The Taylight Zone - Anthology One

04 - TheRapist - Kayla

Before you begin this story, I feel that I must excuse myself and apologize for my actions in this story.
Having said this, if you still intend on proceeding, please bear in mind that I did not write this story based on my values and attitudes towards the mentioned aspects of the world.
As a writer, I feel that I have a right to include such content, as that present in the following story, but as a Hanson fan, I feel that I may have violated a certain level of morality in doing so. I now ask of you - as a writer, a Hanson fan and a fellow living creature - to please remember that TheRapist was not written with the pre-conspired intent of presentating derogatory, defamatory and/or potentially-controversial material. As I wrote, the story seemed to tell itself and it would have felt wrong to go against it.
My only defense is that the title given to the series, to which this story belongs, The Taylight Zone, triggers an eerie frame of mind, thus causing me to produce a possibly offensive story such as this.
Well, that and I may have seen one (million) too many episodes of American Gothic and Tales From The Crypt.
But all this aside, I find it an honor to have been invited to write alongside such an elite panel of Hanson fiction authors.

part i

[Cat. #487-HANSONJT]
PATIENT:  There's no one around but us, right? Coz I'm not saying anything if there's anyone else around.
THERAPIST:  You can say anything to me. It won't go beyond this room.
PATIENT:  So you wanna know what happened? OK, well, let me tell you now that whatever you've heard is not true. I didn't do anything that shouldn't've been done. It's not that hard to understand. All the fans think they can have us. They want us. It's disgusting... And don't say I'm being cocky - it's a fact. I mean, if they waved signs at you, telling you how they wanna have your kid, how they wanna be your first time, how they're your number one fan... If it was our obligation to care about every single "Number One Fan" sign, then we'd end up with a lot of wives. It's just crazy.
THERAPIST:  But you're not obligated to care.
PATIENT:  It seems that way sometimes.
THERAPIST:  Is that why you- why all this happened?
PATIENT:  Oh, you can say it, I don't mind. I just don't want you thinking anything that's not true.
THERAPIST:  I'd rather hear you say it, Taylor. Tell me what happened.
PATIENT:  This could take a while.
THERAPIST:  We've got time.
PATIENT:  Fine... She came to me on a Sunday, I think it was. I had some time to myself and everyone else was either out or outside. I heard someone at the door and I went to answer it.
THERAPIST:  And who was there?
PATIENT:  Some girl.
THERAPIST:  Was she a fan?
PATIENT:  That's what I was thinking. She was dressed up in that Grim Reaper get-up, so naturally, I thought it was Zac doing that Scream thing again. I don't think we shoulda seen that movie so many times. I think it kinda scrambled Zac's brain a bit. Anyway, I pulled off that stupid mask, but it wasn't Zac.
THERAPIST:  And what did you do?
PATIENT:  What are you writing?
THERAPIST:  Just some notes... Go on.
PATIENT:  I was, like, "Who are you?", y'know? I mean, it's not every day you see a fan in a Grim Reaper costume. She had the most amazing eyes. They were, like, brown, but right in the middle, there was, like, fire or something. It was literally glowing... She introduced herself as "Lucy The Devil".
THERAPIST:  "Lucy The Devil"... Interesting.
PATIENT:  I just laughed. I probably offended her or something, but it didn't matter at the time. I wasn't in a good mood... She wanted to make a deal with me.
THERAPIST:  What kind of deal?
PATIENT:  She wanted me to be part of a game. She said that if I played a few rounds, it might help to tone down the whole Hanson "obsession" thing.
PATIENT:  And I said yes.

It was weird. He could see inside her head, read her thoughts... It was amazing. Her mind was filled with everything he could ever want in a virtual world. But now, it was a blank. She was trying to sleep and she had long since cleared her head.

Taylor sat tight, waiting. He had been studying her for two days now. Lucy said that this was "more than plenty time." But he was patient. It would soon be time. The past 60 hours had been a blast. All this girl thought about was Hanson, and what she would like to do with them, for them and to them. Isaac and Zac made their own special cameo appearances at various times of the day, but it was Taylor, himself, who dominated her fantasies, her desires, her dreams.

He closed his eyes and counted down... 5... 4... 3... 2... 1...

Dream time.

He stood up and started walking towards her, into her sleep. Through the mist of half-sleep haze, he saw her. Her golden hair was wet, clinging to her bare shoulders, saturating her white, nylon-thin dress where it made contact with the fabric. Her eyes, green, like a cat's. The corner of Taylor's mouth twitched and curled upwards to form a lopsided smile. This girl was beautiful, and she wanted him.

