Cabin Fears – Chapter 88: Kentucky Speedway

Saturday at Kentucky Speedway

Regan’s well-wishes for a good day started out on point as she was running up front through the early stages of the event, having made her way through the field.

Though with 50 laps to go, the smoke began to trail out behind the car, as a series of disappointed faces filled the pit box. Just like that, their day was over and just like that, she was in a hole in the standings. They knew she had to get a win in the next two races or else their championship dreams were officially vanished.

“You ran good at both Dover and Charlotte in the spring,” Chase reminds her. “You still got a great shot at doing this.” She smiles back in return, simply nodding her head.

“We just gotta do what we know how to do, right?” She asks and he couldn’t agree more. If anybody could win under pressure, it was this group right here as they’d done it before.

“The roval at Charlotte should fall right into your wheelhouse,” Kevin Meendering adds, referencing her success a couple months ago. “But either track should be perfect for a win.”

“I haven’t lost a drop of hope, yet…”

As she broke down the discussion with the team, followed by a series of interviews, Chase couldn’t help but wonder from a distance as he watched her. Had he thrown her game off with what happened? But of course, that couldn’t be blamed as it was a mechanical failure, not driver error.

His mind also filled with a flew of thoughts, thinking back to his conversation earlier with Regan, and the past couple of weeks, as he found himself balancing the positives and negatives.

“I’m sorry I rambled on earlier this morning,” he finally speaks, catching Regan’s attention.

“What? Those rambles about your fears and frustrations?” Regan questions and Chase simply nods his head in return. “Don’t be. I’d rather see you get that out of your system, see some answers, then let it eat at you. I’d had no issues handling that this morning.” Chase was glad that he found that trust in Regan, but often wondered about other people.

“I know it’s the anxiety bugging me more than anything, but I just worry about things like that. How will other people see it? Will I get that same acceptance when I get back? Am I truly who I think I am? I just found myself worrying and wondering and asking so many questions…” Regan wasn’t about to end the conversation, actually glad to see his friend continuing to open that door.

“It’s understandable as a lot of has gone on, and I can see why that’s happening. I can’t say that everybody is going to be the most positive like myself, Dale, Alyssa, and others. There will be some that want to tear you apart at the seams. But in the end, do their opinions matter? Absolutely not. All that matters is the confidence that you have in yourself, and the confidence those around you closest to you have.” Chase knew that, even though the questions lingered once in awhile.

“But how do I stop myself from worrying?” Regan wasn’t quite sure he knew the answer, to be honest.

“I think you just need to focus on the positives. Focus on what’s happening, yourself, what you’re doing, and not try to let your mind wander outside that world. I know part of that worry comes with the fear, wondering if something else is going to happen. The only way to overcome that is to face the world and convince yourself that’s not going to happen, and you’re doing that slowly. I mean, you’re standing out here in the garage in a sea of people. As you convince yourself, put that into practice, and continually remind yourself that it’s over – it’ll come.” Chase hoped that Regan was right, but knew there was still one piece of unfinished business.

“I also worry about completely blacking out, or going through that phase where I just do stuff and don’t remember. I don’t want to do that at the wrong time, but I often wonde-”

“Hey, that’ll come with everything that I just said. As you get more comfortable and retrain the brain so to speak so it doesn’t go hide, it’ll come to be where you’re comfortable. I mean, we’ve been out here all day yesterday and today and nothing has happened, not even a flinch from you despite all the chaos. That’s progress, right?” Chase nods his head, but wasn’t about to say he was home free.

“But I’ve also been having someone look over my shoulder every single minute.” Regan knew the feeling of being ‘babysat’ didn’t quite sit well all the time with Chase. Here, a grown adult, was having to be watched by someone 24/7. It just didn’t seem right when you thought about it in that way.

“But you haven’t had to turn to that person to bail you out, or help you. Besides, what’s wrong in having a friend there to look over your back all the time?” Chase knew nothing was wrong with that, except that missing adulthood independence feeling.

“But you could’ve been hom-”

“I would’ve been here anyway. I just would’ve been watching like a normal fan, rather than down here in the midst of the Alyssa circus.” Chase chuckles, remembering they nicknamed the sea of reporters and photographers that just seemed to follow her around for whatever reasons due to being a princess.

“You know I really appreciate having you as a friend, right?” Regan smiles.

“You’ve told me a time or two, and that feeling is mutual.”

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Cabin Fears – Chapter 87: “Did I hit a nerve or something?”

Friday at Kentucky Speedway

With Alyssa on track for the second practice of the day, Chase retreated back to his familiar perch on top of the hauler, fingers crossed it went smoother. Ultimately, that wish didn’t come true as smoke came out the back of the No. 88 Chevrolet as she went to go in the corner on her second run.

“Son of a bitch!” He lets out as he climbs back down the steps, knowing what that meant. Blown motor equals end of practice for the day due to having to change it, and starting at the rear on Saturday with a car that was handling worse than ever. Certainly going as planned…

“Aren’t you supposed to be relaxing?” Chase hears and immediately rolls his eyes without a glance towards Jeff.

“Is everybody going to ask me that every single hour today?” He responds back, the combined annoyance of the question and Alyssa’s issues obviously nagging at him.

“It’s because we care, Chase…” Chase stopped, took a deep breath, knowing that Jeff was right. So maybe he could give him the benefit of the doubt.

“Well, like I’ve told everybody else, I’m alright. I’m taking it easy, just out here supporting Alyssa, but following all orders that I was told. I don’t need everybody turning into my babysitter.” Jeff nods his head, accepting, as he places a hand on Chase’s shoulder.

“I get it, and you’re right. But just remember…” Chase nods his head, accepting, only so that way Jeff would carry on his own marry well.

Chase makes his way into the garage stall, waiting patiently as he watches Alyssa interact with the team.

“Did the car feel better that run?” Kevin Meendering asks and Alyssa rolls her eyes.

“Before the motor blew? Yeah, it did as I think we found the handle a bit better,” she answers. “I mean, I did pop up to fourth on the speed chart, right? But hey, I guess that doesn’t matte-”

“It gives us somewhere to start from going into tomorrow. Now, if we can start there and are at least close on the set-up, you can gain some ground and put it in the top 10. That’s all we need here. Solid consistency will get us to round two.” She lets out a sigh as she leans back against the car.

