By morning there had been no progress in the search for Chris. His body still remains in the woods, untouched and unfound. A group of locals gathered together to create a makeshift search group. They separated themselves into three smaller sections, each taking a different area. None would be close enough to finding Chris, Eyeball knows. The thought of it makes him anxious. They are so close to uncovering the truth, but will most likely miss it. At the moment all Eyeball wants is the truth to be reveled. He wants Chris's body to be found; he needs it. The sooner Chris is found the sooner the second stage of the lie can take place, and once that is in motion so will be his new life. Until then everything is up in the air.
Eyeball did not join the search groups. His father volunteered as he thought he was expected to. He would lead the parties off track, prolonging the event as long as he can. Eyeball stays at home with his mother and sister, waiting. Being around them has done nothing to help ease his mind, but his family has never been one to comfort each other in hard times. His mother is erratic with panic and the additional help of over caffineation. Her presence alone made Eyeball's nerves tear up in rage and frustration. It only became worse once Dixie came early in the morning, busting through the front door, yelling how no one in this god damn family ever tells her anything. With her hormones already raging from her pregnancy, Dixie stormed through the kitchen, screaming and crying furiously until one of her mother's friends was able to calm her into incoherent sobs. Eyeball left then. He took position on the front steps where the wailing and chatter of the people inside was only a mumble.
Still, it annoys him. It's not fair that his mother has to go through all of this. She should know what happened to Chris. Being stuck in limbo, waiting to hear if her son is alive or not is torture on her, much worse than anything her husband has handed her before. She has a right to know that Chris was not coming back, and Eyeball should be the one who tells her. What is his father going to do to stop him? Kill him?
The thought finally dawns on him: his father is a murderer. Dennis Chambers, the man he loved and feared for as long as he can remember, killed his own son. Eyeball knows that his father is not a gentle man. He was too often attracted to violence especially after a few drinks. He would smack his wife and kids around, usually leaving behind a few bruises, but Eyeball never suspected he was capable of murdering someone, especially not someone he loved. His father did love Chris- Eyeball was sure of it. It must be an accident, he tells himself. It has to be; there is no way his dad would willingly kill.
How does one accidentally stab his own son? Eyeball wonders. It was over a heated argument no doubt; Chris had just started to talk back to everyone, and their father did not put up with that kind of behavior. But what could they have been fighting about that could have been bad enough to end in such violence?
Eyeball shakes his head. Maybe there is no answer, or if there is he does not want to know. It won't change how life is now. Eyeball sighs loudly. He cannot stay at this house any longer. These people are going to be the end of his sanity.
He left without notice. His mother and sister were too busy in their own emotional torment to realize him passing through, and there was little point of mentioning it. Eyeball knew that they would not listen or forget just as soon he would tell them. He went into to town to look for his friends. They would need to be there for when he found Chris. It would make for a better story, and it was not something Eyeball wanted to do on his own. He found them outside the gas station, lounging around the car with bottles of soda in hand.
"What the hell are you doing here?" Charlie asks. "Aren't you supposed to be at home or something?"
"I had to leave," Eyeball replies. "Dixie and my mom are freaking the fuck out. They were talking about calling in a priest, and I'm not staying for any of that kind of bullshit."
"Have they found anything new?" Billy asks.
Eyeball shakes his head, but says nothing.
"Damn. When did Chris leave?"
"I don't know. Afternoon time or something like that."
"Do you know where he was going?"
"What are you? The fucking police?" Eyeball snaps.
"N-no! I was just asking! I didn't mean-."
"Shut it," Ace cuts in.
"Sorry, Eyeball," Billy apologizes. "I wasn't trying to upset you or make anything worse. I-."
"Didn't I just tell you to shut it?"
"It's fine. It doesn't matter," Eyeball says. He looks at his friends, unsure of what to say. Billy and Charlie look just about as uncomfortable as he is feeling, possibly more. Ace stands with his arms crossed against his chest and a serious look to his face. A cigarette hangs from his mouth. Eyeball twitches under his stare. It feels like Ace is looking right into his brain; he knows that something is being left out.
"So, I was thinking about going out to look for myself," Eyeball says quickly. "I don't want to be around all of those other people. Not now. You guys can help. If you want, I mean."
"Where were you thinking about looking?" Charlie asks.
Eyeball shrugs. "I don't know. Maybe the woods or something. I don't know if anyone has gone there yet."
"Sure. I'm in," Billy says.
"We can take my car," Charlie offers.
The three look at Ace, waiting for him to decide. "I'll go," he says after a moment of thought. "It's not like I have anything better to do."
