The Touch

18 - The Show

"Are you ready, Zyan?"

I turned to see Kyan walking up behind me with a wide grin spread across his lips.

"I guess," I replied with a shrug. I glanced towards the ramp that led up to the back of the stage. "Do I have any choice in the matter?"

"Not really," Kyan giggled as he took me by the hand and pulled me towards the ramp. "Come on! This is gonna' be fun!"

"If you say so," I replied nervously.

My family had been rehearsing continuously for the Independence Day Talent Show, hoping that we would be able to win the contest. Sarah and Hayley were already waiting for us backstage as Denly caught up to us holding his trumpet in his hand.

"My prince," he said with a slight incline of his head. Denly had been teasing me with my new title ever since I had awoken from the trials and had my first explosion of power in front of my family. Sarah and Hayley had been discussing costume ideas for the show and it was turning into a heated discussion when I had finally had enough.

"Would you guys just stop?" I demanded as everyone in the kitchen had turned to look at me. I had felt a slight surge when I made the statement, but I didn't know it had affected my outward appearance until Denly started giggling obnoxiously. I frowned at my cousin until he pointed at me.

"That outfit won't work for all of us, Zyan," he giggled as I glanced down to see myself wearing an outfit that I wouldn't be caught dead in on the street. My original cargo shorts and t-shirt were replaced by a white shirt with a buttoned-up blue blazer over it. Instead of shorts, I was dressed in a pair of tight leather pants that were dyed black with leather boots that matched. I went to scratch my head in confusion, only to have my fingers bump into something metallic. I grabbed onto the object and held it in front of me. It was a small silver crown, with six rainbow-colored gems encrusted in it. I stared at the crown I disbelief. Shit like this shouldn't be possible but by that point, I had already experienced more unexplainable events than I wanted to. Denly continued to giggle. "Unless you want us to start calling you "Prince", from now on?"

"I'll pass, Denly," I had replied.

Kyan snapped his fingers in my face. "Earth to Zyan!"

"Sorry," I blushed with a shy giggle. "Got caught up in a flashback."

"My friend Matt would be proud of you," Kyan giggled. "I think his entire existence is a flashback. Come on. We've got an audience to entertain!"

'Here goes nothing,' I thought with a shrug before letting my brother pull me out onto the stage.

The black colored curtains were closed, keeping us out of sight of the crowd of people gathered at the amphitheater. I could still hear them, though, and it was making my heart race in my chest.

"Relax and focus, Zyan," Uncle Derek's words came back to me. He had spent a few days working with me on my nerves and how to overcome my stage fright. "Just imagine that everybody is in their underwear."

"What's the point of that?" I had asked in confusion. "I mean, if I see a hot guy, then he'll distract me if I'm imagining him in his underwear. Plus, it would just take up too much energy trying to imagine that when I'm already trying to remember the words to the songs."

Uncle Derek had just hugged me as he shook his head.

"Up next; our final act for the night!" A man's voice called out over the sound system, making me shake my head clear of the brief daydream. "The Montgomery Band!"

The crowd out front began to cheer, so I quickly ran to my spot before the curtains started to rise. A stage technician handed me my earpiece and I quickly slipped it on, making sure that the microphone was positioned next to my cheek. The technician quickly left the stage just before Denly started playing our opening melody on the keyboard. The stage lights faded up slowly to a deep red as the curtains slowly rose towards the rafters. I took one more deep breath to relax myself before nodding to Kyan that I was ready. Kyan grinned as he let loose on the drums and picked up the beat to the song. Hayley and Sarah started playing their guitars just as I started to sing.

'If tomorrow all the things were gone,'

'I worked for all my life,'

'And I had to start again,'

'With just my children and my wife,'

'I'd thank my lucky stars,'

'To be livin' here today,'

'Cause the flag still stands for freedom,'

'And they can't take that away. . .'

Then, the rest of my family joined in for the chorus of the song as the music picked up and the stage lights started going wild. Even the crowd started to sing along as we made it through our set. When we finished, the audience burst into applause as we took our bows and ran off stage. We had barely made it off the stage when the organizer of the event stopped us.

"Do you guys have another song you could sing?" The overweight man asked as he appeared antsy to go out and tell the obnoxious crowd that the show was over for the night. "Something to satiate them until the results are ready?"

