Roads: Chapter 32

Title: Roads
Chapter: 32 of 43
Author: Sheryl
Rating: R
Other Info: Sequel to Walls
Warnings: Drug-usage, cursing, violence etc
Excerpt: Sighing again, she tapped on the table, frustrated. How had it come to be, that her 12 year old son, and his 12 year old friend, were God knew where, in the middle of the night? She suspected she knew. Her own closed mindedness. Her own fears and insecurities. If she’d only swallowed her fear, ignored the gossip, and just let the boys be together. They’d have felt no need to sneak away, if she’d simply given permission. “Boys, this is my fault. I’m the one that told them they couldn’t do this. If I’d been a little less dense, they’d be right out back.” Taylor shook his head, a bitter smile on his lips.
“How were you dense? You were right, I wouldn’t want my kid around me, either…” His bitter tone tore at her heart, as she took another long look at him.
Drawn and pale, eyes smudged with black circles visible even in the dim light. The sparkle and gleam in those eyes, gone, replaced by dull dread. “Oh, dear God, the poor kid…” The words flitted through her mind, as her eyes took him in… Too thin. Too limp. Beaten and defeated, he had the air of someone who’d fought long and hard, and in the end won only by default. She didn’t know what had happened to him, what had made him do the things she’d heard he’d done, but he was still just Taylor, the same Taylor who’d spent hours and days parked in her kitchen, planning to take over the world with her sons.

