Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Other Brother

The sight took Mary's breath away.

She looked out over the water. It was more water than she had seen in her entire life. Brandon laughed at her awe. "It's the Edge of the World. Like in the stories."

She had always thought that the stories were just stories with no real truth to them. It was easier to imagine that their world was covered in land and dirt and grass and only existed as far as she could see. And yet here was the edge of the world right before her.

Jimmy sat beside her on the picnic table, his thigh touching her thigh, his arm touching her arm. On the other side of her sat Brandon who smiled at her, the light brightening his eyes. They had surprised her with an invitation to go to the village. Jimmy had even talked to Shawn, the care center's supervisor, so Mary wouldn't have to. Shawn had raised her eyebrows when she told Mary that she knew about the invite and that she could go. She has wanted to know more, to know what was going on between Mary and Jimmy, but Mary was sure there wasn't anything to tell. And even if there was, it didn't seem right to share it.

There was a strong wind that blew in off the ocean, stinging her face and shoving her hair around. She had to keep fighting with her hair to keep the strands out of her face, but she kept turned towards the wind, her eyes shutting against it as it ran over her. For a moment, she almost felt dizzy with the weight of the new experience pressing down on her. The new idea that her world did have an end and she'd lived near it this whole time. Then she felt his hand on hers, and her eyes opened to glance at him. She caught the faintest smile from him. The distance between them was not far, so his hand didn't have far to go from his leg to her leg where her hand rested.

"Thanks for this, you guys."

Brandon slipped his hand fully into her other one easily, as if it didn't require thought, it was the most natural action in the world. "It's not fair that you're stuck there all the time."

She shrugged. "I have it better than most." And it was true so far as she was concerned.

Jimmy, hand still lightly on hers, said softly. "We better head back."

They walked up the hill, the three of them, past the broken stone wall, and into the forest that had probably been grown as a barrier to the Edge. The sun was moving past noon, slowly working its way over towards the hills in the distance.

"Jimmy." The voice surprised Mary. It was smooth and dark, with a tinge to it that made her skin crawl. Jimmy's hands moved from hers and turned towards the voice right away. He stood in front of her so that she couldn't see the man speaking. "And Brandon too. And who's this with you?"

Brandon had stepped towards the voice as well so that he almost stood beside his brother, just a little ahead of Mary. Both of them seemed tense as if they were getting the same bad feeling that Mary was just from the voice alone.

"Killer." Jimmy's voice was clear and strong. "What're you doing here?"

"Just want to see the Edge of the World like everyone else."

Mary didn't want to move, afraid to catch the attention of the stranger Jimmy called Killer, but she felt an urge to stand closer to Jimmy, especially when the other's eyes fell on her.

"Is she a new sibling? Maybe she's your pet."

Brandon took her hand, gently tugging her away, but she was rooted to the spot watching Killer and Jimmy. It was clear that Jimmy didn't like him. There was a change over his entire body, a new stance, his muscles tense, particularly in his arms as his hands contracted into tight fists at his sides. Mary wondered if they were going to fight, but the other one didn't looked threatened. He almost looked as if he were smiling at her.

"What do you want, Killer?" Jimmy folded his arms, moving towards Killer as Brandon continued tugging. It became too insistent for her to ignore, and so she finally turned away and followed Brandon away and out of the forest towards the market where more people were standing around.

"Who was that?" A shudder rolled down her muscles, and she pushed her shoulders back to try and get rid of it.

"My brother." He looked up at her, his innocent face both angry and helpless. "My other brother. From my dad. He's from the Lost Territory."

Mary looked at Brandon in surprise, stopping for a moment in her tracks until he pulled her again towards the market. "What is he doing here? I thought they couldn't be here." Lost Landers were worse than normal Wildlanders. They were said to be cannibals. They lived in the dirt and ate each other to survive.

Brandon shrugged. "Jimmy says that he's dangerous. They want to keep an eye on him." In a very low voice, he added, "He thinks bad things."

"What do you mean?"

He looked up at her with eyes that looked wounded, as if someone had told him something directly to hurt him. It was easy to forget sometimes that he could catch thoughts and that sometimes it probably was exactly like that. She wondered if Killer had thought bad things about her, and Brandon, his eyes already wounded, seemed to become even more concerned.

"He thinks about what he's done. He likes to hurt girls."

Mary could feel her brows lowering over her eyes. "Was he thinking bad things about me?" Her voice was low, a whisper that was stuck in her throat. "Is that why you pulled me away?"

Brandon looked up at her, his brows mimicking her own. "Yes."

Mary couldn't handle being around people. She didn't want to go into any of the little stores. They stood beside the market, waiting for Jimmy. It didn't take him long to reappear, a dark shadow over his face in deep contrast to his earlier faint smile when the sun had shone down brightly on them.

He didn't touch her again, though it was what she wanted most. She felt a little shaky. Their peaceful day intruded upon by the realities of the world around them.

Brandon slipped his hand into hers and held on tightly without saying a word or even looking at her as they walked back.

