Nick awoke to a steady beeping coming from the machines he was attached to in the hospital. He felt Alexis’s hand on his, her head resting on the bed….she was sound asleep. He smiled, Alexis had stayed up all night with him….he couldn’t believe it. He remembered back to the moment he saw her last. He hated himself for not telling her. His eyes closed as he felt tears well up, he was in a lot of pain but alive. However the question remained, could he trust anyone again?
Nick blinked and his eyes snapped open when he heard his voice in the room. Dave stood at the side of his bed, where was everyone else? He felt alone and unprotected here with his manager. A bag of clothes lay at Dave’s feet as he sneered at him.
“Wh-what?” Nick stammered. The breathing tube had been taken out the night before. He didn’t remember much from whatever had happened….except for the pain. He had a double, a clone out there somewhere, waiting to strike at any moment.
“I said get up, we are leaving! Or can’t you understand simple instructions?” Dave hissed, throwing the bag at him. Nick tried to sit up but his stomach yelled at him, he was too weak. He could feel his stitches pulling with every attempt, and it only made him more tired.
“I….I can’t…..” he whispered, tears welling in his eyes. For a moment Dave seemed to take pity on him being so helpless. He began to help undo the hospital gown but it was too difficult with the wires in the way.
“Come on, Carter. We are losing money every day you’re in this hospital bed, do you realize that? We had to cancel shows because of your stupidity. Now move it!” Dave shouted. The tears in Nick’s eyes fell steadily as he couldn’t move himself in the hospital bed. He was frightened, still reeling from his attack. Flashes came to him and he broke down in sobs.
“Quit your blubbering. You’re not a little boy so get over it. I need you out of this bed and on that bus, we can still resume the tour. That’s what you’d like isn’t it? I’m sure you don’t want to sit in this bed all day.” Dave snapped.
“No…” Nick whispered. He found pain whenever he tried to move, his stomach was very sore. The truth was, he wasn’t sure he even wanted to go back to the tour knowing everyone wanted to replace him. Why else would they have chosen to do the experiments? Nick hated thinking like this but he had a feeling the others did know about it. Why else would they have left him alone? He had been left in the bathroom stall to die…..and here he was in the hospital room alone.
“Let’s go.” Dave said more firmly this time, pulling on his arm. Nick cried out as a stabbing pain shot through his side, the tears flowing again.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING???” Brian shouted suddenly, appearing in the doorway. Dave didn’t back away, he kept tugging on Nick.
“Nick has to get back to work. We’re losing money.” he said.
“Get your filthy hands off of him….how dare you treat him like this? He can’t get up, he’s had major surgery….or can’t you get that through your thick skull?” Brian yelled. Nick didn’t watch him, he looked away. His body was hanging halfway out of the bed, his side throbbing….it felt like his stitches came out. He could feel blood oozing through his hospital gown.
“Oh my god, he’s bleeding!” Alexis shouted, running to the bed. She helped him back to a laying position as Brian went to get a nurse.
“Make it stop…..please….I just want to die…” Nick cried, holding his stomach. “No, don’t say that. Don’t you ever say that again. We are getting you help.” Alexis said consolingly, holding his hand. Nick got whisked off to surgery yet again and Dave left as fast as he had shown up, not saying anything more.
“That scumbag.” Brian said as they sat in the waiting room.
“What was he doing?” Alexis asked.
“Dave was pulling on him to get him out of bed, you saw how he was when we walked into the room!”
“This is ridiculous. How did you get someone like that for a manager? He doesn’t seem to care for any of your welfare.”
“He is behind this….and Kevin just is letting it happen. Nick almost died and he doesn’t care!” Brian exclaimed. He couldn’t believe his own cousin was involved in this whole mess.
“You need to fire Dave before something else happens.” Alexis said in agreement.
“Kevin won’t fire him, he’s Dave’s puppet. I don’t know what else to do.” Brian replied, running a hand through his hair and sighing.
Nick was standing on a stage alone, listening to the screams of delight. He was happy to be performing but something seemed off. He opened his mouth to sing but nothing came out, it was as if his voice had been taken. The crowd began turning on him, booing and throwing things…yelling for him to get off the stage. He couldn’t speak, no sound came from his mouth at all.
“You’re a disgrace, Nick. We are tired of being humiliated.” Howie said, appearing next to him. His voice sounded off, the lips were not in synch with his voice.
“We found someone better….” AJ agreed. Nick was frozen in his spot, watching as each of them ridiculed him in turn. He tried not to let them see him cry.
“I told you they didn’t want you around anymore, Nicky. Do them a favor and just leave…”
His double walked out and began to sing….the crowd cheered for him and his bandmates gathered around him, patting him on the back, leaving Nick alone. He fell to his knees, crying.
He woke up on the bathroom floor again, his double standing over him as he begged for mercy.
“Say good night, Carter.”
“Someone help me!” Nick screamed. He was stunned when his double morphed into Kevin….holding the knife over his bleeding body. The knife plunged into him and he saw a flash of light before waking up in the hospital bed again, sweat rolling down his face.
“Nick?” AJ asked, watching him with a worried expression. Nick’s heart rate was going a mile a minute, he was very distressed.
“I’m quitting…..I’m quitting the band.” Nick whispered, and he meant every word of it.