Chapter 32

Sandra Elliott hung up the phone, glancing uneasily into the kitchen, where the two boys sat. She felt slightly guilty, having called their folks, almost as if she were tattling. Odd feeling. Sighing, she joined them at the table.
“Boys, I called your dad, he’s on his way over to get you.” Taylor looked up into her eyes, his stare unnerving.
“Did you go see if Jay was here?”
She nodded. “Yes, and you were right. He’s gone. I asked Dave, he said he saw them sneaking away, after supper. So we know they’re together. He’s getting dressed now, he’s going to hike out to the clearing, to see if they’re out there.”
Taylor took a shaky breath, then, and she saw relief on his face. “He’s not alone. Thank God, he’s not alone. But they’re in trouble, you have to believe me, they’re in serious trouble.” She nodded. She did believe him. As soon as she’d opened her kitchen door to them, she’d known something was very wrong. Something dark and brooding had settled into her heart, something that told her that one of her children was in danger, and alone.
Sighing again, she tapped on the table, frustrated. How had it come to be, that her 12 year old son, and his 12 year old friend, were God knew where, in the middle of the night? She suspected she knew. Her own closed mindedness. Her own fears and insecurities. If she’d only swallowed her fear, ignored the gossip, and just let the boys be together. They’d have felt no need to sneak away, if she’d simply given permission. “Boys, this is my fault. I’m the one that told them they couldn’t do this. If I’d been a little less dense, they’d be right out back.” Taylor shook his head, a bitter smile on his lips.
“How were you dense? You were right, I wouldn’t want my kid around me, either…” His bitter tone tore at her heart, as she took another long look at him.
Drawn and pale, eyes smudged with black circles visible even in the dim light. The sparkle and gleam in those eyes, gone, replaced by dull dread. “Oh, dear God, the poor kid…” The words flitted through her mind, as her eyes took him in… Too thin. Too limp. Beaten and defeated, he had the air of someone who’d fought long and hard, and in the end won only by default. She didn’t know what had happened to him, what had made him do the things she’d heard he’d done, but he was still just Taylor, the same Taylor who’d spent hours and days parked in her kitchen, planning to take over the world with her sons. A boy she knew as well as she knew her own children. There had never been any malice in Taylor, never any dishonesty, and she could see that there was none now. Whatever had happened to him, out there in that crazy world he’d fallen into, it was support he needed, not condemnation. He’d been hurt, badly hurt, it was in his eyes. Fear for him, she felt in abundance. Fear of him disappeared as rapidly as mist on a hot day.
Before she could stop herself, she’d leaned forward, pulling first Isaac into a quick embrace, then gently taking hold of Taylor. He tensed, for just a moment, eyes fearful, but a second later let himself be pulled into her hug, resting his head for just a second on her shoulder. Something in him, something that had been wound painfully tight, loosened a notch then, and he felt himself beginning to breath easier. There was nothing to fear here.
Gently, Sandra pushed him away from her, one hand under his chin, making him look into her eyes. “Taylor, I’ve known you since the day you were born. You grew up with my kids, you and Davie have been together as long as you’ve been alive. Of all of the people in this town, I should have known enough to avoid making a judgement about you.”
Isaac shook his head. “You can’t help what you hear. It sounds pretty horrifying.” She released Taylor’s face, then, pleased to note that he didn’t drop his eyes, but continued to make contact.
“It is, Ike, but it’s also about one of our own, and I think that there are a lot of us who need to wake up. You, your family, you’re part of all of us, and we’ve always taken care of our own. When all of this happened, we should have pulled in to help, not backed away and locked our doors.” Taylor swallowed hard, absurdly close to tears, and looked down, rubbing furiously at his eyes. He was finding anger much easier to deal with, lately, than understanding. He looked up at her again, gaze direct. “Why did you then? Why did everyone just slam their doors in our faces? And why Zac? He didn’t do anything…”
She nodded. “I don’t know, Tay. I guess, the stories we were hearing, coupled with you all being gone, out on the road, in the Music Business, the whole rock band thing, I guess we all thought it was inevitable that you’d go bad. After all, you left us.” She smiled gently, chiding herself for her jealousy. “So when all this happened, when we heard about you, well, I guess we all just leaped to conclusions. And the fact that none of us can even get near you, now, doesn’t help.” He sighed, unable to think of anything to say that would mean anything. The sigh became a cough, that rapidly escalated into a racking attack. Shoving his chair out, he stumbled to the back door, and let himself out onto the back porch. Scowling, Isaac followed, watching his brother gagging and spitting over the railing. He looked down at Sandra, as she came to stand beside him, her face concerned. She glanced a question at him, and he shrugged. He had no idea what was wrong with Taylor, but he knew it wasn’t what it seemed. Taylor thought it was Zac. Crazy as that was, Ike very nearly understood that. He felt some of it too. He snapped back from what was quickly becoming a daydream, in time to see Sandra step to Taylor, behind him, and reach out to touch his shoulder. Tensing, knowing what was coming, reflex took over, and he shouted out his brother’s name.
Taylor gasped in air, gratefully. The attack had lasted so long he’d been afraid he’d never catch his breath again. As his breathing began to slow, and his stomach to settle to the point where he was sure he wasn’t going to be sick, he leaned, limp and exhausted against the rail. His mind had drifted outward a little, when the touch came on his arm. Panic moved in instantly, and he jumped back, the sound from his throat animal and threatened, as his fist came up and out.
“Taylor!!!”
His brother’s shout brought him up short, and his fist dropped, as he saw what he’d been about to do. Eyes huge, he stared at Sandra, face draining of color. “Oh, no, oh I’m sorry…” His eyes filled up, then, and he started to shake, knowing what it must have seemed. Isaac stepped in close to him, slipping an arm around him.
“I’m sorry, he’s just jumpy… you can’t really make any sudden moves at him. We should have told you. I’m really sorry… we better go…”
She shook her head. “No, no it’s alright. You both come back inside. You’re not walking anywhere at this hour, your dad’s on his way. I should have known better than to sneak up behind him and scare him half to death.” She smiled softly, taking Taylor’s hand. “Come on back in. It’s okay. No harm done.”
He looked at her, fear and guilt fading to something like relief, and moved ahead of her, back into the house, stopping suddenly, face to face with a tall, gangly, dark haired boy, with an expression vacillating between concern, and glee. David. Breaking into a grin in spite of himself, Taylor suddenly found himself in an embrace. Laughing, fruitlessly struggling to get free, he managed to choke out “David, cut it out! I can’t breathe!”
Also laughing, the other boy let him go, grinning hugely.
“God, you look gross, do you know that? I’m so glad to see you…”
Taylor shrugged, “I know. I missed you too. Things went kinda nuts, though…” He sighed then, happiness over seeing his friend dimmed somewhat by circumstance. Dave nodded. “I know. You can tell me…” His expression said what he really meant, “You are going to tell me… All about it when I get back from the great Zac and Jay hunt. You want to come out with us, see if we can find those two?”
Isaac stepped in, then. “Tay, would you mind too much, staying here? I… it just makes me…” Taylor waved him off. “I’m too tired to hike out there now, anyway. You guys go. But hurry. And they’re not there anyway.” The other two exchanged glances, as they let themselves out, heading into the woods.

