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Old 03-10-2009, 04:48 AM   #1
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The Howling Wind - Chapter 13 (10/3/09)

I am going to be posting four chapters this week, in anticipation of my week-and-a-bit-long absence from the 16th - 25th. I do have an ulterior motive, but consider this stocking up before the drought.

Disclaimer - It's all bollocks, up to and including the swearing and slightly gross stuff.


--------

20 October, 1987 – NYC to Iowa, USA

There were headlines, of course. Dr Miller wasn't the most prominent member of the local community, but he was connected to several who were. And for some sort of wild animal to tear him apart in a suburban alley was enough to set the media afire with speculation and sensationalism. Witnesses reported seeing everything from a gang of no-good kids, to gangs of no-good adults, to packs of wild dogs, to large black panthers, to vampires, to werewolves, to bears, to ordinary wolves. The finger was pointed at everything and everyone, except rock 'n' roll, and the genuine killer.

No one had seen Edge since Aislinn had, that morning. She and Bono were the only ones he had told about his suspicions regarding Dr Miller, and Bono was the only one who had seen evidence of the beast.

As the week went on, the papers reported more and more people saying they'd seen a wolf or wolves in the city, as impossible as that was. Zoos and circuses issued statements that none of their animals had escaped or gone missing. People were demanding searches, for these animals to be found and exterminated. Animal rights groups lobbied for a more humane solution, but there was no sympathy for man-eating bears or wolves.

No one else was killed, however.

They had almost given up on Edge returning, but early that morning, he had appeared on the doorstep in front of his and Aislinn's house; dishevelled, unshaven, and sunken-eyed, but packed and ready to leave with them for Iowa. Aislinn had suspected that he'd spent at least a day hiding in the basement after she saw him, only coming out to raid the fridge after she'd gone to bed. Then he seemed to have left the house for the rest of the week, but he'd obviously come back during the night and packed his bags.

He didn't speak, to anyone. It didn't matter how much Bono or any of them asked or begged or shouted or pleaded or prodded or joked or ignored him, or even slapped him, Edge remained impervious, silent, unresponsive. He moved like an automaton; if he needed to ask where to go, he just stopped until someone told him or led him.

They'd all heard about Dr Miller's death – they could hardly have avoided it. They all knew about the room Edge had trashed, and this beast he'd spoken about. They knew his temper had been dangerously short at the start of the current leg. Soon, they all knew what Edge had suspected Dr Miller had been. Then they'd learned that Aislinn had intended to take Hollie to him, before Edge had told her his suspicions, before he'd had any reason to tell her.

"I was going to cancel the appointment!" a nearly hysterical Aislinn had sworn, once they'd connected the dots and come to a horrifying conclusion. "I thought he was crazy but I wouldn't take a risk with my own children! It wasn't worth it... he didn't have to..." And she'd broken down, then, and told them how she'd found Edge, the morning after.

Now, Edge would answer none of their questions. He would barely acknowledge anyone's presence with so much as a flicker of his eyes. On the plane, Bono sat next to him for a solid half-hour, prattling away about inconsequential things. Edge barely twitched. Everyone started to regard him with fear, a fear that he had lost his mind, finally and completely.

Bono had eventually retreated to the back of the plane with Larry. Edge suspected they were both praying, possibly for him. He had the feeling that the prayers of each were of a very different nature.

Prayers wouldn't help him now, his or anyone else's. If he believed those Medieval werewolf myths, once a werewolf tasted human blood, its soul was forever lost, irredeemable. Up until that point, it could be saved, brought back from evil. But he had gone too far, even without consuming human flesh.

Edge didn't believe the Medieval myths, however. He didn't know what to believe. He had lost his humanity, his morality, and his family. He wasn't sure how much longer he could keep the band, either, especially if Larry kept looking at him with barely restrained fear. He wasn't sure if Bono and Adam didn't feel any fear of him, or if they just hid it better.

He had been living as a wolf for the last three or four days. Timothy had found him twice, tried to convince him to return to humanity. He'd run away, and although he was sure Timothy could have caught him, the old werewolf hadn't tried.

The horror of what he'd done had partly faded as he'd lived in the shape of a wolf, but it hadn't left him entirely. He remained painfully conscious, aware of himself and his deed. And so he'd remembered to keep track of the days, and he'd decided to come back, and continue the tour. His choices were limited – a wolf could not live for long in the middle of a city, and it couldn't travel far without being seen. Realisation had dawned that people would be looking for wild animals to blame for Dr Miller's death. He'd tried to stay out of sight, but it was difficult. The wolf's instincts were not compatible with a city.

Edge wondered if he should go and join Bono and Larry, but the comfort he'd once found in his faith seemed a distant thing, now. Aislinn probably thought that if he went to a priest and confessed, all would be well again. Edge didn't think so.

All the way to Iowa City, through the airport, in the cars and to the hotel, Edge didn't speak a word, nor make a sound.


"Edge, for the love of God, please. Anything. Just a peep. A burp, a 'fuck off'. Please, Edge."

