Category Linkin Park

Inside of me by halvlang

Hey family,

I’m still writing on “Let it all disappear” but kind of got stuck. Or I should rather say: this here got in the way and wanted to be written really badly. So I did.

It’s a standalone, centred around Chester’s mind but also PostTraumatic, so please be aware of possible triggers.

Btw, first time I tried to write something that is not first-person perspective and that is actually written in past tense. Sounds trivial but is kind of a big thing for me (leaving my comfort zone is not really what I do).



“Hey. What’s up?”

Mike opened the door a bit more so that Chester could get inside the hotel room. It was late but the emcee didn’t mind. He hadn’t been sleeping anyway; too much adrenalin was still rushing through his veins after the show and he had a hard time shutting his mind down. Instead, he had been playing around with a few tracks, knowing that he could sleep in the next day without any interviews ahead.

But now, he had something else to worry about. With tired eyes, Chester was looking at him. No, not only tiered eyes, bloodshot eyes. Eyes he only became after drinking.

That was the first thing that Mike recognized. And then, there was the smell of alcohol. Rum, most likely. Not that Mike was close enough to be able to tell the difference but he knew he would be in a few minutes. Because Chester was not saying a word, simply undressing down to his boxers, before he left to the bathroom. With a sight, Mike went over to his suitcase, dragging out a pair of boxers and a shirt. While Chester stood under the shower, he placed the clothes on the sink, before he went back to the room and grabbed the pillow that he had thrown to the couch just an hour earlier when he had come here. Chester liked to sleep with an extra pillow, so he took it back to the bed with him.

He knew that the singer would stay here tonight. It wasn’t the first time that he had knocked on Mike’s door in the middle of the night and it wouldn’t be the last. The only unknown was, if he would just fall to bed and be a giggling, drunken mess or if it would turn out to be the complete opposite. The tiered and sad eyes that Mike had looked into earlier made him guess it would be the latter.

Under the blanket, he checked his phone. It was close to 2am, which meant that Chester had probably been drinking for a few hours but not too long. Mike had asked him to come to the hotel with him after the show but the singer said he wanted to catch up with a few friends that were at the concert. And so, it was only him, Rob, and Brad sharing a ride back. They ended up talking in the Lobby for a while, and Mike only thought about the singer occasionally, hoping that he would make his way back safe when he was calling it a night as well.

Now, Mike regretted that he hadn’t been more persistent or at least checked on the people Chester hung out with. Yes, he was an adult and yes, he should be able to look after himself. But often, he simply wasn’t. It just needed a moment where someone slipped a drink in his hand and Chester was too polite to say no. Or he actually wanted that drink. Either way, it wouldn’t only be one and the next day, Mike and the others were forced to pick up the pieces of a moody and hangover singer.

Mike’s thought got interrupted by the bathroom door and Chester stood a bit lost in the middle of the room. When Mike folded the blanket next to him back, Chester threw the wet towel over a chair and climbed into the bed next to his bandmate. For a second, Mike considered telling him to not leave the towel in the room but to hang it in the bathroom to dry, but he also knew that he needed to be careful with his words now. Therefore, he kept quiet and watched the singer wrapping himself in the blanket. His back was turned towards Mike, a really defensive posture that made the emcee even a bit more worried. He was weighing to either just let Chester sleep or address what was on his mind. But Mike knew that both of them couldn’t come to rest right now, the atmosphere in the room weirdly cold and thing unspoken between them.

“Ches… I hate to say it, but you really shouldn’t…”

Chester interrupted Mike immediately.

“Don’t Mike. Not now… But thanks for the clothes. And for letting me in. Can you turn off the light?”

Mike bit his lip and swallowed his next sentence down. He decided to not have a go at the singer right now.

“Of course, Ches. You know that you can always come over. I’ll always be here.” He eyed the back head of the older man for a few seconds and waited for a reaction but turned around to do as he was told when Chester wasn’t saying another word.

It was silent in the room for a while but Mike knew that Chester wasn’t sleeping. He could feel the tension that was radiating from the other and carefully, Mike placed a hand on his shoulder. Chester took a deep breath, as if he was trying to keep things inside, but then, stumbled words were coming out.

“It’s… It feels like a really bad fall. You kind of… you miss the first step of the staircase, trying to grab onto the handrail but you just can’t – and from there… then it’s only downwards. You can’t do anything to stop it, you can only wait until you hit the ground. Hoping it will not break your neck... That’s how my mind feels sometimes.”

It was pitch-dark in the room but Mike could hear and feel that Chester was turning around to finally face him. Mike was searching for his hand under the blanket, finding cold fingers that clenched around his as soon as they touched each other.

