|The Taylight Zone - Anthology Eight
10 - The Traveller - Lyndsay
Author's note: I have been writing for nine years. Over half my lifetime. And I still write stories in Notepad. It's the simplicity i guess, it doesn't distract you with millions of icons, it doesn't forever pop up with messages and warnings and reminders. Maybe it's like my writing. One of the biggest quests in life is for simplicity, clarity. I believe that nothing should be able to distract you from a good story and if for one moment, your mind is on something other than the narrative, the characters, the feelings portrayed, then the writer has not done his job. A story is a doorway to a New World, in which nothing is real, nothing it what it seems, nothing is what you think. And even if the reader exits that door for even a second, the moment is lost. If you leave this page thinking about the story, as if you had just woken up from a dream, then I have done my job. I will be happy.
There is nothing right, there is nothing wrong. There is nothing to say and nothing to feel. Empty. The time is always short, the wait is always long, and the preparation is non-existent. There is wonder to what is about to be experienced, anticipation, anxiety, worry, dread, and the threat of the unknown.
Then there is a moment, hung in a never ending expanse of blackness, a pause, a moment. Where everything hangs in the balance. It feeds off the energy.
It inhales the rapid breathing, suspended in the atmosphere like a silken cloth, a cloud of barely there steam that expels from the mouth of the traveler. The breath is snatched away, stolen. And the traveler is left feeling breathless. He does not know why.
It pilfers the sweat, glistening on the traveler's brow like dew in the first morning light. It depletes the liquid, stores it away as an energy source, forever concealed. And the traveler is left feeling dehydrated, wiped out, abstemious. He does not know why.
It wipes out the thoughts, like precious jewels in a hidden valley, sweeping them away with cold, dark fingers. It blanks out any memories, any feelings, any wondering and any doubts. It feeds on the potential energy; the endless possibilities spread out like a platter of forbidden fruit. It leaves the traveler feeling empty, alone, rash and absentminded. He doesn't know why.
The traveler has no time for worry, no time for regrets. No time to be sad and to think of the place he last inhabited, the way he once was. He has no time to think about what is happening in his mind, what is happening in the vast expanse around him, to which he cannot penetrate. He has no time to guess about what is cloaked in darkness, what it is doing, what it is thinking. He has no time for memories, no time for feelings.
He waits, and then he enters.
"Dammit," he cursed, sitting up slowly. He did not open his eyes for fear of what he would see. He rubbed his elbow, on which he had fallen, and cursed again, feeling the beginnings of a bruise.
With both anticipation and trepidation, he opened one eye and looked around.
* * *
Tell me what you want.
The boy's eyes filled with tears. "I want them back."
They can't come back.
"It's all I want." The boy looked down, and found the ugly hospital gown still clung to his body uncomfortably. His head felt numb, as if the pain had been rubbed out, deleted while he dreamt, so he could remain in relative easy. He felt like there was something missing. But as he surveyed his body worriedly, he found no extremities absent. Especially not the important ones.
I can make them come back.
His eyes widened. "Really?"
For a price.
He stiffened, his eyes narrowing. "What kind of price?"
You have to become a traveler.
The boy frowned, and a strand of hair from his ponytail sipped in front of his eyes. He watched the colors swirling, vibrating. Just when he thought he had pinpointed the source of the voice, it moved again, disorientating him. Scaring him. "I won't do it." He said, trying to sound confident and undisputable.
You will. Then they will come back.
"Why can't they come back now? Please," he pleaded, embarrassed by the tremor in his voice. The thought of having them back made him feel frail yet expectant. He did not want to place so much hope in the hands of the voice.
It's not time. But first you will become the traveler. Then they will come back.
"No." He said, his voice low and angry.
The colors swirled irately, a vortex that made him nauseous with dizziness. The haze cleared, and there they stood. Perfect. He cried out in disbelief, in fear, in longing. They smiled demurely at him, and waved. He stepped forward to meet them.
The image disappeared.
You know you have to do it.
