Who Is He?


The older man removed his hands from Chris’ head and chest, and sat back. He looked at the teenager and nodded, "I’ve done what I could." He looked back down at Chris, "He will remember what happened and he’ll probably need therapy to deal with it, especially because of his age, but he will be alright. His age will work for him as well. He will bounce back and will probably have a normal life. He’ll sleep for a while now. Everything that has happened, especially you and us will now seem like a dream to him, but now it’s time for him to be reunited with his family."

The man looked over to the other young man in the room and gestured, "Patrick, I’m sure we have some clothes that will fit young Chris here, and then we will need to get him home."

He turned back to the teen again, "Patrick, will drive you to the boy’s home and wait for you to deliver him safely. I also noticed that you have marked him, you know that while it might be good, it could be bad as well."

The teen nodded, "Thanks Robert, for everything. I know the danger of the mark, but after what happened I thought it was necessary in the long run. I’ll get him ready to go."

Robert gazed at him for a few moments before saying anything, "Very well, as long as you have thought everything through."

The teen nodded, "I believe I have and it seemed right."

He patted the teen on the shoulder, "Fine, take care of him." The older man smiled and left the room

The teen turned back to Chris and stripped the robe that had belonged to one of those bastards off of him. He didn’t want such a thing touching Chris anymore. He got up from the bed and went to the bathroom to start a bath. Once the water was the right temperature, he went back into the bedroom and picked Chris up and carried him into the bathroom. He carefully put him into the bathtub and washed him. When he was done, he got him out and wrapped him in a large thick towel. When he reentered the room, Patrick was placing some clothes on the bed for Chris to wear. With Patrick’s help he got him dried and dressed. He wrapped Chris in a blanket, picked him up and followed Patrick downstairs to one of the cars.

The drive to Chris’ home was uneventful. The teenager spent the entire drive just looking down at the boy cradled in his arms. It was late when they arrived at the house. The lights on most of the houses on the block were dark. Patrick stopped a few houses down from Chris’ house, where the light from the streetlights were blocked by some large trees. Patrick got out and opened the side door of the van for the teenager and his burden.

The teenager got out and silently moved from shadow to shadow until he got to the house. He carried the boy up to the porch and laid him down on the bench that was there, making sure that the blanket was bunched up under his head as a pillow. He looked at the boy and stroked his cheek before he took a folded piece of paper out of his pocket and put it under Chris’ hand. He backed away and went to the door. He took one last look at Chris and then rang the door bell several times. When he heard noises from inside the house, he turned and quickly ran off, disappearing into the night.

Michael Hale was in his room sitting on the bed after removing his shoes. He turned to Heather when he heard the ringing doorbell and gave her a curious look. He left the room and went to the front door. Heather was right behind him. He turned on the porch light, opened the door and looked outside. There was no one there.

Heather stood at the foot of the stairs, "Who’s there Mike?"

He turned to look at her and shrugged, "I don’t see anyone. Maybe it’s some kids playing pranks. I’ll just check the van to make sure they didn’t scratch it or do anything to it. I’ll be right back in."

She nodded and turned to go back upstairs, "Okay, honey."

Michael went out to the car and checked it. He walked all around it and found nothing wrong with the van, so he started back toward the house. He was muttering about stupid kids and their pranks. As he reached the door he looked to his left and stopped. He saw a small form lying on the bench. He rushed over to the bench and knelt down to peel back the edge of the blanket and found himself looking down into the sleeping face of Chris. He swept him up in his arms and sat down on the bench and yelled, "HEATHER! COME OUT HERE!"

He heard his wife come running through the house and join him outside. She looked at Michael and her hands flew to her mouth, "CHRIS, OH MY GOD CHRIS! Is he alright, is he hurt. Oh Chris, my baby."

She knelt down in front of Michael and laid her head on Chris’ chest and hugged him. Michael saw something drop on the ground and he bent down to see what it was. He saw a piece of paper, picked it up and opened it.

Mr. and Mrs. Hale,

I have brought Chris back to where he belongs. He has been hurt and will need some care, but he will be okay. The men who took him will never bother another child again, you have my word. I must ask a favor, I would appreciate it if this note and your knowledge of what is said here is kept secret, especially from the authorities. He is a fine boy and will someday be a fine man.

A Friend

Michael folded the paper and put it into his pocket. He stood up and took Chris into his arms and carried him into the house where he laid him on the couch. He walked over to the phone and dialed the number of the police station.

"Hello…this is Michael Hale….yes the same… I, uh just found my missing son on my front porch….no, I, uh don’t know how he got there…..someone left him there and rang the doorbell. When I went outside I found him laying on the porch bench wrapped in a blanket….he seems to be unconscious or sleeping….maybe he was drugged…yeah send the paramedics too….thank you."

