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  1. Milos


    Sunday, May 31, 1997 Jeffrey sat on the couch, pretending to watch cartoons on Nick; they were showing reruns of Ren & Stimpy. Every so often, a booming voice filled his head, talking about the Pharisees and Jesus and stuff. Jesus, this sucks, Sean thought. Careful, he might hear you. Jeffrey shifted in his seat, pulling his blanket up under his chin. At least you get to be all lazy on Sundays. Not really. It’s like I’m there with you. Mutual suffering and all that. He could feel Sean smirk, followed immediately by a light smack up the back of his head from dear ol’ Mom. Jeffrey could see Sean’s Mother’s angry face in Sean’s vision, and his focus returning to the pulpit. Jeffrey noticed Sean’s eyes wandering toward a statue of Jesus, hanging on the cross, glancing skyward in his final moments, holy expressions of Father, why hast thou forsaken me?! Jesus was buff, Jeffrey jokingly thought. That’s not Jesus, Sean thought back, That’s Cesare Borgia dressed as Jesus. Some people back in the old days didn’t like the idea of Jesus not being white. What did he look like, then? Nobody really knows. Maybe we should ask our little green friends next time they stop by for milk and cookies. Jeffrey chewed on the thought for a bit; the beings hadn’t been back in a long time. They had made it through the rest of the school year, the separation sickness lessening over time. In fact, their range had seemed to increase enough that they could almost connect with each other. A bad taste coated Jeffrey’s mouth as he became aware that Sean had just taken sacramental bread. All he could see, from Sean’s perspective, were white priest robes and a gaudy-looking chalice coming toward his face. I bet that priest has a huge dick! Jeffrey jokingly thought. He could feel Sean choking on the sacramental wine, and noticed, as Sean had also, that everyone in the front of the church was staring at him. I’m going to fucking kill you, Sean thought dimly. Asshole. Sean wiped the wine off his chin with a napkin his mother handed him out of her purse. Sorry, Jeffrey thought back. Ever since the Homeward Bound thing, Jeffrey and Sean had been trying to outdo each other in inappropriate laughter situations. Apparently, getting a reaction out of Sean during the sacrament had taken it one step too far. ** ** ** Jeffrey and Sean stood on the sidewalk as Tom rolled up to the curb in a 1990 Pontiac Fiero, with a livery in maroon and silver. Sean elbowed Jeffrey in the side. I bet I know what you’re getting on your 16th birthday. Jeffrey grumbled, slightly jealous that his sister was getting a car. Bet they won’t get me a sports car like this, he thought back. Behind them, the front door shot open. Jeffrey’s mother guided a blind-folded Emily out onto the front porch. “Almost there, honey.” Emily held her arms out in front of her, sweeping the path in front of her with a toe so she didn’t trip. “Mom! Let me take this off, I can’t see.” “Okay, you can take it off.” Tom slapped a comically oversized bow on the roof of the car. Once Emily managed to get the blindfold off, she squinted down the driveway and let out an unearthly scream when she saw the car. Jeffry felt Sean flinch. Jesus! Mine better be a ‘Vette or something. Jeffrey watched his sister run down the driveway to check out her new wheels. Just be happy they’ll buy you a car. My mom said I have to buy my own. Speaking of which, Sean turned slightly toward Jeffrey and locked eyes with him, why are you saving money for a car if your parents are getting you one? Because I’ll have to pay for the gas and everything else, like tires and oil changes. Sean nodded. Fair enough. Well, this was exciting. Let’s find something to do before she throws on a bikini and starts washing it down. ** ** ** Monday, June 2, 1997 A news report had interrupted the normal pop-ish songs that had been playing on the radio; it was a live from from the Timothy McVeigh trial. He was being convicted for his part in the terrorist attack in Oklahoma. Emily was driving Jeffrey and their mother to the nearby TCBY in her new car, and the girls listened to the radio with rapt attention. Jeffrey, tucked away in the back seat, had his focus elsewhere. His mental theater presented Sean fighting with his mother. She was sending Sean to church camp for a month, and weather Sean wanted to go or not, he’d be leaving the following Monday. Sean argued that he was too old to go, and that he hated camp. In fact, he’d tried almost everything in his book as a case against it, but Sean knew he wasn’t getting out of it. Still, he fought. Jeffrey let out a heavy sigh, wondering what he would do for a month. Worse yet, the camp was a hundred-or-so miles away. There would be no connection, and he feared for both of them. How were they going to live through it? Jeffrey’s mother turned in her seat. “What’s wrong?” “Sean is leaving for camp for a month,” he said without thinking about it, still watching the mental drama unfold before him. “Bummer, man,” Emily said dismissively. “You two will have the rest of the summer when he gets back,” his mother said. “I’m sure you’ll find something to do until he gets back.” “You wouldn’t understand,” he mumbled. He looked up when he realised she was staring at him. “Excuse me?” Jeffrey shook his head. “Sorry. It’s nothing.” He reserved himself not to say anything for the rest of the afternoon. ** ** ** The boys sat on Jeffrey’s bed, the afternoon wearing on. They didn’t say anything or think anything, they simply cross-loaded raw emotion. The sound of Emily’s Fiero rattled through the walls from outside. Shit, Jeffrey thought. At least she probably won’t be here long. They sat and listened; they could hear Emily walking through the house. Five minutes later, they heard her rev up her car and leave again. Sean sat back. We have to figure this out. I know, Jeffrey replied. He kissed the back of Sean’s hand. Maybe I should just run away. We couldn’t hide you here. Only place in the house where nobody would find you was in the basement. With my dad being a cop, you’d have a hard time hiding anywhere within two miles. Sean sighed. I’m worried about the headaches. It’s going to be a miserable month. I’m worried about everything else. ** ** ** Tuesday, June 10, 1997 The hiss of of the faucet stabbed Jeffrey deep inside his brain. He held the washcloth under the cool water, and soaked the cloth. Turning off the faucet, he wrung out the rag and started to pad back to his bedroom from the kitchen. He almost ran square into his sister. “Hey! Watch it,” she snapped. He quietly side-stepped her and started toward his room. “What’s your problem?” He stopped short of his door and turned his shoulder toward her. “My head hurts,” he mumbled. “What?” Her voice drilled into his brain. “I have a migraine,” he said, sending an ache through his head. He winced and pushed through the door. He flopped down on his bed and pushed the cold washcloth across his forehead and rested his arm across his eyes. He heard the door open. Jeffrey lowered his arm and stared at his sister, who was standing in the doorway. “What?” he muttered. “You want me to call mom and tell her your you still have a headache?” Jeffrey covered his eyes again. “No. I just… I need rest.” She backed out of the room. It had only been a day since Sean had gone to camp, and the headaches were already worse than they’d ever been. ** ** ** Jeffrey woke up to the smell of dinner being cooked, the orange afternoon light leaking in through his window. He swung his legs around and planted his feet on the ground, his head throbbing as he sat up. Slowly, he stood up and walked out the door; he needed a Tylenol or something. He squinted his eyes against the light coming from the living room, padding into the kitchen. His mother turned toward him. “Are you feeling better?” The meat in the pan sputtered and cracked; the smell made him nauseous. Jeffrey shook his head. “You want something for it? I have some Excedrin Migraine in my bathroom.” Jeffrey nodded. She left the kitchen as he stood in the middle of the room, swaying in place. His head hurt so bad that he was seeing colors. His vision started getting dark in the corners. There was a very soft noise: splat… splat… splat… “Jeffrey! Your nose is bleeding,” his mother said, taking several steps into the kitchen and stopping. “Go lean over the sink.” That’s when his legs went out from under him. ** ** ** There was a ringing in Jeffrey’s ears. He was starting to come to, and a smell reminded him of his father’s antiperspirant. He cracked his eyes slightly, the light making his head pound, and realized that he was being carried in his father’s arms. “Don’t do this to me, buddy. Don’t do this.” He’d never heard panic in his father’s voice like that before. “Dad?” he said, weakly. He snuggled his face into Tom’s chest, gripping at his sleeve tightly. “Dad?” Jeffrey went in and out of consciousness, laid across his father’s lap the whole way to the hospital in the back of the family car, his father holding him the entire way there. ** ** ** “I feel funny.” Jeffrey opened his eyes and tried to look around, but immediately felt sick. “Fuck,” he hissed. “Why do-- why do I feel so weird?” In the back of his mind, he realised that his migraine had subsided, for the time being. Several nurses stood over him, and flashes went through his brain of the malevolent beings who had once stood over him in a similar way. His jaw clenched, a growl coming from his throat, his brain unable to tell a nurse from a specter. “I think he’s going into another grand mal,” one of the nurses shouted over her shoulder. The other nurse injected something into his IV tube. Almost instantly, the world and faded away into darkness. ** ** ** Jeffrey woke up. He couldn’t feel anything, he just was. Tom sat in a chair to his right, his eyes red and glossy. When Jeffrey made eye contact with his father, Tom jumped from his seat and stood over him. Jeffrey could feel the weight of his father’s hand as he set it gently upon his chest. He swallowed, the adam’s apple in his neck bobbing. “Hey, buddy,” he said softly. “What happened?” Jeffrey asked. “You’ve had a few seizures. We’re waiting for a radiologist to take you down to get an MRI scan done. You need anything? You need the nurse?” “No, Dad. I’m okay.” Tom took Jeffrey’s hand and squeezed it. “I love you, bud. More than anything in this world. You know that?” “I know, dad. I love you, too.” “You need to fight this. I need… you need to fight this, okay? Hang on for me, no matter what.” “Dad, you’re scaring me.” “I’m scared, too. I’m more scared than I’ve ever been in my life right now. But we’ll get you through this, okay?” “Dad?” A doctor walked into the room behind him. “Can we talk in the hall?” he asked quietly. Tom squeezed his hand and left. A short time later, his sister walked in. She stopped and brushed the hair off his forehead. “Emily, what’s going on?” She shook her head. “Nobody knows yet. You’re scaring the shit out of Mom and Dad, though.” “I didn’t mean to scare anyone. Emily, do they know something?” She hesitated. “I haven’t heard anything, yet.” Jeffrey did his best to shoot her a dirty look. Emily held up her hands. “I swear.” “Emily, I need you to do something. But you can’t tell anyone.” She leaned forward. “What is it?” “I need you to get Sean. He needs to be here.” “You need to see the doctors. You’ll see Sean--” “Emily, stop. I’m here because he’s so far away. This happens when he’s too far away.” She stared at him. Quietly, he explained the link. He explained everything he could about him and Sean, leaving out select details about their fondness for each other. “I don’t know why, but they have something to do with it,” he said. “Who?” “The lights, Emily.” He sighed, and thought for a moment. “That’s how we tricked you that one time. I swear I’m not lying to you. I was reading the pages and he was repeating what I saw. We are connected somehow.” “I think the medication is making you crazy--” “It’s not the goddamn medication,” he yelled. She shushed him. “Don’t strain yourself.” “Emily, I guarantee you that whatever is going on with me is happening to him. Call his mom and check in on him. At least you can do that. Please!” She brushed his forehead again. “I’m going to get Dad.” She gave him a pitiful smirk and walked out of the room. ** ** ** Emily hoisted her mother’s overnight bag over her shoulder, and glanced around the bathroom for anything else she might have missed. She went down her mental checklist of essentials, things like toothpaste, deodorant, hair brush, a small makeup kit. She couldn’t quite put aside the thought that her little brother might have a brain tumor, or at very least may have been epileptic and was only now starting to show symptoms. What else could it be? She wondered, trying to keep herself together. The stories of aliens and psychic connections--something was going on in his brain, and she knew she had to force herself not to think of the worst-case scenario. She collected her purse and walked to the living room, doing one last survey in hopes that she hadn’t forgot something. Emily knew that Jeffrey would be getting his MRI just about then, and they’d both be getting to his room by the time she got back to the hospital. She backed out of the door and locked it behind her. As she turned, she spotted Sean’s mother across the street, pacing across the driveway talking urgently on a wireless landline phone. Emily walked to her car, throwing the bags into the back seat, and crawled in. She gripped the steering wheel, watching the woman across the road, a pang of guilt hitting her. All Jeffrey wanted her to do was check on Sean. “It’s not aliens,” she said under her breath, resting her car key against the ignition. She hesitated, and looked into the rear-view mirror. Sean’s mother, phone pressed to her ear and other hand on her forehead, fell back against the side of her own car. Emily sighed and got out, watching this woman she didn’t even know, debating whether or not she should even bother. The woman hung up the phone and signed a holy cross, then stared at the ground. Slowly, Emily walked across the street. “Um, hello,” she said softly. Sean’s mother jerked in surprise at the sound of Emily’s voice. “I’m Emily, from across the street. My little brother is friends with Sean.” She stared back at Emily, wiping a hand across her face to clear off a few tears. “Is everything okay?” She sighed deeply, and shrugged. “I don’t really know. The people at the camp he’s going to aren’t telling me what’s going on, and they said I have to go down there to see him. It’s a mess.” “Is… is Sean sick?” She nodded, which turned into a head shake. “They said it’s bad.” “Oh, my god,” Emily said under her breath. “He was fine two days ago. Fighting with me but fine. Now some ditzy secretary tells me he’s in a hospital bed, and she won’t tell me anything else. I need to get to him but I’m a wreck right now. I already lost his brother. This can’t happen.” She clasped her hands together under her chin, as if she were praying. “Why does God test me?” Emily’s brain spun. What if Jeffrey had been telling the truth? What if they really did have a connection? “I know I barely know you, but if you’d like, I can drive you.” “Honey, I appreciate the offer, but it’s a hundred miles off.” “That’s fine. I have a fast car.” She held her hand back toward her Fiero. “See? I’ll bet we’d get there in no time.” ** ** ** Emily stepped into the hospital room where her brother had been staying. Her father had gone to work, but her mother was sitting in the room by herself. “Where’s Jeffrey?” Her mother glanced up at her. “He’s still getting his scan. He had another seizure after you left. They put him on some pretty heavy drugs, so he’ll probably be out until tomorrow.” She smiled sadly. Emily wrapped her arms around her. “I brought your bag for you.” “Thank you,” her mother replied, weakly. “Why don’t you head home? He’s not going to be up for a while. I’ll call you at home if anything changes.” For a split moment, Emily was glad she wasn’t going to have to explain going out of town with Sean’s mother, even though she knew she should ask for permission. “Is it okay if I go out tonight? I don’t want to be by myself. I just keep thinking bad thoughts.” Her mother fished through her bag, and handed Emily her ATM card. “Take out forty dollars. It’d probably be a good idea to go see a movie or something. If anything happens, I’ll just leave a voicemail at home.” Emily nodded. “Okay. If he wakes up tonight, tell him I’m going to do that thing I promised him, so he doesn’t worry.” “What thing?” “Wanted me to return a video to Sean’s mom because it’s overdue. Forgot to do it when I was back.” “Oh,” she nodded. “Just be careful. I’ll check in later. If I miss you, I’ll see you in the morning.” After one more hug, Emily left the hospital to pick up Sean’s mom.
  2. Milos