He closed his eyes, so afraid, so desperate. "I don't want to."
You have to.
He had no choice. He knew there was never really an option.
"Okay." He finally resigned, a sickening feeling blooming in his stomach like a poisonous flower.
You made the right decision.
"As if it were ever up to me. You make it sound so democratic."
* * *
He opened the other eye, cautious. It was pretty standard. A city, but with no people. A season, but with no weather. A time, but with no clocks. The quiet had long since stopped deafening. It was often so quiet. He wondered why. Do people not dream with sound?
Of course not. That's only the smart people.
He got up, and stood, surveying his clothing. It always changed. For a person that had always cared about his appearance, he resented not having any say in what he wore. Thankfully, he was wearing relatively normal clothes this time. He recognized the black shirt, the black pants, and the tailored jacket. His wardrobe from the third video. They were uncomfortable, tight. He grimaced, and pulled at his shirt.
He walked hesitantly toward a building. Something drew him there, the energy source. He could feel it in his blood, he knew he was getting closer.
"I'm trying!" He cried into the air, his eyes darting around, annoyed. "It would be a hell of a lot easier if you would just let me find her myself. I don't need you telling me what to do. Just quit it!"
Taylor watched the air tremor irritably, and then he was alone. He didn't know whether to be relieved or scared. He hated the voice, but it was his only link to his family. He didn't want it to leave and just forget about him. He didn't want to be stuck here forever.
He walked around a corner, and suddenly found himself lost in a crowd. But she was closer, she was near. He pushed through the crowd persistently.
There she was. He didn't know how he knew; he didn't know why he could tell her from all the others. But he made his way over to her, like a moth to luminosity. His ears prickled with the sudden music that seemed to leak from every corner. I Will Come to You. How … fitting.
She was sitting on the curb, her ankles crossed delicately. Her dress was ruffled and fuchsia. Some how, he knew. Her prom dress. Her hair was piled up on top of her head in a bundle of curls. She wore matching lipstick.
"Hi…" She said shyly.
Taylor reached out his hand, and helped her up from the curb. As soon as their fingers touched, a spark of electricity made him shudder. He was never used to the electric shock, although he knew he had done this many times before. He knew what it meant. He knew it had started.
She smiled inanely at him. He returned a weak smile, then led her down the street.
The air quivered. This is a good one, traveler. Lots of energy. Just a little longer.
"I love you so much."
Taylor didn't answer. He couldn't help feeling slightly embarrassed for the girl. With any other dream, she would wake up, and be thankful that she hadn't done this to him while she was awake. With any other dream, she wouldn't recall the details. But with this dream…
"Where are we going?" She asked, trying to keep up with him, tripping in her high heels. As soon as he turned in her direction, she grinned wildly at him. She went to kiss him. He stepped away and kept walking.
He wasn't expecting to run into anyone as he walked with her down the ally. He was hoping it would be quick and he wouldn't be interrupted. He hoped it would be over soon. He was so tired of it all. He heard muffled sobs, and turned to face the girl.
Tears ran down her cheeks. Her eyes were rimmed in runny mascara. "I hate you! Tell me where we're going. I want to go home. I hate you Taylor Hanson!"
He turned to her, and for a moment, his courage failed him. His bravery failed him. His little mind game, where everything he did was for a good reason, failed him. He lost his nerve.
"You don't hate me. You don't … You don't understand…"
The air tremored warningly. Weakness is not an admirable virtue, traveller. It's almost over.
She looked at him weakly. "Let me go please. I'm so tired…"
"Please don't hate me." He said pleadingly, ignoring the voice. He didn't know why it meant so much to him. One person in the world would join the others. One other person wouldn't make a lot of difference. He just didn't want her last emotion to be hatred for a person she stared at every morning when she woke.
Already, he could tell, she was fading. "This is just a dream, right?" She asked, her voice becoming rasping with fatigue.
