|The Taylight Zone - Anthology Three
13 - Sleepwalker - Andrea
Zac Hanson sighed. He needed sleep. The past four months, being filled with consistent touring and even more consistent high-pitched screams, had been exhausting for his 12-year-old-almost-13 body. He rolled over onto his side and looked around the room. He sighed again, this time even deeper. The house felt so new to him; he missed the old familiar house in Tulsa where he'd lived most of his short life. But in actuality, it wasn't new, really, considering his family had bought the house outside Tulsa in April and it was now late September. But considering he'd only stayed in the house for about a week, it still felt new. Boxes full of his stuff littered his room, still packed away. He thought to himself how no matter where he goes now, he's always living out of a box. Or suitcase. Whatever. Agitated, he rolled onto his back and stared at the glow-in-the-dark stars on his ceiling. Feeling sleep finally approach him, he barely even noticed as his eyes closed and his mind floated swiftly, sweetly away.
"Where's the mirror….the wall-sized mirror, where is it..the drawings, the garage…."
Isaac Hanson suddenly sat up in bed, looking around bewilderedly for the source of what woke him. He saw nothing that could have caused his awake, nothing fallen or broken. Shrugging his shoulders, he pulled himself out of bed to go relieve himself. Entering the darkened hallway, he stopped short when he saw a shadowy figure descending the stairs. Isaac called out, "Hey, who is that and what's wrong?", but received no answer. Calling again, and walking toward the figure, he lay his hand on the person he'd now identified as Zac.
"Zac! Hello, Zac! Zaa-aac! Please come back to reality, we'd enjoy having you here.." Isaac trailed of to the seemingly-obstinate 12-year-old. Still no response. Quickly passing Zac on the dimly-lit stairs, Isaac walked in front of him to block his path. Grabbing Zac's shoulders, he looked Zac in the eyes and was taken aback at what he saw. Zac's eyes looked, if you could even use that word, down to nothing. His eyes seemed to be dead, but his body was functioning like a fully awake person. Suddenly it clicked in Isaac's head and he half-laughed at his own stupidity.
"He's sleepwalking, dammit! I must get a little stupid in the night or something, any idiot could have figured that out." Then Isaac noticed that Zac was still trying to walk down the stairs, pushing against Isaac's chest.
"Hello…we love you all…have to go, can't stop, let me through…Jason.."
Isaac backed off Zac and Zac continued his path down the staircase. Remembering that you're not supposed to wake a sleepwalker or else they might go a little loony, or something like that, Isaac merely followed as Zac went about his merry way. Zac entered the kitchen and proceed to the fridge. Opening the door and reaching in to a space where there was nothing, Zac felt around the nearly empty refrigerator and mumbled questions about the Clearly Canadians. Isaac looked on, quietly laughing, wondering what the heck Zac was talking about. Suddenly, he remembered then about how their mom always kept a stock of the sparkling-water drinks in the very space Zac was reaching at. A wave of homesickness washed over Isaac, looking at Zac feeling around for something when there was nothing. No one really talked about 'the MOE headquarters,' as Isaac silently, sarcastically called it. He missed his house, he missed the garage, he missed the music room, he even missed the room all three of the brothers had shared. Which he never ever thought he would. Sure they had a nice new big house now, with lots of rooms and cool stuff, but he would have taken the old house back for all of it. Having to move partly because his parents wanted to and partly because of the camping fans in the yard, he thought with remorse about the fans. He loved the fans, he appreciated them more than either Taylor or Zac, but when they scream constantly while you're trying to play your music and stay on your front lawn for days, you just want to get away to somewhere.
Suddenly, Isaac realized Zac was no longer in the kitchen. "Shit.." he muttered as he whirled around to go search for him. Looking around the living room, the family room, and even the garage, Isaac bounded up the stairs and searched around the rooms up there. Entering Zac's room, he sighed to find an angelic looking face breathing slowly and his small body curled into a ball. Wondering whether or not he'd even seen Zac sleepwalk, he headed back to his room. He needed sleep.
Zac woke up to the sun shining brightly into his room. Sitting up, he stretched his arms and yawned hugely. He had had one of the deepest sleeps he'd ever had in his life, and it felt wonderful. Staring out at the new day for a minute, he got up heading for his closet. He opened the door and looked inside to find only a few outfits, and not a great selection, at that. He muttered an "Ugh…" before going to his dresser and taking out a pair of Umbros and an old T-shirt. Leaving his room and entering the bathroom, he splashed water on his face, brushed his hair, and ran down the stairs to the smell of bacon and eggs, oblivious to the events during the night.
That night, Isaac washed his face and brushed his teeth in the bathroom that the three older brothers shared.
"Isaac! Hurry up in there! I want to get to bed, I'm tired!" a voice from outside called.
"Taylor, shut up," Isaac said disgustedly. "Wait your turn."
