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Nevermind Over Matter

                The court room was quiet, as was the entire town.  The judge had ordered a media blackout.  It seemed as though every week there was another major trial that demanded national media attention. 

                Chamberlain was a small town that appeared to be a nexus for the unfathomable and unexplained.  No one was quite sure why or how things were happening, but the unusual townspeople of Chamberlain, Massachusetts were serene.  They accepted the extraordinary phenomenon’s that came with living in their cozy little hideaway.  Some would even say they welcomed it. 

                The bizarre was the price you paid to live in Chamberlain, it was also the curse.  Very few people had ever left the town.  Of course many people spoke of it, and the majority of the senior class spoke of moving away after high school.  They waved their college acceptance letters around like boarding passes for a cruise; but when it was all said and done, they all settled in to a somewhat abnormal life in town.  It wasn’t that they weren’t allowed to leave.  There was nothing or no one forcing them to stay, they just did.  Something within made them stay.  There were those that strayed beyond the seclusion of forest that surrounded Chamberlain, and moved to the “big city.”  Some even left the country all together.  Each of them carried a little piece of the town inside them, and in the end, they all came back to stay. 

                Jordan King waited patiently as his lawyer pleaded his case before the judge and jury.  He had plead not guilty to the crime of murder.  Not guilty for the murder of Chester King, his brother.  That was what had brought the media there.  Chamberlain didn’t make sense to the rest of the world, and those who knew or had heard of it dismissed the talk and pushed the thoughts to the back of their mind.  This was different.  This made the town seem more normal.  Another seemingly senseless act of violence in America.  Brother kills brother.  More than that, twin brothers. Only fourteen years old.  The violence was everywhere, even quiet little creepy Chamberlain.    

While his lawyer talked and gave the jury their “story” about what happened that fateful night, Jordan thought back to what truly happened.  It started long before that night. 

Six months earlier. 

                Jordan sat on the front porch and slowly flipped through the book of mental puzzles.  He had done most of them earlier in the week, the ones he deemed worthy of his intellect, and was now down to those that he regarded as being too easy for him.  It didn’t really matter anyway, his mind wasn’t on problem solving.  Jordan was waiting for Chester to return home.  He had been away at summer camp, and due home that late summer Friday.  Jordan was anxious and found it hard to contain himself.  It was the longest time they had ever spent away from each other. 

                Chester and Jordan were twins, but due in part to a medical anomaly that no one had been able to explain, they were born five months apart.  The doctors would mumble something about cellular mitosis, and Jordan’s embryo not maturing at the same time as Chester’s, but the truth was they didn’t know.  It was unfortunate, because the age gap prevented them from going to school together.  Jordan was held back and not allowed to attend school for an entire year after his brother.  That was the sole reason that Chester was allowed to attend the summer camp, while Jordan was left at home. 

                The camp was perfect for the two of them.  It was designed for those who had enhanced mental capacity and above average mental skills.  Jordan and Chester were, to put it blunt, geniuses.  Everything came easily to them.  Finding a true challenge was rare.  That was why Jordan looked forward to attending the summer camp.  When his mother told him that he couldn’t go, he was heart broken.  It took all he had to convince Chester to go without him.  And now he sat on the porch waiting for his brother to return. 

                The summer was brutal on Jordan.  His superior intellect made him an outcast among other kids his age, and even those older.  He envied those at his school who were labeled nerds.  At least they had others of their kind to associate with.  Jordan and Chester were above even them, and mocked by them in private.  Even still, they knew what was being said behind their backs.  Chamberlain was a small town, and everybody knew about the weird twins, separated at birth.  Jordan was completely alone for those two summer months.  His mother tried to fill the void, but besides mothering him, there was nothing else she could do.  Jordan felt sorry for her.  She was a single parent alone with two teenage boys that were as distant from her as strangers.  She tried, and they tried, but there was nothing they could do to solidify a rapport beyond parent child. 

                And so Jordan waited.  Waited for the only person in the whole world that could understand and identify with him to return. 

                As their mother pulled up the driveway Jordan’s heart leapt.  She stepped out of the car smiling that her two boys were together again, and that Jordan’s loneliness would soon fade away. 

                When Chester stepped from the car, Jordan’s heart sank.  Something was different.  He had changed.  Jordan could see it in the way his brother moved; the way he walked.  It was much different than before.  He moved with a cocky assuredness, much different than the one he and Jordan usually had.  It was almost aggressive.  As if Chester’s every move dared someone to try him.  He walked up the front steps and smiled at Jordan.  Even the look in his eyes was different.  As if…  As impossible as it sounded to Jordan…  As if he was even above him now. 

