Hedley Hollow

Chapter Four: Missing Links

Front porch the hollow

     Jess, was reviewing the information Martin had sent over, along with the request to have finances for Steven pulled. “Good god, to think this boy went through this much stuff and he only destroyed one life is a miracle.” Jess said to herself, not hearing Trevor sit down behind her.

“So are we going to help him as well?” Trevor asked as he closed his eyes and began thinking obscenities to himself.

Jess flinched then looked over to Trevor. “Boy, if you don’t think I know your cussing in your head, you’d be wrong.” Jess said with a slight tease. “Look, I know he’s done bad. He’s done gone and crossed your guy, but at least see if there is something redeeming about him. And far beyond anything you believe, the choice to help is Lances.”

Leaning forward and taking a calming breath Trevor asked. “Has Lance been asked yet? Does he know?” Just as he was beginning to raise his voice a couple of things happened.

First Jake walked between his mother and Trevor remembering how he was when first came to the Hollow if he was upset, someone was hurting. 

Secondly, Numbers crossed the fence and was standing at the railing staring Trevor down.

Thirdly, Lance walked out. “Trevor, sit down and calm down. I was asked Last night by Robin when he seen what condition Steven was in.” Lance said walking up behind Trevor, as he sat down and began messaging his shoulders. “Robin admitted the last person he had seen in that shape was you babe. I love you with all my heart and I have heard how bad it was for you upon arriving here. I am willing to give him a chance, he can stay here for all I care. “ 

Trevor turned his head to look as Lance walked around and sat down beside him. Before Trevor  could say anything a flood of foul ungodly graphic images began flooding his mind. For a moment he was frozen and then began to sob openly. 

Knowing now would not be a good time to tell Lance details, Jess and Jake slowly wondered off quietly. 

“Babe, it’s alright I am here and we will make it through everything together.” Lance said as he watched Trevor slowly calm down. “I know your afraid he will do something or worse you believe I might want to date him. Yuck, why in the name of fun would I want pickle flavored ice cream when I have you?”

Trevor stopped crying and turned slowly with a confused look. “Pickle flavored ice cream?” and slowly began laughing.

“See, I knew you would understand.” Lance said waiting for Trevor to snort.

Turning back towards the fence rail Lance noticed Numbers had returned to the field.
“Lance, I will give him the benefit of the doubt but the moment he attempts to hurt anyone physically or verbally. I will beat his ass for the entire town to watch” Trevor stated with a slight growl.

Walking back inside the house they returned to their room. 

“Trevor, I got a text earlier they all arrived safe n sound at the hospital to be checked out.  Martin is checking out three of the nine occupants of the RV.” Lance said quietly seeing if Trevor was listening.

Slowly turning toward Lance, Trevor started counting on his fingers how many were on the trip to begin with. “Nine? Shouldn’t it be six? Daniel, Lily, Steven, Dylan, Robin and Garrett?” Trevor said looking at Lance for an explanation.

“They had a couple of extra people along for the ride.” Lance said as if knowing Trevor was going to interrogate until he knew who all was extra’s. “So they stopped at a restaurant and you have a visitor waiting on you. Then as they were entering the county they ran across an accident with a mother and son.” As Lance told Trevor of the visitor he went and put on some socks and a pair of work boots.

“Honey, I love you please get dressed.” Trevor said as he pulled on his shirt. 

“Why are you in such a rush? Don’t you think you should either put on some jogging shorts or pants? Undies and boots don’t really work well?” Lance said reaching for his phone to take a photo.

Lance put on a pair of shorts, a shirt and some tennis shoes. After taking a picture of a flustered Trevor. “I’ll have you know there are some places undies and boots are hot?” Trevor said as he slipped the boots off.

From the living room they both heard a loud snort, followed by, “Our town maybe accepting; but I don’t think we need to push the boundaries today!” Jess hollered out laughing. “Besides, I let you slide on the porch, walking out with just the Red underwear with everything else going on.”

Trevor blushed bright red “Sorry, Jess I wasn't really thinking.” Trevor hollered back. 

“She's just bustin your ball's she really isn't mad.” Jake said from the other side of the door. 

“Got it, not mad.” Trevor said loud enough for Jake to hear. “Are you ready Lance?”

“Been ready, is it just us going or should Jake go to?” Lance asked Trevor knowing Jake hadn't moved.

“Jake do you want to go in case I have any problems?” Trevor asked as he opened the door to look at Jake who was dressed.

As they walked in to the living room, Jess made a frumpy face “What can't I go? Have I been bad?”

“Come on Momma, Jess” Lance said as he was walking through the room. Suddenly he froze and looked down. 

Trevor was shocked at how fast Jess jumped off the couch, to comfort her nephew. “Baby, I'm not mad, I'm honored you would even think to call me that name.  But you need to wait until you had a chance to grieve before trying to move on.” Jess said as she wrapped him in a smothering hug. “Are you sure you are ready to confront Steven today?”

“Jess, I am prepared to forgive him, even if he can't forgive himself.” Lance said with the last remaining tears running down his face. “Besides, I know I will be fine with you, Jake and Trevor there with me.”

They all separated and began walking outside, Jess led everyone to her new truck. “We'll take my truck.”

After Jess got the truck up to twenty miles per hour Jake began talking, “Robin told me, him and Steven talked about some of the things Lance's dad put him up to as well as what happened in the barn one night.”