He hung up and went back to sit next to his wife who had shifted Chris so that he was on her lap. From the hall they heard a noise and looked up. Tyler was standing there at the foot of the stairs. He was holding his old Teddy Bear and rubbing his eyes, "Was goin’ on? I heawd you yelling Mommy and I woke up. Aw you okay?"

She smiled at him, "Yes honey, I’m okay."

Tyler starting walking over to her, "Why awe you cwying then?"

She motioned him closer, "Come here and look sweetheart."

Tyler walked over to his mom and then he stopped when he saw who she was holding and he ran to her, "CWISS! HE’S BACK HOME! MY BWOTHEWS BACK HOME!"

The enthusiastic boy had to be stopped by Michael before he leaped on Chris. Michael swung the little boy up into his arms, "Careful little guy. Your brother has been hurt."

Tyler looked at his Dad’s serious face and then down at Chris, "Wiw he be okay, Daddy?" Michael smiled at the little boy, "You bet. He’ll be fine now that he’s home."

Tyler looked at his dad, "Is he seeping now?"

Michael nodded, "Yes, he’s resting."

Tyler looked back at Chris, "Wiw you put me down Daddy. I pwomise, I’w be caweful."

Michael set him back on his feet, "Okay."

Tyler walked over to Chris. He looked at his sleeping brother and leaned forward to give Chris a kiss on the cheek. Then he put the bear in Chris’ arms and looked at Heather, "Beaw, wiw make him feew bettew."

Heather smiled at him and touched his cheek, "Yes honey, Bear will help him a lot. Thank you."

They could hear sirens approaching. Jessie had come downstairs by this time rubbing sleep from her eyes. Tyler climbed up on the couch and sat down next to his mom, while Michael went outside to greet the police and the paramedics.

As the police came to a stop, Michael noticed Richard and Meredith come out of their house, he waved to them. When they saw Michael wave, they hurried over, concern on their faces, "What’s going on Mike?"

He looked at them, " I found Chris asleep on the bench on the porch just a few minutes ago, wrapped up in a blanket"

They were interrupted by Travis’ voice behind them, "Dad, Mom, what’s going on?"

By this time all the lights and sirens had brought other neighbors out of their houses to watch what was going on.

The Grayson’s looked back at their house and saw Troy and Travis standing there in t shirts and shorts. The eyes of the two boys were wide at the police and paramedics that pulled up in front of the Hale’s house. Richard waved for the boys to come over and join them before he turned back to Michael, "You found Chris on the porch?"

Michael nodded, "Yeah, someone rang the doorbell. When I went outside there was no one there. I thought maybe it was some kids playing tricks and I checked to make sure the car wasn't messed with or damaged. When I didn’t find anything I headed back into the house and I found Chris asleep on the bench."

Richard’s eyes widened, "I can’t…"

Travis pushed forward and interrupted them, "What? Chris is back? Is he okay? Where is he? I’ve…"

Meredith put her hand on his shoulder, "Hush Travis. Give his dad a chance to explain."

Officer Davis, from the night of the kidnapping, walked up to them at that moment and interrupted any further discussion, "Mr. Hale, where is your son now?"

He nodded towards the house, "He’s in the living room with my wife. Go on in, I’ll be right there Officer."

The officer nodded and went inside, with the paramedics trailing behind him.

Michael turned back to the Grayson’s, "Can I ask you guys to watch Tyler and Jessie until we get back? I’m sure they will want to take Chris to the hospital and make sure he is okay."

Richard nodded, "Sure, no problem. Boys, why don’t you go on back home. We’ll be right there with Tyler and Jessie."

Travis got an obstinate look on his face, "But Dad, I wanna see Chris," he whined.

Michael knelt down in front of Travis and gently placed his hands on his shoulders, "I promise you that you will see him, but he needs to go to the hospital for now and as soon as we get him home, you will be the first person that I invite to come and see him, okay?"

Travis nodded, "Okay, Mr. Hale. Thanks."

Michael smiled, "You’re welcome, buddy."

Michael stood back up and shook hands with Richard and got a hug from Meredith. Troy put his hand on Travis’ back and guided him back home. Travis kept looking over his shoulder hoping to get a glimpse of his best friend. The Grayson’s followed Michael into the house. The paramedics were just now putting Chris on the gurney. Officer Davis was holding the blanket that he had been wrapped in. Tyler and Jessie were both sitting on the couch. Heather stood nearby, watching anxiously, because even with all the handling Chris was not awake yet and she was worried.

