Castle Roland

The Clone Chronicles

by Steve Williams


Chapter 7

Published: 17 Mar 16

The Clone Chronicles

Copyright 2003-2016 Steve Williams
All rights Reserved

Day 7

Today I wake early. Dressing in my sweats, I go check on the boys. Ian is curled almost in a ball, while Alex looks ready to fall out of bed. His head and left arm hang over the side.

Having briefly spoken with Rich last night, I find that he is already setting up on the patio. Heading back to the rooms, I knock on Gordon's door and hear a grunt in return. I kneel next to Ian for another moment just watching him, as he sleeps, wondering what his dreams are like.

"Ian, time to wake up son," I say rubbing his back.

Ian wakes, first blinking, then rubbing his eyes to clear them. He looks at me, as his eyes focus. His smile brightens up the room. He reaches out to me, much like a baby and I pull him into a hug, kissing his forehead. I pull him to arm's length and look into his eyes.

"Good morning, Ian," I say slowly.

Guh moring," he tries.


"Gud," he tries


"Muning," he tries.

"Close enough," I pull him into a bear hug, then point him to the bathroom.

"Good morning, Steve," Alex yawns.

"Morning, Alex. Did you guys sleep well?"

Ian goes to sleep fast, but he rolls around at night."

I know somebody who tends to kick at night," Gordon says from the door. "Morning all."

'Hi dad," Alex says with a wave.

Ian comes back, carrying the overnights, which appear dry. I point to his dresser and he grabs underwear, then comes over to me.

"You get yourself dressed," I tell him.

He stands there waiting, so I finally give in and help him dress. Alex finishes dressing and I send him off with his dad to get ready for breakfast. As Ian and I walk toward the living room, we hear laughter from Gordon's room.

There is a slight crispness to the air, during breakfast this morning. I'm working with Rich on the food. He sets up the griddles and we are cooking bacon, eggs, sourdough pancakes and hot chocolate.

As I watch Ian, I see that some things are almost routine, while others are still new. He is drinking much easier and handling eating utensils better. He still needs to work on bite sizes and chewing properly.

"Gordon, how do you feel about taking a day off?" I ask quietly. "We can do more hiking, some exercising and swimming."

"I think that might be a good idea, but we still need to work with Ian on his words."

"I know this is your area, but I just want to take it easy today. Like a regular weekend. With the problems, I don't want him to get frustrated."

"I think that's workable," Gordon responds. "I have done more thinking on our discussion of yesterday morning."

We pause as rich pours more hot chocolate. I wonder for a moment about talking with the boys here, then remember they are both involved. I nod to Gordon, who continues.

"For lack of a better description, I think Ian is responding, like an autistic child. I believe he is taking everything in. There is just a short in the output area." He holds up a hand before I can say anything. "He is NOT autistic. However, it may be beneficial to use some of the same focusing techniques, to help him with his words. Kind of like you did this morning. A couple of repetitions, then move on."

"I'll do that, but I think that today I would like to spend some time alone with Ian. Perhaps you two can also go off for some quality time by yourselves."

"That sounds like a good idea," Gordon responds.

"Let's do whatever, then after lunch, we'll get with Rich?" I make this a question, as I glance to Rich, who nods. We gather our dishes and Rich heads back to the kitchen.

I take Ian into the house for a quick toilet break and to get a pack and water bottles. Taking him by the hand, we start to head out.

"Alex!" Ian calls, pulling back.

"It's just you and me today Ian," I explain pulling him to me.

As we walk away from the house, Ian keeps looking back for Alex, but does not fight as we start our hike. I can see that Ian is bonding with Alex and I'm concerned that he may be getting too attached. I worry about what will happen when we leave the island.

I don't know which way Gordon took, but I want to explore the northwest section of the island. Leaving the house complex, we go over to the lagoon area. There is a small bridge over what looks like a creek. We turn and follow the creek away from the shore, heading west. After only a few minutes, the creek widens and becomes a pond. The slight breeze of the morning causes soft swells on the surface. It's like looking at the top of a waterbed. Out on the surface, there are some ducks bobbing on the waves. I point them out to Ian.

