FOR SHAYDE, IT WAS ONE OF THOSE TIMES WHEN HE was awake, but hadn't yet opened his eyes. Then again, he was hardly awake enough to know he was awake. Anyone who knew the circumstances might wonder why he would ever bother to open his eyes at all. He was already completely familiar with the cell in which he had spent the last four and a half years. With his eyes closed he could have visualized the intricate designs of each spider web in every corner, or the exact placement of every piece of yellow straw covering the stone ground. He could feel it poking into his neck. He felt something knock against his head. He was startled for a second until he realized that it was his cellmate, Spinner, kicking him in his sleep. Shayde wondered how Spinner could sleep at all, as he was getting released that exact morning.

Both prisoners had long, tangled blond hair, which hadn't been cut for five years, blue eyes, and pale skin that rarely saw sunlight. Shayde was taller, and a year older, at seventeen.

Shayde wanted to go back to sleep, but he knew he couldn't. Very little light was shining in from the sole barred window, eight feet off the ground. Shayde opened one of his eyes. One spider, half the size of his fist, stood directly in front of his face. Shayde was too half-asleep for it to register right away, and closed his eye again. When he finally realized what he had seen, he opened his eyes with a start and pushed himself up off the floor, backing into the wall of the cell, his eyes widening. He should have been used to the sight of spiders, taking into account the considerable number that lived in his cell alone. He wasn't. Arachnophobic to the core, Shayde hated spiders almost more than anything. He didn't know what it was about them that made him so scared. It might have been the way they moved, or the insane number of legs they seemed to have. His eyes never left the spider, who crawled into the straw. It scared Shayde even more when he couldn't see him. He didn't dare to blink. His anxious thoughts were interrupted by a deep voice.

"Are you number one eight two oh?"

Shayde turned at once to the voice, which came from a stern-looking, uniformed prison guard, pushing a cart, with a stack of files marked with row numbers, and the abhorrent silver Scanner. Shayde stared at the machine, still shivering. He looked back to the spider.

"Are you one eight two oh?" the guard repeated Spinner's number.

Shayde made his decision compulsively. Behind his back, he ripped a tag off Spinner's shirt. He didn't read it, but he knew what it said: #1820 FRANCE, SPINNER: PIRACY. 5-YEAR TERM. He then ripped off his own tag. #1821 WOLF, SHAYDELE: MURDER, KIDNAPPING ACCOMPLICITY, PIRACY. LIFE SENTENCE.


He was putting his life on the line.

"Name," demanded the guard, Flaxworth.

Shayde could still have turned back. He could have said that he had mistaken his number; he could have spent his entire life in that cell.

"...Spinner France," he told the guard, at first uncertainly, then finishing with confidence.

The guard took out a key ring and opened the cell door to let Shayde out. Shayde hid his apprehension and left the cell with a look back to the spider, who had disappeared again.

"Can I see your tag?" asked Flaxworth, in routine.

Shayde nervously handed Flaxworth Spinner's tag. The guard turned to the other side, reading it over. Not knowing how long his back would be turned, Shayde knew he had to work quickly. He opened a compartment of the Scanner on the cart and ripped four wires almost at random. The last one gave him a shock, and he jumped back in painful surprise.

"Schkizz!" he swore, hardly louder than a whisper, but loud enough to make the guard turn, hardly giving Shayde enough time to close the compartment.

"Why isn't this sewn into your clothes?" asked Flaxworth.

Shayde should have known it would come up, but he didn't have a lie prepared. It was never a problem for him.

"I was fighting with my cellmate and he ripped it off."

"You should have reported him," muttered Flaxworth, although it was clear to both of them that he didn't really care. "Can I see your wrist?" he asked casually, continuing with the routine.

Relieved that he had been able to deactivate the Scanner, but anxious about whether or not it had worked, Shayde put out his arm. A small silver device had been inserted into it the day he had come to Jade Isle Prison, nearly five years before. The guard Flaxworth ran it over the Scanner. Nothing happened. He did it again, still with no results. Shayde hid his relief and replaced it with a fake expression of confusion. Thinking that there might have been a problem with the chip installed in Shayde's arm, Flaxworth reopened the door to the cell, with a jingle of golden ringed keys. Spinner was still asleep. With all his might, Shayde hoped he would stay that way. Spinner didn't know his plan, and, even if he had known what was going on, it was doubtful that he would have gone along with it.

