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They came with guns.

Sanjit had never seen these deadly weapons in person nor had he ever wanted to. He knew they could cause death in an instant; that they sounded like an explosion- louder even than the ones on television.

He was standing behind Sarah, who had opened the front door. He knew who ever had knocked couldn’t see him, even though he could see them. There, standing on Sarah’s front porch, were two men and a woman, all dressed in black. But it wasn’t the black that caught Sanjit’s attention. It was the three machine guns they held in their gloved hands.

“Um, can I help you?” Sarah asked hesitantly, eyeing the weapons.

“Yes, we believe so,” responded the man in front, who appeared to be the leader. His voice was silky and smooth- and he seemed to purr out his words.

Everything about this bald, green-eyed man screamed evil- dangerous- but Sarah was too blunt with manners and kindness to notice.

“We’re here for the boy. We know he’s here.”

Sarah closed the door tighter to herself and made a motion for Sanjit to go. “I’m sorry, sir, but I live alone.

This was followed by a deafening sound, one Sanjit couldn’t quite describe. He watched as Sarah fell to the floor, blood spilling out of her chest. The front door swung open, and he knew he should run, but he couldn’t take his eyes off of Sarah. She had shocked him when she allowed him to enter her home, to live with her, even after she caught him trying to steal her wallet when he lived on the streets. Adults didn’t care about runaways or orphans now-a-days. History seemed to enter modern days; like back then, orphans now were worth less than dirt. But Sarah wasn’t like other adults. She lived alone, that is, until she “adopted” Sanjit about a month ago. And how did he pay her back? With death.

Sanjit looked at the dark figures now, anger surging through him. He knew he should run, like he had done so many times from store clerks when stealing. But it wasn’t in him to back down, not from something like this. Knowing somewhere deep in his mind that he didn’t have a chance, he flew at the man who had spoken.

It was obvious these strangers had expected an easy get away, so the man was not prepared for a sharp punch in the nose.

The man growled, and before Sanjit could blink, the woman hit him hard with the butt of her gun.

Before Sanjit passed out, he heard the woman say, “Sanjit- means ‘invincible’, right?”

The man scoffed and said, “Yeah, we’ll see just how invincible he really is.”

Sanjit then felt a sharp kick to his stomach and all went black.

Sanjit woke up in a dark wooden box- a crate to be exact. “Keep calm, keep calm, keep calm,” he told himself over and over again. But he couldn’t take it- he didn’t like small, enclosed places. He started to thrash around, kicking and punching at the wooden walls. “Let me out!” he yelled.

“Alright, alright. Hold your horses,” a quiet, male voice responded from the outside.

After a minute or two, a blazing light shone through, momentarily blinding Sanjit. When he was able to see again, he saw a dark skinned boy, much darker than his own tan skin, peeking into the box. This boy’s head was almost all shaved, except for a thin layer of curled black hair, and he had dark brown eyes, almost as dark as Sanjit’s. He looked to be around Sanjit’s age, fifteen or sixteen, but much smaller in size. The boy had a kind face, but Sanjit knew from past encounters with strangers, you could never be too sure.

Sanjit jumped out of the crate and grabbed the boy’s shirt collar, balling up his fists. He pulled the kid close to him- the boy’s feet almost leaving the ground.

“Where am I? And who are you?” Sanjit snarled into his face.

Oddly, the boy didn’t seem scared or shocked. He was calm and collected. It only made Sanjit angrier. He shook the boy and yelled, “Tell me!”

The boy responded in a calming voice, “Violence does not solve anything.” He paused before continuing, “Put me down and I shall tell you what you wish to know.”

Sanjit studied the boy, reading his annoyingly calm face for any lies, but as far as he could tell, this boy was telling the truth. So he put him down and waited for an explanation.

“I,” the boy said, gesturing to himself, “am Jamall. As of where we are, look around.”

Sanjit eyed him, but did what was suggested. And what he saw was a living nightmare.

They were in a cage. There was electric fencing going all around what seemed to be a town and yet, in this town, all Sanjit saw were kids, probably aging from five to sixteen- and they were all working. Not working as in completing everyday chores, working as in hard labor. Some were coming in and out of a mine, dirty and beat down. Others were working in gardens- not such a hard task. Most of the buildings seemed to be factories, and Sanjit knew because all the buildings were made of a see through material, that wasn’t exactly glass, making it able to see what’s happening inside. The kids in these factories were working with dangerous looking machines, making products of all sorts- clothes, shoes, etc. There were three factories that made Sanjit uneasy- inside these factories, guns were being made.

