Christian Short Stories




SET FREE
By Connie Lanyon-Roberts

I'm developing this story into a screenplay. I would really appreciate your prayers for this project. God bless you.

Fifteen year-old Tommy Richards rushed to his locker, removed his books and backpack and rushed down the school corridor. His father, Matthew, was waiting for him in the parking lot. Matthew saw Tommy coming out of the Administration Office and waved to his son.

“Tommy, over here!” Matthew called out.

Matthew opened the passenger door and Tommy slipped in.

“You got your pass?” Matthew asked.

Tommy held the pass in his hand. “Yep.”

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Matthew asked.

“Dad, I told you, I can handle it,” Tommy replied as he threw his books and backpack into the back seat.

Matthew raised his eyebrows and said. “Okay. Now remember your Uncle Paul won’t recognize you. He hasn’t seen you since you were five and…”

“Dad,” Tommy interrupted his father. “I know. Don’t worry, I’m not going to freak out. Okay?”

Matthew watched his son for a long moment, nodded and then started the engine.

Two hours later Matthew and Tommy arrived at the Claremont State Hospital and made their way to the recreation room. There they found Paul Richards, Mathew’s older brother. Matthew was horrified to see Paul’s condition. Paul had deteriorated in the year since his last visit, looking at least ten years older than his 45 years. Paul, sitting alone at a table in the corner of the room, looked out the barred window. He sat on his hands and rocked from side to side as he mumbled softly to himself.

Tommy looked up at his Dad and saw the pained look on his father’s face. “Dad, are you okay?”

The words caught in Matthew's throat and he could only give his son a reassuring pat on the back. He took a deep breath to control his emotions. “Let’s go meet your Uncle,” Matthew finally said.

As they approached Paul’s body was wracked with tics. Tommy swallowed hard but for his father’s sake he was determined not to show his fear.

“Paul? Paulie, it’s Matthew,” Matthew said softly.

After a long silence Paul looked up at his brother. “Matty, is that you?”

“Yes, it’s me, Paulie,” Matthew answered.

Paul jumped out of his seat and buried his face in Matthew’s shoulder. “They’re coming for me, Matty!” Paul sobbed.

“No one’s coming for you, Paulie,” Matthew said as he guided his brother back to his chair. “Robyn sends her love.”

Paul looked up and then at his brother. “But I saw them…last night…in the sky. There was a bright light!” Paul whispered as tears streamed down his face.

As Matthew sat Paul in his seat he looked over at Tommy and saw the anxious look on his son’s face. “Tommy, maybe you should wait for me outside.”

“I’m okay, Dad, really.” Tommy said reassuringly.

“Paul, do you remember my son, Tommy?” Matthew asked.

Paul slowly turned his gaze from his brother’s face to Tommy. A confused look crossed his face. “Tommy?” Paul asked. “Who’s Tommy?”

“He’s my son, remember I told you?”

Paul began to sob. “I don’t remember, Matty! What’s happening to me? Please! Please help me! Help me! Help me! HELP ME!”

A male nurse rushed over to them. “What’s the problem here?” he asked irritably.

“Nothing’s the matter,” Matthew said. “He just got a little excited, that’s all.”

“Well you better shut him up! He’s disturbing the rest of the patients! Take him outside or to his room,” the nurse said crossly.

“Hey, Paulie, let’s go outside for a nice walk, okay?” Matthew said softly.

“But they’re out there,” whispered Paul, clutching his hands tightly onto Matthew's jacket. “They’ll come and get me!”

“I won’t let them get you. I promise. You’ll be safe with us,” Matthew said.

Slowly Paul got to his feet and allowed his brother to guide him outside to the gardens. Matthew found a bench under a large oak tree and sat Paul in the center. As Matthew sat beside his brother he gestured for Tommy to join them. Paul looked around desperately and whimpered as Tommy sat beside him. “Who’s he?” Paul asked.

“Paulie, this is my son, Tommy,” Matthew said. “He came with me today so he could meet you.”

“Hello, Uncle Paul,” Tommy said as he extended his hand to his uncle.

Paul looked at Tommy’s hand apprehensively and then shook the boy’s hand. “Hello,” Paul said. “You look like your dad.”

