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Adults are Afraid of Thunder, Too
Part 1

By KitKat

The sun was breaking through the clouds as 17-year-old Mackenzie Browning pushed her shades aside and looked out her bedroom window.  Her smile, which was usually non-existent, was now shining brightly.  Instinctively, she pushed both sides of her hair behind her ears and let the shade relax into its original position.  The room was suddenly blanketed in a light darkness and Mac, assimilating herself to her preferred surroundings, closed her large brown eyes and let her body relax.  She felt her back hit the wall with a final thump.  And her hands left her hair and trailed down to her stomach. 

  Pregnant.  The feeling spread throughout her whole body and she let out a happy sigh.  Then, anxiousness took over her.  Billy should have arrived by now.  He wasn’t talking to Brittany, that was for damn sure.  Feeling strangely tired, she fell onto the bed, her hands still tickling the peak of her stomach, her thoughts focusing on Billy.

  “Hey, you.  I haven’t seen you all day.”

  “I’ve been hiding.”

  “Have you.” 

  “Yeah.  You know what they say.”

  “No, what?”

  “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

  “Well for me, it makes me want to kiss you more.  Hey, how is our little prince doing?”

  “She is kicking away.  You know, I think she, uh, likes to torture me.”

  “I think he loves you.”

  “Hey, you are forgetting to say she.”

  “He.”

  “She.”

  “Are I the man around here or not?  When I say our baby is a boy---”

  “Don’t forget that I am the woman.”

  “Can’t forget that, now can I?  Oh, God, Mac.  You are so beautiful.  No, no.  I am not trying to flatter you.  What I am saying, it comes straight from in here.”

 

  KNOCK KNOCK

  Mac hoisted herself up and looked at the door, a question mark lining her forehead in anticipation.

  “Who is it?”

  “Esther.”  Mac, still having good use of her legs, walked over to the closet and tipped over a box that said: School Supplies.  Inside the box was a multitude of large, comfy flannel shirts that easily hid her new figure.  She slipped one on, buttoned it over her baby tee, and safety opened the door, putting on a smile for Esther.

  “Hey, what’s up?”

  “Hi, Mackenzie.  Um, I thought you would like to do something for me.”

  “Sure, what?”

  “Um?”  It was then that Mac noticed the urn that the brunette maid had hidden behind her back.  “Could you cut some flowers from Mrs. C’s garden?  I thought you would like to do it.”  She handed her the urn as if it were made of gold and silver. 

  “I would love to.  Thanks.”

  “Sure.  See you later, Mackenzie.”

  “Yeah, thanks again, Esther.”  Mac took the urn that the maid had revealed with a flourishing sweep of her arms. With both hands, surprised at how lightweight it was, Mac took the urn and gave Esther another small smile.  Esther turned her back and went into the Victorian bathroom that was next to Mackenzie’s room.  Mac silently laughed at the maid, and her naïveté while descending the stairs.  She exited the house through the front door and stopped for a little while, observing the situation. 

  Outside, it was eerily quiet.  The neighbors were away and the birds seemed to have gone to their nests to sleep a nap.  Transfixed at the house in front of her, Mac set the urn down for future use.  A warm wind blew her loose brown strands across her nose and glossy lips.  Mac carefully put her hand on her stomach and kneeled on the ground in front of the main rose bed.  A cacophony of pink and red flowers decorated the old house, giving it a deceiving look.  Somehow, Mac’s smile had turned upside down again as she picked flowers.  From the back of her, one could see that her shoulders were tense. 

  Then, she jerked her head up. 

  She wasn’t alone.

  Or was she imagining things?  She supposed that pregnancy make women feel strange sensations.

  Such as the feeling that she was being watched.  A feeling of obscurity watched over her and she did not dare turn around, afraid of what she would encounter.  Maybe if she continued working, she would not be subjected to whatever was behind her. . .

  To her left, or to her right. 

  Mac was then aware of her loud, labored breathing.  The wind kicked up again, this time blowing all of her long brown hair in front of her face.  At that moment all she could hear was the wind.  Suddenly, in a fit of instant terror, she threw her hair away from her face and let out a short, shrill “no”. 

  Her tendrils stayed as still as her taut body.  Like a robot, she reached out her hand to pick the first flower.  Then, she felt a tremor run through her body.  It wasn’t concrete, but she thought she heard something.  Without her consent, her neck muscles craned toward the left. 

  Not a soul.  Not a sound.  Mac closed her mouth and swallowed the lump that she realized was lodged in her throat.  Inside of her, Caitlin kicked as if saying that everything was alright and that she was being a silly mommy.  Mac’s smile turned up again and she firmly placed the flower in her hand grasp.  With a more relaxed posture, she picked the second flower.  Its petals were slightly wilted but it was still beautiful.  There was something about a flower that made it seem never the less appealing, no matter how old it was. 

