Study Guide

The House of the Scorpion Summary

By Nancy Farmer

The House of the Scorpion Summary

The House of the Scorpion is a dark, twisted, but ultimately hopeful story about a young clone named Matt who grows up in a dystopian world under the control of a drug lord. Oh, and this drug lord happens to be the man from whom he was cloned. As it turns out, this guy, called El Patrón, cloned our protagonist so that he might harvest Matt's organs to keep himself alive later in life.

Matt's early years are peaceful. He lives in seclusion with his caretaker Celia, who works for the wealthy Alacrán family, of which El Patrón is the head. But when Matt is taken to live in the Big House on the Alacrán estate in the country of Opium, Matt's life takes a dark turn. He faces a never-ending series of hard-knocks: isolation, prejudice, imprisonment, violence, illness, and the threat of death – all before the age of fourteen!

Matt fortunately finds some allies in the mostly mean Alacrán clan: his surrogate mother Celia, his bodyguard-turned-mentor Tam Lin, and his friend-turned-love, María. With the help of these friends, Matt eventually escapes from Opium (and death-by-organ harvesting) and travels to Aztlán, formerly known as Mexico.

After more abuse, hard work, friendships, and near death experiences, Matt finally makes it to safety with María and her mother Esperanza, who is heavily involved in politics and protests in Opium. At the end of the novel, Matt returns to Opium and takes over as the leader of that country, now that El Patrón has died. The novel ends on a fairly optimistic note as the intelligent and idealistic Matt sets out to undo the damage the ruthless El Patrón did during his rule.

  • Part 1 Youth: 0 to 6

    Chapter 1

    In the Beginning

    • We like the shout-out to the first line of Genesis in the chapter title.
    • As the book opens, we meet Eduardo who is working in your typical science lab, complete with bubbling liquids and tubes and glass dishes.
    • Eduardo is trying to grow some cells, but he's worried that most of his batch are dying.
    • While he's working, Lisa tells him the cells are over a hundred years old.
    • Finally one cell survives and starts to grow into a person. Hmm.
    • The baby that is being created in the lab is apparently being grown inside a cow. Weird enough for you?
    • Eduardo wonders and worries about the baby until the little boy is finally born. At that point, he begins injecting the baby with something that will make him unintelligent.
    • But Lisa stops him and tells him that the Matteo Alacráns are always left alone. The who?

    Chapter 2

    The Little House in the Poppy Fields

    • Nancy Farmer is pretty clever with her chapter titles. This one is a shout-out to the popular Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
    • As this chapter opens, a little boy named Matt is upset that his caretaker, Celia, is leaving for work. After all, Matt has to stay alone in the house all day while Celia is gone.
    • (Side note: we assume that Matt is a Matteo Alacrán, from the last chapter.)
    • Outside, there are fields of white poppies. Matt sometimes sees people outside like he does on TV, and he's curious about them.
    • But Celia won't let Matt go outside because it's dangerous. Okay, now we're intrigued.
    • Celia is a cook at a fancy house nearby and brings Matt delicious food every day.
    • While home by himself, Matt tries to talk to his stuffed animals and pictures, but he just gets bored and lonely.
    • Then, two kids show up outside and see Matt through the window. He's scared and excited, but the kids leave pretty quickly.
    • Matt doesn't tell Celia what happened. Scandalous!
    • We find out that Celia isn't Matt's real mother, but Matt thinks of her as his Mama anyway.
    • When a curious Matt asks, Celia tells him about the people at the "Big House." He's interested in the kids there, and from Celia's information, Matt figures out that the two kids he saw are named Steven and Emilia.
    • Apparently Steven's brothers are punks, especially Tom. Oh, and Emilia's younger sister is named María.
    • Celia puts Matt to bed, but before he goes to sleep he practices things to say to Steven and Emilia, hoping they'll play with him tomorrow.

    Chapter 3

    Property of the Alacrán Estate

    • After Celia leaves for work, Matt waits nearly all day for the kids to show up again.
    • Finally Steven, Emilia, and María return to stare at Matt. He's obviously stuck inside, but he gets some pictures to hold up to the window. Interesting tactic.
    • Steven and Emilia think the pictures are pretty funny and realize he can understand them.
    • Unfortunately, María is tired and cranky and starts to cry, which totally ruins the moment.
    • Steven and Emilia get annoyed and walk off, leaving María outside the house.
    • Matt gets upset by this, so he breaks the window with a pot to get to María.
    • The kids are stunned. (So are we.)
    • Matt asks if they want to play, and then he tries to get out the window, but he cuts himself pretty badly on his foot. He passes out and wakes up later, when Steven and Emilia are carrying him to the Big House.
    • When they arrive at the house, some maids begin to take care of Matt's foot. A woman named Rosa asks him questions about who he is, and Emilia notices that Matt has something written on the bottom of his foot. It says "Property of the Alacrán Estate." Property of? Yikes.
    • Everyone is totally confused.
    • Steven's dad bursts in and starts yelling about how Matt is an animal and doesn't belong there. Animal? Who are you calling an animal, mister?
    • Everyone leaves the room and poor Matt is all by his lonesome.

    Chapter 4


    • Matt is now outside, lying on the grass, hoping Celia will come to get him soon. He's going to be in big trouble.
    • Emilia and Steven start talking about Matt, and Steven tells Emilia that Matt is a clone. A clone!
    • They are both horrified. As it turns out, they think clones are animals. (We don't really know what to think.)
    • Finally, a doctor shows up. He and Rosa take Matt inside again to operate on his foot.
    • The doctor and Rosa are rough with Matt, and they leave him alone in a dark room with nothing but a bed and a bucket. Matt is terrified and starts to cry for Celia.
    • Later, María comes by and brings Matt dinner. Finally, some kindness.
    • Matt starts to tell María a scary story that Celia told him about the chupacabra, or a "goat sucker" monster, but this scares María, so Matt feels pretty bad. Let's face it: Matt isn't good at winning over the ladies.
    • It's gotten late, so María decides to stay in the room with Matt for the night. She's scared to go outside because of monsters.
    • The next morning Rosa storms in and drags María out, shouting at her for hanging out with a clone.

    Chapter 5


    • Matt is still stuck in the room, and he's at the mercy of Rosa, who seems to be totally evil. It's a pretty sticky situation.
    • The doctor also comes to tend to Matt's wounds, and he and Rosa start to talk about El Patrón. They both seem scared of him.
    • All Matt knows is that El Patrón is the boss of the Big House.
    • Rosa and the doctor, named Willum, are super flirty flirty but also argue a lot in front of Matt, which totally confuses him.
    • The doctor then goes away for an extended period and Rosa flips out. She takes it out on Matt and treats him worse than ever.
    • Evil lady that she is, Rosa then gets some gardeners to build Matt a pen filled with sawdust; and, of course, she sticks him right in there. Harsh.
    • When the doctor comes back from wherever he went, he freaks out and yells at Rosa for putting Matt in a pen. The doctor is worried about keeping Matt alive and healthy.
    • Matt is scared – obviously – and he's worried that Celia has forgotten about him.
    • The punky kid, Tom, who we've heard of before, shows up and taunts Matt one day, so Matt throws some rotten fruit at him. Good move, Matt. Unfortunately, Tom comes back with a slingshot and shoots peas at Matt, which really hurt.
    • Matt spends his time examining bugs and burying things in the sawdust. Is he a future Gil Grissom from CSI?
    • Finally, Celia arrives with María. She's horrified about what has happened – she was told Matt was with El Patrón.
    • Thankfully, she tells Matt she's working on a plan to rescue him.
    • But Matt's actually happy when his visitors leave because he wants to go back to playing with his buried treasures in the sawdust. That doesn't sound like our idea of fun playtime, but hey, we're not Matt.
  • Part 2, Middle Age: 7 to 11

