Walls - Chapter 1

He had to get away from them. It was all too much. There was no dealing with it, not with the way they weren't looking at him, or the way they weren't speaking to him. It wasn't his fault, was it? He hadn't meant it, had he? Maybe he had. He just didn't know. He just knew he hated himself. There was nothing about himself he could live with. They were all right. They hated him now, and he agreed. He glanced at his mother, and she averted her eyes. Mental nod, she couldn't even look at him. His own mother hated him.

He couldn't take it anymore, he couldn't take their non stares.

He slipped away, knowing that they wouldn't come after him. Why look for someone who shouldn't even exist?

He found a bathroom and drifted inside. Cold in here. Smelled like perfume. no matter. who cared? He shut himself into one of the stalls and locked the door... deja vu... he'd done this before... who cared? He dug into his pocket, pulled out two crumpled plastic baggies, and sat down. For the most infinitesimal moment, the thought "don't do this" flashed through his mind, barely registered and nowhere near enough to make him stop.

He dumped the contents of the baggies, about two dozen colored tablets and capsules, into his hand, and stopped for a moment, his eyes glazed and unfocused. He mumbled to himself for a moment, perhaps a prayer, and then tipped the tabs into his mouth. He chewed them, swallowed, and sat back, eyes dull. Beyond fear, beyond tears, numb... waiting. Soon nausea set in and he fought it, he wasn't going to let himself throw them up. Soon enough it faded, and he began to drift. His last clear impression was the smell of cheap perfume...

He woke up slowly, in stages, slipping from dreams to reality almost imperceptibly... he wasn't really sure when he finally woke up, he just gradually became aware that he was. Clear thought was still beyond him, he was perceiving things in stills...
"White", he thought. "Everything's white." The thought didn't connect to anything. He was warm, and things were white. He let it be for a little while, not really thinking, and not really waking up any further. He didn't remember anything yet. Things were white.

Memory suddenly crashed in on him. Unprepared for the flood of pain, he cried out, and then dissolved into tears, completely unable to cope. Why hadn't they just let him die?

His outcry had brought people, and in some faraway corner of his mind, he felt their hands on him, heard their voices, but they belonged elsewhere. They couldn't help him. They couldn't take this away from him. At the mercy of his mind, he never felt the prick of a needle, or noticed when oblivion reached out and took him.

Thing in his arm hurt. He was glad, he deserved it. They told him he was dehydrated, and that he needed the thing, and they went out of their way to make it less painful. He wished they wouldn't. He didn't deserve their consideration.

Certainly his family didn't think so, he hadn't even seen them. He stared up at the ceiling, wondering how it could have come to this. He'd never dreamed...

Six weeks previous

Taylor wandered somewhat aimlessly down he hall. He wasn't sure where he was going, he just didn't want to be shut in the room anymore. It had been a long day, and he was tired, but nowhere near unwound enough for sleep.
Ike was laid up with a migraine, and had asked Tay to keep the TV off, as well as the light, so he couldn't even read.
He smiled to himself, his thoughts ironic."Here's a thing, I'm reduced to wandering the halls for lack of anything else to do. Such an exciting life I'm leading. Ha."

He'd been by the front desk about six times, and the woman behind it was beginning to look at him oddly. He grinned at her on his way by, and she shook her head, and went back to her paperwork. Taylor laughed a little. "Bet she thinks I'm nuts."

He began his third swing through the third floor corridor when an idea hit him. He and Ike were friends with Mike Emery, one of their crew. Really, Ike was more his friend than Taylor's, but they both spent a fair amount of time in Mike's room watching movies, talking music, and collecting advice from the 20 year old technician. Taylor had never gone there on his own, he usually tagged along with Ike, but he figured he didn't have much to lose. At worst, he'd have to keep wandering the halls, at best, maybe he could check out a movie.

He jogged back to the front desk, and waited for the clerk to look up.
When a few minutes had gone by, and she continued to steadfastly ignore him, he reached out and tapped her arm.
"Excuse me?"
She glanced up, annoyed. She was about sick of looking at this kid. Her eyebrows raised, she waited to hear whatever it was he thought he had to say to her.

Taylor smiled engagingly at her, hoping to thaw her out some, she looked about ready to bite his head off. "I'm sorry, I don't mean to bother you, but can you tell me where Mike Emery's room is?"
She crossed her arms in front of her chest. "Don't you think it's a little late for you to be out running around to peoples rooms?"
He laughed, "Nope, we specialize in night work. Trust me, he's up. Please, will you tell me what room he's in?"

