Journey by Sheryl: Chapter 1

Title: Journey
Chapter: Chapter 1, Epilogue
Author: Sheryl
Rating: PG-13
Excerpt: “Not to worry, he was so quiet, we didn’t even realize he was there. I’m sure the killer didn’t notice him any more than we did.”
The boy’s parents eyed the detective dubiously.
It was hard to have faith in a man who had allowed their 12 year old son to sit in a train-car of death, surrounded by mutilated bodies, more than likely in shock, for more than six hours, because he was “so quiet we didn’t even realize he was there.”

Chapter 1

“Not to worry, he was so quiet, we didn’t even realize he was there. I’m sure the killer didn’t notice him any more than we did.”
The boy’s parents eyed the detective dubiously.
It was hard to have faith in a man who had allowed their 12 year old son to sit in a train-car of death, surrounded by mutilated bodies, more than likely in shock, for more than six hours, because he was “so quiet we didn’t even realize he was there.”
Given the facts, the man’s statement was absurd anyway.
The whole thing had been a nightmare, the news that the train their son had been traveling on, alone, having been safely put on board by his grandmother, had been terrorized by some psycho with an axe.
Sleeping passengers murdered in their sleep.
Proof plus of the killer’s craziness, as if any were needed, was that the panicked, screaming passengers had been let alone.
Only the quiet, sleeping ones had been killed.
Therefore, you’d think the killer would have paid special attention to their “so quiet we didn’t even notice him” son.
More likely, the man had spotted the swarm of police and special forces, and jumped the train before he could reach their son.
Thank God.
Whatever the reason, he had been spared. He was their only son.
Sighing, the boy’s mother watched him, curled on the sofa, nose in a book.
“So quiet we didn’t even notice him.”
He was quiet, freakishly quiet. His steps were silent, his voice a breathy whisper, he was the most non intrusive child she’d ever experienced.
Quiet, but she loved him dearly.
Thank goodness he’d escaped with his life.

The boy lay listening to the wind in the branches outside his window. Soft murmers, gentle rustles. Quiet sounds, he liked that. He liked things peaceful, and he himself had never felt the urge to be loud.
The police were saying it had saved his life. He didn’t understand that. The noisy people had been overlooked.
The sleeping ones hacked apart. He’d known he was next, unable to do more than peer into the eyes of the man, and watch, mute, as he made his way closer.
Sighing, shaking off the shiver the memory gave him, he turned his gaze out the window. The leaves played shadow dancer on his ceiling. Pretty.
The boy lay quietly, sleep beginning to take him, noticing only vaguely that the shadow dancers had assumed the shape of a man.
A man wielding an axe.

The crash of glass startled him awake, and for just a moment, the panic ridden thought “He’s at my window!!” filled his mind.
Gasping, sweat beaded on his brown, he looked around frantically, racing heart slowing as he realized he’d been dreaming.
He was still on the plane.
“Oh, my God…” He whispered to himself. That had been some nightmare. He’d dreamed he was on a train, and the train had been attacked by… by what? He couldn’t remember.
Breathing out the panic, the boy settled back, reaching up to switch on the overhead light. This whole trip was pretty stressful, from the moment he’d boarded in… wait.
His brow creased, in puzzlement. Where had he boarded? His grandmother had put him on the train, plane! In…?
Shaking his head, disgusted with himself, he pushed his seat back, and curled his legs up. “Just go back to sleep…” His thought was quiet.

