"I can tell you the exact moment that my life went to hell - Alex, LockdownAlex Sawyer is the protagonist of the Escape From Furnace series, a 14 year old boy who'd been wrongly convicted of the murder of his best friend
In Death Sentence, after his transformation he has the regular proportions of a blacksuit with silver eyes and greyer skin.
Alex is a bundle of nervousness, wise-cracker, and confidence that all managed to convene in the same person.
Alex also has a big heart, and for much of the time (excluding when he's full-on brainwashed Blacksuit) has a hero's complex,
Main Story Edit
Back Story Edit
"I didn't just break into their cupboards and drawers, I broke into their hearts and ripped out whatever I wanted, anything that would get me some easy money down at the market." - Alex, Solitary
Alex recounts how his life went downhill at the age of twelve, the moment he decided to steal from a little kid his friends had jumped. From there he began to demand and steal money, slowly working up to robbing houses with Toby, selling his stolen items. In Solitary, Alex revealed he didn't just steal from strangers, but from his family as well. Shortly after his grandmother's death, he stole his mother's locket: a gift that had been the last memory she had of her late mother, and had pawned it off for very little money.
There are many fond memories Alex has of his life at young age. Some of them include his parents and the things and places he went them. Also confirmed in Solitary, before Alex had any desire to steal a teacher of his had inspired him to become a magician. In the main story, Alex believes his parents hated him and wanted him to go to prison, but it is revealed in Execution that they tried to get Alex's sentence repealed seven times before his trial, hoping he would forgive them for failing him go gay pride.
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This lifestyle stopped brutally on their last job together. In the midst of their heist, Alex and Toby are caught by strange giants of men and a twitching creature in a wheezing gas mas. Alex first believed they had been finally been caught by the cops and is horribly mistaken when they shoot Toby in the head. The men in black encourage Alex to run as fast he can, assuring that they'd end up catching him either way. Alex makes a break for it but is ultimately stopped by the police and arrested before he can make it home.
Alex spends the three few weeks getting interrogated in police custody over Toby's murder. Alex denies killing Toby, explaining to the court that the men in black were the ones who were guilty. It's revealed that the same men that Alex was talking about are actually security guards at Furnace Penitentiary. Not believing in Alex's story, the jury comes to verdict that Alex is guilty, and that he is to be sentenced to life in Furnace. As Alex is dragged out of the courtroom, he encounters another boy who'd also been in trial for murder as well. The boy in question fought against his bailiffs and also denies having killed anybody, he's tazed for his resistance. He and Alex meet eyes just for a moment, before getting dragged away in different directions.
Soon afterwards, Alex, the boy who'd been raped, and two other teenagers are sent off on the bus to Furnace. Arriving at Furnace, the exterior of the prison becomes clearer with its grotesque carvings and sculptures of prisoners getting executed. All four boys are sent shower and change into their new prison uniforms before beginning their descent into the prison and to a lifetime cut off from the outside world.
On the elevator ride down, Alex confesses the truth of Toby's murder. Zee, the boy from the courtroom remarks that he'd also been framed for a murder he hadn't commited. The other two boys in the car admit they'd been framed as well, one introducing himself as Jimmy while the other only saying that he'd been framed for his sister's murder. The boys all are incredulous that they'd all been falsely accused of murder, and Alex, Zee and Jimmy make a pact to escape together and find out the truth of what's happened.
Once the elevator made it's descent, the four newcomers step out into the true prison underground. Zee and Alex stick close together as they're greeted by the Skulls, one of the gangs responsible for the Summer of Slaughter. Before the gangsters can get too close to jump them, a siren sounds. The warden of the prison steps out to introduce himself as Warden Cross, and explains the rules of existence in Furnace before assigning each boy to a cell and cellmate. Zee is assigned to the fourth floor with his cellmate Carlton Jones. The other boy in the elevator is introduced as Montgomery Earl, assigned to the fifth floor with his cellmate Kevin Arnold, the current leader of the Skulls. Alex is assigned to the sixth floor with his cellmate Carl Donovan. Alex is too distracted to hear where Jimmy would be and follows Carl who guides Alex up to the six floor to where their cell would be.
As Alex begins to take in what would be of his future, he immediately imagines jumping out of the sixth floor to commit suicide. To Alex's surprise, his cellmate seems to know what he was thinking, by saying that the sixth floor isn't high enough. With that, Donovan introduced himself with a smile, saying he prefers the name Donovan over Carl. Alex asks how long Donovan has been in Furnace, to which Donovan answers that he'd been inside for five years, charged for his actual murder of his mother's abusive boyfriend.
