Bob has a plan too
“Where’s Bob?” he asked absently.
Mikey allowed his head to drift from the window as he turned, aware that his brother had spoken, but had not taken in the actual words.
“What did you say?” he asked.
“Bob. Where did he go?”
Mikey looked beyond the glass leading to the corridor, believing he had seen something, he stepped forward, his eyes widening as he did so.
“He’s in with Frank!” Mikey cried. “He’s talking to him!”
“What!” Gerard leapt to his feet and headed quickly for the door only to be pulled back by Mikey.
“Mikes!” Gerard yelled trying to pull away. “Let me go!”
Mikey saw Bob glance in their direction before returning to his own conversation.
“Gee, keep your voice down!” Mikey reminded trying to sound forceful but keeping his own volume low.
Gerard turned worried eyes back towards Frank’s room.
“We have to get him out, why are you stopping me?”
“Because Frank’s only got three minutes left to respond to the treatment. We have to let him try.”
“But if… if Frank… Bob’ll blame himself.”
Mikey nodded. “Yeah, he will, but he’s doing that anyway.”
Gerard glanced back towards Frank’s room and watched Bob deep in a one-sided conversation with Frank. Mikey was right, Bob seemed to truly believe that if he had acted differently in the woods when trying to resuscitate Frank that he wouldn’t be like this now. Taking the point one stage further, if he hadn’t asked Frank to help him, he wouldn’t be hurt now. But, Gerard reminded himself, it would most likely have been Bob getting hurt, alone and with no one to help him – chances were he would have died.
“Okay, Frank,” Bob sighed. “This is the deal. You’re having a weird dream, I get that, but tell me this, why are you trying to kill yourself? You know we don’t want you to die, in fact, you can’t! Do you hear me, Iero? You can’t! Okay?”
Bob glanced up at the monitors, but nothing had changed. Frank’s pulse and blood pressure were dangerously high, his breathing was faltering severely and his forehead glistened with sweat. Bob checked the temperature reading, only to realise that it was higher now than when he had entered the room. Looking up at nothing, Bob’s mind slipped into overdrive, trying desperately to find a new approach. Taking a deep breath, Bob leaned down so that his mouth was close to Frank’s ear.
“Frank, listen, you can control your dream. Let me help. Okay, so something is making you feel hot and you can’t breathe. Let’s work on that. I’m going to guess that either you’re stuck somewhere or that someone is doing this to you, so you have two options. You have to get away from the problem yourself or you have to bring someone into your dream to help you. What’s happening has to change. Someone in your dream can help you, or invent someone. Anything, but make it happen!”
Bob rested his elbows on his knees and slumped forward holding his head in his hands. There was no response. Had he made matters worse? At the very least, he hadn’t helped at all.
The sound of the door opening caught Bob’s attention and he glanced briefly over to where the doctor stood with Gerard and Mikey. A furrow of confusion formed on the drummer’s face as he saw the doctor begin to smile.
“In about five minutes, young man, I want you to follow me to my office and tell me everything you said to him,” he announced quietly.
Bob’s face brightened and he turned quickly to stare at the monitors; Frank’s temperature was finally dropping, and rapidly too. All three band members were ushered from the room as Doctor Wendel checked on Frank. Once back in the opposite room, a jubilant Mikey threw his arms around the drummer and pulled him around in a circle.
“You’re a genius!” he laughed, still trying his best to keep his voice low.
“Okay,” Bob replied with a degree of embarrassment, “enough with the hug now!”
Mikey pulled away with a feigned hurt expression on his face.
“You’re fooling no one, Mikes,” Bob waved a finger at him. “Now go use some of that energy to let Ray know.”
Mikey grinned and almost ran from the room.
“What did you say?” asked Gerard.
“Well,” Bob shrugged, “I started by threatening him, but then made some suggestions to try to direct his dream. I mean, I don’t know, it could be coincidence.”
“Maybe?” Gerard replied, unconvinced. “But I think you just saved his life.”
Bob smiled faintly. “He’s still got to wake up, Gee.”
Gerard nodded. “One step closer though, eh?”
With hindsight, it was bound to happen, but Frank could only pray that it would be enough. The strips of leather binding his hands loosened slightly. Having soaked up much of the sweat that had run down his arms had allowed the material to stretch. Added to that, the natural expansion of leather due to the heat of the room, Frank began to feel a distinct loosening of his bonds. It gave him renewed hope and he continued to struggle with what little strength he had left. Within a few moments, however, Frank slumped, exhausted and drained. Loose was simply not loose enough. Closing his eyes in despair, he realised that it had probably been his last chance to free himself. Now coughing painfully through the gag as the hot smoke burnt the back of his throat, Frank readied himself for what he saw as the inevitable.
His head lolled to the side as he heard the unmistakable shunting sound of metal sliding against metal as the door bolt was pushed back. Cool air filtered into the room forcing the smoke upward as the door opened. Frank had no idea what was happening; even as he saw the outline of a man crouched beside him. He felt himself being lifted up and carried outside into the cold night air.
