Gerard uses his Chance card.
Disclaimer: Do not own, please don't sue, don't take me to court or I'll hate you.
For a moment Gerard couldn’t speak. He stared, transfixed yet unable to believe his eyes at the man standing before him. Bob had been one of his closest friends as well as My Chem’s former drummer and had engraved his name into each one of the band mate’s lives. He had also been dead for nearly two years.
But there was something different about him, something off. And then he realised. Bob’s face was cold, hard and aggressive whereas when he was alive he had been constantly cheerful and optimistic to the point of irritating. His eyes burned the same icy blue as Sara’s.
“Oh my Jesus,” breathed Gerard when he had finally got his voice back. “Bob...”
He began to approach him but Bob shoved him away so violently Gerard ended up sprawled across the floor.
“Don’t you dare touch me,” Bob growled. “You bastard, after what you did to me and Sara!”
“Goddammit Bob, you know it was an accident!” said Gerard desperately, clambering to his feet. “I never meant to do it...any of it...”
“So why didn’t you tell anyone?” Bob raised his eyebrow. “It was the least you could have done after-”
“-Because they wouldn’t have understood,” Gerard insisted. “I would have been locked up and no one would ever speak to me again-”
“-Which would have been no more than you deserved,” bit Bob savagely. Gerard hung his head. “You’re a dirty sonofabitch and a liar. You deserve everything you’re gonna get...and more. If you just had the basic human decency to admit what you did then your friends wouldn’t also have to suffer for your sake.”
“I can’t,” said Gerard mournfully. “They’ll kill me.”
“Coward,” Bob spat. “You’re a coward. And you’ll all be stuck here because of it.”
“No,” Gerard shook his head. “Sara said that if I can get everyone back together again and we find some gate or something it’ll take us back. And I intend to do just that.”
Bob surveyed him intently and Gerard felt very awkward and uncomfortable, as if he was being x-rayed. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, Bob shook his head.
“You won’t find it,” said Bob. “No one ever has. And The Game is never short of players.”
God, I wish everyone would stop saying that, thought Gerard bitterly. “Well, I have to try,” he said forcefully. “And you can’t stop me. So, if we’re done here, Sara said I had a Chance card or something?”
Bob continued to glare at him, his blue eyes burning right into Gerard’s skull. He shivered. At long last, Bob tore his gaze away and held up the blood stained card.
“Here,” he tossed it to Gerard. “You get to pick one friend to find first. But I’m not talking about trying to say two names really quickly and ending up finding both. You get one and only one. Choose wisely and shit.”
Gerard turned the card over in his hands. There was a question mark printed on one side and as he thought about the horrible situations each person might be in, one face swam before his eyes...the face of his best friend. “Frank,” he said straight away without even blinking.
Bob’s other eyebrow disappeared into his mop of blonde fringe. “Frank?” he spoke the name sceptically. “You’re sure? Not LynZ? You’re wife? The person you swore to love and protect and blah blah blah...”
As Bob trailed off Gerard swore inwardly. LynZ. How the hell could he have forgotten? “I pick LynZ,” he decided instead. “LynZ. LynZ!”
“Too late,” Bob grinned wickedly. He snapped his fingers and the Chance card vanished. “You said Frank first so that’s who you get to find.”
There was a sudden whooshing noise in Gerard’s ears and a strong wind began to whip his hair around his face as he felt a familiar tugging from behind his navel. Just as he was pulled away from the giant chess board he heard Bob yell: “I guess I’ll be seeing ya soon enough, Gee!” before he was tumbling again through darkness and landing in a crumpled heap on a forest floor.
Spitting leaves out of his mouth, Gerard rose to his feet gingerly. Dappled sunlight squeezing through the gaps in the trees cast patterns of emerald green across the muddy ground and when he breathed in the smell of the undergrowth crowded his nose. The sunshine, the woodland sounds, it was all so refreshing for someone who had just spent the past few hours stuck in a paradox where everything that counted for something in normal life seemed non-existent. But Gerard barely appreciated it. He set off to find Frank straight away, not looking behind him once.
He was furious with himself. He had just chosen his best friend over the love of his life, the one person he treasured more than anything else on earth. He tried hard not to think about how LynZ was doing as he picked his path through the trees, dodging nettles and thorns that ripped at his clothing and caused him to stumble and trip. What a stupid thing to do...however, Frank had been with him through a lot, the most difficult period of his life in fact. He had kept him afloat, sane and insane whenever it was convenient, lifting him up in more ways than Gerard cared to remember. And that had been way before LynZ had come along.
