Two eyes glistened at me, the darkness surrounding them making them all the more menacing and my mouth opened to allow me to scream out for help. My nightmares had finally crossed the border into reality. That’s when I noticed the mad hedge like hair that was visible even in the pitch blackness that I had grown so accustomed to in the desert, when the stars disappeared behind dark clouds, leaving us with no light, except the glow of our own eyes as we watched each other, trying to hide the fear which we all felt. That small childish fear of the dark that no one could shake. The feeling that we weren’t alone.
I felt Ray’s hands on me, still shaking me even though he could now see I was awake. I was sweating and tears stained my face. My breath was loud and my throat felt sore like I had been screaming. Yet when I turned to Frank, he seemed to still be asleep, I could vaguely see the rise and fall of his chest. I sat up suddenly, forgetting Frank was still wrapped around me and he muttered something in his sleep before turning over, pulling his jacket with him, leaving me bare chested and cold. I looked down at his form, sleeping and calm and remembered my dream, remembered the blood. I started to sob and cry wildly, my hands clutched my head like it could somehow hold me together but the nightmare had got to me. It had finally got to me. It had finally driven me over the edge. I felt hands grip me and pull me away and I fought against them, the feeling of the fingers thin and spidery clawing at my skin too much to bare. Some sane part of me told me it was Ray, told me he was trying to pull me away so I didn’t wake up Mikey and Frank. But another part of me told me it was them, their hands, their deep breathing as they pulled me, their murderous blood soaked bodies; the people that had killed Lindsey and Bandit, the reason my life was like this.
I slapped wildly at the hands, pushing them away and unbalancing myself, making me hit the ground hard as I tried desperately to get away. My head burned with the memories from my dreams and in my mind, I saw her mouth my name at me, my real name not some imaginary one, some fake one that meant nothing! The other name was part of a game, a game that we couldn’t win that we couldn’t even fight in. It was a joke and the knowledge that the game had almost taken hold of me made me want to hit myself, smash some sense into me anyway I could. I needed to get out, needed to be free of this place.
Ray’s face was upset and hurt as he watched my facial expressions leap wildly on my face before being swapped with another, this emotion more horrible and grotesque to look at then the one before. I couldn’t stop crying, couldn’t stop the sounds of a dying animal escaping my mouth. They would hear me, they would come for us and then it would all be over. I would go back to my old life with Lindsey and Bandit and all this would be a dream. A nightmare. But the more I screamed out, the more Ray tried to stop me, covering my mouth and elbowing my stomach, anything just to stop me crying out into the darkness. He didn’t want to die, he didn’t understand that I was doing this for him, for all of us. Stopping this life from taking hold. I thought of that night with Frank, thought of how the game had almost become real, thought of how the lies we told each other had almost taken hold. I thought of how wrong his lips had felt against mine, how strange and alien his touch was. It was wrong, all of this was wrong!
“Poison!” He cried out at me, tears now spilling from his eyes as he watched my wretched body squirm and fling itself madly around on the ground.
“That’s not my name, Ray! And you know it!”
He blinked hard at the use of his name and stopped himself from saying something, instead biting his lip and trying once again to stop my convulsing body. I started to hit my head onto the ground, needing to get the bloody images out of my head, needing to stop them before they took over me. I heard running footsteps and saw through a sheet of blood which was now running down from my smashed head into my eyes, Mikey and Frank ran over towards me. Seeing their confused and hurt faces made me continue to bang my head, only harder, hearing sounds of pain escape my lips but not stopping for everything. Three pairs of hands now held me down and one pair in particular gripped onto my head, not letting me wrench it free. I looked up angrily at the figure and tried desperately to get free but the hands held me tightly so I had no choice but to look up into the eyes of a liar, the eyes of someone who had tricked me, the eyes of Frank.
I stilled my body and heard a gasp of relief come from Mikey, who had a hold of one of my legs and my arms, his face screwed up in an effort not to cry and scream as he looked at my ruined body. I concentrated on Ghoul, his face was still but his eyes spilled over with tears as he looked at me, love spilling along with the tears. Except it wasn’t love, not really because none of this was real. He wasn’t real and his love wasn’t either. It was just a long and drawn out game of Let’s Pretend. Except I had stopped myself from getting too carried away, I had remembered the stakes here. I remembered Lindsey and Bandit, their faces sad and I wasn’t going to hurt them, wasn’t going to spoil their beautiful deaths with my shitty excuse for a life.
His eyes were soft and he stroked my cheek in a way that irritated me, making me jerk in his hold. He just kept doing it, trying to calm me down but it wasn’t working.
“That’s not my name, Frank,” I whispered.
He nodded at me and gave me a sad smile, not reacting to the use of his own name.
“I know. It’s not.”
I felt Ray and Mikey watching us cautiously but just kept staring at Frank, trying to figure out what his game was. Why was he doing this? Why couldn’t he see making the game longer and more difficult was always going to back fire? Why didn’t he understand that what he felt for me wasn’t real?
“Say it,” my words made him bite his lip and his face started to crumple as his tears fell from his face and landed on mine.
“Say it, Frank!”
I spoke louder, making Mikey flinch but not caring. Frank just carried on crying, not meeting my eyes.
“SAY MY NAME!”
He looked into my eyes and held my face tightly as he lowered his lips close to mine. I heard my breath, hating the feel of his breathing on my face, wanting to pull away but knowing it was hopeless.
“Gerard…” He whispered, quietly so only we could hear.
He pushed his mouth against mine and I felt no emotions as he desperately tried to make my lips move against his. Tried to make my tongue move out of my mouth with a gentle lick from his own. He pulled away from me, sobs coming from his throat and his face completely broken. He moved forwards again, pushing harder and biting my lip, moving his hands from my face to touch me and pull my hair. He forced his tongue into my mouth and licked around it. I stayed still, the game was over and Frank knew it. He pulled away but not far so that his hair still fell slightly into my face.
“Gee…” He begun but not before I moved my head up quickly closer to his and spat right into his face. My spit hit him in one eye and he pulled away, ashamed and red faced and he looked down at me, tears streaming from his eyes.
“You sicken me!”
He flinched at my words but a small piece of hope still remained in his eyes. He still didn’t understand how fake this was, how wrong this love he thought he felt for me was. I had to make him see and make him understand.
“I love you,” he spoke and I remembered the last words I had said to Lindsey.
She was wife and the love of my life. Compared to her, Frank was nothing.
“You don’t know what love is!” I screamed into his face and laughed at the wrecked expression I saw there. I closed my eyes tightly to stop the tears of laughter from filling my eyes, they might mistake the tears for something fake and unreal, for tears of pain and sadness. When I had never felt so happy in my life. I felt a hard blow to my head and slumped back into the sand, seeing stars that I knew weren’t really there at all.