- Text Size +
"Spoiled little brat..." the devastatingly familiar voice whispered in my ear, sending shivers down my spine. I couldn't turn my head; his hand was gripping my chin and forcing me to look up. But I could see him out of the corner of my eye.

I wanted to scream at him, ask him why he hated me so much. Why he was doing this to me. And why he'd pretended to by my friend. My brother.


I pulled at the wire that was binding me to the pipe, but that only made him laugh. A horrifically scornful chuckle. I kept pulling, getting more frantic. The wire bit into my wrists and blood began gushing from the wounds, flowing down my arms. It only made him laugh that much harder, crueler.

"Poor baby," he mocked, reaching his hand up to wipe the tears from my cheek. "Want to go now?" As he asked, he reached up, releasing the wire so that my arms dropped limply to my sides. The blood began rolling down my legs, pooling on the floor. Bleeding way too much. I couldn't live long if I didn't stop the bleeding. I tried to hold the wound of my right wrist closed, but that only made the wound on my left wrist bleed that much more.

Kevin stepped around to face me, his face contorted in a malicious sneer. "What's the matter. Aren't you going to...run?" He stepped back, giving me a full view of the open door. His eyes darkened, as I stood frozen in place. "Run," he ordered in a low voice.

I tried. I was so weak and growing weaker by the second. My bare feet slipped in the blood and I fell, sprawling on the cold cement floor. I tried to get up, but I kept slipping. So I crawled, trying to get to the open door. I heard Kevin's evil laughter follow me out into the hallway.

Finally I managed to get up on my feet and stumbled a few steps, leaning on the wall for support until I could stand on my own. I felt sick as I saw the bloody handprints I was leaving.

I began staggering down the hallway toward the laundry room. The hallway seemed so long. I could hear Kevin *walking* behind me. Mocking my slow escape.

"Go, Nicky! Go, Nicky!" Brian and AJ were standing farther up the hallway cheering me on. Damn it, fellas, I don't need cheering, I need *HELP*!

I began forcing myself to move faster even though I knew it was a lost cause. We'd been here before. Kevin'd catch me and drag me back into hell.

I made it to the laundry room and climbed to the windows. Almost free. Why hadn't Kevin stopped me? I looked back and saw him leering at me from the doorway. AJ and Brian were still farther back in the hallway cheering. Except they weren't yelling my name anymore but Kevin's. Figures.

Knowing I'd never make it, but determined to try anyway, I began trying to squeeze through the window. I couldn't fit. And the window seemed to be getting smaller, squeezing me. There was so much blood! I could see the grass turning a rusty color as my blood soaked it.

"Nick!" I looked up and saw Howie watching my struggle. "Come on, Nick!"

He was rushing toward me, grabbing my wrists, trying to stem the flow of blood. At the same time, he began to pull me through the window. Hands gripped my ankles and started trying to pull me back.

I tried to scream but I couldn't even voice the pain. I was being torn apart.

At last, Kevin let go of my ankles and I was pulled through the window.

Howie continued to pull me by my arms, not giving me a chance to stand on my own. I couldn't call to him to make him stop.

"Come on, Nick. You need to run," he told me. Like I didn't know that?

We made it to the street, where there was a man selling falafel. My stomach rumbled. Hearing it, Howie stopped dragging me and turned to the vendor, pulling out his wallet to make a purchase. Food. Not big on falafel myself but it would do. My mouth was watering.

Wait. This was a dumb move. Kevin was probably still after us.

"Kevin..." I panted, trying to get Howie's attention. Howie only smiled and nodded at me. I shook my head. "No...he's...chasing...us."

Howie began to laugh as he handed me the plate from the vendor. "Kevin's not after you."

He wasn't?

I turned to look and saw Kevin racing toward us at full speed.

I dropped my plate and started flee when I saw Howie grinning at me from the corner of my eyes. In the next moment I felt a sharp pain slice through my back. I fell to the ground, writhing in pain. What the fuck...? I couldn't breathe right. Something had ripped through my lungs. I looked over my shoulder and saw the knife buried to the hilt in my back.

I looked up at Howie towering over me. Why...? I could only mouth the word at him. He kept smiling and knelt down beside me. "It was never Kevin...you spoiled little brat--" And he reached his hand out, grabbing the knife.

And twisting.

I thwacked my head on the upper bunk as I woke, bolting upright with my mouth gaping in a silent scream. It took me a few moments to realize that I was on the bus. And there was no knife in my back. I lay back slowly, taking inventory. My entire body was drenched in sweat, and tears were streaking down my face. Damn it!

Another damn nightmare. I should have known by the falafel vendor.

"Fuck," I growled, punching the bottom of the upper bunk hard. I clenched my teeth and swallowed the yelp of pain. Punching solid objects is probably not the best way to let out frustration.

"Jesus, Nick. Are you okay?" Brian suddenly appeared in the entrance to the sleeping quarters. I scowled at him before pulling the cover up over my head. Yeah, like he couldn't see that I wasn't fine, he was going to make me actually say it?

He sat down at on the edge of my bunk. I couldn't help but flinch when I felt his hand on my leg. He pulled away quickly and I felt somewhat guilty. I knew he hadn't meant to be anything more than brotherly, but my body still wasn't so keen on being touched.

"Another nightmare?" he asked quietly.

"What makes you think that?" I asked sarcastically. Brian sighed and I felt even more guilty. I flipped the sheet back and sat up. "Sorry," I apologized. "I should have just gone home..." I grumbled.

Brian smiled sympathetically at me. "Yeah but would they feed you Double Cheeseburgers?" he asked, tossing a Burger Palace bag in my lap.

Great. I think I've eaten there one too many times. Like the day that this whole mess started. Ugh. "The real question is would I want them to?" I shot back, with a slight grin. On the other hand, I was pretty damn hungry. I reached into the bag and pulled out the top burger. "Thanks."

Brian folded his legs under him and sat there watching me eat. The boy needs a hobby, I swear. I raised my eyebrows and stared back at him over my burger.

Getting the point, he smirked a little and reached out to thwack me on the back of the head. Meanie.