  She heard it that time.  Mac let the flowers drop to the ground and this time she turned her whole body fearfully to the right.  She had heard the rustle of the leafy bushes, and no wind could do that.  Mac sat hunched on the ground, face uptight, her stomach heaving up and down.  She sluggishly hoisted herself up so she felt authoritative against the lurking evil. 

  “Who’s there?”  She whispered.  Actually, she did not really whisper, but rather croaked.

 She whirled around to face the bushes, now as still as before.  A new courage suddenly racked her body like a whirlwind and she incautiously strode toward the bush, every now and then darting her eyes to watch. 

  Mac, you are probably imagining.  She scolded herself. 

  She was inches away from the foliage.  Unsteadily, she yanked away the leaves, sure to find a flurry of hands grabbing for her neck. 

  Nothing.  Mac’s mouth dropped open in shock.  Now that she was in the clear, she was sure she had heard something. 

  “Hey Mac.”  Mac turned around again, almost losing her balance.  Billy was standing behind her, his car keys curled in his fist and his hair in a slight disarray from the wind.  “Hey, are you okay?”  He asked, his eyes small in amusement from seeing her examining the bush.  He neared toward her as he said those words.  “Sorry I was late.”  Mac wasn’t relieved.  Once again, her breathing quickened, and her mouth went dry.  She wanted to keep her thoughts that were running through her mind to herself.  Billy wasn’t the type; he would never try to frighten her like that.  He was now close enough to almost touch her.

  “How long have you been here?”  Mac interrogated, staring up at him inquisitively. 

  “I just pulled in and I jogged over here.” 

  “Then how come I didn’t hear you, huh?”

  “Mac,” Billy squinted his eyes and shook his head in slight confusion.  “You make it sound like an accusation.” 

  “You think?”  Mac raised her voice.  She then gave Billy a shove, which wasn’t enough to upset his state of balance, but it was unexpected and he stumbled back. 

  “Mac--”

  “What the hell did you think you were doing?”  Billy continued shaking his head in slow motion.  “You son of a bitch.” 

  “Mac I--I don’t know what you are talking about but you need to calm--”

  “The hell you don’t know.”  Mac’s eyes were misty as she belabored him with her anger, which was based on requited terror.  “How could you?  You know, I thought you loved me.”

  “Mac!  I love you.  I love you so much.  I don’t know why you are screaming at me.  Why--why are you doing this?”

  “Cut the crap, Billy.  I heard you in the bushes.”

  “You heard--Mac, it wasn’t me.”

  “Gee,” she snapped at him.  “I am picking roses and I hear a noise and who shows up suddenly without a sound?  It is Billy Abbott.  Come on wise guy.  Let’s hear another excuse.  You have a lot of those don’t you.”

  “Mac, I swear to you I didn’t --”

  They both heard the twig snap.  A soft echo bounced off the mansion as they both listened.  And waited. 

  “What the hell was that?”  Billy whispered.  He reached Mac’s side and took her hand.  Now the two teens were dependent on each other.  He apprehensively looked around.  “I told you it wasn’t me.”

  “Sorry,” Mac whispered.  “But if it wasn’t you, then who was it?”

  “Whoever it was,” Billy said in a soft voice, “his or her guard is up now because I don’t hear a thing.”

  “That is what scares me,” Mac muttered to him. 

  “Look.”  Billy said, letting go of her hand and putting his arm around her.  “Maybe it was just an animal.  A deer or something.”

  “A deer?”  Mac asked incredulously, staring up at him with turned up eyebrows.  “Billy, get serious.”

  “I am,” he insisted, grinning. Mac shook her head and punched his arm.  Still, she smiled up at him.  “Hey, I don’t hear anything anymore.  I think we are in the clear.  Maybe, you know, we are both going crazy.  My dad has been razzing me about slacking off on schoolwork and--”

  “Quiet!”  Mac’s gaze was fixed on the bush again, her eyes slightly straying from the foliage to the grass.  “I hear footsteps,” she softly whispered, taking Billy’s right hand.  Billy’s face changed from amused to alert and his grip on Mac tightened.  “They seem so close but I don’t see anything.”

  “Give me your shirt.”  Billy ordered.

  “What?!”

  “Give me your shirt.  The flannel one.”

  “Wh--”

  “Just give it to me Mac.”  Distressed, she slipped the shirt over her head and gave it to him, the crunch of footsteps still reverberating in their ears.  Then, both gasped simultaneously as the footsteps all at once ceased. 

  “Billy, that isn’t good.”  Mac said, leaning closer into him.  “Maybe we should go in the house, you know, and--and call the police and--”

  “Mac, they won’t do anything.”  He took the shirt in both hands and stretched it out a bit for good measure. 

  “Billy, this guy, or whoever may be dangerous.” 

  “I don’t think so.  I think we can take him.”  Billy said. 

