Chapter 1

I was running for my life. Two policemen were chasing me through the streets of San Francisco; trying to catch me and get back the bag of food I'd stolen. Sadly for them, I was way faster than they were, and I knew these streets very well. They were complete idiots.

My name is Dawn. I'm part of a gang called The Flames. Well, technically, our "gang" is really just my friends and me trying to survive. We had all been kicked out or we left our old homes for different reasons.

We used to have pretty good lives, where a couple of us might have been smacked once in our lifetimes for something like we're hyperventilating, or if we had hurt somebody really badly, but it wouldn't be that bad. Then a new president came into office, President Richard Jones. He changed how our society worked. Any type of Segregation was allowed, sometimes it was even encouraged. Children were expected to be perfect, and do whatever their parents, or other adults were expected too. If not, they would face the consequences. Like how we had too. Gangs were very popular because they were not seen as a way to be popular anymore. Nowadays, they were a way to escape.

"What have I done?" I asked my father, crying gently.

"You've disappointed me" He yelled at me. "You joined that dance club, even though I explicitly told you to not join! Dancing is for losers, gays, and idiots. I don't want anyone like that tainting our family!" He finished with a punch to my face. I fell to the ground, the right side of my face in complete pain. I wasn't surprised, he did this to my brother Ryan and me a lot.

"Being in the dance club doesn't make me gay, or a loser! I don't even get why you would think that! It makes no sense!" I cried out. "Dancing is my life; you should know that by now! The arts set me free; being what you want me to be won't make a difference. I will continue no matter what you do!"

These words brought me more hits from my father. My brother Ryan tried to stop father from doing anything, but he was pushed away. Father continued to advance closer to me, his footsteps echoing off the wood floor. I scrambled away, but it made no difference. He grabbed me and swung me into the wall. I winced as I felt something wet drizzle onto my shirt, soaking through and onto my back. I slipped underneath him, shaking with fear and horror. I looked around and I soon saw my only hope; my room. I sprinted in and locked and barred the door, hoping he couldn't get in. My blue dance bag was on my bed, clothes spilling out. I turned the bag upside down, letting everything spill out of it. He banged on the door loudly as I rushed to my pitiful closet, grabbing clothes randomly. I picked up my wallet and coin collection and threw it in my bag. All of my dance shoes and regular shoes were thrown in as well although I didn't know why I brought my dance shoes. I heard him continue to slam on the door, attempting to get in as I grabbed stuff. I began to pick up speed. My pocketknife was put in too. I also had one roll of duct tape left, so I put that in too. A tent and sleeping bag were lying in my room since I still hadn't put them away from my family's camping trip. They were both put in my bag. Any water bottles and food I had lying around were grabbed and put in. My first aid kit plus my new addition of cloth strips went into the bag. Finally, my hairbrush and hair ties were tossed in. I then cut open my window, heaved my now heavy bag over my shoulder, and jumped out of the window just as my door opened and my father rushed in, cursing as I ran outside to my freedom.

I personally thought that I had the best deal out of the rest of the group, which was saying something. While we all had to deal with this for a while, escaping for me was very easy. For everyone else in our group, it had been very hard to escape.

I continued to run from the policemen. I soon found it, the sewer tunnels. I crawled in and waited. The policemen ran past me in a blur of blue. I waited for a few minutes, and then I crawled out, cursing the muck of the sewer. I really hated sewers even though they had saved my life so many times. It looked like

I walked over to our new home. It was an abandoned ruin, with windows broken, the door half hanging off of its hinges, and the smell of mildew lingered in the air. It was still home though, and I brightened up at the sight of it.

I walked in with the bag of food still in my hands. My friends were sitting on the dusty floor, talking quietly to each other.

"I'm home!" I said.

"Oh hi Dawn" Annie said. Annie was the most amiable person in the entire gang even though she was just 10 years old. She would try to be friendly to anyone she met. I always felt happy after talking to her; she just had that type of personality.

"Did you get food?" Jack asked. Jack was very good at keeping us organized even though he isn't the leader. I am. I first thought when I had first let him in was that I had just let in a 12 year old OCD child.

"Of course" I said, holding the plastic shopping bag for everyone to see. "I see that nobody decided to clean this place up while I was out."

