Roads: Chapter 33

Title: Roads
Chapter: 33 of 43
Author: Sheryl
Rating: R
Other Info: Sequel to Walls
Warnings: Drug-usage, cursing, violence etc
Excerpt: Where could they be? Why were there no people? No houses, no cars, no anybody. And where was the town? This road must lead somewhere.
Sighing, as he saw his friend starting to slip into semi-consciousness again, he reached down and pulled him to his feet. “Zachary, come on. Just walk. We don’t have any more time.”
Zac flung an arm around him, nodding. “I know. I know. It’s dark again. We’ve been walking all day? How come I don’t remember?”
Jason shot him a worried glance.

Chapter 33

CC eyed the television apprehensively. He wasn’t sure what was coming, but he knew it wasn’t going to do much for his peace of mind. The call from Dan had really unnerved him. “Ceec…” Dan’s voice had crackled over cell phone static. “Get the TV on, and take a look. Looks like Taylor’s family has some more trouble. This time it’s the little one. You should just take them all and move them right on in. Safer for them.” There hadn’t been much after that, Danny had only caught the tale’s end of the mention, on the early news, and had no idea what it was all about. He was on his way to bed, unwilling to talk. CC knew better than to push him. Danny tired was the most unpleasant experience going. He’d said goodnight, and switched on the TV, resigned to sitting up all night. Taylor and his family had quickly become the bane of his existence, problems without solutions, mysteries with no clues… Sighing, he pulled out Taylor’s files again, starting them for the hundredth time. He was missing something, there was something that tied it all together, if only he could spot it. He slammed the book shut suddenly. With the Hanson file came a chain smoking marathon. His lungs just couldn’t take it. Shaking his head, he reached for the phone. Amanda might just know what was going on now, she stayed pretty up on things.

Amanda wiped her hands off, the paint clinging stubbornly under her nails. Damn stuff, she’d never switch again, she hated this stuff. The ringing phone suddenly made her hang her head, with a chuckle… “Oh great,” the thought was tinged with sarcasm. “Phone. wonderful. wouldn’t you know, nobody ever wants to talk to me, but that I have paint all over my hands.” Sighing, she palmed the phone up, hoping she didn’t end up with an earful of paint. “Yeah, hello?” The exasperation in her voice earned a chuckle from the party on the other end. “Mandy? Caught you painting? It’s Ceec…”
She grinned, inconvenience forgiven. “Hey Ceec. It’s okay. What’s up?”
“Well… have you had the news on today?” His voice sounded strained, and she frowned.
“Yeah CC, I have, what’s wrong?”
“Did you happen to see a Hanson kid on there?”
She laughed, then. “Oh, that. Yeah, I did. Weird, isn’t it? That they put it on the news?” His voice came back, frustrated.
“I don’t know what “that” is, Mandy. Dan just called and told me they had trouble with Zac. That it was on the news. I…” She cut in, wedging the phone between her ear and her shoulder, while she soaked her hands in turpentine. “It was nothing, Ceec. I guess Zac and another kid took off tonight, snuck off really, and I guess the family is afraid they’re lost.”
“Took off?” His voice was alarmed. “As in, ran away?!”
She shook her head, unmindful of the fact that he couldn’t see her. “No, CC, as in, went camping. They apparently were told that they couldn’t go, and decided to go ahead anyway. For whatever reason, the police are looking for them, and they asked people to keep an eye out. Sounded to me like the kids just disobeyed. Not that they suspect any foul play or anything. Actually…” She glanced up at the clock. “It should run again in about ten minutes. I’ll put it on, and we can watch it together, if you’re as nervous as you sound.”
“Did it really sound to you as if it were nothing?”
“Yeah, CC, but I was painting, so I might have missed something.”
He sighed then. “No, Mandy, I’ll let you go. I’ll watch it though. I wish I’d never met these kids.” Frowning sympathetically, she rinsed and dried her hands, and moved to switch on the TV.
“How’s it going with them Ceec? Any progress at all?”
“No. Oh, things look better, but that kid’s still trapped in something, he’s still withdrawn, he’s just not right, and I’m damned if I’m any closer to finding out why. Hell of it is, I don’t think he knows. If he did, I think he’d be the first one to say it. Whatever, I’ll let you get cleaned up.”
“Yeah, well, call back if you need to, Ceec. I’m up late.”
He laughed a little at that. “Yeah honey, I know you are. See you later.”
She hung up, smiling. He got so hung up on people. Thank God. If he didn’t, she’d probably still be all strung out and homeless. Curling up comfortably, she flipped to local news, and settled back.

