Why can fate be so cruel?
Why did it have to change?
Everything in life was perfect…
Until that one night…
The one night that trapped me for eternity…
And now I have nothing…
Nothing except the guilt that hunts my soul…
And the fear that traps me inside…
I didn't mean for this to happen…
The hospital walls surrounded him and locked him within a sparkling white prison. The longer he stared at the walls, the more they seemed to close in about him. A part of him wished they would so that he could be hidden away from the world. They would hate him when they found out. They would despise him. So many people admired him and now they would find out that everything about him they believed in was a lie.
Brian turned over on the hospital bed and tucked the bed sheets close to his chest to wrap himself in a safe cocoon. His eyes felt sore after so many tears, tears for the emotions rampaging throughout his weak body.
Why had it happened? Brian had tried to talk the attacker down, had tried to reason with him but why hadn't he listened?
"I'll pay you! I've got money!"
"I don't want your money, but I do want to kill you."
Why? The word was permanently circling his thoughts. Things like this only happened to other people… but now it had finally happened to him and he had been shown how hateful life could be.
He had been alone with his thoughts all night now, after insisting that he did not need the others watching over him like a baby. He wanted to be alone to brood on what had happened to him.
At first he had appreciated the company of his friends and family, but now it disturbed him. They kept repeating the same words over and over again and telling him that it would be okay, that they would not condemn him for an accident… but how could Kevin or the others know what would happen? They had no control over fate and no control over the path of Brian's life. If his life twisted to take him into a dark prison, nobody could stop it.
His parents had also sat by him for many hours, but their presence had brought more tears streaming down his face. What if he was locked up? He could only imagine the shame and the agony his mother would experience.
'We didn't raise you to be a killer, Brian.'
The words seemed to spin around his head, even though nobody had said them or even thought them. They all kept telling him how he was mistaken, how he had panicked, how scared he must have been, how delirious… But Brian was the only one who knew how it had felt.
He rolled onto his back, his wide eyes staring up at the white ceiling. He was unable to sleep. Every time his eyes closed he would shiver in fear as he remembered the hideous smirk upon his attacker's face and then he would remember the way his face had contorted while he had gasped for life.
The nightmares were filled with the images. In his last dream, he had found the body lying upon the floor of his lounge. When he had leant over to see if he was alive, a hand had grasped his throat.
'You will pay for what you did to me!' the phantom had hissed, before he had begun to squeeze Brian's windpipe.
He had awoken gasping and clutching at his throat while the sweat slid down his face and it had taken him several seconds to realise that he was not being attacked.
What if he did come back? Would he return to show his friends that an 'ickle Backstreet Baby' couldn't beat him?
But how could he return if he was dead? But then what had happened to the body?
Too many questions whirled about his mind and Brian could not figure out any of them. Kevin was right, the man couldn't have been dead if there was no body… but the eyes would haunt Brian for the rest of his life. There had been no light in those eyes, nothing but the misty death that had consumed his body.
Brian shivered as he pressed his head closer into the pillow, trying to ignore the tears that soaked into it.
"Brian Littrell. Backstreet Boy," Peters said, checking the computer. "And he's squeaky clean. Not even a parking ticket."
His partner, Fren scrutinised the computer readout. "Check his friends out, though. One was fined for causing a disturbance at a night club and another went into rehab for a drinking problem. You still think he's 'squeaky clean'?"
"His friends don't matter, it's Brian we're talking about and they are only minor offences! This guy has everything, why would he murder someone?" Peters pointed out. He was growing tired after the long day and Fren's suspicious attitude was not helping. Why couldn't he just let the poor guy go?
"Because the victim was trying to rob him, perhaps?" Fren replied.
"What about the knife wounds on his arms and chest? They were serious injuries! He was defending himself! Besides, we don't have any evidence that Brian Littrell killed the guy. We've only got his word for it and there isn't even a body."
"What do you suggest we do, let him go?" Fren said sarcastically.
"Yes," Peters replied. "We were called out to investigate a burglary and an attack, not a murder case! There is no body and no proof! Brian was obviously delirious! We have no evidence to arrest him."
The police had combed the entire neighbourhood and found nothing. There was no sign of any body and nobody had come forward to claim that Brian had attempted to murder them.
Fren was frowning slightly, his disagreement easily registering upon his creased brow.
"Fren, I think we should just concentrate upon finding the attacker. You're wasting time trying to find the evidence to lock the Backstreet Boy away. We should find that man; he's much more dangerous than Brian."
"Brian? How are you doing, buddy?"
Brian looked up at the voice and forced himself to smile a greeting, although he was not certain if it would look like a smile. "Hey AJ," he replied. Nervously he stared at the door behind him. "Are the others here?"
AJ smiled slightly. "Yeah Nick is, but he got attacked by teenage girls at reception. I decided to leave him there to distract them while I sneaked up to see you. I didn't want them to follow me."
"People know I'm here?" Brian asked horrified. No! No! They couldn't know! He wasn't a murderer…
'Please, it was an accident!'
"Sort of," AJ replied. "But don't worry, they only know that your house was broken into and that you were hurt."
"They don't know… what I did?" Brian felt the cold blood in his veins beginning to warm again at his friend's words.
AJ frowned. "Brian, don't talk like that, you're not a murderer and you did nothing wrong! The guy was going to kill you and you had to protect yourself! No body means no dead person means you are not a murderer!"
Brian closed his eyes and tucked his knees up to his chest. He wanted to believe those words so much. He wanted to feel like a normal person again…
He heard AJ sigh slightly. "Brian, we're getting worried about you. You know what really happened... you said you didn't mean to kill him and we believe you, if you even did kill him."
Brian allowed the doubt to hang in the air. Maybe it wasn't true, maybe that man had survived… Maybe… But there was no certainty over any of it.
"I wish I could have found another way." He remembered the jerk the man had given as Brian's knife had sunk into his heart…
"You didn't choose that way," AJ said gently. "You didn't mean to and you know you didn't."
Brian wondered for a moment if he would have dared to use the knife. He had not meant to stab his attacker, it had happened accidentally when he had pulled Brian closer to him. Brian could not even remember the thought entering his head… he had just wanted everything around him to stop. Why hadn't the man taken the stuff and ran?
"He wanted to kill me," Brian murmured. "He would never have let me go." For a second he wondered how many other people had suffered a similar experience. The fear Brian had felt, did everybody go through the same nightmare as they were faced with a monster determined to kill them? And how many had escaped as Brian had.
'I was lucky one,' he thought to himself, but now he would have to live forever battling with his conscience. He knew he had never meant for it to happen, but a man had still died because of him… if he was dead…
Brian felt his heart shiver slightly, sending a ripple of coldness through his blood. He prayed he would never have to see that man again.
"Mr Littrell?" a polite voice suddenly asked.
Brian looked up and noticed a nurse standing in the doorway.
"Yes?" Brian replied.
"There's an officer here to see you," she said. She gestured to the man standing beside her.
Brian felt cold perspiration turning his hands damp and a shudder that rippled the contents of his stomach into nausea. His clammy fingers gripped the bed sheets beneath him tightly as his breathing became shallower. The last few days had been terrifying and he had fought to cling onto sanity to prevent his soul from breaking down, but now cracks began to appear as his blue eyes stared at the police officer beside her. It was Peters, the one who had questioned him before.
How can you hold onto life and sanity when you're about to be locked away?