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"I placed your clothing on your bed." Uri said as Dylan walked into the common room.
"Thanks, Uri. Give me a minute to put them away, then I'll be ready to go." Dylan said as he walked to his room.
"How is Teddy?" Uri asked cautiously as he followed.
"Frightened, but I think he's going to be okay." Dylan said as he paused to look at Uri, then quickly started putting away his new clothes.
"I believe that fear is a common reaction when arriving in a new place." Uri said gently.
"Yeah. I invited Teddy to come over here to visit. You don't think anyone will mind, do you?" Dylan asked curiously as he put the last of his things away.
"No. I am certain that everyone will enjoy getting to know Teddy." Uri said with a smile.
"I thought that, too." Dylan said with an answering smile, then continued, "I need to make a pit stop, then I'll be ready to go."
"I will await you in the common room."
* * * * *
"This is Mr. T's classroom. We begin each day here and find out about what has been planned for the day." Uri said, as they approached a small building.
"So you don't do the same thing every day?" Dylan asked curiously.
"There is a standard schedule, but we frequently have special projects that require us to make alterations." Uri said frankly, then opened the door.
"Perfect timing." Mr. T said from the front of the classroom. "Dylan, Dr. Michaels just arrived. He's here to examine you."
Dylan looked at the indicated man with a bit of apprehension.
"Hello Dylan. You can call me Doc Austin, if you like."
"Okay." Dylan said carefully, noticing the man's casual demeanor.
"Please come with me, I promise that this won't take very long at all." Doc Austin said with an encouraging smile.
Dylan looked back at the classroom for a moment before reluctantly following Doc Austin out of the room.
* * * * *
"Before we begin, I need to explain something to you." Doc Austin said seriously.
Dylan looked at the doctor with concern.
"Dr. McCoy sent me his scans of you and explained your condition. He also told me about the treatment you received while you were in the hospital in Chicago" Doc Austin said gravely.
Dylan stared at the doctor, not able to guess at what point, if any, he was trying to work toward.
"So before we start the examination, I need your promise that you'll tell me if anything I'm doing is bothering you." Doc Austin said as he stopped to look Dylan in the eye.
A look of confusion was the only response that Dylan was able to give.
"From what Doctor McCoy said about your condition, we may be seeing a lot of each other for the next few months. With your help, I'll make the experience as comfortable for you as possible." Doc Austin said seriously.
"Okay..." Dylan said hesitantly, still not understanding what the doctor was asking of him.
"Your doctors hurt you, Dylan." Dr. Michaels said quietly. "I realize that there are no words that I can say that will undo what they did and make it so you can trust me. I'll do my best to make you comfortable, but I'll need for you to tell me if I do anything that disturbs you."
Realization lit up in Dylan's eye as he finally understood Dr. Michaels' concern. "Listen, doc. I've learned to do a lot of things that I don't like and that I don't want to. But I go ahead and do them just because they have to be done. So you don't have to worry about me freaking out on you. You do what you need to do and I'll do my part."
"Good enough." Doc Austin said cautiously, then added, "Just as long as you know that you're free to ask questions and that you can ask me to stop at any time."
"Yeah. Okay." Dylan said dismissively, not even trying to conceal his distrust.
"Well, I suppose it's a start." Doc Austin said with a reluctant smile, then gestured toward the administration building, indicating for Dylan to precede him.
* * * * *
As soon as Dylan and Dr. Michaels were out of the room, Cory raised his hand to gain Mr. T's attention.
"A few of us weren't able to get all of our homework done last night... Is there any way we could have a little more time?"
Mr. T smiled at the respectful request, since he knew that Cory would be well within his rights to demand additional time since they were busy with Clan business the night before.
"Don't worry about it, Cory. I've already set aside the entire morning for unstructured study time." Mr. T said as he looked around the room.
"Oh, thanks." Cory said gratefully.
"If anyone runs out of work, you can ask one of the teachers and get a head start on tomorrow's lesson." Mr. T said professionally.
After a moment to see that no one had any questions, Mr. T said, "That's it, you can begin. Just call on me or one of the other teachers if you need any help with your studies."
Mr T watched with satisfaction as everyone started pulling out their study materials.
"What are we doing?" Jose asked as he looked around the group of Camp guys.
"Obie, Arlo and Devon can work on looking for Obie's brother. The rest of us can see what we can do to help out the Clan guys with their work." Simon said seriously.
"Good plan." Mouse said, then glanced to his side to see that Luke was in agreement.
* * * * *
Dylan felt uncomfortably exposed with all the bandages removed from his face.
"So what's the verdict? Can you help me?" Dylan asked cautiously.
Doc Austin considered for a moment before carefully answering, "Dylan. The God's honest truth is... I don't know."
Dylan was surprised by the answer, expecting Doc Austin to, at least, give him empty assurances.
