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Old 11-21-2010, 12:21 AM   #1
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The Fourth of July - Chapter 11

Here you go, special birthday treat.

Usual disclaimer: This is all as far removed from reality as you can get... only the mistakes are mine. All in good fun.

Onwards... In which Natasha swears a lot, and Bono starts going a bit ...



-----
Chapter 11
-----


The fanfare of the news on the radio woke Natasha at 6am. Her eyes flew open, and she tried to figure out why she had a feeling that something was horribly wrong. The newsreader's words filtered through.

"... record-breaking heat-wave gripping the mid-western states continues unabated ..."

What was wrong was that she was staring at her own ceiling, and not the ceiling of the fancy hotel. What was wrong was that she was hearing the same news she had woken up to for innumerable days, all of which were the fourth of July.

What was wrong was that it was still the fourth of July.

Disbelief and rage flooded her.

"NO! Fuck! Fuck fuck FUCK FUCK!! This can NOT be happening! I saved his fucking life! FUCK!"

Tasha tore off the covers, sprang out of bed, seized her clock radio and flung it through the window. Glass shattered. The radio sailed down three storeys and smashed on the pavement below. Swearing and raging, filled with a blind and violent fury, she ripped down the curtains, smashed the bedside table into the wall, again and again until it splintered apart. She put her bare fist into the bathroom mirror, and her slippered foot through the television. She swept all her belongings off shelves and tables, but there weren't that many. She overturned everything that wasn't stuck to the floor, broke everything that could be broken, and sent everything that could receive a radio signal out a closed window. She had completely destroyed her flat long before she stopped wanting to smash things, but she stopped herself from continuing her rampage elsewhere.

Finally, Natasha sat in the broken glass in the tiny lounge room and cried bitter, angry tears. She'd got it completely wrong. Saving Bono's life had done nothing. She was doomed.

"Fuck this. Fuck him." She stood up, found some clothes and her first-aid kit, applied some band-aids, and dressed. She needed a holiday.

Three hours later, Tasha was on a plane heading for the Mediterranean.

---

In Bono's dream, he was surrounded by people, all playing cards, seated at a round table. They were mostly wearing various business suits, but some were dressed more casually. He looked down at himself, and saw he was wearing one of his black jackets with red trim, but it flickered once or twice, the pattern changing to one with many irregular patches.

The strangest thing about the people around the table was that they had no faces. Smooth grey blankness stretched from their hairlines to their collars. Some were taller or shorter, slimmer or larger, but all were faceless.

"Who are you?" Bono was trying to ask, but his voice was lost. There was an indistinct roaring, screaming sound that muffled everything.

One by one, the faceless people laid down their cards. Each had only one card, and as they laid them face-up, Bono saw that the cards showed their real faces. Each face was frozen in an attitude of terror.

Bono realised there was a card in his hand, too. As if moving through molasses, his eyes travelled downward, to see what his card showed...

... and he woke with a start, covered in cold sweat.

He lay still for several minutes, holding the images in his head, unable to simply dismiss it as a strange dream caused by indigestion. The faces had seemed so real, yet he didn't know any of them… did he? Perhaps that woman whose hair had been tied back so tightly... but it was hard to recognise a picture that was screaming like that.

Bono rolled over and snuggled against his sleeping wife, trying to ignore the shaky feeling the dream had left him with.

Half an hour later, however, he could no longer ignore his bladder, or the song that was insisting on writing itself in his head. Bono slipped out of bed, humming to himself as he padded to the bathroom.

"I know a girl, who's like the sea... changing something everyday for me..."

He'd had songs appear in his head before, sometimes almost fully-formed, but this one seemed different. He felt like he'd been working on it for days, but there was no trace of notes or lyrics or music for it in his study.

Plagued constantly with an eerie, and then irritating sense of déjà vu, Bono continued to work on the song, but it felt more like remembering than songwriting. But he would have written something down before, surely... He was very careful about not losing lyrics these days.

