Brothers of Chaos (The Unstoppable Titans Book 1) (7 page)

The creature
continued to eat the beer can Chris had discarded. Owen could see the creature
appeared to have gills on its neck and reflective scaly skin under its fur,
like a fish. But this was no fish he’d ever seen before; fish didn’t usually
tend to walk on all fours. This must’ve been some kind of mutant, though it
reminded Owen of a Chihuahua, only with large, bulbous eyes on the sides of its
head, like a big-eyed goldfish.

The
fish-creature finished its can-snack and looked up to Chris and Owen. It tilted
its head to the side as if studying them. It was actually a little cute, if you
looked at it from an angle, which was what Owen was doing. He reached his hand
out slowly. Chris tried to stop him, but it was too late. The creature stepped
forward and licked Owen’s fingers.

“I think he
likes me,” he said, laughing.

“What makes
you so sure it’s a he?”

“Because I
can see his privates from here.”

Suddenly the
creature bit down on Owen’s hand. He screamed and tried to shake it off, but it
was biting hard. Chris crawled down to him and grabbed the creature, trying to
pry its mouth open enough for Owen to pull his hand free. It let go of him and
snapped at Chris. Owen took this opportunity to kick it back into the water.
And then they crawled back up the slope.

Owen studied
his hand. It was stinging and bleeding badly.

“What the
hell was that thing?” Chris asked.

“It was a
fish, I think. A … dogfish,” Owen responded, groaning at his choice of words. A
“dogfish”? Really?

“That was
the ugliest fish I’ve ever seen,” Chris added.

With that,
the fish-creature burst out of the water again and ran up the slope toward
them. Chris and Owen ran into the woods, climbing up the nearest tree. The
dogfish tried furiously to climb the tree as well, but it kept sliding back
down to the ground.

“Well,
that’s a good thing, I suppose,” Chris snorted. He and Owen were twenty feet
off the ground. The branches of the tree were thick.

Down below,
the creature crouched as low to the ground as it could manage, as if it were
preparing to leap. And then, it did. It leapt to a quarter of the length of the
tree. Chris and Owen were almost at the very top. The creature leapt again,
clinging to the tree as if its life depended on it. Now it was halfway up.

“Damn, it’s
a determined little sucker,” said Owen as he and Chris crawled across the
branch and jumped to the closest tree. Chris lost his grip on the branch they
had landed on and nearly fell. Owen grabbed his hand, but he too lost his grip
and they both fell a few feet down the tree. They landed hard on another
branch.

Owen looked
up and saw the dogfish now on their tree. It was dropping down, branch by branch,
to get to them.

“Climb
down!” Owen shouted. “It’s coming!”

Chris felt
for the next branch below him with his feet. He found it and dropped down. Owen
followed quickly. They could hear branches snapping and leaves rustling above
them. The dogfish wasn’t far behind.

Chris and
Owen were now close enough to the ground to jump. They landed hard, but did not
waste any time. They made their way to the path running along the river. Owen
could hear the sound of claws on pavement. He didn’t dare turn around to look.
He knew the creature was running after them.

“Hang on!”
yelled Chris. Owen stopped running and saw him grab a nearby trashcan. The
dogfish leapt at them. Chris caught it in the can and then tipped it upside
down, trapping the creature inside.

CHAPTER
8
 
 

Les wiped his forehead with
the back of his sleeve; he couldn’t remember the last time he had sweat so
badly. He drove his shovel into the ground, wanting the hole much deeper than
it had to be. He didn’t want anyone finding Marco’s head. Ever.

He looked
back at the head; it was in a black garbage bag. After he buried it, there was
still the matter of cleaning the blood in the fridge. He looked back to the
house, where Michael was more than likely going through
Les’s
stuff.

“I wish
you’d never been born, Michael. I don’t care what you are.”

“Careful
now,” a voice said from the darkness. “That’s my brother you’re speaking ill
about.”

Les nearly
emptied his bladder. He looked around frantically, but couldn’t find the source
of the voice. “Who’s there?”

Suddenly he
saw a figure in the darkness moving toward him.
Les’s
heart hammered so hard in his chest that he felt light-headed. The figure
finally made it into the light of the moon so Les could see him. It was a young
man, dressed nicely in a black suit with a red tie. He had short blond hair.

“Michael can
be a little aggressive,” the figure said, looking at the garbage bag, “but he’s
a good boy once you get to know him.”

“You’re his
brother?” Les asked nervously.

“That I am.”

Les became
even more nervous.

The figure
smiled. “You can call me Jason.”

Jason spoke
very politely. That didn’t put Les at ease very much.

“Pleasure to
meet you,” said Les. Then, he bowed.

Jason
laughed and bowed his own head. “I don’t mean to intrude,” he said, “but I just
stopped by to give my brother something. He’s going to need it on his quest. It
helps him think, so to speak.”

Les realized
Jason was holding what looked like a brown bowling-ball bag.

“His quest?
You mean the person he’s looking for?”