Tearing his thoughts away from Frank, Gerard soon came to stop in front of the mouth of a large cave. At once contrasting feelings invaded his brain; the cave had a distinct ominous feel about it that made Gerard want to turn around and race off in the opposite direction. However, intuition and basic logic told him that Frank was somewhere in there and that to go inside was the only way that he would ever find him. So, preparing himself mentally, Gerard took one last look at the bright, sun-speckled forest scene and plunged forwards.
At once he became aware of the temperature drop inside the cave. It was almost achingly cold and the moisture on the walls and floor had frozen in some parts causing Gerard to slip as he made his way cautiously past the rocks. Mildew and other forms of fungi had squeezed their way into the cavernous dark, giving Gerard the impression that he had something to hold onto, only withdrawing with disgust as a smattering of insects scurried out up his arms. He shook them off quickly, his sense of foreboding increasing as he advanced deeper and deeper into the black.
Suddenly there was a scuttling sound from nearby. A jolt of fear shot through Gerard and he heard his breathing quicken. Shit! his brain screamed at him and he was not reassured when he turned around and could no longer see the entrance of the cave.
“Frank?” he called out uncertainly.
No answer. Cold sweat began to settle on his palms which he wiped subconsciously on his pants. After an eternity of waiting for something to jump out and rip his head off, smearing his blood across the cave walls and his guts through the moss he journeyed on. Minutes passed. Soon, Gerard became well aware of the fact that he no longer knew how to get back out the cave. Relying only on perception he had headed down random paths leading off forks and various turnings and he had left sunlight so far behind him he was beginning to wonder whether he would ever see it again. Another noise sounded to his left from around a corner, different this time, like footprints. Gerard swallowed hard and flattened himself against the rock, casting around for something he could use as a weapon if he needed to. A heavy stone lay at his feet which he picked up and clutched in his hand as the figure of a man approached from around the corner...
“Gee?” whispered Frank.
With a sigh of relief Gerard lowered his arm which held onto the stone and stepped forward to meet him. “Goddammit Frank,” he gasped. “You almost gave me a heart attack!”
Frank grinned and gestured at the rock in Gerard’s hand. “What’s with that?”
“Well...you could have been anything, couldn’t you?” replied Gerard sheepishly. “Jesus Christ.”
“Right,” Frank rolled his eyes. “Anyways...happen to know what the fuck happened and where the fuck we are?”
“Yes actually,” Gerard answered heavily. “We’re inside The Game.”
Ignoring Frank’s shocked expression, Gerard plunged into a full summary of what Sara had told him, leaving out the part about the whole thing ending if he simply told the truth about the terrible thing he had done in the past. That, he told himself. Frank does not need to know. When he had finished, Frank looked surprisingly calm.
“This is a dream,” he said definitely. “Or else we smoked way too much pot at that party of yours. Most likely it’s a dream.”
“It’s not a dream,” said Gerard quietly. “It’s a Nightmare.”
Neither of them said anything for a few moments. Gerard wished sorely that Frank was right, that this was all a dream. But deep down he knew it wasn’t. He was there to pay for what he thought he had escaped from. However, he was willing to do all he could to put that moment off. Finally, Frank broke the silence with an awkward cough.
“Well,” he began. “Either way...we should probably get moving. This place is seriously starting to creep me out.”
As they set off together through the cave, Frank started to explain to Gerard how he had ended up there in the first place. “I just woke up,” he said. “And I was lying face down on the floor. Hurt like a motherfucker I tell ya. Started walking when I heard you coming. Turned a corner and there you were.”
“We’re in a forest somewhere,” Gerard told him. “Or a wood or something. There were trees anyway.”
“A forest,” Frank repeated. He squinted at Gerard in the dark. “How did you get here anyway?”
“Well...I woke up on a giant chess board,” Gerard shrugged. “I started walking and then I met the girl...Sara...who told me what all this shit is about. Then I guess she sorta...sent me here.”
To Gerard’s relief Frank nodded and didn’t press him on the subject. They walked on in companionable silence, both lost in their own thoughts before the scuttling sound caught them both short once again.
“What the fuck was that?” whispered Frank.
“I...don’t...know...” replied Gerard, his fingers closing around the stone he was carrying in his pocket.
“Shit!” Frank exclaimed loudly, jumping up from the wall on which he’d been leaning. “It’s sticky!”
Gerard laid a hand on the cave wall. Sure enough it was coated in a thick, sticky substance that clung to his fingertips. And as they cast an eye further down the tunnel they could see that the rest of the cave was covered in the same stickiness, giving it an eerie bluish hue. The scuttling noise grew louder.
