The Saints

Page 27

He could wait this out. He could do it. He just had to last until his dad stormed the school with the other parents, and came for him. Only, it was taking longer than he’d expected.

Sam looked up. Someone stood beyond the door, in the shadows, watching him. Sam stared the kid down, even though he couldn’t see his face. It was probably Will. He’d come and watch Sam for sometimes twenty minutes. Sam knew what that was about. Fear. The kid was in over his head and he knew it. Will was looking for some way to undo the knot he’d tied his dick into, but there was no way out for that kid. Sam was going to find Will when he got out. He was going to cut Will’s throat out.

The door to Sam’s cell opened.

It wasn’t Will. It was Gates that stepped in. He kicked the plate of Ho-Hos forward a foot on the floor.

“You really should eat more,” Gates said.

“Bring me a steak,” Sam said, his voice cracking from so little use.

“No problem. All we have to do is ask your pops.”

Sam laughed. Here’s where it came, the part where they’d force him to make a plea to his dad, to pull at his heartstrings, to cry and scream and get his dad to cry and scream too, all so the parents would finally give in.

“In your fucking dreams, rich boy,” Sam said.

“Whoa,” Gates said, frowning. “Fine by me. I don’t care.”

Sam didn’t quite understand the response, and it threw him off.

“You got a real temper, huh?” Gates said.

“You can’t break me down,” Sam said, getting more fed up by the second. “I’m never going to be your puppet. You can break every bone in my body, I am never going say what you want me to say.”

Gates twisted his head with a confused look and smushed his eyebrows down like a caveman with a cell phone.

“I don’t want you to say anything,” Gates said. “They just want to see you. If that means I keep getting what I want, fine by me.”

“Give up the act,” Sam said, shaking his head. “I know he hasn’t given you what you want. That’s why you need me to talk to him.”

Gates started laughing.

“What the hell are you talking about, man?” Gates said. “Haven’t you seen us walking by with all our new shit? Your dad gave us everything we wanted.”

“I know that’s all fake,” Sam said, sweat pouring down his forehead, dripping from his eyelashes.

“Fake, huh?” Gates was laughing solidly now. “Wow. I thought you were slow when you couldn’t figure out your gang sacked you, but this is bonkers—”

Sam thrust himself off the cot and charged Gates. He laid his shoulder squarely into Gates ribs, knocking the Saint off his feet. Gates landed on the toilet, but by then, Sam had already stomped his foot into the plate of Ho-Hos and sprung out of his cell. He scrambled left into the hallway and saw the doorway out of the processing facility, with no one guarding it.

He pushed off down the hall. He heard shouting behind him, hammering footsteps too. All he had to do was get to the red button to the right of the door. The white room was beyond it. He remembered it all from the day the Saints first arrived.

Something swung out from the doorway of an open containment cell. It cracked across his chest and knocked the wind out of him. His body crashed hard against the floor, and before he could catch his breath, Sam was surrounded by Saints.

Will stepped in, blocking Sam’s view of the door. He wore a heavy down vest and held an aluminum bat over his shoulder. He looked down at Sam with a fierceness that made Sam second-guess everything he’d thought when he was in his cell. Gates threw his arm around Will and shook him with delight.

“Atta boy, Willie! What a hit!” Gates said, then turned to the other Saints. “Let’s get the little prince out to the quad before his daddy has a breakdown. I can’t wait to get my hands on the new stuff!”

The Saints hoisted Sam up. Nothing made sense. His father had really given in to their demands right away? He must have had no faith that Sam could escape himself.

A Saint peeled a long strip of duct tape and pressed it over Sam’s eyes. The first image he saw when his eyes were closed was his father’s glimmering key chain falling through the night sky. The Fighting Irish. It was a symbol of endurance to his family. His dad’s alma mater, all four years on a full football scholarship. It was a message for Sam to stay strong and kick ass. But instead, Sam had gone and fallen apart. He could see it all clearly now. It had been game over from the minute he let himself get captured. He’d given his dad no other choice but to treat him like a baby.

Someone shoved Sam forward.

“Move it.”

He did what they said.


LUCY STOCKED THE ALREADY PACKED shelves in the kitchen hall with energy drinks, sleeves of microwaveable popcorn, squeeze bottles of chocolate syrup, and whatever other goodies were in the bulk boxes on the floor. Such an excess of food should have been comforting to her. But it was beginning to gross her out. Lucy didn’t like what the food drops had become. Initially, she didn’t think she could trust the parents, but over time she saw that the parents were trying to help them, and protect them. Once she allowed herself to wonder if her mom and dad were up there with Sam’s parents, then she couldn’t get right with the way everybody, and Will especially, was treating them.