Sarah and Kyan both looked at me, making me frown. "What?"

"We know you've got something up your sleeve, Zyan," Sarah told me with a grin.

"What makes you think that?" I demanded in frustration.

Denly calmed me by slipping his arm around my waist. "You don't have to, if you don't want to, Zyan."

"Why do I feel like I'm being manipulated?" I asked.

Kyan grinned at me. "We might be manipulating you a little bit," my twin admitted before he tried batting his baby blue eyes at me.

"It won't work on me, Kyan," I nearly growled.

"Please, Zyan," Denly asked in a hushed whisper only loud enough for me to hear.

'Fuck!' I shouted in my head. Kyan immediately started giggling. "I don't even have my own thoughts!?"

"Not when you broadcast them like that, baby brother," Kyan informed me. "Well?"

"Shit," I grumbled. "Fine. I've got something my grandma. . . I mean. . . Shit, you know what I mean. Just follow my lead, I guess."

"I knew we could count on you, Zyan," Sarah grinned as she leaned down to kiss my cheek. "Thank you, brother."

"You owe me," I told her firmly. "This wasn't part of our deal."

"How about I take you wherever you want to go tomorrow, Zyan?"

"Even if it's to the amusement park?"

"Yes," Sarah replied, thinking I was letting her off easy.

"Your treat?" I asked, keeping my thoughts as quiet to myself as I could.

"One-hundred-percent," Sarah agreed.

"Fine," I finally submitted. "I'll let you know when this is over what I want to do tomorrow."

"That works for me," Sarah nearly squealed in delight before she started pushing me back towards the stage.

"So, you guys are going to help me out?" The man in charge asked.

"Yeah," I said with a sigh. "We'll help."

"Awesome," the man smiled. "I'll let the crowd know that they have you to thank for this encore, Zyan. Get ready, guys."

Then, the man turned and ran back to the stage. He stepped out through the curtain, and I could hear him reintroducing us to the gathered onlookers. Kyan and Denly both hugged me before they led me back to the front of the stage. The announcer checked my earpiece to make sure it was still positioned correctly before he gently urged me towards the curtains.

"I told the stage crew to open the curtains halfway through the first verse," the man told me. "Until then, you'll have a spotlight on you, and you alone."

"Oh gee, thanks," I stated with a frown.

The man chuckled lightly before he left me alone. My family gave me the thumbs up as they took their place at their instruments, and I took a deep breath to relax myself before I stepped through the curtain. The crowd immediately fell silent as I stepped out and the single spotlight focused on me. Instead of waiting for any other kind of introduction, I decided to just start singing.

'When no one cared about me, if I should live or die. . .'

'And no one bothered asking, why I'd go alone and cry. . .'

I didn't even realize the curtains were opening behind me until I heard my family begin to play along with me.

'When burdens got so heavy, that I could not face the day. . .'

'Then I'd feel His arms around me, and I'd hear him gently say. . .'

'Lean on me, when you have no strength to stand. . .'

'When you feel you're goin' under, hold tighter to my hand. . .'

'Lean on me, when your heart begins to bleed. . .'

'When you come to the place that I'm all you have, then you'll find I'm all you need. . .'

Then, Kyan and Denly stepped forward to sing the next verse with me as each of them played softly on their guitars.

'When the road ahead is rugged, and the path is getting steep. . .'

'I feel tha I can't make it, and my heart begins to weep. . .'

'Then I turn to see who's comin' to join me in the way. . .'

'And I see that it's my Savior, and I hear him gently say. . .'

'Lean on me, when you have no strength to stand. . .'

'When you feel you're goin' under, hold tighter to my hand. . .'

'Lean on me, when your heart begins to bleed. . .'

'When you come to the place that I'm all you have, then you'll find I'm all you need. . .'

I stepped forward as the music began to soften and the lights faded down around me.

'When you come to the place that I'm all you have, then you'll find I'm all you need. . .'

'Lean on me. . .'

'Lean on me. . .'

'Lean on me. . .'

