Throwing on their own rain gear, Francis and Fiona followed Sam out into the storm. It was just like his dream. Once away from the house, the pathway was barely visible with the exception of when the lightning flashed overhead.
The notion that Royce and the other Controls might be out there was enough to bring goose-bumps to the smaller boy’s sodden flesh, remembering the monstrous face that Royce had been wearing in his nightmare. Sam refocused his efforts on finding Elliot as a means of escaping these frightening ideas.
The beach proper was not as agreeable as it had been in Sam’s dream, however. The clouds did not part to allow any moonlight through, and the lightning flares were even more sporadic. Sam sloshed forward into the wet sand using the connection to search for Elliot more than anything that he was using in the physical world. Fiona and Francis followed closely behind him, and fortunately were using more caution than he was or they would have fallen with him when he actually tripped over Elliot’s prone body. Sam tumbled into the sand next to him and momentarily lost his bearings. When he sat up, the sky lit up briefly, and Sam, Francis and Fiona all grabbed for Elliot’s sprawled form.
“We’ll manage,” Francis assured her calmly. “Fiona, you take his feet and I’ll grab him at the shoulders. Sam can help bear some of his weight and brace him at the middle. Pay close attention. I’ll direct you both to the best of my ability.”
The girl obeyed, as she had to. They felt around in the dark in order to get into position, and following the Teller’s instruction, they all hoisted Elliot from the ground. Then they began the treacherous trek back to the house.
They had to stop to rest and restore a proper hold on their heavy burden three times before reaching the house. The third time, they were close enough to the house that the outside light that Fiona had illuminated on their way out gave them the chance to see Elliot properly for the very first time. He was dressed in a simple and strangely slick navy cover-all, looked like he was about a head taller than Nathan with a similar build, and had coarse shoulder length hair, the same light brown colour as Sam’s. He also had facial hair, something that none of the children ever remembered seeing. The other thing that Sam noticed was the patch of blood on the side of Elliot’s face.
“I wonder what happened to him,” Fiona thought, reaching over and touching his beard with some trepidation.
“I wonder what happened to his hover,” Francis added, trying to catch his breath as the rain ran in thick rivulets across his face.
He was not built for this kind of work the way that Nathan was. The blond boy was of average build and not particularly athletic. Despite this, he had been bearing the lion’s share of Elliot’s weight, but had not complained about it once, unlike Fiona.
“Without it, he’ll be just as stuck on Fervor as the rest of us. He was crazy to think that he would make it here without getting caught. They had everything all calculated out before this all started. They didn’t want anyone interfering with their plans, especially not someone from the mainland. Things were supposed to go as scheduled. They won’t be pleased about this. The punishment will be harsh.”
Sam was surprised. This was more than they had gotten out of Francis in the last year. Perhaps Sarah had been right after all. Perhaps by showing their hand, he would be willing to show them more of his.
“Is that what you are afraid of, Francis?” the smaller boy asked. “Are you afraid that if you don’t follow the Directives, that if you tell us too much, they’ll punish you too?”
Before the Teller could answer, Fiona spoke up within the connection.
“What is that, around his neck?”
The two boys looked to see what she was referring to. There was a black case suspended on a strap that rested on Elliot’s chest. The strap had been knotted so that the loop was too small to fit over the man’s head. It was something that he had secured purposefully so that he would not lose it.
“The Languorite,” Sam guessed. “Maybe that’s the Languorite.”
Francis went to reach for the case, but then hesitated. After displaying an unexplained twitchiness, he withdrew his hand again.
“No, it would be silly to look at it out here. Besides, it’s only short stretch more to the house, and Sarah is waiting for him. I think I’m rested enough to make it now,” the Teller suggested.
They positioned themselves around the unconscious man again, and struggled through the remainder of the journey to their door. Once inside, they hastened to get Elliot into Sarah’s room and lay him on their Fixer’s bed.
Francis’s twitching was now rather pronounced. He chocked it up to physical exertion and stumbled his way back to his own room. Had Sarah not been so preoccupied with Elliot, she likely would have followed him, just to make sure that he actually was okay. Instead, she leaned over their technician friend, trying to make the connection that she would need to start healing him.
“It’s so faint,” Sarah lamented to Sam. “I don’t know if I can make this work.”
“You have to at least try,” Sam pointed out. “This is Elliot that we are talking about. We need him.”
“It wouldn’t matter who it was, Sam. I’m a Fixer; I would have to try anyway. I’m just saying that this is going to be really difficult. I need you to prepare yourself for the fact that I might not succeed. That certainly doesn’t mean I won’t try, it just means that there is a possibility that I’ll fail.”
Sarah pushed Sam away after that. She threw up her walls as solidly as she could manage so there would be little to disrupt her concentration on Elliot. Resting her small head on his chest, with one hand perched atop his ribs, and the other gripping Elliot’s shoulder, she closed her eyes and went to work.