CHAPTER FORTY EIGHT
“Brian, Brian, Brian…” Liam said as he stared down at him, his body all burnt and mangled from the car accident. The red skin peeled away from his arms and there was an awful stench of burning flesh.
Brian backed away from the horrible monster and covered his face to hide shield himself from it. All around he could feel the heat of the flames that roared up at them from a pit. Flames that licked and nibbled at his own skin.
“Don’t you try to hide away from me!” Liam screamed. “You did this to me! You did this! If it wasn’t for you killing my brother, then I wouldn’t have become like this!”
“I didn’t do anything!” Brian sobbed. “I didn’t!”
“You’re a murderer!”
“I’m not! You’re the murderer! You killed so many innocent people! For me it was only an accident!”
“Look what you did to me!” Liam seized his hands and wrenched them away from his face, forcing him to stare at the demon before him.
“I didn’t do that! You did! You can’t make me feel guilty anymore because I didn’t do this to you!”
Liam’s eyes bulged out of his head in rage and then his hands grabbed Brian’s neck. Brian gasped in pain as the fingers clutched his windpipe and began to squeeze. He whimpered as he felt the breath and life being throttled from him and his hands frantically scratched at Liam’s wrists.
Liam was wrong! Brian had done nothing! He wasn’t a killer…
He grasped Liam’s hands and pulled them away before smacking him about the face. Liam screamed as he fell from the edge of the pit and into the flames below.
Brian stared down at him and watched as the flames rushed up to greet his body. Liam’s eyes glared up at him as he was swallowed by the flames and his and reached up to grab Brian and pull him to death with him…
“Brian? Hey, you awake there?”
The voice cut through the dream and immediately the light of the flames disappeared. The burning heat of hell was gone and there was only a soft warmness that enveloped him. He turned his head slightly, his eyes too heavy to open.
“Hey,” a voice said.
“Hey,” Brian replied, not even sure who was talking to him but grateful for the voice for pulling him out of the dream.
At least he was dreaming now, which showed him that he had a conscience and a mind. It may have been an unpleasant dream but it showed him that he wasn’t like Liam.
He hadn’t murdered him. And he hadn’t killed Adam either. He knew that now. He had realised it as he stared down at the rail tracks below him. That guilt had no right to try and pull him into the pit.
He smiled slightly and winced as his eyes flickered open to allow the bright light in. He groaned and moved his head away from the light. Slowly he opened them again, blinking to try and adjust himself.
“Brian, you all right?”
“Yeah, yeah I’m fine,” Brian replied. He found the blob of a person in front of him and watched while it swam into focus. “Harry!” he cried, finally recognising the voice. “Harry!” He opened his arms for his brother and smiled as he accepted it. “I was worried about you! Are you okay?”
“I’m okay? Of course I’m all right!” Harry said, nudging Brian’s shoulder playfully. “What about you? You’re the one in hospital!”
Brian smiled weakly and wriggled to try and sit up with his back against the pillows. The bruises seemed to already be throbbing a little less painfully as he made himself more comfortable, but his chest still hurt. He took in his brother and noticed that there was still several mean looking bruises upon his face and a few healing cuts. His wrist was also in a white cast as it rested upon Brian’s bed.
“I’m alive,” Brian replied.
“I’m glad of that,” Harry murmured. “We were worried. You look worse than I did and I remember how much that hurt.”
“Really I’m okay. Where’s mom and dad?” Brian asked, not seeing his parents or anybody else in sight. “Dad has just taken mom back to the hotel to rest. He’ll be back soon. With the exception of nick, the others have gone to get some sleep as well.”
“How’s Nick doing?”
“He’s fine. He had Aaron sat on his lap earlier while AJ took him for a walk.”
“He’ll be out of the wheelchair soon won’t he?”
“’Course he will! He can walk without it, but he gets pains if he walks too far. He needs a lot of rest but he’s all right.”
