The Dreamcatcher makes his first move
“Thanks for coming, guys,” Mikey said as he pulled them both into a hug.
“Hey, no problem,” Frank smiled in return. “How is he?”
“And what happened?” Ray added.
“You better sit down,” Mikey indicated to the room’s two sofas. “This is a bit weird.”
“What?” Ray frowned with curiosity as he and Frank took their seats.
“I don’t know how exactly, but the car taking Gee from the studio back to the hotel crashed.”
“Is he badly hurt?” Frank interrupted.
“No, just shock they said. But the driver died.”
Frank flopped back into the sofa struggling to come to terms with his initial reaction. He was at the same time saddened to hear of the driver’s death, but deeply relieved to here that Gerard was safe and well. Feeling guilty that his overwhelming reaction was one of relief, he paused for a few moments while he gathered his thoughts.
“And they have no idea what caused the crash?” Ray queried as Frank sat silently beside him.
“No, not at all,” Mikey shrugged. “The police were taking statements from witnesses, I guess they’ll let us know eventually.”
“Are you okay?” Ray asked the young bassist.
“Yeah,” Mikey nodded, “just a little shaken, that’s all.
“Can we see him?” Frank asked finally, thankful that they were both all right.
“No, there’s no point, he’s not woken up yet.”
“Not woken up?” Frank sat forward, surprised at the news. “You said he was okay.”
Mikey sighed and shook his head slightly. “He was, but he was upset. The ambulance crew gave him a sedative, but it didn’t last. When he got here… he…”
“Mikey,” Frank frowned with uncertainty as he trailed off. “What happened? What was so weird?”
Mikey’s shoulders dropped as he remembered what he had been told on his arrival.
“The doctor said he was really distressed and rambling, saying really strange things, even for a while after they sedated him.”
“Such as?” Ray prompted.
It was clear from his body language that Mikey felt uncomfortable about what he was about to discuss; the fact that Ray and Frank were staring at him didn’t make him feel any better.
“He kept saying, ‘it’s him, he’s here’ and ‘can’t you see him?’,” Mikey sighed and looked to the side. “He was screaming for them to get someone away from him. He said that his driver had been murdered as he drove… that… all the life was sucked out of him.”
Mikey dropped his head into his hands. Immediately, Ray and Frank moved to his side, comforting the younger Way.
“I’m really worried about him,” he whispered in a hollow tone.
“Mikey, he was in shock.” Frank placed an arm around the bassist. “He’d been in a crash and probably even seen his driver get killed. Shock’s a terrible thing, give him time to rest; I’m sure when he wakes he’ll be fine.”
“Yeah,” Mikey nodded. “Thanks for coming so quickly. I wasn’t sure I was going to get through to anyone. I knew you were all busy today.”
Frank shrugged. “Well, I was back at the hotel, as you know and I knew that Ray was visiting friends so that was easy. We haven’t been able to get hold of Bob yet.”
“He’s giving an interview,” Mikey sighed. “I forgot. He’s probably switched his phone off.”
Frank nodded; it explained a lot.
“I’m sorry you had to leave your friends, Ray.”
“Don’t be,” Ray reassured him. “They totally understood.”
Gerard opened his eyes and looked around the room nervously. Above his bed the light flickered menacingly, the monitors stood or lay beside the bed, dusty and broken and beyond the room the corridor was dark and empty with an occasional flash of other flickering lights. Pushing the covers back, Gerard eased his legs out of the bed, his hospital gown dirty and bloodstained. Edging to the door, Gerard’s heart pounded in his chest; the last thing he clearly remembered was being forced to lie on a gurney by a paramedic, but now he had woken in this apparently abandoned hospital. As he reached the door, he realised he was physically shaking.
“This isn’t real! It's a dream!” he yelled in an attempt to wake himself up. “Just like the last one.”
The only problem; it felt very real. The cold on his feet and bare legs, his nervousness, the sweat beads forming on his brow, all so very real.
“I’m very real,” came a sinister voice behind him.
Gerard jerked his head to his right; turning slowly, he could make out a dark shape in the corner that had previously gone unnoticed.
“Who are you?” Gerard snapped. “Where am I?”
“You know who I am. I am your creation, The Dreamcatcher.” The shape laughed as it moved forward to reveal the same person Gerard had noticed at the scene of the accident.
Gerard stared, his expression one of disbelief as his own comic book creation stepped closer and laughed at him. No longer was he transparent or intangible. He stood now only a few feet away, exactly as Hernandez had drawn him and, in his fascination and astonishment, Gerard was finding it impossible to even look away.
“What do you want?” he finally asked. Even as the words left his lips, he felt foolish; this wasn’t real, it couldn’t be.
He didn’t see it coming. There was no hint or sign that it was about to happen. Launching a fist forward, Gerard was caught squarely on the jaw, sending him spinning to the floor.