    Maybe next year I'll have no time To think about the questions to address Am I the one to try to stop the fire? I wouldn't test you I'm not the best you could have attained Why try anything? I will get there Just remember I know TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB - WHAT YOU KNOW (2010) ** ** ** Eli shoved his hands deep into his pockets and walked along the frying-pan-hot sidewalks of suburban hell. Over the past week he’d attacked and finished all of his mother’s big summer chores that she’d set aside for him: clean the garage, sort through everything in the attic, get all the planters in the yard ready for flowers, sort clothes for Goodwill. He trundled up the driveway and stopped in front of the picturesque red door, giving the doorbell a quick press. Shortly into the second loop of the Westminster Chimes, Chet pulled the door open. Chet turned around and screamed his brother’s name loud enough to almost perforate Eli’s eardrums. Holding onto the door handle, he turned back toward Eli and grinned. “He’ll be right up.” Chase hopped up the steps, and as he passed his brother in the hallway, smacked him upside the head. “You don’t hafta scream like that.” Chet covered his head with his arms and ducked away. “Oww. I’m telling.” “Oww, I’m telling!” Chase mimicked. “Don’t you have a room to clean? Mom’s going to be pissed if it’s not done by the time she gets home.” Chet scampered off. “Sorry about him,” Chase said to Eli. He shouldered up to the door. “What’s up?” “Not much. I’ve been thinking about things a bit.” “Is that what that smell is?” Eli scowled. “I meant about…” he went silent and pointed a finger back and forth between them. “If you’re serious about things, I’ll help you. I want to give things a chance,” he said quietly. Chase nodded, taking a quick glance back. “What are you doing Friday night?” “Not much. Want to come over? Maybe play some video games and rent a movie?” “I think Deadpool is coming out on DVD this weekend.” Chase smiled. “No way I’d ever get to watch it unless it was at a friend’s house.” “I still need to see it,” Eli said. “Maybe my mom’ll take us out for dinner again.” “Maybe we could do something else, too.” Chase traced his finger down Eli’s chest. Eli wondered what Chase was getting at. “Remember what I said last time.” Chase dropped his head. “I promise I won’t freak out again. I think it was… I don’t know.” He shrugged and glanced back into Eli’s eyes. “Maybe it was Joey and all the crap he was saying about you. I don’t know. Honestly?” He blushed and lowered his voice. “It was kind of nice when we kissed.” ** ** ** Eli sat in the back seat of his mother’s car next to Chase as they turned into a nice neighborhood. He looked over at Chase. “I hope you don’t mind if Adelae comes along. I promised her we’d hang out for a bit before she went to Jamaica for a while. Mom suggested I invite her along.” Chase’s expression remained neutral. “I don’t mind.” The car stopped in front of a fairly nice, two-story house in the middle of the block. A spotless, black Mercedes sedan sat in the driveway. “Be right back,” Eli said, popping the door open. He jogged up the driveway and rang the doorbell. After a moment, a man who could have been a body double for Terry Crews pulled open the door. When he locked eyes with Eli, his face lit up. “Elijah, my man.” He gave Eli a fist-bump and a slap on the shoulder, shaking his other hand. “Hey, Mister Jones. How are things?” The first time Eli had met Adelae’s father, he was scared shitless; the man was extremely intimidating. After Mister Jones learned that Eli wasn’t after one of his daughters—that he was just some little random fruitcake who ran around with Adelae’s group—he was totally cool. “Good, man. Living the American Dream. Little pink houses n’ shit.” Eli giggled. Adelae squeezed around her father. “You’re not staying out late, right? We have an early flight tomorrow morning.” “I know, Daddy.” She got up on her tiptoes and kissed him on the cheek. “I still have to finish packing. We’re only doing dinner tonight.” He nodded and smiled. As Eli and Adelae walked toward the Lexus, Mister Jones leaned out and waved at Eli’s mother. “Hey girl, what’s good? Keeping out of trouble?” Eli’s mom, who had rolled down her window, let out a chortle. “I don’t even have time to get into trouble!” He walked halfway down the yard. “Hey, we’ll be having a barbecue the weekend after we get back. You n’ Elijah should come by. My wife’s been wanting to meet you.” “That sounds great. Is that the weekend after the Fourth of July?” “That’s the one.” “Have Adelae give Eli a call and get us the details. Let us know what we should bring.” “Sounds like a plan.” He waved at the car and turned toward the house. “I can’t wait to sit on the beach,” Adelae said with a smile, a certain lift evident in her voice. Eli held the front passenger door open for her; she slid in and buckled up. He got in the back seat and shut the door behind him. As she twisted to talk to Eli, her eyes lighted on Chase, her voice falling almost a full octave. “Oh, hey. It’s you.” Eli felt the air pressure drop out of the Lexus. Before anything else could be said, Eli’s mother jerked the car into drive. “So, tell me about your vacation!” ** ** ** Adelae had spent the whole meal giving Chase a look de muerte across the table; Eli had noticed her gaze was bordering on the murderous; maybe it had been a bad idea not to mention that he’d be bringing Chase along. Chase had stayed pretty quiet the whole time. Eli’s mom seemed to have been oblivious to what was happening but participated in conversation almost as if she was a teenager again. Eli was reminded of Amy Poehler in Mean Girls: Oh, you kids keep me young! Chase excused himself from the table to use the restroom. He dodged people in the aisles and disappeared into the back of the restaurant. Several moments later, Adelae did the same. It was just Eli and his mother at the table. She shifted slightly in her seat. “What’s with them?” Eli, who had been watching Adelae cut through the crowd, swiveled his head around. “Huh?” “What’s the issue there? What’s going on with the two of them?” Eli shrugged, humming I don’t know as a string of m’s. “Well, I don’t know if I trust Chase that much, either, after what happened to you.” He sighed. “Mom…” “Mom, what? I think she’s worried about you running around with him. She knows something’s up with him.” Eli crossed his arms. “Adelae is worried, or you are worried?” She raised her eyebrow. “I told you he didn’t have anything to do with that,” Eli said. “Okay,” she said defensively, reaching across the table and plucking the dessert menu from behind the napkin holder. “Eli, if there’s something going on with him…” The color drained from Eli’s face. “What do you mean?” he sputtered. “With him and that other kid that the witness said he saw beating the shit out of you. We’re not done talking about that.” “Do we have to right now?” “Elijah, it’s been more than a month. Every time I try to talk with you about it—” “Mom, there’s nothing to talk about.” From where Eli was sitting, he saw Adelae walk out of the bathroom and stop. She leaned against a wall. What the hell is she doing? “There’s plenty to talk about, sweet pea.” His mother gripped the straw of her drink between two fingers, covering the opening with her pointer finger. She lifted the lower end of the straw to her lips and took down a small bit of soda. “I’d really like to know why you don’t feel like you can talk to me about things.” “Mom…” He sighed loudly. “It doesn’t have anything to do with you.” “Something has been bothering you for a long time. Not just with Jacob, but with all of this. I’m just worried about you. We used to talk about everything when you were little.” Eli slumped back. Across the restaurant, he saw Adelae catch Chase as he came out of the bathroom, crossing her arms, talking to him quietly as Chase’s head drooped; it looked as if she was giving him an earful. “I’m not little anymore, Mom.” “I know you aren’t.” She sighed. “Just know that I love you no matter what. And I’m always here if you want to talk.” ** ** ** Eli and Chase stood in front of the Redbox, scrolling through titles on the screen. Eli glanced at his friend. “What did Adelae say to you?” Chase’s cheeks burned red. “Nothing important.” Eli scoffed. “Bullshit.” Chase stared at the sky with frustration on his face. “She just wanted to let me know that she hated me, that’s all.” “She doesn’t hate you. She doesn’t even know you.” He pulled his hands down his face and looked over at Eli. “She said she doesn’t trust me. She said she doesn’t like me. She said that if I ever hurt you that she’d make sure that she’d kick me hard enough that I’d never have children.” Eli searched Chase’s face. “She said that?” “Basically. She used a lot of big words.” “When we sort out the whole Joey thing, maybe we need to let her in on some things.” Chase’s jaw pulsed. “Dude, if my parents… Nobody can know about…” They both jumped as a loud horn honked behind them. Eli could hear his mom’s muffled voice in the car, parked several feet back. “Let’s hurry it up, boys!” Eli looked back to Chase. “We’ll talk about this later.” ** ** ** Eli sat with his legs dangling off the edge of the couch, his head propped up on several pillows so he could watch the movie playing on the TV. Chase sat on the floor between Eli’s legs, his head obscuring part of the bottom of the screen, his dirty-blond hair haloed in the orange hues from the scene playing out before them. Eli could feel the heat of Chase against his legs, and somehow the smell of the shampoo Chase had used that morning and the fabric softener in his clothes cut through the air. Maybe it was that Eli was used to how everything in his house smelled, and here was his friend, a foreign thing in his personal space. Chase, like Eli, was only wearing his shorts. Every time Chase’s soft, bare skin would brush against one of Eli’s legs, Eli’s insides would stir, stealing his breath away. Eli rubbed his bare stomach and twisted his head around, popping a few vertebrae in his neck. He knew better than to expect anything from Chase other than an occasional fling; he didn’t want that. If Chase couldn’t take a kiss, Eli figured that it wasn’t worth pursuing anyway. On the screen, Deadpool sat on the edge of a bridge, kicking his feet and singing along to Salt-N-Pepa’s Shoop. Chase giggled at his antics as he leapt from the bridge and landed inside the black SUV through the sunroof. Eli held his breath as he felt Chase’s hand gently stroking his shin and the side of his leg. Instead of saying anything, he popped several Mike and Ikes into his mouth as if he were taking a fistful of pills. Every so often through the movie, Chase would shift his weight around to get comfortable. Then, sometime before the end, reaching back behind his head, he put his hands flat against the outsides of Eli’s legs and ran them up to his knees, then continuing up the sides of his thighs. Eli inhaled. Slowly, Chase’s warm hands moved around to the tops of Eli’s legs, then back to the sides. With a gentle tug, he grabbed the cloth of Eli’s shorts and started pulling. “What are you doing?” Eli giggled. Chase turned his head and stared at Eli through the corner of his eye. He shrugged, and continued tugging. Eli grabbed his waistband and tried to hold his shorts up, laughing. “Dude, stop! I’m going to be all naked.” Chase snorted. Eli’s weight wasn’t enough to keep his shorts in place; as they slid over his knees, he lunged for the blanket draped over the back of the couch and covered himself. Chase jumped up and slid in next to Eli, draping one leg over Eli’s legs. He pinned Eli’s arms above his head and sat up on top of him. “What are you doing?” Eli laughed. Chase grinned and stared deep into Eli’s eyes. His face and smile softened as he leaned down slightly, the only thing between them: a blanket and Eli’s reservations. “I thought maybe we could mess around or something,” Chase said as he pushed his crotch into Eli’s stomach. Eli could feel himself hardening. “Chase…” Suddenly, Chase came down fully on top of Eli, pushing their lips together, swirling his tongue around Eli’s mouth. Eli couldn’t hold it back. His head lost in a deep fog of lust and stupidity, he just nodded his head and said, “Okay.” ** ** ** Eli had walked Chase to his house before returning home. Chase had chores to do and couldn’t hang out. Not to mention, Chase had to watch his little brother while his mom did some church thing or another. With his hands shoved deep into his pockets, he walked to the keypad next to the garage and entered his code; the door lifted slowly Impatient, he ducked under and took three steps into the garage and stopped, eyeballing the snow shovel on the wall. He scowled. It was an older shovel, one of the ones with a metal scoop and a long wooden handle that was thick and slightly bulbous on the end—phallic; it sent a dull jolt of pain through his bottom. His entire colon was still sore from the night before. While there wasn’t anything extraordinary about Chase or the way that he looked, he was definitely bigger than Jacob. And, it was so hard that, while Chase was inside him, for some reason it reminded him of the snow-shovel handle: inflexible, girthy, and unforgiving—hard. Jacob had been gentle, and while it hurt for a little bit, it had become pleasurable; he had felt connected to Jacob in a very intimate way. Chase was just so damn awkward; he’d just stuck it in like he was dunking his junk for another afternoon Fleshlight-fest. To make things even more awkward, before the main event, Chase spent ten minutes examining Eli like one of his doctors: feeling, squeezing, touching, pulling back the skin; Chase had never seen an uncut cock before. Chase had leaned down like he might take it into his mouth but stopped as if it was just too weird looking. That hadn’t stopped Jacob. With Jacob, it was like a five-course meal, including appetizers and dessert. With Chase, it was straight to the meat and potatoes. No sucking, no foreplay, and no kissing during—just one-way, primal fucking. After Chase had cum in Eli, he collapsed back into the couch and barely stayed hard enough for Eli to finish himself before Chase went soft. After that, there wasn’t much said. Chase didn’t even sleep on the couch with Eli; he slept on the floor. The next morning, it was business as usual. Eli hadn’t been played; he played himself. He stared at the handle of the shovel and glowered, flipping it off as he stomped into the house, slamming the door behind him. Of course, he would never have his way with a shovel; he wasn’t so hard up that he’d just put some random tool up his butt. But for a few days after Chase, it sure felt like he had.
  3. Milos

