“You'll fail us Mikey”
My family form a circle around me, chanting over and over. Every one of them aiming their individual vendettas against me. Mocking me. Criticising me. Doubting me. They all individually burst into flames before I can attempt saving them.
“I'm sorry!” I scream, tears rolling down my face as my loved ones are obliterated before my eyes.
I try to roll over but I'm trapped. Trapped against a body. It's dark. I'm scared. I want Bob. I need to be held. I'm shaking. Who am I sleeping beside?
“Licia?” I mumble, nudging her with my head.
“What's up Mikes?”
“Don't hurt me Licia. Don't hurt me” I beg, cowering away.
“Mikes? What's wrong little bro?”
“Umm I just had a bad dream. I'm okay” I lie, turning over to face the wall.
A hand finds its way to my shoulder, tugging at me to turn to face my older brother.
“Mikes I heard you talking, you said Alicia's name. Has she done something to you?”
Gee's face is full of concern. I can't lie to him. Can I? Is lying to prevent him getting angry totally wrong?
“It was just a dream Gee” I reply automatically.
Just a dream. If only.
“I worry about you baby bro”
Gee looks down lovingly at me, stroking the back of my neck gently.
“You don't need to worry about me Gee”
Another lie. Why do I keep lying to him? My head is screaming at me to tell the truth. Yet my mouth betrays my head. I should be able to tell Gerard about everything. Shouldn't I? He wouldn't judge me. Would he? Just because my world is caving in doesn't mean I have to ruin Gerard's life too.
I lay back down, staring at the ceiling, contemplating what to do about my current situation.
I close my eyes for what seems like the millionth time tonight. Everytime I close them I see the same things. I see the world inflamed. I see my friends and family suffering, dying horribly. I see myself. I see myself for what I really am. I see the demon inside myself. I see the demon that's eating away at me, taking over my life. When I awake I'm drenched in cold sweat, her maniacal laughter ringing in my ears. I'm haunted when I'm awake and in my dreams. There's no escape. I want my world to be normal again. I want to go back to the world I knew before. A world where my Grandma is alive. A world where I'm protected. A world that doesn't confuse me. A world where I'm successful. This world doesn't exist. I wish it did. I wish I could get to sleep without shaking. I wish I could feel safe. I wish someone would save me from this sorry existence. I wish someone would end it. I wish someone would end my life. I wish to never wake up. I'd actually have to sleep to never wake up though right. Gerard is sleeping peacefully, right now I envy him. He looks so peaceful, not a care in the world. I try to cuddle into Gerard's chest without waking him. Hopefully he'll wrap his arms around me instinctively. Right now that's all I really want. I want to be held by the person closest to me in the world. I want him to stop this pain even if it's only temporary. He rolls over, crushing me against his chest. It's not comforting, I shake. I start to cry, punching against the chest that crushes me. I'm trapped.
“I'm scared. I'm scared” I whimper, trying to pull away from the crushing.
Gerard jumps awake, releasing me from his grip. He's got that concerned look in his eyes again.
“Are you okay little bro?”
I roll over, pretending to go back to sleep. I don't want to talk to him about what I see. I just want a cuddle. I want him to just hold me in his arms, I want to feel safe just for a second. I want him to realise what this record is doing to me. I want to hear him say I can go back home and never return. Gerard seems to have let the matter drop. For now. I can't let him find out the truth.
“Come on Mikey! Hurry your ass out of bed!” I hear Frank yell through the oak door. “Let's not have another session wrecked by you”
I look at my watch. It's 8AM. Way too early to be practising. Mentally I'm cursing him, cursing this stupid record, cursing this place, cursing myself for going along with this insane idea of Gerard's. Who willingly records an album in a haunted mansion? Only Gerard. Only my big brother can think meddling in the occult is a good idea.
“Mikey get out here now!”
Oh great! Now Toro's joined in, trying to drag me out of my room. You know maybe I'd actually cooperate with them if they didn't yell at me constantly. Reluctantly I open the door, walk down the hall to my room without saying a word to either guitarist. Where the fuck is my bass? Someone's been moving my stuff again. 3 guesses who.
“Iero what the fuck have you done with my bass?!”
I don't know why I'm shouting about losing my bass. It's not like I care about its whereabouts.
“Has Moikay lost his bass?” Frank teases in a patronising voice. “Why doesn't little Moikay go tell his big brother I've hidden it?”
“Back the fuck off Iero and pick on someone your own size!
Bob pushes Frank backwards.
“Bob it's fine... I'm good.” I begin.. but there's fire in the blonde's eyes. He means business.