Tommy smiled. “Yes, sir. That’s what everyone says.”

“Your father’s a good man, Tommy.” Paul said proudly. “He’s always taken good care of me.”

Paul’s words ripped into Matthew’s heart like a knife. He knew he could do so much more for Paul, but somehow, more important things, like family and his job had always come before his brother.

Paul turned to Matthew and whispered. “They’ve come back.”

“Who’s back?” Tommy asked.

Paul turned to Tommy. “The aliens. They’ve come to take me with them. But that’s why you’re here, isn’t it? Isn’t it? You’re going to stop them, aren’t you?”

Tommy’s eyes widened in shock. He realized his uncle wasn’t just disturbed as he first thought but his uncle was totally insane.

Matthew and Tommy listened to Paul rant on about aliens for several minutes until Matthew couldn’t take it any longer.

“Paul, listen to me. We have to go now. I promise I’ll come back and see you soon,” Matthew said.

Paul panicked. “No! You can’t leave me! They’ll get me! Don’t you understand! Please help me!”

Matthew tried to calm his brother but Paul became hysterical and screamed. “HELP ME, MATTY! DON’T LEAVE ME! PLEASE!”

“Paul, stop it!” Matthew said. “Calm down!”

Paul tried to pull away from Matthew’s grasp. “NO! NO! I’VE GOT TO GET AWAY FROM HERE! PLEASE TAKE ME HOME! I’VE GOT TO GET AWAY!”

Tommy tried to help his father but Paul accidentally struck him across the chest and sent the boy crashing to the ground.

“Tommy!” Matthew shouted.

Before Tommy could respond the male nurse appeared and injected Paul with a syringe. Paul screamed. “NO! NO! DON’T!”

Slowly Paul lost consciousness and became limp in Matthew’s arms. Matthew was furious with the nurse. “You didn’t have to do that! I could have handled him!”

“That’s not what it looked like to me. I’ll get a wheelchair,” the nurse said.

“Never mind,” Matthew said angrily. “I’ll take him.”

Matthew lifted his brother in his arms and carried him to his room. He gently placed Paul on the bed. Matthew could no longer control his emotions and burst into tears. Tommy went to Matthew’s side and wrapped his arm around his father’s shoulders.

****

On their way home Tommy glanced at his father. Matthew had not said a word since they had left the hospital.

“Dad? What exactly is wrong with Uncle Paul?” Tommy asked.

“I’m hungry,” Matthew said ignoring the question. “Want to join me for a burger?”

“Sure.”

Matthew and Tommy bought their burgers and found a picnic table in a park near the restaurant. After Tommy had nearly finished his meal he noticed his father hadn’t touched his food.

“I thought you were hungry,” Tommy said.

“I’ve lost my appetite.”

“Can I have your fries,” Tommy asked.

“Yeah, sure,” Matthew said as he slid the fries toward Tommy.

Tommy again asked. “So, Dad, what’s wrong with Uncle Paul?”

“Your uncle’s been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Do you know what that is?”

Tommy nodded. “I’ve heard of it. What happened to him?”

“Well, when your uncle was ten, he was invited to a sleepover at one of his friend’s house. They lived across town so the boys parents volunteered to pick Paulie up and on their way home, they were in an accident. They were hit by a semi. The boy and his parents were killed instantly and Paulie was critically injured. He was in the hospital for several months and when he came home he was different, he’d changed. There was a haunted look in his eyes. He was on pain medication for a very long time and then he seemed to get better. He seemed to be the same old Paulie. It wasn’t until he was in high school that we learned he was addicted to pain killers which led to more lethal drugs. Eventually he became hooked on heroin and he went downhill from there. One day he took an overdose in grandma’s bathroom. Luckily I had to go because I’m the one who found him. He was taken to the hospital and when he woke up he told us he had taken the drugs so he could stop the pain, stop the voices, stop the aliens from taking him.”

Matthew cleared his throat to gain control of his voice. “He had tried to commit suicide…anyway he’s been in care ever since. The reason I don’t visit him often is because it always ends up like what you witnessed today. I can’t bear to see his fear and how tormented he is so I stay away as much as I can. I know that’s a cop out…”

“I understand, Dad. It’s not a pretty sight.”

