The Zodiac Brother

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 2 (v.1) - Part Two

Submitted: June 10, 2018

Reads: 13

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Submitted: June 10, 2018

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My hands lacked fingerprints. My blood was a glorious tinge of red that shimmered like new snow. I didn't have a story to tell. No interrogation could make me recall where I was from or who I was supposed to be. We didn't seem to exist. 

 

A boy who claimed to be my younger brother was leaned forward on the large desk, picking at the chipped oak finish. Information rattled from his mouth, in regards to half of the questions. "Oh, and my name's Shawn. Shawn Holmes."

 

The man seated behind the desk was eyeing his computer screen like a hawk. His dancing eyebrows lowered as he glanced at my brother Shawn. "According to our database, there is no Shawn Holmes."

Shawn tapped a finger to his chin. His voice went deeper and drier. "Last I knew, I existed." 

A sigh trailed from the man's mouth. He wasn't amused towards the back of of the room, where my other six brothers and sisters stood in blank defeat. Six diverse people were watching us, waiting for me to approve of the stranger. 

"Well," Shawn told the man, his thumb pointing my way. "I know his name is Vincent."

I glossed over my hands, and down my body to my feet. The hands and body of Vincent. I suddenly felt more comfortable for some reason. Maybe it was the proof of my existence, or the implication that I had a purpose and identity. Even if that meant existing to only Shawn, it was a start.

"I remember, because of that one movie about the cousin." 

"Vincent Holmes?" The man's fingers raced along the keyboard. "We're slowly getting somewhere," with a raspening tone, "I fucking wish."

Shawn added, "He's eleven."

The man gave me a brow as high as his scruffy hairline, and a mouth gaping beyond his draping mustache. "Eleven years old?" I could see my stocky 7' build reflected on his cornea, which is what I must've appeared like to him. Regarding Shawn's similar 5', the man snarled, "And you, Shawn, in this fantasy cast, must be eight? Nine?"

Shawn dragged his hand through the dreads of hair that spiked up from his head. The red patches on his arm glowed like roses against his tan skin. "Seven, I told you." 

"You would like me to believe you're seven years old-"

"Yes."

"-And that these white teenagers are your siblings?"

"Am I allowed to be half black?" Shawn's eyes abandoned the man and his fingers began stumbling around the desk. Streaks in his diamond eyes were reflecting off every trivial staple and pen tip. A dull shimmer came from underneath the clutter as Shawn uncovered a scratched name plate. "Cunningham? Fan-cy."

The man I'll call Mr. Seth Cunningham gave another look towards the other side of the room. As his face fell into his hand, the other hand fished through shimmery snack wrappers to find his phone. 

Shawn picked up a huge jar of bubblegum, nearly sliding a bundle of papers off the desk. When I went to help him open the jar, I couldn't help but notice a face hanging from the stack. An intricate pencil sketch of a man named Tatum Priatt. The deadness in his stare was only magnified by box frame glasses. Blood red lips were plastered into a sneer. The paper was ripped from my hands. 

The clamminess of Cunningham's hand was soaking into the corner of the paper. He said, "That's no business for an eleven year old!"

I told him, "It's probably not yours, either. Give it to me!"

Shawn snatched it from him. He feasted upon the sketched face as earnestly as his mouth chomped on the gum. He propped himself on a bookshelf, presenting the face for everyone to see. "Now, we all know Tatum, right? But I don't think we remember exactly who he is, or why his face is so familiar. That's the real mystery here. Why we're here, and who he is, are the questions we need to answer, not how old we are." 

Shawn was crazy, but, for this moment, he was actually right. We needed to get to the bottom of things rather than being bothered for our appearances. I retrieved the sketch from him. That was the only appearance we needed to take on. 

There was a tap on the door. Cunningham commanded it to open before a reluctant woman was revealed. She stood a foot shorter than me, but the desperate smile on her long face was still visible. And too peculiar. Without thinking, I smiled back at her, then at one of my brothers who said hello. Though for some reason, she bit a grin away and she just kept looking straight forward. Sandy waves of hair consumed her shoulders and  drifted along her slender waist. Her beaming eyes were holding onto a blue mug with the help of her burning hands. Tiny drops of coffee occasionally hit her wicker sandals and splattered onto the sticky floor. 

Cunningham sighed in relief. "It took you one minute less than yesterday."

The woman sneered with her lips, which were an odd beige color. She'd managed to reach his desk without looking our ways, but it seemed to only make her depressed. 

Cunningham said, "Just get fingerprints on these kids and see if they're missing from another town. Come up with something. Even if it's botched, give the police something to go with."

"None of the children resemble any of the descriptions in the missing persons gallery. County, state, region." She lowered her hands, in defeat from both the coffee steam and the situation. "And need I remind you-"

I instantly glimpsed down at my fingertips, which were as smooth as the black ink that coated them.

"-No fingerprints."

Cunningham's hands shot out in excitement, causing stray supplies and big balls of tape to swim off the desk. "Oh, and they're from another planet! Because why the hell not?" 

