's that if you don't mind me asking."

"Before my father died, we did have a normal relationship. It was only afterward that things started changing between us, though why, I could never figure out."

"Where is she? Do you know?"

"No, I'm afraid I don't. I haven't seen her since the invasions started."

"Oh well, I hope you find her, and that she's alright."

"I do too," Peter said, gazing off into the darkness. "So what about you? Do you know where your parents are?"

"No. The last time I saw my dad was one day ago, if you don't count today. But as for my mom, she died when I was too young to remember anything."

"I'm sorry to hear that, but I wish you luck in finding your father."

"Thanks, same goes for you and your mom."

The next morning after we had finished the leftovers from last night, we sat by the fire, when out of nowhere, three policeman appeared.

"There they are are!" one of the policeman shouted.

"Son," another policeman said walking towards us. He was taller than the rest of them. "Are you Peter Morgan?"

"Yes." he, standing up. "Who wants to know?" The rest of us followed his lead.

"Joe McCarthy of the FBI. Mr. Morgan we have a warrant for your arrest."

"Yea and that goes for the rest of you too." the shortest cop said.

"What for?" Rose asked.

"Ms. O'Mara do you know how serious running away is?" the middle heighted one asked.

"We got it ranked up there with a death sentencing." the shortest cop said.

"Death sentencing?" Jenny asked incredulously. "Isn't that a little harsh?"

"Sure isn't. the middle policeman said. "If someone runs away its because they've got something to hide, and considering all the chaos that's been going on, we have no way of knowing what the cause was of it, and what the effect will be."

"You're all under arrest. All of you have the right to remain silent." the tallest one said, putting handcuffs on Peter. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. My heart skipped a beat as I felt handcuffs being tightened around my wrists. We walked a few minutes before we were escorted into police cars and driven away.

When we stopped the cops escorted us out of the police cars and over to what appeared to be a drain pipe that four other policeman stood guarding. Inside the drain pipe I could see the figures of people leaning against its curved walls. It lay on top of a large pile of rubble and trash that had been sculpted around it to keep it from rolling away.

"The line's a little long for the death penalty so you guys will spend some time here until the line opens up a little bit." the shortest cop said.

"A drain pipe? Are you crazy?" Jenny protested.

"You got two choices babe. The drain pipe, or we can just get the execution over with right now." he said, pulling his gun out of his pocket.

"Don't call her babe." Chad snapped, glaring at the officer.

"Boy, don't talk to me like you're the one with the gun, cause you're not." the cop warned, spinning the gun between his fingers.

"Are you threatening me?" he demanded.

"Maybe, maybe not. Doesn't matter though, you can't do a thing about it with those handcuffs on."

"You want to test me?"

"Chad stop it!" Rose ordered. "Quit acting stupid!" he gave the cop a menacing look, those blue eyes of his turning an icy cold blue that was powerful enough to send shivers running down the officers back. You could see it to, the fear creeping into his eyes as the rest of us piled into the drain pipe.

"Peter?" a woman with naturally colored red asked, uncertainly.

"Mother?" he asked, crouching in the drain pipe, his hands cuffed behind his back.

"Lord child, I never thought I'd see your type with handcuffs. What are you in here for?"

"Running away. What about you?"

"Protesting. I should be out of here in a few days though. I'll have to see about speeding your time up in here."

"I don't think you'll want to do that."

"Why not?"

"Running away is considered to be one of the worst crimes a person can commit and the consequence for it is the death sentence."

"Your joking." his mother said hopefully.

"I'm afraid I'm not."

"Dammit!" his mother yelled. "Why? Why? Why?"

"Mother what is it?" Peter asked, concerned.

"I knew I couldn't trust him! I knew it!"

"Mother what are you talking about?"

"One of the cops that I talked to right before I was arrested asked about you. He asked if there was a connection between you and your dad."

"What did you tell him?"

"At first I didn't know what to tell him. A random stranger off the street putting his nose where it doesn't belong is what that was, but I told him anyway. I told him yes, that there was a connection between you and your dad. And then he asked if I knew where you where. Of course I told him that I didn't, but that didn't stop him. He insisted that if I didn't know where you where than at least I could give him a description about you, so I did."

"I told him just about everything I knew about you, and I shouldn't have. Peter, I'm so sorry."