"Ducks," I tell him.

"Dux," Ian responds, close enough with his development.

Yes, Ducks," I say clapping. Ian beams with pride.

There are rocks scattered around the pond and I find a few flat ones. Slowly, I show them to Ian. I put them in his hand, helping him feel the rough, yet smooth texture.

As Ian watches, I carefully grip the small stone. Slowly I bring my arm back and throw the rock. It skips about four times before sinking.

"You want to try?" I ask, holding out a stone.

Ian slowly reaches out and takes the stone. I help him grip it and slowly move his arm through the throwing motion.

"Go ahead," I tell him.

Ian pulls his arm back and throws the stone. The angle is close, but lacks the power to skip. Ian seems to like the splash though.

"Try again," I say, handing him another stone.

He tries and manages to get two skips before the stone sinks. We spend several minutes skipping stones, before resuming our hike.

In the trees, across from the lake, I notice what seems to be a trail. We walk over and start up the path. I notice that it is a foot path and not made by the small animals, on the island. As we cross under the canopy of trees, Ian reaches out and takes my hand.

After only a few yards, the trees part to reveal a small, yet strangely beautiful meadow. The field is filled with wild flowers and short grass. We see a couple of deer dart into the trees, as we enter. The flowers are scattered around, like a patchwork quilt in every color.

I take Ian in and we stop to smell some of the flowers, without picking them. Ian lets go of my hand and starts to wander around. I sit down among the flowers and just watch Ian. Once again, it is new experiences as he looks at flowers, insects, a rabbit and whatever catches his eye.


I must have checked out for a minute. When I look around, at first I don't see Ian and I'm worried but don't know why.


I hear a whimper over my shoulder and turn to see Ian. He is looking at his hand and I walk over to him.

"What's wrong, Ian?" I ask.

He holds up his hand and I see some spots of blood. Looking down, I realize that he has grabbed the stem of a small wild rose. His bleeding is slight, so I get the first aid kit out of my pack and clean his hand with an antiseptic wipe. By the time I'm done, he has stopped bleeding.

"There you go. Is that better?" I ask, giving him a hug. Then it hits me like a brick. Kneeling down I take him by the shoulders.

"Ian, what did you call me?"

"Dad" he says. He leans into me as I hug him and we fall back into the grass of the meadow.

"I love you Ian," I say, through my tight throat.

"I love you dad," Ian says, hugging me tight.

I sit there, just holding him for several minutes, while I get a grip on myself. Finally, I'm composed enough, so I take Ian by the hand again and we leave the meadow.

As we walk, I realize that for the first time, Ian has spoken a sentence and his words seem quite clear. I reach down and pick up a small stone and I ask Ian, "Ian, what's this?"

"Rock," he says.

I point to a flower. "What is that?"


"Very good. Who am I?"


"What's my name?"


We get back to the pond and start walking around it again. Ian is on the water side and I move us closer to the shoreline. As we walk, around the south end of the pond, I keep talking to Ian, checking his words. Suddenly, I bump him, sending him splashing into the water. With a shocked squeal, he runs back toward the shore. I grab him and pull him back into the water, where we splash around for a few minutes.

When we start getting cold, we move out of the water, grab the backpack and head toward the house. It's a warm day and we are mostly dry by the time we get back. I see Rich on the patio, starting to set up for lunch. I don't yet see Gordon or Alex.

"Why don't you go take a shower?" I suggest to Ian.

"You come," Ian responds, reaching out for me.

I walk with Ian to the boys' room, where he quickly undresses, putting his clothes in the hamper.

"You shower?" he asks, seeing that I'm still dressed.

"You get in your shower. I'll use mine.."

"You shower," Ian says more urgently.

"Ian, it's okay," I say, taking his hand. He is trembling. "You take your shower. I'll stay with you."

