Written by: Summer Laura
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The wind chimes sounded outside of the stained glass window, blowing gently and melodically in the evening wind. It was cold outside, and the young man was happy to be indoors, feeling the warmth from his blankets, and embracing the safety of his own bed.
The room was darkened, apart from a tiny candle that burned above his head. Candles kept the demons at bay. Candles kept the evil from attacking.
Silence made more noise than anything that night, as he lay there alone, listening only to the sound of his own breathing. It was shallow; a little scared. He was kidding himself by playing down his fear, because inside he was screaming. He couldn’t make a sound, however, because then they would know he was home.
His eyes remained on stalks, staring intently at the wind chimes as they rustled and swayed, and wondering why he had even put them up there. He didn’t like the sound any more. It sounded ominous. It sounded frightening, not comforting as it was just days ago.
The fire would’ve worked wonders to kill off the chill that had infested his bedroom, but he couldn’t light it. Then they would know he was there, if they didn’t already. Then they would sneak their way in, burrowing and scratching, and they would fulfil their promises.
He didn’t know who they were, or what they wanted from him, but he did know that they meant business.
He pulled the covers up over his head, trying to smother the memory that swamped his mind. The effigy, dressed as he had been dressed the day before, covered in blood, knife embedded into its throat, and the note attached to its head with a switch-blade.
“Flesh and Bones may bleed with Stones,
But we just want to hurt you.”
It had been placed on his living room floor. Whoever it was had been inside. It made his skin crawl just thinking about it…
The note swore him to secrecy, and he was trapped by it. Tell the police, and his cousin would be stabbed from every angle imaginable, his blood spilling on the pavement where he lay. Tell his family, and the beautiful little blond kid would have his throat cut as though he were a screaming pig in a slaughter house. Tell his management, and the other two would be shot dead with a single bullet, going right the way through their heads and out the other side. What’s the point of wasting ammo, when it would all come in useful when they came to kill him? That is, if he didn’t obey their wishes…
And so here he was. Alone and terrified. What could he do but sit and wait until fate dealt him his next row of cards?
“What’s the matter, Brian? You look a little pale. Are you feeling alright?”
Brian had been staring off into space for the past twenty minutes, and Nick was getting concerned about him. It wasn’t like Brian to be quiet, but he guessed with the tour coming up in a matter of weeks, he was a little nervous. Hell, they all got those tingly little butterflies in their stomachs after some time off.
Brian jumped. Nick’s voice dragged him from the void he had been inhabiting with a shock. “What? Oh, um….”
He looked up at his young friend and froze. His hands began to perspire, becoming cold and clammy, his face beginning to burn, heart almost breaking through his skin with its persistant bass drum-roll, battering his ribs and causing his chest to hurt. He looked into Nick’s face, and his imagination gave him the most intense, most vivid torment he had ever experienced, for he saw little Nicky, his face pale, blue lipped and glassy eyed, a gash running from ear to ear….
“Brian, you look like you’ve seen a ghost. What is it, pal?”
Brian regained his composure. “Um, nothing Nicky. I just…I’m tired, that’s all!”
Nick frowned. “Whatever. Just try not to be so jumpy, buddy. You scared me half to death.”
To death…to death….TO DEATH!
Brian gathered his belongings and made his way to the bathroom, before the entire contents of his stomach put in an appearance all over the nice marble flooring in the rehearsal lounge.
“Brian…”, Nick called, but he was gone before he had the chance to get an answer.
The chain of events had began…but when would they end? Brian looked down into the toilet, feeling more sick than ever, looking at what had been his breakfast. He felt complete and utter panic welling up inside of him. Only a day ago, he was fine, but now? Now, he was in total despair.
What did they want from him? Who were they? What would he do?
He stood up and flushed away what had just minutes ago been inhabiting his digestive system. He felt wobbly on his feet, but he managed to get to the running taps, splashing cold water on his face.
