|The Taylight Zone - Anthology Six
20 - O Holy Night - Saralynn
"JINGLE BELLS! JINGLE BELLS! JINGLE ALL THE WAY! OH WHAT FUN IT IS TO RI--"
"Zac," Taylor started calmly, "if you're gonna sing Christmas carols, please keep it down. I have a headache. And, since we all know that you can sing on key, please do. Now if I take my hand off of your mouth, will you do that?"
"Ok." Taylor lifted his hand off of his little brother's mouth and slowly released him.
"Sorry, Tay. I'm just in a good mood. Only a few days until Christmas!" Zac smiled widely.
Taylor couldn't help but return the smile. "Well, since you're in the mood to sing, how about I go take some pain killers, then we'll find Ike and go practice."
"Cool! Can we work on that new song?"
"Sure." Taylor went to the bathroom to find the aspirin while Zac went in search of their eldest brother. Within ten minutes they were gathered in the garage.
The garage was insulated to keep in heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. It was also soundproofed. The three of them had painted it to their liking with Taylor doing a collage covering most of the available wall space. A thin, dark blue rug covered the floor and a matching dark blue, beat-up couch sat in one corner with a small TV positioned near it. A stereo also shared that wall. Across from all of that sat a Pearl drumkit with Zildjian cymbals. A Yamaha keyboard stood to the left of the drumkit. A Gibson electric and two Taylor acoustic guitars, one of which was a semi-acoustic, sat in their stands to the right of all that. An amp stood behind the piano and another behind the guitars.
Zac clambered behind the drums, totally at home even though the kit was almost bigger than he was. Well, it was bigger for now, but he was growing like a weed and within a few months he'd fit perfectly.
He began to hammer out a complex rhythm while Taylor and Isaac set up the other instruments.
"Zac." Isaac called to his younger brother in an attempt to get him to quiet down.
Zac didn't hear him.
Still no answer.
Isaac was beginning to believe his brother was deaf. Finally he gave up yelling and walked over to Zac, tapping him on the shoulder. Zac stopped playing and turned around. "Kid, are you deaf? I swear, I was screaming your name and you didn't hear a word!"
Zac reached up and pulled something out of his ears. He grinned sheepishly as he held up the earplugs. "I'm sorry Ike. My ears have been bothering me lately so I wear earplugs to dull the noise."
Isaac just shook his head. "Animal, you are nuts. Ready to start?"
Isaac walked over to plug the guitar into the amp, but before he could even turn it on, a loud crack was heard, followed by a small puff of grey smoke that rose up from the amp.
"Crap," Ike muttered. "How can an amp short out before you turn it on or plug anything in?"
Another crack sounded from Tay's side of the room.
"What the heck !?" Taylor asked walking over to see why smoke was rising from his amp. "Dude, I didn't even turn it on yet!"
Isaac shook his head, muttering. Taylor moaned, "Now what are we gonna do?" This was the hidden side of Tay. He could be very whiney when he didn't get his own way. He could get pushy as well, but that's another story.
"Ike, why don't you play acoustic for now?"
He shook his head. "The shoulder strapped broke on the semi while I was playing and the bridge and one of the pickups were damaged in the fall. The B and high E snapped on the other one and can't find my extra strings."
"Three guitars and we can't play any of them."
Zac and Isaac ignored Taylor. "What if you used the portable speakers and Taylor can just use the tambourine for now?"
"We loaned the portable speakers to Jarrod because his guitarist blew his amp, remember?"
"What are we gonna do?"
"Why don't we pack up all of the damaged equipment and bring it to be fixed?" Taylor spoke up.
"Finally, a good suggestion from the family complainer." Ike smirked.
Taylor ignored him.
As they drove down the street to the music shop, everyone was silent. Isaac drove, keeping his eyes on the road, fully concentrating on what he was doing. Taylor stared out the passenger side window, tapping his foot and softly singing along with the radio. Zac was curled up in the middle seat of the van. He seemed to be asleep.
The song on the radio changed. Something rap. Taylor tried other stations, but everything was either commercials or news. He turned the radio off.
A moment later the radio turned back on. It emitted a loud burst of crackling static. Thinking he had hit the knob on accident, Taylor reached over to turn it off again.
"There should be a law that snow falls during the week before Christmas," Taylor stated out of nowhere.
