With strain he sank his teeth into his bottom lip and pushed open the door. He flicked on the light inside and nearly hissed at the brightness. Walking over to the toilet he released himself and with a sigh fixed himself up again. He dragged himself on over to the mirror, looking at his face.
He wanted to turn away, wanted to disregard the face he saw there. That wasn't really him, was it? That haggard, tired, solemn face that looked like it had never seen the light of day before. His entire face was drawn and for a vain moment he was grateful the paparazzi wasn't allowed around. He didn't want anyone seeing him like this, he didn't want the world to know what he had become. What was he now but the ghost of a man he formerly was? Had he no hope now in becoming who he used to be?
Everything terrified him. The threat of sinking away forever into this dark and fate-less oblivion. How was he supposed to pull himself out of it though? How was he expected to heal when he didn't have a single thought as to what he was supposed to be recovering from?
This wasn't what life was supposed to be. No one was supposed to be this scared of normal everyday life. He wasn't meant for this hollow life. He was meant or more, had always been. He had even been propelled on up to the status he had always dreamed of. So where was any of that now? Where had all of the dreams gone? That light that was always there gleaming at the end of his own dark and personal tunnel? They were lost to him. They had abandoned him into becoming an afraid and pointless man who held no direction in life.
He forced himself away from the mirror and slowly made his way back into his hospital room. He shivered at the cold once the light was off and felt around for his bed. He dropped down onto the mattress, his feet on the cold floor beneath him. He hated being this tired, this exhausted like he was. It was too empty living this way, too damn empty.
Carefully he laid himself back down onto the pillow and let his eyes slide shut. He tried to let the stillness of the room calm him, tried to let it lull him into a sleep- even if it would be a tumultuous one. Something tugged at him though, something painful and unrelenting. He was lost to it now, having no defenses left to push it away.
The pain started slowly, that sharp and miserable pain. Soon it become a ripping feeling tearing its way into his soul. His mouth widened with a soundless scream, his fingers clawed at his head. He could feel himself succumbing to the darkness left for him to live in. He moved around, his body nearly flailing as the thoughts came shooting through his mind.
There she was again. That beautiful woman that had no business being in his dreams. He thought of that locket. It couldn't have been real. He couldn't have just forgotten about someone he seemed to be so in love with. Something wasn't right. Whenever he looked into those eyes he could feel doom lurking over his shoulder.
He saw her done up in a lilac colored dress, smoothly falling to her knees. She looked to be so small, so delicate. Her eyes told a million stories but they rarely crossed her lips. Her lips were on his then, so sweet the taste of berries that he found there. He was in heaven there with her, her slender arms wrapping around his waist as she smiled up at him. He was lost to her- or he seemed to be.
None of these could be his memories. No one could just lose things like that so easily. If this had happened he would have remembered it. If this had happened he wouldn't have been able to let it go. So why had he?
The sweet thoughts faded just then though and suddenly her hands were clammy, cold sweat seemed to pool in her palms. There was a shrill scream as her body began being dragged out of that studio. She had tried to claw her way towards him, crying out his name. But what could he do?
Blood was smeared all along the ground and the sight of it twisted furiously in his stomach. Something heavy smashed down onto her head and it turned sharply the other way, her eyes closing, her body so unresponsive.
Suddenly she was close to him, her cold and freezing hands taking hold of his face. She looked down into his blue eyes and she shook her head.
"You're a fool Jared....they did it! they did it!" She whispered out sharply.
Jared felt paralyzed there beneath her. She was so real as she sat on him, her pale skin like a glittering light in the darkness. Her hair smelled beautiful as it veiled over his face whenever she leaned over him. One of her hands took hold of his and despite the coldness of it her touch was almost calming. She set his hand on the small of her back and brought herself closer down to him.
"I'm sorry...I said I was sorry...you forgave me, why did you do it?" Her breath was warm, almost lifelike but she couldn't be there. She was gone. She didn't exist. Her hand was so alive though when she pressed the locket onto his chest.
He wanted her to kiss him again. Wanted to feel that sweetness again. He hadn't felt that even with Audrey. Everything became twisted then, blood began to soak up the strands of her hair, a gash formed on her head. She fell away from him, she was being dragged. He just laid there, the cuts on his arms bleeding through their bandages. Cuts formed on his wrists, he hissed out but his voice wasn't loud enough to scream. He needed someone, the cold was taking over. Finally she disappeared and he curled up on his side with a scream into the bedding. The blood was warm and the wind stormed across his body fiercely.
The door slammed open and a nurse rushed in. She ran to him, checking his arms as he screamed out that he was bleeding. Shannon came in as well with Emma following behind. Jared was clutching at his bandages, crying, begging them to stop the bleeding. A shot tore through Shannon as he looked to Emma.
There wasn't any blood anywhere.
The doctor walked away, leaving Shannon and Emma to their thoughts. Shannon dropped onto the chair and rested his head in his hands. He couldn't even hear the commotion in the cafeteria nor could he hear Emma softly talking to him. Everything was falling away from him, the words the doctor had spoken sank sharply inside of him. He could have screamed, cried, fallen apart. Nothing made sense and everything hurt. This wasn't what was supposed to happen. It was all supposed to go back to normal, it was all meant to be forgotten.
"Shannon? Are you listening to me?" Emma demanded, her hand on his arm.
He finally looked to her, his eyes drawn and tired. "What?"
"What do we do?"
He looked away from her, not wanting to see those eyes that held the same secrets as he did. "We go home." He stood up then and began to walk away leaving Emma no choice but to follow him.