    Chapter 6

    El Patrón

    • Matt gets woken up by Rosa screaming at him. This lady is always yelling.
    • She drags him to a bathtub and washes him off frantically, after which he's hauled out into a courtyard to meet the family.
    • When he gets outside, Matt is basically shell-shocked.
    • Celia is there along with the mysterious El Patrón and other members of the family.
    • Celia's mad. She lets Rosa have it and tells El Patrón, and everyone else, that Rosa has been treating Matt like an animal.
    • Rosa tries to defend herself, but even her doctor boyfriend turns on her.
    • Furious, El Patrón has Rosa hauled off.
    • He calls Matt over, who likes El Patrón instantly. We also learn here that Matt is El Patrón's clone.
    • Perhaps thinking that some clone-bonding is in order, El Patrón tells Matt about his childhood in Aztlán, which was then called Mexico. He's pretty much rambling at this point.
    • Finally El Patrón conks out – he's old and has talked too much – at which point Celia takes Matt to their new apartment home in the Big House.
    • Matt is happy, but he won't talk, even when María visits him later and tries to persuade him to chat with her.
    • Next we learn that El Patrón is going away to rest in his mountain vacation home. He's 140 years old so he tires easily, and can you blame him? That's almost as old as Dumbledore.
    • Celia dresses Matt and they head off to tell El Patrón bon voyage.
    • At the good-bye, Matt meets to the entire family, and El Patrón reveals to everyone that Matt is his clone.
    • According to El Patrón, this means that Matt is super important, so anyone who harms him will be punished. El Patrón gives the Godfather a run for his money here: everyone is so scared of El Patrón, they have no choice but to agree.
    • Then El Patrón gives Matt the gift of a bodyguard, whom he lets Matt pick.
    • Matt (understandably) decides on a huge man with nice eyes named Tam Lin, who's Scottish. Good call.
    • Tam Lin quickly picks Matt up and carts him off.

    Chapter 7


    • Poor Matt's still having problems dealing with society. He won't talk and he's reluctant to leave Celia's apartment.
    • Matt develops a growing dislike for Tom, who is a bully. He's like the Draco Malfoy to Matt's Harry Potter.
    • But Matt slowly warms up to Tam Lin, who ends up being pretty cool.
    • After living in the pen for months on end, Matt has developed asthma. As if he didn't have enough trouble.
    • María keeps visiting and trying to talk to Matt but he still refuses to respond.
    • Tam Lin calls Matt out on his rude behavior, telling him that he doesn't have to turn into another El Patrón.
    • Matt thinks this over. Hmm.
    • Eventually, Matt gets a tutor called Teacher who is overly chirpy. Teacher treats Matt like a baby, which makes him so mad he practically explodes. He yells at her. He speaks!
    • Tam Lin rushes in to comfort the teacher, who is freaked out by Matt.
    • Finally, Matt introduces himself to Tam Lin for the first time (took you long enough, Matt), and Tam Lin takes him out for a picnic.

    Chapter 8

    The Eejit in the Dry Field

    • Matt's thrilled to be going out with Tam Lin. He's even more pumped about riding a horse.
    • But protective Tam Lin picks a slow horse, and Matt thinks this is lame. Picky picky.
    • Apparently months of not talking left him with lots to say, because Matt chatters nonstop.
    • While they're out, he and Tam Lin see Farm workers, who are harvesting opium. They notice that the workers keep going without stopping for anything.
    • Matt sees a Farm worker lying on the ground and Tam Lin gets upset and says they have to leave him there. It turns out the man is dead.
    • They finally stop their ride and Tam Lin tells the horse to drink. Apparently these horses are different than the one's we're used to.
    • The horse is called a Safe Horse, and it's programmed to do exactly what a rider tells it to do. So it won't even drink unless it's told to do so.
    • The two guys then go on a hike and come to a pretty oasis, but Tam Lin tells Matt it's a secret and he can't tell anyone about it.
    • Then he explains that Matt was cloned from El Patrón, which is why people don't like him: he's different.
    • Matt also learns about eejits: people who are programmed to obey orders, just like the Safe Horse.
    • As it turns out, the Farm worker who died did so because he was never told to stop working, so he worked himself to death. Scary stuff.
    • Horrified, Matt asks Tam Lin to stop telling him things – it's freaking him out!
    • So Tam Lin takes Matt exploring instead, and teaches him about plants, animals, and survival skills. He'd make a great Boy Scout troop leader, don't you think?
    • Matt asks Tam Lin to be his teacher, and he gladly accepts.

    Chapter 9

    The Secret Passage

    • Matt's settling into a nice routine with Celia and Tam Lin, but he's constantly bothered by the fact that he's a copy of another person. It's okay, Matt, we would be, too.
    • He's also haunted by the dead eejit he saw.
    • María still visits, but now brings her annoying dog, Furball with her, which only serves as a reminder to Matt that people think of him as an animal. Ugh.
    • When he hears Tom and Steven's mother, Felicia, playing the piano, Matt becomes interested in the instrument, and music in general. Felicia, we learn, is an alcoholic and seems very depressed.
    • One day, Matt has to hide in a closet to listen to Felicia play. The closet is actually a secret passage, and Matt starts to explore it. It goes all over the Big House and has peepholes into various rooms.
    • Matt wanders towards the room of Mr. Alacrán's father, who has cancer and is refusing treatment.
    • On another exploration of the Big House, Matt observes the doctor, Willum, hanging around Felicia. The two seem pretty cozy.
    • After a while, Matt starts to play the piano himself in secret, but Tam Lin discovers him and decides to get him a proper piano teacher.
    • They find a music teacher who has gone deaf and really needs a job. His name is Mr. Ortega and he agrees to teach Matt, even if Matt is a clone.
    • Figuring that if he excels at school people will forget he's a clone, Matt throws himself into his studies.

    Chapter 10

    The Cat with Nine Lives

    • We jump forward three years in time. It's El Patrón's 143rd birthday. He's even got Bilbo Baggins from The Fellowship of the Rings beat.
    • Matt, who really cares about El Patrón, is sad to see him so aged.
    • Celia seems nervous about El Patrón's party and tells Matt to find her if anything seems weird.
    • María is there for the party, but she's upset because she can't find Furball, so Tam Lin and Matt reluctantly help her look for the dog.
    • Tom is there, too, and joins the search party, but Matt notices that Tom is only half-heartedly looking. He suspects that Tom did something to Furball. Uh oh.
    • Eventually, after hearing the dog's cries, Matt finds Furball in the toilet, almost drowned. He's horrified – Tom nearly killed the dog.
    • Matt kind of likes El Patrón's birthday, because it means that his friends are celebrating it as his birthday, too. It's the one day of the year that the Alacráns have to pay attention and be polite to him.
    • A creepy red-headed guy from California is also at the party. His name is Mr. MacGregor.
    • El Patrón arrives and appears to be in much better health. He thanks his new doctors for their awesome treatment with million dollar checks. Ka-ching!
    • He then proceeds to tell the story he tells all the time, about how his family was very poor and how all of his eight siblings died before reaching adulthood.

