|The Taylight Zone - Anthology Five
14 - Fading Into Oblivion - A. Tank
Disclaimer: These items are fictional and are in no way endorsed or associated with Hanson, Mercury Records, or Triune Music Group. This story is copyrighted.
Part One - Underlying Secrets
Halloween night. A night where spirits came alive, when the dead rose, when the extraordinary happened. Zac Hanson scoffed at this. Yeah, right, spirits, dead rising, that's all crap, that's what it is, he sneered. His brothers had been trying to convince him to do a sťance with them all day. God knows why they want to do that. Nothing's going to happen. Nothing.
Zac had plans tonight. It was Halloween after all. Todd and him were planning on pulling some tricks or their own. He couldn't be bothered by some stupid sťance thing his brothers wanted to do. Ike had read some sci-fi book with a sťance in it, and now it seemed, to Zac, that was all he could think about. I'll just let Ike and Tay do it by themselves. They don't need me there, Zac thought to himself.
A doorbell rang, though slightly muffled by the stairwell, and Zac rushed to the door. Without hesitation he flung it open, to reveal Todd Jacobs, Zac's neighbor, and new friend. "Hey Todd!" Zac greeted his friend, and slammed the door shut once he was in the house.
"Did you get the toi-" Todd asked anxiously, but froze in mid-sentence when he saw Isaac enter the entryway. Isaac eyed the two boys warily, and asked, "You two aren't up to anything, are you?"
Zac smiled and replied confidently, "No, Ike, whatever would make you think that?" He avoided Todd's gaze, for if they made eye contact they were sure to start laughing.
Isaac rolled his eyes and responded, "Just don't do anything illegal" over his shoulder as he walked away.
"Come on, let's go up to my room," Zac told Todd. They clamored up the steps, taking them two at a time. A minute later, they were sitting in Zac's bedroom.
"As I was asking," Todd started, "before your brother came in, did you get the toilet paper?" He emptied the brown paper bag that he had brought over revealing two cans of shaving cream, a dozen eggs, and a mask that resembled that of the Scream killer.
Zac grinned confidently and stuck his hands under his bed, pulling out two 4-packs of Charmin' toilet paper. "You bet I got t.p." Zac responded. "We are going to get Chris so bad tonight."
Todd made a face in agreement. Both of the boys utterly hated Chris Munaty, and had since he moved in next door to Todd. "And it couldn't be better that there's that Halloween thing going on at the Community center tonight. Everybody's going to be there. I mean, your family's going. So is mine, and I heard from Chris's brother that they were all going to. Our street is going to be deserted."
"Yeah, really. We only have to think of a way to get out of going to the Community center. . ." Zac pondered.
Todd quickly said, "Oh, I've already thought of that. We'll just go, and then sneak out and come back here. I already stashed my bike in the bushes of the park near there, so we can get home on that. This is going to be SO cool, Zac."
* ~ * ~ *
It was nearing 8 o'clock, and the Hanson's and Jacobs' were trying to figure out the best seating arrangement to get to the Halloween party. "But Mommy," Jessica whined. "Avie and I want to ride with Tiffany and Stacey!" Mrs. Hanson looked hopefully at Mrs. Jacobs, who nodded and announced, "Jessie and Avie can come with us, Todd can go with you guys, and we'll meet you there."
"Sounds good to me," Todd stated, still reveling in Zac's and his plans for the night. "Let's just get going."
Todd had been immensely happy when he had met Zac for the first time. Just think, best friends with a superstar. It was a dream come true to Todd. Before, back home in Minnesota, he had been a nobody, a nothing. Now he traveled with Zac around the world. Sure, sometimes the jealousy caught up with him, when Zac and him were out somewhere, and the girls swarmed around Zac, leaving Todd in the dust. But he had been doing ok for the last couple weeks. There was a lot that Zac had yet to learn about Todd. . .
Everybody climbed into their assigned cars, and Todd ended up squished between Isaac and Taylor. Not that he minded any. Isaac eagerly turned to face Todd, and asked, "Hey Todd! Tay and I are going to have a sťance tonight, wanna join?"
In the seat in front of them, Zac rolled his eyes and whined, "Ike, you know not everyone is as interested in this crap as you are. Why would Todd want to do that?"
"Oh, I think it would be kinda cool," Todd replied, ignoring Zac's comment. This would give him a chance to put to use what he had been practicing. To actually do it this time. . .