Taylor lay, dozing, on the living room couch, as the voices from the kitchen drifted in on him. Just a wash of sound, that didn’t make much sense. They wanted to go find Zac. He hadn’t been out in the back woods. Good. Go find him. Someone go find him. Someone else saying it was silly. Zac would be home by morning, the boys were fine, they shouldn’t have gone without permission, but that didn’t mean anything was wrong.
Was that his mother? When had she arrived? No. Go find him. He’s not okay. Too sleepy to make his thoughts heard, he smiled faintly as he felt a light blanket thrown over him. Nice. Nice people here. David. So good to see him, why hadn’t he seen him before now? His thoughts drifted on, and the scent of growing things came to him again. Slowly, easily, sleep took over, and he slipped into dreams.

********************

Light, pale and cold, washed over his face, breaking the light sleep he’d finally achieved. Opening gritty eyes, wincing as the light stabbed into them, he glanced around. Still in the woods. At least it was light. Cold though. Shivering lightly, he tugged on the edge of the sleeping bag, trapped under Jason’s sleeping form. Scowling, he pulled a little harder, getting no results at all. Weak, he fell back, too tired to continue. It was just as well, he had to get up anyway. He sat up, head and neck screaming, and slowly made his way up to his knees. His shivering became sweating, as things began to spin, and nausea began to back up in his throat. Realizing that there was no way he was getting up on his own, he lay back down, knowing he’d have to wake his friend, to help him. Swallowing gingerly around the pain in his throat, he gently nudged Jason. “Hey…” His voice was barely there, and though it hurt, he tried to speak louder. “Jay, wake up…” His clogged throat closed, starting him coughing, pain flooding his throat, chest, and head. Struggling to sit up again, hoping he’d be able to breathe better, feeling the nausea wash over him again. “Jay…” He choked out the words. “Jay, help me!”
Jay slept on, exhaustion having taken him down far too deeply to hear anything. Zac struggled out of the sleeping bag, sliding out, rather than trying to get up, still hacking painfully, knowing that it was a matter of seconds before the coughing made him sick. He managed to crawl a few feet away, before the nausea flooded him, and vomiting started again. Too much pain now, he collapsed onto his side, still retching. “God…” The prayer in his mind held no drama, only sincere wish “Don’t do this, just kill me now…” Beside him, Jason slept on, oblivious.

“Jay, you have to get him home. He’s really sick, it’s not just the flu, you have to get him out of there.” Jason stared at the ground, feeling guilty. He knew. He looked up at Taylor, who sat next to him, scowling. “I don’t know where we are, though, Tay. We could just follow the tracks back, but he’ll never make it.”
“Then get on up to the road, and flag somebody down. Go find a phone and call someone. But you can’t just sit there.”
“I don’t want to leave him alone, though. What if he dies?” Taylor sighed.
“Jay, he just might, if you don’t do something.” He glanced behind him, maybe seeing something in the darkness that Jason couldn’t. “Which way was the train headed, Jay? When you jumped it?”
“West, out of town.” Taylor nodded, still gazing behind him in the darkness.
“You better wake up now. I know you’re tired, but…” He gestured behind him, raised his eyebrows at Jason, and tried to smile. “People are coming, but… don’t just sit there, Jay. Don’t let him go.” Jason looked down, hoping he’d be able to do what he’d been asked. When he looked up again, Taylor was gone, darkness was gone, and Zac was on the ground, gasping for air.

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

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