Ages: Killer ~19, Jimmy & Mary ~18, Brandon ~10/11

Gone -->


You all remember Killer, right? This of course calls for an updated family tree. I told you on the original tree that I left someone off. Now you know who.


  1. Uh oh....

    Killer is one of the Smith boys?!

    Wow. That is so not good.

    He's trying to kill his father and he wanted Michael to kill Jimmy...crazy! It's so amazing to read what was going on with Michael and Edy and see it from this side are so amazing at these complex and tangled stories!

  2. Oh little Brandon, be still my heart, lol! I love the part where she's wishing Jimmy would touch her again, and then there's little Brandon's hand in hers, like he read her thoughts! Oh, if I could just pinch his little cheeks! :)

    From this point on, I'm just going to assume from the start that any new character could be a child of Henri's!

    But OMG, reading the "Killer" chapter again knowing what we know now! I swear, every new villain you introduce just gets scarier and scarier! Is there no end to this madness??? lol!

    Oh, but this story is scaring the crap out of me! Because I assume something happens to Mary, if only because she doesn't seem to be present in their adulthood. I can't remember if it was ever stated that something happened to her, or did we just make that up? lol! So anyway, it's like we're just waiting to find out when it happens and how. :(

    I'm just starting to notice though, the very stark difference between the way Paula saw Jimmy, and the way Mary sees him. I have to wonder who is the more reliable narrator? They're opinions are both tainted for different reasons.

  3. That family tree looks so mysterious, with that question mark in the place of Killer's mother.

    Well! That was a bombshell. I did not expect to read that Killer was also Henri's son. I went back and read the chapter with Killer though and was shuddering all over again. I'm quite frightened for Mary, that she may have ended up like that poor blonde girl. Or worse. :\

    "Their peaceful day intruded upon by the realities of the world around them."

    I wasn't quite so eloquent but this was pretty much exactly what I thought when Killer first came along. I didn't know it was Killer at first, of course, but you could just tell whoever it was was bad news.

    You're always adding little tidbits in that make me think more about your characters in ways I hadn't before. This morning while I was reading, I started thinking about Brandon's ability to catch thoughts and how it was present even when he was a child. How terrifying would it be for a kid (or an adult, but more so for someone so young) to be able to catch such evil thoughts? "He likes to hurt girls".

    And I was thinking about Ruin the other day and got to the same place as Laura, where I started wondering about Paula's perception of Jimmy vs. Mary's. Is it that one of them is a less reliable narrator or has Jimmy just changed? This was a long time ago and I can imagine plenty of things in this world they live in that could change a person forever.

  4. Wow, way to ruin a perfectly good day there Killer...

  5. Thanks, Rachel! I've had a lot of time to work these stories up, lol. This will be important later on. I just have to make sure I keep all the dates clear in my head!

    I might need to make a timeline.

    Laura, lol! I know though, right? See why I love him?

    And LOL! That's what Drew's been assuming all along. She still believes Jimmy's Henri's even though I've said otherwise. It's like a new law of the Wildlands.

    Hopefully there is something of an end to the madness otherwise we're going to keep spiraling out of control.

    There could be a lot of reasons that Mary wasn't present in the Paula's story... Or not.

    I've been having a lot of fun examining the way Paula and Mary see Jimmy. Carla makes the point that he's much younger here, over ten years younger, so that could have something to do with it.

    And I will say that one of the things I always do when I presented with two different stories at work about one incident, I assume that both people are right.

    Carla, it does, doesn't it? But I don't know who his mother is at all. Well, I lie, I sort of have an inkling from a free write, but I have a feeling she wasn't someone Henri would remember.

    Brandon and his ability-- I've been thinking about that all along. How horrible would it be to grow up there with those kinds of thoughts floating around? And while Jimmy is protective, he knows that Brandon can hear those thoughts, but there isn't anything he can do about it.

    I was especially thinking about this when he was telling Paula about his mother and skimming over large chunks of his life dealing with Jimmy.

    You make a good point that we'll have to one day revisit for fun I think. I go at the problem with the idea that both are right.

    Poida, that's kinda what he does. He's a bastard, and he likes it.

  6. oh my god, poor little Brandon. What an insane and horrible world. And there's Killer, the BAD dog of the litter, although none of them are what I'd call safe or tame.

    Fascinating to look back now and see everything so fully realized! Wonderful, wonderful writing!

  7. I know, and this little world popped out of my head! That's why I always laugh when people tell me I should write children's books about unicorns or something fluffy.

    Killer is the worst. He is indeed THE bad dog.

    Thank you, SB, very much.

  8. Mary is like a deer caught in the headlights.

    It was nice to see this gentler side of Jimmy. It made me go back and revamp my opinion of him as seen through the eyes of Paula. The thing I like the most is knowing Jimmy has a spark of humanity in him, but with the addition of Killer... I'm wondering how he's going to go about treating Mary now. My guess is that he might treat her a bit more abruptly to protect her although she might not know that in the end.

