CHAPTER SIX ~ LONG DAYS
The days were getting longer and the hands of time upon the clocks were beginning to drag, making each separate second last for a minute or more.
But Brian was happy.
The world about him was dull today and the sky was overcast with the dreary repugnant clouds that the sun failed to pierce. A slight wind blew along the seafront but it was cold as it teased his skin, tempting the hairs up on his arm.
A few splatters of rain had begun to fall, light and infrequent but cold and penetrating. The wind ran across the surface of the sea, brining the waves up into great cascades of water that noisily smashed against the beach and the rocks.
He could feel the coolness of the wind as it rubbed against his skin, but he still sat outside in his short sleeved shirt, enjoying the feel of nature upon him.
As his eyes gazed out to the open sea, he thought of what it would be like to never see it again. That was what he had decided he would do, give everything up for Karine. It was what he wanted. This world was dark and full of pain. So many people suffered here and there was so much depression and hatred. In Karine’s land it was different, all that mattered there was beauty and love. There the wind was not cold, but cool and soothing to the skin. The rain was refreshing and peaceful and did not make the world look grey like it did here.
He could smell the salt of the sea and almost taste it in the cold air but somehow it was bland and unappealing.
Last night he and Karine had just lain in each other’s arms and promised each other forever. The plan was made. Karine would leave her palace home which she shared with her family and would come away with Brian to live in the enchanting forest of colour and sweet aromas. Brian would leave his own world of cruelty and die to live forever with Karine.
He had sighed as he stroked her hair and kissed her face as they dashed through the trees away from Karine’s house to their secret grove with the pool.
He smiled. Before death had always seemed like a fearsome predator which he had constantly looked over his shoulder for since he was a child. It had used to terrify him that one day he would open his eyes and find himself staring into the dark eyes of death as it claimed him.
Now it seemed peaceful and was no longer frightening to him. The prospect of leaving this insignificant life behind him held no regret of despair. He wanted death to come. When it did, he would be able to slip into Karine’s world where he would never again be dragged away from her rose red lips or cherubic smile that could make him dizzy with love.
His hands were clammy as they clasped themselves in his lap. In a few nights, he would never be parted from Karine again. There would be no more heartache when he awoke each morning because he would be waking in her arms.
The wind blew gently across his face as he raised it to greet the faint rain that was beginning to speckle the beach. Movement from the croner of his eyes suddenly caught his attention and he turned to see a tall man with blond hair coming towards him.
“Brian? What are you doing out here? It’s cold!” the unnamed man said.
Brian stared at him, puzzlement still in his eyes as he fought to grasp a name that went with this face. Blond hair… Howie? No Nick. Of course it was Nick. How could he ever forget his sparkling eyes and mischievous smile that rested beneath glowing locks of golden hair? He could almost laugh at his silliness, except that it was slightly unnerving that he had forgotten Nick’s name.
He shook his head. He was stuck so much in a dream sometimes that little things often slipped away from him without him realising. More and more the days seemed longer and hazy and Karine’s world seemed more real.
“Hey Nick,” he said, the smile still on his face.
Nick frowned at him as he joined him on the stonewall, but Brian inched away slightly, uncomfortable with Nick sitting so close to him. That kind of proximity was for lovers or close friends… wait a moment, wasn’t nick supposed to his close friend? But why did it not feel like it? Why did Brian suddenly seem to know nothing about him?
“What’s going on?” Nick asked. “Yesterday you were crying in despair and now your head’s back in the clouds. I told you to stop moping about like this.” His eyes were staring down at Brian in concern, but that concern meant little when Brian felt so isolated from him.
Nick knew nothing about him in comparison with Karine. He could not remember having fun with him or even talking to him much. It was as if he had just met some long, distant friend from his childhood who no longer meant much to him anymore.
“Brian?” Nick asked, waving a hand in front of his face.
Brian shook his head and then sighed. “I dreamt about her again last night,” he said dreamily. “We’re back together. I have her back.”
Nick was silent for a moment, but he looked down at the sand beneath their feet as if searching there for words that would not come to him. “Brian,” he said softly. “It’s only a dream. She’s not real.”
“No,” Brian replied. He gazed out over the sea to watch the huge, foam frothed waves as they crashed mercilessly down upon the seaweed that bobbed along the surface. “She is real and so is her world.”
Once when he had awakened, the events with Karine would seem slightly blurred and misty as if they had been obscured by the mists that reality would always cast upon dreams, but now he could remember them more clearly than ever. It now felt as if it had happened yesterday. However, the world that he now inhabited seemed dull and bleary as if it was the dream. Things seemed to move slowly and sounds were not as clear as they were in the forest.
Nick shook his head. “Brian, you have to stop this! It is a dream, a fantasy!”
“No!” Brian snapped as he jumped to his feet. “You’re wrong1 I’m in love and it feels fantastic! I’ve never felt better!”
Nick jumped up as well and suddenly seized Brian by the wrists tightly. Brian gave a slight cry as he felt the physical pain of the firm grip and tried to prise them away but Nick would not release him.
“Look at you Brian! You’re thinner than you were because you don’t eat anymore! You’re eyes are glassy like you’re dead and you’re so pale! You look ill and you must stop this! You’re getting all excited over a figment of your imagination!”
Brian’s eyes narrowed. “She’s real!” he screamed before he kicked Nick hard on the shin.
The blond swore as he released Brian and gripped his shin protectively. Brian turned and suddenly found himself gripped by a fierce rage. “What do you know about anything? You don’t know her and you don’t know me!” He turned his back on nick and began to walk along the windy beach.
“Brian!” Nick was suddenly gripping his arm to yank him back around. “What do you mean? I’m your best friend!”