I smiled as the last chords of the song faded out. The audience applauded and I took a quick bow before my family forced me to join them for another bow along the front of stage as the crowd cheered. Kyan and Denly each held up one of my hands and the crowd cheered louder, making me blush profusely. The announcer came out again and reintroduced us before I was finally able to make my way away from the stage.

"Come on, Zyan!" Kyan told me excitedly as he started pulling me through the crowd. I shook my head in disbelief at my twin's antics while Denly kept pace beside me. "We have to get a good spot to see the fireworks!"

I glanced at Denly to see him looking back at me in concern.

"Are you going to be okay with fireworks, Zyan?" Denly asked me.

"I don't know," I told him pointedly. "I've never saw them in person before. I've only managed to catch short clips of them when I was in foster care."

Denly nodded as Kyan continued to pull me through the park.

"Don't worry, Zyan," my cousin told me. "It's just pretty colors and loud booms. There's absolutely nothing to worry about, okay?"

"If you say so, Denly."

"I do," my cousin quipped with a laugh. "We'll keep you safe, Zyan. I promise."

The crowd cheered excitedly as the different colors exploded across the skies above Crater Lake, each one followed by a resounding boom that shook me to my core. Kyan and Denly were sitting on either side of me, and I managed to feign a smile every time one of them looked in my direction, keeping them from discovering my discomfort. Kyan cast a few brief glances in my direction, making me believe that he was catching onto my act, but I managed to keep my mind clear by thinking about Toby and how he was soon to become the son of Natalie and Greg. Toby had bugged his new parents enough during the day that they finally relented and called me so Toby could talk to me.

"It's really pretty here, Zyan!" Toby exclaimed. "I've never been to the ocean before! There's even white sand here! Mom and Dad said that they're going to take me to the best fireworks ever, tonight, too!"

"That's awesome, Toby," I had replied, not realizing until I had heard the boy's voice, just how much I truly missed him. They were only in Florida for a vacation, visiting Greg's parents for a couple of weeks, and introducing them to their new grandson. Toby had begged them to let me come along, but it was me that had to break the poor kid's heart.

"Sorry, Toby," I had told him when he asked me with a whimper in his voice. "I already promised my brother and sister that I would sing with them in the talent show. I promise that next time you go, if I'm not busy with school, I will be more than happy to go with you. Okay?"

Toby had accepted my promise with a teary hug before he was carried away by Greg, while Natalie hugged me tightly. "We'll see you soon, Zyan," my foster-mom had told me. "You better make sure somebody records the show!"

"I will," I had replied with a giggle.

"Zyan?" The voice brought me back to the present and I found Denly looking at me in confusion. "You alright, man?"

"Yeah," I told him. "I was just thinking about Toby, is all."

Denly smiled and bumped his shoulder against mine. "Toby is probably having the time of his life, right now! You should be, too!" My cousin chided me. "It's almost time for the finale!"

Denly motioned towards the sky as the rate of fireworks began to increase. Each explosion was getting louder and louder as they started popping off closer together. My heart was racing in my chest as several of the fireworks sent me into a panic. The next thing I knew, I was running as fast as I could to get away from the volley of explosions. I heard my brother and cousin screaming out my name as they gave chase, but I couldn't bring myself to stop. Tears flooded my eyes, blurring my vision as I stumbled through the crowd. Kyan caught me only a moment before Denly did.

"Zyan?" My brother's voice called out over the sound of the fireworks. "Zyan?"

I fell to the ground, taking my twin with me as I curled up in a ball. Kyan and Denly were quick to wrap their arms around me, trying to shield me from the explosions. Both were trying to reassure me, but I just wanted to get away from the noise.

Then, there was silence and the distant sound of cheering.

"Relax, Zyan," Kyan said in a voice filled with fear. "They're over, now. I promise."

I nervously glanced up to see that I was far from the crowd and the sky around us was dark. "Fuck," I whispered shakily. "Sorry."

"No worries, brother," Kyan told me. "We shouldn't have made you sit through the fireworks. . ."

"Zyan, are you okay?"

We all glanced up to see my mom and dad approaching us. My mother hurriedly picked me up and began checking me over for injuries.

"I'm fine, mom," I tried to reassure her. "I just got a little spooked is all."

"Come on," she said turning from the others. "Let's get you home. I'm sure it's been a long day for you."

