CHAPTER FORTY TWO
There was an awful screech as Liam slammed the brakes on and Brian yelped in shock as he found himself thrown forward violently and he was forced to seize hold of the door handle in a clammy hand to prevent himself from hitting the back of Liam’s seat.
“We’re here,” Liam whispered, as if the had reached some Holy monument of some description.
Brian wanted to ask where ‘here’ was, but his mouth felt dry and he did not trust his tongue to be able to form coherent words that would not bring Liam out in bellows of hideous laughter at his weakness. Instead he glanced out of the smoky windows into the night beyond. As he pressed his face closer to the glass, he could make out the shadowy forms of trees; lots of trees that reared up either side of them.
Liam suddenly opened his door and clambered out of the car, the gun handle glinting in the sensor light as it protruded from his jeans pocket.
Brian watched him leave, hardly daring to believe his luck. Was Liam going to leave him in here all alone? He glanced across at the front of the car and then wriggled forwards to examine it further. Maybe he could get the car started or at least find some keys for the irritating handcuffs.
Suddenly he felt a cool wind upon the back of his neck as the back door was open and then someone seized him by the back of his shirt, yanking him away from the front of the car. Brian found himself dragged out of the vehicle and then he was viciously cast down to the ground where the soggy ground splattered him with cold mud.
“I told you, you’re not getting away!” Liam screeched as he smacked Brian about the head.
Brian cried out at the strong blow and found his entire body hitting the mud and he moaned as he felt it cover his face and seep into his mouth. He remained still, not daring to move in case it provoked another attack, but then Liam seized gold of his arm and dragged him up into a sitting position.
Brian struggled not to whimper as Liam pressed his face closer to Brian’s and leered at him. Slowly he extended one of his huge hands and rubbed Brian’s muddy fringe back from his face, despite Brian’s attempts to wriggle away.
“I wouldn’t worry about a little mud, Brian,” he hissed. “You have much bigger things to worry about, like me.” Brian whimpered slightly as he felt the cold metal of the gun pressing against his temple.
“A – are you gonna try and shoot me again?” He gulped before speaking the rest of his thoughts. “You’re a lousy shot. You hit Nick before.”
Liam pulled the gun away from him and Brian inwardly breathed again. Liam released his arm and then pushed him away as he stood up.
“You think I shot that blond brat? What if I had been caught? I wouldn’t have been able to have my fun with you then!” He kicked Brian in the stomach and laughed at the squeal it gave. “Nah, I got some other bloodthirsty idiot to do that. Rather he take the risk than me and he wouldn’t dare refuse to do it for me.” He bent down close to Brian and whispered in his ear. “And I’ll tell you this, he wasn’t aiming for you. He got the target he intended.”
Brian felt cold. Liam had intended to kill Nick. It hadn’t been an accident. He raised his tearful face to his captor. “Why?” he sobbed. “Why did you want to hurt Nick?”
“Because it hurts you,” Liam whispered in reply.
“Bastard,” Brian said, his voice blubbering slightly. “You bastard!”
He tensed his arm and then tried to bring his fist down up into Liam’s face. The bigger man rolled his eyes and blocked the attack before punching Brian hard in the chest. “Don’t try to fight me! There less meat on you than there is a chicken nugget! You can’t take me on!” he roared as he flexed his own bulging muscles for Brian to gawp at in horror.
“I hate you,” Brian whispered. “You could have killed Nick, all because f me!” he screamed.
“You mean he isn’t dead? What a pity. That’s three times I’ve been let down. My men didn’t even mange to kill your freaky friend or your brother either.”
“I hate you!” Brian hollered. He sprang to his feet to try and hit Liam. He didn’t care if he was bigger and stronger. He just wanted to hurt him.
Unfortunately he was knocked straight down into the mud again as Liam easily cast him down with his arm. Brian cried out as he hit the puddle of sludge again, but it was more a cry of anger than of pain.
“I hate you! I hate you!” he screamed. “Why did you have to hurt them? Why didn’t you kill me!”
“Sounds to me like you hate yourself more than me,” Liam said. He leant down in the mud beside him and grabbed him by his hair, ignoring Brian’s scream of agony as he pulled on the soft locks. “And I didn’t kill you because I wanted you to suffer! You deserve to suffer after what you did to me! You killed my brother! I wanted you to know how it felt!”
“It’s wasn’t my fault! He was going to kill me!” Brian wailed.
Liam slapped Brian across the face, causing a sharp stinging pain to erupt as he hit the bruises Brian had already sustained. “Don’t you dare ever say it wasn’t your fault, murderer!”
“It wasn’t!” Brian screamed as he curled himself up into a filthy, muddy ball to protect himself.
Suddenly Brian entire body jerked and his heart jolted inside of him as he heard a slight click. He head snapped up and a sickly, bubbling noise issued from his lips as he saw the gun pointing at him, with Liam’s finger pressing lightly down upon the trigger, ready to fire.
“Go on,” Brian whispered. “Put me out of my misery.”
