Hello everyone! This is the sequel to Protect Me. I hope you'll like this one as much as the first, if not more. I am excited to get this started and am very open to ideas because I don't have many details planned out for the story. Any ideas are welcomed!
To my You Can't Hide The Truth for Long readers, the challenge about the significance of the number 41514 is still up. I just ended up finishing the chapter before I got any questions. Plus, the private messaging is probably down again, so if you have a guess as to what that number means, leave it in a review.
The title of the chapters are all going to be from a poem I wrote about how Charlie was feeling after Protect Me. The lines won't always pertain to the chapter, but that's not its goal. It's more to reveal the poem. There are 25 lines, including the title, which is this chapter's title. I don't know if I'll have that many chapters, but I plan to have the whole poem in the last chapter of the story. I hope you like it!
Don stopped by Charlie's house late one night after work. He couldn't keep himself awake long enough to go to his apartment. He'd put in an ungodly 40-hour shift. He'd managed to fall asleep for maybe an hour of it. Don figured it was only allowed to happen because his family was out of town.
Charlie and their father had planned a short trip to New York. Alan had friends there he'd like to visit and Charlie was a guest lecturer at NYU. They were going to be gone a week, but they'd left three days ago.
Don first went into the kitchen to get something to eat and drink. He found some lunch meat that probably would have gone bad if he hadn't gotten to it anyway.
He had just finished making the sandwich when loud moaning startled him into grabbing his gun.
He listened for it to sound again. Someone moaning in this house was not right. Even if it was an intruder, they shouldn't be moaning like that. It gave an eerie effect to the house, making it feel as though it was haunted.
Don felt fear for his brother. If someone had entered his house, was it related to Carl Waits? Ever since his brother had gone through that horrible ordeal, Don feared something else like it would happen. Surely it wouldn't happen twice, would it?
Don traced the noise to Charlie's room. He held his gun out in front of him as he slowly entered the room. He found the source of the moans lying on the floor face-down. The head of curls was too recognizable.
"Charlie! What the hell are you doing here?" Don holstered his gun and dropped to the floor beside Charlie.
He turned his brother over and found his brother was extremely feverish. Charlie's eyes never focused on him, as though they couldn't see through the fog that clouded his eyes.
"Damn it, Charlie. How long have you been like this?" Don asked as he returned Charlie to his bed.
"D-Dad left," Charlie suddenly said, making Don think that he was actually aware of his presence.
"I see that. Wait here. I'll get you some medicine."
Don came back with liquid cold medicine for Charlie to take.
"Come on, Buddy. You need to get better, okay?" Don propped Charlie up on his pillows and handed the medicine over to his brother.
Charlie downed it quickly, but gagged on it as it went down his throat.
"Poison," he choked.
Don laughed. "No, this is going to make you better. Get some sleep, okay?"
Charlie shivered and fell against the bed. "Cold, Donny."
"Okay. I'll get you another blanket."
By the time Don came back with the blanket, Charlie was asleep. He smiled at his little brother as he covered him up.
He went back downstairs to eat his sandwich. He considered calling their father to find out what had happened, but he knew if he did that it would ruin Alan's vacation. So, he decided against it.
Overcome with tiredness, Don went up to his old room, but not before considering getting in his father's much larger bed. He went to his bed, though, and fell asleep before he could even take his shoes off.
Don first went to his brother's room when he woke up. Charlie was sound asleep, tossing around in his bed. Don placed his hand on his brother's forehead. He was still warm.
He went downstairs and read the directions on the medicine bottle. It had been long enough for Charlie to take another dose. He hated to wake him, though.
Don waited until after he'd cleaned up to give Charlie his medicine. He went to Charlie's room before he left and brought the bottle with him. He figured he'd leave it on Charlie's desk in there so he could take it if he needed more.
"Hey, Buddy. Wake up. Charlie?" Don shook Charlie's shoulder and soon he looked blearily up at his older brother.
"You need to take some more medicine. Sit up."
Charlie weakly tried to push himself up, but wasn't able.
"Here." Don grabbed Charlie by the upper arms and pulled him up so that he was resting against the headboard.
"Take this." Don handed over the cup of medicine. Charlie managed to get it in his mouth, but gagged on it as it went down and coughed it up... right on Don's white dress shirt.
"Sorry," Charlie said quietly.
Don shook his head. "It... it's okay. I needed to change at my apartment anyway. Should we try again?"
Charlie shook his head, too miserable to want to bother doing anything but sleep. He coughed again, but no red liquid came up this time.
"Are you going to be okay by yourself?"
"I... have been for three days now."
"Yeah, and I found you moaning on the floor. I left the phone by your bed here on your desk. The medicine is here, too. If you need me for anything, call me, okay?"
"That's what I was doing."
"I got up to call you. I stood up, and then my legs gave out. That's why I was on the floor."
