CHAPTER THIRTY SIX
“Yahay! I’m looking forward to this show!” Nick said as he gulped down another can of coke.
“Hopefully it won’t be as bad as the last five,” AJ said as he straightened his jacket and smoothed his hair out.
They had done several shows by now and each time Brian felt more nervous as he waited for something to happen, but each time the show would come to an end with no problems and he would be left drained and exhausted from the adrenaline that pumped the fear about his body.
He had made a promise to Nick today and that was that he would enjoy this show. Nothing was going to happen. It would have happened by now. He was safe…
“Ready boys?” a cheerful voice asked.
Brian turned and smiled at Peters. They always had police present at the arenas now in case Brian’s ‘friend’ did decide to make an appearance and today they were back in the state where Brian lived and where Peters and Fren were stationed. They were two of the officers backstage with them now to help out with security while the rest patrolled the arena.
“Thanks for this,” Brian said to Peters. “It makes me feel safe that you guys are here.”
Fren’s eyes burrowed into him, but Brian ignored the older man after becoming used to his hostile stares.
“No problem,” Peters said. “Make it a good show though because my niece is in the audience with a banner saying ‘ Brian get your clothes off now’ I believe.”
Brian went slightly red at the description, but Nick decided to burst into laughter while Fren rolled his eyes.
“We won’t disappoint her!” Nick said, grinning as he leaned on Brian’s shoulder. “I’ll strip him on stage!”
“Nick, leave your kinky stripping of Brian for your bedroom!” AJ said nochantly. “I doubt even fans want to see you two getting it on.”
“Isn’t it Brian you’re supposed to be doing that to?” AJ enquired.
“No offence Nick, but I’m not attracted to you in that way,” Brian said playfully as he sipped on his water bottle.
“I’m heartbroken,” Nick said. “You’ll feel better when I strip you on stage!”
“C’mon! At least let me drop your pants! It’ll give the fans a treat!”
“Drop your own!”
“I will if you do.”
Brian smiled at Nick’s pout. He tried not to think of being back on the stage with that awful exposed feeling. He turned away from Nick and took a deep breath to calm himself. After the last few shows, he had begun to feel a lot better and more like his usual self. He had even mastered the art of smiling properly now.
“Let’s go guys!” Kevin called. “Show time!”
This time was different.
Brian loved it the second he stepped out on the stage because he realised that he wasn’t afraid anymore. It was time he learned to stop being so paranoid and take advantage of his life… even I it did involve being a murderer…
No, no, no! Stop it now! He couldn’t think like that anymore. It was time to move on.
He danced across the stage and smiled at the audience, ignoring the slightly sick feeling that was trying to emerge. He wasn’t going to allow himself to be frightened. He was going to keep his promise to Nick.
“Brian, promise me you’ll enjoy this show tonight? You used to love performing but all of the sparkle has gone out of you. I just want to see you happy again. Don’t let this freak ruin you.”
The words had come up during one of their long conversations where Brian had voiced his concerns to Nick. They were all on edge with recent events, but Brian knew that he was the worst. He was beginning to scare with others with his constant jumping.
That was over now. The freak who as stalking him was not going to ruin his life.
The night went by quickly and Brian bounced from one song into the next with Nick fooling about like mad for the entire first half. That boy had had way too much caffeine…
Nick gave him a friendly shove and Brian mocked glared at him as he danced across to the stage. Suddenly something brown and furry came flying out of the audience and landed face down upon the stage. Brian waved at that side of the crowd and then leant down to scoop up the toy. It was the perfect size to throw at Nick’s head…
He froze as he turned the toy to face him. It was a bear. A brown teddy bear, but it had been deformed and transformed into a sickening monster that belonged in a horror movie. It’s eyes had been ripped away and replaced with glass blood shot eyes and the stomach of the toy had been ripped open with the fluff hanging out and the fur was speckled with red spots that looked horribly liked dried blood…
A tag had been affixed to its ear: HELLO BRIAN
Brian dropped the toy as if it were some kind of evil, twisted creature that could bite him at any moment. His eyes wildly rolled from side to side in their sockets as he stared at the crowd in front of him.
