|The Taylight Zone - Anthology Six
18 - Switched - Silver Angel
Taylor Hanson strung out the last note until he felt his voice start to weaken. He pulled his fingers off the keyboards and waved to the audience. "Thanks, you guys have been great!!" he called as he looked over at his older brother Isaac. They nodded to each other: time to end the show. They ran backstage and into their comfortable dressing room.
"That was great, Tay!!" Ike said, patting Taylor on the back. "You held that last word out almost twice as long as I did!!"
"Thanks, Ike." Taylor replied, flushing. "The audience was great... I think I got my extra energy from them." Taylor loved playing live. The crowd, the music, the lights, it all gave him such a rush. His younger brother Zac bounded into the room and tossed his brothers their water bottles and the long-sleeved shirts they'd ditched during the show.
"You guys shouldn't leave these on stage, they'd be stolen!!" He said, sitting down in a chair.
"Yeah, Zac, like any of those girls really could get past the security and onto the stage." Ike snorted into his water bottle. Taylor laughed and agreed.
1/2 hour later
The last instruments had been loaded into the trucks, and the stage was empty except for a few speakers. Taylor walked over to get one and noticed a note sitting on top of it. He picked it up and read it: Tay-meet me onstage after everything is loaded. Come alone -- Ike.
Taylor frowned as he looked at the note. It was Ike's handwriting alright, and it looked like it had been ripped out of the notebooks all three brothers carried around. But something about it didn't seem right... why would Ike want to see him, alone, onstage, after everything was loaded? If he wanted to go over new material, they'd need the instruments and Zac, of course. Taylor couldn't figure out why his older brother wanted him alone. He shrugged and picked up the speaker, cramming the note in his pocket. He probably needs advice on girl troubles. He thought, laughing to himself. Ike, his older brother, was coming to HIM for girl troubles!!! The thought was just too funny. Taylor put the speaker in a truck, laughing softly to himself. He went back to the stage to find it deserted. Alright. He thought. I'm here, where the heck is Ike? He sat down on the floor and waited. A few minutes later, a figure stepped out from the shadows. It was wearing a long overcoat, sunglasses, and an oversized floppy hat.
"Ike?" Taylor asked uncertainly, fear suddenly swelling in his stomach. "Ike what do you want? We have to leave soon." He stared at the figure, hastily climbing to his feet.
"You came." said a voice, certainly not Ike's, from the hidden folds of the overcoat and hat. "I was afraid you wouldn't." The voice was rich, and sounded strangely familiar to Taylor, although he couldn't place it. It sounded feminine, but Taylor wasn't sure.
"Who are you?" He asked, by now quite alarmed. "How did you get back here? The concert's been over for an hour."
The figure took off the hat and sunglasses, then the coat, and revealed a young teenage girl standing there. She was tall, a little shorter than Taylor, and skinny, with long, light blonde hair and ice-blue eyes. As Taylor stared at her he realized he knew the girl. But he didn't know from where. She was so familiar, but Taylor was sure he'd never met her before. But there was something so familiar about her.....
"Don't look so scared." She said softly, laughing slightly. "I'm not going to hurt you. I'm an intern reporter for the local news, and I want to interview you."
"Why?" Taylor asked suspiciously.
"Because you're famous, you're here, and it's a good story." She said, giving him a strange look.
"But why just me? Why not Ike and Zac, too? They're part of the band."
"Well, I thought a nice, cozy interview, just the two of us, would help you to...." She paused, the leaned towards him slightly. "....to open up better." She leaned closer and placed a hand on his shoulder. "Now what do you say? Just a few questions? Pretty please?"
Despite himself, Taylor could feel himself warming up to this mystery girl. She was cute, and very nice. Maybe a little too nice. Taylor thought as she scooted closer to him. But he smiled and looked at the floor. "I guess a few couldn't hurt," he replied. "But I have to go soon."
"That's okay." She said. "Just a few questions. First one: How tall are you?"
"How tall am I? That's a strange question." Taylor frowned.