A very audible sigh was heard from outside the door.
Ten minutes later, Isaac emerged and found Taylor sitting down against the wall, looking at the ceiling, waiting.
"Your turn, Taylor," he said mockingly, teasing.
"Thank you SO much, Isaac. Much appreciated." Isaac smirked for a second, but then his face changed to a look of contemplation.
"Leave me alone, I get my bathroom time now."
"Have you ever seen Zac sleepwalk?"
Taylor, in the midst of brushing his teeth, laughed so that toothpaste sprayed onto the mirror. Looking at his toothpaste-flecked self in the glass, he turned to Isaac and said, "Sleepwalk?" Taylor laughed again. "Zac doesn't sleepwalk."
"How do you know?" Isaac queried. "You don't know either way."
"He never sleepwalked in the old house. I would have heard."
"I know, I know. Never mind. I'm going to sleep."
Taylor shrugged, turning back to the sink. He grabbed a towel and wiped the toothpaste- flecks off the mirror.
Three hours later, Zac was dead as a doornail down the hall. He breathed very slowly, and he seemed to be fixated in one place; he wasn't tossing or turning at all. He looked so peaceful…all of a sudden, he sat up in bed. Grabbing his robe on the end of the bed, he stood up and walked out of the room. Silent tonight, he headed down the stairs. Going to the kitchen, he opened the refrigerator and pulled out jars of peanut butter and jelly. Taking the loaf of bread his mother had just baked that night, still warm, he pulled a large butcher knife out of the knife block and began making his sandwich.
"Isaac! Taylor! Zac! Get down here!"
The three boys stirred in their respective rooms.
"Isaac!!Taylor, Zac! Wake up!"
They slightly opened their eyes.
That woke them up pretty quick. The three rushed down the stairs and entered the kitchen, finding their parents waiting for them.
"Is this some kind of joke?" Walker asked harshly.
The boys looked around the room for any signs of a 'joke.'
"Here!!" He pointed to the island in the middle of the room, on which a peanut butter and jelly sandwich was perfectly made. And it was splattered with blood. Next to it a butcher knife lay, also with a small amount of blood on it.
The boys' noses wrinkled and walked over to look closer. "Gross.." Taylor breathed.
"Did one of you get up during the night and do this?" The three looked to one another, and all shook their heads.
"I want to know who did this, now." Walker said, calming down slightly, but still angry and confused. It's not just any day that a bloody PB & J shows up on your kitchen counter.
Zac reached out to touch the sandwich. On contact, his hand pulled back. He looked at his forefinger. A large, glaring, relatively fresh cut stared back at him. He stared in shock, knowing that he didn't make that sandwich and get that butcher knife out and splatter it with blood. That was sick, gross. But what about the cut, then? He fingered it gingerly, wincing. It was a pretty deep cut, and it hurt.
Walker sighed. "I'm too tired to do anything about this. Seeing as you three are being obstinate, I'll just let this go. But this is a warning. This kind of joke is not funny."
The boys turned around and walked slowly back upstairs.
Zac changed into his boxers and headed for the bathroom. Finding it occupied, he pounded and called out, not unlike from Taylor's display the night before. Getting about the same response Taylor did, Zac sat, waiting.
When Isaac opened the door, Zac stood up hurriedly.
"It's about time, Chewy," Zac muttered.
"I thought I told you not to call me that," Isaac said, exasperated.
"Oh, okay, I'm sorry. Chewy." Zac grinned. Just before he could close the door, Isaac pushed it back open again.
"It was you who did that little stunt down there this morning, wasn't it?" Isaac asked.
"What the hell are you talking about, Ike? I didn't do anything!"
Isaac grabbed Zac's wrist. "How do you explain the cut, then? Tell me that!"
"I- I don't know how it got there. I just woke up and it was there."
"That's a likely story."
"I swear, Ike! I wouldn't do something like that! That's sick!" His eyes implored Isaac.
Isaac looked at Zac, and not seeing the familiar mischievous glint in his eyes, decided Zac was telling the truth. "Okay. Fine. But lock your door tonight."
"What? What the hell for?"
"I- I think you've been sleepwalking. I saw you one night; followed you for a good twenty minutes. You might have been sleeping when you did that sandwich deal last night."
"Isaac, whoa, whoa. I do not sleepwalk. You must have been dreaming or something, but I don't. I didn't do the sandwich. I must have cut myself on a piece of metal on my bed or something. Just go to sleep and keep your stupid ideas to yourself." Zac pushed past Isaac and entered his room, shutting the door.
Isaac sighed. 'No need to get all defensive or anything,' he thought. He laughed at how Zac waited for his turn in the bathroom and when he finally got it, he walked off. He was so stupid sometimes.
Suddenly Isaac's thoughts were silenced as he heard the soft click of a lock. He smiled to himself, and went to bed.
