Bob takes action and Gerard receives more bad news
Stereotypical bassist – shy, hard-working, straight-edge, easy going but not a pushover, caring, dry humour – Mikey.
Stereotypical drummer – serious yet fun, off-the-wall humour, hard-working, tough on themselves more than others, the peacekeeper and very often the glue that holds a band together – Bob.
Bob was all of these things and more; a sweet, caring and very funny guy. But add to that – don’t cross him and don’t mess with his friends. To their eyes, Doctor Harman had done just that. Leaving Frank alone in a makeshift waiting room without treatment for the trauma and shock he had suffered was inexcusable and right now, Bob was pointing that very thing out to him in no uncertain terms. It was unlikely that if Frank heard any of Bob’s words, he was in no condition to take any of it in. Ray could hear Harman’s objections to being manhandled by Bob back to the small waiting room, but on entry, his protests ceased. Even before Ray opened his mouth, Harman was apologising.
“I’m sorry,” he shook his head, surprised at the condition of the guitarist. “I had no idea. When we spoke he seemed fine.”
“Fine?” Ray asked with doubt in his eyes and voice.
“I… I did… I was,” Frank joined the conversation. “Gee was so badly hurt and Mikey in so much pain… how could I say I needed…?”
“Frank, you’re in shock!” Ray replied in disbelief.
“I… no… it’s… I’m pathetic.”
Bob took a deep breath as he looked down at Frank. Curled over on the chair, trying to shrink away to nothing, the diminutive guitarist seemed to grow even smaller; his big heart and courage fighting for room in his small frame.
“I’ll take this,” he nodded as he dropped down to one knee. “Frank?”
Frank glanced up, pale with reddened eyes, he looked expectantly at the drummer.
“Not all injuries are physical. What you’ve suffered, watching our friends be so badly hurt – why do you think that’s easy to deal with?”
“Because I’m fine,” came the whispered reply.
“Physically, yeah, you’re fine,” Bob placed a hand on Frank’s shoulder, pulling away as he winced. “Take your jacket off, Frank.”
Only now did Ray notice that Frank’s left arm hung limply at his side. His eyes met Bob’s with a look of concern.
“What have you missed?” Bob snapped angrily under his breath at Harman.
Helping Frank remove the jacket, all three men were shocked to see the obvious separation of his arm from his shoulder.
“How… he must be in excruciating pain,” Harman stammered.
“You didn’t examine him?” Ray couldn’t believe he was even asking the question.
“Well, no, he said…”
“Enough excuses,” Bob interrupted, “we want him examined fully and treated.”
“Yes… yes of course, I’ll…”
“Not by you,” Bob added in a frosty tone. “And we want a different doctor for Gerard and Mikey too. The best, or we take this further.”
“Yes… yes of course. I’m sorry. I’ll arrange for him to see Doctor…”
Harman’s voice drifted off as an icy chill ran through the otherwise stuffy room. All four men felt it. It was quite unusual for such an occurrence in a small, unventilated room, but nobody seemed to pay much attention.
“Sorry, yes…” Harman shook his head as if waking from a daze. “I’ll refer them to Doctor... ah... Doctor Waugh.”
“We need to get him back to his body,” Mari announced, with a harsh stare in Richard’s direction.
I have to be honest, I was a bit confused. If it were that simple, why couldn’t I have just lain back down at the scene of the accident?
“Because it’s not that simple,” Mari explained. Well, didn’t explain, as it turned out.
“You… but I didn’t say anything,” I gasped.
This was really weird, I had only been thinking it, but Mari answered as if I’d spoken the words out loud. She looked at me, staring for a few brief seconds, before turning yet another glare towards Richard.
“You haven’t told him anything have you?” she snapped.
“Well… I didn’t think… no, I haven’t,” he finally admitted with a sigh.
“What?” I was really confused now. “What hasn’t he told me?”
Mari took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I think I need to start from the beginning. Sit down, Gerard, this might take some time.”
“Do we have time?” I asked nervously.
“If I don’t tell you at least some of this, it won’t matter, you’ll be dead anyway.”
I opened my mouth as if to speak, but even if I could have found the right words to say, no sound was forming. I was totally dumbstruck. The only thing I could do was to sit and listen. Taking my place in a comfortable chair, I waited. Part of me was relieved that finally someone was going to explain things to me, but I had a very strong feeling that I wouldn’t want to hear it.
“Gerard, you’re a premature death case. Idiot Boy here collected you too soon. Not only is your body not dead, but you’re not actually due to die until…”
“Don’t tell me!” I blurted.