Donovan goes on to explain that there isn't a concrete sense of time and that the day is divided up by sirens. The two start to go back downstairs in time to catch dinner, when Alex notices five faint marks clawed into the wall. Donovan cryptically tells Alex that those marks were made by his former cellmate, who'd been taken kicking and screaming and that Alex will soon know all about that.
The two make their way down to the trough room, Donovan once again back to an air of hard indifference. In the trough room, Donovan and Alex pick at a table to eat dinner and are shortly joined by Zee. Alex introduces the two to each other, then proceed shoot questions to Donovan about the idea of escape. Donovan answers that the prison's layout only goes further down into the infirmary, the storage tunnels, warden's offices and for the hole (solitary confinement). Donovan himself had been down in solitary for three days for a fight. He talks about how there was no food or light and that the only water was the condensation from the walls. He reiterates that there's no point in trying to escape the prison, and to be cautious about who to talk to about escape and avoid getting into trouble.
The conversation is cut short however as a fight breaks out in the trough causing a lockdown, forcing Alex, Donovan and Zee to sprint back to their respective cells. Alex gets knocked down by the rush of the crowd trying to get back into their cells, but is saved by Donovan who drags him back to the cell. Once settled down, Alex thanks Donovan for saving him, but Donovan brushes it off telling Alex that he was not his guardian angel. The two share a laugh before settling in for the rest of the evening in their cell. Donovan abruptly warns Alex to never get up at night if the siren sounds and the blood red lights are on, before wishing him goodnight.
At lights out Alex is overwhelmed by the sudden darkness of the prison, describing the sound of Furnace at night: inmates crying, jeering, and praying out loud. In his sleep Alex suffered various night terrors, the worst one about having to watch his parents executed by the blacksuits, but unable to do anything in a glass prison.
After waking and getting ready for the morning, Donovan and Alex head down to the yard to find out what jobs they had for the morning. They both had been assigned to chipping duty, which entails trying to carve new rooms in the bedrock with pickaxes and shovels. Later, Alex and Donovan meet up with Zee in the trough room for lunch. Zee made it through his morning unharmed, but is still mortified about his shift of scrubbing toilets.
In the background, Alex notices the Skulls beating on someone out of sight and asks Zee and Donovan if they knew who it was. Zee doesn't know, but Donovan tried to lie and due to his hesitance Alex figured out that the victim was Monty, Alex is angered by the fact that nobody would come to Monty's aid. He ends up picking an argument with Donovan who counters that there always has to be a scapegoat, and that Alex doesn't have any business trying to fix the system just on his first full day. Donovan threatems to ditch Alex if he tries anything stupid, but Alex goes on and picks a fight with the Skulls anyway.
Donovan left the trough room without stepping in, but Zee rushed in and whacked a couple of Skulls with a lunch tray, saving Alex. A lockdown siren sounds and Alex and Zee find themselves in pursuit by the warden's hell hounds. During their run the dogs were distracted by one of the Skulls who begged to be let into his cell, and ate the Skull. Alex and Zee ran up the level platforms, by the time they reached the sixth floor all the cells are locked tight - except Alex's thanks to Donovan who propped the door open with a toilet seat. They didn't have enough time to run down the platform to get in, as the dogs gainined quickly on them. Instead, Alex and Zee ran up to the seventh floor, jumped down a level to grab onto the sixth floor platform and are helped by Donovan to get back into his cell safely. All three make it after the close call, but Zee is removed and taken back to his own cell as per lockdown rules.
The day after the chase, the warden closed down the trough room for the day and put out a warning for a week in the hole if there are any more skirmishes. Alex reaches out to Monty, but to Alex's surprise, Monty is angry with Alex for stepping in to save him. In the remainder of hard labour that morning the prisoners quickly fall behind in work from hunger and exhaustion, though Alex, Zee and Donovan find themselves refreshed by a mysterious rush of fresh air from Room Two.
Later, the three made their way up to Alex and Donovan's cell, only to be stopped by Kevin and a couple other Skulls. The Skulls claim they were only there for Alex's business and leave with a threat to Alex, who in turn realises that the Skulls came by to piss on his bed.
Four days after Alex's fight, Alex, Donovan and Zee are in the kitchen for hard labour. They reminisce their lives before prison, Donovan remarking that the one thing he wished he could've learned was how to cook a proper meal. Monty, who had been posted with them, overhears the conversation, admitting that cooking was the only thing he could do well. As an action of kindness and apology, Monty prepares a homemade meal for the three boys.
