I went to the woods to be alone for a while.
After a time, my brother found me (he always knew how to find me).
“You shouldn’t listen to Papa”, he said. “His generation doesn’t understand that an artist like you thrives on creativity, not manual labor”.
My brother always did understand me.
“He always compares us. I can never live up to his standards like you can.”
“Bah!” he said, clapping me on the shoulder. “There’s more to life than athleticism and brawn. Girls love romantics like you. Besides, I have faith in your talents, we’re not going to be here forever. Oh! Speaking of girls, I have to go meet Alice. I’ll see you later.”
And then he left for university.
Papa was so proud.
Now, here I am again.
Once a place for respite and reflection, these woods hold a lifetime of memories.
Now, namely, a memory of death.
And something else.
(I still haven’t figured out what)
I look at the lifeless lump of flesh that used to be my real brother.
His body… it’s…
here… in this gaping hole.
His face still bloody and red.
Is this a gateway to Hell?
I start exploring the walls while my inner dialogue continues.
Surely that imposter is a demon. My brother doesn’t have a twin.
Has it come to haunt me for what I did?
When the beast looked into my eyes that night, it knew everything in my soul.
I could almost feel it combing my mind. It must know the uncharacteristic pleasure I derived from holding my brother’s weeping wife or the new desk I bought with the money his livestock afforded me? Before that anomaly shook our sleepy town with its appearance, I planned to write my way out of here… away from the guilt.
For, this must be guilt. Never has anything plagued my mind so.
That beast knew my hatred-
my jealously towards my brother. No one will believe me now, but I did love him. But, if you pit any lesser person against someone who’s good at everything, some bitterness is bound to ensue. My failure knows no bounds after all the times my father made me feel inferior; it never lessened the sting.
The wolf was the demon.
A catalyst with a motive.
That demon knew the joy I felt when my brother left for college… knew I wanted that again. I didn’t have to compete anymore, I could just be… me.
I should have just left
(and never looked back)
Why the hell did I stay? Well… for the same reason people stay in dead-end jobs for years; they’re comfortable and hate change. It’s the reason my father is so unhappy.
Blast you, hindsight! I should have left. I should have gone so far away… to a villa in Italy perhaps, where some of my idols studied.
That demon also knew what I would do that fateful night.
A slow clapping sound fills the cave, echoing off the walls and reverberating in my ears
“How perceptive”, a familiar voice says.
trickles down my spine.
I turn to see my dead brother’s blinking bloodied face staring back at me from an upright position
“Impossible”, I breathed.
“One would think, right?”, the former corpse supposed, “but in your selfishness, dear brother, it seems you have neglected to leave yourself an exit”
Surely I did. I climbed down by-
The rope is gone.
I turn my gaze upward to the starlit opening of the hole to see my brother’s twin smiling maniacally down at me.
“You have turned what joy there is in family into hate and jealously”, the imposter said in a resonating baritone, “You are to spend an eternity
with your beloved brother. In death, you will finally be equals. For do not be mistaken, he is the greater of the two of you. You must die to be missed… and even then, I am certain you won’t be.”
And while I screamed in protest, the creature extinguished all light in the deep hole and sealed it from above.
That left me, my cries bouncing aimlessly off the earth,
and my blood-soaked “dead” brother to the mercy of darkness.
Silence blanketed us as I grappled with understanding my now eternal situation.
“So”, my glowing red brother said, “Shall I return the favor?”