I’d always thought it would be kind of cool to know exactly when my number would be called. That way I could plan my life knowing how much time I had to enjoy everything and not sweat the small stuff. But when the option was finally presented to me, I didn’t want to know. It was a real shock to realise that I wanted life, should I ever get it again, to be a surprise for me. Weird, eh? The things you believe you want and then when you get them, you really don’t.
“It wouldn’t matter anyway,” Mari smiled, “if you get back, you won’t remember any of this. No one ever does.”
“Ever? This happens a lot?”
Mari pursed her lips as she gave the question serious thought.
“Not quite like this, no, but even so, not often. Well, not until Richard took over anyway.”
Richard scrunched up his nose in a frown of resentment. He couldn’t argue with the statement, but it didn’t mean he was happy to hear it.
“Okay, so what is it you need to tell me?” I asked, realising that the conversation risked derailment.
“First of all, Death is very dangerous.”
“I know; I’ve met him!”
Mari rolled her eyes. “No, you don’t know. How do I put this? Death isn’t exactly the brightest candle in the box but he’s very handsome.”
A fleeting smile crossed her lips at the words and briefly Mari slipped into a reverie that I really didn’t want to think about.
“Mari!” I prompted, hoping she would snap out of her daydream. Thankfully it worked.
“Sorry! Yes, Death is very handsome and he is rather fond of the ladies and, to be fair, they all adore him. But, the only thing he has here,” she added pointing to her head, “is his hair.”
I couldn’t help but smile at her words, but I couldn’t see where this left me.
“That brings me to Famine. He’s a nasty piece of work, and he’s clever with it. He’s tricked Death into believing that you’ve muscled in on his job.”
“But he didn’t mind Richard doing it,” I reasoned.
“I wasn’t very good at it,” Richard admitted with a resigned shrug.
“It’s not really the work he’s worried about,” Mari tried to explain. “It’s the ladies.”
“What about them?” I asked. Sometimes I can really miss the point by a mile.
“The word is out, Gerard. All the Underworld ladies are talking about you. You’re hot! And Death? Well, he doesn’t like it.”
“I don’t want them! He’s welcome to them!”
“Famine has convinced him otherwise and by all accounts, it was something you said that finally convinced him.”
My mind was reeling. I had barely said anything. What could I have possibly said that… oh!
“I made a comment about the guy who’s supposed to be doing it couldn’t be bothered to do the job so I was. I meant Richard, but I didn’t mention him by name.”
Mari nodded. “Yeah, that would do it.”
“Can’t I just explain?” I asked, getting to my feet.
“There’s more, Gerard, you’ll want to sit down.”
I didn’t like the sound of that. Things seemed bad enough already but I had to sit for the next part? Definitely not good!
“Death has sent Apathy and War to the hospital…”
“Er… he’s… what?”
“The Riders, Death, Famine, Pestilence, War and Apathy,” Mari explained.
“Apathy?” I almost laughed. “Are you serious?”
The look on Mari’s face and especially Richard’s told me that they were. I really wasn’t expecting that.
“It’s okay, dear, no one ever knows about Apathy, he’s very good at his job.”
“So,” I tried to recover from apparent ignorance. “What are they doing at the hospital? I should be worried, shouldn’t I?”
“If I were you,” Richard chuckled unpleasantly, “I’d aim for terrified and you’d be much nearer the mark.”
“Richard!” Mari scolded.
“What? You want to over-protect the kid? Fine!”
“At least I’m doing something to protect him, not just abandoning him to the Riders like you did.”
“I didn’t know what to do and I…”
“Wanted to save your own sorry hide,” I snapped, finally getting the measure of the man.
Mari smirked at Richard’s discomfort before continuing.
“Gerard, Apathy and War will try to get your friends to switch off your life support, or at the very least, not argue if someone else suggests it.”
“The guys won’t do that, Mikey’s my brother, he won’t…”
“War will have them fighting each other and Apathy will stop them caring what happens.”
“No!” I shook my head in what I hoped was a confident way. “No, they won’t. They…”
“The Riders are strong, they’ve been doing this for years. If your body dies, Gerard, you’ll be trapped between existences. Death will have you forever, to do whatever he wants with you and by then, we won’t be able to stop him.”
My mind reeled at the news. Death wanted to torture me for eternity. On his side, Famine, Pestilence, War and Apathy – four of The Horsemen of The Apocalypse with a millennia of experience. On my side, an elderly lady and the coward who did this to me in the first place. You can imagine how confident I was feeling.
“So,” I replied shakily. “The hospital?”