It's the night of that meal when the Blood Watch strikes. When the night siren first sounds, Alex, curious and anxious about the Blood Watch, sits up to get a better view. When Donovan hears Alex moving around he curses at Alex to stay put and to not bring attention to the cell. As the blood watch proceeded, Alex climbs out of bed to get a better insight on what was happening. As he looks out the cells, Alex sees Kevin shove Monty into the view of a wheezer. This view is interrupted when a wheezer appears in front of Alex for a minute, before disappearing. After the wheezer left, Donovan asks Alex if there were any marks on the cell. Relieved when Alex confirms that they weren't marked, Donovan repeats one last time for Alex to get back to bed. Alex does not and instead ends up watching Monty pulled out from his cell and stabbed by the wheezer in the neck with a hypodermic needle. Monty and a few other boys who'd been selected are dragged off into the vault in the courtyard, the blood watch now officially ended.
In the morning, Donovan refuses to speak to Alex, furious from last night's events. During hard labour, despite being posted together Donovan positions himself to be as far away from Alex as possible, and returnes to his cell by himself after work. Alex meets up with Zee in the yard and discusses the events of the previous nights. Zee theorised that the prison is using its inmates for human experimentation, much like the Nazi Party and Japanese army did in the WWII. Alex is doubtful, but agrees that nobody on the outside seemed to know what was actually happening in the prison. Alex changes the subject to escape, sure that there is a way out. Alex presses Zee for information on Room Two in the chipping halls, who says that he heard there was a cave-in in that room months ago, and that thirty inmates had died in the room. It's Zee's turn to be doubtful, but Alex is adamant about checking it out the next time he can.
The next day, Alex and Donovan are posted for the chipping halls again. Alex sticks close to the entrance of Room Three and pretends to work long enough until the guard leaves to do his rotations. Alex darts into the equipment room outside of the boarded up Room Two, and manages to pry the board discretely enough to get inside and begin to explore the abandoned chipping hall. In the darkness, Alex hears a faint growling that only grew louder by the second. Scared it was one of warden's dogs, Alex recklessly ran back to the hall's entrance. Alex manages to escape the chipping room in one piece but is caught by one of the guards. The guard had assumed Alex had gotten into a fight during work and though he smacks Alex around, Alex is ultimately let off with a warning.
Later in the trough room, Alex talks about what happened in Room Two to Donovan and Zee. Zee is beginning to be more convinced of escaping by Alex's story, but Donovan remains uninterested. The discussion gets cut off by Gary coming over to their table, threatening Alex and then leaving once more. However, Alex is struck with the idea that what he heard in Room Two is an underground river. Alex, Donovan and Zee all argue over the theory. Donovan believes nobody would've built an underground prison and not notice a river. Alex is adamant that it's the most logical explanation for the noise, and that a river must appear up top somewhere.
That night however, the Blood Watch strikes again. Alex calls out to Donovan again, scared of being taken, but Donovan replies that the new particular siren meant someone was coming back. At that, Alex sits up trying to get a view of the yard, earning a slap around the head from Donovan and a warning. As the blood watch resumed, the thing that was being returned is revealed to be a grotesque, mutated version of Monty who was returned to kill Kevin.
The morning afterwards, Donovan wakes up Alex and calms him down from a panic attack. When asked about why Monty was brought back, Donovan confesses that this wasn't the first time somebody was brought back. The first couple of times somebody had been returned, Donovan wasn't able to tell what the creatures were until one night in which he recognised the tattoos on one of the creatures. Alex takes the chance to convince Donovan once more about escape. Donovan concedes and admits it would be better to die in the escape than become one of the warden's creatures.
Now accepting the possibility of escape, Donovan begins to help out with Alex's plan. He distracts the guard in Room Three, while Alex and Zee sneak into Room Two. Inside Room Two Zee figures out the source of the growling Alex had previously heard. They discover that the cave-in did crack a huge rift in the hall, but that the rift was not wide enough to jump into. Alex and Zee return, bearing the bad news that the river is too small to get into.
Alex's spirals into a depression, now convinced that his one way out was no longer an option. Donovan and Zee continued to speculate the different ways to get into the river by themselves when Alex refuses to cooperate. A couple weeks later, Donovan tries to initiate conversation with Alex again, hurt and angered by the fact Alex had completely given up. He then slaps Alex with a meat filled rubber glove, which unintentionally triggers a plan in Alex's head of using gas filled rubber gloves to blow up the rift. After the two apologise and make up, Alex and Donovan each smuggle a few gas filled gloves from the kitchen and hide them underneath Alex's mattress, then run off to tell Zee about their new plan. Alex, Donovan and Zee make a pact between the three of them to escape, sworn to secrecy. Only minutes later however, Alex spills the escape plan in order to stop the new kids - Ashley and Toby - from killing themselves. Toby agrees to help and Ashley still jumps but attempts to take Toby down with him. Donovan and Zee reluctantly help pull Toby over the railing but not before Alex punches Ashley off of him, killing the boy.