    hands tied

    We believed that we could change ourselves The past could be undone But we carry on our back the burden Time always reveals In the lonely light of morning In the wound that would not heal It's the bitter taste of losing everything That I've held so dear SARAH MCLACHLAN - FALLEN (2004) ** ** ** Eli stood as Adelae came into the coffee shop. Once she spotted him, she pushed through a small crowd of people in the lobby and rushed to him for a hug, then held him at arm's length, smiling, as if she were about to say something. Her smile fell. “What’s wrong?” Eli shook his head slightly. “Nothing. Why?” “Nuh-uh. Something’s up.” Eli sat in his chair and waited for Adelae to put her things down and get seated. Once she had pulled her seat in, she reached forward and snapped her fingers twice. “Okay, out with it.” “It’s…” He stopped and sighed, shaking his head. “Chase came by my house this morning.” She sat back with a look of incredulity on her face. “You serious right now?” She looked off to the side. “I thought you were done with that mess.” “I thought I was, too. He just showed up.” “So, he messes with you, gets you thinking you two were going to get together, says it’s not working because he’s worried about that turd who follows him around everywhere, and he just shows up today?” She turned her head back toward him, and leaned forward on her elbows. “What’s his game?” She asked quietly. “Adelae...” She cocked her eyebrows. “I don’t know what I’m going to do. I wanted there to be more, but it hurt too much last time.” She leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms. “Physically or mentally?” Ever since Eli had started filling her in on limited details about Chase, she’d suspected Chase might have had something to do with Eli having been beaten up. Eli cussed himself and shrugged. “I don’t know.” She tapped her finger into the table. “Bull. Shit. ” “I think he’s worried that he’ll have nothing to do this summer.” “And now the tomcats coming around again, probably because he wants something.” “I don’t think it’s like that.” “Okay. Level.” She paused, looking to Eli as if she were collecting her thoughts, “If you want to give things a go, and if he makes you happy, then why not? But what happens when that little turd starts causing shit again? What then? What happens at the end of the summer when things go back to the way they are now?” “I haven’t thought that far ahead.” Eli slouched down in his chair. “If I was you, I’d lay it out for him before anything else happens. Make him agree to your terms.” She glanced back at the counter. “Let me get something to drink so we can study.” ** ** ** Eli had stayed up late playing video games, to give his mind a break. Now that he was done with school for the year, he wanted a few days to veg out before he had to make any decisions on the fate of his summer. Naked, he rolled out of his bed and padded upstairs to the kitchen, scratching his butt once along the way. He rooted through the refrigerator and pulled out a carton of orange juice. He stood in front of the kitchen window, taking large gulps of juice, watching a landscaping crew working in the neighbor’s yard. He watched a young hispanic man, one who couldn’t have been much older than himself, trace around the perimeter of the yard with his weed wacker, his sinewy arms strained against the weight of the machine, his lithe body moving expertly, his caramel skin shimmering with perspiration in the hot morning sun. For just a moment, the landscaper reminded Eli a little bit of Tau, and he found himself wondering why he hadn’t hung out with Tau after the whole Chase thing fell apart. Come to think of it, Eli couldn’t recall having seen Tau lately, and wondered if they might run into each other at the pool, if he decided to go on one of the free open swim days. After drinking his fill of OJ, he put the carton back into the fridge and started to walk back toward the basement door, when he heard the doorbell chime. “Fuck,” he moaned. Carefully, he peeked around the wall leading to the foyer; Chase and his little brother were standing just outside. “God damn it,” he mumbled as he locked eyes with Chase. Eli held up a finger and sprinted back to his room, throwing on his shorts, and running back to the front door. He pulled the front door open and leaned against the doorframe. He nodded at Chase, trying to play it cool, but his mind was clouded with a million thoughts that he couldn’t calm. With his little brother there, he wouldn’t be able to really talk with Chase. “Sorry,” Chase said. “Did I wake you up?” Eli shook his head. “I was in the kitchen getting something to drink. I had to throw on some shorts.” “Were you naked?” Chet asked with a giggle. Eli blushed. Chase turned his shoulder toward him. “Chet, that’s not your business.” Eli waved his hand through the air. “Don’t worry about it. What’s up?” Chase turned back toward him. “Wanted to see what you were doing today.” Eli shrugged. “Didn’t really want to think about that until tomorrow.” Chet tilted his head, confusion written on his face. Chase nodded. “Want to hang out or something? We don’t have chores or anything today.” “Yeah,” Chet interrupted. “Maybe we can go to the pool again.” “Free swims don’t start for two weeks,” Chase said to Chet, rolling his eyes. “Sorry, I couldn’t leave him at home by himself.” Eli crossed his arms. “There’s not much to do here. Besides, you and me need to have a long talk about something before we hang out.” The color drained out of Chase’s face. He nodded toward Chet. “In private.” “Okay,” Chase said quietly. Eli stepped back and held the door open for them; Chase studied Eli’s face. “Come in,” he said. Eli led Chase and Chet to his basement. He stepped around the corner and turned on his TV and PS4, scrolling through the menus to find a game for Chet to play. He opened Redout, a hovercraft style racing game, and tossed the controller to Chet. Chet caught the controller and studied it in his hands. “He’s never played video games before,” Chase said. Eli sighed, and held his hand toward the couch. “Sit down, I’ll show you how to do it.” He sat next to Chet on the end of the couch. “It’s a racing game, like car racing but in the future with hover cars. It’s not really all that easy, but it’s the only one I have that you can play. They go really, really fast, so it’s going to take you a few tries to get it.” Chet nodded. He showed Chet the buttons as he explained them. “You move with this one. The gas and the brake are the triggers here, and there’s a speed boost if you press this button. You use that button for the menu to select things. ‘Kay?” “I think so,” Chet said. Eli set Chet up in a game, handed him the controller and stood up, signalling Chase toward his bedroom. When they were both inside, Eli turned on the light and shut the door behind him. Chase took a slow step toward Eli, leaning in to stroke Eli’s arms with the backs of his fingers. Eli stepped back. “Let’s not.” Chase sputtered. “What’s wrong?” Eli cocked his brow, and sat down on his bed. “What’s wrong? Why are you here, Chase? What do you want from me?” He shook his head. “What?” “Dude, you came over here after your best friend beats the shit out of me and tell me maybe we shouldn’t be friends. I didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t want him fucking shit up for you. You don’t even look at me for several weeks and then you show back up and say we should hang out.” “Well, we should hang out,” Chase said softly. “What, because it’s convenient for you? What about when Joey comes back from Florida? What then?” “What about it?” Eli sighed in frustration. “Look, I lost one friend this year. I can’t keep doing this bullshit if we’re only friends when Joey’s out of town. It hurts too much, Chase. Every time he comes back, it’s like I’m losing another friend.” He stared at Chase waiting for an answer. “It’s either him or me. It can’t be both.” Chase’s face remained emotionless. “Are you going to say something?” “I’m thinking,” Chase replied. “Look, I want to hang out with you, and I want us to be friends and maybe other things, too, but Joey is toxic. He’s not a good friend. He manipulates you, he abuses you.” “Eli, it’s not that simple. You don’t know...” “No Chase,” Eli leaned forward slightly, “it is that simple. He controls you. He uses you. Real friends don’t do that kind of shit. You know what the difference is between him and me? I actually want you to be happy. I want you to have friends, and to be able to go out and have fun. He doesn’t.” Chase leaned forward and put his head in his hands. “I want to be your friend, Chase. But you know it won’t work with him in your life.” “What do I do about it? How do I get out of it?” Even though Chase’s face stayed emotionless, a tear ran down his cheek. “I can’t tell my parents what kind of a douchebag he is. If I told them the sorts of things he does, they wouldn’t believe me.” “Then we need to find someone else to help you. If you want to get him out of your life, I’ll stand by you no matter what. I’m sure Adelae and Tau would, too. You wouldn’t have to do this alone.” Chase stared at Eli. Eli slid across the bed and sat next to Chase, wrapping his arm around his back. “You promise you’ll help me?” ** ** ** “You’re looking healthier.” Reagan leaned forward and grabbed a paper coffee cup off the table in front of her. She took a short sip and set it back down. “It doesn’t hurt as bad to breathe anymore,” Eli said. “How are you otherwise?” Eli shrugged. “I guess I’m fine.” “No run-ins with Mister Expletive Expletive-pants?” Eli shook his head. “I think he’s out of town for the summer.” “So you started your break?” “Yeah. Just this last Wednesday. I wanted to spend the first few days alone before I figured out what I wanted to do. Just unwind from the year…” “You wanted to? Did something come up?” Eli leaned back. “Can I ask your advice about something?” “If you’d like.” “You remember that kid I told you about that has that toxic friend?” “Are we talking about religious possibly-gay not religious friend, or someone else?” Eli pressed his lips flat. “Well, here’s the thing: after I got beat up, this friend told me we should stop seeing each other,” he held up his hands, “as friends, because of the toxic friend. He came over yesterday and now he wants to hang out since the toxic friend is out of town, and I told him not unless he stops hanging out with the toxic friend. I told him it hurt too much when he ditched me.” “I think that it’s good that you’re setting up boundaries.” “Well, I told him I’d be there for him. He says he can’t go to his parents about the toxic friend because they wouldn’t believe him, or they’d just think he’s making things up.” “What do you know about their relationship?” “The toxic kid yells at my friend a lot.” Eli sighed. “I get the feeling there’s something else.” Eli clasped his hands in his lap and squeezed them together. “The day I got beat up, me and… Chad--my friend--were hanging out. I mean, we had been hanging out over spring break, and I thought there might be something more than friends there, but it didn’t really go that far. But anyway… “It was the last day of break, and I was over at his house, and the toxic guy showed up. Chad pushed me into the closet and I heard them talking. He was saying stuff like ‘you know I’m your only friend,’ and that his life would be ruined if everyone found out that he was running around with a fag like me.” Reagan shifted her weight. “Wait a moment, are you out at school?” “Only to my friend Adelae.” “Okay, continue.” “Chad tried to defend me and the toxic friend backhanded him, then started talking all calm and saying that I would ruin his life. When Chad came back to school, he had bruises on his arms, but he wouldn’t tell me where he got them. I think it was the toxic friend.” “So this friend is abusive to him?” “And Chad’s parents love the toxic friend. I guess what I’m trying to ask is, now that Chad said he wants to be my friend and cut out Toxic, what can we do since he can’t go to his parents about it? Who can we talk to?” “Well, if Toxic was hitting him, he should go to the police. Maybe before school starts, Chad could go see his school counselor about it and make sure they’re in different classes.” “What if they call his parents? And I don’t think switching classes would work because they live close to each other, I think. He’d follow him home.” “Ultimately, it’s Chad who is going to have to make up his mind on how he wants to deal with it. Other than the mental and possible physical abuse, my concern is that if Toxic is hitting Chad hard enough to leave bruises, that a teacher might call in the police and get his parents involved in the wrong ways. They might think his parents did it. “I think there are several ways he could deal with it. Maybe try to see if you could get him to see a therapist and talk about all these issues? I can’t talk about what my patients say unless I think they are being harmed or they might hurt someone, not even to their parents. If he is being abused by his friend, maybe a therapist could open that avenue to his parents, and then they could step in.” Eli bit his bottom lip. “They’re old-school religious, though. They’d probably talk to a priest at their church rather than a therapist.” “I don’t mean to dishearten you or your good intentions, but I think you’re going to need adult intervention with this. Maybe your mom could help? Unless I start seeing Chad as a patient, my hands are really tied. There’s not much I can do.”
  4. Milos


    Thursday, April 3, 1997 Sean started awake having felt his mattress heaving under the weight of someone else. He rolled back and saw Jeffrey, in his underwear, trying to sneak into his bed. “It’s you.” He collapsed back onto the mattress. I was trying to be all sneaky and surprise you, Jeffrey thought. I wanted to be sexy. You did surprise me. Jeffrey slid under the covers and spooned against Sean’s back. And I think you’re kinda sexy no matter what. Sean rolled to his back and turned his head toward Sean. I wish we could just spend the rest of the week doing sleepovers. Maybe we can, Jeffrey thought. Don’t think my mom would go for it. We can hang out, though. Maybe do one. Your house this time? My mom’s a light sleeper. If something happened with… you know… them, she’d royally freak out on us. And she likes to check in on me in the middle of the night. Don’t think she’d be down for us sharing my bed. My house is fine, if you’re okay with it. Why wouldn’t I be? Thought you’d never come back because of what happened yesterday. Jeffrey got up on one elbow and kissed Sean’s shoulder. Your house is fine. It’s only your basement that’s evil. Sean chuckled. We could go to the pool today. My mom was going to come home for lunch. I could get her to drop us off on her way back to work. How would we get back? I don’t want to walk five miles in this heat. Probably the bus or something. We’ll figure it out. Can I figure this out? Jeffrey asked, squeezing Sean’s package through his shorts. I owe you one. ***** Sean happily waded through the shallow end of the pool at Jeffrey’s elbow as they just stood around thinking to each other. The pool was packed with kids celebrating their week of freedom from school, everyone just trying to stay cool in the hot Arizona heat. Suddenly, Jeffrey wrapped his willowy arms around Sean’s body, and pulled him backward--a la WWF Wrestling--and dunked him into the pool. Sean came up sputtering, wiping his eyes and looking around for Jeffrey so that he could get his revenge, a hard proposition considering their bond. In his mind, he heard Jeffrey humming the Jaws theme; he scanned the water, looking for his friend beneath. Jeffrey hugged around the back of his legs, causing Sean to buckle and fall back. He came up laughing as Sean struggled to keep his balance. “Hey!” Sean protested, laughing. He wiped the water off his face. “I want to hit the diving boards.” Jeffrey turned and glanced at the wall behind them. “I need to use the restroom. Meet you over there?” “Okay,” Sean replied. Together, they waded toward the ladder. Jeffrey pulled himself out of the pool first, and took a right turn toward the locker rooms. Sean went left, and walked toward the deep end. He stood in a short line and waited for his turn. After several jumps, he spotted Jeffrey walking back onto the pool deck. He was next in line for the board. Suddenly, he felt as if something was off. His hand, rested on the rail leading up to the diving board, shook. A tone filled his ears. Even though he could see Jeffrey standing a little over fifty yards away, the shadowy figures started filling the corners of his vision. Something’s wrong. Jeffrey… something is very, very wrong. I feel it, too, Jeffrey thought. He could see Jeffrey glancing around cautiously, spinning in slow circles; as he did, the strange feeling between them seemed to pulsate as he faced away from Sean. I… I think I saw a homunculus again. Sean gritted his teeth. What the hell is this? He scanned around the pool. They wouldn’t take us right here. In front of all these people. They couldn’t. I don’t think it’s that, Jeffrey thought. He walked several steps up a set of bleachers to get a better look. “Hey, kid. Are you going to go?” Sean glanced back over his shoulder, then at the empty diving board before him. He stepped back. “You go ahead.” He sidestepped the boy behind him and walked to the other side of the pool. When he reached the opposite side, whatever was wrong just cleared up. That was strange. The shadows, the tone, had just stopped. Sean decided to backtrack and walk around the pool the other direction to rendezvous with Jeffrey in the shallow end; he didn’t want to get to far away from him. He’d taken three steps and the sound ripped through his head again. What the fuck is that?! Suddenly, three short whistle blows pierced the air. A lifeguard stood on her stand, toward the middle of the pool, and leapt into the water with her rescue tube tucked beneath her arms. Once she resurfaced, she began to swim toward the center of the pool. A long whistle came soon after, all the other lifeguards standing, clearing people out of the water, other lifeguards running along the deck with equipment and backboards. What’s happening? Jeffrey wondered. The lifeguard who had jumped in stopped, right in line between Jeffrey and Sean. She pushed the tube to the side and went under, the strap to the tube still around her torso. After a second or two, the rescue tube floated a little to the side, then shot upright, pointing toward the ceiling, as the lifeguard tugged on the strap to pull herself to the surface. Sean held his breath. The lifeguard resurfaced, her arm wrapped around the torso of a teenager. She expertly pulled the tube between them and leaned back, pulling him to the side. The boy’s head rested limply on the lifeguards shoulder, his lips blue, as she worked to pull him back to the side of the pool. Once the crew had pulled him out onto the deck, Sean stared across the pool at Jeffrey. ***** The boys sat on a curb, staring blankly into the distance. Neither one had words nor thoughts, they just sat there, drained and confused. Finally, Jeffrey had a thought. “No, this doesn’t make us super heroes,” Sean mumbled, crossing his arms across the top of his knees and resting his chin on them. Jeffrey scowled. “I hope that kid is okay,” Sean said. “Me too,” Jeffrey replied. He sighed deeply. “Is there anything we could have done?” Jeffrey sat up. “Dude, we didn’t even know what was going on. That’s never happened to us.” What does this mean? We can sense drowning victims, Sean thought glibly. It’s got to be more than that. We can only sense each other. How did we sense that kid? How did you move that glass the other day? I don’t even remember doing it, Jeffrey thought back. More fucking questions than answers. Just don’t start bending spoons on me. Sean could tell that Jeffrey was thinking it; they had to figure things out. ***** The smell of hamburger cooking on the stove permeated the air. Tom gently whistled as he slaved over the stove getting dinner ready. Nearby, the boys stood just inside the hallway leading to Jeffrey’s bedroom. Your sister? But she hates us. Jeffrey looked over his shoulder, toward his sister who was sitting on the couch watching Friends. Well, she’s sitting in the middle of the couch. We could sit on either side of her. Why not your Dad? There’s not enough room in the kitchen for us to stand next to him. And what if we accidentally talk to him? With my sister, we could at least say she’s imagining things. Seriously? Sean craned his neck and glanced into the living room. Eeeemmmiillyyyyyyy, Jeffrey thought, trying his best ghost-of-Christmas-past voice. EEEEEEEMMMIILLLYYYYYYYYY! It’s MEEEEEEEE! Matthew Perryyyyyy! Sean snorted, which drew Emily’s attention, and ire. She squinted and frowned at them. Jeffrey pulled Sean back into the hallway, out of her view. Well, how else would we test this one? Sean shrugged. I don’t know. Couldn’t we try it with one of our friends? Go to a movie and have him sit between us or something? It would be less risky. Jeffrey sighed. I don’t have enough allowance to see a movie. I used part of it to pay for swimming today. You have that jar with all the money in it. But, that’s my savings for a new car! Sean cocked his eyebrows and crossed his arms. A new car? With a hundred and sixty two dollars in loose change? Your Firebird is gonna cost way more than that. I have a savings account, too! Jeffrey blinked at his friend. This is sort of an emergency. What’s five dollars? But… my car! Sean dropped his arms. Okay, fine. But Emily is going to think something’s up if we’re sitting on both sides of her. Let’s just see where it gets us. Remember, concentrate. Sean nodded, and followed Jeffrey into the living room. He sat down to her left, and Jeffrey sat down to her right. She looked from one to the other. “What are you doing?” “Watching TV,” Jeffrey snapped back. “We’re allowed to watch it, too.” “No, really. What are you doing?” Jeffrey held his hand toward the television. “You don’t even like friends. Go watch TV in the basement.” She crossed her arms. You hear anything? Sean asked. He closed his eyes, and tried to concentrate on Emily. I don’t hear a thing. Emily? EMILY? HELLOOOOOoooo?” “You guys are so stupid. What are you doing? You’re both being weird.” Sean opened his eyes, and found Emily staring at him. “What?” I don’t think it works. Retreat! The boys sprang to their feet and ran back to Jeffrey’s room. “What did you do?” Emily called after them. “If one of you farted, I’m going to murder you both!” “Emily!” Tom scolded from the kitchen. Jeffrey closed the door behind them. I didn’t feel anything. Maybe she has to be in danger, Sean thought. He pondered for a moment. Well, as much as I don’t like my stupid sister, I’m not going to put her in danger to test anything out. I’d be grounded for a year. There’s got to be a way to figure all this out. Maybe we could ask a homunculus. Sean glanced around the room. We’d have to catch one of the bastards, first. They don’t show up unless something’s about to happen. Are we really seeing them, though? Jeffrey wondered. They could just be in our imagination. Kind of like when we… do… things, and it happens to both of us. He threw himself onto the bed. We might need outside help on this, Sean thought. Where would we find that? People would think we were messed up or something. What about my therapist? Sean thought about all the times his therapist had helped him when dealing with the loss of his brother. Bad idea. Jeffrey held up his hands. Woah, bad idea. He’d find some fancy word to call you, some sort of mental disorder, then they’d put you on some sort of drugs and you’d spend all of highschool walking around wearing white pajamas in an asylum. But if we could prove- Dude, just… no! “Boys!” Tom called from the kitchen, “dinner’s ready.” Slowly, they shuffled into the kitchen. Emily was first in line. She served herself a small scoop of hamburger helper and a large helping of salad with Dorothy Lynch. She returned to her spot on the couch so she could finish her show. “Don’t spill anything,” Tom called after her. “Boys?” He took the spatula and slopped the main course onto a paper plate, thrusting it toward Sean. “You’ll have to make yourself at home. Some sodas in the fridge, if you want one.” Jeffrey looked up at his dad. “Where’s mom?” “Working late. She said she’s eating at the office, so it’s just us.” He handed Jeffrey a full plate. “Us gents, I guess. A full-scale thermonuclear war couldn’t take your sister away from that dumb show.” “It’s not stupid, Dad,” she called from the living room. “Jeez!” Jeffrey and Tom sat at the table nearly in tandem; Sean noticed that they shared a lot of the same mannerisms. Sean cracked open a can of Mountain Dew. “Mister Marek, can I ask you kind of a strange question?” Don’t you dare! Jeffrey thought. Jeffrey’s dad stopped chewing and stared at Sean for a second. “Call me Tom.” Don’t! “Do you think telepathy is real?” Tom shoveled another heaping fork-full of meat-goop into his mouth, and after he’d swallowed, he squinted at Sean. “Why?” “We were talking about it earlier.” God, I hate you sometimes, Jeffrey smouldered. Tom shrugged. “I don’t know. I think psychics are full of shit, and I don’t think that telepathy is a real thing.” “You don’t?” Sean asked. “I’ve been around a long time. Never seen anything that would make me believe that reading people’s minds is real. Or making things float or any of that stuff. You guys have been watching those Lady Cleo ads on TV, haven’t you?” Stop it, Jeffrey groaned. “No,” Sean said. “Not at all.” “Emily told me about your little magic trick, so you two don’t even think about it. And don’t call Lady Cleo, either. All she wants is money, and I don’t want to see any phone bill charges running $3.99 a minute. Capisce?” ***** The boys were in Jeffrey’s bed, lying naked in the dark and staring at the ceiling. Sean looked over at Jeffrey, studying his shape in the dark. Maybe we should just figure things out as they come. Maybe that’s all we can do. Sean got up to one elbow. We have time to figure this out. It’s not like we’re up against some sort of doomsday clock. Suddenly, Sean felt something in Jeffrey that was a little like guilt. Maybe uncertainty. He wasn’t sure why, but it was blocked from him. Everything else had been so open, but the lack of a response concerned him. Hey, Jeffrey thought, You’re right. Let’s deal with things as they come along. Sean nodded. Yeah, sure. He laid back on the bed, folding his hands over his stomach, imagining shapes in the popcorn spackle on the ceiling.
  5. Milos


