Hey ya'll! So ths isn't an AC Fiction, it's an original piece... But the General Fiction board doesn't seem to exist yet, so I just poseted it here. ^^"
This story focuses on the relationship between two brothers, one roughly 20 yrs old, one roughly 13, and how, when one idolizes a made-up version of the other, their misconceptions of each other and themselves are forced to come to light.
I reallydon't have much to say about it at this point, except that... Well, it might be complicated, so if something is unclear, just ask me and I'll try to write clearer. (Also, I suppose you should know there will be large chuncks of this that are mostly dialogue based, hence the many short paragraphs.)
But all that aside, I always love constructive criticism! So feel free to tell me what you think I should change or what I should do better. Thanks!
Here's chapter one of Keeper of the Keys.
My brother had been dead for three weeks. One of the worst things about it was seeing my parents in shambles… They practically broke down in tears every time a sympathy card arrived or a plate of brownies came from the neighbors. I’d like to say that was the worst part, or that I was just as heartbroken as they were, but the truth? I was more confused than anything. And for me, the confusion was the worst part.
All the evidence seemed to add up. The suicide note in his dorm room, the dead body in the river… But what I didn’t understand was why. Why would Claver want to end his own life? And now—of all times—halfway through college? Claver is the strongest person I’ve ever known—not to mention, brilliant, talented, confident, hardworking… And even though I didn’t see him much because he lived at school, all I needed to hear was how my parents talked about him to know that was what I wanted to be. If I worked hard enough, maybe I could grow up to be just as good as he was. I knew Claver better than anyone, and I just couldn’t accept that he had committed suicide. As far as I was concerned, such a thing was impossible. And it was going to take more than a barely identifiable, water-damaged body and a convenient suicide note to convince me my brother had given up on life. Not Claver. Not my brother.
Which is why, when he showed up throwing rocks at my bedroom window three weeks later, I wasn’t blown away in surprise. I was ecstatic, of course, but certainly not surprised.
At first, I thought the light tapping was just a tree branch or something, but it was too rhythmic. Setting my homework aside, I went over to the window and lifted the shade. It was dark outside, but there was no mistaking the figure standing below. “Claver?!” I gasped, throwing the window up. “Clay, is that you?”
“Yeah, it’s me. Hey, you wanna—”
“I was right! I can’t believe I was actually right!” I squeaked quietly. “I knew you were still alive, I just knew it!”
“Yeah, yeah, congratulations. Are—”
“Where the heck were you all this time?! You weren’t hiding in the sewers, were you?” I wrinkled my nose. That’s what the heroes in all the movies did. “’Cause that’s gross.”
“Shh, keep it down. I’ll tell you later. Are mom and dad asleep?”
“Jon, are mom and dad asleep?”
“Wha— Yeah, I think so?”
“Then you wanna do me a favor and let me in?”
“Yeah! Hold on—”
“Be quiet though. We don’t wanna wake up mom and dad.”
“But they’ll wanna know you’re back!” I pulled my head inside in a hurry and nearly slammed the window down on my fingers in all my excitement.
“Wha— No! Jon!” I could hear the hiss from outside, followed by another rock at the window. This one wasn’t so gentle.
I opened it again. “What is it?”
“Don’t wake mom and dad, y’hear me? I don’t want them to know yet.”
As I had been trying to sort out my confusion over the past three weeks, I had told myself that all I needed was to see Claver alive. That was all it would take to make everything clear. But right now, I was perhaps even more confused than before. I’m not sure what I was expecting when he came back, but Claver didn’t seem himself. And that just raised even more questions.
I pulled on the thickest pair of socks I owned to soften the sound of footfalls as I scuttled down the hallway, past my parents’ bedroom and down the steps to disable the alarm and let Claver inside. And finally, with a good, up-close look at him in the dim light of the kitchen, I experienced legitimate surprise.
His hair was unkempt and unruly. He was skinny as a stick. His eyes looked sunken with a lack of sleep, and he was so pale that he nearly blended in with the white kitchen walls. For all I knew, maybe he really had died, and I was actually talking to his ghost.
“Thanks,” Claver said, stepping inside and throwing his coat on the counter. “Is there any ice cream in the fridge? I haven’t had ice cream in ages.”