“So why does it feel like I’m climbing a freaking mountain? Nothing has gone right, Kevin. What makes you so sure about tomorrow?” Kevin then spins around, eyes focused straight on her.

“Because I believe in my team, I believe in my driver, and I damn well know that we can win this championship. Now, are you in or are you out?” She then looks at him, eyes turning a dark navy blue laced with determination.

“I wouldn’t be here if I was out, Kevin. I wouldn’t schedule an important surgery around my racing career if I didn’t believe what was possible. That said, we better bring our A-game tomorrow.” She then puts her sunglasses on, walking out of the stall. Chase could only let out a sigh as he goes to follow, not saying a single word, just there for support for when she finally said something.

“Did I hit a nerve or something?” Dale nods his head as he watches Alyssa and Chase walk off together.

“Never question her determination, desire, or drive,” he starts, glancing back to the crew chief. He knew exactly what she was going through from his own experience as she was like him more and more each day. She hated to have someone question her desires; she hated to be surrounded by people with doubt. Confidence was everything to her, and sometimes determined just how far she would go. She needed that positive energy, even if the world was imploding, to get to that next step. “Just be positive and a cheerleader, no matter how she gets. She’ll be fine tomorrow.”

Dale then follows suit, knowing that he wanted to go give her a boost of confidence – if Chase hadn’t done that already. He also pulls out his phone, sending a quick text message to Steve LeTarte. Stevie had always been good at knowing what to say and boosting him up. Now maybe he could translate that to his daughter.

********************

Saturday – Kentucky Speedway

After a quiet night filled with simply watching movies and playing video games as a distraction, it was time for a new day – race day. All that mattered today was getting something good out of what had been a disastrous past couple of days.

Alyssa had woken up early, sneaking out to meet up with the team. She immediately apologized to Kevin for her attitude, which he accepted with an apology of his own. He also followed the advice of her father with some quick works of encouragement, with the pair set to do what they could that day.

As they headed out for qualifying, their goal was simple – use it as a test session to shake down the car, and see where they stood on set-up, but not go beyond the limits since they were starting last anyway.

Chase had slept in a little late, with Regan taking the role of hanging out with his friend for the day. Regan didn’t have any obligations, having finished what he needed to do on Friday. Thankfully, he turned a long Thursday night into a solid Friday with a third-place finish in the truck race.

Now he was ready to focus and help his friend….

“I can’t do this,” Chase’s words catch his attention away from the television screen as he looks towards the small kitchen table where Chase stood.

“Can’t do what?” Regan wonders, watching him closely. After hearing positive things from Friday, he was shocked by the words.

“This, all of this…. It isn’t me.” Regan felt a wash of confusion, but his eyes didn’t leave Chase. Was he talking about the situation? Was he talking about needing someone? Was he talking about the pain? Or was he talking about the white capsules in his hand?

“What? Struggling to find answers? Lacking that perfection? People run into issues-”

“No – these pills.” Chase holds up the small white pill, which Regan knew was for the anxiety. “Anxiety pill, sleeping pill. It’s not me. How did we get to the point where I need these to get through every day?” Regan takes a deep breath, not expecting to turn into consult this early in the day.

“By a series of traumatic events that are out of your control.” Regan then stands up, walking over to where he stood, placing a hand on his shoulder. “Chase, like everybody has said, everything is okay. We get why you would struggle. We get the emotional breakdown. And like Eric said, this is just temporary till we find the right strategies that will work for you.” Chase had heard those words over and over since July, but yet seemed to be further away from the point he wanted to be at now more than ever.

“Do you think we will ever find them?” Regan had grown used to the uncertainty, knowing it was the anxiety playing tricks on his mind, as well as lacking what he desired the most right now.

“Absolutely. I haven’t changed my viewpoint since day one.” Chase knew that, and appreciated the confidence from Regan. However, he also began to wonder some, though.

“What if I don’t?” Regan didn’t want to process that thought as he wanted his best friend back, totally.

“Let’s not think about tha-“

“But what if?” Regan takes a deep breath, knowing he couldn’t escape the question.

“So you have a case of anxiety, so you have a case of the nightmares – do you realize how many people deal with that? There are some that you don’t even hear about. Don’t even dare look down on yourself one bit because you have to take that pill or that pill. Don’t ever think it’s a bad thing if that you have to do. It’s understandable. The important factor is that you – you know who you are, your desires, your wants, and you’re striving for that. We haven’t lost you in the midst of this, despite thes-”

“Sometimes I wonder….” Regan shakes his head, keeping his hand firmly placed on Chase’s shoulder.

“Trust me – I would know if we were losing that, and so would Alyssa. I also know that you’re taking the right steps, doing the right things – and you will find your way through this. It will take time, it will be tough, but you’ll find your way. Sure, we’ve hit two steps backwards lately – but damn, look at the progress since then. It’s coming together…..” Chase nods his head, remembering some of the steps that he had taken, from various conversations to confessions. It had to mean something, right?

“I hope you’re right….” Chase then puts the pills in his mouth, followed by a big swig of water to wash them down. “For now, though, we have a princess to focus on….”

“I think it’s going to be a good day…” Chase crossed his fingers, hoping that Regan was right, as they both settled in to watch the remainder of the qualifying session.

Cabin Fears – Chapter 86: “It’s on me.”

Thursday night, Kentucky Speedway

Once the plane landed, it was a short trip to the speedway with the group immediately finding their way to the infield. Couple goodbyes said, and both Jimmie and William headed in their own direction. Dale and Regan stuck with Chase, wanting to make sure he got settled for the night with everything that went on.

They go to the motorcoach, with Chase unlocking the door, quietly walking in. It didn’t take long before Alyssa had her arms wrapped around him tightly, holding him. Dale couldn’t help but smile knowing that was classic her, remembering when she did that to him a couple times.

“You shouldn’t have come,” Cindy starts as she is the next one to hug him. “You need to be home, taking care of yourself…” Chase lets out a sigh, as it didn’t matter how old he was, Momma was always going to try and take care of him.

“I’m fine being here in Kentucky,” he assures her. “The doctor said it was fine for me to fly out as Regan asked. Besides, if I was home, I’d be worried even more over what was going on here. I’ll take it easy, okay?”