"Yeah…" He said, so sorry for her. He still clung to her hand, his arm numb with the energy flowing through it. He hated this part; it always left him sore and a dull ache had already become present in his elbow.
"I do love you. I'm not just another fan. You know that." Her eyelids were closing.
"I know everything about you." Taylor said quietly.
"Can I kiss you?" She asked, her skin becoming deathly pale. He nodded. He knew she didn't have much time left. Her fuchsia lips met his for a brief instant, then she dropped to the ground.
He let go of her hand, and the energy stopped flowing.
Very good, traveler.
He glared at the voice, wherever it was. "I hate you."
I own you.
"When will I see them?"
He walked out of the ally, not daring to turn and look at the body sprawled on the ground, her fuchsia dress moving silently in the breeze. What breeze?
He turned, and saw the vortex opening in front of him. He waited, then he entered.
* * *
"I hate you! And I hate the darkness." The traveler stood, his fists clenched, agitated. Around him, the air swirled as he prepared to enter the next place. "Stealing people's dreams is wrong."
A convenient time to develop a conscience, traveler.
"Stop calling me traveler! My name is Taylor!"
You started the game. You finish it.
This was not a game. Every girl, every dream, every place. It took more and more away. Robbed him of his own dignity, his own pride, his soul. It made him feel like a thief, like a criminal. "I don't want to play anymore," he said finally, his voice low with lamentation.
You don't want to go back.
"Maybe I do."
Back to being unknown? Back to being nobody?
He thought about it. "At least I'd have my family."
There would be no music.
The traveler hung his head, and waited. Then he entered.
* * *
The ocean. That was a bit different. Taylor opened his eyes, and felt sand in his hair.
Down the beach, near the water edge, stood a young woman, her hair already wet and tangled. Taylor squinted his eyes. She was wearing no clothes.
I bet this makes it all worth it.
Taylor glared up at the sky, and the shimmering air disappeared. Then he got up, and proceeded to walk down to the waters edge. To the girl. The energy.
She seemed to sense he was there, and without even turning around, she spoke, her words sultry and well rehearsed. "Hello Taylor."
"Yeah, hi." He hadn't got used to talking to them yet. How could he, when he knew what he was going to do? They would never remember, they would never even acknowledge the fact that it was real. To them, the air was hazy, the ground had gaps, the sky was broken, like a scenery change in a school play. It wasn't real. It was only a dream.
"C'mon in," said the girl, tossing her hair like a Playboy model. "It's really quite nice."
"Nah, I'm too cold." Taylor said, feeling slightly panicked. This had been his first… well, his first dirty dream.
She turned around, and looked him up and down approvingly. "It helps to have clothes." She said helpfully, grinning.
Taylor looked down, and felt a blush spread across his face. He, too, was naked. "Shit." He cursed under his breath.
"So… you coming?" She laughed.
Taylor felt like throwing up, even though the naked girl was a bit of an added bonus. Still, she wasn't that pretty, he had seen better. Still he reached out to touch her, to start the process.
Electric shock. She laughed, and dragged him in.
The cold water startled him, and he fell underneath the water, gasping for breath. Still, his hand found hers in the opaque water.
She dived down, pulling him down with her, then wrapped her arms around him. He spluttered for breath, disorientated. This wasn't supposed to happen. He wasn't supposed to die.
He felt her desperate lips on his and her tongue, trying almost precariously to penetrate his lips. He tried to pull her head to the surface, trying to breathe, trying not to panic her. Still, he firmly grasped her hand, hoping the water wasn't effecting the transfer.
They finally broke the surface of the water, and Taylor jerked his head away, gasping, sucking in the precious air. He had forgotten she didn't have to breathe. Hell, she could dream up a scuba mask and air tank, and be fine for hours.
She was smiling, her lips approaching his mouth fast. Still stunned from his near death experience, he responded unconsciously, kissing her mouth passionately, as he had done in a few other places, with a few other girls. He was getting quite good at it. He may have been a traveler, but he was also a teenage boy.
Very good, traveler. Almost there.