                Dinner that evening was unusually quiet.  Normally Jordan and Chester chattered up a storm about various things, jumping from one topic to another following tangents that were known only to them.  Their mother could only sit back and listen, hoping to catching something that she could parlay into a conversation of her own.  But, not tonight.  Tonight they were all silent.  Ms. King never knew how much she missed their intellectual ramblings.  She tried to get some form of communication started by asking Chester about the camp.  She was very excited when the school first told her about the camp, and even more so when she found out it was free to those that qualified.  The Kings lived on a very strict income mainly supported by the boy’s mother who worked hard day and night at her two jobs.  Between the two jobs, she hadn’t had a full day off for the past ten years.  That include Christmas and the boys separate birthdays. 

                All in all, Ms. King was quite a catch.  Not yet forty, the constant working kept her too busy to gain weight and become a house mom like many of the women in town.  Independent and smart, she was one that would be admired and sought after by the men in the town, both single and married, if it hadn’t been for her boys.  Their strangeness kept almost everyone away, in a town that seemed to breed the unusual.  That in itself was odd, but that was Chamberlain. 

                Chester smiled at his mother’s questions about the camp and shrugged his shoulders as if to say, nothing much.  But, that wasn’t how Jordan saw it.  No.  What Chester was really saying was, you wouldn’t understandNot even you, Jordan.  Things only got worse the next day. 

                It was his mother that brought him the news, sitting him down in the way she often did when she had something serious to discuss.  They were getting older she started, to old to continue with things the way they had been.  It was time that he and Chester learned to be independent of one another.  She tried her best to make it seem as though it was her idea, but Jordan saw through her best intentions.  He knew that Chester had approached her about it earlier that day, if not yesterday on the way home.  He had even felt it himself last night.  Their bedroom was as quiet as dinner.  Chester said very little, and maintained an uncomfortable distance from Jordan.  His attitude was overly superior.  Jordan felt part of himself go dead.  His mother had approached the two of them with this idea years before, but the bond the boys shared kept them close.  So she left the spare bedroom the way it was, crowded with stuff they claimed to use too often to be put in the attic.  Even an adjoining wall was too far away for the brothers.  Now, that was gone.  Jordan accepted what his mother proposed, and walked upstairs to help Chester pack. 

                Chester was sitting on the bed, his belongings already packed in boxes and stacked close to the door.  Jordan was surprised, but did his best to take it all in stride.  Chester smiled and hefted three of the boxes that were heavier than he looked capable of lifting.  Jordan watched wide eyed as his brother carried the three boxes to the room next door with surprising ease.  He moved the remaining boxes by himself, then proceeded to haul the new room’s previous contents up into the attic.  Jordan and his mother could do nothing but watch.  Jordan concentrated hard on his brother’s physique.  Chester wasn’t any different in size, his body six months identical to Jordan.  Yet, he was so different in his nature and physical attributes, that one would think he had become a middle school Charles Atlas.  But, that wasn’t it alone.  His change in attitude wasn’t due to a newfound physical strength, or that coupled with a superior intellect.  It was something more encompassing.  The more Jordan focused, the more it came to him, until it hit him like a bolt from the blue.  His attitude came from a superiority of everything.  He could see it in the cocky sneer, the annoying sparkle in his eyes, and the sureness in which he carried himself.  Jordan was certain.  Chester saw himself as a god. 

                Unconsciously, Jordan said to himself, “This does not bode well.” 

                Jordan kept to himself for the next three weeks, trying as hard as he could to keep out of Chester’s way.  In the meantime though, he watched and took notes, a detailed journal chronicling everything he thought and saw.  He hid the journal in a complicated crawl space he had found over the summer while making a blueprint of their house.  He spent most of the time in his room, watching Chester from long distances.  The boys had an uncanny ability to tell when the other was near, so Jordan stayed as far away as he could.  He spied on his brother via telescopes, binoculars, and a series of mirrors and convex glass strategically positioned throughout the house.  Chester spent a great deal of time in the woods behind their house, returning in the afternoon for lunch, before going out again and returning that night for dinner. 

                Three weeks later, school started, and as Jordan saw it, things deteriorated further. 

                Football.  It was a sport that Jordan and Chester despised.  Not because of its so called brutality and barbarism, but to them it just wasn’t intellectually challenging.  Calling plays and making them, maybe, but even that was limiting. 

