“Just do it.”
“Do you think I’m afraid? I’m not some timid ten year old boy, Jay.”
“Then prove your manlihood, chicken.”
Rob chugged the last half of his beer and crushed the can.” This is ridiculous,” he said to his twin brother in the seat next to him.
Jay followed in suit, draining the can and throwing it behind him. He heard the clang of it hitting the existing pile and rolling to the floor as he slammed the passenger door of the beat up Chevy Cavalier.
Shoulder to shoulder, the twins stepped to the entrance of the abandoned trail. The light of the full moon shone on the backs of their heads casting two identical copies ahead of them. Rob swore he saw Jay’s shadow wink at him.
Impossible, he thought before taking a step forward. Jay, again followed in suit, dropping behind him and marching in cadence.
All was quiet, eerily quiet. The only sound in the forest was that of their steps on the rocky terrain and the occasional gust of wind. On either side of them, the trees thickened. Rob could feel the innumerable eyes penetrating his shell and scratching his very soul. He just knew somewhere in those trees lived the thing he was most afraid of, but there was no way in hell he was going to tell Jay that.
Somewhere deep in the tree line, a screech owl broke the silence. Rob nearly jumped right out of his combat boots. His could feel the tiny hairs on his neck stand on end and his knees begin to shake. For a second, he wasn’t sure if he was going to throw himself on the ground and play dead or run back to the car. Lucky for him, Jay’s hysterical laughing reminded him of exactly what they were doing here.
“Afraid of a little bird, Robbie Boy?”
“You don’t have to be such an ass, you know,” Rob growled back. He hated it when Jay called him that. It was just so demeaning and it took that endearing quality he connected with his mother away from the nickname to hear it from his angry twin brother.
Rob picked up the pace as he fought the urge to turn around and deck Jay. He could only think of his mother’s last words, “Keep an eye on JayJay, Robbie. He’s not as strong as you.”
“Yes, Robbie. Do watch out for your poor brother. We’d hate for anything to happen to him.”
“Stay out of my head, Jay,” Rob snapped as he pushed his way through the thickening underbrush. He’d been so busy trying to keep his fear in check, he hadn’t been watching the path ahead. Now that he looked, it had utterly disappeared. In its place were briar bushes and saplings.
“Seriously, Jay. I’m out here with you. The least you could do is stay out of my thoughts.”
“What good is my twincense if I can’t peek into your head? Come on? Just a-”
Jay was cut off mid-taunt with a yelp. Rob didn’t slow to see. He knew he’d caused his brother’s pain. Just a mild shock now and then to remind him who’s in charge.
“Was that necessary?” the second twin whined.
“Yes. Now have I made myself clear?”
“Fine,” Jay said kicking a rock out of his path.
“I can see the tower rising ahead of us.” Rob pointed toward what looked like a needle protruding from the haystack that was the forest line. “Just another mile or so. Can you make it.”
Jay scoffed. “Of course.”
Rob reached into the sheath strapped to his back and withdrew a machete. Jay, again, followed in suit, raising his hand strung bow over his head and withdrawing an arrow from the quiver. Jay readied himself for an attack from either side. He could tell from Rob’s stance there was bound to be something in the trees.
“Do you hear them?” Jay whispered.
“Panting. Look to the left.”
Jay did as he was told. “The eyes, Rob.” He forced tremble into his voice.
Shoot them, Rob thought loudly.
“I can’t do that. It’s like…”
I know what it is. You must shoot it.
If you don’t, it will hurt us. Quickly, between the eyes.
Jay lined the arrow against his finger and prayed it would penetrate the skull for the instantaneous kill. He let the arrow fly and watched as it hit the target. Within seconds, the two amber lights went out.
“Good job, brother. On we go.”
“Are there more?”
“Reach deep, Jay. Can you feel them?”
“I feel you and me?”
“Use your twincense, JayJay. Are there more?”
Rob lifted his machete and wacked the overgrowth in front. “Stay close. If you see one, shoot it. Always between the eyes. This is what we trained for.”
“Do you have your shield up?”
Rob nodded. He knew his twin would be able to see the slight movement. Together, they pushed through the forest, one cutting the trees while the other flying arrows.
The more arrows Jay let fly, the freer he felt. Like with each one he killed the more of him was free. He briefly remembered his mother saying, If you stretch yourself too thin, you will never keep up. If only she knew…
“I think I see the base of the tower,” Rob said, breaking the rhythm. Jay looked past his brother and grunted an agreement.
The end of the trail lay a hundred feet from them. Retaining the lead, Rob skirted to the right into the dense trees. He couldn’t hear any panting in that direction and if all else failed, he had his machete. Again, Jay followed in suit.
“How many guards?” Rob asked.
“None. But they are everywhere. How are we supposed to pass them.”
Rob smirked. He let his hands fall to his side and closed his eyes, trusting his brother to protect him. He held his own mirror image in his mind, replacing his own baby blues with the glowing ambers of the others and let the electricity fly. The howling came from all around as the targets fell to the ground in pain.
He opened his eyes and barked the order. “Run. Straight to the door.”
Rob broke through the door and latched it behind Jay just as the shock war off. Wasting no time, the brothers climbed the spiral stones ahead of them. It was something they’d done millions of times in their childhood but never in the dark and never without Mother.
As remembered, the stairs opened into a circular room filled with state of the art computers and buzzing machines. We’re not alone, Rob thought.
Jay raised an arrow and scanned the room. In the center of the room, strapped to a stainless steel work table was Gemini.
Jay sprang into action. He threw his archaic bow to the floor and ran to the side of the table and began undoing the straps. First his ankles, then his wrists and lastly, the headpiece.
From behind a mirror stepped a graying man in a blood stained lab coat. “Hello, my boys.”
“I have done as you requested, Father,” Jay said.
Rob’s face sm ushed up in a look of utter confusion. Father was dead. He saw it happen
“I’m sorry, Robbie Boy. Did you really think it was going to be this easy? Did you really think you could just swoop in from your high class life and rescue me?”
“But he’s just…”
“Gemini is part of me. You left me. You asked for this.”
“Sorry it has to be this way, son. Your mother did ask you to look out for JayJay. Consider this your ultimate act of obedience.”
Gemini flew from the table and was on top of Rob before he could raise his machete. He lifted the young man over his head and slammed him onto the steel table, hard enough to render him immobile but not enough to shake his consciousness.
“I want you to feel each burning jab. Every grating strap. I want you to hurt,” Jay said. “Oh, don’t worry. There was nothing you could do to change this. I was the original. From me, you came. You robbed me of my life and now I will take yours.”
With that, Jay reached above the table and pulled the life force wires from their hook and snapped them into a needle the size of his arm. “If I miss your heart, I will have to do it again, I suggest you be still.”
Rob felt immense pain spread from his chest outward and all went dark.
Happy Halloween he thought before he lost consciousness.