In this Fifty Second Year of Order those that break the law forfeit their lives to the mines and are never seen again. Prisoner Four Three Eight’s number is up, he has been called and now he must forfeit his life to the mines.
A darkness is rising that has been forseen by a powerful visonary but the new regime will do anything to keep this new vision from public knowledge.
Fanfiction > Backstreet Boys Characters:
Action, Adventure, Alternate Universe, FantasyWarnings:
1. Chapter 1 by Purpura Lipstick
2. Chapter 2 by Purpura Lipstick
3. Chapter 3 by Purpura Lipstick
4. Chapter 4 by Purpura Lipstick
5. Chapter 5 by Purpura Lipstick
Chapter 1 by Purpura Lipstick
The atmosphere crackled with electricity as the loudspeakers came to life. “Prisoners, to your marks.” It was the only command made of them before the speakers went silent and the guards spread through the floors to ensure that the command was followed. The prisoners moved towards the middle of their cells and stood on the mark on the floor, hands in the air palms flat. The clear doors to the cells slid open signaling they were allowed to walk out into the corridor. In unison the prisoners walked forward and stood just outside their cells, palms still flat in the air. The door at the end of the corridor slid open and the prisoners took their cue and turned towards the door, walking in a single file line to the outdoor area where they would be permitted one hour of exercise.
Several lamps were stood dark around the blacktop they were forced to spend time on. Prisoners segregated themselves based on the crimes they had committed prior to being brought into prison. Each group had their own section of the yard they hung around and if anyone outside their group wandered into their area they had better be ready for a fight.
The Killers hung around the weights, they would sometimes lift weights but more than not they would simply hang around them so nobody else could use the equipment. Their name said it all they were guilty of murder. Despite their crime they were not the most feared or hated group in the prison yard.
The Gamers could be found on the basketball court, they would make use of the court and play each other in what appeared to be a never ending game of basketball. Gamers had been involved in anything from petty larceny to grand theft. Most had to learn to fight when they entered the prison system, joining the Gamer gang kept many thieves safe.
The Benchwarmers hung around the benches watching the other groups, always watching. Benchwarmers were hated by other inmates as their crimes were often seen as cowardly and pathetic. Most of the prison fights were with a Benchwarmer and a member of another gang. Even the deadliest murderer could not abide these men who were involved in some kind of sexual crime, rape and child molesting being the most common. The group was, however, the largest and they fiercely protected each other so fights with them ended up huge brawls unless the price could be paid for a Sniper to kill a Benchwarmer.
The furthest from the doors, half hidden in shadows was the Sniper gang. They were small but powerful. Most of these men could get anything another prisoner wanted inside the prison. If you were addicted to Joy they could smuggle it in, if you needed another inmate killed they could arrange it, they could do anything for the right price. These men were scum of society. Their businesses outside the walls oftentimes made them guilty of multiple crimes. Selling emotions to the black market was not for the weak-hearted and these men were proof of that.
Lastly, the Ladies hung around the doors. These men committed crimes that did not fit into one of the four main categories. They were considered weak and easy prey. Ladies would oftentimes find a protector in one of the other groups. Their protector would make sure that no one picked on them in exchange for other services the Ladies would provide.
Prisoner Four-Three-Eight never wandered into the yard he preferred to stay close to the wall. He did everything he could to get out of joining the others in the yard. He managed to be absent for exercise time most days but on the rare occasion he was forced to spend time outdoors with the rest of the population he stayed close to the wall. He never participated in the games of basketball that started up nor did he move to lift weights, to do so would be a sign that he was joining a gang.
No one on the inside knew what crime he was guilty of, he never spoke of it to anyone lest he be forced to join the gang of those who had committed a similar crime. He didn’t want to talk to the others. He knew he wasn’t any better than them, but choosing not to speak of his crime was one of the few freedoms he had left and he wanted to hold onto it as long as possible. He was better off alone against the wall.
His first trip to the yard was brutal. He wouldn’t speak of his crime so the others labeled him a Lady. When one of the Killers tried to get what he wanted in order to protect Eight there had been a fight and Eight had beaten the other man to a pulp. He had earned solitary for that but no one considered him a Lady anymore and they let him be.
His eyes scanned the yard as he watched the groups as they feigned their freedom and animosity towards each other. Four-Three-Eight wasn’t sure they really disliked each other or if it was just something that they thought they were supposed to do. It wouldn't matter once they ended up in the Mines. After watching for only moments, his eyes looked upwards towards the dome that surrounded their yard. The sun beat down unapologetically as the inmates went about their time outside.
“Eight,” a whispered voice came from a few yards away. He knew immediately it was his cell neighbor talking to him. He was the only one who even attempted to converse with the silent inmate any longer. His neighbor, inmate Four-Three-Nine had been chatty when he first arrived at the prison, asking him about his crime, his name, his past. Four-Three-Eight gave no information up so the man had started to call him ‘Eight’. No one else had been able to get his name out of him, the guards only called the inmates by their prisoner numbers and that suited him just fine. It wasn’t long before the other inmates started to call him Eight; even the guards would shorten his number to Eight when they ordered him about.
