When animal rights campainer, Frank Iero, breaks into a testing lab, he discovers something horrifying. Frerard.
The metal gate and tall walls of the animal testing lab looms above us as I park the car. It's pitch black outside on this bitterly cold November night. I turn to Ray who is currently seated in the passenger seat; he's glaring at the building as if it represents all those who work there, although there's no one in. We get out the car and walk across the car park to meet our fellow animal rights campaigners, or extremists as some call us. Whatever, we're not the ones who torture and kill other living creatures.
There's a group of about ten of us, myself and Ray included. Ray walks up to the gate and effortlessly puts in the security code. We have our contacts. "Alright" says Brian, looking at all of us. "You know the drill, get the dogs out first then we can fuck shit up." I grin, spray paint in hand, I don't plan on leaving the lab until I’ve left my mark and it is completely unusable.
We get inside, making a beeline for where the animals are kept. When we do find them, I have to hold back tears. The room is filled with stack upon stack of cages, all filled with puppies that are covered in there own filth. The stench is over powering. Dogs are such friendly loyal creatures, mans best friend. How anyone could do this is beyond me. Cursing, I tell my self to stop being such a pussy. We have a job to do. Moving quickly we get the dogs out of the building and into the vans, once we have them all out we wave off the guys who are driving, knowing the animals are going somewhere they will be cleaned up and taken care of. I smile, now the fun can begin. Clutching baseball bats, we make our way towards the place where the experiments are done, I rip open the first cupboard I see and tear everything out of it, my friends doing the same. Bottles of liquid fall to the ground and smash, thousands of pounds worth of equipment destroyed in a matter of seconds. Good, the more we wreck, the less innocent blood is spilt.
I move on to another part of the building alone, the others seem to be taking care of the lab just fine. I'm walking though a dimly lit corridor, that's when I hear it. Someone crying. There's someone down there in the darkness. My first reaction is to call out, but I seem to have lost my voice. I continue walking until I come to a corner. I see what appears to be a cage built into the wall. A wave of nausea washes over me as I see what's inside. There's a man curled up in there, he has his legs pulled up against his chest, arms wrapped around them and is sobbing into his knees.
So there's a man, locked up, in the same building as the animal testing lab, have they been experimenting... on people? My stomach drops at this revelation and I find myself feeling like I’m about to throw up. Looking down the corridor I see other cages built into the walls but no one is in them. When I turn my attention back to the man, my heart jumps. He's looking right at me, eyes wide and terrified. He has huge purple bags under his eyes and his skin is a deathly pale colour, his black greasy hair hangs limp at the sides of his face. On closer inspection I see he is wearing a gown, like the ones people wear in hospital, but it's grubby and stained. We stare at each other in horror for a minute or two; our expressions mirror each other’s. Then he turns and buries his head back in his knees, shoulders trembling visibly. Shit, I gotta get him out for there. Now.
I move to open the door to the cage; it's bolted so it can only opened from the outside. As I step inside he whimpers and shuffles over into the corner, trying to get as far away from me as possible. I take a couple of steps closer to him, but still not in touching distance and crouch down. I speak softly, trying to sound comforting.
"It's okay, I'm not going to hurt you, um, I can help you. I'm Frank, Frank Iero. What's you're name?" Looking up at me, he seems bewildered for a second. Then he speaks,
"Gerard." He says so quietly I have to strain to hear him.
"Okay Gerard, do you wanna get out of here?" I mentally face palm at my stupid question. Gerard nods vigorously. I get up and walk towards him, I can now see he his quite a nasty looking wound on his right leg, possibly infected and a weird rash covering both his hands. When I reach out my hand he takes it and grips it hard as I help him up, once he's up he still keeps hold of my hand, but I don't mind. Gerard limps as we walk though the winding corridors, close behind me the whole time until we get to the back door. When I open it a cold gust of wind blows over us, Gerard shivers and wraps his arms around himself.
"You must be freezing, here." I say, giving him my coat. We step outside and Gerard winces as his bare feet touch the frosty ground. "Don't worry, the car's not far from here." When we get to the car, I get in motioning for Gerard to follow. Ray is sitting in the front.
"Frank, where the fuck have you been everyone else has go- who the hell is that?" He says looking at Gerard accusingly. Gerard looks scared and he’s shaking again, which he seems to be doing a lot.
"Um, Ray could we talk outside for a second?" I ask.
"Sure." Is his reply. I briefly explain to him the situation. Ray looks horrified, and then sad.
"Jesus... That’s terrible, that poor guy.. What we gonna do?" He asks.
"I'm going to take him back to my apartment for tonight, and then..." I trail off. God this is awful. I have absolutely no idea how to deal with this, he’s probably traumatised. We get back to the car and Ray drives us home, the half an hour-long journey is spent in awkward silence.
Once were inside, I lead Gerard to my room. I figure I’ll just let him sleep in my bed tonight; I can crash on the couch. As I’m searching in my wardrobe for something he can wear – he’s still wearing the same thing that I found him in, Gerard crosses his arms over his chest and looks down at his feet.
“Sorry, these might not fit you that well, there mine and, well I’m not the tallest guy around, but it’s the best I can do for now, um, yeah you can sleep here tonight..” I stop when I realise I’m rambling. Gerard does not respond. Leaving the clothes on the bed I sigh as I walk out the door.
“Frank?” Gerard calls out, as I’m about to leave. Thinking I might have imagined it I turn around slowly, too see him looking me in the eye for the first time since I learned his name. “Thank you.” He says it quietly, and after the ends of his lips turn up into a smile, a small one, but it’s there, and it’s possibly the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. I don’t know what to say, so I just smile back and nod as I walk out of the room closing the door quietly behind me, and I keep smiling all the way to the couch until I fall into a deep dreamless sleep.