The girl put her hand over his mouth. "Taylor, will you promise me something?" She asked. Taylor looked into her eyes and was caught by their warmth and beauty. He felt his head nodding and the weight of her hand heavy against his lips. "Promise me that you'll just answer my questions, and don't ask me any, 'kay? Remember, I'm the reporter here. Can you promise me that?" She pouted and looked deep into his eyes. Taylor nodded and she pulled her hand off his mouth. Taylor was almost sorry she hadn't left it there. Almost. "Alright, how tall are you?"
"That's pretty personal...."
"Answer the question, Taylor."
"Skinny..." She muttered, scribbling in her notebook. "Shoe size?"
"13" Man, talk about personal!! Taylor thought.
"Can you sing into this for me please? Just the first verse and chorus of 'MMMBop.'" The girl held out a tape recorder and then back away a few steps, pulling a camera out of the overcoat. "Just keep singing, I'm gonna take a few pictures." Taylor sung as the girl took almost a whole roll of film, then she smiled at him sweetly. "Okay thank you, see, that didn't take long at all, did it?"
"I guess not." Taylor said uncertainly. He felt a little weird.
"Oh, I almost forgot!! Could I have your autograph? Please? I'm a fan, as well as a reporter." She held out her notebook, turned to a fresh page, and a pen.
"Sure." He said. "Wait a second, I don't even know your name!"
She stared at him for a few seconds, the replied. "Christina. Christina McConner. My friends call my Chrissie."
"Alright, Christina, here's your autograph, and I hope your, um, story turns out good. Send me a copy, 'kay?"
"Don't worry, Taylor." Chrissie said as she put on her coat, hat and sunglasses. "You'll get a copy... I'll make sure of it..." She laughed softly as she she walked off stage.
Man! What a weird girl! Taylor thought. That was the WEIRDEST interview I've ever had! He shook his head and headed for the bus.
A few months later
Taylor lay back on the couch in his for once empty house. Ike had gone out with some friends, Zac was out rollerblading, and his mom and dad had taken the younger kids shopping. The house was dark and quiet, except for the TV show Taylor had on. He wasn't really paying attention. He was so tired.. maybe if he just rested for a few minutes... just a few minutes....
Taylor was awakened by the phone ringing sharply in his ear. He sat up and looked around. What's going on? How long did I sleep? Where is everyone? He yawned and picked up the phone. "Hanson residence." He answered sleepily.
"Taylor? Is that you?" A voice asked on the other end.
Taylor frowned. "Yeah, this is Taylor? Who is this?" The voice was familiar...but Tay couldn't place it anywhere.
It laughed. "Soon, Taylor... I'll be there soon....." There was a click, and all Taylor heard was the dial tone. Then silence, nothing. The phone lines had been cut. Taylor stood up and looked around in panic. Where is everyone? They should've been back by now! It's dark out! He looked around and tried to decide what to do. There are no phone lines, no one is around, there's a stalker coming to get me! The person had certainly sounded like a stalker, well, what they had said, but Taylor knew the voice. He knew it! Taylor ran upstairs and into his parents room. He knew his father had a gun hidden somewhere in the room, and began searching. He finally found it under the mattress and then ran into his room. He shut the door and locked the window, then sat cross-legged on his bed, back against the wall, facing the door. I'll just sit here and wait, until mom and dad come home, then we'll call the police, and everything will be alright. Taylor was still convincing himself when the door to his room swung open.
"Who are you?!" he called out, raising the gun.
"Taylor? It's me, Chrissie. Chrissie McConner."
Chrissie? He thought for a minute, confused.
"You know, the reporter chic that snuck backstage and left you a fake note so I could interview you."
Oh yeah!! The weird girl! "Oh, hi. Yeah, I remember you. C'mon in."
Chrissie walked over and sat down on Zac's bed, facing Taylor. He noticed that she was wearing the same overcoat, but no hat or sunglasses this time. "So what happened? I called, but then I got disconnected right in the middle of talking to you."
"The phone went dead. The company must be having problems." Once again, Taylor noticed something very, very familiar in Chrissie's voice. He stared harder at her, and then looked into to her eyes. He almost gasped in shock at the sudden realization that Chrissie looked exactly like him...she could've been his twin, for God's Sake! You're being stupid, Tay. She has blonde hair and blue eyes, that's the only resemblance. But no matter how hard the logical part of his brain reasoned, Taylor knew. He saw himself in the girl's eyes.