Eight turned his attention to the other man waiting to find out why he was pestering him during yard time. Typically, his cell neighbor, Four-Three-Nine, who told him his real name but Eight could never remember, hung around the Killers. He told Eight he hadn’t really killed anyone but he wasn’t joining the Ladies.
“Couldn’t pull dish duty today?” The man asked as he sat down next to Eight, much to his annoyance.
Eight shrugged and turned his eyes back to the top of the dome. He could really use a cigarette but he wasn’t going to approach the Snipers to try to get one. He wasn’t sure what they would want from him in return and he couldn’t chance letting anyone in this place know that he had a weakness for nicotine. Almost as if his cell neighbor could read his mind he pulled out a pack of cigarettes and offered Eight one before pulling one out for himself. Eight waited for his turn with the match, he ignored it when the match burned too close to his fingers as he lit his cigarette.
“Thanks,” he muttered as he savored the nicotine that he got from taking his first drag in months.
“Not as good as Joy but it will do, eh?” Four-Three-Nine said before taking another drag from his cigarette. The man held his breath before releasing the smoke, blowing it towards the top of the dome. “Though nothing beats Hope.”
Eight didn’t say anything in response to his neighbor’s comments. He silently puffed his cigarette and watched the sky. He didn’t need to reply to this man about how addicting Emotions were he watched his mother waste away addicted to Emotions and what was done to her through the guise of helping her.
He forced his mind away from thoughts of his mother as the finished smoking his cigarette in silence. The loudspeaker crackled on again announcing that yard time was over and all prisoners were to line up to be led back inside to their cells.
Eight took his place in line in front of Four-Three-Nine and waited to file into the building. The floor thundered as the men returned to their cells and took their places back on the mark on the floor facing the door palms flat. The doors slid shut and they were released to do whatever they could do to pass the time in their solitary cells. Eight wished they were more solitary. He didn’t share a cell with anyone but it didn’t matter in the Glass House. The cells were all made of a clear and unbreakable Plexiglas. Eight could see all the other prisoners around and across from him. Guards could watch you piss if they so inclined. It was the smallest price paid for committing crimes and being caught in the Fifty Second Year of Order.
“Attention,” A voice crackled over the speaker system. Every inmate stopped and looked towards the speaker closest to them. The only reason for an announcement after yard time and before dinner was to announce those that would be sent to the mines the following day. They would be able to request a special dinner that night as their last in the comforts of prison.
Every inmate feared the time they would be called to go into the bowels of the earth to the mines. None of them could predict when they would call their number for them to report. When the penal system had first been established the new regime knew they could not continually feed lawbreakers without the public revolting again so they put in place a program in which the prisoners could earn their freedom. The program appeased those who still wanted leniency for the criminals and yet was determined harsh enough for those who wanted the criminals to pay in some manner. But the program failed. The prisoners kept going into the mines, but none ever earned their freedom and those that would protest were too busy with other problems to protest the treatment of lawbreakers.
Eight started to pick the dirt from under his nails as he waited for the voice to continue. When the voice finally came back he held his breath as he waited for the numbers to be called hoping that he was excluded from this batch.
“The following prisoners will get to choose their meals tonight and will report for duty in the mines in the morning.” Eight held his breath as the numbers started to be called. They were numbers no where near his own. If he believed it would have helped he would have crossed his fingers in hopes he wouldn't get called.
“Four three nine,” As his neighbor's number was called he glanced briefly at the man who's face had fallen into a solemn expression he wasn't sure he'd ever seen the man wear before.
“And finally, Four three eight.”
Eight's breath caught in his throat as he heard his number. He was still looking in the direction of Four three nine's cell and the other man looked up and caught his eye. The fear in his neighbor's eyes was apparent and was surely mirroring his own fear. Eight closed his eyes, took a few deep breaths and leaned back on his bed once again.
A small, thin smile spread across his face. At least he'd finally have a decent meal.
Chapter 2 by Purpura Lipstick
It wasn’t the sound of the alarms blaring that woke Eight from his sleep; it was the man’s hands wrapped around his throat keeping him from breathing that brought him out of what had been a pleasant nights rest after a very filling and satisfying dinner.
It wasn’t a guard in his cell, the man strangling him was part of The Killers but why was he in there, why was he being strangled? The questions flew through his mind but he had no time to process why this was happening, it was happening and he was unable to breathe. Eight grabbed the hands at his throat and started to pull them away. He threw his body weight around to try to force the man off of him but to no avail. The man pinned him down to the bed and held tight to his neck.
The cell started to go dark and Eight thought he’d see his life flash before his eyes; him as a child wandering the streets with his mother looking for food, and later as a teen turning to the life of crime that would later land him in this prison. But there was nothing, no images, just darkness.
