Whole lotta crazy going on!
“I’m gonna try calling Bob again,“ he announced pushing himself out of the deep sofa.
Frank nodded by way of acknowledgement while Mikey looked up and smiled at he gesture.
“He’ll be okay, Mikey,” Ray offered reassuringly. “It’s just the shock that’s caused him to act a bit weird. Once he’s rested, he’ll be fine.”
Mikey nodded. “I hope so.”
While he appreciated Ray’s comments, he knew that he’d only be truly happy when Gerard woke and he could see for himself that all was well.
Stepping from the small waiting room, Ray headed down the long corridor towards the main exit. Glad of the fresh air, despite the afternoon rain, Ray plucked his phone from his pocket, frowning as he saw that there were no missed calls or messages. Pressing redial, Ray waited as he heard the ringing tone over and over with no reply until once again it kicked into voicemail.
“Bob, what the hell, man!” Ray fumed. “This is like the tenth message I’ve left you! Gerard’s in the hospital, we’re all here. Call us!”
Pressing the cancel button angrily, Ray sighed in frustration, his shoulders dropping as almost immediately he lost his anger. This simply wasn’t like him. His interview should have been over hours ago, his phone was switched on. What the hell was he doing?
Ray glanced up and looked out into the rain. The entrance to the hospital was buzzing with activity. Ambulances and cabs pulling up; staff, outpatients and visitors scurried in and out, keeping their heads bowed in an attempt to remain dry and patients in dressing gown and outdoor shoes popping out for a smoke. Amongst all the activity, Ray noticed a solitary figure standing on the opposite side of the street, apparently staring at him. The intensity of the man’s stare unnerved him but he found himself staring back, unable to look away.
Frank and Mikey both looked up as the door opened expecting to see Ray returning from making his call. The pair jumped to their feet as Gerard’s doctor walked in.
“Any news?” asked Mikey quickly, almost breathlessly, causing Frank to glance with concern in his direction.
“He’s awake, you can see him if you like,” the doctor replied, kindly.
“Is he…,” Mikey paused, unsure if he really wanted to ask the question. “Is he okay?”
“He’s asking for you,” the doctor replied, non-commital.
“Yes, but…” Mikey began not really wanting to push further.
“Mikes,” Frank spoke gently as he took his arm. “Let’s go see him.”
Mikey nodded, still concerned over how his brother would react when he saw him. Turning to Frank, he nodded before stopping in the doorway.
“Should we find Ray first?”
“No, it’s okay,” Frank replied with a comforting smile aware that as much as Mikey wanted to see his brother, he was also scared of how he would find him. “He knows where his room is. When he gets back he’ll find us.”
“Yeah,” Mikey replied, his voice only a fraction above a whisper.
It was only a short walk to Gerard’s room and pushing the door open, Frank entered first waving cheerily to Gerard, who was now sitting up in bed. Following behind, Mikey stared anxiously, noting that although the colour had largely returned to his previously pale cheeks, he still appeared stressed.
“How are you feeling?” he asked tentatively.
“Where’s Ray? And Bob?” Gerard asked urgently, ignoring Mikey’s question.
Mikey heaved a sigh; Gerard was apparently still not himself.
“Everything’s okay. You have to calm down. I know it was traumatic…”
“Mikes, where are they? It’s important. Please!” Gerard insisted.
Patting Mikey on the back, Frank stepped forward.
“Gee, it’s ok,” he nodded to emphasise the words. “Ray’s outside, he’s calling Bob.”
Gerard chewed his lower lip. “But do you actually know where Bob is?”
“Well,” Frank began with a shrug, “we’ve not reached him yet, but…”
Gerard threw the bed covers back and swung his legs out, pushing himself unsteadily to his feet.
“Mikey,” he pointed to the closet, “hand me my clothes.”
“Gee,” Mikey sighed unhappily. “Please…”
“Mikey, I’m not traumatised and I’m not crazy. Trust me on this, someone is after us and we have to find Bob.”
“Gee, it was a dream, that’s all,” Frank replied. “No one’s after us.”
“For fuck’s sake, Frank!” Gerard cried angrily. “Don’t patronise me! I’ve seen him, I’ve spoken to him!”
Frank frowned; either this was for real, or Gerard was worse than they had previously thought.
“The Dreamcatcher. He’s already killed Ben and maybe others. Every time he kills, he gets stronger and he’s coming for us!”
Spinning on his heels, Mikey lowered his stinging eyes and quickly left the room, almost choking on the lump in his throat. Gerard opened his mouth to speak but stopped abruptly. It was as if he had heard himself for the first time and finally realised how he sounded. Staring at the closed door for a few moments, Gerard turned bank to Frank, his expression one of sombre contemplation.
“Look, I know it sounds crazy, but you’ve got to believe me,” Gerard began, trying to sound as sincere as he was able.
“We’re trying to, Gee, but can you see it from our point of view?” Frank replied.
“I know,” he nodded, “I know how it looks. And I want to be wrong, I really do, but I really don’t think I am.”
Sucking on his lip ring thoughtfully, Frank nodded. “Okay, but you do know you’re telling me that a comic book character is real?”
Gerard nodded sadly. He felt foolish, but something within him told him he was right and that no matter what, he needed to convince them.