This would be sweet.

She didn't see him. He wasn't in yet. But he would be soon. Very soon.

"Becky," he whispered.

She turned around, searching for the source of the voice, "Tay?"

"Come on! If you want me, you have to come get me." Oh yes, this is how it started the night before. "Come on, Becky!"

The mist and darkness around them exploded in a burst of color. When the dust simmered down, their environment melted into a lush, green forest with a crystal lake in the middle of a large clearing. When he saw her enter the clearing through the trees, laughing gleefully, he knew it was time. He was in. And he knew what to expect. Just like last night's dream, she ran into the water, splashing about and throwing water up with her hands.

"Taylor!" she called out. "Come on! Get in!"

"Coming!" He strolled down to the edge of the lake and sat on the bank. He watched her, taking in her lithe appearance. Her clothes, now saturated, stuck to her, exposing her creamy, tan flesh through its transparency. Her breasts seemed fuller through the potential absence of material, sending a surge of power through Taylor's body. This was it: Fan #1.

As she moved towards him, the bank transformed into a low, small landing. Taylor's now bare feet dangled in the cold water of the lake. He felt Becky's warm hands slide up his legs, searching for his hands that were rested submissively on his thighs. She found them and brought his fingers to her mouth, gently running them over her soft, pink lips. Her tongue protruded and touched his fingertips while drawing them further in.

She pulled away with a smile. "Like it, Tay?"

He knew his lines. He knew what she wanted to hear. He knew what she wanted him to do. "I think I'd like this better," he responded, taking her hand and dropping gracefully into the water. He put his arms around her waist and jerked her close, meeting her lips with his, meshing them together with a forceful kiss.

This is where things would take a turn. He had it all planned out. He knew what to do. No more dreams like last night's. This one would be different.

Deceptively, he lowered her into the water. The second he felt her give up control, he pulled away and shoved her under, holding her head down.

[Cat. #487-HANSONJT]
THERAPIST:  So, what? You killed her?
PATIENT:  I'm not crazy, Doctor.
THERAPIST:  You killed her?
PATIENT:  Yeah, but no... It wasn't really killing her. It was, like, a dream, y'know? She'd wake up and be fine. It was all part of Lucy's game.
THERAPIST:  So what happened when she woke up?
PATIENT:  She was shaken... Y'know, I'll never forget that look on her face when she realized what I was doing... It didn't scare her out of it, though.
THERAPIST:  But she stopped?
PATIENT:  There was the night after... Yeah...
THERAPIST:  Another dream?
PATIENT:  No, she was awake for this one.
PATIENT:  Daydreaming.

part ii

Her parents were out and she had three tapes worth of Hanson tv appearances and computer downloaded movs to get through. It was gonna be one hell of a night.

Becky sipped her cream of chicken Cup-A-Soup, her eyes glued to the screen.

Taylor watched her from behind. He leaned against the doorframe, arms folded loosely as he waited for her to start. He knew she would, soon. Half-finish the soup, cup goes on the table, sit and watch the interview, daydream. Lucy said that the water dream laid down a good foundation, the girl was well and truly shaken. But Taylor didn't need her to tell him that. He could sense it. And it was gratifying. Even better than anywhere Becky was willing to take him.

These loose-moralled girls with nothing better to do than to dream of screwing a Hanson brother... It felt good to take back a part of something that was taken from him everytime a horny fan's mind started to wander.

Fan #1 hadn't been letting her mind wander too far. Since waking up from that memorable dream, she'd been on the ball. Listening in class was actually a relief to her, but Taylor couldn't care less.

Any minute now...

Done with the soup...

Cup on the table... Any second now...

Oprah on tv... "I love Zac because he is incredibly funny... Taylor because he's really cute, and Isaac because he's his own person..."

Dream time.

He stepped forward and put his hand on her shoulder. He smiled. She looked up at him. Trusting eyes. So trusting. It was almost a sin to blink, in case they would disappear when he re-opened his eyes. How would he play the game, then?

"What are you watching?" he asked, the words rolling off his tongue as if they had been pre-rehearsed.

"I'm watching you," she replied softly. "Wanna join me?"

"Sure, but while you're doing that-" he climbed over the back of the couch and sat by her "-I'll be watching you."

She put a hand up to stroke his cheek, but retracted immediately, "You're not gonna hurt me, are you?"

