“I will fight long and hard, it will be bloody, I know that, but if I don’t return, please, please tell Jane and Mary that I died peacefully. I don’t want them to know what I went through. I know it is probably asking too much, but you are the only one I could ask. Please, tell them that for me.”
Dan put down the letter and shook his head, “fucking asshole.” He crumpled up the letter and threw it into the bin, correcting himself, “stupid fucking asshole.” He knew that Brandon wasn’t going to make it back, hell Brandon had to have known it before he even set out. No one returned from something like that, there was no point in trying. But then that was Brandon all over, always attempting the impossible and so far he had pulled it off. Dan knew better though, it was better to let those twenty, thirty, forty people die than to risk his own life. It might sound selfish but if he died untold others would die too. If he lived though he could fight on, protect people and save their lives. It was stupid of Brandon to go, stupid and selfish and incredibly brave all at the same time. What ever came through the portal would rip apart anything that stood in its way, Brandon included, and then when it had its fill, or when it could no longer sustain itself it would disappear back into the dark abyss that had spit it out, hopefully never to return.
Dan released a slow breath, weighing his options, Brandon had snuck away in the night, god only knew how long he had been gone, far too long to try and reach him by phone, that would be dangerous and foolhardy for both of them, too late to go after him. He could try to get a message to people in the area, they would have already cleared out but maybe if they heard Brandon was going they might try to stop him or at least throw something his way that would give him a bit more protection. After a seconds hesitation Dan picked up the phone.
When he hung up he felt drained, seven people, all of them were already long gone, another four weren’t answering which meant they were as good as dead for now. It was even worse than Dan had realised. No one was going to go into that slaughter house. Tomorrow there would be a national tragedy, an explosion or something of that nature. Something horrible but fast to explain the amount of dead and the complete lack of evidence, all burnt away. Who knew, perhaps Brandon would pull it off again, spit out one of his stupid one liners in the face of death and live to fight another day, Dan doubted it but really anything was possible. To go after him would be suicide. Dan had been fiddling with his keys while on the phone, he spun them around his finger, letting himself get lost in his thoughts. He put down his keys after a few minutes then he stood and went to the liquor cabinet, there he grabbed out a bottle, filled a glass and downed it all in one long, burning swallow. His eyes watered as he poured himself another. Brandon was already dead, there was nothing he could do and risking his own life to try and help would be equally stupid. He was needed, he had a job to do and he had to be alive to do it. He had made calculations like this his entire life, but this was different, Brandon had been family to him, Brandon had taken him in when he had no where else to go. It was a powerful bond, but some things just couldn’t be done. Dan sat down at his desk, knowing that no matter what happened, he would never forgive himself. If Brandon survived it meant that Dan could have helped after all, making it easier, perhaps even saving one or two other poor bastards. If Brandon was killed it meant that maybe he could have been there and made a difference. He put the glass down, glaring at it. “You fucking prick.” Brandon knew what he was doing, he had to have known. If he didn’t want Dan to follow him he would have hidden the letter better rather than just leaving it out on the desk. Maybe that meant he had a plan, one that relied on Dan showing up at the last moment. No. It was his own mess, his own choice. If he wanted help he would have asked, he knew what he was going into. He could feel the alcohol relaxing his muscles, the fire in his stomach started to cool, he knew he was too drunk to drive already, if he tried to help he’d only ensure they would both get killed, assuming he’d even be able to get there without crashing in the first place.
Dan stood from his desk, not bothering to tidy anything away, that could be done in the morning. He grabbed the bottle and headed towards the stairs. Every few steps he took a quick swig from the bottle. In his bedroom he stripped out of his clothes, pausing after each removal for another sip. Once that was done he got into bed and closed his eyes. His mind still raced but the alcohol was beginning to cloud things over, thoughts started to feel fuzzy and things started to slip away. He left himself drift, the last thing he remembered before passing out was the room starting to spin.
He woke the next morning to a pounding head, his room stunk of booze, the bottle had fallen over at some point leaving a nice puddle on the floor, though not as big as it might have been if it had spilled a few hours before. He turned over, groaning. He didn’t want to get up, if he got up it meant the day was starting and anything that happened the night before was real. His phone was still downstairs, perhaps, if Brandon was very, very lucky there would be a text from him, if not well… His mind flashed to Brandon laughing with Mary as she giggled and squirmed trying to avoid his tickling. He needed to know for them. He stood from his bed and lumbered into the hall, his stomach did a lazy flip and he dove for the bathroom, making it just in time as he threw up again and again, his stomach clenching painfully. When he had finally finished he sat up, his mouth sour and bitter tasting. Blindly he reached up and felt along the sink until his hand hit a bottle of mouth wash, he swished it around then spat it into the toilet before flushing it. After a few minutes he felt well enough to stand.
Downstairs he stood in his office, his phone was sitting on his desk, dark and ominous, he reached out with a trembling hand a brought the screen to life, hoping, praying that there would be a message, a missed call, anything. There was nothing. His phone dropped from his hand, Dan collapsed back into his chair, he never really believed, not until this moment. Brandon was the one who always got out, who always escaped.
Dan’s phone buzzed, he picked it up, dreading the message he knew was from Jane. He clicked it open and read it, “Hey, I left a letter on your desk last night. Don’t know if you’ve seen it. Either way ignore it. I’ll be back in the city in a few hours.” Dan started laughing, tears flowing down his face. When he finally stopped he put his phone down, still smiling he looked at the message again, “You fucking asshole.”