"Thanks, mom," I whispered as I laid my head on her shoulder.

I looked behind us where Denly and Kyan were walking, side-by-side. Then, in the space between my cousin and brother, a tiny sliver of purple light flashed into existence. In that minute moment of time, Denly vanished.

"Denly!" I screamed out in disbelief as I saw my cousin disappear. "Mom! Denly's gone!"

"What?" She asked in confusion as she turned back around. Then, my mother gasped. "Denly?"

Kyan was looking at the spot in disbelief. His blue eyes fell to me, and they were full of fear. "Zyan? What was that?"

"I don't know, Kyan," I whispered.

The cup of tea shook in my hands as I sat at the table in our kitchen. Kyan was rubbing my shoulders, but nothing was helping me relax. The Guardian of Time had told me that the rifts would appear without warning and there would be no way of truly knowing where one of the rifts led without going through one. I felt a tear slide down my cheek as I tried not to imagine what type of horrors my cousin was experiencing as he remained lost to us.

'We'll find him, Zyan,' Kyan's voice whispered in my mind like a soft breeze. 'I promise.'

I nodded absently as Kyan continued to rub my shoulders. My aunt and uncle were beside themselves with worry as they struggled to grasp what had happened to their son. Aunt Abby wanted to call the cops, but the rest of my family was adamant that she remained silent.

"Why should I stay quiet when my baby boy is missing?" The distraught woman demanded. "What's so important about this family that I am not supposed to get the entire world to hunt for my son? You should both be out there right now trying to find him!" She glared at my father and uncle until my mom tried to soothe the woman by rubbing her shoulders.

"Come with me, Abby," my mom started to say, only to have Aunt Abby push my mother away.

"Stay away from me, Lauren!" The woman growled. "You're a part of this, aren't you? How could you? Why won't you let me go find my baby?"

I couldn't take it anymore. All she wanted was to know why, and everybody was refusing to tell her. It was going to be up to me to explain it. The only problem I had though, was that I didn't even know where to begin. The voice in the back of my head gave me a quick mental demonstration of what I could do to get the woman's attention.

"I'm going to find my baby!" Aunt Abby cried as she walked towards the doorway.

I closed my eyes for a brief second as a rush of wind hit my face. The subtle gasp and sudden silence in the room just before I opened my eyes again, told me that I had managed to do what I wanted to do. I opened my eyes to see that I was now blocking Aunt Abby's way from the room.

"I'm the secret, Aunt Abby," I told the woman softly just before face went pale and her body went limp.

"Jesus, Zyan!" My father chuckled. "I guess that's one way of doing it."

"Sorry," I replied with a brief shrug. "She deserved to know the truth."

"She's going to have a million questions when she wakes up," my uncle advised.

"And a headache," my mother chided the two men. "You guys could have tried to catch her, at least."

"Maybe, if your son had decided to warn us that he was going to teleport himself across the room, we could have been ready to catch Abby," Uncle Derek replied with a shake of his head. "David, can you get me a damp cloth, please?"

I decided that it would probably be best if I vacated the room, so I turned to head to my own bedroom.

"Don't stray too far, Houdini!" My father called after me with a chuckle.

I giggled to myself before I was suddenly standing in the doorway to my bedroom. I had felt the slight shift around me, but I didn't make the move to teleport myself. I glanced around me until I saw the shimmer out of the corner of my eye. The rift was right behind me in the hallway. I could still feel the pull of it, signaling that the gateway was still open. I only had a moment to make up my mind before it closed. So, I took a deep breath before I turned, and stepped back through the portal.

The purple void swirled around me like a cloud as voices echoed throughout the strange abyss. I could hear different sounds coming from every direction around me, but none of them were clear enough to make out what they were. I moved forward until I found myself standing beside a very surprised, and very familiar, little boy. The blue-eyed toddler smiled up at me as he sat on the floor playing with a tiny car. I sat down next to the boy and watched as he scooted the car across the carpet.

"You shouldn't be here," a man said from behind us. I glanced up at the man and nodded before I looked back down at the boy.

"I know," I replied. "I had to see Kyan, though. It's important, daddy."