"Is that a question or a request?"

"I dunno, see, I had this really weird dream about you, last night."

Taylor nodded and leaned forward, his elbows resting on his knees. "Tell me... Did I do this?" He took her hand and brushed a breezy kiss along her wrist. She raised an eyebrow, not bothering to conceal the desire in her eyes. He continued, "Or did I do this?" He shifted closer and enveloped her earlobe with his lips, his tongue teasing the quickly-firing skin.

"No," she replied, giggling slightly from the sensation, "but you can keep going if you want."

"Believe me, I want..." He lowered her down and lay on top of her, making quick work of her shirt. Her skin felt softer than it did last night. This would definitely be gratifying.

[Cat. #487-HANSONJT]
THERAPIST:  So it was good, then?
PATIENT:  Better than that. Much better.
THERAPIST:  All right, you're gonna have to explain something to me here, Taylor, because I'm lost. What exactly felt good? That you and she were engaging in a stimulating practise, or that you would, once again, torture her with an unknown promise of fear?
PATIENT:  Damn, what are you? My doctor or some Danielle Steele interrogator?... I guess it felt good... Everything, I mean. She was willing, I was there, she was there and I was on a mission.
PATIENT:  Excuse me?
THERAPIST:  You said you were on a mission... What was this mission for?
PATIENT:  Can I have a drink of water?
THERAPIST:  Help yourself.
PATIENT:  You want some?
THERAPIST:  No, thanks. I'm fine... So what happened? What did you do to her?
PATIENT:  "To her". You make it sound like I was trying to hurt her or something... I wasn't trying to hurt her... It's not for real. I just wanted to scare her a bit, y'know? Get her to quit thinking about us so much. I mean, it's cool, but just for a while. It was just sickening how she thought about fuc- sorry, engaging in stimulating practises with us - with me - all the time... It was like she was some kind of nympho, y'know what I mean?
THERAPIST:  So, on that occasion, what did you do?

He could feel it. She was coming. He knew he was on his way, but that was a minor detail. It wouldn't hurt him to finish, but it wouldn't kill him to stop now. He played that hand to his advantage.

Seconds before she was through, he pulled out and sat on the end of the couch. Panting and trying to catch her breath, Becky propped herself up on her elbows and looked at him. She was losing it. It was fading. He didn't need any skills to determine that. She shifted, her ecstasy rapidly diminishing. "Tay?" She was confused as she watched him search for his jeans. She shook her head, "Tay, what the hell'd you do that for?"

"No reason," he replied, nonchalant. "That was just for fun... Lie down. The real thing's on its way. I just need to get something."

Trusting him, she lay back, her chest rising and falling while she waited for her heartrate to slow. Taylor found his jeans and took out the small pocketknife from the left pocket. He pulled out the blade and lay over her, resting his head on her stomach. He had never even considered doing something this messed up before, but when he asked Lucy about it, she said it wouldn't hurt the girl. It was a daydream. How could it?

"Becky, how much do you love me?" he asked, knowing the answer she'd give.

"I love you," she responded, her head laid back on the fluffy throw pillow. She closed her eyes and twisted a lock of his hair between her fingers. "I love you more than I love anything in the world. I love you more than I love waking up in the morning. I love you more than... than air."

He looked at her face. "And you would do anything for me?"

"Anything in the world. Just name it."

"Would you let me do something for you? I can do a lot for you."

"Oh, Tay, that'd just be... that'd be very cool."

"Good." He moved up and kissed her lips. Sweetly at first, but more intensely as the seconds flew past. She was distracted now.

He brought the blade up to her chest and started carving the "T". Becky squealed in pain and pushed him away. He resisted, managing to quickly finish the first letter and move onto the "A".

It felt strange... but good. Like writing in wax.

part iii

[Cat. #487-HANSONJT]
PATIENT:  You don't have to believe me...
THERAPIST:  It's not up to me to say whether I do or don't... So you're saying you carved your name into her chest?
PATIENT:  Well... well, not really... not totally. I only got to the "L" and then she woke up. Needless to say, she was-
THERAPIST:  Wait a minute, Taylor. I just have to change the tape. It'll just take a-