“Look alive, B-Rok”, he told himself, dragging together every last bit of calmness he had in him before returning to face the other guys. The guys who couldn’t help him, because that would mean their deaths.
I can’t close my eyes, because it isn’t all happy ever after.
I can’t dream, because it only causes me pain.
Why won’t it rain?
“Sorry, Nicky. I just felt a little bit nauseous.”
Nick raised an eyebrow.
“I’ll say. What did you do? Eat some of that junk that’s been in your refrigerator for the past six months? I swear to God, you need a woman’s touch about your place.”
Brian smiled. This was hard. He was so fucking scared.
“And who are you to comment of another guy’s lack of females, Mr Celibate?”
Nick slapped AJ on the back of the head in mock retaliation. Brian’s eyes widened as AJ’s head snapped forwards, lolling momentarily on his shoulders, almost as if in slow motion. Almost as though he’d been….
He lifted it back up and smiled. “Yeah, Kid. That’s your best shot.”
It was almost as if he was mocking Brian. Almost as if he’d read the note himself, and was trying his best to put the fear of God into his terrified friend.
“Um, are the other two tardies here, yet?” he asked, voice shaky, trying his best to mask his fear and his growing unease.
“On their way. Apparently, there is a huge traffic jam, but I didn’t see one. Did either of you?”
“Yeah, I did. I saw a peanut stand and heard a rubber band, too…”
They laughed together, but Brian just stared at them, his face unchanging and as white as a sheet.
“Hey, Rok, you really don’t look so hot. Are you sure you’re ok to rehearse? If you’re sick…”
“I’m fine!” It came out a little bit more harsh than he had intended, but he was on edge. He was on the razor’s edge, and he didn’t want to get himself cut. He didn’t want to be anywhere near his home right now….
Nick’s voice was a little shocked, a little hurt, but he knew Brian well enough to know that his moods sucked when he was sick. Best to leave him be. Best to stay out of his way.
“I’m gonna go call ‘em, see where they are”, he said, forcing a smile.
“Tell ‘em that they’ve got detention with Mr McLean after rehearsal.”, AJ mocked.
Brian closed his eyes and made his way out into the hallway. Anything to be out of that room. Anything to be able to breathe again.
Time takes so long when you’re watching it. Terror feels so terrifying when you’re feeling it. He had spoken barely a word since the rehearsal had began. Kevin had tried engaging him in conversation, but the image of his cousin lying dead, covered in blood, pooled around his whole body, had sent Brian into another wave of nausea. He only just managed to get to the bathroom that time.
“Rok, I want you to talk to me. I’ve known you since you were born and never have I seen you this nervy. What is it? It is this virus or whatever? Have you seen a doctor about it, because you can’t keep throwing up like that.”
Brian looked his cousin in the eyes, and the blue of his own bore into the blue of his cousins. Crystal on denim. “I’m fine”, he lied.
Kevin frowned. He knew he was lying, but he didn’t want to push him. He knew how stubborn Brian could be. It would only end in an argument, and neither of them needed that so close to the tour dates.
“Fine. I think you should go home, though. If it is a bug, then I don’t want us all catching it. That would just set us all back.”
Brian was about to protest, but he looked to the floor and nodded his head. As much as he hated going back to the place that they had violated with that pornographic filth, the longer he stayed here, the bigger the risk of something slipping out…and that could be deadly.
“Ok. I’ll go lie down, I think.”
Kevin rubbed his cousin’s back thoughtfully. “You want me to stop by later on? See how you are?”
Brian’s eyes filled with fear. “NO! “ Realising his mistake, he softened. “I mean…I’m just going to get some sleep.”
“Ok, pal, but make sure you get something for that nausea. Don’t want you dehydrating yourself.”
Brian nodded. “Sure. I will.”
He walked out of the building , deep in thought, and jumped into his car. How he was going to drive God only knew, but he would have to try.
He was so deep in thought that he barely even noticed the note on his dashboard.
