Brothers of Chaos (The Unstoppable Titans Book 1) (5 page)

CHAPTER
6
 
 

Owen was in total darkness and
the humming noise was soothing. He didn’t dare open his eyes. He knew if he
did, he would see the same thing he always saw. Green, always green. He didn’t
like that. He liked the soothing hum, though.

But he had
work to do.

He opened
his eyes and saw the objects that lay before him on his worktable: a set of
tools and an orb.

The
orb.

Owen knew of
its importance, but not what it would be capable of … He couldn’t seem to
remember. All he knew was that it was important.

But he had
more work to do. He had to finish his project. He studied the orb; it was dark red,
made even darker by the green sheen of the room, and appeared to be made of
marble. He ran his long, pale fingers over the surface. It responded with a low
rumble from within. He released it from his affectionate grip; he had to be
careful not to activate it. Not yet.

It appeared
to be finished but he knew it wasn’t. It was missing a key component. He closed
his eyes once again.

*
 
*
 
*

Owen slowly
came awake and looked around, already knowing he was in his room; looking
around had become a reflex. He looked out his window; it was dark, but the
streetlights outside made it slightly bright. That grueling throb was already
beginning in his head.

He left his
room and headed downstairs into the living room. The lights were still on but
no one was around. He continued to walk around the condo, noticing Chris’s keys
were gone from the hooks by the front door. He was probably driving around,
blowing off steam.

In the far
corner was a room Owen knew to be the armory. In
there
were the weapons Daniel made for them; Chris hadn’t wanted to risk buying real
weapons from a shop. Owen walked up to the closed door; on it was a sign that
read “Dangerous Toys.” He laughed to himself, and then walked in slowly. He
trusted Daniel with his life, but this room was filled with a lot of dangerous
“toys,” and they weren’t meant to be taken lightly.

In the
middle of the room was a table with an assortment of crossbows, arrows,
pistols, and tracking capsules (the latter looked like common pills and could
be digested or placed in something you wanted to keep tabs on). In the corner
of the room was a chest marked “Busters.” Owen knew what was inside: tiny red
bombs the size of baseballs, cousins to the Rejecters. He wasn’t sure why
Daniel made these; they’d never been used. Of course, Owen had thought the same
thing about the Rejecters once, and they saved him from Eric earlier, so he
decided not to press the issue.

He made his
way to a closet in the far corner of the room. Daniel kept this door locked at
all times. Owen didn’t know what was inside; it was “private,” as Daniel
constantly reminded them. “I’ll reveal it in due time,” he always said.

It bugged
Owen that they used weapons so freely. Sure, they were fighting monsters, but
in the back of his mind, he always thought it seemed wiser to go to the police
with whatever information they had instead of taking action themselves. It was
Chris who chose to act, though, and he always convinced the rest of them to
follow suit.

Owen went
back out to the living room, making sure to close the armory door behind him.
He walked over to the bookcase in the corner of the room and browsed through
the books they had at their disposal. There was a seven-part series about a
young wizard Chris was fond of, but Owen never could bring himself to read it.
He knew some day he would crack under Chris’s insistence, but that day hadn’t
come yet.

These dreams
of Owen’s were very disturbing to him, though. He’d had this last one a few
times before, much like the one he’d had outside of Stephanie’s house: That memory/dream
had been the last time he’d seen his father. But the other dream, the one with
the green light and the orb, was only vaguely familiar to him. He had to
understand what it meant.

He grabbed
two books—
How to Deal with Suppressed Memories
and
Dream Moods: A
Guide to Understanding Your Dream
—and sat on the couch. He placed them on
the table and pondered which one to read first.

Before he
knew it, he was reading both books at the same time. For as long as he could
remember, he had always had a short attention span. He had to know everything
now. He kept reading; he was sure the “orb dream” wasn’t a memory, unlike the
“meteor-shower dream.” Whenever he thought of the meteor shower, he thought of
his father, which, naturally, led to thoughts of his mother.

