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I didn't think that people were supposed to still feel pain after death. Unless maybe they were in hell or something. I couldn't really think of anything I'd done that would warrant spending eternity there, though. I wasn't as religious as Brian or anything, but I'd been a good person. I'd sinned, I suppose, but then it would be near impossible to go through life without screwing up at least a little here and there. But still, I hadn't done anything too awful, so I hoped that wasn't why I still hurt. Besides, I didn't think I could be in hell because I was really cold, and hell was supposed to be all fire and brimstone and such, not all cement floor and staircases. So maybe I was some sort of limbo? I'd seen movies and read books (well...comics if you must know) where people who were murdered got to hang around for a while because they hadn't lived out the lives they were supposed to or something. Of course nobody who was still alive could really ever know what it was like to be dead, so it was all just theory anyway. I guessed I was going to get to find out for real what it was like.

So far I was not terribly impressed. It seemed an awful lot like being alive, actually. Except for the fact that I couldn't move, which was kind of a major setback. Spending eternity lying face down at the bottom of the flight of stairs where I'd died just didn't seem like a terribly exciting prospect. Of course there were a lot of other things that were really bothering me about being dead.

For one thing, my head was pounding so bad that I was fairly certain that it was going to explode. I was actually kind of looking forward to that. It would really make the perfect ending to my life. (Or I guess, the beginning of my unlife?) Not to mention "Head Exploded" would be a kind of cool thing to have listed on my death certificate as the official cause. I wondered if it would still be considered a murder if that were to happen. Or would that be a natural cause? Then again my head probably wouldn't be in danger of exploding had I not been thrown down the stairs.

Damn. What if they found my body sprawled at the bottom of the stairs and assumed that in my panic I had done this to myself. Wouldn't that suck? If I had done it myself, I mean. Could you imagine? I could picture a reporter describing how I'd survived a vicious beating and being held captive for almost a week only to freak out and die falling down the stairs. Which, of course, would be followed by the spontaneously combusting head thing. Though I wasn't sure if that would then be the cause of death or not since I'd already died before that happened.

I contemplated that for several minutes before I finally reached the conclusion that not only was my head probably not going to explode, but my heart was still beating and I was still breathing. Which led to the deduction that I was probably still alive. I'm slow to catch on sometimes, I admit it. But I think I had a perfectly valid excuse that it was the drug that was making my thoughts process really slowly. I'd fully expected to die, so it wasn't all that dumb a mistake, I don't think.

Forgive everything I said about being disappointed in the afterlife; I take it all back. When that time comes for real, I'm sure it'll be a lot more impressive.

It seemed that there would be no need for that death certificate after all. Not only wasn't I dead, I was getting more alert--not less--so that probably meant that I wasn't going to die. At least not from the fall down the stairs. All bets were off once Stalker Guy figured out he hadn't killed me. But I digress.

Not being dead was the good news. The bad news was that I couldn't move. My body wasn't listening to my brain again. Just like what had happened in that little nightmare thing I'd had before the press conference. A quick physical inventory revealed that my body still hurt--though my left leg was kinda numb...not sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing--so I was fairly certain that it wasn't real paralysis, so I guess that was somewhat of a relief. But it didn't change the fact that I was for the time being unable to get up and get myself somewhere safe. Assuming there even was such a place.

For that matter, I couldn't even seem to get my body flopped over so that I would be on my back. Being on my stomach wasn't terribly comfortable, especially since my legs were still partially on the stairs, cement edges pressing against my now bruised shins. Maybe that's why my leg was numb, it was probably cutting off circulation or something. More than for reason of comfort, though, I wanted to be on my back so that at least I could look up and see if someone was coming. In lieu of that, I was going to have to adopt the "if you can't see it, it doesn't exist" defense again.

I wondered how long it would be before I'd be able to move again. At the very least I wanted to be able to reach up and scratch the really irritating itch that was plaguing my left temple. And to be able to wipe away the sweat that was trickling down my face would be good. Oh and hey, getting up and going upstairs to conk out in a bed rather than on a cold hard floor wouldn't be too much to ask, would it?

With any luck someone (other than him, of course) would find me and help me get upstairs in a couple minutes. Surely people were looking for me now that the lights were back on and they'd figured out that I'd disappeared. At the very least the guys would be searching. And security would be since it was their job to watch me and all. They'd probably flipped out when the lights went back on and I wasn't there. I imagined that they were combing the hotel at the moment searching for me, so it was only a matter of time before someone checked the stairwell. I was hoping for sooner, of course.

It would probably help speed up the process if I yelled a little bit, but I was a little afraid to do that. The way I had it figured, for whatever reason, my stalker had panicked when the lights came back and had wanted to get rid of me quick. So he'd thrown me down the stairs to a presumed death. At which point one of two things happened. One, he'd gotten the hell out of Dodge. In which case I could spend the next few minutes screaming myself silly until someone else came and retrieved me. The other option, though was the one that scared me. Maybe he hadn't left and was still somewhere close by planning to come back once the coast was clear. So then what if he heard me call out and came back to finish the job?

So, I decided that the safest thing for me to do was to just lie there quietly and wait. Passing time that way was kind of a bitch though. When you're stuck lying face down on a cement floor unable to move, there's just not a whole lot to do.

I wondered if the people at the press conference were helping to look for me or if they were all like reporting that I was missing again. On live TV. I really hoped that my family back home wasn't watching that. Oh man, what if they'd watched the press statement and they'd seen my little breakdown? I hadn't really warned them how messed up I looked. They'd probably be a little mad at me for withholding that detail from them. And how I hadn't let them know that I was just a little messed up in the head at the moment. Panicking at little things.