The hearts of the wicked is your winning ticket,
Your blood and your bones leaves us craving for more.
We love you, we need you, we’ll cut you, we’ll bleed you
The answer you’re craving lurks behind your door.
He gasped, his voice imprisoned inside of his throat. What had meant to escape his lips in the form of a whimper had been strangled before it had reached his vocal cords. He felt his head spin, as the words encircled his brain, a fearful limerick which threatened not only his life but his own mental well-being. He felt his body shake with fear, as though he had been turned ice cold; the feeling of dread creeping up his legs, into his stomach, and resting on his chest.
“Oh God”, he managed, his knuckles bare white as he clenched his fingers around the note, terrified to let go and desperate to feel it between his hands, to know it wasn’t a figment of his recently over-active imagination.
His own tears fell on the page, blurring the words until they resembled a black river; a river of death and darkness. There was no other way to describe it.
“Oh God, Oh God…” he repeated, as if his maker would reach down and give him support right here, right now.
He looked at the intricate detail in the Italic handwriting, and murmured to himself. He felt as though he were somewhere else, and he knew that driving right this minute would be a bad idea. He would never make it home alive if he did…
‘The answer you’re craving lurks behind your door’.
He thought back to his childhood, when he was fiercely afraid of the dark. He would always open his door slowly, in case something was waiting for him. He would check underneath his bed before getting in it, and he always demanded at least a night-light to help him drift off to sleep. It all stemmed from when he was four years old, and his mother had turned the light off. He was lying in bed next to his brother, and the more he looked at him, the more grotesque his features became. The images of his nightmares all played themselves on Harold’s delicate features, and Brian had screamed his lungs dry. He had been afraid of the dark until he was ten years old…
‘The answer you’re craving lurks behind your door’.
Behind the door, so as the impact is so much more severe. He wouldn’t see it until it was fully in his face. He wouldn’t experience it until he was vulnerable and unable to hide. Psychologically, the unexpected was so much worse that the prepared for.
Brian was trapped. He couldn’t stay at the rehearsal, because he was terrified of what he would say. He didn’t want to go home, because he was terrified of what he might find. He didn’t want to be alone because they obviously kept a close eye on him, and he didn’t want to be with anybody in case he put them in danger.
What could he do but play right into their hands?
Taking a deep breath, and placing the note face down on the seat next to him, he started up his engine.
The ride home was going to be an intense one…his mind working into overdrive and his panic reaching an all time high. At least if he went home, he’d know what he was up against. Until then, he was in the dark about it, metaphorically aswell as literally.
There was nothing worse than being kept in the dark.
He found himself checking his rear-view mirror every ten seconds, trying desperately to make sure he wasn’t being followed. He hoped to God that he wasn’t, because he didn’t think he’d know what to do if he was.
The ride home was somewhat of an auto-pilot journey for him, as he didn’t actually remember doing any of the driving. All he remembered was his paranoia, and that took up his whole mind.
His house approached, and the insects eggs that were lying dormant in his stomach began to hatch. Teeny tiny maggots, crawling around his intestines, because these were no butterflies of excitement, like the ones you get when you know you’re going to see your love again, or the ones you get when you stand behind the curtain before running on stage. Nothing about these niggles and twitches were winged and beautiful. These were just rancid and grotesque.
Pulling up into his path, he fought another wave of nausea. The sickness was making him feel dizzy and light-headed, and if he kept it up, Kevin was right. He was prone to dehydration, and the last thing he needed was to be collapsing on the floor.
“Behind the door”, he said out loud, averting his eyes from his mirror to his dark wooden, elegantly designed entrance. All looked ordinarily calm. He dreaded to think what lurked behind such a deceiving exterior.
“Pull yourself together”, he scolded himself, as he picked up the note. He touched it as though it were diseased, between his chewed nails on his index finger and his thumb. Using his other hand to open the car door, he exited the vehicle, all the while looking at this letter as though taking his eyes away from it would cause him to shrivel up and die.