His lungs started to burn from lack of air and suddenly he could see light again as he gasped for air, feeling as if he would never be able to take in enough to feel right again. He realized the hands were no longer at his throat and someone was pulling him up into a standing position. He tried to sit back down to give himself more time to recover the air into his lungs but the other person pulled him right back up.
“No time,” the voice he recognized as his neighbors said to him as he pulled him from the cell.
Eight’s eyes finally adjusted and he was able to see what was going on around him. The doors to all the cells were open and the guards were trying to contain the prisoners and regain control of the prison. “What the hell?” he said as he dodged a punch that was aimed at another man who also dodged the attack. The entire prison was an all out brawl as inmates fought guards, inmates fought other inmates and even a few guards were attacking other guards. Eight briefly wondered how this started as he followed his neighbor through the chaos of the prison.
“Where are we going?” he managed to ask his neighbor as they ran.
The other man gave no response as they continued to run down hallways avoiding other inmates and guards. He wondered why the guards weren’t trying to stop them from getting away but two inmates not fighting with anyone were probably not a high priority for them with the riot going on in the main detention area.
Finally his neighbor stopped running and stood outside a door, “Ready?” He asked. Before Eight could decide if he was ready or not the door was being pushed open and two other inmates were standing inside. Eight noticed that one was a Gamer and the other he believed as a Sniper.
“Bout time,” the Gamer looked behind them nervously.
“Who’s this?” the Sniper pointed to him but the question was directed at his neighbor.
“He was called to the mines. When the riot broke out some Killer tried to take him out so I decided to grab him to bring him along.”
“If this operation goes sour because of him I will personally see that you killed slowly and painfully.”
Eight couldn’t help but roll his eyes at the talk. “Wouldn’t it be better to get moving? Better chance of the operation not going wrong.” The Sniper glared at him meaning to scare him but Eight held his eye contact without flinching.
“Move,” The Gamer shouted and Eight noticed his neighbor climbing into what looked like a chute. The Gamer followed him; the Sniper broke eye contact with Eight before turning to go down himself.
Eight watched as the last man disappeared. He had no idea where they were headed but it had to be better than down into the mines never to emerge again. He could hear shouts from the guards as they started to get closer to the room, they were shouting about missing prisoners. Had the riot calmed down enough for them to notice the four of them missing already? Eight didn’t have time to investigate; if he wanted to get out he would have to follow the other three. He opened the chute and saw a tube; he climbed in and started to slide down. He was three feet in when the tube disconnect from the chute he crawled into. The tube started to move away from the building faster than he was coming out of it. The opened was almost to where he was at, he rolled and tried to make himself go down faster but the opening continued to come. Grabbing the end of the tube he held on before he could be yanked out. He managed to hold on and move at the same pace as the retracting tube.
“What the…?” he shouted as he crashed to the ground suddenly.
“I told you to wait,” He heard his neighbor yelling.
“We couldn’t risk being found and he was taking too long,” the voice of the Sniper caught Eight’s ears.
“You could’ve killed him.” His neighbor shouted at him.
Eight stood and brushed himself off catching a shrug from the Sniper. “Let’s move,” he barked out as the Gamer started to follow him.
“Hey sorry about him,” His neighbor said. He motioned for Eight to follow and the two men started to jog along. Somehow they had made their way outside the dome that enclosed the prison. Eight wondered how it was set up, how a Killer, a Gamer and a Sniper hung around each other long enough to plan this without raising suspicions from the guards or their groups. Questions would have to wait, Eight was out and no longer headed towards the mine and he planned to keep it that way so he ran following the Sniper whether he liked the man or not.
It wasn’t long before they heard sirens coming from the prison signaling an escape and all four of the escapees picked up their pace. They reached a nearby wooded area and the Sniper stopped them. Catching his breath he glared at Eight before turning to the others. “This is where we split; no point in staying together it will only get us caught faster.” He nodded at the Gamer and Eight’s neighbor before running off to the west. The Gamer said nothing as he headed off towards the North.
Eight wondered where he would go with the freedom he never thought he would attain, especially after his number was called to the mines. His neighbor caught his eye and shrugged before running off into the east. There went his final chance of finding out how the escape was planned.
Eight looked around wondering which direction to go, if he headed south he would head back towards the prison, he knew he wouldn’t go west, the less chance of running into the Sniper the better. By now he could the sounds of guards shouting, he had no more time to think he followed ran to the northeast.
The path was relatively easy to follow at first giving Eight fear that he would be easily found, they would be able to see his tracks without underbrush or leaves to cover the obvious path he was leaving as he ran. He could hear someone following after him and he started to run faster. It wasn’t until his stomach leapt into his chest that he realized he had run off the side of a hill and was falling. The fall was, luckily, only five feet or so before his feet slammed into the ground again. He couldn’t catch himself fast enough and was soon propelling head over feet down the side of the mountain.