    There will be, but I'm not ready to write it yet. I want to get the rest of Lem updated and put up on here. After DCD is done and Lem is updated and on GA in full, I'll probably start on Shadow.
  6. Milos


    Saturday, March 29th, 1997 Emily walked across the living room and stopped. She turned her shoulder back and stared right at Jeffrey. “Mom, they called me a homunculus!” Tanya turned her head toward the two boys sitting on the couch. Jeffrey crossed his arms. “No we didn’t!” “Yes you did! You said ‘she’s always like that. She’s a homunculus.” “That’s not what I said at all! You must have misheard us.” “I know what I heard.” “Well, I didn’t say that.” Their mother leaned forward. “What did you say?” Jeffrey shrugged. “I don’t remember. I was on hospital drugs, I don’t know.” Tanya scowled. “You were on salt water and antibiotics. What did you say?” “I wasn’t calling her names,” Jeffrey protested. “He wasn’t,” Sean chimed in. She shrugged and stood up. Emily balked. “Aren’t you going to do anything?” Tanya stopped and looked back. “Maybe you shouldn’t have been eavesdropping on their conversation.” “That’s not fair!” “What’s not fair about it? Maybe you need to, I don’t know, stop telling on your little brother when he’s calling you names?” “Mom!” “Emily, I’m not going to be holding your hand out there when you go into the real world. I’d love to be able to tell you that the world is a wonderful, perfect place, but I’m sure that at some point, you’re going to be called something much, much worse than a monkey…” “Homunculus,” Emily corrected. “Whatever. You’re going to be a Junior in high school next year. You’re a young adult. If someone says something nasty to you, then you need to figure out how to throw it right back at them. 14 years of this is enough. If I have to deal with this again, I’m grounding both of you. If you all want to avoid being grounded this time, there’s a kitchen that all of you are going to be cleaning up. Make it sparkle.” She sighed. “I’ll be outside reading a book in the hammock. Don’t make me put it down or shit’s really going to hit the fan.” She strode across the living room, through the kitchen and out the back door with her book tucked under her arm; the screen door clapped shut behind her. Jeffrey locked eyes with his sister, her face a puzzled expression of disbelief. “You two are assholes,” she said, stomping off to her room. “You hafta help clean the kitchen,” Jeffrey called after her. She slammed her bedroom door. She took that well, Sean thought. Yeah, but that means I have to clean the whole damn kitchen myself. I’ll help you. Jeffrey glanced over at Sean. No, it’s our mess. You’re the guest. Sean shrugged. I don’t care. ***** That night, Jeffrey tossed and turned, dreaming of shadowy, spindly creatures doing unspeakable things to him. They stood over him, lowering a machine with a sharp, red-glowing needle toward his eye. Closer. Closer. The heat rippled and glowed in his vision, and somewhere nearby, Sean screamed. Jeffrey started awake, covered in cold sweat. He sat up and glanced around the room, breathing slowly to calm his beating heart. He flopped back down onto the mattress, the sheets wet with his sweat. “Fuck,” he mumbled to himself, trying to see if Sean was awake. He sent a few probing thoughts, but never got anything back other than some abstract flashes: Sean's brother, his mom, school, a family vacation in Canada--peaceful things. Things he wished he could be bothered with. ***** Wednesday, April 2, 1997 On the first day of spring break, Jeffrey was sleeping in. His body felt warmer than normal, and there was a tickling that circled from his chest down to his belly button, and back again. His brain came out of its deep sleep state, and he could feel Sean lying in bed with him. Sean held a flat hand against his stomach as Jeffrey stretched; he felt gentle kisses on the back of his neck. The kisses, the skin to skin contact, the caressing of his stomach, Jeffrey felt Jeff Junior rising to a certain occasion. He tried not to think about it. How long have you been here? Ten minutes or so, Sean thought. I’m sorry, I’ll stop. Jeffrey could feel Sean withdrawing his hand. No. Don’t. It’s fine. Sean gave a little hug. You sure? Jeffrey turned over to face Sean, kissing him gently on the lips, taking Sean’s hand and guiding it down to a spot a little below his navel. He could feel Sean’s heart beating in his chest, and the adrenaline pumping through his heart. Jeffrey never said it, never thought it, but desired Sean to explore him. With a gentle hand, and a nervous touch, Sean let his fingers slowly trace down Jeffrey’s abdomen, over a sparse few hairs; Jeffrey gasped as Sean took him into his hand. Jeffrey pulled Sean to his lips and smashed their tongues together in a frantic oral ballet, panicked breath hissing forth from their nostrils. “Make me cum,” he said between breaths. As Sean worked him with his hand, Jeffrey pumped his hips in tempo, kissing, moaning, grinding. As it was with most people inexperienced with age, things didn’t last very long. While Jeffrey throbbed in Sean’s hand, a small squirt of cum dousing his palm, Sean’s face went all strange, as if he were holding back a sneeze. His jaw quivered, and for a quick moment, he shook, his mind went hazy, and Jeffrey couldn’t read him. What was that? Jeffrey asked. I just shot a load in my pants, Sean replied, blushing. I’m going to have to take a shower before we do anything. I’ll probably have to go home and change, Sean thought glibly. Take a shower with me, Jeffrey thought, giving Sean one more gentle kiss. ***** The boys sat at the kitchen table, chairs facing outward, staring at the open door. They’d been sitting there for the better part of an hour, a jumble of thoughts firing between them. Sean scratched his arm. What if we just ran down and back up as fast as we could? It’ll take a few minutes to unhook everything. Jeffrey twisted in his seat to glance at his friend. I almost passed out trying to go down there. The bumps behind our ears are gone. Maybe things are different. I don’t know why, but I’m still petrified of the basement. I don’t live here and I’m petrified of the basement. What if we asked your sister, Sean wondered, knowing full well what the reply would be. Jeffrey just shot him a dirty look. I don’t think I could get any of my friends to do it for us without having to tell them why. Me too. Sean tapped his finger on his knee and thought. I think once was enough for today. I thought you wanted to play Tomb Raider. “What’s the point if we can’t go downstairs?” Sean held his hand toward the open door. “Why are we even afraid to go down there? What’s keeping us from just… doing it?” Jeffrey pulled his hands down his face. What if you got part way down and passed out, and I couldn’t get to you? I don’t like what you felt when you tried it. Jeffrey sighed. Guess we find something else to do. Sean groaned. Wish our pool worked. Wish we had one, Jeffrey replied. “Fuck it.” He stood up and walked to the door, standing at the top of the steps and staring into the basement below. He took a few uneasy steps down, gripping the handrail as tight as he could. “Jeffrey?” Sean called from the kitchen. He stood and took a position at the top of the steps, watching Jeffrey slowly make his way down. I’m “fine.” Jeffrey could sense Sean was stammering at something, then he couldn’t feel Sean at all. He’d made it to the bottom of the steps, a low tone filling his ears, his head just starting to go dizzy. He turned back and looked up at Sean. “Stay there. I think I’m fine.” “You think?” Sean shook his head and took a step down. “I can’t feel you. I’m not letting you go alone.” “It’s file, stay there.” He held up his hand, and almost dozed off. “Just going to run and grab everything.” He walked farther into the basement, Sean calling after him. As he walked closer to the center of the room, closer to the little entertainment center, the tone in his ears grew louder, and more intense. Bolstering all the courage he could, he made a sprint toward the PlayStation. The closer he got, the louder the tone, the weaker he got, the softer his vision went. He fell to his knees, and kept going toward the entertainment center; he was going to do this hell or high water. His vision was dark, and almost gone. He bumped his head on something, and felt around. Something smooth and plastic, cool to the touch, met his hand. As he felt around, the feeling got worse. He grabbed onto the small plastic object and turned, crawling back toward the bottom of the steps. Sean’s voice could be heard in an echo, calling his name over and over again. Slowly, Jeffrey’s vision came back bit by bit. As soon as he could, he rose to his feet and stumbled across the room, sprinting up the steps and falling into Seans arms when he got back into the kitchen. It felt like a clamp had been taken off his head. “Your nose is bleeding,” Sean said, concern in his voice. Jeffrey tried to smile. He held up the object he’d grabbed, his copy of Final Fantasy VII, and said, “look what I got.” Then, he passed out. ***** Jeffrey woke up with his head in Sean’s lap, resting on the couch with his feet propped up on the arms. How long was I out? About fifteen minutes. You want me to call someone? Your mom? Maybe an ambulance? No, I don’t want to spend my whole spring break in the hospital, Jeffrey thought. Sean stroked his head. What the fuck is down there? I don’t know. Jeffrey gulped. My vision started to go about half way across the room. That loud tone was all I could hear. I… I don’t know. He lifted his head just a little bit and looked around. On the other end of the coffee table was a glass of water. He sat his arm on the table and willed it to his hand. The glass slid across the table and stopped. Without even thinking strange about what he’d just done, Jeffrey clutched the glass and lifted it, taking a small sip off the rim. “That’s new,” Sean said. “What?” Jeffrey said absently, sitting up. He gulped the rest of the water down, and sat the glass back down on the table. The thing with the glass. What? What thing. Sean cocked his head. “Did you not just see what you did?” Jeffrey stared at the glass, his empty mind spinning. “Dude, what?” “You made the glass slide across the table to your hand.” “What? No I didn’t.” “I just watched you do it! I saw you do it in your head, too.” Sean leaned forward and opened his hand so his palm was facing the glass. He closed his eyes, scrunched his face, and tried to will the glass to slide into his hand. Nothing happened. “Try to do that again,” Sean said. Jeffrey glanced between Sean and the glass. He leaned forward and gave it a try, but nothing happened for him, either. “What the fuck just happened?”
  7. Milos


    Yes. I'm going to do two more chapters in Phoenix Lights, then I'll alternate.
  8. Milos