I nudge him toward the shower. He slowly moves over and turns the water on. With my continued encouragement, he gets in and starts to clean up. He has learned to use shampoo and does a fairly good job of using the soap. The water warms him, but doesn't seem to sooth him. Deciding that he's clean enough, I get a towel and hold it up.

"Okay, Ian, that's enough," I say, shaking the towel.

Ian turns the water off and almost runs into my arms. I wrap the towel around him, like a cocoon. In spite of the warm water, he is still trembling.

"What's the matter, Ian?" I ask gently.

"I'm scared," he responds with tears in his eyes.

Still wrapped in the towel, I pick Ian up and move to my room and set him down next to the chair. I quickly dry him off, then grab a light blanket from the bed, wrap him in that and lay him on the bed. My mind is going twenty directions because of Ian's new vocabulary. He seems to have jumped a couple of years during our walk.

"It's okay, Ian. Nothing will hurt you here." I kneel next to the bed, brushing my fingers through his hair as I talk. "I won't let anyone hurt you."

He seems to calm down as I talk.

"Will you stay here while I take a shower?"

I slowly move off and start to gather clean clothes. When Ian starts to follow, I have him lay down again, then I move into the bathroom and quickly take a shower of my own. Every couple of minutes I say something to Ian, so he knows things are okay. After I dry and dress, I move back into the room. Ian is asleep on my bed. Hearing noises in the other room, I move out to speak to Gordon.

"Hi Gordon. Ian's asleep in my room, if Alex needs to clean up before lunch."

"Where did you guys go?" Gordon asks.

"We walked around the pond in the middle of the island. Something's happened though and I think we need to talk during lunch." I glance at my watch. "Speaking of which, I'd better get Ian ready."

I hurry to the boys' room and get clothes for Ian and head back. It seems that he was either very hot or his sleep is disturbed. He is now sideways on the bed and totally uncovered.

"Ian, wake up," I say gently.

His eyes open and he sits up.

"Let's get you dressed," I say, holding out his underwear.

"Toilet," he says, climbing off the bed.

"Go ahead," I say, pointing to my bathroom.

Again, Ian seems to want me to go with him.

"I am right here. Everything is all right."

His need to use the bathroom is stronger than whatever he fears and he slowly moves into the bathroom. I sit there, holding his under shorts, with my heart aching. I know his fear is real, but not knowing the cause, I have no way to help Ian overcome his anxiety. I also realize that I have not heard him express any worry before and wonder how he knows this is fear.

"Remember to wash your hands," I remind him, as the toilet flushes. I hear the water in the sink, then my boy streaks across the room and into my arms. Again he has tears on his face. I hold him a moment, to comfort us both, then push him back and hold out his shorts.

"Come on, let's get you dressed. Alex and Gordon are waiting for us so we can have lunch."

As I hand Ian his clothes, he gets dressed.

"I am so proud of your progress, Ian," I say as he pulls on his shirt. "You are doing so very well."

Since he still has trouble with shoes, I have him give me one foot at a time and help him put his sandals on.

"Ian, can you say 'Hi Alex'; for me?"

"Hi Alex," he responds.

"How about 'Hi Gordon'?'

"Hi Gordon."

"Wonderful. When we go in, I want you to say that to them. Do you think you can?"

Ian nods vigorously and I see a slight smile on his face.

"Let's go have lunch," I say, taking him by the hand.

The house is quiet as we walk through. I'm starting to wonder where everyone is, when I hear Alex laughing outside. Going outside, I see Alex and Gordon throwing a sponge ball at each other, battle style. I nudge Ian.

"Hi Alex. Hi Gordon," he says clearly.

Alex is so surprised, he forgets to dodge and gets a ball square in the face. Gordon just stands there, watching.

"Don't forget Rich," I tell Ian, turning him to see the cook.

"Hi Rich," Ian says with a wave.

"Hi Ian," Rich responds. "That sounds great. Are you hungry?"

Ian looks at me.

"Hungry," I repeat, rubbing my stomach.

"Hungry," Ian says."

