Two months earlier.
“Ellie, where are you? I’m so cold without you. I need you here with me…Please, Ellie. Don’t leave me all alone.”
Brian’s words seemed familiar, as though he had said it all before. He didn’t know when, exactly, but he remembered something about these words. But why had she left him? Didn’t she love him?
“Bastard, Brian. How could you do this to me?”
The words hit him like venom. What had he done that was so wrong? He felt as though he loved her, so why would he do something to upset her?
“I thought you loved me…”
She was tearful this time, and Brian winced. He had made her cry. Why did he do that? Didn’t he love her after all? Confusion swept over him like a tidal wave, sending him into frustrates spasms of shivering. He was cold. He wanted so badly to be warm.
“You chose him over me…”, she said. Who did he choose over her?
He had been captive for an eternity, and he was beginning to feel as though his legs were no longer a part of him. He was aching all over, and wanted nothing more than a nice, long bath that he was conscious enough to enjoy.
She overtook his mind, now, apart from when he slept. For some reason, she was all he could see. Her face. What was it about her that held him so?
“Brian, honey, can you hear me?”
Brian looked into her eyes, and tried to put a name to her face. It came to him almost instantly.
It was her, and she had came for him. She was there to take him home.
Eric’s words came to him. “Don’t ever speak to anyone again”. He was torn. He wanted to cry, he wanted to scream, and he wanted to tell her that he remembered that he loved her, but Eric was sitting beside him. Would he hurt him if he spoke?
“Brian, I know you’re scared, but I want you to know that I’m here for you. I’m here to take you away from this awful place.”
Brian’s heart warmed to the words. He was going home. He was going to be free. But he didn’t know what to do. Eric told him that he would help him, but he told him not to speak to anyone again. Eric hurt him, but then he didn’t. He didn’t know what was going on, and all he could think to do is cry.
“Shh, baby. It’s ok”, Ellie soothed, brushing his soft hair with her hands. “Everything’s going to be fine. Your friends thought they could just get rid of you, but I found you. I found you and you’re going to be alright.”
His friends? The people who he saw in his dreams? Did they do this to him? His face contorted in anguish.
“I know, honey. You thought they were your friends, but they just wanted you out of their lives. They were extreme, I’ll admit, but you have me now.”
Brian smiled through his tears. Whatever happened to him over the past six months was going to be all over shortly…thanks to his guardian angel.
He didn’t even flinch when she plunged the needle deep into his arm, sending him into instant sedation. He just welcomed the sleep, and wondered where he would be when he woke up.
Ellie comforted Brian until he fell into a deep sleep. He wouldn’t be waking up for awhile, which was a good thing because she needed to speak to her ‘associates’.
“How in God’s name did he get like this?”
Eric was stunned. This woman had some nerve. He had told her…three months was enough to get him to the stage where she could manipulate him, but she hadn’t listened. Six months ran the risk of serious mental scarring, and by looking at the kid now, he wondered how much damage had already been done.
“Look, lady, you came to me. You told me you wanted him to forget, and he did, but you couldn’t just leave it at that, could you? You had to make him forget…EVERYTHING. Don’t you understand? There is only so much you can do to a person before you start hurting them irreversibly…and I am not doing any more.”
Ellie looked at him in disbelief.
“You, who pull people apart for a living, are giving me a lecture on morals?” she mocked. He just shook his head.
“You keep on telling yourself that , honey, and you might even start living with the guilt.” He looked at Brian, who had fallen back onto the bed which had been his home for the past six months, and he sighed.
“He was a good kid. He was polite. What in God’s name did you think you were going to achieve by doing this to him? Did you think he’d love you for it? The people who come to me are people who can’t live with their pasts. Him? He’s just a kid.”
Ellie looked at him, disgust evident in her beautiful brown eyes. She had no remorse for what she had done, because she truly believed that it would all turn out for the best.
“He loves me, and I love him. We don’t need anyone else. They’ll only end up hurting him…”
Who was she trying to convince?
“Well, I feel sorry for him if that’s the only type of love you know how to give. “
And he left…leaving Brian alone with the woman who had taken away his life.
Detective Arling cleared his throat as he addressed the boys that evening.
“I’ve spoken to Mr and Mrs Littrell and informed them of my findings. They suggested that I come straight to you and shed a little light on the situation.”
Howie looked to AJ, and then back to Detective Arling.
“What did you find?”
“Well, your girl Day? She did suggest that Brian had been abusing her…physically. At least that what she had been telling people. There were no formal complaints, but….”
“Abusing her physically? That’s ridiculous..”, AJ started. Arling silenced him with a mere glance. He obviously hadn’t finished.
“When I digged a little further, I found something interesting.”