    Friday, March 28, 1997 I’m coming in, Sean thought. He leaned over and pulled the fake rock off the ground, plucking the key from inside. He unlocked the door and put it back. He was greeted with the image of a sticky note with the word homunculus on it. Shit, he thought. He stepped inside and closed the door behind him. Jeffrey was sitting on the couch, wearing only a pair of shorts. He glanced up and blinked. “Don’t worry about it,” Sean said. “What do you think she knows?” Jeffrey asked, even though he knew neither of them had an answer. Sean sat down on the couch next to him, and he could feel a warmth inside of Jeffrey’s chest. Sean barely registered the thought before Jeffrey moved on him, leaning in for a kiss. They sat there, awkwardly, with their lips pressed together, not really doing anything. Hey, relax, Sean thought. He cupped his hands gently behind Jeffrey’s head, being careful to avoid his stitches, and pulled him in for a less awkward kiss. He opened his mouth just a little, playing with Jeffrey’s lips, trying to get Jeffrey to follow along. Slowly, Sean tried to introduce his tongue. He knew something was wrong when he could see his own face really close up. He sat back and looked at Jeffrey, vicariously feeling Jeffrey’s heart pounding in his chest. What’s wrong? Jeffrey looked away. I… I don’t think I’m ready. Well, okay. For what it's worth, I thought it was nice. They sat in silence, a flurry of raw emotion beaming through both of them. Guilt, curiosity, desire, confusion, pain, elation. When Jeffrey looked back up, Sean stared deeply into his blue eyes. You okay? Sean asked. Yeah. Yeah, I think so. What changed? I was thinking about it while you were at school today. I think we’re going to be together for a long time like this, so I thought about what that meant. I thought about us, kinda like that, you know. I couldn’t get your dream out of my head. Sean lay back on the couch, behind Jeffrey. “Come on,” he said, imagining the two of them embracing on the couch, cuddling. Slowly, Jeffrey leaned back and pulled his feet up onto the couch. Sean wrapped his arms under Jeffrey’s, pulling the two of them tightly together. He kissed the back of Jeffrey’s head, then his neck, before resting his own head on the pillow. Sean could feel the body in his arms warming up, exuding raw emotion. I kinda like this feeling, Jeffrey thought. Your skin feels good. Sean couldn’t help but smile. What? Nothing. I like this, too. Are we allowed to do this? I know my mom wouldn’t like it. But I don’t care. You kinda do, though. I can feel it. I love her but it’s none of her business. Why don't you think we’re allowed to do this? I don’t know. My dad’s all manly, and I don’t know how he’d take it. Mom might get over it, and I really don’t care about how Emily would feel. I think Emily would be a good ally, if she found out about… not alien things. I don’t know, maybe. Jeffrey rolled over so he was face to face with Sean, swung his leg over his friend and pushed himself on top, holding himself over his Sean as if he were at the full extension of a push-up. Sean looked up at him, staring into his eyes, lifting a hand to tangle his fingers through Jeffrey's messy brown hair. Jeffrey lowered himself down and allowed himself to give Sean one more kiss. He pushed himself up and stood, padding across the living room toward his bedroom. I should get dressed before my sister gets home. ***** Jeffrey’s mother, Tanya, had dropped the boys off at the Theater. Sean led Jeffrey to the ticket counter. Don’t tell me we’re seeing the Power Rangers movie. Sean shot him a dirty glance. He put a ten dollar bill on the counter. “Two for Return of the Jedi, please.” I’ve seen that a million times. Have you seen the special edition? No. Then let’s give this a try. I deal with enough aliens and now we get to watch a two hour movie with tons of them. They aren’t all horrible aliens. The woman behind the window slid the tickets through the hole. Sean took them into his hand, holding one out for Jeffrey. As they walked through the lobby, toward the concessions stand, Jeffrey wondered, did you hear about the mass cult suicide on Wednesday? Heaven’s Gate? Who hasn’t heard about that. It’s all that’s been on the news this week. Do you think the aliens had something to do with that like they said? Sean glanced over at him. No, I think the dude who was running it was crazy. Jeffrey pushed his hands into his pockets. Yeah, but… we’ve seen them. We’ve been on a ship. Do we know that for sure? And shit like that is why we don’t tell people. Someone would have us committed. Sean scratched his nose. Our lights were only in the news for two days and nobody ever mentioned them again. Thousands of people saw them, and nobody is talking about it. Did you hear what happened to that poor woman on the Phoenix city council? No, what? The mayor's office has been making fun of her. She’s a laughing stock, and all she said was she wanted to know what they were. Jeffrey sighed deeply. Sean knocked his knuckle lightly into the back of Jeffrey’s hand. Don’t worry about it. Let’s try to have some fun tonight. ***** Sean lay in Jeffrey’s bed, waiting for Jeffrey to get done with his shower. He’d thought about the last several weeks, and all the strange things that happened. Jeffrey padded into the room with his towel pulled around his waist, hair slightly damp and clumped in strange and wonderful ways. He went to the dresser to grab something to wear to bed, but stopped short of pulling the drawer open. Sean could feel Jeffrey mulling it over in his mind. Still facing away from Sean, Jeffrey pulled the towel from his body, giving his hair one last ruffle. He walked to the door, in the buff, and hung the towel on a hook stuck to the back of the door. Sean had seen every inch of Jeffrey through memories, but now that he could see for himself. You know me better than literally anyone else, Jeffrey thought. If it makes you uncomfortable… It just probably means I’m uncomfortable with myself. He stopped at the edge of the bed. Well, all things considered, anyway. Sean held the covers up for Jeffrey as he slid in between the sheets. There is no privacy between us. No actions, not even a single thought. What’s the point? I guess you’re right. Sean felt Jeffrey stopping at the edge of a thought, or at least trying to. You want me to get undressed, too. Sean knew that Jeffrey was blushing, and cursing the fact that he couldn’t have his own private brain-space to express desire or lust. Sean hugged him and kissed the side of his face; Jeffrey faked a groan. It’s your decision. I’m your guest, and I don’t want to make you any more uncomfortable. Just shut up and take off your shorts. Under the sheets, Sean slipped off his Umbros. He felt so free, and so… naked. Feels better, doesn’t it? What if your parents come in? Sean ribbed. Jeffrey giggled. You’re too much. Sean rolled onto his side, propping his head up on one of his arms, other hand rested on Jeffrey’s chest. So what about us? What about us? I know you’re going back and forth with it. One minute, you want to try the boyfriend thing, one minute you don’t. Jeffrey looked over at Sean. I really don’t know what I want. I like you, and it’s not like you’re bad looking at all… just… How people would react if they knew. Yeah. It’s not like we have to tell anyone. We already have a pretty big fucking secret. We already have a strange love thing going on. I thought it was more like having a twin brother or something. Jeff, it’s more than that. It has been since two weeks ago. You wouldn’t share your bed with your other friends from school, you’d all just crash in the basement. The first night I stayed over, this is where you wanted me. Maybe because I felt okay with you. I know I don’t have to ask, but what’s wrong with having a boyfriend? Other than Dad joking about it, I never really thought about a girlfriend. Or a boyfriend. You didn’t answer my question. Well, you already know the answer, and maybe I'm not gay. Jeffrey was, actually, afraid of what people would do if they found out. Chief among them, his family. One of his biggest fears was being homeless and alone. Jeffrey scowled. Well, you thought about Jonathan Brandis. A few times. So what? It just happened that’s where my mind went when I was… handling myself. There wasn’t a relationship. I just imagined him. It made me feel good at the time, then I couldn’t watch anything with him in it for a month because it felt weird. Sean leaned forward. You’re afraid it would get weird with us. Jeffrey nodded. How could it get any weirder than it already is? Well, what if you… you stick- Don’t even say it! -it in my butt and I don’t like it? Sean snorted. What?! You know there’s more to relationships than just sex stuff! You think about me like that sometimes. I think you’re cute. I’m glad if it’s anyone I have to share a brain with or whatever we have going on, that it’s you. In a relationship, we can go as slow as you want to. I don’t just like you because I want to dunk my donuts. But you think about it. Well, if we’re being honest, it would be nice to try things out. I’ve never been with another guy but I’ve thought about it. It’ll happen someday, maybe with someone else, or maybe with you, but it’s not my every waking desire. Yeah, but it’s a strong desire. Sean rolled onto his back and stared at the ceiling, a little frustrated. “Sean?” “Yeah?” So, what if you do have sex with someone else. Like… in the butt. What if I do? Well, wouldn't it be like he’s doing me in the butt, too? Like, your boyfriend would be screwing both of us. I’ve never tried anything with my butt like that. I’d probably be all walking down the street and suddenly it’d be all like some ghost is trying to seduce me! Sean buried his face in a pillow, laughing hysterically. Well, it’s true! Once Sean got his laughter under control, he rolled back over toward Jeffrey. Well, on the bright side, if it was the two of us, there wouldn’t be any butt surprises. It was Jeffrey’s turn to giggle into a pillow. Sean could sense that when Jeffrey recovered, he was going to make a move to make out with him again. He waited. Jeffrey pulled himself so that he was half on top of Sean, their chests pressing together, their lips meeting once again. This time, it was Jeffrey who tried to introduce his tongue to Sean, which he happily accepted. When they pulled apart, Jeffrey rested his forehead against Sean’s. Whatever we’re doing, let’s go slow. Slow is good. Sean smiled. Jeffrey twisted to turn off his lamp, and rolled back onto his side of the bed, holding hands with Sean under the covers. They smiled back and forth at each other, taking turns squeezing each others hands. I like the way you kiss, Sean thought. Me too. They squeezed hands again. There was a strange high-pitched whining noise, and a loud crack as blinding white light filled the room. Jeffrey sat straight up, his head thrown back as if he were looking straight up, arms rigidly by his side, mouth wide open and sputtering silently. His body seemed hard, giving off small convulsions, as Sean could feel Jeffrey fighting against whatever was holding him in place. Jeffrey! Suddenly, his body was flung violently upward, and stopped as he hovered just inches away from the ceiling. Sean reached out to him, tears running down his face, jaw clenched and quivering. He only felt the feeling for an instant, as if he’d been flung upward from a catapult, but in quick order, he blacked out. ***** Sean woke up on the table, instantly recognizing it from Jeffrey’s nightmare from the first night. He pulled against the restraints, and strained his body. He could hear strange whispers all around him, and the sweet smell of something like ammonia, maybe maple, stung his sinuses. Jeffrey was next to him, staring across the strange chamber with a thousand yard gaze. Some deranged-looking spindly creature materialized from the shadows and hovered toward Jeffrey; they were worse to see in person than he remembered through the nightmare. “Yyyyy… you get away frrrom him you son of a bitch!” Sean screamed as loud as he could. “Get away from himmm!” As Sean turned his head slightly forward, he found himself face to face with another one of the specters. Sean pulled against his restraints with everything he had in him, screaming and spitting like a feral animal. The specter seemed to squint at him, lengthening his neck by almost a foot, his head bobbing back and forth very slightly. It made a hacking, almost wet coughing noise, which made Sean scream even more loudly at the thing. Then, Jeffrey was screaming with the same anger and same volume as Sean, violent, unfocused. It was so sudden that the specter attending to Jeffrey recoiled and moved a few feet away. Sean, still staining, skin sweating, pulled downward with his arms, his wrists feeling as if they might shatter against the cuffs that restrained his hands. He could tell the specter was making a move to touch him, to further restrain him, to do God knew what to both of them. Suddenly, his right hand slipped the restraint. With every bit of energy he had, still screaming at the horror looking him right in the face, he threw the meanest hook he could, his fist smashing into the specter’s temple, knocking it end over end until it hit the metal wall on the other side of the room; it fell to the floor in a heap. It was as if gravity didn't exist here, at least as he understood it. He had to get to Jeffrey. He had to. Sean used his free hand to pull on his other arm, his right wrist already cut up and bleeding. He cried and grunted and screamed as a thick steam filled the room, struggling, panicking, pulling as hard as he could. “Don’t. I don’t want you to suffer. Sean, stop.” Sean cried at the sound of his brother’s voice, his resolve and his body crumbling. “Brett?” He said with a shaky voice. “I won’t let them hurt you,” Sean heard. “What the fuck is going on?!” he screamed and sobbed at the same time. Again, everything faded away, and, very suddenly, Sean’s noisy mind went silent. ***** The sound of birds woke him up. Sean was tangled in a hug with Jeffrey, the skin between them wet and sticky with sweat. Sean had a small migraine brewing in his head, which would probably be a thunderstorm later. He smiled slightly as he remembered drifting off to sleep, holding hands with Jeffrey, and every so often, through the night, sharing gentle kisses between them. It had been a happy night, and now, through everything he’d been through over the last few weeks, he felt like he had someone. For the first time since his brother died, he was beginning to feel whole. Gently, Sean kissed Jeffrey on his shoulder. Jeffrey moaned. “What happened?” He looked up at Sean and smiled. I remember turning off the lamp, and holding hands, and… I’m sorry, I fell asleep! Sean smiled back at him. I did too. But it was nice. I haven’t slept that well in a long time. Sean squeezed Jeffrey, and Jeffrey squeezed back. Mom’s making breakfast today. Sean seemed to giggle in his mind when he said it. I hope it’s not pancakes again. Jeffrey groaned. Don’t remind me. They kissed on the lips, and Sean paused, squinting, his brain tripping over something, missing some thought entirely. What? He shook his head. Probably nothing. Let’s get dressed and go eat. Together, the boys got ready and headed down the hall to the kitchen. Tanya looked up from the stove. “Hold on! Before you sit down, we need to put some stuff on your head.” Jeffrey nodded and backed out of the room. Sean sat at the table, mentally watching Jeffrey search the bathroom cabinet for his medicated ointment to put on his stitches. “How did you sleep?” Jeffrey’s mother asked Sean. “Oh. Very well, thank you.” “Did he get you the air mattress or did he make you sleep on the floor?” Sean smiled. “He offered, but I slept on the floor. I like it better.” “Well, I hoped he vacuumed the floor before you came over, at least. God knows what’s living in that carpet.” “Hey, my room is clean,” Jeffrey said, walking back into the kitchen with a small tube of medicine in his hand. He handed it over to his mom. Tanya pushed him down onto a chair by his shoulder, squeezing it a few times. “I made french toast with strawberry sauce,” she said, eyeballing the end of the tube and squeezing out a pea-sized amount of the semi-translucent goop onto her pointer finger. “Sounds really good,” Sean said. “Thank you.” She leaned forward and parted Jeffrey’s hair in a way that reminded Sean of a monkey looking for lice on one of its friends. She moved her hands, and parted, and moved, and parted. “Where are you little boogers?” she mumbled. Behind her, Tom walked into the kitchen and watched. She looked back at him. “Would you help me? You’re better at finding his stitches.” He knelt down behind Jeffrey and started picking over his scalp. After a moment he dropped his arms, and sighed. He started to look again. “They’re not here,” he said. “They’ve got to be there.” “Are they dissolving stitches?” “No,” she replied. “You can’t feel the scab?” “It’s not here. There’s nothing here.” “Let me look,” she said with a hint of exasperation. She went through his hair on the back right side of his head, chunk by chunk. “Did you take your stitches out?” Jeffrey shook his head. “No. How would I even do that?” She rubbed the back of his head with a finger. “It’s gone. I don’t feel any bumps or scabs or stitches at all. It’s just all gone. It’s like it never happened.” Tom just hummed and shrugged. “Must have fallen out.” “It doesn’t work like that, honey,” she said. She walked to the sink and washed her hands. “Stitches don't just fall out. We’ll have to go outside where we have better light and look.” Sean scratched at an itch on the right side of his head, just behind his ear. “Maybe they’re just really good doctors,” Tom said, offhandedly, serving himself a few slices of toast. “Nobody’s that good,” she said. Sean stopped, and rubbed the area around where the little bump had been. Jeffrey - the bump is gone. What? It’s not there anymore. It’s gone. Jeffrey rubbed the spot behind his ear. His bump had also disappeared. Where did they go?! Sean wondered. I have no idea. Behind them, Emily stood in the doorway of the kitchen, giving Sean the look of death. Oh, God, Jeffrey thought. I forgot about the sticky note.
  9. Milos


    Saturday, March 22, 1997 Jeffrey didn’t have the mental wherewithal to scream out in pain. He didn’t remember anything, his brain wasn’t working right, and he couldn’t really process thought; someone had sedated him. His mind was blank, but he could feel a stabbing in his scalp, then a tugging. Someone was putting in stitches, and he could feel every single one with excruciating detail. When the cyclical stabbing had stopped, it wasn’t long until he started hearing a strange mechanical tapping noise, which turned into a loud, repetitive clattering bang. There was a white hot pain in a little spot behind his right ear, as if something under his skin, maybe in his skull, was trying to break out. He could not move; he could do nothing. Once again, he was a prisoner in his own body. ***** “Are you safe, Jeff?” Jeffrey opened his eyes and glanced around. He could see a white ceiling, but couldn’t tell how far above him it was. He sat up and looked around; he was in a large room, laying on a white tile floor, but couldn’t see anyone in sight. “Hello?” he called. Slowly, he got to his feet, spinning circles, scanning the infinite distance. “Jeff, are you safe?” It was a familiar voice, but it wasn’t Sean. “Who are you?!” Jeffrey yelled. “Please, don’t worry. I won’t harm you.” A familiar smell greeted his nose, a smell of a certain individual that brought some of Sean’s best childhood memories flooding into Jeffrey’s mind. “Brett?” A hot tear ran down his face. Brett stood in front of him, holding a warm hand to his cheek. “Are you real?” He smiled warmly. “You know the answer to that.” “No, I don’t.” “Horrible things are coming,” he said. “Protect him.” “What’s coming? Protect who?” Jeffrey suddenly started awake. He was in a hospital room, with his mother and sister sitting in chairs off to his right. His mother stood up and came to the side of the bed. “Honey,” she said quietly, stroking his face. “What happened? Where am I?” “Let me go get your father.” He watched her walk out of the room. Emily stood up, looking back over her shoulder toward the door. She stood next to the bed. “Emily, what happened?” She shook her head. “I don’t know. Are you okay?” “What. Happened?” “You were laughing at really weird times. I just thought you were being a jerk. But you suddenly stood up and just stood there, and you turned white as a sheet. I was so scared, I didn’t know what was happening to you.” She sighed deeply. “Your nose started bleeding and mom called out your name. You turned to look at her, then your eyes rolled back and your legs went out. You hit your head on the coffee table and wouldn’t come around. You split your head open and there was blood everywhere. Dad and mom were both crying on the way to the hospital. Everyone was so worried.” Jeffrey tried to register it all. “What’s going on with you, Jeffrey?” He shook his head and squeezed her hand. “I don’t know.” She leaned in and spoke quietly. “You’re not doing drugs, are you? I bet cocaine would do that.” “Emily! I’m not doing drugs.” They stared at each other for a long moment. Then, she asked, “Who is Brett?” His heart jumped. “What do you mean?” “Before you woke up, you were mumbling something. All I could understand was Brett.” “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he lied. Behind her, his mother shuffled into the room with his dad at her elbow. “Buddy,” his dad said with worry in his voice. “Tell me what hurts. Can I do anything. How are you feeling? What happened?” “Jesus, Dad. I’m fine.” He gently rubbed his head, his wrist tangled in IV lines. “They still haven’t come back with your MRI scans yet,” his mother said. “MRI scans?” Jeffrey looked around the room, from face to face. Tom patted him on the chest. “Yeah, after they stitched you up, they put you in an MRI machine to run some tests, and they took some of your blood for a workup. One of the doctors thought you might have a blockage in your brain or something. Oh, dude, don’t do this to me again.” Jeffrey stared at his father, and in a deadpan tone, said, “Okay. I’ll tell my brain to knock it off.” His dad stared at him. “It was a joke, Dad.” His father hugged him, while his mother rubbed his arm. “You’re normal. I bet you’re fine.” Tom held him at arms length, by the shoulders. “You know what happened?” “Emily said I passed out and hit my head on the table.” “What do you remember?” His mother asked. He shrugged. “I don’t know. We were watching Homeward Bound. I remembered a joke someone told me at school, and I laughed. You guys didn’t think it was funny. That’s about it.” “You don’t remember standing up, or the bloody nose?” Tom asked. Jeffrey shook his head. What room are you in? “Sean?” Everyone stared at him. Yeah. I’m in the lobby. Where are you? “What about Sean?” his mother asked. Shit. “We were supposed to talk before I went to bed,” he lied. “Don’t worry about Sean. You can see him when you get home.” How did you know I was here? Jeffrey asked Sean. I saw the ambulance take you off last night. Jeffrey could sense Sean talking to an orderly in the lobby. Last night? I took the Metro over. Hang on, I’ll be up in a few minutes. Jeffrey didn’t know what to say to his family without giving himself away. “How long do I have to stay here?” “We don’t know,” Tom said. “Depends on your test results.” He tugged at a band on Jeffrey’s wrist. “You’re a fall risk, so you have to stay in bed for a while.” “Didn’t you have patrol today?” Jeffrey asked. “Do you think the captain would make me come into work when someone in my family was rushed to the hospital? Come on, he’s not a monster.” Jeffrey had met Captain Delgado when his dad had been promoted to a sergeant; he was a pretty cool dude, but a little too intimidating for Jeffrey’s liking. Emily turned toward the door. “It’s Sean.” Jeffrey’s parents turned and glanced back; Jeffrey leaned forward in his bed. Sean stood in the doorway and gave a nervous smile. “Knock knock,” he said quietly. He took a small step into the room. “I’m going to find the doctor,” Tom said, glancing at Jeffrey’s mom. “See if we can get some answers.” “I’ll go with you,” She said, pulling her wallet out of her purse. She handed Emily a five dollar bill. “Why don’t you go down to the cafeteria and get something to drink.” She forced a smile. Tom grabbed Sean’s shoulder and squeezed as he walked out of the room, Jeffrey’s mom not too far behind. Emily glanced suspiciously between the two of them, and left the room without saying anything. Sean sat down in the chair next to Jeffrey’s bed. “Hey.” “Hi.” You look pretty banged up. I’ve felt better. It was weird. When I got home, I could feel you, but it was like you were just… turned off. Did something strange happen to you? Sean shook his head. “I don’t know.” He remembered the homunculus, and remembered just suddenly being in Tyson’s mom’s car. You blacked out? I lost an hour. Tyson found me in the lobby all sweaty. Apparently I walked out of the theater and didn’t come back. I don’t even remember the movie. I scared the crap out of my mom. Why? I was standing on the lawn for ten minutes staring at nothing. She came out and I had a panic attack. She almost didn’t let me out of the house today. I collapsed just after that Elevator scene in the movie. Did they take you or something? “I don’t know.” Did something strange happen to you? Other than collapsing? Jeffrey tried to relay that he’d seen Sean’s brother, but something blocked him from doing so - from sharing the memories or speaking of his mental encounter. What is it? “Something’s blocking me from saying it. It’s strange.” “This just keeps getting weirder and weirder.” Yeah. Good save, by the way. I don’t know how I’d explain it if I just told everyone that you were on your way up and you just happened to show up. Your sister looked a little suspicious. “She’s always like that,” Jeffrey said. “The homunculus.” It was hiding behind someone’s purse. I spotted it just before I blacked out. I remember hearing strange sounds when I was trying to go to bed last night. Banging noises. “I think that was the MRI I had. I was out, but I heard them, too.” The boys stared at each other for a moment. A doctor walked in and pulled a clipboard out of the tray mounted on the wall next to the door. His parents shuffled in behind him. “Morning, Jeffrey. Came by to let you know what we found in your scans.” Tom turned toward Sean. “Can you wait out in the hall for a bit, buddy? I’ll come get you when you can come back in.” Jeffrey gulped, wondering what he was about to be told. Shit. What if it’s cancer or something? Sean nodded and stepped out of the room. It’s more than likely them than cancer. I’ll be here. Jeffrey perceived Sean sitting in the hallway, in a chair across from his sister, as the door to his room was closed to the outside world. Emily stared hard at Sean, unmoving and silent. “So…” the doctor started. “We looked over the MRI scans several times. There is absolutely nothing that we can see that’s physically wrong with your brain. The only strange thing with your scan was something embedded in the tissue behind your right ear. Probably a bone fragment from hitting your head. It’ll either work itself out, or you’ll have to get it removed at some point.” Jeffrey’s skin tingled. He ran his fingers over the skin behind his ear, and could feel a slight bump there. Hey, I have one, too, Sean thought. “It’s not serious. A little local anesthesia and ten minutes with a doctor in an OR. You’d be awake the whole time, and probably walk out of the building within an hour. What worries me, though, are your blood results.” He paused and stared at Jeffrey. Jeffrey and Sean both held their breath. “Do you know what myoglobin is?” Jeffrey shook his head. “It’s a protein that gets released into the blood. If there’s too much of it, you kidneys can take damage trying to clean it out. We’ll flush it out with some saline. It can be caused by several different things - one is certain drugs or alcohol.” He turned toward his parents. “None of that came up in the test. Don’t worry, he’s not doing drugs or doing shooters at the bar.” He turned back toward Jeffrey. “What worries me, though, is that it can be caused by muscle trauma. We see it a lot in marathon runners when they get done with long races, and sometimes people who have been in bad accidents.” “Like my fall?” “You wouldn’t see it in something like that, no.” He tapped his clipboard against his hand. “It also happens with heart attacks. But your heart sounds normal, your electrocardiograms look perfectly healthy for a fourteen-year-old. We’re going to do a few more tests on your heart to be sure something didn’t happen, like a heart attack or some sort of undiagnosed heart issue. I have someone coming up in a few minutes to wheel you down to have an ultrasound done on your heart.” “Isn’t he too young to be having a heart attack?” his mother asked. “Depends on weather or not there was an undiagnosed deformation in his heart. If we don’t find anything, I’ll probably schedule another MRI to make sure, just so we can get a really good look at his ticker. Maybe a full set of X-Rays before that.” He turned back toward his parents. “I want another set of blood panels done. He’ll have to stay until the myoglobin is out of his system. From there, if we don’t find anything else, he’d be free to go home.” “What do you think it is?” Tom asked. The doctor shook his head. “I don’t know. We’re a little bit stumped. No bruising to indicate muscle trauma, no recent accidents, only a collapse and cut on the head. No drugs or alcohol detected in his system. It has to be the heart.” “What if it’s not?” He shrugged. “I don’t know. A fluke, maybe.” He turned toward Jeffrey. “When you go home, you’ll have to watch for dark colored urine - like the color of iced tea. If you have that or any nausea, fever, vomiting, stomach pain, well, you’ll have to come back.” Jeffrey could feel the fear and concern in Sean, but he couldn’t hide his own fear. ***** It was Tuesday night when Jeffrey was allowed to leave. They turned off one road onto another, and suddenly, Sean came into range. Did they find it? What’s wrong? Jeffrey sighed. They found nothing. I’m apparently very healthy. They said I probably collapsed from dehydration or something. I have pills I have to take. And I have to drink lots of water. I have to go in every few weeks for tests for a couple of months. Mom has me out of school for the rest of the week. The heart specialist didn’t see anything? No. Just a normal heart. He said my lungs were a little larger than average, but that just means I’d be good at sports. My dad’s been talking my ear off about joining baseball and cross country next year. When is your spring break? Mine starts next week. Jeffrey hadn’t thought about it. Mine’s weird. It starts and ends on a Wednesday for some reason, and I think my sister has hers a few weeks after mine. I’ll look when I get home. Why, what did you have in mind? ***** Jeffrey spent Friday at home alone. His mother had gone back to work, but would be checking on him throughout the day. She left him little notes everywhere, with easy chores for him to do if he was feeling okay, but not all at once. She’d even left him a note in his lunch she made for him; it was stuck to the top of the tupperware container. Lunch today would be leftover lasagna from the night before, with some carrots and celery, to be washed down with the same volume of water that was in the Tempe Town Lake. Love you, the note read. Call me at work if you need anything. Take the hamburger out of the freezer to thaw for Tacos tonight. XOX Love you! Jeffrey could see that there was something written on the other side. He lifted the sticky note from the top of the container and flipped it over. In his sister’s handwriting: homunculus?
  10. Milos


