Chapter 1 - The Man in the Suit - Zac

I lay on the bedroom floor, pinned to the ground by my stronger adversary as he held my wrists in place. I wriggled and squirmed in a desperate yet ultimately failure-bound attempt to escape his vice-like grip. I closed my eyes, accepted my fate and waited for whatever was coming to me. A few slaps stung my cheek and opening one eye revealed my twin hovering above me, his pale but blemish free face was decorated with the wide, friendly smile we'd both inherited from our parents.

"What have I told you about wearing my jeans!?" His voice was commanding as it resonated from his pink lips, just inches away from my face now. Too close for comfort in fact.

"You say a lot of shit I don't listen to" I provoked, trying my luck against my stronger brother.

He mercifully released his grip on my wrists and hopped up to his feet. "Stay out of my closet little one, I don't want your fat ass stretching my clothes now that you've stopped running with me" He shouted back playfully as he walked out of my room. I sat up and gently rubbed my wrists. I lived for these moments between the two of us. They were so light hearted and fun, I'd treasure them while they lasted.

"Stay out of your closet?" I mumbled under my breath, the electric atmosphere had disappeared now and the seriousness of the situation has reared its ugly head. My twin brother had no idea just how at home I am in any kind of closet. Home is where the heart is after all. I scrambled up to my feet and headed downstairs, my white cotton socks thumping down the solid wooden stairs. I smiled as I heard Oliver's voice in the kitchen.

"The lesser twin was in my wardrobe again. Tell me mother, how did you raise such an unruly ogre alongside a fine specimen like myself?" my smile widened as Oliver donned his best polite voice. There was silence for a few moments, a few moments which felt like much longer. Oliver's voice changed now "Mum, is everything ok?" Oliver sounded concerned, it wasn't often I heard this tone from my brother, in fact in the 18 years we've shared this planet I don't think I've ever heard his voice shake even a little. "Mum, what's wrong?" With each sentence his voice sounded less confident and more panicked. I walked into the kitchen to find Oliver standing just inside the doorway looking towards our mum, who stood with her back to us, her hands rested on the kitchen counter as she stood, motionless and speechless, looking out the window. I crept towards her and placed my hand gently on her shoulder, she jumped as I obviously startled her and finally turned to face us. Her blue eyes connected with mine instantly and I smiled at her, she eventually smiled weakly back at me before breaking what felt like a lifelong silence.

"Sorry boys, I was miles away just then. Dinner will be ready soon." She'd been doing this quite a lot since dad died. She'd freeze completely, her eyes would stare so far into the distance as if she could see something nobody else could. I don't know what she'd think about during those zombie like shutdowns, or if she was thinking at all. Maybe her brain switched off, just like her body seemed to do. The three of us shared a nice moment of being reunited after mum's latest brain freeze, the joyous reunion was abruptly terminated by a massive bang from outside the front of the house. Oliver and I turned to each other instantly before, as if my some twin based telepathic connection turning and running to the front door.

One and a half tonnes of Mercedes Benz was wrapped round a cherry blossom tree which stood proudly at the foot of our garden. The top of the silver car wreck was littered with pink petals. Delicate little petals, gently wresting upon a once status signifying car now turned scrap metal, a transformation brought about by solid tree trunk. The tree still stood tall, dominant over the wreck of the car lying below it. I stood awing the strength and resilience of nature over a surprisingly flimsy mad made machine. Humans destroying the planet? Global warming? Greenhouse effect? Let's not pretend this is a one sided fight, nature is truly a force to be reckoned with. My train of thought was derailed as the driver's door opened, as I waited in anticipation a middle aged man fell out onto our perfectly maintained grass, so short, so even, so green. The garden was dad's pride and joy. He trimmed the bushes, cut the grass, planted the most beautiful flowers, but none of this was to gloat over neighbours, it was simply something he enjoyed. When he wasn't tending to our garden, he was helping the neighbours with theirs. Helping elderly Sam two doors down to rake leaves in Autumn, helping Katy, the single mum of two to paint her fence. The man was an idol to so many, most of all his family.