                Like most schools, Chamberlain High prided itself on its athletic program, in particularly its undefeated football team.  The players walked through the halls with an unbelievable cockiness that was far from being well earned.  The school was undefeated only because they hadn’t played a game in over 30 years.  The other schools were too afraid to come to Chamberlain to play a game, and they certainly didn’t want those “freaks and weirdoes” in their city.  Through 30 years of forfeiture, Chamberlain remained number one.   Even still, the people of Chamberlain went through the motions, and everyone just seemed to play along, pretending to be more than they were. 

                The last thing Jordan expected was for Chester to try out for the team, or to be the best player for that matter.  He was stronger than the other boys, even those that were almost three times his size.  He would shrug off their strongest tackles, and give back to them in spades.  He was faster than them as well.  Moving at such a speed, his feet seemed to never touch the ground.  And on top of it all, he threw perfect spirals.  The football arched and spun through the air, seeming to stay up forever before zeroing in on its target and coming down perfectly. 

                Jordan was more amazed than anyone else.  He watched from the top of the stadium bleachers, not wanting anyone to know that he was there; not that they would care, or acknowledge it.  The most incredible thing about being an outcast was that everyone knew who he was, but pretended like he didn’t exist; at least to his face. 

                On the field, the various students gathered around Chester, quickly accepting him as one of their own.  The coach broke out in a fevered sweat, and began salivating at the prospects.  His main problem was that Chester was only one man.  He was such a perfect player that the coach wasn’t sure where to put him. 

                Chester walked among the others like the god he saw himself as.  He wore a smile that wasn’t fully formed and made him stand out as an asshole among jerks.  He walked off the field towards the football coach.  His gate was more like a floating stride.  He stopped, just short of the field’s edge and looked up into the girlfriend and cheerleader-wanna-be audience.  His gaze moved past his future conquests towards the lone figure at the very top.  Jordan felt Chester’s gaze sweep over his body.  He knew he was there watching.  Jordan waited until his attention was turned elsewhere, and quietly slipped away. 

                Jordan ran all the way home.  Because the practices were held after school the busses had already gone.  He never stopped or slowed his pace.  He had to get home before Chester did.  He hoped that his new found friends would keep him busy long enough.  Jordan busted through the front door, not bothering to say hello to his mother who was relaxing in the living room.  She was used to seeing the boys return home from school without books.  They never did homework or even looked directly at their school assigned books.  The teachers had even stopped grading their papers, not that anyone noticed. 

                Jordan headed straight to his room, and to the crawl space where he kept the journal.  He transcribed his thoughts as quickly as possible.  He wanted to get everything written down and get the journal back to its safe place before Chester got home.  He didn’t even read over his previous notes for comparison and new analysis.  Jordan noted at the bottom of the page that his suspicious concern had suddenly turned into fear.  He made a mental note to make copies of his journal on the off chance that something might happen to it. 

                Chester came home shortly after dinner.  His arrival was announced with squelching tires and riotous laughter.  Jordan watched from his room window like a spy, or rather a sniper; carefully stalking his target.  He kept his back to the wall, and took sideways glances out into the front yard.  Even still he could swear that his brother saw him.  He closed his room door just as Chester was entering the house. 

                Jordan made himself busy, trying to ignore Chester’s approach.  He grabbed a book off of his desk and scanned the pages with pretend interest.  Chester walked slowly down the hall towards the two bedrooms.  Jordan waited with nervous anticipation.  If only Chester didn’t have to pass by his room to get to his own.  Unless, he had done it on purpose.  After all, it was his idea to get separate rooms.  And he did choose to move into that room rather than stay and let Jordan take it.  The rooms were basically identical in size, if not laid out slightly different.  Or, and Jordan gave equal consideration to his last thought, he might just be paranoid.  

                And suddenly, the moment had come.  Jordan looked over at his room door.  He could see Chester’s shadow from underneath and felt his presence through the wall.  The doorknob twisted back and forth ominously.  Chester wasn’t trying to enter, but make himself known.  The door stayed closed. 

                “Did you have fun after school?” 

                It wasn’t a question, it was a statement.  A message.  A warning. 

                Jordan watched as the shadow passed, but the feeling remained.  It intensified when Chester entered his room.  Jordan realized that Chester’s bed was up against the wall parallel to his own.  He made a mental note to rearrange his room the next day and move his bed to the opposite side.  Tonight, however, he would make do with a pillow, a blanket, and the downstairs hall closet. 

