Brian couldn’t help but smile when he started dreaming about Leighanne walking down the aisle on their wedding day. He stood there waiting patiently for her to reach him.
“This isn’t right,” a voice came floated around him.
Brian scrunched his nose and looked around for the voice. Seeing that no one spoke he turned back to watch the love of his life walk down the aisle.
“This didn’t happen,” the voice spoke again. The image of his wife disappeared and he was standing inside an office building.
“I’m sorry, I don’t date tech guys,” A woman that Brian did not know said to him before turning and walking away.
“She doesn’t know what she might miss with that attitude,” a woman’s voice came from the side. Brian turned to see the face he instantly knew he’d been dreaming about for several nights standing next to him. “I don’t think we’ve met yet,” the woman continued as she held her hand out to him. “My name is Isabelle.”
Brian hesitantly took her hand and shook it.
The woman smiled and held his hand for a minute. “Don’t even think about shortening it, I hate it when people do that.” She winked at him and released his hand.
A feeling of cold ran through him and the image of the office faded away and it was April 20, 1993 and he was meeting AJ, Nick and Howie for the first time. He couldn’t help but smile at how young they all looked. Kevin stood near him as he introduced him to the other three.
“This isn’t right,” the voice came out of nowhere again and spoke over Howie introducing himself. Brian shook it off and fought to keep the dream where it was. He remembered how excited he was that Kevin thought of him and brought him down to meet the others. No matter how hard he focused on the image of the other guys they faded away and were replaced by a dark warehouse.
“Pay attention!” the woman from the scene in the office shouted. “You need to learn this if you are going to have any chance.”
Her foot flew towards him but he managed to block the attack and counter it. He did not remember this but it felt natural to spar with this woman. Exhaustion took him over and he collapsed to the ground breathing heavily. He felt the woman lie down next to him and grab hold of his hand. “We can’t out run them.” She said between breaths.
He tried to turn towards her but felt that he was strapped down. He looked down and saw his arms, legs and abdomen strapped to table. The woman from earlier was strapped down across from him.
“Brian, focus on me.” She said.
He turned his attention to her and saw a man approaching her with a needle. A flash of memory came through of Howie holding a needle.
“I will find a way back to you. I swear. I love you.” The final words came out of her mouth as the syringe was plunged into her neck. Tears started to fall from her eyes as they glazed over and soon she was looking at him as a stranger would.
He could feel the tears start to well in his eyes as he stood watching this woman. He saw the man grab another syringe and come towards him. The man was talking to him but he couldn’t hear what he was saying.
“Fight it,” a voice that sounded like him spoke.
He felt the needle pierce his skin and the world started to go dark. He held his eyes on the woman across from him fighting to remember her face.
“Don’t fight it,” he could hear the other man saying now. “It will only damage your brain to fight.” The man seemed to laugh at this comment; his words were enough of a distraction that he gave into the coldness that flooded through him, the face disappearing from his mind.
Brian rubbed his eyes as he woke up. He didn’t remember getting into bed. He must have been exhausted after the show the night before to not remember getting into bed. He made his way to the front of the bus and found Leighanne and Baylee reading together. He smiled at the sight of them; Leighanne was very good about keeping Baylee on a schedule even when they were on the road.
“Hello,” she said as she looked up to see him standing there.
“Hi,” he replied.
“How did you sleep? You seemed like you slept much better last night.” She commented as she brushed Baylee’s hair back and scooted him off the couch. “Go play for a little bit sweetie.”
Baylee happily complied with his mother’s wishes and gave Brian’s knees a tight squeeze before getting his toys out to play with.
Brian took Baylee’s spot on the couch and pulled his wife into his embrace. “I feel rested this morning.” He closed his eyes and moved in to kiss her, a face flashed in his mind as he felt their lips touch. A dark eyed girl, a familiar face.
He pulled back and smiled at his wife as more images flooded his mind: a picnic, a proposal, sparring with a woman, being strapped to a table. The images came back to him but he fought showing any emotion on his face. He did not want to worry his wife.