"Now that I've had a chance to examine you for myself, I think that I have enough understanding of your condition to do some research and make some inquiries to find what options are available to you." Doc Austin said seriously as he began to dress Dylan's wounds with fresh bandages.
"Okay." Dylan whispered, trying to hold still, so as not to interfere with the doctor's work.
The sudden, downcast look in Dylan's eye told Doc Austin that Dylan's hopes were falling.
"I tell you what, I have a temporary office set up at the Short Compound where I keep more sophisticated equipment. I can make arrangements for you to go over in the morning so I can do a more detailed exam, then I should be able to give you at least 'some' answers about what can be done and what steps will need to be taken." Doc Austin said as he looked Dylan in the eye.
"Short Compound? Is that like a prison or something?" Dylan asked cautiously.
Doc Austin chuckled as he said, "No. Nothing like that. In fact, that's where many of the Clan members live... including Cory. It's right across the street."
"Oh. That sounds alright." Dylan said as he seemed to relax a little.
"Please just leave it to me for now and try not to worry about it." Doc Austin said gently.
"I'll try." Dylan said helplessly.
Doc Austin looked at Dylan with sympathy for a moment, then said, "How about I give you something for the pain so you can get back to your class?"
Dylan looked at the doctor with surprise for a moment, then said, "I forgot it was even hurting."
Doc Austin chuckled at the statement and said, "I'll do my best to keep it that way."
"Thank you for, you know, being nice and stuff." Dylan said shyly as Doc Austin retrieved the pain medication.
"It's my pleasure, Dylan..." Doc Austin said, then looked up at the sound of a knock on the door.
"Yes?" Doc Austin asked curiously.
Mrs. Crow opened the door and quietly said, "A new child arrived this morning and I was wondering if you'd have time to look at him before you leave?"
"Of course. In fact, Dylan and I were just finishing up. I can see him now if you'd like." Doc Austin said, then held out a hypospray and looked at Dylan with question.
Dylan looked at the doctor curiously, wondering what he was waiting for, then realized that Doc Austin was silently asking his permission before injecting him.
After a slight nod, Doc Austin injected Dylan's arm.
"It will probably take a few minutes for Mrs. Sixto to bring him." Mrs. Crow said seriously, then in a more reluctant tone she added, "He may not be altogether cooperative."
"Are you talking about Teddy?" Dylan asked curiously.
"Yes." Mrs. Crow said quietly. "Considering his emotional state when he arrived, I'm not sure how receptive he'll be to the idea of an examination."
"If you'd like, I can go get him and help him through it." Dylan said to Mrs. Crow, then looked at Doc Austin with question.
"I think that might be a very good idea." Mrs. Crow said thoughtfully, then looked at Doc Austin and said, "It might make your examination go a lot more smoothly if Dylan is here to console him."
"If it will make the child more comfortable, then I'm all for it." Doc Austin said frankly.
"Do you want me to go get him now?" Dylan asked, looking from one adult to the other.
"Yes, thank you, Dylan." Doc Austin said with a gentle smile.
"I'll call Mrs. Sixto to let her know that you're coming." Mrs. Crow said decisively before turning to leave.
* * * * *
"How's it going?" Simon asked as he walked up behind Devon and Arlo.
"Well, we haven't found anything yet, but there are still quite a few places to look." Arlo said seriously.
Devon nodded absently, never looking away from the computer screen.
"How are you doing, Obie?" Simon asked gently.
"Okay. I guess." Obie said quietly. "I just wish there was something I could do. I feel so useless."
"Hey! You're the guy with the answers." Arlo said over his shoulder. "When we finally do find something, we're going to need you to look at what we found and tell us if it's what we're looking for."
"That's right. We can't do this without you." Devon said, and even glanced away from the computer for an instant.
"You see there?" Simon asked with a smile, "You're not useless, you're the most valuable member of the team."
Obie thought for a moment, then broke into a sunny smile.
* * * * *
"Hey Doc, look who I've got." Dylan said as he carried Teddy into the room on his hip.
"Who do you have here?" Doc Austin asked with a genuine smile at the happy six year old boy.
"This is my new friend, Teddy." Dylan said happily.
"Well, Teddy. My name is Doc Austin, and it's very nice to meet you."
"Are you gonna give me shots?" Teddy asked, his sunny mood instantly changed to seriousness.
"I'm not planning on it." Doc Austin said honestly. "This isn't going to be a very long examination. I just want to have a look at you to be sure that you don't have any immediate medical needs. But if I find that you do need some type of medication, I have a device called a hypospray that would make it so that a shot wouldn't hurt at all."
"He gave me one of those shots a few minutes ago, and it just felt like it puffed some air on my arm." Dylan said frankly.
"It didn't hurt?" Teddy asked cautiously.
"Not even a little bit." Dylan said assuringly.