“What happened in the Barn? What did my bastard father do?” Lance asked sitting straight up while gripping Trevor's hand with so much force he winced. 

“Apparently, your sperm donor was paying Steven to make your life hell, after catching you and the Ridley boys exploring each other.” Jake said trying to be as neutral as he could. “Plus, apparently he caught Steven testing out his equipment and decided to put his ass to the test.”

Lance at first was shocked, and then the rage began too swell, “He better be glad mom splattered him with the elevator otherwise I would be performing surgery on him!” Lance about screamed then he turned to Trevor who had become quiet. “Oh baby, Don't think about what your dad did, I swear if I could I would go back in time and make him survive me ending his life and bringing him back just to do it again.”

Suddenly they all turned at the same time looking for the source of the sound, “Alright, who has their phone on?” Jake asked while looking around.

Lance turned to Trevor who just shrugged. “Jake we left ours at the house.” Lance said while making the matching hand gesture pointing between them. 

“Mom, do you have your phone?” Jake asked feeling odd knowing he didn't have his phone. 

“Honey, you know we are going in to town, right? Remember the system routes all calls to the nearest phone while we are in town.” Jess said then looked at Jake who was wearing a perplexed look and pointing to his hip. “Well, that is odd we all heard a ding and there isn't a phone in the truck.”

“Maybe, we were all tuned in to Lances rage. “ Jake said quietly.

The Hospital

“Well whatever it was, were here now.” Jess said as she pulled up to the Hospital. “Wow, their RV is big. I know they drove past the house earlier but I never heard it go by.”

“I'm surprised because Robin, blew the air horn when he went past.” Jake said remembering Robin driving slow with the hazard lights on and waving as he went past.

“Really, I must have really need sleep earlier.” Jess said as they entered the hospital. 

“Jess! It's so good to see you.” Nurse Roberts said as she walked up and hugged Jess. 
“Good evening, Nurse Roberts. Where are they at now?” Jess said then realized where she was formal. “Jessica, sorry its been a long week.”

“I figured as much. Martin and Steven's group are on the second floor. The mother and son are on the fourth floor in the ICU they haven't woke up yet. We haven't got any clue of their names yet because they didn't have any ID on them.”

Before any one could move to the elevator there was a loud shout. “Trevor! Oh my goodness you made it! I missed you, why haven't you visited me lately?” all of this was asked in rapid fire as the young lad was mid pounce. He finished speaking just a moment before he tackled Trevor to the ground and proceeded to hug the stuffing's out of Trevor.

“I take it you know this high power missile?” Lance said as he tried helping the two back up from the cold hard floor. “Wow, a pounce so powerful would be worthy of praise from Timmy.”

“Timmy, Oh Wow? Do you think he would be happy about my pounce? He's my favorite story character.” The young boy said in rapid fire to Lance. 

“This high power missile is Jeremy. He is my little brother, my dad got rid of him after mom died. “Trevor said quietly to Lance. “We only found out about a month ago.”

“The couple running Maw's Hearty Skillet found him wondering the road at the age of five and adopted him.” Jess said looking at Trevor with worry written on her face. “Alice and Max, have already asked me to adopt him if something was to happen to them.” 

“They have already told me, I can visit anytime. They also don't care who I like as long as we treat each other with respect.” Trevor said as his smile returned. 

Robin walked up to the group, “Just remember, I have to go retrieve my truck from Garrett's house so If y’all want to visit Max, Alice and Jeremy, I can drop y’all off.” Robin said quietly. 

Lance walked up to Robin and gave him a big hug. “If you need to talk about anything then please let me know and I will make time for you.” Lance said while leaned in to Robins ear.

Robin blushed when he looked up and Garrett was giving him a left out look. Waving Garrett over Robin added him to the hug. “Lance, this is Garrett. We are going to start dating.”

“Yes!” Lance yelled and then hugged them both. “Garrett, how are things going with you and the parents? I know Dylan has been worried about you for a while now.”

Garrett was looking at the floor for a moment. “I thought, they were never going to talk to me again, but then Steven and Dylan showed up and I realized I needed help with the situation. So I called home and now we are talking. They even let me drive the RV outside.”

Daniel walked up and placed his hand on Garrett's shoulder, “It was only logical to allow you to drive.”

“What he means honey, is you knew where the destination was.” Robin said in a flat mono tone voice. 

“How is Steven?” Lance finally asked knowing otherwise he would never venture up by himself. 

“He's a nervous wreck. His parents don't know and he is afraid of what will be said.” Garrett said his eyes showing how worried he was about Steven. 

“Can I see him?” Lance asked while giving Trevor the wait here look.

“Sure, I'll walk you up.” Garrett said looking at Trevor. He knew Trevor wanted to go but was showing his trust in Lance.

Upstairs Room two twelve

Garrett walked up to the door and knocked three times, paused and knocked twice. 

Dr Martin announced. “Garrett, Lance you can enter just make sure to close the door back.”

As they entered Lance noticed the heart wrenching expression on Steven's face and the large tears running down his face. “Hey Lai.” Steven said then dropped his head. When he looked up Lance was there beside his bed. “Sorry, Lance how was the trip over?”

Lance reached over the bed rail after grabbing a tissue and began drying up the tears. “I'm fine, you can still call me Lai, I don't mind. But how are you doing? I came here to see you and forgive you because I knew something was wrong. But I never asked, so I am as much at fault as you are.”