“What?” And then I realized I had been staring. “Oh, y-yeah. I think there’s some peanut butter swirl left in the freezer.”
His normally lanky figure looked lankier than ever as he moseyed on over to the fridge and pulled out a half empty carton of ice cream and a bottle of beer. He took a spoon out of the drawer and looked like he was about to eat the ice cream right out of the carton, but he glanced up at me and then went for a bowl. I lifted myself onto the barstool at the island in the kitchen, and watched my brother guzzle down his beer. “So you never answered my question. Where were you this whole time?”
He set the bottle down on the counter and shrugged. “At a friend’s house. Not too far from school, actually.”
“And how did you… you know. I mean, if it wasn’t you, who did they find in the river?”
And then, despite his tired, sunken features, his eyes lit up and a smirk graced his lips. “It’s quite a sto—” But he paused. And just as quickly as it had come, the light vanished, and he diverted his eyes back to the bowl of ice cream. “I mean—I don’t know. It… It was just a coincidence, I guess.”
I raised an eyebrow at him. “C’mon Claver, I’m not stupid,” I laughed. “The guy was wearing your clothes. He even had your key card in his pocket.”
But Claver just shook his head. “No, it’s too complicated. You wouldn’t understand.”
“Just drop it, okay?” he scolded, picking his head up from his ice cream. “I’ll… tell you when you’re older.” He waved his spoon dismissively at me and smiled—a bit more lightheartedly—before finishing his ice cream and drinking the rest of his beer.
What I really wanted to ask was why. Why did he have to pretend to be dead? Why did he have to break my parents’ hearts? Why did he wait so long before coming back? I was sure he had perfectly legitimate answers, but I was too afraid to say anything. I didn’t want him to get angry with me… And besides, he would tell me if he wanted me to know.
Claver filled the tub in the sink with warm water, squeezed some dish soap into it, and started washing his bowl. “You don’t have to worry about that,” I told him, glancing at all the other dirty dishes from dinner. “You can leave it. I was gonna wash all those in the morning.”
“I’m just washing mine. And besides, we don’t have time for that,” he answered, wringing out the dishcloth and draping it over the faucet. He put the ice cream bowl back in the cabinet where he found it and the spoon back in the drawer, and the kitchen looked like he had never even been here. Then he dried off his hands and looked up at me with a bright smile—the first I’d really seen all night. “Let’s go.”
I stared at him. There was a prolonged silence before I realized he was waiting for my response. “…Wait, what?”
“Pack your bags. We don’t have all night. If we’re gonna leave, it’s gotta be now.”
“Wait, what are you talking about? You just got back, and now you want to leave again?”
“I only came back to get you.”
“You came for me? What did you do that for?”
He rolled his eyes and smiled lightheartedly. “Oh c’mon, man. You can’t tell me you’re actually happy here.”
“I… I can’t?”
“Of course not!” he paused, reworking his words. “I mean, are you?”
It was certainly an interesting question; on any other day, it might have made for an interesting discussion as well. But nothing was making any sense at the time. My mind was all jumbled with floundering assumptions and guesses. “Well, are we taking into consideration the fact that my supposedly dead brother is actually alive? Because yeah, I guess you could say I’m pretty happy.”
“Oh c’mon, Jon, I’m being serious. Look at yourself,” Claver said, furrowing his brow at me. “You spend all your time on schoolwork. You put all your effort into trying to become this… this ridiculous super student—as if that’s all anything is worth. I mean, you’re so constantly stressed that you haven’t even grown out of sleepwalking yet.”
I still didn’t understand. Was he berating school? Was he berating hard work? Diligent work? But Claver always invested so much of himself in his education. The Claver I knew would never say such things... Is that why he faked his death—just to get away from it all? I stared questioningly as him. “Wh-Where would we go? And what would we do?”
“Anywhere! Anything!” he said, almost bursting with excitement. “C’mon, I’ll get the big duffle down from my closet and you can use that. But pack lightly.”
Before I knew what was happening, I found my feet trailing after my brother through the hallway and up the steps. “Clay. Claver!” Then I remembered my parents were still sleeping and hushed myself.
