CHAPTER TWENTY NINE
NIGHTMARE (n) 1 a terrifying or deeply distressing dream.
2 a terrifying or unpleasant experience
3 a thing that is feared
If only this was a nightmare. If only this was a nightmare that he could wake up and escape from. He didn’t want this to be reality…
Brian’s hands trembled slightly as he rested them in his lap and he shivered as he sat in the cold, plastic chair opposite his parents. His mother’s face was streaked with red tearstains as she leaned against her husband’s shoulder her hands clasped firmly in his.
Brian himself still felt numb after seeing Harry. The image of his brother would not leave his mind. He could still see it in front of him, even though his parents were sat before him. It did not matter. He could still visualise Harry.
After his father’s terrifying phone call from his cell phone Brian had shakily driven himself and his mother to the hospital while Harold rode in the ambulance with Harry. Neither of them had spoken and his mother’s silent tears had almost caused Brian to sob in despair.
Harold had been waiting for them, his face ashen and his eyes rimmed with red. He could barely speak as he held Jackie and Brian together in his arms. The doctor had showed them to the room where the
Brian had glanced through the window with his mother and they had seen clusters of people anxiously fussing about Harry. When one of them had moved, they had caught sight of his face before it was concealed with an oxygen mask.
The first glance is always the worst.
Up until then, Brian could only have imagined what had befallen his older brother, but now it was reality. Hard, cold reality.
REALITY (n) 1 The state of things as they are or appear to be, rather than as one might wish them to be.
2 something that is real
But Brian did not want it to be real! It was too nightmarish to be true! The very sight of Harry had brought fresh tears to Jackie’s eyes and Brian had cried with her after allowing himself a few moments to adjust to the shock.
What skin had been visible beneath the blood and bruises upon Harry’s face was pale grey and this only served to highlight the bruised, tender and broken flesh. His clothes were coated in blood and his arm hung at an odd angle.
Jackie’s face had crumpled at the sight of her son, her skin turning as white as Harry’s, and then she had collapsed in Harold’s arms, her desperate sobs filling the entire corridor. Brian had felt a screaming rage inside of him at whoever had done this to his brother. They had done this to Harry because of Brian. That brick had been meant for him. They had only hurt Harry to upset Brian. And it had worked.
He had torn his gaze away from the window into the hospital room as a doctor blocked his view and turned his dull eyes to his father.
“D – dad?” he had whispered quietly.
Harold had opened his mouth to speak, but nothing but a small, choked sob had emerged and he turned to hold his wife even tighter.
“I found him like this,” Harold murmured faintly. “I saw someone running when I arrived but I was too worried about Harry to chase them. Someone had…” he sniffed and had broken off, his head pressing against Jackie’s shoulder to hide his weakness.
Brian had turned back to the window for a moment and a dribble of a tear crept down his cheek. Someone had beat his brother up. All because of Brian and what he had done… murder.
Then the police had arrived. Brian had held onto his mother while Harold recounted how the brick had come hurling through the window and how Harry had rushed off after the attacker. Why had Harry done that? Maybe he would have been safe if he had not been determined to catch them…
The police had informed them that people were already at the Littrell’s residence and had found the brick and note. Of course, after they had wanted to talk to Brian.
“Do you know who would do this, Brian?” a woman had asked him sympathetically.
And Brian had been forced to tell them about his stalker. He left out as much as he possibly he could, including the incident with Liam, but he made it clear that he knew this had been the same person. This was by the same person who had written ‘Murderer’ upon his wall. The same person who wanted him punished for the deeds he had committed.
“How are you so sure it was your stalker?” she had asked gently.
Brian had sobbed slightly, causing his mother to lean over and embrace him warmly. Slowly he had stared up at the police woman with his tearful blue eyes.
“I – I know,” he had stammered. “Please can I talk to the two officers that were involved with me before?”
So she had taken down Fren and Peters’ names and the location of the police station where they worked at. Brian did want to tell her about everything that had happened. He did not want his parents to know about the ‘murderer’ sign or his humiliating panic attack. He needed Fren and Peters. Fren may have been wholly unsympathetic and hostile, but he knew the entire story and Brian knew that they could help him more than anybody else.
Now he sat in this plastic chair, as he had been doing all night. A doctor had asked if they would like to go home, but no one wanted to leave Harry. No one wanted to leave in case their prayers at home were weaker than they were at the hospital.
Brian wondered miserably if he should leave. Everything that had happened today had been because of him. Wherever he went, someone was following and that same person was determined to cause as much destruction as they possibly could.