“Don’t worry Cindy,” Alyssa adds. “If he doesn’t take it easy, I’ll kick his ass for you.” Chase then looks at her a little skeptical as she just smiles back in return. “You heard me….”

“Well, I’m going to go get settled so I will see you later,” Regan states. “Chase, if you need me, just give me a ring. Take it easy, and I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Thank you,” Chase says once again as he gives him a hug. “I mean it – thank you.”

“I’m always just a text message away.” Regan then gives Dale a quick pat on the back, before heading out to leave the group by themselves.

“Alright guys, it’s time for you to give them some time to chill,” Dale instructs after awhile. He knew sleep was the best thing for Chase right now, and having the motorcoach crowded wasn’t going to lead to that. “He needs to relax, and she needs sleep before a busy day tomorrow. Time to say goodbye.”

“You’re going to be careful, right?” Cindy asks once again and Chase nods his head. “Alright. Take care of yourself and get some sleep.”

It didn’t take long before everyone cleared out, leaving Alyssa and Chase to themselves, as they both got ready for bed and got comfortable.

“Are you sure you’re okay right now?” Alyssa wonders, still worried about him. He just simply responds by pulling her close to him.

“It’s a little sore, but I’m fine,” he answers honestly. “You don’t need to worry about me.” She then rolls her eyes, knowing that was impossible.

“I always worry about you – I always have. You can’t think that a moment is going to go by where I’m just going to sit back and not worry. Give me a break, Chase.” She then lays her head on his chest, a bunch of thoughts running through her mind at what seemed like 100 miles per hour. “I can’t believe this happened, and it’s on me-”

“What do you mean?” She then lifts her head up, staring into his brown eyes.

“Well they stated it was stress related and it clearly happened after my appointment. You’re stressing out over me, which is nothing new.” He then lets out a sigh, rubbing her shoulders. Well she was certainly on his mind, that wasn’t the start of it.

“I’d been dealing with a couple of the signs before then, but chalked it up to nothing. Besides, I’m not stressing about what’s about happen for you. I know that whatever works best, whether amputation or another road, is for the right reasons. I also know that you’re strong beyond anything. You’re like your father in a lot of ways. The world may throw a bunch of bricks at you, but you don’t change; you keep that sweetness, honesty, and every great quality about you. I know you’ll get through it so I don’t stress about you.” She knew he was just trying to make her feel better with his advice, and make it not seem like it was her fault.

“And now you can cut the cra-”

“My stress comes with my anxiety and fears. I’m stressing about everything that I’m going through and feeling. I’m stressing about trying to do the right thing. I’m stressing about the worry in whether I can make things better, come back from this. I’m stressing about…. It’s me that’s causing my own issues, not you. This isn’t something that just started over night.” He then takes a deep breath, remembering the doctor’s words in trying to find some way to cope with it all. “I just need to find a way to cope with it all.”

“You’re going to find that, Chase. You will move forward. Everything will get better. We’re not going to be stuck in this situations forever.” He nods his head, hoping that she was right. But admittedly, there were times he wasn’t sure about that.

“I believe you, and I’m trying.” She glances back up at him, again.

“You’re doing a helluva job, admirable. Just take it one step at a time, okay?” She then reaches up, kissing his lips. “Now, I wouldn’t be doing my job if we weren’t getting comfy and going to sleep.”

“Yes, Nurse Earnhardt.” She just smiles as they get comfortable together, set for a good night sleep.

************

Chase made his way through the garage, falling in suit with the crew members, ready for the first XFINITY practice of the day. So far, it was business as usual. Spend the morning hanging out with Alyssa, walk to the garage together, let her get ready to go, and head to the hauler to watch.

“Hey!” Regan says as the pair cross paths. “How are you feeling?”

“Alright,” Chase replies, and that was honesty. The pain had laid off with taking both the pain killers and other pills. It was just a matter of hoping things were starting to heal down there. He had also been keeping himself nice and relaxed, which came easily at the track, so he was following the stress rule so to speak.

“That’s good. Listen, just take it easy, alright?” Chase nods his head. “I’m serious. I don’t want to be creating some emergen-”

“I’m fine, Regan. It’s not that bad and I’m chilled out. Your truck looked good in practice so best of luck later on today. I’m headed to watch Alyssa.” Regan easily lets him go, though his eyes linger on him for a little while longer. He couldn’t help but worry.

The practice went smoothly, with no incidents at all. But that didn’t mean it was all smiles in the JR Motorsports camp as struggling wasn’t the word for it. No matter what they did to the car, it just seemed to be too loose all throughout the session and as a result, she timed in 24th quickest.

“This is ridiculous!” She comments as she runs her hands through her hair. First round of the playoffs and they looked like a bunch of idiots who didn’t know what they were doing. What happened to all the speed they had shown the past couple months?

“I am going to go see if Leo’s guys have any suggestions,” Kevin Meendering says, before walking away. She rolls her eyes in response, not believing that now they were having to rely on their teammate, their competition at that, so they could figure it out.

“Hey, you’ve started weekends like this before and they’ve turned out beautiful,” Chase reminds her as he wraps his arms around her shoulders. “Take a deep breath, think, and relax. You’ll be fine.” She wanted to follow those words, but the drive and desire to succeed was telling her otherwise. “Think about how you’re detailing of what the car is doing, and try to rerun those laps over and over in your mind. Was there something that you missed? Did you maybe not explain something how Kevin needed to hear you? Could you change up or give a bit stronger feedback to get the car where you need it?”

“Maybe it’s not necessarily loose, but tight on entry,” she finally says out loud as she glances over her shoulder at him. “Maybe I’m not realizing that, trying to overcorrect my line, and causing the other issue. So therefore, we’re not fixing what the real problem is….”

“Why don’t you give that a try in the next session?” She nods her head, accepting, ready to tell Kevin when he got back.

“Are you okay?” He immediately rolls his eyes, growing annoyed at every person asking him already throughout the day.

“I’m fine – just focus on getting the car better for tomorrow.”

Cabin Fears – Chapter 85: The Truth

“Mr. Elliott?” A doctor peaks his head into the room, catching all of their attention immediately.

“That’s me last time I checked,” Chase states with a small smile as he tries to relax, despite the pain he was feeling. The doctor enters, file in hand – which immediately is where all eyes lie right away.