Taylor turned and smiled at Todd. "Great, we'll come find you around 9:00, and we can leave then," he said. "Zac, you sure you don't want to reconsider now that your friend is joining us?"
"Yeah, like I'd ever be caught dead doing that. You can get on without me, I'm sure," Zac responded, and that was that.
Part Two - A Clouded Fate
People crowded into the Community center, music poured from the open doors. A crisp wind blew, cutting through Zac's clothing and drilling straight through to his bones. It was abnormally cold in Oklahoma for this time of year, and Zac wondered if it had anything to do with that stupid El Nino everyone kept on talking about.
His good mood had slightly diminished since hearing that Todd had decided to participate in Ike and Tay's stupid sťance thing, but he was still psyched for the upcoming nightly tricks. They had decided to leave after about half an hour, although Zac knew that they would be too excited to wait that long.
"Hey Zac!" Todd shouted to his friend to be heard over the music as they ascended the steps to the party. "See those bushes over there?" He pointed to a clump of bushes along the side of the building.
"Yeah," Zac responded. "Is that where-" He was cut off by Todd, who was nodding, but held a finger to his lips. No one was supposed to know about their plan. Zac had forgotten. Todd would make sure that he didn’t leak it to anyone.
The boys wandered inside, taking in their surroundings. Booths full of Halloween games for younger children were set against the back and side walls of the large room, and a large platform served as a stage in the center. A costume contest would take place later tonight.
"This sucks," Todd mentioned to Zac, after they had surveyed all of the kiddie games. "Let's go see what's in the basement." Zac nodded, and they headed across the room toward the stairwell.
Red light bulbs had been put in all of the light sockets, and fake spider webs covered the walls. In the dimmed light dark figures could be made out, mannequins of dead people most likely. The usual attempt a haunted house type-room.
Nothing was really going on, there were a bunch of teens hanging around talking. They were decked out in Goth apparel, obviously trying to scare people. Unless that's how they dressed all the time. "What is supposed to be going on here?" Zac whispered to Todd as they made their way farther into the room.
"I have no clue," Todd whispered back, a small amount of fear creeping into his voice. "Maybe we should go back upstairs. . ."
Zac grinned at Todd and replied, "Naw, come on and let's see what's going on. Where's your sense of adventure?" With that, Zac walked over to the group of people standing in the middle of the room.
The group turned and stared at Zac as he approached, silence replacing the soft chit chat of before. The stares felt weighted, and Zac struggled underneath them. "Um, hi," he managed to utter. "I was just. . . um, wondering what was going on down here."
One of guys in the group, he looked slightly older than the rest, told Zac, "Well, there is a fortune telling booth right behind that door," he gestured toward a wooden door behind him, which was closed. "You wanna go inside? It'll be fun," the boy laughed, and erudite smiles erupted from most of the group.
Zac struggled to smile, although he was shaking inside. I can't go in that room, he thought. I mean, I know it's just a fake, but still. With the way these people are looking at me, they must know something's going to happen.
Zac glanced at Todd, who asked him, "Come on Zac, where's your sense of adventure?" He smiled.
Zac nervously laughed, and gave a weak smile. "Yeah. . . sure, I'll go." He headed over to the door, and hesitantly knocked on the rough wood surface. The door was swiftly opened by a young girl, maybe late teens or early twenties. "Come in," she murmured softly before shutting the door again.
Zac jumped at the sound of the door closing, knowing he was probably trapped in here for awhile. He looked around, although it was hard in the dim light of only candles. The walls were all painted a dark color, he couldn't really tell if it was a blue or a black shade, and a small round table sat in the middle of the 10 square foot room. A crystal ball sat in the center, on an iron stand engraved with something that Zac couldn't make out.
"Please, sit," the young woman told Zac, as she swept over to her side of the table and sat down.
Zac's nervousness had left him, some, and he mockingly asked, "So, are you going to tell me that I'm going to marry some beautiful woman, buy a great car, and live happily ever after. Because if so, I'm leaving."
The prognosticator shook her head, and laid her hands on the table, on either side of the glass globe before her. "I wanted to warn you about your friend-" she started when Zac interrupted her, "You mean Todd? What?"
She nodded once more and said, "Yes, Todd," in her calm, soothing voice. "There is much you don't know about him, he is a man full of secrets, and hidden emotions. . ."
