Aaron said something to me but I couldn't hear him. All I could do was focus on Sonja.
Then she was no longer alone. Sparky and Terri had joined her, the first time I saw them all together. They followed Sonja's haunting, terrible gaze until they were all looking in my direction.
"Do you see those girls?" I asked Aaron, not caring to hide the pure panic in my voice.
"By the stage, to the left of it. The two blondes and the black-haired one."
"I see one blonde and one black haired one," he said. "They look pretty freaky, man."
I looked up at him and saw he was squinting in the right direction.
I turned my head back to the stage and saw that he was right. Now it was only Terri and Sparky. And they were starting to walk my way.
"Oh fuck," I yelped.
"What, what?" asked Aaron. "Do you know them?"
"Oh my god," I whimpered, my heart coming to life with a thump. "Oh my god."
I looked around me, wondering where I could go. The right side of the crowd was my only option. If I could run through the audience, I could make my way to the side stage and get there before anything could happen. In a mob of moving people, I was an easy target. At least on stage I was in open view, and even though I had my doubts about Jacob, I still knew he would protect me to the end.
At least I hoped he would.
"What's going on?" Aaron cried out in confusion. Terri and Sparky were closer now, violet and black eyes glowing supernaturally.
I shot him a terrified look. "Whatever you do, Aaron, stay away from those girls. They are bad, bad news. I have to go."
I left him and started pushing my way through the crowd, trying to get to the front. I was panicking, sloppy, and nearly fell a few times as acid-trippers freaked on me and chauvinistic metal heads tried to grab me. I didn't want to look behind me to see if Terri and Sparky were coming my way-I knew they were. I could feel them, hot on my heels, like heat-seeking missiles from Hell.
I almost made it to the front of the stage, the hotly contested property in any popular show, when I saw Sonja. She stood between me and the guard who stood at the side stage entrance.
She smiled at me, coyly, her eyes a vivid lavender which was just as creepy as the black holes I saw in her face the other night.
I looked up at the stage to see if the band had noticed, if they could see her, but Robbie was jumping around like he had a fire under his ass and no one else was paying attention. At one point Mickey looked down at me and gave me a nod of recognition but it was like he didn't see Sonja at all. I looked at her translucent, thin body and saw no type of pass on her. No one should have been in this area except photographers and there were none at this particular show. The security guard at the stage wasn't even paying her any attention. I started to wonder if I was the only who could see her.
Then Sonja raised her chin defiantly and exchanged a heavy look with someone over my shoulder. I felt two pairs of hot hands close around my arms and I didn't need to turn around to know who it was. I was caught.
Sparky and Terri dug their nails into me, puncturing my skin with a fiery stab, hot blood running down my arms, and they began to drag me away from the stage. I screamed and I kicked but no one paid me much attention.
That wasn't the only thing that made my skin tighten with terror.
Sonja walked toward the stage and, before shooting a smug smile my way, disappeared under it.
She walked right under the stage and was gone.
That couldn't have been good.
That wasn't good at all.
And while my brain was trying to process what I saw, I was getting further from the stage. A few people stepped up to me and asked what was going on but Terri and Sparky said I was suffering from a bad acid trip. I opened my mouth to tell them it was a lie but no words could form. It was like one of those dreams where you try to scream and you can't. I couldn't utter a word to save my life.
And I was trying to save my life.
I was almost at the back, near the paddock fence that led into deep, oaky woods, when Sparky's hands came off of me.
I looked around and Terri's hands came away too. Suddenly I had dropped to the ground, landing on my ass on the hard dirt.
Aaron was standing above me with a similar looking kid I assumed was his brother. They were standing between me and the GTFOs and they weren't mincing words.
"You get the fuck out of here before we call security," Aaron sneered through his braces. Sparky made a hissing sound and made another move for me but Aaron's brother put out his hand and held her back.
"We have brown belts in Tae Kwon Do," he warned. "And I've been waiting to go all Bruce Lee on a couple of chicks."
I tried to catch my breath and got to my feet. I took a proud stand behind them.
"Now it's three against two and I'm a fan of Bruce Lee too," I threatened with false bravado. "Oh look, I can talk again."
Sparky and Terri exchanged a look before Sparky hocked a loogie my way. I ducked just in time and it landed on the dirt with a steaming hiss. Yeah, these chicks were totally normal. Not Satanic at all.
"Enjoy the rest of the show," Terri snarled, and together they disappeared into the crowd.
Aaron and his brother turned to look at me and I could only give them a smile of relief and thanks before I remembered it wasn't over yet.
"There's another one," I cried out. "She went under the stage."
