Travis could remember everything from when he was a little baby. It all was as if it all had happened just the day before in his mind. Although he wished that wasn’t the way of it, but it was. Even though it had been only three fourths the years of his now age of sixteen when his parents had been murdered, he knew that the haunting had been occurring long before.
Travis could even remember hearing his parents speaking about photos that they could not show and how it all must be some very strange condescendence even though they had been attempting different cameras when it came to their notice. Travis remembers finding the pictures that his parents had locked away one day searching to conclude his thoughts on what he heard his parents constantly talking about in private.
The pictures alone frightened him to the bone and became the enlightened his own fear and feelings of something constantly with him. Not every photo showed what the hidden one had but there were still many that did. Even the picture taken at Travis’s birth he can clearly see the happiness of his parents holding his infant body in their arms. But, he could also see something or someone else there. A very transparent and barely visible outlining that broke throughout not showing an entire lining of a man but yet there was enough to know that some kind of a man was somewhere there. Most present in the baby photo was the sight of a finger and a half on a hand and a corner of a man’s jaw overlooking the parents and their newborn.
Travis remembered feeling the chilling up and down his spine and the raising of nearly every broken hair upon his skin while looking through the photos. He was not scared that his parents would come in and catch him. He actually wished it would have been that way. Though he wished to see no more after the initial hospital photo Travis was drawn into forcing himself to look at as many more as he possibly could.
His nerves shook to the bone with every passing photo. He could have spun them all together to show a growth of a spirit or a man of some sorts. It seemed with each nearing photo to his at the time age that the transparent outline of the, what looked like a man grew closer and closer to resemble just that.
Until he made it to a photo buried in the pile that was one of the latest ones taken by his mother. Just like all the rest the lining of a man made of some kind of spiritual texture stood somewhere near the boy. It was never in a harmful looking manner nor when the face became clearer and clearer did it look like intent to harm or disrupt was upon it. But, still it was always there, next to the boy no matter what position in life the photo was taken from. He was always just standing there at one side or the other.
Travis remembers that last photo of when he was seven years old. He remembers the face and lining of the spirit standing at his side plain as day. It almost looked as if a man were next to him on the park’s slide and he had taken too much of the noon light from the lenses was all. Travis wanted to cry at the confusion and fear in the mysteriousness of these photos.
Travis attempted once to talk to his father about the photos. His father had always been hard to draw attention from. He worked in his own self made lab from within the home where he created all of his inventions that seemed to only show interest from government officials. Travis would constantly be stampeded to his father’s attention by visiting officials in their black suits and briefcases.
One of Travis’s last memories of his father was the time he wished to speak to his father about the photo’s especially the last that had been taken at the park by his mother. But, he found no lending ear. The best his father gave him for time in his lab was when he first got excited about new projects. He would initially share information most of all went right over Travis’s head and when it came more and more that Travis found himself understanding it seemed his father shared less and less.
Still Travis’s father found some kind of fatherly response in helping his son pretend to be a part of his own works by allowing him his own area in the lab where he could pretend to be as his father working to create great scientific projects that would draw such interests from men dressed in black.
Travis first started playing around with a broken VCR player that the family had. His parents had told him that it was broken and would not work anymore. His father showed no interests in making it worked and instead replaced it with a brand new one. Travis asked if he could have the broken one and when given to him from his father he took it right to his own bench in his father’s lab.
Travis first took apart the casing of the machine and intently looked over each and every part of the inside. He had no idea how it had worked or what did what from within before other than knowing that if he wanted to watch one of his favorite videos he just inserted it and pressed play. It was simple in that manner but once he had taken apart the casing and looked at each and every part of the machines insides he was taken aback by just how much it seemed to consist of just to allow him to watch his favorite video.
Travis remembered that he must have played with the broken VCR for about two weeks worth when he finally put it all back together and asked his father to try and see if it would now work. His father showed little interest in what the boy pleaded for, for at that moment he was well drawn into his new and said “biggest project of all times.”
Even though when Travis asked him what it was about all his father told him was, “time, my son, time.” Travis understood nothing of it, for the initial project looked more like seated video game they had at the beach rather than a giant watch. But, he stood away and resisted all urge to investigate exactly what it was due to his father’s demands. The tone his father took when he again and again would tell his son “never play with my projects son, never.” His father rarely let a day go by when he would not inform Travis of this let alone leave him a moment free to do so alone. But, up to that point Travis was happy to just be in his own projects and felt a part of his father’s just by sharing a piece of space in his lab.
Travis found pleasure in his mother’s excitement of his own VCR project and was more than happy to help her son see if it worked. The shock struck Travis more than his mother when finding that the VCR did indeed now work almost seemed better than it had before too.
Travis found a great security in his own playing around with objects and parts now as if he was now more like his father in some way. He set out to discover the bits and mechanisms in nearly every piece of machinery in the household. He was given a newly non working television by his mother and was proud to hear his mother demand his father not buy a new one until after Travis had fixed the broken one. That was exactly what he had done. His mother then allowed her husband to buy a new television and placed the fixed television and VCR in Travis’s bedroom, again against his father’s demands.