"Did you hear that?" The girl whispered, her hands exploring his body teasingly.
He moved away, distracted. "What?"
"Music…" She whispered, grinning, her head bobbing gently in the water. But already, her eyes were becoming blank, her hair lifeless.
Taylor turned away, only his hand still connected to her body. In the distance, he could hear the beginning strains of MMMBop. Dammit, she had fallen asleep with the CD on. It always made it slightly harder, he didn't know why.
He strained to hear the words, any note sung by his brothers was a precious jewel in this horrible, never ending journey. He ached to see them appear in one of the dreams, so he could tell them what he was doing, the sacrifices he was making. But they never did.
When he turned back to the girl, she was drowning. He let go of her hand, and swam to shore. The salt on his face was mixed with the salt of his tears. Hold on to the ones that really care, in the end they'll be the only ones there.
Bullshit, it was all bullshit. He closed his eyes, waited, then he entered.
* * *
"I want to be famous. Rich and famous. I want every girl to know my name, and half of them to be in love with me. That's all I want." He smiled sardonically, not familiar with the emotion. Bitterness had twisted his soul, and stole his innocent outlook on life.
What if I told you I could make it happen?
Taylor turned around, and quickly surveyed the backyard, panicked. He thought he was talking to himself. No one was supposed to answer. "Who are you?" He whispered, uncertainly.
That's not important.
He waited, wanting to hear more. The birds had gone silent, the breeze had ceased, and there was no sound from the road. Only him and the voice. "You can make me famous…?" He murmured uncertainly.
Sure. Easy. For a price.
"What kind of price?" He asked slowly, slightly skeptical.
You must become a traveler.
Taylor laughed. What was new about that? He had been travelling for as long as he could remember. "A traveller? What… like, where do I have to go?"
Do you want to be famous?
"Yes." He repeated. "I want to be famous, and successful. I want us to be famous."
"Me and Zac and Ike… I want us to be famous, then the girls at the corner wouldn't call us dorks, and we wouldn't get so much shit from the guys down the road… I want respect. I want to be famous." Taylor spoke the words softly, embarrassed by the dreamy tone in his voice.
He had wanted this from the day he was born, the day the first girl he ever liked, Amber, had called him gay, even though both of them didn't know what it meant. He had wanted it the day he watched his older brother, rejected once again, because he simply wasn't cool. He had wanted it the day he saw his younger brother cry, because he didn't have friends. He wanted it, because he needed it.
You want to be successful. Then you must become a traveler.
"Okay." Taylor said nervously. "What do I have to do?"
Come with me.
* * *
He stood at the peek of the Eiffel Tower, clouds swirling around him. "Shit, shit, shit, shit…" He panicked. Next to him, a girl smiled, and said something quickly in French. Somehow, the traveler understood. Don't be afraid.
"We're up so high… I'm not invincible. I can die…" He pleaded, hoping it was listening. "Get me down, save me… I don't want to do this one!"
There was laughter, then a reassuring voice. Don't panic. Initiate.
The girl turned to him, and said something else in French. The words filled his mind, translated by the weird intelligence he seemed to have gained when he was travelling. I want to fly.
"No…" He pleaded slowly.
Then, she took his hand, and gripped it firmly. Electric shock. Then they were flying.
Taylor screamed, all the way down. "Help me!" He pleaded. "Please, help me! Fuck! Shit. Help!"
Just a few more seconds.
"NO! HELP!" He screamed. He could see the ground approaching too quickly, the immaculate lawns rising to meet him.
He turned back the girl with a last desperate cry, but she was gone. Just like the others.
He saw blackness, Then he realized his eyes were closed, he quickly opened them. The vortex was swirling. He waited, then he entered, falling into the hole that had replaced the ground.
* * *
Are you happy?
Taylor nodded; his face ecstatic. "It went to number one. Just like you said."
Of course. Now you must travel.
"What, tonight?" Taylor's smile faded quickly. "But tonight… we were planing to go out. There's this party…"
You'll be back in time.
