This is an expanded version of a short story I wrote a while back. I appreciate the positive comments you all have left for me in the past, but I also need to hear the negative as well to grow as a writer. Feel free to leave any constructive criticism you may have as we enter the world of The Voice.
All was silent once again. Peter McClanahan struggled to stand. The fiery pain engulfed his body, but he knew his only hope was to make it back to town. He stood. The dark woods swirled around him. The only sound now was that of an owl in a nearby tree – “Who? Who?” As if to emphasize its point, the owl repeated the question – “Who? Who?” Peter had no answer for who or why or anything else. Dizziness swept over his body, but he fought his way to the old farmer’s field at the edge of the woods.
He tried to hurry as best he could through the standing corn. If he could get through the field, he would be able to reach the town and hopefully get the help he so desperately needed.
Blood was pouring from more than one open wound. Just how much damage was done, he didn’t know. He had never felt so weak. Nothing seemed real. Reality left him in the woods. But by now the town was in reach. He could see the glow of lights over the horizon as he pushed on.
Peter McClanahan stood at the corner of Green-Briar and Meredith Roads. The pouring rain began to collect in puddles around his feet as he leaned against the street lamp for support. How he got there, he didn’t know. The last five hours of his life were non-existent. Now at 1:00 a.m. the bewildered boy stood on the verge of collapse.
One car passed – then another. Both looked and drove on. Finally, a white Chevy Cruz slowed and pulled over to the curb. The woman on the passenger side rolled down her window to ask Peter if he needed help. Then she screamed.
“Call 911! Call 911!” She yelled to the driver. Blood flowing from Peter’s multiple wounds tinged the puddles a diluted red as the rain continued to fall. His faded, pale face told the story. Confusion. Pain. Trauma. - Coming death.
Within minutes the EMT unit arrived. Peter was made as comfortable as possible as the team went to work. His wounds were cleaned and the team monitored his vital signs as the ambulance sped off into the dark, wet night. The emergency room was ready and waiting when the van rolled in.
“Doctor Bonard, Please respond to the trauma unit. Doctor Bonard – to the trauma unit.” The bright, overhead lights flashed in Peter’s eyes casting an eerie glow on the faces of so many unfamiliar people. Nurses running here, then there, and back to here again, added to Peter’s confusion. Strange noises seemed to echo in his head as he was being prepared for surgery. The only thing saving Peter from a total collapse was the state of shock he was experiencing.
At approximately 12:30 a.m. Margie McClanahan reported her 15-year-old son missing. “Yes. I want to report a missing person.” The officer took the usual information – caller’s name, address, phone.
Officer Robert Marx continued, “Could you give me a description of the missing person?”
“He stands about five feet six inches tall. Weighs about 135 pounds. Has short, red hair and blue eyes.”
“Do you know what he was wearing when last seen?”
“He was wearing a light blue, pullover sweater with jeans, and black sneakers.”
A connection quickly was made when Peter arrived at to the hospital, and Mrs. McClanahan was notified. She was at the hospital in seconds and was able to identify her son before he was moved to surgery. Minutes turned to hours as she waited down the hall.
What had happened to Peter was a mystery. He was not able to offer any information prior to surgery, and now it would be perhaps days until he could add any helpful details to the investigation. A sharp razor cut traced a thin line just under his chin, and he carried a half inch deep gash above his right eye. The many abrasions and bruises on his body shed a light purple tint on his skin. The important thing was that Peter was found in time. If it had been much longer, he no doubt would have bled to death.
Mrs. McClanahan sat in the waiting room with her head buried in her hands.
“Mrs. McClanahan – Mrs. McClanahan. Excuse me. We need to talk.”
Margie looked up into the face of a man who seemed kind enough, but that was not to be the case. He was neatly dressed in brown slacks, a lightly printed shirt, and a dark maroon necktie. His short-cropped, graying hair was tapered evenly, and his wire-rimmed glasses gave him the appearance of being older than the 46 years he owned. The furrows in his forehead told the story of years of hard work and stress as it had taken its toll.
Detective Jeremy Richards continued. “Mrs. McClanahan, this was found on your son’s person prior to admitting him for surgery.” The detective held up a small, plastic bag containing a white powder. “Mrs. McClanahan, this is cocaine. We will be filing a complaint of possession against your son. It looks as though Peter may have been dealing as well. The consequences for dealing are much more serious than that of possession. You might as well know that Peter will no doubt be facing a minimum of two years in the juvenile lock-up.”
Detective Richards turned quickly, and walked away, leaving no time for a response from Margie. She sat stunned, bewildered, and disillusioned as another wave of pain poured over her.
Her mind racing – “This has to be a mistake. Peter would never use cocaine much less sell it. I tried to raise him right. I did my best. No – no Peter would never do that . . .” Her thoughts were interrupted by Doctor Bonard.