With an unspoken mutual understanding that we couldn’t wake our parents, we went about packing my things without a single word. To this day, I’m not sure why I did. Maybe it was the feeling of being accepted by my brother—the fact that he actually wanted me with him. But it wasn't just that. Claver practically radiated confidence. As far as I was concerned, he’d never been wrong before, so why would he be wrong now? If he asked me to trust him, I was going to trust him. If he told me there was a better way to live my life, I was going to put all my faith in him—just like I had in those past three weeks he had been deceased.
Little did I know, the blind faith I had in my brother was about to tear apart and unravel my life, down to the very last thread.
Chapter two is in the works, guys. I'll have it up by Friday at the latest. ^^
(Also, the nice thing about this story is that I know exactly where I'm going with it. While the plot isn't entirely thought out scene by scene, I have the arc... And the ending is already written. So with any luck, there will be fairly consistent updates, and I WILL finish this story [if it's the last thing I do]... I just hope it's fun enough to retain your interest. /)__<)
So there you have it. Update coming soon. Thanks so much! 8D
So I guess when I said Friday, I actually meant the following Wednesday... lol oops. (You know what, let's just get this out of the way now. If I try to set myself deadlines, all I'll do is end up disappointing myself. So I'm not even gonna try doing that anymore.)
But that aside, here is Chapter Two of Keeper of the Keys.
It was one in the morning by the time we left the house, and all the packing we had just finished had me all excited to get going. At this point, as I threw my bag over my shoulder and followed Claver out the door, it felt more like I was starting a spontaneous adventure vacation than running away. Claver hadn’t exactly been clear in his explanation of his intentions, and I was fully under the impression I’d be returning from this vacation in due time. I was soon to discover I couldn’t be more wrong.
As we walked down the driveway and to the sidewalk, I think I had been expecting a car to be parked along the street. I don’t know why I was expecting such a thing… But whatever the reason, I was wrong about that too. I raised a curious eyebrow at my brother’s back as he led the way along the sidewalk, our house shrinking further and further into the distance. After about five minutes of strolling through my neighborhood in the dead of night, I finally plucked up the courage to say something. “Uh, Clay? Where are we going?”
“To the main road,” he said. “I couldn’t park my car around the neighborhood. People might have seen it.”
“So you do have a car?”
“Well… I’m borrowing one.”
“Borrowing?” I repeated, perhaps a little too loudly. “From who? What does that mean, ‘borrowing’?”
“Shh!” Claver came to a sudden halt, and we almost collided. He looked around, anxiously examining the silence. There were no disturbances as far as he could tell. His shoulders relaxed, and we kept walking. “I’m… just borrowing it. You’ll see. It’s not a big deal.”
I rolled my eyes at my brother’s newfound cryptic attitude. I didn’t know where and why Claver had learned to be so cryptic, but I hoped this new stance wasn’t here to stay. To be quite frank, it was annoying.
After about twenty minutes of walking, we finally made it to the edge of the neighborhood and out onto the main road. Sure enough, a few steps down the road sat your average-joe, grayish car. Nothing much to speak of, just a small set of wheels—but it was transport nonetheless. There was only one thing unsettling about it.
“You’re borrowing a car from Virginia?” I questioned.
“Yup,” Claver answered, nonchalantly opening the door and taking the driver’s seat.
I scuttled around the other side, throwing my bag in the backseat and opening the passenger’s side door. I stood there, examining the inside for anything that might be familiar. “So who do you know in Virginia that let you borrow this?”
“They’ll get it back eventually. Just—”
“Yeah, but who’s ‘they’?”
“Jon,” Claver sighed, rolling his eyes, “are you gonna stand out there all night or are you gonna get in? Like I said—we don’t have all night.”
I sighed, reluctantly putting away my questions for a later time. I added it to the already piled-high stack of questions building up in my mind—a stack that was so tall already, after only a mere half an hour. With a step down off the curb, I swung myself into the small car and took the passenger’s seat, adjusting my position and buckling in. And as I heaved a sigh, I was surprised to find myself close to gagging. There was a suffocating air of smoke all through the car, mostly likely from the use of cigarettes or something similar. It must be the person who we’re borrowing from… I thought optimistically as my lungs struggled with the stuffy air. Claver never smokes.
Then I began to wonder: where were the keys? As we had been walking, I didn’t notice any in Claver’s pockets, nor did I hear the jingling of keys on his person at all. So I assumed they must have been left sitting in the car, but… Here we were, with no keys in sight.
