The Taylight Zone - Anthology Seven

24 - Lessons - Kaylin & Saralynn

"Hurry up, Taylor, or we're going to be late!" Isaac called up from the bottom of the stairs.

"Hurry up yourself, Chewy! I'll be down in a second! I can't find my mask!" Taylor called back down to his older brother.

Ike just shook his head and decided to find Zac. Walking around the house, he began to call out Zac's name but he recieved no answer. Then he heard Taylor coming down the stairs. "Finally," he muttered under his breath. The louder, "Fine, Zac. We're leaving without you!"

He followed Taylor out the door to the green van sitting in the driveway. There sat Zac, patiently waiting in the front passenger seat. He smiled and waved as his two other brothers walked into the car.

"What took you guys so long? I've been waiting out here for at least ten minutes," Zac asked as Ike climbed behind the steering wheel and Taylor crawled into the back.

"I was having trouble finding my mask," Taylor muttered in an annoyed voice.

"What were you doing out here anyways?" Isaac cut into Tay's sulking to question his other brother.

"Waiting for you two. What else would I be doing?" Zac just shook his head and gave Ike a look of amusement.

"Well, I just spent a good ten minutes looking for you inside while he," he pointed to the gloomy Taylor, leaning far down into his seat, "was whining about his mask."

"I told you I was coming out here."

"No you didn't Zac. I would've remembered."

"Yes I did!! I hate it when you two act as if I'm invisible! Just because I'm the youngest member of the band doesn't give you any right to act as if I'm not important," Zac yelled in his brother's face. Then he turned to face out the window and refused to speak anymore.

Isaac decided to ignore both of his brothers and just drove to the party.

They arrived about fifteen minutes later and, since the party had started ten minutes earlier, had to park down the street somewhere because so many people had come it this annual New Year's Eve masquerade.

All three brothers scowled before pulling their masks down and making their way towards the house.

The party had been raging for quite a while now and Isaac was beginning to find himself having a good time. A slow song came on.

He smiled to himself and tried to make his way off the dance floor to make room for the couples. Before he had gone more than a couple of feet, someone grabbed his hand.

He turned to see a girl. She had soft-looking dark blond hair cropped short, the sides held back by two silver barrettes. Her jaw was strong and her lips were sparkling. A kind of glow seemed to surround her. Isaac's lips parted slightly.

"Would you like to dance?" she asked sweetly from behind her sparkling silver half mask.

Isaac returned the smile from under the Zorro type black mask that he was wearing. "I'd love to," he told the mystery girl.

She stepped closer and draped her arms around his neck, nestling her head onto his shoulder.

He placed his arms around her, his hands resting on the small of her back. Isaac began to sway to the music, the whole time wondering who the girl in his arms was. The song blended into two and then three but Isaac didn't part with the girl until the fourth song turned fast.

"Thank you," she whispered in his ear. Then she kissed him on the cheek and pulled away. Smiling, she walked away and blended into the crowd.

Taylor sipped his punch, eyes scanning the crowd of dancing couples. God, how he hated slow songs when he was date-less.

He finished off his plastic glass just as the first slow song ended. He smiled momentarily before hearing another slow song begin. He started for the punch bowl.

Someone touched his arm. "Excuse me?"

Taylor turned around and found himself looking at a petite girl. She had shiny red hair cropped short, the sides held back by two silver barrettes. Her jaw was strong and her lips were shimmering. A kind of glow seemed to surround her. Taylor took in a sharp breath.

"Would you like to dance?" she asked, smiling from behind her sparkling silver half mask.

He smiled as well. "Sure," he said, taking her hand and leading her onto the dance floor.

She rested her head on his shoulder, and he placed his hands on the small of her back. They floated across the dance floor for the duration of the song and through the next. They finally parted when the third song turned fast.

She looked up at him and smiled. "Thank you," she said quietly. She then stood up on her toes and kissed his cheek gently. With that, she disappeared into the crowd of dancers.

Zac walked out onto the tarris. There were too many people in the dance hall for his taste. He looked up into the sky and smiled, inhaling the cold, crisp air. The night was almost perfect.

Except for his brothers.

He loved them, there was no question about that, he was just upset at how poorly they tended to treat him. They acted like he was three, not thirteen. It got on his nerves.

He was snapped from his thoughts when the door to the tarris creaked open. He turned around to see two girls. They smiled at him in unison. He smiled back. He couldn't help it.

The girls were oddly similar in appearance. Both had short, cropped hair, strong jaws, and glittering silver half masks. However, as similar as they were, there were just as many differences. The girl on the right was taller by good few inches - making her about Zac's own height. The girl on the left had shiny red hair whereas the other one had silky-looking dark blond hair.

Zac became uncomfortable. "I was just on my way in," he lied, starting toward the door.

"Please," the redhead said quietly, "don't leave on account of us."

The blond picked up the conversation. "It's a beautiful night, isn't it? Perfect night to end one year -"

"- and to begin another," the redhead finished.

Zac abandoned his flight and nodded at the girls. Glancing up at the sky, he said, "Yeah, it is."