As the paramedics were putting their blanket over Chris, Michael noticed something right away and stopped them, "Excuse me Officer."

Officer Davis looked up from his notepad, "Yes?"

Michael pointed at Chris, "I don’t think those clothes he’s wearing are his. I’ve never seen them before."

Heather looked and she nodded her head, "Mike is right, those are not Chris’ and they are not what he was wearing when he disappeared."

The officer held up his hand to stop the paramedics, "Wait a minute guys," he looked at Chris and asked, "Is he in any danger?"

One of them shook his head, "No sir, he’s not."

Officer Davis turned to Heather, "Mrs. Hale, could you get some of your son’s pajamas or something like that to change him into so I can take what he is wearing and the blanket in as evidence?"

She nodded and hurried upstairs, "Sure. I’ll be right back."

Michael went over to the two younger children and picked up Tyler, "Guys, you’re going to stay next door with Mr. and Mrs. Grayson until we get back."

Tyler looked puzzled, "Wewe awe you going?"

He smiled at him, "We’re going to go with Chris. He’s going to go see a doctor and make sure he is okay and then we’ll be back home."

Tyler got a serious look on his face, "You pwomise you’w come back?"

Michael nodded and hugged him, "I promise, Ty. We’ll be back as soon as we can."

Tyler giggled, "Okay Daddy."

Michael turned to Richard and handed Tyler off to him. Meredith walked over and picked up Jessie, "Alright, we’ll take it from here Mike. Let us know what’s happening."

He nodded to them, "Thanks guys. Goodbye munchkins."

He kissed each of the children and waved as the Grayson’s left the house with them. He turned back just as Heather returned with the pajamas. She waved him over and working together they removed the clothes that Chris was wearing. Officer Davis said he needed everything, so they gently stripped him bare and handed everything to the officer, who took each item and carefully laid them on the blanket.

Once Chris was dressed in his pajamas, the paramedics resumed securing him to the gurney and headed out to their truck, Heather walked alongside the gurney holding Bear. Michael gave her a quick kiss, "I’ll see you at the hospital honey."

She nodded, "Okay, love you."

She followed the paramedics out and got in the back of the truck with one of the paramedics. Once she was strapped in, she reached out and took Chris’ hand in hers and put the other hand on his forehead, smoothing his hair back. They backed out and left for the hospital.

Back inside, Michael went and got his shoes and socks on and grabbed his keys. Officer Davis was just finishing with bagging the blanket and the clothes in evidence bags.

The officer looked up and smiled, "I’ll meet you at the hospital. There are some more questions that I need to ask you."

Michael nodded distractedly, "Sure Officer. I’d be glad to help. I’ll see you there."

They left the house. Michael locked up the house and got in his minivan. He waited until the officer pulled away before he backed out and drove to the hospital.

After they left the neighborhood and the neighbors went back inside, a dark colored van parked down the street, started up and drove off.

Fifteen minutes later Michael pulled into the parking lot of the hospital and parked the car. He went to the emergency entrance and walked up to the desk. He gave them his name and was escorted back to where Chris was. Heather smiled when she saw him and walked over to stand beside him, putting her arm around his waist.

A doctor turned to them and smiled, "Mr. and Mrs. Hale, I’m Dr. Flannery. We’re going to check him out and let you know how he is. We have a family area right over there if you will just have a seat for a few minutes, this shouldn’t take long."

The Hales nodded and walked over to one of the couches and sat down to wait. They saw Officer Davis come in.

He checked in at the nurse’s station and after speaking to the nurse, they watched as he went to the room where Chris was being cared for. He stuck his head in and they saw the doctor motion him inside.

After a half an hour, Officer Davis and Dr. Flannery came over to the Hale’s. The doctor looked a little grim as he sat down across from them.

They looked at him anxiously, "Is Chris alright doctor?"

The doctor nodded, "Yes, I think he’ll be fine. I’m a little concerned that he is still unconscious. He may have been drugged, so we are taking some blood to test for anything in his system. Then we will flush them out of his system."

Heather was hopeful, "So when can we take him home?"

The doctor sighed, "I’d like to keep him overnight for observation and if everything checks out, he can go home tomorrow morning."

"Can I stay with him, in case he wakes up?" Heather asked.

The doctor nodded, "Sure, that’s probably a good idea Mrs. Hale. There should be no problem with that, I’ll let the floor know and they’ll take care of it."

Heather sensed something in his voice, "Thanks, but there’s something else isn’t there?"

He nodded, "I’m afraid so. During my examination, I found that it appears that your son was sexually assaulted as well."

Heather’s hand flew to her mouth and tears came to her eyes, "Oh my god, Chris. Will he be alright?"