Adam farted.

Larry gave a nervous giggle.

"You're not gonna let him get away with that, are you, Edge?" Bono was making a show of holding his nose and choking.

Edge blinked, not even looking at them. That was all.


At the sound-check in the Carver-Hawkeye arena, the silence continued. Dallas handed him guitars, he tested them and made his own adjustments. He left before anyone else, returning to the hotel. Everyone was nervous, wondering how the show would go. Would he play like a robot as well? Would he break his silence for the backing vocals? Bono's relief about finally being rid of the sling was overshadowed with worry about his friend and bandmate.


They needn't have worried; not about Edge's performance, at least. Whatever he'd been bottling up for the last week, he let it out through his guitar that night. Bono had almost forgotten the intensity of feeling Edge could put through that piece of wood and wire, and was shocked by what he heard. But the rest of the band caught fire, and nearly lifted the roof of the arena with the force of the music and the crowd's reaction.

None of them had heard Edge play with such unrestrained passion since... since before he'd 'changed'. Larry kept a wary eye on him during Exit – Edge pulled a world of pain from the six strings, but the drummer didn't see any evidence of physical pain. No reflecting eyes. Physically, Edge remained almost stoic, but the music he was making was anything but. There was anguish and heartbreak and fear and rage and loathing there.

And while his voice had been a trifle rusty at the start of Streets, it strengthened quickly enough and his vocals were as solid as they'd ever been.


Afterwards, once they'd caught their breath and Bono had a chance to come back to earth, they all gathered as usual in the dressing room backstage.

"Jesus, Edge! That was fuckin' incredible! What happened to you?"

Edge said nothing. He sipped his water.

"Edge, come on. You had your joke, or whatever that was. We know your voice works now. We know you're still with us."

Silence.

"Edge," Adam tried. "We're worried about you. Please say something?"

Nothing.

Larry threw an empty beer can against the wall. "Let 'im feckin' sulk. I don't think he's all there any more."

As if coincidentally, Edge stood up and headed for the door. Bono got in his way and he stopped, staring through the singer.

"You're not leavin' 'til we hear somethin' outta you."

Edge remained unmoving, staring at the door over Bono's head. He seemed prepared to stand there all night.

Only Adam noticed the tremor in Edge's hands, clenched at his sides.

Bono managed to stay put for about three minutes before he cracked.

"This is ridiculous! You just played the show of yer life, unless I'm very much mistaken! You don't look like you're about to go all beasty on us..."

Edge flinched.

"What's that mean? Edge, you gotta talk to us... tell us what happened..."

"We know what happened! He killed that doctor." Larry had moved to the opposite corner of the room.

Edge took a deep breath, and blinked. But his teeth were clenched, and Bono saw the tightness in his jaw.

The singer lowered his voice. "We don't know what happened. Something did, and we heard some of it tonight. When you're ready to talk, will you talk to us?"

A pause, then the briefest flick of his eyes, meeting Bono's, then away again. It was enough, and Bono stepped aside. Edge walked out and carefully closed the door behind him.

"He's feckin' lost it. I just hope he holds it together 'til the tour's over."

Bono glared at Larry. "You walk a mile in his shoes, an' see how you cope!"

"His shoes, or his feckin' paws?"

"Either!"

Larry made a disgusted noise.



--------

25 October, 1987 – St. Louis, MO, USA

For five days, Edge didn't open his mouth except to sing at shows, or to shovel food into it. He had developed a prodigious appetite, but still seemed to be losing weight. It was as if he was fading into a wraith before their eyes, albeit a particularly scruffy one. He seemed to have lost all interest in shaving or brushing his hair, as well as speaking.

It was remarkable how quickly everyone seemed to get used to Edge's silence. People started talking around him as if he wasn't there, or as if he was a pet, unable to reply. This implied invisibility only served to enhance the wraithlike impression.

Added to that was the fact that he was hardly seen except at meals, sound-checks, gigs, and on planes. Bono suspected that Edge was finding a park or something and turning into a wolf, every chance he got.

He was right.

Edge wanted nothing more than to leave humanity behind, in all its pain and complication. It was a simple thing for a wolf to protect his den, and it was far too easy a thing for the beast to kill. But it was infinitely harder for a man to take the life of another man, no matter the circumstances.

But time spent as a wolf only delayed the inevitable.

---

This hotel had a library. Edge was reading in it, or holding a book at least, waiting for it to be time to get to the show. He took scrupulous care now to make sure he didn't lose track of time again. He had the room to himself, until Bono appeared. The singer paused at the threshold.

"Mind if I come in?"

Edge glanced up – no camera following Bono, for once. He returned his attention to his book. Bono took this as permission to enter, and closed the door behind him.

The singer gave the bookshelves a cursory inspection, and pulled a book out almost at random. He sat down near Edge, flipped the book open, then turned it the right way up.

Edge kept staring at the page he was on.

Then he closed the book.

"Why is Phil filming everything?"

Bono stared at Edge, then grinned. "I think he should call his style 'Philming' – cameras everywhere!" He drew the 'P' in the air with a finger.