Flaxworth lightly gook Spinner's wrist and ran it over the Scanner the same way he had Shayde's. Again, nothing. Shayde leaned against the bars of the cell, closing his eyes for a second in relief. He was still afraid.

"The Scanner isn't working," the guard told Shayde, as if he didn't already know. He came out of the cramped cell, shutting and locking the barred door. "There's another on the boat that's taking you to shore," Flaxworth continued. "I'll get the other guard to run it on your way.

Shayde thought ahead. He hardly noticed when the guard grabbed him to drag him down the hall and outside the prison.

The isle of Jade Cove was small. Surrounding the prison were palm trees, rocks, and golden sand that glittered in the blistering sun. Somehow the interior of the prison managed to be stone cold, but as soon as Shayde and the guard exited, a wave of heat came over them. It was welcome to Shayde, who hadn't felt a warm ray of sun in over four years.

Flaxworth took Shayde to the wooden dock, which looked to be nearly falling apart in its old age. Turbulent waters swarmed around it. An ancient golden-brown rope held the boat to the dock. A second guard was seated, waiting. He shielded his eyes from the sun, trying to see the two figures coming toward him. They looked like mere shadows, but he was sure of who they were.

"This is one eight two zero. Take him to the docks and have him register with the other guys who've done thier time," instructed Flaxworth when he and Shayde reached the second guard. He left and reentered the familiar prison. Shayde stared pointedly, his eyes locked on the Scanner at the stern. He shivered again in spite of the intense heat.

Shayde and the guard - whose name was Payton Greer - were the only passengers on the small boat heading away from Jade Cove Isle. The boat nodded up and down with each wave. Shayde grabbed hard onto the side, trying to release his energy. He looked ahead, but no land could be seen, yet.

"One eight two zero, right?" the guard ended the silence.

Having been deep in thought, Shayde was surprised at the sound of a voice. He looked up and processed the question.


"What are you looking forward to, getting out?" asked Payton, trying to start a conversation in his boredom.

Shayde would have rather not spoken. Every lie he told was a risk.

"Being called a name and not a number."

That and food.

The guard laughed. "France, right?"

"Yeah," nodded Shayde. "Spinner."

Shayde watched the prison isle get smaller and smaller in the distance. In the silence, Greer took out a stack of files, duplicates of the ones that had been on Flaxworth's cart. He took out the one marked ROW #15 and turned to the divider marked #6. Before him were two clipped stacks of paper. The first page of the stack had, at the top, centered in bold lettering,


Beneat that was a large picture of Spinner. Below the large picture were three small pictures, one taken each year Spinner had been imprisoned. Underneath that:

NAME: France, Spinner
AGE: 16
RACE: Caucasian
HEIGHT: 5'9"

Greer looked at the boy accross the boat. Caucasian yes, blond hair, blue eyes, could be sixteen but looked older. Greer couldn't entirely tell that the kid in front of him was four inches taller and fifteen pounds heaver than the one in the picture. And of course, he could have grown that year.

The guard turned the page. The second was a detailed synopsis of the crimes Spinner had committed. The guard turned to the first page again. He looked at the picture of Spinner, then at Shayde, then back at the picture, then back at Shayde. He turned to the second stack of papers.


NAME: Wolf, Shaydele Tadjer
AGE: 17
RACE: Caucasian
HEIGHT: 6'1"

Greer looked from Shayde's picture to Shayde, then back at the picture, then at Spinner's picture, then at Shayde, then at Shayde's picture. Shayde looked up and saw the guard's head turning from the paper to him. He became nervous again, glancing around the boat. Greer looked at Shayde with suspicion. Shayde stared back solidly.

"Can I see your wrist?"

He had seen it coming. With one sudden jump, Shayde was off the boat and in the water.