“Oh fuck,” Gerard heard Frank moan beside him. “Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuckedy-fuck, fuck-”
“-Shut up!” Gerard hissed.
“It’s coming!” Frank’s voice was barely more than a squeal. “Fuck, it’s coming!”
In answer, Frank just pointed. Gerard followed where his finger led and felt his mouth fall open. There was movement behind what they had thought was the cave wall. Something was clawing at it, causing the sticky material to fall away, revealing first a head, then a body, then eight long, hairy, spindly legs. Soon the whole wall of webs had split to expose the massive entirety of a ten-foot long spider.
Shaking the webs still clinging to its upper body, it turned its great head and eight eyes blinked beadily in the two’s direction. Frank screamed and they both leapt out of the way as it made straight for them. Gerard landed softly on a bed of spider web just as it began its approach. It was so close he could count the hairs on its head and he braced himself for its sting in his side...
However, the pain did not come. Slowly, Gerard opened one eye. The spider had moved over him, leaving a foul stench behind it, over to Frank who had backed up against the wall in terror. His eyes were wider than ever and his face was so pale he could have been dead. He looked as though he was about to throw up. But he didn’t move. He didn’t even make a sound although his mouth was stretched open in a silent scream.
“Don’t let it corner you!” Gerard cried frantically. “You’ve got to face it! You’ve got to face it, or you’ll die!”
Frank gave no inclination that he had heard him. The spider continued in its advance, pincers clicking deafeningly and its sting raised, ready to strike. In desperation, Gerard threw the rock from his pocket at it. It rebounded of its head with a dull thud and landed in a corner. The spider turned to see what the source of this annoyance was, giving Frank time to come to his senses and scramble out of its reach. But just as he made an odd lunge over a large boulder the spider snapped to attention and hooked one of its enormous pincers around Frank’s ankle. He screamed as he was dragged speedily across the rock, whether from pain or simple fear Gerard couldn’t tell.
“Get it off!” he wailed. “Get it off me!”
Gerard raced over to him and attempted to yank him out of the spider’s reach. It hung on fast and finally Gerard let go of Frank and kicked at it as hard as he could. It released him and Gerard pushed Frank out of the way, sending his foot in the direction of the spider’s underbelly. With a frustrated thrashing sound, it finally turned away from its original target and towards Gerard, stabbing at him with its foot-long sting. He leapt out of the way but was struck at once by one of its legs which caught him around his torso and speedily began to wrap him in thick, rope-like threads. Gerard tried hysterically to pull them off but they were too strong and soon his arms and legs were bound by it.
“Frank!” he yelled as the thread began to wind around his neck and chin. “Frank, help me!”
Very hesitantly, Frank moved towards it. He grabbed a hold of its enormous rear end but a sudden jerk sent him flying and crashing into the corner where the rock lay. He threw it at the spider’s head and once again it turned towards him only to release emit a shriek of agony as Frank’s foot met with the tender flesh near the sting. A great puddle of venom began to leak from it onto the floor and he withdrew sharply, stumbling into a wall of spider web in his haste to get away. He tripped over a loose ledge and was sent tumbling into a mass of something soft and slimy which broke his fall.
He felt it before he saw it. A gigantic egg sack of baby spiders, all cushioned and protected inside their transparent jelly shield. But as Frank fell the shield split and no less than a thousand baby spiders came tumbling out. He screamed again and tried to run only to be faced once again with the furious mother spider. The rock lay only a metre’s distance away. Instinctively, he grabbed it and used it to splash the puddle of venom into its eight ugly eyes.
Once again it released a blood-curdling screech as the acid burned into its flesh. It began to retreat, tripping over its many legs but the venom was too strong and soon it was lying limp and crumpled on the cave floor. But the wave of baby spiders kept coming until Frank knelt behind the mother’s body and pushed with all his strength. The corpse rolled against the rock, crushing the spiders completely.
Frank, sweating profusely and shaking all over, clambered to his feet and tried hard to keep himself from retching. Then, remembering Gerard, he raced over to where his friend lay bound in spider web.
“Thanks,” sighed Gerard in relief once Frank had cut him free using a particularly sharp-edged stone. He peered at him cautiously. “You okay?”
Frank rolled his eyes in disbelief and pointed at the spider corpse. “I just killed that,” he said.
Gerard grinned. “I know,” he said. “It was freaking awesome.”
Frank smiled half-heartedly but his hands were still shaking. He gazed thoughtfully at the spider and her children crushed beneath her before turning back to Gerard. “It’s not just a dream, is it?”
Gerard shook his head.
This was a pretty long chapter. I think the next will be shorter, depending on how much I can be bothered to write. Oh well. Please review!