“What about me? When am I getting out of here?” He was tired of hospitals. He had seen enough of them recently and spent too many night lying in a hospital bed, wondering what would happen to him next. He wanted to be out so that he could live again. This time there would be no fear…
No fear… It was hard to imagine a life without fear now. He had been nervous and agitated for so long with his heart constantly thumping and his body jerking at every sound. It was all over now…. As long as no other people tried to kidnap him…
Oh, paranoia was still with him it seemed. Wonderful… He still wasn’t sane.
“Give it a day or two,” Harry said. “The doctors are pleased with your progress. You’re strong.”
“I don’t feel strong,” Brian whispered. He could still feel the panic within him that was sure to rise at the sight of anyone he thought to be dangerous. At every step he would be looking around in case anybody else was after him.
“Look what you’ve come through!” Harry said. “And you’re still in one piece.”
“I don’t feel it… I just feel scared still. I got used to feeling that way. I just want to be normal.”
“It’ll take time, but this time they’ll be no Liam to hurt you again or frighten you.”
Brian nodded, but the dream jumped back into his thoughts. What if Liam had survived the crash? What if he was plotting to return right now?
“Why don’t I go and call mom? You’d like that wouldn’t you?”
Brian nodded. “Yeah, mom and dad.” Parents were always the ones to keep you safe.
Harry nodded and carefully pulled the blanket closer to Brian. “Don’t fall asleep before I get back again, okay?”
Brian smiled weakly, knowing that he definitely did not want to sleep. He would either face oblivion or more encounters with Liam and hell.
“Harry… I had a nightmare about Liam,” he said quietly, wanting to tell someone about his fears. “I dreamt he came back again.”
Harry glanced at the door for a moment and then returned to Brian’s bedside. He sighed as he sat down and clasped Brian’s fingers in his own good hand, the other still being encased in a cast. “Brian, he’s not coming back. Ever.”
“It doesn’t feel like it’s over. I’ve been scared for so long. I can’t believe it’s over. It doesn’t feel like it is. I’m still frightened.”
“It’ll go in time. You’ve been through something most people can never imagine. Liam was torturing you and he was playing with your mind. No one can blame you for being scared. In time you’ll see that it’s all over.”
“I need to believe that he’s gone. I can’t live my life again when I’m constantly afraid,” Brian whispered. Every time he had thought his life would return to him, something else happened to snatch it away and send him scuttling back like a frightened little boy. Every time Liam had stopped him from living again.
“It’s over,” Harry said, taking Brian’s second hand with his fingers. “You have to believe that he’s gone. He’s never coming back. He may be back in nightmares, but he can never harm you again.”
Never. That was a word Brian wanted to believe. He wanted to know that Liam was gone. Harry was right, he had tortured Brian. His life had been turned upside down and he had come close to losing his mind. At some points, he was scared that he was going insane. Even now, he still felt that way. He didn’t feel normal. It wasn’t normal to be this afraid. He had to see the end of this.
“Harry, when’s the funeral?” he asked quietly.
“Liam’s funeral… when is it?”
Harry looked a little uncertain. “Monday,” he said finally. “Peters’ is on the Tuesday. You’re not thinking of going are you?” He saw the look on Brian’s bruised face. “No, you can’t!”
“I have to go. I have to see that it’s over,” Brian whispered. “Liam’s kept me a prisoner of my own fear and I still feel like that now. Maybe if I see that he’s gone, the fear will stop. And… nobody else will go will they?”
Harry rubbed his shoulder for a moment comfortingly. “I doubt a man like Liam had many friends. Brian, are you sure you have to go?”
Brian nodded. “I’ve got to try and put this behind me. I have to see that it ends.”
Harry sighed. “You’re so brave. Not many people could have lived through what you did and still be willing to face up to it all.”
“Do you think it’s a good idea?” Brian asked, afraid of what he was thinking of doing. Would Liam’s soul haunt him forever if he attended the funeral?
In a way, the dream was right. It had been Adam’s death which had led to Liam killing himself. Adam was the only person he had.
“If it makes you feel better, then I think it’s a good idea,” Harry said.
“Don’t tell anybody else,” Brian begged. “I don’t want them to know or persuade me that it will be a bad thing. I – I want to go.”
“I won’t tell them,” Harry promised. “But I will come with you.”
Brian smiled at him and clasped his hands. “Thanks. I have to see it end.”