Sanjit looked back at Jamall, questions forming in his mouth. But, as if reading his mind, Jamall explained, “We were all kidnapped. And what most kids have told me, they were... well... “picked up” by a bald man with green eyes. We believe he is called “The Prayer”, due to the name written all over town. Most of us are orphans, few had families. The odd thing is this man seems to know his victims before capturing them. Like he was... watching them beforehand. Occasionally, we get a new kid. They come in crates- like you did- but we never see them get delivered. Obviously he doesn’t have a “type” in mind- like Hitler with Jews. We come from all over the world, different ages and gender. We were brought here to do labor without pay and hardly enough food. Plenty of water, though. Food, water, and other things are delivered just like kids. I believe The Prayer is preparing for a war. Between who, I don’t know. Mostly everyone else thinks he just wants money.” He stopped talking and raised an eyebrow as if to ask, “Any questions?”

Sanjit absorbed all of this in. He thought for a while, then asked, “What’s with the see through walls?”

“I don’t know. They probably thought it would be easier to watch us,” Jamall responded, pointing to a security camera attached to the outside fence.

“What happens if someone refuses to work?” Sanjit asked, fearing the answer.

“They die.”

Jamall gave Sanjit a tour of “Glasstown,” ironically named in result of there not begin any glass at all. Jamall didn’t talk much, and when he did he was usually answering one of Sanjit’s many questions or saying something negative. Sanjit discovered that Jamall was born and raised in an African village- and that that’s where they were now, Africa. He also learned that Jamall was fifteen and in charge of looking after the kids- a job The Prayer had one of his goons given to Jamall.

Jamall had been kidnapped four years ago, right after “this hell”- as he put it- was built. He said that so many kids had died- from starving or getting killed.

After taking all of this in, Sanjit knew he had to do something- anything to get out of here. He told this to Jamall, who only laughed.

“So soon? But you just got here. Don’t you think we’ve tried? And of all the times we have, we were nowhere near success. So many of us died trying. There’s no possible way of escaping.”

“Don’t be so negative, Jamall,” Sanjit muttered, looking around.

“Don’t worry, Sanjit, in a week or two when you’re assigned your job, you’ll forget all about leaving. Most of us have.”

Sanjit looked Jamall in the eye and responded, “But you haven’t.”

“I have. I’ve watched friends die because they thought the exact thing as you. Do you have any idea how that feels- to watch someone you care for die, knowing that you can’t do anything, anything at all, to help?”

Sanjit did, but he didn’t say so. He just stood there in silence and thought of Sarah.

Jamall eyed him and gave a soft, apologetic smile, as if he knew what was going on in Sanjit’s mind. Then, he went on to say, “I have work I need to do. Stay right here- I’ll have someone come, keep you company and get you settled in.

Sanjit waited and after a minute or two, he noticed a girl, probably fifteen or sixteen, walking towards him. On either side of her there were two little girls holding her hands, seven or eight, who looked exactly the same.

“You Sanjit?” the older girl asked.

This girl had long, brown hair and soft blue eyes. She was tall, but there was hardly anyone around the same age of Sanjit that could reach his height. Her clothes were dirty and she wore no shoes. She was pretty- yet she looked mean and tough.

“Yeah,” he responded, a little bluntly.

“I’m Lana. These are my sisters, Peace,” she gestured to the little blond blue-eyed girl on her left, “And Destiny,” she gestured to the other girl, who mirrored every detail of Peace. “Come, I’ll show you where you’ll sleep.”
Lana led Sanjit to a huge building, probably the size of an apartment, that wasn’t made of see through material.
“I guess The Prayer has, or had, a little decency- letting us sleep and go to the bathroom in privacy,” Lana scoffed. Sanjit started wondering if everyone had a negative attitude.
Lana eyed him as they entered the building. “How old are you?”
“Sixteen, why?”
“I’m sixteen- and you’re a head taller than me. And I was wondering because kids fourteen and older are assigned a younger kid to look after. Some watch two or three because there’s only a handful of ‘older’ kids. I got lucky watching these rascals,” Lana smiled as she said the last part.
They went up two flights of stairs, ending on the third floor. Lana walked to the last door on the left and said, “This is my room,” then gestured to the one across from it, “and this will be yours.”
Sanjit opened the door to his room as Lana put the twins in hers. The room was small, only containing a bunk bed and a lamp. To the right was a bathroom with a shower, toilet, and sink.
“Home sweet home,” Lana stated sarcastically from behind him.