“No, never! It wasn't your fault, it was all my fault for listening to your evil dad and not going against him!” Steven exclaimed as he started breathing hard trying to explain. “Don't forgive me, it was my evilness that pushed you from your home and away from all your friends.” Steven kept getting more animated then looked like he was having breathing troubles.
First the heart rate monitor began beeping wildly followed by the blood pressure cuff which was trying to get a reading. Lance placed his hand on Stevens chest and simply told him. “Steven calm down, I am not mad and we will get through this.”

Before Steven could get more worked up Martin injected him with a medication to knock him out for a little while.  “I am sorry, I didn't want him to get so worked up he that he began trying to get out of bed and run.”

Martin walked over to Lance and gave him a hug. “I think you showing your more worried about him than angry, might have woke his emotions up. We will just need to keep an eye on him for a while to keep him from doing something self harmful.”

“Martin, would it be alright if I stayed here with him? Maybe even Trevor could come up here and we could talk for a few while he rests.” Lance asked as he continued to watch Steven rest.

“I have no problem with you being in here, but I don’t want Trevor to be alone with him until him and Steven can make some kind of amends.” Martin said the sadness showing on his face.

“Martin, I will make sure nothing happens to your patient!” Lance stated firmly and got up and hugged Martin. “He needs both our support. I can only help him remember the old days before this shit happened. But, Trevor can help with the healing like he has with me. I know Trevor still has demons he is wrestling with but he needs to be part of the recovery. Or we will never get him back.”

“Lance, I’ll send him up. But remember if he gets too worked up call a nurse and be prepared if you both are asked to leave if asked.” Martin said while leaning against a wall and wiping his eyes and then walking out of the room. 

A few moments later there was a timid knock at the door. “Come in.” Lance said just above a whisper.

Slowly the door opened and Trevor walked in and quietly closed the door. “How is he?” 

“He was awake earlier, he started panicking after I told him I forgave him.” Lance said as he wrapped his arm around Trevor once he was settled down on the couch. “I really wish he would just wake up and talk.”

Steven sat and listened to them chatting for a moment or two trying to figure out if it was safe to get up.

“And what would you want him to talk about?” Trevor asked gently. “I’m just afraid he will freak out when he see’s me in here. He looks so brittle compared to the guy from the restaurant when we picked you up.”

Slowly, Steven opened his eyes and looked to the couch. He knew he was seeing something he wasn’t meant to see or so he thought. They spoke with each other the love clearly shown in their actions. 

“Brittle, honey he is broken, fragile. I just want to see him happy or at least happier than he has been for a few years.” Lance said as a sob escaped his lips. 

“You know they say someone can only get better once they have been broken and hit rock bottom.” Trevor said as he wiped away the tears from Lance’s cheek. 

Steven couldn’t take much more of the mushy stuff. In a raspy medicated voice he asked. “So are you going to finish breaking me or what?”

Lance jumped up and went to his bedside, “You’re awake?” 

“I really couldn’t sleep he didn’t give me a big dose, I’ve taken bigger dose’s myself.” Steven got quite knowing he slipped information of what he had been doing. 

Trevor listened to them and took note of the dose comment to ask Martin later.

“Steven, please just relax. We are here to help you.” Lance said pointing between himself and Trevor.

“Steven, I know you may not believe me, but I have gone through similar things. I might be able to help you deal with the mental side of things.” Trevor said gently. “I know we didn’t start off on good terms. But I am willing to help.”

Lance looked at Trevor, noticing he was fighting to mask his pain. Lance placed his left hand on Trevor’s chest. “You don’t need to hide your pain right now. He won’t judge you.” Lance said pointing to Steven.

“I honestly, was afraid when you were in here earlier you were going to trick the doctor into leaving and then call him in and finish what the coach started.” Steven said quietly as tears started falling from his eyes and he began to look down. “I know better now, but I’m sure that is why I freaked earlier.”

“Honestly, this morning I was borderline on beating your ass or helping you.” Trevor said letting his mask down. “After seeing how you are right now, I want to find a necromancer to bring Lances dad back just to end him again.”

“I don’t think he was alone in this. I think someone was paying him.” Steven said quietly. “I think my parents might be involved.” as the last word left his mouth a shiver ran through his body and he began weeping. 

Lance reached down grabbing his hand. “We will get through this together. I know aunt Jess will help.”

Trevor on the other hand reached for the call button and pressed it. 

Moments later a nurse walked in. “How can I help?”

“I think our friend here is getting worked up and he needs his sleep, so we can start fresh in the morning.” Trevor said and then remembered what Steven said earlier. Walking to the hallway with the nurse he told her what he over heard about the dose earlier. 

The nurse pulled up his chart and noticed the doctor had suspected the same thing. “No worries he has suggested a stronger medication for later.” 

Walking back in the room Trevor noticed two things. Lance was sitting down holding Stevens hand. And Steven looking at Trevor worried. 

“Lance, the nurse is going to be giving Steven some more medication so we will need to comeback later.” Trevor said knowing the look Steven was giving. “When we come back later, I will tell you what I have been through and you can decide then if you want my help, no worries Steven.” Trevor said hoping Steven would be good.

Downstairs hospital security office conference room

“Jess, I have run a track on the money that Steven was paid to torture and make Lances life hell.” Robbie said fuming with hate. “So apparently since he didn't own the company and their was a prenuptial agreement in effect, The money came from another person and I have checked the results several times.”

“Who payed for him to be tortured?” Jess asked but Robbie just slid over a folder and didn't say two words.

