Time Out of Mind: Chapter 2

Title: Time Out of Mind
Chapter: 2 of 4
Author: Sheryl
Rating: PG-13
Excerpt: Taylor rubbed snow into his face, sighing gratefully as the cold hit his hot skin. “Sick now, oh good…” He sighed, thinking it figured. Finally a chance to do something different, and he was going to be too sick to enjoy it.
God, he was so hot. He looked up at Ike, and felt his breath stop in his throat, thrill of terror so keen it almost drove consciousness away.
Ike was gone. The car was gone. Where was he? Where would he have gone?!
“Ike!!” His voice fell flat, swallowed up in the lush green that surrounded him.
Green?? Green?!?! It was winter! What the hell…

Chapter 2

“Taylor, just lock your door. No big bad boogeyman is going to jump out at you. Besides, it says it’s only a few miles before we’ll be right in the middle of town.”
Taylor sighed and sank down lower in his seat. He didn’t know what was wrong, but dread was suddenly heavy on him.
“There Tay, look. Town.”
Taylor scowled. He felt a little better now, but he still wanted out of here. Something about it just made his nerves jumpy.
“Not much of a town Ike, what, ten houses? And how come there’s no people?”
“Because it’s cold outside, Tay, they’re all inside.”
“Look, there’s clothes hanging out, what kind of people hang clothes out in December?”
“I don’t know, people in Maine?”
“How come there’s no snowmen? Or no kids?”
“I don’t know Tay, but it’s pretty isn’t it? Looks just like Christmas card.”
“Yeah, right.” Taylor failed to see the charm in what appeared to him to be a deserted clump of houses in the middle of nowhere.
Laughing a little, Isaac drove on, expecting each turn in the road to deliver them into the center of town.

“Ike, turn around and go back.”
“What? Tay…”
Taylor’d had it. They’d driven forever, and there was no sign of the road ending. His nerves just couldn’t take it anymore.
“Go back, go out to the main road, and ask directions in that store. Just get out of here, I can’t take it anymore.”
“Tay…”
“IKE!! There is nothing here! We went the wrong way! Now will you just…” He stopped, swallowing suddenly as a wave of nausea hit him.
“Tay?”
Taylor held up a hand, signaling his brother to wait. Swallowed again, and felt it backing off. “Okay, okay…” His voice was faint, breathy. “I really need to get out of here, Ike. Just please turn around.”
Isaac eyed him carefully. “Are you getting sick Tay? Or what is this?”
“I don’t know, just please TURN AROUND NOW!”
Ike nodded, and pulled into the next driveway, glancing up at the house. A sprawling mess of a place, the words “Seven Elms” straggled across the small building connecting house to barn. Raggedy looking place, faintly creepy. Almost looked condemned, but smoke rose from the chimney.
“Tay, want to stop and see if they have a phone here?”
Taylor shook his head, jaw clamped shut. Ike had swung into the drive, and the nausea had flooded him again. It was taking all of his control not to throw up. He swallowed it back, and waved his hand back out onto the road, not daring to speak. Ike nodded, eying him carefully as he backed onto the road.
“Tay, tell me if you want me to let you out.”
Taylor nodded slightly, panic now joining the sudden sickness. He was going to throw up, he knew it. But he couldn’t get out of the car, not here. Some deep intuition told him that to leave the car, to leave Ike, would be fatal. They hadn’t gone five feet when the nausea overpowered him and he began to gag.
“Damn it, Tay!” Ike pulled over instantly. “Get out of the car!” He jumped out, and went around to his brother’s side, yanking the door open and hauling him out by his coat.
“What’re you thinking?!” He held on to him, wondering how long it would be before he got it too. “First Zac, now Tay…” Sighing he waited, a faintly creepy feeling stealing over him. Taylor suddenly felt very insubstantial in his arms. “How weird…
Gradually, as the sickness spent itself, Taylor pulled himself away a little. Grimacing at the taste in his mouth, he scooped a handful of snow, trying to clear it. He was dizzy, and hot, could feel sweat breaking out on his face.
“I gotta sit down for a second, Ike.”
Isaac nodded, and watched as his brother kicked snow over the mess next to the car, and staggered a few feet off the road, to sit down on a rock. He watched him sink his hands into the snow, then press them to his face, trying to cool down.
Geez, he’s really sick…” Sighing he stepped back to the car, reaching for the six pack of coke in the back seat. Maybe sipping one would settle things down a little. He tugged the can from the plastic rings, and started to straighten up, staggering suddenly as a wave of disorientation swept over him.
Hot, it was so hot… As quickly as it had come, the feeling was gone, and he stood up again, stretching. Well, he was lost that was a given. Had definitely taken a wrong turn back at the store.
Laughing a little at himself, he climbed back in the car, looking around for just a second. He had an uneasy sense that he was forgetting something. Still the area was deserted, nobody in sight, nothing suggesting itself to him.
The snow was pristine and untouched.
Shrugging, he climbed back into the car, and started back up the road, the empty countryside seeming to laugh behind him.

