Jun. 17th, 2011

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Erik took the stairs rather than the elevator. He ran up them to his floor for a little exercise. He felt like he had been sitting too much recently. He got to the suite that Charles had booked for them, fished for his key in his jacket pocket, and opened the door.

It was obvious that Charles had started to pack. The suitcase open on the couch had been a big tip off. Erik took the chess set from under his arm and put it on Charles' briefcase so that they wouldn't forget it tomorrow. He started packing up his briefcase and travel bag. Years of travel had taught him how to pack light. He looked at his watch and wondered how much time he had before they were off again. He stretched and yawned. He turned to go to his bedroom when he heard a rather loud crash coming from Charles' room.

He went to the door and knocked "Charles, are you all right?"

He listened for an answer but it came in another form. He felt a pressure in his head. It felt like his brain was being squeezed in a vise. Then the whispering started. He could only make out bits and pieces of what he was hearing. The bad feeling that he had earlier was only getting worse.

He pounded on the door "Charles! Charles please!"

From within the room he heard another crash. That made up his mind and got rid of any doubts that he needed to get into the room. He tried turning the knob but it was locked from the inside. The voices in his head were getting louder and the vise grip on his brain was increase. He backed up a bit and rammed his shoulder into the door. The door flew open and Erik fell into the darkened room.

The light from the living room dimly illuminated the room he was in. He could see Charles on the floor next to his bed. There was broken glass on the floor. He stood up and carefully made his way to Charles. He touched his friend's back gently. He could feel heat radiating from Charles. He rolled Charles over carefully. Charles' eyes were open and very glassy. His breath was in short bursts.

"Charles, can you hear me?"

He watched his friend's eyes try to focus on him. A flicker of recognition flew across his face.

"Erik is it really you? I am afraid I am not quite myself right now."

"Charles, you are burning up."

“I feel so cold. And my head. I can’t…I can’t”

“Shhhhh…It’s alright. Do you think you can get to the bed?”

“I’m not on the bed?” Charles tried to sit up but that set off a violent set of the shakes. At first Erik had been concerned that he was having a seizure. Erik picked Charles up carefully and was amazed at how light and compact his friend was. He put Charles on the side of the bed that was not soaked in sweat. He heard Charles mutter “No Doctors. No Doctors.”

“We have to bring that fever down.” He stripped his friend out of his wet pajamas and covered his naked frame with the duvet. He went into the living room and picked up the phone. “I need ice and a lot of it.”

Erik looked around the room. He picked up a bottle of vodka and sighed. “What a waste. It was a good brand,” he thought. He went into the bathroom and grabbed some towels then walked back to Charles’ bedroom. He pored the vodka into the ice bucket he found on the floor. Then he soaked a washcloth in the vodka and started to bath his friend in the alcohol. While he was doing that, he checked to make sure that Charles hadn’t cut himself on the broken glass.

Charles was babbling at a rapid rate. Erik tried to make out what he was saying but it was a jumble of words. Then the images started in his head. They were broken and fragmented but they carried with them terror. The one image that was repeated was a large hand coming straight at his head. He felt small and scared and confused.

“Charles!” He shook the man. “Charles, snap out of it.”

Charles moaned a low moan. His eyes opened and he finally focused on Erik. “Erik? What are you doing here?” He took in his surroundings and realized something, “And why am I naked?” he said with a smirk in his voice.

Erik let out a sign of relief. “You…” he started when he heard a knock on the suite’s front door. He went to the door and found four bellmen each with two wine buckets of ice. “Put it in the bathroom please.” The odds looks he got didn’t register at the time because he was so concerned about Charles. Later he would realize what they were probably thinking. He tipped the men and went back to Charles’ bedroom. He stepped through the door and descended into hell.

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