  “You should listen to him.”  A deep voice answered.  Mac screamed and slowly turned around with Billy.  Ralph Hunnicutt stood at the other side of the lawn, peeking behind a larger, thornier bush.

4:Billy placed himself behind Mac and put his hands on her shoulders.  Beneath his strong hold, Mac could feel that his hands were trembling.  Ralph chuckled, sending chills all over Mac’s body.  “You couldn’t beat me up if you tried, Billy.”  Mac took a deep intake of breath.  He knew his name.  “Well, Mackenzie, I finally found you.  All grown up and all knocked up.  Tsk.  Tsk.  What a pity.”  Mac didn’t cry when he teased her nor did she turn to Billy for support.  She felt angrier than she ever had in her life.  Maybe it was because she was afraid for her child or maybe it was a new strength in her.  Whatever the reason she vowed not to let Ralph destroy her.    It isn’t like he can get me pregnant (italics)

  “Mac.”  Billy rubbed her arm and bit his upper lip.  “He has a gun.”

  “Where?”  She whispered, stiffening in Billy’s embrace.

  “In his left hand.” 

  “What are you two whispering about?  Could it be about this?”  And the couple shrunk back as he cocked the gun at them.  “I think it is obvious what I want.  Mac, you have tried to run and hide, but you knew that in the end I would find you.  Billy gallantly came from behind Mac, as if he were a general coming out from behind his men. 

  “You--” he growled, jabbing his index finger at him, ignoring the gun.  “You stay away from Mackenzie.”

  “Uh, you are forgetting something.”  He pointed at the gun with his free hand.  “I have the power.  And don’t think I won’t use it,” he said menacingly.  As emphasis, he pointed the gun straight at Billy. 

  “Okay,” Billy lamented.  “Okay.”  He backed away towards Mac, bending his knees as if offering peace.  As he reached Mac’s side once more, he whispered to her, his bent knees allowing him a disguise of sorts: “When I say run, run with me.  A man usually misses moving targets.”

  “What the hell are you whispering about?”  Ralph screamed painfully.  Mac quickly shook her head at him. 

  “N-nothing.”  She said.  Ralph’s eyes burned into hers, aggression stinging them into large saucer-like potholes.  The look chilled her. 

  “You know, I knew you were always a slut.  A sexy one, nonetheless.  Always flirting with the guys whenever I happened to be with your mom and you on outings.”

  “Stop!”  Mac finally sobbed, now crying tears. 

  “Oh, you ashamed now?”  Mac sniffed in response.  “Don’t be ashamed.  I always liked you that way.  Just not with the other guys.  Now with me, that would have been nice.”

  “I--I never meant to flirt with the other guys.  I was only six.  What did I know?”  Mac wept. Ralph showed no mercy, except he lowered the gun to his side. 

  “Now, it is time to show your stuff to the guy you should have been paying attention to in the first place.”  And he gasped a little for dramatic effect, Billy guessed.  “Me.”  Mac shook her head slowly and scrunched her face up to prevent herself from breaking down.  “No.” 

  “Oh, yeah.”  He responded to her, nodding in return.  “Yeah.  And your little boyfriend can watch.  He’s the one who knocked you up, right Mackenzie?” 

  “Ralph,” Billy began.

  “YOU SHUT THE HELL UP, PRETTY BOY!”  Ralph suddenly yelled, waving the gun in the air.  “You aren’t involved in this.  Why don’t you just walk the hell away.  This is between Mac and me.”

  “Now, you are wrong.”  Billy stormed over in front of Mac.  “I am between you and Mac, and if I have anything to say about it--”

  “You’ll what?  Are you feeble minded?”  Ralph let out a little laugh and waved the gun again in front of his own face.  “I have a gun.  Get it?”

  “Do you think I give a damn?”  Billy retorted.  Ralph snorted at him and sneered at what he thought was Billy’s stupidity.

  “Well, you should,” he said in a disgusted tone of voice.  “You know, I’ve noticed that about all these people who live in this hick town.  Always forgetting the obvious.  Everyone is always too trusting.  Well, today, you are gonna wish you stayed right back in the Big Apple.”  Billy heard Mac gasp and he found her hand somehow, and squeezed it. 

  “How did you know I lived in NYC?” 

  “I fooled your mother into thinking I was a telephone repair man and I saw a letter from you.  I do my own snooping.” 

  “Damn him,” Mac muttered. 

  “Now, enough with the stalling.  I must say, it was amusing for me.”  Ralph told them.  He pointed the gun at them.  “I want Mackenzie.  One way or another, I will get her.  I will just shoot you, then, with her being pregnant, I will get her.  Isn’t life simple, Abbott?”  Billy could hear the sound of his own breathing, which frightened him even more.  The gun was still pointed at him.  He threw a few swear words around in his head as he thought about death, and the possibility that if he did something stupid, he may leave this world, Mackenzie, and his baby. The potential was enough to make him want to give everything up and just run. 

