CHAPTER FORTY THREE
It hurt to breathe. All he could feel was a ripping pain in his chest whenever his lungs attempted to take in oxygen. He groaned, but that hurt to and it turned into a bubbling cry like that of a madman.
“Up,” Liam said. “Unless you want more. It’s quite fun to beat a pop star.”
Brian dragged his body out of the mud and shivered as he weakly attempted to stand. His first attempt was unsuccessful and he only managed to fall back down into the sludge.
Liam wrapped his arms about his waist and dragged him to his feet and Brian squealed in pain as the rough fingers squeezed the bruises around his abdomen.
“Let’s go. And I want no more little escapades,” Liam said as he dragged Brian a few steps forward.
He released him and Brian moaned as his legs wobbled before giving way and plunging back to the damp ground. He gasped and tears dribbled down his face as his entire body ached and sobbed in pain.
“You’re not badly hurt!” Liam snapped as he nudged Brian with his shoe, like one would do with something that disgusted them. “I didn’t want you to pass out on me and miss the fun! I didn’t fucking hurt you that bad!”
He was getting angry again and Brian desperately tried to stagger to his fete, not wanting to suffer another brutal assault from Liam’s muscles. Aware of Liam’s dark eyes upon him he found his way to his fete, but the world spun and blurred as he tried to focus and he found himself almost collapsing again before he managed to élan on a tree.
Liam glanced down at his watch impatiently and then grabbed Brian by the arm. “Come on!” he snapped.
Brian didn’t want to go with him. He could see in Liam’s eyes that something very, very bad was going to happen to him. His mind was beginning to blank out and it was hard for Brian to think about anything with the fear solidating his brain up. He couldn’t think of anything without dwelling upon the pain of the terror of death.
He tried to focus on his family, hoping they would give him the strength to escape, but his limbs felt too weak and a part of him was screaming for him to hurry up and die so that this was all over with. After his death, there would be no more pain and no more worry for his family. After his death, Liam would have what he wanted.
Brian found himself limping forwards after Liam, his mind fast becoming a pile of sludge like the mud below his feet as it tried to block out the hideous situation. It wanted to forget about everything and take him back to somewhere he was safe… like at home with his family and friends…. They all seemed so far away now in this dark, cold world.
“Hurry up!” Liam said, impatient with their slow progress. “I said hurry up!” He jerked Brian forwards and the Kentuckian cried out as he almost stumbled over. “Why are you crying?” Liam asked as he saw the tears smeared in with the blood and mud upon Brian’s face. “Geez, you really are a pathetic wimp! Can’t you even take a beating like a man?”
‘I want my mom…’
She could always make him feel better. Always. She had protected him every day in his life, until this began. He didn’t know how to behave in a situation like this. He felt sick and the terror was deeply embedded in his heart by now.
He had been taught that when he died, God would protect him but Brian was a murderer now and that golden chance of heaven was gone. In one second, his life had been lost. The instant the knife blade had struck Adam’s heart, Brian’s soul had been doomed.
He wanted to sit down and cry. His mind wanted to release everything inside of him through the tears that built up in his heart. He couldn’t see anybody but his mother and he wanted to sob as he realised that he would never see her again. He could never tell her he loved her and he would never be held in her safe arms again. He loved his family, but he was about to be torn away from them.
“Quit blubbing!” Liam screeched. “You don’t deserve to feel sorry for yourself, murderer!”
He gave Brian a push to get him moving and Brian didn’t even open his mouth to cry out as he fell forward. The cold mud splashed onto his face and he closed his eyes, wanting to die here in the mud while the sweet thoughts of his family still played across his mind. He wanted them to be the last things he thought of, not fear of death that would surely pursue him.
“UP!” Liam commanded. He reached down and dragged Brian back up, seizing his arm, he began to pull him forwards.
Brian sobbed slightly, wishing so hard that he could close his eyes and magic himself away from this monster and back into his family’s arms. Vomit was rising in his throat as he sensed that they were drawing the end.
He limped along after Liam, trying hard to keep up with the bigger man’s long strides and to avoid tripping over fallen logs and old tree roots. Several times, Liam had to jerk him forwards as he slowed to an almost standstill as the fear began to paralyse him.
