Title: A Change of Grace
Chapter: 4 of 41
Excerpt: Was it his fault Tay had taken off? No… He needed sleep, he insanely craved coffee, even though he rarely drank it, and he needed to find his brother. The police were huddled together, discussing options. Zac was all for digging the park into an archeological site, and he was losing patience.
“Son, I’m sorry, I know how you feel, but could you clarify that? You think you saw him where?” Isaac leaned back, closing his eyes. He was so sick of police. What was wrong with these people, he’d told it over and over again. They’d sent men out there to look. Come back. Gone out again. Come back again. They couldn’t find the area he meant. Did it matter? Tay wasn’t even there. It was late… very late… too late to be sitting around talking about it. Why didn’t they just go out and find him? “Lt. Montogomery, I don’t know how I can make it any clearer.” The weariness was evident in his voice, and the lieutenant shook his head. This kid was beat. “Just do the best you can, son…” “I came around a corner, and thought I saw him. I blinked my eyes, and when I looked again he had taken off. I didn’t see where he went. Look are you gonna go find him?” “What’d you do before you blinked, Ike? Huh?” Zac’s voice, oddly toned, interrupted from the next room, and Isaac felt the beginnings of a headache. Smiling apologetically at the officers, he turned and hollered out the door.
“Zac would you shut up please? You’re not helping! Go to bed!” “Oh right, with my brother missing I’m gonna go to bed…” “Zac…” Isaac sighed, at a loss for words, and looked helplessly at the officers. “I just… do you want me to show you? You said you can’t find the place, I’ll take you out there as soon as it gets light. I’ll take you everyplace I looked, but I’m telling you, he’s NOT in the park! I combed it from one end to the other. Yes, I could have missed him in passing, but if he’d been there he’d be home by now!” “Why do you want to wait till it gets light, Ike? Why not now? You should go now, Dad! Tell them to go now…” “Zac…” Isaac sighed again as his Dad came in. “Dad, could you do something with him please?” Walker’s face was grim. “He’s scared, Ike. Give him a break. Is there a problem with going now, if these gentlemen want you to?” Isaac shook his head, weary but willing. “No, I’ve got no problem with it if they’re ready now. But could you do something with Zac?” “Nobody’s doing anything with me, I’m going too…” The lieutenant shook his head. “No, no Zac, you stay here, we’ll take your brother and…” Zac’s face went an alarming purple as the words sunk in. Stay here? Stay here?! “OH I DON’T THINK SO! I’m goin’! That’s it, I’m goin’… I’m gonna go with you, and that’s it, no two ways about it…” Hastily tying his shoes as he spoke he shook his head wildly. “Not leaving me here, no you’re not, no telling who won’t come back this time, no way…” Eyeing him as if he were some creature dredged up from the depths of the East River, Isaac sighed in resignation. This would not be a Zac free search unless the cuffed him somewhere. For a moment he thought about suggesting it, caught the lieutenants eye, and shut his mouth. “Okay. If you’re ready… lets go.”