The boys looked on, hope filling their minds, but also dread. What had he found, and how would it affect them?
“Ellie Day isn’t this girl’s real name. Her real name is Ellie Cooper, and she has got a record. She was put into psychiatric care when she was seventeen for suicidal tendancies. Her mother said that she had been unstable since the break up of her boyfriend, Jack. He had been…using prostitutes for some time. She, um, beat him quite severely then attempted suicide”
Kevin gasped. “Ellie? She’s so small and so…fragile.”
Arling nodded. “Believe me, young man. I have seen 98lb woman lift cars in my time. It’s amazing what kind of strength can be conjured up when that kind of anguish is present. It can make even the most stable of people turn into monsters.”
“Do you know where she is now?”
Arling frowned. “That’s the problem. She hasn’t attended work for just over six months, and nobody has seen her in all that time….”
“Six months…the exact amount of time that Brian has been missing”, Nick added.
“Judging by her past instabilities, I’d say that Ellie Day is a credible suspect. We just have to interview a few more people regarding her whereabouts. I have a couple of guys checking up on some credit card transactions, so that should be available shortly.”
Kevin reached out his hand to the much older man. “Thank you, Detective”, he offered, an exhausted smile playing around his lips. The Detective smiled back, hoping with all that was in him to bring their suffering to an end.
“Hush little baby, don’t you cry. Ellie’s gonna sing you a lullaby”.
Ellie had not been prepared for this. She expected him to be amnaesic, but other than that, normal. Instead, she was facing the prospect of being lumbered with a nervous wreck.
Since he had awoken, he had just sobbed silently. She’d placed him back into his restraints until he regained some of his absent sanity. She hoped it was temporary, but she couldn’t be sure. What would she do if it wasn’t?
How could she even contemplate it?
“Honey, you have to stop crying. If you stop crying, I can untie you. I promise.”
She reached him with these words, and he looked deep into her eyes. His eyes were innocent and childlike. They were sorrowful, yet hopeful. Most of all, however, they were seeing only her.
“Ellie?” he cried, his voice tiny and unsure. He had experienced so many shattered illusions that he didn’t trust his own eyes.
“Yes, baby, it’s me. Do you remember anything?”
Brian searched for words to answer her question. Somewhere inside of his head, there was an answer, but it wasn’t surfacing.
“Y-you?” he asked. Was this what she wanted to hear? He didn’t want to upset her, or else she wouldn’t undo his straps.
Ellie smiled. This was what she had wanted. She didn’t want all of those happy memories that excluded her. She wanted to be his memories, her and no-one else. She wanted to be the only other part in his life.
“Anything else?” she enquired coyly. He thought about it for a second before closing his eyes.
“Music….”, he whispered, and suddenly her eyes changed. It was as if the devil had just entered her mind and altered her complete perception. It was…terrifying.
“Music? I save you from all of this, and you’re thinking about music?”
Brian recoiled. He was afraid. He had upset her again, and she was going to leave him. He didn’t know what she wanted to hear, and it frightened him. His eyes opened wide, his fear evident.
“I-I’m…sorry. Please, Im sorry. I just…”
“You just what, Brian? Dammit, it’s always about them, isn’t it?”
Brian was confused. About who? What did she mean? Is this how he had upset her before? “ I just…”
“You just nothing, Brian. Nothing’s changed. You’re still the same.”
He couldn’t stand her shouting at him. He wanted to just curl up and die, but she had tied him up again so he couldn’t. She had told him that she was going to take him away from this awful place, so why was he still here?
“Ellie, I…I don’t know what you mean. Please, I’m so bad with my head…I just don’t know what anything means any more. Can you…help me? Like you said you would?”
Her face softened at his desperate words. He seemed so needy, so tiny, and he needed her. Not the other guys, but her. Only her.
“Yes, darling, I can help you. I can give you back your life.”
As long as he loved her, that was all that mattered. As long as he loved her and needed her, she would be there for him.
Brian slept…he dreamed. He dreamed about the stars from his ceiling, and he remembered how they loved to watch him. They screamed his name, and they cried when they saw him, but it wasn’t sadness. It was joy. It was beauty, and it was all for him.
He dreamed of the people who did this to him. He saw their smiling faces, but he didn’t know their names. He wondered how they managed to look so loving when they were bad, bad people. He wondered why they had wanted to take so much away from him.
“They were jealous of us”, Ellie had told him. Was that true? Had they been jealous that he and Ellie loved each other, and had wanted him away from them? Was that right? He just didn’t know.
He dreamed of cards, and of flowers, and of bright lights. He dreamed of music; the music that had upset Ellie so. He dreamed of music, and he dreamed of himself. In these dreams, he had a beautiful voice. It was an angel’s voice, and it was all his. He didn’t know what he was singing, but he knew that he made people happy, and this made him feel special. This made him feel privileged.