Shawn was kicking his feet in and out of gaps where books should have been. He sarcastically replied, "I'll be from another planet if you want me to be. How about Jupiter?"

"You talk too much!" Cunningham spat. 

The woman's upturned eyes went down. She spat back, "Don't speak to him that way. Don't you be treating any of these children like dogs." She hovered the mug over the desk before deciding to place it on a somewhat flat tin of crackers. More steam was coming from her ears than the coffee, hot enough for me to feel it on my face. She was able to divert his attention by suggesting, "Now, we all know who else talks too much..."

His hand bolted for the mug. "Your husband!"

She stepped out of the room.

Laughing like a bear, Cunningham turned my way. I like to think he was addressing me, but he most likely did it just to have someone to talk at. A fingertip aimed at Shawn, he yelled, "Her husband is worse than Shawn."

Shawn scratched his chin. One of my sisters in the back laughed.

A river of bitter breath clogged my nose, and polluted my ears. "Her husband is supposed to be the best doctor ever. Quite the scientist and prodigy, right? Really all he is is a big freak. Always performing these crazy experiments, then presenting them to the entire building like a three-year-old who found a bug. He cannot be bothered to be the least bit concerned for ethics or safety." Coffee spilled from his lips. "Or for our sanity."

I scratched the back of my head and forced a polite smile. 

My brothers and sisters, even Shawn, were gazing blankly. 

He dropped the mug back onto his cracker tin. He sighed, licking his lips, "You kids, 'five' or 'two' or whatever the hell you say you are, don't understand half of what I'm saying."

One of my sisters said, through the thick lock of black hair she was twirling, "We understand. We just, well, don't care." Her hair fell from her fingers like a dancing flame. "I'm sorry."

"Big mouth, big girl - right? Oh, don't tell me you're ten or something."

"I'm not ten. Because I'm still nine."

"And what might your name be?" 

"We-e-ell, to tell you the truth, I don't know." 

I didn't know either. I didn't know anything about her, and it hurt me knowing how hard it was to love her like a sister. Draping over her pudgy and muscly body was a bundled jacket, its wool sizzling and beaming. I wasn't sure whether her eyes were actually so wide, or if it was simply an illusion on her oval face, but they still couldn't surmount her mile-broad grin. Looking at Shawn, then back to her, I noticed she wasn't so white either. There was a crisp magenta tint to her, all down to the ashes and blisters that seemed to have replaced her palms.

"Of course," he yelled a few times, more mockingly each time. Cunningham's arrogance was giving me a migraine. However, the thing truly overwhelming was the fact he couldn't enjoy his coffee. Why wasn't he sitting down? Because I was standing?

Shawn couldn't decide whether to tell Cunningham or my sister, so he said into the air, "Her name's Veronica."

Veronica's lava-colored eyes were glazed over by a peridot green. I think she liked it. Not only the creativity in her name, but the assurance that she was more than merely a feeling. She was a burning sensation. I liked the creativity of Veronica, too. 

Cunningham ignored him. He couldn't have been more eager to brush his hand toward the door. "Leave. You kids need to leave. Go find someone else who will deal with you." 

As the door opened, I took the handle. I let Shawn lead through the maze of hallways. I figured I'd catch up.

My fingers clenched the paper. Sparks smaller than ants but stronger than a colony ran through my hand. I stared down at the graphite and oil face of Tatum Priatt. The gleam of fluorescent lights bounced off the oil like sunlight against a window, but the face was dark enough to come through. All the details meant something to me. Each streak was different, yet the same sort of evil. It was like watching a mugshot of a serial killer. Tatum was the average man with all the normal components of a kind stranger, except with a mutation that I couldn't put a finger on. Maybe it was the emptiness in his eyes, despite being a lavish smoky silver. How much of a gentleman he seemed to be, though having committed federal crimes and homicide at the human age of nineteen. Or, possibly how different he would look without the box frame glasses, crimped beige hair, and chin stubble. How easily he could be hiding amongst the crowds of strangers. I felt breathing up my arm, as if it was Tatum in the flesh. If only I could recall where I'd seen him before. 

Was his name actually Tatum? Tatum Wesley Priatt? I wanted to put trust in my brother, but, if he knew, wouldn't I have known as well? It should've made sense. Everything, why we were here, why everyone was confused. I was glad Shawn made some sense of this man, with consideration that this man was the answer. 

A fiery flash of colors stole the paper from my hand. Shielding my face with my arms only made it stronger, the light jolting through the gaps between my fingers. I squinted until my nose burned. 

When my arms reluctantly lowered, the hallway was empty besides for stray papers and a steel cart smacking the brick wall. I ran to the end of the hall, where it divided into two parts, and there was a boy about four feet tall. 

He was trembling, his head turning back and forth. His fingers scruffed through a black crown of hair. Bony hands tugged me by my shirt before I was lunged in front of him. Spit flew at my face and I was being stared down with eyes that were silky like a cat's and swirly like raw pearls. It's as if his words were stumbling over his untied shoelaces. "I don't know where they went or where we're supposed to be."