“Mrs. McClanahan, Peter is resting comfortably in his room. He is sleeping, and probably won’t even know you’re in the room, but if you’d like, follow me and I’ll take you to him.”
Her first thought, as she looked at Peter, was that of a punching bag – his face swollen, black and blue, and disfigured. Still, she knew he was her son. As she looked down at Peter, she could not believe this was the result of a drug deal gone bad. There had to be another explanation. Peter had not even been questioned before the charges were filed.
The late night exploded into a brilliant blue, cloudless sky. At least that’s the way it appeared to most people. For Margie McClanahan, the clouds were darker than any she experienced. Her life was trapped in the darkness of that life-changing minute as she looked on her only son, beaten beyond human imagination or comprehension.
Her mind reeled as she tried to reason and put the facts together. The single fact she could count on was that her son had been beaten and left for dead. Who did it? Why did they do it? What did they hope to gain? – all questions left unanswered for the moment.
Margie walked slowly from the room and down the hall to the double doors that led to the parking lot. Peter needed to rest. She needed to rest.
Finally, sleep began to trickle in as her mind gave in to the horrendous pressures she was facing - an unconnected thought here, an unsolicited thought there. Her subconscious would soon be in control. It would seem she was resting peacefully, but the turmoil in her mind wouldn’t leave. Pure exhaustion had brought her to this point.
In her dream, she saw two people chasing Peter through a wooded area. One of them grabbed him and threw him hard to the ground. The other kicked him repeatedly. She looked into Peter’s eyes and saw he was near death. Just then the first man took a knife and pulled Peter’s head back. It was at this point that Margie awoke. Shaken, she sat up. Could she have been given a glimpse of what had happened? Or was it a case of the cumulative events of the night before shifting into overdrive?
Margie freshened up a bit and started for the hospital. As she entered Peter’s room, Doctor Bonard was adjusting Peter’s pillow. After a night of surgery and a morning of rest, Peter was finally ready to sit up for a short time.
“Mrs. McClanahan, may we talk outside for a moment?” Doctor Bonard asked. The two moved to the hall.
“Mrs. McClanahan, Peter has been through a terrible ordeal. I do believe he’ll recover, but it will take time. He’ll need a lot of special care here in the hospital and at home when he is released. Peter’s trachea had been severed and he received numerous kicks by a steel-toed boot, including one above his right eye. If he is able to see again through that eye, it won’t be for a very long time. He’ll also need speech therapy.
“Mrs. McClanahan, do you have any idea who would do this to your son?”
“Oh my! No, doctor. Peter doesn’t have any enemies that I know of.”
“How about his friends at school? Anyone of a less than stellar nature that he is associated with? The reason I ask, Mrs. McClanahan is because I’ve been made aware of a criminal complaint being brought against Peter.” A criminal case against Peter? He’s the victim!”
Doctor Bonard continued, “I met with Detective Richards this morning. He believes Peter is dealing cocaine at the high school. He sees this as a failed drug deal. When Peter was being prepped for surgery, one of the nurses discovered a bag of cocaine in his jeans pocket. Mrs. McClanahan . . . “
“Call me Margie.”
“Margie, I know this is an unfair question, but do you believe Peter is either using or selling drugs? It does seem to be the way teenagers go these days.”
“No!” Margie blurted out. “Absolutely not. He has a clear mind and I taught him to make wise decisions. There’s no way this was a sour drug deal – neither was Peter selling or buying. That’s not Peter!”
“I was ordered by Richards to administer a blood test on Peter. It came back negative for any kind of drug. Peter seems to be a healthy boy. He doesn’t have the usual signs of drug use. I’m only telling you this because I think you have a right to know. They’re out to nail Peter for being the major drug supplier over at the high school, and they won’t stop until they get him.
“They’ve been investigating the case for quite some time, and with the new developments, they’re sure Peter is involved. Drug use and school arrests have nearly doubled in the past year, and now they think they have their man. The only problem is I’m just not convinced there’s any truth to it.
“Mrs. McCla . . . um, Margie, I’d appreciate it if you keep this discussion confidential. There are a lot of things we don’t know, but I don’t think there’s any proof Peter is involved in drugs.”
On the drive home, Margie’s mind was in turmoil. Her visit with Peter was uneventful. Peter was asleep most of the time. Now Margie knew for sure that someone was setting Peter up on drug charges and that someone tried to kill him. Who? Why? For what? What could she do?
Margie’s cell phone was ringing when she pulled into the driveway. “Mrs. McClanahan, Jeremy Richards here. I’m going to need you to come down to the station tomorrow. I need to fill you in on the investigation concerning your son.” Without leaving time for a response, Detective Richards disconnected the call.
- The Voice- Part 2
The Voice speaks and demands complete obedience. You better pray it doesn't speak to you!