Eight eventually stopped and moved to hide behind a nearby bush. The ruckus that he caused falling was sure to catch some attention. He looked towards the top of the hill and saw a head peeking over the side. The person stepped carefully over the edge and dropped down with ease. Without being caught off guard the other man was able to run down the path Eight made by tumbling. Eight hid further behind the bush.
“Eight,” the man’s voice was a loud whisper.
Carefully Eight moved some of the branches a part to get a look at the man who spoke his name, it was his neighbor. He stuck his head out from behind the bush.
“What are you doing?” Eight hissed.
“My path was cut off; I circled back and saw you fall.” The man moved closer to Eight and found another cluster of bushes to hide behind.
The two men sat in silence as they heard a ruckus of guards at the top of the hill. Eight wanted to look to see if any of them realized they had gone down the side but if he looked chances were that would be the time that a guard would be checking it out and with the sky getting somewhat lighter it would be easier for them to see his head if he looked. He would have to sit tight and hope they didn’t have the brains to look down.
After several minutes of silence the noise from the guards moved along and Eight took a chance to look towards the top of the hill. He thought they were in the clear when he happened to notice movement at the top. A man came into view looking in the direction he assumed the rest of the guards had moved in. They left a man to stand near the area. He was probably there to watch over the side to make sure they weren’t actually down there hiding. Eight silently cursed before sitting back behind the bush motioned for his neighbor to stay silent. He needed to think of something, it wouldn’t be long before the others would realize the trail had gone cold the direction they were in and they would circle back and all come down the hill.
His eyes fell on a rock near his foot. Slowly he moved towards it and grabbed hold. Closing his eyes and offering a silent prayer to any deity that might help an escapee he threw the rock up and towards the direction the rest of the guards had run in. Once he released the rock he had lost hope of it distracting anyone. The rock fell only a few feet away from him. “Damn,” his silent curse came out of his mouth instead of staying in his head. He couldn’t bear to look at the other man who was near him. His bad throw was going to doom them both. His eyes were still closed when he heard a sound of trees further off crashing. The rest of the guards must be coming back.
“Move,” the other man’s rushed voice whispered to him.
He opened his eyes and chanced a glance up the hill. The guard had run towards the trees giving them a moment to get out and further down the hill.
Eight sighed to himself when they came upon a river. Without speaking they both knew that they needed to walk in the riverbed. They may not have heard dogs but it couldn't be long before the guards brought them out and they needed to hide their scent.
The two walked in silence for several more hours. There was no sun to judge the time of day anymore but the sky was as light as it was going to get so Eight knew it was time to find a place and stop until it was dark once again. It wouldn't be long until darkness fell but they needed to hide. He spotted a cave and gave a low whistle to his companion. The man turned and noticed. They made their way over grabbing several leaves and branches as they walked. When they crawled inside they sat and covered themselves with the foliage they had gathered. Eight looked around the cave and hoped that no animal was also calling it home. Closing his eyes he drifted into a fitful sleep.
Chapter 3 by Purpura Lipstick
Eight heard movement inside the cave and cautiously he opened his eyes to see who or what it was moving around. He sat up when he realized it was just his neighbor shifting his position sitting against the cave wall.
“Did you sleep?” he asked his companion though by the look of the other man it was apparent he hadn’t.
The other man shook his head and looked towards the opening. “I kept hearing sounds all night that sounded like footsteps. I can’t go back Eight.” The man hugged his knees to his chest as he stared out the opening of the cave. After several minutes of silence between the two men the other turned to ask him, “How were you able to sleep?”
Eight shook his head; he didn’t want to discuss his past with this man who was still so much a stranger to him. There were too many nights with explosions and riots that, as a child, he had learned to sleep through. Screams that could be heard down the road or right next door. He didn’t want to tell the other man that it was the silence he had to get used to sleeping in. He hadn’t slept that well anyway, his dreams always plagued him.
When he noticed Eight was not going to answer his question he asked another. “What now?”
“Don’t you have somewhere to be, someone to go to?” Eight asked. The sooner his companion left him in peace the sooner he could determine his next step. He never thought he’d be free again, he would have to think about what he would do with his freedom, plot revenge or find …her.
“…but I doubt I’d be welcome,” Eight caught the end of what the other man had been saying.
“Who wouldn’t welcome you?” Really he just wanted to be left alone with his thoughts. He had a lot to think about and he actually agreed with the Sniper about them needing to be separate in order to not get caught.
The other man stared at him dumbfounded. “You have heard nothing I’ve told you all these months on the inside or just now have you? I bet you don’t even know my name.”
Eight sat staring at the entrance to the cave. Of course he hadn’t listened to the other man who insisted on talking to him when he had wanted to be alone to brood in his own misfortune at being in prison, eventually being sent to the mines to die and what he had done to be in that situation in the first place.
“Howard,” The other man spoke sticking out his hand, “but like I said before you can call me Howie.” He was actually smiling at Eight as he gave him his name. Eight stared at the hand in front of him and reluctantly shook it realizing that was the only way to get Howie to back off. Howie continued to stand looking at Eight looking at him expectantly. Eight looked towards the ground; he wasn’t going to provide this man with his name. As far as Eight was concerned his prior life was over, he had no right to his name any more; he was and forever would be Eight.