    Chapter 11

    The Giving and Taking of Gifts

    • Matt wanders around and checks out the seating arrangement at El Patrón's party. As a joke, he takes Tom's place card and sticks it at the baby table.
    • María catches him, so Matt tells her that he thinks Tom tried to drown Furball. She doesn't believe him, though. Instead, she think's Matt's being quite the jerk.
    • El Patrón and Mr. Alacrán join the conversation, and El Patrón approves of Matt's joke.
    • When María protests, El Patrón tells her to stuff it.
    • Still angry, she refuses to talk to Matt anymore. Tam Lin, too, isn't thrilled with how Matt is acting.
    • Then Matt overhears a conversation among the adults. El Patrón is talking about things like "fetal brain implants" and makes fun of his grandson, El Viejo, for not hopping onboard the modern medical technology bandwagon. It turns out El Viejo is the man with cancer, whom Matt stumbled upon while roaming the secret passageway in Chapter 9. Is this all coming together now?
    • Mr. Alacrán (who we now know is El Patrón's great-grandson) sticks up for his father, El Viejo, and says that "implants" are "immoral."
    • Despite their disagreement, El Patrón decides not to lay the smack down on Mr. Alacrán. It is his birthday, after all, so he's not really in the right mood.
    • Felicia tries to take Tom some food at the baby table, but Mr. Alacrán yells at her to shut up and sit down. People are seriously mean around here.
    • El Patrón then opens his presents. He has tons of them, of course.
    • Our other birthday boy, Matt, is then allowed to open his three presents, from Celia, Tam Lin, and El Patrón.
    • María, still peeved, tries to take back her present, but her dad tells her to hand it over and stop complaining.
    • Channeling El Patrón, Matt orders María to bring him his gift. Eek.
    • Then he steps over the line and demands a birthday kiss. Everyone is horrified because he's a clone, but El Patrón is delighted.
    • Even though he begins to regret his actions, Matt refuses to back down. María finally kisses him, which makes Matt is horrified at his own behavior.
    • Later, back in his room, Matt opens María's gift, which is a box of taffy that she made herself. Pretty sweet.
    • We learn that María is a hoarder, and that her mother abandoned her when she was only five. Celia says this is why María won't let things go and why she won't let Furball leave her sight.
    • Feeling pretty guilty, Matt goes to sleep.

    Chapter 12

    The Thing on the Bed

    • Felicia shows up the next morning out of nowhere, surprising Matt, who was studying.
    • She seems ill, but she tries to be nice to Matt. She tells him that María wants to see him and that she's at the hospital.
    • When Matt goes to meet her, she's there, but she thought it was Matt's idea to meet there.
    • Uh-oh. It's a set-up.
    • Tom walks in and takes them to see something awful. At first it sounds like a cat being tortured, but when Tom opens the door, the three of them see a clone who is pale and tied down and screeching.
    • We learn that the clone is Mr. MacGregor's.
    • Though horrified, Matt can't help but notice that the clone looks a lot like Tom, who gets mad when Matt points this out.
    • Freaking out, María refuses to look at the clone or listen to anything about it.
    • Matt gets angry with her because she was gung-ho about rescuing the creature when she thought it was a cat, and now she wants nothing to do with it.

    Chapter 13

    The Lotus Pond

    • Matt's terrified. He wants to talk with someone about what he saw, so he goes to Celia and tells her what happened.
    • She's furious with Tom for showing them that, and she tells Matt that Tom is Mr. MacGregor's son. Scandal!
    • It turns out Felicia ran off with Mr. MacGregor, but when the relationship ended, El Patrón had her brought back and now she's basically a prisoner at the house.
    • Then Celia explains that all clones have their brains destroyed at birth. It's a law. But El Patrón is so powerful that he disregarded the law and left Matt's brain intact.
    • Okay, big revelation: Matt is the only clone in existence with a brain that hasn't been destroyed.
    • With a promise that he'll be safe as long as he lives, Celia assures Matt that no one will inject him with any brain-destroying drugs.
    • It's time for a nap. As he drifts off to sleep, Matt wonders why MacGregor would want a brain-damaged clone.
    • Lo and behold, MacGregor shows up a few days later and has a new liver and new kidneys. Aha.
    • María is going to boarding school soon, but she refuses to talk to Matt.
    • In an effort to force her to speak to him, Matt decides to kidnap Furball and send María a ransom note.
    • Meanwhile, Matt finds Tom hanging around, torturing a frog. The two bicker and Tom goes back inside.
    • Then, Matt sneaks over to where the Mendozas are staying and prepares to snatch Furball. He tries one last time to talk to María but she runs off.
    • So Matt gives Furball some meat to get the dog to come with him. He has some drugs to make Furball fall asleep but he doesn't end up using them.
    • After leaving the ransom note, Matt takes Furball and leaves him near the pond for safekeeping. His plan is to go back later to meet María there after she reads the ransom note.
    • When he does head back, Matt is by met Tam Lin and another bodyguard named Daft Donald. A man named Senator Mendoza is with them; furious, he tells Matt that Furball is dead. (P.S. This guy is actually a US Senator.)
    • Yelling, Matt declares that he loves María and wouldn't hurt her, which makes the Senator even angrier.
    • Tam Lin is seriously disappointed in Matt, and doesn't believe Matt when he says that he didn't kill Furball.
    • We find out that Tam Lin is also leaving with El Patrón.

    Chapter 14

    Celia's Story

    • Matt is confined to his room. He's pretty miserable because he has a lot of regrets about what he's done, and he's also frustrated that no one believes that he didn't kill Furball. Plus, he's pretty sure Tom killed the dog, but he can't prove it.
    • Plus, without Tam Lin, who has left with El Patrón, Matt's very lonely. Now that Tam Lin is gone, he realizes what a friend he was.
    • He decides to make Tam Lin proud by making better decisions.
    • There is some good news, though. El Patrón found out about Tom's stunt at the hospital and banishes him to boarding school for a year. So at least that bully won't be around.
    • From Celia, Matt learns that El Patrón won't ever let things go. He even keeps a stash of all his presents in an underground tomb, where he wants to be buried like a pharaoh.
    • This is why El Patrón keeps Tom around, too, even though he hates him. Tom "belongs" to him.
    • Now it's time to learn about Celia's background.
    • She grew up in Aztlán in the same village as El Patrón (though she's not nearly as old, of course).
    • She was poor and went to work in a factory, where she dreamed of going to the United States someday.
    • Eventually, Celia found someone to take her over the border and made a run for it with a group of other people fleeing Aztlán.
    • Unfortunately, the Farm Patrol caught her and the others. El Patrón came to see the prisoners and recognized Celia's accent.
    • When he learned she was from his hometown, he decided to spare her life and hired her as a cook. So now Celia belongs to El Patrón, and she can never escape him.
    • As a punishment for their crime, the people who crossed the border with Celia were turned into eejits and now work the fields.
  • Part 3, Old Age: 12 to 14

    Chapter 15

    A Starved Bird

    • No one is around at the Big House, and Matt is getting bored.
    • To relieve that boredom, he goes to get a Safe Horse for a ride one day. The eejit who brings out the horse is Rosa.
    • Yikes. Matt is totally freaked out to discover that someone he once knew is now an eejit.
    • At the Oasis, he finds some packages and a note from Tam Lin. There's a trunk with supplies like food and a knife and first aid, plus some books.
    • When Matt returns home, he learns that El Viejo is dead. Everyone returns home for the funeral.
    • Even María returns, and – brace yourselves – she's holding hands with Tom. Yuck.
    • After the funeral service, Celia and Matt go up to view the body. The priest flips out and says Matt doesn't belong there since he doesn't have a soul.
    • María stands up for Matt and storms off with him in tow.
    • Matt is shocked that she seems to have forgiven him for the whole Furball incident.
    • The two of them go to the Music Room and then have to hide in the secret passage when they hear people coming.