He smiled so winningly that she had no choice but to laugh. She looked up the room number, handed it to him, and shook her head, as she watched him run off down the hall. She hoped to God he wasn't about to wake the poor man up.

Taylor's soft knock was answered by a friendly "It's open..." 

He laughed, thinking that one day Mike was gonna get walked in on by God only knew who, and let himself in.

"Hey Tay..." Mike's friendly greeting boosted his spirits, which had been at a low ebb. He nodded a greeting, "You busy?"
Mike laughed, "Hell no, just trying to figure out which of these ridiculously overpriced pay per view monstrosities to watch. C'mon in and help me pick one out."
Taylor smiled and plopped himself down on the bed, next to Mike. He glanced at the list in Mike's hand and shrugged. "Hey, whatever you want. I don't care."
Mike growled at him, "Fat lot of good you are. Okay, but I don't want to hear that you don't like it." He programmed in his choice and settled back. "Hey, where's Ike?" Taylor frowned, and shook his head with a sigh, "He's got another headache, bad one, too... made him really sick. He kinda kicked me out."

Mike's cheerful expression fell, replaced by one of concern. "Another one? Taylor that's not good, is anyone doing anything about this?"
Taylor nodded, "yeah, we've all been checked over. I guess we're all okay. They said it was stress."
Mike snorted, "Stress, yeah, that's what they say when what they mean is "duh, I dunno."

Taylor snickered, "That's what my dad said too... they gave us this, though."
He pulled a small bottle from his pocket and handed it to Mike, who read the label with an appreciative whistle,"Valium? Wow, you must be stressed. Good stuff. A hundred million housewives can't be wrong."
Taylor only smiled faintly, confused by the reference. Mike shook his head, "Never mind. Is it helping?"
Taylor shrugged, "I don't know, not really, it doesn't seem to make much difference. Just makes me a little spacey. I don't take it that much."

Mike playfully socked Taylor on the arm... "Whatcha got to be stressed about kid, really... what's a fifteen hour workday? Hey, we all do seven day workweeks. You're young and strong, get over it all ready. And if..." He read the prescription bottle,"one tablet every six hours as needed, doesn't work, try two." He handed the bottle back to Taylor, who laughed for a moment, but his good humor faded quickly, and he looked at Mike wide eyed and serious. "You have no idea, you know. You really don't have any idea what's been going on."
"What has been going on, Tay?"

Mike was concerned. Between Ike's headaches, that took him completely off his feet, and Taylor never sleeping, the boys were running on a ragged edge. Everyone in the organization knew it, but nobody knew what the problem was, or how to stop it. He hoped Taylor would talk to him. He genuinely liked the kid, despite his initial reservations on being hired on here. He'd been afraid that the boys would be spoiled and insufferable. He'd been pleasantly surprised to find them friendly and easy to be around. He and Ike weren't very far apart in age, and had hit it off immediately. Ike rarely went anywhere without Tay, so it hadn't taken Mike long to warm up to the younger boy as well.

Now, really looking at him for the first time in weeks, he was alarmed. Taylor looked like he'd lost quite a bit of weight, and his face was pale, with purplish circles under his eyes. He seemed a little shaky, and now that he thought about it, he'd seemed like that quite a lot recently. His brows knit, as he scrutinized his friend. God alone knew how much longer they were going to be out here, he hoped they could hold up.

He tapped Taylor's hand, "Talk to me Tay, what's going on? What's upsetting you?"
Taylor sighed. "I don't really know, I'm just tired all the time. And really sick of not being able to go anywhere or do anything. This is kind of like being in jail."
Mike's eyes widened. He wouldn't have thought that. "Tay, you're seeing the world! How is that like jail?"
Taylor's laugh was bitter, "We aren't seeing anything but the insides of airports, vans, and hotels. Don't give me that." He was starting to look distressed, and Mike wasn't sure what he should do about it. "You like the music don't you Tay?"
Taylor nodded, "Yes! Oh yes! But I guess maybe I just want to be able to... don't know. Ignore me." He laughed a little and turned his attention to the TV.

Mike followed his lead and settled back, dropping the conversation. He had actually started to drift off, an hour or so later, when a sudden gasp from Taylor yanked him awake.