“I have the results of all the tests that we ran for you. Now, I understand that Eric signed off on your file and such so I won’t touch that.” Chase was glad for that reason, as he wasn’t about to tackle that stuff with a stranger now. “The pain in your stomach is not related to what you were thinking, but rather stomach ulcers.”

“Oh shit…” Regan lets out, knowing what those were right away as he lays his head back. He could sympathize with the pain Chase was feeling there.

“Now, the ulcers are basically painful sores in the stomach lining,” the doctor continues. “Now, it’s my understanding you had surgery not long ago….” Chase lets out a sigh, not wanting to reflect back to that experience.

“Tears in the stomach lining resulting in stomach bleeding in July,” Dale states, not flinching one bit as his hand reached for his phone. It was almost to the point where Cindy and Bill deserved a call. “That came courtesy of a strong poison injected into him.”

“That would explain the severity marked in the file…” The doctor makes another note as Chase’s eyes follow the pen closely. “With the healing time, you were pretty much set from that point and looked to be home free. However, it did make them tender and susceptible to more issues in the near future. Were you given any warning?” Chase nods his head, remembering the advice from the doctor. “So right now, the stomach acid isn’t breaking down correctly – therefore bringing this issue to the forefront…”

“Lovely,” Chase muses out loud as he shakes his head. Of course this would happen on top of everything else.

“Now, the reason for that is simple – stress. Stress rarely causes an issue like this, but if you’re under a tremendous amount, it is possible. Given everything that’s going on psychological and in your life, I would see it easily part of your life.” Regan thought back to Eric’s words in making sure to accept the doctor’s advice carefully. Certainly cutting stress would be along those lines.

“So, what’s the next step?” Dale questions, his fingers still resting on his phone in his pocket.

“We’re going to issue you mild pain killers to help the pain, as well as Dexilant to help reduce the acid in your stomach,” the doctor explains. “Both taken three times a day should relieve what is causing your problem. Once that is done, the sores should heal accordingly – but the process will take two to three weeks minimum, up to three months. If they do not heal, then you know the alternative.” Chase rolls his eyes, not wanting to go back down the road of stomach surgery once again. That was even worse than being stabbed in the leg. “In the meantime, cutting down the stress in your life – whatever way you can, will help you tremendously. I suggest you try to work on that, okay?”

“Yeah,” Chase comments as he lets out a sigh. He understood the reasons and knew that it’d be a good idea. However, that was obviously easier said than done considering everything going through his mind, the nightmares, the flash moments, and Alyssa’s situation.

“You should also check in with your doctor in two weeks, 14 days, to make sure that things are healing accordingly. Other than that, I am going to let you go with the prescriptions in hand…”

*************

After stopping by Regan’s house to let him get his stuff, the group immediately headed to the airport. Jimmie and William both met them there, concerned with how Chase was doing. Chase easily explained the situation regarding the ulcers, leaving out the details of the dream, as they got set to the board the plane. Although Chase was originally going to fly them out himself, Dale immediately put down that idea, ordering his pilot and plane to be ready for the group.

“So they’re letting you fly to Kentucky no problem?” Jimmie questions and Chase nods his head. “Well, just be careful and take care of yourself.”

“Hope you feel better soon,” William adds as he follows his teammate onto the plane, taking a seat beside him.

Chase then goes to his usual spot at the back of Dale’s plane, curling up immediately with pillow and blanket as they get set for takeoff. After leaving the hospital, he got the prescriptions filled, and had taken the first dosage. The pain killers were already working, taking the edge off.

“Are you okay?” Regan asks as if they’d been in the air for a bit with a glance over the seat at him. Chase glances up, nodding his head.

“Yea,” he replies quietly. “Hey, can we keep this between us, please? Everything that happened….” Regan hadn’t thought of doing anything else otherwise. He understood the sensitivity in what happened.

“You know the rule….” Dale then glances over at the pair, having his own theory.

“Actually, the stomach ulcers, tears and stress – we should tell your parents and Alyssa, at least,” he suggests. “That way they can keep an eye-out, too, for your own good. Alyssa is going to notice, anyway.” Chase couldn’t argue with that, as he wasn’t concerned with people knowing about that. It was the other part as he wasn’t willing to touch those emotions otherwise.

“That’s fine, I can do that,” he tells Dale. “But the other – can we just not talk about that? Can that be something only we three talk about together?” Dale could see the fear and edginess in his voice upon the confession, immediately. Glancing at Regan, it was all about comfort here….

“Absolutely. That’ll be our secret.”

“And no matter what, it’s going to be okay….” Regan adds, before focusing back forward.

With everything that had gone on, they all knew that Chase needed to catch up on his sleep – especially now the pain was subsiding. Beyond the pain, the emotions of the day’s confession with Eric, along with the craziness of how he was woken up and another round of confessions had drained every last bit of emotional strength he had with him, too.

Letting out a yawn, it wasn’t long before he was curled up and sleeping away on the flight.

“Are you okay?” Dale questions as he looks over at Regan.

“Yeah,” Regan replies. “How about you?” Dale looks back at Chase once again, letting out a sigh as he turns back to Regan. Every fear was tingling in knowing they’d used the code word.

“I’m alright. I’m just glad that he reached out to you, and you were there….” Regan nodded his head, but knew there was no need for anymore discussion. You never turned your back on your friends.

“I told him I’d always be there. That was a promise, Dale….” Dale knew that, remembering when it was originally spoken.

“I still remember when I first met him, and I also remember when he first came to drive for me. It’s crazy to think back to then. A sweet, endearing 18-year-old with the world at his feet. You couldn’t had found a nicer guy at that age, or polite, or mature. I remember the jokes and the shyness at times.” Dale takes a deep breath. “It’s crazy to think how much he’s grown over these years….”

“He’s certainly grown up and became even more amazing, but some things don’t change. He’s still got that kindness, and he’s still afraid to talk about things. But we’ll get there with time.” Dale believed in those words, even with the setback, because of the signs of strength that he had seen at times over the night. “Could you ever imagined that he’d be dating your daughter?” Dale then laughs.

“Never in a million years, but I wouldn’t have it any other way….”

Cabin Fears – Chapter 84: “It won’t come to that….”