As I thought this, I glanced over at Claver to my left, who was now ducking under the dashboard, fiddling with something. At first, it didn’t quite click. But then I realized the truth. We weren’t borrowing this car from anyone. No one in Virginia intentionally granted my brother use of their car. I mean, heck—I’m not even sure Claver knows anyone that lives in Virginia. The barely audible zap of two electrical wires meeting beneath the dashboard, accompanied by the sputtering start of the engine, substantiated my fear.
Had Claver really stolen this car? Was he really a theif?
He pulled himself out from under the dashboard and adjusted his seat. “Alright,” Claver said excitedly, heaving a sigh of effort. “Ready?” He smiled exuberantly at me, and I gave an uneasy grin in return—a smile that accidentally showed nothing but my insecurity about this entire situation. Claver frowned. “Aw, c’mon man. This is gonna be great! Chin up.”
The enthusiasm in my nodding far overcompensated for the uneasiness that lingered on my face. As we took off down the main road, I quickly turned away to stare out the windshield. No, I thought. No, Claver can't be a thief. It's not possible. There's a perfectly good explanation for this, I'm sure... I turned again to face my brother, all my questions suspended in mid-air. My mouth hung open, lungs poised for speech… but no words came out. With what I saw in him at that moment, I found I didn’t have the nerve to bring it up. I looked on in slight shock, actually… He seemed genuinely happy. What was he smiling about? As we drove along, Claver looked out over the road with a beaming expression—his eyes shined with cheerfulness, and a quirky side-ways grin adorned his face. Of course, I don’t know what true happiness is—I’m not sure anyone does—but I imagine what I was seeing came fairly close. I wish I understood what it was that made him so cheerful in that moment, because I’d never seen him with such an expression in my whole life. “Oh—! Hey, go in the glove box for me, would you?” Claver asked. “I think my Led Zeppelin CDs are in there.”
And I’d never see him that happy again.
“O-Oh, yeah! Sure,” I said, reaching into the glove box and pulling out Claver’s favorite album, Led Zeppelin’s "Mothership." I slipped it into the CD player, and Claver predictably clicked ahead to track six. As the unmistakable opening guitar riff of "Ramble On" began, I found it easy to let myself slip into the delusion that everything was just as it should have been. Finally, I felt like I was in a comfortingly familiar atmosphere. Claver’s favorite music had always been classic rock for as long as I could remember, and even now, he bobbed his head to the music, singing right along—just like he always did. And I joined in at the chorus. Just like I always did.
“Oooooh, sometimes I grow sooo tired,” Claver sang, turning expectantly to me for the next line.
I answered: “But I know I’ve got one thing I got to do!”
And in that moment, life was anything I wanted it to be. I was with my brother, and I didn’t have a care in the world. We shouted the words to the song like we were the greatest rock stars this country had ever seen, and we shared a smile so bright that I think anyone looking on might have thought we won the lottery. But that was just the thing—there was no one else. The world whizzed quietly by outside in the dead of night, and it was just Claver and I. Just the two of us, and what I had high hopes of being the most incredible adventure ahead of us.
Wooo! So, chapter three is all written up and edited, ready to go (thanks to 25 hours on the road over the past five days)... but I'm still in the car. So chapter will be posted tonight! (And I apologize in advance for the length.)
Woo, triple post yaaaay. 8D lol I have a such a strong fan following.
So I'm introducing a new character because I realized there's no way I can write an interesting story with only two characters. I think that's why this story was feeling so... lackluster to me. But anyway, yeah. My brain is so fried right now am I even making sense i don't know ok thnxbye
Chapter three. Keeper of the Keys. BAH-DAH-BOOM.
I don’t know when, but at some point I dozed off, and I didn’t wake up until eleven o’clock the next morning when we were pulling into a shady roadside motel. The exterior was scrappy-looking, to say the least, with firetruck-red paint on the doors cracked and peeling off to reveal the weathered plastic underneath. The gray siding looked worn and shaky, and the “M” and “E” on the neon sign for “MOTEL” were dead. It was the kind of scrap heap only people in the movies were okay with staying in.
I pulled my seat upright, rubbed my eyes and stretched, uneasily examining the hotel as Claver pulled the car up to the front office. “Is this where we’re staying…?”
“Only for a little bit,” Claver said, stepping out of the car. “Stay here. I’ll be right back.” And with that, he disappeared inside.
