this is a short chapter... at least for me.


Flames of the Past (Part 2)

The time for finding Jonah was running out. He had said some pretty intense stuff in the alleyway before he disappeared and what was worse, there was no telling what he meant by it.

"You can only treat someone like a monster for so long… until they become a monster."

"How could he be chasing after a family that's already dead?" Cody asked.

"Well, I really don't know sweetie."

Carey seemed exhausted. Past all of the arguing, the worrying and early morning rehearsal, she was ready to fall asleep standing up.

Zack sat there twiddling his thumbs, wondering if they were going to go home or be asked another fifty questions. The craziness had settled, at least a little bit. It had been a while since anybody entered the room. Maybe, it was time to let this go. After all, from this point, it was out of anybody's control. But, would going home be the best option right now, would anybody be able to sleep?

Just when it seemed like the storm was over, the door suddenly opened and two people came inside the room. Detective Jennifer Haley arrived at the table with a stern face, and the other cop who looked like he was in his late thirties, early forties, stood right behind her. In his hands were two large brown folders rubber banded together. Like heavy books they made a thud upon hitting the table. As Carey and Zack made their way back to the other side of the table, Ms. Haley took a seat while the other officer remained standing.

"What's going on?" Carey asked.

The rubber bands were pulled off and placed to the side. The folder on top was opened first while the other was slid aside. Both officers seemed to have quite serious looks on their faces, perhaps even more so than earlier. Haley started the conversation.

"We've spent most of the day searching for information regarding a missing boy named Jonah. It wasn't until about two hours before you arrived, we were able to find anything useful."

Carey nodded her head knowingly.

"Yes, I'm aware of that, you called earlier. I know about Jonah's parent's and their deaths."

The lady scratched her forehead and then looked at her partner. They exchange silent facial expressions of communication with each other before Ms. Haley continued.

"Yes, well that was to the extent of what you were told over the phone. Ms. Martin, we've been looking for this kid for quite some time now. I would like you to notice how thick the folders are. This is more than an open and shut case. I believe with your sons help, we can locate the boy."

The last part of the sentence seemed like forced courtesy. In defense, Carey placed her hands on Cody's shoulders.

"Well, you were in here earlier, Cody's told you everything he knows."

"So he says."

"What exactly are you accusing my son of, lying?"

"Not necessarily lying Ms. Martin, just withholding valuable information. I think you know more than what you're telling us Cody."

Cody started to panic. All eyes focused on him.

"I swear there's nothing that I haven't already said."

Unconvinced, Jennifer Haley decided to push it even more. Perhaps being nice wasn't the answer. She leaned forward in her chair, took a deep breath to relax, and then looked the kid straight in the eye.

"I find that really hard to swallow Cody. A missing boy turns up randomly after falling off the face of the earth, nobody has heard from him, and then after this thirty to forty-five minute buddy, buddy conversation, he just leaves? I don't buy that for a second."

Cody's heart started beating in over drive he was getting really scared.

"I told you already, he said he was waiting for his family."

This seemed like a perfect way to end this already nightmare of a day. First, he gets a blow to the head and now these accusations. What reason would Cody have to lie? Regardless of that reasoning, the lady still did not seem convinced. She leaned back into her chair once more.

"Okay Cody, so I'm supposed to believe this kid left his twin brother completely out of the conversation?"

"Wait… what?"

"Don't play stupid. There was a reason he chose you as his friend. He thinks of you as his equal. You're a twin, he's a twin."

"No, no, wait. Jonah has a twin?"

The folder was pushed towards Cody.

"It's all in his folders, take a look. Maybe something might 'ring a bell' to you. It took a while to dig up this information primarily because of the fake name."

"What? He's not… Jonah isn't his real name?"

"No! It's not his real name! But I'm sure you already knew that since the kid you're looking at in this file developed serious mental problems after he watched his parents die in a fire. I'm sure as his only friend; you'd already know that his twin brother was also inside that house wouldn't you?"

Carey placed a hand over her mouth.

"Oh my God…"

Cody started, "I didn't know…"

"You didn't know huh? Look, I don't really have to beat around the bush with you; you probably know a whole lot more than I do. I'm sure you're aware of a lot of things that could possibly help your friend, but instead of being a solution, you choose to be the problem. I am a very busy woman that doesn't have time to play your little childish games! Kid you have no idea what I'm prepared to…"

Zack rushed to Cody's defense.

"Leave him alone, he said he doesn't know anything! You think if he knew that he would… Listen lady, just because you have nothing to go off of, or whatever, doesn't mean you can just bully anyone you want?"