Howie, realizing Eight wasn’t going to say anything more, moved back to his place in the cave and sat down. His eyes found the opening of the cave and he continued to watch for anyone approaching outside.
Eight looked outside and watched for the sky to darken more. He knew it would be better to move about in utter darkness. It would be hard for them to see, yes, but it would also make it hard for those searching for them to see them as well. Sitting was becoming difficult for Eight to continue so he stood and began to pace the small cave. He noted he was biting his fingernails, he could use a nicotine fix. He looked towards Howie and wondered if the other man had any cigarettes on him but he didn’t want to ask. He didn’t want to appear that he needed the other man for anything. The situation had forced them together but he wanted to be on his own.
“Can you stop pacing, you are making me more nervous,” Howie spoke softly though he kept his eyes on the opening of the cave.
Eight mumbled a response before moving further back into the cave. His eyes adjusted to the darkness at the back of the cave as he leaned against the back wall taking in the coolness of the stone. His fingers found some lines in the stone and started to trace the lines. It wasn’t until he reached a curve in the line he started to wonder if these were natural formations. He stood back and let his eyes adjust to the darkness.
“Hey,” he called out to his companion, “Do you have a light?”
He heard Howie stand and move towards the back of the cave with him. “Now is not the time to smoke what if guards are out there and smell it?” He spoke in quiet tones.
Eight grumbled, he could really use a cigarette and now he knew even if Howie had some he wouldn’t share now. “Not that smoking doesn’t sound like something to do as we wait; I think I found something strange.”
“Is it an animal?” The other man asked backing back towards the cave again.
“No, it’s on the wall.” Eight held out his hand waiting for the lighter or matches to be placed in his hand. He hoped the other man smuggled a lighter out as it would prove more usual and easier to keep dry as they traveled. He felt the coolness of the metal before and he saw the lighter placed in his hand. He mumbled his thanks before turning back to the wall.
The glow from the lighter was small but it was enough to aide his eyes viewing the image on the back of the wall. Eight’s eyes grew wide as he took in the image on the wall. He was right that the lines were not natural formations on the rock. He gasped as he saw a large disc that looked layered over another disc. The second disc had rays coming from it; Eight assumed it was the sun behind something. Three men stood below the disc looking up, a hooded figure stood further back from the men looking up. At the feet of the three men lay a body, Eight could not tell if the body was a man or a woman but there was a design on the arm of the body; a circle with a star inside on the left arm.
“What is that?” Howie asked him. The other man was staring at the wall over Eight’s shoulder.
Eight shook his head unable to provide an answer to a question that he was asking himself. What did the picture mean, did it mean anything at all, and who carved it and left it in a cave in a seemingly unpopulated area? Eight closed the lighter and doused the men in darkness again. Unlike his counterpart, Eight stood still until his eyes could adjust to the dark again. He pocketed the lighter then moved back towards the front of the cave where Howie was sitting and staring out into growing darkness at the mouth of the cave.
“When should we…”
“Now is as good a time as any,” Eight interrupted him before he could ask when they should leave. Eight moved to the front of the cave and cast a glance around to see if he could see anything. He listened for the sounds of footsteps or dogs. Hearing nothing he moves from the inside of the cave and takes a few steps around glancing around. He could see no footprints around the cave; it didn’t even appear that the guards had discovered the direction they had moved in.
Eight motioned for Howie to exit the cave and follow him. He heard the other man’s hesitant steps behind him as they started to move away from the cave. Eight kept his eyes to the ground, looking for any signs that anybody else had been that way. He didn’t see anything for the next several feet so he looked up towards the sky. The moon was glowing, dimly, as it floated high above them. He looked back to make sure Howie was keeping up. His companion was coming along slowly so Eight decided to wait for the man. As he waited he spotted a branch lying at his feet. He picked it up and noticed it was a good length for a walking stick and could be useful to fight off any animals they may encounter, or guards.
“Do you have any idea where you are going?” Howie asked when he finally caught up.
Eight answered by spinning his newfound walking stick around getting a feel for it. He shrugged, he knew of a place but it would be tricky to get there and once he did, well he didn’t want to think about that. He didn’t verbally answer the other man but nodded and turned in the direction to a safe house he’d known about before he’d been imprisoned. It was the last place he wanted to be, but at least he could ditch his old neighbor, Howie, once he got there and finally head off on his own.
Chapter 4 by Purpura Lipstick
Eight could hear the steady rhythm of Howie walking behind him as they continued to walk through the night. Neither one had spoken since Eight told him he knew where they could go; Eight just hoped that they wouldn’t run into any guards searching for them between here and their destination.
“Wait,” His companion muttered. “Need a break.”
