|The Taylight Zone - Anthology Eight
17 - It's the Stories - A. Tank
Taylor's thoughts are in white, in case you couldn't figure that out, and the voice's thoughts are in (gray).
Prologue - They Seemed Real
God, he just couldn't stop thinking about them. All of them. They just engulfed his mind, and when one left, another entered in such rapid succession he couldn't even take a break from the madness. It seemed like it would never end. Just filling his mind with words that were not his own. . .
And then he awoke in another cold sweat, his sheets twisted around his legs. Once again he was gasping for breath, as the night before. Reaching for the glass of water that sat on the nightstand next to his bed, he gulped it down. He returned the glass to the table and turned on the lamp next to his bed. The light illuminated the corner of his room, making him less afraid. This couldn't keep happening. It just had to stop. Why had he even found that website in the first place?
Because he had been bored and looking for some good fan fiction to read, that's why. Except he hadn't found what he had been looking for. He hadn't found the fluffy, air-headed stories that brought him laughs. He had found a haven for a different breed of stories. It intrigued him in such a way. . . that he couldn&rsquot stop thinking about them. That the stories returned night after night in his head to replay the drama for him.
The twisted motives and paradoxical happenings of the stories stayed with him long after they were read. They seemed real. Too real. Maybe it's just the writers. Maybe they're just really good, and that's why I think they're real. But that wasn't it. That was just what he wanted to think.
Part One - There's Nothing To Spill
"Hey Tay!" Zac yelled to his brother across the hotel room. "Listen to this. There's this rumor here about you that-"
"Shut up, please," Taylor begged. It could come true, I can't hear it. "I really- No. Please, don't read it to me." He looked wearily at his brother, his lack of sleep making itself visible on his face. In the dark circles under his eyes. In the pale color of his skin. The way that his eyelids flickered down, teetering on the edge of unconsciousness so often now.
"Yeah, ok Tay," Zac said sympathetically. He didn't know what was happening to his brother. Lately he had seemed almost paranoid, afraid of everyone and everything. He was jumpy and nervous around his brothers, yet he wouldn't tell anyone why. So Zac sat on the sidelines as he watched his brother slowly deteriorate. "You know we have to play a show tonight. Are you ready?"
A show. A show as in perform. In front of all the fans. The crazy, psychotic fans. I can't do that! They'll all kill me. "I can't do a show!" he shouted. "I can't go in there! I can't!"
A soft, comforting hand came to rest on his shoulder, and he looked up into the eyes of his mother. "Mom," he whispered. She was someone safe, someone he could count on. She sat down on the bed next to him, and he cuddled up next to her. Warm. Safe.
What am I thinking? How do I even know she's my mother? She could be. . . She might not even be my mother! How do I know she's not helping them? He recoiled from her quickly, his eyes studying her intently. "Honey, what's wrong? How come you don't want to play tonight?" she asked him. The voice was soft and calming.
(Don't tell her why you can't play tonight. It'll make you sound crazy.)
What? Now I'm hearing voices. No. Ignore them. It's just the stories. They're trying to get into my head. I won't let them.
(But they're already there. You know that Taylor. That's why you're so afraid.)
"NO! Stop! Get out! You're just trying to trick me! Just like those damn stories that started this in the first place!" he shouted, leaping up off of the bed. Zac sat frozen on his own bed, not daring to speak, fearing he would get the wrath of Taylor if he did. Diana though, bravely made her way towards Taylor and rested her hands on his shoulders.
"Taylor, stop it. No one's trying to trick you. You're fine." She guided him towards a chair and sat him down. "I'd really like to know what's going on here. Spill."
"There's nothing going on," he admitted. If I tell her something's wrong, she'll send me away. To a crazy house. I don't need to go there. Awful things happen there! I know what happens there, I can't go!
(But that doesn't mean you won't Taylor.)
"STOP IT!" Taylor cried, clawing at the air, at something invisible. After a moment, he stopped, and blinked. Nothing. The voice didn't say anything. Maybe it was gone. Silence. The silence was almost deafening it was so quiet.
"You think maybe it's schizophrenia, Mom?" he heard his brother ask.
"No, it's not!" Taylor responded. "I'm not schizophrenic. That was in the stories, it's not in me!"
(Yes it is Taylor. If you can hear me.)
Don't say anything Taylor. Don't. If you say something, they'll think you're crazy. They'll send you away. Calm.
(That's good thinking Taylor. You don't want to get sent away.)
He didn't hear his mom suggest Zac get ready for the concert, but knew it all along that was where Zac had went. Weird. "Now Taylor," Diana said, turning her focus toward her son. "I want the full story. Spill, now."
"There's nothing to spill, the cup is full. I'd like a double latte please." Where did that come from?
(Oh, yeah, like that's not going to convince her you're crazy.)
Diana shook her head and sighed. Standing up, she told him, "Taylor, you don't drink coffee. And second, if you don't have your act straightened out by tonight, we're going to see Dr. Rubank."
