The smooth rubber on the tires of a car slowed down as it skidded to a stop. The driver picked a bad time to be driving, as there was a lot of traffic. Inside the car were two men, or a man and a teenage boy. The man was in his late 30s while the boy was nearing 17 and a half. The boy was often rubbing his thumb against the handle of a suitcase, looking down at the 3 number combination lock on it.
"Y'know, Finn. It shouldn't have to be like this. I know our side of the family is pretty fucked up when it comes to the law, but you shouldn't be following your dad's footsteps. I can't remember how many times I've bailed my brother out of jail. You're lucky I have a voice in the court systems. You'd be in a cell right now, bud."
The boy remained silent, looking out the window of the blurring scenery. The older man sighed, before pressing on the gas pedal again and continued driving.
"Really? Nothing to say? C'mon, your oldest brother's locked up right now. Then there's Hector, he used to be breaking the law all the time, now he's taking law enforcement classes. This is like me, your dad, and Uncle Jack all over again."
Finn looked over at him, "Nah, I don't think you understand, Uncle James. I got framed for this. I didn't kill anybody, and I'm not an idiot. I wouldn't keep cocaine in my locker."
"Alright, I'll meet ya halfway here. I'm a bit iffy on the whole killing thing, but point blank they found some blow in your locker, and I know how you are in the drug business. Almost everyone in that school could be used against your defense in that."
Finn couldn't help but chuckle, it was true. Back in his school he was the upcoming drug dealer. Everyone knew his name. From dealing to students to teachers, Finn had a system that worked so he wouldn't get caught. That is until most recently.
"I don't use my locker. It doesn't make sense. Why would I even get framed for this of all shit? Obviously the court system isn't gonna look at it like that, but you know me, Uncle. Just think about it for one fuckin' minute and you'll see it's bullshit. You should know of all people in our family, I'm the one with the brain. And I use it, for my and others benefits."
It was true, Finn was a drug dealer, but he wasn't just any drug dealer. If he wasn't known in school for his dealing of blow and grass, he was for his brains and his quick to think attitude. If they didn't like his drug side they liked his brain side, and vice versa.
Finn wasn't the average person. In fact, some were even cautious around his presence simply because he was hard to trust. He didn't let anyone get close to him, and didn't talk a lot unless he needed to. He, too, was cautious about much things. He simply didn't trust others, only himself, and this made his drug dealing all the more careful, but he got away with it.
"Listen, dude. I don't care if you did it. Really, I don't. Whether you actually are guilty or not, it isn't for me to decide. I got the courts to move the trial back a month for your convenience. I shouldn't even be busting my ass for you. But we're family and that's what family does. So while you're staying at Exodus Academy just think long and hard about that trial and how you plan on defending yourself, because even an expert lawyer is gonna have trouble bending the evidence pointing at you."
"What is Exodus Academy even?" Finn asked, he couldn't look at his uncle.
"By reading its brochures and stuff, it's like a juvie center but also a really strict school. Some are sent there for crimes while others are for a really strict education experience. Some by the courts, others by parents. Just remember, you're staying here for about a month. Once the trial is here, I'm coming to get ya, and if things turn out good, you'll be on parole or maybe even sent free." Uncle James was slowing down into a parking space on the street, as there was no parking lot.
"So this is it." Finn calmly said.
"So this is it."
The two calmly walked toward a metal door, and Uncle James pressed an intercom button. A static came through and a distorted female voice came through, and the older man told her of their arrival.
"Ah, yes! The Nightingale boy! Just open the door when you hear the buzz."
And so once the buzz was heard, the door was opened. The uncle and nephew then entered a cramped room that looked like a waiting room in the hospital, only all the seats were empty and a security guard was placed at each door.
"So nice to see your faces. Why, both so handsome! It really is too bad that we must meet under such circumstances." The voice came from behind a glass cased office, and an elderly woman who was a bit overweight was grinning. "I don't believe you need to go any further, Mister. We'll take care of your boy from here."
"Well, bud. I guess this is bye for now. And remember, think hard." Uncle James gave Finn a hug and pat on the back before opening the door with the buzz provided by the receptionist lady.
Finn was then instructed to go through a long hallway and an officer inspected his suitcase and person.
"Pack lightly?" The officer murmured, looking at Finn with a smug look.
"You know who I am." The boy said, causing a frown on the officer's face.
"Might not want me to, hotshot. I can make your stay a living hell, whether you're here to stay or not. Now go on your way."
