All he’d been scared of before was nightmares. But this was different. This was true.
Note 27/05/2012: Sorry, FicWad seemed to cut this chapter off earlier...I've fixed it all now, hope you enjoy :)
Gold is innocence.
But gold isn’t timeless,
Gold is fickleness,
Because sooner or later,
Face to Face
Consciousness was slowly beginning to sift through Frank’s senses, but it was disjointed and confused; curdling in his body like broken oil. Everything was dark- the kind of pitch black that’s so dark you can’t even see the shadow of your own skin, and dimly, Frank wondered why someone was pouring ice cold water over him. He tried to move out of its cold flow; to place his oddly fabricated-feeling thoughts to sense, but they swilled like bits of broken bone, round and round his throbbing skull, making him groan instinctively in pain.
“…What…hurts? Are… you a-awake? Oh god, I can’t r-remember any first aid…. This is w-why I should have listened in Social c-class, isn’t it? …You’re awfully… cold…What’s hypothermia? …Are you bleeding? I couldn’t see any blood, but blood…I don’t like blood… It makes me cold, so cold…ice cold…Blood is… like hypothermia…So cold…” Fragmented bits of someone’s words reached Frank’s befuddled mind in disintegrating splinters. It was broken-up to the extent he didn’t even register it properly- that or the slightly rancid smell of human flesh being washed into his senses, along with the bone-numbing cold that was still being poured over him.
Someone’s long fingers were scuffling with quaking, glacial uncertainty at Frank’s pounding forehead, his cheek, the pulse in his neck. All the while, the dim mutterings of haphazard words was slowly became a little clearer, filtering through the murky buzz shrouding Frank’s ears as he gradually became aware of the damp, decaying tang of rusty woodland around him. It was familiar, but also completely untested territory. It was home, but it was also a prison. All these things swirled together, making the truth of the surroundings impossible for Frank to decipher.
He tried to open his eyes, but the world was spinning and spinning and spinning, creating a high-pitched ringing- like brakes screeching to a halt- to rupture through his eardrums; his mind; his chest, over and over and over again. It made him feel as though he was soaring unstably ten feet above the ground- yet buried deep under its muddy depths at the same time.
“Cold…like lies...frosted lies… and blood…It’s red… Oh wait, you’re bleeding…blood makes bleeding….bleeding makes blood…”
Dimly, as the mush of reality’s jumbled jigsaw pieces started to fit themselves fumblingly back together, Frank realised that the feeling of someone pouring ice over his body was actually rain. Cold, black rain; he could hear it soaking into the coarse, leaf-muddy ground beneath his head. Rain. Rain. The word tugged at something cobwebbed right at the back of Frank’s brain.
And that was when it all came tumbling back; one thought after the other, spilling out and out into his mind, until it was a whirlpool of alcohol-laced memories swirling round and round and round his skull, all mixed up, like someone had forgotten the recipe.
But the thoughts were there; jumbled as they might be. They consumed him as he remembered it all like a human slideshow; his naïve thirst for rebellion that had led him to Robbie and Venom’s car; the deafening noise of the gig whose ghost still buzzed round his ears; the sourly cool yet dirty taste of beer seeping into his taste buds, unfamiliar and exhilarating…The sickening burnt petrol-chug of the car…. The silenced silence of the twisted nightmare woods…The taste of another heartbeat; hot and red and wet in the engulfing blackness……Frantic feet fumbling; the black rain; the black branches; the black fear… The pound and thud and thump of blindly running, running, running….
Blinding headlamps. Bam.
There was something else, though- Frank was sure- something just before the silken black had swallowed him up into a timeless ebony pause. Something missing, something he couldn’t quite pull from the void of his dazed mind. Something that had sent fear like poison shooting right through his whole body. Something that had made him the most scared he’d been in seventeen years.
“…Are you awake? There’s blood…red blood…I need to wrap something round it…stop it bleeding…Must stop it bleeding…”
Frank’s heart stuttered to a stop and slid messily down his ribs, spreading blooded fear with its horrified descent. His brain thudded dully, foggy tendrils almost able to stretch round the final memory now, but it was difficult, all messed up and mangled together, and his hearing was still buzzing, as if there was someone talking with the rain.
And that was when Frank’s head and heart shot up in pure, instinctive terror. There was someone talking with the rain.
He wasn’t sure if he screamed or not; his pulse was thundering so hard and hot in his skull he couldn’t hear anything else but its dark red wetness and the soft hiss of rain dribbling down from the shadowed sky. Wildly, Frank tried to pull himself up, but his stomach churned sourly in protest and his limbs suddenly felt so heavy it was as if someone had poured lead into them. The movement made his head swim and spin sickeningly, forcing him to just lay as still as possible for several moments, desperately willing the spinning to end so he could flee.