    Chapter 16

    Brother Wolf

    • María and Matt make their way to El Patrón's surveillance room and sit down to chat.
    • After having read all about Saint Francis, who doesn't hold things against animals who are just acting as nature dictates, María has forgiven Matt. Way to give a backhanded compliment there, María. Essentially, she is "forgiving" Matt because he's just a clone and doesn't know how to behave.
    • But she tells him to try to be good in the future.
    • Of course Matt just agrees with everything she says because he's got a huge crush on María.
    • Tom and Felicia pop up on the surveillance cameras. They are looking for Matt and María.
    • As Matt and María eavesdrop, Felicia reveals something shocking to Tom: she killed Furball and set Matt up to get back at him for being mean to Tom. Color María stunned.
    • She and Matt sneak back out and run into Tam Lin, who is mad at them both for sneaking away.
    • María's annoyed at Matt for letting her carry on about forgiveness and Saint Francis when he didn't do anything. Matt, we'd suggest just rolling your eyes and moving on.
    • María says goodbye to Matt and Tam Lin leads her away.

    Chapter 17

    The Eejit Pens

    • After the funeral, everyone leaves, and Matt is left alone again.
    • Because María suggested it, Matt reads Saint Francis. He starts trying to commune with nature and enjoys being outside.
    • He starts to read a book that Tam Lin left him, called A History of Opium, which details how horrible Opium is.
    • Basically, El Patrón and other drug lords got together and made a deal with the United States government. They created a country called Opium, which would solve the illegal immigration problem the US was experiencing, and El Patrón promised not to sell drugs in the United States.
    • El Patrón, we learn, is the most powerful guy in Opium and he came up with the eejit system himself.
    • Matt gets angry when he reads about how evil El Patrón is and thinks that the author must be a hack. He's convinced that El Patrón has big plans for him.
    • One day later on, Matt goes to tour the water treatment plant and wanders off to see where all the polluted water is dumped. Al Gore would not appreciate this set-up, that's for sure.
    • Matt is surprised to see that there are buildings in the toxic water wasteland. Turns out that's where the eejits live.
    • When he almost passes out from the stench, Matt he is rescued by two dudes.
    • Unfortunately, those very same dudes think he's an illegal immigrant. Uh-oh. These guys are members of the dreaded Farm Patrol.
    • When Matt explains who he is, they apologize. Their names are Hugh and Ralf, and they are from the United Kingdom, like Tam Lin. They are murderers, which is how they came to work for El Patrón. Only the best, and most evil, work for El Patrón.
    • Here comes another shocking revelation: Hugh and Ralf tell Matt that Tam Lin is a terrorist.
    • According to these two, he tried to blow up the Prime Minister but ended up blowing up a school bus by accident.

    Chapter 18

    The Dragon Hoard

    • Celia wakes Matt up abruptly and is freaking out.
    • Matt had gone to bed right after returning from his misadventure at the eejit pens.
    • Before Celia rushes Matt outside and a bodyguard herds them to the hospital, she makes him eat something. Apparently it's going to be a long night.
    • El Patrón has had a heart attack.
    • Matt begins to feel really sick and vomits all over a hospital orderly. The doctors rush him off and he starts hallucinating.
    • When Matt wakes up, Tam Lin is there and says that El Patrón is stable.
    • The doctors placed a donor heart next to El Patrón's own heart to get it going again. The actual donor heart was too small to work on him by itself.
    • Matt tells Tam Lin that he went to the eejit pens. Surprise, surprise, Tam Lin gets mad – he thinks that's why Matt got so sick.
    • Then Celia comes in and becomes hysterical over Matt.
    • Later, we learn that after his heart attack, El Patrón has changed. He's lost a lot of his energy, so Matt spends a lot of time by El Patrón's bedside.
    • One day, Matt brings up Saint Francis and mentions how the historical figure gave all his belongings away.
    • El Patrón perks up at that and starts yelling about how that's the worst idea ever. Okay, so he's not a Franciscan.
    • Tam Lin finds this hilarious and tells Matt that El Patrón is like a dragon – he collects lots of treasure.

    Chapter 19

    Coming of Age

    • One day, as Matt sings for El Patrón, his voice cracks.
    • Matt is confused, but Celia explains that it just means that he's growing up. Celia and Tam Lin throw Matt a little party to celebrate. Puberty party!
    • When Matt asks how old he is, Tam Lin starts ranting about how Matt was harvested and how they're all treated like lab rats.
    • Celia calms him down and sends Matt to bed.
    • Matt knows that Tam Lin and Celia know something he doesn't, and have for a while. He begins to put things together that night, and realizes what the clones are for: they are used as involuntary organ donors.
    • But Matt just can't believe he's been created only for his organs. After all, El Patrón left his mind intact, unlike that of MacGregor's clone.
    • But then another thought occurs to him. El Patrón is driven by vanity. He likes to see Matt young and smart because Matt is basically another version of him.
    • Matt starts to wonder about all the other El Patrón clones – his brothers, essentially.
    • Celia comes to tell him good night and discovers that Matt is running a fever.
    • Finally, before leaving the room, Tam Lin tells Matt that he's fourteen years old.

    Chapter 20


    • Matt wakes up feeling sick, but he gets out of bed anyway and goes to the Oasis.
    • He simply can't decide what to do. Should he run away? Should he believe that El Patrón doesn't plan to cut him up for organs one day? Should he bank on El Patrón living longer?
    • After mulling things over for a bit, Matt goes back to reading A History of Opium, hoping to learn more.
    • The book seems pretty angry about the eejits and how evil El Patrón is. So Matt decides to see who the author is. He finds a picture and a biography of her in the back.
    • Turns out, her name is Esperanza Mendoza: she's Senator Mendoza's ex-wife, and María's mother. (The Senator is María's father.)
    • Matt is shocked because María thinks her mother is dead.
    • That night, Matt comes down with an awful stomach bug.
    • Tam Lin tells Celia that her plan is going to kill Matt and they need a better one. Celia tells him its under control.
    • Although Matt is too out of it to figure out what they are talking about, we can start to put the pieces together.
    • Finally, Matt starts to feel better and goes back to visiting El Patrón, who is starting to have memory troubles.
    • El Patrón starts calling Matt Felipe, and Matt learns that Felipe was El Patrón's son who died eighty years ago.
    • Matt grows increasingly anxious to escape, but he knows he can't leave before Steven and Emilia's wedding.