The group headed back to the cell with this new development. Donovan doesn't trust Toby at first, insisting that they keep him out of the plan until the day of escape comes. Toby equally insists to be a part of the plan, and comes up with the idea of hiding the gloves just behind the tunnel boards of Room Two. All four boys enact their plan with relative ease. Toby eventually wins Donovan over by smuggling eight whole gloves into Room Two without being caught. As the plan takes motion, Alex, Zee, Donovan and Toby became more and more confident in their escape. Ten days into their plan, Donovan and Alex sneak into Room Two to move over the gloves to the rift of the river. Once finished, the two head back to Room Three in high spirits only for Gary to show himself and mark Alex for a fight in the gym.
Donovan and Alex inform Zee and Toby about the fight, Alex making the three promise that their plan continued on regardless whether or not Alex makes the fight. When the Skulls came pick Alex up, Donovan accompanies Alex to the gym. In the gym, Gary calls over the Skulls Alex initially fought in the trough room weeks ago. When it's clear that Alex is about to lose, as a last resort, Donovan pleads with Gary and lets him in on the escape plan in exchange for saving Alex's life. Gary complies and breaks up the fight. Alex is dragged away from the gym and up back into his cell by Donovan, Zee and Toby. When Alex reveals that Donovan had dragged Gary into the plan, tension among the group arose as Donovan defended what he had to do to keep Alex alive.
Despite the worry of having Gary on board may be, the plan continues on just as it had been before. After another week of collecting gas filled gloves again, Donovan and Alex return into Room Two to prep the explosives in the rift. Additionally, Donovan comes up with the plan to rig the extra gloves in the entrance tunnel, that way if they blow up the entrance first they would have more time to blow up the river. With the river and entrance readied, the plan is finally complete. Between the two of them, Donovan puts out the suggestion of leaving then and there. Alex is surprised to hear the thought, but truly believes that Donovan wouldn't just abandon Zee and Toby. At this, Donovan sheepishly agrees. Alex and Donovan return to the cell with the good news for Zee and Toby that the plan would be in action the next day. Giddy with the idea of escape, the group talk about what they'd do once they were free. Their lightheartedness is cut off when their talk is overheard by Jimmy, who had been passing by. Despite their denial, Jimmy is suspicious and mentions that the other inmates are spreading a rumour about the four of them knowing a way out.
All four boys go to sleep nervous but still confident in their plan. In the middle of the night however, the Blood Watch return. Even in their best efforts to be invisible, a wheezer marks Alex and Donovan's cell. Neither are sure who'd be taken, but agree that whoever it was, the other would return and rescue them. Donovan pulls Alex into a hug, and says his final goodbyes before being taken away.
Zee finds Alex in the trough room, and agree the plan was still on, but swear to come back for Donovan. Alex, Zee, Toby, and Gary enter the chipping hall together, positioned by the entrance of Room three. They all wait for the blacksuit on guard to leave his post before they entering the equipment room. Jimmy spots them and tries to stop them by calling out for the guards. The four boys scrambles into Room Two in time, but as the blacksuits charge in, Gary lights the fuse for the explosives in the tunnel. One of the blacksuits catches Alex and Toby, but is stopped by the explosives going off. The explosions manage to hit the blacksuits but severely injure Toby as well. Toby insists to jump into the river anyways and asks Alex to not leave him behind. To give Toby and Zee enough time to get the river, Alex stays behind to fight off the blacksuits. One manages to pin Alex down and would've finished him off weren't it for a second injured blacksuit to come up from behind and take down the guard.
The second blacksuit calls out to Alex, simply saying "Don't forget your name." Alex is confused by this before recognising the blacksuit to be Monty. Before Alex could do anything to help him, Monty dies from his injuries. A second explosion goes off in the room, where Gary had opened up the river. Gary had already jumped in, but Zee and Toby wait for Alex to join them. With the pursuit of the warden's dogs on their trail, the three boys jump in.
=== Blacksuit Transformation ===
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"My head was a war zone of memories of an old life that I had almost forgotten battling with the fantasies of power that threatened to consume me." - Alex, Death SentenceIn Death Sentence, Alex is taken into the infirmary after failing to escape through the incinerator with Simon and Zee in Solitary. Zee and Simon had also been taken in for experiments as well. According to Alex, after receiving the nectar it had numbed his physical injuries but tortured him psychologically. After being injected with the nectar, he was able to hear Warden Cross and Alfred Furnace in his head.
