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The Two Brothers

By June 14, 2017May 15th, 2020Writing

Once upon a time
there were two brothers
one was rich, he had many things
and ate and drank well
all his days.
The other was poor, he had no gold
he worked hard and had no time
for luxury

The rich brother spent his days
in the company of strange women,
his nights with mischievous men.
He scorned his neighbors,
and ignored his lessors.
He abused his friendships
and honored not his word.

Then one day the rich man indulged too much
and he died

Many people came to his funeral
many words were spoken
but no tears were shed.
After, his friends left quickly
and never looked back

Only the brother remained
left behind to ponder his loss.
And then to ponder his gain
For he had inherited his dead brother’s wealth

The dead brother, meanwhile,
awoke in the Void.
Surrounded by a darkness so thick
he thought it would crush him
into nothing

He heard nothing
and everything
at the same time.
The void was silent
He was alone

For miles and miles,
for eons and years,
he was alone.
Yet he heard a sound,
a constant humming,
coming from within
or all around.
The whimpering,
and crying of tormented souls,
his soul,
or all souls,
he did not know

Not the wailing of those in pain,
but the weeping of those now realizing
the permanence of their isolation
their loss

In time,
or in no time at all,
his feet touched on solid ground.
His mind awoke
his senses roused
his panic began

He cried to the gods for deliverance.
He knew not their names,
never had he cared.
He cried and he pleaded,
but the sound disappeared
and no one heard
and nobody came

Then he thought of his brother.
He who now had his wealth.
He who would surely fall,
victim to the same vices as his elder

He must be spared.
He must be saved.
He must be warned.

Louder again he raised his voice.
Harder again he struggled against the black
to save his brother
he prayed for intervention

Then the darkness parted
his eyes could finally see
the shadows moved away
and a figure took shape

A man,
long blonde hair flowing form his head
unimpeded by the dark
moved effortlessly
towards him

A robe draped his arms and shoulders.
The hilt of a sword rose behind his ear
the leather holster fastened across his chest.
A dark belt sat firm around his waist

“I have heard your cries.”
he said in a whisper
“I am here to answer,
what do you desire?”

The brother
eager for a ray of hope
forwent his curiosity
and begged

“My brother is surely in peril,
for I shewed him no love
in the land of the living
and left him my vices.
He will surly fall
he will soon fail.
Please send me back to warn him
of the fruits of my life.”

“As you wish it to be, so let it be done.”
Was the reply with a smile and a wink
and the stranger turned away

The darkness enveloped the man
he passed out of consciousness
he could see nothing
only shadows
then shadows of shadows
then shadows of things
his home
People passed by
unaware of the new visitor
they laughed, they drank
vices were indulged
curiosities satisfied
hungers sated
days passed in the blink of an eye

His brother was found
away in a room,
face-down in the covers
compromised and shameful

“Brother” he called
a woman to the side stirred
“Brother” again, no motion

He reached to awaken him
his hand passing through the flesh
like ethereal wisps, his fingers felt no touch
In a panic, he called, “Brother, why do you not hear me!”

The naked man started
he turned in a panic
his eyes passed around the room, searching
confusion wrote itself on his face
he saw no man

“See, brother,” the rich man implored. “Here am I.”
The other squinted his eyes to a line
Following the voice to its source
“Methinks I have been made to partake of too much drink.
For I do behold mine elder brother before me!”

His chance for redemption was here
there was no time to waste
“Younger brother, take heed of my words
for I come with a warning of despair and grief.
Where I find myself now, you will surely be bound,
an eternity of suffering and endless torment is your only reward!”

His brother looked back
no words left his lips.
“Younger brother, I implore, abandon these ways.”
His hand waved the room
“These will not come with you, they will not be your joy.
My fate is sealed, but your life can be saved.
Forsake these vices
give unto the poor
treat the downtrodden as your own.
Or misery awaits you.”

Silence followed his voice like a fox
His younger brother thought, and then
a laugh

A loud laugh
a mocking laugh

“Ho here! My elder brother returned from the dead
to haunt my steps!”
His mockery echoed in and out of the ethereal plane
“Behold how he comes in my hour of joy to mar our rejoicing!”
He bellowed to a crowd of furniture

“Even in death he cannot leave me be
to enjoy his passing.”
An evil laugh escaped his lips.
“Oh brother, my brother,
in life you cared not for me.
You kept your riches,
your concubines,
your pleasures,
to yourself.
You did not know your younger brother.
Nor cared for him in need.”

“Indeed, your passing is the greatest of favors!”
He pointed.
“Look upon my riches,
my wealth.
How I revel in your gifts!”
A finger pierced his ghostly breast.
“How jealousy must brew within your heart!
That you cannot rest in peace.
But return to plague me with tales of the Void!”

“Nay, brother, do not speak.
But listen.
I will not cease in my merrymaking.
You did not share with me in life,
I will not depart from it now in your death.
Feign not concern for me,
he who begged at your table in vain!”

“Begone, now, phantom.
If indeed your gifts are rewarded with chains,
then in chains I will tell you of their purchase!
Begone, and vex me no more.”

Darkness again surrounded the man
he passed out of consciousness
he could see nothing
only shadows
then shadows of shadows
only darkness
only silence

His cries for succor went unheeded.
His brother did not return
his world was gone
his brother
him home

Then laughter
a cold laugh
a biting laugh
The blonde man appeared before him
a wicked smile bared his teeth

The man cried
“Oh lord of the Void,
Why have you brought me back?
My deed was not finished.
My brother not saved
Why return me to this place?”

“Thou fool!”
A thunderous reply
“Your brother was lost
the moment he entered your world.
Forsaken by his brother,
now given the life he envied.
Not a thousand specter visitations
would alter his path.”

Another laugh had no echo
“But now
he has been warned of his fate
no doubt remains in his head.
The Void awaits,
mouth gaping wide.
And to continue in your ways
against such knowledge,
yea, his fate will be far worse than yours.

“Indeed, thanks to you,
his elder brother,
he will envy your position in eternity
and curse your name forever.”

“You who delayed your compassion
and prolonged your revelry.
And left the time of your concern
until the hour was the latest.
And doomed your brother
to the darkest of pits.”

The blonde man faded
the twilight disappeared
no sensation followed
no light
no sound
no warmth
only the Void.

Aaron J. Webber

Author Aaron J. Webber

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