His desire to fix things that were broken or to just see how they work was quickly overlooked by the need and wants to create things that would benefit his own self. He remembered the night that brought the photos to a reality. He remembered he was full of happiness over the newly fixed washing machine for his mother that seemed to lift her above the floor just a bit. She never seemed more proud of her son than when the machine once again turned on in front of his parent’s eyes. Even his father noted it with a, “that’s my boy!” There was no going right to sleep that night, not a chance.
He remembers the very catch of his eyes broke his head into a heavy sweat and his eyes instantly watered in fear. He wished he had closed the curtain that night. The moon was full and perched as if a lantern right into his bedroom. His smiling face filled a face that’s eyes searched the ceiling with glee. He remembered that something seemed to draw his attentions and thoughts from his parent’s faces and the running washing machine. He glanced over to his bedside and instantly saw an entire image of a transparent man standing next to him. His spine shook and his body began to sweat long before his eyes could fully recognize what he was seeing. He even thinks that he was screaming long before he could hear his own voice. It looked like the image was talking to him but not a sound was heard.
He remembered his mother quickly bursting into the room and flipped the switch to the overhead light just as she stepped in. And just as soon as the lights struck the room the image was gone. He remembered after finally calming down in the arms of his mother that he attempted to tell her exactly what he had seen and had frightened him so.
His mother’s eyes looked shocked at first and as if she had not denied one word that her son had spoke. She soon seemed to shut out those eyes and thoughts and hold her son and talk to him as if it had been a nightmare. After insisting that he had not even slept yet and what he saw was real his mother asked if he had been into the photos. She was angry about his snooping and scolded him for sticking his nose around and insisted that his father’s rules of the lab applied to life. He found no justice in fighting her will once she had finished her orders.
Travis could not let it go though. He attempted a few times but the image appeared again and again to him and every time it spoke silent words before he shut it out with clenched and hidden eyes. He had noticed a couple times that the image seemed to blanket away when light hit his glasses a certain way before he could close his eyes. This interested him and got his mind working as he began to attempt to invent new glasses that refracted the light in a way where he could no longer see the image with them on.
He found that this worked to the fullest during the day but did not fit well in the night. He had broken the side of his glasses by rolling over in them during his sleep which resulted to more questioning and scolding from his parents. He could remember some nights hearing them speaking strictly about him while they thought he slept as they spoke about how strange their son has and was becoming.
He knew they would not or did not want to understand. He divulged in his own projects completely alone and to only satisfy his own needs. When his mother brought him to get a new pair of glasses he found that he had more interest in contact lenses and thought they would be easier for him to constantly control the image from his eyes.
He broke up his contacts into day and night ones. He had day ones that accepted and dispersed the light out to blanket the image from his view. While the contact for the night he had made which accepted the shadows and engrossed any lighted area with a vision of black that crept in that also hid the image from him after the sun had left.
He went on this way for a few years knowing that if he removed a contact that the image would be there with his silent voice protruding his way. But, with his new inventions he found security in his days and engulfed himself in all the thoughts otherwise. He engrossed himself back into the invention game. Some things that got even his father’s interest even though he was growing more involved into his “project of time.”
Travis even had created hearing aids that could pick up radio frequencies. His father at this time was lost in his own side of the lab, but his mother thought it was one of the greatest things she had ever seen and insisted that he make her a pair.
The fear would all return too soon though. And it returned ten times fold. He remembered the day was beautiful and his mother had insisted that he “go outside and enjoy the day as a normal boy would.” She even welcomed the idea of him getting into some trouble if need be.
Yet once outside Travis felt a bit lost. He wandered around the yard aimlessly and eventually walked into the woods. He thought about other boys he had seen at school. How they seemed to find some kind of solace and pleasure within the thin trees blanketing the schools playground. He picked up a stick about waist high and pretended as if he could be one of them. Swinging it about and thrusting it at imaginable people. Some kind of pretend hero. But, it didn’t seem to be fun at all. He thought it was odd knowing that the sight of the boys from school looked as if they could and have spent hours doing just that.
Travis remembered stopping by a giant rock to sit. A small stream of water which looked as if it wished to be a river ran past the rock into the thick of trees. He looked around hoping to see something that would spark some interest, maybe a deer or squirrel about its day but he was alone. Not even the gentle wind mustered much of a voice in the trees to talk to him. And that was when he heard it. He did not have to see it to know exactly what it was once it hit his ears and then struck his mind.
Travis ran out of the woods and directly for his front door in a great panic. He busted through the door sweat pouring from his entire body holding his back against the slammed door behind him to shut out anything that followed. He attempted to catch his breath. His mother eyed him panting at the door while making some lemonade and smiled with a shake of her head. “For a boy who rarely enjoys the day you seem to get a fill in such a short period of time don’t you.”