After a moment’s anxious hesitation, I reached over and flipped the lock switch. I suppose at the time, I was a little more… paranoid? Perhaps, uncultured? Call me what you like, but I’ve never been more on edge than I was at that time, sitting alone in a stolen car in the parking lot of the sketchiest motel I’d ever seen. Up ahead of me, I saw a large, built man step out of his room, eyes darting suspiciously back and forth as his fingers fumbled to light up a cigarette. He probably didn’t even notice our car sitting there, but nonetheless I sunk down uneasily in my seat. I was more than a little bit out of my comfort zone, and though I could perfectly rationalize why I had no reason to be nervous, I admit it—sheltered paranoia got the best of me, and I found myself continuing to sink into my seat just to hide from any and all passerby.
Unsuccessfully, I suppose. The sudden rapping on the passenger-side door scared me half out of my pants. And when I warily turned to see what it was, I just about screamed. To say I was startled by the grungy, beady-eyed young girl’s face stuck up against my window would have been a dramatic understatement. I instinctively scooted back—eyes wide and chest heaving with frantic breaths—and my heartbeat took off. The pair of dark brown, beady eyes stared me down inquisitively for several moments, and when she was content with her analysis, her unkempt eyebrows relaxed, a friendly smile graced her face, and she began glancing between me and the lock on the door.
This went on for at least a minute. She would stare at me for a little bit, flick her eyes to the lock a couple times, and then resume staring. And all I could do was stare back at the straggling strands of hair hanging in front of her face, the rest of her greasy black hair tied up in a bun. Needless to say, her staring was making me very uncomfortable. Really, I just wanted to be left alone… Was that too much to ask?
She finally realized I wasn’t going to open the door, so she decided to go on and address me with the window between us. “I’m Karrie,” she beamed suddenly, revealing a smile full of crooked yellow teeth. “What’s your name?”
She couldn’t have been older than I was, perhaps a few years younger. I stared distastefully at the stranger on the outside, wondering whether I should encourage her. She didn’t seem to be harmful or to harbor any bad intentions, and she certainly wasn’t the malevolent type. Honestly, she just struck me as kind of… stupid.
She knocked again. “Hello? Can you hear me?”
Then I thought about how much more irritating it would be to ignore her. “Yes,” I said, scooting only slightly closer to the window, “I’m Jon.”
She scrunched up her nose at me and cupped a hand around her ear. “You’re what?”
“My name is Jon,” I said a bit louder.
“You’re name is Bon…?” She furrowed her brows at me. “Well, that’s a strange name if I ever—”
“No,” I sighed, rolling my eyes. “I said, my name is—” But I paused. Clearly, this wasn’t working. I’d have to crack open the window… I didn’t want to—seeing as I trusted no one here within a mile radius—but she wasn’t going away. And like I said before, she didn’t seem harmful. Just a bit on the stupid side. So I compromised, opening the window only half way. “My name is Jon.”
The girl laughed, suddenly dropping the confused expression. “I could hear you perfectly fine, silly. I just wanted you to open the window!”
What? I was taken aback. So she wasn’t deaf or dumb… She was just feigning stupidity to get what she wanted, and I fell for it. I suddenly found myself utterly humiliated—though I admit that was probably an overreaction to the situation. However embarrassing and frustrating it was to have been played by this ‘Karrie’, I was at least relieved that she was the one standing at the door rather than that big, suspicious man over in the shadows having a smoke. I narrowed my eyes at her. “Well, congratulations. Now, if you’ll excuse me?” I began closing the window again.
“N-No! Wait a minute!” Karrie suddenly panicked, leaping for the window and shoving her grimy hands in the way of my closing it. “Can we talk? I just wanna talk, that’s all!”
I stared at her with confusion. Talk about what? Was I supposed to recognize her from somewhere? Did she think we were friends? I glanced past her and into the main office, where Claver was putting his wallet away and getting ready to go. He would be back soon, so I considered the possibility of just ignoring her for the next minute or so until Claver returned. But could I do that, having already opened up?
Karrie’s scratchy voice jarred me back into the present moment. “S-So what’re you doing around here?” I glared down at her, but I could feel my expression immediately soften when I looked her in the eyes. She might have been playing me earlier, but something about the desperate glint in her eyes was sincere this time. As I looked down upon the disheveled, grungy girl at the door, I couldn’t help but pity her. Maybe… she really did just want to be friends. “I’m… I’m on vacation, I guess.”