    Thursday, March 20th, 1997 Sean and Jeffrey hadn’t really talked for a few days; they had coexisted to the point where they’d known what was going on with the other, but they hadn’t directed any thought toward each other. Sean felt bad for crossing the line, but the feeling he’d gotten from Jeffrey was best summed up by an angry forget about it. He tried not to think about that night, or allow his feelings for Jeffrey to bleed through. It was half way through third period, and Sean’s attention wasn’t focused on the random soliloquy of Shakespeare as it should have been, but instead Jeffrey. He rested his head on his arm, and stared off out the window, the telltale high pitched tone taking over in his ears, filtering out the world, as it had done in past several days when he got too far into his own mind. Suddenly there was a sharp crack, followed by a spate of giggles. Sean jerked back and stared up at the nun standing over him, her clutching a ruler as if she was about to parry with a fencing sabre. “I suppose you have no idea which page we’re on,” she said. He glanced down at his book. “I’m sorry, Sister Helen. No.” “Hands.” Sean gulped, and slowly placed his hands palm-side-down on top of his desk. With quick speed and precision, Sister Helen slapped him hard across the back of the knuckles with the ruler, the lingering sting from which would probably itch for hours to come. “Pay attention if you don’t want another one.” She hobbled back to the front of the room like the crippled old penguin she represented. He rubbed his sore hands and flipped several pages in his book. Suddenly, in his peripheral vision, he caught someone walking across the far side of the room. When he turned his head, nobody was there. For the rest of the day, there was always someone or something, some shadow, just out of his vision. It wasn’t his eyes playing tricks on him—he could feel it. ***** Did you see it, too? Sean glanced up from his math book and looked around the kitchen, where he had been doing his homework. What, the creepy shadows? No, the little… I don’t know what it was. A person thing. What?! Sean could see it as Jeffrey tried to describe it. Some little human looking thing. Maybe a foot and a half tall. Massive hands and feet. Large head with huge lips. Massive ding-dong for his size. Black eyes, really light skin. Just running around all naked. Nobody else saw it. I’d see little bits of him just as he was running off. Could never get him square in my vision. Massive ding-dong? I swear it looked like it was running around naked. I know you can see it in my memory. A tingle ran over Sean’s skin. I only saw shadows. They were too big to be whatever you saw. They would just disappear when I looked. Maybe Sister Helen scared them off with her ruler. I wish the aliens would take her and dump her on top of a mountain somewhere. Sometimes I think she’s got her coif on too tight. Coif? Sean imagined the white head covering under her dark habit. Oh. Glad you’re back in range. This headache was getting worse. Think we’re seeing things because of the headaches? I mean, if there really was a little naked gnome running around the classroom, someone else would have seen it. Right? Sean sat back in his chair and crossed his arms. Jesus, what’s wrong with us? Can I say something without you looking too far into it? Sean thought, I feel better when you’re closer, too. ***** Sean stood under the hot water of the shower. He’d gotten through the week, made it to Friday, and had been invited by some of his school friends to see Liar Liar at the theater. Lucky for him, the theater was close enough that he wouldn’t have any separation issues with Jeffrey. It wasn't Jeffrey that got him through the anxiety and suffering, but it was his friends who helped him get through the day, who kept him distracted or normal, and made it bearable when he was out of range. He heard the front door open and shut. Thinking his mother had got off work early, Sean turned off the water and pulled back the shower curtain; Jeffrey stood in the doorway. Sean widened his eyes at him, thinking about how odd it was that he hadn’t detected him coming, but there he stood, heaving breaths as if he’d run all the way from the bus stop. “We’ve got to talk,” Jeffrey said between breaths. His eyes flickered down, then back up. Sean looked down his body, and realized he was giving Jeffrey the full frontal. Gingerly, he took the towel off the rack and started drying himself off. ***** “Homunculus.” Sean, wrapped only in his towel, sat down on his bed next to Jeffrey. “What?” Homunculus. It’s that thing I kept seeing the other day. How do you know? My school counselor called me into her office because I’ve been blacking out at school. Blacking out!? Well, sorta. I can’t explain it. But she had a drawing of the naked thing in her room, you know, only without the cock n’ nuts. I asked her what it was, and she said it was a homunculus. It’s a psychology thing that represents the human brain and how we sometimes think that there’s a little dude in our head driving us like we’re some big gundam robot or something. What is that supposed to mean? I don’t know. Did yours escape out of your head or something? “Smartass,” Jeffrey said. “I’m being serious.” “So, we’re both seeing shit.” But I’ve never seen a homunculus before. Not even in a book. Why did I see one just running around in my class? I mean, it had to have been real. It pushed over a backpack when it was running by. It physically moved the bag. This is just getting fucking strange. Sean, what if it’s one of them? Sean could feel Jeffrey’s fear very loudly. You think they’re watching us? What else could it be? Sean stood up and walked to his dresser, pulling out his outfit for that night. Why didn’t I sense you coming over? He glanced back, letting the towel fall to the ground. He could feel Jeffrey looking over his body as he pulled on his underwear. Jeffrey blushed. What? What do you mean? I didn’t hear you or sense you. Normally I know exactly when you get back in range. I didn’t feel you until I got out of the shower and you were just standing there. He shrugged. “Want to come to the movies with me and my friends?” Jeffrey slouched forward. “Mom wants to do family night. I don’t think I’d like Tyson very much.” “What’s wrong with Tyson?” Sean sat back down on the bed, absorbing a strange feeling from Jeffrey, about his distaste for people who acted like Tyson; Sean could feel Jeffrey’s annoyance. “Oh.” “Mom usually rents stupid movies when we do family night. Maybe I’ll tune into yours.” ***** “New in the building?” Jim Carrey glanced over at the sexy woman standing next to him in the elevator. Sean shoved a handful of popcorn in his mouth. Tyson elbowed him in the side as he stole a large handful out of Sean’s bucket. “Yeah. I just moved in Monday,” the buxom woman replied. “Oooh, you like it so far?” Jim Carrey asked with a goofy expression. “Mmm-hmm! Everybody’s been real nice.” “Welllll… that’s because you have big jugs.” The theater erupted in laughter. Sean even felt Jeffrey let out a big laugh. Then, for some reason, Sean felt Jeffrey's regret. Sean felt a stinging in his leg, as Jeffrey’s sister slapped Jeffrey on top of his knee. Jeffrey’s family had been watching Homeward Bound. Coincidentally, he’d started laughing at the sad part when Shadow fell through the planks into the deep pit. Sean could hear Jeffrey’s sister calling him a psychopath, and his father saying ‘that’s not funny, bud.’ “I meannnn- your boobs are huge.” This time, Sean had to try extra hard not to laugh. “I mean, I wanna squeeze ‘em!” Sean could feel Jeffrey’s embarrassment, but he couldn’t help himself. He was laughing more at the situation than the movie. “Mama!” Slap! As the laughter in the theater died down, Sean sat back in his seat. You okay? Well, everyone thinks there’s something wrong with me. I’m sorry. I better try to pay attention to this before my sister murders me. I’m sure my dad’s going to have a long talk with me later to make sure I’m not some sort of serial killer or something. Sean nodded, popping a lime flavored Dot into his mouth. Then, out of the corner of his eye, he spotted a movement. He glanced across a young couple into the aisle. Across the aisle, behind a large handbag rested at the feet of a woman, a small figure was watching him through beady little black eyes. At first, he thought it was a baby, or maybe even a small dog. On second glance, he could make out the large lips, and one of its large hands resting on the ground next to the handbag. He stifled a breath, the ground feeling as if it had suddenly fallen away beneath him. That’s when everything went white. ***** Sean felt annoyed for some reason; it was the sound of a turn signal echoing in his brain. He was in a car, turning into the sub-development where he lived. He couldn’t remember much of that night, or really much of anything. For some reason, he remembered Jim Carrey making an ass of himself, but didn’t really know how he’d gotten into the car. Sean glanced around. In the back seat next to him was Tyson, and directly in front of Tyson was his mother. Tyson had been talking about a movie, but he didn't remember seeing any movie recently. "Dude, where did you go? You missed the best part!" "Best part?" "Yeah. You just got up and walked out. I thought you went to the bathroom but you never came back in. I found you in the lobby just staring at an Austin Powers cardboard cutout. You were all, like, sweaty and stuff." Sean stared at him, trying to connect the dots. "Dude, are you okay?" "I..." “Uh oh,” Tyson’s mother said quietly. Tyson and Sean both leaned toward the center of the car to look out the front window. Ahead of them, in front of Jeffrey’s house, were the flashing red and blue lights of an ambulance. As Tyson’s mom slowed to a stop in front of Sean’s house, the ambulance pulled away from the curb and sped away. Sean could feel Jeffrey, but it was as if he’d been turned off somehow. Slowly, the garage door at Jeffrey's house rolled open; Jeffrey’s parents and sister piled into their car. Quickly, Tom backed out of the driveway and peeled out after the ambulance. Sean got out of the car, absently waving goodbye to his friend, and stood on the sidewalk staring off in the direction the ambulance had gone. He’d lost track of time, and was tripping over his own mind. Blanking out. Grasping at something. Sean’s mother placed a hand on his shoulder, “you’re shaking.” He didn't move, he stared out into the distance. "You've been standing out here for ten minutes. What's -" His scream shattered the quiet night air as the panic suddenly set in.
  11. Milos