"What kind of travelling is it anyway?" He asked, searching the room to find where the voice was coming from. "Like, do I have to pack?"
He heard laughter, like a screaming cat scratching a blackboard with a chainsaw. He grimaced.
No, traveler. You will find clothing when you get there. Now, come with me.
* * *
So many girls, so many dreams. So many souls lost. Every face, immortalised in his mind. He knew that if by some freak of nature, some accident in this horrible process, that made these victims come to life again, he would recognise each and every one of them. Faces in the crowd, each with their own individual fantasies, now plagued his nightmare of an existance. He lived to travel, with no control over destination, no control over the victim, no control over his own terrible acts. He wanted to quit. But now the sacrifice was too great.
* * *
He landed on his feet, with his eyes opened. He didn't do that often. It seemed to happen only occasionally, he'd find the strength the fight the swirling wind, to keep his eyes open. As soon as he landed, he checked his clothes. He had on his red cords, a plain black T-shirt, chokers. It was night time.
Only then did he look up, look around. "Oh, no…" He whispered with despondency, with fear.
He knew the day would come, the day would come where he would stand there, ready to hunt the energy source, only to find it was some one he knew. He was okay with strangers, he could cope with strangers, and he didn't feel so bad. But with…
Almost against his will, he began walking. She was close…
He felt dread creep up on him, but he pushed it down, trying to forget. He probably didn't know her. He had probably never seen her in his life. There were a lot of people in Tulsa. The traveler continued on, hoping it wasn't her.
Down one street, up another. They were becoming familiar. "No…" He said, shaking his head.
"What have you done?" He cried hysterically. "I thought you only chose the ones with the most energy…"
And that excludes Tulsa? Dear traveler, that's where its all coming from.
"No… not her."
She called you-
Still, he walked on, like he was no longer in control of his feet. Past the playground, past the elementary school, past the corner where he used to play soccer.
Yes, traveler. She is a source.
* * *
"You said nothing bad would happen!"
His eyes were filled with tears that never seemed to end, and his face was red, hot, stained. He writhed with pain, with anguish. It was so cruel.
When did I ever say that, traveler?
"You said I would be successful! You said I would be famous! You never said you would kill my family!" He broke down speaking the words, his sobs echoing in the darkness. His throat caught, and he collapsed, just weeping.
You can't have everything.
"I want them back."
You can't. Unless-
"No!" He shouted, crying into the darkness. "No more travelling. Christ, please no more travelling. Please," he pleaded, a desperate, manic note to his voice. "Please, just bring them back."
There are many sources. It would only be a few more.
"No!" He repeated. Then he lifted his head, a smirk on his face. "You can't bring them back, no one can. I'm not going to be tricked into any more travelling."
You forget that I steal dreams. You forget that I run the world. How do you think success comes about, traveler? By magic? No… I power dreams. I make dreams come true. You forget that I power your dream. Trust me. You'll be back.
"Never!" He cried, blacking out the blackness. All he heard was its laughter. He covered his ears and cried.
* * *
He stood in front of her house. There was no feeling left, no feeling that he could conjure up. No guilt, no worry, no sadness, no revenge. All he wanted to do was get out of there. Get it over and done with, and get out of there.
A window opened, and a blond girl stood behind the glass, a huge smile on her face. "Taylor!" She whispered excitedly. "What are you doing here?"
He smiled sadly. "I don't know, Amber."
The window closed, and a few moments later, she was sneaking out the front door in her filmy nightgown. "Oh, Taylor, I'm so sorry." She cried genuinely, with tears filling her eyes. "I'm so sorry." Her hands were outstretched to hug him.
He stepped back so quickly, he almost tripped over. "Please, don't touch me. Whatever you do. Don't touch me."
She halted, looking hurt. "I was only-"
"No, it's okay… come for a walk with me." Taylor said desperately, quickly starting down the path.
Amber struggled to catch up. "What's the deal, Tay?"