“Exactly. My
brother tends to be a little hasty, and when beginning his search, he left an
important item behind.”

Jason set
the bag down by the hole Les had dug.

“What is
it?” Les asked.

“I suppose,
since you’re courteous enough to help Michael, I can tell you. It’s a device,
one I need to use but don’t have the means to operate. I believe the person
we’re looking for can operate it.”

“What does
it do?”

Jason
smiled. “You’re very curious. I like that, however, I cannot tell you what it
does. Not because I don’t know, but because it’s a secret. Life is full of
secrets, isn’t it? That’s what makes it so interesting. You can understand,
can’t you?”

“Yes, sir.”

Jason
laughed. He grabbed the bag with Marco’s head and dropped it into the hole.

“This is a
fine hole you’ve dug. I think it will do just fine.”

“Would you
like to come in and say hi?” Les asked, indicating his house.

“No, I
mustn’t. I don’t want to distract Michael from his task. He was already
reluctant to begin in the first place,” Jason said, shaking his head. “If he
sees me, he’ll beg me to come back home, and what I have charged him with must
be done. Tell him to take care of the device. I would hold on to it myself, but
Michael needs it more than I.”

“Your
brother killed this guy,” Les said hastily, pointing to the bag in the hole.

“I figured
he would. I told him to do whatever it takes to get the job done. It’s nice to
see he’s listening.”

“But,” Les
said, utterly shocked, “he didn’t have to kill this guy. Michael only did it
because the guy got on his nerves.”

Jason
shrugged his shoulders and said, “Boys will be boys, you know.”

Les couldn’t
believe it. He was surrounded by crazy people. These brothers looked at murder
as a minor thing.

Suddenly he
was aware Jason was no longer standing next to him. Les turned and saw him
returning to where he had come from.

“What are
you doing?” Les asked.

“Retreating
into the darkness, of course,” Jason replied, and it seemed he was doing just
that, for he disappeared before
Les’s
very eyes, in
the corner of his yard where the darkness was absolute.

Les went
back to his room and found Michael holding a sack full of purple crystals.

“What are
these?” Michael asked.

Damn it,
Les thought.
I knew he’d go through my stuff.


Burgani
crystals,” he said. “I use them to protect myself
from evil spirits.”

Michael
laughed and put them back in
Les’s
desk drawer.
That’s when Les handed him the bag Jason had given him.

“This is for
you.”

Michael
stared at the bag for a moment, then took it. He opened it slowly and pulled
out what looked like a dark-red bowling ball, only it didn’t have finger holes.
For a long while, he just stared at it, not saying a word.

“My brother
was here?” he finally asked Les.

“Yeah.”

Les became
more nervous as Michael sat there at his desk, staring at the strange ball, its
dark, shiny red surface barely reflecting anything around it.

“So, you
don’t know how to use that thing?” Les asked.

“It’s weird,
I have a faint idea of how to use it,” Michael responded. “I just can’t
actually use it.”

“That must
be frustrating.”

“Very.”

Michael noticed
a Rubik’s cube sitting on
Les’s
desk. He put down the
ball, picked up the cube, and started playing with it. An awkward silence
followed.

“Why did you
say what you said to Curtis at the arcade?” Les suddenly asked, breaking the
silence and changing the subject at the same time.

Michael
continued to play with the cube. “As soon as I met him, the thought just came
to mind.”

“You’re not
racist, are you?”

Michael
laughed at that. “No, it’s not like that. I can sense things about people when
I’m near them. I could sense some friction between you two.”

He set down
the cube, with all colored sides matching.

“Could you
really sense something from me?”

“Clear as
day, my friend.” Michael went back to the ball, studying it.

Les looked
at the Rubik’s cube again. “You must be really smart; I’ve been working on that
cube for years.”

Michael
didn’t respond.

“So,” Les
said, “you and your brother are looking for someone to help you activate the
ball … to do what?”

Michael
finally looked up from the orb and stared at Les, his eyes suddenly alive.
“Before I tell you, you have to promise you’ll still help me, no matter what.”

Les didn’t
like that. There was no way he was going to make a promise to something if he
didn’t know what it was first.

“I promise,”
he said, hating himself for it.

“I know what
this thing does, but not how to use it. My brother plans to enslave the human
race and take over the world.”

Les sat
silently on his bed, many thoughts running through his head now. And then, he
laughed uncontrollably. Michael smiled.

“You’re
joking, right?” Les asked.

“No. I’m
serious. I’m certain this orb can help us do that. I told my brother and he
came up with the plan to use it.”

“How do you
know what it does?” Les asked.

“I saw it in
a dream. I saw me and another person building it at the same time. We were in a
green room, surrounded by creatures in cages. I don’t know what the other
person looks like, but I know he or she is here in this city. There’s a link
between us.”

Les listened
intently. He could tell by Michael’s tone he was indeed serious. About
everything.

“It can do
other things, too,” Michael said with a grin. “The orb, I mean. Terrible
things.”

“What?” Les
asked.

“You don’t
want to know.”

“How did you
get this?” Les asked.

