The boys are almost home when they notice something's missing.
Chapter Four: Off The Beaten Path.
The sun was setting as they walked through the scorching landscape. Frank kept checking on Gerard to the point where Gerard started feeling annoyed. They felt as though they were almost there, as they had walked for about 30 minutes when they noticed something.
"Uh, guys..." Frank halted them "..where's Ray?"
The sensation of panic started rising. Hearts started beating faster. Gerard, Mikey, and Frank all started looking around frantically for Ray, but it soon became clear that their companion was nowhere in sight. All they could see were trees, plants, and the darkening sky around them.
"Shit." was all Mikey could say.
"Well we have to look for him..." said Gerard.
"I don't wanna be in this fucking place any fucking longer than I have to be!" Mikey whined "The cabin's right there!"
"So you'd just leave Ray behind?" glared Frank. "Bet you wouldn't be saying that shit if Gee were the one missing!"
Mikey looked down, seeming embarrassed. Frank threw him a disgusted look. Gerard sighed.
"You can go to the cabin if you want to, Mikes." Gerard frowned. "But I'm staying out here to look for Ray."
"Gerard, please. You're not even feeling well..." Mikey pleaded with his brother, but Gerard shook his head.
"I'm fine. And my mind is made up." Gerard said firmly.
"Fine." Mikey crossed his arms.
"Well then." Frank pulled out his knives and handed one to Gerard. Mikey gripped the crowbar. "Let's start lookin."
Gerard put his arm around a tense Mikey and muttered to him, "Don't worry. I won't let anything happen." before proceeding to follow Frank, as he led him off the beaten path.
Two hours later.
It was already dark. They had had absolutely no lead in finding Ray. And although no one wanted to admit it, they were probably lost by this point. Gerard felt absolutely exhausted. He tried not to show it to Mikey or Frank, but dizzy spells kept surging through him, and he struggled to keep his balance.
They kept walking in silence, trying to keep an eye out. Gerard could tell Mikey was scared, and he tried his best to seem calm for him. But the darker it got, the more unnerving everything became. Frank seemed irate, and it didn't really help the situation. Considering everything, it was obvious that if something were to attack them, they would be relatively ill equipped to fight it.
Gerard was just about to speak up, when suddenly he felt it. Hands. Hands grabbed his ankle, and pulled him. He let out a yelp and crashed into the dirt, falling face down. He felt a sharp pain where the hands had grabbed him. He heard Frank scream his name, and he felt the hands release him. Next thing he knew Mikey was at his side.
"Gerard, what happened?" Mikey asked, sounding frantic.
"Something…something grabbed me...." Gerard gasped, still in shock after what happened. He put himself into a sitting position.
"Something? What something?" A shaken Mikey looked at him with wide eyes. "Was it a person?"
"I --I think. My leg hurts." Gerard pulled his pants leg up to reveal a clearly dislocated, bleeding ankle. Frank inspected it, and then looked up at Gerard's face. It was once again glistening with sweat. Frank put a hand to Gerard's forehead. He was burning up.
"You have a fever, Gee." Frank frowned.
"Well that's fucking great." Mikey glared at Frank. "Look what you did."
"What I did? What the fucks that supposed to mean?" Frank gaped at Mikey.
"You fucking made us go on this man hunt, endangered all of us, and now Gerards fucking injured AND sick, and we have no idea where the fuck we are! And for what? For all we know, Ray could be at the cabin by now perfectly fucking fine!" Mikey yelled.
"IT WAS YOUR FUCKING IDEA TO GO ON THIS VACATION IN THE FIRST PLACE, YOU FUCKING IDIOT! IF ANYONE'S RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS, ITS YOU!" Frank roared.
"Guys..." Gerard squeaked out.
Mikey's face contorted with fury. "OH YEAH LIKE YOU WERE TOTALLY FUCKING OPPOSED TO IT. DON'T THINK I DON'T KNOW THAT YOU JUST WANTED AN EXCUSE TO FUCK MY BROTHER!"
Frank smirked. "How do you know it isn't the other way around Mikey? Maybe Gerard's the one whose hot for me. But of course that wouldn't occur to you, would it? Because you want him all for yourself, isn't that right?"
"FUCK YOU!" Mikey hurled himself at Frank and started punching him in the gut as hard as he could. Frank went down quickly as he had not expected the outburst at all. Once the initial shock wore off he, struggled hard to get Mikey off him, going as far as biting him in the arm as a dog would. Then came a pitiful scream.
Frank and Mikey both turned to see Gerard cradling his injured ankle and sobbing his eyes out. Mikey growled at Frank and reluctantly got off of him. Frank lifted himself off the ground.
Mikey muttered lowly to Frank. "Anything happens to Gerard, I won't forgive you."
Frank muttered back to Mikey. "Anything happens to Ray because you wanted act like an ass instead of fucking looking for him, I won't forgive you."
They glared at each other before going over to Gerard. Frank beat Mikey at helping him up. Frank could nearly feel Mikey's disdain radiating from him.
"Would you guys please stop fighting?" cried Gerard. "One of our friends is dead for god sakes, I can't handle this right now..."
"I know. I'm sorry Gee." Frank slung an arm Gerard. Although he did feel sorry for making Gerard feel bad, he honestly wasn't very sorry at all. He had almost gotten a satisfaction out of confronting Mikey.
"I'm sorry too." he heard Mikey say on the other side of Gerard. Bullshit.
"We need to go before it returns...." Gerard whimpered.
"What is it?" Frank asked.
"The thing that attacked me."
"Gerard, I think you just fell because you're not feeling well." Frank told him.
"I felt something grab me though. I felt hands." Gerard shuddered.
"You have a fever, you're delusional. I turned around right after you fell, there was nothing behind you." Frank reassured him.
"Frank, I felt it. It was 100% solid and real, trust me. What the fuck else did this to my foot?" Gerard insisted.
"Look, can we just get out of here either way?" said Mikey "We need to find the cabin again. Gee can't keep going like this."
Frank sighed. He knew Mikey was right. He nodded and they headed back.
It was nearly an hour before they felt like they were in even slightly familiar territory again. Mikey was too embarrassed to show it but he was on the verge of tears. Pedicone was dead. They were stranded. Frank was angry with him. He was angry with Frank. He was exhausted and sore. And now Gerard seemed like he was going to collapse at any second. He was having horrible flashbacks from his breakdown in Paramour manor --- a time in his life he had hoped would stay buried in his mind. Just as he did back then, he felt as though something was following him. Watching him.
Beside him, he saw Gerard fall down again.
"Fuck, Frank, how fucking hard is it to hold him?" Mikey hissed as he kneeled down to pick Gerard back up. Gerard groaned.
When Frank said nothing, Mikey looked up at him. He was staring at something ahead of them, a look of terror on his face. He seemed frozen. Mikey's breath quickened, and he turned slowly to see what Frank was looking at.
Ray was hanging on the branch of a tree by the neck. His abdominal area was ripped open, and his intestines were dangling out of him like spaghetti on a fork. His face, a frozen snapshot of fear and shock.
"What's happening...?" Mikey heard Gerard say weakly. It occurred to him that Gerard was unable to look at what they were seeing. Mikey turned Gerard's face away from the sight and held him to his chest. He forced himself to reply.
"Nothing Gee." he squeaked, "Everything's okay. "
Over to his left, he heard Frank begin to sob.
Next chapter: And then there were three.