"Are you saying that you're the reason why those policeman found us earlier this morning?"


"Why would you-"

" I don't know." his mom interrupted. "Peter, I wasn't thinking, and I'm sorry. If I had known this would happen, maybe I would've been able to keep my mouth shut."

"You need a reason to keep my identity a secret?"

"I don't know. I'm sorry, what more can I say?"

"Excuse me." Peter said solemnly, betrayal, and hurt flashing through his eyes, as he crouched to the other end of the drain pipe.

"Nice." Jenny commented. Peter's mom glared at her.

"Jenny stay out of it." Rose scolded. I heard Collin stifle a giggle.

"Young man, that goes for you too."


"No but's."

"Fine." he replied, grudgingly. Rising from my spot, I followed Peter back to the end of the drain pipe.

"Hey Peter. Are you okay?" I asked, sitting down next to him.

"Yes, I'm fine." he replied, staring far off into the distance.

"Are you sure? You seem distant."

"Yes," he said, looking at me. "I assure you everything is alright." I looked back at him. I didn't trust his answer, not with his eyes boarded up like that. Like he had a secret that he'd kept for years, buried deep inside him. Outside, I could faintly hear two men arguing. It wasn't until one of the guards called us over that I began to worry.

"Do you kids recognize this man?" the guard asked. I told him no, but Peter replied with a yes. I looked at the man, thinking hard. He had narrow gray eyes that made me feel as if I was being watched. His hair had started to gray at the sides of his head, making him look like a supervillain.

"You listen to me Harding," the guard ordered. "You have no business here. Leave the poor kids alone, their already on death row. How much worse could it get?"

"Mr. Moore, I think you'll find that there are are a lot of things worse than death, and if you don't leave right now, then you just might find out." Reluctantly, the guard walked away.

"Peter Morgan," Mr. Harding said, smiling evilly. "I never thought I'd see the likes of you in a place like this."

"That makes two of us." I could feel Peter tensing up. The muscles in his shoulders becoming tight as Mr. Harding chuckled.

"A chip off the old block aren't you?" he said, slapping him against the back.

"Mr. Harding, what do you want?" Peter asked with no trace of humor in his eyes.

"What makes you think I want something from you?"

"Why else would you be speaking to me?"

"Smart boy. Has anyone brought up the hearing you have scheduled on Monday?"

"No, I wasn't even aware that I had one."

"Well, you do, and there's something you're going to do for me."

"There is, is there?"

"You're going to plead guilty on Monday. This whole thing is just a waste of time, and money."

"And why would I do that?"

"Mr. Morgan, you don't have a choice. Your father was a smart man, I'd expect if anything you'd inherit that from him. Plus that, you and I both know that you're guilty man anyways. Again, it would just be a waste of time."

"Why do you say that?"

"Because of the points I just named, and I've got just about the best damn layer money can buy."

"How nice."

"Listen you little smart mouth," Mr. Harding snapped. "Your father burned down one of the most expensive structures in the whole town. Cost a lot of people money, and their jobs to replace that, when nothing should have been done to it in the first place. I've never forgiven him for that, and because he's not around to hear my fury, you will, in fact I couldn't ask for a better replacement, you snotty brit kid. So hike up your skirt and deal with it."

"How dare you!" Peter retaliated, eyes sparking with anger."If there's anyone who should be considering the money and damage they've done, to not only this town, but the country it should be you. Do you know how many people have had to suffer because of you? Can you even begin to understand that? You can take my word for it when I say the first years with you as Party Chairman were not ones I enjoy looking back on, and I'm most certainly not looking forward to the next." Mr. Harding looked ready to slap him.


"Knock it off!" I interrupted. "Mr. Harding, I think you've made you point."

"You and I haven't even started yet dear, so close your mouth."

"Don't speak her like that." Peter snapped, glaring at him.

"You better think twice before telling me what to do boy. I know you're already on death row, but trust me, I'll make your life so much like hell that when your execution comes around you'll think its a blessing from God."

"He's a theorist smart one." I sneered.

"Respect!" he bellowed, slapping me across the face. I fell to the ground, holding my head as my cheek throbbed uncontrollably. I instantly felt Peter by my side, and heard the sound of heavy work boots pounding against the earth.