About what seemed to be a week later, Sanjit was sitting on a small patch of grass, one of few in Glasstown. He was watching a seven year old boy, Maximus, who was the kid assigned to Sanjit. He was a sweet, smart kid, with blond hair and smoke-gray eyes. He was playing tag with an eight year old Chinese girl, Virtue, and the twins. He was watching Destiny and Peace for Lana, who had to work an extra shift. Virtue was being watched by Patch, who was fourteen. He was a short, muscular boy with black hair and blue eyes. He also had a birthmark across his eye, which gave him his name. Jamall was also sitting next to them, quiet as usual. Jamall had grown close to Sanjit in his time of being here. He felt as if he had known Jamall all his life, that he was his brother. Sanjit felt odd having this feeling. He hadn’t ever grown close to anyone before, not even with Sarah. Lana was also starting to get close to Sanjit. That made him even more uncomfortable. Sanjit was used to being alone, yet in Glasstown, everyone knew one another. He didn’t like that.
“We have to escape,” Sanjit muttered, not for the first time that day.
“Forget it, newbie,” Patch responded, a bit harshly. “Don’t be putting false hopes into the little ones’ heads.”
Jamall grunted in agreement.
Sanjit sighed. “You guys are hopeless.”
“No, we’re smart,” Jamall scoffed.
Sanjit was about to say something a bit rude when there was a sharp scream coming from a nearby factory.
“Stay here!” Jamall ordered, and ran off into that direction.
Sanjit waited till he was gone, then turned to Patch and asked, “Watch them for me will you?”
He didn’t wait for an answer, just took off running after Jamall.
By the time he got to the factory, there was already a crowd shoving inside. He pushed himself through until he was standing by Jamall, who was staring at a girl lying on the ground. The girl looked oddly familiar.
“It’s Lana,” Jamall whispered.
Sanjit looked at him, then at the girl he said was Lana. It took him a moment to realize Jamall was right.
Jamall rushed forward and turned her on her back. There was blood escaping from the top of her leg. “Passed out. Shot in leg,” Jamall whispered, his voice trembling.
“What happened?” he asked to a girl standing next to a machine, hands scarred and beaten up from working.
“I... I don’t know. One minute we both were working here, on this machine, and the next there was a sound, like an explosion. I don’t know where it came from. And then she fell.”
Sanjit looked around and his eyes landed on a dark figure standing away from the crowd. He was dressed in all black.
Sanjit looked quickly away and told Jamall, who briefly glanced up.
“Take Crimson with you,” was all he said.
Sanjit turned to the crowd and spotted Crimson nearby. Crimson was tall and one of the strongest kids in Glasstown, even though he was only fifteen.
Sanjit motioned him over, and told him in a whisper about the figure. Then they walked along the edge of the crowd, pretending to look for someone. As they neared the mysterious stranger, Sanjit took off, sprinting forward, Crimson not far behind. The man, as Sanjit saw now, looked surprised, and then he smiled a devilish grin- then turned and started to run. Sanjit knew the man wasn’t fast enough.
When Sanjit caught up to the man, he tackled him, pulling him to the ground. Crimson then yanked the man off the ground, holding the man’s arms behind his back.
The man started to struggle, thrashing around. Sanjit grabbed his collar, and yelled in his face, “Who are you!?”
The man spit and snarled. “Don’t you remember me?” The sound of his voice was raspy and hoarse.
