CHAPTER TWENTY ONE
"Don't hurt me please!" he screamed, backing away from the intruder before him.
"How could I ever let you go? How could I ever tell my friends that I had an ickle Backstreet Baby in my own hands for the killing and that I then let him go? No, I couldn't do that!"
Brian squealed in fear as the man crept closer to him, trembling as the shadow fell across his face. He crouched down into a small ball and used his hands to cover his face.
"Please! What have I ever done to you?" he whispered.
"You know what you did, Brian."
A hand suddenly seized him about the throat and wrenched him to his feet. Brian struggled weakly as he was lifted clean off of the ground. He whimpered slightly as the man dropped him to the floor, causing Brian to stumble back into the wall.
He began to scream as he saw the blood shot eyes gazing into his own and they way the blood poured from a hole in the man's chest. He tried to cover his face to shield himself from the phantom, but he screamed again as he saw the blood that coated his fingers and the knife that he held.
"Look what you did!" the man hissed, pointing at the knife wound in his heart.
"Go away!" Brian screamed. He suddenly brought the knife forward and plunged it into the man's chest again. He heard the man's strangled gargle as the blade dug deep into his flesh.
His victim stumbled back a few paces and stared at Brian in pure terror. He began to back away, suddenly looking smaller and weaker than before. "Please don't hurt me!" he begged, holding his arms out for Brian's mercy.
But Brian only saw the blood that covered him and the way his eyes gazed about the hallway vacantly, like the eyes of the dead. He screamed again and thrust the knife into the man's chest, his hand not even trembling as the blood oozed out of the wound and onto his fingers.
The man suddenly slumped to the floor and jerked for a few seconds before falling still, blood beginning to dribble onto the black carpet.
Brian clutched the knife close to him and then leant down beside the body. As he did, the man's hand seized his own in a ice cold hand and his head lifted off of the ground to be closer to Brian's. The eye ids peeled back to reveal blood red orbs that burned with rage.
"I'm going to kill you for what you've done! You're going to die!" the man screamed hatefully.
The hand released him and Brian cried out as he spun around, seeking an escape from the prison, but a huge wall was blocking him. Red blood began to bubble out of the cracks of the wall and dribble and ooze about the surface until they had formed letters that spelt out one word:
He turned again and this time there was a small group of girls in front of him. He recognised them. He had met these fans a few weeks ago at the last video shoot.
"We looked up to you!" the nearest girl screamed.
"We liked you!" the second yelled hatefully.
"We thought you were a good person but…" a third added.
All three girls said the next words in unison. "You're a killer! We hope you die!"
Brian felt the words swirl about him and prick him with their sharpness and he screamed as he felt something tearing into his skin. His eyes closed as the pain increased and he began to scream louder and louder…
When his eyes opened he found that Liam was standing before him, a carving knife raised above him.
The knife was brought down upon his face and Brian screamed and instinctively covered his head to protect his face from that vicious blade.
Brian whimpered and tossed in the bed, his arms still covering his head in terror. He jerked as he suddenly realised that he was awake and his hands immediately began to trace his arms and face, searching for the wounds caused by the carving knife.
He gasped as he rolled over onto his side, the cold sweat dribbling down his burning skin and his stomach trembling inside of him. His breathing rasped in his throat and he threw the covers off of his body, as if they were somehow attacking him.
Glumly he staggered out of bed and limped along the landing to the bathroom, trying not to make too much noise in case he awoke Nick.
He flicked the switch to the bathroom and groaned as the light stung his eyes and made everything spin about him in an array of white blindness. He leaned against the sink and waited for the world to cease it's nauseating merry go round.
The thought of the nightmare still made his skin wriggle about him and caused his stomach to knot itself in fear. The way he had cold- heartedly killed the man in his dream brought the vomit to his throat.
Why had he dreamt about purposefully killing another man? He stared at his hands for a moment and breathed in relief at the fact that the blood had vanished. Trembling he rinsed his hand under the cold water of the sink and then wiped his palm against his sweaty forehead.
He could not cope with this. He could not cope with being a killer and the fact that he had no idea what was going to happen to him now. Someone was stalking him. Someone ruthless was determined to remind Brian of what he had done and determined to make his guilt consume him.
The plan seemed to be working.
Brian staggered over to the lavatory and then knelt down upon the floor as he felt the uncontrollable urge to empty his stomach of everything it contained.
Brian sprang up from the floor as he heard the ringing of the phone, dropping the pile of shirts he had just finished neatly folding onto the carpet.
His fingers dug into his jeans unconsciously as he closed his eyes, willing the phone to stop. He heard Nick dashing from his own room, where he too had been packing.
"Hello?" Nick asked. "Sup AJ?"
Brian breathed a sigh of relief and looked down to discover the way his knuckles had turned white. He unclenched his fingers and slowly retrieved the shirts.
'No freaky stalker… you're okay,' he told himself.
