An hour had passed since Joe had discovered the body of his beloved stuffed toy on the bedroom floor. He was back on the tour bus with the rest of the band, on their way to France. Joe lay in his bunk, exhausted from crying. The gentle hum of the engine had a calming effect on him and he drifted in and out of sleep. In the lounge area of the bus, the rest of the guys sat silently. One of them would occasionally try to break the uncomfortable silence with a joke or humorous anecdote but they were too distracted to participate in their usual banter.
It was especially tense with Phoenix choosing to sit in the corner staring at everyone. He was wearing a strange half-sneer that served to freak everyone out just a little more. Chester sat at a window pretending to read a book; he had been staring at the same page for the last twenty minutes and now the words became a grey blur. Mike was chewing his nails down to nothing and Brad was looking at MTV. He sighed and pressed the mute button on the remote control. He watched N*Sync dance in silence to their latest video. He remembered how upset they had all been when they switched bodies with those assholes. Now they had much more serious things to worry about; like how far Phoenix would take things.
The bus slowed to a stop and Brendan, one of the drivers appeared into the lounge.
“Whoa, I’ve seen livelier morgues!” he joked, seeing the miserable faces. He frowned when he got no reaction to his joke; not even a chuckle. This wasn’t normal, even on the earliest of mornings; he always got something, usually a cushion aimed at his head.
“Why we stopped Bren?” asked Mike.
“Well we have to drop a driver I’m afraid, Brian got a phone call; some kind of family emergency or something. So I’m taking us over to France and we’re picking up another driver out there.” he replied.
“Right” replied Mike; not really taking in what Bren had just told him. Phoenix smiled; everything was starting, and going perfectly. He had made alliances and they were pulling things at their end.
Soon they got back on the road again. The silence was killing Rob, grating on his nerves. He stood up and walked towards the bathroom even though he didn’t really need to go. He stood in front of the mirror in the tiny space. He looked at himself carefully; the past couple of days had taken it out of him between one thing and another. He hadn’t bothered shaving that day and had dark stubble on his face. Purple circles weighed down his eyes and the feathery red lines stood out against the white of his eyeballs. He looked like hell.
“Look at the state of you”, he said aloud. Sighing, he dampened a flannel with cool water and rubbed his face roughly. But all the rubbing couldn’t take away the anxiety in his expression. He sighed again and went back to the lounge. As soon as he entered the small area one of Dave’s trademark glares immediately greeted him. He couldn’t take it anymore, couldn’t bite his tongue again, and couldn’t keep quiet.
“What the fuck are you looking at me like that for?!” he yelled at Dave. Dave’s expression deepened.
“Like what?” he asked calmly.
“Like I just broke your favourite power ranger doll.”
“Sit down Rob, you need to relax” sneered Dave, raising an eyebrow. Rob ground his teeth, deciding not to bother fighting with Phoenix. Mike and Brad looked at each other, wearing the same uneasy expression. They turned to look at Chester, who was still staring at his page, but his jaw was twitching and his fist was by his side, clenched tightly whitening his knuckles.
The bus emerged from the Euro-tunnel in France. Bren looked out over the flat French countryside. He looked ahead at the freeway; there wasn’t too much traffic and it was dead straight. He pushed the cruise control button that maintained the bus’s speed and direction, but still allowing him to turn the wheel in the unlikely event of a bend in the road. Reclining in his seat, he put his feet up on the dash and stared out onto the road.
Phoenix looked at his watch, it was time. He rose from his seat and exited the lounge without a word. The others looked at each other and sighed with relief.
“Fucking hell, that guy really knows how to put a dampener on the atmosphere!” exclaimed Chester, throwing his book aside.
“Tell me about it. It was all I could do to keep myself from screaming” added Mike, flashing his chewed up nails.
“I need a drink,” groaned Chester, moving from his seat to help himself to a bottle of Jack Daniels and a glass. He poured himself a double and sat back, taking it in one gulp and pouring another.
“Take it easy dude,” warned Brad, “Hangovers and you don’t go too well together”
“Your concern is touching Brad, but I’m not the one you need to worry about”. Silence descended on the lounge again, but it wasn’t an uncomfortable silence this time, more a worried silence. Brad turned MTV on again; some idiot was tittering down the phone line to Richard Blackwood, who, smiled patiently and blew kisses to “Shelly and Sophie”. Brad turned it off again and looked out the window.
Phoenix moved silently through the sleeping area of the bus. He noted the snoring coming from Joe’s bunk. He was proud of his little joke with Froggy. He opened the door to the front of the bus and slid inside, pressing the door shut behind him silently. Bren was lying back, staring out the window in a daze. Phoenix looked at the back of his skull; one swift blow and Bren would be out of the way. He twisted his features into an evil grin and looked around for the right tool for the job. His eyes rested on a large spanner lying on the floor behind the driver’s seat. Bending down to pick it up he found it was covered in oil. He picked up an old rag and rubbed the spanner in it. Getting himself a firm grip on the handle, he moved behind Bren and raised the spanner above his head.