“You can't be serious, why the hell would she do this?” Jess asked to no-one in particular. “We have to rectify this before the funeral or I will be seeing fire in the service and it won't be a good thing. “ After boiling for a few minutes she messaged Lester on the terminal in front of her and asked him to bring her over to the hospital. “If her husband wants to know then bring them both. I don't care if its a gun point or hog tied.”

Back at the hollow Lester read the message. Stopped and read it again. “Boy's get dressed” Lester said as he went to the barn to retrieve the van. As he was getting the van checked over for the trip David ran up.

“Dad, it sounds important. Are we talking Sunday clothes, Weekday Good, Or work clothes?” David asked knowing something was up.

“Weekday, Clean flannel and jeans. Clean boots but with composite toe.” Lester said waiting to hear what he would classify this as.

“Outfit Requirements weekday ass kicking protocol.” David said to Angel, and Joshua.

Lester walked back to the house. Once inside he found his targets and told them to get ready. “Hey guys get your stuff and get ready. Jess needs us at the hospital she found out something important.”

As he walked back out on the porch he updated the system status on his targets and set them to trespassing under protection so the system didn't completely go ape shit. 

Once everyone was ready to leave. Lester set the system to protect property. He watched as the system closed all gates from the road to the hollow.  

Once in the van the boys had split with David and Angel in the back seat and Joshua in the front with his dad. “So whats so important that we had to get ready so fast?” Joshua asked just a little upset.

“Boy, If I know Jess, she found something we need to know about.” Sitting back Joshua just closed his eyes. “Wake me up when we get there.”

Lester turned on the flashers and began the trip at twenty miles per hour. After a thirty minute drive. “We are here.” Lester said noticing the state police were parked on the side of the building. 

Inside the hospital

Inside of one of the front office conference rooms Jake announced. “They are here and Lester brought them in the old police van.” 

“Can't believe they were responsible?” Lance stated and then wondered aloud. “I can't picture he would have the nerve to do something like that.”

Jess looked around the room. “Garrett, Daniel, Martin, Robbie, Robin, Diedra and Myself will stay in here with Lester, Joshua and them. Everyone else out either go stay with Steven or check on the mother and son on the fourth floor.”

Everyone who had not been called by name filed out of the conference room, just as Officer Mitchell walked in with the others. “Do ya'll mind if'n I sit in on this?” Officer Mitchell asked as he took off his hat.

“Actually, I think I would prefer you to stay in here.” Jess said as she pointed to a chair.

“I have asked you both here to discuss what has been happening to your son.” Jess said watching both Janet and Jacob closely. “At first we thought he was solely responsible for being the end all be all of Lance's misery. We were wrong! What we have found out is your son was paid by Patrick Fenwick to make Lance's life hell. But it doesn't end there.” 

There was a knock at the door. “Come in” Jake said hoping this was the accountant.

The door swung open and in walked smallish man. ”Sorry, I'm late these nurses kept thinking I was a kid.”

“Mr Murphy, it's always a pleasure to see you.” Lester said from the end of the table. 

“So I have followed the trail of the finances. All documents are currently being held at the court house until we can have the trial.” Mr Murphy announced.

“Well if it was Patrick, then he is dead and there is no one to have on trial.” Janet said with a coldness about her that Jess hadn't expected.

“Normally, you would be correct. But since Fenwick was under a prenuptial agreement and didn't have access to those kind of funds alone. We simply couldn't just stop there.” Mr Murphy stated with a smile, knowing this fool was about to be busted. 

“So after combing through his finances what did you find?” Jess asked highly curious.

Jacob spoke up for the first time during the meeting. “Where is Steven? You said this had something to do with what was happening to my son?”

Garrett walked over and sat beside Jacob, and gently told him. “Your son was being raped by the school coach and his own driver. My brother saw Steven walk in to one of the abandoned wings of the school and he got curious. He witnessed your son being raped. He stayed behind to make sure he was alright.”

“Why didn't he call us?” Jacob asked slowly. “Doesn't he know he can call us and we will be there for him?

“You are just as dumb and stupid as your son. He is probably just as much a queer as Lance! Just too much of a coward to say anything.” Janet said very coldly. “He is just as fucking useless and spineless as yourself.”

“What are you saying Janet?” Jacob asked confusion written on his face. 

“I paid that miserable ass to make Lances life hell. I paid the coach and the driver to toughen our pussy of a son up. If he is ever going to take over my business then he will need a set of balls bigger than yours.” Janet started to raise her voice. “Look at yourself, you sold your business just to work a restaurant serving people you don't know and pretending you care.”

“But, I care about all my customers.” Jacob said tears slowly working there way down his cheek.

“Oh, look at that now he is crying. How pathetic, you are absolutely worthless.” Janet said as she noticed the cuffs going on her wrists. “What the hell do you think your doing?” 

“I am arresting you for admitting to paying to have your son raped and his friend humiliated.” The State Trooper said as he made sure the cuffs were nice and tight.

After a few minutes Janet was wrestled out of the building in to the waiting squad car.

Jacob finally looked up and noticed the looks of worry from around the room. “Is it possible for me to see Steven? Especially before I'm escorted off too.”

“Sir, calm down.” Mr Murphy said with a sad smile. “I checked both of your accounts out and what she did she did alone. I can prove you were not involved. Plus her actions tell us who was the one in charge.”

“Does Steven know?” Jacob asked quietly.