"Go eat," I say, propelling him toward Rich and the food. Alex is moving that way, so Ian joins his friend.

Gordon is still standing there, mouth agape, with a sponge ball in his hand. I pick one up and throw it at Gordon's head.

"Earth to Gordon. Are you going to eat or catch flies?"

"Have I been asleep, or am I asleep now? Have I missed something?" he asks, walking over to me.

The boys get their food and move to the grass. As Gordon and I fill our plates, I explain to him and Rich. I tell them about our hike, Ian calling me dad when he hurt his hand. I tell them about his fear.

"I just can't figure why he is afraid and it tears me up."

Gordon holds up a hand to stop me.

"Steve, remember that fear is a primal feeling. Without fear, we would no longer exist as humans. I believe most babies go through stages of fear, continuing up to four or five years of age. Lots of kids need comfort blankets or suck their thumb. Most of that is security based."

"So it may be that fear is just the first emotion Ian is able to express?" I ask.

"That's very likely. I believe we all need to understand fear before we experience other feelings. I'm more interested in what happened with his speech. He's talking quite clearly."

"Like I told you, he hurt himself, called me dad and since then seems to have jumped a couple of years forward in his speech. He still seems to struggle though. When I was getting him to shower, he wanted me with him but could only say 'you shower' while pulling at me."

"I think that's pretty appropriate. We haven't spent much time on sentence structure."

"Somehow, Gordon, I think the two events are linked. Hear me out." I pause to compose my thoughts. "Pain and pleasure can both cause a flow of brain endorphins; synapses fire and links are fused, causing Ian to perform better somehow."

While talking, we had loaded our plates with burgers, macaroni salad and Jell-O. Now we both sit and eat for a few minutes. Gordon finally breaks the silence.

"You could be right, Steve. About all I can do is test Ian and see what improvement is there."

"Sounds like a good plan for tomorrow. Today is still time off."

We lapse into silence as we finish our lunch. Rich asks for an hour before we bring the boys in for cookies, so we take them into the house. I grab a book and take Ian to the couch and read to him. As I read, Ian leans back against me, as if he had been doing so for ten years.

When cookie time comes, Gordon and I take the boys over to the cookhouse. Rich has all the ingredients measured out and set aside. For the next 3 hours, we watch and help as the boys cut the cookies out in different shapes and decorate them. They trace their hands and cut out a cookie for Gordon and me. Then they press their thumbs in the center of some of the round cookies which are filled with chocolate drops or jelly and perhaps most important, love.

When we finally finish with the cookies, it is nearly dinner time. To make things easier on Rich, I suggest that we use the charcoal grill for hot dogs, add chips and cans of soda. All on disposable dishes. He quickly agrees.

Dinner is quickly devoured and though it's not really cold, I decide to start a campfire. Near the grill is a fire pit with lots of wood. Ian watches intently as I carefully lay out the tinder, kindling and the larger logs. He jumps back in surprise when I light it and flames start jumping up.

Pulling up canvas chairs, we all sit around the fire. Rich leaves for a couple of minutes and comes back with Graham crackers, chocolate bars and marshmallows. We toast a couple of marshmallows and then introduce Ian to S'mores. I even let him try toasting a couple of marshmallows for himself, guiding his hand and instructing him to be careful, so they don't burn. Gordon, Rich and I tell a few stories but soon fall quiet just listening to the sounds of nature that surround us. In the silence of the woodland evening, we hear an owl, bull frog, crickets and several sounds we can't identify. Ian's chair is next to mine and as he reaches out to take my hand, I feel content and believe that all is right with the world.

The boys are soon nodding, so Gordon and I take them to bed. Going back to the fire, I know that now would be a good time to talk, but I opt to keep the peaceful feelings instead. Tomorrow is soon enough. When the fire dies down, we pour a bucket of water over it, say goodnight and head for our rooms. Unlike other nights that seem too short, I sleep very soundly tonight. My dreams are of Ian growing up and doing wonderful things.

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