Isaac sighed heavily, rubbing at his eyes. Zac had made good on his insisting he go with them, as they broadened the search, but it was just not working. No matter what he suggested, Zac wanted to search Central Park, over and over. Worse than that, he’d fastened on an alarming urge to dig. The police were getting a bit fed up with him, but with half the NYC police dept working on this, they were willing to tolerate him, up to a point. For now, anyways. He watched, as Zac, for the umpteenth time, fussed over the ground, by the grotto, where he’d thought he’d seen Taylor. The search dog had picked up Taylor’s scent there, but the trail ended at the tree. Isaac found it all terribly redundant, as he had already told them that he thought he had last seen Taylor there. In his book, they were wasting a lot of time they could better be using out looking for his brother. “Officer, for the last time, I thought he was there. He obviously was, but I don’t know where he went from there. It was from a distance… I just don’t know! Why are we still here? How many times can we look at the same tree before we figure out that he’s NOT THERE?!” He rubbed his eye again. The headache was planting itself in there, no question, and he was beginning to feel a little queasy. He was also getting very tired of the looks Zac was shooting at him. God, anyone would think he’d clubbed Taylor, and dumped his body in the duckpond, the way Zac kept glaring at him. Was it his fault Tay had taken off? No… He needed sleep, he insanely craved coffee, even though he rarely drank it, and he needed to find his brother. The police were huddled together, discussing options. Zac was all for digging the park into an archeological site, and he was losing patience. Fast. “God you guys!” Isaac turned, eyes heavenward, to Zac again, wondering what THIS outburst was all about. “Do I have to go get a spoon and start digging myself? Do I? How come you…” “Zac, what do you think you are looking for? Why do you want to dig holes in the park? Do you think you’ll find buried treasure? We need to LEAVE the park, look for him somewhere else. This is so beyond useless.” Isaac turned his back, and headed for a bench. Rubbing his aching head, his eyes closed in pain, he didn’t see the look Zac shot at him, vague suspicions becoming stronger and stronger. He knew he couldn’t be right. Could NOT be right, but Ike was awfully eager to get them all away from here. Feeling a chill up his back, he headed for the police, ignoring his oldest brother completely. “Officers…” he said, a winning smile on his guileless face, “Why don’t you dig where the dogs lost the scent? Is that out of the question? It makes sense to me.” “Son, look. The ground is not disturbed, why would we dig here? Why would we dig anywhere? Were we looking for a dig site, we would be looking for ground that has been recently turned over. Not sod that’s been untouched for a hundred years. No, there’s no need for that. We’re looking for signs of a struggle. We’re looking for clothing, or possessions, we’re looking for your brother, not necessarily a body!” He lit a cigarette, watching as the scowling boy left him in disgust. “What is it with that kid?” Thinking he was beginning to understand why the missing kid had taken off, he turned back to Isaac, thoughtful. He was not impressed with the help he’d so far gotten from these two boys. One was pushing them to leave the park totally, the other one wanted to bring in a backhoe, and take the park down past ground level. The complete park. Ah well, it was 3 in the morning, the boys were tired. Maybe they’d be more help when they were fresh. “Maybe… they’d be more help anywhere else than trying to help…” Sighing imperceptibly, he motioned to another cop. “Bob, take the boys back to the hotel. We have a list of the places Taylor frequented, we’ll go from there. Damn kid.” Lt. Montogomery knew that time would be endless until Taylor Hanson was found. It had already leaked to the media that the kid was missing, how, he had no idea. It was the middle of the damned night, how did things like this get out? Short-wave? However it had happened, it had happened. They’d blocked off sections of the park, more to show them where they’d been than to keep people out, and if one more tank topped girl approached him, at a barricade, crying and begging to help, he was going to retire. It was 3 in the morning, didn’t these girls ever go home? And it hadn’t yet been 24 hours. God knew what would happen under the light of day. Shrugging, hoping the kid had just decided to spend the night with a friend, and would wander home in the morning, he lit a smoke of the butt of the first one, and nodded as he saw Bob escorting Isaac and Zac through the throng of unlikely onlookers. He hoped they’d get a little sleep. They needed it.
