"Who are you?" Martin didn't recognize the voice. It was the voice of a younger child.
He tried to open his eyes, but the light was too bright. With his hand, he shielded his eyes, and tried again. This time he managed to keep them open a bit, and through the light, he could see the shadow of a young boy clad in white.
"I'm Martin," he answered the boy. "Who are you, and where are we?"
"I'm Max, and I don't know," came from the young boy. "I'm afraid."
"Why?" Martin wondered. He felt so calm himself. More at ease than he had been in a long time.
"I don't want to be here," Max complained, "I'm afraid the bad men will come again."
"Which men?" Martin asked while his eyes slowly adjusted to the bright light.
He was confused. Looking around, all he could see was this bright, shining light, and the young boy.
"They hurt me so much!" Max cried. "I don't want them to find me again!"
Martin opened his arms, and the kid ran into them and clung to his body as if his life depended on him.
"Please," he cried, "please don't let them find me again!"
A woman's voice could be heard "Just relax, Max, you are safe now. They will never hurt you again."
Martin instantly knew the voice.
"Mom?" he asked timidly.
"Yes, Martin," the voice said. "It is me." He could hear how the voice was filled with love.
"But how?" Martin asked. "How can I hear you? I thought you died!"
"I did, Martin, I am dead," she answered, somewhat sadly.
"Why did you leave me?" Martin cried, his own voice filled with both sorrow and anger. "Why did you let me live all alone? Why couldn't you stay with me?"
"I'm so sorry Martin, I'm so very sorry," the voice said calmly. "The ship fell through time, and it wasn't strong enough to protect us. It was nothing but a miracle that you survived it, but I'm so very glad you did."
"But I missed you, Mom!" Martin was shouting now. "I missed you so much, and I was hurting all the time because you weren't there! How could you leave me like that?" his body trembled with emotions – sorrow, pain and anger. He could no longer see, his eyes were so filled with tears that all he sensed was the bright light..
"Martin!" his mother's voice said strictly. "Look what you're doing! You are scaring Max!"
Martin suddenly remembered the little boy in his arms. He wiped his eyes and looked down to see a terrified little face glancing up at him. All the color in the boy's face was gone.
"Max!" Martin said in a much calmer voice. "I'm sorry Max; I didn't mean to scare you."
"Are you going to hurt me like those men did?" Max asked with a shaky voice.
"No, Max, of course not," Martin said, tears forming again in his eyes. "What did they do to you?" he asked.
"They... They..." Max chocked up and started crying, not able to say anything.
Martin embraced the younger boy and tried to comfort him with soothing words while he moved his hand in a circle on the kid's back.
"What did they do to him?" he asked.
"Martin, are you sure you want to know?" his mother's voice said seriously.
Martin just nodded.
Suddenly he was witnessing the scene. It was a small cabin on a spaceship containing a naked Max with two large men. They tried to make Max perform a sexual act for them, but Max couldn't do it just right. Martin looked in horror as one of the men found a whip in the corner of the room and started to threaten the little boy. He let a few strokes fly through the air, making loud whipping noises.
But Max still couldn't do what they wanted him to; he was just too scared to react.
"Stop!" Martin yelled as the first stroke hit the boy. "I can't watch this."
"I'm sorry," his mother's voice said, and the scene faded just as the second stroke hit the boy.
"How could he survive something like that?" Martin asked, while removing some tears from his own face with the back of his hand.
"I don't know yet, if he will survive," the voice said.
"What do you mean? He's here now, isn't he? I can't even see any scars on his body!" Martin protested.
"Yes, he is here, and so are you. Do you remember what happened to you?" she asked silently.
Martin froze. He lost all feelings as his heart was filled with fear as he suddenly remembered how he had seen that woman raise the gun at Xion. He remembered how he knew exactly what he had to do. He couldn't live on if Xion was dead, so he had to try save him, at all cost..
He remembered feeling the impact of the bullet as he threw himself in front of his friend.
Friend? No, Xion was so much more. He was not just a friend. He was family!
Father! That's what he was to Martin now.
Martin hadn't realized it before, at least not consciously, but Xion had become a father to him in the time they had been together.
And Martin had been orphaned once already, he would not let that happen again.
That was why he hadn't hesitated, but instantly thrown himself at that bullet.
The bullet meant for his new father...
"So this means... Are we really...? Do you mean we are dead?" Martin asked and held Max closer.
"Not quite, my dear son. And I hope that you won't be either, for many, many years. But the choice is yours to make. You have to make the choice."