An uneventful night passed, with Zac decidedly finding the door still shut and locked, untouched. He didn't want to lock the door the night before, but he was a tad bit curious. His curiosities were silenced, and he headed down to breakfast, convinced he was not a sleepwalker.
A day and night passed, and again the boys were waken by the melodious sound of their father's voice.
"BOYS!! GET DOWN HERE THIS INSTANT!"
Diana and Walker heard much scuffling around upstairs, and soon enough were greeted by their three sons bounding down the stairs. The three themselves were greeted with a wrecked living room and two very angry parents.
"What..happened?" Taylor breathed.
"Oh, I'm sure one of you knows very very well what happened. Or maybe two, or all three of you. I don't know what the HELL you guys were thinking, but I don't find it funny when I come downstairs in the morning only to find the living room absolutely ruined. Lamps smashed, pictures broken. Everything's ruined, and I don't find it funny. Not one bit. And I expect to hear some answers. NOW."
The three looked to each other, searching for words but none coming out. The boys were just as clueless as their parents- except for Isaac. He took a breath, and spoke up.
"Dad?" he asked very timidly.
"What." His dad replied.
"Zac's been sleepwalking. I've only seen him one night, he came down here and was searching for a Clearly Canadian in the place they were at the old house. But, do you think while Zac was sleepwalking he did this?"
"No you don't, Isaac! You're NOT going to pin the blame on me! Just because of your crazy-ass notions you're not going to blame all this on me. I don't sleepwalk! I swear, I'd know if I did! I didn't do this! And you SURE as hell's not going to make everyone think I did!"
Isaac was taken aback at Zac. He didn't expect him to respond like that. Walker, however, was getting even angrier.
"Zac, watch your mouth, goddammit! And there will be absolutely no fighting until we get this straightened out! Isaac, I really don't think that Zac was sleepwalking. A nice try on pinning the blame, but no. Someone would have heard him, don't you think? I mean, honestly Isaac, everything's smashed. Someone would have heard."
"But Dad, you and mom are on the third floor, you wouldn't hear. And me and Tay sleep at the other end of the house, on the second floor, with our doors shut! There's a chance we wouldn't hear."
"Isaac, I told you. I don't believe Zac was sleepwalking."
"No buts! Since no one's going to speak up- for themselves, and themselves only- you three can spend today cleaning this up. And you boys can also pay for it."
One large sigh emitted from the three, and looks of despair formed on their faces.
"Go upstairs, get dressed, and come back down here again. After breakfast you can start."
No buts were heard.
Zac was tired. He'd been sleeping like a rock the past few nights, and he was still tired. Probably because he had had to clean the living room for the past three hours. He was so mad at Isaac for trying something like that. He knew he didn't sleepwalk. The door had still been locked the night before last, that was his test. And he'd passed. He didn't know what Isaac had been trying to pull, but he didn't like it, not one bit.
He sighed. He was on his computer, surfing around the Internet, but his mind was hardly on the Web. He was still upset about this house. Every corner was unfamiliar to him, he didn't feel comfortable here. Yesterday they'd gone over to the old house, now labeled the MOE headquarters, and he got so homesick he literally felt sick. At least, he thought to himself, at least we didn't sell it. That would have been hell.
He was recovering from the tour. He felt pretty rested now, and not having had contact with the fans the past couple of days, he didn't resent them as much. He was even beginning to enjoy them again, like Isaac and Taylor did. Getting a sudden burst of fun in him, he went to Yahoo! and typed in 'Zac Hanson.' A list of sites popped up, and he grinned as he clicked on Zac Shack.
"Oh, shit…" Zac mumbled as he looked out the window. Someone had found them. They had campers.
Zac ran downstairs, yelling for Walker.
"Zac, what is it?"
"They found us. They're out there now. Setting up camp." Zac sighed.
Walker's eyes downcast for a minute, then returned to look at Zac. "Zac, you knew it was going to happen. We can't go into hiding. No matter what, someone's going to find us. Just let them go."
"But then they'll tell other people, who'll tell other people, who'll tell other people, and soon it'll be exactly like before!" Zac cried, exasperated.
"We're protected by law now. If they come up to a certain point, they can be prosecuted. It's clearly stated on the signs."
"Yeah, but still…" Zac trailed off.
"Zac. You're famous. Deal with it."
Zac stormed up to his room, mad as hell. He didn't want them staying there. He felt invaded. He wasn't even allowed to look out the window. He had lost his privacy the minute Mmmbop had aired on the radio, and he hadn't gotten it back since. He hated it.