"This place seems so I don't know… like us." Katharine or Kat said. I groaned inwardly. Trust Kat to think of something like that. She was very good at thinking up things that made sense, and also would be very hard to argue against. She was our little lawyer, which is impressive considering she's 9 years old. Sadly, she could also be very crazy. I wasn't that surprised that she had been kicked out considering how strict our society was.

"True, but I don't want to live in a ruin. At least fix the doors" I said "We don't want some gang or police breaking in at the dead of night. We need some security in here, or at least we need to make this place look somewhat presentable."

"Fine, I'll start fixing the doors" Logan said. Logan was like the second in command here. He was 15 like me, and was very good at leading if I wasn't here. He was also one of the most athletic in our gang. He usually was the one that would teach everyone (besides me) how to fight.

"I'll get the windows!" Drew said. Drew and his best friend Foster had both joined The Flames together. Neither had told us why they had been kicked out except for that it was really bad. I had my suspicions about why, but I never said anything.

Soon, we all began to clean up our new home. Logan fixed the door while Drew and Foster fixed the windows. Annie swept up the dust as I put some wood I had prepared for our floors. Kat cleaned the cabinets and refrigerator that had been left behind. Jack put all of the food, dishes, and our clothes in their proper places. Soon it was done. Our new house looked like home.

"Wow… that's different" Kat muttered when we finished. I agreed with her. The once dusty and old floor now shined and parts were carpeted to serve as a quick resting place. Everything was organized into its proper places. Our door was in place and reinforced with a new shiny lock and it was actually on the hinges. The windows had been either blanketed, or the old glass had been duct taped on. It was a remarkable transformation, and we were all proud of ourselves.

"I'll start dinner" Foster said. I don't know why he joined, but he was an amazing cook. He could cook anything from scratch, as long as he had the ingredients. The people who forced him out were idiots for forcing out a spectacular cook.

"Thanks Foster" I said.

Soon Foster had finished his chicken soup, and we all ate. I was overjoyed. Nobody had been put into jail, and we had food.

I remember when they had all came here, with either physical or mental injuries. Nobody had joined because they thought that we were a "cool" gang or that we were the best. Everyone here joined because they needed a family. Annie's parents were very sexist, and Annie had a very big potential to succeed in life. Her parents thought that she should just be obedient and do whatever anyone wanted her to do. They became very angry when she didn't want to, or when she wouldn't do so. Annie had literally been thrown out after a particularly nasty argument. Jack was half Black, half White. His mom had died when he was a baby, and his dad and stepmom were very racist. They believed that anyone that wasn't completely white was a piece of trash. We all loved to say that Jack's father was the best candidate for being the leader of the KKK, which was a group that we had heard about in school. Apparently they discriminated against different races, but mainly blacks. We didn't really know about Drew and Foster, but I had many suspicions that it had to do with their sexuality. I never said anything, I could be wrong, or they aren't ready to tell us yet. Kat was the only one in our group that actually ran away freely, instead of being forced out or running for their lives. Her parents neglected her, so she ran away. Her younger sister Ellie was her parents' pride. She was perfect by their images in every way possible. She had amazing grades, she didn't talk back, and she did everything that they wanted. Kat can't do that, she's too crazy. She used to be somewhat sane. She was very energetic and fun, but she wouldn't fight or do anything bad on purpose. Her parents didn't want an energetic child, and they thought if they just ignored her, her energy Logan's parents always expected him to do exactly what they wanted, how they wanted. They always became very angry when he didn't. His parents would mainly either beat or starve him if he didn't. They wanted him to have perfect grades, and then help President Jones by joining his private army. Logan just wanted to continue playing sports and he didn't really like President Jones. He hates him now. We all do.

We all went to our respective places in the room after dinner, ready to sleep except for me. I took my usual place as guard. Logan had told me earlier that he would take over in a couple hours.

About two hours later, Logan woke up. We both went outside to take a quick look to make sure that nothing was there and then we went back in. Logan stayed near the door while I went to my sleeping bag.

I collapsed down on the sleeping bag and looked around. There was nothing. So why did I feel like there was something about to happen.

Maybe because a second later, there was a quick knock on the door.