“No you’re not! You don’t know me! You haven’t known me that long!”
“Only ten years!”
Years? It felt more like ten days if that. “You’re lying! We hardly now each other!”
“What is wrong with you? Don’t you remember?”
Brian only glared at him. “Remember what?” he snapped. What was there to remember? His mind was foggy and everything was hard to find. His creased his brow but there was… nothing.
Nick grabbed Brian’s arms and shook him. Brian cried out slightly, shocked at the sudden violent treatment Nick was harbouring towards him. Nick was a friend but why was he hurting him?
“Stop it!” Nick screamed. “Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! You’re scaring me! Brian, snap out of this! That freak dream girl is a witch who’s sucking the life out of you!” His voice was frantic as he shook Brian harshly. “Don’t you understand what’s happened to you? You’re drifting away and it’s her fault!”
Brian’s eyes narrowed at the words that were flung at him, but suddenly he knew what Nick was after. He was jealous because Brian had seen something more amazing than Nick could ever comprehend. “You’re just jealous!” he screamed hatefully. “You’re jealous because she chose me and not you! For once somebody doesn’t want the blond Nick Carter and you can’t handle being second best! She wants me! She loves me! She’s mine!”
“What the hell are you talking about?” Nick replied, his voice as loud as Brian’s. “I don’t want her, she’s a witch! I just want you to get better! Look at yourself, look at you! Can you honestly say that you’re normal at the moment? Something is wrong with you!”
“She loves me!” Brian locked his own fingers about Nick’s arms, pressing hard to leave bruises and to try and push the larger man away. Nick had no idea. Karine was an angel, not a witch. She had rescued him from a life of misery and loneliness.
“No she doesn’t! If she loved you, she wouldn’t be turning you into the person you’re becoming! She’s killing you! Can’t you see? You’re so blind and wrapped up in her claws that you can’t see!”
“No! She loves me!” Brian said, his voice screaming each word to hammer it into Nick’s brain. He didn’t care if he was dying…
“She’s not real!”
Rage was burning in his heart and he was trembling as it throbbed inside of his heart, enflaming every part of him. He was suddenly shoving Nick roughly away before his fist flew into Nick’s jaw, startling a groan from the younger man. Nick fell back hard upon the damp sand. His pale face radiated shock as blood dribbled from the corner of his mouth. His blue eyes stared widely at Brian and he gasped as he placed a hand to his mouth to feel the oozing blood.
“What’s happened to you?” Nick whispered. There were tears in his eyes. “What’s happened to you?” he repeated, his voice growing in distress.
Brian said nothing, but something uncomfortable was brimming near the surface of his mind. He looked down at his shaking fist, the knuckles red and sore after the blow. He glanced back at Nick and then stumbled back a few steps in confusion. “Nick? Why did I…?”
Nick was his best friend, but Brian could no longer remember what made them best friends of the first time he had even met him. Why couldn’t he remember anything that they had ever done together? He shook his head and placed a hand to his forehead as if he could physically pull the memories to the surface of his mind. He shivered as the cold wind and rain began to penetrate his pale skin and he stared about him at the dreary beach and the dull, grey waves. This world was his home but he would never see it again once he had joined Karine. In two more days he would die…
“Nick?” he whispered again. He wanted to ask for help. He needed help to understand what was happening. He felt as if his life here had been drained away.
Karine suddenly flashed into his mind, a secret smile beautifully curving her crimson lips and her dark eyes shining with love in her delicately shaped face. The image vanished and he was staring at Nick again. Before the blond had arrived he had been dancing in the warm waves of happiness but now he was lost in a tide of confusion as he realised that he may never see Nick or his friends again or remember them.
“Brian?” Nick asked, watching the confused emotions chase one another across Brian’s face. He slowly staggered to his feet, tears shining in his eyes before they trickled out onto his cheeks. “Brian.” He opened his arms, offering Brian loving support. “Please… I’m just worried. I don’t wanna lose you. You’re my friend.”
Brian gulped, trembling in the wind. It had been simple before when he had only seen his love for Karine but now there was something left in his mind that was screaming at him to stop. He began to slowly back away and then he was turning and running along the beach back to their shared house, his feet slipping on the sand while the rain suddenly grew heavier and pelted they ground to turn it into mud. He cried out as a son shook his body and the tears were running down his face.
‘Don’t think about Nick or the others,’ he told himself. ‘Think of Karine.’
He loved her, he knew that was true, but a part of him was bound to Nick and the others, even though he couldn’t remember why.
“Karine,” he whispered, his heart beating inside of him and his arms aching for her to hold him and comfort him.
“Brian!” Nick called. “You have to stop this! This will kill you! Please!”
The fierce wind blew the words to Brian’s ears and he closed his eyes tightly as he jumped up the wooden steps that led to the huge beach house.
He wanted to die. He wanted to die for Karine. He sobbed as he remember the joy he had felt at holding her last night as they kissed in the moonlight while the stone angels smiled down upon them, blessing their love. He wanted to feel that same joy every day of his life and he wanted to be able to see Karine and take her hand as they walked into the sunlight.
He wanted to die for her… didn’t he?
He did not stop running until he reached his own room. He lamed the door closed and firmly locked it, gasping and crying as his fingers shook madly as they fiddled with the lock. He then rushed to close the curtains to shut out all light from outside.
It was not nearly time for darkness yet but the blackness would be comforting to him and would help to hide this world which so confused him. He had made his mind up, he wanted Karine.
He glanced at his watch, squinting to make out the time. There was hours before the sun set. He wanted to see her again and talk to her about his confusion. She could make it all better, he knew she could.
He watched the minute second hand slowly crawl across the face.
The days were getting longer… but he was running out of time.