He stomped around his room, sighing every few steps. He roughly opened an unpacked box and began to unload it. Tossing stuff he took out of the box behind him, after about ten minutes he got tired of unpacking. And curious about the girls out on the lawn. Turning off the light and creeping slowly to the window, he got down as low as he could so as not to be seen. Reaching the window, he pulled back the curtain slightly and looked out. A flashlight was on in the tent, and being waved around violently. That stopped and little hand animals appeared on the nylon of the tent. Resounding giggles could be heard clearly. A couple minutes passed, and Zac was starting to get bored. All of a sudden, one girl left the tent and Zac, gasping, pulled back from the window. After about five minutes, Zac slowly pulled the curtain back again. His face curled in disgust as he saw what she had put there, and he left the window. As a flashlight shone on a sign stuck in the yard that proclaimed: "I LOVE YOU ZAC!!! PLEASE BEAR MY CHILDREN!", Zac no longer was feeling happy toward the fans.
Zac's reading lamp dimly lit the room, illuminating a sleeping Zac with a book laying open on his chest. The book rose and fell, rose and fell, catching Zac's every breath. Suddenly the book fell to his side as Zac sat up, looking strangely angry. He roughly put on his robe and slippers, and headed out his room and down the stairs as he had many nights before. Going to the kitchen, he went straight for the knife block, pulling out the sharp butcher knife he'd used for the pb & j. But this time, it wasn't for a sandwich. Not at all.
Mumbling incoherently about privacy and marriage proposals, he stormed through the living room. Opening the front door and going outside, he left the door standing wide open as he headed for the tent encamped on his front yard.
Isaac suddenly sat up in bed, like he had that very first night. Something was wrong, something was terribly wrong. He hurriedly got out of his tangled sheets and pulled on a pair of jeans. Running out his door, he ran down the stairs and saw the open door. He drew in a breath. Something was wrong.
He ran out the door and looked around. He only saw the tent, where those stupid fans were staying…the fans. He ran to the tent, but before he could open the flap he was stopped in his tracks. He just stood and stared in horror at the sign laying on the lawn. It had once proclaimed it's love for Zac, but it was now splattered with blood spots and a large, jagged "NO" written in blood. Isaac was broken from his trance at the figure leaving the tent. "Zac?"
Isaac ran to Zac, turning him around. He did not stop, just like before, just kept walking, but this time there was a difference- the bloodied butcher knife in his hand. Isaac drew in a horrified breath and whirled around to the tent, not wanting to look inside. Slowly, slowly, Isaac drew the tent flap back and immediately turned back around. His stomach churned violently and he leaned over to vomit. Turning back, he stared in horror, tears filling his eyes. The three pre-teen girls had been sliced, stabbed, cut open, every which way. They didn't even look human. They had been turned inside-out, and this had been done by his brother. Tears streaking his face, he turned away from the stench of blood and insides and ran inside.
"Zaac!! ZAAC!!! You murderer! You fucking goddamn murderer!!! You- KILLED them!" Isaac cried out between sobs.
Walker and Diana rushed down the stairs.
"Isaac! Isaac, calm down! What's wrong? Who's killed? Isaac!"
Isaac had pushed past them and up the stairs to the second floor. He stormed Zac's door, waking the blood-stained 12-year-old.
"Zac! You killed them!! You goddamn killed them!"
Zac stared wide-eyed, frightened, at Isaac "What are you talking about? I didn't kill anyone! What are you talking about?!"
Isaac stood before him, looking like a madman. "Look at your clothes! Your clothes…" He collapsed on the floor, sobbing.
Zac looked down in horror at his shirt and boxers, decorated with fresh blood. He choked back a sob. "I didn't do anything! I didn't do anything! I don't know where his came from!" His eyes darted back and forth, wild with innocence.
"The front yard…the tent..the girls…oh, God!" He broke down again. Diana, Walker, and Taylor ran out the room, for the tent. The younger kids stood in the door, frightened beyond words. Upstairs on the third floor, ZoŽ was bawling. Isaac sat on the floor sobbing; Zac sat on his bed crying silent tears, in total confusion. A few minutes passed before the three who went outside returned, Taylor and Diana in tears as well, and Walker stunned. They re-entered Zac's room.
"Zac didn't do that, Isaac. He couldn't have," Taylor choked out.
"But- I saw him…he left the tent, there was no one else…"
Walker, still stunned, said dazedly, "We'll have to call the police."
The guard shoved Zac into the small room. "This is going to be your room until you're 18. Learn to love it," he sneered, and then he was gone.
Zac was tired, so tired. He barely even acknowledged the other boy staying in the room. He didn't look very acknowledgeable anyway. Zac just went to the bed and slowly lay down. The court had declared him mentally unstable and laughed in his face at his sleepwalking plea. It had to have been what it was, he didn't remember anything, anything at all. There had been bloodstains on him and the knife had his fingerprints on it. He felt tears welling up in his eyes. He had seen what he had done. He felt so awful for the girls; he should have never resented them. He felt sick any time he thought about it. He drew in a shaky breath and sighed. He needed sleep.