"I always had a feeling that you had a soft spot," Billy says with a smirk.
"How many times am I going to have to tell you to shut up before you understand?"
They begin their search on the outskirts of the woods with the plan working their way in. The search groups would soon be making their way there, and Eyeball did not want to be anywhere close to them once they did, especially if his father was part of that company. Without a doubt Eyeball would be in trouble if Mr. Chambers found him there; the consequences would not be good.
Charlie pulls the car off to the side of the narrow dirt road. "What now?"
"I don't know," Billy says. "What is a search party supposed to do?"
"They search, you fucking idiot," Ace says.
"I know that, but where are we supposed to start?"
The three look to Eyeball, waiting for the next command. Eyeball begins to panic. "I don't know," he says. "Anywhere I guess. I don't know where Chris would be in the woods."
"Then why are we looking here?" Charlie asks.
"Just get out."
The group empties from the car quickly and quietly. They split up to search different sides of the road. As they go off, Eyeball catches some of his friends staring at him. They are not only taking opposite sides to broaden the search but to avoid being too close to him, he realizes. Death is making him a disease. Not that Eyeball minded very much; it would be easier for everyone. Being around people is not something desired at the moment, but there is a mission to complete. He cannot leave Chris out here any longer.
Eyeball can hear footsteps crunching on the ground behind him. He looks back and sees Ace following him. They make eye contact for a moment before Eyeball quickly looks away. If anyone can figure out what is going on it would be Ace, and if Ace found out then things can only get worse. Would Ace even tell, Eyeball wondered. If he knew the truth, would he even care?
The growing silence started to become too much for Eyeball to handle, especially with all of the thoughts weighing down his mind. Something must be said to prevent them from crushing it. "T-thanks for earlier," he says, stumbling over his words. "With shutting those guys up. I'm just, um, tired of people I guess. It's been a long day."
"And with helping with this," Eyeball adds. "This. The helping, I mean. It means a lot."
This time Ace does not say anything. He just nods.
They are getting closer to the body. Chris will be on Charlie and Billy's side. There is a chance that they may pass him without noticing. If so they will have to switch sides on the walk back, Eyeball tells himself. This has to be finished today.
"How far are we supposed to go?" Billy asks Charlie as they walk along.
"Should we get off the road or something? You know, like look further in case he walked off or something."
"If he walked off," Charlie says, lowering his voice to make sure neither Ace nor Eyeball heard. "What if we don't find Chris?"
"We'll look somewhere else then."
"No. I mean, what if we find his body? Or some other body?"
"How many bodies do you think can even be in here?"
"Hell, I don't know! But this is the second dead kid we've dealt with this year. It's like something weird is going on."
"Stop being stupid," Billy says, rolling his eyes. "We don't even know if Chris is dead yet. Besides, that other kid was run over by a train. Chris was probably picked up by some creep or psycho, which is probably a good thing."
"How in the hell is that a good thing?"
"It means there is a better chance that he's alive. Doesn't it?"
Charlie considers this. "Maybe. But they didn't ask for money or nothing like that. Won't they want to get rid of him before they get caught?"
"I don't know. Maybe," Billy says, slowly. He takes a few steps further from the road and cranes his neck to try to get a better scope of the area. "I don't see the point going out of your way to kidnap someone and getting rid of them in less than a day."
"To not get caught, stupid."
Billy is no longer paying attention. His focus is on something a little further down in the ditch on the side of the road. There is no mistaking it, the pale mass lying amongst the dirt. It is a body; most likely Chris' body. Charlie followed his friend's line of eyesight and saw it too. Neither boys say anything, but they knew they were thinking the same thing. It's Chris. It has to be. The two look at each other. What should they do?
Having seen the body first, Billy felt it was his duty to make the first move. He begins to walk forward, cautiously, as if he fears the still body would spring up and attack. Charlie stays in his spot, and looks for Eyeball and Ace. They have yet to pick up on the new development. "Guys," Charlie says quietly. But they do not hear him.
Billy is close to the body now. He could reach down and touch if he wanted, but he was frozen. This is not like when he first saw a corpse, that one of the other kid. It was completely different. He could barely remember that kid's name. But this is different. He has known Chris for years. He's good friends with his annoying younger brother. But there in front of him lies the naked, dead body of Chris Chambers. Bruises and stab markings litter his body. He is covered in blood- so much blood. Billy feels his knees begin to wobble. What is supposed to happen now?
"Guys!" Charlie calls out again, this time much louder.