"Okay." Teddy said slowly, obviously not fully believing either of them.
"Hopefully, you won't need any shots, so you might not have to worry about it." Doc Austin said with a grin, then gestured for Dylan to bring Teddy over to the examination table.
"Teddy, when I examine you, I'm going to need for you to take your clothes off for a few minutes. Would you feel better if Dylan stayed in here or went outside?" Doc Austin asked gently.
After a moment of careful consideration, Teddy looked Dylan in the eye and quietly asked, "Would you stay?"
"Sure, Teddy. I'll be here whenever you need me." Dylan said with a tender smile.
"Will you take your shirt off for me?" Doc Austin asked as he walked across the room to get his stethoscope.
Teddy looked hesitant, but slowly began to pull the shirt off over his head.
"Do you need some help?" Dylan asked gently.
"No." Teddy whispered, then said, "Just don't be mad at me when you see."
"I'm not going to be mad at you." Dylan said in puzzlement, not being able to imagine what Teddy was worried about.
A moment later he found himself fighting for every bit of self control at his command to keep from screaming out in rage.
There were some cuts and bruises that seemed relatively minor, but it was the mass of burns that spoke of nothing short of torture. Some were fresh, probably done within the past ten hours, and others... it could have been going on for years.
"Dear God!" Doc Austin gasped when he saw Teddy's upper body. "Who did this to you, Teddy?"
Teddy looked from Doc Austin to Dylan with fear in his eyes.
"His mother." Dylan whispered regretfully, then hopped up on the edge of the bed and tried to make the move look casual. "Since the police brought Teddy here, I'm guessing that she's being dealt with."
"Well, if they don't deal with her, Cory will." Doc Austin said under his breath, then in a gentle voice he asked, "Are you in any pain, Teddy?"
"No. They smeared some smelly gunk on me at the hospital before I came here and it don't hurt at all now." Teddy said quietly.
"It's okay, buddy. No one's mad at you." Dylan said with a grin as he patted Teddy's knee.
Teddy looked at Dylan, obviously not believing him.
"Remember me, Mr. 'shot-in-the-face' guy?" Dylan asked with a grin.
Teddy couldn't keep from smiling at the comment.
"I'm sorry for asking this, but... what were you burned with?" Doc Austin asked quietly, fairly sure that he knew, but needing for Teddy to confirm it.
Teddy looked at the doctor, but didn't give any indication of wanting to answer.
"Cigarettes." Dylan said, knowing from too much personal experience.
"Is that right, Teddy?" Doc Austin asked gently.
Teddy reluctantly nodded.
"Will you take off your pants? This will just take me a minute, I want to be sure that you don't have any injuries that need immediate treatment." Doc Austin said gently.
Teddy looked at Dylan and received a smile of encouragement.
Since he was sitting on the examination table, getting out of the pants involved a lot of squirming and wiggling.
Dylan was relieved to see that the majority of the damage was above Teddy's waist. There were a few scars of old burns on his butt, but it wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been.
"Thank you, Teddy. You can go ahead and put your clothes back on." Doc Austin said quietly.
"Do you need some help?" Dylan offered casually.
"I got it." Teddy said as he wriggled into his pants.
"When I came here today, I thought I was only going to be seeing Dylan so I didn't bring in my scanner. If you guys will wait for just a minute or two, I'll be right back." Doc Austin said hopefully.
"We'll be fine." Dylan said with a smile, then turned and asked, "Right, buddy?"
Teddy smiled a broad smile and said, "Right!"
* * * * *
"That wasn't too bad, was it?" Dylan asked as he walked out of the office, holding Teddy's hand.
"No, but he said that I'm going to have to see him again later." Teddy said seriously.
"That's just so he can put some more 'smelly gunk' on your burns so you won't be hurting. All the scary stuff is over and Doc Austin says that you're fine." Dylan said gently.
"Are you okay?" A small voice asked as they walked out of the office and into the lobby of the administration building.
"The doctor says that I am." Teddy said as his surprise changed into a smile.
"Mrs. Sixto said that it was okay if I came here and waited for you." Jason K said happily.
"Thanks." Teddy said gratefully.
"Uh huh." Jason K said as he looked up at Dylan cautiously.
"Would you mind taking Teddy back to Mrs. Sixto's class with you?" Dylan asked gently.
"Uh huh!" Jason K responded immediately, then turned to Teddy and said, "Come on!"
Dylan smiled wistfully as he watched the two boys hurry away.
"Every single day it amazes me how resilient children are. It's truly one of God's mercies." Mrs. Crow said as she moved to stand at Dylan's side to look out the door.
After a moment of consideration, Dylan finally said, "I never thought about it before, but it really is amazing."
* * * * *
"Here, look at this. I think I've got something." Arlo said as he scooted to the side to allow Devon to see his computer screen.