Every time he tried to shake off the déjà vu by working on something else, or reading, or pacing around the room, the feeling intensified that he had done the exact same thing before, for the exact same reason, with the exact same result.

It was driving him insane.

Bono was so distracted by the déjà vu and his fruitless attempts to dispel it, that he was badly startled when his wife knocked on the door of his study, a couple of hours later. He yanked the door open, heart pounding.

"Jaysus, you scared the life out of me," he gasped.

Ali smiled at him, their two sons giggling behind her. "Sorry. I'll take the kids, shall I?"

"What? Oh..." Bono rubbed his stubbly face – he'd completely forgotten that he was supposed to be taking their sons to their aunt and uncle's place today, to stay for part of the school holidays. "I can still take them, give me a moment..."

"It's all right, I'll take them. You sounded like you were busy."

"What, pacing up and down and cursing?" Bono tried to make a joke, but the déjà vu was giving way to a growing fear.

Ali was still smiling. "That's how you usually sound when you're busy. I'll see you tomorrow," she said, turning to shepherd the children towards the front door.

The fear solidified suddenly, and Bono was seized with the certainty that if he let Ali walk out that door, he would never see her again. "No, wait, I'll come..." His voice caught, and Ali turned back to look at him.

"Are you all right?"

"I..." He took a step and held his wife tightly, burying his face in her hair. "I don't want to let you go," he said. "I love you."

Ali laughed, and hugged him back, but was still surprised when Bono kissed her.

"Eeew, Daaaad," one of his sons complained, disgusted by the display.

"What's got into you?" Ali asked when he let go finally. She was looking at him oddly.

"Nothing," Bono replied, trying to smile. "Let's get the kids over to Norman's place, eh?"

---

"Don't you have to collect Hollie's present this morning?" Ali asked as she drove them all across Dublin. Bono held her left hand whenever she wasn't using it to steer.

"There's still time," he said.

"There won't be much time to give it to her," Ali said.

The maddening déjà vu had abated since Bono had got in the car, but mentioning time had brought it back again. Or maybe it was just that song he'd been working on. Time seemed to be becoming a theme of the songs they'd come up with in Fez.

I know a girl, hole in her heart ... She said 'Infinity's a great place to start... Time is irrelevant, it's not linear'...

He would have to keep working on that one.

Bono had been worried that Ali would have a car accident, perhaps that had been why he'd felt so afraid of losing her; but they got to Norman's house safely. The boys ran off to play in the back garden, and Bono's brother invited he and Ali to stay for lunch.

"We'd love to, but I've got a busy day today," Ali smiled apologetically.

The drive back home had been equally uneventful, much to Bono's relief, but his nagging fear refused to abate.

"You can't follow me around all day, you've got things to do as well," Ali laughed when he offered to accompany her to a meeting with a number of fashion industry types about Edun.

Finally, she had left the house again, and Bono was left feeling empty and desolate, for reasons he couldn't fathom. He forced himself to drive to the book shop and collect Hollie's present.

By the time Bono got to Edge's place, he was being driven mad by déjà vu again, twitchy and short of temper. He did his best to hoist a smile onto his face when he greeted Edge's eldest daughter.

"Happy Birthday, Hollie," he said, presenting her with the book, hastily wrapped in silver paper. He gave her a kiss on the cheek.

She thanked him, and unwrapped the present. "I know it's not very cool," Bono said, "but I hope you enjoy it."

"Oh, I love it, thank you," Hollie smiled, eyes taking in the old leather binding, carefully opening to the title page. Bono smiled back, gratified.

In the kitchen with Edge a few minutes later, the déjà vu returned with full force. It was getting so bad, Bono felt that he should know what everyone was going to say before they said it, and was incredibly frustrated that the awareness of repetition always came at the exact same time as the words or event, and never even a second earlier.

"They're all going out later...?" Bono said to Edge. It was a statement more than a question.

"Sooner rather than later, if it's up to them," Edge replied. "Apparently she's too old for parties at home now." The guitarist gave a wry smile.