    As for Killer, he seems like the type who enjoys making life hell for everyone, especially his brothers and if that means getting to Jimmy through Mary, I wouldn't put it past him.

    Great update and it was a nice surprise to see Killer again.

  9. Killer? Who is Killer? So I clicked on your link, and holy crow, how did I miss this? Then I saw the date, it was when I was away, I must have missed it when I was doing my catch-ups!

    Killer makes Jimmy look like a cuddly teddy bear, Dang! This guy Killer is Hannibal Lecter! The cannibal thing fits.

    Ok, another son. Mr. Smith should be snipped and quick, if this is what he is producing. And poor Brandon, to see and feel these horrible thoughts of Killer, and his trying to protect Mary, my opinion of Brandon went up several notches.
    But why I am afraid for Mary all of the sudden?
    I would love to know what Jimmy and Killer spoke about in the woods. I have a feeling it wasn't good judging from the dark shadow on Jimmy's face. Please tell me Killer will not want Mary as a pet. *shudder*

    This was creepy on so many levels. Well done! Again, the writing is stunning!

  10. Carnaxa, yeah she is. I imagine it would be difficult to turn away. I know I wouldn't be able to!

    You bring up a good question, and a very good guess. Killer does enjoy making life hell for others since his own life couldn't have been that great. But there's something of a reason for what he does which I hope will be clear in this upcoming entry.

    Drew, yeah, Killer's bad. Very bad!

    And lol! Of all people. Henri probably should be snipped if he's not going to be more careful.

    I'm glad your opinion of Brandon went up. He's still one of my favorites, and this is why.

    Thank you very much. :)

  11. I can see so much better now why Henri made Jimmy his second in command and not his own son, Killer. I suppose it's good to keep your ennemies close, but Killer is a little too close for comfort here...

    I remember Killer's mother was a human and I believe he said she was raped (or was it in his profile - I'll have to go back at some point.) I wonder whether that is why he has got low esteem for women and does bad things to them. Maybe he is annoyed about the fact his mother was of such a low class (he is very ambitious, after all, if he wants to take over the Wildlands later on) and takes it out on people like her. Then again, mere humans are an easy prey.

    I marvel at your ability to convey threat with a single photograph.

    This episode makes me itching with curiosity about Jimmy's power(s).

    I wonder whether this encounter with Killer makes Jimmy feel more inclined to make Mary "his" and if that is why Brandon holds her hand so tight.

    It's great to see your stories roll in one and another. Everytime we get a glimpse of the bigger picture, I am pleasantly surprised.
    Great craftmanship! :)

  12. I will say that Henri has no bias towards his own blood. He wouldn't be the sort to pick a child of his over someone who is clearly more qualified, and Jimmy is definitely more qualified being all not crazy.

    Oh Moondaisy, I can always count on you to extrapolate extra information from the clues given! I would say that his mother is indeed a factor in his views towards women. Whether he's correct or not doesn't matter, it's definitely a humongous flaw.

    And Killer is very ambitious in his own way. It's not a positive trait in his case. But at the same time, yes, mere humans and strays are easy pickings for one like him who's fought his entire life. He's very much a sociopath.

    Thank you for the compliment about the pictures!

    Jimmy and his powers are actually still a mystery to me, though I have an inkling about them. Or maybe it's more of a theory...

    Thank you Moondaisy!

  13. Brandon's ability is both blessing and curse. I can't imagine being that age and hearing or feeling thoughts that he not only doesn't understand but are frightening. What a burden that must be.

    It was interesting to go back and read about Killer from Michael and Edy's era. He is one twisted piece of work and I am very curious about his mother now that we know Henri is his father.

    Lost Landers were worse than normal Wildlanders. They were said to be cannibals. They lived in the dirt and ate each other to survive. This really struck me as interesting. Is this urban myth or actually true? Stories spread in fear of the unknown?

    I loved the use of light and dark in the images. It really emphasized the shift in mood.

  14. What makes it worse to me is that he's always had that power, so as a nine or ten year old, he probably understands more than you'd expect or want a nine year old to know.

    You know, I'm actually curious about Killer's mother too. I imagine she had to be around to take care of him when he was too young to care for himself, but I don't see her being around for very long.

    And interesting that you picked up on that. I feel that most urban myths are born out of some kernel of truth, so it's probably true. Maybe. Then blown out of proportion by the retellings. But then again, the Lost Territory is a huge unknown for most people, so it makes sense they would fear it and tell horror stories about it.

    Also, thanks! That was actually an accident. I took too long getting pictures, and just decided to keep them that way.

  15. Ohh, I can be dense sometimes. I remember thinking when I first heard that "Mr Smith" was the leader that it meant Killer was his son, but I somehow didn't translate that to being Brandon and Paula's brother so promptly forgot!

    If it's possible, he's even more chilling in this chapter than he was in his own little story.

  16. Hehe, don't feel bad. I forget sometimes too actually. Until I wrote this piece and then realize that, oh duh, they're all related.

    He was very bad here. Playing off Jimmy I think helped heighten his own creepiness.