  Not without Mackenzie (ital.), he feverishly reminded himself. 

  “Run.”  He murmured to her.  In a blinding fury, Mac and Billy turned and began running the other way.  They heard Ralph yell out a protest, but they did not dare stop.  They did not dare face the gun that they both knew was pointed at them.  As they panted from the exertion, a gunshot rang in their ears, which was enough incentive for them to continue pursuing their unknown path.  It was a path that Billy thought would lead them to peace; a path Mac was almost sure would lead her to hell.  Ralph had the gun, they had nothing. 

  “Missed,” Billy panted.  His long legs naturally outran Mac’s and in his immense fear, he willed himself to slow down for her.  “Mac,” he huffed again.  “You gotta run.  Faster.”

  “I am trying, but I have a few extra pounds,” she panted, in an lame attempt to lighten the mood.  That was in vain, since she felt like crying right now.  There was no time to cry.  Billy was right.  It was time to run, no matter what the consequence. 

  BLAM.  Another threat to their life, Billy thought as he got to a picket of tall trees.  They stretched about 19 feet in the air, their leaves just blossoming in the now-blazing sun, which he now noticed was beating on his back, bringing up vexing sweat beads that dripped down his back, which was a disgusting feeling, and reminded him of blood running down someone’s back after being--

  Run Abbott.  Run. 

  He felt like he was Tarzan.  Streaming through the jungle, running from the hunter, who was out to get Jane away from him--and away from the jungle. 

  Mac actually began running faster.  She cried something out but he didn’t hear her utterance.  Ralph then let out an inhuman howl of threat. 

  “You can’t get away from me, Mackenzieee!”  A burn shot through Billy’s abdomen and he grimaced but kept on running.  He quickly looked behind him.  Mac was just to his left and Ralph--they were not doing too badly in outrunning him.  Still in the trees, Billy listened to the crunch of unkempt, rotting leaves that had assimilated themselves to their environment, and he let that be the pattern and drive for his running. 

  BLAM.

  “NO!”  Mac screamed in terror, hiccupping a sob.  Her breathing was mixed in with her unnerved hiccupping, like a child afraid of a thunderstorm.  Billy stared straight ahead, thinking of this simile, and realized it was true:  Mac was still a child.  She had never gotten a chance to be one until now.  A child with a child.

  (Ital. Until 2nd now) Until now. 

  Or maybe she was a child.

  And is reminded of it now.  Mac had never told him the whole story of what had happened in St. Louis.  She thought he was satisfied with what she had told him. 

  Less than satisfied.  So many questions.  So little time.

  Or maybe no time.  But nevertheless, she was like a child now, afraid of a man her mother had brought into her life.  With this thought blazing in his aching head, Billy threw his hand behind her, and before the woods ended, she grabbed his hand quickly, and together they kept in step. 

  “Let’s go,” Billy declared, trying to shake some spirit into her.  He could hear Ralph uttering some sentences as he ran, but the man was out of breath himself, so Billy could not understand the slurred phrases.  With this alleged positive feedback, he looked back, and saw that he was about 60 feet away from Ralph. 

  Bastard.  And Billy dragged Mac along, excited upon the fact that they were getting away from him.  Right now, he did not give a damn about the baby or anything else except Mac’s protection.  They were now going up a small hill that was just ahead of the large stretch of forest.  Resistance held him back.  Mac had stopped, heaving up and down in pain that stretched from her legs to her chest.

  “I--can’t.”

  “Mac!  You have to!  You have to save yourself first!  Billy’s eyes depicted willingness, concern, and terror, as well as exhaustion.  Mac allowed herself to be taken in by his expression.  She could tell that he was inwardly praying for her to get over her physical handicaps and forget everything that she had cared about her whole life: her mental and physical well-being.  Looking at the hill, it didn’t seem so big when she had first moved to Genoa City, but now it was a chasm that had no craggy foot holes. 

  “I’m not you!”  She looked back and saw Ralph cock the gun and fire it.  However, the aim was horrible. 

  “We are a part of each other, remember.  Mac, you gotta go up.  For me!”  Billy yelled.  He waited for her response.  When she did not respond, he ran up the hill anyway. 

  “Are we sticking together or what?”  He asked, looking up at the sky, which had now hidden the sun.  However, dark clouds piled over a blue sky.  Cool wind blew as Billy’s wiped his brow, staring down at Mac, who was squinting into the one place where the bright sky still loomed over. 

  “You jump I jump, right?”  She asked with a tired smile.  Billy smiled at her, and she began making her way up.  Billy flopped down on the ground onto his stomach and stretched out both his arms, knowing she wouldn’t make it all the way up.  However, she would make it to his hands.  When she had sufficiently made it up, Billy grabbed her arms and she let herself go slack. 