He could tell her what he had heard. He could not tell her about any of it. He knew she would not understand and it would lead to more talk between his parents on his behalf without him present. He knew her heart only sought to hear what a good time the outdoors brought to him and that was all. And that is exactly what he did through his repressed panic. He told her what a joy it was to be outside even in such a short period of time. What it was like to run through the trees, to play with a stick in hand, to see the deer running through and watch the squirrels hopping branches.
As soon as he had pleases his mother just as quickly sought comfort in his room with his pillow wrapped around his head as tightly as could be. “Listen, Travis.” It ran over and over in his mind to where he wasn’t sure if he was hearing it again or merely thinking about it. His heart would not stop beating well into that night as sweat still protruded his skin well past dinner. His mother showed some worry to the status her son looked at dinner, but was easily distracted by her husband who would not attend due to his work that “needed” more attention.
She would constantly break into the comparison between her son’s genius and her husband’s and how she wished that her son be a smart man but not his father. Travis agreed when felt warranted but barely paid any attention to her words. His mind was full of the repeating whispers that were almost unheard from the woods. He was also shifting with thought of just how to rid himself from another time such as that again.
He slept very little that night. He ran thoughts over and over in his mind the entire night until he could clearly see the sun forcing itself through the blackened sky outside his window. He laid in bed the entire time with eyes shut and headphones blanketing his head playing his favorite songs loud enough to keep him from knowing if his parents were escaping a house fire.
That morning he got up weary of what he might hear and attempted to keep his headphones on throughout most of the day, but found himself ordered to remove them throughout by his mother with her worried eyes.
He had a bunch of leftover hearing aids that his father had given him to play with and potentially make more of his hearing radios from them as he intended still to make a pair for his mother. But, he had new intentions this day. He began turning the hearing aids into a blocking device. Where he once made them accept invisible sounds he set out to now shut out just that. He spent a few nights going through different soaked shirts before getting it just right. Each time the voice would attempt saying something different but would always insist on the constant, “Listen, Travis.”
He did not want to listen. He did not want to see or hear or even think this vision of man existed. He just wanted it to disappear. He wanted to be left alone which he had always thought that it directed to the vision alone but seemed even within himself that he wished it more and more for the entire world. He began to see exactly what his mother had spoken of in worry. He noticed himself being more and more like his father, but even that his father seemed to find time to exist with other and share the want to do so when not engulfed in his projects. Travis grew less and less desire to do the same.
Even at school he separated himself from the children and even the teachers more and more. He witnessed it in himself almost as an outsider that could do nothing about it. The children noticed it more and more too. Some of them finding it something to tease and laugh at. One time one of the more outspoken boys Bryan decided to attempt to get the earplugs from Travis’s ears. This leaded to Bryan succeeding with the surrounding kids laughing at Travis’s despair.
Travis fell to pieces with the exiting hearing aid as if the bully had punched him in the face in front of everyone. He felt that it was worse, especially since the voice instantly appeared again pleading for Travis’s attention through the parade of laughing children. The laughter eventually died down to the sight of Travis falling to the ground in full blown tears and beginning to shake uncontrollably while grasping his ears and clenching his eyes.
This lead to an embarrassing black out of the mind from Travis where he could barely remember what happened from the moment Bryan took the hearing aid from his ear to the time his mother held him at the schools nurse’s office. He didn’t even remember Bryan feeling so bad at the sight of Travis that he tried to get Travis to take the hearing aid back while apologizing constantly.
He last remembered being home and yet again hearing his parents talking to each other downstairs about their son and his problems. They even spoke about getting him some help and talking to someone. He remembers his father fighting his mother when she brought up the photos and questioned if it all had something to do with it. He remembered he wanted so much to charge in at that moment. To tell them it did. To tell them all about the man and how he was still with him, but when he ran the idea over his head a second time he even himself thought how silly it seemed and how it would warrant even more talk and trouble. He just wished it was not there.
Travis sat up at the top of the stairs listening to his parent’s full conversation that went on for hours. The bickering swayed from their son, the photos to her husband and his projects. Travis heard his father talking about some people very insistent that he present them with the information that they sought or he would be in trouble himself. Travis still didn’t have a full concept of what exactly his father was working on. He had attempted more and more to sneak around this project of his that had now taken him nearly three years to the day to still yet be finished. Travis had found some detailed files and outlining blueprints but did not find the time to look through them to any great extent. The most he was able to do was examine the machine itself from under its blanketing. Still he had no near idea on what it had to do with time. In the end his parents decided that they needed a night to themselves away from home and work and everything having to do with it.
His parents decided to have Travis’s aunt watch him for the night they chose to enjoy to their selves. Travis’s aunt was a cheerful woman who had a young child of her own Scott nearly two at the time. His parents also hoped that this might possibly lead to them all spending more time together and possibly Travis finding some kind of childhood connection with his young cousin even though he was so young. His mother hoped that Scott being so young still would spark some kind of strict child instincts from within her own son just for the two being together. She blamed a lot of her son’s behaviors on her husband and somewhat herself. She acknowledged that it was some kind of miracle for a boy his age to do such things as he had but she looked at him most times as if he was a young man with no childhood at all. As if he was without some type of soul alone.
