Brothers of Chaos (The Unstoppable Titans Book 1) (10 page)

Diane was
already racing to the woods behind their house. Michael was surprised to see
not a single tear in her eyes. Her face was hard and determined. From the light
of the moon, he could also see Jason’s face. He looked even more furious than
he had in the living room.

Jason had
known this was coming; he’d said so himself.

As the
family squat in the dark trees, they waited and listened. Michael could faintly
hear his foster dad’s voice as he tried to placate the angry townspeople.

“What makes
you think they’re his sons?” Jonathan asked them calmly.

“One of
Michael’s friends told us!” an old man shouted. Michael could tell he was old
by his voice. “Says your boy was boasting about his father weeks before the
attack. He also said your boy disappeared from one spot on the playground and
appeared in another spot a second later.”

Jason looked
angrily at Michael. Christian had indeed noticed Michael’s “hiccup.”

“And you
believe this boy’s claim?” Jonathan asked. “Who is this boy who speaks against
my sons?”

“The boy’s
identity doesn’t matter,” the old man declared. “And those two little bastards
are not your sons. The sooner you accept that, the better. We don’t want to
hurt you and your wife—we just want the boys. Give ’
em
to us.”

“That’s not
going to happen.” Michael could hear the confidence building in Jonathan’s
voice. He truly did love his foster sons as if they were his own flesh and
blood.

But where is our real dad?
Michael asked
himself. How could he leave them in the care of strangers?

“Last
chance, Jon,” a woman said from the front of the house, her voice carrying even
better than the old man’s. “Give up them
chil’ren
or
there will be hell to pay.”

“I have a
thick wallet.” Michael almost laughed at his foster dad’s lame attempt at a
joke, but the sound of Jonathan’s sudden screams made laughing impossible.
Those people were attacking his foster dad.

This
terrible moment went on for a long time.

Michael
wasn’t sure how long he’d been hiding in the trees, but it had been long enough
to make his knees hurt. His foster dad’s screams ended not long ago, and now
the angry mob was rampaging through his house, looking for him and Jason.

Diane was
quietly sobbing over the possible death of her husband and Michael could see
Jason also had tears in his eyes. But Jason did not sob. If Jonathan was indeed
dead, then the eldest brother was now the man of the family.

Lights were
flashing to life all around the house as the mob made its way from room to
room, searching.

“We can’t
stay here,” Jason said. “We have to move.”

Diane
continued to stare at the house. She had stopped sobbing and was now
blank-faced. Michael wondered if she was even with them anymore. Jason wiped
the tears from his eyes and stared at his foster mother, waiting for her to say
something, waiting for her to tell them everything would be okay.

After a
moment, Diane finally came to her senses and looked from the house to the boys.
She placed her hands on their faces and stroked their cheeks.

In that
moment, Michael felt relieved. He barely remembered any other mother than
Diane, and even after his real father’s revelation about the boys’ parentage,
Michael had never stopped thinking of his foster mother as his real one.

“You two
have to hide in the woods,” she said quietly. “Go to that hiding place where
you used to play as children. Remember?”

Michael
thought for a second, trying to remember. He and Jason had indeed played in a
special cave in the woods behind their house, but they hadn’t been there in
years. “How do you know about that place?” he asked.

“A mother
knows everything,” Diane said with a kind smile. “Now go, and go quietly.”

“What are
you going to do?” Jason asked.

A sad smile
replaced her kind one. “I’m going to lead those people in the wrong direction.”

“No!” Jason
nearly shouted. “It won’t work. They’ll just kill you like they killed Dad.”

Diane’s kind
smile returned and Michael thought it was because Jason referred to Jonathan as
“Dad.”

“No they
won’t, baby.” She kissed Jason’s forehead, and then turned and did the same to
Michael. “I’ll join you when I can. Stay in your hiding place until I get
there. If I’m not there by morning, just run. Don’t return to the house.”

“What if
they find us?” Jason asked.