‘It’s okay… it’s probably just some fan’s creation gone wrong.’
But he knew it wasn’t. It meant only one thing. They were here. Brian’s stalker was in the crowd right now, watching him…
He had to tell the others. The show had to be called off immediately.
‘God, I’m being paranoid! They can’t do anything at a crowded concert!’
Nick nudged him hard in the arm and Brian swung around with a pale face to stare at his friend. Nick raised his eyebrows at him while his mouth sang the final few words of the song. The track was over and Brian had completely missed out his verse. He glanced about him nervously, his eyes scanning the screaming girls in the audience.
Nick gave him another shove to push him further towards the centre of the stage and Brian gulped as he stumbled back into formation for the finishing part of the song with the pyrotechnics.
His mouth was dry and as hard as he tried to make up for his missed verse, the words of the chorus would not form. He was trembling. His heart was pounding. His skin had turned cold and the sweat dribbled down his face. Awkwardly he swung his arms about for the dance routine, but his eyes flickered about him in terror and almost bulged out of his head.
He needed to talk to the others. Something was going to happen. Brian could feel it by the cold wind that fingered his soul and chilled him deep inside.
Finally the music ended and the pyrotechnics shot up from the stage in a glorious spray of coloured sparks that cackled delightfully as they burst in the air. He heard the fizzing and banging and he anxiously waited for the lights to go down so that he could rush and tell security, the boys and the police about the teddy bear. It was another threat.
The lights finally went out but as they did, Brian heard something. It was faint, but his frightened ears managed to prick it out of the crowd. Something bad was going to happen… or had it already happened?
He began to dash towards the end of the stage, sweat pouring from his brow. ‘Something is going to happen! Stop the show! Stop the show!’
Suddenly he felt a hand weakly clasp his foot. He jerked in fear and instinctively struggled to pull his shoe away from the monster that was attacking him, even emitting a faint cry as he did so. He stumbled forward, tripped and then fell to the stage floor.
He was about to get up and dash to the safety of backstage but for some strange reason, his body suddenly went numb.
He glanced behind him where the hand had originated from, but the blackout meant that he could see nothing. He gulped and closed his eyes for a brief second, praying not to find anything bad.
Slowly he crawled forwards on hands and knees and reached out with outstretched fingers. His hand brushed against something soft and skin like. He slid his hand across it until his fingers tangled in the hair. Again fingers tried to pathetically grasp him but they were too weak to cling onto him properly.
Brian clasped the hand reassuringly and then inched forward a little more, his heart palpitating faster and faster with each second and its chambers began to fill with cold horror.
‘No… God no…’
He ran his fingers over the person’s face and his hand found the hair once again. Fairly short hair which had been covered in gel…
And suddenly he knew who it was…
The crowd about him was screaming with delight at the concert and nobody heard Brian’s wail of agony over the noise. He tried to shout to the man lying before him, but there was no reply and the hand entwined with his own had turned limp.
He ran his second hand over the limp body and he sobbed as his fingers found a thick, wet substance around the waist. He sobbed again as more blood flowed through his fingers making them sticky and wet.
“Brian, what’s wrong?” a voice close to his ear said.
Brian almost choked on a sob as the voice caught him by surprise. He spun around and could only make out a blob in front of him in the darkness.
“It’s okay, it’s Billy,” the voice said as hand was placed upon his shoulder.
Billy… Billy their guitarist. Brian sobbed desperately and Bully tightened his hand upon his shoulder in puzzlement.
“Get security and get the lights back on!” Brian screamed close to his ear so that he could hear the tearful words. “Something’s happened to Nick!”
Nick, why was it Nick? Why wasn’t it Brian? Why was it his sweet, younger friend? Why was it always other people?
He felt Billy’s hand leave his shoulder and he sobbed again as he was left alone with Nick. He rubbed his hand gently and willed for it to move slightly.