"Choice?" Martin asked confused. "What choice?"
"Martin, you can choose to go back to life," his mother's voice started, "or you can choose to leave this life, and stay here with me..."
"With you?" Martin felt hope rising. He could go and stay with his mother!
"Will I see you then?" he asked.
"Yes, my dear boy, we will meet again, and we will live together forever," his mother's voice said. "But it's not your time just yet. There is so much more for you to do in life before it ends! And since you chose to sacrifice yourself to save another life, you have been given the choice to go back, and live the rest of your life."
"But I want to stay with you!" Martin cried...
"I know, honey, but what about your new father, and your brothers?" she asked.
"My brothers?" Martin didn't understand.
"Yes, Martin, your brothers. You have three new brothers, now."
"Three?" Martin wondered. "Is it Tom and Max? Who is the third?" he asked.
Max answered the question "Dean."
"Yes," Martin's mother's voice said. "That is right. Max, his twin brother Dean and Tom."
"But Mom – I've missed you so much!" Martin cried. "How can I go back to that?"
"Oh, Martin, I know your pain," his mother cried. "I've been watching over you all this time, and I've been so happy for you. So happy that you were found by a man who will be a very good father to you. But I have also shared in your pain. I know your sorrow for losing me, and I know of the pain you went through when you were arrested."
"But why? Why did that have to happen? I didn't do anything wrong!" Martin was really crying now.
"No, that was because of John's own issues. He realized this just before he died, and he apologized to you. Don't you remember?" she asked.
"He died?" Martin asked shocked. He remembered Mr. Veiler saying he was sorry and trying to explain why he did what he did, but he could not remember anything happening with him.
"Yes," his mother's voice explained, "he risked his life to stop Laura Carlson after she shot you. He managed to shoot her, but she also got a shot at him. They both died just after you were hit..."
"Martin," she continued, "you need to know this too. Max is not strong enough to walk the path back to life on his own. Your choice will also be the way he must go."
Then Martin got another vision. He saw the sickbay of Xion's ship, with himself and Max laying next to each other on separate healing beds. Next to Martin was Tom, holding his hand and begging him to come back to life. On the side of Max' bed was a boy, looking exactly like him. He was just sitting there with tears running down his cheeks. Martin could see that the twin was completely devastated.
"Take him back to me," Dean whispered, "please, take him back to me!"
Between the beds, Xion was sitting in a chair with one hand on each boy. He looked totally exhausted, and filled with sorrow...
Martin was torn. He wanted to go to his mother right now, but he also didn't want to leave his new family.
"Martin," he heard his mother's voice saying, "Martin, I will always be with you. And one time, hopefully many, many years from now, we will meet again. Then you will be coming home to me, and we can be together as a full family."
"But I don't want to leave you!" Martin cried loudly. "What should I do?"
Two doors opened. Martin's mother's voice explained.
"Martin, it is time. You have to make your choice now. You know which doors lead where – I can't make the choice for you, it is all up to you."
Martin dried off some of his tears with the back of his hand, and got up on his feet. He grabbed Max by the hand, and together they walked down through one of the two doors, leading to a long corridor.
A bit down the corridor they met Martin's mother. She kissed them both on their cheeks, before hugging Martin and whispering in his ear.
"Å, Martin! Martin, kjære, kjære gutten min. Jeg visste du ville velge rett!"
First, let me get this out of the way. Wire you leaving us wondering what will happen again?
You keep feeding us to the lines.
You try to pull a switch on us.
I have to call on you to stop hurting Martin.
There is a ring of bad men that I hope will be hung up by their toes.
After they have suffered by hanging upside down for a week, they should be placed in a trunk and sealed up and sent a long distance, without being given any change, till they have been terminated.
Now for my real editorial feelings:
Why do I think that I know what decision that Martin made? I strongly suspect his mother told him she loved him and that they would be together again. She must have also told him how proud of him she was for making the choice he did. Now of course, I am making an assumption here, so I said the things I did in a somewhat vague manner. Remember that I am not the writer of this story. So just because I think it is going to go one particular way doesn't mean that it will.
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher
The Phone is certainly an operator, and he better not get the wrong number this time. The tone is busy but the ring of truth will be answered.
Okay, I'll stop. Nice short chapter. I liked it very much. I somehow think the Cliff Hanger Police will be trying The Phone's exchange. Just get the next chapter to us ASAP.
Str8mayb AKA Evil Author & Master of Misdirection
The Cliffhanger Police may be reached here –The CHP