This made him feel immortal.
As he snuggled next to the woman who had saved him, he dreamed about the future, and of the past he never knew, and of the devils who turned him into what he was.
Ellie, on the other hand, slept peacefully and dreamlessly.
People with no conscience do not dream.
Eric spoke softly into the telephone.
“Yes, Detective. I understand the procedures, but I’d rather not give my name”.
He was about to do something drastic.
Detective Arling hung up the phone and smiled inwardly, before putting himself into maximum overdrive.
“Assemble a squad, and make sure they’re ready to leave ASAP. We’ve just been given a tip-off”.
“He’s still alive, but he’s not good. You’d better get to him soon, or else he might not be.”
“Who is this? I need a name.”
“Yes, Detective. I understand the procedures, but I’d rather not give my name”.
“Where is he?”
“In a multi-story warehouse. The address is………………”
The information had been detailed, even down to the colour of the girl’s eyes. The man did not know her name; she’d been using the alias Mrs Forget me Not, but the description fit perfectly.
“Lets go get this kid.”
He felt like an enormous weight had been lifted from his shoulders. The world now revolved by itself, no longer needing his body to support it. He felt as though he could fly, but he didn’t know how long he could stand the waiting.
“We’ll let you know as soon as we’ve got him”, Detective Arling said.
“I understand”, replied Kevin, but he didn’t know how much longer he could wait. That had been over two hours ago.
AJ had cried with joy when he heard the news. He fell to his knees, and silently prayed for his friend and brother’s well-being, before quietly retiring to his bed. He felt as though he needed to sleep, rather than be awake to be possibly disappointed again.
Howie was there for Kevin. He talked to him; let him know that he was still there. He watched TV with him, and tried his best to keep his mind away from the state Brian may be in when they found him. Nick did the same. The three of them just sat around and tried to act as normally as possible. It was a hard thing to do, but they knew it would not be for long.
………………………………………………………………………………………….. Detective Arling kicked the bed, almost damaging his foot in the process. Frustration was boiling over. He had hoped he was onto a winner.
The bed that Brian had been kept in was empty. Fraying, overused restraints lay dangling, like dead arms, over the sides. The sheets were ruffled where he had lay, and empty plastic cups lay strewn over the blue, tiled floor.
Such a cold room; such a blue room. The décor was enough to send anyone into a chilling depression. “Dammit”, Arling shouted, through gritted teeth. There was nothing. Not a damned thing which may have given them a clue as to where this girl was taking her hostage. There was no clue as to his state of mind, only the pills that would need to be analysed.
“We were just too late…”, he concluded, as the last of his team returned to the group, having found nothing.
They could have crossed the border by now.
“Hi, honey”, Ellie said sweetly. Brian was just waking up from the drugs she had given him, and he looked groggy and confused.
“Where…are we?” he asked, trying his best to take in his surroundings.
“We’re in my grandmother’s house. The one I inherited. This is where I want to spend the rest of my life with you, Brian.”
His eyes focused on the room. It was a beautifully decorated; 19th Century style room, with rich, crimson velvet curtains, and a fire that burned brightly in the fireplace. It was warm, unlike the other room. A smile formed on his lips.
“It is beautiful….E-Ellie”. He tried to look her in the eyes, but something inside him just couldn’t help remembering the way she had spoken to him before he had gone to sleep again. She had scared him.
“I knew you’d love it. It was less than 10 miles away from the hotel you were staying in. You were meant to meet me here…remember?”
Brian shook his head. He didn’t remember that.
“No? You don’t remember? You’ve forgotten our God Damned Anniversary?”
Tears formed in Brian’s eyes. He didn’t want her to shout at him again. He wanted her to love him and protect him and keep him safe from those bad men who wanted to hurt him.
“Please, Ellie…I, I don’t remember anything.”
Without warning, she hit him hard in the face. He had not been expecting it, and he gasped out in pain. It had stung his cheek, and he reached up instinctively to touch where she had made impact.
“Why did you do that? I thought you loved me…”, he pleaded.
“And I thought you loved me too, but obviously, I was wrong.”
She looked at him, her eyes filled with anger and hatred, and left him all alone. She didn’t want to be near somebody who had the nerve to forget their anniversary, even after she had taken him away from the torturous place that he had been living.
“Ellie, don’t leave me here.”
He tried to get up to follow her. Anything so as he would not be left alone again, but his weak, unused body just slumped to the floor.
“Please?” he begged, but he knew that she couldn’t hear him. And so he, curled up on the floor; the cold, hard floor, and waited until somebody came to put him out of his misery.