    Jeffrey woke up in a large, cavernous room. The floor was metal, with hexagonal holes in it; he couldn’t tell how deep the chamber below him was. The room seemed cone-shaped, with strange spiny beams running from the sides to the top most point in the center, and ribs between each of the beams. At the top of the room were lights, bright and blinding, but Jeffrey felt as if the light weren’t reaching him, because he was partially in shadow. He was restrained to a cold metal table which sat upright at a 45 degree angle to the floor, his arms splayed open like the miniature Jesus on Sean’s crucifix. His naked body was cold all over, and his mind was in a haze. Not more than two arm-lengths away, Sean was also strapped to a table, but he was conked out. No matter what Jeffrey tried—talking, yelling, thinking, screaming—he could not get a response out of Sean; he was breathing shallow. There was a haze in the room, almost a fog, but Jeffrey was unsure if it was getting thicker or not. All he could smell was maple, and the scent was overwhelming. His eyes burned and watered, making it more difficult to see his surroundings. Out of his peripheral vision were specters: people with impossibly long necks and big heads and long spindly arms. Their eyes looked human, in shape, size and spacing, but were deeply inset and black. He tried to turn toward them, but could barely move his head. One shifted around a little, where he could see it better. They had bulbous, bald heads, and wrinkly tan colored skin with visible veins. No nose, or nose slits, or mouths, only a strong jaw and skin pulled taught across facial bone. Jeffrey screamed bloody murder as one seemed to slide toward him out of the shadows on the far side of the room. He pulled against his restraints as others also came near, pissing himself in fear. It put a hand over his mouth and pushed his head back against the table. It’s skin smelled like wet cardboard, gun powder, cinnamon and warm cheddar. Behind him, something gave off a loud cracking noise, and the table fell back. Instead of landing hard against the floor, the table rolled end over end, and stopped after several flips, hard and abruptly, with Jeffrey in a downward position parallel with the ground. The floor seemed as if it were now fifteen, maybe twenty feet below him. After what seemed like forever, the table very slowly started to roll backward, and came to stop when his face was mere inches away from one of them, a high pitched screeching filling the air. Cold fluid droplets fell from above, burning his skin. Suddenly, white hot pain shot through his body. Unbearable, horrible pain. He screamed out into the air, as a specter moved toward is face, closer and closer… the sounds… the flashes… the light… the smells… Crack! There was Sean, inches away from his lips. They were floating calmly, comfortably in white light, holding hands and kissing. Jeffrey opened his eyes when he felt the sensation of a kiss, out of his head and somewhere far better than that place. Then, he felt Sean’s dream filling him. ***** Saturday, March 15, 1997 The smell of hot pancakes permeated the kitchen. The boys walked in and sat at the table as Jeffrey’s dad, Tom, worked batter over the electric griddle. “I was beginning to wonder if you two were going to get up any time before noon,” he said to Jeffrey, his bulging right arm flexing as he lifted the spatula. “You didn’t stay up and watch scary movies all night, did you?” Your dad is huge, Sean thought. He’s a cop, Jeffrey thought flatly. “No, sir. We played some video games until eleven then went to bed.” “Your new friend is quieter than your other buddies,” Tom said, flipping a pancake. “I was sure you two would be making noise all night.” Jeffrey gave Sean a troubled look. “I never caught your name.” Sean leaned back in his chair. “I’m Sean, uh, sir.” “You two go to school together or something? Never seen you running around with the boys.” “No. I go to Saint Anne’s. My mother and I live across the street.” “Ah. A catholic guy, eh?” “Yes, sir.” “Just you and your mom? I thought you had an older brother or something.” Fuck, Jeffrey thought. “Uh, Dad, I don’t…” “My brother passed away a year ago.” Sean dropped his head and stared at his lap. Tom stopped and slowly turned around. “Oh, Buddy, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to open old wounds.” Sean signed the holy cross, more out of habit than anything else, and lifted his chin just the smallest bit. “He had a brain hemorrhage playing football.” “God, that’s horrible,” he said, pressing his lips thin. “If you ever need someone to talk to, you know,” he nodded forward, “about guy things or anything else, don’t hesitate to ask.” He chuckled nervously. “Maybe I should find my crowbar. I think I have a foot stuck in my mouth.” God damn it, Dad. “It’s okay. Thanks,” Sean said quietly. “Moving onto happier things, breakfast is done.” Tom slid a plate in front of each of them, with three slices of bacon, and stack of pancakes drowning in maple syrup. As soon as the smell hit his nostrils, Jeffrey jerked back and covered his mouth. He jumped to his feet and lunged toward the trash can, making it just in time to barf inside. “Oh, come on,” Tom said, sarcastically. “My cooking isn’t that bad.” Jeffrey lowered his head over the can and went in for round two. “Getting your mother,” he mumbled, backing out of the kitchen. Jeffrey glanced up. Tough as shit, but can’t even handle someone throwing up. I almost threw up watching you. I hate that feeling, are you okay? Are you done? If I feel you go again I’m going to lose it. I think I’m over it now. I didn’t think the smell would bother me that much. Jeffrey spat in the garbage can. I’m fine. ***** Jeffrey’s mom had sent Sean home shortly after breakfast. After a quick trip to the InstaCare, and half an hour of convincing his mother that he wasn’t infected with Ebola, she stopped doting over him long enough that he was able to escape his quarantine on the couch, under all those hot blankets, and return to his own side of the house. After a quick shower, he returned to his bedroom in a comfortable pair of shorts and the tee shirt his sister bought for him at the Smashing Pumpkins concert several months earlier. The world is a vampire. He sat on his bed, quickly bringing his feet off the floor, and leaned against the pillows on his headboard. He never liked to let his feet dangle, especially when he couldn’t see what was beneath him. Are we going to talk about it? Sean asked from his bedroom. I don’t want to, Jeffrey replied. They didn’t need to talk about it. Jeffrey figured that Sean already knew what Jeffrey thought about the whole thing already. I’m sorry we didn’t have the same experience. Jeffrey scowled. We never talked about how we’re going to deal with this. I still don’t know. Jeffrey slumped back. I really don’t want another panic attack like that again. I’m not looking forward to Monday. Too bad one of us can’t transfer schools or something. Dude, I’m not Catholic. You’d have to go to my school. Talk to your mom, I’m sure she’d be cool with it. I wish it were that easy. ***** School for Jeffrey had gone just as bad as he’d expected it would. Not only with the low-key anxiety stuff, but he also had a headache all day long. As he returned from the bus stop, he could sense that he had aroused Sean’s attention. I’m about to convert to Catholicism, he thought dimly. I know you’d hate it, came Sean’s thoughts. Headache, too? Instead of a reply, Jeffrey sent along his pang of irritability and anger. Sorry if I pissed you off. No, you didn’t. No offense, I like you and everything, but I sorta liked it better when there weren’t aliens and psychic shit going on. Jeffrey stopped and cocked his head. Why are you walking around your house in your underwear? I do sometimes. You know that. Jeffrey shook his head and continued on his way. I guess I did. This headache isn’t helping my memory. Well, you should try it sometime. Yeah. My sister would love it if she brought her friends home to study or something and there I was running around all naked. Who said anything about naked? Jeffrey felt the slightest pang of arousal from Sean. Do we need to talk about that? Do we? What would we need to talk about? That. You did kiss me the other night. You know how I feel about… things. And you weren’t upset about the kiss. Jeffrey blanked out, gears spinning. You haven’t given it any thought. I haven’t given it any thought with you or with anyone? Anyone. Do I need to be interested in someone? I’m just not. People need to quit bugging me about it. It’s annoying. He knew that Sean was trying to get with him, and he didn’t know how or what to feel about it. Well, your mom always says you’re a late bloomer. Dude, you can fuck the hell off! So are you. Jeffrey could feel Sean shrugging from down the block. Doesn’t mean that I don’t have needs. And I really don’t care about it. My dad didn’t fill out until the summer after his 9th grade year. Growing up is not a race. You should listen to your mother’s words, then. Jeffrey could feel Sean watching him as he walked up his driveway. Even stranger, he could see himself, in his mind, from Sean’s vantage point. He grabbed the door handle and stopped, glancing back at Sean. What? Nothing. Sean ducked away from the window, and Jeffrey could feel him throwing himself down on his bed, hiding in embarrassment. Jeffrey didn’t know what the big deal was, anyway. Maybe he was missing something, or maybe he had a different understanding of things than his friend did. He went inside to do his homework, before this got any more awkward. ***** After a quiet dinner with his family, and, vicariously, a strangely quiet dinner with Sean and his mother, Jeffrey helped his mother clean up the kitchen, ate an ice cream sandwich, and thought about going downstairs to work on his Final Fantasy VII game. He pulled the door to the basement open and stopped, staring through the darkness below. Again, he had a fear of it; this one seemed more permanent, like someone or something didn’t want him down there. He shrugged it off as his mind playing tricks on him, and after taking only two steps down the staircase, a screeching noise ripped through his skull and he suddenly became lightheaded. His knees buckled, and he barely caught himself on the handrail. His mother filled the doorway above him. “What happened? You okay?” Jeffrey shook his head. “I missed a step. I’m fine.” She nodded and walked off. What was that? Sean asked. No idea, Jeffrey thought back as he hurried out of the basement. Instead, he decided to take his nightly shower and go to bed early; he didn’t need to work on his game tonight. After a longer shower than usual, he dried himself off and went into his bedroom. He picked up the Michael Crichton book on the night stand and opened it to his bookmark. I loved that movie, Sean thought. Congo? Don’t ruin it for me, I haven’t finished the… Sean’s memories of watching the movie at the theater with his brother flooded into Jeffrey’s head. Jeffrey knew it wasn’t intentional, but it annoyed him, because now he knew how it ended. Frustrated, Jeffrey slapped the book shut. Sorry! Don’t worry about it, he dimly thought, sliding down under his covers and pulling them over his head. ***** Jeffrey was awoken by a spontaneous orgasm. He knew it wasn’t a wet dream, because he could feel the haze, the afterglow of Sean having completed a session with himself; he had been thinking of Elijah Wood naked. Sean? Sean! Nothing returned to him other than the aura of lust. Jeffrey figured the orgasm hadn’t ended for Sean yet, and the intense feelings were clouding him. He gingerly lifted the covers, greeted by a very small wet spot. He was as hard as the day was long, and he was still throbbing. Oh, God. He thought to himself. It’s going to be like this? Suddenly, the world felt normal again as the aura shifted into something different: normalcy, sleepiness, and to a very small extent, catholic guilt. Jeffrey could sense an electric charge jolting through Sean, as Sean realized Jeffrey knew what had just happened. Thanks, Jeffrey thought glibly, you just made me jizz myself. And Elijah Wood? I didn’t mean to. Well, apparently when you do it, it happens to both of us. His thought betrayed the fact that he felt a little dirty about it. Now I have to take a shower in the morning. It’s not like you haven’t done it before. That’s not the point! I was asleep. I wasn’t horny. I feel weird about it. Well, what happens when you feel horny and you do it? What am I supposed to do? I don’t know!? Jeffrey yelled in his head. I jack off at night, dude. It’s a habit, I’m sorry. And you don’t get to make fun of Elijah Wood. You have an obsession with SeaQuest and I know… I KNOW it has everything to do with Jonathan Brandis. It does not! I look up to him. He’s a good actor… You have a crush on him! I saw the thought you just tried to hide. You jerk it to him all the time! Sean loudly thought back. I do not! Who the fuck are you kidding? Shut up! Jeffrey sat up in his bed. We have got to figure this shit out before I go postal.
  12. Milos


    They may or may not have been gay before the 'alien' stuff, but when you suddenly know everything about a person as if you lived their life, and as if you're both one person... I'd say it's pretty intimate regardless of sexuality. 😜 Thank you for your kind words.
  13. Milos


    Friday, March 14, 1997 Sean had been so full of excitement. As his mother drove under the highway overpass, toward his school, he was suddenly filled with dread. Moments ago, his head buzzing with brain-wave exchanges from Jeffrey, everything had suddenly gone quiet. He tightly gripped the arm-rest on the door and slid down a little in his seat, holding his other hand over his chest. His mother looked over with concern. “What’s the matter? All the color just drained from your face.” Sean shook his head. “I don’t know. Something feels wrong.” She reached across the cabin and held the backs of her fingers to his forehead. “Are you feeling sick?” He shook his head, eyes wide and staring at the floorboard. “No. I just… I just…” Sean struggled to breathe. “Calm down, honey. Talk to me, what’s the matter?” “It feels like something bad happened. I don’t know why.” She pulled off to the side of the road. Once the car was in park, she turned toward him. “Like what?” “I don’t know,” he whimpered. “Sean?” He shook his head again. “My chest feels funny. Something feels weird, like my brain disconnected.” A tear ran down his cheek. “What are you feeling? Tell me about it.” She lightly rubbed his arm. “Dread.” “Breathe in. Slowly. Breathe out. Okay?” She paused. “Do it again. In and out. Are you having an anxiety attack?” “I don’t know.” “Is there something going on at school that’s stressing you out?” He shook his head. “Everything’s been fine. I don’t know what it is.” Although things at school had been going well—he had made the honor roll last semester—he did know what it was; something had severed his connection with Jeffrey. He knew he couldn’t say anything to anyone about it, at least not yet. They didn’t know how they were connected like this. Sean hadn’t been connected to Jeffrey for much more than ten hours, and although the silence in his head was like it had been any other day before that, his fight or flight mechanisms were suddenly sounding full alarms. He didn’t know what to do, or what it meant. He imagined that it was kinda like what happens when a twin dies, and the other twin feels exactly when it happens. ***** Sean sat silently on his bed, hands folded and shaking in his lap, and he waited; he knew that Jeffrey didn’t get home from school until a half hour after he did. His nerves were frayed. His anxiety had been spiked all through school, and he’d found it hard to concentrate. The signal had been back for ten minutes. Jeffrey was okay, and Jeffrey knew he was okay. They were both mentally in pain, and neither could figure out what had happened. The bus was early, but Sean remained sitting on his bed. He knew that Jeffrey would be there soon. Before Sean could collect himself, Jeffrey was standing in the doorway to his bedroom. Sean sprang to his feet, stumbling nervously across the room, and fell into Jeffrey’s chest; Jeffrey took Sean into his arms. With a shaky voice, Sean said, “I was not okay.” He felt Jeffrey squeeze him just a little tighter. I know. What the hell happened? I don’t know. I thought you’d died. Jeffrey held Sean at the shoulders and looked him over. “Are you okay now?” Sean nodded. “I think so.” “What were you doing when it stopped?” “Mom was just driving down the road to drop me off at school, and we passed under the highway and I suddenly couldn’t feel you anymore.” Sean plopped down on his bed. What were you doing? I was eating breakfast. Do you think Cap’n Crunch Berries would do that? Strangely, the taste of Crunch Berries seemed to linger at the back of Sean’s throat. “Why would it?” “Why any of this? I’ve never had a panic attack just going to school. I never freak out when I’m away from friends. Why today? We never met before yesterday, never talked, and now… now…” Jeffrey held his arm out. Jesus, I even know what your dick looks like. “Fuck. That thought came outta nowhere. Dude, I’m sorry.” Sean felt his cheeks burn red. “It’s like I’ve seen all your memories through your eyes. All your experiences and everything.” Jeffrey sat down next to him in a huff. “Shit.” “We can’t read other minds. It’s just us. I figured it’s like there’s a telephone call constantly going on between us.” Sean tapped his fingers on his legs. What if it’s like a walkie-talkie, and we just got too far away from each other? Jeffrey nodded. Maybe! How far was that? Do you have a map of the city? I think there’s one in the garage. Sean shot to his feet and ran out of the room. After a few moments, he returned with a Rand Mcnally Arizona map book with every city mapped out. He plucked a ruler and a pencil out of a coffee cup on the desk, and sat down next to Jeffrey. Sean thumbed through a few pages. There. Jeffrey pointed in the middle of the page, at a major street near their houses. Sean followed the road with his finger, flipping the page twice before stopping and changing direction. One page later, his finger covered the intersection nearest their house. With the pencil, he marked where he guessed Jeffrey’s house was. Then, he followed the route to school with his finger. He tapped on the page. “I think we were just about here. We passed under Superstition Freeway, and I remember just passing the Burger King.” Jeffrey pointed at the map. “So, right about there.” Sean marked the map again. He measured between the two spots, and held the ruler up to the scale line. About two and a tenth of a mile. We can be two miles apart before we both start freaking out. What do we do? Can we tell someone? Who would we tell? We’d become some government science experiment. Besides, who would believe us? Jeffrey nodded. Guess we have to test it out to be sure. He sat straight up with a smile. Dude! Let’s fuck with my sister!” ***** Emily squealed. “Ohhhh my God, how are you doing this?” She looked up from the book. “You’re freaking me out!” Sean grinned. “It’s magic, I can’t tell you.” She leaned toward her backpack and plucked out her history book. “You’re messing with me somehow. You’re messing with me.” Jeffrey sat next to her on the couch, acting surprised. Emily opened to a random page. “There’s no way you’ve read this book.” “Page number?” Sean asked. “616,” she replied. For dramatic effect, Sean held his arms up, with his fingers pressed to his temples, and hummed. Jeffrey silently read the first paragraph to himself. “Early socialism,” Sean started. “The transition to factory work was difficult. Although the lives of workers changed for the better, they suffered greatly over the early periods of industrialization.” Emily followed along with her finger. She gasped, then pulled her finger down the page to a different paragraph. “Okay, if you’re so good, what am I reading now?” Jeffrey silently read the first sentence in the paragraph under her finger. “Robert Owen, who was a British cotton industrialist, was also a utopian socialist. His beliefs were that humans would display natural goodness if they lived cooperatively together.” Sean grinned as Emily turned red with frustration. She elbowed Jeffrey hard in the side. “Okay, how are you helping him? I know you’re doing it.” “It was a random book, I swear. I didn’t say anything.” She glanced around the room. “You’re both cheating. I know it.” “It wouldn’t be much of a magic trick if you could tell how he did it, Emily.” I think we really freaked her out, Sean thought. “Oh, yeah,” Jeffrey said to Sean, “but you should see her freak out when she misses Friends.” Emily twisted around on the couch. “What?” “Sean said he freaked you out.” Just then, Jeffrey realized that Sean hadn’t said anything out loud. Smooth move. “Pizza’s here,” Jeffrey’s mother called from the kitchen. In a fit of giggles, the boys scampered to the kitchen, leaving Emily in a state of confusion, sitting on the couch. ***** Night had come, and a fresh desert breeze gently tussled the curtains over Jeffrey’s windows. The light of a passing vehicle swept across the dark wall, and the posters that lived there—ones for Phoenix Suns players, and rock stars, and cars, and the one or two random swimsuit models Jeffrey had mixed in because he was stroking his father’s machismo—the only other light in the room was from the light in the bathroom, down the hall. Jeffrey’s parents and sister had rooms on the other side of the house, and Jeffrey’s room was part of an add-on behind the garage. Like most houses in Phoenix, his was a single-story with attached garage, and a xeriscaped yard. Sean lay in Jeffrey’s bed, between the soft blue sheets. It was a queen size, and the green-blue plaid comforter smelled freshly laundered. He only wore a pair of Umbro shorts, which was his normal bedtime garb, and as he shifted on the mattress, something around his neck caught on the blankets. He sighed and unclipped the crucifix from his body, leaning across the bed to drop it on the night stand. Before he let it fall to the surface of the cabinet, he held the metal effigy in his hand, staring at it, tracing his finger along the edge as a glint of light refracted off the surface. Jeffrey returned from the bathroom and his nightly routine, and although Sean didn’t see it, he could feel the look of pity he was being given. Sean dropped the chain onto the night stand and rolled back to his side of the bed. You know I don’t believe in it. Yeah, I know. It’s your brother’s cross. What I don’t get is how you survive at a Catholic school if you don’t believe. Don’t the nuns have some sort of agnostic spider-sense or something? And you don’t give a crap about Cindy Crawford or Karen Mulder, Sean thought of the posters. Jeffrey hesitated. So? Dad gave them to me. I bet he thinks it would be an honor to be suffocated to death between a pair of big, fake tits. Sean smiled as Jeffrey slid in next to him. Why are you wearing shorts and a shirt to bed? You normally sleep naked. Only when I don’t have company over. Jeffrey scratched his nose. I don’t care. I know what it looks like, Sean ribbed. The thought didn’t even phase Jeffrey. It’s our first sleepover. Isn’t there some sort of rule about things like that? I don’t care. I know you don’t. Jeffrey held back a giggle. I know you really hate wearing shirts to bed. Yeah, you have a point. Jeffrey slipped his shirt off over his head. He laid back, staring up at the ceiling. I don’t think we should tell people about us. I don’t think they’d understand. I think my parents would flip. My mom would have me exorcised for demons. Catholics don’t buy into the whole psychic thing. But, we’re not psychic. Jeffrey rolled his head toward Sean. What do we call it? Maybe a bond or something. Maybe. Sean sighed. Playing video games with you sucks, by the way. I’m not ever playing a fighting game with you again. You know what I’m thinking, too! I’m not that good, Jeff. Even when I know what you’re thinking. ***** Sean never remembered having a dream so vivid; he and Jeffrey were floating naked through the air, drowned in brilliant warm light. There were others present, but he didn’t care, and neither did Jeffrey. Sean’s heart beat fast in his chest as Jeffrey leaned forward, in the dream, and gave him a gentle kiss, as they stared deeply, transcendently into each other. They floated in an upright position, facing each other, Sean holding both Jeffrey’s hands. The light grew hotter and brighter, and Sean felt himself set down on something soft and warm. That’s where the dream ended. Sean opened his eyes gently; he was laying almost on his stomach with an arm and a leg draped over Jeffrey, both their heads on the same pillow, their faces inches apart, almost nose to nose. Jeffrey was laying straight on his back with his head turned to one side. As Jeffrey gently opened his eyes, and stared deep into Sean’s soul, for a moment, Sean couldn’t feel Jeffrey, but not in a panicked way as earlier. Slowly, Sean put his lips on Jeffrey’s. Somehow, he could feel him pulling, or spooling the feelings and flashes of Sean’s dream into his own mind. Sean pulled his head back and waited for something. As Sean moved his head in for one more kiss, he saw Jeffrey’s bottom lip quiver, then his whole jaw. Sean slowly rolled toward his side of the bed wondering if he’d made a mistake. Then, there was a jumble of noise and chaos and screaming that hit Sean’s mind at once, causing him to reel back and wince in pain. When he opened his eyes, he was again fully connected with Jeffrey, and he could feel nothing but fear; Jeffrey shook and sputtered, a tear running down his cheek. “It wasn’t my dream,” Jeffrey whimpered, over and over again. He gasped for air, then sat bolt upright. “Wasn’t… wasn’t my dream. Wasn’t… no.” Slowly, Sean sat up next to him, putting a gentle hand on his shoulder to calm him from his nightmare. Suddenly, Jeffrey lunged at Sean, hugging onto him unbearably tightly, pushing him back onto the bed. He pushed his face into Sean’s side, twisting the bed sheets up in his hands and sobbing uncontrollably, nearly convulsing—his upsetting nightmare seeping into the very core, and into every corner of Sean’s psyche.
  14. Milos

