Panic ensued. Everyone reacted in their own way and everyone was loud. The black lights of the backstage room cast a eerie glow over everything it touched making it more ominous. The sugar fluffs, who were so recently attacked to Flux like barnacles to a boat, were now cowering in the furthest corner of the room sobbing, shrieking and complete useless.
Greeted by such a sight I was nearly overwhelmed and I could see at a glance that Per felt the same. It suddenly stuck me that in all this noise and chaos no one was checking on the Flax. They said he was poisoned but why was no one at his side. Surely he wasn't so far gone? Hoping to Berry that I could remember my ancient CPR training I hurriedly knelt to check.
Luckily, at least for this, he didn't have much in the way of clothes to make it difficult. Hands shaking and heart pounding I reached for his throat in the vain hope that I would feel a pulse. His skin was still warm, burning almost in fact, and as my outstretched fingers reached the exposed skin of his neck I jumped to my feet in shock. There, shallow and fast, was the thrumming of his heart. My own breathing speed up as I once again surveyed the room trying to find someone who was capable of action.
Sweeping past the huddled mass of girls and the rather nervous Per I landed on the cool and collected Malt. He was the calm in the eye of this storm and I latched on to him like a drowning woman. "Malt!" My tone was more urgent, more high pitched than I wanted. Why couldn't I mimic the coolness that he seemed to be exuding. "Call an ambulance. Quick! He's still alive!" My pronouncement sent a shock wave through the room. Nearly stunned to inaction Malt stared at me unmoving mouth halfway open in a fantastic imitation of a fish out of water and flapping nearly as much. "Malt!!" I prompted demanding his attention as I turned mine back to Flax.
Moving quickly while trying my best to be careful I looked him over. There wasn't much I could do for him aside from wait for the ambulance but I wanted to see if there was anything out of the ordinary about this situation, I mean aside from the guy being poisoned. I was pretty new to this private investigator thing but I had a feeling that clues were somewhat important. Rooting about I couldn't help but curse the inconsiderate nature of this poisoner. Couldn't they have at least left a suspicious vial laying around or something? There was only so long I could paw around Flax before it started looking less like gather evidence and more like groping.
Restless and unsure where to turn I cast about for something to do next. I found Per in the corner with the fluffs and snorted. Per always did have a thing for damsels in distress and these two damsels seemed a lot more 'distressed' now that he was at their side. Shaking my head at my brother's gullibility I went in search of Malt to find out how long it would be until the ambulance came.
The air that was once cold now was refreshing after the heat of the room. I sucked it in greedily as I started off on my search. It was just as dark out here as it was inside but the absence of the black light made it a little bit easier to see, a very little bit. Rounding a corner I saw a figure in the darkness.
I sped up reaching out to him as I approached but before I got close enough to touch him I saw through the gloom and pulled my hand back.
Whoever this was he certainly wasn't Malt. His hair was partly covering his face and it was clear from his stance that he didn't welcome my intrusion to his solitude. Nervously I bit my lip before rushing through my question in one breath. "Have you seen Malt?"
"Wot?" His poor attempt at an English accent nearly diverted me from my train of thoughts and I had stifled a giggled before trying again. "Have you seen Malt?" I spoke each word slowly and deliberately as speaking to someone hard of hearing. "He's round there." He said gesturing vaguely around the next corner his accent shifting dramatically from English to Scottish and back again.
Peering into the night I could just make out the shadow of an arm and I was about to start for him as my attention was snagged by a closer look at the linguistically confused man in front of me.
He had lifted those ridiculous sunglasses off his face and the eyes and set of his jaw seemed so familiar to me. I studied them trying to see through the hair that still partially shrouded his features. He matched my stare with one of his own and as our eyes locked a jolt ran through me. I shivered and as he started towards the backdoor realisation stuck. "Wait! Your Flax's brother aren't you?"