"Yeah, Tay. A law. We'll let politics govern the forces of nature." Isaac took his eyes off the road for a moment to give a skeptical look in Tay's direction.
He stuck his tongue out at his brother. "You know what I mean. Just look. It's the week before Christmas and I'm wearing shorts."
"Well, that's because we're messing up the ozone layer. It's getting thinner and we're getting hotter."
Isaac pulled over to the curb in front of the music shop. "Taylor, will you wake up Zac while I begin to unload?"
Taylor nodded. He climbed into the back seat and began the process of shaking Zac awake while Isaac climbed out of the car and began to unload the instruments from the back.
Between the three of them they had the two extremely heavy amps and the three guitars unloaded and inside within ten minutes.
"Isaac, why did we bring all three of your guitars? I thought the Gibson was fine and only one acoustic was damaged," Taylor questioned.
"The pickups on the Gibson have been working funny for a while now, but since it's only used for practice I ignored it. The neck of my acoustic is misaligned a bit so I figured that I might as well bring them all in at once."
The drive back was uneventful. Well, "MMMBop" came on the radio and Zac wouldn't let them change the station. In fact he insisted that they all sing along, then continued to sing it after the song was over.
He was still singing when they walked back into the house. "Ok, now that almost every instrument is out of the house, how do we practice?" Zac had stopped singing in order to ask the question.
"The keyboard is still fine. It'll work without an amp. We can try writing some new stuff with it," Taylor suggested.
"Sounds good to me."
Then, as if a sign from the heavens, the lights went out. "A power outage? No way!" Taylor exclaimed. None of them could believe their bad luck.
Since their parents had taken the younger kids up to visit their grandparents, the three boys took it upon themselves to dig out the emergency candles and flashlights. Once the living room was sufficiently lit, Taylor sat down at the baby grand piano and began to play one of his all time favorite Christmas songs.
The beginning of "O Holy Night" began to fill the air. But something was off. Taylor didn't even get to the beginning of the lyrics. He stopped playing and began to play a few scales. "This is not happening." But Ike and Zac heard it too. The piano was out of tune.
Over the next two days, the three boys couldn't do much of anything because the power had yet to return.
"I'm BORED! This SUCKS!!" Zac proclaimed, tossing his pencil down onto his sketch pad and standing up.
Taylor looked up from the book he was reading and Isaac looked up from his notebook. "Zac, you make it seem like it's our fault that the power is still out and Mom and Dad's car broke down." Isaac would not let Zac get to him.
"But it's Christmas Eve!" He looked ready to cry. Taylor glanced at his watch. It read 7pm. Their parents were supposed to be home an hour ago. They said the mechanics were going to do there best to fix thier car quickly. Walker had called about three hours ago to say they were on their way. The drive from their grandparent's place in Oklahoma City was only about two hours.
That's when the strange stuff began happening. First a cold breeze blew through the room. But it was still warm outside. In fact, they had opened the windows, hoping for a draft. The breeze was not just cool, but freezing. Goosebumps appeared on their uncovered legs and arms.
"Dude, how'd it get so cold in here? Did someone turn on the air conditioning?" Zac questioned, pulling a blanket over his legs and regretting wearing shorts.
"Zac, the air conditioner won't work without power," Isaac answered. He looked outside. The sun was setting but there wasn't a cloud in the sky. The thermometer on the wall read almost 70 degrees outside but only 40 degrees inside.
Then the music for "O Holy Night" began to play but no one was at the piano. A subtle guitar and bass line were added, seeming to fill the room as though the musicians were playing right there. Soft bells were added.
Taylor felt compelled to sing. A moment later, Isaac joined him, adding the bass line to Taylor's tenor. Zac also joined them, his voice blending in perfectly.
The song was beautiful. Everything was crisp, clean and clear. Once the music had faded out every candle blew out at once and the flashlights all turned off.
Just then the power came back on.
A noise sounded from the driveway. A moment later the rest of the Hanson family plowed through the door. "Sorry we're late. You wouldn't belive the traffic out there and your father's cell phone had a dead battery, so we couldn't call. Did you worry?" Diana asked.
"Ya know, somehow I think we knew everything was gonna be alright." Taylor smiled.
Outside snow began to fall from a cloudless sky.
The thermometer read almost 70 degrees outside and almost 70 degrees inside.