Anything can happen in a comic book
Now he pushed himself up onto his elbows, trying to wake, but the complication of feeling nauseous and disorientated worked to delay the process.
Even without being fully aware, Mikey knew he was lying somewhere outside on the ground. It was hard and cold, yet the covering of soft soil and moss almost left him with a feeling of comfort. Slowly pushing himself to his knees, Mikey could now see that it was dark and he was in a forest, yet there was an inexplicable stillness in the air. Where he was exactly, or how he had ended up there were mysteries to him, but the fact was he was there. Alone. Scared.
Old gnarled tree trunks stood twisted into eerie shapes and faces appeared out of the thick ground mist only to disappear just as suddenly when the fog swirled. Distant sounds of cracking twigs unnerved the young bassist as his imagination suggested to him that he was being watched.
Finally scrambling to his feet, Mikey stood still, desperate to make no noise as he listened carefully to the sounds around him. Somewhere off in the distance, he could hear the sound of footsteps moving steadily towards him. Turning his head, he grimaced in frustration; the sounds were getting louder. He knew they were coming closer, but the way the sound moved, bouncing through the trees, he was finding it impossible to work out from which direction the sound was coming. Backing up slowly so it wouldn’t be quite so easy for whoever or whatever it was to see him, Mikey pressed himself up against a tree. Breathing heavily and deeply, he tried hard to keep his own noise, both internal and external to a minimum. Despite all the difficulties, he had to discover the source of the sound of the footsteps and escape them.
The first he knew about it was a faint whipping sound, but the full horror of what was now happening didn’t become apparent until the long vine hanging from the tree wrapped itself tightly around the trunk, pinning Mikey’s arms and holding him firm. Mikey’s cry of surprise was out before he realised it and he cursed himself for giving himself away, despite the shock of the apparently live vine.
“Mikey?” a distant voice called.
“Bob!” Mikey yelled, hopeful that he could follow his voice.
Sighing with relief that his mysterious stalker was, in fact, his friend, Mikey bent his arms at the elbows, and tugged hard on the vine, trying to release himself. If he had entertained the idea that it was a freak accident, Mikey was sorely mistaken as a second, much thinner, vine snaked up from the ground and quickly wound itself around his wrists as he tried to pull free. The second vine then pulled his hands back down to just above waist level, preventing him from even touching the vine securing him to the tree. Struggling furiously, Mikey tried to edge his back down the bark of the tree in the hope of sliding out from under the vine. But with each inch Mikey managed to shuffle down, the vine grew tighter until he could barely move. Initially unknown to him, a third vine now slid around his ankles and drew itself into a tight loop.
“Bob! Help!” Mikey cried urgently hoping his friend would find him quickly. “Hel..!”
Cut short, it was his final call for help as another vine crashed into his mouth as he opened wide to scream the word. His head jarred heavily with the tree trunk as it was forced back by the vine as it continued to wrap around the tree. Momentarily, Mikey’s legs sagged as the pain from the movement drew all his strength away. He didn’t know if it had seemed to be a fresh attempt to escape or it would have happened regardless, but another three vines wound their crushing grip around his legs and waist. Still trying to struggle, Mikey knew it was useless, the vines could adapt and with every movement he was held more securely than before.
The final vine rose up before his eyes swaying lightly, almost mocking him. Mikey eyed it nervously wondering what it would do; more than aware that there was nothing he could do to stop it. His eyes followed its almost hypnotic movement, before it sank and edged slowly forward. Mikey’s eyes widened in terror as the realisation of was about to happen hit him with the force of a hammer blow. Silenced by the thick vine deep inside his mouth and held securely, Mikey squeezed his eyes shut; helpless against the new vine that now circled his neck and slowly began to constrict into a suffocating grip.
Gerard stared back, almost blankly at Frank and was, for a few moments, unable to speak.
“You believe me?” he asked, surprised and taken aback by Frank’s statement.
“Yeah,” Frank smiled reassuringly as he helped the singer to his feet. “What happened?”
Gerard took in a deep breath, snatching at it noisily.
“I’m not sure,” he replied shaking his head wretchedly. “It all happened so fast. I was talking to Mikey and he just appeared behind him.”
“What… just appeared? You mean… ‘as if by magic’?”
Gerard nodded faintly. “Yeah, but that, in itself, was unexpected. He’s solid already, strong. He must have killed again to get to that point.”
“You mean other than your driver?” Frank asked trying to take it all in as if this were the most natural conversation.
“When I first saw him… well, I didn’t see him. I was just aware of movement, if that makes sense? I couldn’t physically see him, but I was aware of him and I heard him.”
“Heard him?” Frank queried.
“He spoke to me. But after Ben’s death, he started appearing in dreams.”
“So, visible, but not quite solid?”
“That’s right. But now, he is. He was here looking as solid as you. As soon as he appeared, right behind Mikey, my eyes shot open and I could see that Mikey knew straight away that something was wrong. He didn’t even get a chance to turn around before he stabbed him in the neck with something.”
“He killed him?” Frank gasped out the words.
“No!” Gerard held up his hands in a calming gesture. “He’s not dead, I saw him breathing, quite easily, but… I don’t know how to say this.”
“What happened, Gee? Don’t dress it up, just tell me!”
“He fell, well, dropped like a stone to the floor; he looked pretty crumpled. I was out of bed in a second. I swear, Frank, I never took my eyes off him, but The Dreamcatcher was too quick for me to see.”
“What happened?” Frank prompted urgently.
“Before I knew it, he was behind me with the cable wrapped around my neck. I couldn’t breathe!”
“You passed out?” Frank asked, his voice full of sympathy.
“Yeah,” Gerard nodded bleakly. “But not before I saw what he’d done to Mikey.”
“What?” Frank asked. This time his tone was hesitant and uncertain.
“He was unconscious. That much, I could see, he was definitely breathing. But… there was no colour in him at all. And I don’t just mean pale, or his face. I mean, his face, hands, clothes… everything! And…”
“What?” Frank asked again; too shocked to say more.
“You’re going to think I’m crazy again.”
“Gee, tell me!”
Gerard lowered his eyes. This was something he didn’t even believe himself, how could he convince Frank?
“He was about six inches tall.”
“He was what?” Frank stared in bewilderment. “You mean he was…”
Frank held his hands up at chest height, positioning them to indicate the height that Gerard had described.
“Six inches?” Frank asked again; still unable to absorb the information. He’d shrunk him?”
Gerard nodded grimly, he too, lost for words.
“No… but… that can’t… you must have imagined it… surely?”
“Frank, I know what I saw,” Gerard insisted. “I don’t claim to be able to understand it, but…”
“Six inches tall?” Frank frowned. “Like a GI Joe? A Mikey action figure?”
If it weren’t so serious, Gerard felt sure that he would have laughed. The idea seemed ridiculous, but as strange as it sounded, the fact remained that it was real. Gerard was being forced to face the fact that a homicidal fictional character had somehow come to life and had taken his brother. It was certainly no laughing matter. The more he thought about it, the more he worried.
In these few moments, Frank had grown silent as he weighed the facts as much as he reasonably could. Gerard’s fears and apparent irrational behaviour and reactions had, in fact, proved to be very real and justified. He knew that they would have to find as much information as they could if they were to stand a chance of fighting back. But, for now, there was one more overriding concern that ate away at his thoughts. Apart from the text message he had received, no one had heard from Bob all day, despite several calls and messages left for him. It began to seem to Frank that he had been tricked into believing that all was well. Things were looking very far from well.
“I… I think he may have Bob too,” Frank added, with a slight nod to emphasise his fears.