CHAPTER THIRTY FOUR
The second Brian was on the stage he felt sick. He was in a wide open space and for the first time in days there was no security guard by his side. It may have been irritating, but at least then he knew he was safe.
Here it was different. He was horribly exposed and so many people were staring up at him and watching his every move as the show began.
His mouth was dry despite the glass of water he had downed before entering the stage. His lips moved but the words came out slurred and wrong as his eyes darted about him in fear. He was trembling as he stood at the front of the stage and it was all he could do not to dash back to the safety of backstage with the security guards.
He loved to perform and he loved to sing, but today was different.
He did not want to be here. He was not ready…
He could see that several audience members held flashing green and red lights and the bright red bars only made another shade spring to his mind: the shade of blood.
He looked out into the audience and wondered how many of those looks were admiring and how many were malevolent. Was somebody out there plotting to ruin everything he had worked so hard for? He had come so close to losing his mind recently and he had struggled in the past few days to regain what he once had. He attended the rehearsals for the shows and then clung to Kevin or Nick’s sides during their free time. He was trying so hard not to break down and cry and finally he had begun to feel more stable.
But it all disappeared in a heartbeat now and he felt vulnerable and frightened.
He did his best to sing the right words in tune, but he was aware of Kevin staring at him in concern and knew that his voice must sound as terrible to him as it did to Brian.
He clumsily leapt about the stage as the dance routine began and he bit his lip to concentrate on the hard steps while faintly whispering the words to the chorus. This was a nightmare…
The others were as agitated as him. Before the show they had all sat silently and glanced up at every sound or every person who walked up to them. Brian was constantly looking over his shoulder to check for intruders and all eh could imagine was somebody attacking them during the show.
The tension did not disappear when the show began; cues were missed, words forgotten, dance steps fumbled and tempers were frayed…
“Nick, why the hell were you stepping on my foot?” AJ snapped moodily while he struggled to pull on the change of clothing for the next set of songs.
“Because you got in my way!” Nick replied as he angrily batted the hand away of one of the stage crew trying to help him with his t-shirt.
“I got in your way? You were out of formation entirely you dick shit!”
Brian had to fight back the tears as he pulled his own t-shirt on. He hated the raised voices and the snappy tones. They were all nervous about the show, but Brian knew that he felt so much worse. None of the others had seen the body and the destruction that his stalker had caused.
YOU’LL BE LIKE THIS SOON BRIAN
He knew all too well what fatal consequences could come out of this performance. He should never have agreed to it. It would be his fault if anything happened to the others… and God he prayed that it didn’t.
“Guys, we’re due on now!” Kevin cried.
And the show went on. And on.
In Brian’s mind it lasted forever as he waited for disaster to strike. Tears filled his eyes on stage as he realised what a mistake he had made. It was too dangerous and anything could happen to one of his friends.
“Wow, wasn’t that show great?” Nick said as the bus drew out of the arena and onto the wide, open road.
“Nick, it was bloody terrible!” AJ protested. He held up his arm to show the huge bruise that covered his wrist. “This is where a certain clumsy louse called Nick Crater elbowed me!”
“Easy on the old English mate,” Nick teased.
Nick looked hurt. “Hey, I’m only trying to lighten the atmosphere around here! It’s so heavy that someone’s gonna get crushed soon!”
“And hopefully it’ll be you!” AJ snapped.
“Guys, let’s not fight about this,” Howie said intervening before the insults became even more heated.
Brian had been trembling ever since the show had come to an end and not merely from exhaustion, but from fear. The sweat rolled down his face and he shook nervously, but there was no need to be frightened anymore… They had done it. The show was over and there had been no accidents or attacks.
Nick folded his arms and leaned back against his seat, staring moodily out of the dark window at the empty road beyond. “I’m just glad nothing happened like it did last time,” he mumbled voicing Brian’s own extreme relief.
Brian leaned against the back of the seat and his eyes drifted closed. He had never felt so drained after a concert before but the emotions that had controlled hi body during the entire performance seemed to have taken their toll upon him.
It would be like this every night… waiting for something to happen and never knowing if it would or not.
“Is Brian asleep?” Howie asked.
Brian almost sensed the switch of attention and he silently remained still, refusing to allow even his eyelids to flutter as he felt Nick’s hand press softly upon his shoulder for a second.
“Yeah he is,” Nick confirmed. “He must be real tired. On the first show he’s normally like a hyena.”
“This isn’t like our normal concerts though,” Kevin said.
This wasn’t even like their normal lives anymore…
“We’ll be okay,” AJ said. “You saw the security all over the place. Nobody can get past them all. Brian is safe.”
