Barney Snow is nearly 17, and a resident in "the Complex," an experimental facility where drugs are tested on terminally-ill children. Barney thinks he's different from the rest -- he's not dying, for one thing -- but it's not clear why he's there, or why Dr. Lakendorp (whom Barney refers to as "the Handyman") periodically injects Barney with drugs (which Barney calls "merchandise").
Other residents are much worse off, from Billy the Kidney in his wheelchair (though he remembers the days when he used to steal cars just to take them joyriding) to the beautiful former athlete Mazzo, who's mostly bedridden and hooked up to machines. At least Barney is able-bodied enough to wander the grounds, and even climb the fence to look at the junkyard full of wrecked cars on the next lot. When Mazzo's twin sister Cassie starts coming to visit, trying to get Mazzo to let their mother come too, Barney agrees to be on hand to fend off the bothersome relatives. But he starts to fall for pretty Cassie, and agrees to report back to her on Mazzo's ongoing condition.
In the course of doing favors for Billy and Mazzo, Barney starts to formulate a brilliant plan to take them all on one last glorious ride. But what if the drugs get to be too much for him? And why is he a resident of "the Complex," anyway?
This report prepared by David Loftus