While I reminisced about dad Oliver had rushed to the crash victim and was already helping him towards the house. Perhaps mum wasn't the only one who zoned out every now and then. Oliver had always been the one with initiative, the ring leader I suppose, I was just his henchman, his sidekick. Nobody looked at us like that, they couldn't see it, but I sure did. To them we were the ultimate duo, in my eyes I was simply the Robin to his Batman. I stepped aside to let Oliver into the house with the bleeding middle aged man, he wore a grey suit, red tie and well-polished leather shoes, I gave him props for this as dad always reminded us the importance of having well-polished shoes, which judging by his method of transportation and fancy attire I was sure they were genuine Italian leather. His suit was ribbed in places and he looked awful, I thought nothing of it but was surprised at how a car crash could rip his suit in so many places, I suppose I'd never thought about the practicalities of it.

Oliver led the man to the living room and set him down on the vibrant red fabric corner sofa. Mum was barking orders now, sending Oliver upstairs to get the first aid kit and me to get wet towels. The man in the suit still hadn't said anything. It seemed rude not to thank us for taking him in, I decided to cut the guy some slack given the circumstances, although if I had to guess, I'd say he was the stuck up kind of guy who didn't thank waiters in restaurants or bus drivers as he got off, not that he'd ever been on a bus in his life by the look of him. He simply groaned occasionally but words seemed to fail him. I hurried up the stairs after Oliver and grabbed some towels, rinsing them with water as Oliver dug through the cabinet for the first aid kid. He grabbed it and we glanced at each other momentarily, we didn't say anything, but we didn't need to. What the fuck is happening? His eyes asked. No fucking idea. Mine replied. Our wordless conversation was interrupted by a shrill scream from downstairs. His eyes opened wider, his pupils dilated and his eye brows rose in shock, his green eyes locked onto mine and silently screamed...mum...

We bounded downstairs as quickly as the laws of physics would allow us, no matter how quickly we moved it felt like we were crawling...backwards for that matter. No pace was quick enough when it came to mum being in any kind of danger. She lay on a brown rug which adorned the centre of the pine wooden floor. She was propped up on her elbows and her eyes were wide open - staring at the man in the suit. He still sat on the sofa, his head pointed down at his leather...real Something was different though. The occasional groans had now formed one long, unbroken and non-ceasing moan. He looked even paler than he had when we went upstairs, his page white skin was now a greyish blue. He gently swayed from side to side as he moaned...then it stopped. There was an uncomfortable silence and suddenly I longed for the moaning to return to my burning ears. My ears burn when I get scared or nervous, then they go red which makes me even more embarrassed and nervous...funny how life has its vicious circles. The man in the suit lifted his head, took in a sharp breath through his nose and slowly turned his head, eyes remaining closed, to face the defenceless woman lying on the floor. His head stopped turning when it was directly pointed at our mum, he stayed like that for a second, then opened his eyes. In unison Oliver and I gasped.

His eyes were pure white, one small dot of a pupil in the middle, but no iris. No glistening blue, no penetrating green, no deep and welcoming brown. Just cold, unforgiving, gut wrenching, haunting white. The man in the suit clumsily brought his swaying body to an upright position and he just about managed to get up, he took one step forward and fell face first to the floor. He pulled himself along, writhed disgustingly closer to mum, who simply lay there, perfectly still, eyes locked into the distance, seeing something we couldn't, picking the worst time for one of her freezes. I simply stood, dumfounded and petrified, and for the first time, so did Oliver. Both of us were too scared to move, too shocked to think, too frozen to help. This gave the creature in the suit ample time to crawl to mum, and then to sink his teeth into her vulnerable little ankle. This broke her daydream and she screamed out in pain. This cry for help appealed to my wiser, more intuitive brother and he dashed for the bastard feasting on our mum's ankle, he delivered a flurry of rapid kicks to the thing's stomach, my brother had powerful legs from playing football and going running, these kicks would cripple the average man. But the thing in the suit didn't even flinch, he kept his jaw locked onto a now severely bleeding ankle.