“I’m going to go see if Nick is up for a game of hoops before we have to get ready tonight.” Brian stood and moved to exit the bus.
“Okay,” Leighanne replied in a disappointed tone.
Brian wasn’t sure he really wanted to find Nick but he needed to get away from his wife for a few moments as he processed what his mind was showing him. It was when he saw Howie climbing back onto his own bus that the memory of the day before came flooding back to him. The image of Howie lying in a pool of blood pushed out the window by him flashed through his mind. Then later showing up at the hotel with the other guys like nothing had happened, the needle that he used on him.
Howie must have seen him staring in his direction as he stopped getting on the bus and waved at him. “Hey Brian, how are you this morning?” He asked now approaching him.
“Good, I slept real good.” He smiled at this man he thought was his friend. He knew that if he mentioned anything about what he just remembered he would be in for another injection or worse.
“Awesome.” Howie smiled and put his hand on his shoulder. “We only have a few hours until the meet and greet is scheduled to begin, want to hang out?”
Brian thought about it. If he wanted to keep his knowledge hidden from Howie it would be best not to hang out, but if he refused to hang out would Howie think something was going on with him again?
“Bri!” Nick’s voice came from behind him, saving him from the decision. “Wanna shoot some hoops?” Nick looked towards Howie and when Howie smiled at him tension seemed to release throughout his entire body.
“I was hoping to find you.” Brian lied. He turned back to Howie. “You don’t mind do you D?”
Howie shook his head and made his way back to his own bus. Brian watched him until he was completely on the bus before turning back to Nick. “I was kind of hoping to hang out inside the venue for awhile actually.” He told his friend.
“Why didn’t you tell Howie that?” Nick questioned looking at him with confused eyes.
Brian shrugged. “I think Howie would have asked to join me and I kind of wanted to be alone.”
“Are you alright Brian?” Nick asked him tossing the basketball from hand to hand.
“I’m good. I just want to watch the set up again.” He lied. He hated lying to Nick but without knowing what was going on with Howie and with his own mind he felt it necessary.
“Cool,” Nick said and turned to walk away. He knew he could count on Nick to let him be.
Brian turned to enter the venue catching a glimpse of a couple men in dark clothing standing near the bus entrance. He knew they couldn’t be fans; they were grown men not teen girls. He turned his attention away from them and went inside the venue. He didn’t find his way into the main auditorium to watch the set up; instead he found a smaller, secluded room and sat on the floor.
Closing his eyes, Brian slowed his breathing and calmed himself down. A technique his doctor had taught him before and after surgery to keep his heart beat slower and as a result to keep himself calmer. He didn’t want anyone to know he was doing the breathing techniques again, the last thing he needed was everyone thinking his heart was giving him problems again.
As he felt his heart beat slow he let images flood his mind, he let whatever wanted to come through come through. He was not going to fight them or control them. He felt slight frustration when no images came to mind. The breathing kept him calm and relaxed, at least that had helped him.
He stood and brushed himself off and decided he would spend some time with Leighanne and Baylee before the show. He didn’t to talk about anything with Leighanne; he didn’t want to worry her about Howie. She relied on Howie’s help to watch Baylee while they were on tour.
When he exited the arena he ran into someone. “Sorry Jay,” Brian said when he realized who it was.
AJ muttered a response that he couldn’t hear before pushing past him and into the arena. Brian was puzzled by his friend’s behavior but then realized his own behavior the past few days was probably just as strange. He needed to act normal today; he needed to find out what was going on. As he boarded his bus he noticed that the men he remembered seeing before he entered the venue were gone.
“Hello,” Brian called out. Leighanne and Baylee were not in the main space.
Leighanne came out from the back room and jumped slightly when she saw him. “Oh, you startled me Brian.” She had her hand to her chest but she was smiling.
Brian moved closer to her and pulled her close to him. He inhaled her scent and swayed with her where they stood. He closed his eyes and let the feeling of being in her arms wash over him. “I love you… Isabelle.” He whispered in her ear.