The detective sneered at Zack.

"Stay out of this kid."

Carey got upset; she stood up and looked the detective straight in the eye.

"Leave my boys alone. You think you know everything don't you? Well you are barking up the wrong tree lady. How dare you accuse any of my kids of lying! The problem here is you. You obviously screwed up."

At first the detective wasn't aware of the impact she had just inflicted with those three little tidbits of information. Beyond the anger on the outside, Zack was surprised. Beyond the confusion, Cody was horrified. A fake name… a dead twin… neither of those things had ever crossed his mind. Jonah is not really Jonah? But why, why would he go through all this trouble to change his name, or never mention the fact that he had a brother? And why would this lady think any of them would know about it?

Jennifer Haley's glare disappeared. Perhaps the detective realized that she jumped into this conversation a little unprepared. Before saying anything else, she studied Cody's face carefully looking for the slightest altercation of truth within a face scarred with revelation and confusion, the slightest movement of the eyes, the scratching of the forehead, all the traits that revealed a liar. It was nonexistent.

"You really don't know anything, do you?"

It wasn't really a question, but she knew somehow, Cody absolutely had no clue as to what was really going on. The papers he shakily thumbed through were foreign material. Pictures of a burning house, along with snapshots of a bedroom completely torched, burned into his memory. Once flipping through all the papers, Cody found a picture of the little boy that was rescued. He had grey eyes. These images were becoming a little too much for Cody and he began to feel nauseous. He closed the file and pushed it back to the center of the table.

Another chapter had been opened in this dark tale. The darkest of truths lurking behind this case was about to unveil before curious minds. The police officer that stood next to the table continued the story. "His real name is Joseph… and to make a long story short, his life has been anything but glamorous. The boy displays schizophrenic, antisocial behavior. He's delusional, and claims to hear voices and see monsters."

Carey was furious. She slammed the palm of her hand on the table.

"Is there a reason why you're telling this to my kids? Is there even a reason you're still here harassing my son? They don't need to hear this. This isn't part of the interrogation, he's told you everything he knows."

Cody put his hand on his mothers shoulder.

"It's okay mom, I, I want to hear it."

"No Cody, you just sit right there and let me handle this"

"Mom!"

Carey paused and stared at her son.

"Mom, I need to hear it."

Carey was a little taken back.

"But… sweetie, you don't need to hear all of the sickening details of this… this horror story."

She noticed the seriousness of Cody's face. It was her maternal instinct to be protective, but she knew what that face meant.

"It's okay mom."

Carey found it hard accepting the fact that her Cody would allow this information to possibly inflict any kind of damage to his innocence. But as for Cody, he was starting to realize that after all this time; he knew nothing about Jonah at all. He knew nothing about reality either. All of these things about dreams and messages within could only be figments of his imagination. There was nothing special or absolute about any of it. Everything he 'thought' he knew was a lie. Everything in that file had blown all he imagined out of the water and was a revelation of the first bit of truth he had ever gotten.

Carey decided to respect her son's wishes. Sloping back into her chair, she folded her arms in defeat and let the situation play out. Cody looked at both officers.

"Tell me everything."

Both investigating officers took a good look at Cody. They got the feeling that this kid had been through about as much as they have trying to figure this whole thing out. From the beginning it was all one made up story. Cody remembered the first time he saw Jonah. He looked so pitiful, now he understood why. It had nothing to do with the clothes he was wearing, or that red backpack. Jonah's face had terrified written all over it. It must've been scary not knowing where he belonged in this world, his mind shrouded in confusion.

"That is everything kid."

Zack was finally able to understand what went on in the bathroom the other day. When Jonah spoke out loud and said 'you lied to me" he actually thought he was staring at his brother through the mirror. A conversation with a dead brother, just thinking about it gave him the creeps.

"Now Cody, I want you to think very hard because even the slightest clue could be important. Did Jonah tell you anything about himself when you were in the alleyway, his past, or his family?"

"No. But he did talk to himself… he didn't know I was there yet. He said, for a really long time I didn't know why I was still here. I was starting to feel like I was back at that house all over again, the two of us, or something like that."

As Cody reflected, he remembered that caged animal look Jonah gave, like he knew nothing about human society. Although that was disturbing, it was nothing like that moment in which he savagely constricted the life out of that rat. Jonah had spent all of this time out in the streets alone looking for something and for one reason or another, he believed that his family was coming for him tonight.

Then it dawned on Cody that Jonah mentioned something else.

"When I actually got to speak to Jonah, he asked me, what if you had monsters that never left and would torment you every day?"

