I Can Help You

Chapter 9

It was almost two in the morning before they found somewhere, a cheap, flea-ridden hotel, to stay. The walls were a dirty white; the carpet curled up in the corners, shabby and stained. There were two beds, covered in thin white sheets and cigarette burns. And there was just a sliver of soap in the filthy bathroom, of which had walls coated in graffiti.
"Yuck" Joey said, pulling a face, "We won't be stopping here long"
Jakob looked around nervously. It had been the only hotel that could book into at that time of night, and the cheapest. They had just over $6000, which seamed a lot, but when Joey looked at how long they would have to hide for, and how much they would have to keep moving, it suddenly shrunk to a very small amount. Still, maybe he could get some kind of work and earn more. The hotel didn't allow under eighteens, but Joey had always looked old for his age, and somehow he had gotten in. It certainly wasn't ideal, but it would have to do.
"Do you want to go to bed mate?" he said to Jakob, "I'll tell you a story if you want"
He was trying to make things seem perfectly normal, but he wasn't kidding Jakob, or himself.
"Do I still have to start school?" Jakob asked, "And when's Mum and Dad coming"
That was another thing Joey had forgotten, how on earth they were going to go to school? He knew it wasn't as simple as nipping down to the nearest one and signing up. And he didn't have a hope in hell of convincing anyone he was Jakob's father. School didn't matter much to him, he'd been and just finished his exams. Now he would probably never get his results. He'd been planning to stay for another two years, maybe go to university. But he could see that wasn't going to happen anymore. At least he'd done well in the exams he had done, maybe everything would be alright.
"I don't know about school yet" he said honestly, "Maybe I could try to teach you. Or can you read and stuff already, could Harry do it?"
He was almost used to the idea of Harry, and he'd pieced together he facts. Harry had been Dr Hill's son. He'd had difficulties, though he had been exceptionally bright. Then there had been a fight at home, and Dr Hill had taken Harry to Egypt, where he met some of his future co-workers at Rebirth. But Harry had become ill, and the hospitals in Egypt were less than perfect. He'd died suddenly at the age of fourteen. Dr Hill had frozen his DNA, and used it when cloning Jakob, except, he didn't know about Harry's nightmares, the nightmares which had been passed on to Jakob. He had been lying all along.
"Harry liked school" Jakob said, "He liked science and maths most. I- I don't want to be Harry anymore"
Tears fell down his cheeks, blurring his vision. Perhaps that wasn't a bad thing, the hotel room didn't make nice viewing. Joey hugged him hard.
"Look Jakob" he said firmly, "You and me are on our own here, so we need to stay strong. We need to be here for each other, and forget everything that's happened. Can you do that?"
Jakob nodded.
"Right" Joey said, "Then we need to get to sleep, we'll find somewhere better to stay in the morning"
He carried Jakob to one of the beds, laid him down, and pulled the covers tight around him like a cocoon. Jakob sniffed a final time and closed his eyes. Joey wished he could be settled so easily, but all the worries of a few hours ago were still circling around him like flies. He turned to look again at Jakob, who was sleeping peacefully. That little boy trusted him beyond belief, and Joey wasn't sure he was right to. He would protect Jakob to the end, but he was a poor substitute for Adrienne