The night was heavy as it fell over him. He hugged his coat tighter about himself and tried not to look back at the hospital. He didn't like leaving Jared there by himself, his fate uncertain and his state disastrous. He just had to get away. He wanted to forget at least for a moment. He forced himself into the car and started up the ignition. They pulled out quickly. As soon as he figured that Emma would start to talk he reached over and turned on some music, the sound drowning out any possibility for conversation. He could feel her eyes on him, those tired eyes that knew his deepest secrets. He swallowed harshly hating the way she knew him and refused to toss a look back.
They entered the house as silently as they left the hospital. Shannon tossed his keys onto the counter and made to go upstairs but Emma rushed to him and took hold of his arm.
"What do you want, Em?" He demanded, looking down at her sharply.
"What are we going to do, Shannon? About what the doctor said?"
"You want us to lock him up? Is that what it is, Em? You want those doctors to decide that he's crazy even though he's not?"
"He's imagining things, Shannon. What else is that?" She was looking at him like he was being unreasonable.
He shook his head. "Something is happening to him, Em. You know that just as well as I do. He isn't crazy. Something is going on...to all of us."
She crossed her arms over her chest almost defiantly. "What are you suggesting?"
"If we just let it out, Em..."
She held up her hand to stop him. "Not again. We can't. You know what will happen to us?"
"Do you know what's happening to him? He's going to die if he carries on this way. He's not supposed to live like this...not him."
"Now's not the time Shannon to play the worried brother. This is both of our lives at stake here. If we let this out we throw it all away. Do you really want that?"
"So what? We keep ourselves and let him throw everything away? We did it! We did it, not him and he's suffering through all the damn repercussions." He turned around, wanting so desperately to escape her then. He wanted to go upstairs, slam the door shut and lock himself away. But he stopped when he heard her sniff back tears. His heart fell. He knew the pressure this was having on her, he knew that it wasn't only affecting him, but her as well.
He looked back at her. Her head was lowered, her arms at her sides, her hands trembling a little.
She looked up at him. Her eyes wide and pleading. She didn't want her life to disappear, she didn't want everything she had worked so hard for to just fall away. And neither did he. But did they have a choice? They were up against a wall.
He wrapped his arms around her, pressed her close to his chest. "I'm sorry." He whispered down to her.
She shook her head, her tears moistening the front of his shirt. He lifted her face up to him and wiped the trail of tears on her cheeks. He smoothed back her hair and tried to fight everything building up inside of him. They were both falling apart, the pieces of their souls in each others hands. Her hands locked behind his back and he leaned down towards her. His lips brushed across hers, a whisper that echoed the pain coursing through them both. Her breath was shaky as she stood frozen in his arms. He brushed his hand back through her hair and brought her closer, deepening the kiss as he tried to stifle the feeling of suffocation destroying him on the inside.
Pounding at the door threw them apart. She turned away from him, her hand flying to her lips with disbelief. He stood watching her for a moment until the pounding on the door continued. He went to the door and opened it. His breath hitched in his chest as Jared staggered inside the house. He caught him before he fell but Jared pushed him away.
"Get the hell away from me!" He yelled out, his voice hoarse and his body trembling.
"Jared? What are you doing here?" Emma cried, trying to go to him but stopping when he waved her off harshly.
He drew something out of the coat he was wearing buttoned up over his hospital gown. He was shivering from the cold outside. He threw it down onto the ground and sharply looked at them both. He was a ghost of who they had known.
"Tell me what the hell is going on! Both of you!"
Emma looked down at what he had thrown and saw the locket there. She rushed to where Shannon was standing and lightly gripped onto his arm.
"Jared, listen to me." Shannon began softly, trying not to further the situation.
"Tell me!" Jared shouted, his lips dry and his eyes wide with a terrified need.
"Jared? Is that you?" A voice rang sweetly from the top of the staircase.
Jared looked up and so many different emotions washed across his face. "Audrey?"
"Baby, I've been waiting for you all night. You're a mess." She slowly descended the stairs and went to him.
He was confused as he beheld her. Nothing was making sense, nothing was coming together. He needed answers.
"Stay there." He ordered.
She stopped walking and looked to him with questioning eyes.
Jared's hands flew to the side of his head as another pain filled him. He blinked against the sharpness and let out a heavy breath. "Tell me what's going on..." He rasped out.
Audrey let out a laugh and moved towards him. "Haven't figured it out yet, baby?"
Jared swallowed harshly and stared at her with fearful and confused eyes.
"Why don't I show you what really happened in the Summer...Why don't I show you what they did."
"What are you talking about?" Emma demanded but Shannon held her back, his own heart stopping inside of him.
Audrey drew a single DVD case from the inside of her coat and held it up in front of Jared. "This is what Shannon's being called about. This is what you should see."
Jared looked at the case and then into her eyes. He didn't know what he saw there but when he looked at Emma and Shannon he saw a frozen fear. His heart sank. Something terrible had happened and the two people he trusted most were at the core of it.
Hesitantly he took the case from her hand, walked past them and up the stairs.
"You said you destroyed it." Emma said to Shannon who stood there speechless.
"Not everything can be destroyed." Audrey replied with a wicked smile on her lips.
"Jared wait!" Emma cried out as she shot up the stairs.
Shannon followed as did Audrey. They rushed into Jared's room just as he closed the CD tray of his computer. He glanced up at them with quivering eyes before he looked back at the screen.