“I got the address, Nick. I’ll send officers over there right now. Don’t go in there yourself, I repeat, do not go in there yourselves.”
Nick sighed into the cellphone. “It’s too late for that, Detective. The guys have already gone in. Just get down here right now.”
He clicked the switch on his phone that switched it off. He didn’t want it to ring and blow everything. Sitting down in the doorway, Nick did something he hadn’t done in a long, long time. He prayed. ‘Please God, don’t let this end badly…please let Rok be okay”.
He looked at the flowers in the garden, dead and decomposing, and he wondered what kind of God would create something as fucked up and Ellie. He thought of her beautiful face, and realised that any kind of demon can be hidden behind the guise of an angel.
“Ellie, I want you to listen to me”, AJ prompted as gently as he could. He had been told how to deal with psychotic people, and he was trying to take the most unthreatening approach as he could manage. He could see that she was crying, and that was a good sign. It was a damn site better than her being angry.
“Get away from us, AJ.”
AJ was trying hard to be patient, but he could see that Brian’s struggles were becoming weaker, as though the life were rapidly draining from his body.
“He doesn’t need you. He needs me…I’m doing this for his own good.”
AJ laughed. “His own good? He needs you to love him, not kill him.”
Ellie felt the anger burning inside of her.
“What the fuck would you know? When he was meant to be showing me how much he loved me on our anniversary day, what was he doing? He was comforting you, you sorry son of a bitch. He loved me…but he loved you more.”
AJ didn’t know whether to hate her or pity her. He didn’t know the full story of what had happened to Brian over the past few months, but right here, right now, this was a mentally ill girl who had just wanted him all to herself.
Debbie approached her as a friend.
“Come on, Ellie. I can help you. We can help you…you don’t want to do this.”
Ellie was torn between feelings of hate for AJ, but feelings of remorse for Brian. She hated AJ because he was a part of what made Brian the person he was, and singled her out from him, but she realised that she was only killing him to take away her own guilt. She had done more damage than she ever could have imagined possible, and her tormented mind could not live with that.
“Debbie?” she cried, dropping the pillow to the ground.
She ran into her friend’s open arms as the rest of the boys flooded into the room, desperately trying to free Brian from the cords that were keeping him bound. AJ pulled the tape from his mouth and listened closely for any signs of life.
“He’s still breathing…”, he concluded, as Kevin began to slowly lift his little cousin into his arms…and towards safety.
As he lifted him, Brian opened his eyes. He stared at the man who he barely remembered, but he couldn’t speak to thank him. He didn’t know where he was taking him, but he knew that anywhere was better than here. It was with that thought that he allowed himself to fall back into the sleep that was calling to him
“Get him into the car…Detective Arling is on his way”, Nick instructed. They carried Brian out of the house and away from Ellie. He was unconscious, but that was probably just shock. Kevin could’ve sworn that he’d smiled at him just before he passed out…
“Oh man, I can’t believe it, “ AJ said, his mind and his heart still racing. He looked at Brian, so small and so fragile looking, and he smiled. He was with them now. He was safe. Nothing could hurt him again now as long as he still had them.
Howie had stayed behind to make sure Debbie was safe. She had done a lot just going with them. It must’ve been hard for her to come to the decision she had reached. If he had a friend who was as messed up emotionally and mentally as Ellie was, he wouldn’t have known what was the best thing to do.
“Keep him warm…he’s shivering”, Kevin said, the concern deep in his soft, deep voice. He pulled the back seat blanket over Brian and made sure he was fully covered. Brian groaned in his darkness, but it wasn’t a troubled groan. It was an almost thankful one. His eyes slowly began to open once again.
“Brian? Can you hear me?”
Kevin spoke gently, so as not to appear over-excited. He didn’t want to frighten Brian; didn’t want to startle him.
Clear blue eyes looked up at him from reddened, tear stained lids, and Brian blinked himself into focus. He was nauseous and hid head hurt, and he felt as weak as a kitten…but he wasn’t afraid anymore. Looking up into those denim-blue eyes, the ones which had aided him in his dreams for the long and lonely nights he had suffered, made him feel somewhat at peace.
A smile played upon his chapped, broken lips. The face looked familiar; it hadn’t been taken from him completely. He didn’t know where he knew it from, but he suspected that it would all come back to him sooner or later. He knew that the words he needed were in there somewhere, but he knew that it would be awhile before they were able to be expressed; before his poor, tragic brain allowed him to show that he understood.
He hoped that, for the time being, his smile was enough.
Detective Arling took the boys down to the department to let them know what was going on. He had arrested Ellie on charges of unlawful imprisonment and attempted murder, and she had been sent to a secure mental facility for evaluation.
“Apparently”, he said, going by what Eric had told him, “he’d been receiving regular doses of a drug which aids criminals…it is highly experimental, and wipes out painful memories if it is used in correspondance with hypnotherapy. This guy Calais and his accomplice had been charging clients up to $500,000 to get rid of their memories for them. Ellie had offered them $1 million to treat Brian.”
“She wanted him to forget us?”
“Yes, apparently so. Judging by her state of mind, it was an obsession of hers. She wanted to be all he could ever remember…but Eric Calais warned her that after a certain length of time, the drug becomes damaging…truly damaging.”
“Like what has happened to Brian?”
Detective Arling nodded sadly.
“I’m afraid so…”
Kevin sat at Brian’s bedside, holding his hand. It had taken him a few hours just to build up the trust to be able to do this. Brian was distant…completely detatched. He wouldn’t look him in the eye, he wouldn’t move, he wouldn’t respond to touch…he just seemed absent.