"Yeah. But if I'm reading this right, they changed his name. And I don't know how to get into the county computers to find what they changed it to. They're really super careful with those records. I'm not even sure those records are computerized."
"Well, if we can't go by name, maybe we can track it by date. Look in the school system records for a boy about his age admitted to a new school." Arlo said thoughtfully.
"I'm not sure which one of these... Obie, can you remember when you lost your brother, I mean, like what time of year or anything like that?" Devon asked carefully.
"I think it was cold. I don't remember anything from that long ago, but Mike's mentioned how cold he was without Amos to help him keep warm." Obie said quietly.
"Thanks. That helps. Going by the date of the name change, I think we should try December and January new admissions. There shouldn't be too many of them." Devon said decisively.
"Yeah. That sounds right." Arlo said slowly.
"Hey, look at this." Devon said in concentration.
"The light..." Arlo said in a distant voice.
Devon heard the strange response and looked at Arlo curiously.
What he saw sent a shiver up his spine. Before he could even think about it, he called, "Simon! Arlo needs help."
The camp guys exchanged glances, all of them having a pretty good idea of what was happening.
"The light." Arlo mumbled and seemed to be concentrating.
"What about the light?" Simon asked gently as he moved to Arlo's side.
"He sees the light, he craves the light. But it doesn't want him... it won't take him." Arlo said as tears began to fill his eyes.
"Why not?" Simon asked with concern.
"He doesn't know." Arlo said, then seemed to come back to himself as he turned to look Simon in the eyes.
Simon chewed on his lower lip as he concentrated on what Arlo had said.
"It's horrible. He's trapped between life and death. His body is gone, but he can't move on." Arlo said as a single tear fell.
"When are you seeing?" Simon asked carefully.
"Right now. He's here... somewhere... everywhere." Arlo said as he looked around the room.
"Does that mean that there's a ghost, here in the room with us right now?" Obie asked in a whisper.
"I think so. He's sort of... vague. Spread out. It's like he's diluted or like he's dissolving." Arlo said in a weak voice.
Simon bit his lip again in concentration, trying to think about what they could do.
"I... Oh god! Not again." Arlo whimpered, then started breathing heavily.
"What's wrong, Arlo?" Obie asked immediately.
"I feel... Oh please no, I can't. Not again." Arlo said as he hugged himself tightly.
"Is it a vision?" Simon asked in a whisper.
"No. Oh God, Simon! I can't do this. I don't want this. Make it stop." Arlo said as tears started rolling down his cheeks and he seemed to be struggling.
"Guys, I'll take care of Arlo. Will you let the Clan guys know that everything is fine?" Simon asked quickly.
"Is it?" Devon asked seriously.
"It will be. He'll get through it. He always does." Simon said in a tone that sounded like he was trying to convince himself.
"Until he doesn't." Devon whispered.
Simon looked at Devon with surprise.
"I'm not trying to be cruel, Simon. I'm just saying that... maybe Arlo is right to be scared. Maybe we need to see if there's some way for him to get rid of this thing. It seems like every time it happens, it's getting worse." Devon said frankly.
"We'll talk about it after." Simon said reluctantly, then noticed a fresh look of panic in Arlo's eyes.
Without thinking, Simon pulled Arlo into his arms and whispered, "I'm here, Arlo. You're not alone. Follow my voice and come back to me."
"I can't. I'm slipping. I can't stop it." Arlo said weakly, then rested his head on Simon's shoulder and returned the hug.
As soon as Simon felt the arms close around him, a jolt of panic surged through his entire body.
"NO!" Simon screamed as he fought to break free of Arlo's hug.
As soon as Arlo realized what he had done, he immediately let go.
Simon scrambled away from Arlo and backed himself into a corner.
As the panic passed it's peak, Simon slid down the wall and curled into a ball.
Everyone in the room was silent as they watched Simon crying, hugging his knees to his chest.
Mr. T discretely ducked into his office and hurried to the phone.
* * * * *
"Can you feel it?" Jerico asked quietly.
"I think so." Paul said uncertainly.
"I don't know what you're feeling, so you'll need to tell me if it's working or not." Jerico said quietly. "I think you're supposed to be able to sense what I'm doing and stop it."
"Let me try again." Paul said in concentration.
Jerico focused his thoughts on Paul and in his mind he repeated, 'See the apple. The apple is red. See the red apple...'
While he was concentrating, he felt something curious. The sensation was difficult to identify, but it was something like a soap bubble bursting. It felt like the suggestion he was making had suddenly vanished, it had simply ceased to be.
"I think I did it!" Paul said with excitement.
"I think you did too." Jerico said with a smile at his cousin.
Paul jumped up from his chair and pulled Jerico into a joyful hug.
"I really felt it! That was so awesome!" Paul said happily.
Jerico returned the hug and reveled in the sensation of being held. The warm body pressed against him awakened something deep inside him, something he had fought very hard to suppress.
