Roads: Chapter 26

Title: Roads
Chapter: 26 of 43
Author: Sheryl
Rating: R
Other Info: Sequel to Walls
Warnings: Drug-usage, cursing, violence etc
Excerpt: “What do you mean, no?! Of course you’re coming!” Puzzlement glared from Zac’s voice. “We’ve had this set up all week!” Zac’s heart was pounding, and he could feel adrenaline starting to run.
Not again. One by one, all of his friends were writing him off. It couldn’t be happening again. And not Jay! All week they’d planned this, and now, at Zac’s friendly shout of “You ready? You on your way?”
Jay had answered, “No, sorry. I’m not coming.”

Chapter 26

“What do you mean, no?! Of course you’re coming!” Puzzlement glared from Zac’s voice. “We’ve had this set up all week!” Zac’s heart was pounding, and he could feel adrenaline starting to run.
Not again. One by one, all of his friends were writing him off. It couldn’t be happening again. And not Jay! All week they’d planned this, and now, at Zac’s friendly shout of “You ready? You on your way?”
Jay had answered, “No, sorry. I’m not coming.”
Zac felt himself ready to blow, and silently began counting. One, two, three, “Jay, why not? You said this morning you were all set.” He fought to keep his voice calm. Four, five, six.
“Sorry, Zac, my mom said no way. Not with all the stuff going on with Taylor. She heard, today, that he beat up some kid the other day.”
Seven, eight, nine. He kept his tone as far from honest as he could. He didn’t want Jay to know how much this hurt. “No, he did not!! Where’d she hear that? That’s just crap, Jay!” Ten. Breathing deeply, trying to hear any sound of regret in his friends voice, Zac listened intently, struggling to control his temper.
“Zac, some friend of hers told her. He went up to some school and beat some kid there up. She’s afraid that he’s too dangerous for me to go over there.”
Zac sighed. How did people find out about these things? Annoyed, his tone was sharper than he intended. “Jay, it’s not like he’d be camping out with us. For heaven sake, he never even leaves his room, he’s not gonna go stalking out to the woods with a meat cleaver, and kill you in your sleep. Geez.”
Jason’s voice picked up some of Zac’s sarcasm. “Well, that’s pretty creepy, too, that he never leaves his room. If your brother’s crazy, I’m not sure I want to go over there anyway.”
Zac felt his temper slip a notch. “He’s not crazy, Jason!” He could hear the shrug in the other boy’s voice.
“Well, if he’s not crazy, what’s he seeing a shrink for?”
“Jay, he’s not. He’s not seeing a shrink. He barely sees me!!”
“Look, don’t yell at me. I can’t help it. My mom said no.”
Zac twirled the phone cord, absently. “Six down, two to go, Jay. My friends are running away from me like fleas, off rats, off a sinking ship. And I didn’t even do anything. I don’t suppose that will change your mind, huh?”
Jay sounded truly regretful, when he replied this time. “Zac, honest, it’s not me. I want to come over, even if I am a little scared of Taylor, but my mom said absolutely not. Hey…” His voice picked up a hopeful tone. “Maybe you could come over here!!! I’m gonna go ask. Hang on!!” Zac felt his mood lift, as he heard his friend clunk down the phone, his voice calling excitedly into the zone off the speaker. “Mom!! Mom, we have an…” His voice faded, leaving Zac to his thoughts. He wondered if it was Jay’s mom, or Jay, who’d been afraid to come over. He rather suspected it was Jay. So far, half the town was afraid that Taylor was a psychopathic axe murderer. The other half thought he was a crack dealer. Since Jay knew darn well that nobody was doing anything with drugs, Zac rather favored the axe murderer theory. Sighing, knowing there was really nothing he could do about it, short of dragging Taylor, in his sleep, out to the car, driving far far away, and shoving him out, he resigned himself, once again, to the inevitable. Jay had just fallen under the same spell everyone else had. Who knew when it would all go back to normal. Eyeing the stairs, that led to his ruining everything brother, Zac found himself wanting to go up there and shake him. It wasn’t bad enough that he’d messed up his own life, he was sucking Zac down with him. Scowling, Zac kicked at the baseboard. He could hear an argument, faintly, down the phone line, and knew that Jays mom wasn’t about to let him go over. Whatever was attached to Tay, was also stuck to him. It was like living with a contagious disease. Nobody wanted to come near him. He was disappointed, then, but unsurprised, to hear Jason’s voice, depressed and annoyed, come back on the line. “Sorry, Zac, she said no. I don’t really get it, but… sorry, man.” Zac nodded, forgetting for the moment that Jay couldn’t hear the gesture, and hung up the phone, not bothering to comment. There was, after all, nothing he could say. Sighing dejectedly, he wandered out onto the porch, flinging himself into the swing. The wind, biting now, in early winter, jabbed cold little spikes through his sweatshirt. There had to be something he could do. There had to be. He couldn’t just sit here, and pretend things were okay. If he couldn’t fix it, he had to do something to bring himself away from it. Toeing the swing, back and forth, back and forth, the old familiar squeak soothing his heart, his mind led him down a road that, though he didn’t know it now, would turn out to be the beginning of the end.