Finn was escorted into a large open outdoor area, where hundreds of teenagers were located. The only thing wrong was there were two large fences dividing the area, acting as a hallway almost. On one side were females while the other were males. Finn looked up and saw a guard tower on each corner of the building, each one with two guards wielding snipers of some sort. This wasn't just any regular academy, he thought.
Continuing his walk through the chain hallway, many of the boys ran up to the fence and clang onto it, shouting and making obnoxious taunts, while even some of the more muscular and masculine females did this.
"Word of advice, don't let them get to ya. They only taunt newly arrived. If you give in and taunt back, then it'll be really hard on ya." One of the two escort guards whispered.
Arriving into the next building, the area was similar to the previous receptionist area. It was slightly bigger and it had many doors connected to it, at the end was yet another glass cased in office with a muscular unattractive man in it.
"Name." He said. It wasn't even in an asking manner, he just simply said it.
"Finley. Finley Nightingale." Was all Finn responded with. He knew this guy's type, and nonsense was not on his agenda.
The guy snorted, before wiping his nose with his own bicep, "Right, Nightingale. Denver, take him to Block T. He's room 11." The man couldn't help but chuckle with the words he spoke.
Upon arrival to his room, there were two other guys in there, apparently not in the courtyard from before. The room was set up like a dorm room similar to ones in college. There was two bunk beds provided and two bureaus, with a desk and a really small television on a small table. There was only one window in the middle of the room that led to a view of another building a few feet from it, and the window had a rusty grate with a diamond pattern to it.
"Hey, man." Was the greeting of one of the guys. He was rather tall for his age, and was of Cambodian and Thai descent. His hair was slightly shaggy, reaching a little past his ears, and a slight blotch of hair located in between his eyes was dyed blonde whereas the rest of his hair was a dark black. He had on him a black wife beater, some jeans, and socks.
The other guy was much shorter, reaching about the shoulders of the other one. His hair was a bit longer and was a dark blonde. His skin was also tanned and his whole appearance reminded Finn of a surfer. His apparel consisted of only a pair of boxers.
"Hey." Finn responded, putting his suitcase down on the desk.
"You that Nightingale guy?" The surfer looking guy asked.
"That would be me."
"Man, you been the latest news all over Exodus. Everyone want to meet you. You crazy." The Cambodian spoke, having a slight accent and broken English, "By the way I'm Allen."
Allen got up and went to fist bump Finn, who awkwardly returned the gesture.
"Right, I'm Troy. Troy Watkinson." The surfer gave a slight wave and returned to laying his head back on his pillow.
"So it true? You really stab that guy?" Allen quickly asked, moving up and down a little bit.
"No, I didn't stab anybody, sorry to say." The new celebrity calmly responded, looking outside the window through the diamond holes.
"Man, that sucks! You did have the coke though, right?"
"I sold coke, but the coke in my locker wasn't mine. It was put there."
Troy chuckled, scratching his genitals and flipping a page of some magazine he began reading. "Leave him alone, Allen. He's not like us. Or you anyways."
"What you mean?" The Asian boy asked, looking confused. Finn couldn't help but feel bad for the kid in ways.
"Nightingale is the type who keeps to himself and isn't gonna tell you what's what. I'm gonna switch over to the top bunk on your side so he can have one to himself." Troy said, he was being a little cockhead, Finn thought.
"You know, I really don't give a fuck. I'll take whatever bed you want me to have, because I'm not staying here long." Finn responded, putting his suitcase from the desk to the bunk above the one Allen was laying on.
"Yo, the most famous guy in here is sharing a bunk with me!" He quickly grinned and began getting giddy, "Don't be a faggot, Troy. He cool, you're just not warming up to him." At this point Finn couldn't tell if it was broken English or just Allen talking ghetto.
"So we made that clear, let's get to know each other a bit more. I'm Finn, you know that, tell me why you guys are here."
"Man, my mom sent me and my sister here. She say we deserve best education we can get." Allen responded, and looked over to Troy, "C'mon T-Wat, tell him about you!"
Troy sighed, "Alright, alright! I got caught stealing a bunch of shit and it was found out I was the thief among a bunch of other things stolen throughout town, so now I'm sent to Exodus as punishment."
Finn gathered these thoughts, "Alright, alright. Troy's here for punishment, Allen's here for education."
Allen quickly piped in, "Whoa, whoa. This place sucks, it punishment for me, too."