“I don’t
know. It just came to us.”

Michael
seemed at a loss for words now. He sat there, staring at the orb again.

“You said
you and your brother are planning to take over the world?”

“He’s
planning it, not me,” said Michael.

“But why?”

“Are you
telling me if you had the chance to take over the world, you wouldn’t seize
it?” Michael asked.

Les didn’t
want to answer that question. “What about me? Am I going to be a slave, too?”

“I’ll take
care of you.”

“You make it
sound like you don’t want any part of this plan. If that’s true, then just
don’t do it.” Les got up from the bed and grabbed the orb from Michael. “Just
destroy it.”

“I can’t,”
Michael said. “I have to do this.”

“Why?”

“Because he
told me to,” said Michael. “My brother said it was the only way to make things
right.”

The orb was
warm in
Les’s
hand. Michael stared at him, his eyes
suddenly full of rage. Les slowly handed the orb back to him.

“Thank you,”
Michael said silently.

Les hated
the way the orb felt in his hands. It had seemed slimy, yet his hands were dry.
It felt warm and evil. He could feel it in his body now.

“Now, back
to the other matter,” Michael suddenly said, making Les jump. “We have to find
the one who can activate it.”

“Do you
think you would know them if you saw them?”

“I would
probably sense them, yes.”

“I can take
you to some places where a lot of people go. We could see if you pick up
anything.”

Michael
considered this. Les already regretted bringing it up. The thought of taking
this guy out in public was scary; anything could happen.

“Sounds like
a good idea,” Michael said. “But first, I need a nap.”

Michael lay
down on
Les’s
bed and was instantly asleep.

*
 
*
 
*

Jason loved
his brother and would do almost anything for him. But, at the moment, he was
mad at Michael. The way he’d just disappeared from the hotel like that was
completely irresponsible.

Standing at
Les’s
window, he watched through the blinds as the portly
boy handed the orb to Michael. Jason hadn’t doubted Les would do what was asked
of him, but he’d decided to make sure the task had been done properly.

Eventually,
Jason would have to talk to Michael. Now did not seem to be the proper time,
though Jason wanted his brother to realize what he’d done was wrong. He wanted
Michael to feel he had shamed his older brother by wandering off when they had
something important to do.

As Jason
stood there, staring at his baby brother through the window, he was reminded of
how they had been driven from their home like they were monsters. The brothers
had been shunned because of their birth parents. More specifically, their
father.

The
townspeople had discovered Jason and Michael were the sons of
him
. The Beast with Orange Eyes (as
people had come to call Father), who’d almost taken over the world. Jason
hadn’t known at the time what his father really was. He had vague memories of
life with his natural parents, before being adopted.

That soon
changed when, one night, a man came to Jason and told him the truth. At first,
he had thought the man to be a dream or a ghost. Jason had only been a child at
the time.

For a while,
the man visited Jason and Michael, telling them tales of fantastical worlds and
creatures. They were bedtime stories the “fosters” never told. The two boys had
loved those stories. And then he revealed his true identity to the brothers.

“If you’re
our daddy,” Michael said, “why can’t we live with you?”

“Because,”
said their father, “it’s not safe just yet. But soon, we’ll be together; we’ll
be a family. You live in a world that hates me, though they should love me.
After all, I’m the reason they’re all here.”

Jason
remembered his father’s orange eyes and long brown hair, pulled back in a
ponytail. Jason had been fifteen when his dad last visited and told them he
wouldn’t be able to see them for a while. But he promised his children they
would be together soon, that he was planning something big.

He told them
the world would pay for its “betrayal.”

Jason hadn’t
understood at the time what his father meant, but he did now. Years later,
Michael had come across something in a field. The seventeen-year-old showed it to
Jason. It was a ship of some kind.

After
examining the strange round ship in the field, Jason and Michael managed to
open it. The inside was fairly large, with blue-silver seats all around. There
had been a jar on the floor with a strange mist swirling inside.

Michael had
gotten to the jar first. He picked it up and studied it.

“Let me
see,” Jason said, and when Michael tried to hand it over, the jar slipped from
his hands, smashing on the floor. The mist had climbed up to Michael’s face and
seeped into his nose and mouth.

And then he
collapsed. Whatever had been in that jar put poor Michael in a coma for months.
Jason did his best to care for him, considering they were on the run for their
lives.

It was
during those months Jason had found out about the orb. Michael, in his comatose
state, began mumbling something about the orb and the power it contained. Jason
didn’t know what to think or say to this. Even though Michael was talking,
nothing about his condition had changed.

But Jason
never gave up hope. He continued to care for his little brother the best he
could. Whenever Michael whispered about the orb and its power, Jason listened.

“Where is
the orb?” Jason finally asked, not knowing what else to do.

“The ship,”
Michael replied. “The ship.”

Of course,
Jason thought. After Michael
had collapsed, Jason had immediately taken him to an abandoned house nearby.
After making sure Michael was safe, Jason returned to the field, but the ship
was gone. There had been an indentation in the grass, but no ship.

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