By the looks of the both officers, it seemed as if Cody said something very important.

"I can't believe it, after all of these years…he's gotten worse."

"It's like chasing a damn ghost."

"Do you think he's headed back to where his house was?"

"It's worth a shot Jen. Given the history it has, I doubt he'd go anywhere else."

Cody looked hopeful. "What history, you know where he is?"

His question was ignored, instead the detectives continued to converse with each other.

"It all makes sense. He's suffering from constant Deja Vu. His mind is having trouble letting go of the past, it's drowning out all reality. He can't tell the difference anymore, just like back then."

As the story unfolded right before Cody, he couldn't help but realize that everything that happened over the past few days had a connection.

"I remember when it all happened, even down to the emergency rescue." The officer said. "The poor kid didn't move a muscle. Didn't even blink, he couldn't stop staring at the flames. I had to carry him away from that burning house."

A quizzical expression folded over his face as he stared off into space.

"He was shivering out of control. I was a rookie fresh out of training back then and I didn't know how to help him. But… then a fireman came running towards me, he told me that the boy was going into shock, keep him warm.' So I grabbed a blanket and wrapped him up. The paramedics took over after that."

And just like that, Cody remembered what Jonah said when they were all buried inside that classroom.

"She's going into shock, keep her warm."

"H-how d-do you k-know this?" the girl had said…

Jonah never answered.

The officer kept talking. "The last I ever heard about the boy was from a social worker who said that he had been mentally traumatized from everything that happened. The kid swore that he could see monsters. Monsters were everywhere, telling him to do things, tormenting him every day of every moment. What I found the most interesting part of this case was the fact that he gave these monsters two distinct names. He called them Mommy and Daddy."

Cody spoke up. "Well, can't we help him?"

Both detectives glanced over at him, nearly forgetting that the twins were still in the room. Jennifer spoke first.

"You're done kid, you can go home."

Jennifer began to gather up the files, her partner motioned for everyone to get up.

"What! You can't just leave everything at that!" Cody shouted.

"We're not, YOU are. Officially, this is no longer your concern. The vending machine is outside, feel free to grab a snack on your way out."

The twins were pushed out and told to go home, there was nothing more that they could do. At this point in life, the script entails that this was the earth shattering climatic moment that would change Cody into a completely different person. Cody was just given the whole unedited story about Jonah. What next? The lines that have been written for his dialogue state that he admits defeat, he runs into his mother's arms as the disgustingly sappy music begins to play. Zack would curse the day he was born as the angst ridden boy's soul would become like a rusty knife sheathed into its pocket of darkness, appearing into the light of day only to bring pain to others. The other boy with the lost soul, the lost name, the unforgettable dark past with the unforgettable good deed, treated with unforgettable cruelty would be found dead. Overdosed on the good stuff, the secret assassin that promised to create the perfect future, where all the lies come true. Oh yes, the script has everything; Angst, more angst, a touch of happiness here, a dash of heroes and villains there.

But, everybody also has a special moment where written dialogue doesn't exist. It's this improvised state of mind that defines who you really are. The special moment doesn't last very long, but it's powerful! Take this moment in time for example. Both Zack and Cody were thrown out of the interrogation room after they were pumped for the little bit of information they had. All they could do was wait for their mom, go home, then go to bed. But like the earthquake, something surprising was about to happen; something that was not written in the script.

"This is hopeless, isn't it Zack?"

The older twin remained quiet as he stared at the roof with his back hugging the wall.

Cody didn't wait for an answer.

"I mean, is it too late to start hoping for the best?"

Zack remained motionless. Cody stared down the hallway at the people sitting on the benches with handcuffs around their wrists. On the other side there were a few people still doing late night shifts of typing up reports on the computer and drinking their coffee. Cody was beginning to realize that these people in this room could probably care less about what was going on around them. They were here to do their job, get up and then go home. That is the main focus of their life. They were all lab rats. The people out there looking for Jonah were lab rats too. They had a job to do and that was to find him bring him to a hospital where he gets well, and then leave him is some home. That would be to the extent of everything they would do for him. The more he thought about it, the angrier he became.

"Why doesn't anybody give a crap!?" he shouted.

A few people looked up from their computers and then looked back down. Still, Zack remained motionless. Cody folded his arms then turned his attention towards his dirty sneakers. Maybe it was too late to hope for anything.

"He's not at that house…" Zack said.

Cody looked up.

"What?"

Zack swayed his head over to Cody.

"He's not at that house."

The younger twin was puzzled.

"What are you talking about?"

"I know where he is." Zack finished.