Ike and Taylor were walking for hours going up hills and down. Ike was getting tired, but Taylor seemed full of energy.
"Wait Tay! Don't walk so fast!" Ike called out, out of breath.
"Come on! Move it! I want to get to the top of this cliff and see the view!" Taylor yelled back.
Ike rolled his eyes and tried to keep up. Finally reaching the top, Taylor sighed taking in the view. He pulled out his camera and took a picture. Ike came up from behind huffing and puffing out of breath.
"You're getting old Ike. You wimp." Taylor chuckled looking into Isaac's red face.
"Very funny. You're breathing hard yourse ....." He cut off in mid sentence. The view was breath taking.
"Wow! It is beautiful! I guess it was worth the trip." Ike smiled.
"Told you it would be. How far do you think we walked today? Maybe we should be getting back to camp." Taylor said looking up at the sky noticing that the sun was starting to go down in the distance.
"I think we walked about three miles at least today. Zac missed this wonderful scenery. I think you're right... we should be walking back before it gets dark."
"Yeah let's go." Taylor said looking at his watch.
They started walking down the hill when they heard a sharp crack. They both turned, but didn't see nothing. Ike felt suddenly uneasy. Taylor looked a little worried.
"What was that?" Taylor asked looking around trying to locate where the sound was coming from.
"I don't know. Maybe some wild animal or something. Let's hurry up and get down to the bottom." Isaac rasped nervously.
They started to walk faster when they heard another cracking sound and some footsteps. Isaac started to run, and turned his head to see Taylor following close behind. Suddenly he slammed into something soft, but big. Ike fell backwards on his butt, staring up at the biggest man he ever saw in his life. He backed away sliding on his rear as fear gripped him. Taylor almost tripped over Ike, but stopped just in time. They both stared in awe. The man gave them a hurt angry look. Ike let out a soft cry when he saw that the man's face was terribly disfigured and it scared him. Taylor just stood there trying to say something, but the words wouldn't come out.
Finally Taylor found his voice and said, "Umm....we're sorry. We thought you were a wild animal or something."
The man threw Taylor a surprised look and half smiled at him. He turned away and very quickly walked back into the woods, disappearing out of sight.
"Man did you see his fa... face?" Isaac asked still shakened by the man's sudden appearance.
"Yeah, I guess he was in a bad accident or something. Are you okay Ike? You look as white as a ghost." Taylor asked with concern for his older brother.
"Didn't he scare you Tay? I mean his face was horrible!"
"Ike! Yeah at first... but he didn't do anything to us. We startled him just as much as he startled us. Come on Ike that is cruel. He probably can't help it. He looked so hurt when we stared at him. Maybe that is why he is in the woods. I mean... because people react the way you are now!" Taylor scolded as he looked around the area wondering where the man went.
"I can't help it Tay. I know you're right, but....." Ike just shook his head.
"Come on we better get back. It's getting late." Taylor warned as he helped Ike off the ground. Isaac brushed off the dirt from his pants. They started to head toward camp, but didn't know they were being watched.
Jason stood behind the trees listening to the two boys talking. The younger boy amazed him. His words brought tears to his eyes. Finally the first person in years that wasn't really revolted by his presence and seemed to understand about his disfigured face. He felt the left side of his face and cringed.
"Why do I have to be this way?" He thought angrily as a tear rolled down his face. He quickly wiped it away and turned to walk back to his cabin that he built under the ground, so no one could ever find him. The words the boy said stuck in his mind as he walked slowly through the woods. He knew he would be about the same age as his David would have been.
"No... don't think about the past." He told himself, when out of the woods came Snow, the wolf that was his constant companion. The wolf ran to him and jumped up trying to lick his face.
"Down boy down!" He laughed. The only thing that brought him joy and loved him for who he was.
"Well it is about time you two came back! I was about to send the national guard after you!" Walker angrily expressed to his two oldest sons.
"Um.... we lost track of the time. It won't happen again." Ike apologized feeling bad that he made his father worry.
"Sorry Dad. Really we are." Taylor added in looking down at the ground.
"Okay. I don't want to be mad at you on this trip. We will forget it this time. Did you guys have a nice time?" Walker asked cracking a smile. He noticed this calmed them down as they smiled back.