Owen’s
mother had disappeared from his life for no apparent reason a year before Dad’s
death. “She just up and left us,” his father told him whenever he’d asked about
her, “because she and country living just didn’t agree, I suppose.”

After the
death of his father, he had stayed with his childhood best friend Cullen
Matthews and his father for a few weeks (Owen had no other family), but that
hadn’t worked out for reasons still unknown to him. That was why he’d left in
the middle of the night, heading, on foot, straight to the streets of downtown
San Sebastian. Even though he wound up on the streets, he had felt more
comfortable there. It was more of a home than the Matthews’.

Owen
suddenly realized he wasn’t retaining anything he was reading—these dream books
were useless. He couldn’t make heads or tails of the information. He had gone
through the library and couldn’t find one good source about his bizarre dreams:
the green light, the electric hum, and the orb. He had no idea what it all
meant.

He put the
books back on the shelf and lay down on the soft couch. He stared up at the
high ceiling. This place was enormous; he was so grateful to Alyssa for getting
it for them. She was perversely rich and tremendously generous.

His thoughts
suddenly drifted back to Chris. He had to tell him the truth about Eric. Chris
was his best friend, and he couldn’t continue to lie to him. Plus, Chris
already had trust issues. Not only did Owen owe him the truth, he owed him his
life. Once, while wandering the streets of downtown, he had nearly walked into
the path of a car. Chris had pulled him out of the way. That was how they met
in the first place.

*
 
*
 
*

“Whoa,
buddy. You have a death wish?” Chris had asked.

Owen said
nothing.

“You look
like you’ve been walking a while,” Chris said. Owen’s clothes had been torn and
dirty, his face sunburned. He had also been very skinny. “When was the last
time you ate, buddy?”

Owen still
didn’t answer. Chris studied him for a moment, then grinned.

“You look a
little young to be walking around the city by yourself. You’re not, you know,
homeless, are you?”

Silence.
Owen just couldn’t bring himself to talk.

“Hey, if
you’re hungry, I have a friend who works at the coffee shop in the bookstore
down the street who hooks me up every now and then. I’m going to try my luck
today.”

Chris
started to walk away. Owen slowly started to follow without even realizing it.
It had been midday, and the heat was strong. The cool air in the bookstore had
been very welcomed. Chris had managed to get a couple of free muffins and
cappuccinos for them.

After
finishing up, they walked through the bookstore. Chris pointed out all of his
favorite books, asking Owen if he’d read any of them. Owen shook his head to
all of them. At fourteen, he hadn’t read much.

After an
hour, they left and continued walking the streets. Owen just felt completely
aimless; all he could do was follow Chris.

“I don’t
really have anywhere to go,” Chris said. “I live over there.”

He pointed
to some unseen place down the street. Owen stared for a while; Chris started
crossing the street. Owen automatically followed. After a while, they’d come to
a red Camaro parked under an overpass just outside the city.

For hours,
Chris talked about his life and his favorite books. There had been nothing else
to talk about, and it wasn’t like Owen was contributing much.

A day had
gone by and Owen still hadn’t said anything. He slept in the passenger seat of
Chris’s car. When they woke up, Chris tried again to get Owen to speak.

“You know,
you don’t have to live like this,” he said. “I have a reason why I’m out here.
If you have family, you should go back to them.”

That’s when
Owen spoke: “I don’t have any family.”

Then he
started to cough. His throat had been croaky since he hadn’t spoken in a long
time.

“You all
right?” Chris asked.

Owen nodded.
After his coughing fit ceased, Chris asked him what his name was, offering his
own in return.

“So, Owen,
where did you come from?”

“Birch.”

“Where’s
that?”

“The
country.” Owen suddenly remembered how his friends always referred to where
they lived as “the country.”

“Wow,” Chris
said, his eyes widening. “How did you get all the way here?”

“I walked.”

“No way,”
Chris said. “There’s no way. I don’t believe that. What happened? Did you run
away from home or something?”


Kinda
,” Owen said. “My dad died.”