“You know he didn’t mean to hit you.”

“I know,” Tommy said. “He caught me off balance and I fell on my butt like a girl.”

Matthew chuckled. “Are you sure you’re all right?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Tommy said as he took a drink of his soda.

“That’s why I’ve never brought you or Tracy to see him,” Matthew said. “I know how frightening it can be.”

“But isn’t there anything else that can be done for him?” Tommy asked.

“I know the doctors have tried different types of medication, but nothing’s helped. Your mom and I have been praying for his healing, and, well, we’re still waiting,” Matthew said.

“So what’s with the aliens?” Tommy asked.

“The doctors seem to think that Paul somehow construed the lights from the semi to be an alien spaceship. Makes sense, I guess. The boy’s parents had a small car and the semi’s lights would have been sitting high as it crashed into them.”

****

Tracy knocked on her brother’s door before she entered. Tommy was on his cell phone with his friend Martin. “Hey, I’ve got to go. I’ll catch you later,” Tommy said and hung up.

“So what was it like?” Tracy asked as she sat on Tommy's bed. “Was he scary? Were you scared?”

“No to both questions. It wasn’t scary, it was really sad,” Tommy said.

“Sad? Really? Maybe I should go with Dad next time.”

“I wouldn’t recommend it,” Tommy said.

“That bad?”

“That place sucks. Nobody deserves to live in a dump like that. I wish there was something we could do for Uncle Paul,” Tommy said.

“What can we do that Dad isn’t already doing?” Tracy asked.

“I don’t know, just thinking out loud I guess,” Tommy said.

“Anyway,” Tracy said as she got up to leave. “Mom said dinner’s almost ready. See you downstairs.”

“Yeah.”

After Tracy left the room Tommy went to his computer and typed the word schizophrenia into the search engine.

For weeks Tommy read everything he could get his hands on about his Uncle Paul’s condition. What he was after was the Christian perspective on this mental disorder. His diligence finally panned out on a trip to a Christian bookstore. There he found a book that he believed was God sent.

****

Tommy and his friends Martin and Alan ate their lunch on a grassy knoll on the school grounds away from other students.

“I’m telling you, we can do this,” Tommy said.

“Tommy, look,” Martin said. “I know you want to do this for your uncle, but I’m telling you it’s a bad idea. Why don't you and your Dad do it?”

"Come on, you know my Dad. He would never agree to do this," Tommy said.

"Well there you go...," Martin said.

Tommy interrupted. “Look, all we have to do is get Uncle Paul into the car. We’ll take him somewhere private and do it there.”

“Have you ever heard of the word kidnapping?” Alan asked.

“Oh come on, he’s my uncle. We’re not kidnapping him,” Tommy said.

“Then what do you call it?” Alan asked.

“We’re just borrowing him for awhile. We're going to take him back and nobody will ever know the difference,” Tommy explained.

“Why don’t we just do it in his room?” Martin suggested.

“I’ve thought of that, but I don’t think they’ll let all of us in there with him at the same time. I’m not sure if they’ll even let me see him without my Dad,” Tommy said.

“What if he puts up a fight?” Martin asked.

“Martin, you’re a football player and you’re the size of a house. You can handle him if he gets a little excited,” Tommy answered.

“Man, I don’t know about this. Do you think it’ll work?” Martin asked.

“Look, do we believe the bible is the Word of God?”

“Yes,” the boys answered simultaneously.

“And what’s in the bible is the truth?”

“Yes,” the boys answered again.

“Then it’s a no brainer,” Tommy said.

“What if we get caught?” Martin asked. “You know our parents will kill us and then ground us until we’re 50.”

“If we get caught,” Tommy said. “We’ll just say we were taking Uncle Paul for ride, or something.”

“But how do you know he’ll be in the rec room?” Alan asked. “He could be in his room when we get there.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll figure something out,” Tommy said. “So are you in?”

Martin and Alan looked at each other. “I’m in,” Alan said.

“Yeah, I guess I’m in too,” Martin said reluctantly.

Go to Set Free - Part 2 to continue reading this story.

(© 2010 Connie Lanyon-Roberts – All rights reserved. Written material may not be duplicated without permission.)


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