So the night came when his parents left in their best dress to enjoy the nigh to themselves. Travis remembered getting a sort of laugh to himself at seeing his aunt arrive with an already tired Scott in her arms. “There would be no playing tonight.” He remembered thinking watching them enter the house. He also remembered how odd it was for his mind to almost take its own snapshot of his parents escaping the house as if internally he knew it would be the last sight of them for him. The moment came and went but in it, it had nearly brought Travis to full tears and had to fight the sudden urge to run and hug his mother and beg her not to leave. But, the moment passed and he repressed the thought as many and just looked at it a bit of his own childhood madness that everyone else saw in him. He could see it too sometimes.
His aunt was such a pleasant woman. She had a smile on her face that never seemed to let up for more than a moment or two. Even when she intended to speak on serious notes she would always seem to welcome it in such a lovely manner that Travis thought that she could speak of death itself with a gleaming smile upon her face and tears in her eyes.
Throughout the night she insisted that Travis played board games with her and talked about anything that the last subject might lead too. If there was a moment of silence she would always break it. Sometimes she would push in with questions about his inventions and working as his father. Sometimes she would question his thoughts on everything having to do with anything including leaves, tress, school, kids and his father.
Travis knew by her questions and voice that she showed concern for his non child like ways and knew that his mother had shared some of her motherly concerns with her sister, but knew that she had no idea about the images of the man not that he was going to bring it up anyway. He just liked to have an idea on what people knew and thought beforehand.
So he spent the entire night engrossed in conversation with his aunt. He actually found great comfort and security with it as time went on. He actually towards the end started to unknowing let go of any strands of thoughts that connected with the image of the man, his inventions, or anything else that weighed on him day and day. He actually had no notice on just how much emotional weight it felt like bearing it every day until late in the day when he had noticed momentarily the feeling he had just before clouding his mind once again with the thoughts. He also knew that it must of made a physical impression upon him from when his aunt said, “There’s a good smile” out of nowhere. For once he was smiling and not even thinking about himself doing so. He remembers that it felt good in that time, to think without any thoughts, to have his own mind move as if with the wind oppose to downriver.
It all fell apart so fast. The phone call came suddenly before the two of them had even had any notice of time, for it felt lost up till then. The ringing of the phone split Travis into two. His mind raced with arguing thoughts of how danger had come to his parents and something was wrong with that of there is nothing to worry about and it had not been too late.
It all came to a front with the look of his aunt’s face while she talked on the phone. Travis didn’t even remember a single word she had said in response to the caller but he could somehow feel her tone and knew it was all wrong. He remembered her panic directly after hanging up the phone. She insisted that Travis prepared to leave while she readied herself and attempted to prepare her own sleeping child. It upset Scott enough to make him cry for what felt like the time it took to get to his aunt’s house. Travis thought that the baby had stopped crying and fell back asleep in the car but his mind remembered the cries racing in his head all the way to the home.
He remembered without any knowledge of what was going on or why that he had sprinted to the lab and retrieved every file and blueprint he could from his father’s project even against his aunts worried calls for him to return. He eventually did and with armfuls of paperwork his aunt did not question him once about it until they were secure at her home in the city. She even helped him with his coat and shoes as he found himself reluctant to even free a hand from the papers.
Those were his last memories of the house and of his parents. He had nothing else. His aunt and her boyfriend had gone back to the house days later to find it stripped of most the possessions especially those pertaining to the lab. Travis remembers his aunt coming back with a stack of photo’s for him and prepared himself for the questions she might ask about them but was shocked to find she had none. Looking at the photo’s he noticed that there were none from the hidden cabinet. None of the photos had the image of the man. He asked if she had gone through everything and gotten all the photos even in the certain cabinet. She assured him she had taken everything that was left in the home and that there were no photos in the cabinet even though it was left open on her return.
It was a very many sad years after for Travis. He found himself being tested from concealing himself from others after his parent’s funeral by his aunt and his cousin. He had found out that a friend of his father’s that use to be his lab partner before he started working out of his home was the man who had called his aunt that day. Somehow he knew the trouble that his father was in with the men in the black suites but he knew and learned little more.
He remembers how terrified he was when some of the men in black suites came into his aunt’s house and wanted to look through the home and ask him some questions. His aunt allowed them to look through the house but denied any of their attempts to talk to Travis. He was thankful of that and more thankful that he had found a broken wall in the home to hide the papers he had taken from his father’s project.
When time came that he began to feel less paranoid about the men in black suits and about his parents and his father’s project he started to engulf himself into his father’s papers. He read through every line of note, every inclination of blueprint and remembered the state in which the project was built to at the time and how it looked. He also thought sometimes to himself of how some of his father’s notations and ideas didn’t seem to mesh and fit in a way that would seem to work. He noted these thoughts as extremely strange mostly for the case that he among many others had always looked at his father as a genius among most men especially when having anything to do with his projects.