Somewhat desperately, Frank tried to calm himself. He was probably overreacting- the voice could be Ray’s or Robbie’s or even Clarissa’s.
“…Uhm, are you alright?” It made Frank start and his head to churn nauseatingly once more.
“Umphff,” Frank tried to claw words from his gullet, but they were heavy and sticky, clinging gelatinously to his throat. “...R-obbie…?” he slurred in ghosting hope.
Deep down, in his gut, Frank knew it wasn’t Robbie- but he refused to let go of the tiny, threadbare little spark of hope lingering at the back of his mind, that little spark of hope that let him believe he could remain alive.
“R-R-obbie?” He whimpered out again, wishing his head would stop thumping so sickeningly so he could think properly.
This was met by silence, but Frank knew he hadn’t been left alone, because the quavery fingertips feverishly fumbling across his arm and his pulse and occasionally drifting to feel his forehead never ceased.
Frank’s heart had never thumped so hard. He could almost taste the blood it was shrieking. He’d never been scared like this before; he’d never been scared of something that was so blatantly, violently real.
All he’d been scared of before was nightmares. But this was different. This was true, and he knew he had to escape; to run and run and run for his soul. But his legs were dead, and reality was dipping and whirling around him like the papery wings of a moth.
“…Careful,” the voice- which reminded Frank of ragged silk- muttered anxiously through the whisper of vicious midnight drizzle. “…Uhm, keep your head down- you might have…c-concussion or…something…uhm, are you meant to lie down or sit up if you have concussion? Oh god, I can’t remember. Uhm, don’t fall asleep, though…the state of mind might clot the blood flow to your brain and then…wait, can you see? I think vision loss might be the first sign. Or…”
Frank simply stared. It was still dark, but his eyes were adjusting; he could vaguely make out the twisted silhouettes of the forest just beside him and see the grey grass tickling his grazed cheek. It all spun a bit sickeningly, but it was starting to slow down a little if he kept very still; he could now just make out that he was lying on the verge- he could see rain’s distraught tears washing down the slick black road that ran alongside his head like a graveyard mistaken for a hospital.
But none of that mattered. His eyesight might be blurred and fuzzy, but he could make out, quite clearly, a starkly-silhouetted shadow knelt down beside him, etched out against the murky raven sky and rain like a burnt chalk-outline of a murder victim. Frank’s whole body felt numb as he stared at it. Numb and expecting death.
He’d known he wasn’t alone for a several moments already, but actually seeing the hunched-up silhouette of someone blocking his path back into the forest sent a thrill of fear up his spine. It wasn’t just a gnarled tree knotted to look like a witch’s face or an oddly shaped shadow or his own imagination- it was real, it was alive.
There was someone real, right there, burbling about concussion and vision with a voice like torn ribbon, and Frank realised that he’d never in his life been in honest danger before.
“Can you hear? …What are you meant to do… when someone’s hit their head…? ….Uhm, that fingers thing? It’s sort of stupid if you’re mathematically incompetent, but uh, I guess if…I don’t know…numbers…….uhm…h-how many fingers am I holding up?” The voice sounded as though it was held together with slightly unhinged anxiety.
“Uhm,” Frank’s voice felt dry and rough as he tried to scrape it from his throat once more. “I-I can’t see. It’s dark.”
“Oh.” The voice ceased for a moment, lilting out into silence like deceasing rainfall. “Um. You can speak...”
Frank nodded, heart thumping so much he felt dizzy. The tips of his fingertips felt as though someone was sticking needles in them- a symptom he knew meant he was likely to faint any moment. He fleetingly realised that whoever it was couldn’t see his response, but before he could try and grind his floating thoughts together to remedy that, there was a sudden scoring noise of a lighter and flickery orange flared out into the drenched black night, illuminating all the shadows and the skeletal trees.
And, staring, right at him through the rain, was a pair of wild, haunted green eyes. They darted about skittishly, as if they were wired on nervous adrenaline, and lingered in whimsical fractures on Frank, before reeling away back to the darkness. The amber flickering of the lighter hollowed out the figure’s face, making it look gaunt and dead and etched in everything that had elapsed- but wouldn’t be let go.
An unruly tangle of broken-black branch hair. The skittish eyes infested with ghosts. Sickly moonlight skin that looked as though it had never seen sunlight. Chapped, starved looking lips. A thin, red scar. Raggedy, colourless clothes and the slightly unhinged breaths that wracked his skinny chest.
It was him. It had to be him.
For several moments, Frank couldn’t react at all; everything was spinning and thumping and screaming so fast he could feel the temptation of unconsciousness trying to reel him back in. He resisted as best he could, but it kept lapping back over him, like some great ebony tide.