Eyeball and Ace look across the way. Both know the news is not good. Eyeball hesitates to answer. Can he handle see Chris looking like this again? Does he have a choice? As Eyeball takes a step forward, Ace puts his arm out, stopping him. "Stay," he orders.
"No!" Eyeball can hear the waver in his voice. It startles him. Maybe he can't do this. "That's my brother we're looking for!"
"Exactly," Ace says in his usual cool tone. "Stay."
Eyeball watches as his friend goes to join the others. Ace does not seem nervous or shaken at all, not nearly as much as one would expect from someone going to see a body. He walks at a steady pace, his hands shoved into his pockets. Everything seems to be moving so slow. Eyeball cannot handle it any longer. He rushes forward, pushing past Ace before he has the chance to stop him. He passes Charlie, who doesn't even try, and goes to the edge of the ditch where Billy stands.
There is Chris again, only he does not look like his brother anymore. Even from when he and their father had left him last night, Chris looks much different. His skin has turned blueish grey, making him appear slightly less human. Blood has dried over, leaving a dark and crusted stain on his small body. The bruises are still visible, the suffering that went on long before the end evident. This is not the brother Eyeball remembers.
"No," Eyeball says mostly to himself. "This isn't Chris."
"Eyeball," Charlie starts off.
"No," he cries, frantically. "That's not Chris. That's not him!" His body is shaking now. The world is shaking. Surely it must end now; it cannot possibly go on from here. "That's not Chris! Chris can't be dead!"
But he is.
Someone grabs on to Eyeball and pushes him back. "Come one," Ace says. Eyeball looks from his friend, back to his brother's body.
Chris is dead.
"No!" Eyeball cries again. He tries to fight from Ace's grip, pushing forward with all he has towards his brother. He must reach him. "Chris isn't dead!"
But he is, Eyeball tells himself. You saw him die. He died in the kitchen, on the floor, at the hands of their father. And for what?
Ace pulls back harder. Eyeball stumbles backwards, barely able to keep his balance. He can longer stand this, not any of it. His world is collapsing around him, and he is ready to fall with it. Ace struggles to keep his friend up as the teen drops to the ground, becoming a dead weight in his arms. As they struggle to kneel on the ground, Ace looks back at the rest of the group. Charlie watches the scene, troubled by the breakdown that is occurring in front of him. Billy hasn't moved from his spot. He still stands, staring at the body in horror. The body- Ace still hasn't gotten a good look at it yet. Maybe Eyeball is right and they have found someone else, whoever the poor bastard may be. Ace leans forwards slightly to get a better view. Eyeball falls forwards with him, no longer able to keep himself steady in this sobbing hysterics. Once there he can see the body there is no doubt in Ace's mind. It is Chris in that ditch. Chris: bloody, beaten, and naked. His stomach weakens at the sight.
"What the fuck."
Eyeball struggles against Ace, crying and kicking at the dirt road. The grief he had held is finally being released for the first time. It comes out in broken sobs, in indistinguishable words. "Hey," Ace snaps at Charlie and Billy. "Come help me here."
Ace's voice brings Billy back to reality. He looks over and sees his two friends struggling on the ground. "Fuck," he swears to himself. "Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!"
"Would you two stop being stupid assholes for once in your life and do something?" Ace growls. "We need to get him out of here."
The two scramble over before they were yelled at again. Charlie goes to the other side of Eyeball to help Ace lift him up. "What are we going to do about? Y-You know, Chri-."
"Tell the police," Ace says. He slowly rises to his feet and, with the help of Charlie, brings Eyeball with him.
"But won't they want to know why we were out here?"
"We were out here, searching like everyone else. The only difference is that we actually found him. We've got nothing to hide."
Eyeball struggles to find his footing. He feels dizzy and tired, much too tired to do anything. As his friends lead him forward, Eyeball feels him losing his stomach. He hadn't eaten anything since what little he had eaten at last night's dinner, but whatever was left was coming up. Eyeball lurched forward, pushing himself away. Charlie let go, but Ace still clung on to an arm. Eyeball does not even try to break away more. He just lets it all come up.
Charlie makes a face as his friend vomits. Ace glares at him. He waits until Eyeball is finished before saying anymore. "Let's go."
Eyeball nods. This time he allows his friends to lead. They set him in the back of the car, and Ace takes the driver's seat. He grinds his teeth as he starts up the car. Once again he is the only one in control, Ace tells himself. He will be the one to fix this.
Hi. So, it takes me about a year to update. I am so sorry about that! I haven't given up the story! Life has just been so busy, and when you think you have a break you really don't. Hopefully I will be able to make the next update sooner and longer. Thank you to everyone who is sticking by this!