"Right" Joey said the next morning, "Let's get shifted out of here and find somewhere a bit better to stay"
He was trying, and failing, to sound cheerful. But Jakob nodded determinedly, grabbed his suitcase and began throwing his things into it. Blinking, Joey did the same, wondering how anyone could ever have said Jakob was evil. He was the same as any other boy his age, except a bit more sensitive. Dr Hill hadn't created a monster, he'd only made a mistake.
"Can I phone Mum?" Jakob asked quietly.
He was obviously worried, but was afraid to show it after what Joey had said the previous night. Joey fished in his pocket for his mobile and passed it to his brother.
"Okay, but make it quick. We need to save the battery. You know the number right?"
Nodding, Jakob punched it into the phone and held it to his ear. His eyes were shut, silently praying that someone would answer.
"Hi Mum" he said suddenly, "... No, we're in a hotel... I'm fine... Joey wanted to... Yeah"
Even from only hearing half a conversation, Joey could tell something was wrong. He couldn't even hear his Mum's voice, but he could sense her fear.
"Give me the phone Jakob" he hissed
Startled at his hostility, Jakob obeyed.
"Mum" Joey said hoarsely, "Are you all right?"
He was expecting a few tears, maybe a little nag about keeping clean or going to bed early while they were away. He certainly wasn't expecting Adrienne's reaction.
"Joey" she sobbed, "Dr Hill, he's told them all these lies. He says Jakob's his son, his little Harry. He's told the police that we kidnapped him; he says he works in a supermarket, and he's never heard of the Rebirth Institution. Joey, they're gonna take him away if they catch you. Please Joey, please don't let them find you. They'll experiment on him; he doesn't count as a person anymore. Oh Joey, why did we do this?"
Joey had no idea if he was supposed to respond.
"And it gets worse, your Dad's in hospital. He's okay, but the armed police shot him. He was trying to kill Dr Hill, that man's evil. I would have killed him myself if I got there first."
Shaking with anger, Joey rubbed the sleeve of his sweater across his eyes.
"I-I need t-to go now" he muttered, "I'm taking Jakob somewhere safer. Tell Dad to get well soon, right."
He pressed the end call button, cut her off. Suddenly filled with rage, Joey smashed the phone against the wall. It cracked along one side, the glass of the screen falling to the floor.
"How's Mum gonna phone us?" Jakob asked innocently
"I don't fucking know" Joey snapped, "Get your stuff together now, unless you wanna stay in this hellhole"
Blinking like a frightened rabbit, Jakob squeaked. He trusted Joey, but he was turning out like Harry's Dad. Harry's Dad had been horrible, he'd always been away. Doing experiments, he's said. He never explained these experiments to anyone; he just went off to his 'facility' as he called it, to work. Once, and only once, Harry asked him what he did there. He was punched in the face.
"I'm sorry mate" Joey said, seeing his face, "I just miss Mum and Dad, that's all."
"And Summer?" Jakob asked
"Yeah" Joey whispered, "You don't know how much"
A loud knock on the hotel room door cut this peaceful moment short, and a booming voice echoed through their ears.
"Joseph Armstrong" it called, "Open the door sonny; we know exactly what's going on. We know your brother's in there too, if you care about him, you'll let us in. He needs help; we know what that doctor's done. Don't do anything stupid Joseph, he might not be your brother, but he hasn't done anything wrong. Open the door for me"
Laughing at their stupidity, Joey walked towards the door. Jakob was his brother, okay he was a little different, but he loved him just as much as he'd loved the old Jakob. He wasn't about to kill him, just because he'd been created in an unorthodox way.
"I'm coming" he said.
They had nothing to fear. If the police knew about Dr Hill's illegal institution, then they would see that they weren't to blame. They could help Jakob, help them all. And they would never hear for Dr Hill again. It didn't work out like that.
"Thanks sonny" the policeman said when the door was opened, "Right, let's not have any bother, Jakob goes with the social worker, and I'll take you home to your parents."
"One of your lot shot my Dad" Joey croaked, "I'm not going with you, especially not without Jakob. He's my brother"
The policeman, who was very large, stroked his moustache.
"No arguments. Miss Jenkins is going to take Jakob away for a few tests, and with a bit of luck find him somewhere to stay. He deserves a family Joey, you can't deny him that."
Jakob squeaked in terror as the social worker attempted to lift him up.
"He has a family" Joey said, "We all love him; he's coming home with me"
"I don't think so" the policeman said, "And if you try fighting me, I'll have you under arrest. And you don't want that, do you Joseph?"
Frozen to the spot, in the middle of the filthy corridor, Joey burst into tears. He didn't know how to make them understand. Jakob wasn't evil, he wasn't a freak. His brain just had a little bit of someone else's life in it. Maybe I wasn't such a back thin, a little bit of Harry was living on in Jakob. And Harry wasn't evil either; he'd just been born to a Dad who didn't understand him. Perhaps even Dr Hill wasn't al bad; maybe what he'd done to Jakob was the only way he could see of seeing his son again. Maybe he'd only done it to give himself a chance to apologise to Harry, because he never got the chance. Joey didn't know what to think anymore. All he knew was that he had to save Jakob, because that would mean saving two lives.
"Alright" he sobbed, falling to his knees, "Take him, just take him. But don't hurt him, please don't hurt him"
"Thanks sonny" the policeman said, kneeling down beside him on the filthy carpet, "I hate breaking up families, but sometimes we just need to. They'll look after Jakob; this'll be a whole new start. He'll have a chance Joey; he doesn't deserve all the fuss at home just now. They've found out who your Dad is, and there's going to be a trial. Don't worry mate, it's Dr Hill that's going to prison, you haven't done anything wrong"
That was all Joey had wanted to hear for four years, that they hadn't done anything wrong"


Dear Summer,

I know it's been a year since we saw each other, and that I'm probably the last person you want to hear from. But so much has happened, and I just want to tell you. Please don't rip this letter up; I really want you to understand.

