I changed my mind about naming my short stories. I won’t name them all, but I had the perfect name for this one. I think I was having a problem connecting with my stories because I haven’t been writing much. But when I was writing this one, I just felt so connected to the story and my imagination. It was a great moment for me. Like the writer inside of me had finally re-awakened.
I hope you enjoy this short story. The second story in March’s writing prompt challenge.
My Brother’s Secret
“I thought you said you accidently sliced open your hand.”
“Then why aren’t you bleeding at all?”
He stared down at his hand, wiping away the blood. After a few seconds, he just shrugged and dropped his hand by his side. “I guess I didn’t cut myself.”
“Then where did the blood come from?” I asked him. Pete only stared at me; I could see the battle in his head, his gears turning. “Don’t you dare lie to me.” I said, trying to keep the panic from my voice. Pete had a problem. It’s why he was in the mental institution for so long. But he was my brother and I loved him, I thought he had changed. I wanted him to prove them all wrong. I wanted him to show the world that he had fought his demons. I wanted to believe he wouldn’t kill again.
“Vi, it’s not what it looks like.” He said. He was rubbing his hands on his pants, rubbing in the blood, making the stains impossible to get out. I would have to burn his clothes. I would have to cover his mistake. Only I would have to be better at it this time. I couldn’t let him get caught again.
“Then what is it? Because it looks to me like you haven’t changed.” I threw in some wood into the fire place and struck a match across the box, setting it on fire before throwing it on top of the wood. I stepped into the bathroom and grabbed a towel. “Take it all off and throw it into the fire.” I said, pointing to his clothes. I sat the towel on the couch and went to the kitchen to get wet rags.
Pete stood in his boxers when I came back, his back turned to me as he watched the fire burn away the evidence. “Here.” I pulled on his shoulder to turn him towards me and started washing away the blood. Once I had him cleaned up, I threw the rag into the fire. I wrapped the towel around him and pushed him towards his room. “Get some fresh clothes and be ready to tell the truth when you come back.” I sat on the couch in front of the fire, watching the flames dance around the clothes. I sighed. Everyone told me not to take him out of the hospital. They all told me he should have gone to prison for what he did. It’s not his fault; he was just a child when he killed the neighbor’s daughter. No one believed him when he told them she was possessed by a demon. I believed him, I was young and stupid, I couldn’t see that my brother was sick. The girl was my best friend, and Pete was my brother. I needed both of them, and within 24 hours, they had both been taken from me.
Pete returned to the living room and sat on the couch beside me. “He was a demon.” Pete said. His eyes were fixed on his hands, refusing to look at me.
“Pete, you can’t go around saying that. This has to stop. Now I have to clean up your mess so they don’t take you away from me again.”
“But it’s true.” He said. He finally looked at me. His eyes were clearer than I had ever seen them. “I can see them. I can see the demons. I see more and more everyday.” He grabbed my hands. “They were all over the place in the institute. They gave me drugs to hide themselves. You have to believe me.” He pleaded as a tear escaped his eye.
“How can I believe you when I don’t see it? Pete, if this was real others could see it too. Not just you.” I stroked his cheek. “It’s just delusions, brother.”
“Come, I will show you.” He stood from the couch, pulling me with him. We went out the back door and to the neighbor’s house. He peeked into the window and then opened the front door. He pointed to the dead man on the floor.
“Mr. Smith.” I gasped, covering my mouth. His throat had been slit. “You killed him. He was a kind man, Pete. He never harmed anyone.”
“So you think.” Pete said, losing the small voice he had used for so long. Suddenly he was stronger, more confident in himself. He was no longer the crazy brother who had been in a mental institute for 15 years. He was now a grown man on a mission.
I followed him through the house and down into the basement. It was the smell that caught me first. The smell of sulfur. It wasn’t pleasant. I covered my nose, but not before I smelled the hint of iron. I knew the smell, blood heavy now that I had detected it. It brought memories back of the day my brother killed my best friend.
“Look at this.” Pete pointed. I almost screamed when my eyes found the body slumped over in a chair in the middle of the room. Candles around her still burning. “Mr. Smith was sacrificing this woman to some demon.”
“And you interrupted too late.” A thick gurgling voice came from the top of the stairs. Mr. Smith stomped down the steps, a rag at his throat. “I had already done what needed to be done. I am immortal now. I just have to sacrifice one good soul every so often.” He smiled at me. “Victoria. Such a lovely neighbor.” He reached out to stroke my cheek, but I packed away. “You and your brother will be great additions to my masters collections.” I backed up again this time bumping into Pete. “Your soul is so pure, Victoria. So clean. My master will be so happy to have it.”
“You will not harm her.”
“You can’t even kill me. You thought slicing my throat would do me in?” He pulled away the rag, revealing only a scar where his throat had been slit.
“No.” Pete shook his head and a grin spread across his face. “But the holy water laced with sliver coursing through your veins should do just nicely.”
Mr. Smith started to growl, but was cut short as he dropped to the ground. I only stared at the thing that was once my neighbor. His open eyes were solid black and his skin was now gray. His hand twitched and I noticed the long black claws growing from his fingers. I looked at Pete, afraid I would see something else standing behind me, but it was still my brother.
“I was telling the truth all those years ago. I am not crazy. I have been studying, when they thought they no longer needed to watch me. I am not as fragile as I may look. I know how to fight them now.” Pete nodded to the body of Mr. Smith. I watched as it crumpled and turned to dust. “I know how to leave no evidence now.”
“What do we do about that body?” I asked, pointing to the man tied to the chair.
“She isn’t dead.” Pete started untying the woman. The woman jerked awake, her eyes wide in panic. It was then that I recognized her. Her bright blue eyes capturing mine. It had been 15 years, but I knew this girl. The neighbor girl, my best friend. Still alive.
“What?” Was all I could ask. She smiled at me, calming down when she recognized me. She let Pete untie her.
“I didn’t kill her.” Pete said, picking her up in his arms. “I killed the changeling that had taken her place.” My head spun as I followed them up the stairs, out the door, and across the yard back to my house. I had a lot to learn, and Pete had a lot of explaining to do. I didn’t think I was ready for it, but my brother’s secret was out.
Please let me know what you think. Feel free to point out any grammar or spelling errors as well. And if you are a writer, join in the fun! I am working on a page with the “rules” I use for the prompt challenge. I should have it up for your viewing pleasure next week.