"Aw, Charlie. I'm sorry, Buddy."
"I promised Dad that I'd call you if I needed anything."
"What did you need?"
Don felt fear in his stomach. "What... what kind of help?"
"I needed medicine. I couldn't get downstairs. I haven't changed in two days. I haven't eaten in two days."
"Oh, Charlie! Why didn't you say something sooner?"
Don rushed downstairs and heated up a can of condensed soup. He was surprised he found any in the house. If Charlie hadn't eaten in two days, it probably meant he hadn't had anything to drink either. He found a bottle of orange juice. That would be just the thing.
Don brought the tray of food up to his brother. He had even laid out some crackers, too, in case Charlie was still hungry. He was surprised to find Charlie asleep already, though. He groaned.
Don set down the tray on the desk and went to Charlie. "Wake up, Buddy. You have to eat something."
Charlie jerked awake again and looked miserably at his older brother. He didn't want to eat. He wanted to sleep.
"Eat it," Don said sternly as he set the tray in his brother's lap.
Charlie picked up the spoon and blew on the soup before he put it in his mouth. His stomach growled, reminding him how long it had been since he'd eaten. Charlie knew he should have made more of an effort to eat, but he'd barely moved in three days. Sleep was about the only thing he did.
"Now, can I be sure you'll eat this or should I stay to make sure you do?" Don asked.
"I'll eat it," Charlie responded hoarsely.
"Okay. Get feeling better. I'll call to check on you this afternoon. I don't know if I'll be able to come over, but I'll try."
Charlie watched his brother leave and felt the normal attack of fear speed his heart rate. For months Charlie had hidden that fear from his family. He had become a capable actor. When he was left alone, he'd put on a smile, make up a few lines on what he'd do, and never let on how terrified he was.
He wasn't afraid so much of being alone as he was of what happened when he was alone. His mind acted like the Grand Canyon, and every word ever spoken to him by Carl Waits echoed on and on. Charlie was a haunted man and he was haunted by a dead man.
Charlie quietly ate his soup and even managed to eat a few crackers. The juice felt good going down his throat. He decided he should take some medicine and he somehow was able to swallow the disgusting medicine.
After finishing his meal, Charlie fell into a deep sleep, one that wasn't disturbed until his brother called, scaring him half to death.
Charlie jumped at the sound of the phone ringing next to his ear.
"Hello?" Charlie said as he took a deep breath to calm his nerves.
"Hey, Buddy. You okay?"
Charlie sighed with relief when he his brother's voice.
"Hi, Don. I'm... I'm okay, I guess."
"That's good. Did you eat?"
"That should help. Well, I gotta go already, but I just wanted to make sure you're okay. You are, right?"
"Okay. I'll talk to you later, Buddy."
"B-" Charlie couldn't get the word out before Don hung up on him.
Just as well. He collapsed back into the pillows and soon was back to sleep.
The next awakening was not a pleasant one.
"You killed me."
This time the voice came with an image. Carl Waits hovered above him, standing on the edge of his bed. He couldn't be here. It wasn't possible.
"Sorry won't cut it. I'm going to make your whole family so sorry you won't recognize them. Maybe I'll pay a visit to your friends too. Amita looks like she'd be fun to play with."
"No! Leave her alone!"
Carl laughed, the laugh that still haunted Charlie today. "Haven't you learned by now? No means yes to me."
Images of Carl hitting Amita with a two-by-four until she went limp showed plainly in front of Charlie. Her screams scared him, and he screamed, too, for he was feeling the pain too.
It continued like that with all the people who matter in his life. Charlie could barely bear it when Don cried out his name, as though there was a way for him to save him. Charlie wished there was a way, but he was bound to his bed.
"You're next, Eppesy," Carl said and raised the board over his head. The moment the board began to come down, Charlie screamed.
Charlie awoke to his own scream, and it continued even after he was out of the dream.
"Oh, God." He doubled over and held onto his stomach as he weakly made it to his bathroom and lost what little he'd eaten.
Charlie gagged on the bile and waited for his stomach to calm. It didn't when he heard the voice behind him.
Charlie gasped and turned around quickly. There was no one there, but he could swear he felt a presence with him.
"Wh-who's there?" There really was no point in asking. He knew the voice, could never forget it.
"Come to the window, Eppes."
Slowly he did. When he looked out into his backyard he saw that it was dark, raining, and someone was out there.
Moving toward the person in an almost hypnotic trance, Charlie left his room and went out into the storm.
The rain hit him hard, but he barely blinked when it drenched him. It didn't matter. He had to get to this person. He could see him clearly now, and even though he was terrified, he kept walking toward him.
He stood face to face with Carl Waits. With one wicked smile, Carl managed to terrify Charlie.
Don came home late again that night. He could have just worked through the night, but he was worried about Charlie. He came in through the kitchen and was startled into grabbing his gun again.