Zac shook his head vigorously, and proclaimed, "Todd is my friend, and he tells me everything, and I really don't think I have anything to worry about. I know you're just some whack with a crystal ball, so could I just go now?"
"You are very naÔve," the fortune teller muttered. "Let me speak, and then make your judgements."
* ~ * ~ *
Todd stood nervously in the basement, a safe distance away from the group that had convinced Zac to go see that fortune teller. He wanted Zac to get out of there, it was getting close to 9:00, and they had already missed their chance to go toilet paper Chris's house. He didn’t want to miss Taylor and Ike's sťance. He couldn't miss that.
He heard church bells somewhere from outside, faintly, and counted them. One. . . Two. . . Three. . . Four. . . Five. . . Six. . . Seven. . . Eight. . . Nine. Crap! Todd thought. Taylor and Isaac have to be looking for me. I better go upstairs, I'm sure Zac will be able to find a way home. I have to go. . . And with that, he dashed up the stairs, leaving Zac alone.
* ~ * ~ *
"Ok, fine, tell me about Todd," Zac said, and sighed. He needed to get out of here, Todd and him had some toilet papering to do, he was sure they had already missed the time they were supposed to leave. Todd was probably getting anxious.
"Your friend is not your friend at all, this Todd. He is a young man full of jealously, and greed, and you need to stay away from him. He is your friend because you are well known, he wants to be like you. He wants to be you."
A puzzled look crossed Zac's face, "What?" he sputtered. "Todd is so not jealous of me! We're friends, ok? He wouldn't do anything to me, ever!"
"You have not known him for very long, he has much to hide. Stay away from him, and beware of tonight. Tonight is Halloween, you never know what people will do on Halloween. Especially people overcome with greed. Watch out, your fate depends on it."
And with that cold warning, she rose up slowly and glided toward the door, opening it. Saying nothing, still confused, but skeptical of what the fortune teller had told him, he exited quickly.
Part Three - Invisible
Todd met up with Isaac and Taylor near the entrance of the Community center. "Where's Zac?" Isaac asked Todd as they walked down the steps. "Is he going to get a ride home from Mom or something?"
"Yeah, he decided not to come," Todd responded quickly, maybe too quickly. "This place is incredibly boring, don't ask my why he wanted to stay," Todd laughed.
"Whatever, but we're getting out of here, now," Isaac responded as they walked toward the Hanson's car. "Dad said we could use the van, but we have to come pick them up in an hour, that ok with everyone?" Isaac asked.
Taylor and Todd nodded, and they all climbed into the car, heading into the night.
* ~ * ~ *
Zac stepped out of the small room, and glanced around the basement. Todd wasn't there. Where the hell did he go? Zac thought fervently. We were supposed to stick together. He ran up the stairs, two at a time, hoping to find Todd as quickly as he could and tell his friend all of the B.S. that this fortune teller had fed him.
He entered the main part of the gym once more, and almost immediately spotted his dad. "Hey Zac!" he greeted his son as he approached him. "Hey yourself," Zac responded. "Have you seen Todd? We were in the basement, but then he just kind of ran off."
"Actually, I saw him leave about five minutes ago with Tay and Ike. They went back to the house. I guess you'll have to stay here for another hour Zac, sorry." And with that, he turned to go watch Jessica bob for apples.
Shit, Zac thought. I need to get home. . . The bike! Todd's bike is still here, I can ride that home! He ran outside, and as he had suspected, Todd's bike was still sitting in the bush.
* ~ * ~ *
Taylor shook out a match, and set the third, and last, candle in the circle. "Who are we going to contact?" he asked excitedly. Isaac rolled his eyes, and responded, "I don't really think it matters all that much Tay."
Todd smiled. This was his chance. "You guys, maybe instead of contacting someone, we did a little spell. How about it?"
Taylor's eyes widened, he had always been enthralled by the spiritual world, said, "That would be so cool. But do you know any spells?"
"I wouldn't have suggested it if I didn't," Todd replied. "This is what we do. It's mainly just chanting, which I'll do. It's in Latin, so it might be kind of hard to understand, but that'll be alright." He paused and Taylor interjected, "Wait, do we need anything for this? Any snake's eyes or rat's livers?"