“Do what you
have to in order to get away,” Diane said with a tone Michael had never heard
from her before. “Go, now!”

Jason took
Michael’s hand and they sprinted into the dark woods, leaving the only mother
they had ever known behind.

The slide
down the wet grassy hill was probably more unpleasant than it used to be in
their younger days, but Jason looked like he was trying to ignore the pain as
best as he could—it was the fastest way to the caves, Michael knew.

Once he was
at the bottom, he called up to Michael, who immediately followed, though the
ride seemed to be less unpleasant to the youngest of the brothers. When Michael
reached the bottom, Jason led the way to the secret cave. The trees were
thicker here, so the moonlight didn’t penetrate as well as it did at the top of
the hill.

Jason looked
like he was trying to remember which way to go, but it had been nearly seven
years since he last ventured this deep into the woods. He stopped dead in his
tracks, hoping to get his bearings, when Michael walked right into him. Jason
sighed, but said nothing.

“Sorry,”
Michael murmured.

Jason smiled
and patted his brother on top of his head. “It’s okay.”

“Are we
lost?” Michael asked.

“I believe
we are. Do you remember which way to go?”

Michael
looked around for a moment, and then began walking in one direction. Jason
followed.

After a few
minutes, they found the hidden cave at the bottom of another hill, though this
one wasn’t as steep as the last. The brothers climbed into the darkness of the
cave and buckled down behind a large boulder inside. Michael remembered this
boulder from his childhood; he and Jason used to try climbing it back when they
were much shorter.

Time ticked
by very slowly in the dark cave. Jason and Michael didn’t say anything to each
other for quite some time. In the silence, Michael took the time to reflect on
his life and how it had gone so terribly wrong.

There was no
doubt in his mind his real father had something to do with the Event: the giant
and its monstrous entourage.
But what was
Dad trying to accomplish?
Michael asked himself.
Was he trying to scare people into insanity?

These
thoughts occupied his mind for a while, which made the time go by faster.

“Do you
think Mom’s okay?” Michael suddenly asked, snapping himself out of his
thoughts.

“I think
so,” Jason replied kindly. “She’s tough, just like you.”

“Are we
going to be okay?”

This
question caught Jason off guard for some reason. He clearly knew things would
never be the same for him and Michael ever again. How could people so easily believe
he and Michael were the sons of the monster? What proof did they have besides
the confession of Michael’s classmate? Were the townspeople of
Halbertville
really that superstitious?

And what
good would it do to kill the sons of the monster? None. Michael knew he
wouldn’t be able to talk any sense into the townspeople, so where did that
leave him and Jason? Would they have to go on the run for the rest of their
natural lives?

Just then, a
noise startled the brothers. It sounded like someone walking on wet leaves.
Michael joined Jason as they crouched behind the boulder. The cave was small
and they could go no farther. They could only hide.

A figure
appeared at the cave entrance, silhouetted by the moonlight. Michael
immediately noticed how small it was.

“I know
you’re in here,” a male voice said, and Michael noticed how young it sounded.
He decided to wait, however. It could be a trap.

The kid
continued to stand at the mouth of the cave, waiting. He was not going anywhere
until he’d confirmed his find, Michael realized. As he stayed crouched behind
the boulder with Jason, he suddenly remembered something he once stashed in
this very cave years ago. He reached for it now, under the boulder, in the wet,
loose soil. Would it still be there after all this time?

Jason saw
him digging and joined in.

Do what you have to in order to get away,
Mom had said. Michael didn’t think it would come to that, though.

He continued
to search for the object anyway.

“I’m coming
in,” the boy said. Michael could see the intruder’s shadow stretch before the
young man as he took a step into the cave.

Jason could
hide no longer. He stood and faced the stranger. The boy standing before him
was at least Michael’s age of fifteen. He had long brown hair and tanned skin.
Michael, who was standing up next to Jason, recognized the boy immediately.

“What are
you doing here, Christian?” he asked.

