AJ felt himself nod off once or twice during the night but the sun woke him up and he stretched, his back aching from being against the cold cave wall. He looked back at the others and smiled, they had all made it this far, hopefully they would find some help soon. Nick was still in Brian’s lap, Howie leaning on Kevin and Brian on the other side. If AJ had a camera he’d have taken a picture, it was definitely a Kodak moment…minus their injuries.
“Is it morning?” Kevin asked, yawning himself. He looked around, hoping that everything had been a dream, but it was real. He felt disappointed and angry that they were still in the cave and his leg throbbed when he sat up.
“I think so. The sun came up not long ago…You think we should wake the others?” AJ asked. He was hungry….starving actually. He licked his lips to moisten them but his mouth was dry.
“We need to find help. Howie obviously had a concussion and I am positive Nick isn’t much better. We can’t stay here.” Kevin replied. He wondered if anyone had noticed they never made it to the next venue, or if anyone was looking for them at all. He thought of his girlfriend Kristin, if she had tried calling.
Their situation seemed pretty damn hopeless at that point, not having any idea where they were or what direction to go in. All Kevin knew was that it wasn’t over yet.
A few hours later the others started to stir, first Brian and Howie but Nick remained out cold. He was pale and the blood worried Brian especially because most was collected at the corner of his face, above his ear.
“I’m hungry.” AJ said, rubbing his stomach. He and Brian had gone out before to see if there was anything edible nearby, but came back empty handed. Judging by the angle of the sun it was almost noon.
“I know….we all are. Maybe we should all go search for help together.” Brian said as he heard his own stomach growl.
“What about Nick? He isn’t exactly light….one of us will have to carry him.” Kevin pointed out. This sparked another arguement among them but Nick’s sudden coughing startled them.
“Nick! Nick, you okay?” Brian asked, putting a hand on his back. Nick shook his head, his stomach felt like he’d swallowed acid and he coughed up droplets of blood whenever a coughing fit came on. Brian felt his forehead, he was burning up.
After seeing Nick’s condition they all decided to leave the safety of the cave and hike through the woods, almost carrying Kevin along while Nick limped behind them.
Russell watched them leave the cave, chuckling from the hilltop. He knew they would make themselves known and they did. His stomach was growling and he was dizzy from dehydration but it would all be worth it. He followed them for about a mile, keeping out of sight. Nick almost fell but was helped up and consoled, Russell felt jealous. His own brother never took care of him like that, never cared for his life. Jason put him away, like an animal…all he’d done was robbed a bank so he could buy his sister some concert tickets. He would do anything for his baby sister.
“Bastard. He will be next.” Russell said to himself, dodging between the trees.
“You know, I am never complaining about being in a tour bus again. We really took that shit for granted, huh?” AJ said, panting as they walked. Nick started to cough again and they stopped.
AJ felt three pairs of eyes glare at him.
“Don’t be an asshole, AJ.” Brian hissed. AJ rolled his eyes, mouthing something and mocking him. He was tired and hungry, they were all getting cranky again.
“Maybe we should stop.” Kevin suggested, ignoring them and looking the youngest over. Nick wiped his mouth, the blood was gone for now but his chest hurt.
“No, I’m fine. I don’t want to slow us down.” he said. Nick still felt guilty for getting them hurt in the first place, for telling Brian to drop dead. As he looked up he saw something moving in the trees and gasped, causing Howie to jump.
“What is it?”
Nick looked again, whatever it was had run off by now.
“Nothing.” Nick brushed it off but the more they walked….the worse he seemed to feel.
“You aren’t slowing us down, Nick. What is wrong? Do you need rest?” Brian said. Nick was looking flushed again and so was Howie.
“I already said I was fine. Just because I am hurt all of a sudden you guys care about….about me?” the youngest said, coughing once more. All of them except for AJ looked away, knowing Nick was right. They’d been ignoring him and worrying about AJ’s problems when they didn’t see someone else crying out for help too.
“I’m so sorry, Nick….I…” Brian began, but a gunshot silenced his words.
All of them ducked but Nick’s eyes went wide. A smiling face stood there in the distance watching them, almost laughing. It was Russell, dried blood on his face and a grotesque smile. He aimed and fired at them again, stepping closer.
“Run!!!” Nick screamed, as another shot nearly missed Howie by an inch. It hit a tree and Nick realized this was not a dream. This was real….they were being hunted.