“Vacation? In this place?” she asked with a quirky smile. “I guess you’re not from around here.”
“No, not really.”
“Then where’re you coming from?”
“A good ways north of here. I’m from—”
Just then, Claver came dashing out of the office. “Hey! Hey!” He was waving his arms, trying to shoo something away. It took me a few moments to realize who he was shooing.
Claver wasn’t letting up, and Karrie wasn’t stupid—as it turns out. With Claver running straight at her, she wasn’t very keen on sticking around. “I’ll talk to you later, ok?” she whispered before taking off and disappearing around back of the motel.
Standing by my door, Claver watched her disappear into the shadows, just to make sure she was really gone. I stared at him curiously. “What was that for?”
He turned to me, his eyes dark. “Close the window.”
“But Clay, we were just talki—”
“Jon, close the window.”
I did as he said, and he made his way around the other side and climbed in the driver’s seat. Again, I found my mind swimming with questions, but again, I was hesitant to say anything. As we drove around the side of the motel to our room, I considered actually speaking up this time… but Claver beat me to it. “You can’t talk to random strangers, Jon.”
“I know that. I’m not stupid,” I answered. “But she just wanted to talk. What’s wrong with that?”
“What’s wrong with that?” Claver pulled into our assigned parking space and turned to face me. “Alright, man, look. I understand you’re new to this, so let me explain a few things. We left home without saying anything, so no one knows where we are. The whole point of this excursion is that no one knows where we are,” Claver explained, with a surprising amount of levelheadedness.
“The more people you get to know, the more of a trail you leave behind. The more hints there are for cops to pick up on.”
“Cops?” I repeated, at a loss for words. I hadn’t had much time to put all these pieces together yet, and hearing it from Claver was jarring to me. “I… didn’t even think about—”
“I know, but now we have to play by my rules,” he said, raising his eyebrows. “If we’re gonna do this, I can cover our tracks no problem—but you can’t just go and talk to anyone about anything. From now on, you have to watch what you say, and who you say it to.” For a moment, Claver disappeared under the dashboard to turn the car off. When he reappeared, he finished with, “You know, it’s probably just better to leave all the talking to me. At least until we have a few states between us and home.”
“So I can’t talk to anyone? At all?”
Claver stepped out of the car. “Hey, you can still talk to me, right? I’m a fun guy,” he jested with a smile, grabbing his bag out of the backseat and closing both doors.
I climbed out of the passenger’s seat, grabbed my own things, and followed Claver to our room. “Yeah, we’ll see how long that lasts,” I muttered jokingly under my breath, rolling my eyes. Even so, I understood his reasoning. Claver knew better than I did, so I wasn’t going to fight him on this. I didn’t want to get in the way, much less cause any problems. And besides, this legitimized my hiding from seemingly scary—or in some cases, irritating—strangers. I was happy to stay away from them; that wouldn’t be difficult at all.
As I was about to step into our motel room, I was hit with a sudden discomforting hunch. Karrie’s grotty face flashed through my mind, along with the last thing she said to me before running off: “I’ll talk to you later, ok?” Instantly overcome by some sixth sense, I felt like someone was staring down my back... and I turned around to find none other than Karrie, peaking out from behind a car across the lot, smiling at me and waving.
My stomach sank.
“Yo, Jon!” Claver called. “You coming inside or what?”
Sure, staying away from strangers wouldn’t be difficult. The problem was making them stay away from me.
Yeah, so that's chapter three. I'm really concerned that what I'm writing is just... boring. So if you find yourself, at any point at all, being like, "Ohhhh myyyyy gaaaaaawd, can we just get on with it here????" please please pleaseeee tell me. The last thing i want to do is bore you all with this story!!
Anywho, chapter 3 is now in the works! And in accordance with Computerfan's Writing Competition, I am also here to inform you (and by you, I mean, like, the one person that reads my story that isn't in the competition xP) that voting for Computerfan's competition will be opening very soon! And I have come to rally voting support.
So yes. When the time comes, it would be fantastic if some people would vote for me. You know, if you feel like it. /ihatesolicitingvotessorryguys