Once I was back on my feet, I held him by his low shoulders. He was hunched down, over a bobblehead torso that took shallow breaths. His big nose and pursed lips were quivering in defeat. I couldn't comfort his confused, surprised, tough face away. It's a permanent cycle.

As I patted his back, the flesh of my palm kneaded on his zigzag spine. A charm dangled from the metal band on his neck, and it was carefully handgraved with a T. Instantly I felt who he was, but I couldn't collect his name.

He knew mine. "Vinny! We were all going somewhere, then Shawn grabbed them and poofed them away." His cries turned into a neutral gravel voice. "I don't know."

"Don't pull your hair out," came from my mouth, as if it was out of habit. "I'm lost too. Let's find them."

My hand took TJ's so he wouldn't slip over the papers. Soft yet blunt nails hooked to my skin, somehow comfortingly. He got distracted by the details of this new place, while I realized that none of this scene was new to me. His naming colors of things he saw. Or staring curiously and rambling away. Holding a pretend magnifying glass to his eyes. "Pink. White. Evergreen. Chartreuse. That's a big window. There are a lot of stars out there. Like, twenty-three? A thousand?"

TJ sprang over to a door. "Vinny." His face clung to the narrow window. It fogged and dribbled with spit as his words bounced off of it. "Psst, come here."

Sign above the door said it was office 12. I didn't know what to expect.

Tgere was a face to the left of the door. A photo of a bald man. A forced grin above his black stubble. An oddly peculiar scar, a flared peach red streak creating a perfect circle, on his forehead. 

A soft nail started poking my arm. TJ said, "Mousey's in there!" His nail scraped the window as he pointed. My heart was wrangled by its own pulse when I looked down at him. His back seemed even more arched. I could hear the whines of an ill animal and taste bitter tears by simply knowing he was falling apart. 

I had to get in there. I pulled the door handle despite knowing it was locked. It opened.

"What are you doing?!"

I reluctantly turned around. TJ was concrete in terror, so it was just me.  

The bald man from the door picture was glaring at me. He stuffed his clipboard into his bleach white coat. His husky voice went cross when he said, "This is my office. Last I knew, you're not supposed to be here."

He was a bit stocky, at my height, and his posture was inhumanly natural. Meeting him in the flesh gave me an iron taste in my mouth. For every second his eyes addressed me, my brain snapped its fingers and screamed to me. He told us that we weren't supposed to be there, but it felt just the opposite.

The man insisted, "There is no Mousey. No Daisy. No Lolli. And you can run along." The nametag clipped to his coat pocket said 'Priatt.' Out of the pocket came a revolver, aimed my way. 

His neck grew purple, and his face perplexed. He was thrown through his open office door. His flailing arms whisked yellow folders around the office as he crashed into his desk. I could hear the cracking of his back over the thunderous slam of the door.

Glittery maroon specks spun in the air to create a hand. It turned peach with a clammy palm, and more maroon specks branched from it like a sprouting tree. I never thought a person could be so vivid and existent. A slim 4'5 body constructed itself from thin air, all down to the proteins of his honey-auburn hair and each squamous cell in his translucent peach face. Garnet eyes were thick but glazed, and his button nose flared when his smile stretched to meet his ears. "I-I did that?"

TJ said, "Gannon, I don't think that was you..." 

Gannon's smile went lower than a flatline. His head fell far enough to smell the ammonia and wax on the ground. 

I put a hand on his shoulder, which was beginning to disintegrate into sparkles. "Gannon, you tried. You did what you needed to by being here for us." 

The other end of the hallway whispered, "It's alright. Got him." 

I turned around. A foot hit the ground as a boy, slightly taller than Gannon, landed. 

"Oh yes," Gannon muttered, "Shay to the rescue." 

This Shay probably couldn't have been viewed thoroughly by the naked eye. His dim sapphire eyes were harbored by a draping hood and black spider legs of hair. It made me wonder whether they truly had something special hidden on the other end, or if he simply desired to not be so empty. If it wasn't for his pale lavender half-smile, the graying smudges around his eyes and his gaunt figure would have striked me as dead.

"Don't worry," I barely heard Shay say. A hand thrust from the cuff of his long sleeve. It was a set of shivering bones, surrounded with a fluorescent sapphire glow. Inside the office, a door slammed shut. The entire hallway shook, causing a ringing in my ears. 

The door's window turned blood red. My eyes crept over to it. A man's cheek was pressed to the glass, stained with dark brown streams. The gaping hole in his head made his brain prune up to the air. Threads of skin hung over like ripped curtains, soaked in excessive blood that couldn't clot. His ear slouched against what had been left of his head, and the earpiece of his glasses must've weighed a ton. 

I sighed upon realizing it was only a piece of paper. It was another sketch. 

A lightning bolt shot the window. Glass shards were thrown on the floor. The office and hallway was consumed by running lightning bolts, illuminating the walls with light teal, purple, and yellow. The tip of my nose lit up as bright as the waxy floor. 

 

 


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