Todd laughed at this and reassured Taylor, "That's on TV Tay. No one really needs that for spells. In fact, for this one we don't need anything, really." He pulled a rumpled photograph out of his pocket. It was a photo of Zac that Todd had taken a few months ago. "This'll do just fine," he explained.
Isaac's brow wrinkled and he asked, "What do you need a picture of Zac for? Is this anything bad that you're doing?"
"Oh, don't worry about it Ike! It's nothing bad, besides, aren't you kinda mad at him for ditching us tonight? Hmm?" Todd asked, hoping to spark Ike's anger at his younger brother.
"That's true. . . But, just don't do anything that'll hurt him, ok?" he said, concerned.
"Oh, don't worry, he'll be fine," Todd answered. "Now everyone hold hands, palm to palm, and close your eyes." Isaac and Taylor followed Todd's instructions flawlessly, and in no time Todd had started, talking in a language that no one could understand but him.
* ~ * ~ *
Panting and out of breath, Zac pedaled up the last hill before his house. He could be there in five minutes. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a car's headlights appeared. The car was coming straight at him. "Shit!" Zac shouted, swerving to get off the road.
The car stopped, twenty feet ahead, and the driver, and middle aged man, got out. "Is anyone out there?" his loud voice boomed. He strained his eyes to see in the dark.
Still shocked from his near death experience, Zac weakly shouted back, "Yeah, I'm over here." The driver followed the voice, and soon was standing before Zac. Zac was sitting on the ground now, Todd's bike next to him.
"Holy shit boy, you look sick, you're pale as a ghost," the driver told him. "It looks like I can almost see through ya, good Halloween costume you got there."
"Um, yeah," Zac said softly.
"Well, are ya ok? I just wanted to make sure I hadn't hit anyone out here. But honestly, I didn't see ya."
"Yeah, I'm all right."
Zac stood up and got on Todd's bike again. Without saying another word to the man, he started out to his house.
* ~ * ~ *
Todd was finished. He could almost feel it happening. But God, it couldn't happen yet! Zac had to get home first. Slowly, Isaac and Taylor opened their eyes. "Did it work?" Taylor asked anxiously.
"I don’t know yet," Todd answered honestly.
"Well, what were you trying to do?" Isaac asked, frustrated that Todd wouldn't tell him.
"Oh, nothing important. Just maybe make Zac. . . a little more. . . talented at the drums, that's all, nothing important." Todd inwardly had a sigh of relief as Isaac and Taylor accepted his answer.
"Yeah, but that was kinda dumb. I think we should try to contact somebody still," Taylor replied.
Todd agreed, and then told them, "Hold on a sec, I'll be right back." He got up off the floor and walked out of the room. He walked toward the bathroom, and then slipped outside, where he saw Zac riding his bike toward the house. He had hoped Zac would think of that.
He could feel it then, it was happening. He watched Zac ride toward the house, as he slowly faded. Faded out of existence, out of being. His body was gone. Gone from his spirit at least. Not gone from the earth.
Todd rushed inside and ran to the bathroom, where he turned on the lights and looked in the mirror. Zac was staring back at him. Todd didn't exist anymore, only Zac, and he was Zac.
He wouldn't have to be jealous anymore. He wouldn't have to long to be famous, or only dream of having two great brothers, or wish for Zac's life. Because he was Zac now. Everything was perfect.
He walked into the family room, where Taylor and Isaac were seated on the floor still. "Zac!" Isaac said, surprised. "How'd you get home?"
"Oh, I just rode a bike I found lying around. But I'm here now. Wanna do that sťance thing now? I know just the person to talk to." The spirit that's wandering around here somewhere would be perfect to talk to. . .
A confused look crossed both of the brother's faces, and Taylor stated, "Zac, I thought you thought these seances were stupid."
Zac contemplated this, and then responded. "Well, I did, but I'm a new person now. I'm sure you'll like me." He smiled, and took a seat on the floor.
* ~ * ~ *
The boy wandered lost, with no form or shape, only a spirit. He had no name, no face, just emotions, memories. Memories of what he used to be, worries of what was to come. He was lost, not knowing what had happened, or if anything would ever change. Was he dead? He didn't think so. He wasn't in heaven. He was still in Bixby. He just didn't feel alive. But how was that possible?
But when he looked down he saw no body, he saw nothing of himself. He had no identity either. Lost and scared, he was destined to wander this earth for the rest of his life. As an invisible spirit. As a nobody. As a nothing.