“He doesn't know for sure, but he said he had a feeling.” Robin stated as he got up and walked to Jacob. “lets go see how your son is doing.”

Jess looked around the table and noticed all of the sad faces. “I know this felt like a loss, but we need to stay up beat. Lance, Steven and Jacob are going to need help to make it through all of this. No matter how much Lance is acting like he is alright, he is still going through the motions. He has not grieved yet.” 

Lester looked to Jess. “Now we have Jacob who is lost between his wife doing so much wrong and Steven being raped. We need to keep an eye on them both for a bit to make sure they are really alright.”

Garrett looked over to Jake. “Me and Robin can keep an eye on Trevor, Lance and Steven.” 

Lester stood up. “I'll keep an eye on Jacob.” 

Another knock on the door stopped the conversations. 

“Come in” Mr Murphy said with a chuckle noticing the blushes on Garrett and Lester.

In through the door walk nurse Bentley. “The mother and son are awake now.”

Martin began gathering his stuff up and Jess asked “Martin would it be alright if I joined you?”

“Yes, Jess it might actually help having someone else in there with me. Just don't begin interrogating them.” Martin said almost on autopilot. 

“You make me sound like I'm worse than an old biddy” Jess said with a smile knowing he knew her well. 

Before they could leave the conference room an older man walked in without knocking and walked straight up to Robbie and Diedra. “I have went ahead and exported the footage from the conference room conversations. This footage contains audio and should be quiet damning for her” as he pointed out the windows watching Janet be driven off. Then he passed them a flash drive.

“ I exported it in the correct legal format so it can't be edited and it has all the equipment ID's and timestamps in place.” he stated then walked out of the room.

“Wow, he is still just as warm as when you hired him mom.” Jake said watching the man exit.

“He knows his job and I can guarantee he will not stand by while any man, woman or child is hurt.” Jess said standing at the door. “One day when you have some time, spend some time with him. Then you'll understand what makes him no nonsense.”

Upstairs Intensive Care Unit Room four hundred and three.

Jess softly knocked on the door and waited for Martin to open it. “Hello, My name is Dr Martin, and this young lady beside me is Jess.”

The lady in the bed shot straight up. “We need to get out of here he will find us.” She said frantically.

“Whoa, who will get you?” Jess asked softly.

“My ex, he is a fricken nut. One moment everything is good the next everything going wrong and it is our fault.” She paused then started looking for her son. 

As if knowing what was running through her mind. “Please calm down, your son is in the next room. He is currently being watched and the room is secured.” Jess calmly stated. 

Visibly relaxed the lady took a deep breath then released it. “My name is Barbara Mills, and my son is Casey.” She said as exhaustion started to take her. 

“Jess, we need to let her sleep some and rest.” Martin said quietly as they walked to the door. Then thinking better of it he walked back and turned on the bed alarm. “Let's turn that on in case she decides to make a run for it in the middle of the night.”

Walking next door they found where Jeremy had disappeared to as he was animatedly talking Casey's ear off in mach five. 

“Jeremy, I hope you didn't just wake this patient up?” Dr Martin asked half halfheartedly knowing Jeremy didn't wake the patient up.

“No Doc, I Didn't” Jeremy stated a little loud. “We were talking about fun things to do.”

Turning to look at Jess he asked “ Is my mom alright? Her and dad were having a fight before we left it made mom flip. He asked her if she was ready to go for a swim in her designer crete shoes?” Casey said then continued. “I didn't know they made crete shoes for swimming?” 

Jess was seeing stars but was keeping it rained in. “What day did he say y'all were going swimming?”

“Well I know it was Thursday morning because mom waited till he left for work and then packed our stuff and we left.” Casey told them and then his stomach said hi. “I'm so hungry, Hopefully they have food here.”

Before Jess could say a word the nurse in the room was gone to get a tray. “Wow she's fast!” Casey said as the nurse was gone like lightning. “Dr, what day is it?”

“Today is Tuesday” Dr Martin stated softly as he gave his young patient time to digest this new information. “Casey, you seem to be in far better shape than your mother. You don't have to stay at the hospital as a patient. But if I release you; I don't want you staying all day everyday here at the hospital either. Not to say you can't visit your mother but she needs extra time to heal.”

“Are you saying you're going to call child protective services on me?” Casey started to shake and tear up.

Before the Doctor could say anything, Jess asked “Casey, how would you like to stay with me and my family? We can bring you back and forth to the hospital to visit your mother. This way we can help your mother to heal.”

“I bet you don't have any kids there!” Casey said in a frumpy tone. 

“Actually, I have a whole house of people staying over for the week. There are kids ranging from twelve years old to nineteen. Several sets of adults, but we all like to have fun.” Jess explained hoping Casey would say yes.

“Do you think my mom would approve?” Casey asked cautiously. He half expected them to just tell him yes so he would leave with them. 

“Lets go ask your mother.” Jess said as she started leading everyone back including Casey who was riding in a wheel chair. 

Once they were in the room, Casey was out of his chair and hugging his mother. “Mom, are you alright?”

“Yes, baby. Oh, I was so worried about you, because you weren't in the room with me.” Barbara said then looked around. “What's up?”

“Barbara, we know from the X-rays you're going to need more time to heal.” Dr Martin said then took a breath. “Jess had the Idea, that since Casey doesn't need to stay in the hospital and you're needing to rest.” 

“Whoa, hot lips.” Barbara said to Dr Martin. “Spit it out and lets work something out. I really don't want the run around.”

