|The Taylight Zone - Anthology Three
16 - The Other Side - Kaylin
The Tulsa street was quiet; picturesque. Birds chirped happily in the trees as the sun poured down like a golden rain. Everything was beautiful.
But then the birds stopped singing. Static electricity filled the air. A bolt of lightning shot through the sky, ripping a hole in thin air as it did so.
A man stepped through the hole, clad in a long black robe and a cloth mask that covered his face. As soon as he stepped through it, it closed.
A house stood before him. Without hesitation, he started for it.
“You’re going out again tonight?” Isaac demanded of his younger brother.
Taylor grinned, blue eyes flashing. “Yeah,” he said. “This girl is, like, really hot, Ike. And, she’s, like, seventeen. It’s great!”
“Shouldn’t you go out with girls your age?” Isaac asked. “Not mine?” He paused. “Didn’t you say that girl was fifteen, anyway?”
Tay shook his head. “That was yesterday’s girl,” he said casually, grinning again.
Ike shook his head. “You’re terrible, you know that?”
There was a knock at the door. Neither Taylor nor Isaac made a move for it. “Zac!” they chorused.
“I’m getting it, I’m getting it,” Zac muttered from the living room. A moment later, they heard the door open and then Zac’s voice. “Uh, guys . . . You might want to come over here . . .”
Groaning, Isaac and Taylor walked out of the kitchen. Zac was standing at the door, gaping at the person on the doorstep. He hadn’t opened the door that far, so Isaac and Taylor had to come right behind him to see who was there.
Tay narrowed his eyes questioningly. “Can we help you?” he asked.
The person at the door was clad in a black robe with a black piece of cloth hiding his face. “No,” the person said. It was a man. “But I can help you.”
“Sure,” Taylor snorted. He went to close the door when the man grabbed his hand. It wasn’t a rough hold, but he froze nonetheless. There was a flash of light before his eyes, and then pictures. The pictures began running together, forming something like a movie in his mind . . .
. . . He was in bed, naked. A girl with long brown hair was with him. He recognized her as “yesterday’s girl”. What had her name been, anyway? Suddenly, the picture changed. Another girl too the first one’s place. She had short cinnamon-colored hair. He didn’t recognize her. He didn’t have time to recognize her. Another girl took her place; a blond.
Girl after girl morphed into the bed with Taylor. He was having sex with each one of them, gradually aging into what seemed to be his later teens. He stood there, stupefied, staring into the images.
Suddenly, the entire scene changed. His older self was standing in the living room, staring blankly at his mother as she clutched a phone close to her ear. His mother began to cry as she hung the phone up.
“The tests were positive,” she whispered to her husband, not able to look her son in the face. “He’s HIV positive, Walker.”
Taylor watched as his own jaw dropped. His older self crossed over to his mother and placed a hand on her shoulder. She pulled away. “Don’t you even!” she cried, shoving him backward by the shoulders. “After what you’ve done, don’t even! Do you have any idea what you’re doing to this family? To Zac? To Jessica and Avery and Mackenzie and ZoŽ? Your fans? God, Taylor.”
The older Taylor’s lip quivered. “I’m sorry, Mom,” he whispered.
“Tell that to your brothers,” she snapped. “Tell it to Isaac -”
Taylor pulled his arm away from the man’s grasp. Dumb struck, he stared at him. “What . . . what . . . I . . .” he stammered. “Who are you?”
Only seconds had lapsed for Isaac and Zachary. Ike raised an eyebrow at the man in the robe. “What’s going on?” he asked slowly.
“Your future,” the man said, touching Isaac on the shoulder . . .
. . . Isaac tilted his head back and downed half a bottle of vodka, straight. While he wasn’t looking, Taylor tried to sneak past him.
It didn’t work.
“Where the hell d’ya think you’re going?” asked the Isaac that Isaac was watching. He seemed to be older than he was now - maybe twenty or so.
Taylor cleared his throat. “I’m going out,” he said shortly, continuing for the door.
“Hell you are,” Ike snapped. “You’re grounded, case you don’t remember. Case you don’t remember, you got grounded when Dad walked in on you and Marisa fucking in your room?”
Isaac watched as Taylor turned toward his other self. “Ike -” he began.
“You knew, you knew how I felt about her, Taylor. Why the hell did you go behind my back -”
Taylor exploded. “Behind your back? Like hell! Marisa and I were going out long before you told me how you felt about her! You’re just pissed because she wanted me and not you!” he yelled. “I don’t see why she would, you goddamn alcoholic!”
“Dammit, Taylor, I’m not a goddamn alcoholic. Stop saying that,” Ike snapped.
“Really? How come you’ve always got a bottle in your hand, then? What’dya think Mom and Dad would do if they saw you?” Taylor demanded.
“Nothing! I don’t live here anymore!” Isaac shouted.
“Really?” Taylor asked, incredulous. “Coulda fooled me! You’re here enough!”
“I’m baby-sitting,” Isaac said obviously, the words coming out slurred. “Which means you, too. You’re not going out, Taylor.”
Taylor clenched his jaw. “Stop me,” he said, starting for the door once more.
Isaac watched as his older self pushed past the older Taylor. “I’ll just beat you there,” he said. With that, he was out the door.
Just then, an older-looking Zac walked into the room. “Where’s he going?” he asked of Taylor just as an engine revved.
Taylor shook his head. “He’s going to see Marisa,” he said quietly as tires squealed.
Just then, Isaac was flashed forward. He saw he older Taylor and the older Zac dressed in suits, standing solemnly before a casket. Isaac brought himself to look into it, already knowing who was laying within.
He leaned over the casket to see his older self inside. His mind reeled . . .
The man released Isaac’s shoulder.
Isaac’s heart was racing. He gaped at the robed man. Panting, he asked, “Why . . .?”
“I don’t choose what you see,” the man said quietly. “You see what you have to see.”
Taylor fought to take in a breath, still shaken from the flash he had received less than a second before. “Why are you here?” he demanded. “Why are you showing us this?”
“You have to see it,” the man said. “In order to change the future, you have to know how to fight it. I’m merely providing that knowledge.” He turned to go.
Isaac managed to call out to him. “Wait -” He took in a breath as the man turned back to him. “What about Zac? Aren’t you going to warn him?”
The man started back toward them. He touched the shoulder of Zac, who hadn’t moved since calling out for his brothers.
Zac saw no pictures. There was no flash forward. Slowly, he brought his eyes up to where those of the man would be. He nodded. Without words or sounds or pictures, he knew. The man nodded as well and released Zac’s shoulder.
He turned his attention to the older brothers. “You have been warned,” said the cloaked man. “You now have the power to change the future. Do yourselves a favor, and do it.” That said, he turned and started away from the house.
Isaac, Taylor, and Zac stared at the man until he disappeared behind a group of trees. Once he was out of their sight, they turned to each other.
Isaac shook his head. “Tay,” he began.
Taylor didn’t let him finish. He wrapped his arms around his older brother, not caring if anyone saw. He squeezed him tightly. “Let’s change the future, okay?” he asked quietly.
“Yeah,” Isaac agreed.
Zac smiled at his brothers and included himself in their embrace.
The man pulled the mask off of his face and pushed the cloth of his robe up off his right wrist. He pushed a few buttons on the watch-like contraption on his arm and the air charged with static electricity. A sudden bolt of lightning shot out of the clear blue sky and tore a hole in thin air.
The man sighed. It was up to them now. Twenty-year-old Zachary Hanson stepped through the rip in time, crossing his fingers that things would be different on the other side.