"Physically, yes, he will. There was no real damage, but it would be best if he sees a psychologist to deal with what happened to him. I can have one of our social workers refer you if you would like," he asked helpfully.

Heather was crying against Michael’s shoulder as he comforted her, "That’ll be fine doctor, thank you."

The doctor stood up, "Other than that, perhaps just a good night’s rest is all he needs and everything will be fine. Mrs. Hale, I will let you know when he is ready to be transferred upstairs."

She nodded and smiled through her tears, "Thank you doctor."

Michael shook hands with the doctor.

Officer Davis sat down across from them and took out his notebook, he looked at them with sympathy, "I’m sorry to hear about your son. Do you mind answering a few questions?"

Michael shook his head, "No, go ahead."

For the next few minutes, Michael recounted everything that happened, except for the note, since the doorbell rang.

Once they were finished Officer Davis closed the notebook and stood up, "Thank you. I will forward this to the detectives and they may contact you if they need anything else. I hope he’ll be okay."

They both stood up with him, "Thank you Officer."

Officer Davis shook both of their hands and left the room.

A few minutes later, Dr. Flannery came over to them, "We’re transferring him upstairs, so you can go with them Mrs. Hale."

She hugged Michael, "Okay, bye honey. I’ll call you if there is any change."

He nodded, "See you in the morning."

They kissed goodbye and Heather followed the gurney as it left the ER.

Once they were gone, Michael left the hospital and drove back home. Once there, he parked in his driveway and walked next door.

The door was answered by Richard who smiled and waved him in. Richard directed him to the kitchen table where Meredith was sitting.

She got up and got a cup of coffee for Michael, "The kids are in bed. Tyler and Jessie are asleep in Troy’s bed. Travis fought sleep but eventually he fell asleep. Troy is with him, I think that’s why Travis finally let himself sleep. So, how’s Chris?"

Michael took a sip of the coffee and sighed, "He’ll be okay. They are keeping him overnight for observation. He’s still unconscious and the doctor thinks he was drugged. So they’re keeping him and trying to flush any drugs out of his system. They said he’ll be home in the morning. So Heather is staying with him in case he wakes up."

"That’s good to hear." Meredith said.

Michael paused for a moment trying to think how to say the next part, "There’s something else. He….was sexually assaulted."

They were shocked, "Oh no. Is he badly hurt?"

Michael shook his head, "Not according to the doctor, but he suggested we have Chris see a psychologist to help him deal with the trauma."

They nodded, "Probably a good idea."

"Well anyway. At least he’s home safe, or at least soon will be. Anything else we can work through. I should be getting home and get some sleep. Thanks for the coffee. Do you want to help me get the kids and I’ll take them home."

Meredith put her hand on his arm, "Why don’t you leave them here Mike? They’re fine where they are. We’ll take care of them."

He nodded in agreement, "Maybe you’re right. Okay thanks guys. I’ll see you in the morning before I go to the hospital."

The Grayson’s hugged Michael goodbye, "Night Mike. See you in the morning."

When he got back to his house, he went to his bedroom and quickly stripped off and got in bed. He fell asleep quickly.

Heather opened her eyes and looked around, wondering what had awakened her. She groaned as she stretched, because she had been sleeping in a chair in Chris’ room and felt stiff.


Heather’s head jerked up and she focused on the young boy who was sitting up in the bed and was looking at her. She got up from the chair and sat down on the bed next to Chris. She pulled him to her and hugged him tightly, "Chris? Thank god, you’re awake. We were so worried. Are you alright?"

Chris nodded as he returned her hug, "Yeah, I’m okay. I’m so glad to see you. Where are we?"

She pulled back and looked at him, "We’re at the hospital. You’ve been sleeping since we found you last night. Do you remember anything?"

He leaned back into her hug and she felt Chris nod his head against her chest. She stroked his back as he started to cry, "I’m sorry baby. Do you hurt anywhere?"

He hiccupped a little, "Not really, well…uh…my butt hurts a little, but not too bad?"

She couldn’t help herself as a weary chuckle escaped her, "Yeah I guess so. We know about it, honey. The doctor told us. Are you sure you’re okay?"

He nodded, "Yeah, I think so."

She continued to rub his back and rock him, "That’s good. In a few days we’re going to take you to see someone who will talk to you about everything that happened. You can tell this person anything you want and he won’t even tell anyone else unless you say its okay and that includes me and your dad. This person will help you feel better about everything. I think the police are going to want to talk to you as well. Do you think you can do all that?"

He sat back and wiped his eyes, "I think so."