"I can't believe she's twenty-four already," Bono sighed, internally kicking himself for not having known what Edge would say until he'd said it. Or what he himself would say... it all felt like it had happened a million times.

"Tell me about it," Hollie's father said. They mused in silence for a minute, Bono seething with barely restrained frustration. His head was spinning.

"When's your plane leaving?" Edge said eventually.

"Three-thirty, four o'clock, something like that." It was four o'clock, he knew it was four o'clock. Why hadn't he just said four o'clock??

Edge rolled his eyes. "You ever thought of investing in a personal planner? A diary perhaps?"

"Just because you're glued to your BlackBerry... Hey, you could put all my appointments in there too." Bono gave Edge a shrewd look. Maybe then he'd know if he'd done all this before.

"What did your last secretary die of?"

"Exhaustion, I think."

Another moment passed, and finally Bono couldn't stand it any longer. "Do you get déjà vu much?" he asked.

Edge's eyebrows went up and down. "Sometimes. I was getting a bit this morning, actually."

"Really? What were you doing?"

The guitarist shrugged. "Just reading, messing about with a guitar, nothing much. I even stopped and got a coffee to get rid of it, but it followed me in here too." He laughed.

Bono stared at Edge. "I've had that, all day. No matter what I do, it's like I've already done it, fifty times, and had déjà vu all those times too. It's driving me insane!" He decided not to mention his fears about letting Ali out of his sight.

Edge frowned. "That's strange, all right. Must be something in the water," he said, smiling again.

Bono was past the point of amusement.

Hollie and her friends called goodbye from the other room as they left the house, and Bono swore. "There it goes again!" He banged a fist against his forehead, as if to dislodge the repetitive feeling by brute force.

Edge blinked, then seemed to decide the wisest course was to carry on regardless. "Are you going to be back tomorrow? We need to start going through the stuff from Fez," he said, putting their mugs in the sink.

"I'll fly back late tonight," Bono replied. "Although it would be nice if I could actually get inside and address the attendees, instead of just the press outside."

"You must have spoken to most of them individually by now...?"

"Yeah, but it's not the same. And I haven't seen some of them at all. As far as I know. If this keeps up," and he gave his whirling head another glancing blow, "I'll start thinking I've met all of them hundreds of times and expect them to invite me home for tea."

Edge looked at Bono for a long moment, and Bono wondered what was going on under that beanie. But Edge held his silence, and the conversation moved back to the material they'd been recording in Fez.

Bono was starting to tell Edge about the song he'd been writing that morning, when Edge looked at his watch.

"You'd better get a move on," Edge said, just as Bono's mobile phone warbled in his pocket. He pulled it out and answered it. He was almost sure who was calling...

"Yes, I know, I was just leaving... No, I'm at Edge's place. ... Well, I was going to... Great, thank you." He hung up, winking at Edge. "A car's coming round," he said. Then the certainty of what would come next arrived in Bono's brain, a split second early.

"You should just keep a suitcase packed in your car at all times," Edge and Bono said together. Edge stared. Bono stared back.

"We've known each other for so long, it shouldn't come as a surprise if we say the same things sometimes," Edge said after a minute.

Bono just nodded and let it go.

---

"That'll be the car now," Edge said, glancing at the television monitor that gave him a view of the area outside his gate. A black car had just pulled up, and the driver had confirmed his purpose over the intercom.

"We'll be right out, come through," Edge said, holding down the button. He pressed another button to open the gate.

He and Bono stepped outside, into the summer sun. "Have a safe flight," Edge said.

Bono opened his mouth, but it had gone dry and nothing came out. He shook his head, hoping to clear it of the cacophony of déjà vu and sourceless anxiety, but succeeded only in making himself dizzier. "I'll see you tomorrow," he managed, and clapped Edge awkwardly on the shoulder. That morbid fear came back; what if this was the last time he saw him? "Take care," Bono added.

Allen got out and watched as Bono came down the steps and climbed into the back of the car. They drove off.