[Cat. #488-HANSONJT]
THERAPIST:  There we go. Needless to say she was what?
PATIENT:  Shaken. Freaked. Whatever you wanna call it.
THERAPIST:  I see. And what happened afterwards?
PATIENT:  Well, Lucy was wrong when I asked her about Becky. She said that it'd take longer to break her, but she was down after the knife episode.
PAITENT:  Yeah, y'know... She was awake and she just kept screaming. She wanted to turn off the tv, but she couldn't find the remote... That MTV thing we did was on and I had a lot of the camera time. She just flipped out. When her parents got home, they found her in the bathtub, wrapped in a blanket, talking about daisies and roses and knives. She'd filled up the tub with hot water and was daring herself to slit her wrists. It was even more messed up coz she kept mumbling the chorus to Mmmbop while she was at it... They took her to see a shrink and she was put on medication... Bye-bye, Becky...
THERAPIST:  And how do you feel about it?
PATIENT:  Y'know, you'd think I feel bad, but I don't... Well, not really... OK, I do, in a way. But not very much. She had it coming. I think she was already a little screwy. I mean, if she were more stable, then she wouldn't have snapped so fast, y'know what I mean?
THERAPIST:  All right, tell me about the second one.
PATIENT:  I mentioned a second one?
THERAPIST:  In our first session, you gave me her name...
PATIENT:  Checking the files?
THERAPIST:  Christina.

Christina was a strange one. Her mind was even more intriguing than Becky's. She would be alive one minute and dead the next. Taylor was having an interesting time sorting out the difference between her Manson state of mind and her Hanson state of mind. On his first day watching her, it became very obvious that the connection she made that associated Hanson with Manson, was that she wanted Hanson to Manson's music. Something about the heavy bassline and the tortured groaning.
Taylor shrugged it off. Manson had to be good for something, right?

Fan #2 would be more stable. All the Manson-loving friends he had were stable people. It was just the heavy bassline that won them over, much like the serpent and the apple.

Fan #2 could only be reached in her sleeping dreams. This one could be a little harder, since the waking dreams proved to be more effective. People had no control over their sleeping dreams. They didn't care as much if strange things started happening in them. But they assume they have control when they're awake. It wasn't just Taylor's assumption. There was a waking vs. sleeping score. He'd seen how David Duchovny had done it. He'd seen how Brad Pitt had done it. Lucy had even shown him a recap of how Marilyn Monroe had done it. All three proved their point in the waking dreams. But he could only hit Christina while she was asleep.

No problem. What David, Brad and Marilyn lacked was the Taylor Hanson quality. He could do it. His theory was that if he pushed hard enough, she'd go his way.

Her mind was a blank. She was ready to fall asleep.

He could push her.

It could work.

[Cat. #488-HANSONJT]
THERAPIST:  And how long did it take you to break her?
PATIENT:  Three dreams... Impressive, huh?

"Hey," Taylor smiled, sitting down on the edge of the bed, feeling the thud thud thud of the bass through the floor and the bed. He leaned against the wall and felt the reverberations through it. This was what Christina wanted. She was leaning against the window pane that shook with every thud. Her long Morticia-style hair was resting on her shoulders, the forelocks of a fringe secudtively edging her black, black eyes.
She was attractive in a dark kind of way. A mystery. A suspicion. A gothic superimposition of art. Intriguing. A worthy player. She had been Lucy's suggestion, but Taylor's choice. He had only played one round, but something in his mind told him that he had a knack for making decisions. His decision for tonight had been very improvised.

Christina's dreams were all different; from what he saw, there were never two the same. But there was always something he could count on for regularity. The heavy bassline. It was there last night and it was here tonight.

"So what now?" Christina asked, her blood-red lips forming a petite pout. Whatever it was she advertised, she was backing it up with a full promise. He had to admit that it was a turn-on - heavy bass and a night of promise.

Without hesitation, Taylor stood up and unbuttoned his shirt. Last night's dream came close to the knife episode. They were in a tree, on a cliff, sitting on one of the oversized branches that overlooked the ocean below.

part iv

[Cat. #488-HANSONJT]
THERAPIST:  And did you push her into the water?
PATIENT:  No. It's too uncreative... She would've guessed it if I did that. Christina was... well, she was really sharp.
THERAPIST:  So what did you do?
PATIENT:  I pushed her away.

It was gruesome. Even after what he had witnessed first hand with Becky and the knife. It was just a dream. He didn't expect there to be so much blood. And certainly not for so long. Why didn't she wake up?