“I knew you
were here!” Christian said in astonishment, his eyes widening, as if he had
just found a treasure.

“What are
you going to do about it?” Jason asked, gripping something tightly in his right
hand. Michael had seen him pull it out from under the boulder before standing
up.

And he knew
Jason was prepared to use it.

“What do you
think I’m going to do?” Christian asked, losing the astonished look; he was
angry now. “You’re the sons of the monster. Michael said so himself. You’ll
turn into monsters just like your dad. Your real dad.”

“Are you
insane?” Jason asked, completely furious now. “Are you really stupid enough to
take Michael seriously? He’s just a stupid kid like you. Of course he thought
it would be cool to say he was the son of the monster.”

Christian’s
lips curled up into a sneer. “He said that before the monster ever showed up.
That is why I believe him. And now you two have to die before you turn into
monsters too. Plus, Michael can teleport—I saw him do it.”

“You really
are stupid. Do you know that?” Jason gripped the object so tightly his knuckles
turned white. The time to use it was fast approaching.

“Where is
everybody else?” Michael asked.

“I wanted to
make sure you were here before I told them,” Christian said. “Me and Michael
played out here once when we were younger. The adults are back at your house,
killing your fake parents.”

Michael felt
a sharp pain in his gut at the words. Before he could reply, however, Jason
screamed, “You’re lying!”

“No I’m not.
They’re beating your mom to death right now, asking her where you two are. I
think your dad’s already d—”

Before
Christian could even finish his sentence, he was on his back on the wet dirt.
Jason was grabbing Christian’s throat with his left hand and stabbing him in
the stomach with the knife in his right.

Michael
watched from behind the boulder, too afraid to move. After a minute of
continuous stabbing, Jason finally stood up. He was breathing heavily now from
the anger and exertion.

He was also
crying.

Michael
looked down at the bloody weapon in his brother’s hand. “Hey, that’s my knife,”
he said numbly. “It’s the one I found at school, the one you said Mom wouldn’t
let me keep.”

Jason didn’t
answer for a while. He merely continued to stare at Michael with wild eyes.
Then, he said, “Yes, little brother, it is. Remember when we came to this cave
to hide it? And then we forgot about it.” He sighed. “Were you prepared to use
it on Christian?”

They both
laughed at this, almost forgetting a murder had just been committed. Once the
laughter stopped, however, they reverted back to the lost little boys they
truly were.

“What do we
do now?” Michael asked shakily.

“We’re not
staying here. I’m going back to the house to save Mom. You can come with me if
you want.”

It only took
Michael a second to decide. The brothers made their way back to their house.
All of the lights were still on, but there appeared to be no one home.
Everything was quiet and still.

Jason ran up
to the back porch and peered in through a window. Michael watched from the
trees. He had a really bad feeling about the house, and the look Jason gave him
a few seconds later confirmed it.

Michael
started toward his older brother, though Jason tried to get him to stop. But
Michael didn’t stop; he wanted to see what Jason saw.

A moment
later, he was on the back porch and looking through the same window as Jason.
He saw her immediately, lying
facedown
in the foyer.
Michael’s heart raced painfully at the sight. He wanted to run in and check on
her, but Jason held him back.

“We have to
make sure this isn’t a trap,” the eldest brother said as he carefully surveyed
the area. He quickly wiped away tears at the same time, but Michael pretended
not to notice.

After he was
confident the house was safe, Jason opened the door and crawled into the
kitchen. Michael followed, also staying low to the ground.

The front
door was wide open, and the brothers saw their dad lying crumpled up on the
front porch. It looked like he had just dropped where he’d stood. Jonathan’s
legs were under him, and his eyes were wide open. Blood was spilling from a
wound on his head, as if someone had hit him very hard with something very
solid.

Jason knelt
down next to his mother and held her. Diane’s eyes were also wide open,
unseeing. Her face was bruised and bloody. Michael started to cry and hugged
his brother and mother as the three of them began to rock back and forth.

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