Eight stopped and turned to face the other man, the sky was starting to get light again and they still had a good distance to travel. Eight had not seen kind of cave or any rock outcrops that the two could hide behind to sleep with less fear of being discovered. They needed to keep going but at the same time, he was glad the other man requested a break, he could use one too.
Eight hoped that Howie would be too tired to ask any questions, he wasn’t up for answering any questions. He was never up for answering questions but that, he knew, never stopped his neighbor before. Howie was the only one who tried to talk to him in prison after that time in the yard; he was the only one who would approach him. The more Eight thought about it, the stranger it was.
This other man who only said he killed someone so he wouldn’t be considered a Lady was the only one who really talked to him, tried to get to know him no matter how he acted towards him. Howie was the one that helped him escape. For the first time since he’d met his companion he actually found himself wondering what it was the other man had done to land himself in the prison, what his story was.
Eight shook his head trying to make the questions disappear. It wasn’t his business why the other man was in prison, he didn’t share why he was why should he expect another person to share that information with him.
“Where are we going?” Howie finally broke the silence.
“It’s a place with a roof,” Eight said aloud, it was a place he’d called home for several years before he turned to the crimes that lead him to where he was now.
“Well a roof is good,” Howie replied. Eight couldn’t see it but he was sure the other man was smiling at his answer.
“I should just give you the directions to get there, it isn’t much further.” Eight hoped maybe the other man would agree to split up again. It really would be safer for them both, plus Eight didn’t really want to show up at the house they were heading to; too many memories.
“Why wouldn’t you continue on? I’m sure you could use a roof,” Howie chuckled at his own comment.
“We really should split up, less chance of getting caught,” Eight’s voice was insistent though he could already see Howie shaking his head.
“No, we need to stick together.” Before Eight could ask the other man why, Howie continued. “I don’t know the place we are going, you do. We don’t know everything out in these woods but I have a feeling you would be better prepared than I if we ran into trouble. I would just feel more comfortable if we traveled together.”
“So you need me to protect you? I guess you are a Lady after all.” Eight didn’t laugh at his remark but a faint smile could be seen on his lips that Howie must have caught sight of.
“So there is a sense of humor in there somewhere,” Howie let his grin get wider not attempting to hide it like Eight was trying to do. “I’m ready to go again.”
Eight breathed a sigh of relief. The other man had been sitting there watching him for a few minutes after the “Lady” comment and it was starting to make him feel uneasy. He desperately wanted to be moving again with his back to his traveling companion again.
They had taken only a couple of steps before a rustling to their left caused both men to stop again. Eight could feel his heart beating faster in his chest as he stood still waiting. Thankfully, Howie had known to keep quiet and stop moving as well. The sounds continued to get closer to them; Eight could hear voices and the whimpering noises of a dog.
Quickly Eight ducked down hoping that the bushes he was near would help hide him. Movement in the corner of his eye alerted him that Howie had also ducked down. The other man may be a chatty busybody as far as Eight was concerned but he knew how to be calm and follow direction without speaking when needed.
The voices got closer as they sat hiding. The sky was continuing to get light and the bushes were not tall enough. Eight knew that if the dogs caught their scent and the men came in their direction they were going to get caught. Eight braced himself to do something he’d only done a few other times out of necessity; he mentally prepared himself to fight. As he predicted the dogs started wailing in their direction and Eight could hear the voices of the men excited that they finally caught a trail.
“Over here,” He could hear one man say, it wasn’t hard to see them approaching now; they were in Eight’s line of sight which meant it was only a matter of time before they could see him. Eight could see Howie starting to panic; he held his hand out flat to indicate the other man to relax. If Howie ran, he’d be caught for sure. He didn’t have time to wonder about what the other man was going to do as it was apparent they had been seen.
“There you are!” The guard shouted as he let the dog loose. Eight stood and swung his walking stick. The branch hitting the dogs head was a sickening crunch and Eight felt bad for a second that he had to kill the animal but he knew if he didn’t the animal would attach to his leg and render him immobile.
The guard approaching Eight pulled out his baton and flung it forward so it would expand. He blocked Eight’s attempt to hit him upside the head and pushed Eight backwards. The guard took his opportunity with Eight stumbling backwards and began to wail down on Eight with his baton. Eight managed to get his walking stick between the baton and him just in time to block several of the hits. His hands tingled with pain from the shock of the baton impacting with his walking stick. His arms were beginning to weaken holding the stick as he finally caught himself from falling completely backwards. He tried to push forward, tried to make an attack move but the guard was relentless with his attacks.
Eight cursed himself for getting in this position. He should have left Howie in the cave last night alone, he would have been fine alone but now he was going to be killed here or taken back to the prison, back to the mines and his ultimate death. The force the other man was throwing at him knocked him to the ground. He still held is walking stick up but it was only a matter of time before his arms gave out. With Eight on the ground the guard took this chance to use his feet on him as well. He landed a kick to Eight’s side causing him to move to try to block another attack on that side. The guard landed another hit on the walking stick, this time hitting his hand with a force that caused Eight to open his hand and drop his only weapon.