"You can see it." Chrissie said suddenly. "I can see it in your face, your actions. You see the resemblance, too." A statement, not a fact.
"Who are you?"
"You know that, Taylor. I'm Chrissie. But, in a way, I'm also you."
"Who are you?" he asked again.
She sighed. "You might as well know the truth. The story would have to come out sooner or later. Might as well be now. You already know my name, but allow me to introduce myself: Chrissie McConner. Member #314 of the Taylor Hanson Cult." With that, she stood up and took off the overcoat, revealing the exact same outfit that Taylor had on. Taylor stared up at her in shock as she pulled her shirt up slightly, and showed him the THC #314 that was tattooed across her lower abs. Taylor's eyes widened.
"What do you want?"
"That's a loaded question, Tay. Do you really want to know?"
"Shall I start at the beginning? Or do you want to short answer? I'll tell you both. First the answer, then the story. Sound good?"
Taylor nodded again, wordlessly clutching the gun.
"Well, in short Tay, I want your life." She laughed at Taylor's dazed expression. "Taylor, Taylor, Taylor. Don't you understand? I am you. You are me. Or will become me. Let me explain." She settled back down on Zac's bed and crossed her legs. "First off, I'm not really a girl. I'm a guy. Yes Taylor, I am a guy who likes your band. A Male. Just like you. I've been studying your voice, so I learned to talk like you, out emphasis and pauses on all the right words...sounds pretty weird to hear you own voice coming form someone else, huh?" Taylor stared at the other boy for a minute, finally realizing why he felt he knew him so well. It's my voice.... he's right, it's my voice.... Taylor looked over to the figure on Zac's bed, and saw laughter in the boy's face, amused at Taylor's reaction.
"What am I supposed to call you know?" Taylor asked uncertainly.
"For now? Just call me Chris. Now, on with the story: It all started about two years ago. When I first heard 'MMMBop' on the radio. See, I loved it Tay, I was one of the first to hear it. I found out who you were, then I went online and searched. I found your page, and some others dedicated to you by your devoted Tulsa fans. I bought the CD, I found posters, pictures, I am one of the original fans, I guess you would put it that way. So when I found the Taylor Cult page... well I just couldn't resist. I joined. It all started as a joke, honestly. I mean, a GUY joining a CULT dedicated to another guy?? About a year ago, all the members met up to get our 'official tattoos'- like the one on my stomach- and to decide who was most like you. I won, Tay. Everybody saw you in me. Or me in you, whichever way you want to put it. I was you. It was like we were twins. So they gave me the special tattoo, your birthday. They dared me, Tay. They dared me to become you, to study you, to act, dress, sing, do everything like you. I learned to play the keyboard. I ran away from home to live with some of the other members in a warehouse in Tulsa. We watched you all day long, Tay. The same tapes over and over again, memorizing everything. It didn't matter that I was the only guy. It was fun. Joining the cult was the best thing that ever happened to me. I found friends, kindred spirits, something worth living for. But that's not enough for me. I don't know what they'll do when they find out, Tay. But maybe they never will. No one can tell the difference any more. I've been you, Tay. I've gone out in public and girls swarmed me, asking for my autograph-or should I say yours? I was the famous one, Tay. I myself can't tell the difference between you and me. Mirror images, Tay. That's what we are." Chris pulled out a gun and held in the same way Taylor was holding his. He smiled evilly. "But the world can't have 2 Taylor Hanson's, now can it, Tay?"
"Why?" asked Taylor, staring at the gleaming gun in Chris' hand. He hated the way Chris said his name, over and over. Tay. It was too much like hearing himself say his name out loud. Across the room, Chris sighed in exasperation.
"Tay, understand. I'll make a good you, I promise. I won't do drugs, I won't have premarital sex, I'll be helpful to my parents and respectful to my elders. I'll keep up your Golden-Boy image. After all, Tay, I want to stay famous. That's why. I want to be you so I can have what you have. Great friends, a good job, money, fame, power, a loving family. I never had any of those. But now I will." He raised the gun and cocked the trigger. "Now I will."
Taylor raised his eyes to meet Chris' eyes, and looked into their blue depths, looking for some sign of compassion or mercy. He found none. Chris met his gaze fully with only a flat, cold evil gleaming in his icy eyes. Taylor jumped up, and ran.
