Sequel: Right Here
Status: active;;

Tomorrow

chapter ten;;

I clutch my head in my hands, swallow back my screams, as I kneel in the middle of the expansive room. My mother's voice whispers across my brain: "If you ever lost or unsure of which path to take, quiet yourself and let your inner voice speak. Panic and fear only make the situation worse. Stay calm." I try heeding her words, but I can't ー I can't breathe, my heart is pounding against my ribs, bile fills my throat. My reflection surrounds me in thousands of mirrors, in ever my direction I look; the girl in the mirror mocks me, makes me feel small. Everything is so confusing. I can't remember how I got here or which way I've come from to get here. I drop my hands to my side, balling them into tight fists, and I force my lungs to work, to inhale and exhale as steadily as they can. I take a step forward. Nothing stops me. I take another step, and another...

Then, there comes the sound of something heavy dragging along the smooth concrete under my feet. The noise is magnified by the large dome ceiling overhead and the sheer amount of mirrors on all sides, filling the room with hundreds of thousands of copies of me. Each of my reflections is laughing, pointing, jeering. I scramble to get my balance when I trip over nothing, push myself back to my feet and continue on in the same direction. Suddenly, I run face-first into something cold and hard. A mirror. A mirror that wasn't there not even a second ago ー my path had been clear! A mirror that shows the crimson pouring from my nose. I can taste the blood as it floods my mouth, drips down my chin, stains my white tank-top and blends into the American flag on it. Wait, wasn't I wearing a black T-shirt before? This isn't my top; this is Niall's. Why am I wearing Niall's shirt? The blood doesn't stop even as I cup a hand over my mouth and nose, oozing between my fingers.

Rivers stream to the floor, gather in large pools.

The blood doesn't stop, even as I press a shirt to my face.

The pools become ponds, lakes, oceans. It's to my knees. The mirrors scrape against the floor as they inch dangerously closer. My reflections' laughter is louder now.

I feel faint, but I force myself to remain conscious, on my feet, as the red ocean rises to my thighs.

The blood doesn't stop. Now black tendrils mix into the red ー thick, dark, tarry curls that pull at my ankles, my knees, thickening the blood until it's a deep ruby colour ー until it's the consistency of wet sand.

My mother's voice whispers across my brain: "Panic and fear only make the situation worse." But what does mother know?

The blood doesn't stop. The black tar slimes closer, sucks at my legs and hips and my fingertips. The ocean rises rapidly to my chest, my neck. I look around, searching for an exit. All I can see in the mirrors are my reflections as they're swallowed up by the ruby ocean.

Panic and fear only make the situation worse.

Panic and fear in my wide blue eyes before I'm finally, yet too soon, pulled under the surface; my mouth and nose and ears are filled with blood and tar, blocking all senses. I'm finally, yet too soon, pulled under the surface even as I struggle. I'm finally, yet too soon, pulled under the surface ー to my death.

I awoke abruptly, sitting upright and banging my head against the bunk above me. I gagged on the bile that was creeping up my throat. My heart raced, beat rapidly in my chest, and I trembled all over. My bunk was dark, and it took me a few moments to realise I was no longer in the dream ー the nightmare. I pushed aside the black curtains covering the windows; bright sunshine immediately filled the bunk, and I could have cried with the sight. The environment outside stayed still, and the bus wasn't vibrating with motion. I grabbed my phone and scrambled out of my bunk. Somebody stopped me before I could reach the door, and I struggled against them, scratching at their hand on my arm. My fear and panic made me blind to their face. Finally, I lost it.

"Let me go!"

My plea came out on a scream; whoever had a hold of me immediately let go of me as if they'd been scalded, and I fumbled with the door handle, my hands shaking violently, but I managed to fling it open. I tripped down the steps in my rush, and I gasped in shallow breaths of fresh air. I barely made it a couple of steps away before I stumbled, collapsed to my knees. I caught myself on tremulous arms and vomited across the asphalt. A sob ripped from my throat when a pair of hands grabbed my shoulders. I tried, I tried so hard to fight the person off ー the sensation of their grip was too similar to the tar in my nightmare ー but they grabbed onto my wrists and squeezed tightly.