“Oh god, you’re scared, aren’t you? I didn’t…I just…oh god…” His words were disjointed and quaking as he wrung his feverish, spidery hands together and gnawed at his dry lower lip, eyes peering slightly wildly up through his tangled raven hair at Frank, flickering almost manically in the firelight.
“What…what…h-happened?” Frank found himself blurting. He knew if he didn’t say something, unconsciousness would drown him and he’d be completely and utterly vulnerable. He hoped the figure couldn’t hear his fevered heartbeat in the stuttered question or smell his violent metallic fear.
There was a heavy silence while the cadaverous woodland beside Frank was blurring into itself, just a mangled mass of contorted, burnt faces that leered down at him with their claws and their talons. He clung desperately to the verge and to consciousness as fear and confusion and stale alcohol churned through his veins.
Eventually, the voice drifted out from under all the matted, tangled-up ebony hair.
“You…uhm, you ran out into the road…I had to push you out the way or that motorbike would have crushed you, but I think you hit your head or something and your arm’s bleeding and you’re really cold and I was trying to remember first aid but I can’t and I don’t really know what to do and-” the figure’s stuttering ground to a halt as he started twitchily, eyes darting nervously across the road.
“Wait…” Frank slurred, the swirling black fog beginning to cloud right over his mind from alcohol and fear and the blood thundering so loudly in his thudding skull he couldn’t see anything properly without the violent pulse of adrenaline. “…You…pushed me out the way?”
The figure started jumpily, fingers fumbling on the lighter. For a second, they were plunged into darkness, but then the lighter flared to life again, the amber flame being doused with the falling pencil-led rain.
Fear was still pulsating through Frank’s numbed body, the wet hotness clashing with the unfeeling cold, but it was starting to be eclipsed by something else; something that tugged a little at that lethal curiosity lurking at the back of his psyche in the shadows no one knew existed.
“Did you?” Frank had to force the words out, because everything was getting more and more difficult to do. The darkness was descending again.
With a quick glance at Frank, the figure nodded, hiding behind his greasy hair and fidgeting jumpily with those long, spidery fingers. His eyes were almost like those of a wild animal’s in the firelight; haunted and ready to flee at the slightest warning.
Frank wasn’t really sure what he was about to do- maybe the terror was even diluting the tiniest bit- but then his eyes snagged on something that made goosebumps of pure horror gush right over his whole struggling body. His heart started thudding so frantically against his ribs it was as if it had come loose.
On the figure’s ragged, greyish shirt, read two, terror-inducing words above a pointless logo: ‘Stonebridge Prison’.
The blood in Frank’s veins curdled. It really was him.
Deep down, Frank was pretty sure he’d known this all along, but seeing those two words shot pure, undiluted fear though his mind, his body, his soul, like a lethal injection and he lurched wildly up, the primitive human instinct to flee flooding every last bone in his bemused, dizzy body. The rain was falling fiercely, and the wind was howling in his ears along with his own screams and blood.
Blindly, wildly, he clawed his way up to standing position, ignoring the way the world span furiously round him; a blur of all the darkest things.
“It’s…you…” Frank whispered. The words felt like someone else’s; foreign and uncomfortable in his alcohol-staled mouth.
The figure, him, lurched back in alarm, skeletal and jerky, eyes flashing dangerously in the amber firelight he was holding. Frank’s world was still spinning behind his innocent golden eyes, but he was dazed and drunk and completely terrified. He tried to run, but everything latched onto his soul and pulled him down once more; the mindless, dizzy churn of his consumed mind, the buckling of his heavy legs, and two alarmingly strong, icy-cold hands with ragged, bitten down nails that scratched at Frank’s vulnerable skin.
All consciousness was dribbling, defeated, from Frank once more, like the end to a horror story, as he sunk to the decomposing ground and let the darkness consume him once more, because dark shrouded everything.
The darkness was curling down from the clouds, weaving its sooty tentacles through everything so as the world was murky and dusty and no one could see truth from lies. The darkness was unfurling, lifting, the world was breathing.
But he didn’t want it to.
He didn’t want the dark to lift again.
Because then, he would have to see.
Well, there you go! I was super nervous about posting this chapter, so I'd really love to hear your opinions on it...Rates and Reviews would honestly make me so happy, especially as they seem to have been dwindling a little lately and I'm not sure if people are still liking this. Anyway, to all of you that do review, thank you so much- you guys are amazing.
I hope you guys enjoyed the chapter and I'll update a lot sooner now- like I said, I'm getting a laptop on Tuesday, so I'll make the fact I've been kinda bad with updating up to you guys- promise! So, yeah...thanks for reading...R&R? :D
Love you all to bits, and thanks for sticking with this!