Eventually Travis found himself devoting any free time he had to the working of his father’s papers into his own notes and plans then eventually into a physical representation. His aunt looked as it more of a tie he had to his parents and actually freed up most of the garage against her boyfriends protests to allow him his own space to tend to.
His aunt still from time to time insisted that he watch over or take his cousin, Scott. He knew her intentions and although he wished no spared time away from his own project he knew that it was something that was “normal” and tried to accept it even though most times his mind wandered back to his project and his next actions having to do as soon as returning to it.
And it was this sunny day in mid July that he sat on the bench swamped in his own thoughts of his project that lay waiting for him back at home. He looked as if he was watching his now five year old cousin play on the swing set seeming to enjoy everything down to the brush of wind on his face, though his eyes wandered lost in thought. It was these days that he found himself constantly daydreaming of his little past he had behind him. It often surprised him just how many thoughts it all had built to be as if he had lived two or three lifetimes in just his one to date. Thoughts of his parents often broke through his thoughts of anything else. He also found himself surprised at the disappearing thoughts of the image that had once haunted him weekly. He never realized just how long it had been since his last thought of the image until today. He had been so thrown into his striving need to rework and complete his father’s project now that he knew exactly what it was.
It all made sense now. “Time my son, time” his father had constantly left him with nothing more. It all came together now. His father was attempting to build the machine of myths and legend, his own time travel machine. To farfetched for any rational mind to comprehend or justify that he could only leave anyone with the status of “time.” It all came together. I got what little information from his aunt he could and what he had previously from his own parents. Somehow his father’s projects were funded by some government organization, those where the men in black suits. It still didn’t make sense in Travis’s mind why his father would be murdered for having anything to do with the governments own project. It never seemed to him that his father attempted to do anything but complete it and nothing more. Those thoughts were beyond understand to Travis and he constantly pushed them out with the knowledge of only now exactly what his father intended to do and what he had intended to finish.
Travis had other plans than his father though. He had no intention to sell to some men in black suits this was a project for him alone. It was his to complete and see to its end reassuring him that he can return through time and right the wrong that had happened to his family. To fix his own world as he saw fit, and nothing more, to once again see his mothers face even if it was filled with worried eyes of her sons being. To just see the eyes alone would be enough.
But it was that day the thoughts of the image were brought back once again, and from the most unexpected place to Travis. He didn’t know just how long his little cousin had been waving for his attention while he stared blankly at him without seeing at all. But, he eventually snapped from his comatose state and noticed the boy seemingly upset with his cousin’s refusal to recognize him as he disturbingly dismounted from the swing and began marching toward the bench.
“Were you having a good time?” Travis asked the child as if responsible to talk to the boy.
The boy didn’t respond to Travis but instead passed the words strait to take his own seat snuggled in the bench next to Travis. Travis even felt it odd that he instantly had to fight the urge to move away slightly for the boy slid to where his hip and leg came in stride with his own. Travis did fight the urge and allowed himself to stay immobilized and connected to his little cousin as he folded his little arms upon his chest and gave out a little sigh.
“Are you ready to go home?” Travis asked the boy whose attention seemed to be at the air across the front of Travis. Travis looked uncomfortable on what to do with not hearing a response from the boy. He immediately felt as if they would be leaving but go no returning inclination from the child. Travis fought the urge to look to the boy for more than a second at a time when he noticed that Scott was not looking at him but past him.
The silence alone disturbed Travis while he sat uncomfortable wishing the child would just jump up ready to head home. When Travis finally mustered enough will to attempt to ask the child again if he was ready the boy spoke with great curiosity.
“Why don’t you talk to him?” Scott asks as if he’s disturbed Travis makes no attempt. Travis had to swallow with no fluid even in his mouth. His throat felt even dryer as it even felt to hurt a little from doing so. He knew that he had to ask the boy what he was talking about and even knew that he was a little child and could be talking about anything, but still felt that he spoke of the image.
“Talk to who?” Travis asks with great strain in his voice and an uneasy feeling in his stomach that showed on his face.
“That man.” Scott says while pointing directly in front of Travis. Travis looks in front of him reassuring himself there is no one standing in front of him.
“There is no one there, Scotty.” Travis replies justifying it to himself.
“He says you can see and hear him too. But, you won’t talk to him. Why not? He doesn’t look like a bad man.” Scott says with great curiosity.
“How come you can see and hear him and no one else can?” Travis says while refusing to remove his eyes from the boy let alone look back to the vacant air in front of him.
“I don’t know. He said his name is Scott too. Maybe it’s because that’s my name too.” Scott says with great reassurance that, that must be the answer.
“Yeah that’s probably why.” Travis says to reassure the boy. Travis pauses a moment and attempts to swallow more dry nothing from within his mouth. It hurts more but he tries not to show the pain on his face. “He doesn’t scare you?” He finally asks the boy without the ability to wait for his answer.