"What happened?" Peeking out from my fingers, I saw multiple guards rushing to see what the commotion was.

"Those two!" Mr. Harding shouted. I don't know what kind of prison you're running here with those two around, but I want them gone!"

"But Mr. Harding, there's already a line-"

"I don't care! Speed it up! Do whatever you have to do, but I want them dead! Both of them!" Through splayed fingers I watched as Mr. Harding stormed off, the guards following behind him, like a lost duckling paddling fast to catch up with it's mother.

It wasn't long after that, that Peter and me had said our goodbyes to the rest of the group, been hurried into a police car and driven off to prison, where we would spend our last few hours on earth together.

When we arrived at the prison, I remember thinking of the many secrets that were hidden away on the other side of the large stone walls. Walking inside,the chains around my ankles and wrists clanking together, echoing throughout the prison, I felt intimidated. Intimidated by the strange faces staring out at me as Peter and I made our way through hall after hall, until finally the guard stopped and led us into our own cells. Instead of solid walls, the cells had thick metal bars separating them apart. The tiny room contained nothing more than a small bed and toilet that had dirt caked around the sides and rim of it. I cringed in disgust.
Despite the bars that separated us, Peter and I sat as close to each other as we could, silently listening to the other prisoners chatter about this and that. Then, the chatter stopped when the sound of heavy footsteps echoed through the hall. The same guard that had escorted us into the prison, was headed for our cells, carrying two orange prison suits with him.

"Here," he said, slipping mine, and Peter's uniform through our cells. "Put these on. Don't get too comfortable in there. Both of your bookings will be soon." and then he disappeared back down the hallway,

"What else are they going to do?" I asked, slipping my uniform over my clothes. "We already have our jumpsuits, and we know where our cells are."

"I'd assume just to verify our fingerprints, and get our mugshots." Peter said, zipping his uniform up.

"God, it feels so wrong hearing that." I complained, leaning against the wall as I slid down it.

"I'll admit, I've pictured myself in a lot of crazy places, but none such as this," Peter said in a quiet, yet serious tone. "I'm still not able to grasp that."

"You're not the only one." I replied, feeling a little dizzy.

A few minutes later, we were taken from our cells and to our bookings. When we had finished, and had returned to our cells, dinner was served, or a small piece of bread wrapped up in a napkin, and an old rusty tin filled with water.

Once I had finished my dinner, I set the napkin and tin at the corner of my cell, and crawled back to my spot. We sat like that for what seemed like forever until finally I needed something to occupy myself with. I searched around in the pockets of my jumpsuit until I came up with a string that had been torn off the fabric. Better than nothing I thought as I began twisting it around my fingers, and tying the frayed ends into tiny little knots.

It wasn't long after that, that the guards switched the lights off, making it impossible to see anything. Sighing, I tucked the string back into my pocket, and curled up against the wall, wondering whether Peter had fallen asleep or not.

"Peter?" I whispered in the darkness.

"Yes?" he replied, in a hushed voice.

"Are you awake?"

"Yes." I sat up, listening to the soft murmurs and the rustle of covers as the sleepy prisoners shifted from side to side on their beds.

Its so quiet I thought. An eerie silence swept through the hall, causing fear to seep inside me. Through all the cracks and and holes, devouring everything as it dripped dipped dipped. Blindly, I thrashed my hand through the dark, searching for Peter's. Slipping my hand through the bars of the cell, it found his calmly looking for mine. We rested our hands on the bars of the cell, our fingers slowly intertwining. I scooted as close to Peter as the bars of the cell would let me, feeling the warmth of his body against mine while he did the same. We stayed like that all night until morning came and the first sunlight of the day came streaming in the tiny window of my prison cell.

The next day seemed like nothing but a gray blur. We were served breakfast in the mess hall, and then escorted back to our cells until lunchtime came around. From there, we were brought back to the slammer, fearfully awaiting to hear when our executions would be.

I shuddered when I saw a guard heading towards our cells. Here it comes I thought. But instead of bringing news about when our executions would be, he moved me over to Peter's cell because of the new inmate that was transferring here today. Supposedly, the new inmate was scheduled to be here yesterday, but wasn't because a fist fight the prisoner had gotten into, delaying the bus ride that was going to take him here.

Sighing, I sat down next to Peter.