She placed her hands on either side of his face and kissed him, "Good. For now let’s let the doctor know that you’re awake and I’ll call your Dad and have him come and pick us up, so we can go home."

He smiled, "Kay Mom."

She gave him one last hug and a kiss on his head before she got up and left the room. She walked over to the nurses’ station and she told them that Chris was awake and she wanted to talk to the doctor about taking Chris home.

The nurse said she would take care of it.

Heather thanked her and went back into the room and pulled her cell out.

"Good morning Hon….He’s fine, he’s awake and ready to come home…I told him about the psychologist and he seems okay with it….yeah, that too….I’m waiting for the doctor, so why don’t you come on down and pick us up. Hopefully we’ll be ready when you get here….Oh and bring some of Chris’ clothes. I’m sure he doesn’t want to leave here in his pajamas….Yeah, that’s good….Okay see you a little bit, bye."

She put her cell back into her purse and went over to sit with Chris again. They sat together and watched the TV in the room for a little while until the doctor came in carrying a clipboard in his hand.

He was smiling as he greeted them, "Good morning Chris. It’s good to see you awake this morning. You had us a little worried last night. Mrs. Hale can you excuse us for a few moments while I examine Chris and you can sign these forms, they are his discharge papers."

She took the forms and sat in the chair to take care of them.

Dr. Flannery pulled the curtain closed around the bed and began his examination. He listened to his chest and checked his eyes and throat. The stepped back, "So how do you feel?"

Chris shrugged, "I feel fine, except for, uh…"

The doctor nodded, "Your butt?"

Chris nodded and blushed.

He patted Chris on the shoulder, "Yeah. It will be okay in a day or two, there was no real damage."

He had Chris turn on his side and he pulled his pajamas down, after getting Chris’ permission and inspected the area. "Your butt looks okay, the tenderness will probably go away by tomorrow, then you’ll be back to normal. Well, are you ready to leave?" he asked.

"Yes, sir." Chris replied.

"Okay then. Well, you take care of yourself Chris." He answered as he held his hand out and they shook hands.

Chris pulled his pajamas back up and the doctor opened the curtain.

Heather had the forms all finished.

Dr. Flannery, removed parts of the multi-part forms and handed them back to her. He smiled, "These are your copies. He’s all yours to take home."

"Thank you, my husband is on the way." She said.

"Good, then I will say goodbye and good luck. An orderly will be here in a little while with a wheelchair." They shook hands and the doctor left.

She reclaimed her seat next to Chris to watch TV.

A few minutes later Michael entered the room with a bundle of clothes under his arm. He dropped them on the edge of the bed and went to Chris to hug him, "Hey buddy. How are you?"

Chris held him tightly, "I’m okay Dad."

"Good. Well I brought you some clothes to change into. Why don’t you go change in the bathroom and bring you PJs back out with you and then we can get out of here." Michael replied.

Chris grabbed the clothes and got changed in the bathroom. He came back out just as an orderly brought a wheelchair to the room. The orderly smiled at him, "Your limousine has arrived young sir."

Chris grinned and sat down in the chair with Bear on his lap. The orderly wheeled him out with his mom and dad following behind. Outside, they waited while Michael went to get the minivan. They got Chris loaded in the back seat and the orderly waved goodbye as they drove back home.

When they got there, Chris had no sooner stepped out of the van’s side door when the Grayson’s door flew open and a blond haired streak came flying out and over to Chris.

Travis grabbed Chris in a tight hug, "Chris, you’re really okay."

Chris hugged his friend back, "Yeah Travis, I’m okay."

Travis stood back, "What happ…."

Michael interrupted him, "Travis, let’s not get into that now."

Travis nodded, "Oh, yeah, okay Mr. Hale."

Travis let him go and put his arm around his best friend.

From the Grayson’s came the rest of the family plus Tyler and Jessie. "CWISS!" Tyler yelled.

Tyler crashed into Chris’ legs and hugged him quickly, followed by Jessie.

Chris returned their hugs, "Hi guys, it’s good to see you."

Tyler looked up at him, "Awe you awight Cwiss?"

He nodded, "Yep, I’m okay."

"Did Beaw help you feew bettew." He asked him.

Chris nodded, "Yes, he did. Here you can take him back. I don’t need him now, I have you."

Tyler smiled up at his big brother, "Okay." Tyler took the teddy bear back.

The Grayson’s came forward to welcome Chris back safely. They had everyone follow them to their house for breakfast. During breakfast no one talked about what happened after Michael said that it wasn’t suitable conversation for the table. When they were finished, Travis went with Chris over to his house, Jessie and Tyler went with them. Michael and Heather thanked the Grayson’s.