"Wait, so why are you here if you're only staying for a month? This isn't your punishment?" Troy asked, looking up from his magazine and staring at Finn.
"No. My uncle is pushing the trial back a month, and for now I have to stay here until then. I don't know what happens if I'm found guilty. Jail, probably."
Troy continued looking back at him, "So if you didn't kill anybody and the coke is planted, what do you have to worry about?"
"I don't think you understand, I was framed for a murder and during a search they found cocaine in my locker, what do you think happened? What are the rumors around this place?"
Allen interrupted once more, "Man, they think you crazy! You like Tony Montana. Killing motherfuckers then snorting lines!"
"Nah, nah. I don't kill and I don't do drugs, I sell them." Finn felt these people thought he was more than he was, which could eventually be a threat to himself.
"Man, this sucks! You ain't even stab someone before? Man, everyone thinks you a killer and junkie up in here. You ain't gonna last."
"He's right, rumors spread like diseases here. They find out you're not who they heard you are, shit is gonna go down. And you, my friend, look the scrawny type who is gonna get fucked up in a beat down." Troy said, getting up from his squeaky bunk bed, "Lucky for you, you don't have to go out in the courtyard. The only interaction with other people besides us is during classes. And sometimes the people in this block, and there's only a few fuckheads in this block."
"Classes, right." Finn remembered this, but didn't anticipate it.
"Yeah, man, what grade you in?" Allen asked.
"Aw, you with Troy over here! I'm only a freshman." He moped a little bit but got over it almost instantly.
A knock on the door was heard, "Hey, man, I heard you guys got The Dark Knight in here!"
"The Dark Kni-" Finn murmured before someone slammed the door open.
"Well, look what we have here." The boy who slammed in was muscular, but also pudgy. His face looked like a drill sergeant's, with sharp, crooked teeth. Finn looked at him, and remembered one particular client of his who he regularly had trouble with. "You The Dark Knight? You don't look so dark, now do ya? You know who I am?"
No response from Finn caused Troy to say in a somewhat shook voice, "This would be Leroy. He's down the hall in room 20."
"Yeah, and you just watch yourself, cause I ain't gettin' stabbed. And if I do, best be watchin' yourself 'cause I got a lot of people here who will fuck you up."
"Alright, I won't stab you, and you and your friends leave me alone, alright?" Finn began his typical arrangements, making deals that in the end benefited him more than the others.
"Haha, I'm not that stupid! You got any cash on ya? This place works with moolah, and you gonna be a nobody without any!"
"Well, I'm sure if I had some you'd take it, and if I get some I'll be sure to give it to you, Leroy."
"Haha! I'm starting to like you! We could be friends maybe."
Finn gave him a slight smile, "Maybe. But I'm tired, maybe we can talk later."
Once Leroy left, Allen closed the door and did a slight dance, "Dude, what was that!? That was crazy, you weren't even scared!"
"It's not hard outsmarting a stupid person." Finn replied, with a slight grin on his face. He was proud of himself, if that type of person was considered the majority of the academy then he had nothing to worry about.
"No, no! I don't think you understand. You didn't outsmart him, he outsmarted you. He wanted to see if you'd underestimate him and now that you think he's your friend, he's gonna find some way to take advantage of that. He's done it before." Troy groaned, pressing his hand against his face, "Be glad I told you. Now he thinks you think he's your friend. Now's your chance to one up him. This is your only opportunity, don't fuck up."
Finn looked at the two, and went over to the window and looked out it, "Really? This month is supposed to be my last month of freedom, my vacation month. I'm smart but I can't outdo the evidence planted. Whoever wanted me like this got me, and now I can't even enjoy this fucked up vacation." He pressed his hands against each temple, "Say, what building is outside this window?"
Suddenly Finn had hatched a plan, a plan so instinctive it might not work, but if everything went in his favor, which considering how he got here it might not, it just might be his ticket to freedom.
"Um... library? I think. Why?" Allen looked over at Troy, who looked back at him, they exchanged glances as Finn began rubbing his knuckles with his other hand.
"No reason." Finn merely said, "It's getting a bit dark out though. And we all know I need as much rest as I can get for tomorrow. Night guys."
"You're not gonna unpack?" Troy asked, visibly uncomfortable.
"Nah, maybe tomorrow. I have some thinking to do." Finn began removing his clothes and laid on the bunk on top of Allen's, pulling the sheets over him.