  “That’s it!”  He cried.  “That’s it!  Come on Mac!  Use your legs as a post!  She managed to do so and in a second, Billy pulled her up.  She fully stood up, then held her stomach.

  “God.  I feel nauseous.”  Billy looked behind him.  Ralph came staggering behind them. 

  “Oh shit, Mac, we have no time for that.  Run!”  Mac saw Ralph and each forgot their personal pains.  They were now on the street, running against the traffic in their dizzy aggression. 

  “I’ll have you Mackenzie!”  Mac closed her eyes and ran, feeling the life inside her kick as she ran to save herself and that piece of life that was created by two people who loved each other. 

  “Mac!”  Billy screamed.  “Run!”  She knew she could not run much faster.  The exertion was killing her; both mentally and physically.  “Look!”  Billy breathed.  “There--there is a forest of trees on the right!  We can probably lose him there.” 

  How come I find out about this stuff now?  Mac angrily thought to herself.  She let herself have a few long strides and she caught up with Billy once more and she took his hand.  He squeezed it for support, she supposed and they began running toward the woods.   

  “After this,” Billy breathed, “on my deathbed, I swear I will never run again.”

  “I hear ya.”  Mac muttered, concentrating on moving her stiff legs. 

  “Ready?”  Billy asked.  They were approaching the thick woods.  Mac didn’t think about how dark it was, or how muddy the ground was inside. 

  “Let’s go,” she said, surprised at her authoritative tone of voice. 

  As she neared the denseness of the woods, she heard the buzzing of insects; most likely they were bees or hornets buzzing in the damp environment.

  A perfect place for them, huh. She closed her eyes and now concentrated on the feeling of Billy’s hand.  The buzzing ceased as her thoughts went to happier times.  She did not notice the mud that sucked them like quicksand, but Billy’s strong strides kept her from its clutches.  Dizziness overwhelmed her from the zigzags that Billy pulled her through. 

  It was hard for him, trying to deal with her method of trying to keep herself from breaking down.  At one time she had almost slammed into a tree.  He found it easier to just not think; just run and do what his intuition told him, which was to keep on running.  Getting lost would be better than getting killed--or raped.  His mind still racing, he ran straight in another direction, not sure where it was leading.  His feet were getting heavier from the exertion of running with mud seeping in his flimsy socks and walking shoes.  Billy slowed a little and looked back. 

  No one was there.  Mac listened to his slowing breathing and became reassured herself.  She finally stopped running and relaxed. 

  “Billy. . .”  She began.  He signaled her with his hand to be quiet.  The stretch of woods was endless. 

  “Mac,” he whispered, putting his arm around her to appease her.  “I don’t know how the hell we are gonna get out of here.”

  “Don’t worry Billy,” she replied, some of that startling determination seeping into her voice.  “We’ll get out of here.”  Then she looked past the stretch of woods and saw nothing but dampened mud, and rotten leaves that had fallen due to heavy rain.  “We just have to.”  The teens looked at their surroundings in astonishment, wondering how they had gotten so far. 

  “At least we are okay,” Billy resolved, now walking a little ways forward, still staring out into the dark nothingness.  The sun was not visible in the denseness, making it plausible that Ralph was out there.  Hiding behind one of the old, large trees, making a plan, his gun behind his back, his finger fondling the trigger. 

  “Okay, look, maybe there is a way out of here.  Maybe these woods aren’t so deep.  I don’t think they are.  Genoa City is not one of those areas that is heavily wooded or anything.”

  “This is the city, it wouldn’t be,” Billy agreed turning to face her.  “Hey, since we’re safe, do you want to rest or something?”

  “No.”  Mac stated, turning to him, staring into his blue eyes.

  “No.”  Billy restated, his breath caught in his throat with the scared look in her eyes.

  “We aren’t safe here.  I know what you are thinking.  If I didn’t know you as well as I do, I wouldn’t be pregnant, would I?”  Billy grinned, and wiped his brow. 

  “No.”  He concurred.  “No, honey, you wouldn’t.”  For a moment they forgot what they were doing and smiled shyly at each other, remembering their nights spent in the playhouse.  The times they had spent preparing for the birth of their baby.  It had been a time of absolute utopia. 

  Blam. 

  A shot echoed from a distance. Billy was on his guard, taking Mac's hand in his own, clutching it not only for her reassurance, but for his.  Both eyes stared into the horizon, contemplating how much distance stood between them and the fired shot.  Mac pointed.

  "Look, Billy!"  A deer, camouflaged in the trees, stood out.  Its sleek body and doe eyes stared out at them.  The deer stopped as if checking them to see if they were safe.  Then, with a quick, graceful flash of skinny, powerful legs, it darted into the trees.  Mac swatted away a hornet, watching the deer disappear. 