“He’s been through more than you can even imagine, and until he tells us, we don’t even know what it is. Be patient. Give him time…”, the doctor had told him. He knew he was right, and he didn’t want to imagine what had gone on in the months since they had seen each other last. Kevin tried to engage Brian in happy thoughts.
“Hey, Bri…Harold’s going to be a daddy. You’re going to be an uncle, now, just like you always wanted.”
Start off small, work you way up. That was the best bet. Brian didn’t respond. Try something else…
“Your mom and dad are on their way here, but it might take them awhile to get here…”
Brian blinked when he heard his mother and father mentioned.
“Yeah, buddy. They’ve missed you so much.”
Again he blinked. This was the first voluntary movement he had made for hours.
A tear began to roll down the stricken young man’s bruised cheek as he thought inwardly….and realised that he didn’t know who his parents were.
“It’s ok, Brian. It’s ok. You’re fine, now…everything is going to be fine.”
Kevin sat down next to Brian on his bed and tenderly stroked his hair. It was longer now, and the curls were more noticeable. Brian hated it when his hair got this long. He turned to look at Kevin in what was the first eye contact he had made since he had woken up in the hospital. Salt water glistened, as unshed tears threatened to spill….
“Why are you crying?” Kevin asked, but Brian could not answer. He just simply crawled into his cousin’s arms and let himself go…
Three weeks later…
Ellie’s evaluation resulted in her being sent to a secure psychiatric facility; her release date being ‘whevever she is not seen as dangerous to herself and to others’. It had been a relief to the boys to hear that she would not be able to inflict this kind of damage on another person again.
The boys had taken drastic measures to try to aid Brian’s memory, each of them wearing a ‘name-tag’ every time they visited. The doctors told them that, after extensive testing, Brian’s brain was not damaged to the irreversible level that they feared it might be. He would gradually begin to remember, but it would take time.
Brian, as yet, had not spoken. The doctors suggested that he may be suffering from some kind of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Severe trauma often depresses the vocal system, and the victim cannot express himself as a healthy person would until something triggers it..
They knew they had to be strong for him. They had to help him find himself again.
Tonight, it was AJ’s turn to sit with Brian. Since his return, they had not left him alone for one night, and he seemed to be responding to this. He had been moved from ICU to the Special Care Psychiatric Unit the previous week, when his breathing had improved and his heart had regulated. The doctors noted a vast improvement in him since he had been taken away from the restrictive ICU.
He slept a lot, so AJ used this as his advantage to catch up on some of his reading. He didn’t have a lot of time for it normally, but this calming, quiet hospital room was the perfect place for it. As he read, Brian dreamed….
He dreamed of her…
She was as beautiful as she was evil; with her silken hair flowing like a mane behind her. Her skin, freckled innocently in places but so soft…so very soft to touch that it was like a baby’s. The dream was always the same to him. It would begin as a beautiful dream; a dream of the warmth and security only available to those in love. It felt as though cotton wool encased one’s body, keeping out the cold and the pains of the outside world. Everything outside of you and she was the outside world.
“I love you, Brian”, she whispered, and he echoed the words back to her.
Then the pillow came…over his face, and over his nose. Suddenly, his mouth was locked shut and his breathing wouldn’t come.
Suddenly, he felt as though his lungs were about to collapse from the sheer pressure of the air that was trapped inside of them.
AJ panicked. Brian was tossing and turning, gasping for breath. AJ had seen it before, only the last time it was happening to himself. Anxiety attacks could feel worse than death.
He pressed the red button and called the nurse, and gently began to coax Brian into reality again.
“Bri, its me. AJ. Wake up, buddy, you’re having a nightmare.”
Brian’s flailing, desperate eyes met AJ as they shot open; darting around the room trying to find a way out, just as they had so many times before.
“It’s ok. I’m here. No-one is going to hurt you, Rok”.
Brian looked into his eyes and could see that he was telling the truth. How could such beautiful, sincere eyes every bring malice to him?
The nurse slipped in quietly, motioning to the oxygen mask that hung above Brian’s bed.
“Brian, I’m going to get you something that will help you to breathe…”
He slipped down the mask gently, and began to place it over Brian’s face. Brian moved back, afraid. He didn’t want it over his nose and mouth. AJ sensed his fear, and instantly knew why.
“It’s ok, Brian. You’ve needed these things before…remember?” he asked, then suddenly realised his mistake.
“Oh, of course…you don’t. I’m sorry, Brian, but this will help you. It wont hurt you.”
Brian nodded sadly, and accepted the mask which, admittedly, made him feel a whole lot better. He looked at the name-tag. AJ. He tried to find words which associated with the name.
“That’s it, Brian. Deep breaths, kiddo.”
Suddenly, Brian heard his own voice in his head. He searched for his voice, the one he had been so afraid to use, and he said the words out loud.
“You have to learn to put things into perspective………. Alex.”
AJ took a step back, looking at his friend who now seemed so desperate for assurance. His eyes looked at him as though he were a child, begging for praise at achieving something which seemed to have taken forever.
“Alex…you call me Alex when you’re worried about me, Bri.”
AJ noted the irony, then proceeded to take Brian in his arms, letting him know that he was a part of something, letting him know that he loved him. Brian understood.
There was no intention in the phrasing of the sentence, it was merely repetition. But it was the beginning of something….
Brian was finally coming home. ----------------------------------------
Written by: Summer Laura
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