Someone was outside. Seeing that it was Charlie, Don cursed quietly, knowing that one of these times he would end up accidently hurting his little brother.
It was pouring outside, so Don knew he had to get his brother inside quickly. There was no reason for him to be out there. Holding his jacket close around him, Don went out into the rain.
Charlie was staring intently at something Don couldn't see.
"Charlie!" Don screamed above the thunder.
Charlie never turned. His breathing became shaky, and the fear swam in his eyes so high that even Don could see it.
"Charlie! What is it? Talk to me!"
Don reached out and grabbed his brother's arm, only getting a scream in return.
"Come on. Come inside."
He pulled on Charlie's arm, but he wouldn't move.
Don bent and lifted his brother and Charlie fought against him. He pointed at the area he'd been staring at before and screamed, "It's him!"
Don didn't know what that meant, but he kept carrying his brother through the rain and into the house. He tossed Charlie on the couch and pushed him down when he tried to get up.
"What's going on? What were you doing out there? You have a cold, remember?"
"It's... it's him. He's out there," Charlie cried and Don noticed that more than just rain had wet his brother's face.
"What? Who is it?"
Even though he knew no one had been out there, Don stole another look outside.
"C-C-Carl." Just saying his name brought on a whimper from Charlie.
Don softened immediately toward his brother. He knelt beside the couch and squeezed his brother's hand.
"Charlie, no. He's gone, Buddy. He won't hurt you anymore."
Don's throat tightened with emotions at the complete fear that shook his brother. He hadn't heard Charlie talk about Carl in months, so he assumed he had gotten over it. Maybe it was the cold talking, but it was still clear that Charlie was still afraid of Carl.
"Come on. You're going to get worse if you don't get out of those wet clothes."
Charlie shivered and whimpered as the image of Carl flashed in front of him again. He let Don lead him back to his room, but he was terrified.
Don got him a clean set of clothes for him to change into. Charlie could barely do it he was shaking so hard. When he came out of the bathroom, Don was sitting on his bed.
"Are you okay, Buddy?" he asked his little brother.
Charlie shook his head no as another tear slipped down his cheek.
"You want me to stay here tonight?"
Don smiled. "Okay."
Charlie got into bed and clutched the blankets tightly. He shivered again and he felt Don pat his hair.
"You're okay, Buddy. You're safe."
Charlie closed his eyes, praying that Carl would not be there to greet him in his dreams.
Don decided to stay with Charlie the next day and took an unusual family day. Charlie was miserably feverish and Don couldn't get the fever to break. His brother complained of being cold, but sweat drenched his forehead. He finally gave up trying medicines, and took all the covers off of Charlie's bed.
Surprisingly Charlie slept through the coldness for a few hours. When he awoke, though, he was less than happy.
Charlie moaned and rolled over so that his face was pressing into his mattress. Weakly he pulled at the cover of the mattress and soon he pulled it off and used it as a blanket.
Don sighed. "Buddy, please don't do that."
He reached out to take the cover from Charlie, but his brother was strong. After a few tugs he got it from him.
Charlie gave a cry when his only source of warmth was gone. He opened his eyes and saw his brother holding his cover.
"Give it back, Donny," he cried as he reached out for the cover.
"I'm sorry, Buddy. We got to get this fever to break. If this doesn't work, I'm taking you to the hospital. You already have a fever of 102."
Charlie whimpered and closed his eyes. He pressed his face into his pillows and realized there were covers to them.
"Charlie," Don said in a warning tone when he saw his brother raise his head from the pillows so he could take off the pillow covers.
"Don't do it," he warned again. Surprising him, Charlie tore the cover so that it was flat and covered himself up with it.
"Dad is not going to be happy about this." Don took the pillow covers from him too.
"No!" Charlie said in a whiny voice.
Charlie felt tears falling from his eyes and he moaned.
Don got up and got a wet wash cloth to put on Charlie's forehead. When he tried to come close, Charlie pushed him away.
"Come on, Buddy. Let me put it on."
When he succeeded, Charlie hissed. "That's cold!"
"I know, but it'll help. Once the fever breaks you won't be cold anymore."
Charlie gritted his teeth, fighting the cold he'd had to deal with before and now the extra cold that froze him.
He turned on his side, attempting to go back to sleep. He glared up at his brother.
"You're mean, Donny."
Don sighed. "I know."
Don reached out and stroked his brother's arm. "I'm sorry I have to be so mean, but I need you to get better. Go back to sleep now, okay?"
Charlie nodded, feeling some what better toward his brother.
He was still cold, though.
Well, that's not extremely long or anything, but it's definitely a start. I hope you liked it! When Charlie's more in his right mind, I'll talk about Janet Waits more, okay?
I will be starting school next week, so I'm going to try to get as many chapters in that I can. I hope it'll be a lot!