“Ches, is that how you feel right now?” The singer crawled a bit closer and shoved the pillow out of the way. Still, there was a gap between them and Mike needed to hold back the urge to drag the singer in his arms. He knew that he needed to give Chester control over the situation and let him decide if he wanted space or body contact, was one way of giving it to him.

“No, it’s not that feeling now, luckily. There are different stages of it.”

Mike could still smell the alcohol but he was quite sure that Chester wasn’t really drunk. More tired and lost in his own mind, but not drunk. So, he decided to encourage him to just say whatever was bouncing around in his head right now.

“Tell me, Ches. Maybe it helps if you share it, maybe it’s less heavy when it’s out. You know I won’t judge. I never do, I will listen and I will try to understand.”

Mike wasn’t able to tell if his words actually worked because all he could hear was Chester’s shaking breath. The emcee laid still on his back, their fingers still entangled and Mike’s thumb stroking over the singer’s wrist. And then, the words just came out, like a waterfall, and all Mike could do was lay there and listen, as he promised.

“This sounds crazy, but it’s on my mind since a few weeks. This whole staircase-metaphor. It has three levels. The first one is not dangerous at all. You take the first step and it feels like not standing on solid ground but actually, you only miscalculated the distance from your foot to the next stair.

“You catch yourself, straighten up a bit and move on as if nothing has happened.

You are a bit shaken up but the feeling disappears after a few minutes and your mind makes it through the rest of the day, sometimes even the week or the month, without even thinking back.”

Now, Chester came closer, laying on his side and his forehead touching Mike’s shoulder, his breath tangling over the bare arm of his bandmate when he continued. The emcee wasn’t even sure if Chester was talking to him or rather to himself but he didn’t mind – as long as these feelings didn’t get bottled up inside, lingering there unspoken and occupying his friend’s mind.

“Level two. There are days when you actually fall. The step is not where you think it is and you lose your balance. Your heart is beating too fast and your mind is on overdrive, trying to figure out what to do. Your arms are flailing and the hands are grabbing the handrails.

“Maybe you slip – but in the end, you get hold of it and can stop your fall. It hurts because you bumped your body on the wall and your muscles in the arm got stretched way too far. Maybe a friend or even a stranger where at your side, getting hold of you and stopping your fall.

“The result is the same: You are ok. Or at least you will be in a moment when the shock settled and you can breathe normally again. You get up, moving your hands and legs, making sure that nothing bad happened. Maybe you sit down for a minute. Then you get up and continue your way downstairs. A bit more careful, watching your steps closely to not fall again.

“These are the two ideal scenarios. They leave you with a smaller or larger shock but in the end, it will be fine. You will be fine. It was just a slip. Maybe it was a false alarm. Or you were able to catch yourself or got caught by someone else. A moment that went over. It left you slightly wounded but you also know that it won’t last forever and that things are back to normal soon.”

Chester’s breathing was heavy when he stopped talking and Mike turned on his side as well, so that he could reach the singer’s back with his other hand that was not entangled with the other man’s fingers. Mike could feel the anxiousness in every part of Chester’s body and it pulled on his heartstrings. He felt helpless, but he knew that this was all he could do right now. Listen and show that he was there, not going anywhere but staying at his side until the singer would feel better.

“I’m here with you. I’ll always catch you, I hope you know that.”

Mike could feel a nod against his body, before Chester closed the last gap between them, his face pressing against the other man’s chest now.

“I do. That’s why I came here. Because I know that I’m falling right now and I’m afraid of being alone.”

Mike could feel that it was hard for Chester to actually admit this and at the same time, he knew that there was more. Therefore, he just said how glad he was that Chester came to his room but stayed silent afterward, to give the singer the opportunity to get rid of all the things on his mind. And indeed, it only took a minute before Chester continued.

“Today I was able to come here, I grabbed the handrail. But some days you miss the step for real and you fall for real. Level three. Even if you try to hold one to someone or something… Sometimes you don’t even have the energy for trying. Or the hope that it will actually help. But it also doesn’t matter because your way down is unstoppable.

“The first thing you may think is I can’t get this done. It continues with Why can’t I get this just done? Am I not good enough?” The mind is just spiralling. When I’m not good enough for this, what am I good enough for? Maybe you leave out a few steps, the mind is jumping from your current failure to a day so far in the future that every connection to the present is missing. Like… I couldn’t find the right word and then it’s the kids will hate me.

“Every thud on the different steps is like another bad thought and gravity is doing its job by bringing you further and further down. And when you are finally at the end of the staircase, you are so bruised and broken that you never want to get up again. You just lie there and don’t want to move. Breathing is hard, everything hurts, from the inside and outside.”

Mike could feel something wet on his shirt and when he realized that it was Chester’s tears, he fastened his embrace and pressed the singer’s head closer to his chest and a kiss on top of his hair.

“How long have you been carrying this around?”