    Chapter 21

    Blood Wedding

    • The title of this chapter doesn't bode well for what's about to happen.
    • It's the day of the wedding, and the Big House is in total upheaval.
    • El Patrón had arranged Steven and Emilia's marriage years ago. Luckily, they actually like each other, because otherwise, El Patrón's career as a matchmaker has been spotty; Steven's brother Benito had to marry Fani, the daughter of the Nigerian president. Fani and Benito absolutely hate each other.
    • María arrives and she and Matt sneak off to catch up. María tells Matt all about what she's been up to, and Matt returns the favor.
    • When Matt tries to convince María that he's not like the other clones, she's not convinced and thinks that El Patrón may kill him soon for his heart.
    • The conversation turns to Tom, and María and Matt start to argue about him as well.
    • Turns out, María is supposed to marry Tom in the future, and María is confident she'll be able to change him.
    • Moving on, Matt shows María A History of Opium, written by her mom, and tells María she should try to contact her mother.
    • Matt takes his seat for the ceremony in the secret passage, equipped with a telescope to look through a peephole.
    • During the ceremony, El Patrón passes out and everyone rushes out, leaving Steven and Emilia alone at the altar. Not a perfect day for them, that's for sure.

    Chapter 22


    • Matt panics. He's almost certain that El Patrón means to kill him for organs, but he's not positive.
    • María comes to the passage, and tells him to stay there until she can come back for him. She says they can steal her dad's hovercraft and pretend Matt is her eejit servant.
    • Matt waits and waits, feeling tired and thirsty until María finally comes back with some water and an update: El Patrón is doing better.
    • After Matt changes into the eejit uniform María has brought him, the two make their way out to the hovercraft.
    • Somewhere in the passage, they arrive at a point at which they can go no further without giving a handprint scan. The scanner looks like a red scorpion.
    • María thinks it's El Patrón's secret escape passage, and she's scared that the scanner won't recognize Matt as El Patrón, meaning they'll probably both die.
    • In a moment of now or never, the two declare their love for one another, and Matt touches the scorpion. And…
    • The passage door opens! Matt and María run into a tunnel and finally emerge outside by the hovercraft landing field.
    • Steven and Emilia come up as Matt and María are getting on the hovercraft.
    • María tries to tell Emilia that their mother is alive, but Emilia already knows. Well, then.
    • Steven and Emilia tell Matt that he has to go to the hospital, and they both tell María to stop being so childish.
    • Matt is led off by the bodyguards as María screams for someone to help him. Epic moment, that's for sure.
  • Part 4, Age 14

    Chapter 23


    • Matt is terrified and knows he's about to die.
    • He is taken to El Patrón's bedside, where Celia waits with lots of bodyguards.
    • Talking to Matt, El Patrón explains that he's a good person for keeping Matt's brain intact. He gave him a very nice life, and now he'd like an organ please. Oh sure, El Patrón, lemme just grab my scalpel.
    • El Patrón insists that he was owed the lives of all of his dead siblings. Because none of his siblings lived to adulthood, he has a duty to live those lives for them. So feels like he's due multiple "lifetimes," each in exchange for the siblings he's lost.
    • This starts a fight between Celia and El Patrón. A verbal fight, of course – El Patrón is too weak to move.
    • Celia tells him he's a crazy freak and that El Viejo was the only decent person in the family because he accepted death gracefully and with dignity. She also says Matt owes him nothing.
    • Then she drops an awesome bombshell: Celia has been poisoning Matt since El Patrón had his first heart attack. Not enough to kill Matt, but enough to make his heart unsuitable for a transplant. Well that explains the stomach bug. Good move, Celia.
    • El Patrón goes ballistic, and his heart begins to fail from the shock.
    • Everyone rushes off and Matt is left alone in the room until Mr. Alacrán and Tam Lin come in.
    • El Patrón is dead, they tell him. Mr. Alacrán says they no longer have a use for Matt and tells Tam Lin to kill him.
    • Tam Lin agrees and hauls Matt off. Way to turn on a brother, dude.
    • Matt tries to reason with him, but Tam Lin shuts him down.
    • He says that Celia has been turned into an eejit. Hmm. That doesn't sound right.
    • Tam Lin requests Daft Donald's help with killing Matt and Mr. Alacrán gives him the go ahead.

    Chapter 24

    A Final Good-bye

    • Daft Donald and Tam Lin tie Matt up with duct tape and throw him over a horse. Tam Lin says he's going to dump Matt out by the eejit pens.
    • When they get far enough away, Tam Lin frees Matt and tells him it was all an act. Whew!
    • Matt, of course, won't just let things go, and he starts yelling that he can't trust a terrorist.
    • Admitting that he's made lots of mistakes, Tam Lin promises Matt that he's really trying to help him.
    • The two go to the Oasis, where Tam Lin explains that he put Celia in the stables and she is pretending to be an eejit.
    • Matt wants Tam Lin to go with him to Aztlán, but Tam Lin says he can't. He has to stay behind in Opium and atone for the bad things he's done.
    • Tam Lin gives Matt last minute instructions: El Patrón kept life in Opium about a hundred years in the past, so Aztlán is going to seem pretty weird and futuristic to Matt.
    • Matt is supposed to head to the Convent of Santa Clara, which is where María is going to school. Tam Lin tells him to find Esperanza, too, since she's a good ally to have.
    • Then, Tam Lin promises to take care of Celia. The two say goodbye and Matt sets off on his own.

    Chapter 25

    The Farm Patrol

    • In shock, Matt spends an uneasy night outside, and then begins his journey at dawn.
    • Matt has to do some serious rock climbing, but presses on towards the border. As he travels, he Matt looks back at Opium a lot.
    • Matt spends another night outside and the next day, he starts to hear strange sounds. It's the sounds of an urban area: he must be getting closer to Aztlán.
    • Matt waits until dark and makes a run for the border, but the Farm Patrol spot him. A chase ensues. (Great movie scene possibilities here.)
    • A Farm Patrolman grabs Matt's backpack, but Matt shrugs out of it and flings himself over the border, where he lands in an oily black puddle.
    • Welcome to Aztlán.
  • Part 5, La Vida Nueva

    Chapter 26

    The Lost Boys

    • The border guards are super impressed by Matt's narrow escape. Matt tells them his name is Matt Ortega (a shout out to his awesome music teacher).
    • The guards, known as "Keepers," take Matt to a building and get him some clothes and food.
    • Matt tells them the story Tam Lin came up with: Matt's parents were taken by the Farm Patrol and he turned back to Aztlán since he was scared.
    • He tells them he wants to go to San Luis.
    • After figuring out that Matt doesn't have any useful job skills, a Keeper named Raúl decides to send him to a plankton factory in San Luis since that's where he wants to go.
    • Matt figures that sounds fine – he can escape once he hits San Luis and go find María.
    • Then, Matt meets the other boys staying with the Keepers. They're playing a video game, which totally confuses Matt. (Remember the thing about keeping Opium a hundred years in the past?)
    • After Raúl tells the boys to give Matt some space, Matt watches as they go over an evening lesson where Raúl recites things like "Work is freedom. Freedom is work."
    • Okay, side note: it's helpful here to know that Raúl is acting and speaking in a way that identifies him as a communist. Basically, communists believe that everyone should work hard and share everything. That sounds nice enough, but unfortunately, a lot of communist governments, such as the Soviet Union, turned into dictatorships where people were controlled by the State. Will Aztlán be the same? (By the way, if you want to read more about communism, check out Shmoop's take).
    • When Raúl leaves, the other boys start to chat to Matt.
    • A big guy named Chacho has a bad attitude. He tells Matt that the Keepers are going to "work his butt off" tomorrow. It turns out Chacho and a little boy named Fidelito, who gets picked on by the other boys, are headed for San Luis with Matt.
    • Fidelito says that he's hungry and that you only get fed if you "produce enough work." That certainly doesn't sound promising.
    • Using some of El Patrón's attention-getting techniques, Matt tells everyone his fake story of crossing the border with his parents.
    • Chacho reveals that this place is an orphanage and that all the boys have lost their parents, many of them to the Farm Patrol.
    • Because the boys are orphans, they basically "belong" to the state and are forced to work. Matt knows what that feels like ("belonging" to someone, that is).