"Where's Natasha?" Bono asked idly, staring out the window. Anything to try to disrupt the déjà vu that was mounting again.

"Who?" Allen shot him a puzzled glance in the mirror.

Wait, who was Natasha? Bono frowned, chasing a memory that retreated faster than he could grope after it. The briefest flash a young woman's face, looking at him in that same mirror...

"Never mind. I need to make some phone calls." He'd meant to get more done this morning, except he'd gone on that drive with Ali instead.

Half an hour later, Bono found himself dialling an international number in the full knowledge that he would be waking the hapless Australian journalist up at 2am. He watched his thumb pressing the buttons, unable or unwilling to divert even this small event from the inevitable course his déjà vu seemed to be dictating. He knew what they would say, how he would reply, how they would both make a joke of it. Why not just stop, leave the man to sleep? But why not carry on, if only to confirm his premonition?

Bono pressed the last number, and held the phone to his ear. They were nearly at the airport, and he knew he would still be talking when he got out of the car.

The journalist answered while Bono was leaving a voicemail message. Their conversation went just as he knew it would, despite the growing temptation to banish the déjà vu by changing the subject to football or knitting or ancient Greece. And that might not do the trick even then.

"... All right... No, thank you. And I'm sorry I forgot the time there... Haha, yes. Goodbye."

As he hung up, Bono looked around the departure area of Dublin airport, half expecting to see... who?

Natasha...? But why would she have been driving the car and waiting in the airport, whoever she was?

Bono went through security to the gate, dragging exponentially replicating echoes of false memory as he went. As the déjà vu doubled and redoubled, that sense of fear was growing again, threatening full-on panic.

I shouldn't be here, he thought madly as he boarded the plane. Where else should he be? He'd barely been able to spare a thought for the evening's press conference all day, his phone calls in the car notwithstanding, but that didn't mean he wasn't committed to it, or to the ongoing campaign. He was where he needed to be... or he would be, once he got to the summit venue.

Bono had taken his seat blindly, wrapped up in his thoughts and barely conscious of the other passengers, or the safety briefing. As the engines roared and the plane leapt forward, the feeling of panic rose up more powerfully than ever, and Bono looked around him.

He saw a plane half-full of wealthy business people, and a few more wealthy enough to not be wearing suits. Like himself. He looked down... he was wearing the jacket with the patches.

The dream came back to him, the faces on the cards. They were the faces of these passengers. The woman next to him with her hair pulled back tightly. The balding man across the aisle. The plane climbed into the summer air.

"Who are you??" Bono cried, his voice high and strangled outside the dream. Heads turned towards him, staring, as his ears popped. Déjà vu and panic and certainty and unreality swept his sanity away.

"Who are you?" he shouted again. "What am I doing here? Let me off! Get me off this plane! I can't be here, I'll never see them again!!" He was shrieking now, screaming and hammering at the window, clawing at his seat belt. "We're going to die! Where's Natasha??"

A flight attendant was trying to calm him down, but Bono was beyond reach. He seized the young man. "You're not listening! Let me off!"

The woman beside Bono gasped as a rending shudder jolted the plane, the noise of the engines changing to a tortured scream, before one fell frighteningly silent. Smoke billowed from the starboard wing.

"You see??" Bono screamed.

"Ladies and gentlemen," the co-pilot began over the speakers, but then cut short as the plane's nose dropped, and the altitude they'd gained was lost again.

"Assume the brace position!" the flight attendant shouted, wrenching himself out of Bono's grip, as the plane juddered and plunged. One or two people tried to comply, but it was nearly impossible to stay in one position. Gravity had turned backwards, even as it pulled them down. The flight attendant sprawled in Bono's lap, but he barely noticed.

I knew, he thought as the earth sped towards them. He felt suddenly detached. The faces around him now mirrored the cards he'd seen in his dream. He still didn't know what his own face showed.

No one could hear him over the screams and roaring, but he sang.

"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound..."