"Erin! Erin, Erin, c'mon, look at me. It's okay, you're okay. Ah, there ya are. Are you all right? Erin?"

Without warning, I lunged forward; in his confusion and surprise, Louis's hold on my wrists loosened, and I flung my arms around him and sobbed into his chest. He held me close, rubbed his hand across my back, whispering soothing words the entire time. He shifted my body so that I wasn't half-lying on the ground any longer, causing me to lean against him. I shook as I fell apart. Slowly, my surroundings seemed to deep into my awareness the longer he comforted me; I pulled away once I calmed down enough, but I couldn't stop the tears. His blue eyes were dark with concern under furrowed brows, and I ignored his gaze while I wiped my cheeks and mouth on the sleeve of my sweater. Fans pressed against the fence; I could see them straining to get a good photograph of what was going on. I smiled apologetically at Louis.

"Thanks. And I'm sorry."

He shrugged, his hand coming up to rub circles on my back. "Don't be. It's fine. What happened?"

"I don't want to talk about it." I paused, examining his face closer; my fingers trembled as I reached up to touch the red spot on his chin. "Oh, my gods, did I hit you?”

"Eh, maybe a little. Don't worry about it."

"But what if it bruises? Lou, I'm so, so sorry."

"Well, if it bruises, I can tell everyone not to get on your bad side."

"Then they'll think I'm abusive and violent!" I protested before narrowing my eyes at his mischievous grin.

"Ah, but I got you to smile, didn't I?"

"Don't be an ass," I muttered with a roll of my eyes and a reluctant smile on my face.

I allowed him to help me to my feet, and he helped brush dirt off my pants before leaning down to grab my phone off the ground. I scrubbed at my face with the clean sleeve of my hoodie, ran my fingers through my hair, and reached out for my phone. He looked up from the screen with a confused expression on his face.

"How do you have Niall's number?"

"Niall?"

"Yeah. He texted you. I mean, the number isn't saved in your phone, but I'd know it anywhere. It's Niall's number."

_____________


I reread the message for the fiftieth time in less than an hour. Amber moved around me in the bathroom like a dancer well-practised at her craft, pinning my hair back and applying makeup with a light hand. I couldn't bring myself to reply to the text. Not now that I knew who it was. It just brought unanswered questions to the front of my mind, and I had enough on my plate to worry about as it was. My bandmates had given me space since the incident this morning. Amber was the only one acting like nothing had happened. She'd gotten me coffee and chosen my outfit without a word about my freak-out, and I was incredibly grateful to her for that. I locked my phone and tipped my head back a bit so she could drag a liner pencil across my eyelids.

"So did anyone tell you about the blended show you'll be doing?"

"The what?"

"I'll take that as a no." She sighed, and I could see the frustration even with my eyes closed. "You and One Direction ー and by you, I mean Complete ー are gonna do a few songs together on the last night."

"Oh. Is that what the meetings have been about?"

"Keep your eyes closed, dummy, I'm not done. But yeah, it's what the meetings have been about. I can't wait, y'know? It'll be fun to see, because both bands have such different sounds."

I decided to tune her out then, because I knew how she could be whenever something came along that she really liked. She was a huge fan of the band and had become a pretty heavy listener of One Direction while on this tour, so a mixed show like that was right up her alley. She finally stepped back after a couple of minutes, proclaiming to be done, and I stood up, stuffed my phone in my pocket, and headed toward the stage.

The fans screamed as loud as ever, but I knew the fact that I was on autopilot through the entire show was obvious by the glare Jem sent my way anytime he wasn't facing the crowd. When I stepped back to get a drink of water while he spoke to the audience, Alan gave me a pointed look, mouthing Get it together. I nodded, drained the bottle, and went back to my place. I winced when my fingers hit the wrong chord and quickly got back to the right ones, but that was evidently the last straw for Jem. His show-smile slipped just enough that I knew to prepare myself for a blow-up once we were backstage.