Nervously, he checked the area. There seemed to be nothing out of place; no footprints or notes, no ‘gifts’ like the one that had been left for him the previous day when he had returned home. It looked as though nothing were amiss.
“Behind the door”, he repeated. Behind, not in front of. Whatever was waiting for him would only make itself known when he entered his house. He was fighting blind until that, and only barely managing to keep the tears and the panic at bay.
Pulling out his keys shakily, he took a deep breath, bit his lip, and opened the door…
It’s amazing how quickly things can come to mind in one split second; amazing how many thousands of images can be visualised all at once.
In the seconds it took to open the door, in somewhat slow-motion all the same, Brian had evaluated the day’s events perfectly…and came to the conclusion that opening this door was the most crazy, suicidal thing he could possibly do.
First had came the effigy. It signified his own bloody, painful death. Covered in blood, lying flat on its inanimate back, a note attached to its head. The note threatened everybody he loved with violence if he so much as breathed a word. Better still, the ‘thing’ had been inside of his house. Then there was the note on the dashboard, meaning that they had also been inside of his car. Who was this ‘they’? Was he about to find out? He hoped to God that he wasn’t, because whoever ‘they’ were, they wanted to hurt him pretty badly.
So many thoughts in such a short amount of time. So many thoughts that he was deafened by them, almost enough to block out the sound of the ‘click’ which came from the right side of the door. The ‘click’ which could be heard all the way down his ear canal. The ‘click’ which he knew could only be one thing.
He inhaled deeply, taking in as much oxygen as he could before he fell to the ground in complete and utter shock. Never had he been in this kind of situation, and never had he been this scared. He felt the barrel of the gun pressing with some force into the side of his head, and his hands began to shake as he raised them somewhat subconsciously. He wanted to look to the right, to see who was holding the gun, but common sense told him not to.
The voice was calm. It was as though it had done this kind of thing time and time again, and this time was no different.
“Don’t turn around, Brian. I’m going to cover your eyes.”
Not daring to move, Brian stood still. His legs were like jelly, and he felt that he would fall at any given second. He stared at the picture on the wall right ahead of it, and tried his hardest not to scream. It was difficult, as the sound was there in his throat, just waiting to be released, but the gun acted as prison guard and kept it captive inside of him.
He closed his blue eyes as the material was placed over them. Black. It was tied at the back of his head tightly, almost tightly enough for him to wince, but he contained it with the screams that were trying their hardest to escape him.
“Stay calm, Brian. Everything will be alright.”
Behind the door…
The words were his mantra, and he repeated them to himself over and over, childishly believing that tackling his fear would make it disappear. But it didn’t. He wasn’t living in a childish fairy-tale.
He was in complete darkness, now. He was unaware of the terrors that awaited him. They could be to his left, or behind him, or in front of him, and he wouldn’t be able to defend himself against them, because he couldn’t see them. He felt weak. He felt sick with fear. That was the emotion he was most in touch with. His fear…
“Turn around to face the door, Brian”, the whispered voice told him, prodding him with the gun to remind him that it was still there. He obeyed without question.
“Now, just go where I guide you. Understand?” He nodded his head, afraid to speak, This seemed to be enough, as the man just grasped his arm and led him out of the door he had just came in.
Without sight, his hearing became more trust-worthy, and he heard the unmistakable sound of a van being pulled up his pathway. He knew then that he would be taken somewhere blindly. He knew that he would never find his way back...
The van doors opened.
“Watch your head”.
He was led into the back of the van with his ‘companion’, and the doors were locked behind them. He knew that he was not alone, as he could smell the cologne from the man with the gun.
“You don’t need to be afraid, Brian. At least not yet. We want to show you something…”
It was happening too quickly. He felt like a trapped animal, because he hadn’t even been given a chance to come to terms with his predicament.
This was all wrong…