Zac and Isaac entered the hotel, thanking the officer for getting them through the crowd. “We’re going to have to increase security. That was insane!” Isaac muttered, as they waited for the elevator. The crowd grew larger by the minute, it seemed like everyone in NYC had heard that Tay was missing, and they had all decided to wait outside. The city that never slept, indeed. Zac narrowed his eyes, and folded his arms, leaning against the wall of the elevator. “What’d’ya mean, Ike? Insane? They just care, that’s all.” Isaac looked at his little brother, through a migraine induced haze. “Zac, someone is going to get hurt. And I have no intention of it being Mom, or the little ones, or me. I swear, when Taylor gets back, I’ll rip the hair out of his head, braid a noose from it, and then he’s toast.” Isaac exited the elevator, heading for the suite, never seeing Zac’s face change, as he weighed Ike’s words. He watched Isaac go into the room, and turned away, sliding down the wall to take up a spot on the hallway floor. He just didn’t think he could go in there. Not yet… He knew he had to think clearly. Get his head together. What he was thinking was crazy. Nuts. Whacko. Impossible. This was not making sense, yet it seemed to make more sense than anything he had ever heard. All Ike was talking about was killing Tay. Had he done that already? He couldn’t have. He’d never seen Ike so incredibly furious before, was his oldest brother capable of such an act? His thoughts spun. “No, no… he can’t have, but did he… he was beyond…, I’ve never seen him look like that before… Tay’s been an ass, but to kill him… no no no… but where is he then? He said he’d rather have him dead. He was so mad… Why doesn’t Ike want the police to dig? Why does he want them to leave the park? Why isn’t he helping MORE? WHY?????” Eyes closed, head on his folded arms, trying to make sense of his thoughts, Zac didn’t hear the footsteps approaching. He almost bounced off the ceiling, when Isaac grasped his shoulder. “Zac, for the love of God, we’re missing one kid already, Mom wants you back in the room, NOW. I need sleep, and drugs for this headache. Wanna haul ass please?” Throwing his brother’s hand off him, Zac shot a glare at Ike. “Sure, let’s go, before you get mad at ME next…” and stomped his way to the suite. Isaac sighed, the remark passing him by, his thoughts on his migraine medication, and his missing best friend. “Drugs, and 12 hours sleep. God help you Tay, when you get back… you did NOT just disappear on me, you did NOT. I miss you… God I miss you so much… please, please be okay…” He brushed angrily at his eyes, willing himself to hold together. Tay would be back. There was no reason to go to pieces. He’d be back. Grimly repeating that, he made his way into his room, hoping the police would get their thumbs out of their asses and get with it.
Taylor stared at Kathryn, positive he had not heard correctly. He was tired, his adrenaline still running high, he’d obviously misunderstood her. “1883?” He brushed the tears off his face, eyes huge. “1883 as in the YEAR 1883?” He felt an incredulous grin break out on his face. This woman was nuts. “1883. 1883. Pulled right through, I knew this was a bad…” Kathryn waved Benjamin to a seat. “Hush, Ben, only one of us can talk at a time, and Taylor’s not ready to try to make sense of your ways yet.” Ben sat, scowling at her, but not saying a word. He pulled his chair closer to the boy, hoping they weren’t going to be in for hysterics. Leaning forward, Kathryn took Taylor’s hands, letting him feel the warmth of her. He had to understand that she was really here. That he, himself, was really here. He was so confused. She was glad they had the night to try to get him used to the whole thing. “Taylor, dear, try to relax. Just listen, and ask any questions you need to, alright?” He nodded, shaky again, and she smiled gently. “I promise you, you will understand. Now, is there anything you need to know, immediately, before I go on?” He shook his head, gripping her hand tighter as the vertigo threatened to spill him out of his chair. “Oh why am I so dizzy?!” Putting her arm around him, she could feel him trembling, knowing he was close to tears again, simply from confusion. “It’s the air, dear, as Ben said. You need to take shallow breaths until you get used to it.” “What’s wrong with the air? Is it poison or something?” He turned, more carefully, at the derisive snort from the man next to him. “Poison, no. Not here. Already told you. This air is clean. You, your kind, adapted to breathing poison. Chemicals. Pollutants. Smoke. Your time stinks of it, you stink of it. You can’t breath without it. Small breaths, small. Too much