Roads: Chapter 17

Title: Roads
Chapter: 17 of 43
Author: Sheryl
Rating: R
Other Info: Sequel to Walls
Warnings: Drug-usage, cursing, violence etc
Excerpt: Amanda had finally achieved an uneasy doze, when the sounds from the living room brought her to a muddy alertness again. Mumbling to herself, she got up, intending to shut the door.
Kid didn’t only show up on her doorstep in pieces, he also talked in his sleep. Perfect. Her hand was on the knob when the mumbling suddenly became a screech, the sound so filled with pain and fear that she was nearly afraid to move, for one foggy moment believing that someone was actually killing the child. A second scream pulled her from her sludgy semi consciousness, and sent her flying into the living room.

Chapter 17

Isaac ran when he heard the doorbell, intercepting his dad, jumping to rip open the door. He grabbed a very startled Tiffany by the hand, and literally dragged her into the room. Planting himself, Tiffany in tow, in front of his dad, Ike blurted out his plan. “Dad, we think we can find him. You have to let me take the van, we know we can find him.”
Walker’s eyebrows danced somewhere at the level of the ceiling lights. “How do you come up with that? You can’t know where he went.”
Isaac nodded at Tiffany, who pulled from her bag several sheets of computer paper.
“Look. We’ve been talking, and knowing what kind of condition he was in, plus the fact that he can’t really drive well, and how much gas the car had, we think we can narrow it down.”
Walker waved them away. “Playing detective won’t do it, kids. This isn’t a game. Tiffany…”
Sensing that she was about to be sent away, Tiffany shoved the paperwork in front of his face. “Just look at it! Give us a chance, we’ve been working on this for hours. YOU haven’t found him, the police haven’t found him, we think we can. At least listen to us!”
Walker gazed at the children’s faces for a moment. They certainly didn’t look as if it were a game they were playing. They looked dead serious. Nodding, he gestured to the table. “Let me get your mom…”
Ike and Tiff exchanged a look. It had all seemed perfectly reasonable over the net, would it now, in the harsh light of reality?
“Ike, honey, you can’t expect this to work!” Diana was frustrated. It sounded to her like the kids thought some form of telepathy was going to find Taylor. They seemed to be judging his whereabouts by what was going through his mind. The whole thing sounded like a bad TV movie, to her.
Isaac sighed, opened his mouth to try again, but Tiffany beat him to it.
“Diana, listen. Please. Don’t just hear us, listen to us! Taylor was so upset, you didn’t see him. I did. Look what he did to me! Think about it. He was completely irrational. He wasn’t making any kind of decisions, he couldn’t have been. Think about it.” Diana nodded cautiously, and Tiff went on. “Add to that, he can’t drive! Oh Ike’s let him drive a little, but he doesn’t know how to make choices, he doesn’t know how to judge distance, or angles, or turns. He can’t really do much but drive in a straight line, and not even that very well. We figure, he’d go for the easiest route possible. He’d be making choices way back in his mind, not really thinking about what he was doing. I know he wasn’t thinking, if he had been, I wouldn’t have a fat lip. We know what direction he took off in. We think we can pick out the path he’d have taken. I don’t think he’d have been looking to lose anyone, he was just running.”
“You can’t know that.”
“I think I can. He’s my best friend in the world, I think I can second guess him, and Ike’s even closer than I am.”