    Chapter 27

    A Five-Legged Horse

    • At the orphanage, Matt floats around to different groups and learns the ropes.
    • All the orphans call themselves the Lost Boys (Peter Pan, anyone?). The Lost Girls are in a different building. Everyone has it in for the Keepers, though Matt thinks Raúl is nice.
    • Also, everyone here calls Opium "Dreamland."
    • Matt helps Fidelito with his work so that he can eat, and Fidelito latches onto Matt.
    • Chacho, continuing to show Matt the ropes, tells him that everyone gets assigned a job by the Keepers, whether they like it or not.
    • We also learn that Chacho is secretly working on making a guitar, because his dad used to make them. Chacho insists that his dad is living in the United States and is going to send for him soon. Matt's not so sure.
    • The day drags on and it's finally time for bed. When Raúl comes in to say goodnight, Fidelito moons him. Raúl just laughs.
    • Their "bedtime" story is about why individualism is a "five-legged horse." Apparently, individualism causes people to just go in circles. Everyone should pull together and be the same.
    • Matt pipes up and says that not letting people be individuals is about the same as putting a computer chip in their brain.
    • Everyone finds this shocking, but Chacho just finds it hysterical.
    • Raúl is horrified and tells Matt he's an aristocrat. (FYI, aristocrats are bad in communism. See what happened to the royal family of Russia when the communists took over.)
    • Raúl then peaces out.
    • Unlike Raúl, the boys all think Matt is hard core. Matt, on the other hand, is really confused about what just happened.
    • Matt goes to bed and begins to freak out. He knows no one can ever find out he's El Patrón's clone, because it seems like everyone at the orphanage hates "Dreamland."
    • They call El Patrón a vampire, and the eejits are called "crots" or zombies.
    • Matt goes to sleep missing Celia and Tam Lin and thinking of María.

    Chapter 28

    The Plankton Factory

    • Raúl begins the day with an inspirational pep talk.
    • Matt is put to work making Vitamin B pills and is given a double quota. He ends up not getting much food for breakfast, but Chacho tells the bigger boys to give Matt some more food.
    • Later that day, Fidelito, Chacho, and Matt head off to San Luis, and they have to make sandals on the trip there.
    • Matt is beginning to think the Keepers are power-hungry nuts.
    • Poor Fidelito throws up in the hovercraft on the way to San Luis.
    • Finally they land. Unfortunately, outside it smells like rotting fish, so Matt throws up, too.
    • The pilot takes the boys inside and the Keepers at the plankton factory call Matt the "aristocrat." They must have already heard about him. Word travels fast.
    • The boys then have to go clean the vomit out of the hovercraft. Not a great start. When that's done, they go talk to the head Keeper, Carlos.
    • Carlos rambles on about how great plankton is. It grows in the sea, and the plant manufactures it to be turned into food for humans. Sounds... tasty.
    • Matt asks where San Luis is, but Carlos tells him to shut up. Apparently meanness isn't confined to Opium.
    • The plant is in the middle of nowhere and is surrounded by salt hills leftover from the plankton manufacturing process.
    • Time for lunch. They eat plankton (big surprise) and Matt decides that it's gross.
    • In the distance, Matt spies the Gulf of California. He learns that the Gulf is where Opium gets its water from.
    • After lunch, Chacho, Fidelito, and Matt are put to work tending brine shrimp tanks.
    • The boys chat and Fidelito explains how he got there.
    • He used to live in the Yucatan peninsula with his grandmother, he tells them, but a hurricane destroyed their home. So the two were sent to a refugee camp, where they were basically prisoners of the state.
    • In an effort to escape, Fidelito and his grandma tried to cross the border. Sadly, his grandma didn't make it and Fidelito was picked up by the Keepers.
    • Chacho explains that most of Aztlán is okay, but the Keepers are crazy, and if you end up with the state in charge of you, you're pretty much sunk.
    • Carlos comes up and scolds the boys for not working. Matt foolishly talks back, and they all lose dinner privileges.
    • Matt apologizes, but Fidelito and Chacho don't mind: they're sticking with him because he's cool.

    Chapter 29

    Washing a Dusty Mind

    • Matt asks why everyone calls him the aristocrat.
    • Chacho says it's because of how he talks, his manners, and how he seems to be thinking all the time.
    • Matt gets worried because he's always copied El Patrón, who was over one hundred years behind the times.
    • At dinner, Chacho stares down a kid, and gets some of his food for Fidelito.
    • Before bed, another Keeper named Jorge gives everyone an inspirational lesson.
    • Of course Matt thinks the lessons are a load of crap, but he keeps his mouth shut this time. Smart move.
    • Poor Matt gets called on to answer a question, but he gets it wrong.
    • The boys then start something called "self-criticism," which is where everyone goes around and confesses to a wrongdoing.
    • A kid with bad acne named Ton-Ton goes first, and he says he thought about stealing a pancake.
    • Ton-Ton then gets to name his own punishment: he decides he should have to recite some principles.
    • Matt finds the whole thing extremely bizarre, but it's worth noting that actually, this self-criticism thing isn't just fiction. This was something communists in the Soviet Union and China actually did at their meetings. Crazy, we know. Check out this link for some information.
    • Now it's Matt's turn. He says he hasn't done anything wrong. Fidelito, however, confesses to throwing up in the hovercraft.
    • When Matt tries to stand up for him, Jorge gets everyone to turn on Matt. All the boys except Chacho and Fidelito accuse Matt of stupid things.
    • Even though he's still got some allies, Matt is really upset because he wanted to be accepted by boys his age.
    • But then Matt remembers the people who care about him: Celia, Tam Lin, and María, And he remembers El Patrón, who gave him a will to live.
    • Matt decides he can triumph over his bad situation.