The dream had backfired. After the girl landed, impaled on broken wood, the blood seemed to flow ceaselessly out of her. It flowed ungraciously over the cliff and colored the waters a deep red. Red makes everything beautiful. And it was true. The water was beautiful. Beautiful, but sickening. Looking down at it, it nauseated him, but he was too compelled to look away. It was as if the water had come to life after blending with her lifeblood. There was life in that water. And it was rising to meet him.

Finally snapping out of it, he willed himself out of her dream and back into the watchtower, where he sat, observing.

Even now, he could still remember it, though. It was red. It was beautiful. It was the color of her lips, as she stood opposite him now, her mouth slightly open, waiting for his kiss.

He leaned her against the window and cornered her. Just before he could feel her breath, in one twist of his hand, the window fell open.

Taylor raised an eyebrow, watching her plummet the three storeys to the ground. She landed with a thud on the concrete below.

[Cat. #488-HANSONJT]
PATIENT:  It matched the rhythm of the base. The thud was in time. I thought it was pretty cool.
THERAPIST:  You thought it was cool-?
PATIENT:  Then. I thought it was cool then...
THERAPIST:  And now?
PATIENT:  And now it kinda... I dunno... It's just kinda freaky. Now you see why no one thinks I'm telling the truth?
THERAPIST:  Taylor, if what I'm hearing is the truth, then there's still more for me to hear... Am I right in assuming so?
PATIENT:  Oh, yes...
THERAPIST:  Do you want to continue?
THERAPIST:  We can call it a night, if you want. We can continue tomorrow.
PATIENT:  Yeah. Tomorrow... That's fine.
THERAPIST:  Get some rest. You've had a long day.

He felt energized. He didn't need to rest. The fact that he had unintentionally synchronized the thud of her fall with the thud of the music was satisfying. He wanted to move onto the next dream, or even the next person, but he wasn't done with Christina yet, and she wouldn't sleep for another 24 hours or so.

But time seemed to fly by when he was in the watchtower. There was a man in there, who called himself Bengal. He wasn't around often, though, but when he was, Taylor enjoyed himself. All the kinky pleasures that occupied his mind when the job was done, echoed throughout his body whenever Bengal was around. The man's philosophy made him smile. It was like a microphone for his mind.

"Do you consider this fun?" Bengal asked him, during that observation period.

Taylor shrugged, "Fun in a sense. Why? Do you?"

"I don't do it any more." Bengal took a sip of his Martini.

"Why not?"

"Why do you do it?"

"I dunno... It's just something different. It feels like I can just make fun of whatever situation I'm in, coz when the girl wakes up, it's all over."

"And you find that fun?"

"Well, I don't normally get to do that, y'know."

"No one does... You know, you should consider yourself lucky, Taylor."

"I do."

"Because a lot of people don't get to be at this point."

Something in the way Bengal phrased "point" made it seem like there was more to what he was saying. Taylor didn't really feel like caring, but he couldn't resist asking. "What do you mean?"

"You've got a lot of power here, son. A lot of power."

"No, I don't."

"Yes, you do. Whenever you have the opportunity to decide something, you are handed a lot of power over these girls."

"Thanks for not putting any pressure on me," Taylor shook his head, a sarcastic smile on his face.

"Hey, just as long as you know what you're doing... It's a dangerous game."

The smile left his face. He knew a warning when he heard one. Was Bengal threatening him? "What do you mean?" he asked.

"I'm not implying anything, Taylor," Bengal replied, setting the glass down on the bar. "I just wanna give you some advice. You willing to listen to some advice from an old player?"

Taylor glanced out the window, over the balcony. Christina was climbing into bed. He stood up. "Yeah sure, but make it fast, OK? I gotta go."

"You've got a lot of power and not enough people to use it on. Now, I know you have a whole world of girls out there to play with, but be careful what you do everytime you get the chance to do something. You understand what I mean, Taylor? You could have a good thing going, here. Don't screw it up." Bengal put on his jacket and lit up a cigar. "You can get out now," he said, getting ready to leave. "Don't play with something you can't handle, kiddo. I'll see you around."