How Brian wished he could be certain of that fact…
Brian felt the bus draw to halt after what felt like at least an hour. Around him he had heard nothing but silence and the tension covered them all like oppressive treacle made everyone sticky and uptight.
He wondered if he should fake slumber a little longer to avoid entering the awful reality of his life. All of the tension between the guys was because of recent incidences, recent incidences that were caused because of him.
“Who wants to carry Rok up?” AJ said. “Seems a shame to wake him.”
“No one has to carry Rok up,” Brian said, slowly opening his eyes. “Rok is perfectly capable of getting to his own room.” He yawned and blinked a few times, unused to the light of the bus after the dark world he had inhabited before.
The security guard that had been riding the bus with them stood up. “Let’ go guys. I think you all need some rest.” Usually they did not have guards with them on the bus as they preferred their privacy but after the recent events they had decided that there should be a security presence. They had also been given one tour bus instead of the usual five to prevent them from being separated. At the hotels there would only be three hotel rooms for the five of them with a guard outside every door.
“You with me tonight?” Nick asked, nudging Brian with his arm.
Brian nodded, having already agreed to share a room with Nick despite his cousin’s protests. Kevin wanted Brian in his own room, but Brian felt much better with Nick knowing that the blond had a knack for making him smile and taking his mind off of bad things.
“These rooms are pretty nice,” Nick commented as he slung his bag down in their allocated room.
Brian nodded in agreement, but felt too tired for further conversation. He found out his wash bag and dragged himself to the bathroom, but he was appalled at his pale face and red-rimmed eyes. He looked like death itself…
“You wanna go straight to sleep/” Nick called.
Brian nodded as he splashed cold water onto his face. “Yeah, I just want to go to bed.”
He brushed his teeth and then stumbled back into he main room, trying to return Nick’s smile as he passed him on the way to the bathroom.
Brian clambered into bed and sighed as he felt the soft mattress beneath him. He had never been so glad about a hotel bed before, but he was too fatigued to concern himself about it now.
He laid back against the white pillows and wrapped the duvet about him, knowing that he was safe because of the lock on the door and the security guard outside. Much safer than being at home… he shuddered as he recalled the night he had seen the mysterious watcher outside of his window. It had been his stalker then…
Nick yawned as he entered from the bathroom and threw his towel and wash things messily upon the table. “Night Brian,” Nick said as he flicked the lamp off.
“Night,” Brian replied.
His heartbeat rapidly escalated the second the room was drenched with darkness. Red spots swirled before his eyes and they seemed almost to be droplets of blood.
He wriggled to make himself more comfortable and he felt his mind beginning to become heavier with sleep…
And then the nightmare began.
He could see blood covering the floor and the walls of the room. He could smell Liam’s foul breath as he crept closer towards him, ready to pierce his throat with the carving knife he held and he could also smell the foul stench of a decomposing dead body. It filled the room and it filled Brian’s lungs, making him feel sicker and sicker.
The lump of fear sunk to his stomach and he struggled as Liam pinned him down upon the bed, pressing the knife closer to his face. He glowered at Brian and then all of a sudden his face changed and became the same mass of blood and that Brian had seen lying upon his own bed at home. The eyes became lifeless and dead, but the mouth opened and formed words.
“YOU’LL BE LIKE THIS SOON BRIAN.”
Brian screamed and jumped out of bed before the hideous creature could fall upon him. He gasped as the room filled with light and he found that the walls were covered in thick, congealed blood. He spun around in horror and then his eyes fell upon the body upon the floor.
Only this time it wasn’t Liam, the blond hair told him that…
Brian sat up, a weak cry escaping his mouth. He gasped as he turned his face about the darkened room and realised that he had been dreaming. He sighed and fell back against the pillows, but image that had inhibited his mind a few moments ago stuck with him. His eyes slowly swivelled towards Nick’s bed.
“Nick?” he whispered. He gulped slightly to try and dampen his uncomfortably dry throat and frantically ripped the covers from him. He leapt out of bed and slowly crept towards Nick. “Nick?” he asked again, his voice becoming more and more urgent.
He looked down at his friend and froze in horror for a brief second as the moonlight slipped through the window and played with the shadows upon his face. For a second it almost looked as if the darker patches were dotted with blood…
Nick stirred slightly and turned his face away from the penetrating moonlight, his entire features falling into shadow. Brian’s eyes flickered closed in relief, the dread from his dream dissolving as he saw Nick peacefully sleeping. He was okay… Brian was just being paranoid.
Silently so as not to wake Nick, he crept back to his own bed and pulled the covers tight about him, trying to ignore his pounding heart. He had to learn that danger was not lurking every time he closed his eyes. The concert had gone fine and had shown that there was no need for concern, but Brian couldn’t help it.
He knew it wasn’t over yet.