“Oh my God.” Amanda, catching what she’d missed the first time, turned, wide eyed, snatched up the phone, and dialed CC. One ring, two, three… “Come on, come on…” Her voice was strained. Where was he? Seven, eight, nine… She was about to hang up, when a breathless CC finally picked up.
“Yeah, hello?! What is it?” His tone tipped her off.
“You saw, didn’t you? My God, CC, those kids were gone all last night, all day today, and they’re still out there, and it’s 11:30 at night! We have to do something.” He barked the reply at her.
“Then hang up the damned phone, I was on my way out the door, to pick you up, when you called! I’ll be there in fifteen. Bye.” The line went dead. Stunned, fear charged adrenaline racing in her veins, Amanda hung up the receiver and headed off to get dressed.

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

“Aw Zac, come on, you can make it. The roads not far, I know it’s not.”
Zac shook his head, panting. “Jay, I can’t, I got to stop.” He sank down onto the ground, soaked hair hanging in his face. His lungs felt full of broken glass, every breath screaming agony. It hurt so much to move, if he could just lie down, just for a few minutes…
Jason was ready to start ripping his own hair out. He’d convinced Zac, this morning, to try to hike up the road, but it just wasn’t working. He had no idea in which direction home lay, tried to follow the path of least resistance, and had to face the fact… they were lost.
Added to that was the fact that Zac could barely move. He could only walk a few steps at a time, stopping every few minutes to sit down and rest. Leaning heavily on Jay for every step, unable to catch his breath, or worse, coughing until his lips went bluish. He was sweating buckets, but every sip of water he took came right back up. Nobody’s fool, Jason knew how dangerous that was. If the fever kept on, and he kept sweating, unable to drink anything, he was going to end up in big trouble.
In the last few hours, he’d taken to suddenly stopping and lying down, not falling asleep as much as just zoning out, eyes half open, body limp, unresponsive. After half an hour or so, he’d always come around again, but Jason was scared. They had to get him home, and they had to do it fast. No cars along this road all day, and now it was night again.
Where could they be? Why were there no people? No houses, no cars, no anybody. And where was the town? This road must lead somewhere.
Sighing, as he saw his friend starting to slip into semi-consciousness again, he reached down and pulled him to his feet. “Zachary, come on. Just walk. We don’t have any more time.”
Zac flung an arm around him, nodding. “I know. I know. It’s dark again. We’ve been walking all day? How come I don’t remember?”
Jason shot him a worried glance.
“I don’t know, Zacko, ’cause I sure remember every minute. Maybe if we could go more than ten steps without you sitting down…”
“I’m sorry. I won’t sit down again. Just don’t make me jump that train.” Jason’s brow knit. “What train, Zac?”
He kept walking, literally dragging his friend along.
“That one that’s coming.” Sighing, he hugged Zac a little, pulling him closer. “Don’t worry, Zac, I’m not gonna make you jump the train. I promise. Just try to keep walking.” Nodding, Zac plodded on, the world swimming in and out of focus, consciousness a pinpoint behind his eyes.