"Shit! Tay, get back here!" Chris fired, missed, then jumped up and chased after Taylor.
Taylor ran down the hall and into his parents room. He hid behind the door and listened as Chris' footsteps ran by. Taylor cautiously opened another door and stepped into the next room, only to find Chris waiting for him, gun raised. Taylor was ready, too, though, and he pulled the trigger.
The gun exploded with a loud BANG, and the mirror in Taylor's parents' bathroom exploded into a million shards. Taylor's eyes widened as he stared at the shattered glass. He lowered the gun and walked closer to the mirror, entranced by the spiderweb-like patterns in the small part of the mirror that was left on the wall. He slowly pulled out a large shard and held it up to see the reflections of it made. The last thing he saw was cold blue eyes, his own eyes, staring at him in the mirror from the barrel of a gun about to go off.
One Week Later
Taylor Hanson pulled up a chair and joined his family at the breakfast table. "Hey, guys, where's the paper?"
"Right here." His dad said, holding it up. "What section do you want?"
"Um... News and Locals." Taylor said, stretching out his hand.
"Oh, you want the comics, huh?" Walker laughed and started to hand his second oldest the paper. Then he caught a glimpse of something on the Front Page. "Hey guys, look, they identified that body they found the other day. It made the headlines." Walker handed the paper to Taylor, who grabbed it and stood up.
"I'll be back in a second, I, um, think I left my notebook outside... and I have to write something in it...." Taylor said as he headed out the door.
Walker turned to Ike and Zac "Is he okay?"
"Yeah, Dad, I think so. Why?" Ike responded, confused, as he looked up at his dad.
"I think he might be sick. After what happened last week with that awful nightmare he had... And, he asked me to buy him a new notebook because his other one is filled up and I haven't gotten it yet. And his eyes just....I don't know....glittered in the strangest way.....hm" Walker shrugged and glanced at his sons. "Just keep an eye on him, alright?"
On the Porch
Taylor picked up the front page and scanned it for the story he was looking for. He found it and began to read.
The body that Tulsa Police found last Friday in a deserted warehouse has been identified as 15 year old Christian Taylor McConner, originally from East Point, Maine. McConner was found shot to death in the old warehouse on E. 81st Street last Friday at approximately 2. A.M Mountain Standard Time. The police have determined that it was a suicide and have closed the case. Police have not yet determined what the strange tattoo on McConner's stomach is, but they are guessing it is some kind of cult or other religious symbol. Christian McConner was not a happy child, according to his records. He grew up in a poor family with one older brother, David James, and his two parents. David was the more aggressive of the two brothers, always showing anger and resentment towards his parents for being so poor and not being able to do anything about it. Until one day, in a drunken rage, David shot his father then turned the gun on himself, while the 12 year old Christian watched from his hiding place under his mother's desk. Christian and his mother moved in with his mother's sister, Christian's Aunt Celia, and there Christian had a more normal life, with many of the privileges and opportunities that others his age had. But the horror and fear never quite left him, and he was seeing counselors and psychiatrists extensively. In the summer of 1997, their house burned down and all 3 were presumed dead. Christian's whereabouts since then and how he got to Tulsa are unknown, but he clearly explained who he was and his past in the note he clutched along with the gun in his hand. Funeral Services well be Saturday at 1 P.M, and are being provided by the Church of Jesus Christ in Tulsa.
Taylor dropped the paper and closed his eyes for a few brief moments, in mourning for a past and a life forgotten. For a few minutes he was a frightened 12 year old again, hiding while in his own living room his brother yelled swear words at his father, then shot him, 1...2...3...4...5 times in the head and body, before turning the gun to use the 6th and final shot to end his own life. Then he was the depressed, moody 14 year old watching through the bushes as his house burned to the ground, his mother and aunt knocked unconscious and tied to the staircase inside. He sighed and shook his head, then looked up and the rising sun. A new day, a new life. He thought, smiling happily. The past is gone today.
Taylor stood up and walked into the warm, good-smelling kitchen. "So," he said, sitting down next to Ike. "When do you guys want to jam today? We gotta start practicing for the tour, ya know!"