“Yes, I’ll enjoy destroying you, all of you, but you most of all. But so far, it’s proving a little too easy.”
“How are you doing this? Where am I?” Gerard rolled onto his back as he held a hand to his rapidly bruising cheek.
He laughed again.
“You created me, you know everything about me and you have to ask such things?”
“If I created you, then I can destroy you!” Gerard snapped angrily, pushing himself to his feet.
“Perhaps, you could have done,” The Dreamcatcher laughed cruelly. “But you can’t now. Oh, no, not now, there’s too much at stake.”
“What’s at stake for me? I’ll just write you out of existence.”
Turning, The Dreamcatcher walked a few paces then shrugged and raised his arms to the side in a gesture of indifference.
“If you’re certain, do whatever you see fit.”
Gerard frowned deeply. There was something about his words that mocked him and made the suggestion sound like a challenge.
“Why shouldn’t I? You’re killing people aren’t you? You killed Ben. Why shouldn’t I just kill you off like you never existed?”
Turning back and approaching Gerard until they stood only inches apart, a slow smile spread across The Dreamcatcher’s face. “Ask yourself this, and I’ll warn you now, do it regularly, ‘where are my friends?’”
Gerard’s eyes widened in horror at the words but his reaction was cut short as The Dreamcatcher seized him by the throat and pushed him out into the corridor and up against the opposite wall. Gerard strained to pull his fingers away from around his neck, but, unable to even snatch a breath, his efforts grew weaker with each passing second.
“I’m already strong enough to kill you, but I’ll keep getting stronger, you know I will and when I’m strong enough,” he paused to squeeze a little harder, watching with glee as Gerard’s eyes rolled in their sockets. “When I’m strong enough, I’m taking your dreams and the dreams of everyone who looks to you. And then there’ll be nothing and no one to stop me!”
It was unlikely that Gerard even heard the last few words. As the grip was released, he sank to the floor unconscious.
Bob placed a hand to his head. Dizzy and disorientated, he opened his eyes and slowly looked around. Everything was unfamiliar and he scoured his memories for some clue as to his whereabouts. The last he remembered was returning to the hotel after giving an interview:
Opening the door to his room, Bob removed his jacket and threw it on the bed. He never really enjoyed giving interviews. It wasn’t the talking so much as the cameras. He’d got used to them to some extent over the years, but he doubted he’d ever feel completely comfortable in front of them.
He was very much a ‘back room guy’. He was the drummer, content to hide behind his cymbals. Happy to let Gerard and Frankie perform all the stage antics. Over the years he had seen many changes in the band. He wasn’t part of the band during the most difficult times of Gerard’s addictions but he had seen it and had witnessed his complete turnaround into a sober and happy man. From his position behind his kit, he had noticed Mikey turn from a shy kid into a confident young man, beloved of girls everywhere. He didn’t thrust himself into the limelight like his brother, but he no longer stood at the back of the stage watching his fingers move on the fret board. Frank and Ray? Well, they were just Frank and Ray – always had been, probably always would be.
Flopping down onto the bed, Bob raised the TV remote and flicked through a dozen channels. There was nothing he wanted to watch. With a sigh, he switched off the TV and rose to make himself a cup of coffee. It was then he heard a noise in the adjacent room.
“Gerard’s back early,” he smiled as he headed for the door. He knew all he would have to do would be so say the word ‘coffee’ and he would have some company.
Stepping into the corridor, Bob was surprised to find Gerard’s door open. His first thought, that it was actually one of the hotel’s maids was dismissed as he noticed that no cart stood outside the door. Was it another member of staff? A fan? Of course it could just be Gerard. Nevertheless, Bob made a mental note to proceed cautiously.
“Gee?” Bob called as he entered the small hallway and quickly passed the bathroom and wardrobe.
As he reached the bedroom, he glanced around but could see no one. Shaking his head, he frowned at what he realised must have been his imagination, but it still didn’t explain why the door was open. His last memory came at that point as a crushing blow to his head and neck. As he lay, semi conscious on the floor he felt the oddest sensation of shrinking and physically draining away. Had he also been drugged? There was no more time to consider what was happening to him as he slipped into unconsciousness.
Bob got to his feet, somewhat shakily, and looked around his surroundings. It was a small room, but one without a door. Three of the walls looked normal, if lacking in colour, but one whole wall and part of the ceiling was entirely black and featureless. To the touch, it felt warm and whilst solid, there was a strange flexibility to it. As he held his arm out to touch the wall, Bob's blood ran cold as he noticed that his hand was a deathly shade of white. Pushing up his sleeve, then his shirt, he could see to his horror and dismay that everything was devoid of colour. Bob sank back against the wall as he tried to take in and understand what was happening to him. Was he dead?