Paul felt Jerico tense and quietly asked, "Are you okay?"
"Yes." Jerico whispered, but the single word had a ring of falsehood.
Paul pulled out of the hug, then quietly said, "I'm sorry."
"No. Please don't be sorry." Jerico said quickly. "It's not your fault."
"What isn't?" Paul asked quietly as he sat in his chair again.
"You remember that I told you that I was... addicted." Jerico said hesitantly.
"Yeah. To sex." Paul said casually.
"I just don't want to take the chance of losing control of it." Jerico said as he forced himself to meet Paul's concerned gaze. "I don't want to feel that way about you. I don't want to hurt you."
"You won't." Paul said seriously.
Jerico wanted to believe Paul's words, but knew himself too well to be able to.
"You can't control me." Paul said seriously. "You can't make me do anything I don't want to."
Jerico looked at Paul uncertainly, wanting to believe what he was saying.
"From what you told me, I think I understand why you're scared. But think about this." Paul said thoughtfully. "Because of your gift, you've learned how to deal with your feelings a certain way... a bad way. Since you can't control me, I could help you learn to deal with your feelings like a regular person."
Jerico's gaze became distant as he considered what Paul was saying.
"It's safe to hold me." Paul whispered. "It's safe to love me. You won't hurt me."
Jerico looked into Paul's eyes and quietly asked, "I could love you?"
Paul puzzled over Jerico's expression for a moment, then rolled his eyes and said, "I'm not talking about sex. I'm talking about love. Yes, you can love me."
Jerico slowly nodded, not knowing if he was acknowledging his understanding or giving his agreement.
"And just so you know..." Paul added quietly, "I won't hurt you either."
Jerico blinked with confusion at the statement. He had always seen himself as the aggressor. No one had ever hurt him, he had never given them the chance. And yet... hearing his cousin's promise soothed him more than he could account for. Knowing that Paul wouldn't hurt him seemed to chip away at a wall within him that he didn't know was there.
"Thank you..." Jerico began to say when the ringing of the phone drew his attention.
"I got it." Paul said as he raced into the kitchen.
Jerico sat for a moment, thinking about the possibility that he might learn how to love safely. That Paul might help him find a way that he could actually have a future of something more than isolation.
His uncle's words from earlier came back to him. 'The demon, the monster you fear, has been contained but not controlled. That is a weakness that will be exploited. The time has come for you to face it.'
That's what Paul was offering him, the chance to learn to control his inner demon. With Paul's help, he might be able to learn how to love in a healthy way.
"We'll be right there." Paul said firmly, then hung up the phone and dashed into the dining room.
"What's wrong?" Jerico asked with concern.
"That was Chief Tecumseh." Paul said seriously. "Something is happening at the camp, with the cabin one guys, and he said that we need to get over there right away."
"Did he say what the problem was?" Jerico asked as he stood.
"No. He just said that Arlo and Simon need us." Paul said frankly.
"Do you need to get anything before we go?" Jerico asked as he thought about the things that they might need.
"Just this." Paul said as he pulled Jerico into a hug.
Jerico froze for a moment, then reluctantly put his arms around Paul and hugged him in return.
"Okay. I'm ready." Paul said decisively.
* * * * *
"Stop." Kyle said as he grabbed Sean and Cory's arms to hold them back.
"They need help." Sean said as he turned to look at the younger boy.
"You don't have the help they need." Kyle said cryptically.
"Kyle, can't you do something?" Cory asked as he watched two of his classmates and friends 'melting down' right before his eyes.
"I can't." Kyle said with frustration. "Mikey says that if I do anything, I'll make things worse."
"If you can't do it, then he needs to get his butt down here and take care of it himself. I'm not going to just stand here and watch these guys self destruct." Cory said firmly.
Kyle seemed to be lost in concentration for a moment, then he looked at Cory and said, "Dylan."
"What?" Cory asked with confusion.
"That's all he told me." Kyle said helplessly.
"What's going on?"
Cory, Sean and Kyle turned as one to see Dylan walking into the classroom.
Before any of them could answer, Obie ran across the room and pulled Dylan into a desperate hug.
"Something's wrong with Arlo. A ghost or something like that is here and Arlo's scared that it's going to go into him and, I don't know, push him out or something." Obie said in a trembling voice.
"What's wrong with Simon?" Dylan asked as he stared at Simon curled into a ball in the corner.
"Arlo hugged him. Simon can't stand for anyone to touch him. It freaks him out. I mean, really bad. It's because..." Obie began to say when Dylan interrupted.
"I can guess why he feels that way." Dylan said sympathetically, then considered what he should do. "I don't know anything about ghosts, so let's help Simon first."
Obie looked at Dylan with surprise, then hurried to walk with him to the other side of the room.