“Nope. He looks like a nice man, but he doesn’t move much. And he looks happy that I’m talking to you about him.” Scott says full of smiles to the vacant air in front of Travis. Travis shifts uncomfortably in his seat and looks around momentarily everywhere but to the boy and directly in front of him.
“Come on it’s time to go home. Your mother will start to get worried.” Travis ultimately says as he starts to get off the bench. He even steps out of the way to ensure not to step on the invisible image in front of him. Scott casually follows his lead and once to his feat gives a little wave at the air behind the two.
“Bye bye.” Scott says before turning away to walk with Travis. He puts up his hand for Travis to hold which usually isn’t done until they have to cross the street as his mother had taught him and insisted Travis remind him of constantly. Travis reluctantly grabs a hold of the child’s awaiting hand before finding comfort in it as they walk away from the bench.
Travis waited anxiously through the entire time they returned home till the time Scott had to go to bed for what he would say in response of Scott telling his mother about the image. He wondered if he could sit there and deny the whole thing as if a child’s imagination running wild throughout the day and he had merely played a part in its journey and if so what kind of a response that would warrant from the child. Travis felt uncomfortable the whole time playing out every scenario that might rise and what his response would be and then in turn the boys.
To his amazement the boy said nothing to his mother the entire time while Travis sat back and waited for the moment. Not even during dinner when his mother had asked what he did at the park did Scott say anything having to do with the image or his conversation of it with Travis. Travis began to assist his belief that the boy had totally forgotten about the entire thing and perhaps it was just a child’s imagination that came as some kind of coincidence and nothing more. When it came time for Scott to go to bed Travis had actually become very comfortable with the thought of nothing more coming of it and actually began to indulge his thoughts back into his father’s project he had in the garage.
It all came back in swing when Scott’s mother went to put him to bed and the child actually asked that Travis be the one that tucks him in. The look of astonishment was almost greater on his mother than that of Travis’s face at the boy’s request. Scott’s mother took to a loving sad eyes look to both the boys when she asked Scott if he was sure. When the boy merely replied, “yup” she handed the bedtime ritual over to Travis who was still in a state of cautious shock.
Travis walked the boy to his room who again insisted that Travis take his hand while he guided him to his room. This time Travis took it with no rejection of thought or body. Scott’s mother only watched on with near tearing eyes as the boys vanished down the hallway.
Once in the room Scott quickly jumped into his bed unmasking the makeup his mother had done in the morning of his blankets. Travis halted at the door and prepared to already leave the room with one hand grasping the door handle and the other on the light switch.
“You all set?” Travis asks while his body leans out of the doorway.
“You have to tuck my blanket in.” Scott says almost laughing to himself.
“Right.” Travis replies while releasing the door handle and rushing to the bed and tucking the blankets into the body of the laying boy. He steps back and looks at the boy. “You all set now?”
“Yup. Goodnight.” Scott says as he nestles his back and butt into his bed.
Travis grabs a hold of the door handle again as he shuts out the light which instantly activates a night light in the corner of the room. “Don’t shut the door all the way!” Scott bursts out to Travis as he closes the door behind himself. Travis stops with the door closed three fourths of the way.
“Is that good?” Travis asks from outside the opening.
“A little more.” Travis shuts the door a little bit more and more till it stands open only a few inches. “Okay. That’s good.” Scott says halting the door in Travis’s hand instantly.
“Okay. Goodnight.” Travis says through the small crack in the door. His body starts to turn away from the door. He leans in and places his face back in the crack of the door once again. “Maybe we will go back to the park tomorrow if you want.”
“Okay!” Scott says back with excitement.
“Night.” Scott says as he rolls his face into his pillow and shuts his eyes. Travis stands there a moment watching the boy almost instantly fall asleep. He tries to remember when the last time he was able to just roll over and fall asleep just as the boy could. He could barely think about when that was, if it had been ever. He finally retreated back down the hallway toward the kitchen where his aunt stood at the sink washing the dishes.
Without looking up from her dishes she begins to talk to the known presence of her nephew. “You guys must have had quite a day today.”
“Yeah we must of. I thought it was just another day at the park.” Travis says almost uncomfortable in his own skin. His aunt smiles to the plate she stands washing.
“You know he has never gone to sleep without that door open to the back wall before?” She asks curiously.
“No, I didn’t know that.” Travis replies when he actually knew it very well. He could remember the time when his aunt’s boyfriend put Scott to bed and shut the door just a little on his way out and Scott screamed until his mother went in and calmed him down and that had only been nearly a month ago. “I guess he’s growing up now.”
“I guess so.” She says with another big smile to only her sink. “Thanks for taking him today.”
“It wasn’t a problem. I told him I might take him again tomorrow too.” Travis says looking for his escape.
His aunt stops washing her silver wear and turns to him. “That would be great. I think he would love that a lot.” After a moment of her smiling in appreciation to the boy she returns to her sink.