“Mom…” Isaac broke in gently. “We really think we can find him. At least let us try. Look…” He tapped the huge printout of the Tulsa streetfinder, spread out on the table. “Just look at our reasoning.” Diana sighed, nodding reluctantly. “We think that given his state of mind, and his lack of driving ability, he’d go for the straightest, least intrusive on his head, path. We know he went this way. He’d have come to this…” He indicated an intersection. “If you were Tay, and you were hysterical, didn’t know what you were doing, where you were going, didn’t even know really how to drive the car, which way would you go?”
Diana, finding herself following their reasoning in spite of herself, reached out and tapped a road. “This one.”
“Yeah, you see? We have it marked off. We did that for every turn, and we think he’d have ended up around in here about the time he ran out of gas.”
“Well how do you know he didn’t get more?”
Tiffany broke in. “Because he was wearing my clothes, and they had no money in them, and he sure didn’t have any of his own.”
Ike frowned. “The only thing is here… if we’re right, when he got here he could have gone any number of ways, but we want to at least try. We think we can at least find the car, if he ditched it.”
“And for all we know, he could just be sleeping in the car waiting for morning.”
“Just let us go look. It can’t hurt, we could find him, and even if we don’t, at least we’re doing something, not just sitting around here going crazy.”
Diana pulled out her last weapon. “Ike, it’s after midnight.”
“So? We’re up. We’ll be together. We’ll lock the doors. If we find the car, and Tay’s not in it, we won’t get out. We’ll come right back and tell you where it was.”
The look on his face was indescribable. He needed to do this, she could see it. Sighing, glancing at her husband, who had remained silent throughout the entire exchange, she finally nodded. “If it’s alright with your father.”
Walker was tossing Ike the keys before she’d finished the sentence. “Turn on the phone in the van.”
Ike nodded. “We will.”
He started out the door, and nearly fell over Zac, who appeared silently as a ghost. “Ike.”
“Yeah Zac?”
“You’re going to go look for Tay?” His voice, barely a whisper, and very near tears, broke Isaac’s heart. He pulled Zac out onto the porch with him, and they sat together on the steps. “Zac, I don’t know if I can find him. We’re gonna try though.”
“Will you take me with you?”
Tiffany shook her head, silently. They’d already discussed this. They had no way of knowing what they might find, the worst had occurred to both of them.
“Zac, sweetie, that’s not such a good idea.”
“Don’t talk to me like I’m four, Tiffany. Why not?”
Isaac looked over his brother’s head, and into Tiffany’s eyes, and she knew he was going to tell Zac the truth.
“Zac, because we don’t know we’re going to find him. And if we do, we don’t know what he might have done.” Zac’s already pale face turned a horrible bleached white, and for a moment, Isaac thought the poor kid was just going to faint dead away.
Zac looked up at him, eyes tear filled, but when he spoke, his voice carried an edge. “Ike, Tay’s not going to have done anything. He’s tough. He’s okay.”
The conviction in his voice was unmistakable, and contagious. Isaac found himself looking into eyes that suddenly seemed very wise, and nodded his agreement.
“You’re right.”
“I know I am. But I don’t want to go with you. You better go.”
Ike nodded and stood up. He and Tiff started for the van, only to be stopped one last time by a call from the porch.
“You guys!!” They turned, and Zac shot them both a look that cut to their souls. “You guys find him. You find him, and you bring him back.” He turned on his heel then, and vanished into the house.