At the door, Michael turned to them, "Could we get together later today? I’ll let you know what we know." He asked them.

They nodded, "Sure Mike. We’ll come over after dinner if that’s okay."

"Why don’t we have a barbeque. Come on over about five. We can talk then." Heather asked.

"Sounds good, see you at five," they replied.

The Hales went inside the house and relaxed around the house for most of the day. Travis and Chris had gone upstairs to his room to play some games. Michael went to the store for some steaks and hamburgers.

At five Richard, Meredith and Troy showed up. Meredith went to help with the side dishes, while Richard joined Michael out back. They called Chris and Travis down from his room. They had a beer and talked while Michael cooked. The kids threw a Frisbee around in the backyard. The food was soon ready and they had an enjoyable meal.

After dinner the kids went inside to watch TV, while the adults stayed outside. Heather had taken out a bottle of wine and they all sat there with their glasses talking when Michael looked toward the backdoor to the house for a moment and turned to them, "Okay, the kids are busy. We can talk now. Chris is going to be okay. However, whoever took him sexually assaulted him too, as I mentioned last night. So we will be getting him therapy to deal with everything."

Richard shook his head angrily, "That’s terrible. I hope they find the fuckers who did it?"

Meredith slapped him on the arm, "Richard!"

Michael agreed, "Don’t worry about it Meredith. I agree and I think someone did." The other adults looked at Michael with puzzled looks.

Michael continued, "Well there is something else. When we found him, he was wrapped in a blanket and he was wearing clothes that were not his, and….there was this. You didn’t see this honey, but it was with Chris when I found him. It fell out of his hand."

He handed the note to Heather who read it. When she finished she wordlessly handed it to Meredith who read it with Richard looking over her shoulder.

They both looked at Michael, "Do you think this means what I think it means?" they asked.

"Yeah I do. Whoever took Chris is probably dead." Michael nodded as he replied.

"Any idea who." Richard asked.

Michael shook his head, "None whatsoever, but I’m going to comply with his or her wishes. An eye for an eye works for me in this case. I just wanted to let you guys know what happened. I don’t know if the police will ever find these guys, but if you guys know, then you can help us with Chris if he needs it. I’m guessing that eventually Travis will know, and probably their friend Bryce, but we’ll do what we can to keep it within the family."

Richard clapped Michael on the arm, "You can count on us."

Michael nodded his thanks, "I know. So, now that he’s back, we can get back to living and seeing that Chris is fine."

The adults clinked glasses and relaxed. All was right with the world. Their kids were safe and life went on. Travis got permission to spend the night with Chris. Once they were in bed, Travis turned to Chris. "Chris…uh, can you talk about, uh…what happened?" he asked nervously.

Chris was quiet for a moment and just stared up at the ceiling. Travis started to get nervous, especially when he saw tears in Chris’ eyes. He scooted nearer, "I’m sorry, bro. You don’t have to tell me. I shouldn’t have asked."

Chris quickly turned on his side and looked at Travis and reached out and touched his arm. "No, that’s okay. I can tell you. The men who took me, one of them was that guy with lost dog poster, his name was Hal. The other guys were called George and Marcus." He giggled, "You know, you broke Marcus’ knee when you hit him."

Travis smiled fiercely, "Good, too bad I didn’t hit him in his balls."

Chris nodded when he replied, "Yeah, anyway they took me to a house somewhere and they…did things to me…"

He proceeded to quietly relate what happened to him. Travis scooted closer to Chris and hugged him as he talked. Sometimes Chris cried for a little bit, and Travis just comforted him.

"…and then someone came crashing through the door of the bedroom and attacked Marcus and Hal, picked me up, took me out of that house and that’s the last thing I can remember until I woke up in the hospital this morning." Chris finished the story.

Travis was looking at him in wonder. "Wow, whoever he was, was like Batman or something." He said in wonder.

Chris shrugged, "I guess. I don’t remember much after I was rescued. I remember the guy carrying me outside, but nothing else. I think I fell asleep."

"Well, I’m glad you were rescued. I was scared I’d never see you again." Travis replied.

Chris agreed, "Yeah, me too. I’m glad you could stay with me tonight. Goodnight Travis."

Travis smiled and said, "Night Chris."

The two boys snuggled up close and went to sleep.



The next day at about ten o’clock the kids were watching cartoons in the living room when they heard a car pull up out front. Chris looked out and saw a man get out of the car and walk up to the front door carrying a storage clipboard. When the doorbell rang, his dad came out from the kitchen to answer it, "Hello, can I help you?"

The man pulled his badge out and showed it to Michael, "Mr. Hale?"

Michael nodded, "Yes, I’m Michael Hale."