"What?" one of them asked but I had already started running. Sonja wouldn't have been under there with that disgustingly smug look on her face, unless…unless…
I was halfway back to the front when it happened
At first there was a terrific, inhuman groan, followed by confused looks from the band members and hushed words of bewilderment in the crowd. Then the stage began to buckle. There was a crackling sound, like fireworks, and the scaffolding above and behind the stage began to twist and snap just as the ground beneath the band's feet began to splinter like broken toothpicks.
I screamed and tried to push harder through the crowd, who were also panicking. The scaffolding collapsed straight down, slamming into the stage and taking a bit of the first row as well.
It was pure chaos. People were running everywhere, screaming, crying. I was pushed back and back with the incoming tide, further away from the place I needed to be.
When I was finally able to ride it out, when the mass of people stopped pressing against me, I was able to run toward the stage, the only person who, along with fire trucks and paramedics, was just arriving at the scene. Their red lights and sirens echoed in the night air, a too timely sense of déjà vu.
The security guard emerged from the stage, holding his ripped off shirt to his head where it was bleeding profusely.
"Stay back, miss, please."
"I'm with the band!" I screamed. I fumbled for the pass in my pocket, showing it to him just as Fiddles and Graham emerged from the wreckage, looking dazed but uninjured.
"Where are the rest of them?" I screamed, breaking out of the security guy's grasp and getting in Graham's face. I was ready to blame this whole thing on him and the fact that he was unscathed didn't help either.
Graham just ignored me and walked off. He'd probably blame that on some sort of post-accidental daze. But Fiddles, god bless his weirdly named soul, grabbed hold of my hand and brought me back to the stage, which was more or less a pile of ruins and broken equipment. The huge banner that said Hybrid and Electric Duck Bath was flapping in the wind at the bottom, and we heard a few groans. As we lifted the banner off the ground, we saw Robbie lying on his side, gritting his teeth in pain.
I dropped to my knees and touched him on the cheek. "Robbie, are you okay?"
He nodded painfully. "My wrist. I think it's broken. Something hit it."
I smoothed his golden hair from his face. "Hang tight. I'm going to check on your brothers."
The security guard was soon on my tail, staying with Robbie as I climbed onto the rest of the stage.
"Sage? Mickey?" I cried out, my eyes searching the collapsed areas where they should have been.
"We're okay," came a voice to the back. I looked up and saw Sage and Mickey's head poking up. They were off the stage, completely behind it and standing on the ground.
I let out the breath I was holding in.
By the time I picked my way through the stage rubble, the paramedics were busy treating people. So far, somehow, it just seemed to be Robbie with a banged up wrist, the security guard, and two concertgoers who were treated for minor injuries. It looked far, far worse than it actually was.
I dodged the reporters who had gathered around the scene. I wondered how they had gotten here so fast and if there was some sort of journalist convoy that was following the band around just like the GTFOs. Only they were the reporters not the destroyers. I had come to the very weighty conclusion that the psychotic, demonic girls were the cause of everything that was plaguing the band.
And I had a feeling it wouldn't come as a surprise to either Sage or Jacob.
With those new thoughts forming in my head, I ran around the collapsed stage looking for either one of them, wanting answers, but neither were around. I did run into Aaron and his brother, whose name was Dave, and I practically fell to my knees in praise of them. I think they were pretty stoked to have saved a young lady and played it off, but nonetheless, I gave them my name and told them if they were ever at a Hybrid show to tell security that Dawn Emerson had sent them. I didn't know if it would work, but I wanted to give their brave hearts just a bit of hope.
I climbed on the tour bus and saw Mickey and Sage sitting in the near dark with silent, grim expressions on their faces. I looked at Bob.
Bob sighed. "He's probably going to be a while. The promoter of the show is blaming him and the band for the stage collapse. He says Robbie's bouncing around caused it all."
I shook my head but was unsure how much I should say. Bob shot me a warning look and I decided to keep my mouth shut for the time being. We were almost sure that Sage wouldn't bat an eye about our curse theory-and if he did it was a well-rehearsed eye-but Mickey most likely had no idea. And he had already gone through too many traumatic events for one lifetime. Poor bearded dude deserved a medal.
I moved to the back and plunked myself down beside Sage.
"Can I talk to you?" I whispered in his ear. He still smelled like that sweet pipe tobacco, a scent I would forever associate with weakening knees.
He seemed to think that over. Then he whispered back, low voice and hot breath on my skin. "Can we talk tomorrow? I'm having a hard enough time thinking as it is."
I nodded. Even though Sage might know something, he was still the leader of the band and still human. His thoughts were obviously with Robbie, hoping that one of his best friends, if not his best friend, was going to be okay.
I must have fallen asleep where I was, because when I woke up, my head was on Sage's shoulder and Jacob was just coming on the bus. Robbie was behind him.