“No Mikey, you're not. He deserves a good beating anyway!”
Bob averts his eyes back to the tattooed guitarist, who's now equally riled up.
“Bring it Bryar!”
“Frank Frank Frank, I won't even pander to your demands. You are not worth me raising my blood pressure. Do me a favour Iero and stay the fuck away from Mikey! I will kick your ass if you get in his face again”
Frank leaves, glowering at both me and our blond drummer. But why does Bob keep defending me? It should be Gerard. But it isn't. Right now it's always Bob who leaps to my defence. Where is my big brother? And why isn't he by my side?
“Help Mikey! Help me! Help me I'm falling! It burns, Mikey it burns! Pull me up!”
I lose my focus. My hands come to a halt on my fret board. The world seems to stop. I'm transported to another place, a place filled with flames. I need to save Grandma, she's slipping, she needs my help. I'm not strong enough. I can't pull her up. I can't save her.
“Mikey! Is it too much to ask for you to focus on what we're doing!?” Ray yells, slamming his guitar down and advancing towards me.
I know what's coming. He's going to hit me. I try to run but my feet fail me, I fall forwards onto the coffee table.
“You fucking idiot” Frank spits. “Get the fuck up and carry on with the session”
Strong arms scoop me up protectively, shielding me from the guitarist's harsh words.
“Gerard, I'm taking him back to his room, he can't carry on like this”
“Pass him here dude”
“He's kinda heavy Gee, I don't think you'll be able to handle him without dropping him”
“Are you fucking kidding me?! He's my brother for fuck's sake! Give him to me!”
I hear Gerard yelling aggressively just like he did when he was drunk. I thank God for Bob's arms forming a protective cocoon around me. Am I scared of my brother? Right now yes. Yes I am. I snuggle into the crook of Bob's neck, enjoying his soothing scent.
“Hand him over Bryar!” Gerard's yelling increases by several decibels.
I can't help it, I cry into Bob's shoulder. A shaking mess in his arms.
“Gerard look at him. You're scaring him”
Bob strokes gently behind my ears, whispering comforting words to me.
“Give him to me you Motherfucker!”
“If you promise to stop yelling, he's in a bad place Gee. He needs you. He needs your support”
Gerard puts his arms towards me, I turn away clinging tighter to Bob, not wanting to be handed over to my psychotic older brother.
It happens. Bob hands me over to Gerard. I cry. I scream Bob's name but it's useless. He's let me go.
“Mikes, you're shaking. It's okay little bro, I've got you. You're safe”
I don't believe Gerard's words. I want to go back to Bob. Bob protects me. He's safe. The world stops spinning when I'm in Bob's arms.
“Mikey what happened in the practise room?” Gerard asks, looking at me with concerned eyes.
You care now don't you Gerard? You care now that it's too late. You didn't care all those nights when I was alone and hurting. You didn't care when Bert tried to stab me. You didn't care when he beat me to a pulp. You didn't care when I was afraid of losing you. You never listened to me. I told you to stop drinking and taking drugs because it hurt me to see you self destruct but you didn't listen, you never do. There's so much you don't know about me Gerard, you'll never know. All the kids that look up to you don't realise how self-centred you are. They don't know how you treat me. They don't know the shit you've caused. They see you as a hero. You used to be my hero too Gee. I remember when we were young I used to want to be like you when I grew up. You were my role model. You were all I knew. But look at what you've taught me. Are you proud of what you've done? Are you proud of what you've created? Are you proud of the ways you taught me to deal with grief? Alcohol and drugs. You can't tell me that I'll get through this. I have no-one. You want to change me. I'm not good enough the way I am, am I Gee? You want me to be more like Frank or Bert. I'm never going to be good enough or interesting enough for you the way I am. I can't change Gerard. I can't be what I'm not. You think you're so approachable Gerard but you're not. I can't tell you anything. I can't tell you about Alicia or about how I feel. You always relate it back to yourself. You always make out like you're the victim in all this. You make out like you're some kind of martyr. You aren't Gee. You're just a man. You're not a super-hero. You're just a man. You aren't even my hero anymore. You've failed me. How is it that I have everything and nothing to say to you? Like a dutiful little brother I reply.
“Nothing. I'm fine.”
The words fall off my tongue easily. I'm used to keeping my feelings from you. I'm used to keeping quiet so you don't hear me. Where did we go wrong Gee? How did it all come crashing down on us? When did things get so bad that I can't even trust you anymore? I need my big brother back. I need you Gerard.