“Well I am off to bed. Goodnight.” Travis says as his feet quickly carry him to the staircase then abruptly up it.
“Goodnight.” She looks curiously at the cup she’s washing and shakes it off with a return of her giant smile.
Travis enters his room and quickly shuts the door with a sigh of relief to be back alone once again. After a moment of being against the back of the door he quickly jumps into bed without removing even his shoes. He lies there wide eyed while his mind races strait into the night. He plays over the day round and round in his head. He bounces the ideas of his cousin’s words being child’s play and reality. He questions his own ideas and thoughts on what happened and what exactly he was going to do. He could barely fathom the idea of attempting to communicate with this image that has haunted him since he was born. He also wondered if he could keep it away forever. He wondered if Scott could see it how many others could to. He wondered if he wasn’t alone in the world even though he felt it constantly and even more so wished exactly that for himself. Eventually his thoughts exhausted his mind and he fell to black sleeping the rest of the night away.
Since the moment he got up Scott seemed rearing to go to the park with him. Usually the morning was blanketed with his involvement with his father’s project and though it did expose itself in his thoughts shortly and temporarily throughout the morning Travis found himself surprised of how much he felt he could not even concentrate in his work with this image back in his mind. It was consuming all of his thought allowing him little focus on anything else but his own silent voices on the subject.
Eventually after lunch Travis decided to take Scott back to the playground. He himself returned to the same bench as the day before as Scott quickly ran off onto the playground quickly sampling the already known slides. Travis sat and watched the boy play about for the first time almost thoughtless and actually had his attention drawn by the active boy’s intentions.
It was not until Scott had nearly made it again through every man made toys the playground permitted before Travis showed some life in movement besides blinking. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his contact lens case and opened it. He reluctantly and slowly removed the contacts from his eyes but kept each eye quenched shut directly after removing the contact. Once having them both out Travis sat with both eyes bleeding to be opened. But, he refused to open them even after closing his case and returning it to his pocket. He kept sitting with hard shut eyes and in silence for what felt to him a couple hours.
Still unable to allow his eyes a peep of sunlight he slowly raised his hands to his ears and even slower removed the hearing aids from them. As soon as his hands touched back down to thighs he heard that old voice again, clear as day. It was not a faint whisper anymore and without a broken word. “Travis, look at me.” The voice said and with it tears fought their way through the cracks of tightly pressed eyelids down his cheeks. Travis fought both the urge to not open his eyes and also the urge to open them, to maybe find some other way to rid himself of this image, even if it meant to face him once and for all.
Travis finally opened his eyes as slowly as he could. He could see Scott still dancing around the playground in the distance with the other children but everything within the playground and around it was a blurry mess except for the image in front of him. This image who called himself Scott was as clear as a real person now. There were no tracks of light through the lining of his body. There were no visions of the distance throughout his body; it was a man standing before him, clear as day.
Travis slowly looks over the man dressed in some attire he had never seen before and thought of it as some fancy western city wear. He looked up to the man’s face and thought it odd how it looked. The cheeks and eyes and even the hair color itself met the splitting image of his little cousin playing about. He thought it was funny that a man looking so much alike his cousin be called the same name. But, it was the man’s smile that struck him the most. The man smiled just as his aunt does a full faced smile that would welcome anyone in.
“Why don’t you leave me alone?” Travis finally asks feeling as if just by passing the words he will lose the remaining of his blood to his head and pass out, but he doesn’t.
“You know you kept warning me just how hard it would be to get through to you, but I never really believed you till now.” The image says still holding his smile which seems even larger now.
“What do you mean me?” Travis asks with great confusion and fighting the will to once again rid himself of this image no matter how welcoming he looks now.
“If you weren’t already working on it I feel that you would not even believe a word I have to say. Therefore I guess even though lost time it is better that this happen now rather than before. We didn’t really think much of that beforehand, only that we must warn you.” The image says while reluctant to move much of his body except his face.
“I still don’t know what you are talking about. Or why you have haunted me my whole life. And now my cousin.” Travis says with growing anger as he fights his own eyes from producing even more tears to his cheeks.
“Haunt you? I can see why you would think that. But, it was your idea. And I would not haunt myself.” He says with a glance toward little Scott playing now on the swings, still not moving much of the rest of his body.
“Yourself? So you are supposed to be my cousin or something? And my idea? How would any of this be my idea? You have tortured me my entire life.” Travis says while he attempts to brace his shaking knees with his hands.
“All you had to do was listen, just once. I understand that you were afraid and I am sorry for that. But, we are only trying to make things better.” The image says with sympathetic eyes. “You did it Travis. You really did. You finish the work your father might never have done. You created a machine that no human thought ever possible and you yourself begin to reshape history.”
“How do you know about the project?” Travis’s legs stop shaking as he looks to the image inventively.