  "You know," Billy decided.  "I'll bet he shot at that deer.  We are okay."  He began walking, taking Mac with him.  "I have a hunch that there is civilization that'a'way."

  "I am so glad not to be running.  When we get to, uh, wherever we are going to go," Mac said, chuckling at her perplexity, "then I am going to sleep for 3 days."

  "Is he still kicking?"  Billy asked, his eyes crinkling.  He had taken both of her hands and Mac looked down.  For some inexplicable reason, sometimes when Billy looked at her, she would get incredibly flustered.  Probably it was because she was amazed at how much he loved her.  The concern in his eyes was as genuine as crystal.  She recovered and looked back up, her eyes filled with happy tears.

  "She (ital)," she said, moving his hands in a back and forth motion.  "is as strong as anybody.  Billy, if we can stand running away from Ralph, then I am sure our baby can stand being bounced around in the amniotic sac for a few hours.” 

  “I hope it isn’t a few hours,” Billy moaned, putting his hands behind his head and walking forward. 

  “Hey, you.”  Mac called after him.  “Can I have my shirt back?”

  “Oh, yeah.”  Billy grabbed it from around his waist and gave it to her.  “Sorry.  Come on. I really don’t think he is far away because we heard the shot and that deer creeped me out.”

  “Truthfully, me too.”  Mac said.  “Let’s just go.  Want to run some more?”

  “NO.”  Billy replied, swatting a mosquito.  “And I am getting all stung up by mosquitoes.”  Mac laughed.  “What?”

  “Stung up.”  She said.  “You are not teaching her how to talk.”  Then she stepped in a mud hole.  “Oh God this stinks.” 

  “Forget about your shoes.  Let’s just keep going.”

  “Do you even know where you are going?”  Mac inquired, now stopping to tap her foot.  Billy could hear the mud splashes as her foot descended upon the alien earth. 

  “Yes, I do.”

  “I don’t know. . .”

  “Mac.”  Billy said, taking her hand again.  “Let’s go.  Look, what I think is that if we walk, we make progress.  We argue--”

  “I get it.”  Mac said.  “Since when did you become so logical?”  She walked quickly, now making Billy keep up with her. 

  “Let’s just say you have had a good influence on me,” he said with a grin. 

  BLAM. 

  “Shit!”  Billy gasped.  “Oh shit, Mac.  Run!  Run!”  He said it in a terrified whisper.  He had never used that tone of voice.  Mac did not hesitate.  It was just another gun shot.  In her fear, she had gotten used to the sound.  Maybe she was blocking out the sound.  Then, as if an angel had descended upon Earth, she found a tree that was good for climbing. 

  “Billy!”  She called.  “Look!”  And she pointed at the tall, leafless tree that was just twice as tall as Billy himself.

  “Bad idea.  But I have a better one.” 

  “Are you calling me stupid?”  She jested, seeing the log that he was pointing out to her.  Nevertheless, she followed him to safety.  Then, a loud scream threatened to tear the last seams of Mac’s sereneness. 

  “Mackenzie!”  Billy virtually stuffed her into the large log, which was filled with termites. 

  “Yuck!” 

  “Use your shirt,” Billy whispered.  “And I gotta get in.”  Mac scooted back and Billy managed to fit in next to her.  Mac,” he said, gazing into her deep, spooked face.  “I am scared.  No, I mean, now I am really scared.  Mac, I am scared to death.”

  “Yeah, so am I.”

  “No.  Mac.  No, you don’t understand.”

  “What do you mean?”

  “That last shot was a long time ago, and I thought about it.  He was most likely far away because the deer took a long time to get here.  Deer run fast.  Then, the other shot came from real close.  We would have heard footsteps running, because from where he was, he would have had to run to shoot the gun from as close to us as he did.  And yell as close as he did.”

  “What are you saying?”  Mac asked, an identical fear starting to take shape.  “Billy, you have tears in your eyes. 

  “Mac, I am saying--” Billy gulped.  “I am saying that--that Ralph isn’t alone.”  Her hands clutched her shirt in her hands, and a wave of fear swept over her, creating a shaking sensation throughout her body.  Then she realized that she was holding her breath.  Slowly she relaxed.  “Mac, say something.”  Her eyes started blankly outside the log at a pile of ants, now clustered around a leaf.  Somehow, that was comforting.  “Mac?” 

  “I need to get out of here.  I can’t be on my stomach here for so long.”  She said, her voice placid and wavering at the same time.   

  “We need to stay in here,” Billy argued.  “There are probably more than 1 man out there and we can’t risk our necks out there.  And I can’t run anymore, and neither can you.”   

  (Ital) Is.  Mac kept thinking through his reasoning.  (Ital)  Is.  Is probably. 