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

Taylor rubbed snow into his face, sighing gratefully as the cold hit his hot skin.
“Sick now, oh good…” He sighed, thinking it figured. Finally a chance to do something different, and he was going to be too sick to enjoy it.
God, he was so hot. He looked up at Ike, and felt his breath stop in his throat, thrill of terror so keen it almost drove consciousness away.
Ike was gone. The car was gone. Where was he? Where would he have gone?!
“Ike!!” His voice fell flat, swallowed up in the lush green that surrounded him.
Green?? Green?!?! It was winter! What the hell…

He sat down again, hard, head spinning.
Okay, I”m hallucinating.” He batted at a mosquito, buzzing in his ear like a jet. “It is winter, the car is right there, I’m just too sick to see it right. I’ll walk that way and bump right into it. Ike is right there.
He stood up again, peeling off his coat. He knew he was imagining the at least 90 degree heat, but he couldn’t help it. He’d pass out if he didn’t get some layers off. He’d gone all the way across the street, when he realized that the car just wasn’t there. Stopping, still absently swatting blackflies and mosquitoes from his face, he tried to think. He knew it was winter. He knew it. This incredible heat, lush growth, it wasn’t real. It couldn’t be.
He was in trouble, he had to do something.
Strangely, the feeling of sickness had receded, and his head felt clear. Clear enough to understand that something terrible was going on. The voice of his dream came back to him, then, the warning.
“Oh God…..” A stab of pain lanced through his head, and for a moment he felt a wash of pure hate, and words in his mind, more a bark than a voice.
Say that word around here!!
Gasping, terror beyond imagination filling him, he stared around him. Nothing. Nobody. His eyes lit on the house in front of him, and went huge. No longer shabby, no longer appearing condemned, but buttoned up tight. Windows down, shades pulled, door shut.
“Not going there, no way…” He backed away from it, turning back down the road the way they’d come. He’d just walk back to the main road. All this weirdness would end if he could just get back there, he knew. Tying his coat around his waist, and stripping off his sweatshirt, he started back up the road, the desire to run heavy in him, stalled by the voice in his mind.
NO, don’t run, don’t run, if you run, they will chase you and if they chase you they will catch you and then its teeth and claws and oh, oh, oh no just DON’T RUN!
Shuddering, his eyes filling with tears, he made himself walk, and forced himself not to pray.
Behind him, from an upstairs room of the house they called The Seven Elms, eyes followed him out of sight, before turning away from the window in despair.
“I tried to warn you. I tried to warn you, why don’t you ever listen?”
The boy in the house descended the stairs slowly, quietly. It wouldn’t stop him. It never did. It always turned out the same. Still, once again, he would try. He let himself out the side door, and slipped into the underbrush, silent as oiled smoke.