The man continued, "Good morning, I’m Detective Hendricks, I’ve been assigned to your son’s kidnapping case. May I come in?"

The two men shook hands as Michael let him in the house. "Sure. What can we do for you?" he asked.

"I have some questions that I need to ask you and your son if I may?" Detective Hendricks replied.

Michael gestured for the detective to follow him, "Okay, why don’t you come with me to the dining room? Can I get you something…coffee…?"

The detective nodded, "That would be nice, thanks."

Michael called to Heather to introduce the two of them, "Honey, this is Detective Hendricks, can you get him some coffee"

She looked at Hendricks, "How do you take it?"

He smiled and answered, "Black would be fine."

Michael directed him to a seat, "Alright, why don’t we sit down."

They took seats at the table. The detective glanced over at Chris in the nearby living room before he sat down.

Heather set a cup before the detective and joined them.

"Okay detective. How can we help?" Michael asked.

The detective opened his clipboard, "I need to ask your son a few questions about what he remembers. I know some of them will be hard, but it’s necessary and it will help us find out what’s going on." He replied.

"Do you have any leads yet?" Michael asked.

"I’ll know better after I talk to Chris." He said noncommittally.

"Is there any problem with us being here with him, while you talk to him?" Michael asked.

Hendricks shook his head, "No, not at all."

Michael nodded, got up from the table and walked back to the living room, "Chris? There is a detective here that needs to ask you a few questions. I’ll tell him no, if you don’t feel like it and we can do it another time."

Chris shook his head, "No I can do it."

Michael gestured for him to join them, "Okay, come on in here to the dining room and we’ll talk."

Chris got up and followed Michael to the room. He sat down between his parents across from the detective.

The man smiled at Chris, held out his hand and they shook hands. "Hello Chris, I’m Detective Hendricks."

"Hello sir," Chris replied.

"I need to ask you some questions about everything that you can remember about what happened." Hendricks stated.

Chris nodded "Okay."

Hendricks nodded, "Good. Can you tell me how many people were involved with the kidnapping?"

"Three." Chris replied.

"Were they all men or were there any women that you saw?" Hendricks continued.

"Men," Chris replied.

"Did you hear them use any names when they were around you?" Hendricks asked.

Chris nodded, "Yeah, one guy’s name was Hal, and there was George and Marcus. Travis hit Marcus with a bat and broke his knee, when they took me."

The detective looked at Chris for a moment, opened the storage part of the clipboard and took a small stack of pictures out of it. He looked at Chris speculatively, "Chris, I’m going to show you some pictures and see if you recognize any of them."

Chris nodded, "Okay."

Hendricks proceeded to lay out six pictures facing toward Chris. All the people in the pictures looked like they were sleeping on a shiny table or something. Also they all looked pale. Chris quickly picked three of the pictures out. The detective put the others away and left the three facing Chris.

"You recognize these three?" he asked.

"Yes, sir," Chris nodded.

"Are they the men who kidnapped you?" he asked.

Chris nodded, "Yes, sir."

Hendricks pointed to the pictures, "Can you tell me which is which person?"

Chris pointed at each one as he said their names, "This is Hal, this is Marcus and this is George."

Michael interrupted, "So you guys have already caught the men who did this?"

Hendricks looked at them, "Not exactly. Their names are Hal Cushing, George Higgs, and Marcus Jackson. These pictures are morgue pictures. All of them are dead."

Heather and Mike looked at each other, "Oh."

The detective gave them a calculating look for a moment before he continued, "The other night the police received a 911 call of multiple shots fired at a location. When the officers arrived they saw the front door of the suspect house wide open. A couple of officers went around to the back and found the back door the same way. Before they got to the door however, just around the corner from the back door they found this man." Hendricks pointed to the picture of George.

He continued, "George Higgs was lying against the side of the house. His neck had been broken. They advanced into the house from the front and back, and found some evidence that at least one shot had been fired toward the kitchen entrance from inside the living room. As they moved through the house, they came to a door, that had been kicked in or something. The door led to a specially built room. The walls were covered with soundproofing material. There were security bars on the inside of the room covering the windows. The windows had closed and nailed shutters on the outside. Inside were a bed and a couple of chairs. Does this room sound familiar Chris?" He asked.

"Yes sir, that’s the room where I was kept in." Chris nodded when he replied.

"I thought as much. Inside the room we found Hal Cushing, his throat was crushed. Marcus Jackson was also in there; his windpipe was crushed like it had been hit with something. We also found this and these." Hendricks explained.

He reached into the clipboard again and brought out a couple of photos that were larger than the mug shots. The first showed the leather collar and chain that had been used on Chris. Heather gasped when she saw it. The other photo showed a pair of jeans and cut up underwear, a t shirt and some shoes and socks.