Jess smiled and walked up to the bed. “I currently have visitors of all age ranges at my house and one more wouldn't be a problem. We came to ask you first so you didn't feel we were trying to run you over.”

“Casey, you can stay until I get out of the hospital. Then we will have to find somewhere to go.” Barbara said letting him know to enjoy his time. 

“Barbara, you don't have to scram as soon as you are out of the hospital. If you need work we can assist with finding you work and a place to stay, but we will let it ultimately be your choice.” Jess said tactfully, hoping Barbara would understand she doesn't have to run. 

“Can we talk about it more, closer to whenever I am good to go?” Barbara asked hoping this was true.

“We will sit down and discus all the arrangements later then. For now me and hot lips will get Casey back to my house so he can meet everyone.” Jess said calmly.

Before they could leave Barbara asked “Umm, Jess please tell me I didn't call your husband hot lips.”

“HAHAHAHHHAAA, No! Martin is not my husband.” Jess exclaimed probably louder than she should. “We have been best friends since elementary school.” Jess said shaking her head back and forth. “You are more than welcome to chase him. No one has caught him yet!”

With her last statement she walked out of the room followed by her entourage.

After waiting for the release papers to print and for Barbara to sign them. Jess took Casey downstairs to meet the rest of the crew before heading home. 

Back at the ranch

It was a little after two in the morning on Tuesday, when everyone got back. “Lester, you take Jake, Robin, Joshua and Trevor. Check on all the animals cause I know we won't be up early.” Jess said looking at all the sleepy faces. “Everyone else, get ready for bed. Showers for everyone.”

A little over half an hour later the feeding crew walked in to find Garrett and Lance still sitting in the kitchen. “We figured you might want a snack after all the feeding of the animals.” Lance said waiting for Trevor to finish so they could take a shower. 

Moments after Robin finished his snack, Garrett took his plate and placed it in the dish washer then snagged Robin's hand. Garrett quietly leaned over “I figured we could grab a quick shower.”

As Garrett and Robin left the room, Trevor leaned over “Babe, you look lost in thought. Is everything alright?” 

“I was thinking about everything that has taken place in the last two months. It really has been a struggle to keep going without loosing my mind, but then you came along and helped me see there was more to live for.” Lance said in thought. “But as much as I’ve went through, my mind is reeling at the thought of everything Steven has gone through, Worse yet everything was caused by Janet.” Lance turned to look at Trevor as tears slowly ran down his cheeks. “We have to make sure he pulls through this, because quiet frankly did you see the pain in his eyes?”

“Yes, babe I saw an immense amount of pain in his eyes. He wasn’t afraid of us or even you.” Trevor said then out of no where grabbed his keys. “Come on lets go check on him.”

“Shouldn’t we let Jess know.” Lance asked and then jumped out of his skin as Jess laid her hand on his shoulder. 

“If Trevor thinks y’all need to go check on him then go check. Just text me when you get back to the hospital. And just stay there for the night.” Jess said as she hugged Lance tightly and then reached out for Trevor to share the hug. 

Right before walking out the door Trevor asked. “Did anyone set Jacob back to friend in the system?” looking to Jess.

“I’ll check, y’all go on before it gets much later.” Jess said as she walked out on the porch and started verifying status settings. “Guys, why is it that Steven isn’t showing up on the system?”

“Jess, call the hospital we are heading there now.” Trevor said as he about yanked Lance’s arm off to go out the door. 

Jess wasn’t surprised to see gravel flying and the truck going sideways. Picking up her phone she called the hospital administrator. After a few rings.

The Hospital

“Hello, this is Marcus.” the administrator stated in confusion. 

“Hey, Marcus this is Jess Hedley, can you check on a patient for me?” Jess said as calmly as she could manage. 

“Sure thing, who is the patient?” he said knowing Jess like he did, he knew she wouldn’t call and waste his time.

“Steven Murdock, he’s in room two hundred twelve.” Jess said as she started to worry. The system had never lost someone nor had it failed to let someone know if a person ran off. 

“Lets go check on him since I have the cordless phone.” Marcus took the stairs to keep from losing signal. Walking in the hall he noticed a few strange things. The door was wide open which goes against privacy protocols, once inside he noticed the bed was empty as well as the restroom. “Jess, we have a problem. He’s not here or in the bathroom.”

“Is his dad still there?” Jess asked frantically.  

“I passed him in the hall asleep.” Marcus said as he heard running in the hallway. “Jess hang on someone is running in the hallway.”

Lance slid to a stop in the room followed by Trevor. “Where is he?” Lance said to the administrator. 

Marcus turned to Lance as he handed over the phone per a request from Jess. 

“Lance, I have texted Robbie and Deidre. I will be there shortly.” Jess said on the phone.

“Ok, Jess.” Lance said then passed the phone back over. A few seconds later Jacob walked in the room. 

“Whats going on?” Spotting the bed he looked then to Lance and Trevor who were wearing the same lost looks. 

Back at the Hollow

Jess woke Jake up. “Honey, I need your help to review the system.”

Surprised to be woke back up at three am Jake looked at the clock and then at Jess. “Mom, whats going on?”

“Trevor had a feeling and went to check on Steven. Then I called and asked the Administrator to check on him. He has disappeared and is not showing on the system.” Jess said with worry in her voice.

“Lets go to the basement, go ahead and wake up everyone.” Jake said knowing this was serious.