  “Billy,” Mac finally said her voice a frantic whisper.  “I don’t want to be in here, have Ralph peak in here and then say, ‘hiya, sweetie’, and then shoot you in the face.  We have to run.  No matter what the cost.  We stay here, they find us because we are in one place.” 

  (Ital) And I have such a cool head now. 

  “Yeah, but would they look in a log?”

  “Yeah, and do I really want to go into premature labor in here?”  She was hissing at him now, but she just wanted to get the heck out of there.  The air was stale and overly earthy, and she could feel and hear the crunching of termite bodies beneath her sweaty hands.

  “Okay.  Alright.  You are probably right.” 

  “Well, she said with a smile.  “I was wrong about the tree.”  Billy smiled and gave her a quick, yet fervid kiss. 

  “That’s why I love you.”  And he slipped out of the log, quickly brushing himself off and lending a willing hand to Mac.  He then bent down and grabbed the shirt, and tied the dirty thing around his waist.  The first thing he did was look around for any signs of intrusion on their area of the woods. 

  “Nadie.”  He responded when Mac raised her eyebrows at him.   

  “Hey, that shirt has smashed beetle brains on it,” Mac said.  Billy shrugged.  At least it wasn’t his brains.

  “Oh well.”  He replied.

  “Are you having a love affair with my shirt or something?”  They had started walking and Mac laughed, the sound carrying itself through Billy’s thoughts and settling his fears. 

  “It is so hard to choose between you and the shirt.” 

  “You are sick,” Mac laughed.  Billy glanced over at her and looked in front of him.  A tree grove lay in front of them.  As if they weren’t dodging enough tree trunks. 

  “Race you to that bunch of trees,” Billy challenged. 

  “Okay.”  Mac laughed nervously.  She scanned the rest of the forest, but the rest had a huge conglomerate of gnarled trees. 

  “Ready?” 

  “I’m ready.”

  “Get set.”  She gazed at him again, amazed that he was doing all of this work for her.  “GO!”  For some reason, Mac felt a competitive spirit about her and she ran as fast as she could, never minding her burning legs.  At the same pace, they came to the trees and Mac slowed down.  The race wasn’t finished, and Mac felt that somewhere by those trees there would be someone to help them.  Or some form of shelter.  Faster she ran, this hope guiding her speed and agility.  At this rate, she decided, she would have to go to the hospital for a checkup.  Then, as if she had been transmitted through an old television screen to a horror movie, a man jumped from behind the trees, making Mac stumble back and Billy shout. 

  “Gotcha!”  He scoffed, his rifle conspicuously at his side.  Mac’s legs seemed to be stuck in the quicksand-like mud, not able to think, her mind stuck in another time, another place, because now the man had grabbed her arms and was pulling her across the terrain. 

  “NO!  NO!”  Mac snapped out of her frightened trance and began struggling against his grasp.  Billy.  Where was he?” 

  “RALPH!”  The man suddenly shouted.  His voice was like nails on a board.  “I GOT MACKENZIE!” 

  “Let go of me, you bastard,”  she seethed through clenched teeth.  By happenstance, she caught Billy bent over, holding his leg.  “BILLY!”  She cried, trying to woo him by her circumstances.

  Biting his lip, he got up and began pulling Mac’s arm away from the man, who had a tight grip.  While pulling on her arm, he sneakily drew his leg back, and kicked the man right in the groin.  He bent over, his grip on her loosened, and the two teens ran.  But the man was not far behind.  Mac could hear his footsteps and Billy’s regular 4 letter ‘s’ words spit themselves out.  This time, neither teen looked back.  Throughout the chaos, however, the teens managed to run in sync with each other.  Billy had to look down as he ran.  His leg was killing him, for the man that had tried to take Mac had butted him in the knee with his rifle.  Luckily, there was no damage except for more pain. 

  Then Billy noticed a difference in his environment.  Unbelieving, he stared out.  They had come to the Newman ranch.  He could still hear the fucking panting of the man, the bounce of metal against metal and the pattering of pursuing footsteps. 

  He could still catch us (ital)

  The Newman ranch loomed as a heaven on Earth.  If they would be safe anywhere right now, it would be there.  Billy did not even know who lived there anymore; they changed living arrangements so often.  Or so that is what he heard from Jack and Ashley.  They had been his and Mac’s staunchest supporters.  They were the only ones who knew that Mac was pregnant and they accepted it with open arms.  In truth, Billy thought they were the only people in the world who would understand.  Well, the whole world would know now.  Not that it would be a good thing, because then his mother would know.  And would open, as the saying went, ‘a can of worms’. 

  “Mac, we are safe!”  Billy yelled, once again summoning his strength up to get to the door.  Then, he heard a grunt behind him.  He turned around.  Mac had tripped on the ground and was bent down in a smarting pain.  Instantly, Billy worried about his child.  If she miscarried, he would never be able to get enough revenge against that bastard stepfather of hers.  His own face contorted in pain, looking at her like that.  He couldn’t get over there fast enough to help her. 