Amanda had finally achieved an uneasy doze, when the sounds from the living room brought her to a muddy alertness again. Mumbling to herself, she got up, intending to shut the door.
Kid didn’t only show up on her doorstep in pieces, he also talked in his sleep. Perfect. Her hand was on the knob when the mumbling suddenly became a screech, the sound so filled with pain and fear that she was nearly afraid to move, for one foggy moment believing that someone was actually killing the child. A second scream pulled her from her sludgy semi consciousness, and sent her flying into the living room.
Freezing for a moment, at the sight that met her eyes, she quickly assessed the situation.
Taylor wasn’t still on the couch, he was up and at the window that ran along the wall behind it. Hands beating the glass, wordless shrieks tearing out of him, over and over. Afraid he’d put his fists through the window, she ran over, edging in between him and the glass, his fists now landing on her. He seemed not to see her, the wordless cries going on and on. She caught his hands in her own, none too gently, and pushed him, struggling wildly, away from the window.
“Taylor!!!” Her voice, despite the fact that she’d nearly shouted, had no effect and he fought her, nails ripping at her face, going for her eyes. Now struggling to protect herself as well as prevent his going through the window, she resorted to the only thing she could think of. Shouting his name one more time, as loudly as she could, she swung out at him, her fist catching the side of his head, knocking him onto the floor. She was beside him in an instant. “Taylor wake up!!”
She knew this kind of nightmare, she’d been through this before. His eyes, still blank, still wild, held hers, and she knew he wasn’t out of it yet. Hating herself, she shook him, hard, and shouted his name again, once, twice, a third time, and finally his eyes cleared, and he caught a breath, shoving himself back away from her.
She nodded. “It’s okay, it’s only me. Are you awake?” He only stared, gasping for breath, dripping sweat, body trembling. “Taylor!” Her voice was firm. She scooted closer to him, and this time her touch and tone were more gentle. “Taylor it’s okay. It was just a dream. It’s only me. Look around you.”
His voice shook when he spoke. “I don’t know you… I don’t know you.”
She nodded. “I know, I know how it seems. I’m going to turn the light on, okay?” Slowly, careful not to scare him anymore than he already was, she moved to a small table lamp, and switched it on. Soft golden light filled the room. He looked up then, truly awake now, and she saw confusion in his eyes. She reached a hand down to help him up, noting that from head to toe, he was soaked. His hair was literally dripping. He also looked as if, at some point during the ordeal, he’d vomited. He took her hand, his glance voicing his confusion and fear.
“Taylor, you don’t know what’s going on, do you?”
He shook his head, “No… Oh God…” He was looking down at himself. “Amanda…”
She led him down the hall to the bathroom. “It’s okay. You had a nightmare. Happen often?”
He nodded. “Often enough, but what…” He held out his hands, and she saw that they were swollen, red, bleeding.. “I don’t…”
She sighed. “You were pounding on the window glass. Do you know what the dream was about?” He shook his head. Now that he’d stopped sweating, he was shivering. She opened a small closet door, took out two towels, and handed them to him.
“Showers right there. You’re a total wreck. Run it hot, get warmed up. I’ll find you something to put on.” He hesitated, and she stopped. “You okay? Can you manage this?”
He looked over at her, eyes wary, and nodded. “I can manage.”
“Go on then. I’ll just put some dry clothes right inside the door. So don’t lock it.” He nodded again, and slipped into the little room, shutting the door behind him. A moment later she heard the shower come on. Satisfied, she rummaged around her things, finally finding some old sweater and a trousers that looked like they wouldn’t fall off of him. She cracked the door open, setting the clothes down on the edge of the sink. Over the sound of the running water, she could hear him crying, softly. Feeling bad, she quietly shut the door. Maternal instincts were telling her to go in, and see if she could help. Common sense, and the wisdom of experience were telling her that he could, and should, calm himself down. Babying him wouldn’t do a damn bit of good, and was probably largely responsible for the situation he was in now.
Wandering the living room, inspecting the damage, she was relieved to note that when he’d gotten sick, it hadn’t gone anywhere but all over him. She pulled the wet blankets off the couch, threw them down the stairs to the laundry room, dragged a sleeping bag out of the hall closet, and laid it out on the couch. That done, she sat down and dialed up the phone. It picked up on the 11th ring,
“H’lo, and this better be good.”
She laughed a little. “C.C, you never change. It’s Amanda.”
“Amanda!” The voice was instantly alert. “What’s wrong, are you okay?”
“Relax C.C, I”m fine.” Her tone changed then, some of the worry she felt coming out, finally. “C.C, I have someone here, he’s just a kid, but he’s right up your alley. I don’t know, he seems to be a lot like Mikey was and I’m really… you think you could come out?”
“What, now? It’s twelve thirty!”
“Yeah, I know what time it is.”
“Mandy, tell me what’s going on.”