[Cat. #489-HANSONJT]
THERAPIST:  You saw it as a warning?
PATIENT:  You should know something about that guy... He's senile. He's literally senile as a- a- a goat. He didn't have the faintest idea what he was talking about... He was one of those Godfather-Sam-Spade-Casablanca-type guys. He liked being overdramatic.
THERAPIST:  Did he influence you in any way, at all? Any way whatsoever?
THERAPIST:  So why did you feel the need to include him in your recount?
PATIENT:  Well... Well, he was just a real character. And I just realized that I haven't mentioned him at all... He's cool, but he can be a pain when he wants to be... What are you writing? Y'know I don't understand why you need to write this stuff down. You have a tape.
THERAPIST:  The tape is just to complement my notes, Taylor. If I'm gonna help you, then this will help me do that.
PATIENT:  Why do you wanna help me? They're not gonna let me out of here, even though I'm sane.
THERAPIST:  Why don't you just tell me about the third dream?

part v

She never seemed to wake up whenever he expected her to. He would have assumed that nothing could scare her, had he not watched her while she was awake. In her living time, she was a private person. And since she never voiced herself, her subconscious screamed much louder than a normal person's would. Taylor had no trouble reading her thoughts.

She was scared. Two nightmares in a row. She never seemed to wake up whenever she wanted to. Her waking process was gradual. Because of it, virtual death was no stranger to her. But the icon she turned to for a sanctity that fed her longing was now turning against her. It scared her. It scared her where the heavy bassline wouldn't dare to venture.

One more night could break her.

[Cat. #489-HANSONJT]
THERAPIST:  And it broke her?
PATIENT:  It broke her... No need for applause now.
THERAPIST:  What was the scenario?
PATIENT:  "Urban jungle". That's what she called it. She was cuffed to a traffic light and I was supposed to save her. There was no traffic around, so I created my own.

She stood defiantly as the car drew closer. Taylor rolled his eyes. She was playing with him. She was still afraid, but she didn't back down. She knew it was a dream. It worked to his advantage. Her "light" was trying to destroy her. Her mind was screwing with her. Her dreams were turning sour. It would all be over soon.

No bassline this time. Just a car on the road, heading for her. It was so easy that it was almost perverse.

Fan #2 was pathetic. She could wake up if she wanted to. No person could be in this deep a state of sleep. No. She didn't enjoy this, but she was too spineless do anything about it. This nightmare would be both a punishment and a blessing. And it would be delivered by Taylor's hands.

His hands; they gripped the steering wheel. In a second, it would all be over. The Christina in the dream was strong and willful. The real Christina's waking thoughts were trembling on the edge.

Maybe he didn't need a car to push her over. It'd be a waste of energy, a waste of power. He could stop the car and simply slap her.

Too late. Impact passed.

Now, he got out. He walked around to where the lifeless body lay, the rich, red esscence spilling out of her, lubricating the way for her already crippled organs to come sliding out.

This was gruesome.

[Cat. #489-HANSONJT]
PATIENT:  But what?
THERAPIST:  You weren't having second thoughts after seeing Christina's images?
PATIENT:  What do you mean? Her dreams?
THERAPIST:  Yes, her dreams. You said yourself that they were gruesome. Did that change your views about Lucy's game, at all?
PATIENT:  Hell, yeah! What do you think I am? Made of stone or something? Of course it changed my views. But it just felt good. It felt great, actually. It was really gross, but afterwards, it was just... amazing. It felt really cool to be able to get to someone like that.

It was simply the same scenario over and over again, yet she never seemed to get sick of it. It was fun for the first two or three times, but after that, it was like watching a re-run of a quiz show. He knew all the questions and he knew all the answers. There was nothing to discover. It was low-budget, low-quality, over-conventional under-the-covers stuff. He chose to watch her because his already doubtable regard of his morals needed a period of cleanliness, but Fan #4 was just plain obsessed with her lame idea of imagination.

Taylor didn't later decide to target her for that purpose. Oh, no. There was just something about her dependence on familiarity that irked him. She would be a challenge. The routine ones were the most stable. Supposedly, that is. He thought that Christina would be stable.

Three dreams. He laughed at how she crumbled after three sleeping dreams.

And the one after her was a hyperactive, neuromanic atom. Two very effortless attempts turned her onto fantasizing about Nick Carter, of the Backstreet Boys. It didn't bother Taylor. She was Nick's problem now.