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

Zac’s sleep was restless. Dizziness, aching, nausea, it had been so hard to get comfortable, and now that he was finally asleep, his dreams wouldn’t let him rest. “Zac, you have to pay attention…” The voice wouldn’t be quiet.
“I’m sick, leave me alone!” Deep in a dream, Zac pulled away from the hand that seemed to be holding him back.
Zac listen to me! Look at me! I’m trapped down there, you have to help me Zac, you’re my brother!
Zac looked up into the face of an old man, face a mass of wrinkles, hair scraggly, nearly gone. “No I’m not, get away, let go of me!”
Zac, listen…!” The old voice grated through his head. “Ike just left me there, but he doesn’t know it. Look…” The hand pointed out the window, and Zac saw the blue December sky give way to lush green woods. His minds eye showed him Taylor, pale and sweating, eyes darting back and forth, coat tied around his waist.
“He looks scared.”
He does Zac, he is scared. He’s afraid he’ll die down there. Zac, you have to get him out.
“Me?”
Nobody else can do it. I didn’t know before. I didn’t know Ike could hear me. I didn’t know you could hear me. I’ve been down there forever. Forever and ever. If you don’t get me out, you’ll never see HIM again…” The hand showed him the woods again, his brother, sick looking and lost.
“Well where’s Ike?”
Look…” The scene out the window changed, to his brother, driving, singing with the radio.
“Where’s Tay?”
He left him, but Zac he doesn’t know he left him. It’s got at him, made him forget. You need to wake him up Zac, you need to get him out of it. He has to remember.
“Remember what? I’m sick, don’t you understand?” His head thumped miserably and he felt his stomach turning over and over.
I know you are Zac, I know…” He felt a touch then, on his hair, so much like Tay… “But he needs you Zac, I need you. Ike doesn’t know what’s going on. It’s made sure. You have to tell him. I can’t tell him, it won’t let me. He can’t hear me until someone brings him up out of it. It doesn’t know about you, Zac. It doesn’t know about you. Please… I have to go now. But you have to tell Ike. Wake him up Zac, make him see. He left him. Left me….
The man didn’t fade. He was just gone, leaving behind him only a terrible sense of urgency. He could see Ike through the window.
“He won’t hear me…”
A brief smell of greenery, and a faint whisper.
Yes he will… you’re stronger than you think and so is he. Now wake him UP! Do it NOW!!!
He jumped, almost waking, and his eyes flew to the window.
IKE!!” Not thinking, some part of his mind flung its mental voice in his brother’s direction. “IKE!!! You left him down there! You left Tay, Ike WAKE UP!!” All of the old man’s urgency channeled through him, and his thought words, undirected and formless, flowed into his brother’s consciousness.
On the road to Portsmouth, Isaac Hanson’s eyes flickered for a moment, and the car swerved across the center line. The horn from an oncoming car startled him, and he swung back into his own lane, as a voice suddenly filled his head, pain blinding him as the car lurched to the side of the road, and he slammed it out of gear, hands flying up to clutch his head.
Zac stop it!!!” The cry was mental, his lips never moved, instinct acting immediately. “Stop it it hurts!
The shout ripped Zac from sleep, sending him bolting upright in bed.
Ike, I’m sorry, I’m sorry…
The link between them, fired up and hot, never wavered, and neither boy questioned it. Their voices purely psychic, transmitted in an instant.
Zac where is he?! Where is he?!
I don’t know, you left him! He told me you left him down there, you have to go get him, Ike, something…” Taste of fear then, hot and coppery, “Something wants him. Something HAS him, we have to get him out, Ike.
Zac, I don’t know what happened. Something…” His mind reached out, seeking, finding almost at once, a mind that slotted into his own. “Taylor!” He tried to focus on it, fighting waves of dizziness. Fog then, clouding his mind, what was he doing?
Sitting here thinking weird thoughts in the snow. He had someplace to be…
Ike! Ike pay attention!” Zac’s voice again, then a weird double voice, from someone else.
Ike, it wants to stop you. It wants me to stay, you have to fight it. It doesn’t know about Zac, keep talking to Zac, he’ll keep you up out of it. You have to help him. You have to help me…” The voice faded, and Isaac felt something click, in his head, a door suddenly latched open.
Zac.
Yeah, how are we doing this?
I don’t know, just keep doing it. I’m going back, what’s going on?!” Zac lay back in bed, swallowing against nausea. “Ike, I don’t know what I can do, I’m sick…
I know you are, Zac, I know you are.
The third voice then, still sickeningly doubled. “Don’t let it know you’re there, Zac, don’t let it know…” Fading again.
Knowledge, bitter and terrifying seemed to be filling Isaac’s head.
Images of voids, whirling nothingness, timelessness. Something dark, stealing light, stealing goodness, stealing power. And it had his brother. It had tricked him into leaving him there. Well, it hadn’t counted on Isaac and Zachary Hanson, no it had not.
Nodding grimly, he focused on Zac again.
You still with me, bud?
I’m here.
Don’t go anywhere.
Not ever.
Okay.” Ike pulled the car back onto the road, and headed back the way he’d come. “I’m going back for him. Don’t let go, Zac.
No. Never…