    Chapter 30

    When the Whales Lost Their Legs

    • Matt starts getting used to his new existence at the plankton factory. He and the other two boys still work at the shrimp tanks all day.
    • One day, Chacho and Matt go investigate something in the distance and discover a huge pit filled with giant bones.
    • Chacho notices a human skull in the pit, too. This does not sound good. The boys decide to leave before someone falls in.
    • Fidelito tells the older boys that the bones are whale bones.
    • Matt also starts getting used to having all the boys insult him every night during "self-criticism."
    • One night, though, Jorge turns on Ton-Ton after Matt refuses to confess anything. He accuses Ton-Ton of stealing and then beats him up as punishment.
    • Matt knows Jorge is doing this to intimidate him. After all, the beating is so bad that Ton-Ton has to be taken to the infirmary when Jorge is done. But Matt still refuses to confess to doing something wrong.
    • So then Jorge threatens to beat Matt.
    • Matt talks back, and Fidelito finally jumps in and tells about stuff Matt did (or did he?).
    • Finally, Matt decides to confess to things he never did, such as dropping soap and throwing away porridge. Jorge takes it upon himself to beat Matt for his assorted "crimes."
    • When Jorge leaves, all the boys surround Matt and call him a hero for standing up to Jorge.
    • An older boy named Flaco says Jorge really crossed the line and will get into trouble.
    • Matt is psyched that the other boys like and accept him. But he did just get totally pummeled, so he's then taken to the infirmary and given something to knock him out.

    Chapter 31


    • The next day, Matt is recovering in the infirmary with Ton-Ton.
    • Ton-Ton's friend Luna comes to visit. Luna is actually training to be a Keeper. He says that everyone eventually trains to be a Keeper.
    • Matt doesn't understand this, because there aren't enough Keeper positions for the hundreds of boys.
    • Poor Ton-Ton still can't figure out why Jorge beat him, so Matt distracts him by asking what the Keeper's quarters are like. Ton-Ton cleans these rooms so he gets to see inside.
    • Apparently, they are super swanky.
    • Matt learns from Ton-Ton that the Keepers get high every night.
    • This is great news for Matt since it gives him better odds at escaping at night, when the Keepers are out of commission.
    • Ton-Ton also grew up in San Luis and tells Matt all about it.
    • Matt really wants to tell Ton-Ton to get a clue and stop being loyal to the Keepers, but he holds his tongue.
    • He finally gets out of bed and makes an unfortunate discovery: he has super bad acne. Luna says the plankton causes it for some reason.
    • The next day, Jorge makes Ton-Ton and Matt go back to work. Matt plans his escape and tries to figure out how Chacho and Fidelito can come with him.
    • Matt now needs more information: he arranges for Chacho, Fidelito, and him to intercept, or stop, Ton-Ton on his way in from work. He wants to get more news from Ton-Ton to help with his escape plans.
    • Suspicious at first, Ton-Ton is assured by Matt that they want to be friends with him.
    • And now we get Ton-Ton's backstory.
    • His parents both disappeared over the border. Ton-Ton tried to run, too, and was nearly killed by the Farm Patrol, but Jorge rescued him. He's got a grandmother in San Luis, but Jorge convinced him to stay at the orphanage to become a Keeper.
    • After he tells this story, the boys head back to the compound. Ton-Ton lets Fidelito ride with him in the shrimp harvester that he drives, but Matt and Chacho have to walk.
    • Matt tells Chacho about Celia, explaining that she's his mother. Mentioning Celia makes Matt desperately homesick and he nearly cries.
    • Chacho understands and leaves Matt alone, giving him time to pull himself together.

    Chapter 32

    Found Out

    • Jorge criticizes Matt yet again that night, and then he turns on Fidelito. Matt tries to step in on Fidelito's behalf, but Jorge won't let up and goes to beat Fidelito.
    • So Matt throws himself on Jorge and Chacho joins in. Soon all the boys are surrounding them and shouting.
    • Matt stops himself and then yanks Chacho off of Jorge.
    • Jorge scrambles outside and comes back with all twenty Keepers. This can't be good.
    • The boys yell that Jorge nearly killed Fidelito, which makes Carlos pause, but Jorge says they're lying.
    • The Keepers try to leave, but Flaco gets everyone to surround the doors and trap them.
    • There are two hundred boys and the Keepers are nervous. They're out-numbered ten-to-one.
    • Jorge then spills the beans about Matt: he saw Matt's "Property of the Alacrán Estate" tattoo on his foot when he was in the infirmary.
    • Everyone is horrified – even more so when Jorge accuses Matt of being an eejit.
    • Flaco, checking Matt's foot, confirms Jorge's story, but Ton-Ton pipes up and says that Matt isn't a bad person and that anyone could get trapped in Dreamland.
    • Ton-Ton then tells all the boys that their parents are crots, or zombies, too, and they were just unlucky. Jorge tells Ton-Ton to shut up.
    • The Keepers then haul Chacho and Matt out, lock them in a dark closet, and tape their mouths shut.

    Chapter 33

    The Boneyard

    • At dawn, some Keepers, led by Jorge, come to get Chacho and Matt.
    • They take the two boys out to the boneyard (the giant pit filled with whale bones). Their hands and feet are bound with tape. The Keepers throw the boys into the pit and leave them there.
    • Frantic, Matt and Chacho get to work on trying to use the bones to cut their hands and feet free, but the bones keep shifting and they have to be careful not to sink further into the pit.
    • As if the situation weren't bad enough, Chacho discovers that there are bats living in the pit and they start crawling on Matt and Chacho. This pretty much sounds like your basic worst nightmare.
    • After panicking because of the bats, Chaco is calmed by Matt. Matt refuses to believe that he's going to die in a pit like this.
    • Finally Chacho and Matt get their hands free. Both of them are super thirsty.
    • When he tells Chaco about living in Opium with his parents, Celia and Tam Lin, Matt assures Chacho that not everyone there is an eejit, but that everyone is definitely a prisoner.
    • Chacho is hopeful that his father is a prisoner – not an eejit.
    • Then a thunderstorm rolls in, giving the boys a chance to get a drink of rainwater.
    • Unfortunately, the storm totally freaks out the bats and they start crawling all over Chacho and Matt, looking for warmth.
    • Matt frees his feet and very slowly makes his way out of the pit.
    • Chacho, however, is still in the pit and has passed out from exhaustion.

    Chapter 34

    The Shrimp Harvester

    • Matt is freezing and exhausted. He keeps yelling to Chacho, but Chacho doesn't answer. What should he do?
    • Then, thankfully, Ton-Ton and Fidelito drive up in the shrimp harvester. Matt is beyond relieved to see them.
    • Ton-Ton uses the harvester to get Chacho out of the pit.
    • When Chaco wakes up, Ton-Ton gives him and Matt strawberry soda to drink. The "soda" sounds an awful lot like Gatorade from the way Ton-Ton describes it.
    • Ton-Ton says all four of them are going to make a run for it to San Luis.
    • Apparently, there was an uprising at the compound and the boys have control. Ton-Ton drugged the Keepers and the boys all barricaded them in their rooms.
    • Now Flaco's in charge, and he's going to wait until the supply hovercraft arrives. Then he'll tell people in charge what happened.
    • But Ton-Ton says he doesn't trust headquarters and thinks it's best to run while they can, so they all ride in the shrimp harvester to San Luis.
    • Unfortunately, the harvester is solar powered, and it gets dark when they are still three miles outside of San Luis.
    • Ton-Ton stays with Chacho, who can't walk, while Matt and Fidelito head towards San Luis to find help.