oxygen.” He sat back, nodding grimly, and Taylor turned wide eyes to Kathryn. “Yes dear, he’s correct. Until your body is used to the increased oxygen levels, you’ll feel dizzy, and perhaps a little drunk. You will get used to it, I promise you.” He held onto her arm, somehow feeling a little safer with someone to hold on to. “How did you do it? How can I be in 1883? I’m not really gone back in time, what’s going on? Please… anything you want… I just want to go home.” Smiling her gentle smile, she gestured out the window. “Make the judgement yourself, dear. Certainly I could be lying, but It’s a bit beyond me to change the landscape of 1999 New York. Go look out of the window, and tell me what you see.” Frowning suspiciously at her, he got up, keeping in mind the shallow breaths they’d advised him to use. He had to admit, it was helping. He leaned out the window, noting the lack of screening, and looked down… far down. From here he could see that the street lacked the asphalt he was used to. Central Park W was… was it cobbled??? “Just some kind of trick… it’s possible.” Shaking his head he turned and looked further up. No traffic lights. “Okay, so they’re out, or covered up. It could work…” Then his gaze strayed to the park… and his breath caught in his throat. He could see… the other side of the city. “That… that building. What’s that?” His voice was faint, and his pointing hand felt as if it weighed a ton. He heard the rustle of skirts as Kathryn joined him at the window. “Which one dear?” He pointed again, moving her hand a little with his own. “The one with all the windows lit up…” “Oh…” He heard the smile in her voice. “That’s the Museum of Natural History.” He turned and stared at her, feeling the world swim away from him. It was just like the story, the story he’d read so many years ago as a little boy. The man who’d traveled back in time, and knew it when he looked across the park and saw the Museum, the museum that should have been blocked by row upon row of skyscrapers. “My God I’m insane, I’m in a storybook…” He looked across the park again, helpless, confused. He couldn’t argue. It was all different. “God, am I crazy? Am I?” The woman slipped an arm around him and pulled him close to her. “No, baby, you’re not. I know, it’s so hard to grasp, but you’re really here. We brought you here.” Shaking his head, the random thought “Why does everybody call me baby?” ricocheting in his brain, he moved away from the window. The air… he took a deep breath and felt his head swim immediately. But God it smelled so good. Fresh. Sweet. No, not sweet. CLEAR. He could smell the gas from the jets and the wax of the candles. And he could SEE! Had anything ever looked so clear? Could the actual air be so much clearer that it was easier to see through? He looked at Ben, targeting him. “How. How did you do it?” Ben shook his head, jumping from the chair. “No, no can’t tell you how. Can’t do it. It’s what we do, why we’re here.” “You can’t tell me?” Taylor felt anger starting to build. “You can’t TELL me?!” Benjamin glanced uneasily at Kathryn, who appeared completely unruffled. Turning back to the boy in front of him he shook his head. “How? No. Why? We need your help.” He directed Taylor back to his chair, and motioned Kathryn back to her spot. “Enough, tell him.” Taylor nodded, agreeing wholeheartedly. “Yes tell me. I want to know what’s going on. I want to go home, I miss my family, I feel awful… if you brought me here, you’d better have a good reason!” The woman nodded, still unphased, and took Taylor arm. “Sit down dear. I want you to feel free to stop me at any time, for any reason.” She paused, looked into his eyes. Yes, he was fine. Confused, frightened, vaguely ill, but definitely holding his own. No fracturing here. No hysterics. He was fine. Nodding, she continued. “My name is Kathryn, and that is Benjamin. I suppose you could say that, to your linear way of looking at time, we’re from the future, but we aren’t really. Time doesn’t exist in the line you think it does, and in reality, there is no separation, other than perception, between your time, 1999, and this time, 1883. We aren’t from any particular past, or future. But we do have a job to do. We look after Time. And people.” “Look after it how?” Taylor’s fear had begun to abate with the woman’s words. The vague thought that her soothing tone was hypnotizing him, had rambled across his mind, but it didn’t concern him. This was good, this had all the makings of a science fiction novel. “Taylor, when we see that something is going awry, or that some ONE is going awry, we weigh the situation, and if it warrants intervention, we step in and fix it.” “Oh, kinda like Quantum