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

Taylor swallowed with difficulty. It was so hot, he was so thirsty. His mind, hiding behind some self protecting mechanism, refused to admit the impossibility of his situation. He knew it couldn’t be summer. He knew something was very, very wrong, but his own self preservation wouldn’t let him look at it. He had to do something, and the only thing he could think of was to walk back up the road, however many miles it was, to the store at the crossroads. That the store might not even be there was something he refused to think about. He trudged up the side of the road, swatting the insects from his sweaty face, eying the small animals that played in the over-lush ground growth. He’d never seen anyplace so impossibly green, it was almost grotesque. And hot, it was so hot!
He glanced up as he walked, eying the houses along the road. Doors closed tightly, windows shut and blinded. Why didn’t anyone have anything open? He didn’t see any air conditioners or fans, it must be sweltering in the houses.
“Where are all the people?” He whispered the words through parched lips. “God, maybe someone would let me use a phone, or get a drink.”
He licked his lips and kept on, trying to ignore the high, sickening thrum of terror in the back of his mind.
There won’t be a phone, look up.” The voice startled him, and he jumped back, looking around wildly. “Calm down. I’m not here to hurt you. But you won’t see me yet, not yet. Look up. No phone lines. No electrical cables. You’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.
Feel of laughter in his mind, and he answered unthinkingly, the same way whoever it was was talking to him. Purely in his thoughts.
Who are you. Where am I?
I’ll tell you who I am when it’s safer.
Where am I? What is this place?
Nothing. The voice, if voice there had been, was gone.
“Great I’m just crazy. Hearing voices, seeing summer in the middle of winter, God knows where I really am…” He caught his mistake too late, as another vicious spear of pain sliced through his head, and the same malevolent voice shouted behind his eyes. “NO!
Shaking his head, trying to clear his vision, he gave up and sat down against the wrecked iron gate of a small cemetery. Cooler here, lots of shade trees. There was an attractive house, up on a hill behind it, and it looked as if the front door was open. Maybe after he’d rested a bit, he’d go up there.
“Bull.” His gaze lingered on the word, etched onto the face of a gravemarker in the shape of an urn. “Bull…” The word, for whatever reason, cycled in his overtaxed mind. “Bull…” He stared blankly, eyes tracing the textures and curves of the monument, as his mind began to shut down, sleep, amazingly enough, beginning to take him.
He’d nearly dozed off completely, when the object of his glazed fascination, the word Bull, suddenly slid out of his view.
“What??” Yanked into alertness, hearing the scrape of stone on stone, he saw the urn suddenly spin, and from beneath, a sudden barking growl, animal-like, and vicious. Jumping up before conscious thought had even begun to kick in, he ran, up the hill, toward the house.

The boy in the woods watched, every ounce of energy in the shouted thought.
No, no, don’t run. It’s not real, don’t run…” Futile, the thoughts bouncing off their intended targets almost iron mental shields, he watched Taylor take off, again, for the house on the hill.
His unveiled eyes saw the illusion begin, the shuttered windows suddenly screened open and welcoming, curtains in the breeze, the sealed door flung wide, smells of cooking issuing forth. The deserted, overgrown yard, mowed velvet, woman hanging laundry, children throwing a ball.
Please. Not again… not again…” Shunted aside, the thought fell, unheeded.
Can’t hear me, he can’t hear me… this can’t happen again. I have to stop it this time.

*Previous Chapter / Next Chapter*

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

Be the first to comment

Leave a Comment