"Are you okay, Zyan?" My father asked as he moved to sit on the sofa behind us. "I mean, you've only been gone for a few months, in our time. It looks like you're doing well, at least."

I frowned as I looked at the distraught man. "I can't tell you, daddy," I told him with a slight catch in my voice. "Just, please, don't stop looking for me."

"I'd die first, Zyan," my dad proclaimed.

"I'd rather if you didn't, thanks. I still need you around," I said. "He needs you, too."

"Sorry, Zyan," my father apologized. "It was a poor choice of words."

"It's fine, dad," I grinned at the man before I looked back down at Kyan. "I wish I could tell you everything, daddy. I really do. Can you remind Kyan of something every few weeks for me, please?"

"What's that, son?"

"Tell him not to give up on me," I told the man honestly. "My entire life is changing around me, and I need him to never let me forget my name."

"I'll tell him, Zyan," my father agreed. "I promise."

Then, I quickly hugged the boy beside me, before I stood and found myself back in my own room, again.

"I thought that you weren't supposed to disappear, mister," my father said, making jump as I turned to see him sitting on my bed.

"Sorry," I said with a blush. "I had to go see Kyan."


"You were there, too," I admitted.

"I remember," my father replied with a brief smile. "He never gave up on you, Zyan."

"I know," I said with tears in my eyes as I climbed onto my bed next to my dad. I snuggled into his side as he put his arm around me. "Can you tell me something, dad?"

"If I'm allowed, I will try."

"Who is Shyan?"

"Where did you hear that name?" My father asked with an icy chill in his voice.

"In the Kingdom of Realms, father," I admitted, looking away in case I had done something wrong. "Marano called me Shyan."

"Do you know what the Kingdom of Realms really is, Zyan?" My father asked after several moments of contemplative silence.

"It's our home," I told him.

"Yes, but it is also the center of all Creation and Life, my son," my father explained. "Every Universe and Time revolves around the Kingdom of Realms. Time still passes for our realm, but it passes differently for us."

"What do you mean?"

"For every other Universe, time is part of the Tree of Life. It grows up towards one final destination. One goal," my father told me. He had a distant gaze in his eyes as he stared at the far wall of my room. "One destination for all of the times. For us though, time moves around the Tree of Life in a spiral. Our entire realm sort of envelopes the Tree of Life in a tight web that we can access from any time and place."

"I'm so confused," I replied.

"I was too, at first," my father admitted with a laugh. "Let's see, how can we make this clearer for you? Do you remember the Realm of the Gods?"

"Yes," I said with a grin. "It was amazing there."

"Our world exists on a plane below that one," my father said. "Time has no affect in the Realm of the Gods but in our realm, time moves very slowly."

"Where do our powers come from?"

"The Gods themselves, Zyan."

"Oh," I said, absently staring at the palm of my hand. "What am I capable of?"

"Nobody really knows yet, son. I'm willing to help you learn, though," my father said as he hugged me from the side.

"I'd like that," I admitted shyly.

"Me too, Zyan."

"Then, I can get Denly back."

"Speaking of Denly," my father spoke in a darker tone. "Don't go looking for him without me, Zyan. Promise me?"

"Why, dad?"

My father sighed sadly. "I don't think I could handle losing you, again. It would kill your mother."

"Then, how do I get Denly back?" I demanded. "I need to find him!"

I jumped from the bed and started to storm from my room. I could feel the anger and disappointment filling the back of my head, and I couldn't bring myself to stay near my father, any longer.

As I stepped through my bedroom door, I felt something pass over me and when I glanced up, I was standing in front of a large building with glass running up the slanted front of it. A group of boys surrounding me, blocking me from the front doors of the building. I looked to my left to see Denly frozen in fear, staring at the strange weapons being pointed in our direction.

"Zachary?" I turned to see a familiar, brown-haired boy with green eyes walking towards me. A look of disbelief filled his expression as his jaw fell open. "Put down your phasers! This is my foster-brother!" Then, the boy hugged me with sobs of happiness coming from his lips. "I've missed you so much, Zachary."

"I've missed you, too, Arys." I whispered, my own voice thick with tears. "I can't believe I finally found you."

Song Lyrics used in this chapter.

God Bless the USA, by: Lee Greenwood

Lean on Me, by: Gary Mathena