Of course not all of the sleeplessness was from the gambling and odd hours. Part of him actually felt really bad for Hurricane having to go through this ordeal. Part of him wished he could help and wondered if he should go to the Peace. Of course if Krux found out the Peace were on to him, he would assume that it was Hurricane that told them, and he’d be forced to silence Hurricane and the girl. It wasn’t like he knew where she was though, so he didn’t worry about it too much. He was pretty sure she was safe anyway, as long as Hurricane followed through. And if Hurricane knew anything about Krux at all, he would follow through. The only real worry, then, was about how much money he could get before the start of the round.

Money was always a problem in the Black. Housing was cheap, comparatively, but that depended on how you looked at it. He and Famke lived in a small room, barely large enough to lay down in either direction. It had enough room for a small stove, a smaller sink, and a couple of bedrolls. They’d installed a shelf to keep their clothes chests on, but that made it hard to actually stand up on one side of the room. They were fortunate enough to have a small lavatory with a makeshift shower and running water, at least most of the time. And the place was a steal for only two weeks wages from each of them every month.

That was the problem in the Black. Too many mouths to feed, too many people clamoring for jobs, each one willing to take less than the last because less money was still better than no money. Each one willing to pay slightly more because a tiny room was better than the street with its soot and its crime. When all of your money was going toward survival, it didn’t leave much for bettering yourself.

Famke never really understood that, he thought. She probably did, though, deep down. She was one of the smarter people in his life, but she would never admit it. She held on to the hope that if she kept working hard, kept saving up and improving herself that eventually she would get ahead of it all, move up in the ranks. She thought she’d make out like Tulg, make her way to foreman, then manager, slowly earn more, save more, and just keep doing it until she could work her way out of the Black, on to bigger and better things.

Holden knew it wouldn’t work like that. Tulg was the most successful person he knew from the Black, and look how far he’d gotten. He knew for a fact that his apartment wasn’t much bigger than theirs. Sure, he didn’t have to share it, but he wasn’t exactly living it up. Holden wanted better. He wanted out of the Black all together, and he wanted out now.


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