The hour dragged by slowly and it dragged Brian’s hope with it. His parents stayed dismally silent as they clung to each other, only whispered the occasional prayer or to say to Brian that Harry as going to be okay… but they didn’t know None of them could say for certain what the consequences of this situation would be.
His mother told Brian how grateful she was that the brick had not hit his head, but a part of Brian wished it had. If he was dead, then there would be no more trouble or fear. His friends and his family would be safe if he was gone. Brian was the one someone was after, and yet it was everybody else who seemed to be paying for it.
Suddenly the door swung open. Brian’s head snapped up, his eyes red and sore from the tears of pain that fell from his blue ocean orbs and splashed about his cheeks. A blonde female doctor slowly stepped into the waiting room.
Brian wanted to leap out of his seat. He wanted to rush to her and beg her to tell them that Harry was going to be okay, but his weak legs refused to move and his fingers clung tightly to the rim of the chair.
He could not make his mouth form the question to ask, he was too terrified of receiving an answer he did not want to hear. His heart was already drowning into the murky waters of sorrow and fear and it would not prevail if Harry didn’t.
Harold took a deep breath. “How is Harry?”
Brian stared at his father and their eyes met for a brief second before they both turned back to the doctor, trying to read whatever they could in her facial expression.
She smiled at them and Brian’s heart bounced out of the lake of distress as hope lifted it free and held it safely aloft.
“He’s alive,” she said, smiling at the sense of relief that fell upon the room like refreshing layer of dew upon dry roses. “He sustained damage from three broken ribs, a fractured wrist and a broken ankle, but he should be fine.”
Fine? Three broken ribs, a broken ankle and a fractured wrist? Brian’s heart rapidly began to deflate again and his eyes blinked to stop the tears. He thought of all the pain and fear that must have filled Harry during the attack… but it did not belong to Harry, it belonged to Brian.
‘It should have been me. It should have been me.’
“He’s okay?” Jackie asked, the tears freezing for a second in her eyes as hope took hold of her.
But at least Harry was alive. He was alive and safe…
The doctor smiled and nodded. “It was a hard job to stop the internal bleeding, but we did it and he should be fine.”
“You’re certain?” Harold asked, gripping Jackie’s shoulders as though to convince him that it was no dream.
Brian’s earlier scepticism seemed to drain away. What did physical injured really matter when Harry was safe?
She nodded again. “Despite several blows to the head, there’s no damage to the skull or Brian and there is no spinal injury. He’ll need a long rest and it may be frustrating for him because of the broken ribs and arm, but we are very positive about his well being.”
Brian let out a strangled cry of joy and his mother turned and embraced his father tightly. Tears fell from Brian’s eyes, but no longer were they tears of horror, fear and distress but of relief.
“Can we see him?” Harold asked, rubbing Jackie’s back soothingly.
The doctor nodded. “Of course, but he is still sleeping. It may be a while before he wakes. He’s still very weak.”
Brian gulped as he slowly stepped into Harry’s room. His brother lie upon the bed, still as death and as pale as new paper. As soon as Brian saw him, he began to tremble again despite the doctor’s assurances that he would be fine.
Harry’s right arm had been wrapped in a sling and bandages covered the top part of his forehead.
Jackie took a deep breath and Brian knew that she was as unnerved as he by Harry’s frail appearance. She careful approached him and then leant down to clasp his hand.
Brian smiled at her bravery and crept forwards with his father, both of them careful in case any loud noises caused the precious object before them to smash. He looked so fragile and vulnerable…
“Hey Harry,” Jackie whispered. “You’re going to be fine, honey.”
Brian leant down beside his mother and stared into his brother’s pale face. So many times had their positions been reversed. Brian remembered looking up into Harry’s face when he had been in hospital as a child and had wondered why it was always him that must be here. Now their roles had flipped and Brian hated it. He hated to see Harry looking like this.
And it was his fault.
Tears trickled down his cheeks as he heard his parents whispering to Harry and his mother was singing him an old song. They were so melancholy because of what had happened and Brian was the cause of it.
He found himself sobbing and then he was running to get away from everything. He wanted to get away from the world.
‘My fault! My fault!’
If only he had not have murdered Liam… but he didn’t kill him… or at least he didn’t mean to.
Someone was going to make him pay, force him to pay the consequences…
But now it was his brother who had paid…
Why couldn’t he escape? Why couldn’t it be a dream?
DREAM (n) 1 an imagined series of events experienced in the mind while asleep.
2 a daydream
3 a goal or aim
4 a wonderful person or thing
5 to consider the possibility of (to dream of)
6 to be unrealistic
‘You’re dreaming if you think you can escape.’