He was a quiet boy. People almost always forgot he was even there.
Sighing, he let his thoughts drift, hoping to go back to sleep.
“There there, sweetheart, it was just a dream.”
The woman rocked the little boy.
“Nobody’s lost, sweetie, everyone’s here.”
The little boy’s tears continued unabated.
“He was lost mommy, he was lost. They didn’t know he was there. He was too quiet.”
He sounded older than his five years, suddenly, and the woman
found herself with chills running up and down her back.
“Who, baby, who was lost?”
He pressed his streaming eyes into her shoulder, and shook his head. Gradually, the combination of her voice, and her hand rubbing his back, lulled him back to sleep, and the woman tucked him in, smiling softly.
“Is he alright?”
She turned to her husband.
“Yes. Just a nightmare. Probably just tension over the new baby coming.” She smiled and rubbed her swollen stomach. “Goodness knows, it’s not unreasonable.”
She followed her husband back to their bed, and within a very few minutes, all in the house were dreaming.

The rumble of the engines stopped suddenly, and the boy glanced out the window.
A wall. A wall?
How could there be a wall outside the window of a plane? Plane?
Ha ha. He was on a train. What a freaky dream. Long trip, no wonder he was beginning to be a little stir crazy. After all it had been how long since he boarded?
He thought back, vaguely annoyed at the fact that he couldn’t seem to remember when, or where, he had boarded.
No matter. Maybe the food cart was open. Glancing down the very nearly pitch black aisle, he stepped from his seat, eyeing the sleeping passengers. He didn’t know how they could sleep, every time the train stopped, he woke up. He smiled slightly, at a young man sleeping with his top end in the seat, and his legs spread up the wall.
Funny.
Why were they stopped this time?
He looked up as the end door opened, and a man with a guitar case entered.
He smiled politely as he passed the man, and continued into the next car.
Funny, he was the only one awake.
Even with people boarding, nobody stirred.
It was creepy.
Where was the food cart? He was sure he should have reached it by now. He turned back, thinking perhaps he had gone the wrong way, and jumped, face to face with the man with the guitar case.
“Oh, son, I’m sorry, you were so quiet. I didn’t even realize you were standing there.”
The boy shrugged, and slipped past the man, stepping into the cockpit.
Cockpit? What?
He turned back, the dark train replaced by the cabin of a jet.
Of course. He had never been on a train. Had he been sleepwalking?
He turned back to the cockpit, intending to ask the pilot how much longer their trip was, and found himself staring out the window of the end cart, at endless black tracks that seemed to vanish into the distance.
Behind him, suddenly, startling him, the screams began.

The woman watched, alarmed, as the baby boy flung his brother’s trains across the room.
“Bad!!” His shout rang through the room. “Bad train! Bad man!”
Angry beyond reason, the toddler stomped from the room, tears competing with mad.
His mother stopped him gently, and scooped him up.
“What is it, baby? Why are you mad at the train?”
The baby trembled, and clung to her. “Bad, bad man. Bad trains. No more trains.” His voice was babyish, much less complex than his normal three year old vocabulary.
“What man, sweetheart? Tell mama.”
The little boy pulled back and looked at her, blue eyes meeting blue eyes. “The man on the train hurts the people.” His face was serious, his voice soft.
“Baby, did you dream about a bad man?”
He looked at her sincerely, and shook his head. “The bad man on the train, hurts the people. No more trains.”
He squirmed out of her arms, and picked up the offending toy.
Looking pointedly at his mother, he carried the train to the kitchen, and dropped it in the trash. He looked back at her then, his eyes afraid.
Mute, he lifted his arms and she picked him up, situating him around her swollen belly.
What was wrong with her sons, lately?

Running.
Nowhere to go, just running.
Screams around him, all around him everywhere.
The people sleeping, frozen in pain, the lights out on the tracks illuminating them in flashes, flashes of red, flashes of blood.
He had to get off the train.
Why wouldn’t it stop?
He had to get off, why wouldn’t they stop screaming?
One car, to the next, to the next, the screams followed, him, how long was this train?!
Screams everywhere!

Looking ahead, he saw the silhouette of the man with the guitar.
The guitar that was really an axe, hidden in the guitar case.
Where were the train staff? Had he killed them too?
The man’s voice boomed through the train “Speak!! Speak up!!! Teach you not to speak to me!!!”
The boy ran, until ahead of him, the endcar.
God, trapped! Where to go?!
He turned, eyes huge, to face his executioner.