* * * * *
"Simon, can you hear me?" Dylan asked quietly.
"Yeah." Simon muttered, still hugging his knees desperately.
"Will you tell me what happened?" Dylan asked gently.
"It's not Arlo's fault." Simon said quickly, then quietly added, "I hugged him first. I didn't even think about it. He was scared and I just did it."
"Obie said that you can't stand for anyone to touch you. Does that mean that hugging is something that you wouldn't normally do?" Dylan asked carefully.
"No. Not for... I can't remember how long." Simon said distantly.
"But when you saw that Arlo was scared, you wanted to comfort him, so you hugged him?" Dylan confirmed.
Simon reluctantly nodded.
"If you're interested, I'll tell you what I think." Dylan said quietly.
"What?" Simon whispered nervously.
"I think that you've just taken a big step." Dylan said frankly.
"Backward, maybe." Simon said in a trembling voice.
"Think about it Simon. Arlo was hurting. Your instinct was to hold him and ease his fear. If I'm understanding things right, this is something totally new and probably something you thought you could never do." Dylan explained seriously.
"But when he hugged me back, I freaked out." Simon whimpered.
"So you're not ready for *that* step yet." Dylan said dismissively. "The important thing to focus on is that you took *this* step."
Simon sat silently and thought about the words.
"Whether you're ready to believe it or not, you're getting better." Dylan said frankly.
Simon looked into Dylan's eye, then broke into a reluctant smile.
Dylan stood and held out his hand, offering to help Simon to stand.
After a moment of staring at the hand, Simon hesitantly took it.
"Let's go help Arlo." Dylan said with a smile.
Simon nodded, then stood with Dylan's help.
"I'm proud of you, Simon. You're doing great." Dylan said before releasing Simon's hand.
* * * * *
"Um, Cory. I think we need to go to the admin building." Kyle said urgently.
"We can't leave these guys like this." Cory said anxiously as he reluctantly turned his attention away from Simon and Dylan.
"Mikey says that since Dylan is here, they'll be fine. But what we've got is someone who is a real mess. I'll tell you on the way out, we need to get out there now." Kyle said urgently.
"All of us?" Cory asked as he looked around.
"Probably. I think he may need all of us before it's over." Kyle said frankly.
"You're sure they're going to be fine?" Cory asked as he looked at the camp guys across the room.
"You know that nothing is for sure until it happens. But they've got everything they need, they'll just have to figure out how to use it." Kyle said urgently.
"I'll get everyone." Sean said decisively.
Cory nodded, then called to Mr. T, "Clan Business."
He nodded that he understood and watched as Cory and the rest of the Clan members trooped out of the room.
* * * * *
"I really don't know much about what's happening to Arlo. What can we do to help?" Dylan asked as he walked to join the rest of the camp guys who were loosely surrounding Arlo.
"Arlo is a spirit medium. He can communicate with ghosts." Simon said quietly.
Dylan nodded that he heard, then quietly said, "Arlo, it's Dylan."
"Dylan? I can barely hear you." Arlo said weakly.
"Arlo, tell me what I can do to help you. I don't know what to do." Dylan said seriously.
"It's... it's everywhere, it's filling me up. It's pushing me out." Arlo said desperately.
"Tell me what I can do. I can't help you if I don't know what to do." Dylan said forcefully.
"Take care of Simon for me." Arlo whispered, then his eyes went blank.
Dylan looked into the empty eyes, and knew that even though the body before him was alive, everything that had made it Arlo... was gone.
* * * * *
"Isn't there something we can do?" Dylan asked as he looked around in panic.
"I saw Jerico do something yesterday, but I'm not sure it will help." Luke said timidly.
"Do it. Something is better than nothing." Dylan said quickly. "It looks like we're losing him."
Luke nodded, then took a deep cleansing breath before saying, "I call upon the spirit that's in this room. Raise your voice to be heard above the whispers. Expose your true intent that we may know your heart."
"I command you to come forth now!" Luke finished in a booming voice that echoed through the classroom.
Silence filled the room in the wake of the commanding words as everyone watched to see what was going to happen next.
A strange confusion seemed to fill Arlo's expression, then he quietly said, "Beg pardon?"
"Arlo?" Dylan asked cautiously.
"I am sorry, but I do not know to whom you are referring." Arlo said slowly.
"Who are you?" Obie asked from Dylan's side.
Arlo looked around the room curiously, then asked, "Pray tell, what place is this?"
"This is Camp Little Eagle, can you tell us who you are?" Dylan asked seriously.
"Oh, how rude of me, my name is Randolph. Randolph Pettigrew, at your service." Arlo said with a strange accent that seemed to be somewhere between British and New Englander.
"Randolph, you're hurting Arlo. You need to leave." Dylan said firmly.
"Would that I could." Randolph said thoughtfully, "I do not know where I am nor do I know from where I have just arrived."