“No! I can’t! Leave me alone!” Taylor’s shout rang throughout the house, as he slammed into the living room, away from Tiffany. Slamming his glass down on the table, he stomped across the room. Why didn’t they understand? He wanted to go find Zac, he DID! But he couldn’t. He couldn’t get past those people out there. Why didn’t they just do what he said? Everyone was out looking, and nobody was going where he told them to go!
Frustrated beyond endurance, he picked up the crystal vase from the mantel, flinging it without thought across the room, into the wall. The tinkling crash less than satisfying, he grabbed the water glass he’d just set down, sending it after the vase, quickly followed by every other breakable he could get his hands on. He turned, swinging, when arms grabbed him from behind.
“Damn it Taylor!!” Tiffany ducked his flying fist, and shoved him hard, against the wall. “Will you stop it! You’re being an idiot! Don’t you dare to try to hit me again, I’ll take your head off. Now calm down.”
Breathing hard, teeth bared, he glared at her, barely in control, struggling to take hold of his temper. He pushed her roughly away, and threw himself down on the couch. “Tiffany, you just don’t get it! Don’t you think I’d be out there, if I could?! He’s my brother!”
She shook her head. “Then why aren’t you? What’s your problem that you can’t go help, you can’t stay alone, so I can go help… you’re so damned useless!”
“No I’m not! Tiffany you don’t understand!”
His anger flared again, mostly at himself. He was useless. There was no good reason for his inability to leave the house, no good reason for his absolute terror of being in the house alone. Biting his lip, almost hard enough to bleed, he fought down the urge to start throwing things again, jumping when the doorbell suddenly rang. Tiffany, noting his reaction, sneered.
“You see? Your own doorbell, and you act like it’s some sort of invasion force…” Unable to meet her eyes, he dropped his head into his hands.
“Tiffy, just get the door.”
“You should get it. You’re a big boy now, you can answer your own door.” The bell chimed again, and what little control he had began to slip.
“Tiffany! Just get the goddamned door!!” He shoved her rudely off the couch, and curled himself up into the corner of it. “Just find out who it is! Just get OUT of my face!!” Tired of hearing him yell at her, she went to the door, wondering just how much longer she’d be able to put up with him.

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

“Zac?! Aw, Zac, please, don’t do this. Come on, please…” Jason was approaching panic. Things had gone from bad to worse in nearly a heartbeat. He’d thought things were improving, he and Zac had managed to pick up a little speed, Zac actually walking on his own, and not stopping every couple of minutes. A glow on the horizon spoke “town” to him, and he’d been feeling hopeful. Then Zac had paused, hand on Jason’s shoulder.
“Jay, slow up. I feel really weird.” Jason had looked at him, alarmed at the slurred sound of his words.
“What’s up, Zac, you need to sit down for a minute?” Zac had nodded, but continued to stand there, eyes blank. His eyes were flickering, making Jay wonder if he could see. “Zacko, what’s up? Go ahead and sit down, if you need to.” Zac had looked at him then, and his face had been frighteningly wild. He’d looked ready to bolt, yet when he spoke, his voice was vague and distant.
“Jay, I’m gonna be sick, I think…”
Jason had nodded. “That’s okay. Come on and sit down.” He’d taken his friends arm, and started to lead him a little off the road, when Zac had suddenly collapsed, bonelessly, with no warning. “Aw, Zac…” Jay had knelt down, intending to help him back up, and noticed that Zac wasn’t simply lying there. His entire body was trembling faintly, and as he watched, the trembling had grown stronger, and Zac’s breathing had become noisy and irregular. Weird. “Oh, no…” Cold, dreamy fear had flooded him then, the realization that this was beyond anything he knew how to deal with. Some sort of convulsion, from the fever, he’d heard that could happen, that must be what this was. Remembering only that he shouldn’t touch him, for fear of hurting him, he had simply watched, crying, praying with all his soul, that his friend didn’t die. Now, a few minutes later, whatever it was had stopped, and Zac was simply lying there, eyes partly open, bloody spit running down his chin.
Panic came now, because though he was breathing, he wasn’t moving.
“Zac… please…” He shook him, harder than he intended, desperate to get a response. He was edging on hysteria, when lights suddenly spilled over him, and he looked up to see a car pulling over, close enough to spray gravel into his face.

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

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