Sanjit looked at him, and realized that yes, indeed, he knew this man. He had been standing on Sarah’s front porch the day he was taken. He narrowed his eyes.
“Ah, so you do remember me. I’m glad. We haven’t properly met, I’m Cedric. No need to tell me who you are, or you, Crimson.”
“We didn’t ask for your name,” Sanjit scoffed. “Where’s your gun?”
Cedric’s grin grew bigger. “I’m not the one who shot your precious friend.”
Sanjit watched Cedric’s eyes and looked to where they ended. There, standing on the other side of the fence, was a woman, the same woman who had also been on Sarah’s porch..
“Hold him,” Sanjit told Crimson, and he walked to the gate.
“Hello, Sanjit,” the woman said. Her voice was smooth and a bit quiet. “I’m Capi.”
“I don’t care who you are. You’re going to pay.”
She laughed, what would’ve been a beautiful laugh if it hadn’t come out of her mouth. “For shooting a worthless pig? She’s nothing. I was only proving a point.”
“Oh, and what was that?”
“That trying to escape is pointless. Even if you did manage, He would find you. He sees all in this cage, hears all. And do you think a few escaping is going to stop Him? I hope you know this isn’t the only work camp He has.”
“You speak as if he is a god,” Sanjit said, careful to keep her talking.
“That’s because he is.” The woman smiled. “He’s more invincible than you.”
Sanjit laughed, “How can anyone be more invincible that Mr. Invincible?” He gestured to himself.
Her smile vanished. “Don’t toy with me, Sanjit. The Prayer is worth more than all you slimy kids put together. Now, be a good boy and let me have Cedric back. He’s quite important, you know. Then, forget about escaping, and you’ll never see us again.”
Sanjit smirked. “Oh, I’ve grown fond of Cedric. I think we’ll keep him.”
Capi pulled out a pistol and aimed it at Sanjit’s head. “Don’t think I won’t do it.”
“Too late. Leave. And tell The Prayer that this is the beginning of the end.”
Capi eyed him, but then she put her gun away. She turned around and started walking. “Till we meet again, Sanjit.”
Without taking his eyes off of her, Sanjit called, “Hey, someone come here!”
It wasn’t long till a boy about thirteen named Allsford jogged over to Sanjit.
“Watch her till you can’t see her,” Sanjit ordered. “Then come and tell what direction she was going last.”
“Okay, but what makes you in charge?” the boy asked, just being curious.
“Just do it, please.”
When Sanjit made it back to the factory where Lana had been shot, someone told him Jamall took her to her room.
“How is she doing?” Sanjit asked, once he got to Lana’s room, where she was sleeping.
“She’s good. The bullet just tore through some skin and kept going. She probably only passed out from the sight of blood or maybe the pain. I don’t know,” responded Jamall.
“I hope you don’t mind me taking charge now. From what I’ve heard, and now witnessed, enough has been enough. We’re leaving. All of us.”
“How are you going to get everyone out?” Jamall asked. “We don’t even know where any exits or entrances are.”
“Haven’t you heard? We caught one of The Prayer’s right hand men. Cedric is his name. He was with a woman, Capi- she’s the one who shot Lana. But by the time we found her, she was already on the other side of the gate. So that must mean the exit or entrance is inside the town. I talked to her, and she said this wasn’t the only kid labor place The Prayer has.”
Jamall’s eyes widened, but he didn’t say anything.
“So what’s your plan, Mr. Big Guy?”
Sanjit looked to the bed and saw that Lana was wide awake and listening.
“Okay, here it is.”