Zac eyed his brother warily. Nose in book, Taylor showed no awareness that Zac was even standing there. Creepy.
Granted things had been quiet, but Zac’s mind wouldn’t let go of the horrible events of the other night. Memory held him captive.
CC had taken Tay away for the day, and things had been great. Everyone had seemed to let out a collective breath, and relax. This wonderful relaxation had gone on until CC, at 10:00 o clock that night, had brought back a shaking, white faced, sweating, wild eyed Taylor, and a story that terrified Zac even now. He’d been sent to his room. Never one to disobey, this time, he’d been unable to control himself. He’d listened on the stairs, hearing a tale of violence and insanity, that made him wish dearly that he’d never eavesdropped. He’d spent that night, watching as his brother trembled in fear, nightmares, waking up screaming every half hour, shrieks that tore his throat to the bleeding point. Finally, unable to take it anymore, Zac, with Isaac, sought sanctuary in the only room they thought might drown out their brother’s screams, the practice room in the garage. Curled in sleeping bags, clutching each other tightly, they’d pretended to sleep, neither wanting the other to know how scared they each were. Morning had brought a fragile peace. Taylor had gotten up, showered, dressed, wordlessly eaten breakfast, and gone quietly back up to his room. He’d come out for meals, with no arguments, and this routine had held fast throughout the week. CC came by most evenings, spending most of that time holed up either with Taylor, or with his parents. Zac supposed someone must be doing something, as Tay seemed the closest to normal he’d been in weeks. Of course, he was fairly sure that his folks didn’t know that Taylor kept them awake, moaning and crying in his sleep, occasionally waking trembling from nightmares he refused to talk about. That they had no idea that all of the meals he ate, obediently and quietly, all came back up again, just about every night. Tay was quiet, and spend his days reading, or writing, or surfing the net, he took care of himself, and there were no outbursts. That he never left his room, except to eat, seemed of little concern to anyone.
“I’m missing something, aren’t I?” Zac’s clear voice rang through the bedroom, startling Taylor slightly. He jumped, looking up from his book, pushing the glasses he’d heretofore always refused to wear, further up on his nose. “Zac, what’re you talking about?” Zac shook his head. “Nothing. Can I use your sleeping bag?” Tay looked over the top of his glasses, amused at the double image it gave him. “What for? You camping out somewhere?” Zac nodded. “Yeah. Jay was supposed to come over, and we were going to camp out in the woods, but someone, who’s name shall not be mentioned, but who is crazy as a smokehouse rat, scared his mom so much that she won’t let him come over.” Taylor made a face, rolling his eyes. “I’m not crazy, Zac, get serious.”
“Yeah, I am serious. Anyway, I’m going over there. So can I use it or not?” Taylor nodded. “Yeah, I don’t care.” Zac yanked the bag out of the closet, dislodging a pile of clothes higher than his head. Raising his eyebrows at the heap that landed at his feet, he kicked ineffectually at it, finally throwing his body into the door, and locking it quickly on the mess. “Someone needs to do something about that.”
Taylor snorted. “It’s all your stuff anyway.” His eyes slid back to his book. He wondered if Zac knew how little he was following it. He looked up again, feeling eyes on him, and met with Zac, stood bare inches from him, staring into his face.
Zac sighed. “You know those families, from down on Memorial? The ones that mom and dad always aid were the ones who’s kids you couldn’t play with?” Taylor nodded, painfully sure he knew where this was going. Zac nodded back at him “We are those families now. We’re the ones you don’t let your kids play with. You think about that.”
He scooped up the sleeping back, tossed a few changes of clothes inside it, rolled it up, and started out of the room. Taylor stopped him, one foot into the hall. “Hey Zac.”
“I love you, you know. I’m sorry.” Zac nodded.
“I know. I love you too.” Turning his back on his brother, he slipped out the door. It was the last time any of them would see Zac, for quite some time.

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

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