He turned a sneer on his lips. "What of it? I won't help you get an autograph you know." Distain dripped from his every word, how could he be so venomous when his brother was so wonderful? "No I don't want his autograph." Well that was mostly true. I didn't want his autograph right now. "It's Flax, he's backstage and he's been poisoned!" "Bah! Flax has always been a drama queen. He probably just ate his dinner to quickly." "I'm serious! He's unconscious and not doing so well. Malt's gone to call for an ambulance. You really should go see him." Muttering to himself about fangirls in what could now be described as a pseudo-Welsh accent he stomped off, hopefully to check on his brother.
I on the other hand went to Malt. As I got closer I could hear him on his phone and not wanting to disturb him I hung back out of sight.
His voice was low and insistent as if he was trying to get his point across without making too much noise. "No he's alive!" He paused waiting a response from the mysterious caller. "I don't know what happened! Look don't panic ok. I need to think, to figure this out. Don't worry I'll take care of it!" Take care of it? What was he going to take care of? I leaned closer eager not to miss anything that was being said.
I guess I was a bit too eager and as I peaked my head around the corner my hand slipped. A cry escaped my lips as I tried to check my fall and stop myself from bashing my head against the sharp edge. I tried to cover my mouth in a vain attempt to keep e sound in but it was too late. Maybe Per was right, I was no good at this cloak and dagger stuff. "I have to go." I heard Malt say before clicking off the phone. "Hello?" he called out searching for the source of my sound.
"Malt?" I called out trying to make it sound like I was just arriving in search of him. "Mint, thank goodness! Is the ambulance here yet?" "No, not yet. I was looking for you to see how long it would be." It was true despite the fact that I got a little distracted in the meantime.
"Well come on then, let's go wait for them." Cupping my elbow in his hand his lead me to the front of the club. His touch overwhelmed me and I could focus on nothing but him as we stood in the deepening night. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Flax was taken to the hospital, unconscious but still breathing. After more hours and tests than I could bear they gave the prognosis. He was in a coma and doctors were unsure when, or if, he would ever wake up.
"Hey sis," Per stood by my side giving me a moment now that I knew he was there. He of all people understood this was hard for me to see. I stared into the room at the prone body of Flax unmoving and trying not to feel.
Maize had taken my advice and gone after him. It seemed he was beating himself up all the more for not believing me in the first place. Head bowed and lost in thought he didn't see me through the window and I left him to his grief. "Let's go," I said to Per and he put his arm around me as if to shelter me as we walked down the corridor.
"Oy!" The shout from behind drew me up short. Reluctantly I turned to face Maize. Clearly he was still trying that accent and I wasn't in the mood, it had been a long day.
But then it had been a long day for him too. I softened as he came to stand near me and Per. "Look I wanted to say thanks for letting me know about my brother."
"Sorry I was the bearer of bad news. Do the doctors know any more?" "They got the results from the blood samples back. He was full of opiates and they are calling it an overdose." He looked at me then eyes full of pleading. "I know my bother liked to have this rock star image but he wasn't into any of those things. No matter what the doctors say Flax was right, someone poisoned him. He wouldn't do this to himself, I..." he bowed his head once again covering his face with his hair.
"I believe you." I said softly. I wasn't sure if it was true but I wanted it to be. "But who would do such a thing?" "Ice!" he answered swiftly and without hesitation. "Ice the lead singer of the Tangfastics?" "You know anyone else called Ice?" "Well no but..." It certainly wasn't a popular name but I couldn't understand why such a successful musician would poison someone. "He's had it out for Flax since...well for a long time." He looked away and I focused on him closely trying to read behind the mask.
"Mr. Treacle please report to the nurse's station. Mr. Maize Treacle to the nurse's station." The voice over the tanoy interrupted our conversation and any revelations that may have come from it. Walking away Maize called over his shoulder. "Check out Ice. There's a reason he has that name."
"Don't even think about it." Per, arms crossed and towering overing me, looked every inch his height. It never did anything to intimidate me growing up and it still didn't have much affect. As with all strong opponents you just had to know his weakness.
Schooling my face to hide the grin that threatened to break it wide open I turned on what my dad always called the puppy dog eyes. "I'd never dream of it." Of course a trip to the clubs of Bridgeport couldn't hurt, could it?