He had to get up. He knew that, on a conscious level, but he couldn't move. Every muscle in his body screamed with agony and it even hurt to breathe. But if he didn't get up then they would come and wake him up.
He could still feel the bite of the whip in his flesh, and it made him wince. He was not looking forward to this day…the fifth of his punishment. He didn’t know how much more of this he could endure. He still wasn’t quite sure what he had done wrong.
He closed his eyes for a moment trying to muster up the strength to get up. He tried moving his arms, but met with resistance. A quiver of fear ran up his spine as he realized he was bound to the bed. He couldn’t move, and when he tried to fight the restraints he scraped his wrists.
He bit down on his tongue, not wanting to scream out loud. Screaming would only get him in more trouble. He wished Adam were there…he would help him. He would make this bearable.
Bright light streamed into the room at that moment and Bryan found himself looking into the palest blue eyes he had ever seen. Usually that gaze gave him a lot of comfort…but today there was something almost ominous about it. Bryan frowned as he watched the man come into the room, his hands behind his back as he approached him.
“Adam can you help me please?” Bryan said gesturing to his arms. “Please get me out of these…”
Adam’s hand, none too gently, came down on Bryan’s mouth shushing him. “Just be quiet.”
“But…Adam,” Bryan started, his tone barely a whisper. He felt more than saw Adam slap him across the face. His eyes were watering with tears, but he was too stunned to actually cry.
“I told you to shut up, Bryan. You need to learn how to listen if you’re ever going to survive here. You can’t keep doing what you’re doing.”
“I…I didn’t do anything,” Bryan said knowing he sounded scared. He hated this fear that was inside of him. “Why are you being so mean to me? I thought you were my friend.”
Dr. Orr appeared in the doorway smiling as he gave instructions to Adam that Bryan couldn’t understand. He realized what was going on when Adam held up a big needle.
“No...Nonnononononono…please not that again please don’t do that to me again,” he said as he tried to get away from the needle. Adam grabbed a hold of him to keep him still but he squirmed until the needle punctured his skin.
And he screamed.
Bryan’s eyes were closed tightly and he was lost in the nightmare. He could hear himself screaming as clearly as he had that night and it didn’t seem like he was going to stop. He wanted to weep, he wanted to curl up in a ball, but he couldn’t even do that. He was trapped and there was no way out.
He heard the banging. “Go away!” he screamed. “Don’t hurt me anymore! Please don’t hurt me. PLEASE….just leave me alone.”
“Bryan? Son, it’s your dad!”
“Nonononononono, go away...just go away,” Bryan cried. He could still hear the voices outside and he wanted them to leave.
“What’s going on?” He heard Jeff’s voice outside his door. What was Jeff doing there?
“I think Bryan’s having a bad dream.” Bryan heard the door open and he squeezed his eyes even tighter. He didn’t want anyone in here, but he could feel their presences. He screamed when he felt a hand touch him, shake his shoulder, and he tried to fight but he couldn’t. He could barely move.
“Get away from me!” he screamed, lashing out at his unknown assailant. “Just get away.”
“Let me try,” Jeff’s voice again, closer. And the hand was removed. “You should go out in the hall. Just trust me.”
He heard the door close, and his heartbeat settled down a bit. Another hand touching him, but this one felt gentle and that confused him.
“Open your eyes Bryan,” Jeff’s soothing tones ordered. “Come out of the nightmare. Come to me okay?”
“J…Jeff?” he asked hesitantly. His eyes flew open and he was staring into a sapphire gaze. His first instinct was to panic, but the hand, that soft touch- it relaxed him. And those eyes…they were different from the ones he feared. “Please don’t hurt me, Jeff.”
Jeff’s hand felt good against his skin and his trembling ceased…his breathing slowed and he relaxed his body. “Bryan, no one is going to hurt you. You had a bad dream. It was just a dream.”
On impulsive he slipped into Jeff’s arms. He couldn’t explain why he did that, but he needed it. He felt drawn to it. For long moments Jeff allowed his fingers to run through Bryan’s hair, and Bryan tried to gather his thoughts, trying to figure out what exactly had happened.
“Does this have something to do with your back?” Jeff asked, and Bryan marveled at how deep and soft that voice was. It was very comforting, and he wanted to get lost in it, just for a moment. He knew it was wrong, but he didn’t care right now. He felt…safe here in the arms of his friend. He didn’t want to let go.
“Is it the scars?”
That soft voice was like a blanket of warmth and he wanted to close his eyes and just lose himself, but he couldn’t. He moved, pulling out of those arms and allowing his eyes to meet that blue gaze yet again. “What?” he asked, partly wanting to hear the voice again, partly because he had missed the question.
“I saw your back while you were getting dressed before. The scars…are they a result of this nightmare?”
He opened his mouth, ready with a response but it melted on his tongue. There was just something about that gaze, he was…powerless against it and he didn’t understand why. “Yes,” he said his tone timid as he forced himself to pull away from those eyes. “I…I think so.” He frowned, his nightmare had frightened him, and he wasn’t really sure where the events fell. “I mean....I was…” He frowned again and shook his head. He didn’t know what he was saying.
“Talk to me.” A soft hand touched his back, rubbing up and down…soothing him, giving him the strength to talk. He just didn’t know what to say. “Tell me what you are feeling, Bryan,” Jeff’s voice answered his thought.
“I couldn’t move…I was tied to the bed and there was pain. A lot of pain.”
“Did someone hurt you?” Jeff queried.
“Adam.” Bryan gasped. “He…he held me down.”
“Who’s Adam?” Jeff asked, frowning.
“The doctor had a needle and….I don’t like needles.” He frowned and closed his eyes something about that didn’t seem right.
“Needles?” Jeff repeated. “Was it medicine?”