"Are you alright?" Peter asked. "You look as if you didn't get much sleep last night.

"I'm just sick of this. I'm sick of being sick. I just want to go to go home and forget this ever happened."

"Well, in a few days you won't be able to feel anything. You'll just be able to rest, forever undisturbed."

"You don't mean that."

"I do."

"How can you say? I mean, yea, life hasn't been the greatest lately, but it'll get better. It always does."

"Not this time. I'm afraid time is almost up."

Just what has gotten into you? You sound like a depressed cancer patient who only has a month to live."

"Reality. Don't you understand?" Peter said, standing up. "You might as well call me a depressed cancer patient who only has a month to live because that's the truth. The only difference is we have a few days."

"And you're okay with that? You're okay with just accepting that?"

"You act as if I chose this to happen. I'm just like any other seventeen year old boy. I want the same things, the same experiences, the knowledge of having grown up and experienced life, but you know, I'll never be able to. Instead, I'll die like this, just like the millions of others who have before me."
"You don't think I want those things too? Peter I'm only fifteen. I don't even have my drivers licence yet. I'll never graduate high school, never get married, have kids, get a job. I'll never get out of here. I'll just die a short, guilty life."

"We are guilty."

"For running away? Saving my life? For doing what anyone else would have?"

"You heard what the policeman said. To them, we just looked like runaway suspects."

"Were we, though?"

"It doesn't matt-"

"We're we, though?" I asked again, interrupting Peter.

"No. We weren't."

"Exactly." I choked, hot tears falling down my face. Peter sat back down again, taking my hand in his. Sympathetically, he rubbed his thumb against mine.

"I'm sorry," he said under his breath. "I truly am sorry. I-there's nothing..." his voice trailing off.

"What?" I asked. He looked at me with eyes so full of sorrow and regret, I thought he might actually cry.
"Looking back on the things that have happened throughout this week, I just feel like there was something I could've done so that things didn't turn out this way. Maybe if I had-"
"Peter, don't beat yourself up about that. I'm sure there's something all of us could've done to change things, but you know what? It doesn't matter. This is the way are, and we just have to accept that." His stared back at me with wet eyes from the tears he had held back. His gaze was considering what I had just said, despite the hardness from the pain the tears had rung up.
That's the way the rest of night went. It was another silent evening as we sat up against the wall listening to the other prisoner's sleep filled night.

Later, in the darkness of our cell, as I was just about to drift off to sleep, I heard movement in the tiny room. Opening my eyes, I saw it was just Peter rising from the wall. Wordlessly, I watched him lean up against the wall, sliding his hands into his pockets.

Shifting in my seat, I heard a quiet crrreeeaaak in the wall. Abruptly, I turned around just in time to see the wall cave in, Peter tumbling in with it.

"Oh my gosh! Are you okay?" I asked, helping him up.

"Yes, I'm alright." he replied, brushing the dirt off his jumpsuit.

"What was that?" I asked, peering into the hole where the wall used to be. "And why hasn't the rest of the wall fallen in?"

"It appears the wall was just a coverup."

"For what?"

"A tunnel." Peter said, stepping through the hole.

"What's a tunnel like that doing in a prison cell?" I asked, following Peter through the hole.

"I wouldn't be surprised if this was made by a prisoner," he said, looking around. "But I don't understand how he would be able to get away with such a thing. I see guards patrolling this hallway all the time."

"Maybe they didn't then."

"But don't you think they'd be able to hear it?"

"Maybe it wasn't a prisoner that did this then," I said, venturing further down the tunnel. "What if this is a way out?"

"How nice that would be." Peter sighed.

"What if?"

"We have only one way to find out."

"Then what are we standing here for? Lets go!" I exclaimed, grabbing Peter's arm and dashing off down the tunnel. Our first steps in, and we could barely see a thing, but it wasn't long before we saw a light at the end. As we walked closer, I couldn't help but smile. Freedom I thought. We might actually be free. The further we got down the tunnel, the stronger the light became. The darkness slowly fading away as the light replaced it, my smile grew bigger, but not just because of freedom, but also because of Peter. Because I knew he was feeling the same thing, going down this tunnel. I saw it in the way he walked, in his powerful, yet humble aura, growing stronger the closer we got to freedom.