Soft rumble of engines, quiet hiss of air in his face.
What?
What had just happened?
He looked up into the tiny globe of the overhead light he’d switched on, felt the artificial breeze of the air jet.
God, another nightmare.
Where were those coming from?
He hoped the flight was almost done, that they were almost in… in…
His eyes grew huge.
Where was he going?
Why couldn’t he remember where he was going?
He reached for his bag, opening it to the compartment that held his tickets, and pulled them out. Smiling, knowing he was going to feel foolish in a very few minutes, he opened the envelope, smile freezing on his face.
The tickets were white. Plain white. Pristine, glowing, shining white.
What??? What was going on here?
He jumped up, fully intending to ask the pilots where in the world they were going.
I probably missed my stop.” His thoughts were annoyed. “I’m so quiet, they probably didn’t even realize I was here, when they landed.
Hoping he hadn’t really messed up, he stepped into the aisle, and immediately slipped, falling hard to his knees. What had he fallen on? Why was it so slippery? Why so dark?

Why was everyone screaming??
He looked at his hands, wet, and sticky, and in the flashing lights saw them covered with blood.
Blood?
The train raced through the night, ringing with shouts, sobs, and the boy slipped back into the area in front of his seat, crouched there against the wall, on the floor.
Maybe if I’m really quiet, he won’t know I’m here.
Shouts of “Teach YOU not to speak to me!” reached his ears.
“Alright. Quiet. Very quiet, and he won’t even know you’re here.”
He whispered the words to himself, closed his eyes, and prayed.

The woman smiled as the pain ended.
“Closer now, we really should go.”
Her husband nodded, and kissed his sons goodbye.
“You be good for Auntie now, and when mommy comes back, she’ll be bringing the new baby. Isn’t that exciting?”
The little boys gazed at him solemnly. His five year old stood up, eyes serious.
“If the bad man doesn’t get him.”
“Bad man? What bad man? Nobody can get the baby, you see, the baby’s right here…”
He turned back to his wife, who had stepped forward with an uneasy smile. She’d heard quite enough about this lost person, bad man, and the train, over the past few days. She was interrupted by the three year old.
“Nope. Already got him. The bad man already got him.” His tone turned sorrowful. “And he wasn’t in the train.”
His brother nodded. “Nope, he wasn’t even on the train.”
More than uneasy, the woman forced a smile.
“You two are so silly, I’m going to talk to auntie about the movies she lets you watch. Give mama a kiss now, and I’ll see you soon.”
They hugged and kissed her dutifully, and exchanged knowing
looks.
Mystified, the woman left the house, and climbed into the car.

“Here now, what’s this?”
The voice was calm, kind.
The boy, crouched on the floor in front of his seat, looked up.
The pilot!
“Where is he? Where’s the man with the axe??” The boy’s voice, no longer so quiet, softened the man’s already soft heart.
“Now now, that’s all over, and you’re almost there.”
“Almost where? I don’t even know where I’m going?”
“Indeed. That’s bound to be annoying. But rest assured little one, the journey is nearly ended, and a new journey beginning. You’ve chosen well.”
“What?” The man’s words seemed to make some kind of sense, but he wasn’t getting it. “Why can’t I remember?”
The man sat down next to him.
“Now, you already know this. Is the veil dropping so soon? Aah, it’s been so long, for me. I forget how quickly it comes down. I forget what a hard trip this can be. You aren’t supposed to remember young one. I know these trips bring back all of the bad, nasty memories, don’t they? I seem to remember that. The longer the journey, the more it all comes back. But no fear, that will fade too, and you’ve made an excellent choice. Even if you can’t remember it.”
He chuckled, and ruffled the boy’s hair.
“You’re almost there. Rest easy. They’re waiting for you.”
His hand touched the boy’s shoulder, and a sensation of warmth, and peace filled him.