Downstairs of the hollow

Jake waited for everyone to show up. After a few minutes Robin, Garrett, Curtis, Lester and Joshua showed up. Jake watched as the lights turned red and the system started alerting an intruder was there. “System add user to admin staff. User name Garrett Rogers, user has clearance to this room. Confirm!”

“User Garrett Rogers added to admin staff.” the system echoed back. “Background check complete user cleared for all area’s.”

“What was that?” Garrett asked looking around the room. 

“My name is Tel, I am the system running security of this town.” Tel answered softly. 

Robin looked to Garrett as if he had a stuck thought. “Garrett you look like you want to ask more.”

“Tel, which version and site style are you running?” Garrett asked thinking he knew but wanted confirmation. 

Current version is 0.0937b. Site style is test compound.” Tel announced. “Is this the information you wanted?” Tel asked politely.

“Tel, are you of the same series as Melnax?” Garrett asked hoping this was true.

“My system was created before Melnax. Melnax is version 2.31 and still is connected to the mainframe.” Tel announce then it’s voice was replaced. 

“Garrett, it has been a few months since you have logged in.” Melnax stated. “Found it, looks like you were removed from the system and program. I have edit your file you are back in the system as admin prime.”
“I can’t believe y’all have the original platform. No offense Tel.” Garrett said then looked at Jess. “What has us down here so early or late?” 

Jess smiled realizing Garrett would fit in fine. “Steven has gone missing. He isn’t at the hospital. Lance and Trevor are there now.”

“Tel, did subject Steven show on your dashboard before he went missing?” Garrett asked before anyone could speak. 

“No, No one by the name of Steven has entered the town or been in the hospital.” Tel said quietly.

“Melnax, how many people were aboard the RV which passed by this house yesterday?”

“According to Tel and my Scans there was eight people on board but according to the heat signatures there was nine.”Melnax stated as it pulled more data. “Tel, run a scan on all user types in your system are there any of the software creators in town that are not showing on the map?”

Jess looked bewildered at the screen watching as both systems ran a scan layer by layer. 

“Subject found, software encryption engineer code name trianaryhound located near upper pond. Life signs weak.” Tel stated. “Can’t believe my encryption was wrote by a sixteen year old.” 

“Actually at the time of creating your algorithm he was twelve.” Melnax stated.

“Garrett, how the heck did you do that?” Jess asked quietly. 

Garrett looked around the room. “I was a medic in the military and was given access to test Melnax’s abilities to walk people through surgeries if they had never performed one before, Melnax has more than a few abilities.” 

“Tel, do you have the same abilities as Melnax?” Jess asked looking to the screen before her.

“Our abilities are the same, Same core system. The only difference are protocols used.” Tel answered then everyone’s phones came to life. “I have sent location information of software encryption engineer. Lance and Trevor will be there shortly. Do you wish me to send backup?”

“Tel send an EMS vehicle, I am heading up there now as long as someone can drive.” Garrett said and watched as EMS was dispatched almost immediately.

Without a word Robin grabbed Garrett’s arm and began leading him out of the room.

Pond upper field 

Steven sat waiting for all of the medications he had taken to take affect. He began speaking to himself. “Well, this will be a better option. I can’t believe Lance still cares. I have done so much wrong.” As he sat down he noticed a dog approach. He sat still because he didn’t know if it was friendly or not. The dog laid down beside him and began whimpering. “Whats wrong boy, don’t be upset.” Slowly his eyes closed and he slumped over. 
The dog on the other hand sat up and began a low morn full howl. And continued for a long time until it heard foot steps. Staying were it was it went in to protect stance. 

“Trevor, I know I heard the Howling over here.” Lance said as they got closer to the pond. 

“Lance, is that a dog over there?” Trevor said pointing at a gray and white animal.

“Actually, it looks like a timber wolf.” Lance said as they got closer and noticed Steven was laying still on the ground.

The wolf watched as they approached. It could smell their intent as they approached and began backing up. 

Once they were at Steven, Trevor reached down and checked for a pulse. It was very weak. Retrieving his phone he dialed the emergency medical services line directly and gave there location. “They said they already have a truck on the way.” Turning, Trevor noticed the wolf was back, but was enjoying getting petted by Lance. 

Moments later they heard a faint yell from Garrett, but before they could respond the wolf let out another series of howl’s and then ran off. 

Garrett who was expecting a yell was thrown off by the howl, almost like it was for him and began running toward the howl. “Guy’s I’m on my way.”

Garrett swiftly ran in to the clearing beside the pond, carrying his pack. Followed by Jake and Robin who were looking rather winded. Moments later a four wheeler with a trailer came in to sight with Jess in control.

After doing a brief check of Steven, and noticing there were no marks on his arms he began digging in his back pack. Digging out a vial and needle promptly stuck Steven. “This will elevate his heart rate till we can get him to the hospital and pump his stomach.” 

“Load him up guys, EMS is sitting at the parking area down below since, their truck wont fit the trail.” Jess hollered and was stunned by Garrett picking up Steven and running him down to the four-wheeler like he was a rag doll. “GO!” Garrett said as he watched Jess take off. 

Jake finally spoke, “Where the hell did you learn to run? I couldn’t keep pace.”

“Partially it’s skill, stamina, and well Tel or Melnax can tell you the rest.” Garrett said then winked at Jake. “I’m gonna run down and ride with Steven.”