Hurry, traveler. Initiate. Hurry!
He ignored the voice. "I need to tell you something."
Amber smiled uncertainly. "What? We've all missed you so much. I've been following a lot of the tour in the magazines-"
"Amber… I… I'm a horrible person." Taylor blurted out. "And I need your help."
There is no time for a soppy reunion. Do it. Initiate!
"Because. I'm a traveler. I steal people's dreams. This is a dream, right now. This is all happening in your head." Taylor said quickly, walking fast to try to outrun the vortex. He knew it was close.
Shut up and do it! Now! The voice was tense, angry, panicked. It was the first time that Taylor had heard it lose it's cool. He smiled, then concentrated on Amber.
"My head?" She echoed distantly, trying to grasp the outlandish concept.
"I get into your dream, and I steal the energy…" Taylor tried to explain, ignoring the voice. "I transfer the energy from your subconscious to…" He paused. "To this thing… it feeds off the energy. It makes bargains with desperate people; travelers like me. It makes their dreams come true."
"You mean you steal peoples dreams, to make your own dream come true?" Her face was contorted with skepticism and disgust. "That's… that's…" She struggled for the appropriate word.
"And you made…" She finally worked it out. "You made yourself famous. Oh, Taylor…" She sighed.
"My family are dead. They died in a car accident. I'm in a coma at a hospital in Los Angeles." He said quickly. "I don't expect you to believe me. But I have to see them again… So I made a deal, I would travel again, and it would bring my family back…"
"How many more dreams, Taylor? How many?" He said.
Just one. Amber's. Then you can see your family.You do want to see them again. Initiate. Now.
"It wants me to take yours." He admitted.
"Take it. I don't care. It's a pretty shitty dream anyway." Amber grinned wryly, a hint of fear on her delicate features.
"You don't understand." Taylor said. "You don't wake up. You don't … somehow; it cuts off the circulation to your brain, it steals your subconcious, your central … You don't wake up." He repeated.
What are you? An expert? It laughed. Do it. Don't make this harder for yourself.
Amber went pale, and he quickly checked to make sure he wasn't touching her. He wasn't. It was shock that was registering on her face. "Oh, no Tay…" she said, struggling to get the words out.
"You have to stop it." He said. "You have to… you have to kill me."
No. This is not part of the bargain.
"But this is just a dream. It won't work." Amber insisted, shaking her head adamantly.
"It will. I'm still alive. I'm still in the coma. If you kill me, I will die in real life." Taylor said slowly. "And I won't have to be a traveler anymore. You'll be saving me."
You will never see your family again.
"How? How can I kill you…?"
The words brought both fear and relief to Taylor's face. "I don't know. Something that won't bring me in contact with you. Something… a bullet." Taylor said finally. "You have to dream up a gun."
Say goodbye to your family, traveler. You'll never see them again. You can still say no.
"A gun? Taylor, I'm not… I'm against guns!" She said hysterically.
Taylor grinned wryly. "Don't worry, I don't think I'm going to tell anyone."
"Okay… so I just dream it? I just think about it and it will appear?" She asked, her voice small and uncertain.
"Yep… that's all you have to do." He said loudly, trying to block out the voice. His palms were damp with nervous sweat. He wiped them against his cords, and gave her what he hoped was a reassuring grin.
"Okay…" She said. She closed her eyes, and furrowed her brow. An instant later, she was struggling to hold a large, black, ugly mass of tubes and bulky metal.
"A M-16? Shit, Amber, what kind of sick weirdo are you?" Taylor said, backing off.
Amber was blushing furiously as she held up the gun. "My brother has a thing with Rambo movies… I'm sorry! I have a warped imagination."
Taylor smiled, in spite of the flood of emotions sweeping over him. "Well," he whispered remorsfully. "I guess this is it."
"Tay, I don't want to-"
No. Don't do it!
"Amber." He almost shouted the word. "Please, you have to."
"I … I, god, this is the worst time to tell you…" Amber started. "Taylor, I've always had a crush on you. Like, forever…"
"It's okay Amber."