As Lucy tried to make room on the bottom shelf for a row of energy bars, she heard the scuff of feet behind her. She glanced back to see a Slut holding a flower in a clay pot. The girl held it close to her heart, and guarded it closely with her arms. The flower mesmerized Lucy. It was a ball of tiny petals, a pom of white on top of wide green leaves. She hadn’t seen something so precious and lovely in all her time in McKinley. Where did she get it? Lucy had never seen any flowers in any of the food drops.

Lucy forgot about the energy bars. She stood and watched the girl pad toward the entrance to the kitchen. Lucy had seen her before, but they had never talked. Her name was Maxine. She was serious. Never chuckled, never joked, never seemed to even let her neck muscles relax. Sophia said that starting up a conversation with her was like trying to superglue water. Maxine didn’t fight, she was barely ever around, but she could do as she pleased. There was good reason. Maxine was pregnant.

Getting pregnant was every McKinley girl’s worst nightmare, because babies would die with their first breath. Their mothers were toxic to them. Lucy had known a girl named Rorie in the Pretty Ones who’d gotten knocked up. Hilary had sent her to a secret location in the ruins, where there was a Nerd you could meet there, and for the right price, he’d fix that kind of “problem.” When Rorie returned to the gym, she looked like half the girl she used to be.

A single white petal fell off the flower. It fluttered to the floor behind Maxine, who failed to notice. She was walking at a brisk pace, enough so that her cherry ponytail flapped up and down to the rhythm of her scissoring steps.

Lucy hurried over to the fallen petal. She plucked it up with her thumb and forefinger. It was a curl of white, so soft that she was almost afraid to hold it. She didn’t want to damage its tender silk. She smelled it. Its fragrance filled Lucy’s nostrils. So alive, so fresh.

Maxine heeled it into the kitchen. Lucy entered after her, petal in fingers. The girl stepped to one of the deep, metal double sinks and held the clay pot so that a thin stream of water hit the dry soil. She jerked her whole body when she saw Lucy approaching. Her eyes flared.

“What do you want?!” Maxine said.

“Oh. I just …” Lucy held up the petal. “You dropped this.”

Maxine looked pained at the sight of the petal, then her focus switched to Lucy’s eyes. She didn’t trust Lucy, that much was clear.

“Thank you,” she grumbled. “You can put it on the counter.”

“No problem. Great.”

Lucy placed it on the cold metal countertop with care. Maxine continued to scrutinize her.

“I love your flower,” Lucy said.

Maxine relaxed an inch. “You think it’s beautiful?”

“Just the petal made me happy. Where did you get it? I’m dying to know.”

Maxine straightened up and stood a little prouder. “It was on Mrs. Gemser’s desk.”

“Mrs. Gemser? That sounds so familiar … Wait, was she a history teacher?”

“Yup,” Maxine said.

“I remember that from my class schedule,” Lucy said. “I would have had her … fourth period! Yeah. If, you know, all this didn’t happen.”

“I had her in summer school. She was nice. You would have liked her.”

They both nodded, each casting their eyes at a different spot on the floor.

“So … you’re saying, this flower—”

“It’s a hydrangea.” Her tone was sharp, suddenly unforgiving.

“Sorry, this hydrangea. You’ve kept it alive all this time?”

“You think that’s stupid?”

“No,” Lucy insisted. “No way. I think it’s so cool. How did you do it?”

“I came up with ways …,” Maxine said. She stepped forward and put it on the scratched steel counter, next to the petal. “Do you want a closer look?”

Even with the invitation, Lucy made sure to move slowly, so Maxine could see everything she was doing. Lucy crouched, getting to almost eye level with the flower.

“Hello,” Lucy said softly.

“Her name’s Minnie,” Maxine said.

“Oh … I love that. Minnie.”

Lucy reached for the flower, she just had to touch it. Maxine grabbed the pot and pulled the flower away.

“That’s enough,” Maxine said. She held the flower close to her chest, and walked out of the kitchen, as Raunch and Sophia entered.

“What was that about?” Raunch said.

“I was just trying to be friendly,” Lucy said.

“You’re barking up the wrong tree with that one.”

“Maybe that’s because nobody talks to her.”

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