Pure and simple, wrote from the heart and some imagination. Excuse the mistakes all mine, can’t have them, just read and ignore them. Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoy.
“Has he said anything to you yet.”
“No, he hasn’t spoken. He just stares.”
“We’ll have to keep a close eye on him until we can get Sam to look at him.”
Murdoch wrapped a blanket around his youngest. “Come on son. Let’s get going.”
He did respond to his fathers voice at first, then he looked around and the surrounding made him hesitate. He stepped back and didn’t move.
“John, son, we need to move. We need to get you home.” He still didn’t move.
Murdoch stepped closer to him and waited, but Johnny just stood there staring out and not really looking.
“Scott, get on his other side. Val get the horses.”
They each placed a hand on his arms and guided him to the horse and helped him mount. His action were not his own. His eyes were haunted as he stared out into nothing. He would not move if not moved. He was completely numb and expressionless, except when he looks back at his prison.
“Murdoch, I’ve never seen him like this, even under dangerous circumstances. Johnny’s never been… like this.” Val’s concern was valid. Neither of them had ever seen this young man so withdrawn and unresponsive.
“How long, Murdoch?” Scott held the reigns of Johnny’s horse
“I venture to say that it was longer than we knew he was missing. What did he go through to be this affected? His father patted his leg. “You’re safe now Johnny. You’re safe.”
As they started to ride away, Johnny’s face turned toward the hole, the hellhole that kept him captive in a never-ending darkness. He did not stop staring back to his hell. The hole they did not see, but he knew was there.
The rode home slowly and watched him for any reaction to familiar sights. There was none.
Once they were home, they guided him inside and sat him on the couch. He just sat there without moving or fighting them. There was not life in him until Murdoch started got the fire going in the fireplace.
Johnny expression became filled with anxiety as he started to grab the edge of the couch with clinched fist. The fire stirred up some memories, real or his imagination, but it was fear.
“Hell, I’m in hell.” It was a soft whisper at first. Then he abruptly stood and moved away. “Get me out of hell. GET ME OUT OF HELL!” He turned to run, but after a few steps, he stopped at the French doors and collapsed.
Scott carried him to his room. “Sir, we can’t know what he went through unless…”
Murdoch was not listening to him, so Scott just stood back and let his father care for his little brother.
Murdoch wiped his forehead clean and examined the wounds. Two were deep, but no longer bleeding. There were quite a few bruises. They waited for Sam and watched him carefully. He did not budge. His breathing was soft and shallow.
Sam finally got there and examined Johnny. They waited in the hall for what seemed forever. Sam finally came out with a solemn look.
“He’s in shock, bring him another blanket and prepare this tea for him to drink, hurry. I’ve elevated his feet above his heart to get some blood flowing. He lost blood, but not enough to cause concern for now. He’s a bit hypothermic, as well.”
He walked back into the room and they followed him. Sam placed the blanket on Johnny, lifted his head and gave him some warm tea with honey.
“John, son, look at me.” Sam moved his face towards him. John released a deep breath.”
“Sam, Sam… please, make it go away. Please, get me out of here.” He started to curl into a ball.
Sam tucked him in to keep him warm. “Johnny, I need your legs to be elevated for a while. Can you do that for me?”
He nodded, reached for Sam’s hand and then stretched out slowly, but kept his eyes closed.
“It… it’s cold. I can’t sleep. I don’t want to stay. Please help me. Make it go away.” He started to shiver and breathing harder.
“He’s hyperventilating.” Sam wrapped his arms around him and began to whisper in his ears in a very calmly voice. “Shhh, Johnny. You’re safe now. You’re at home. Breathe slowly, calm down, and slow steady breaths. Shhhh.” He kept repeating these words and rubbing his back.
Johnny finally calmed down and relaxed. They gave him some more herbal tea that helped with shock. Sam kept him warm and his legs up above the level of his heart until he started to see a more responsive Johnny.