“Jake, I don’t know about you but let’s walk back and take the truck.” Trevor said as he looked at Lance who just nodded.

“I still don’t understand how Steven was one of the developers to our system?” Jake asked as they walked back to Trevor’s truck.

Lance stopped walking for a moment and sat down. “Dynambrix Corp.” Lance slowly said as if he was going to be sick. 

“What is it?” Trevor asked as he noticed Jake go pale.

“Dynambrix Corp, is the company Janet owned.” Lance said as he started feeling dizzy. “Her father started the company and when his health started to go down he let her take it over.”

“Well, they are a company we purchased who was developing our system.” Jake said then he noticed his phone had a text from the system. 

System Notification “Once you are loaded up please return to house.”

“Guys we need to go to the house.” Jake said afraid of Lance loosing it and then noticing him lay back and close his eyes. “Well crap, he’s out.”

Trevor walked over and picked up Lance who was out cold. “I hope we can make it past all of his stressors so he will quit passing out.”

Jake turned and looked to Trevor. “Be careful about hoping for something to stop, what if he does stop passing out and begins to absolutely loose his shit. It wasn’t too long ago you would loose your shit and go ballistic on people.” Jake stopped to watch Trevor hoist Lance up on to his shoulder. “Or, what if instead of violent outbursts he turns to methodical evil plans and becomes cold and precise?” 

Trevor stopped and thought for a moment. “I see what you mean. But, surely he wouldn’t choose a path so dark?”

Jake began walking and noticed Trevor beside him.  “I’m not saying I expect it to happen. But, what if it does? He has been through a lot of stressors.” Jake heard a noise and looked back to see the timber wolf following them. “Looks like we have company.”

Trevor looked back and then looked around. “We have more than just him.” Trevor said pointing to their sides and seeing a total of three wolves.

Lance slowly opened his eyes and noticed he was on a shoulder. Looking down he spotted it, a young wolf pup less than three feet from them. “PUPPY” Lance said and then began trying to get down to the pup.

Trevor stopped first at the shock of Lance wanting down, and his exclamation of “PUPPY!”, Then turned and saw the wolf pup. Looking around he noticed the other wolves were gone. “I think we have a new guardian.”

Jake stopped and sat down and waited for the pup to check everyone out. Once it checked out Lance and Trevor it came over to Jake. “Wow, little fella love your eyes. Guy did you notice one is blue and the other is gold?” Jake asked then noticed the little wolf had a slight limp. “We need to have him checked out. He has a little bit of a limp.”

Meanwhile at the Parking lot.

Garrett reached the clearing and walked up to the ambulance. “Hey, guys where is the patient?”

“Jess hasn’t made it back yet with him.” The driver said quietly.

“How did I beat her to the truck?” Garrett asked to no one in particular. 

A moment later he began to hear a four wheeler coming down the hill. “I was wondering where she got to?” The other ambulance tech said. “I have never know her to be gone this long.”

Garrett noticed she had an extra rider. “Robin, what are you doing riding with her?”

“Well you ran off like your ass was on fire and then you were gone. So I followed Jess and I’m glad I did.” Robin said with a smile. 

“I got the trailer stuck.” Jess said as the tech was loading Steven up. “Can you make sure they put Steven in a room with a sitter, Joey?”

“I will pass the request over to the administrator as soon as we walk in and we get him stable.” Joey said as he got back in the driver seat. 

Garrett walked over to Jess’s truck and started to load the four wheeler up. 

“Mom, we need to have Garrett checked. I know he’s not acting sick or tired but he’s not even winded after chasing down Steven on foot.” Robin emphasized, hoping his mother would understand. 

“Guys, I will tell everyone what is going on once I’m back at the house.” Garrett said quietly even though he was over twenty feet away.

Jess turned to watch as Garrett hopped in the ambulance with Steven. “Why do I think we will not get an answer from the system before he gets back to the house?” Jess asked quietly still watching Garrett as he gave an exaggerated thumbs up through the back glass.

Back at the ranch

Jess walked down stairs and closed and locked the door. “Tel, is there anything I need to know about Garrett before he gets back?”

“Jess, there is so much about Garrett which is beyond your clearance level. I can tell you once he is back and gives me permission to tell you.” Tel said quietly

“Jess, unfortunately he would need to initiate the DE-classification before either of us could bring anyone up to date on him.” Melnax said firmly. 

“What kind of rest will he need after tonight? Can you at least tell me this bit?” Jess asked knowing if she asked to much both system’s could decide to lock her out for a day or two.

Melnax, began writing down instructions on the view screen. “Make sure you follow this recipe, this drink will replenish him quicker than just rest alone.”

“Jess, I won’t ever lock you out. But if you ever ask too much the most I will do is not answer.” Tel stated quietly. “I know you have helped so many people, It wouldn’t be correct to lock you out.” 

“Would it be alright if I message this recipe to one of the nurse’s so they can make this for Garrett since he probably won’t leave his patients side?” Jess asked hoping they would agree. 

“I’ve already messaged it to the hospital administrator.” Melnax stated. “Jess, my scans show you are tired. Please go rest we will talk later.”

“Night it is then, Tel you have the Ranch until I’m awake.” Jess said and slowly began going upstairs.

Authors note: I don’t think I’m giving any clear answers. So much is going through my mind. Its so not funny. This is Revision Twenty Four of this chapter, after loosing the original, burning the second draft and so on. I Really need a Mac to write on. Hopefully the next chapter wont give me so many fits.