He was terrified, he didn’t want to die but he didn’t want to continue to live like this. He would rather be anywhere than in this cold mud at the mercy of a maniac. He forced himself to stare at the gun, knowing that he deserved this. It would eb better for everyone when he was gone. Kevin and the others wouldn’t have to worry about him anymore. This was better for everyone.
Liam raised an eyebrow at the steady way Brian stared at the gun and aimed it directly at his head, watching as the younger man’s eyes never flinched. He wasn’t a complete coward after all.
“Do it!” Brian screamed impatiently. “Go on do it if you’re brave enough!”
Liam still did not move.
“Fucking do it!” Brian yelled, using one of the words he hated most.
Liam shrugged and then Brian saw his finger squeeze down upon the trigger. He closed his eyes as he heard the click and pulled he felt his face contort in fear as he heard the bang of the bullet.
Shivering he lie upon the ground, cowering in the mud. He knew this would be better for everyone, but he still feared it. When there was no tearing of flesh or angry hot pain, he opened his eyes and glanced up to see Liam bellowing with laughter, the gun still in his hands. “Not so brave then were you?” he taunted. “You should have seen the look on your face! You looked like you were gonna shit yourself in terror!” he hooted.
“Why didn’t you do it,” Brian whispered miserably as he realised that Liam had purposefully missed him. “I wan this to be over!”
“A bullet’s too good for you,” Liam replied as he pocketed the gun.
“Coward,” Brian hissed.
“What did you call me?”
“Coward!” Brian yelled.
Liam leapt forward and dragged Brian to his feet by his hair, his hands digging into his scalp and almost pulling the locks from his scalp. “Don’t call me that,” he said. “I’m no coward. I’ve killed men before while I’ve been looking into their eyes. And I’ll do the same to you.”
“What are you going to do to me?” Brian whispered, wondering what grisly punishment Liam had planned.
“I have the perfect plan and you deserve it.”
“They’ll know I’m missing,” Brian said defiantly. “They’ll come after me. They will.” Somebody must know he was gone. A police officer must have been to check up on him and realised he was gone, unless Fren had managed to pollute all oft heir minds.
“You don’t sound too sure of that,” Liam replied.
“Yes, but whether they will find you alive or not is a different matter. Or in one piece,” he added. He picked Brian up by the front of his shirt. “Are you truly ready for death?” he whispered cruelly.
Brian couldn’t reply. He couldn’t speak or even think straight. Death. He was going to be swallowed into that void of death now and it wouldn’t matter if he was ready for it. When that happened, this would be over and his family wouldn’t have to worry about him anymore.
Liam watched the emotions flickering across his eyes and he smiled at him. He released him and Brian slumped to the ground, his fingers sinking into the thick mud. His teeth chattered slightly and he was beginning to shiver form cold as the wind blew icily at him, almost as if it were blowing from hell and blowing him onwards to his fate.
Liam glanced at his watch and nodded. “It’s almost time. Gte up,” he ordered.
Brian had his arms folded across his chest to conserve what little heat was left within him. He glanced up at him and then shook his head. He wasn’t ready… He thought of Nick and Harry. He had promised himself that he would get back to them and yet here he was thinking about how much better it would be if he died.
What would Nick think?
What would Harry think?
What would his poor mother do when she found out about her baby duck?
It wasn’t fair on the others. He couldn’t be selfish enough to let himself be killed. Nick was dying in hospital and Brian had to be there with him.
“I said get up!”
Brian slowly staggered to his feet. His eyes darted about the woods to the right of him. The road ran right through the wood but the thicker parts were to the right and left. He turned back to Liam.
“Hands,” Liam instructed.
Brian held his handcuffed wrists out to him obediently and he had to fight the urge to smile as the bigger man produced a key form an inner pocket. He held the key in his hand for a moment and scrutinised Brian carefully, checking to make sure there was no fight left within his bruised and bleeding face. Brian returned his gaze, trying his best to appear soulless and unhopeful.
Liam nodded and slid the key into the tiny lock. He turned it and Brian heard the click before his hands were freed. He clasped them protectively to his chest and rubbed the chaffed wrists were the metal had rubbed into him.
“Let’s go,” Liam grunted.
Brian nodded, before he swung his arm around and weakly smacked Liam in the face. Luck was with him and the older man had not expected the sudden attack. He growled in rage and tried to snatch at Brian, but he was already away.
He ducked beneath a low branch and dashed away into the woods, trying to ignore the pain in his chest and arms from the assault before. Behind him he heard the snapping of twigs as the monster pursued him. Brian gasped as he struggled through the thick wood, but there was no foliage left at this time of year and there was nowhere to hide.
He sobbed desperately as he released that Liam had brought them to a secluded are. Brian’s chances of running into anyone who could help him where slim, especially at this time of night. He suddenly tripped over a tree root and he screamed as his bruised chest connected with a twig.
He rolled on the ground and tearfully he watched as Liam bore down upon him with fists and kicks, determined to make him pay for his little escape attempt and all Brian could do was to cry and sob in agony.