Eight looked up at the smirk on the other man’s face and braced himself for the next onslaught that would likely kill him or leave him dying. He closed his eyes waiting for the pain but nothing came. He looked up and saw the guard on the ground, Howie straddling the man, struggling with the guard in an attempt to get the baton from the guard’s hand.
Eight quickly stood and grabbed his walking stick. With a quick glance around to find the other guard still a few feet away he moved over to the guard on the ground and used the wide end of the branch that had killed the dog on the side of the guard. He didn’t give the man any chance to recover from his hit before he hit him again. Howie realizing he was somewhat in the way of the blows quickly got off the man but kept fighting for the baton. Eight used this as a chance to hit the guard with multiple blows, eventually the guard no longer struggled and Howie held tight to the baton as they both turned to face the other guard who was rushing at them. This one had a gun pulled and was taking aim.
“NO!” Howie shouted holding his hand out towards the guard. Eight stared in disbelief as Howie’s hand lit up and a white ball shot from his hand and collided with the guard knocking him easily to the ground. Eight stared in disbelief at the other man.
“What the fuck was that?” He finally managed to shout at his companion.
Howie pushed the baton closed and stuffed in the waistband of his pants. “We should go.” He said as he continued in the direction they were heading to the safe house.
“No, not until you tell me what the hell that was.” Eight stood in his spot and stared after Howie who continued to walk. He groaned and jogged to catch up to the other man. “What was that?” He asked again when he caught up.
Howie sighed, “That was the reason I was in that hell hole,” He answered finally shrugging.
“If you could do that, how could they keep you there?”
“Something in the walls of the prison kept it deep inside of me, inert. I just felt it come back.”
“And you need me to protect you?” Eight shook his head and mumbled under his breath.
“Something like that,” Howie looked at Eight with a wide grin on his face, winking when Eight caught his eye. “Now how much further until we get to this safe house?”
Howie and AJ have taken over, the end scene played very differently in my head but this is how it came out because of the characters.
Chapter 5 by Purpura Lipstick
“Explain this to me,” Eight walked alongside Howie. “You were in prison because of that…thing you could do?”
“More or less,” Howie responded. “It’s kind of complicated.”
“How can you even do that anyway?” Eight asked. How could any human create a ball of energy that they can shoot at others rendering them unconscious or worse?
“Honestly, I don’t know,” Howie sighed. “I really don’t want to talk about it.” Howie added as he walked a bit faster to get ahead of Eight.
Eight wouldn’t take that for an answer. He caught back up with Howie. “You can’t steal my line,” he let a small chuckle escape as the other man looked at him and smiled slightly. “How long have you been able to do that?”
Howie shrugged as he walked. “There is a good chunk of my life that is missing. I remember growing up with my parents, I remember their deaths. Then I have a huge chunk of memory missing until about three months before I was captured and imprisoned. I don’t remember being able to create the energy as a child and then I could.” Howie looked sad as he talked about the past he could remember.
“Maybe it’s for the better you can’t remember all that time. I can remember all of my past and it’s not really something I want to remember, I’d rather have a black hole where they should be.” Eight caught a sidelong look at Howie expecting him to say something about continuing, something about his past.
“If you had a hole in your memory you wouldn’t be saying that, you are only saying that because you do remember. If you couldn’t remember you’d want to find out what happened during all of that time too.” Howie stopped and looked ahead of them at the town they had finally reached. “Is this it?”
Eight stopped and looked at the fence that was supposed to keep the out the outside world. His eyes traveled the length looking for the hole he knew existed. He hoped no one had actually gotten around to patching the fence like they always talked about. His eyes fell on the opening and he let his face smile. “Yes, this is it.” He said as he started to walk towards the opening.
Howie looked around at the run down houses that looked as if they needed to be destroyed and completely rebuilt on the other side of the fence and was apprehensive to start walking towards the edge. “Are you sure there is a safe house here?”
Eight turned and looked at the other man. “Welcome to my home,” Eight motioned towards the houses on the other side of the fence. “You wanted to know something of my past? This is where I grew up, we will be safe.” He said ‘we’ to get the other man to come forward. He knew Howie would be safe but he wasn’t so sure he would be welcome or particularly safe after everything he’d done.
Howie must have accepted the answer as he started to walk towards the opening. Eight could see the look of disgust on Howie’s face though he was sure the other man was likely trying to hide it. “Not what you are used to?” He asked the other man.
Howie shook his head. “Not that I can remember,” He shrugged. “With my parents we lived in a house with five rooms and three bathrooms, lots of room even with all my brothers and sisters. Then, the place I stayed before I was hauled off to prison was rundown but still nicer than these.” Howie ducked through the hole in the fence and stepped over a river of fluid running through the street, he didn’t want to look closer as he was pretty sure the residents did not have indoor plumbing and likely dumped buckets out onto the street and it was evident by the smell. He tried hard not to scrunch his nose in disgust but the smell was too strong and it wasn’t long before he brought is arm up to cover his nose in an attempt to block the smell.
