Chapter: 19 of 43
Other Info: Sequel to Walls
Warnings: Drug-usage, cursing, violence etc
Excerpt: Taylor’s sleep was deep, and dreamless. An end to a bone deep tension had somehow been achieved, replaced by a relaxation that was near complete, and a stillness nearly as complete, the only motion an even rise and fall of breathing. A peace had settled into him, somehow, and he felt warm, and truly safe, here in a stranger’s house, for the first time in months.
“Daniel!! GET DOWN!!! Come on, I haven’t got all day!!!”
The boy on the rope bridge looked down, laughed, and scampered to the other side, tripping lightly down the ladder. He jumped from about six rungs up, landing lightly on his feet, in front of the man who’d called him, a man who stood, smiling and shading his eyes from the bright morning sun.
“What’re you doing up there so early? I can barely walk, let alone swing from ropes. Didn’t I tell you we had to leave early? Come on, let’s get going.”
The boy, Daniel, nodded, grinning. “You did. But you wouldn’t want anyone breaking their neck on the ropes course would you? Endy told me there were ropes out up there.”
“Oh. Got ’em fixed okay?”
The ropes course was Dan’s baby. He took immense pride in maintaining it in tip top condition. “Yeah, it’s all good. So…” He grinned again, picking up his pace “Where we going, CC? So God awful early?”
CC sighed. “We are going…” He paused, rubbing his forehead. “To see Mandy.”
He laughed at Daniel’s crow of delight. “I think things are about to get interesting.” Dan paused, his good humor dimming under a look of concern. “She’s okay, right?”
“She’s not in trouble…” CC smiled, “She’s fine. Here…”
Approaching a rather large van, he tossed the boy the keys, “You drive. First stop, coffee, next stop Mandy. You remember the way to her house?”
A grin and a nod was his answer, as together they set off along the road.
Zac’s reproachful stare was making Isaac acutely uncomfortable. He refused to look up from the book he was pretending to read, but he could feel the kid’s eyes boring into him. It was giving him a decidedly crawly feeling. Finally, unable to stand it any longer, he snapped the book shut.
“Zac! Would you cut it out!?!”
Zac, who didn’t realize he’d been doing anything at all, leaped about a foot out of his skin. “What??! I’m just sitting here!” His raised voice piqued Ike’s temper, and his tone became unpleasant.
“Yeah, well you’re staring at me!”
Zac slapped the back of his brother’s book knocking it over.
“How can you tell, you’ve got your nose in a book!!”
“Zac, just cut it out.”
“I’m not doing anything”
Isaac glared. “Well go in the other room or something!”
“No. I have just as much right to be here as you do.”
Ike was just opening his mouth to retort, when Zac, with no warning, suddenly shoved his chair out, jumped up and flung himself headlong into his brother, flinging his arms around him.
Eyes wide, shocked and completely baffled, all of the evil temper draining at once, he hugged Zachary back, feeling the younger boy’s body trembling. Gently releasing Zac’s arms, he pushed him away a little, brushing tears from his cheeks. “What’s the matter, Zac, why are you crying?”
Zac shook his head, rubbing his arm across his face. “I don’t know. I don’t know. I just thought I’d wake up and he’d be back.”
Isaac sighed bitterly. “I know Zac, so did I. I just don’t know where he is. We really thought we’d find him.” His eyes glazed over, then shut, as his mind drifted.
He was startled back to reality by a touch on his face. His eyes flew open, and met Zac’s, bare inches from his own, a stare so intense it sent chills down Isaac’s spine. Zac had gently places a hand on each side of Ike’s face, and was pulling him close, until his mouth was nearly touching Ike’s ear.
“You tell me…” his voice, a breath of a whisper brushing the side of his face, “You tell me the truth. You tell me if he’s ever comin’ home again.”
Taylor’s sleep was deep, and dreamless. An end to a bone deep tension had somehow been achieved, replaced by a relaxation that was near complete, and a stillness nearly as complete, the only motion an even rise and fall of breathing. A peace had settled into him, somehow, and he felt warm, and truly safe, here in a stranger’s house, for the first time in months.
Sound of crying. The high wall of sleep, crumbling, to the sound of sadness.
Who was crying? Nobody, nobody, soft arms of sleep, gently drawing him back down.
Sun, slanting through the window glass, into his eyes, woke him. Blinking up at the unfamiliar light, for a moment he didn’t know where he was. Not his room. Not his ceiling, his window, his sounds, his smells. He lay for a moment, while his sleep fogged mind cleared, and realization set in.
Sudden apprehension claimed him. What would happen now? Nothing. His heart told him what his soul needed to hear. This woman who had helped him, would not just abandon him. Somehow he felt sure of that.
For the first time, he felt that things might be alright. Not questioning why he felt that, he stretched, wincing at the screaming of abused muscles, and turned over onto his belly, dismissing thought, sleep already licking at the edges.
A soft sound from the floor, opened his eyes again. His gaze lit on Amanda, curled on the floor, in her sleeping bag. He really saw her, now, as he hadn’t before, and for the first time thought to wonder about her. How old was she? Did she live here alone? She seemed to, but how could he know? His eyes took in her blond hair, so much like his own, but curling softly around her face, a face that was troubled, even in sleep. A closer look showed him tears. She was crying. In her sleep. Alarmed, all thoughts of sleep banished, he sat up, too quickly from the screaming in his back, and slid down to the floor. Once there, he froze. If she were Ike, stuck in a bad dream, he’d have acted immediately, but now he wasn’t sure what to do. He didn’t know her. Didn’t know if it was alright to touch her… sighing, he watched as her distress became more apparent. She was actively sobbing, sounding as if her heart were breaking. He vaguely remembered a dream of someone crying. Had it been her? Feeling guilty, he reached out, very gently shaking her shoulder. Guilt became a frantic rush to escape, when with an unearthly shriek, she bolted upright, her hands suddenly coming at his face, and taking him by the throat.