  “Mac, you okay?”  He gasped.  He clutched her hand and got her up. 

  “I think so.  But my ribs really hurt.” 

  “The baby?” 

  “Yeah.”  Billy then saw the man coming through the woods, even though the sky was getting darker.  He was running like a headless ghost, ready to take his blood.  Billy walked backwards, getting his first overall good look at the man, terrified at his speed and intentions, then raced the rest of the way to the elaborate door and thumped on the door furiously.  Mac reached him in time and followed suit. 

  “HELP!  LET US IN!  MR. AND MRS. NEWMAN!  HELP!  HELP!”  Both were frantically shouting at the same time, trying to break the door down if necessary.  Mac looked back, and banged on the door with more fierceness.  Finally, a grand woman, who Mac remembered as Nikki opened the door and the teens rushed in, stumbling into each other and coming to a screeching halt by the center table. 

  “Close the door!”  Billy ordered Nikki.  “Close the door now!” 

  “And lock it!”  Mac shrieked, taking time to catch her breath and strength.  Nikki, driven by her sudden fear of the unknown that had taken these usually calm teens to her door, closed the door, then cried out when she received strong resistance. 

  “Oh God!”  The woman struggled against the resistance.  Billy fantastically leapt from the couch where he had just started nursing his stinging knee and strained muscles and pushed against the door with Nikki.  Mac, left on the couch with nothing behind her but thick walls and a safe haven to rest, began letting out her emotions that had been locked up in her tight, working muscles.  This--these--men would not stop at anything to get a hold of her.  The grunting and pushing provoked her to slowly move to the back of the room, crying until she felt almost dead.  She let herself slink down the floor and let her terror be unmasked. 

  “We locked him out,” Billy declared, walking with Nikki to the center of the room. 

  “I hope he is gone,” Nikki said.  “That was terrifying.  Absolutely TERRIFYING! 

  “Are you the only one here?”  Billy asked, wrapping his arms around Mac and embracing her with all his being. 

  “Everyone else is up at Sharon and Nicholas’s.  They don’t know what is happening.  Billy, right?”

  “Yes.” 

  “I believe you owe me an explanation.”  Mac let out a loud sob.

  “Can it wait?”  Billy asked, annoyed at the not-so-impeccable timing. 

  “Yeah.”  Nikki replied reluctantly looking out the window as she muttered, “Yes, I suppose it will have to wait.” 


Sharon emerged from her bedroom with some photo album pictures.  Cheers erupted from the crowd that was in the room.  Cassie and Noah sat at a small table playing Candy Land while Victor, Nicholas, Victoria, and Miguel were all talking gaily and eating cheese niblets, a special creation of Miguel. 

  “These are so good,” Victoria said between bites. 

  “Hey guys.”  Sharon called their attention.  “I got the albums.” 

  “Come on Noah.”  Cassie said, taking his arm.  “Let’s go see these pictures.  I’ll bet they are really interesting.” 

  “Hey, Miguel, what is your secret to these cheese appetizers?”  Nick asked, cheese crumbs falling out of his mouth as he talked. 

  “It is all in the brandy,” Miguel said in his smooth voice.  “All in fine brandy.”


  “Billy,” Mac whispered between cries.  “We owe this woman an explanation.” 

  “Yeah.  Come on.”  He helped her up and like two confessing prisoners, they came up to the wealthy lady and cleared their throats. 

  “Um,” Billy began.  “Here is the thing.”

  “Can I first learn how many weeks pregnant she is?”  Billy twittered nervously. 

  “7 months,” he responded guardedly.  “You see, I met Mac and after a long time of not being together, we got together.  And we went through some problems and this is our second and final time around.  And the reason we are running, well--”

  “My stepfather,” Mac broke in, wiping away some tears, “he married my mom when I was real little.  He molested me and of course, you can’t get over something like that.  Finally, my mom divorced him a few months after I ran away from home.  I ran away because I hated my mom and of course, him.  And I wanted to find my real dad.  Anyway, I don’t think Ralph, that is his name, ever stopped thinking about me.”  And then she choked up again.

  “Oh, darling.”  Without a qualm, the woman came over to Mackenzie and put her pitying arms around the shaken girl.  In her own stomach, she could feel the teen’s life that was writhing inside of her.  “You are safe here.”  Billy walked to the other side of the room, not so sure.  He put his clenched fist in front of him and opened it.  The scars from the battle were still running their red course, so he quickly clenched his hand into a fist again.  There were three things he was worried about.  Number one, how many men were there and two, how could the baby be after such an ordeal, and three, the most perplexing, why the man had suddenly stopped trying to come in. 

Part 1 | Part 2  | Part 3Part 4Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 |
Part 10 | Part 11

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Page updated 7/10/12

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