"I don't know what the fuck your problem is, but that out there? That was bullshit. Do you wanna ruin our last three shows? Because that's exactly what'll happen if you keep it up. Then who will want to tour with us? Nobody." He poked my shoulder hard with his finger, and I found it hard to maintain eye contact as he kept going, "Nobody wants to tour with a band whose guitarist suddenly decides she can get by on subpar, mediocre performances!"

I waited until he was done then walked away without replying. He was right, I knew he was right. I had to get my mind back on track. I sighed, sent a text to my mom, and went to find Bryan for a cigarette and some fresh air.

The next handful of days went by in a blur of routine. That was my biggest problem with touring: It was always the same things, every day ー wake up, promote albums and ourselves in interviews, soundcheck, chat with fans via social media, show, meet-and-greets, sleep, repeat. I absolutely loved playing music and seeing the world, but by the last few shows, I was almost sick of our own songs. I also hated that there was very little time to actually see the world. I wanted more time to wander around and explore. I wanted to be able to talk to fans for more than a minute or two, five at maximum. I couldn't wait to be back home, though, to be around my family and to be making new music.

The last show finally arrived ー the show the others had been looking forward to with so much barely-concealed glee. The one for which we'd been rehearsing nonstop for the last three days. Liam and Jem had stayed up late the night before finalising details in the main room then via Skype once they were told to go to bed. The fans had no clue what we were planning; I was excited to see how they would react.

I laughed and let my fingers play the opening chords to "Absolute" quietly as Jem talked about how great of a time we'd been having on this tour. His words were cut off by a wall of screaming when the 1D guys came out from backstage. He glanced back at me, and I shrugged.

"Better let 'em have what they want, Jem!" Brett said into his microphone.

I hadn't thought it was possible for the screams to get louder, but they did as we all launched into the song. Harry, Louis, and Brett shared one microphone; Liam, Zayn, and Jem on another; and Niall and me on mine. Thankfully, the joy I felt to be singing made it easier to ignore how close he was or the memories reminding me just how long it'd been since we talked. His hand came up to rest on my shoulder as he got into singing his part. My skin tingled under the warmth, and I bit my lip and forced myself to focus. Once the song was finished, my band bowed and blew kisses to the crowd before filing offstage to let One Direction do their set. We didn't even bother going to the dressing room to get cleaned up; we stood and sang along in the wings as our friends performed.

"I've tried playing it cool, but when I'm looking at you,," Liam sang out, and I giggled, running out onto the stage to join him as my bandmates followed at a more leisurely pace.

"I can't ever be brave, 'cause you my heart race!"

After the show, I found myself in the middle of five sweaty guys; even Niall seemed to have forgotten his problem with me in the rush of the concert's success. We shared a six-way hug, laughing and shouting happily at each other. But when I pulled away, tears were threatening to slip from Louis, Harry, and Liam's eyes. I swallowed thickly around the lump in my throat and let my arms fall from around Zayn and Niall's shoulders. Stefanie had been away for the past four shows due to having prior commitments with another band, but she'd come back specially for tonight. She stood a few feet away, snapping photos as we all said our goodbyes to each other. I ignored the dampness to Louis's skin and buried my face into his neck, sniffled as he held me tightly. A squeak escaped when he started spinning me much like he'd done so many times during this tour.

I continued waving to the guys through the back window of our bus while we pulled out of the parking lot. They'd followed us out to the buses to say a last farewell without our crews watching us. I'd gotten the numbers of Harry and Liam; Zayn had given me his, too, but said it would probably be changed soon anyway, so he would just text me. Niall had hesitated then waved at me as I got settled in on the couch; something in my chest loosened just a little, but I didn't invest much thought into it.

Once they disappeared from view, I wiped the tears from my cheeks, sat down properly, and opened the laptop. My fingers tapped idly at the casing as I thought about what I wanted to say in the post.

It is with immense sadness that we, Complete Irrationality, say goodbye to the fantastic, amazing, talented, wonderful lads of One Direction. We've had such a great time on this tour, and I will always always always cherish the time we've had with them ー and YOU! I really, really hope you all enjoyed the tour as much as we did! We've made new friends out of every single one of you fans and Harry and Liam and Zayn and Louis and Niall!

In the ever-relevant words of Fall Out Boy: Thanks for the memories!
Love, Erin xx