After a long while, Johnny started to react to his surrounding. Sam was able to clean up his wounds and check out the bruises. “Johnny. What happened? You need to tell me so I can help you.”
He just held on to the blanket and let Sam complete his examination. He was now showing signs of exhaustion and his eyes were drooping.
“I think we can let him sleep now. Johnny, do you feel like sleeping now? Do you think you can?”
Johnny nodded. “Sam…” He quickly opened his eyes. “Sam, don’t leave me… please.”
Sam continued to hold him until he fell asleep. “Where did you all find him?”
He was near the road, filthy, muddy, his clothes were torn, had some bruises, bloody cuts and scraps. When we got closer, he just ignored us and kept walking.” Murdoch caressed his son’s forehead. “Sam what can cause this sort of reaction in a man?”
Sam sat on the edge of the bed. “We won’t know until he is ready to tell us. Meanwhile, I’ll be staying with him should he wake up, he’ll be looking for me.”
Val knocked on the door. “Murdoch, Scott and I were talking and we’d like to ride out to where we found him, have a look around and maybe we can find something to help figure out what happened to him.”
“Thank you Val. That sounds like a good idea. Be careful, please.”
Scott moved in after Val. “Sir, is there anything you might need before we leave?”
“No son, Go and please take extreme care.” Murdoch walked up to hold on to his sons shoulder then proceeded to walk them out the front door.
Johnny woke up a few times, breathing heavily, disoriented, and scared. Sam’s presence and immediate touch put him at ease. He’d look at Sam, as if trying to make sure he was real and not a figment of his imagination. Sam had to talk to him for a few minutes, until his eyes would once more close and he’d go into his restless slumber.
After several hours, Val and Scott returned with the answers they were looking for.
Murdoch greeted them and started to inquire about what they’d found.
“It seems that Johnny had fallen into a ground well. Someone attempted to cover it up, but with time the wood rotted and scrubs, leave and vines covered it up. He must have walked on it and fallen through.” Scott just bowed his head thinking of the horror his brother might have gone through without anyone around to hear his plead for help.
“We found signs where he must of crawled to get out. Must have been Johnny’s grabbing the edge. How long was he gone fer?” Val wanted to know the length of time his friend might have been down in the well.
“He wasn’t due back for two weeks Val. He was gone for a little over a week. We thought he was at Stockton.” Everyone just remained silent. “If it weren’t for Barranca returning without him we wouldn’t have gone out to look for him. The horse’s reign had branches attached to their ends. So he must have forced his way loose to get back home. God only knows how long he wondered around, grazing, before heading home.” Murdoch ran his hands through his hair in astonishment realizing Johnny’s struggle to get out.
He hurried up to tell Sam what they found.
“I need to re-examine him for any injuries to his spine. I’m sure he has a mild concussion. They might explain his shock symptoms.” Without haste, he uncovered Johnny, who did not stir, and examined his back and neck. “There is some bruising, but nothing to serious. Poor boy, must have tried countless times to climb out and fallen back in. That would explain the bruises, cuts and scraps on his fingers, arms and legs, not to mention his face. God only knows what he went through and for how long.”
Just on cue, Johnny released a moan. “Murdoch?”
Quickly, his father was at his side. Scott and Val were now looking in. “I’m right here son.” He knelt down next to him and took his hand.
“ ‘em home?”
“Yes Johnny, you are home and safely tucked in your bed?”
“Good… don’t want to leave… bed for days. ‘K?” He opened his eyes and gave them a grin.
They smiled when they saw that he was more alert, especially after just waking up.
“Oh, son, if only I could believe that, for days, huh? We’ll see, we’ll see.” He couldn’t refrain a laugh.
Well after a few days, he was back to his normal whining self until he was allowed to move around the hacienda.
He hadn’t wanted to say what went on in the well, not yet, not until the nightmare subsided. They did slowly. He hated waking up wet with sweat and reliving his ordeal.
Sitting in front of the fireplace, he was deep in thought. Murdoch and Scott were playing chest, but keeping a close eye on him. He finally released a deep sigh.