He heard Nick laughing on the phone to their friend, but Brian found himself unwilling to go and share the joke. Nothing at the moment could pry his mind from the thoughts of what was to come on the tour and he knew that Nick would notice that something was seriously wrong if Brian could not even bring himself to smile at a joke. It was bad enough that Nick had caught him being sick this morning.
Brian slowly zipped the lid of his first suitcase and then set about filling the next with the remaining clothes that still littered his bed, concentrating hard as he laid everything inside carefully.
Normally his unease lifted during the day, but now it seemed determined to haunt him and ruin his day time state as well as his slumber. Everything else had always happened to him at night and though he felt frightened at night, it was always lifted in the morning as though the light could dissolve any fear or nightmare.
However, the phone call he had heard yesterday morning had changed everything and had shown him that scary things do not always happen at night. Now he was more than ever aware of how vulnerable he was and how not even the daylight could protect him from the horrors he now faced.
There was a sudden knock upon the door and Brian jumped again and dropped the pair of shorts he had been folding.
Nick poked his head around the door. "You all right?" he asked.
"Yeah," Brian replied, folding the shorts up again and placing them inside the case. "I'm almost done."
"Huh! I've only managed to pack my Nintendo at the moment!" Nick said. "I can't be bothered with clothes. They always get screwed up in the case."
"Well you should fold them up then," Brian said delicately packing his favourite jersey.
"You're being neat," Nick said, an eyebrow raised. "You're normally worse than I am!"
Brian shrugged and turned away from Nick to pick up some more clothes from the bed. Packing helped to prevent his mind from dwelling on other… more frightening things.
"AJ just called," Nick said, sitting down on the floor beside Brian and helping him by folding up a jacket. "He can't make it t the cinema. He has to fly back and pick up his suitcase!"
Brian stared at him blankly.
"He forgot it!" Nick laughed. "Can you believe it?"
"Oh." Brian smiled weakly but did not dare try to chuckle in response.
Nick tilted his head, curious at the lack of response. "Did you still want to catch a movie?" he asked. "We can go without J."
"I'd rather not," Brian replied. He shuddered inwardly at the thought of being in such a public place with no security guards. Anything could happen…
"You still not feeling well?" Nick enquired.
Brian shook his head, still aware of the twisting his stomach was enduring. He seemed to be feeling permanently sick.
"Nervous about the tour?" Nick asked softly.
Brian turned a shocked face to him. Nick could be so damn perceptive at times, while others he could be well… blond.
"A little," he said. "I'm just dreading that something will happen." Their shows were always planned to the very last detail and if one little thing went wrong… But at least they weren't flying on this tour so he could cease worrying about any harnesses.
"I spoke to Kevin this morning," Nick said. "He called while you were in the shower. We're going to have extra security and everything and the police will be at the bigger venues. Don't worry. We'll make sure nobody sneaks back stage. Now all you have to worry about is not messing up the dance routines!" He offered Brian a grin.
Brian smiled slightly, feeling a little better now that he knew about the extra security, but what if it was one of the guards who was stalking him?
'Now I'm getting too paranoid…' As for the show itself, he had hoped that he could be rid of his nerves enough to at least allow himself to sing and dance properly. He had been out of it for a while now, having missed all of the last minute rehearsals due to be in hospital or on 'recuperation break' as Kevin put it.
"I can't help being scared," Brian whispered staring down at his suitcase mournfully.
"Believe me, there's gonna be no safer place than our tour!" Nick assured him. "Peters and Fren are personally going to check everything at the first venue before we even arrive there. They'll check security, staff, people on the door… everything."
"That's nice of them," Brian said, fighting the urge to ask why the police were bothering. How bad had that note been?
Nick patted him on the shoulder. "I'll look after you."
Brian smiled up at him and this time it was a genuine smile. Nick was always normally fooling around and plotting tricks, but he could be the most amazing and caring friend at other times, even if he was planning to soak you in your sleep at the same time…
But there was another fear inside of Brian. What if his stalker targeted the other guys? He looked up at Nick's blue eyes and shuddered at the thought that something might happen to him.
"Come on," Nick said, pulling Brian out of his terrifying thoughts. "Let's finish packing and then watch a movie downstairs. Tomorrow, we'll just plain chill out before the tour. If the weather stays nice than we can use the pool."
"That'd be good," Brian replied. A pure relaxing day would be blissful to his soul at the moment…
"Right, I'm going to start doing my clothes," Nick said standing up. "Feel free to come and give me a hand when you're done here."
"Is that a hint to say 'please neatly fold all of my clothes for me'?" Brian asked.
Nick grinned. "No… but if you're offering…."
"I'll be there when I'm done," Brian said continuing to fold his own clothes.
He needed the distraction to prevent his mind from imagining up the threatening notes that someone had been sending to him and helping Nick was as good a way as any.
He just prayed that the letters and threats would stop when they were on tour… because Brian wasn't sure how much more he could take.