Dave licked his lips in anticipation; he picked his spot at the base of Bren’s skull and with expert precision, and struck with force.
“Ouch!! Jesus Dave, watch what you’re doing with that thing!” scolded Bren, rubbing his head and wincing in pain. He wiped the blood from his hair with the sleeve of his sweater and pushed his brain back in through the hole in his head.
“Wha….” Stammered Dave, looking at the hole in the back of Bren’s skull and back to his spanner, which was smeared with blood.
“You could have hurt me!” cried Bren.
“But…. I did…” stuttered Dave, still confused.
“No, you didn’t, but I know your game. I’m onto you and I’m telling you now that you won’t get away with it” said Bren icily.
“Really?”, smirked Dave, “and how are you going to stop me?”. With that Bren leaped from his seat and delivered a devastating kick to Phoenix’s ribs. He doubled over in pain, groaning loudly. Standing back up with great effort, Dave glared at Bren and swung the spanner at his face. Metal connected with bone in a sickening crunch.
“You bastard! I can’t believe you did that!” cried Bren incredulously, wiping yet more blood from his face. Dave, not believing what he was seeing, lunged forward again. He swung the spanner at the side of Bren’s head with all his strength. Too quick for him, Bren darted to the side and sunk his foot into Dave’s knee pit, making him fall onto all fours. Rapidly, Bren sent his elbow crashing down on the base of Dave’s spine. Dave dropped his weapon and collapsed onto the floor, choking. Bren stood over him waiting for his next move. The beads of sweat on his face were mixing with the blood pumping from his nose and dripping onto his sweater. Dave pulled himself off the floor and stood facing Bren, panting, nostrils flaring, eyes burning. He jumped on Bren and the two landed on the floor. Dave, like a rabid animal, delivered punch after punch to Bren's face but to little effect; he resorted to scraping Bren’s face with his fingernails and pulling his hair. Bren struggled to close his hands around Dave’s neck, he squeezed, pushing Dave off him and onto his back.
“What… the… fuck… are… you?!” choked Dave, amazed by Bren's strength and speed.
“You’re worst nightmare” replied Bren coldly.
“Oh please… what a... cliché” quipped Dave. By now his face was turning purple and he couldn’t breathe. He raised his foot to Bren’s abdomen and kicked the super-driver away from him with all the force he could muster from his already failing, oxygen-deprived body.
Bren landed on his head near the door of the bus. Seeing his opportunity, Dave scrambled towards the controls for the door. He managed to open it before Bren came thundering towards him again, kneeing him in the crotch. Dave clutched at his package as searing pain ripped through him.
“That’s the last fucking straw!” He squeaked through gritted teeth. He rushed towards Bren and put all his effort into kicking him square in the chest. Bren staggered backwards from the blow, he went too near the door and lost his footing. Tumbling backwards down the steps his hands snatched at the air to find a handhold. His fingers closed around the frame of the door just as his body flew out of it. He hung there, fighting the current pulling him away from the side of the bus. Dave stepped carefully towards him and started to prise his fingers one-by-one from the doorframe.
“Stop that you bitch!” cried Bren.
“Oh okay then… No, I’m not convinced, still gonna throw your ass off the bus!” replied Phoenix sarcastically. He prised the last of Bren’s fingers from the doorframe, but Bren reached with his other hand to take a firm hold of Dave’s baggy-pants. This upset Dave’s balance and he landed on his ass on the step. Hanging onto the doorframe himself now, his legs hung out the door with Bren attached to them. But the baggy-pants were too baggy and started slipping.
“Noo!!!” cried Bren, “you rock-stars are all the same, can never keep your pants on!”
Phoenix shook the pants off himself and sent them and Bren tumbling onto the road. He sat for a second in his boxers before standing up and taking the drivers seat. He switched off the cruise control and turned the bus off the freeway.
Bren tumbled over and over on the road before stopping. He stood up and dusted himself off. He watching the bus pull away in the distance and screamed in frustration. Looking down at himself, he saw that his clothes were torn and covered in blood. He was still holding phoenix’s pants, which he then threw down in disgust and jumped up and down repeatedly on.
Phoenix sighed; things weren’t going as smoothly as he had planned. He hadn’t planned on the bus driver being some kind of super-human. He was going to complain to the tour managers about that. Now was the tricky part; getting to his pick-up without the guys noticing that he was driving the bus.
Joe lay asleep in his bunk, completely oblivious to what had just happened up front. His dreams were occupied with images of his lost friend and he cried in his sleep. The other four sat on the lounge, trying to occupy themselves. Chester had made a substantial impression on the bottle of Jack Daniels, now he was asleep in his seat, snoring gently. Mike and Brad were half-heartedly battling each other in a game of Tekken3 while Rob watched, uninterested. They hadn’t heard the struggle, hadn’t seen Bren's body flying past the bus.
They had no idea what was in store for them.
Chapter 3 Coming Soon to TLS!
|TOP | Last updated 15 February 2002 19:42 (AUS EST / +1000 GMT).|