“When you brought me back, I thought I was in hell because of this fire.” He looked away from the fire and chuckled. “A hell I created in my mind.” They looked up and waited for him to continue, which he did.
“Damn, I hadn’t even gotten that far out when mother-nature called and I dismounted Barranca to go and… (He cleared his throat and coughed)…won’t be drinking Teresa’s lemonade before leaving the hacienda on a long trip again.”
He smiled at them and continued. “Last thing I remember was waking up at the bottom of a well and couldn’t see anything. I was confused at first. Didn’t really know where I was or how I got there. Kept… God, my head hurt. Guess I hit it hard and kept loosing consciousness. Every time I’d wake up, I kept feeling lost. It was dark and cold.” He let out a snort. “I couldn’t believe hell was so cold. I actually thought I was in hell.” He stopped and just stared at the floor. “Thought the devil was there to collect my debts.”
Murdoch shook his head and went to sit next to him. “Johnny, there is no debt you own the devil or any evil entity. You are a good person. You’ve helped many who needed help.” Murdoch placed his hand on Johnny’s chest. “You’re heart, son, is pure and good. Don’t ever think yourself unworthy.” He embraced his son, who leaned into the embrace.
“I tried over and over again to climb out, but the sides of the well were so wet and I couldn’t get a good grip to sustain my weight. I lost count of how many times I’d tried to make it to the top. Damn, my arms and legs were so sore.”
They just listened to him. He stood and walked around, pacing uncomfortably, thinking. He stopped and leaned on Murdoch’s desk. “I gave up Murdoch. I just lay there at the bottom and kept falling asleep. I was so cold and sleep was my only escape, but then the dreams kept haunting me. My mind started playing tricks on me.”
Getting a drink, he went back to the couch. “I yelled until my throat hurt. No one heard. Damn, I felt so frustrated at first then I was just plum scared. Hell, I didn’t want to die there, in a hole, felt like I was buried alive. Couldn’t or didn’t want you all thinking I’d run out on you. That scared me more. Not seeing you all anymore and you not knowing what happened to me.” His eyes got watery and he took a big swallow and poured another drink.
“I couldn’t even see the sun. I’d glance up and could barely make out a glimmer of light.” He stood there feeling numb and deep in thought for a while before speaking again. “Shit, whoever dug that well was aiming to get to the center of the Earth, cause it was so damn deep.” He chuckled.
“The dreams were the worst. I tried to stay awake, but… Anyway, I finally stopped feeling sorry for myself and started trying again before I became too weak to stand. I don’t know how many days I was down there, but I was starting to feel the effects of not eating. I did have water that kept dripping from the sides. I guess exhaustion got to me because I thought that little bit of light was the entrance to hell and I didn’t want to climb up to it, so just laid there and stare until it would disappear again.”
“Well, to sum it up, I mustered up the Madrid persona and I tried to climb again. I managed to dig trenches deep enough to secure my boots and I grabbed onto some roots. I used them to pull my self out.” He sat and yawned. “Every time I felt myself start to slip, I’d think of you, my family. I couldn’t let go. My legs and arms were shaking something awful.”
“Didn’t mean to scare you all Murdoch.” Smiling, he just sighed and leaned back on the couch.
“Figured I was in there for about a week, huh? Maybe a bit more?” He looked over to Scott.
“We figured about that amount of time as well.” Scott went to his brother and knelt down next to him. “We went and filled the well up then build a fence around there, just in case.”
“Good, don’t want anyone to go through that type of hell, ever.” He stood and walked to the stairs and turned. “You know if I didn’t have a family who cared, I’d probably still be there. You all were the reason I fought so hard to get out.” He stood, walked away then turned and called out. “Good night.”
Scott and Murdoch just looked at each other and nodded. “We can thank God he loves us as much as we love him and….” Murdoch gulped his drink. “… that Madrid saved him once more.”
“Amen, sir, Amen.”
(Wrote this a long while back. Thought I’d submit it, just for fun.)