“Okay, Mandy, where is this boy now?” She heard the alarm in his voice, and couldn’t blame him, after what she’d just filled him in on.
“He’s in the shower.”
“Alone?”
She laughed. “Yeah, C, I’m not taking a shower with him.”
“Well is it safe, Mandy?”
“Hell yes.” Her tone turned sarcastic, “This is my house we’re talking about, he won’t find so much as a baby Aspirin or a safety razor in there. The most he may find is a bottle of Flintstone vitamins from 1992, and if he wants to try to overdose on those, he’s more than welcome to chow down the whole bottle. I don’t think he’s suicidal anyway. But he’s surely one fucked up little boy, and he could use someone to talk to. Face it C.C, he needs you.”
The voice on the other end sighed. “Thanks Amanda, you always find me strays. I’ll come out. What’s his name, anyway? You’re just calling him ‘the kid’.”
She laughed. “His names Taylor. You’ll come out in the morning?”
There was an uncomfortably long pause, and then, “Taylor what?”
She heard the suspicion in his voice. “Taylor Hanson. Now will you come out, or not?” “Mandy! ” He all but shouted at her. “You have that missing Hanson kid in your house?!?!”
“Well yeah, I told you what happened, what was I supposed to do, leave him outside to freeze?”
“Well for God sake, did you at least call somebody?”
“Nope.”
“Why not?! Amanda, half the county is looking for him! You can’t just hide him!”
“I’m not hiding him, C.C, he asked me not to call anyone, and promised me he’d call his mom in the morning. I’m just giving him a night to try to screw his head back on, a little bit.” She heard him groan.
“Mandy, tell me I’m hearing you wrong. You didn’t call the cops because he asked you not to.”
“That’s absolutely right.”
“Mandy… Okay.” She heard defeat in his voice, he knew her well. “I’ll be out in the morning, if you’re not in jail by then, for kidnapping or something.”
She giggled a little at that, the thought had also occurred to her. “Don’t you call anyone, C.C, I mean it.”
His reply was terse. “I won’t. I’ll see you both in the morning. Be careful, Mandy.”
“I will.”
He hung up without another word, and she put the phone down, just as Taylor wandered in. His eyes instantly clouded with suspicion. “Who were you calling?”
She snorted. “It’s my phone, I’ll call anyone I please, and it’s none of your damn business. But if you’re afraid it was the police, or your parents, relax. It was a friend of mine.”
“At one in the morning?”
“He’s a very good friend.”
Taylor curled back up on the couch. “Amanda?”
“Hmmm?”
“I’m sorry about this.”
She nodded. “It’s okay. What were you dreaming, do you remember?”
He shook his head. “No. Whatever it was, it’s gone now.” He stretched out on the sofa, gazing out at the stars. “Hey there’s blood on the window. Did I do that?” He gazed at his hands again, as if they belonged to someone else. They were certainly banged up, that was sure.
She nodded at him. “Yes you did, and there’s Windex and paper towels under the sink, in the kitchen. Feel entirely free to wipe that blood off.”
“Me?”
“You. You’re the one got it there.”
Looking sideways at her, as if he expected her to do something crazy at any moment, he got up and went into the kitchen. She noted with some relief that he was moving better, there was a fluidity that hadn’t been there earlier. She watched him effortlessly reach down under the sink for the spray bottle, and straighten back up without a flinch. Whatever injury he’d done to himself, falling on the stairs or so he’d said, seemed to have been minor, and well on the way to healed.
Watching him spray Windex on a paper towel, fold it up, spray it again, and then put the bottle back, she was also taking note of how his mind was working. There was no hesitation in anything he did, and his actions were efficient and deliberate.
She herself would have hauled the whole bottle in, so he was thinking more efficiently than she was, she thought with a mental chuckle. She watched him wipe off the small bloodstains on the window, toss the paper towel with unerring accuracy into a small trashbin, and then climb over the back of the couch, to plop back down on it. Catching her surprised stare, he grinned, somewhat embarrassed.
“Sorry. My mom gets on me for that. Sorry.”
She only nodded again. He was quick thinking, quick reacting. There was no drug haze left in this boy. Whatever was wrong with him now, was pure emotion. Sighing, not sure whether she was glad of that or not, she flicked off the light.
“Try to go back to sleep, Taylor. I’ll be right here.”
His voice, in the dark, was surprised. “You’re sitting up?”
“Yeah, I am. If you slide into another nightmare, I’d like to wake you up before it reaches the climbing the walls stage.”
He laughed. “Well, if you’re gonna be up, would you talk to me?”
“About what?”
“Anything. Being alone in the dark really doesn’t thrill me.”
She chewed it over for a moment, decided, and got up, to sit cross legged on the floor, back leaning against the couch.
“Okay, Taylor. You told me all about you. Want to hear about me?”
There was an odd tone to her voice, one he was quick to understand.
“You have something to tell me?”
“I do, if you’re willing to listen.”
“I will.”
Nodding, she began to speak.

Isaac and Tiffany didn’t realize it, but they’d followed Taylor’s route almost exactly. True to their suspicions, he’d followed the path of least resistance, all the way out of the city. And true to their worries, they’d steered away from his path right where they’d feared they might. Now, having driven considerably further than they’d felt necessary, a fight had broken out.
“No we’re NOT going to keep going! Ike, we’ve gone miles and miles past where we said we’d turn back. We did it wrong! Will you stop being so stubborn?”
Isaac hissed, exasperated, and pulled the car over. “Tiffy, what do you want to do? Go back and start all over???? Don’t you understand, I have to find him!!!”
“I think you’d better calm down, because if we keep going this way, all we’re gonna find is TEXAS!!”
“Don’t you shout at me!”
“Then don’t you shout at me!” She slammed the door open, and stomped out. Another minute and she was gonna just pop him one. Why he had to be so pigheaded was beyond her.
Isaac, thinking much the same about her, brooded from the drivers seat. What neither of them knew was, they had gone far less off course than they realized, and less than a mile away, the object of their search was just stepping into the shower.

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

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