Dale makes his way down the hall, glancing at the room numbers, remembering what Regan texted him. He freezes when he sees the number, glancing inside. He was surprised to see Regan sitting there in a lone chair, clipboard and paper in hand.

“Hey,” Dale says as he enters the room, catching Regan’s attention as he looks up from the clipboard.

“Hey,” Regan replies, before glancing back down. Dale takes a look to the right, noticing it was totally empty, before looking back toward Regan.

“Where is he?” Regan looks back up once again as he takes a deep breath.

“They took him for tests. X-ray, ultrasound, couple different things.” Dale could understand that as he made his way to the one side, leaning back against the wall.

“Oh, okay. How is he?” Regan takes a deep breath, knowing that was a loaded question as he tried to focus on the form.

“Scared out of his mind, confused, in pain. So much shit.” Regan then pauses as he looks at the sheet, shaking his head. “Fuck, I can’t fill this out!” Dale then looks over confused as normally Regan was the calm one in these situations.

“What is it?” Regan hands over the clipboard as he takes another deep breath. “Psych evaluation?” Regan nods his head as he looks over, taking the clipboard back. He knew whether he liked it or not, he needed to finish it.

“Because of how I explained it and how he’s feeling, they asked me to fill this out based on tonight and the past couple months.” Dale was confused, if it was possible to even more so after reading Regan’s initial message.

“Why?” Regan shrugs his shoulders.

“I guess to have an idea of his mental state.” Dale knew there was no more sitting around waiting. Things were serious, and he needed to know now.

“What the hell is going on anyways? Your text message confused me.” Regan takes a deep breath, not even knowing where to begin. How were you supposed to describe this to someone?

“My head has been swirling since he texted me, so bare with me…..” Regan then tells him everything in the best way that he can possibly describe it, just hoping that it made some sort of sense.

“What do you believe happened?” Regan admittedly had gone back and forth with possibilities since then.

“There’s no signs at the house. Heck, you would’ve known as you have all the security detail of who enters the property. Plus, he’s 99% sure that it’s just a dream. So I don’t see it as happening now. So it’s either a dream, maybe it happened before….” Dale ponders it over, while making a note to double check the cameras incase.

“He did sleep with Demi at the cabin a long time ago. That was feeling of betrayal, pain. You heard him when he told us. Could he be re-invisioning that with the images and thoughts from Kassandra?” Regan shrugs his shoulders as he glances back to the forms.

“Who knows at this point, to be honest. You could be right. Either way, for his sanity, we need to figure what’s going on.” Dale knew that was the primary focus, as he wanted to see the same thing – for multiple reasons.

“Well, you made the right decision coming here. If something happened, then we and they can handle it. If nothing did, the emotions can be handled.” Regan believed in those words, but he also remembered the desperation and tone Chase had used with him.

“I just don’t feel right filling this out. He asked me if he was crazy, losing his mind, and I told him he wasn’t. But filling this out, it doesn’t feel right….” Dale places a hand on Regan’s shoulder, sympathizing with him immediately.

“It’s not supposed to, Regan. He’s not the type to go crazy or lose his mind. He’s the calm, focused one. Heck if anybody should be that it’s me as I was always the nervous panic type.” Regan couldn’t argue with that, though, as he looks up with a small smile.

“You found your way, though, and he will too. I know that in my heart.” Dale believed in that, no matter what. It was the only way they could move forward.

“You’re right. He will…” Regan continues filling out the paper, not wanting his support to waiver, though the final words on the page catch his attention.

“It says here that by filling this out and understanding the terms and situation, the individual could be committed. I can’t see them doing that. That would be the last straw for both him and Alyssa. They both need what they can hold on to…” Dale couldn’t even imagine what Alyssa’s reaction would be if she was there, or he had texted her to tell her.

“It won’t come to that….” Dale’s voice trails off as they watch the nurse bring him back in the room, both flashing a small smile.

“Is that form filled out Mr. Smith?” The nurse asks Regan after she is done getting him situated.

“Yeah, pretty much…” Regan answers as he hands over the clipboard, not taking his eyes off of Chase in the process.

“Thank you. The doctor should be here soon with your results.” The nurse then leaves as both Dale and Regan keep their eyes locked on Chase.

“Hey,” Dale says quietly as Chase just gives him a little wave.

“Everything go smoothly?” Regan questions and Chase nods his head. “Did they say anything?”

“Not a single world,” Chase answers as he tries to get comfy, rubbing his stomach. “Oh man…”

“How long has that been bothering you?” Chase knew where Regan was going with the question and knew that needed to end right there.

“It just started today when I woke up.” Chase then closes his eyes, taking a deep breath, as he lies his head back on the pillow. “I still can’t believe myself….”

“About?” Chase opens his eyes as he focuses on Regan.

“The reason I texted you initially. I don’t get how that flashed in my mind so vividly…” Regan and Dale glance at each other, as if they could share mental notes, before both focusing on Chase.

“Nightmares can be like that…” Dale remembered a couple of his own, along with Alyssa’s past experience.

“Sometimes they’re worse than what happened itself,” he adds as Chase glances towards the small window.

“I don’t get why this is so tough to wrap my arms around,” Chase starts. “The others – yeah, they were tough, and they certainly freaked me out. I know they took time to handle, too. But this just doesn’t seem to be getting better, and almost endless at times…” Dale wanted to simply walk over, hold him, do whatever he could to just make everything go away in a flash. But he knew that wasn’t the answer.

“This is just feeling worse for reasons that we can’t explai-”

“Not only were you attacked, but the number one person that you love with everything as well,” Regan interrupts. “That’s why it’s tearing at more heart strings than you could imagine. You’re feeling what you felt towards you, but you’re also feeling a strong sympathy pain and regret for what Alyssa experienced.” Chase could see where Regan was coming from with that explanation.

“And it will get better eventually, right?” Chase asks and Regan nods his head. He wasn’t sure how soon, or even how to begin with, but he would never give up on his friend.

Their attention is then caught to the doorway as they watch Eric enter, slipping the door closed behind him. Regan’s eyes immediately find Dale, every possibility of the paper he filled out swirling through his mind.

“Hello Dale,” Eric says quietly as Dale simply smiles.

“Hey,” he replies. Eric then glances towards the chair at Regan.

“You must be Regan. I’m Eric.” Regan shakes the man’s hand.

