Isaac knew now they were getting close to where Taylor was laying. He remembered how the hill was to the right. Even in the darkness he knew. He was very worried. He thought that Taylor must be terrified in the dark, being hurt so badly and in so much pain. Taylor's screams were still resounding in his ears.
"IKE! Please don't leave me!" Tears welled up in his eyes.
"Dad this way! We are almost there!" Ike shouted dropping the side of the lounge chair he helped carry and he started to run toward the spot he knew Taylor laid wounded and alone.
"What the.....?! TAY!!? TAY!!? Where are you?!" Ike screamed into the darkness spinning around, his eyes searching the dark woods. Walker and Zac looked horrified.
"Are you sure that he was here, Ike? Maybe you are feeling a little confused because of the darkness." Walker said hoping he was right.
To his left he heard Zac gasp and start to cry. Zac bent down and picked something up off the ground. He was holding Taylor's shoes.
"Oh God! Could Taylor have walked away? You said he was to hurt to move, Ike. Was he?" Zac asked through racking sobs of anguish.
"Yes! He was hurt to bad to just walk away! He couldn't ....he couldn't. His legs were twisted up, broken!" Ike cried out feeling totally confused.
Walker turned on the flash light and started to look around the area. He was still having a tough time seeing because of his tears blinding his vision.
"Get a hold of yourself Walker Hanson. Do it for Taylor!" Walker told himself.
He finally calmed down and started searching for signs. He saw something shining in the darkness and pointed the flash light at the object. He saw it was a camera smashed to bits on the ground. He went over and picked it up. Tears welled in his eyes again, knowing it was Taylor's.
Ike sat on the ground mumbling, " He was here. He was here!"
Zac stood looking into the darkness hoping somehow to spot his brother.
"Ike! Zac! Come here! I found something!" Walker sounded suddenly excited.
Both brothers walked up by their father and looked down to where their father was pointing. There was foot prints and they were huge foot prints that were embedded in the soft ground.
"Someone else must have found him before we got here." Walker exclaimed with a worried look on his face. Ike felt sick to his stomach.
"OH GOD!!!" Isaac screamed out and ran to the side of the cliff and threw up violently. Walker and Zac ran over to Ike with worried looks on their faces. Walker rubbed Ike's back, trying to comfort him.
"Are you okay? This is just to much for you. I'm sorry Ike." Walker crooned gently with tears in his eyes.
"No DAD!!! That man! That man we ran into last week." Ike gasped trying to get rid of the sick feeling he was still getting deep in his stomach.
"What? What are you talking about? Ike? What man? What does it have to do with Tay?!"
Walker was getting a sick feeling himself now, because of the terrified look on his son's face. Ike told his dad all about what happened when they bumped into the disfigured man last week.
"It has to be him. He must have found Tay and carried him away. He's the only one I can think of that would have made such large footprints like those. He was huge!" Ike exclaimed with fear nagging at his guts.
"But he didn't do anything to you or Tay. Why are you so afraid Ike? Maybe the man just wanted to help." Walker asked looking confused at his oldest son.
"His face! You should have seen his face! And he did look angry." Ike groaned rubbing at his forehead nervously thinking about it.
"But Tay said that he looked hurt because you were revolted by him Ike!" Zac interjected.
"I don't know! I... I just want Taylor back! He just gave me the creeps. Maybe I am wrong. I ..."
Ike started to feel stupid for his fear. He was judging the man because he was so disfigured. He looked down at his hands and started to weep. Walker hugged him to his chest wanting to comfort him.
"It's alright Ike. Let's try to follow those footprints and see where they lead. Okay?" Walker said giving Ike a weak smile. Ike only nodded and wiped the tears off his face with the sleeve of his shirt.
"You know? I remember now. That man at the store said this guy's name. I think.... I think it was Monroe. Yeah thats it! Monroe! That's the man's name!" Zac bellowed proud of himself that he remembered.
"Are you sure Zac?" Asked his father.
"Yes definitely!" Zac said loudly.
"Hmmmm...." Walker could only say. Both his sons gave him a questioning look.
