Isaac watched Willís eyes light up in pleasure and wondered. The look passed a moment later, leaving Isaac confused and annoyed as to why Will wouldnít share his thoughts. He turned to look at Taylor. His eyes fell upon a very sorry looking individual.
"Tayís right," he thought, "a year and a half ago, this wouldíve been a bad dream. How the hell did this happen?" He questioned himself out of boredom.
He continued to study his younger brother. He had an innumerous amount of cuts, scrapes, and bruises covering his thin frame with painful regularity. Though he was just washed earlier that day, his hair was greasy yet and his face, bare arms, lower legs, chest, and back were all thoroughly dirty from the rough treatment and being drug up the hillside back to camp. His feet were now stained a dark brown from being shoeless for so long as were his knees. Isaac again found himself wondering why Taylorís knees would be stained as they were. His brows crinkled.
"They were dragging him around werenít they?" He thought referring to the two men from earlier in the day.
"Naw, they would have had to be dragging him around everywhere to look like thatÖ" His mind kept coming up with ideas, but the reality of the situation soon kicked his butt and he gave up.
He looked then to Zac. He seemed reasonably fine compared to Taylor. His upper lip was coated in crusted blood from a possible cut or from a bloody nose. Isaac couldnít tell due to blood dried around the edges of his nostrils and his lip looked sort of swollen. Other then unkempt hair and dirty clothes, Zac didnít look worse for wear. Isaacís eyes connected with his fifteen year old sibling and he felt like crying. Eyes of a person that young shouldnít look so stressed, so vulnerable, so lonely. A weak grin escaped Zacís swollen lips as he tried to reassure Isaac who smiled back, unconvinced.
He shifted his eyes back to Taylor, who had either opened his eyes or woken up. He forced himself to his feet to get rid of a painful cramp in his left thigh. He didnít notice Isaacís penetrating stare. Finally, the cramp started to back off and he sighed in temporary relief. He finally looked up into Isaacís eyes and tried the same ploy Zac did and again, it didnít work. Isaac saw the same thing in his eyes that he saw in Zacís, only it went deeper and beyond that. Zac had managed to regain some of his innocent spunk after being held captive by Tyto during his seven or eight months on New Terra. Taylor though, only being a slave for six days, was subjected to the equivalent of the three months Zac had had with his massive master. What enabled Zac to move on so much easier was that he had more time between beatings and verbal abuse to recover while Taylor didnít. Taylorís blue eyes shown with pain, suffering, confusion, and desperation. Isaac could only guess what that meant. Taylor knew what was in store for them.
Taylorís eyes clouded over with sudden concern, "Whatís wrong Ike?"
Isaac swore to himself in his head before replying, "What do ya thinkís gonna happen to us? Are we gonna be slaves again or what?"
"I dunno, most likelyÖIím afraid of whatÖ.forget it, never mind."
Isaac pressed him for more, "No, whatíre you afraid of? Do you think Iím gonna call you a pansy or something just for being scared?"
Taylor shook his head quickly, "Huh uh. IkeÖ.Iím scared of what Jonathonís gonna do to you. You shouldnít have fought so hard unless you knew you were gonna get away Scott free. Jonathonís not going to take it easy on you." His voice cracked slightly.
Isaac shuddered slightly as these words and said, "Donít worry, he canít break me."
Taylor closed his eyes in frustration and in quiet understanding, "Thatís what I thought about me. Look what happened." He didnít want his brother thinking he could change Jonathonís point of view by being stubborn, "Just go with the flow, submission is the only way to survive now."
Isaac fumed, "So thatís it? We just sit back and let these guys rule over our lives? We let them tell us when we can eat and drink? Youíd call that living?"
Taylorís jaw clenched before he spoke, "Yeah. If it means I get to spend one more hour with you and Zac, itís living. I donít care about pain anymore, I really donít. So long as Iím with you guys Iíll live." Tears threatened to spill, "You guys are all I have left. For all we know mom and dad are dead. Or theyíre on some other slave planet being worked to death. Jessie and the kids are probably in some alien zoo being shown off as Ďterran youngí. We have it lucky compared to fates like that Ike. Everybodyís probably spread out billions of light years away from each other and none the wiser to where we are! When weíre scared we got somebody to turn to. But what if Mackie or ZoŽ are locked up in some cage being stun whipped all because they wonít perform for food? Who do they get to cry on? Who do they run to if it hurts? At least we get to eat and drink regularly!"
"TAYLOR! SHUT UP! JustÖ.stop! Just knock it off, pleaseÖ" Zac cried out, tears streaming down his cheeks. Sobs wracked his body as he struggled to hold back the sudden flood of emotions from Taylorís speech. His worst nightmares suddenly sprang to life.
Isaacís tears went unchecked as he mulled over this new insight, he still didnít consider it life, but maybe his fate was a better life style then the rest of his familyís.
Taylorís voice sounded, "You never knowÖthey could all be safe at home in Tulsa, locked away in one of the storm cellars living off cardboard tasting food. You just never know." He finished talking.