Chester sniffed and distanced himself a bit, still not losing his grip on the other.

“Since forever, Mikey. This is how my mind looks like, since I’m a child. It’s just… Normally it’s buried a bit deeper and I don’t have the right words for it.”

Mike had the urge to turn on the light because the whole situation seemed to be unreal and he needed to see Chester. He needed to look his friend into the eyes. And so, he wrenched his arm to reach the switch, making Chester protest with a grumble as soon as the room was drenched in the soft light of the lamp on the nightstand.

But Mike ignored him, placed his hand on Chester’s cheek and made him look up. It was time for the emcee’s monologue. He tried to find the right words but, in the end, he just said what he felt the urge to say.

“Ches, you need to stop drinking. All these thoughts in your head… All this spiralling. It gets worth when you drink. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good that you tell me those things. I want to hear them. I need to hear them, so that I can help you. And I know they won’t just go away. But we need to find ways that you don’t feel like this. That you don’t fall, to use your own metaphor. And drinking… it makes you stumble easier and faster.”

Mike wasn’t sure if this was the way to go, but he really wanted Chester to understand what he was talking about, so when he didn’t get another answer than a sad stare from sad eyes, he just continued.

“Chester, I know it’s hard for you. And I’m so proud that you are so strong. You fought through so much and you are still here. You tell me these things, you find the right words to explain it. I’ve never felt like this but you make me understand what’s in your mind again and again. That makes you such a great musician and that makes us such a good team. And I’m here, Ches. I’m always here for you, no matter when. I’m here and I always will be. I care and that will never stop. But I’m afraid that there will be a day where you don’t show up at my room.”

Now Mike was also breathing heavily and he needed to blink a few times. He was not going to cry. Chester was here and Mike could see in his eyes that he understood how much Mike cared. He was still not saying a word but he smiled slightly and that was all that Mike needed at this moment and so he gave Chester another kiss, this time on the forehead. He knew that this smile was all that Chester could and would give him right now, but he still had one more thing to ask for.

“Promise me that you will always show up or call. Promise me that you will let me be your handrail. I love you and I need you. Please, Chester. Promise me.”

Chester stayed silent for a moment before he nodded. He grabbed Mike’s hand again while turning around and lying on his back, settling in for sleep.

Mike turned out the light but kept his fingers around Chester’s, listening how the other’s breath became more and more regular. Mike wasn’t sleeping for another few hours. The words of the singer were bouncing around in his head. When the morning sun reached the window, Mikes mind finally settled and he was able to sleep, allowing him to believe that Chester would never really fall the staircase all the way down but that he would be there to catch him.

A voice and a shake that went through his body was what made him wake up.

“Mike, hey. Can you hear me?!”

Mike had to blink a few times before he could focus on Brad, who had his hand on his shoulder, his concerned eyes scanning the emcee’s face.

“For fuck sake, Mike. You weren’t reacting to me at all. That was fucking scary. Are you ok?”

He needed another second to orientate himself. He recognized his own house and that he was sitting on the floor, his back against the wall behind.

He tried to remember what happened. He looked down on himself, seeing that he was fully dressed. The sunlight through the skylight told him that it was around noon but he couldn’t recall how he ended up on the floor in the hallway.

Still, he tried to calm Brad down by finally saying something.

“I… I don’t know. I zoomed out I guess.”

“You for sure did. Didn’t you hear when I rang the doorbell? I had to use my own key to get in.”

“No… I guess. I don’t know…” Mike’s throat hurt and his eyes were burning. Brad was squatting down in front of his best friend, lifting up his face by the chin.

“Have you been crying? Mike, what is going on, why are you sitting at the end of the staircase?”

The man just shook his head and the noise that was leaving his mouth was somewhere between a sob and a cough. Memories were still floating into his mind and he couldn’t stop them. He couldn’t stop to see Chester lying next to him, using a smile and a nod as a promise to call or let him know when he needed help.

It was Brad’s hand again that pulled him out of the retrospection, this time by patting his cheek.

“Mike, stay with me here. What’s wrong? Talk to me.”

Mike tried to find words but they got lost in his mind when the realization hit what had triggered his episode. He had been up in the studio, putting together some snippets for a new video for the EP. He had gotten thirsty and went downstairs, but still fiddling with his phone. Not paying attention to his way, he must have missed the last step and had stumbled. Just for a second, then he had been steady again. At least his body, because his mind must have gone on overdrive, playing this particular memory.

Of Chester’s metaphor about the staircase.

And the only words that got out of Mike’s mouth now, nearly disappeared into the fabric of Brad’s hoodie that he was pressing his face in when he cried and held on to the guitarist in the fear of losing his grip as well because his emotions were pulling him down like gravity.

“He fell. He didn’t get back up. Brad, he promised to let me help but he fell all the way down.”

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