Jackie Littrell sat by her son's bedside, his limp hand clasped within her own. The tears she had cried since she first heard the news seemed to have finally dried leaving her feeling numb and empty inside.
How could someone have done this to him?
Her eyes drifted down to the thick bandages upon his arms and shoulders that concealed the injuries he had suffered. According to the doctor, they had been caused by a carving knife and Brian was lucky not to be dead already.
"If that knife had have pierced his chest…" the doctor's words still echoed in her mind.
But he was still alive and Jackie knew that he would fight to find his way back to her, just as he had done as a tiny child when he had almost died. She had thought nothing like that day would ever happen again or at least she had prayed that it wouldn't. Now though, history had repeated itself and Brian was in lying in a hospital bed dying.
She looked down at the fingers she clasped in her hand and held them tighter as if she could physically keep him here with her.
"How's he doing?"
"No change Kevin," Jackie replied, her voice feeling dry and sounding hoarse. She turned and saw that Kevin had just appeared in the doorway, his eyes were circled with dark rings much like her own. "He still won't wake. If he would just open his eyes…" That's all it would take, for him to wake up. That's what everyone was waiting for.
Kevin sighed and came to sit beside her. He stared down at Brian's face and Jackie could see the fear and the pain in his green eyes. He had always taken care of Brian, but now he could do nothing but watch and pray for him to recover.
Kevin gulped and wrenched his eyes away from Brian's face. "Let me sit with him for a while," he suggested. "You look worn out and your husband's worried about you."
She was worn out. Emotional, she was drained and exhausted. First had come the fear when she heard the news and that had shortly been followed by the images that swirled around her head. What had happened to him? What if he was dying? What if she arrived too late? Then there had been the horror at seeing his pale face, so fragile looking she thought he would break if she so much as touched him.
"I don't want to leave him. I should stay, I'm his mother," she protested. She was the one who was supposed to protect him. Him, the gift God had given to her and entrusted to her.
"You and Harold sat with him all night and now it's over twenty hours later and you're still here. Get some rest and I'll watch over him," Kevin coaxed. "You're hotel is only two blocks away."
She looked back down at Brian and felt her heart crying silently, taking all the strength it needed to keep on sobbing. She was tired. It felt as if she had been sitting with Brian for an eternity waiting for him to awaken.
She looked up and saw Harold waiting for her by the door. She nodded at him and then cast a final glance at Brian. Gently she placed a hand upon his forehead.
"Get better soon, baby," she whispered.
Slowly she stood up, her legs feeling heavy after sitting motionless and hopeless for so long.
"Is Harry coming?" she asked her husband.
He nodded. "His flight was cancelled, but he's trying his hardest to be here. He's worried sick."
He was not the only one. Brian had always been the fragile member of the family and everyone had taken extra care of him after he had come out of the hospital as a child.
"Take care of him for me," she said to Kevin.
Her nephew nodded. "Of course I will."
"Call us if there's any change," Harold added.
As her husband led her away, Jackie allowed herself one last look at her unconscious son, praying that she would see his bright smile again soon.
Kevin wiped his eyes with his hand and then stared at Brian for a second. He slowly placed his head in his hands. Why had this happened? Brian did not deserve this.
He had just returned form the hotel he was staying at, but rest seemed to have done him little good. His dreams had been a montage of images of Brian screaming desperately for help as a mysterious stranger chased him mercilessly with a knife. Then there had been the dreams where Brian turned into a vicious killer.
How could Brian be a killer? He had not told Jackie what the police officer had told him. The poor woman was distraught enough without the added complication of knowing about the police investigation. He thought back to his conversation with Peters and shook his head. No, no matter how much blood there was Brian would never hurt another.
Kevin suddenly heard a slight moan. He turned sharply towards Brian, his heart drumming against his chest in case something was wrong. Brian moaned weakly again and his head turned slightly.
Kevin glanced at the monitors beside him anxiously, but he did not know if they were normal or not. Brian stirred slightly again and then his eyelids began to flutter slightly.
"Brian?" Kevin asked, his voice faint. "Brian!"
'Please wake up. Please Brian…'