Willís voice cut in, "That wasÖ.intense. Who knew something so deep could come from somebody so shallow?" He joked.
"Oh yeah, Iím sooooo painfully shallow." Taylor yawned widely.
"See? He even admits to it." Will shifted slightly, the now warmed steel resuming its previous position. He didnít know when he would make a break for it, but he was hoping as soon as the guards shifts ended he would be out of there.
"HEY, come get your portions!" A fellow Camp E guard yelled to the one watching the new slaves.
"AwesomeÖ" He replied, dragging his spear noncommittally behind him to his short walk to the cavern.
When he was out of ear shot, Will sprang into action, "I gotta knife guys. Hold tight."
Isaac, Taylor, and Zac felt their spirits soar sky high as Will said these words. They watched in tense excitement as he moved his fingers behind his back, working the knife into a cutting position. The rope began to slip loose as the tough fibers gave way to the tougher knife. Finally the bonds fell away all together and Will bent over to free his feet of any obstruction and smiled in satisfaction as his feet were suddenly able to move more then a few inches. He ran to Isaac first, hacking at the fibrous cordage holding his arms up when the off key singing announced the arrival of the new guardÖthe new guard armed with knives, spears, and a spear thrower. Will was torn. He looked into Taylorís panic stricken eyes and felt tears well up. Taylor nodded once quickly and jerked his chin up, silently telling him to run, to make a break for it. Will hesitated briefly and Taylorís eyes flashed as he said something quietly.
"Go back to H. Get help and save us someday. Go now. Now!" He said tensely.
Will didnít waste time as he took a turn at looking each young man in the eye, then bolting into the security of the dark night. He had a hard time finding footing, making good use of one of the moons to guide his speedily moving feet. He glanced back up at the lit area where his three young friends were held and slowed to a stealthy stop to observe the goings on.
The guard was up in Taylorís face, he being the only one he knew, yelling about the missing man. He pulled back his arm and slapped the blue eyed boy before sprinting to the middle of the cavern and yelling his lungs out. Will wasted no time in high tailing it out of there. He rushed on through the night, tearing through copses, grass fields, and streams as he followed instinct in the direction of Camp H. The direction of home.
Once the violently mad guard hit him and ran, the first thing Taylor did was hiss, "Look the other way, donít point out where Will went. Get me?"
"Uh huh." Isaac and Zac breathed, looking the same direction as Taylor. After a few more guards came to question them on Willís whereabouts, Jonathon was summoned and the three young men were left alone.
Taylor paled, "Oh godÖ.oh god oh godÖnot Jonathon. Oh Jesus. Please noÖ" He started panting.
"TayÖ.whatís wrong? Tay why not Jonathon? Whatís the matter?" Isaac questioned.
Taylor didnít have time to answer. Jonathon stormed into the center of the pole formation and observed the pole Will had occupied. He turned an angry eye on Taylor, "You wouldnít happen to know where he went would you?"
Taylor stared into his insane masterís eyes and carefully replied, "Fuck if I know." He knew the dangerous situation he was in, but Will needed more time to get back to H. He knew the consequences of such actions would prove to be excruciating and he was willing to accept this.
Jonathon grew dangerously red in the face as he reached up and pulled Taylorís head back by his messy hair.
"You sure about that?" He yanked harder.
"Damn straight." Taylor spat out.
Jonathon did nothing for a moment before he jerked Taylorís head forward and slammed it back again, against the pole that held him up. Taylor saw stars dancing in front of his eyes momentarily before it all went back to normal.
"Do I need to ask again?" Jonathon questioned.
"Probably." Was his slaveís reply.
Jonathon motioned to two men and Taylor dropped to his hands and knees after his bonds were cut and Isaac knew heíd found the reason for Taylorís knee stains.
Jonathon motioned again for him to be held on the ground in his position as he savagely and abruptly slammed his leather covered foot into Taylorís soft stomach. A whoosh of air escaped Taylorís chapped lips as he tried to hold himself up.
Zac tore against his ropes, jerking his arms up and down to free himself screaming obscenities at the activities issuing before him. Isaac wasnít far behind as Jonathon began beating Taylor harder and turning murderously dangerous. Taylorís frail frame collapsed a few minutes later panting and crying onto the soft packed earth as blood spilled in small pools from his lips and nose. His cheeks were already beginning to swell as Jonathon leaned against a pole breathing heavily. Yet again he motioned to the two men who grinned and picked up where their leader left off.
Zac exchanged an alarmed glance with Isaac as they both started panicking at the savageness unfolding moment by moment. Jonathon continued to sit back, eyes glazed over when he suddenly clutched his left arm and scrunched his face up in pain. He called out softly and collapsed to the ground, the victim of a heart attack. His thugs heard the soft thud of Jonathonís body and stopped their viscous assault, one running for the medic of the camp and the other kicking Taylor one more time on his way to his downed leader.
Zac and Isaac stared at the motionless Taylor praying he was still living.
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