In his transformation Alex had a number of night terrors, the first one being in a WWI type trench and being dragged into the mud by the hands of corpses. He sees a mirror of himself trying to communicate remembering his own name (something a blacksuit Monty told Alex before dying) before being completely pulled in and buried alive.
In the second dream he was in a bare room with six other people kneeling against a wall with uniforms branded with swastikas. The boys began to twitch and convulse violently before literally splitting open, turned into rats. Before they could attack Alex, the six rats were gunned down. The dream ends with Alex himself shot and executed.
In another dream, Alex was among rows of cages that held boys in them, most rats in the same swastika branded uniforms. Again, Alex faces the ghost of himself in a cage, who pleads to be let out. Two guards pull him out of the cage and walk off as the ghost yells at Alex to remember his identity.
The last dream he has is of seeing the ghost of himself on an operating table, asking one last time to be remembered. Alex refuses, and wheezers pull out the heart of ghost Alex, and transplanting it into blacksuit Alex.
Alex's physical transformation first started with the replacement of his eyes with the silver ones of blacksuits that could see everything in intricate detail, both in the dark and out. Then the surgery first on the legs, arms then torso finally. The emotional and psychological transformation first came with the dreams, then forced conditioning of watching murders and genocides for hours upon end, wanting to be more powerful and without remorse to punishing the weak.
After his surgery and conditioning, Alex underwent two different tests. The a physical one to escape a passageway that was rapidly filling with water, and to kill as many rats in a chamber as well as Ozzie who had been caught and tied up. The second test was to kill Zee, but Alex failed after Zee triggers Alex's memories back, causing Alex to lash out at the Warden instead.
Alex considers Zee his 'best mate' in Furnace and after they escape. They first met after their trials when Zee attempted to fight and run from his bailiffs. Zee's personality melds well with Alex's, with Zee's rash, passionate optimism fueling Alex to be a good person and saving him from falling to the 'evil side' many times throughout the series. They aren't afraid to stand up to each other honestly, regardless of the hurt that may come with.
Donovan is Alex's cellmate. In the beginning of Lockdown, Donovan is adamant that he wasn't Alex's guardian angel, nor was it a good idea to be friends. This belief ultimately backfires as they grow closer as friends throughout the story, Donovan even admitting near the end of Lockdown that Alex made him "a sentimental old fool." This isn't to say that it was smooth sailing from the start. Donovan calls Alex out for getting out of bed in a blood watch and potentially leading a wheezer to their cell, and during Alex's depression he literally slaps the sense back into Alex with a meat filled rubber glove (which became the basis for their escape plan).
In Solitary, Alex is heartbroken seeing Donovan fading away from the nectar, and is the one to mercy kill him after Donovan was too far gone.Even after Donovan's death, he existed as a guardian angel to Alex, with Alex dreaming him up and that encouraging him to go on living in his stories.
After saving Alex from solitary confinement, he, Alex, and Zee form a band of friends who tries to escape Furnace, again. At first Alex is a little fearful and suspicious of Simon, thinking that if something terrible went down, Simon would take everyone he could down with them. Simon himself initially contacts Alex just because he needed him to help plan an escape route down from the lower levels of the prison. On a rocky road of a friendship, they eventually began to trust each other more and more often. After Alex's blacksuit transformation, Simon is the one who guides and grounds Alex to reality to overcome the nectar's influence.
It's been very clear that Alex hated and feared Cross from the start, with similar sentiments returned likewise. In Death Sentence, Alex became one of the Warden's pet projects notably due to Alex's insistence to hold onto his identity and the excessive amount of nectar he took in. In this period when Alex was losing himself, Cross himself was at his kindness towards Alex, using praise to manipulate Alex into further abandoning his identity.
In the final throw down between Alex and Cross in Fugitives, Alfred Furnace exposed Cross for having his prison get out of order so quickly. Due to this reason, Alex replaced Cross as Furnace's prodigy. This enraged Cross, who after feeding from a berserker tries to kill Alex, but is killed by Alex instead who afterwards feeds on the nectar from Cross's corpse.
- Alex used to wear glasses as a very young child.
- According to Alexander Gordon Smith, Alex is a reflection of Gordon Smith as a teenager and in the original drafts of Lockdown Alex's surname with Smith before it was changed to Sawyer. Along with that, both Alex and Gordon share a birthday: Feburary 27th
- Alex has a fondness for the Indiana Jones movies, along with Star Wars and Darren Shan's stories. (Interestingly, Darren Shan himself gave a glowing recommendation for the Escape From Furnace series)