Fan #4 would be hard. But he would succeed. He always had, so far.

part vi

[Cat. #489-HANSONJT]
THERAPIST:  I want to talk about your... your moments.
PATIENT:  You mean insane time?
THERAPIST:  I'd rather refer to them as your "moments". I know you've been having them for a while now. When exactly did you start having them?
PATIENT:  I dunno. Seems like I've always had them, y'know?
THERAPIST:  According to your folder, you started a few months ago. Can you tell me what could have caused them?
PATIENT:  I dunno. What are you talking about?
THERAPIST:  A few months ago, you woke up one morning and started to scream incoherencies while running around the house, dressed in nothing but your underwear. When your family tried to restrain you, you picked up a meat cleaver and threatened them with it before continuing your proclaimations out in the street... Does any of this sound familiar to you, Taylor?
PATIENT:  I- I... Wow... I did all that? You've got that all written down?
THERAPIST:  Your first psychological consultant sent me a copy of his first meeting with your parents.
PATIENT:  Can- can I have a look?
THERAPIST:  I'm afraid I didn't bring your file with me, but I have some notes... Taylor, do you have any idea what started this? When did it happen?
PATIENT:  I don't... I- I don't remember- know. I don't know.
THERAPIST:  How many... girls-
PATIENT:  Fans... There were a few.
THERAPIST:  How many?
PATIENT:  A few. I don't know. I didn't keep count... What? I said I don't know!
THERAPIST:  It's all right.
PATIENT:  Six... There were six.
THERAPIST:  Pardon me?
PATIENT:  There were six... Six girls.
THERAPIST:  Did you take any time to watch them-?
PATIENT:  Yeah, I was watching them all the time.
THERAPIST:  I meant on a personal level. Do you remember their names? What they looked like? Anything about them?
PATIENT:  Yeah, kinda... Fan Number 1... Her name was Becky Marchand. She was blonde, cute... Fan Number 2 was Christina. She was the bassline girl. Number 3 was Lisa. I think she was, like, Chinese or something. Or Japanese, or whatever. 4 was the dull one...
THERAPIST:  Do you remember her name?
THERAPIST:  How long before you broke her?
PATIENT:  She took a lot of work.
THERAPIST:  But you succeeded?
PATIENT:  Eventually. Lucy helped.
PATIENT:  I dunno... I think she helped. She gave me another gift - the knife was the first one... I used the second gift to break 4... I guess it means I did it, huh?
THERAPIST:  Do you think so?... Keep going.
PATIENT:  Number 5 was fun. She was easy. She liked to work late at night, so when she was in school, she only had, like, an hour's sleep. When she snapped, everyone was saying it was the stress that got to her...
THERAPIST:  Is there anything else?
PATIENT:  Number 6 got to me. She broke me...

Faye seemed to know what she was doing. Who knew? Maybe Bengal forewarned her. If he had another chance, he would do away with Bengal.

Or maybe Lucy told her what to do. He never really liked Lucy anyway. She was a freak. She suckered him into this game. He was happy reading Tolkien's The Hobbit. Lucy was a bitch. Lucy was the one to blame for Faye breaking him. Lucy was the devil... Lucy The Devil.

[Cat. #489-HANSONJT]
PATIENT:  Lucy must've told her what to do... Everything I did with Faye backfired. It was just gruesome.

He let go of the dagger, but it twisted on its own. Slowly at first, but then it speeded up. In less than thirty fleeting seconds, Faye's body had been minced by the persistent blade.

Taylor blinked in disbelief, but the image of the weapon coming to life was too hard to shake. There was no arguing against it - it was now its own being. Its advances devoured the girl's body, but it was thirsty for more bloodspill.

But there was no one else around to bleed.

No one but Taylor.

[Cat. #490-HANSONJT]
THERAPIST:  And you broke?
PATIENT:  No. Not then... Could you turn the airconditionning up? It's kinda hot in here.
PATIENT:  Thanks.
THERAPIST:  Keep going, Taylor. Don't stop.

part vii

Last night was a minor setback. He could afford those. And they weren't real... right?

Tonight would be his game. All that Fan #6 managed to accomplish was getting him on the ball. And now that he was, she would go down. He was the champion. She was the challenger. She had no right to try to steal his title. It was his claim. He knew the stakes, he knew the odds, he knew the ring. He would break her.

They sat opposite each other in the treehouse. There was an unspoken understanding between them now. They were adversaries. They were opponents. They were enemies. This was a game he was intent on winning.

"It's your move," she murmured, her eyes locked onto his in an electrostatic fixation. She picked up the dice and deposited it in his hand, pressing them down onto his palm, allowing the sparks to fly as her fingertips grazed his wrist. She was good, he had to admit. But she was unsuspecting. As far as he solidly knew, Faye had no idea of what he was doing. She was just another fan with just another fantasy and a lot of luck.

This was a waking dream. She had an advantage: conscious control. But she could lose it at any time.