Leap, huh?” She shook her head, laughing. “No, not exactly. I want to show you something.” She gestured for him to stand up, and led him down the hall into a small room. “Step carefully now, because in here, Taylor, you are outside time as you know it. Do you see this?” She reached into the air, and pulled, from seeming nothingness, a great swath of shimmering, silvery filaments. “These are time, these are people, these are everything. You can see how they flow, how they glow and merge and emerge, how they juxtapose… when all is right, this beauty is all the worlds.” He reached out, sure she would stop him, amazed and awed when she did not, when she laid the glittering swath over his outstretched hands. A thrill of energy filled him, clearing his head, filling his mind with an enormous sense of “I KNOW.” What he knew, he wasn’t sure. But there it was. Heat and cold reverberated up his arms, and he felt the fear and exhaustion lifting. Slowly, eyeing her carefully, he ran one hand into the silvery mass. Waves of something like ecstasy washed over him then, and he lost his breath, gasping. Too much. It was too much. Completely blissed out, in total emotional overload, he felt tears slipping down his face and shook his head, choking out words. “Take it… take it please…” Smiling, she took it, and to his horror flung it into the center of the room. “No fear, Taylor… you see?” He saw. The filaments did not fall, no, they blended into an incredible shine in the very air of the room. “That, Taylor, is what we care for. It is everything. You felt that. You know that now. But when things happen, things like this…” She reached into the glow and pulled out a single thread, this one pulsing an ugly greenish gray, bereft of it’s silver sheen…”This… this is what we need your help with. Oh, if you knew how you’d see many of these, people who are outside, people who are wrong, people who are evil… but they serve their place, they weave their own fundamental part of the tapestry, and we don’t interfere. But this one… this one was never meant to be this way. This is a mistake in the warp and weft of the way things are meant to be. Call it time, call it person, it matters not. This is a knot, and it must be untangled, because it will destroy much much more than you would at first think. This is the reason we called you. And this…” She let the darkening filament go, and hooked out another, this one perhaps even darker than the first. “This one will be corrected, we believe, when that one is. And either of these would be a great loss to the human race, to the worlds in general. To the spirit that makes us all what we are… these are two souls Taylor, souls that are bright and shining, loving, possessed of the very spirit that encompasses reality. They must be saved. They can be saved, and you dear… you are here to save them.” She let the thread go, and gently turned him from the room, leading him back to sit down in the living room. Benjamin smiled now, for the first time, seeing the glow that had infused the boy’s eyes. He’d seen. He’d absorbed it. He was the right one. Kathryn saw his smile and breathed an almost inaudible sigh of relief. He accepted. Thank God. Seeing Taylor settled back down, she continued her explanation. “When we see something like that, Taylor, we help. Oh we don’t help offhand, we weigh it, we work on it, we ponder it. We don’t make decisions lightly. And we have no direct influence. If we must intervene, we must find someone who can make those changes. Sometimes it’s a person from the same time period, sometimes it’s a person from the past, or in your case, someone from the future.” “Depending on how you look at it…” Taylor’s comment was tinged with humor, and he felt absurdly pleased that he’d gotten it. “Yes exactly, depending on how you look at it. But no matter where they come from, it has to be the right person. Oftentimes we think we’ve chosen well, and we’ve chosen quite mistakenly. This time however… this time we are right. It is you. And only you.” “Is it only ever just one person who can help?” Kathryn nodded, pleased. “Yes Taylor, it’s only ever one person.” Taylor sat back, thinking. How could he help fix something so… so everything? Who was he that he was the one?” “I don’t understand, Kathryn. How am I… how am I worth it?” She laughed her bell like laugh again. “Taylor, you have a spirit unlike any we’ve seen. You… you are you, dear, and you are the one. Now do you want to know why you’re here?” He blushed and dropped his eyes. “Oh, God I’m sorry, I talk too much…” She laughed again, and this time so did Benjamin. “No, no dear. No no… now this is why you’re here… Taylor, a boy is ruining his life, and he needs your help.”