“Yeah. I don’t know how, but he is real and he killed Ben.”
Frank took a deep breath. “Just before we came in, the doctor told us that Ben had a heart attack at the wheel. He passed out and hit his head as he slumped forward. The car went out of control and the crash killed him. You weren’t wearing your seatbelt. Do you know how lucky you were to survive?”
“No,” Gerard shook his head vigorously, ignoring Frank’s pointed remark. “No, that’s not what happened. I fell asleep in the car. When I woke up we were driving through deserted streets with broken, run down buildings. Ben was already dead at the wheel and a turn was coming. I couldn’t reach the wheel to stop the crash.”
“Gee, you crashed into a traffic signal on a busy street. You were thrown from the car. Maybe you hit your head?”
“Damn it, Frank this is real! I saw him! I’ve seen him four times now. I just spoke to him!”
“Just?” Frank queried, unhappily as he considered the impossibility of Gerard’s statement. “While you were asleep?”
“Yeah! He… I…,” Gerard lowered his head. “Okay, I know it seems impossible, but…”
“Gee, if it seems impossible, do you think that maybe it is?”
“Look, just do me a favour, please?”
“Sure?” Frank replied with a tired expression etched on his face.
“Find Ray; ask him if he’s got hold of Bob yet. If he has, then this was all a dream and I’ll shut up. If he hasn’t, I’m not going to let this go, Frank because as crazy as it sounds, it’s real.”
Frank nodded grimly. Ray was almost certainly standing with Mikey outside the room trying to comfort him. Hopefully, this would be over in minutes and Gerard would realise it was all an unpleasant dream.
“Okay, Gee, I’ll ask him. I’ll be back in a few minutes, okay? But I want you to get back into bed.”
The pair stared at each other for a few moments; Gerard still quite agitated and unwilling to concede.
“Gee,” Frank pushed. “Trust me, I’ll speak to him.”
Gerard nodded and sighed as he sat back down on the bed.
“In the bed, Gee, not on it,” Frank insisted.
A quiet beeping sound emanated from Frank’s pocket and he felt the light vibration against his leg. Glancing down, he pulled out the phone, at the same time praying that the message was from Bob.
“There,” Frank smiled with relief as he held the phone at arms length for Gerard to read. “Does that make you feel any better?”
Gerard read the contents of the text message, which was obviously from Bob’s phone.
Hey, dude. Were u trying 2 call me? Sorry, had it on silent. Interview overran, see you l8r.
“Feel better?” Frank asked with a smile.
Gerard nodded. “I’m sorry, Frank. I… I really…”
“I don’t need an apology, I just want you to be okay. Now, I’ll go find Ray. Do you want me to send Mikey back in?”
“Please,” Gerard sighed hopelessly. “He thinks I’m crazy.”
“You’re not crazy,” Frank smiled in return. “I’ll be back in a minute.”
Heading back out into the corridor, Frank was surprised to see Mikey sitting alone; his head buried in his hands, wet with silent tears. Looking up as Frank joined him, Mikey turned bloodshot eyes towards his friend.
“I don’t understand.”
“It’s okay, Mikes, he’s snapped out of it now. He must have just carried on the dream in his mind after he woke.”
“You’re sure?” he asked with a faint smile.
“Yeah, he’s asking for you. I’ll go find Ray, let him know.”
The expression on Mikey’s face was a picture of pure joy, and to Frank’s mind, was worth the white lie. As he walked down the corridor towards the exit, he wondered to himself how Gerard had become so absolutely certain over such a ludicrous idea. Even though he believed that Gerard was imagining the whole thing, Ray’s prolonged absence began to worry him. His concern grew more intense as he saw a large crowd of people gathered at the entrance to the hospital. Pushing his way through the crowd, Frank was astonished to see Ray, standing absolutely still, in the pouring rain in the middle of the drop off zone. From what Frank could see of his darkened clothes and hair plastered against his head, he appeared soaked to the skin and had evidently been there for quite some time; long enough to draw a crowd of onlookers. Running over, Frank caught him by the arms and shook him, with no response.
“Ray!” he shouted, then louder. Ray!”
Slowly, Ray turned a blank expression towards Frank. Blinking once, it was if his focus suddenly returned and he was aware of everything.
“I’m soaked!” he cried in bewilderment. “How…”
Frank glanced briefly in the direction that Ray had been staring, but there was nothing and no one to see.
“Ray?” he was lost for words. “Let’s get you inside.”
Following easily, Ray reached forward and pulled Frank’s arm back to attract his attention.
“What the hell was I doing out there?”
“I don’t know,” Frank admitted with a frown. “Did you get through to Bob?”
“No, at least, I don’t think so.” Ray looked down, the phone was still clutched tightly in his palm; there were no missed calls or messages. “No, doesn’t look like it. I don’t remember speaking to him.”
“Come on, we gotta get you dried off.”
‘He’s okay, he’s awake.” Frank paused. “Ray, what were you staring at?”
“I don’t know. I think it might have been a man, but I couldn’t see him properly. He wasn’t far away, but,” Ray sighed, “he just didn’t seem to stay in focus and then… I don’t remember. That’s too weird isn’t it?”
“Well,” Frank shook his head with a deep frown. “It’s not the weirdest thing I’ve heard today. I think I need to speak to Gerard again.”