“Nick,” he whispered, knowing that he would never be heard above the crowd. “Nick.” He pressed his forehead against the hand and sobbed.
Over head, the arena lights suddenly came on and he was aware of people rushing onto the stage around, shouting urgently and the roars of the crowd died down to a hush as they realised that something was terribly wrong.
Brian looked down and saw that Nick’s eyes were closed in a pale face, his fringe stuck to his forehead with sweat. Tears fell freely and he sobbed as he saw the blood that covered his jacket around his waist.
Hands were gripping his shoulders and trying to prise his hand away from Nick’s and pull him to his feet.
“No!” Brian sobbed, refusing to let go of Nick’s hands, unwillingly to let his friend that he had deserted him. “Nicky! Is he breathing? Is he breathing!”
The lights were blinding after the darkness before and he was dazzled by the world around him. Everything was distorted, seen through a world of tears and images blurred and faded out of focus like a nightmare.
Fierce hands tore his fingers away from Nick’s and then he was being escorted from the stage, hands over his shoulders and holding his arms.
He sobbed as he found a pair of arms embracing him tightly and he looked up to see Kevin’s dark, tear filled eyes staring at him.
“Brian, what happened?” Kevin whispered.
Brian tried to speak but his lip trembled and he began to cry again. Kevin held him tightly in his arms and Brian buried his face in his shoulder, wishing that everything could be better.
“Nicky!” Brian sobbed.
How had this happened? What had happened to Nick to make him so pale?
He was backstage now with Kevin, Howie and AJ as well as a bunch of security guards and police officers.
“What’s going on?” AJ yelled as a security guard walked from the stage entrance.
“I’ve got to call for an ambulance,” he said brusquely as he pushed urgently past AJ.
“Was he too close to the pyrotechnics?” Howie asked anxiously.
“Do you think pyrotechnics could do that to him?” Brian screamed.
“It looks like he was shot,” the guard said as he found out a cell phone and rapidly dialled 911.
AJ covered his face with his hands and Brian knew that he was crying. Howie’s soulful brown eyes filled with watery droplets before he pulled AJ into an embrace.
Brian felt his legs go weak and he began to slide to the ground. Kevin attempted to hold him up, but Brian was a dead weight as he slumped to the floor crying hysterically. He looked down at his hands and saw that they were still covered in blood from Nick.
“I killed him, I killed him!” he sobbed.
“Brian!” Kevin knelt down beside him and tried to clasp Brian’s hands, but Brian refused to allow his cousin to touch the blood.
“It’s my fault! I murdered him!”
“Brian - ”
“It was him! It was my stalker! It was my fault Nick got hurt! It was all my fault and now Nick’s going to die!”
Suddenly someone smacked him about the face and then his hands were pulled into somebody else’s. “Brian, don’t fucking say that! Don’t say that!” AJ screamed as he shook Brian violently. “He’s not gonna die, don’t fucking say that!”
Brian stared up at AJ in fear, having never been hit by his friend before. Kevin suddenly seized hold of AJ’s arms and swung him away from Brian.
“AJ, you’re freaking him out!” Kevin snapped.
“I’m freaking him out?” AJ shouted back. “How do you think I feel when he’s there saying Nicky’s gonna…”
AJ couldn’t finish the sentence as he slumped to the floor crying and sobbing like a child. Brian crawled over to him and wrapped his arms about his friend. “I’m sorry,” he whispered through the tears, knowing that his words had upset him. “I’m so sorry!”
“Guys. Let’s be positive,” Howie said, his voice trembling.
“He’s out there,” Brian murmured. “He’s out there now. He threw a toy on stage to tell me so. He’s the one who did this.”
AJ placed his hand on Brian’s head to pull him closer to him for what little support the contact of a friend offered.
“The ambulance will be here soon,” the guard informed them. “Try to stay calm. It didn’t hit his heart or lungs.” He pressed a hand to his face and turned away from them all for a second. Here was the guard who was constantly shouting at Nick for being so carefree and yet now he was almost in tears like the rest of them as they considered a world without Nicky.
All because of Brian.