The blond smiled. "Don't sound so happy," she told him, a slight tinge of sarcasm in her tone.

"Not looking forward to '99?" the redhead asked, understanding.

"That's not it," Zac insisted. "It's just . . ." He sighed. "It's my brothers. We used to all be so close, but now we're always mad at each other. Nothing's fun anymore."

"And I bet you want it fun again," the redhead wagered.

Zac nodded.

"And I bet you'd do anything to make it fun again," the blond added.

Zac nodded.

He then snapped his attention onto the girls. "Why?" he asked. "What are you gonna do?"

The two of them laughed. Even their laughs were similar.

"We're not gonna do anything!" the blond said, giggling.

"Yeah," the redhead added. "What, do you think we're magic or something?"

Zac continued to stare at them for a second before smiling. "You're right," he admitted. "Sorry, I'm a little on edge or something."

"S'all right," the redhead told him. She then looked at the blond. "We'd better get back to the party."

"Yeah," the blond agreed. She then took a step toward Zac and planted a soft kiss on his cheek. "Happy New Year."

Before he could respond, the redhead advanced on him and kissed his other cheek. "Happy New Year."

The two of them pivoted and opened the tarris doors. Just before they disappeared into the dance hall, he called, "Same to you two."

He followed them with his eyes until they faded into the crowd. He then turned attention back to the sky.

It was fifteen minutes until midnight.

Isaac's eyes scanned the crowd of people in the dance hall. He had to find his brothers. They had to leave no later than 12:01 in order to get home on time, and he didn't want to wait until 11:59 to begin seeking them out.

Then a blond head caught his eye. Standing in a corner with a small group of people was Taylor. He started for him.

"Tay," he called when he was no more than five feet away. Taylor glanced up at him momentarily before turning his attention back to the conversation.

Isaac continued for his brother. He grabbed him by the shoulder and spun him around. "Taylor," he said, trying to control the level of his voice. "Come with me, we have to find Zac. You haven't seen him, have you?"

Taylor made a waving motion with his arm. "No," he said, annoyed. "Leave me alone, can't you see I'm having a conversation?"

"We have to leave at midnight and I don't wanna have to go looking fo you when it's time to go," Isaac informed his brother. He gritted his teeth together to keep from yelling and making a scene.

"I'll be right here. Now leave me alone." Taylor looked at his brother, blue eyes boaring into brown.

Isaac wasn't going to take this from his younger brother. Grabbing Taylor be the wrist, he half pulled, half dragged him into the kitchen where they could be alone.

"What's your problem?" Taylor yelled as soon as Ike let him go.

"You! Why don't you ever listen to me? You know that mom will kill us if we're not home on time and I know how you are at wandering around." Isaac refused to back down.

"Why don't you just lay off?" Taylor walked up to his brother and pushed him.

"Oh, that's it!" Isaac pushed him back.

Practically growling, Taylor launched himself at Isaac, fists flying the whole time.

Isaac, being the stronger of the two by far, just gave Taylor a strong push away from him.

Taylor hit the far counter, but instead of coming back at Isaac like was expected, he just let out a small gasp and inhaled sharply. His face went ghostly pale and he began to reach for his back, a look of stark terror plastered on his face. Slowly he fell to his knees.

"T-Taylor? Tay, what's wrong?" Isaac took a hesitant step toward his brother.

Taylor's eyes rolled back up into his head as he collapsed onto the floor. That's when Isaac saw the large knife sticking out of his brother's back. It must've been sitting on the counter that Isaac pushed him into.

Just then Zac walked into the room. He took one look at Taylor, then at Isaac, then back at Taylor. "What the hell happened?" Zac asked quietly.

"What does it look like?" Isaac asked, almost snearing at the youngest member of Hanson.

"You son of a bitch!" Zac just threw himself at Isaac, causing the both them to slide through the puddle of Taylor's blood. Isaac fell backwards and cracked his head against the corner of the counter.

With a sickening sound, he went down. Zac looked down at the body underneath him. Standing up, he began to feel the guilt. He began to wonder what had just happened.

Zac down looked at the lifeless bodies of his brothers, a tear streaming down his cheek. "Why did it come to this?" he asked. "We loved each other, we really did . . ." He sniffed. "No matter how bad they treated me, I never wanted them dead . . . and I know they never wanted it to come to this either. If we just had one more chance . . ."

Just then, an eerie silence fell over the house. Zac looked around, sniffing again.

"I loved them so much."

In the distance, a clock tolled. Slowly, it chimed out eleven bells. On the twelveth, Zac closed his eyes. He took in a deep breath, released it, and opened his eyes again.

He was standing outside of the house the party had been at.

Isaac and Taylor were standing beside him. Standing.

"Um, how did we get out here," Taylor asked, obviously confused.

"I have no clue," Isaac whispered.

"I suggest," Zac said slowly, "that we go home."

Isaac put his arm around Zac's shoulder and squeezed it. "Good idea, Zacy." He then placed his free arm around Taylor. The three of them started for their van.

From a balcony overlooking the front of the house, the two girls smiled. Taking hold of each other's hands, they faded into the night's blackness, an identical smile on each of their faces.