    Chapter 35

    El Día de los Muertos

    • Wondering what this title refers to? Well, in English it means the "Day of the Dead," and it's a holiday that's celebrated in Mexico, and in Mexican-American communities in the United States. You can read more about it here.
    • Fidelito pesters Matt with questions the entire way to San Luis.
    • The boys get closer to the Colorado River, which is severely polluted. A tentacle creeps out of the river. Apparently there are mutant creatures living in it. Plus it smells.
    • Fidelito is scared. Hey, we would be, too.
    • Poor Matt has an asthma attack from all that pollution and Fidelito panics and runs for help.
    • Finally someone arrives with an inhaler. It's an elderly man and woman. The woman calls the man "Guapo," or handsome. Her name is Consuela.
    • Fidelito did an awesome job getting help. The elderly pair have already sent an ambulance for Chacho and Ton-Ton. Now the two take Matt and Fidelito into the town, where they head towards the cemetery.
    • There's a party going on there, they explain – it's the Day of the Dead.
    • Matt has never heard of it. Celia celebrated every holiday, it seems, but this one.
    • He catches a whiff of something that reminds him strongly of Felicia. It turns out to be whisky.
    • Understandably, Matt gets desperately homesick at the party.
    • Consuela and Guapo say they'll take the boys to the convent of Santa Clara hospital to see Chacho. Coincidence alert! Chacho has been taken to the convent where María lives.
    • She tells them they'll have to wear Halloween masks to disguise themselves in case there are Keepers around.
    • Matt doesn't like wearing a mask at all.

    Chapter 36

    The Castle on the Hill

    • Matt, Fidelito, and Guapo pile into a small hover car for the ride to the hospital.
    • Dazed by all the people and the holographic ads everywhere, he's then totally shocked when he sees someone dressed up in an El Patrón costume. What's going on here?
    • They arrive at the convent, and Matt's nervous about seeing María.
    • He and Fidelito wander around until a nurse spots them and takes them to Chacho. When they get to the room, they discover two Keepers there trying to take Chacho and Ton-Ton away.
    • One of the nurses, Sister Inéz, protests, but the Keepers just brush her off. The Keepers are Jorge and Carlos, who get into a fight with Matt as soon as they see him. The nuns are horrified.
    • Finally a woman arrives and yells at everyone to stop.
    • Her name is Dona Esperanza – María's mom.
    • Esperanza tells everyone to shut up and asks Ton-Ton to explain the situation.
    • Jorge, the jerk, denies everything.
    • And then Esperanza asks him about the drugs at the compound. Turns out the Keepers are smuggling drugs into Aztlán. So Esperanza has Jorge and Carlos hauled out for drug tests.
    • After they leave, she tells everyone she's glad: the authorities have been trying to get proof of the Keeper's drug trafficking activities for ages and never could manage it.
    • Just then, María bursts in and flings herself at Matt with glee.

    Chapter 37


    • A few days have gone by, and Matt is recovering in the hospital along with Chacho, who isn't doing so great. María visits Matt every day.
    • Esperanza comes to visit with María one day, and she tells Matt that something is wrong in Opium.
    • No one has heard a peep from anyone in Opium since the day El Patrón died. Uh oh.
    • María is worried about her father and Emilia, so she starts to cry. But Esperanza tells her to suck it up. She's not exactly the caring mother type.
    • We find out that Opium has been in lockdown for three months.
    • Esperanza then tells Matt her plan. She wants Matt to go back into Opium and use his El Patrón DNA to override the security system and get it to allow a hovercraft to land there.
    • Of course, Esperanza admits, it's a gamble: Mr. Alacrán could have changed the security codes after El Patrón's death.
    • Worried about his friends in Opium, Matt readily agrees to the plan, even though he runs the risk of getting blown up.
    • Esperanza then tells Matt some good news. According to the law, he's now the "real" El Patrón, since the other one is dead.
    • This means that Matt is the new leader of Opium and he's a human under the law now. Sweet.
    • Esperanza says she'll back Matt ruling Opium, but only if he promises to dismantle it.
    • Matt thinks Esperanza is kind of ruthless and cares more about politics than her kid, but he, too, wants Opium destroyed, so he agrees to her plans.
    • Now we jump forward in time, and Matt is flying to Opium with some soldiers.
    • He successfully gets past the security and the hovercraft lands without a problem. The pilot offers Matt a gun, but Matt refuses.
    • He goes out alone and there is no one around, so he heads for the house, where he hears the piano playing.
    • It's not Felicia though – it's Mr. Ortega.
    • When Matt goes to greet his old teacher, Mr. Ortega flees in terror. Matt guesses everyone thought he was dead.
    • He starts to play the piano, and a bit later, Celia comes in and hugs him and cries.
    • Matt asks about Tam Lin and Celia tells Matt to come with her.
    • They go to the kitchen and sit down at a table with Daft Donald, who is mute, and Mr. Ortega, who is deaf.
    • The two men are communicating through laptops. They type out conversations on the screen.
    • Celia tells Matt they have a long story to tell him. We bet.

    Chapter 38

    The House of Eternity

    • Celia, Daft Donald, and Mr. Ortega all tell the story of what happened the night Matt left.
    • That night, Tam Lin and everyone else were called to El Patrón's wake. Celia was in the stables because she was pretending to be an eejit, and Mr. Ortega was in his room because everyone forgot to come get him.
    • El Patrón's funeral was over-the-top. He was in a gold coffin that even six bodyguards had trouble lifting.
    • Daft Donald says that there was a giant picture of a young El Patrón on the coffin lid. The picture looked just like Matt. A choir of eejit children sang a song as the coffin was carried in.
    • After the funeral service, the eejits and the Farm Patrol were sent away, and the wake started. At the wake, everyone talked about how they hated El Patrón and are glad he finally died.
    • Tam Lin then brought in some special wine, meant for El Patrón's 150th birthday.
    • Mr. Alacrán said they should all drink to El Patrón's death. Tam Lin went up to Daft Donald and told him not to drink the wine – he had a bad feeling about it.
    • Everyone took a sip of the wine, and then everyone in the room fell to the ground.
    • They were all dead.
    • The wine was poisoned. El Patrón had a really sick sense of humor. Or something.
    • When he hears this story, Matt is completely horrified (as are we). He can't believe Tam Lin is gone.
    • Celia explains that Tam Lin wanted to atone for his past and he did what he had to do to ensure that no other Alacráns would take over Opium. Tam Lin wanted to use this as a chance to free the eejits.
    • Daft Donald explains that he laid out the bodies, crying the entire time.
    • He then blew up the entrance to where the funeral was happening and sealed it off, creating a tomb.
    • Furious with Tam Lin for dying, Matt runs out to the stables and gets a horse from Rosa.
    • As he rides out, he watches the eejits, still working the fields.
    • Matt is totally drained and he doesn't know what to do without Tam Lin, so he goes to the Oasis to find the old note Tam Lin left him years ago.
    • Matt decides that he'll do what he can to fix Opium and free the eejits, and he decides to invite his new friends, Chacho, Ton-Ton, and Fidelito to live with him.
    • As the sun sets, Matt notices a strange spot in the side of a cliff. It's a door.
    • Matt opens it and goes inside with a flashlight. It's part of the underground passages that make up El Patrón's tomb.
    • There's gold on the floor and statues along the walls. Matt backs out, feeling ill, and still angry at Tam Lin.
    • He spends the night out at the Oasis, pondering his future.
    • He makes plans for breaking up the Opium empire and hears Tam Lin's voice in his mind telling him that he can do it. Matt agrees.