“Oh, I’m
sorry, bud.”

They had
spent the day walking around, exploring the city, which was what Owen had
always wanted to do anyway. They’d done that for a few months, always
discovering something new and exciting.

“Where’s cutie-pie?”
Owen heard the coffee-shop employee ask Chris one day. He was around the
corner, because Chris had instructed him to stay out of sight and keep his head
down for some reason.

“Oh, I don’t
know,” Chris answered. “He took off a while ago.”

“You know,
he looked rather familiar,” the clerk, Bonnie, said with a conspiratorial tone.
Owen had heard that tone in the movies enough times to recognize it.

“Really?”
Chris said, though he didn’t sound the least bit interested; he sounded
distracted. He’d gone inside to get his and Owen’s free muffins and iced
coffees for the week.

“Yeah. He
looks like this kid.” Owen didn’t know what Bonnie was talking about because he
couldn’t see from behind the bookshelf in the adjoining store, but he heard
paper crackling.

“I guess
you’re right—he does look like him,” Chris said nervously.

“Why are you
getting two of everything, Chris?”

“I met a
girl.”

“Oh. Is that
so? I’d love to meet her.”

“Some other
time, Bonnie. Just remember you’ll always hold a special place in my heart.”

“That’s
sweet, doll. Just don’t do anything stupid. I can’t, in good conscience, be a
part of anything that shouldn’t be going on.”

Owen had no
idea what she was talking about and it worried him.

“I’m not
doing anything wrong,” Chris said, then added, “I’ll do the right thing.”

A second
later, he was walking out of the coffee shop and past Owen. Once they were out
in the streets again, Chris handed him his snacks.

They dodged
into a familiar alley and sat down on the ground next to a trashcan.

“Why did you
want me to hide?” Owen asked as he took a bite of his blueberry muffin.

“No reason,”
Chris said unconvincingly. “I just think you should stay hidden for a while.”

Owen, at the
tender age of fourteen, simply accepted the answer as he enjoyed his snack. At
that point, he had been living on the streets with Chris for a nearly two
months. He’d felt more at home there than he ever did with the Matthews. And he
could tell Chris was enjoying having a buddy.

“Do you miss
your old life at all?” Chris asked.

Owen stared
at him for a while before answering. “Not really. I mean, I miss my dad, and my
mom.”

“What
happened to your mom? You never told me about her.”

Owen didn’t
know how to answer that.

“She left me
and Dad last year. She just disappeared. Dad said country living didn’t agree
with her, so she ran away.”

“Do you
believe that?”

“Deep down,
I don’t. I think something happened to her, but I don’t know what. I think
wherever she is, she’s okay. She’s happy.”

“Happy?”
Chris asked, confused. “Without you?”

Owen nodded.
“Otherwise, she wouldn’t have left.”

“And you’re
happy, living with me on the streets?”

Owen smiled.
“Extremely.”

Chris smiled
too. He seemed almost relieved. “That’s what I needed to hear.”

A silent
moment passed between them.

“Did I ever
tell you I used to make movies?” Chris asked after finishing his coffee.

Owen shook
his head.

“Me and a
buddy started this company, and we went around looking for talented filmmakers
to make movies with. Then we were going to release those movies through our
company.”

“That sounds
cool,” Owen said, grinning. “Did you release any movies?”

“No,” Chris
said sadly. “The company fell apart. My producing partner and I didn’t get
along very well. But there was this one guy who wrote this fantastic script
about these monster hunters who went around town, killing vampires and demons.
And the monster hunters are young, like us. I would have loved to have gotten
that movie made.”

Owen
snickered.

“What’s so
funny?” Chris asked, grinning.

“You’re not
young. I’m young.”

“I’m twenty-four.”

Owen laughed
even more. “That’s old!”

Chris
thumped him on the head. “You little punk.”

They laughed
together, completely separated in the alley from the rest of the world.

And then
someone came stumbling toward them from the opposite end of where Owen and
Chris had originally entered.

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