Eight chuckled behind the other man at his reaction. “You’ll get used to it.” Eight said turning from the hole in the fence in the direction of the safe house.
“But do I really want to?” Howie mumbled as he turned to follow the other man.
They walked through the streets. Eight ignored the staring faces, he knew many of them still recognized him and were wondering what he was doing there. Thankfully, the stranger he was walking with garnered more stares and whispers and their attention quickly shifted from him to Howie. Some of the children started to trail behind them despite their mothers calling after them. Eight could hear Howie telling the children to go back to their mothers but none of the children were listening.
Eight shook his head and turned down the next alley that would lead them to the safe house. Their destination was at the end of the road and by the time they reached the door the children had all run off. Eight knew why, this was a place that all mothers had taught their children to avoid. Only the most daring of kids would actually try to prove their bravery by coming near. It wasn’t an evil place, but it was a place that caused a few problems for the town already. The building stood alone at the end of the alley, it was easily the largest building in the town but it was just as run down as all the others. Eight had always been amazed that this house had remained standing. It was one of the original buildings for this area though the glass of the windows was long gone, replaced by boards with gaps large enough to put a barrel of a gun through. Eight eyed the guards peeking through the windows and he knew there were some outside the house guarding the perimeter.
Eight held his hands up showing they were empty and looked towards Howie who followed suit. They approached the building and knocked on the door.
“Safe…house?” Howie questioned as he saw a guard come around the front porch pointing a gun in their direction.
“You don’t feel safe?” Eight asked with a smirk before turning his attention back to the door that was creaking open.
“What are you doing here, I told you never to return,” The man standing behind the door stood glaring at Eight. They stood like that for several more minutes, both refusing to be the first man to drop his gaze.
Howie looked between the two men as they stood staring at each other. The distant bark of a dog caused him to jump.
“Um, hello,” he spoke up and stuck his hand out towards the man who opened the door. “I’m Howie,” He smiled at the other man hoping to ease some of the tension he felt coming off both of the other two men. “I was told that I would be able to get a meal and a roof over my head to rest here.” He continued to hold out his hand to the other man waiting to get greeted.
The other man dropped his gaze from Eight and looked down at Howie’s hand. He did not move his hands from where they were crossed against his chest but he did speak.
“Come in,” He sighed and let the men enter. “Would you prefer to eat or sleep first?”
“Sleep,” Howie sighed exhausted since he had not slept since before he escaped from the prison.
“This way,” the dark haired man led him away from the entrance where Eight was still entering.
Eight felt a sense of pride at beating the caretaker at the staring contest they were having. He ignored the fact that it was his duty to help and Howie was asking for help, he’d beaten the other man. He watched as the caretaker took Howie up the stairs to the sleeping rooms and then glanced around the first floor. Much of it remained the same from the last time he was there though he did see a few new pieces of furniture in the main gathering room. Dust did not cover everything like it had before and Eight wondered where they’d found the schmuck they could convince to clean the place.
He grinned remembering the meetings that he’d attended in that room, the plans that had been made. Eight shook his head remembering the last meeting in that room, the one in which he’d been kicked out. It was the actions he’d done that got him kicked out that had led him down the path in which he ended up prisoner 438 up until a couple of days ago.
He turned from the memories and made his way to the kitchen. He opened several cabinets and found what he was looking for. He opened the box of crackers he found then pulled open the cold chest and grabbed a beer, smiling that they still stocked the chest full of beer, it was a big draw to get some of the men of the town involved in their cause, give them beer. Eight sat down with his crackers and beer and tried to only remember the good times he had at this place. His happy memories didn’t last long; the caretaker was soon standing in his line of sight.
“I should kick you out right now,” the other man started.
“Then why don’t you,” Eight challenged.
“Alex, you always did like to play the martyr,” the caretaker continued.
“It’s Eight, Alex died the day you kicked me out of here,” Eight glared at the older man.
“Don’t think I don’t know where you two came from. A wire was sent over the band about four prisoners that escaped and the numbers on your clothes make it apparent.” The man pointed to Eight’s chest where the patch with 438 was sewed on, partially falling off after their exploits today.
“You can stay the night,” the caretaker said as he turned. “Then I want you out in the morning.”
“Kevin,” Eight called after the older man who was still walking away. “Keep Howie protected, the Regime should not have access to him and who knows he might join your cause.”
Kevin turned and looked back at Eight with a confused look.
“I can’t tell you, you’ll have to ask Howie, just one last favor for me, for the Alex you used to know.” Eight hated to plead like he was now but Howie got him out of the prison and Kevin was a good man, even if he’d deny that if actually asked, that would protect him.
Eight looked down at the beer in front of him and back up to Kevin who was starting up the stairs. “I never meant to involve her. I will make it right,” He called out after the older man who simply shrugged his shoulders and continued on up the stairs.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.