"But why?" Edge remained serious.

"Because we asked him to. We're supposed to be makin' a film, remember?" Bono was worried for a moment that Edge had forgotten.

"I know. But why are we making a film? What's the point?"

"We talked about this before, it's just a bit of fun. Something throwaway for the fans, a road movie. A few new songs on the sound-track, you know."

"We're a rock band. We make music, not movies. Is this helping the music? And why does anyone need to see all this?"

"They're not gonna see most of it. He's shootin' miles of film, but most of it's gonna end up on the cutting room floor. It's probably all gonna be concert footage, anyway. Maybe a bit o' sight-seeing and recording."

Edge considered.

"Come on Edge, I didn't think I'd have to convince you again. I thought Larry would be the one havin' doubts!"

"It just seems... unnecessary. Everything does, really. All we really need to do is eat and drink and sleep, after all. Everything else is an ... embellishment." Edge paused to taste that. It was a big word. He nodded to himself... yes, an embellishment.

Bono was staring. "Are you tellin' me, that after the way you've been playin' for the last few shows, you don't feel a need for music? For playing?"

Edge frowned. He didn't want to think about the way he'd been playing, or why. He didn't want to think. Thinking was something of an embellishment, too. It wasn't strictly necessary.

"Edge, what happened?" Bono's voice was gentle, coaxing, concerned.

"Larry's right. I killed him." The words were flat, featureless. A glance at Bono showed that the admission had not come as a shock.

"Why?"

Not 'how?'.

"You remember what I told you. Aislinn was going to take Hollie to him, she had the flu. I told her what I told you, and she didn't believe me. I went for a walk, just to get out of the house. You don't know what it's like, between us now," he added with another glance at Bono. The blue eyes just looked at him, absorbing his words without judgement.

"I wanted to get away from all the stuff in my head, so I changed, and went as a wolf. In the city." Edge gave a humourless laugh. "I smelled him again, Bono. The wolf knew he was wrong, I knew he was a threat. The beast came out, and wanted to kill. I am the wolf, I am the beast. I killed him."

"Edge... other men have killed for less. Anyone could understand it."

Edge just sighed, staring at his hands.

"And you should give Aislinn more credit. She said she was going to cancel the appointment..."

Bono stopped at the look on Edge's face, and realised that he should have kept his big mouth shut.

"Edge..."

"It was for nothing."

"You said he was a rapist, and worse; there would have been others..."

"It was for nothing! The only thing that I could justify it with, and it's nothing! It's not like using a gun, Bono. Guns are remote, they remove you from killing. I tasted his blood and felt his flesh tear! Do you understand? These hands pulled his ribs apart! My jaws crushed his throat! I felt his bones snap! Killing like that brings you closer to someone than almost anything else. He had a wife, maybe children of his own. I took his life away, from himself and his family, because I thought I was protecting my own. That was the only reason; he was a threat, a danger. To the den." Another humourless laugh.

"That was just what she told us... and you were still right. He was a threat, whether or not Aislinn had taken Hollie there. You stopped him from hurting anyone else."

"Are you justifying murder? Are you absolving me of blame?" Edge's tone grew more savage.

"No. Killing is wrong, just like rape an' whatever else is wrong. But you didn't kill without reason."

"There's no commandment saying "Thou Shalt Not Rape," Edge said bitterly.

"There bloody should be. Not coveting something doesn't seem enough."

Silence fell between them, and Edge watched Bono thinking.

"Are you afraid of me?"

Bono looked up. "No, I don't think I am. Should I be?"

"No. I don't think anyone except Dr Miller needed to be afraid of me."

"You could tell that to Larry, you know."

"How? He's barely looked at me since Rochester. He might believe it from you."

Bono grunted. "You two have to make your own peace. He just needs some time to get used to it."

"He's not the only one," Edge muttered.



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Old 03-10-2009, 05:00 AM   #2
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"Edge, for the love of God, please. Anything. Just a peep. A burp, a 'fuck off'. Please, Edge."

Adam farted.

Larry gave a nervous giggle.

"You're not gonna let him get away with that, are you, Edge?" Bono was making a show of holding his nose and choking.




I love big chapters...can't wait for the 4 in a week!! You are going to spoil us.
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Old 03-10-2009, 06:32 AM   #3
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Bono glared at Larry. "You walk a mile in his shoes, an' see how you cope!"

"His shoes, or his feckin' paws?"

"Either!"


Great!!!

Good chapter! I can totally see Edge being so quiet an' all.

And Lardence being as scared as a little girl.
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And if U2 EVER did Hawkmoon live....and the version from the Lovetown Tour, my uterus would leave my body and fling itself at Bono - for realz.
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Old 03-10-2009, 09:54 AM   #4
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Heh, I can totally relate with not speaking. There are days when I'd prefer not to speak at all, but that's what my job requires. Silence can be a very powerful thing.

Great, as usual.
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Old 03-10-2009, 08:56 PM   #5
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love it.
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