“Nice to meet you,” Regan replies. “Wait – how do you know who I am?” Dale just chuckles in response.

“You’re a superstar….” Dale muses as Regan just rolls his eyes.

“I do watch some racing, but I figured you’d be here as I know Chase turns to you on a lot of things,” Eric comments, which Regan could see easily making sense. “And then there’s you. We just saw each other earlier today. I mean, I don’t mind seeing you, but not under these circumstances. How are you feeling?”

“Sore,” Chase comments quietly as Eric could only nod his head.

“That’s understandable. When the doctor comes in after, he’s got something that’ll help with the pain, okay?” Chase nods his head, accepting. “Now, I’ve read over everything that they gave me that you and Regan told them, along with everything they figured out.” Eric then places the file aside, keeping his eyes on Chase. “I don’t care what the paper says. What really matters, end of the day?”

“My feelings.” Eric nods his head.

“Right. Now, obviously the biggest concern from both you and Regan was a potential rape scenario. What are you thinking about that, right now?” Chase takes a deep breath, as he focuses up on the ceiling. He would rather not say a single word.

“That I was a fool for saying that happened. I was totally wrong in every aspect of what I said. The more I think it, the more I realize that I was just woke up panicked from my dream – like when you wake up screaming because you’re set to scream in a nightmare.”

“You’re never a fool, okay? Actually, you’re a bigger person for doing something about it and contacting a friend. You’re also a bigger person for lying here, and having figured out what happened. The doctor went through with the rape kit, checking to see if there were finger prints or any trace anywhere of the possibility. Nothing came back. With what you’ve said and what we’ve found as a whole, I am confident nothing happened and what you’re saying is true.” Regan felt more confused now as he watched the pair closely.

“Then why is he feeling this random pain in his stomach?” Regan wonders as Eric glances back at him.

“There’s a reason, and you will get that reason when the doctor comes in after,” Eric answers. “For now, I’d like to take the steps in talking about why I’m here.” Regan nodded his head, accepting. He knew why they had called Eric as it was all about the paper he filled out earlier. “With what I’ve told you, does that make sense and can you accept that?”

“Yeah,” Chase says, as it made sense. A combination of trapped in his dream, along with a new pain, would easily equal what happened.

“What if this is a case of a rape that happened but he totally blocked it out of mind and it wasn’t caught due to other things?” Dale then questions, remembering his conversation with Regan about the possibilities. It was better to explore them now with Eric, than enter that scenario later.

“That’s possible, but I feel this is more a combination of his fear and thoughts twisting around itself,” Eric explains. “We’ve talked about fearing rape, scared of what could’ve happen if things had played out as envisioned. We talked about fearing a rape against Alyssa by photos that Randy had taken. We talked about fearing a rape by Kassandra when at her disposal and hands, even being touched unfairly in that moment. A new sense of pain, combined with nightmares of a possibility, and you have this scenario.” Chase could only shake his head as Eric broke it down. There was only one more thing to say.

“So I am crazy….” Chase comments, causing a surprised glance from everybody in the room.

“Chase….” Regan says quietly, remembering their discussion earlier.

“Going through the trauma that you experienced, and running into a situation like this does not mean you’re crazy,” Eric tells him. “It just means that the mind is having a hard time processing everything and making sense of these feelings. In this situation, we’ve simply watched your nightmares pick up to a new level of intensity. It happens as there are plenty of people who deal with this scenario. So for future sessions, we can talk about that, and work through strategies to make coping with them easier.” Chase nods his head, accepting. As long as there were answers that could get rid of this feeling, he was on-board.

“What do we do in the meanwhile?” Eric glances over at Regan, again.

“He has a mild anxiety drug that he has been taking once in the morning to soothe off extreme emotions – and it is working for what we want it to do. For the night time, I can either suggest taking another dosage or a sleeping pill to allow him to relax. That’s something that me and him can discuss.” Regan nods his head, accepting. He could now understand why Dale always suggested to go to Eric when there were problems. “Other than the words that I’ve spoken, there is not much else that I can say. Do you have any questions?”

“This pain…” Chase comments, voice trailing out.

“The doctor has an explanation for you that connects in a way, but I will let him explain,” Eric states, as he picks the file backup, opening it. “The doctor did request a psychological evaluation form to be filled out and overlooked by myself. Regan, I appreciate your patience in filling it out accordingly. The form is meant for me to give my recommendation on what to do from a psychological standpoint. Now, this can include treatment, drugs, further evaluation under a physician, or ground rules of a type of sta-”

“So basically, you’re supposed to judge if I’m to be admitted to the psych ward or not?” Regan froze at Chase’s revelation, glancing towards Dale. Dale just glanced back at Regan with a calm glance, hand slightly up.

“That is part of it, yes, depending on patient safety and whether they’re a danger to themselves or the public.” Eric flips through the pages to the last one in the file. “I’m not supposed to tell you my recommendation or what I write in here, but we have an open-book policy so I owe it to you. I am simply going to state that I went over with the patient the bearings of what happened, and we determined that a trauma-caused nightmares were the result of your feelings. It is also worth noting that previous time spent with you showed clear signs of PTSD. My recommendation is to either increase our anti-anxiety medicine or give you a sleeping pill to put off the feelings until they can be further discussed, broken down, and handled accordingly. That seems right, so far?” Chase nods his head.

“That’s exactly what you told me.” He then lets out a yawn as he lie back. “Sleeping has been a pain in the ass, so I hate to say this but maybe that’d be a good idea…”

“The focus should be on yourself, your health, and how you’re feeling. If it’s going to help make things easier, then I would fully open that door if I was you. That doesn’t mean you have to open it forever, or become dependent. It’s just a strategy till you find a better one.” Chase nods his head, accepting, even if part of him wanted to chuck the pills across the room. “Furthermore, I do not believe you to be a danger to society or yourself, so I see no emergency reason to keep you on a psychological basis. I will strongly recommend that someone be with you at all times – 24 hours a day, just in case an episode creeps up until we see some noteworthy progress. Is that possible?” Chase nods his head, with both Regan and Dale joining in.

“I’ll come spend time if nobody else is available,” Dale adds, knowing he’d do whatever it took.

