Parker had unfurled the sheets and began spreading them across Nick’s bed. He had just taken the rails down, so proud his son was graduating from the cradle to a proper bed. The room was beaming with sunlight from outside, the walls colorful and playfully designed with cartoon characters. Toys put away in a big plastic chest near the closet. He was humming a tune, spreading the sheets out and tucking them underneath the mattress.
“What do you think you’re doing?” A voice called from the door. The figure of a lovely vixen, dressed in a wide-neck green shirt and black leggings; leaning on the door frame, staring at him with those big green eyes.
“I have to get Nicky’s bed ready, Rachel. He’s ready for this.” He insisted.
“This isn’t it.” She shook her head, walking over and wrapping her arms around his chest from behind. “You’re not supposed to be working on this.”
“What should I be doing then, hmm?” Parker smiled back.
“Help him.” She suggested, nodding to the bed. Parker looked back to see baby Nick laying there, bleeding into the sheets from a wound on his chest.
“Oh god, no!” Parker rushed over, placing a paw over his weeping son’s chest. “Nicky! Baby, get help!”
“This isn’t my mess.” Rachel refused.
“Rachel, please!” He begged, swinging back to find Nick had vanished from the bed. The room around him had changed, grown dark and dank. Two cots in the corner with a work station nearby. Aiden as a young cub was fast asleep in a cot next to his. “Nicky? Rachel?” Parker heard his cell phone ring. He recognized it right away, the old green and black display, showcasing a single phone number on the screen. He pulled up the antenna and listened.
“I love you, honey. But don’t you have something you’re supposed to work on?”
“The job coming up.” Parker whispered.
“Always working, but never on the right thing.” She chuckled.
“I can’t do anything till Aiden heads back. I don’t want him mixed up in this.”
“I could work on it if you want?”
“No, no don’t. The last thing you need to be is mixed up in all this.”
“I always will be, Parker.”
“But this is different.”
“Can you find it?”
“The way home? Do you remember where to go?”
“It’s far from here; I don’t have a car yet.” Parker laughed shyly.
“Better get those feet moving.”
“But the job.”
“It’s here, you silly nut. Better hurry, don’t be late for dinner again.”
“I won’t.” Parker nodded, ending the call.
“Dad?” Aiden spoke up from the cot. Parker walked over and took him by the hand.
“Ready to go home?”
“Where is it?”
“Not here. There’s nothing here anymore.” Parker sighed. “Will you help me find the way back?”
“Uh huh!” Aiden cheered. Parker walked toward the door, but before he could put a hand on it, someone began banging violently on it. The metal booming through the room.
“Parker! Are you in there again!?” The voice shouted.
“Oh no.” He cringed. “Not him again.”
“For fuck sake, all you ever do is sit in there playing that stupid guitar and fuck your little girlfriend!”
“Shut up, Daryl!”
“Don’t you tell me to shut up! You little shit, when I get in there you’re going to be sorry!”
“Aiden, through the window, come on!” Parker rushed toward an iron window and into another and rather empty room. Scurrying across, he opened up another steel door and slammed it behind him.
“What the fuck are you doing?” Oshu asked, sitting beside a now full grown Aiden at their work station in Cliffside.
“We should go, he’s on my tail.”
“Well when it happens, we’ll deal.” Oshu nodded.
“Want me to get the RPG?” Bryan offered with a smile.
“No, don’t bother.” Aiden dismissed, spinning around in his chair. “When are you getting back?” Parker took a moment to think about what he was saying.
“Rachel.” He breathed.
“She’s been calling for hours, what gives!?” Aiden demanded.
“I have to find the way back.”
“Want me to pull up directions?” Aiden offered.
“Yes, yes please!” Parker insisted, rushing over to the computer. Placing his hand on Aiden’s shoulder the room and screen flashed and went dark. “Oh no, not a blackout.” Everything in the room was dead silent. Looking around he tried to see anything, a visage, a light, but nothing. Everything was dark. Even his fox eyes could not pierce the black veil that had enveloped the room. A soft sound began to well within, growing steadily louder like a heartbeat. With every thump it grew louder, thump after thump shaking the room, the sound almost deafening until Parker screamed for it to stop. In a rather abrupt huff, he found himself on the floor in Rachel’s room. The walls and ceiling all too familiar. The sound of the birds and cubs playing outside. Parker panted and gasped, trying to shake the image from his mind.
“Huh? Yeah baby?” He called back.
“Can you get Nicky’s bed ready? We’re gonna try to get him out of the crib today.” She advised.
“Sure, yeah I’m on it.” He agreed, picking himself up. Exiting the bedroom and out into the hall, he opened up the closet and picked up a set of sheets. Strolling over into Nick’s room, he set them down on his changing table and stared down at the bed. It was a strange feeling grasping him, like deja’vu but much deeper, feeling it in his very core. “This isn’t the job I’m supposed to work on.” He whispered.
“Dad, can you hear me?” Nick spoke from Parker’s bedside. He ran his paw over his father’s slumbering head a few times before taking his hand. “How’s it going dad? Mom there with you?” He asked, pulling out the little necklace. “Heh, I still remember. Wherever you go, my heart goes with you.” Nick smiled, climbing into the bed, he scooted himself in close to his father without obstructing any of his tubes and let his muzzle rest on his chest. “Want some company? Between Judy’s parents staying with us and the baby, I could really use some sleep.”
“Nicky?” Parker gasped. Still in Nick’s bedroom, locked within his own mind he could see his little cub nestled onto his chest as he lay in Nick’s bed. His little back rising and falling with each breath, giving a little coo with each exhale; clasping his father’s chest fur. Parker smiled and sniffled, running his paw over Nick’s head. “My Nicky.”
“Hey, look at that.” Nick noted, seeing his father crack a smile. “Guess that’s a yes on the nap.” He sighed happily, cuddling up with his father as he lulled off to sleep.