CHAPTER THIRTY ONE
Brian stared about the airport with wide, nervous eyes. He still ached painfully inside from the argument with his parents and he longed for his mother’s arms, but they no longer contained the special powers that could make everything better that had been there when he was a child. At first they wouldn’t let him leave. They wouldn’t listen to him. They didn’t understand that they were in danger.
“Brian you can’t leave!” his father cried in exasperation as Brian attempted to pack his bag.
“It’s not safe,” Brian protested. “I want to protect you.”
“You’re being paranoid!”
“Why won’t you listen to me?” Brian screamed, hot tears filling his blue eyes. Why wouldn’t they believe him? Couldn’t they see the danger they were in because of him?
“Brian, calm down,” his mother tried, taking him lovingly by the shoulders and staring into his tearful face.
“How can I calm down when my brother is in hospital because of me?”
“It wasn’t your fault.”
“You saw the note! It was meant for me! They wanted to hurt me, not Harry!”
It was his fault, it was his fault! Why were his family and friends paying for his murderous sins? His brother had already paid the price and now Brian was terrified that something would happen to his parents. Neither of them were as young or as strong as Harry and AJ were.
Jackie gently placed her hands upon his cheeks and turned him to face her. “Brian please just stay until you’re due back. We need you with us. I don’t want you to leave.”
“I don’t want to go, but I’ll feel better when I’m not with you. I’ll know you’re safe. I don’t want anymore people to get hurt because of me.”
Harold sighed. “Stay until tomorrow. Kevin’s flying back to see Kristen and you can go with him.”
Brian nodded and wiped his eyes. “Thank you…and… I’m sorry.”
He knew that he had hurt them. He remembered the pain in his mother’s eyes and it had wrought knots within his stomach and heart, but they knew that he was afraid. They saw it in the way he stared about him, the way he walked and the way he jerked every time the phone or doorbell rang.
And Brian knew what scared his parents more than anything; the fact that they couldn’t protect him anymore.
“Ready Brian?” Kevin asked suddenly.
Brian turned to stare at his cousin, having almost forgotten that he was there. He glanced up at the clock and saw that it was almost time for their flight. Slowly he picked his bag up and slung it over his shoulder as he stood up.
His parents weren’t here to look after him anymore and they couldn’t be without putting themselves in danger and Brian didn’t want that. He glanced at Kevin by his side and then about the half empty airport. What if somebody was waiting to attack them?
He roughly shook his mind free of paranoid thoughts. He could escape his family and save them, but Kevin and the others were a different matter. He worked with them and they would never give him up without a fight. Short of leaving the band, there was nothing Brian could do to get away from them and, besides there was going to be much tighter security at all of the other venues. Nothing was going to happen. Nothing was going to happen.
NOTHING WAS GOING TO HAPPEN!
Say something to yourself enough times and you can almost believe it.
“Brian, why don’t you stay with me and Kristen?” Kevin suggested as they finally stood up to exit the plane ride, much to Brian’s relief as he still despised planes and heights.
Brian shook his head miserably. As frightening as staying in his house alone was, he would feel even worse staying with Kevin because that would put his cousin in danger.
“No Kev, I’ll stay by myself.”
‘Alone where anyone can get me…’
He really had to stop thinking like this, unless he wanted another panic attack but the thoughts would not allow him to rest.
“I don’t like that idea,” Kevin said. “I’m worried about you and it’s clear that someone hates you.”
Hate? Hate was the wrong word. There didn’t seem to be a word strong enough to express how this stalker felt about Brian. One thing was certain though, he wanted him to suffer. And at the moment, he was getting his wish.
“Brian?” a voice suddenly said.
Brian jumped slightly and spun around, eyes darting to see who had recognised him and to see if there was anywhere he could run to.
“Brian, relax,” Kevin said placing a hand upon Brian’s shoulder.
Brian found himself facing Fren and Peters, both slightly taken back by his nervous attitude. He gulped slightly and dropped his eyes away from their faces.
“Your mother called and requested that we meet you here. She’s concerned for your safety,” Peters said. “And after recent events, I thought it might be wise for you to have an escort, especially in a public place like this.”
“That’s very kind of you,” Kevin replied.
Brian still remained silent, his head filling slowly with more and more horrifying thoughts. Even the police now seemed to believe that there was a strong possibility of danger for Brian…
“I’m surprised you don’t have security with you now,” Fren commented.
“There was no need,” Kevin replied. “My brother gave us a ride to the airport in Lexington and my wife is picking us up here.”
“Why don’t you let us drive Brian home?” Fren suggested.
“There’s no need,” Brian blurted out, unwilling to go anywhere with Fren. There was still something about the man that made his blood quiver within his veins. No matter how good his intentions may have been, Brian did not like him.
“Brian can come home with me,” Kevin said simply.
“No Kev, I told you I’m going back to my house alone. I don’t want anymore friends or family getting hurt. It’s only for two days until we meet up to discuss the beginning of the tour… again.”
Kevin hesitated and his eyebrows furrowed as they always did whenever he did not agree with something, but Brian could not let him win this battle.
“If it makes you feel better, I’ll ride home with the cops.”
Kevin nodded slowly. “Al right then, but I swear you had better be okay.”
There was something about sitting in the back of a police car that made Brian feel even sicker than he did before. He thought of Liam and the way the knife had pierced his chest and then the words came to his mind, as they always did.
He could so easily be sat in a police vehicle now because he was a criminal, not because he was being protective.