‘Are the others even looking for me?’ Brian vaguely wondered. What if they didn’t want to waste their time with a murderer? Maybe they blamed him fro Nick’s injury. Maybe they hated him because Nick had died…
He sobbed slightly, but a glare from Liam forced him to cease his cries of misery. He was rapidly becoming more and more irritated by Brian’s frail nature and Brian knew he couldn’t go through with another of Liam’s beatings.
Suddenly they came to the edge of the dead wood and Liam pulled him out onto a grassy bank, covered in trash and litter that had accumulated over the months. Liam froze for a moment as he stared about them.
“You see this place?” Liam asked, seizing Brian’s face and forcing him to stare down the small hill. “What is it?”
Brian looked around him, but his eyes could see nothing about the surroundings as he thought of Nick’s pale face as it was the last he had seen of him. If anything had happened to him… Maybe it was right that Brian should die along with him.
“Tell me what you see!” Liam roared.
Brian snapped back to awareness and he stared at the brown grass beneath his feet and then at the bottom of the slope, his eyes fell upon the bridge and the metal road beneath it.
“A – a railway track!” Brian said desperately as he ducked to avoid another blow. “With a bridge!”
Liam brought a hand clapping down upon Brian’s shoulder and he jumped at the light contact, expecting it to be another crushing blow.
“I used to live near here,” Liam breathed. “Just beyond the woods in a tiny town.” He grabbed hold of Brian’s arm and then glanced down at his watch. “Let’s go for a closer look shall we?”
Brian had no choice in the matter as Liam dragged him down the wet, slippery bank towards the bridge. He didn’t have the energy to resist after the beating he had sustained in the woods. He couldn’t see the bruises and cuts upon his arms because of the mud that stuck to him, but he could feel them painfully throbbing upon his limbs.
His eyes stared at the bridge before them and then flicked back to Liam’s determined face. He didn’t like this. He hesitated slightly, but Liam pulled him forwards, a slight grin upon his lips.
“What’s wrong, Brian? Not afraid of falling off in front of a train are we?” Liam hissed.
The words cut straight into Brian. He stared at Liam and then at the train tracks below them. He stared at him again and then shook his head, but Liam merely smiled. Brian’s eyes widened slightly. “NO!” He screamed, pure fear gripping him.
He spun around, but Liam still held him by one arm. Brian sobbed and desperately tried to free himself, but Liam merely smiled as he dragged him forwards.
“No, please!” Brian begged. “Please, don’t!”
He screamed and he cried, the sobs shaking him desperately. He was shivering more than ever and his stomach was trying to eject itself from his body to avoid the end that awaited it on the train tracks.
Liam suddenly seized hold of his waist and picked him up before throwing him over his shoulder. Brian sobbed and thumped his back, but his punches were weak and feeble and he only served to antagonise the bruises.
“No!” he cried. “Don’t do this! I never meant to hurt Adam! I didn’t want to1 He was going to kill me!”
Liam ignored his ravings and deposited him upon the bridge. Brian’s eyes were on stalks as he sat up and his limbs were on fire as he scrambled to his feet to get away.
‘Don’t let me die here! Not like this!’
Did god hate him? Had Adam’s death angered him so much that he thought this was a fitting end for him? Brian had always believed and trusted within God, but now he wondered if that trust was justified. God seemed determined to curse his life with pain now. Why had the world turned on him?
Liam reached out and batted Brian back down to the ground. He stood before him, ready to leap upon his defenceless prisoner if he tried to escape again and all Brian could do was to stare up at him, begging with his eyes for Liam to change his mind.
“Me and my brother Adam used to play here,” Liam said as he leaned over to stare at the metal tracks below. “We used to watch the trains go by. He loved it here. Why don’t you have a look?”
Brian shook his head. “No…” he begged.
Liam grabbed him by the back of his muddy shirt and hauled him to his feet. “I said to have a look!” He pushed Brian forwards towards the rails of the bridge.