“I am going to tell you something that you don’t want to hear, but it is the god’s honest truth. You finish your work with the project in a few years. After that you begin to attempt in fixing your parents history by changing certain things. But, it never works. In the end not only your parents die over it by you do as well. You told me if anything happened to use it for one purpose only. To stop you from going through with it. And I have been doing that for sixteen years now when I can.”
“It’s my father’s project I have to use it for them.”
“You’re not listening Travis it does no good. Not only does it change the fate of your parents and yourself it also gets into the wrong hands and it gets worse from there.”
“If it works why didn’t you come out like this when I was younger?”
“Because I don’t know how to fix it since you have been gone. It has been getting worse and if you do not know how to work it as you did then sometimes you come back in time looking like a ghost to some.”
“I don’t believe you. It doesn’t make any sense.”
“I have been trying to get through to you and your father for sixteen years now for you to listen. And if now even in listening you don’t hear me then there is nothing more I can do for you. It’s just not right how it turns out. You are a genius as your father was but it turns out for nothing through this project. Something like this should never be in the hands of man and our future now has shown just why. I am trying to help out you and my own family that’s it. And if you still won’t do what’s right and let me help you then I guess maybe that is just what’s meant to be. But, I said my peace and did as you asked me to do. I will leave you alone with your own decisions. But, just know that if you choose against it I hope the next time around I will have enough to tell you it’s your own creation and no one else’s. You won’t see me again, I did my job.”
With that the image of Scott suddenly disappears and as soon as it does Travis finds himself in a flood of tears. “You can’t ask me to give up on my parents. To let them die.” Travis says with his head falling into his hands as he continues to cry.
Little Scott notices Travis crying on the bench and slowly exits off the teeter totter and walks over to him. He places his small hand gently over Travis’s dropped right shoulder and softly asks him while attempting to look into his hidden crying eyes. “Are you okay?”
Travis rushes to stop his crying and wipe the remaining tears from his face before looking to the child. “Yes, I am okay.” Travis pulls himself together more and tries to sit completely upright on the bench. He looks to the soft eyes of the child which make his withhold a second coming of his tears. “You can go play some more if you want.”
“No. I am done now.”
“Yeah. Can we go home now?”
“Yes we can go home.” Travis says as he rises from the bench, as he turns to exit the area he places his hand down and open for Scott to grab a hold of which he does instantly. They depart the playground together.
Travis thought a little about how Scott might mention his crying at the playground and how he would have to find a way to explain it but he was more distracted on his conversation with the adult image of the boy. And even so the child said nothing about his crying at the park as he shared nothing of the day before yet again. Travis thought a moment on how remarkable it was that the child could possibly withhold some thoughts or even move on from enough for it to not even pop back in the mind. And that in knowing that once a child thought of something it nearly instant shot out of the child’s mouth thereafter, but Scott said nothing.
Still he had few thoughts of anything but what the image had spoken to him about. After dinner Scott requested again that Travis tuck him into bed as he then did. After he told his aunt that he was going out to the garage for a little bit before bed which she showed no issue with.
Travis stood out in the garage overlooking his newly designed father’s project still being pieced and built and all the paperwork both from his father and that of his own he had drawn together for nearly an hour’s worth. In that time he sometimes found himself uncontrollably sobbing and sometimes smiling on the verge of laughter the rest fell somewhere between the two.
After that time had passed he started gathering all of the papers together and tossed every last one into a tin garbage can then began undoing every component of his project and tossing each bit into a giant scrap metal bin. After the project laid in pieces in the bin he lit a match and tossed it into the tin can lighting the entire can up in flames. He opened the side window for the smoke to escape and hoped that the blacked air outside would be enough to blanket the smoke protruding from the side of the garage. He constantly used the bin’s lid to shelter the floating burnt pieces from escaping the bin and saw to it that the entire bundle of papers were left to only ash. He stepped back when all was done and looked on for a moment before retreating from the garage.
Travis entered the house hoping that he would be able to go straight to his room without anything to stop him. But, with the door still being unlocked and not having to use his key which he expected he knew that even though the inside was completely black his aunt still sat up somewhere indoors.
He entered slowly but not slows enough to seem as if he was sneaking around and shut the door behind him. “You can lock it now if you’re done.” His aunt said from the only moonlit living room. Travis shut the door gently and locked it and turned for the staircase leading to his room. “I take it you are done with you projects for now?” She spoke again with a touch of concern in her gentle voice.
Travis halts himself on the first step. “Yes. I am done for now.”
“It’s hard to let go of some things.”
“Yes that is true.”
“I wish to take Scott back to the park again tomorrow if that’s okay.”
“That’s perfectly fine with me.” She said with a smile that could be heard even though unseen.
With that Travis walked up to his bedroom and shut the door behind him before changing his clothes. As soon as his body hit the mattress he seemed to fall to pieces once again. His hard tears would strain his eyes and face to where his face even through the darkness turned red. Ultimately his tears brought a deep sleep.
The next day Travis took Scott back to the park, but it was Travis who was first on the playground as he raced the boy to the slide and attempted himself to use them as the children demanded he was too big.
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