Don't do it!
"And I… well, if this was real, you know…"
Taylor smiled, wondering about the irony. It was cruel.
"If I could touch you I would kiss you." Amber whispered.
"Thankyou Amber. For everything."
She stepped back, calm, tears running down her cheeks. She closed her eyes, her fingers resting on the tigger. "I don't want to remember this," She said slowly. "But I will never forget you. Goodbye Taylor."
The air began to swirl angrily, and gale force winds circled them. There was an earsplitting noise, like a tornado crying. Then there was a gunshot, and a puff of smoke. Taylor reeled back, his eyes closed.
A scream like a thousand souls dying echoed in his ears and then everything went black.
* * *
"He's … yes, he's coming back to us- quick, someone call the family!"
Taylor stirred, as if he were awake from an endless nightmare. He opened his eyes, and was almost blinded by the glare of the whitelights. He sat up, but then collapsed, fatigue overwhelming him. He closed his eyes again, pain hitting him like a sledgehammer. He cursed under his breath in agony.
He thought he was dreaming. The golden voice was nearer, edged by tears and happiness. "Honey, are you awake? Oh, baby-"
Both eyes flew open. "Mom!" he exclaimed, his voice breaking with emotion. He ignored the pain, and struggled to sit up.
"Oh, my darling, you're awake!" She flew at him, her arms outstretched to hug him. He hugged her back, his eyes brimming with tears. "Mom, I thought…"
"What, honey? Oh, don't speak now, you're probably still tired… Walker, can you please get him a glass of water, something liquid…"
Taylor opened his eyes, and peered through the mass of blond hair encircling him, some hers, some his own. In the distance, he could make out the strong frame of his father, staring at him with a mixture of joy and concern.
"Mom, is he okay?" There was a rush of feet, and his brothers and sisters suddenly surrounded him. He studied each golden, precious face in turn, tears spilling freely down his face. "I thought I had lost you." He whispered, overcome with thankfulness.
His mother finally pulled away from her son. "We thought we had lost you!"
"But the car accident…" Taylor tried to speak, his voice still thick with pain and sleep.
Diana studied her son. "Tay,"she started gently. "What car accident? Honey… we don't know what happened, you were fine this morning. We found you in the backyard, unconscious…"
Taylor leaned back against the pillows, his face calm, but still confused. It was all… a dream? No… it could have been. It was all too real. Too detailed to be a dream...
"There are like, a million crying girls out there still." Zac said, his face peering out of the window. "They're all holding signs and roses and chocolate. Can I go out there, Mom? Please?"
"Absolutely not." Diana said sternly, still smiling at her son. Taylor smiled back groggily, still bewildered. He closed his eyes.
"We better let him rest…" he heard his sister say. "Bye Taylor." Came the chorus of concerned voices, and then they all left.
He thought he was alone, and rolled over to get some sleep, to escape from the millions of thoughs swirling in his head. Then he heard light footsteps as someone entered the room.
He opened his eyes, and almost fell out of the bed. "Amber?" He guessed uncertainly.
He edged away from her, still uncertain.
"I heard you were here, and I thought I'd drop by…" she stammered nervously. "I know you probably don't want to talk to me…"
"No! No, it's not that…" Taylor insisted. He thought quickly. She must be talking calling me… "it's no big deal."
"Not for you maybe, but it's been hell for me…" She smiled sweetly. "But I've been having terrible thoughts about M-16s."
Taylor's eyes widened. "No way…"
* * *
"It's all about Taylor." Zac murmered, stepping out of the gift shop, where the rest of his family were still discussing which chocolates to get Taylor.
He could hear the screaming and crying from inside the thick walls. "I wish I was that popular…" He muttered bitterly.
What if I told you I could make it happen?
"Sounds good." Zac said, his face brightening with the possibilities. "Tell me more."
There was soft laughter. Zac felt a shiver run down his spine. Feel like some travelling?