    Wanted to drop in and say hello! Hope all is well. :)

  15. Milos


    Thursday, March 13, 1997, 19:36 Phoenix, AZ “Jeffrey!” Emily grunted and ran around the end of the couch. Jeffrey held up the remote and stuck out his tongue. He’d been watching Doug on Nickelodeon, waiting for Alex Mack to come on. He knew it annoyed the hell out of her; Thursdays were her night for the living room TV. As soon as Friends came on, Jeff would have to watch his shows on the small TV in the basement. Still, he liked the thrill of seeing her get all worked up. “I have the TV until 8.” “My show’s coming on soon. Give me the remote!” She sprang toward him. He yelped and jumped to the side, running to the other side of the couch. “That’s still, like, twenty minutes.” She smacked the arm-rest with the flat of her hand. “Give me the remote!” “No!” “You’re such a little brat, Jeffrey!” “So? You’re a lesbian!” He didn’t even know what a lesbian was, other than some sort of insult. “Mom! Jeffrey’s calling me bad names!” She yelled. “Mom! Jeffrey’s mehmuhmuhmeh!” he mimicked. “Knock it off!” Their mother yelled from upstairs. “I’ll ground you both from the TV for a week. Jeffery, give your sister the damn remote.” “Her show’s not on for twenty minutes,” Jeffrey protested. “If I have to come down there, you’re both going to be sorry.” Emily put her hands on her hips and gave him an expectant look. He sighed, then dropped the remote to the floor and kicked it across the living room. It slid underneath a large sectional couch. “Go get it!” She yelled. Jeffrey walked across the living room toward the basement door. “Get it yourself,” he mumbled. "You're in 8th grade. Why don't you act like it?" "You're a sophomore," he snapped back. "Why don't you act like it?" He grabbed the door handle and pulled the door open, but paused at the top of the steps. He was suddenly light-headed, and as he stared into the dark basement, a primal fear—anxiety—bubbled up in his gut. He hung out in the basement all the time. He knew there was nothing down there to be afraid of. His PlayStation was down there, it’s where he and his buddies had their sleepovers sometimes. When he needed to get away from his sister or his parents, he even had a place to hide down there. But instinct told him that downstairs wasn’t where he needed to be. The word don’t echoed through his mind with a steady cadence, once every three seconds. He didn’t hear the words as much as feel a warning pang that was pretty much the same thing. He let out a small breath and took a small step back, closing the door quietly. He pulled his hands down his face and walked to the kitchen, pulling a glass down from the cupboard. He turned on the sink and waited for his glass to fill. The hiss of the spigot was mesmerizing, and a warm feeling clouded him, embraced him. Something that he should remember but could not… What is it? He wondered. “What are you doing?” Jeffrey jumped at the urgency in his sister’s voice. He stared at her. “What?” “You’re making a mess.” He glanced down at the cup in his hand, overflowing and spilling onto the counter. Jeffrey jerked his arm back and shut off the faucet, staring at his hand. He shook his head and gulped down the water. After putting the cup on the lip of the sink, he pulled a dish towel off the handle of the dishwasher and started to wipe the water from the counter. Something pulled at his brain. A feeling twinged at him. He stopped wiping his mess off the counter, leaving the rag in a small puddle, and walked across the living room toward the front door, his brain on fire with a million thoughts that he couldn't stop, or catch hold of. He passed behind his sister, who didn’t notice him, quietly opened the front door, and walked out without even putting on his shoes. The concrete was warm under his bare feet as he padded down the driveway and toward the street. The temperature held comfortably in the mid-seventies. Even though there had been no rain that day, the air smelled like desert rain, or maybe it was Creosote. Something reminded him of one of those ozone machines that he’d seen at the mall, and the way they smelled. The fuzz on his arms stood on end. Across the street, another boy his age, one that he’d never met, walked down his driveway. Jeffrey had seen the boy a few times before, in the chance encounter that his family was coming or going, but never took the time to walk across the street to introduce himself. The other boy didn’t go to Jeffrey’s school, or else he’d know him. The family across the street had lived there as long as Jeffrey could remember, and something in his mind wondered why they never talked before. Both boys walked into the center of the road and stopped so they were standing about five feet apart. They stared at each other. Down the street, someone let out a brief high-pitched scream. Jeffrey knew it had nothing to do with him or the other boy, it had more to do with what was going on overhead. The air seemed to go silent. The other boy was called Sean; Jeffery just knew. Jeffrey also knew that Sean had been thinking the same thing as he came walking down his driveway. Jeffrey also seemed to know, in that moment, very suddenly, every detail about Sean. Every inch of his body, his every fear and insecurity, his every desire and passion. He knew that Sean also knew everything about him. Jeffrey didn’t understand the exchange, or even how the exchange had happened, but something inside him felt comfortable with Sean, and that they could be vulnerable around each other. Almost as if they had been thinking the same thing, they stepped in toward each other, standing at a distance reserved for someone comfortable, but uncomfortably close for friends. A spark of emotion and excitement bubbled up inside of Jeffrey, and something inside him knew this moment had been ordained to happen from an earlier time. Together, they looked up to the heavens. Above them, in the inky darkness of the night sky, five lights hovered far above in a triangular pattern. They were reddish, and rippled as if they were being seen through a shield of heat. There was no glow to them, and seemed to line the edge of a very large object. Whatever the object was, it blotted out the stars in the night sky. There was a siren in the distance, and the sound of a car horn honking. They’re here, Jeffrey heard in his mind, in a voice that was not his own. Who are they? Jeffrey wondered. I don’t know. I just knew they’d be there. So did I, I think. Jeffrey spun slowly in place, trying to take in as much of the large craft as he could. How do I know so much about you? Jeffrey stopped spinning and looked back at Sean. I don’t know. How are we doing this? “What the hell is that?” Jeffrey felt Sean watching Emily on the front porch; he glanced back at his sister. “Mom! Hurry! Come look at this!” Friends is such a stupid show, Jeffery heard Sean think. Jeffrey spun his head toward Sean and grinned. He wasn’t sure if it was him or Sean that had come up with the idea, but they both walked off the road and sat shoulder to shoulder at the end of Jeffrey’s driveway, so they could watch the craft without getting run over by passing cars. Are they aliens? Sean wondered. I don’t know. Maybe. I hope your mom’s not going to be too mad. Jeffrey just understood. Because I accidentally saw Fire in the Sky when it was on HBO when I was little. And you couldn’t sleep for almost a week. This is different. I’m not afraid of it. Normally, shows about UFOs or aliens terrified Jeffrey; they had since he was little. It was something that he had only grown out of within the previous year. “Hurry, Mom!” Emily called. Jeffrey could hear his mom from inside the house. “What is it? What’s going on?” “Come here. Look.” She pointed up into the sky. Sorry about Brett, Jeffrey thought. Sean glanced over and smiled weekly. Thanks, I think. Jeffrey’s mother stepped out onto the front step and gasped. “What’s going on? Are they flares?” She held Emily by her forearm, and together they walked down the driveway until they were standing just behind Jeffrey and Sean. Sean grabbed Jeffrey's hand. Don’t let go, he pleaded. “How long have they been up there?” His mother asked nobody in particular. I won’t, Jeffrey thought; he could feel a strange fear oozing out of Sean, but knew that neither he nor Sean could pinpoint what he was afraid of. He glanced up at his mother. “We’ve been watching them for a few minutes.” “How long?” she asked, not taking her eyes off the sky. Jeffrey shrugged. “I don’t know.” “Ten minutes,” came Sean’s small voice. She glanced down. “Oh, hello. Who are you?” “This is Sean,” Jeffrey said. “Hello, Missus Marek,” Sean said. “Hi,” she replied with a smile, returning her gaze to the craft overhead. “God, that thing’s huge. I wonder if your father’s seeing this.” Sean squeezed Jeffrey’s hand. Jeffrey felt something inside him, something he knew that Sean was feeling, too. Neither one of them had to think it or say it. He looked up at his mom. “Can Sean spend the night tomorrow?” Your mom is going to have to meet my mom, Sean thought. I know. Jeffrey knew, could feel, Sean’s experiences with his mother, and how strict she seemed when it came to Sean staying away from home. Probably because of what had happened to his older brother. “If Sean’s parents are okay with it,” Jeffrey’s mother said. The small grouped watched the craft in awe. Why is this happening? Sean wondered. I don’t know, Jeffrey thought as he shook his head slightly. Jeffrey felt as if something had woken up suddenly inside of him; he felt like there was sharing his body with a whole other person, but he was also sharing space with Sean. Even though they had never met. Even though they had never talked to each other. Even though they hadn’t even shared any of life's experiences with the other. They felt like they had been friends forever, even more, for some reason Jeffrey couldn’t explain, he felt like he was one with Sean—the same being in two places. Suddenly, the two lights behind the front-most light shot forward, merging into the forward one. Jeffrey’s mother let out a short gasp. The back two lights faded out, and then, after a short moment, the front light also faded. A large, triangular chunk of the stars were still blocked off, but slowly, the shape listed off to the south-east, quietly, unassumingly. The edge was abrupt, and almost shocking, as the craft hovered away from the mountain and over the desert, revealing the night sky above it. “That was so eerie,” Jeffrey’s mother said. “They’ll be back,” Sean mumbled. “What was that?” Jeffrey looked back. “They’re not gone yet,” he said flatly. His mother scratched her arm nervously. “Maybe it’s time to go inside. I need to call Dad,” she said with a hint of fear behind her voice. “Jeff, why don’t you walk your friend home?” She grabbed Emily by the wrist and walked her inside. In tandem, the boys stood up and shuffled along until they were standing just outside the gate to Sean’s front patio. In the dim light, he could make out some of Sean’s features, even though he knew them in his mind already—his reddish brown hair and copper brown eyes, the freckles across his nose, the shape of his jaw and his thin lips. He could feel Sean taking in his features, too. Jeffrey’s heart skipped a beat. I felt that, too, Sean thought. Jeffrey and Sean, by some bonded feeling between them, decided to give each other a hug. As Jeffrey padded home, he could feel Sean explaining what happened with the lights; his mother had seen them from her bedroom. He also knew that Sean had asked about a sleepover, and felt Sean’s disappointment when his mom answered with ‘don’t get your hopes up, but we’ll see.’ ***** It was a little after ten, and Jeffrey lay awake in his bed. The lights were again hovering over the city, and he knew this time there were seven lights instead of five. He didn’t have to see them to know they were there, but he didn’t feel the need to go to his window to watch them. Before bed, Jeffrey had tried to see if he could make a connection with anyone else nearby, but all he could sense was Sean. Guess that means we’re not psychic or something, Sean thought. Suppose. Jeffrey already knew why they needed to some time together; there was something in both of them that was driving him to the other. They would need to talk, test things out, figure out their bond and try to make sense of it. Before that morning, Jeffrey didn’t know a single thing about Sean. Now, they knew everything about each other. It does kinda feel sudden, Sean thought. ***** “You’re still asleep? I wish I could sleep in as late as you do.” Jeffrey pulled his blanket around his ears. We start school at different times, he thought. You know that. “I want to go to your school.” That could be cool. Jeffrey sighed, trying to get that last ten minutes of sleep before he had to be up. He sat bolt upright. “You’re here.” Sean leaned against the door frame. Jeffrey nodded. “Because our moms are talking because yours is working late.” “Your dreams are weird.” “I was dreaming?” Sean nodded. “I don’t even remember.” Abstract feelings and images flooded Jeffrey’s mind. “It’s just what I saw when I came over. I tried to… um… brain to you to see if you were awake and that’s what I got back. We were walking over.” Sean scratched the bridge of his nose. Jeffrey yawned. He stopped mid-stretch and stared at Sean. The lights had been all over the news, and from what he could gather from Sean’s thoughts, nobody could tell what they were. “I even saw some news video of the lights that came back.” Jeffrey slumped back against his headboard. “What do you think it all means? I mean, like, us?” Sean sighed. “I don’t know.” A woman’s voice called from downstairs. “Sean, time to go.” Hopefully, I’ll see you after school. “Coming.” We can hang out even if you can’t spend the night. We should probably figure this out. Sean nodded, and waved goodbye. Jeffrey got to his feet and headed to the bathroom to get ready for the day. As he stood under the warm shower, he could sense that Sean was happy, and that he’d be coming over that night. He smiled and sighed as he let the hot water fall over him, lathering his hair with shampoo. A few moments later, as he sat and ate cereal, something suddenly felt different. He felt uneasy, and anxious. Almost nauseous. Worst of all, he couldn’t feel his connection to Sean anymore.
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