A psychiatrist? I can't go see a psychiatrist! He'll. . . he'll want to read the stories! I can't let him read them, they're mine! They're about me. Not for him. For me. They wrote them for me. Taylor, you just have to keep your act together for another day. Just. . . stay composed. That's all there is to it. No talking to the voice. Stay calm.
(He's going to tell you you're crazy Taylor. You are, you know that, right?)
Part Two - It's The Stories
Why am I here?
(Because they forced you to be here Taylor. You have to play tonight.)
"I'm glad you shaped up your attitude Taylor," his mother told him sternly as he stepped out of the dressing room. "Maybe we can cancel that appointment we made for tomorrow."
"Um, yeah, that sounds good Mom." If you're my mom.
Diana smiled and patted Taylor on the shoulder. "Now go out there and have a hell of a show!"
Taylor saw his brothers near the edge of the curtain, and ran over to catch up with them. "You ready now Taylor?" Isaac asked him.
Before he could answer, his two brothers ran onto the stage, pulling Tay with them. The shrieking and screaming rose to an even higher level, cutting through Taylor's earplugs and sending a splitting pain into his ears. The screaming. . . it has to stop! Look at all those fans out there. Some of them want me dead, I'm sure. Look at that sign, I love you to death. She wants to kill me. And that guy. . . he's a vampire, I'm sure of it.
(Stop it, you can't go crazy during the show.)
Yeah, you're right.
The drumbeat started, and although his mind wasn't on the music, the chords came from the keyboard, the right ones nonetheless. Taylor sang, but the whole while cringing. I should have tuned my voice more. I should have done more scales. I'm sounding horrible out here.
After the show, however, Isaac and Zac told him it was the best show they had ever done. "What?"
"You were awesome Tay. Sorry about that schizophrenia comment I made before," Zac told him.
"Oh. . . that's ok," Taylor responded. When did Zac call me a schizophrenic?
(When you were talking to me earlier.)
"Now we gotta go meet the fans, come on Tay." The fans? No! They're the worst of all. There were so many stories about the fans! Fans killing me. . . killing themselves. . . messing up our lives! I can't go see the fans. "I can't go see the fans."
"Taylor, you have to," Isaac told him.
"No, I don't. Tell them I'm sick. I can't see them." I am sick, if I think someone's talking to me.
(But I am talking to you Taylor.)
"Why not?" Isaac asked, irritated.
"It's the stories. . ." was all Taylor said.
"Nothing. Just go."
So they left, Isaac and Zac, with the explanation that Taylor had gotten sick after the show.
"Um, hi," a voice said sheepishly. Taylor turned around. A girl. A blond girl, with blue eyes, wearing a tiny tiny top and a tight tight skirt. A fan.
Taylor gasped. "Go away."
"What? But. . .but Taylor!" she sputtered.
"Please, leave. I don't want to die." Please leave, please leave.
"What are you talking about?" she demanded. "Taylor I never knew you were crazy."
"I'm not crazy. It's the stories." It is the stories. That's exactly what it is.
"Stories? I write stories. Actually," she admitted kind of sheepishly, "I write Hanson stories. For this one webpage, and it's this thing called the Taylight Zone..."
"NO!" he shouted, lunging at her.
"What? Did you read them and not like them or something?" she asked playfully. But seeing the look on Taylor's face, she edged closer to the door.
"You -" She helped contribute to this!
"Taylor, what is happening to you? This is like something out of one of my stories!"
"It is. It's the stories."
Part Three - In The Crazy House
I knew this would happen.
(I told you, that's why.)
Shut up, I have to concentrate.
"So Taylor, why do you think your mom brought you here?" Dr. Rubank asked him.
"I don't know. She thinks I'm crazy. They all do."
"And do you know why they think you're crazy?" His voice was soft, and soothing. Kind of like the doctor's in the stories. No! Stop thinking about the stories!
(You have to tell him about the stories.)
No I don't! They're mine! And you shut up, the only reason you're here is because of the stories.
(So you're saying that I'm a figment of your imagination?)
Yeah. No. I don't know.
"Taylor?" Dr. Rubank said, trying to get his attention. He had spaced out again. Diana had said he'd been doing that for some time. "Taylor, how come you're so reluctant to talk to me?"
"I'm not reluctant. I was just talking to someone else."
"And who would that be?"
"I don't know. He never told me his name. But the only reason he's there is because he's in the stories. He's in a lot of them."
"And what stories would you be talking about Taylor?"
(He wants to take your stories and keep them for himself Taylor. You can't let him have your stories.)
"You can't have my stories! They're mine, they're written about me! And you're probably one of them! One of those mean, evil doctors who says he's trying to cure me but he's working behind my back with someone to keep me this way. It's right in the stories. You're going to lock me up in this crazy house. I'm sure of it."
"Taylor, I think you're mistaken. I'm not in one of your stories, so you don't have to worry. Why don't you go back with Diana now, and we'll talk tomorrow ok? We've had enough for one day."
"You're letting me go?"