"Chris, do you recognize these things?" Hendricks asked.

Chris nodded, "Yes sir. Those are my clothes. They made we wear the collar and the first day they attached the chain to it and locked it to something on the wall." He replied.

Hendricks nodded, "Yes, that is what we thought. Now as to how you got away and how these men were killed, that’s where we draw a blank. So Chris can you explain that to us?"

Chris thought for a moment, "I remember the door flying open and Hal shooting. I was scared and trying to hide. I turned away, so I didn’t see what happened. I kinda remember hearing some fighting and then it got quiet and I think someone picked me up and carried me outside, but I think I passed out or went to sleep, cuz I don’t remember anything until I woke up in the hospital."

"Do you know if it was one person, or more than one person? Did you see their face or remember anything about them?" Hendricks asked.

Chris shook his head, "I really don’t remember sir. I was real scared that I would get shot, so I didn’t pay any attention," he replied.

The detective looked at Chris a few moments and then looked at Michael who shrugged, "Sorry Detective. If he doesn’t remember anything, then he doesn’t remember anything."

The detective agreed, "I guess that’s it then. Thank you for your help young man. I’m glad you’re alright," he said as he gave Chris’ shoulder a friendly pat.

The detective nodded before he picked everything up and returned it to the clipboard. He stood up, shook Heather and Chris’ hands and thanked them for their help. Michael showed him to the door.

At the door he handed Michael his card, "Mr. Hale, I’m glad you got your son back. However, vigilantes we don’t need, they can be dangerous. No one should be judge, jury and executioner. So if he remembers anything else, please call us. We need to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen."

Michael nodded, "Detective Hendricks, I understand what you’re saying, but truthfully, I’m not sorry that those bastards are dead. But, if he remembers anything, we’ll be sure and call you."

The detective looked at Michael and Michael could tell that the detective knew that he wouldn’t call the police even if Chris remembered anything else. He sighed, "I understand sir. I would probably feel the same, but vigilantes are dangerous to the community, they cause problems for us. So please call."

Michael agreed, "Of course, goodbye Detective and thank you for everything."

The detective nodded and went out to his car. Michael watched him leave and then shut the door and returned to the kitchen. Chris was still sitting there next to his mom talking. He went up behind Chris and hugged him, "Why don’t you go back in the living room?"

Chris hugged his mom and went back to the living room. Michael ruffled his hair as he went by and then sat down to finish his cup of coffee.

"Chris knows more than he’s letting on. I think he saw who saved him." Heather stated.

"Maybe, but I’m not going to ask him. He’s been through enough, now it’s time for him to move on," Michael replied.

Heather agreed, "Yep. Time to move on."

Later Chris and Travis went over to Bryce’s house to swim. Bryce was, of course, full of questions, but Chris begged off saying he didn’t really want to talk about it. After a few more tries, Bryce gave up and they just had a good time together swimming and playing video games.

That night in bed, Michael came to Chris’ room and knocked on the open door. Chris looked up, "Mind if I come in for a little bit." Michael asked.

Chris nodded, "Sure," he replied.

Michael sat on the bed and smoothed the covers over him. He reached up and brushed the hair back from his forehead. "Are you really feeling okay, Chris?" he asked with concern.

Chris nodded, "Yeah, I am."

"Good. We have an appointment with that doctor we talked about." Michael stated.

"The shrink?" Chris asked.

Michael laughed a little and nodded, "Yeah, the shrink. He’ll help you with everything."

Chris sighed, "Okay."

Michael just looked at him for a few moments, before continuing, "I’m glad you’re back son. We were so worried that we’d never see you again. We love you so much."

Chris nodded, "I know, I love you too."

Michael leaned forward and gave Chris a kiss and hug goodnight. He stood up and started to leave, at the door he stopped and turned around, "Chris….you didn’t tell that detective everything did you?"

Chris hesitated for a moment and then shook his head no.

Michael looked down as he nodded in agreement. "Yeah, I thought so. I know we’ve always taught you to tell the truth and you know the difference between truth and a lie, right." Michael came back into the room.

"Yes." Chris answered.

"Well, for this one time, we’ll forget that and it will remain our secret. The important thing is that you are back home safe and those men can’t ever hurt you or anyone else again. Okay?" Michael replied.

"Okay Dad, goodnight."

He tousled his hair, "Goodnight buddy. Sleep well. See you in the morning."

Michael turned out the light and closed the door. Chris turned on his side and closed his eyes. A smile appeared on his face as he fell asleep, dreaming of a pair of bright blue eyes.