“They said it was for my own good.” Bryan replied. He was trying to concentrate, trying to sort out his dream from fact and reality. It was hard…everything seemed so scattered. “I was being pun…punished for breaking rules. I didn’t know I was breaking the rules.”
“Bryan, I need you to focus,” Jeff said shaking him lightly wanting his full attention. He turned to gaze once more at Jeff and was surprised to see concern in his eyes. He had all but forgotten what that looked like until he met Jeff. “You with me?” Jeff asked.
He nodded, trying to force himself to continue looking into the sapphire depths. Jeff’s eyes reminded him of oceans like he used to see on globes. Deep…penetrating blue.
“Did you get punished a lot?”
Bryan shuddered. He was always being punished. At least it always seemed like that. It didn’t matter what was going on at any point in his day. He was always being subjected to some sort of routine…they all seemed like punishments. He didn’t know what was worse…the punishments or the headaches. Or maybe just maybe the worst part was… his eyes clenched shut and his hands went up to his head…he couldn’t do this…couldn’t talk about it.
“Bryan,” Jeff’s voice somehow penetrated the fog and he lifted his head, his eyes still closed but he knew he was facing Jeff. He could feel Jeff’s hand rubbing the back of his neck trying to ease the tension there.
“You aren’t there anymore, Bryan,” Jeff said as he continued to rub Bryan’s neck. And I’m going to be here for you…if you will let me okay?”
He nodded. He really didn’t think he could do this without Jeff. He was so confused. “What did you say?” He asked looking at his sapphire eyed friend. He had drifted for a moment and missed Jeff’s words.
“You should talk to your dad,” Jeff told him. “I know he wants to help you.”
“I can’t,” Bryan shook his head frantically. “Don’t make me do that, Jeff. Please don’t...”
“Easy,” Jeff soothed. “Listen to me, Bryan. Your dad loves you. He is worried about you and he only wants to help. Let him help you…okay?”
Several moments later, resigned, he followed Jeff out of the room, his emotions tucked neatly away as his eyes landed on his dad. “I’m ready to talk now,” he said, and he felt Jeff’s hand on his shoulder giving him a reassuring squeeze. A moment of silence passed as if his dad was trying to size up the situation before nodding.
His mom was up too, and he frowned. Had he really awakened the whole house with his bad dream? “Can I talk to you a minute, Marianne?” He heard Jeff ask his mom. They were all heading to the kitchen…his dad had mentioned something about coffee.
“We’ll give Bryan and Thomas some privacy,” Jeff’s voice met his ears…it was lower now…for Jeff was taking his mother into the other room. “I wanted to ask if it were okay to move into the room next door to Bryan’s” he heard before the voices faded away. He couldn’t hear his mom’s response and he sighed. His father placed a mug of steaming coffee in front of him and he stared down it at, finding that much preferable then meeting his dad’s gaze.
The silence was awkward. Neither man knew exactly what to say or where to start. Bryan had a feeling his father was waiting for him to begin. He just didn’t know how to do it anymore. He hated that he couldn’t even talk to his dad without an instruction manual. It used to come so easily to him…he and his dad talked about everything. Even when they were upset with each other they had still been able to communicate. This was different though. He felt…betrayed by his dad and he didn’t know how to express that.
He needed to say something. His dad just wanted to help him…and Bryan wanted to trust him. He DID trust him. He couldn’t understand why, but he did. He wanted to talk to him…but first he needed to figure out what to say.
“I…I didn’t mean to wake you up,” He apologized, biting his lip as he looked up from his coffee cup.
“That’s okay, Bryan. You know I love you right? No matter what you tell me, I’m going to be here for you.”
“It was just a bad dream, Dad,” he said picking up his coffee and taking a sip. “I guess I woke the whole house didn’t I?”
“Just your mother, me and Jeff,” Thomas responded sipping from his own mug. “Your sisters and your brother can sleep through just about anything.”
The makings of a smile crossed his lips but didn’t quite reach his eyes.
“Son, did something happen…?”
“You could say that,” Bryan said softly. He shook his head and allowed his fingers to trace the rim of his mug. “One time, they decided that I wasn’t "recovering" fast enough for their liking." Bryan shifted uncomfortably at the word recovering. "So, they isolated me…said that outside influences were causing me to stray from the path.” He allowed his eyes to meet his father’s again, and marveled at what he saw. There was shock and sadness mixed with a hint of anger and it made Bryan wonder. Does he feel bad for sending me there? Or is there more to this than even I know? “Isolation is no fun, Dad,” he said picking up the thread of story.
“It sucked, and it made me sick. I couldn’t eat…I was too upset, and there was no sunlight. Just a lot of darkness, and a lot of time to think and miss everyone…everything on the outside. And you know what’s worse, Dad? When you come out of there…it takes a while to get used to the light again.”
Silence reigned for a moment as Bryan’s words hung in the air between them. For Bryan coming out of the dark was as scary an experience as being completely submerged in it. He knew his father could understand that darkness. They had gone through dark captivity together…so long ago, but he could still remember. His dad had been so brave back then…and he wanted to be brave like that.
“Bryan,” his dad’s voice drew him back to the present. “I have faith that you will find your way back into the light. And I want to help you. Just tell me what I can do, Son. What can I do?”
Bryan looked at his dad, a thoughtful frown on his face. He knew his dad was sincere; he didn’t even have to question it this time. There was so much he didn’t understand but something he knew very well. If there was one person in this world that he needed to have in his corner it was the man sitting right across from him. It would take some doing, and it probably wouldn’t happen overnight but it was something he needed to happen.
“I…I want…my dad back. Would that be okay?”
Bryan just told his dad he wants him back. next chapter continues their conversation. Thanks for reading guys. i really appreciate the comments. Just a warning it gets complicated before it gets better :D