"Let me try." Luke said from Dylan's side. "Randolph, you're a spirit. Right now you're in the body of a friend of ours, his name is Arlo. You being here is hurting him."
Randolph looked at Luke with surprise, then at Dylan with fear.
"I am a spirit?" Randolph asked as tears welled in his eyes, then reluctantly asked, "Am I dead?"
"Yes." Dylan said quietly, feeling sympathy at the frightened confusion in Randolph's expression.
After a long moment of silence, Randolph seemed to calm and quietly said, "I would never wish to harm anyone. What can I do to help your friend?"
"Leave." Luke said imploringly.
"I don't know how I came to be here, wherever this place is. I haven't a clue of how to leave." Randolph said honestly.
"Hey, I saw this thing in a movie once. Is it okay if I try it?" Obie asked hopefully.
Dylan considered for a moment, then said, "Since I can't think of anything to do, go ahead."
Obie walked directly in front of Randolph and said, "Randolph, I need to talk to Arlo."
"I'm sorry, but I don't know what it is that you're asking me to do." Randolph said with regret.
"I'm asking you to go to sleep or relax or something like that. Just be quiet and let Arlo talk." Obie said seriously.
"I will try." Randolph said quietly, then closed his eyes.
"Do you think it will work?" Mouse asked, from Luke's side.
"It's all we've got at the moment. Who are you supposed to call when something like this happens?" Dylan asked helplessly.
"Ghostbusters?" Obie asked with a giggle.
"A Shaman." Luke answered, with a reluctant grin at Obie.
"Yeah. Someone needs to call Jerico." Simon said immediately.
"I will do it." Uri said from Devon's side, then walked across the room to talk to Mr. T.
"Simon?" Arlo asked weakly.
"Arlo? Is that you?" Simon asked hopefully.
"Yeah. Are you alright?" Arlo asked as he fought to open his eyes.
"I'm fine. Don't worry about me. How are you?" Simon asked anxiously.
"I'm scared." Arlo whispered. "I think someone else is in here with me."
"Yeah. That's Randolph." Simon said gently.
"Please help me." Arlo begged. "I'm so tired."
"Uri is calling Jerico right now. He fixed you last time, so he should be able to fix you again." Simon said assuringly, then whispered, "Just hang on."
"Wait. Something is happening." Arlo said as he blinked his eyes.
"What's going on? What's wrong?" Simon asked in panic.
"Nothing." Arlo said in wonder. "Everything is fine now."
"What about Randolph?" Simon asked anxiously.
"I don't know." Arlo said slowly as he looked around the room.
"What do you see?" Simon asked desperately.
"Before, I felt like I was suffocating, like he was crowding me out. But now... I don't know what's different, but I don't feel that anymore." Arlo said slowly.
"Is the spirit gone?" Simon asked with concern.
"Yeah. When you asked to talk to me, I think he just... went away." Arlo said with surprise.
"I guess Luke did the right thing then." Simon said cautiously.
"Don't worry about it, Simon. I'm really fine now." Arlo said with a relieved smile.
* * * * *
"Mr. T called Jerico as soon as Arlo began having difficulties. He should be here any moment." Uri said as he walked to Dylan's side.
"Hey, what happened to all the Clan guys?" Dylan asked as he looked around.
"They had to deal with an emergency elsewhere. Mr. T didn't know any more than that." Uri said seriously, then quietly asked, "How are you, Arlo?"
"Much better. When Obie asked to talk to me, I guess the spirit figured out how to leave so I could talk." Arlo said happily. "I'm really fine."
Obie smiled with accomplishment.
"We should still have Jerico look at you." Luke said with concern. "That was too easy."
"I guess it's easy to say that from your point of view." Arlo said with a chuckle.
Luke smiled at the response, but still looked uneasy.
"How are you, Simon?" Uri asked cautiously.
"I'm better, too." Simon said quietly, then smiled gratefully at Dylan.
"I am pleased." Uri said sincerely, then turned to Devon and asked, "Have you made any progress on your project?"
"Actually, yeah." Devon said distractedly.
"What have you got?" Dylan asked quickly. "We could really use some good news right now."
"I think I've narrowed it down to three guys. I'm not sure what we're going to do with the information, but at least it's something." Devon said with a shrug.
"Significant progress." Uri said in an impressed voice.
"Is there any way to narrow it down more?" Simon asked, reluctantly diverting his attention from Arlo.
"No. Not that I can think of." Devon said thoughtfully.
"Why don't we just go and check out these three guys? I mean, Amos is Mike's twin, we should be able to tell if it's him by just looking at him." Obie said frankly.
After a long moment of silence, Uri finally said, "I believe that Obie has once again provided a simple and effective solution to our problems."
Simon smiled at Obie and said, "Yeah. And just a little bit ago you were saying how you felt useless."