It was dark. The moon was full and cast shadows of about twenty kids following one man, who had a gun pointing to his head.
As Sanjit expected, Cedric was scared- so scared, that he was betraying his “god” for his life. Sanjit’s hand holding the gun shook. He didn’t like the feel of the cold, hard metal against his skin. He didn’t like the thought that he might have to become a murderer to save all of these kids that had already grown close to him. He didn’t like the thought that a lot of these kids were carrying guns that were stolen from one of the factories.
Along with Cedric and Sanjit, Jamall, Crimson, Patch, Virtue, Maximus, Allsford and the twins were there, along with the rest of the twenty, most of them carrying food, water, and other needs. It was only about a fourth of the kids in Glasstown, but Sanjit knew he couldn’t take them all right now.
Lana made him take the twins. He had wanted her to come, but she knew she would only slow them down. “I’ll come back,” Sanjit had told her. He then kissed her forehead, and left.
Cedric led them to the factory where Lana had been shot. “Under that machine,” he said, pointing to the one on the far right, “There’s a trapdoor.”
“Jamall, please look,” Sanjit asked..
Jamall pushed the machine aside, surprisingly not weighing much. He then felt the floor with his hands and then pulled open a door.
“Ash,” Sanjit said, handing the sixteen year old boy Cedric, “Please make sure everyone gets in. Then close the door and put the machine back. Wait a while before you go tell Lana. And don’t let Cedric escape. Lock him up somewhere.”
“Sure thing, Sanjit,” Ash responded.
The trapdoor led them outside of the fence, right where Capi had been standing. Sanjit had expected trouble, but it seemed as if no one was about. Sanjit had been sure that Capi would’ve told The Prayer about his threat.
But then when Sanjit pushed up the trapdoor, about ten men stepped forward out of the shadows, all dressed in black and five holding machine guns. And then out stepped Mrs. Trouble herself.
“The element of surprise. Works all the time,” Capi smirked. “Did you really think it would be that easy? If you and your buddies come out peacefully, I might let you live.”
“There’s only four of us,” Sanjit said, hoping the kids inside the tunnel knew who he was talking about. He put his pistol in his back pocket of his jeans before stepping out. He looked back and was relieved to see the three guys he was hoping for: Jamall, Patch, and Crimson. He heard the trapdoor slam shut.
“All that talk and you’re just going to give up? I knew I should have brought fewer men. What a waste.”Capi made a motion with her finger and the five with the guns circled the four boys.
“You are quite a stupid woman,” Jamall said, surprising almost everyone. “We are orphans- we grew up in a wild, wild world. We are stronger than your little brain may think. We have already endured all the pain and sorrows that any adult has. Our lives may seem meaningless to you, but we are much, much more than you know. You said you hear all, that you see all. This is false. For if you do hear and see all, then you would know that ten men- five guns- are not nearly enough to hold back us mere little orphans.”
Before Capi could respond, Jamall lunged for the man closest to him, ripped the gun out of his hands, and cracked it over the man’s head. And then it was chaos. Men started shooting, orphans started punching.
Sanjit didn’t want to use his gun, and he knew the others weren’t carrying any. He stood still and watched as the other three punched and kicked away, and yet they weren’t getting anywhere. The five men and been disarmed, but only after shooting Jamall’s arm and Crimson’s shoulder.
Sanjit wanted to use the gun on himself. How did he possibly think he could win? Why did he think he was different, that he could manage something so many others failed at? Why hadn’t he just shut his mouth like Jamall had suggested? Why did he think he could beat a group of adults at their own game?
Threw all the chaos, Capi walked towards Sanjit, with a smirk on her face.
“You are brave, Sanjit, but you are not invincible. Your plan failed completely. You’re so stupid, boy. All you had to do was hand Cedric over and none of this would’ve happened!”
Suddenly, everything made sense. Cedric wasn’t important to The Prayer, but to Capi. She loved him, Sanjit could see that now. She didn’t care about The Prayer, but Cedric did, and that’s why she stayed. Because if she left, Cedric would’ve most likely been killed. Capi was the only one important to The Prayer. Why, Sanjit didn’t know. But that didn’t matter. If Capi was gone, Cedric would be gone, and The Prayer would be without his top security guards. Sanjit knew what he had to do.
“Why are you smiling, boy?” Capi asked, frowning.
“I’ve figured it all out,” Sanjit replied. He pulled his gun out of his pocket and shot Capi in the chest, right where Sarah had been shot. She dropped to the ground, along with Sanjit’s gun. He trembled and tears swelled in his eyes. “Murderer,” he thought to himself.
The men stopped attacking Jamall, Crimson, and Patch, who all fell to the ground. They seemed like lost puppies, not sure what to do or where to go.
“Go tell The Prayer that I, Sanjit, the one who punched his face, am coming for him. And I’m bringing my friend Death with me.”
The men seemed puzzled as if they weren’t sure whether to kill them or to leave. Sanjit picked up his gun and aimed for the closest man. “I mean now!”
He watched them leave and then he dropped his gun again. He turned to face the three boys who were breathing heavily on the ground. Regular kids would’ve probably been dead. But they weren’t no ordinary kids. They were orphans.

Sanjit and the group of kids set up a camp a couple of miles away from Glasstown. Jamall and Crimson healed fine and when Sanjit was sure that they weren’t going to die of blood loss or anything, which was a week later, he went back to the town with Patch. They rounded up the rest of the kids, packed them up with food and water, and they walked to the camp with Patch. When Sanjit was sure they were out of sight and couldn’t be followed, he let Cedric go, making him walk in the other direction with hardly any food, but plenty of water. Then, he and Lana, who was almost healed, lit a fire inside the farthest building away from the exit- and then left the town.

From a distance, Sanjit, Jamall, and Lana watched the fire grow bigger, the flames eating away the horrid, nightmare of a town.
“This is the first to go down. The rest will burn, just like this one,” Sanjit said, thinking he’d probably get some kind of negative response.
But instead, much to his and Lana’s surprise, Jamall responded, “And then The Prayer. He will burn last so he can watch his evil scheme fall down all around him. This is the beginning of the end.”

As if hearing Jamall’s words, The Prayer stood by his window in one of his many houses, watching a small glow in the distance, and grinned.

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