Sidestory - Tuesday, August 4th, 1931
Toby still didn't feel comfortable in his own house--he hadn't been even before he'd found Becky's letter and the shattered picture frame next to it. He couldn't help but wonder if she'd smashed it on purpose, if she was still furious with him. But he missed Becky, and his own house felt cold and lonely without her. He came back every couple days to see if she'd left anything else, or if he'd been robbed, but he never stayed long, and he was about to go back to Becky's when he felt taps on his hand.
"Christa," he murmured aloud--he'd been talking to himself sometimes, now that Daniel was living with Libby again. he formed a bit of junk into a pencil and paper, though he could understand most of what Christa tapped without taking notes. Then he sat down and waited for her to begin.
"Sit down, Toby. Are you sitting?" the taps spelled out in Morse code. Toby knew Christa well enough to decipher the misspellings, well enough to know from the trembling of her touches that she was excited. But he couldn't discern the tone, and didn't know if she was happy or distressed. "Toby, you're not going to believe it."
There was a pause, and then she tapped, "Clayton's back." She didn't pause again, so Toby didn't have time to consider whether or not she'd gone insane. "He came to Gate Town two weeks ago. And he saved a couple dozen people. It was a breakout, and it was all Clayton's idea!
"hey, I'm not going to try to kill Hitler anymore. Clayton got caught for a reason, Toby, and I guess I should've trusted that God would pull everything together."
She finally paused, though Toby still couldn't believe it. Could Christa send messages in her dreams? The next letter he wrote to her, he'd tell her to tell him again; right now, he hardly dared to hope.
"All the people who Clayton rescued call him a hero. They all brought him to the island and they knew my name and brought him to me. Me and Mom--Mom and I, I mean--are talking care of him. He's..." There was a long pause, so long Toby thought Christa might have gotten distracted, or maybe fallen into a deeper sleep. "He's not doing very well, Toby, but he's alive, and he knew me. There has to be someone on the island who can make him better, don't you think?"
"What's wrong with him?" Toby asked, aloud, but of course Christa couldn't hear him, being a couple hundred miles, and over 70 years, away.
"He was in labs all that time, Toby, and I'm sure they did awful things to him. I wish you were here; you could heal all the scars. His doctor used him as a dummy for everyone else to test out their powers. But Clayton got through it and he started to talk to the variants who hurt him, and somehow they all planned an escape for the same time and date, like kids in class agreeing to drop their pencils. I'm sure some of the variants got killed, but a lot of doctors died and--" She paused again. "19 of them escaped. Variants, I mean. A few of them stayed in Gate Town but the rest are here in Ash River. They're very nice and they're trying to help with Clayton.
"He was half out of his mind when they escaped; some of the experiments really hurt him. But he fought the doctors; a girl named Angie was with him most the time and said he killed 30 doctors and guards, and he got hurt worse helping some others escape. If it hadn't been for Clayton they'd all still be locked up or worse, Toby. I want him back to how he was, but he's alive, and he did so much good! They're all happy and grateful--all the people he helped save--and I'm sure they're going to help a lot of people someday, that Clayton did a lot of good.
"If you can ever come back and visit, I'm sure Clayton will remember you. I'm in Ash River; you know you're welcome any time. I'll talk to you more when I've had more time with Clayton and he's better, OK?
"Don't give up. If Clayton came back--after we were so sure he was dead--I'm sure Becky will come back too. Take care of yourself.
She ended like a letter, so Toby would know when she'd finished. He waited a minute for any postscripts, but there were none.
What if Becky came back insane, like Clayton? He'd still love her, the same way Christa still loved Clayton, of course, but he didn't think he could stand it. Of course she wouldn't come back crazy, though; she'd been through the worst stuff he could imagine already, and she was all right. She might come back changed, but not crazy.
At least, not until she found out what he'd done with Lu. Toby cringed--he hadn't told Christa, and wasn't sure if he'd tell Becky, but she was bound to find out someday. It was too much to hope that she'd forgive him, especially if he hid it from her, and he didn't know what to do. Maybe there wasn't any point thinking about it. He'd probably never see Lu again. And if Becky didn't come back for another year or two (though he hated to imagine that), she'd at least understand why he'd moved on.
A knock at the door startled him out of his thoughts, and he answered without checking to see who it was...
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