(Just you watch, you'll be back here soon enough.)
No I won't! Just you watch you little. . .
(You don't even know what I am, so how can you insult me?)
* * *
"Taylor we're thinking about going to a fair. Would that be all right with you?"
(A fair? Let's go, it sounds like fun.)
Too many stories took place at fairs. Fortune tellers. . . roller coasters. . . freaky people. We can't. Nope, something will happen. Something bad. "I'd rather just stay here Mom," he told her.
"Ok honey. Ike will stay home with you then, since he isn't feeling well."
(You can't stay here with Ike, he'll kill you.)
"I can't stay here with Ike! He'll kill me. . . just like the stories!" Taylor yelped. He ran to his father. "I can't stay here alone."
Walker looked at Diana, and she nodded. "Taylor, why don't we go for a ride in the car?" his dad suggested. Taylor thought about the stories. Was there one when his dad took him in the car and something happened? He couldn't remember. . . he didn't think so.
(You might be making a mistake Taylor.)
Well it's better than staying here with Ike.
Once in the car Taylor turned on the radio, loudly. "Taylor turn that down, please" his father asked.
"No. You do it."
The music faded as Taylor sat frozen staring out the window. A group of girls stood in front of the local movie theater. He wondered if they knew who he was. Maybe he wasn't famous anymore, or was just a ghost or something. Did people know who he was?
(Yes they do, listen to them scream.)
Good. I thought that. . .
(I know what you thought Taylor.)
* * *
He was inside the building again. But a different room. It's cold in here. Where is everyone? I want to leave, I can't stay in here! The stories that happened in the crazy houses are bad! Something bad is going to happen!
A girl entered the room. She was wearing a white coat. "Hello Taylor. Dr. Rubank couldn't come right at the moment, so he asked me to keep you company. Is that alright?"
"Yes. What's your name?"
"My name? Vivian." She smiled.
Her name is Vivian? That's the name of. . . "No! You're dead! You died, you cannot be here!" he shouted.
The screams brought Dr. Rubank rushing in. "Taylor. Calm down. This is a different Vivian than you're thinking of, ok? This is not the Vivian that died," Dr. Rubank assured him, although he had no idea which Vivian Taylor was talking about.
"Yeah, ok." He sat down, once again staring dully at nothing.
"Taylor, I think we're going to have you stay here for a day or two. Just for awhile."
(I told you that you'd be back.)
You never said such a thing!
He was led to a small room. White. A bed in one corner. White. A white chair and a white table. A white computer. With a cord that traveled to a phone outlet. White on white. Isaac is afraid of anything that's not white. He would like this room.
(That computer has Internet access Taylor. Don't you want to see what they've written about you this time?)
Yes, yes I do.
He sat down at the chair, facing the computer. He was already signed online. He typed in the address.
Part Four - Something To Write
(You know how this is going to end.)
No I don't. This isn't written in a story. This is my own story. It's not written down.
(So write it down.)
I can't write it down!
"Taylor, I've read some of your stories," Dr. Rubank admitted. He read my stories? He had no right to do that, no right! Those are my stories!
"Those are my stories! They're about me! You have no right to do that!"
"Taylor, they're posted on the Internet. Anyone with access can read them. But I have a few questions to ask you. Are these stories real?"
"Did some of them happen to you?"
"Is that why you're scared? You think more of them will come true?"
(Why is he asking you all these dumb questions?)
Because he wants to ruin me. They all do.
"Taylor I have something for you to do."
"I want you to write a story for the Taylight Zone. Wouldn't it be nice to be in charge of your own destiny instead of these fans writing about you? Fans that know nothing about what they're doing to you?"
(What are you talking about? Yes you can. You can write me away.)
That's a good idea.
"Taylor, I'm sure you can," pressed Dr. Rubank. "You write music, don't you? You can write a story."
"Alright. Please let me go back to my computer. I'd like to start."
* * *
Taylor leaned back onto the back two legs of his white chair. He was almost finished. He just had to write the ending. How did he want to end?
(What did you do with me?)
Shut up. I burned you in Hell, that's what I did.
(Ha ha. No, seriously.)
I am serious.
(How are you going to end it?)
I don't know. I made myself not crazy anymore. . . got myself out of this place. . . made everyone else sane, my family and the fans. What else is there left to do? I guess I'll just leave it hanging or something.
(Well, you can't send it in saying you're Taylor Hanson.)
You're right. I need a pseudonym. A girls' name. Alisa. I've always liked that name. And then I'll just use my cousin's last name, Tank. There. I'll be Alisa Tank. Perfect.
(Alright, good. Well, I guess its goodbye then, huh?)
Yep. Even though you were a pain in the ass, I kinda liked you. Bye.
Silence. There was no response. The voice was gone. The voice was gone? Is it over?
"It's over," Taylor whispered, looking around. He was still in the white room. He walked over toward the door. The knob turned. He could leave. But where should I go? I guess it doesn't matter. I left the possibilities hanging. I can do anything.