"Yeah the scenery is awesome! I got some really good pictures today." Taylor exclaimed feeling better that his father wasn't that mad any more.
"What is wrong Ike? I said I wasn't mad at you. You look a bit shakened up by something." Walker asked with concern.
"I...I know, but it just..." Isaac started and saw Taylor throw him a look.
"Nothing... it's nothing." Isaac mumbled remembering Taylor made him promise not to tell the family about the man they ran into today.
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah... we had a great time. It was just hard keeping up with fast feet here." He said jokingly, poking Taylor in the arm.
"Well I told him he was a wimp." Taylor laughed letting out a deep breath.
"Well your mother is getting dinner ready. We better get over there. She is making hot dogs with the works and baked beans!"
"Ummmm....sounds good!" Ike said feeling his stomach growl.
Walker and Diana went to take a walk together in the evening light, after feeding the baby, Zoe, and putting her down for the night. Ike, Taylor, and Zac sat around the camp fire enjoying roasted marsh mellows. The younger kids were in the camper sleeping after their first long day.
"Guess what?" Zac smiled stuffing another roasted marsh mellow into his mouth.
"What?" Isaac asked putting another one on his stick and putting it over the fire.
"When Mom and I were in town today we went into this store and the man that owns it told us about a legend in these mountains." Zac stated excitedly.
"What legend?" Taylor asked licking off his fingers becoming interested as he looked up into Zac's eyes.
"Well ..... there is a legend about a man who is six feet and over who roams these mountains living with wild animals ..."
"So why is that a legend?" Isaac interrupted.
"Let me finish! Well anyway he has a badly disfigured face and..."
Isaac suddenly choked on his marshmellow while Taylor slapped him on the back.
"Are you okay?" Taylor asked with a worried expression on his face.
"Yeah.....Yeah! I'm okay." He rasped still coughing and clearing his throat.
"Gosh... I didn't think I would upset you that much by the story," Zac said chuckling at Ike's reaction.
"Did you say disfigured face?" Taylor asked searching Zac's eyes.
Zac nodded. "Why?"
"Because we saw a man in the woods today like that." Taylor added in seeing Zac's eyes grow bigger.
Isaac finally got his voice back. "Yeah and he scared the pants off me!"
Zac's mouth dropped open. "You mean the story is true? Wow! What did you do? What did he say? Was he really that tall?"
"Zac! Zac slow down and keep the volume down." Taylor declared a little angrily.
"Well tell me then." Zac implored searching Taylor's eyes wanting to hear more.
"Yeah he is tall and his face was badly scarred but he is just a man. Nothing like a legend. Man... people are so cruel. He looked so hurt when we were shocked by his looks." Taylor said sadly casting his eyes toward the ground.
"How did you meet up with him? The guy at the store said he was a loner and stayed away from people." Zac interjected.
"Well he startled us. We heard him walking and we thought at first maybe it was some wild animal or something, so Ike and I started running and then Ike slammed right into him and fell backwards. He was pretty surprised by us being there as much as we were with him."
"Did he say anything?" Zac asked looking intently at Taylor.
"No. I said we were sorry and he kind of smiled at me and then walked away into the woods. That was all. Ike was pretty shakened up by him though." Taylor explained throwing Ike a look.
"Well... come on Tay! His face was pretty bad! I didn't mean to hurt the man's feelings. You have to admit he was certainly scary. I mean the way he looked would shock anyone at first." Isaac claimed defending himself.
"Well... I suppose. But it's unfair! I bet he hides out in these woods because he doesn't want to frighten anyone or receive pity for something he can't help. I wonder what happened to him? He was in some bad accident. I can tell he was burned. The scars on his face looked that way to me." Taylor concluded looking down at his hands.
"Maybe we should tell Mom and Dad about him." Zac stated.
"NO!" Taylor declared matter of factly. "The guy didn't do anything to us. Just leave him alone. We will probably never see him again anyway."
"Chill out Tay! I won't say anything. Promise. Okay?" Zac added rolling his eyes.
"Okay. Let's end this here and go on and have a nice vacation." Taylor said with a weak smile.
Isaac looked at Taylor thinking, " Why is Tay so upset over this man? It isn't like we know him. Well Tay can be weird sometimes. I guess he is right though. We should put this behind us and have fun and enjoy the rest of our vacation."
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