Taylor stared at her, pulling her deeper into his stare. Once she was in, he pounced on her like an animal, touching her where she wanted to be touched.

[Cat. #489-HANSONJT]
PATIENT:  Then she snapped out of it.
THERAPIST:  What do you mean?
PATIENT:  She woke up. Just a few minutes before I was ready to end her dream, she ended it.
PATIENT:  I was losing control. I knew that, and it bugged the shit out of me. I mean, by then, I was used to playing with whoever I wanted to, and on my terms. But I couldn't fuck with Faye. She knew what she was doing.
THERAPIST:  And she broke you then?
PATIENT:  Not then. The third one. I broke after three... I think that's what Bengal meant when he said that there was a lot of power, but not enough people to use it on. It just keeps building and building and building and then boom.
PATIENT:  Boom, it's over.

He woke up screaming. He didn't know what he was saying, but he knew that if he didn't say something, it would come again. It was all clear in his mind and he could see it all around him. He could feel the heat, the fire, burning, pain, it hurt. It was nowhere, it was everywhere. It was inside him, he could see it, he could feel it. It closed in, it threatened to burst out of him. He couldn't breathe. Where was the air? Why couldn't he breathe? This was only a dream, right? It was only a dream. Only a dream.

"God, Walker, he's burning up... Oh, God, what's happening? His temperature's gone down!"

Who's there? Who said that?

"Tay? Taylor, can you hear me?"

Who's Taylor? I'm Taylor. I'm Taylor.

"I- I can't understand what he's saying."

"Mom, what's wrong with Tay?"

I'm Tay.

"Nothing. He's fine. He's just- he's just... he's-"

"It's OK, Mackie, just go play, all right? He's gonna be fine. Tay's gonna be fine."

"I'm calling a doctor."

"Shit, Walker, his temperature's up again!"


"Ike, go call a doctor!"


"Not now, Zac! Ike, go call a doctor!"

Like a blade through flesh, a single, dominating voice cut through the frenzy, "Taylor, are you there?"


"You disappointed me, Taylor. You said this was your kind of game. I thought you'd win."

You never told me I stood the chance of losing.

"You never asked."


"You never asked, Taylor. All you had to do was ask. Plain and simple."

Lucy, you gotta help me. I can't stand this! It hurts! It hurts, Lucy!

"I'll help you. Just hang in there."

[Cat. #490-HANSONJT]
PATIENT:  And that's it. "Just hang in there," she said.
PATIENT:  And she hasn't come to help me.
THERAPIST:  Taylor, I don't know what I can say. Everything you've told me... You seem very sure of it-
PATIENT:  That's because I am sure of it, dammit! It happened! It really did! But no one believes me! They think I'm insane! They're gonna lock me away!
THERAPIST:  It's all right-
PATIENT:  And it still hurts!
THERAPIST:  It hurts...
PATIENT:  I can live with it, but I'm going crazy... Just, please... Talk to the other doctors, talk to my parents, talk to Goddamn Lucy! I just need to get out of here. If I stay here, I'll go crazy! There's no way out, it feels like I'm trapped here. Oh shit, I can't leave... What if she gets me? What if Faye comes to get me? What if Lucy's got something planned? Shit! I can't sleep at night any more. Did you know that? She's gonna come get me.
THERAPIST:  It's all right, Taylor... I'm going to give you a shot, all right?
PATIENT:  No! You're not injecting me with that! You're gonna sedate me! She's gonna come get me! I can't fall asleep!
THERAPIST:  Taylor, sit down! No one is coming to get you, OK? Now, this shot is just going to calm you down, all right?... All right... It won't hurt much. You know how a shot feels. Just count to three and it'll be over.
PATIENT:  You'll get me out of here, right?... Right?
THERAPIST:  No one's coming to get you, Taylor... There... You'll be all right. Just lie down... close your eyes... get some rest.
PATIENT:  Thanks. Thank you-

Therapist walked out and shut the door behind her. He was asleep. He was fine for now. She walked to her office and set her things down on her secretary's desk. Secretary looked up, tucking a lock of her ginger hair behind her ear. She adjusted her gold wire-rimmed glasses on her nose and smiled.

"The Hanson record?" she presumed, taking the tape out of the recorder.

Therapist nodded, "Catalogue them and send them to my place. Destroy the backup copies."

Secretary sighed. "He had good intentions," she commented, referring to Patient.

"Good for himself. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions."

Secretary nodded. "And the report?"

"Clinically insane... Good job, Faye."