“My signature is on the file, and we are done,” Eric says as he signs off, closing it. “Now, I will let the doctor see this, and then he can tell you what he has to say. Trust me, you’re going to fully understand why you’re experiencing the pain once you see the results. My advice? Take every bit of what he is going to say and consider it. You can always call me if you need me.” Eric then leaves the room, as the group takes glances towards each other, pondering what is next.

Cabin Fears – Chapter 83: “It just felt so real…”

Regan pulls up to the gate, punching in the passcode immediately, watching the gates open before him. He immediately goes through, driving up through the winding roads that led to the pool house.

He had yet to get an answer despite calling Chase’s number over and over, and felt panic rising with each second. Why wasn’t he answering? What was going on?

He pulls up the pool house, shutting the truck off and hopping out immediately. He was relieved beyond anything that they put a plan like this together for situations like this, grabbing the spare key as he held the keys in his hands.

He immediately puts the key in the lock, not even taking the time to knock and wait as he didn’t want to waste anymore precious time, turning the knob and entering the house. He didn’t even bother to care about slipping off his shoes or anything, eyes and ears on high alert for anything.

He then heard what sounded like a small shuffle of movement in the living room, immediately heading that direction. As he enters and sees Chase sitting on the couch, curled up, blanket tightly wrapped around him, he lets out a thankful sigh. If he was before him with eyes focused his way, that was better than what could’ve been….

“Hey,” Regan says as he walks over slowly and quietly. He didn’t want to startle Chase as he wasn’t sure where thing stood quite yet. “I came over as soon as I got the text. I tried calling you but no answer…” He then noticed the cell phone lying on the table, seeing the numerous missed calls noted on the screen. Clearly, Chase had chosen to not answer for some reason.

“I was going to answer, but I just couldn’t bring myself to move,” Chase replies quietly as Regan sits on the edge of the chair beside the couch. Although the lack of response created an initial sign of panic, he was fine with that. Not moving off of the couch meant that he hadn’t gotten into anything else or done much since sending the initial text message.

“Don’t worry about it. All that matters is that you realized you needed me, and you texted me, and I’m here.” Chase keeps his eyes focused forward, trying to keep the tears at bay as he tries to find the words to speak.

“I texted you as soon as I felt what I did. I couldn’t pass up a single moment, knowing that if I did, it may turn out worse…” Regan’s heart cringed at the confession, but he knew he couldn’t let that show. He had to be strong for his friend.

“Like I said, you did the right thing. Do you want to talk about what’s on your mind?” Chase’s eyes finally find their way off of the blanket, and up to meet Regan’s.

“Am I losing my mind? Am I going crazy?” Regan knew the question was valid based on the past couple of weeks. However, he never once lost faith in him.

“I think you’re just having a hard time dealing with everything that happened – and that’s understandable. Chase, you’ve been through a lot over the years, enough trauma that would make anybody think they’re going crazy. These incidents that you’re having, the explanations, it makes sense. However, that doesn’t mean that you’re completely gone nuts or a lost cause. I mean, I believe, Alyssa believes, others believe, and I know you sometimes believe that you can get through this.” Chase wanted to take stand in Regan’s words, but it didn’t escape the feelings he had when he woke up earlier.

“I said that I texted you for a reason. I came home after seeing Eric, grabbed a shower, and laid on the couch set for a nap before I fly out to Kentucky tonight. Whether a dream or not, I don’t know, but I completely woke up scared out of my wits mind – well, maybe not even woke up. I don’t even know how to describe it now that I’ve laid here for a while since texting you trying to rationalize it.” Regan felt confusion, and desperation in the words, but took a deep breath, ready to divulge into whatever he had to offer.

“Just tell me what happened, plain and simple. Like I said before, I’ll be here always to help you sort through your feelings.” Chase takes a deep breath, not sure if he could speak the words as he felt them earlier.

“The moment that I texted you, that was desperation. I can’t describe it; I can’t even begin to say it. But in that moment, it felt as though I had just gotten through hell at the hands of Demi. I don’t know where the thought came from, or how it came to my mind, but I had this feeling that she had…” Tears enter his eyes, which he immediately wipes away with his hand, as his eyes find their way back down to the blanket. “I felt so dirty, so used, like I needed that help immedia-”

“Chase, are you saying that you had the thought that she had raped you?” Regan felt so much confusion as he tried to piece everything together, though the eyes that looked back at him in the mention of those words, he could see it written there immediately. “Chase…”

“I could feel the pain and in my mind, I could see the images. I could see her touching me, feeling me, doing it – it just felt so real and like it had just happened. With that swirling, I knew I needed someone before I completely lost it…” Regan could understand that, not even wanting to begin to imagine the feelings. However, Chase’s recollection and words caught him off-guard. Something wasn’t adding up.

“Now, you mentioned earlier dream, waking up scared out of your wits…..” Chase nods his head as his eyes keep focused where they were. He couldn’t bring himself to look anywhere else.

“I sent the text right away. But then waiting, letting the time pass by, I began to think. If that was the case, why would I be still in my clothes? Why would I be in the same exact position that I fell asleep in? Then it came to me that it was just a dream – a vivid felt too real to be true dream, but just a dream.” Regan runs his fingers through his hair, taking a couple deep breathes. He knew there were a couple different approaches that he could take now. Did it really happen? Or was it a dream? What was he supposed to do? Should they do something more than just sit there? Could he handle this situation himself?

“Dream or not – what does your heart truly believe when you really think about it, Chase?” Regan didn’t mean to be so direct, but he needed answers if he was going to move forward.

“I almost brought myself to believe it was a dream – wait, no. I know it was a dream. I’m 99% sure that it was a dream the more that I think about it and talk about it. But, I had this ripping pain sensation through my stomach when I woke up that it helped add to the story.” Regan felt his heart crack in concern. Forget the feelings – physical pain on top of it all wasn’t a nice addition.

“Is that pain still there?” Chase looks over, nodding his head. “How bad?”

“Bearable, but it’s there…” Regan rubs circles on either side of his own forehead, still trying to fully process everything thrown at him. What was he supposed to do now?

“Well if you’re in pain, buddy, you should get that checked out – regardless what happened to cause it. So my suggestion would be that I take you downtown to the hospital and get it looked at. Then once we know what’s going on there, maybe we can sort out the rest…” Chase nods his head, knowing that was probably the best suggestion – even if he didn’t want to move from that spot.