Obie smiled shyly at Simon's words.
* * * * *
"Come on in and meet the guys." Cory said as he walked slowly into the classroom.
"Inmates, you mean." The older teenage boy said angrily.
"No, I mean classmates. This is a school." Cory said gently, then looked at Kyle imploringly, hoping he could see the root of the new boy's problem.
"Yeah! Classmates in a prison school!" The boy stormed.
"Guys, I'd like for all of you to meet Donny." Cory said into the room, hoping to divert the angry teen's attention.
Donny glanced around the room, then he froze in place.
Everyone watched as all the color seemed to drain out of the boy's face.
"Steven?" Donny whispered in disbelief. "They got you too?"
Simon's expression filled with panic at the sound of the name, but after a moment, he looked at the boy's face carefully. Donny seemed familiar to him, but Simon couldn't place where he knew him from.
"Yusef?" Donny gasped as he looked at Uri.
"Yes, Malchijah. Although, my true name is Uriah and Steven is now called Simon." Uri said quietly.
"Malchijah?" Simon gasped, then quickly said, "Oh my God! It's been years! I didn't recognize you. How are you?"
The boy glanced at Cory, then shook his head before saying, "Honestly, I don't know. But I have a feeling that things may have just gone from bad to worse."
"Guys, will you let Donny... or Malchijah, know that this isn't a prison and it's really okay here?" Cory asked hopefully.
"It's a nice place." Simon said simply.
"For a prison." The boy said firmly, letting it be known with his expression that he wasn't going to be convinced of anything.
Everyone was surprised to see Arlo walk across the room to look the new arrival in the eyes.
"Let's go for a walk." Arlo said simply, then turned away and started walking toward the door.
The boy looked around and saw that no one was going to try to stop him, or even try to talk him out of leaving.
"Um... Yeah." He said with surprise, then hurried to meet Arlo at the door.
As everyone watched Arlo and their new guest walk out, Cory quietly asked, "Do you think they're going to be okay?"
"Yeah. I think so." Simon said confidently. "Arlo's helped me so much that I'm sure he'll have a good idea of what Malchijah needs."
Cory looked at Kyle with question.
Kyle shrugged in response.
* * * * *
"Thanks for getting me out of there. I really appreciate it." Donny said gratefully, then took in a long deep breath as he looked around at the sparkling sunlight and lush green trees.
"I was happy to help." Arlo said casually, then added in a conspiratorial whisper, "I was kind of feeling cooped up in there anyway."
Donny looked at Arlo curiously.
Arlo started to walk away from the classroom and the older teenager followed along silently.
"Would you prefer that I call you Malchijah or Donny?" Arlo asked casually.
"My real name is Donny. I was just called Malchijah by the people who had me." He responded quietly. "I was with them for so long that I almost forgot my real name."
Arlo nodded as they reached the administration building, then turned to walk past it and into the parking lot.
When Donny finally realized that they were walking toward the main gate, he quickly asked, "What are you doing?"
"You were saying that this is a prison, I'm just showing you that it isn't." Arlo said simply.
"Do you mean that they're just going to let us walk out of here?" Donny asked incredulously.
"Yes." Arlo said simply, then added, "These gates and guards aren't here to keep us in, they're here to keep out people who would hurt us. You know, like the people who called you Malchijah."
Donny watched in wonder as Arlo waved at the guard at the gate as they passed.
"So we can just... leave?" Donny asked in wonder.
"That's right, Donny. You haven't been captured, you've been rescued." Arlo said seriously.
"Wow." Donny said in amazement as he looked back at the gate, then thought to ask, "By the way, what is your name?"
Arlo smiled a sunny smile at Donny and said, "Randolph."
Editor's Notes: Wow! what a wonderfully exciting chapter. It seems that MultiMapper has brought us through another crisis or two, or was that three? I'm afraid that my old brain can't keep up all that well anymore.
It really is nice to see the boys from Camp Little Eagle again.
It is nice to see that by helping one another, the boys were able to solve several situations that would seemingly require some professional help.
I am not certain just where this story is in the main CSU timeline. I know it hasn't caught up to the present, yet. I guess we will just have to wait and see, next time.
Thanks for another wonderful chapter, MM.
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher
Note from the nut in charge of the Clan:
Once again, MM amazes me with the skill and feeling that he puts into every chapter. I would say the wait was worth it, but I'm afraid that he'll take it the wrong way and make us wait even longer for the next chapter! Awesome job MM ... the only thing I can say is MORE!!!!!!!
Author's Note: Thanks Y'all.
I just wanted to address Radio Rancher's question about the timeline. This chapter is between Memories Book 1 & 2, and more specifically, the events in this chapter happen during the same morning as One Door Closes, chapter 49 and A New Door Opens, chapter 1.
I'll try not to keep y'all waiting so long for the next one.