"Zac help me!" Oliver's voice provide a well needed wake up call. As always, I obeyed that deep voice and leapt to his aid. Oliver kept relentlessly kicking the predator. I positioned by foot directly above his head, closed my eyes and with one swift motion, brought my foot down on the monsters head. Crunch. I looked down to see my white cotton sock covered in reddish purple blood. I moved my foot away to see that the man's jaw had snapped, finally mum was free! His top and bottom lip were about two inches unaligned now. The man in the suit simply kept groaning and rolled away from mum. I watched him roll away and lie on our floor, white eyes pointed up at the ceiling, he licked his blood stained lips and seemed satisfied with his light snack. I let out a sigh of relief that my stomp had gotten the job done, I turned my attention to mum. She lay on the rug, one ankle a few inches thinner than the other. How would that heal? If she tried to walk would her foot simply fall off? Could the remaining threads of her ankle support her? I looked up at her face, that beautiful face. Her black hair, pale complexion and rosy red cheeks, blue eyes...gone. Her skin was grey and her eyes white. One solitary, unending groan escaped her blue lips as she began climbing to her one remaining good foot.

Chapter 2 - Flying the Nest - Zac Oliver and I were frozen, we looked on in awe as the kind, gentle, loving woman who raised us clambered to her feet. Behind her the man in the suit was following her lead, probably keen on making us the second course in this human flesh meal.

"Oliver what the hell is happening?" Of course he knew as little as I did, but if there was anyone I'd turn to for leadership in a time like this, it was my big brother....big the 8 minutes that separated our births. I waited for an answer that never came. I turned to where Oliver was...had been standing. He was gone. I turned my attention back to the four white eyes, now set firmly on mine. He must really have been pissed that I borrowed his jeans I thought to myself as I wondered how he could leave me here. Slowly but surely, the white eyes inched closer as mum and the man in the white suit stumbled towards me.

"Mum, stop it, this isn't funny" I pleaded to deaf ears. This was it. I took a few steps back until I was against the wall, I put my hands over my face and just like I had with Oliver in the bedroom, awaited whatever was coming to me. The moans grew continually louder, from the other side of the room, from 2 metres away, 1 metre. How close were they now? A few inches away from me maybe? There was a rush of air followed by the clunk of metal connecting with flesh. I opened my eyes to see Oliver standing there, baseball bat in hand. The man in the white suit fell to the floor. Oliver closed his eyes, whispered a word I couldn't quite here but sounded like "sorry", before tightening his grip on the bat, he swung it as hard as he could at the side of our mum's head. She crumbled to the ground like she was made of paper.

"Zac we need to go, get mum's car keys." I didn't need to be told twice, I slipped past Oliver and ran to the kitchen lifting the keys from the little dish where they were kept. Mum had always complained when people didn't put the keys back here, "What if there's an emergency and we can't find the keys?" She would say, touché mum. I stepped back into the living room and eyed Oliver, like an obedient Labrador awaiting my next command. Within no time we were in the car, I was on autopilot. We sat in the car in silence, for once I was the one to break it. "Colton's, we need to go to Colton's". Oliver said nothing, he simply started the ignition and reversed out of the driveway and past the ruined Mercedes Benz. I turned my head to take one final look at our home, the place where mum had given us the best start to our lives, and where hers had apparently ended by a man in a suit. The house grew smaller and smaller in the rear-view mirror as alongside my brother, I flew the nest...still not sure if my wings were ready.

Thanks for reading! This is actually the first chapter of my debut book which I'm currently writing so please feel free to email me with any feedback and constuctive criticism!


Jason Smyth

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