I think a little panicking is justified though, all things considered. Except that panicking was what got me into this latest mess. If I'd just stayed put when the lights went out I would probably be safe in my room by now. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I sighed and tried to start thinking about something other than the fact that I'd screwed up yet again.

Unfortunately that led to me thinking about my nightmare, and that flashback thing. I didn't want to think about them, but I couldn't make myself stop. The scenes played out over and over again in my head, and each time they played, the harder it was for me to convince myself that they weren't real. I didn't want them to be, but that they were pretty consistent with the photo I'd been given. And with the whispering. It really had happened. It was unsettling remembering how he'd hit me, but at least that was something I could deal with. The nightmare stuff was what was really bothering me. It made my skin crawl to think about him touching me. My body started trembling again and I closed my eyes trying to erase the images from my head. Unfortunately that didn't help; the mental pictures followed me even there.

I needed something else to focus on. Like rolling over. Maybe if I concentrated hard enough on it I could do it now? It'd been a few minutes since I'd tried. I needed a plan of attack.

A plan of attack. Now that's what I should be thinking about! Yeah! All right. I needed to come up with a way to get the guy off my back. What did I know about him? Um. Hm. Damn. So far he was the one who was holding all the cards. He knew a lot about me, I knew very little about him. He was really big, he was remarkably strong, and he seemed to know my every move. He'd gotten into my hotel room; he knew my cell phone number. He could easily overpower me. He knew how to scare the hell out of me. I didn't know what he looked like. Or what his voice actually sounded like. Or even why he was after me.

It was hopeless.

I was hopeless.

Back to trying to roll over. At least that was something I could probably handle. If I could figure out how to move again. Which I couldn't seem to do. Why couldn't I do anything right? This was so stupid and pathetic. I wanted to scream I was so frustrated. If I could just scream I would feel so much better. But I couldn't do that in case Stalker Guy was still around.

"Help me," I murmured softly, pretending that I was screaming. It just didn't have the same effect. In fact, I felt worse. I hated not being able to do anything for myself. And it wasn't just about the stupid drug that had been injected into me. It was everything. I've always had this image of what I wanted to be, what I was supposed to be like, and I gotta say that I didn't seem to have any of those qualities. I'm supposed to be brave and strong. I'm supposed to be self-sufficient. I'm supposed to be able to protect myself and take care of my friends and family. Instead they'd all gotten stuck trying to protect me, and even then I had to mess everything up and get myself into trouble again. Like always. Why did I have to be so fucking useless? Sorry, Mom, know I'm not supposed to swear and all, but damn, that's how I feel. Wouldn't you if you figured out that you were such a pathetic waste?

Okay, I really needed to stop mentally berating myself, it wasn't helping matters. Not the time for the self-pity act. I'd have plenty of time for that later, but for now, I really just needed to focus on moving.

I could do this, I just needed to concentrate. Arm, you listening? I need you to just kinda push against the ground. Okay yeah, that's good. A little harder. And now it's your turn, leg, kinda push off and just kinda flop me over, okay? I know it hurts, damn it, just do it!

And all at once I'm on my back. HA! See, I'm not completely helpless. Just mostly. Okay, I'm on my back. And this was supposed to help me how, exactly? Oh yeah, I can see what's coming, and it's at least a tiny bit more comfortable. Not a whole lot, though.

Maybe if I could scoot back a little and get my legs back on solid ground that'd help. Or maybe I could even sit up and lean against the wall. That'd be way more comfortable than lying on the cold concrete. Okay. Ready for this?

Ugh. No. I'm exhausted. Just that little bit of moving wore me out. Damn but that's pathetic. Okay, I'll just lie here for a few more minutes and try not to think of bad things.

Like how once stalker guy finds out that I'm alive he'll probably come after me again.

Okay, brain? I don't know if you remember or not, but just moments ago I declared those were exactly the sort of thoughts I was supposed to be avoiding. So, quit it, okay? This drug will wear off, and if they haven't already found me and taken me upstairs, I'll get up there on my own. Then we'll hang out for another couple days and stay safe with the bodyguards. No more stupid little press conferences, no more letting anyone out of sight. All of us will stay safe, we'll do our show, and then we'll get the hell out of town. It's not like the psycho would follow us on tour.


Geez. What if he did? What if he didn't quit following me and attacking me and--

Brain, I'm warning you if you don't quit that I'll...I'll...damn. How do you threaten your own brain with anything? Seems kinda self-defeating doesn't it? Fine then, I'll forgive you this time, but quit it!

All right, so back to moving. Would it bet better to try to sit up first and then move back or move back and then sit up? Um. Hm. Sit up maybe? That shouldn't be too hard, right? Okay one, two, three, gyaaaaah! Okay, stay lying down. Not going to do that again. Ow. I bet that's what your head feels like when it's about to explode for real.

So, who's for scooting back now?

No one?

Didn't think so, but we're gonna do it anyway. Okay. Legs, bend. I said bend, lefty. Hello? Hel-lo? Right leg is bending just fine, so what's your problem? Say, didn't you mention that your left leg felt numb earlier? Maybe that was a bad thing.

Shut up, Brain. When I want your help, I'll ask for it.




Okay, damn it, I want your help. Just no more bad thoughts, okay? I'm having a hard enough time without that.

So, my left leg doesn't bend and it's still numb. We can work without it. Just means right leg is going to have to do a lot more work. I know it's not fair, but left leg's being stubborn at the moment.

I really needed to stop talking to my body parts.