"Many years back I remember there was this famous doctor who was very brilliant and gifted, and his name was Monroe. I am sure of it. His wife and son, who was only a baby, the same year Tay was born, died in a terrible fire and he was hurt very bad himself for trying to save them. It was a terrible, sad story. I remember he was a huge man too. The news said something about him burning his face beyond recognition. He fell into a coma and came out of it two years later, but because people treated him like a freak, he just disappeared and hasn't been heard of since. Do you think? Noooo! It couldn't be." Walker exclaimed looking at Ike and Zac.
"Dad? Maybe it is. This legend that the store owner described and from what you have just told us. It definitely sounds like the same man. He has to be! There are too many similarities between both. It all fits together Dad." Zac declared looking into his father's eyes deeply.
"It does Dad. I agree with Zac." Ike added in feeling ashamed now for what he thought of the man.
"Taylor was right. He was just a man and he was in some kind of terrible accident. Why can't I see beyond the surface like Tay. Sometimes Taylor's intuition amazes me. He has a gift of reading people and who they are." Ike thought to himself.
"Dad let's follow the footprints like you said and find this Dr. Monroe. If he is him, Taylor may be the luckiest kid on earth! I mean because he is a doctor." Ike sounded more enthusiastic.
Zac put Taylor's shoes and broken camera in his backpack. Walker took the flash light and cast it down toward the footprints and started to follow them as they led away from where Taylor was laying in so much agony just a few hours ago. A few hours later in the darkness, after losing and then finding more of the footprints they suddenly ended by a grassy hill. Walker tried to find more but couldn't.
"It ends here." Walker groaned and was very frustrated and upset.
"TAAAAAAY!? Can you hear me?! TAY!?" Walker screamed into the darkness feeling scared and tired. He just wanted to find his son. To hold him. He wanted to see him, to comfort him in his pain. To tell him everything would be alright.
"Dad it's been hours. Maybe we should wait till daylight. Mom must be worried sick back at the camp site wondering why we haven't returned. If Taylor is with this Dr. Monroe, he must be safe." Ike gently stated to his father.
Suddenly Walker turned on Ike grabbing on his shoulders in a tight grip.
"It's your FAULT! You should have pulled him UP!" He screamed at his oldest son who stood in shock and pain with tears welling in his eyes. His words stung like so many knifes stabbing him deeply with guilt overwhelming his soul as he looked fearfully into his father's angry hurt eyes.
Zac couldn't believe his father just said that as he watched his father then release his brother who stumbled a few steps backwards.
"Dad PLEASE! Ike tried his best! I know he did!" Zac cried with tears brimming in his eyes.
Ike collapsed on the ground and racking sobs took over his body.
"I'm sorry DAD! I'm SORRY!! I know! I know! I tried to hold on! He just kept slipping! PLEASE DAD forgive ME!!" Ike shrieked and felt the guilt overtake his mind.
Walker put his hand to his mouth and squeezed his eyes shut not believing he actually blamed his son for what happened to Taylor when it was only an accident.
"Oh God! Ike! I'm sorry!" Walker shouted and ran over to his son and knelt down and took him in his arms. He started rocking Ike back and forth. "NO! It's not your fault! I shouldn't have said those words. I didn't mean it. I am just frustrated and I took it out on you. Please forgive me. Ike! Ike! Please FORGIVE me!! You did everything you could!"
Ike looked into his father's sad, desperate eyes and then buried his face in his father's chest and sobbed uncontrollably. Zac knelt down and hugged both his father and Ike with tears streaming down his face.
"I shouldn't have left him Dad! Tay was so scared! I can still hear him saying, "Don't leave me Ike!" I can't get it out of my head! But I had to get help!" Ike moaned through tears of anguish.
Walker took his son's face in his hands and kissed him lovingly on the forehead.
"You did the right thing Ike. Look at me! You were right to go and get help." Walker declared feeling a overwhelming love for Ike.
"You have been through so much today. Yes we will go back and pray that Taylor is safe. We will start the search again in the daylight." Walker said pulling the loose hairs back from Ike's face.
He lifted Isaac up and noticed he almost fell again. He was so weak from exhaustion and worry. Zac stood on the other side of Ike helping his dad to get his brother back to the camp site. Walker knew the accident was taking it's toll on his oldest son and he was worried. He knew Ike was blaming himself for the accident. Walker and Zac slowly walked back making sure Ike didn't collapse in their arms.
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