---

Edge's temper was a hair's breadth away from snapping completely. Despite Bono's absence, the three of them were feeling irritable and not at all creative, and Edge suspected it had been a waste of time to come to the studio after Bono had left his house. Now he and Larry were shouting at each other over some trivial point, for what felt like the millionth time, and even Adam was glaring at them both with barely contained frustration.

"Why don't you use the feckin' drumsticks to clean your ears out, 'cos God knows you can't do anything else with 'em!" Edge found himself saying. Larry shot him a disgusted look and opened his mouth.

"Will you both SHUT UP!" Adam interrupted, drowning them both out. "For the love of God, how many times do you have to have the same fucking argument? Who cares what bloody Bono was bloody singing on the bloody rough mix? He'll change his mind fifty bloody times before it's done, if it ever is, with you two acting like fucking children." Adam turned his back and made to storm out the door, but nearly ran into Sam coming in.

"Shite! Will you watch where... you're... what is it, Sam?"

Adam's, and all of their irritation was replaced swiftly by fear at the look on Sam's face – bloodless shock.

"Sam?" Larry prompted, when the bodyguard seemed unable to speak.

"...Bono," he managed.

Suddenly, Edge knew. In slow motion, he saw the thought cross Adam and Larry's minds, he saw them start to fear the worst, but the cold certainty gripped Edge's heart as surely as déjà vu had gripped his brain ever since he'd watched Bono's car disappear out of his gates.

"Bono's..." Edge tried to say it, but the words stuck in his throat. He met Sam's eyes. "Bono's plane..."

A radio could be heard faintly through the door Sam had opened. The security guard pulled himself together with a visible effort, but his eyes never left Edge's face.

"The news said there's been a crash... at the airport... there was a fireball..."

Edge barely heard Adam and Larry denying it, first fearfully, then angrily. Then the phones started to ring. In his minds eye, he saw the news bulletins, saw the pictures of the burning wreckage, saw the flowers piling up outside HQ and Bono's house. He saw Ali's face, and the faces of her fatherless children.


*****

Natsha had heard the news in the Mediterranean. The next day she heard it in Inverness, and the day after that in Berlin. Then Prague, then a town in Poland that she couldn't pronounce the name of. After that she managed to make it all the way to New York before the news caught up with her; then it even filtered through to a flight to Singapore while they were still in the air. Her day ended before they even landed, and she discovered that the phenomenon she was experiencing operated on Dublin's time-zone, even if she was half a world away when it became 6am there. At least she had briefly experienced a few more subjective hours of the fifth of July, she mused as she woke up on the fourth, again.

For the next few iterations of the fourth, she amused herself by freaking out everyone in her office again, and once even managed to get herself on television by predicting the day's events. Then she seduced Duncan the copy-boy again.

Natasha wondered what to do with eternity.


*****



((Stay tuned for the next installment, in which Bono continues to go a bit , and Natasha's despair (and Irish lessons) give way to renewed purpose...))
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Old 11-21-2010, 12:45 AM   #2
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Yay! Another chapter! Thank you thank you thank you! I don't know what I'd do if I was in Tasha's position. Well...I would have added more to the kidnapping scene... Heh. And discovered the world, too!

I'm itching for the outcome of this story! Nice work, keep it up!
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Old 11-21-2010, 05:17 AM   #3
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awesome!

I was getting frustrated that no one else was starting to notice the repeating day - so Im glad Bono and Edge are

keep it up
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Old 11-21-2010, 05:44 AM   #4
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Yaaay, chapter 11! Finally they remember at least something... I wonder what Natasha's gonna do next.
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Old 11-21-2010, 12:55 PM   #5
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Noooooo she's still in a time lapse!
When will she ever get out , when will Bono stop himself!
Edge , believe him! do something !



Your writing is flawless!
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Old 11-27-2010, 09:33 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by domo-kun
Noooooo she's still in a time lapse!
When will she ever get out , when will Bono stop himself!
Edge , believe him! do something !


Your writing is flawless!
Wow
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