Matt had been sitting on Jeff's bed for the past hour. His heart was aching inside his chest. Jeff had been missing for a year now. Nobody knew where he was. The last time Matt had seen him, they had gotten into a fight over the fact that Jeff was starting to neglect everybody around him again, just like he did when he gotten into trouble with the drugs. Jeff had gotten mad because he thought Matt was blowing things out of proportion. Matt had gotten mad because he believed Jeff was not taking anything seriously. They had gotten into a nasty argument and Jeff had stormed out. That was the last time Matt had seen him.
Everybody was worried sick. At first some people in the locker room Jeff was being his usual slacker self. But when the police discovered specks of Jeff's blood by his car in the hotel parking garage, people started singing another tune. Vince himself had gotten involved in the investigation; he hired some of the best private detectives in the country to help look for Jeff. But none of it had done any good. Jeff was still gone, and people were starting to think he was never coming back.
Matt didn't want to believe that though. He wanted to believe Jeff was still alive out there somewhere. Actually, he was way past wanting to believe that; he NEEDED to believe it. He needed to believe it, because the guilt was too much to bear already. He held himself responsible for Jeff's disappearance. It was his stupid need to nag at Jeff that had driven his little brother out the door. If something absolutely terrible had happened to Jeff just because he couldn't keep his mouth shut…he would probably die of guilt and self hatred.
"Son?" Gil said as he entered the room. "Matt?"
"What?" Matt said emotionlessly.
"You need to stop doing this to yourself. It's not your fault that Jeff disappeared."
"Yes it is. I made him walk. I could have just kept my mouth shut and he never would have gone into that parking garage. Now he's gone and we don't know where he is."
"You did not cause this. I know that's what you think but it isn't true."
Matt just shook his head. His dad didn't understand. Nobody understood. How could they? They hadn't said the terrible things to Jeff that he had said. Nobody but him had yelled at Jeff like that. This was all his fault and there wasn't anything anybody could say to change his mind about that.
The chain around Jeff's neck felt very heavy. He had been laying in the cold, dark basement for God knows how long now. His body was weak from starvation and his voice was gone from screaming. He hadn't been screaming for help; he had given up on that a long time ago. Nobody was going to find him out in the middle of nowhere. He had just been screaming because of the pain. It had been too much to bear. It always was.
Footsteps coming down the stairs made his heart begin to race. He didn't have the strength to back himself up against the wall. He just tried to shield himself as best as he could with his arms, praying that this session was the final one. All he wanted to do was die. He had to die because he couldn't stand the pain of living through this hell anymore.
"You man, look what that sick fuck has down here!" an unfamiliar voice said. Judging from the accent, he was from some Hispanic country. "Jose! He has a naked dude chained up down here."
There were more footsteps coming down the stairs. "Yeah I know," a guy replied. He must have been Jose. "Robert's got some serious mental problems."
"So what do we do with him?" the first guy asked. "Should we just leave him here? I mean, he's not what we're after."
Jeff shut his eyes tightly and began to shake violently. They were standing way too close to him. He was so scared that he could barely breathe. If Robert came back and saw they were there he was going to go nuts. He was going to kill them and then he was going to come after Jeff. Jeff shuddered at the very thought of it. His captor had a terribly violent temper.
"Would you listen to yourself Carlos?" Jose said in disbelief. "Leave him here? This guy is going to die if we leave him here. Just because we deal drugs doesn't mean we have to be completely heartless."
Jeff flinched violently as the two men knelt down beside him. "Hey man," Jose said. "You wouldn't happen to know where Robert put the keys to your chains now would you?"
"He probably took them with him," Carlos said. "But I think I can pick the lock on this thing."
Don't hurt me. Please don't hurt me, Jeff begged over and over again inside his head. His voice refused to work right so he could say it out loud. He continued shaking as Carlos worked on getting the chain off his neck. Oh God please hurry. Please get me out of here before Robert comes home. If he sees them messing with his property he's going to be so angry.
"You know, this guy looks very familiar," Jose commented. "I've seen him somewhere before but I don't remember where."
"What, is he like an actor or something?" Carlos asked. He got the cuff of the chain to open up and he took if off Jeff's neck.
"No, I think he's a wrestler or something. I think he works for the WWE."
"I don't watch wrestling. My girlfriend watches it." He studied Jeff more carefully. "I think this guy is Jeff Hardy or somebody like that." He tapped Jeff's arm to get his full attention. "Hey, are you Jeff Hardy?"
Jeff nodded slightly. He managed to stand up on his feet only to nearly fall back down. Carlos caught him and Jose grabbed some clothes for him. He managed to get dress somehow. In all honesty, he was running on the last bit of adrenaline he had left. He was out of the chains and he had a chance to escape. It was probably going to be his only chance and he had to get moving.
Every step he took felt like agony. He managed to get up the stairs and into the living room before he froze. He could see Robert's car coming back towards the cabin. "No," Jeff moaned hoarsely. "No no no." He stumbled into the kitchen and out the back door. He didn't even bother to worry about Jose and Carlos. He had to get running. He had to get as much distance between himself and the cabin before Robert realized he was gone.
Tree branches hit him in the face and the ground hurt his feet. There hadn't been any shoes for him to put on in the basement. Hell, there hadn't even been clothes down there until Robert forgot to put his laundry away. It made Jeff sick to his stomach to be wearing Robert's clothes but he hadn't had much of a choice in the matter.
"JEFF!" Robert's voice was so loud and angry it could be heard for miles around. "JEFF, YOU GET BACK HERE RIGHT NOW OR YOU'LL BE SORRY!"
Jeff didn't dare stop running for a second. His legs felt like they were going to give out on him, but the fear of the punishment that would take place if he got caught was enough to keep him going. He ran until he found himself standing in the middle of a highway. "Help me," he tried to scream, even though it only came out as a croaky whisper. "Somebody help me."
The sound of a car startled him so badly that he fell down in surprise. He was positively certain it was Robert and he was scared to death. He could barely breathe. Robert was going to kill him right here and he didn't even have the strength to try to get away.
A police car stopped right by Jeff. "Sir, are you alright?" the officer asked. He approached Jeff slowly. "Sir?"
Jeff slowly began to crawl towards the man. "Help me," he begged. "Get me out of here." He made it about halfway there but he finally ran out of energy completely. He laid himself out on the ground and faded into the black, which was the only source of piece in the hell that was his life.