The boy smiled, feeling safe. He glanced out the window, expecting to see the lights of a city, if they were almost there.
But no, just the blackness, and the shadows of leaves playing shadow boxer on his ceiling. He looked around the room.
Wow. Wild dream.
No wonder, after all that he’d been through that day. Just calm down, and lie quietly and watch the shadows. Funny, how that one kind of looked like a man. A man? A man with an axe maybe?
Smiling to himself, though startled, he rubbed his eyes. He wasn’t surprised he was seeing things. Well, if anyone was out there, he’d just lay here quietly, and they’d never know he was here. So warm. So peaceful here.

The crash of glass brought him up out of the bed, and before he could focus, hands were around his throat.
“I told you all to speak to me. You all ignored me! You thought I didn’t see you, didn’t you? Hiding on the floor, you thought I didn’t see you! I’ll teach you to ignore me!”
The axe raised over his head, strange double image, the axe poised over him, and the pilot?
The pilot? Waving congenially, smiling gently.
“Help me!!”
Friendly nod, smile, wave, and the pilot’s voice “Merry part, good journey”
“NO!! NO, HELP ME!!”
“Too late! Too late for that, you can’t fix it now!!!”
The shout of a mad man.

The vision of the pilot disappeared, the axe began its descent, and for the first time in his life, too late… the boy screamed…. and screamed…
Into darkness… A darkness filled with muffled thumps, rhythmic pulsing, warmth and wetness.
So comfortable, so quiet. so quiet. Sleep… time for sleep, but no, what?
Pressure, pressure, squeezing him, hurting him, he couldn’t breathe!!
In his mind the voices.
“Speak up!! Teach you to ignore me!!!”
“So quiet we didn’t even know he was there.”
“Speak, speak or you’ll die!!”
Can’t breathe, too much pressure, bones moving, bones molding, face pressed against something, nose filled, mouth forced open, hurts, it hurts!
“Speak or you’ll die!! Teach you not to speak to me!”
The voices, and the echo of screams followed him to a pinpoint of light.
“Didn’t even know he was there…”
The echo of screams and the voice, one last shout as the pressure gave way and his mouth opened.
“Speak! Scream! Scream or you’ll die!!!”
Darkness… giving way to explosive light…
Screaming, screaming, crying, warmth gone, peace gone!
What, where?

Seal gray eyes, blurry, unfocused, gazed into blinding light, and strange, unfathomable shapes.
What was going on?
Cold, so cold, so cold, and that face! That face behind his eyes!!!

He felt himself lifted and his head fell back, he couldn’t move!!
He couldn’t move!!
Nothing under him, falling! Cold and wet and falling!
The man, the man who told him to speak! He would speak! He opened his mouth to tell them, and heard his mouth issuing forth a lusty cry. Louder, they weren’t answering him, they couldn’t hear him! Did they know he was here???
Louder, louder…
Louder the baby cried, screams almost frantic, and the man chuckled.

“You’d better put him down, he doesn’t like that too much.”
The doctor smiled, and lowered the baby he’d been holding up, the baby who’s screams could most likely be heard in the lobby.
“No…”
He gently handed the child to his parents, and the man and the woman cradled him gently.
“What’s his name, dad?”
The jovial doctor raised his voice to be heard over the baby’s screeching.
“OH! Zachary! Zachary Walker Hanson!!” The doctor smiled, nodding approval, and the baby’s father turned to his wife. “Boy! There’s nothing quiet about this one!”
She smiled, then laughed. “No, if he keeps this up, we’ll never have to worry about forgetting that he’s there!”

In front of the TV, the three year old looked to his big brother.
“He’s here.”
The older boy nodded, smiling softly. “He made it.”
Sighing, the two boys turned back to their cartoons.

*Epilogue*

This fictional story is hosted at The Gifted Ones,
with permission from the author, Sheryl.

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