We're living in LA; my Dad said he always wanted to come back to America. It's pretty nice, but my school's not half as good as Kingston. It's called Glensfield High Everyone knows who I am here, and what we've done. I can't stand everyone knowing, I'd almost forgotten what it's like to be famous, and I don't like it. But before, people would ask nosey questions about my Dad; instead of calling me scum and saying I'm evil. And you know what; I'd take the nosey questions any day. There's one kid who's nice to me, her name's Terri. But now she gets it, so I don't know how long she'll keep hanging around with me. That's what's different about you, you never cared what people thought. I think part of you always knew what was going to happen, but you never talked about it. I don't blame you.

After Dr Hill made up all those lies, saying Jakob was Harry and all that, the police came to our old house. They wanted to arrest my Dad; they said it was all his fault. But my Dad was so angry and confused that he tried to kill Dr Hill, and the armed police shot him. I think Jakob heard the shot, even though we were away down by the lake. We know now that he had supersonic hearing, something that had been given to him through the cloning. My Dad really thought he was going to die then, and he told my Mum to leave him and go to us. She gave us some money and told us to run away and never come back. The authorities were looking for Jakob; they wanted to take him away. In the end I let them; it wasn't fair dragging him through all those trials and experiments. It was best just to let them find him a new home, and the help he needed. I miss him every day, but I know it's not over, and one day we'll meet again.

I still feel sorry for Dr Hill, I shouldn't, but I do. He was in the same position as us, he'd lost his little boy. And all he wanted was a chance to say sorry for the way he'd acted. Science can mess with your head, and he was so wrapped up in his experiments, he forgot Harry. I didn't begrudge him that apology, so I let him have a quick word with Jakob after the trial, before they took both of them away. Dr Hill will be in prison for over fifty years, if he lives that long. Jakob will have a new family, and I know they'll love him just as much as us. My Mum wakes up crying for him in the night, but we're getting back to normal, slowly. I saw Jakob with his adoptive parents the other day. They were at a park, and he was playing on the swings with their children, his new brothers. He was happy, a thousand times happier than he ever was with us. I think it's because they can see him for himself, but we would always compare him to the old Jakob. That's another reason we never really accepted him, we never had the chance to grieve for the kid we lost. It's like my Gran said when we used to beg for ice cream- "There's some thing's we're just not meant to have"

I want to be back in Kingston with you more than anything. But that's another thing I'm just not meant to have. I need you Summer, please write back. You probably won't, but I'll keep hoping.

All my love
Joey x x x

Dear Joey

My parents don't want me to keep in touch with you, but I couldn't ignore you. I still think about you all the time, Kingston seems so empty. I heard about Jakob on the news, and I just burst into tears. At first I thought there was a terrible injustice, but if you've accepted it, so can I. If Jakob's happy, then that's they main thing.
I've been moved science and English classes three time, because the whole school knows what went on, and they know that I knew. I'm glad I never told though, even though it didn't do any good. Everyone deserves a chance, and I don't regret giving Jakob one.

Maybe one day you'll get a chance to see him again, and when you do, I hope it's somewhere from your old life. And you can say, "Look Jakob, look how far I've come. I used to be a spoilt little kid who got everything he wanted, but I've grown up. I did the right thing, and gave you a happy life. And that's all I ever wanted"

I hope Dr Hill sees the world again before he dies, even though he probably doesn't deserve it. I just think that everyone should have at least one happy memory, even mad scientists. Like I'll always remember going sledging with you and Jakob on Christmas Day, and then we went back to your house and we had mince pies and cream, and Jakob fell asleep at the table because he'd been up all night waiting for Santa. I'll always remember that.

Joey, stay strong. You will see Jakob again, and your parents are there for you. I'm here too, anytime you want to phone. I miss you so much Joey.

Lots of Love

Summer x x x

Dear Mrs A. Armstrong and Mr B. Armstrong

As headteacher for Glensfield High, I feel it is my duty to inform you of an unfortunate incident which took place in my school on Wednesday the 4th November of this year. I realise that the police have more or less explained the situation to you, but I would like to take this opportunity to pass on my best wishes and condolences.

Your son, Joseph Armstrong, disappeared from the school grounds between 12:30pm and 2pm on the above date. I am aware that Joseph had many issues in his life, and I sympathise.

The day before his disappearance, your son informed a fellow pupil, Terri Watts, that he was going to be with Summer. Whether this means anything to you, I don't know, but I feel bound to inform you of it.

Joseph was a polite, sensible pupil who we all miss deeply, and should you wish to discuss this matter further, please do not he'sitate to contact me.

Again, my condolences.

Jeremy Bath
Head teacher