“What about everything I said? Do you still think I’m not crazy?” Regan stands up, placing a hand on Chase’s shoulder.

“No, I don’t think you’re crazy – whether that was a dream or not.” Regan takes a deep breath, trying to bring himself to face the possibility of what happened. “Either you had a vivid dream to shift your reality and your nightmares are picking up – which again, that’s understandable given what you’ve gone through, or it…did…happen. Regardless, going to the hospital, we can find out the truth. They’ll be able to tell what happened, and why you’re in pain. Now, are you willing to take that step?” Chase nods his head as he glances up at Regan.

“You’re not leaving me no matter what, right?” Regan shakes his head.

“I would never do that to you.” Chase then slowly kicks off the blanket, shifting his feet off of the couch onto the floor, and slowly standing up. His left hand immediately finds its way to his stomach as he holds it, eyes clenched closed.

“Just easy, one step at a time…” Regan allows Chase to lean his weight against him as they begin to make their way to the door slowly. “I’ve got you. You’re going to be okay…” Regan leads him outside, helping him up into the truck, before going around to the driver’s side. Glancing over at Chase, he knew he couldn’t do this alone anymore. There was no way he could process everything going on. “If it’s okay with you, can I text Dale? I think he, along with your pare-”

“Just Dale. I don’t want my parents knowing until we know for sure what’s going on, please…” Chase knew his parents would be overbearing and panic beyond anything – something he really didn’t want to throw on top of everything.

“Alright, that’s fine.” Regan sends Dale a quick text message as brief as he can about what’s going on, before throwing the phone in the center console and pulling out.

Cabin Fears – Chapter 82: “Bubbalicious”

Thursday

Chase walks through the front door, closing it behind him, leaning against it as he lets out a long sigh.

The sooner this week was over, the better it would be. There was no way to describe how worn out he was feeling right now.

From emotional download session with Eric on Tuesday, to Alyssa’s appointment yesterday, followed by another complete emotional download. He almost felt like he was running on the last bit of steam within him.

He knew both sessions were well worth it, as he needed to do it if he was ever going to find a way to get through this chaos. His mind was pretty much figuring out piece by piece – seeing the image that stained his thoughts slowly fading to dust with each word spoken. Taking a deep breath, he knew there were only minor steps left.

Amidst his own chaos, he battled through a series of thoughts surrounding Alyssa. He was almost at the point of telling her to forego her crazy plan, and do what the doctor wanted for her own safety. He also felt nerves in wondering what if there were complications, and what if something didn’t go as planned.

Taking another deep breath, still leaning back against the door, he knew that was just his own anxiety talking. The doctors were smart. They would make sure everything went correctly. He had nothing to worry about.

Glancing at the time, he knew he had three hours before he was flying out to head to Kentucky for the next race weekend. He couldn’t wait to meet Alyssa in Kentucky as she had been there already all-day doing the XFINITY playoff media blitz.

He made a note to make sure to be ready on time since he was flying out with Jimmie and William. That meant making sure everything was packed, and out the door at that time.

But until then, he knew that he had some time to himself as he finally pushes himself up off of the door and heads up the stairs. He heads straight for the bathroom without a single word or thought, turning the water on.

Stripping down to nothing, stepping underneath the shower, he let the warm water bring relief to the muscles that felt tiring and sore from the continued non-stop actions of his life. He closed his eyes, letting all the emotions roll off, finding that brief second of escape where he could think about nothing at all. Sometimes, he wished he could enter this bliss forever – but knew that he couldn’t handle that permanently, either.

Stepping out of the shower afterwards, he wraps the towel around him before retreating to the bedsroom, changing into a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. He quickly packs the bag for the weekend, knowing he might as well get it over and done with.

Going back down the stairs, he drops the bag at the door without much of a thought. He then goes into the living room, setting the alarm on his phone, flopping back on the couch, eyes drifting closed for some much needed rest.

************

“Megan, are you coming this weekend?” Regan questions as he shifts through the closet, packing the clothes he needed. He knew he didn’t need much since his only reason for going was to run the truck race on Friday night, and return. A single day on the road didn’t require much. However, just in case, he packed a couple extra things.

“Have you totally forgotten?” Megan questions as she glances into the room. “Eliza’s dance recital is on Friday.” Regan freezes immediately. In all the chaos of trying to help Chase and going with Alyssa to her appointment on Wednesday, he was beginning to lose track of everything else going on.

“Shit! I totally forgot. Okay, so you’re not coming…” He then zips up the bag as Megan enters the room, walking up behind him.

“Regan, are you okay?” Regan stops, glancing over at his shoulder at her.

“It just slipped my mind with everything that’s going on. I’m fine. Promise me you’ll record it so I can watch it when I get home?” She nods her head, accepting, before giving him a quick kiss.

“How about you bring us back a trophy to make it worth our while?” He smiles, knowing that was definitely a good idea and certainly in the cards.

“I’ll do my best, okay?” She smiles, accepting, before leaving the room. Satisfied that he had everything that he needed, he picked the bag up and headed down the stairs. Time for a quick family dinner, and then he’d be off for the weekend…

“Regan, your phone went off…” He rolls his eyes, taking bets on which crew member was worried that he was going to miss the flight or coming up with the next idea to keep in mind for the weekend.

“Go ahead and look, please…” He was busy making sure that he had his passport, NASCAR license, and everything else in mind to really care about the details of the text message. There’d be no point in getting all ready if something was out of order.

“It’s Chase. He sent the word ‘bubbalicious.’ What the heck does that mean?” Regan freezes immediately, wallet slipping out his hand with the cards spilling all over the floor. “Regan?” Megan walks into the room as he scurries to pick everything up. “What’s goi-”

“Give me my phone!” She hands it over immediately, as he begins to furiously send back a text message in response.

“Regan?” He glances up after the message is sent, counting the seconds as they slowly pass by.

“If he needs me right away, something is wrong, or he’s in a complete panic, that’s our code word.” He then grabs the keys to his truck off of the night stand, rushing to the door.

“Be careful!!” He blows her a quick kiss, before running out the door and to his truck. He glances back towards his phone, seeing no message in return.

“Shit! Chase, come on buddy…” He then hits dial to make a phone call as he starts the truck and heads out, continuing to count each second as it passed.