“Can I ask you something?” Brian said to Peters, who was driving them through the dark streets.
“Go right ahead,” Peters replied, turning them onto the freeway.
“Why are you two so worried about me? How many times is it police officers escort people home?”
“We were asked to,” Peters replied. “And you requested us yourself while at the Lexington police station.”
“I feel… better with you two rather than strangers,” Brian confessed.
He stayed silent for the rest of the journey, watching as the darkened landscape slid by the window. He titled his head and could just about glimpse the stars that sparkled overhead. He used to wish by the stars as a child, but they had never come true…
Star light, star bright
First star I see tonight
I wish I could
I wish I might
Have the wish I wish tonight
‘Please save me from this nightmare. No more… no more… I want to be safe.’
Finally they pulled up onto his street and Brian found his eyes drawn to his own house at the far end. Could he really stay by himself here?
“Here we are?” Peters said as he pulled to a stop.
Home. But Brian no longer could see it as that. He no longer felt safe here.
“What’s wrong?” Fren asked, his eyes narrowing to almost snake like slits as he turned to stare at Brian.
Brian tore his gaze away form his darkened home to stare back at the two police officers. “This is going to sound very childish, but can you just come inside with me and check everything is okay? I haven’t been back since I found that message on my wall…”
He fiddled with his hands, feeling like a tiny child that was begging to have its hand held while it crossed the great expanse of road.
“Sure,” Peters replied after a moment or so of taking in Brian’s fragile and nervous form.
Brian clambered out of the car and fiddled nervously until he found his house keys. He glanced up at the dark windows and silent garden before carefully climbing the steps up to the front door.
He took a deep breath as he unlocked it, but something held him back from entering. He had a terrible feeling about this…
An awful, foreboding feeling that tore at him inside…
Peters went in first and flicked the light on for Brian in the hallway. “Wait here, and we’ll check it out for you.”
Brian nodded blushing crimson as his fear as he watched the two officer enter different rooms.
Brian stood in the hallway his hands clenched so tightly that they had turned white like the carpet upon the floor.
Carpet that had once been stained with red, the colour of blood. Stained because it was blood that had spilled onto it. He tried to think of other thoughts. He conjured up images of Kevin, nick, AJ, Howie and the fans that adored them. He tried to think about his won family but that only served to crunch his heart up as if it were made of nothing but paper, but he felt every crease like a knife wound.
He tried to think of anything that would deter him from thinking about Liam and what had happened in this very room.
“All clear so far,” Fren said as he entered from the lounge.
Peters nodded in agreement as he stood in the kitchen doorway. “It doesn’t look as if anybody has been here.”
Brian smiled and laughed slightly at his own paranoia. “I’m sorry for wasting your time.”
“Better safe than sorry,” Peters replied. “Want me to check upstairs?”
“I’ll do it,” Brian said swiftly, feeling the need to prove to Fren that he was not a complete coward.
“I’ll come with you,” Fren said. “Just in case.”
Brian shrugged, pretending to be unconcerned. He stared up at the stairs above him and slowly climbed the first step.
‘Anybody could be up here.’
He took another step and his hand sought out to reach the rail, as if needing something to cling onto for support.
‘Anybody at all.’
Another slow step and then another and another and another. Weakly he ascended up to the darkness of the landing.
The flicker of the lights made him jump slightly and he glanced down to see that Peters had turned on the light switch at the bottom of the stair to give them more light to see by. He reached the top of the stairs and stared about him, but everything was normal.
Normal apart from an odd smell that Brian could not place.
Fren poked his head around one door and nodded in satisfaction. Brian decided to take the next room.
But God he wished he hadn’t…
If he had known what was going to be awaiting him, he would have stayed with Kevin. If he had known, he would have… but what can you do in this situation?
He pushed the door open into his own bedroom and froze as the smell reached his nostrils. Something foul, old, dead and rotten. He could smell it and it made him want to retch. He had choked as the vomit came up his throat but he quickly swallowed it again as he sunk to his knees.
It was dark so he couldn’t see.
He didn’t want to see.
There was something terrible here.
“What is it?” Fren asked. “What’s wrong?” His voice was urgent, concerned.
Brian tried to open his mouth, but found himself almost being sick again. His eyes were beginning to adjust to the gloom and he make out something upon the bed…
Fren raised his head as he seemed to notice the smell. He reached out towards the light switch.
Brian almost sobbed with desperation. He didn’t want to see what it was. He didn’t want to be in this nightmare…
As the room lit, the horror was revealed.
Blood covered the bedcovers and parts of the carpet about the bed. It dribbled and oozed off of the duvet and Brian shook, trembled, sobbed, cried…
He gargled incomprehensively, his mind unwilling to take in what it was seeing. How was someone ever supposed to adjust to this? No one was ever meant to see this...
Lying on the bed was a body, it’s limbs sprawled untidily and it’s hair and clothes saturated with blood.
Liam, it was Liam. It was the man Brian had killed…
But he had never been like this…
There was so much blood covering him and Brian could see knife slashes up and down the arm that hung lazily off of the bed, the blood covered fingers seemingly reaching out to Brian almost as if wanting him to join him in his eternal slumber.
Brian felt numb, he couldn’t cry anymore. He couldn’t smell anything, he couldn’t hear anything…
He was aware of Peters running into the room, but he was too cold to hear his voice or feel the hands that shook him.
Now there was proof for Brian. Here was a body, the body of the man he claimed he had killed. Liam was dead and Brian was a murderer.