Brian whimpered as he peered over the edge of the bridge at the tracks below. The metal bars winked up at him, as if they knew that they might be getting better acquainted with his body later on. Brian whimpered and tried to pull away, but Liam held the back of his neck and forced him to keep looking.
“This is the only bridge over a track in the country. People don’t like them because some selfish people like to end it al by throwing themselves in front of a train. Can you imagine that?” Liam said as he stepped closer to Brian. “Can you imagine the last few seconds of your life before you hit that train? What is it like to fall? And what does it actually feel like the second you are hit? Does that second last for an eternity as you are ripped apart?”
He held the back of Brian’s neck and pushed him closer to the edge. Brian’s heart was beating harder and harder within him and the tears slid down his face onto the tracks below.
Liam pulled him away from the edge of the bridge and Brian sunk to the ground sobbing in fear as he trembled violently.
“Do you want your life to end, Brian?” Liam hissed.
Brian shook his head. ‘No…’
Liam took step closer. “Think of the pain you’ve caused people. It was your fault your friend was shot.”
“It’s your own fault for murdering my brother.”
“You deserve to die.”
‘Please, not like this…’
“You know you do.”
‘Please don’t push me…’
Liam now stood directly in front of Brian and his face contorted with sudden rage as he brought his foot back to kick Brian in the leg. “You’re a fucking murderer! You killed my brother! You destroyed my family!”
Brian squealed as he wrapped his arms about him, as if he could somehow block all the pain that was rushing through him. “I’m sorry!”
“Sorry! Sorry? You killed another!”
“What do you want me to say!” Brian yelled. “I didn’t want to kill him, I didn’t mean to!” He sobbed as he lie crumpled upon the bridge.
“You’re a murderer!”
“No, I’m not!”
‘Murderer, murderer, Brian is a murderer!’ a voice inside of him chanted relentlessly.
“You are!” Liam roared. He stood up so violently that it made Brian jump slightly. He heard a clang as something slid out of Liam’s pocket and onto the floor. His eyes fell upon the metal of the gun and then he reached out to seize it before pointing it at Liam.
The older man stared at him in pure shock and he placed his hands to his pockets as if expecting to find that his gun was still there.
Brian’s hands trembled as they held the gun in slippery, muddy fingers and his breaths because short gasps as the situation changed. With one second, he could end this and shatter his nightmare. All it would take was the pressing of a small trigger… One small thing to save himself.
“You said you weren’t a murderer,” Liam whispered. “Looks like we’ll find out what you’re really made of now, won’t we?”
Brian looked back down at the gun in his hands and then back up at Liam.
“You’re already a murderer,” Liam said. “What’s one more death to your list going to do?”
Brian whimpered as he the gun shook in his hands. He had never held one before and had never thought he would. It reeked of evilness and f murder. Good people weren’t supposed to hold guns, but Brian wasn’t a good person anymore: He was a murderer. He had murdered Adam.
“Come on, Brian. Shoot me,” Liam taunted. “You know you want to. I can see it in your eyes.”
Brian closed his eyes.
“You know, I could murder your family when I’m done with you. Could go back and finish off your friend in hospital. Would you like that? Would you like them to join you in hell when I’m finished with you?”
Brian shook his head, tears running down his face. “You wouldn’t.”
“I would. I would kill and I enjoy to kill. I love to see the expressions on people’s faces. Take yours for example, yours is full of terror and fear. Your eyes are almost bulging from that muddy little face of yours and you are so frightened. It’s amusing to me. I love to see the fear in your eyes. I wonder what your mother would look like before I slit her throat?”
Brian sobbed and his wet, mud covered finger fumbled with the trigger. Liam laughed at his pitiful attempt.
“Come on, Brian! Get on with it! Become one of us! End your nightmare and return to your nice, safe life!”
Brian sobbed again. ‘Kill or be killed…’
“I bet your friends would stop singing if I could through their necks.”
Brian closed his eyes and screamed as he pulled the trigger, the bang echoing about him and sending a deep shock throughout him.
He heard a laugh and then the gun was wrenched from his hands and pointed at his own head. “You should never fire a gun when you’re shaking like a baby, you might miss your target,” Liam hissed. “And you only ever get one chance to fight back. You just lost yours.”