As the voice filtered through his clouded mind, Frank opened his eyes to see Roberts, Frey’s assistant, lowering him onto the damp grass outside the smokehouse.
“Are you all right?” he asked as he removed the gag and set to work untying him.
Frank could, at first, only stare in return as he gathered his senses.
“I had to wait for Mister Frey to leave, and Mister Mikey too,” he explained. “I couldn’t be a party to your death, or anyone’s but if I didn’t go along with it, they’d have killed me too.”
Frank nodded as he rubbed his reddened wrists.
“Where are they?”
“Mister Frey went into the woods earlier and Mister Mikey and Mister Gerard just left on horseback too.”
“Both of them? Together?” Frank asked with surprise.
Roberts shook his head as he helped Frank to his feet and offered him a canteen of water.
“No, Sir, Mister Gerard left first and Mister Mikey followed him a few minutes later.”
“There’s something wrong, it has to be a trap.”
“Mister Mikey wants the Estate for himself,” Roberts confirmed. “I think he’s going to kill Mister Gerard for it.”
Frank nodded. “But he needs to make it look like an accident. Where’s my horse?”
“She’s in the stable, Sir, still saddled. Mister Frey wouldn’t let me remove it. He’s a bad man,” he added sadly.
“You’re a good man, thank you.” Frank replied patting Roberts’ shoulder before heading for the stables.
Finding his horse, Frank led the grey mare out into the yard and mounted. Turning in the direction of the woods, Frank set off at a swift canter; he would be there in minutes.
Following the only path through the wood wide enough for a horse to travel, Gerard pushed his horse as fast as he dared through the dense cover of trees. Riding through a small clearing, Gerard’s horse pulled up sharply, throwing its head and whinnying loudly, he was clearly in distress. Leaning forward for balance as the horse reared, Gerard did his best to try to quiet and comfort the frightened horse. Now holding on desperately as he realised something was very wrong as he saw a white froth gathering in its mouth either side of the bit. Shaking its head violently, the horse reared up once more. Gerard cried out in panic as he realised that the horse had pulled back just a little too far and he could already feel himself falling. With no chance to break his fall, Gerard landed heavily, grimacing with pain as he hit the floor; his only cushion, a thin covering of grass and moss. He could still hear the horse in the throes of deep distress and feared being trampled. Gerard looked up, horrified to see the horse’s terrified shrieks suddenly silence as it began to collapse. Not fast enough to roll completely out of its way, Gerard screamed in agony as its head and neck crashed lifelessly across his legs. Gasping in pain as he tried to steady his breathing, Gerard tried desperately to pull his legs free or lift the horse’s head, but he could do neither. Falling back onto the grass, he lay panting for breath, pinned by the weight of his now dead horse.
The sound of hoof beats drew his attention as his breathing finally settled. Sighing with relief, he waited for help to arrive. The hoof beats slowed to a standstill and the rider dismounted.
“Well, well,” the voice began, “now, this, I had not expected.”
Gerard closed his eyes as he recognised his brother’s voice.
“Mikey, please help me,” Gerard called through gritted teeth, desperate not to show how much pain he was in.
“Now, I was under the impression that you didn’t want to see me again.”
“Please, Mikey,” he begged. “I can’t move.”
“I can see that and this is so much better than I had planned.”
“Planned?” Gerard replied, now scared and distressed at the revelation.
“Oh, yes, I’ve been planning this for a long time now. Granted, I could have just poisoned your horse any time you went out riding, but this was preferable and the only way I could be sure it would work. Riding hard pushed the poison around faster and you never ride out after dark, that was important.”
“Why?” Gerard whispered.
“Because no one will question it when I set the wolves on you. You see, I’ve kept two of them locked up starving for days now. They’re so hungry, I’m sure they’ll make short work of you.” Mikey laughed. “And with Angela gone, there’ll be no one to miss you.”
“I was right, you really are a bastard, Mikey!”
“Have I ever denied it?” Mikey grinned back. “Incidentally, Angela did keep her mouth shut about you. But somehow, Ray and Bob got the impression that you were trying to steal her away. Of course, your racing through the woods after her only seems to prove it. Shame you were attacked and killed by the wolves.”
“Nobody will believe this, you know that! They know it’ll be your doing!”
“You think so?” Mikey appeared to mull the issue in his mind. “You know, I really don’t think so. Who’s going to believe that I went to all this trouble? No, I’ll be the heartbroken brother, forced to pick up the pieces after this tragic accident.”
“I hate you, Mikey,” Gerard replied bitterly.
“Ah, but there’s the irony of it all, I know you don’t. Even now, if I bent to kiss you, you’d respond.”
“I’d respond all right!” Gerard growled. “I’d wring your scrawny neck!”
Mikey laughed harshly.
“I do believe you would. But rest assured, Gerard, only one of us will be dying here tonight.”