                Jordan woke early the next day.  He wanted to avoid seeing Chester.  From the moment his eyes opened, he knew that Chester was awake as well.  The rapport they shared was just as strong as it had always been, despite Jordan’s rejection.  He waited until he was a good distance away from home before thinking about his options.

                Jordan stopped several blocks away from his home and reached out with his mind and soul.  He felt for Chester’s presence.  There was nothing.  He was alone, a feeling he was surprisingly getting used to.  Jordan started walking again and began thinking about what to do. 

                        Something had happened to Chester at that summer camp.  Something that had unlocked an ability within him.  None of this, though, explained why his attitude had changed.  Had being an outcast been so hard on him?  The two had always had each other.  Was that suddenly not enough?  Had Chester secretly wanted to belong all the time?  Or, was it something else?  Was the power, the ability to change everything that he was, too tempting to refuse? 

                        Could the answer really be that simple?  Now, not only was Chester their better intellectually, but he was also beating them at their own game.  For the first time, Jordan began to understand just what was happening.  The anger Chester felt at being rejected, turned away by the world at large, was too much for him, especially now.  Now, he had the power to change everything.  He could make them accept him.  He could make them do what ever he wanted, and there wasn’t a damn thing they could do to stop him.  But someone had to stop him. 

                Jordan felt a hollow pit grow in his stomach.  That someone had to be him.  No one else could do it.  Anytime before Chester went away to camp, he would have preferred that it be this way.  With the exception of old age, which both boys had begun making plans to halt, death by any other means wasn’t acceptable.  Geniuses deserve to die a genius death.  An accidental death or random act was too… pedestrian.  Who else would be worthy enough other than his own brother, or someone of equal intelligence.  In which case, Jordan fully expected to die as well.  He would be alone without Chester.   The short time he was away at camp felt like years.  Anything beyond that would feel like an eternity.  But now, he desperately wished that it was up to someone else.  It no longer felt… right. 

                The task at hand now was, how to do it.  Chester would expect retaliation from Jordan.  Either out of jealousy, anger, or fear.  He would be on watch; ever on guard.  Whatever Jordan thought of, he had to consider the possibility that Chester had already considered it, or would easily see through his plan.  He would have to strike from an angle that Chester wouldn’t expect.  An Achilles heel that he would leave unguarded.  Even the phalanx had a weak spot.  After all, no matter what his brother thought to the contrary, he was still only human. 

                And that was how he would have to come at him.  Hubris.  Or more to the point, his feeling of superiority.  To attack the self thought deity through his mortal anchor.  Chester wouldn’t conceive of anyone daring enough to oppose him in any manner.  No one, save Jordan.  But in Chester’s mind, all Jordan wanted was to reconnect with his “older” brother and become a misfit once again.  But Jordan couldn’t count on that thought alone.  There could still be a part of Chester that would expect Jordan to attack out of fear.  After all, he would have the same resolve.  In order for his plan to work, he would have to offer himself up to his bother.  Make him display his power, in order to assuage his fears that Jordan might make a move against him.  In other words, he had to take a beating.  He knew that it would be brutal, but for it to truly work, it would have to be humiliating as well.  It wouldn’t be enough for Chester to stomp him in private.  He would have to show everyone that he was better, and to at last sever that final tie to his outcast brother. 

                The next question was how.  Even now, Chester wouldn’t attack him without provocation.  There’s a difference between picking on those different from you, and being a bully.  Jordan would have to taunt him.  Say, or do something that would give him the opportunity he had been looking for. 

                Jordan looked up and saw the school slowly coming into view.  Whatever he was going to do, he’d have to come up with it soon. 

                Jordan had always reveled in walking through the halls of the school without notice.  Now everybody took notice of him, even if they pretended they didn’t.  It wasn’t as if he and Chester were the only ones different in the town, or even the school.  Jordan was but one of several misfits that went to that school. Evan Montgomery was rumored to have been visited by aliens and could eat nothing but glass.  Charley Stuart’s father was a poltergeist that had raped and impregnated his mother, resulting in his birth.  Lindsey Shaw was nicknamed “Devil Girl” on account of her hooven feet, and the unfortunate habit of regurgitating fire when stressed.    Unfortunately, there was no solidarity or sense of kindred among them.  In a town that created the bizarre and unnatural, it also feared and shunned it.  He was a miscreant, among freaks, among outcasts. 

                Some days he wished he was physically different, instead of mentally.  Being super intelligent was scarier to them than having a third arm, or sharing a body with the spirit of Wing Shu Man.  These things were so far beyond the norm that it was easier for people to accept or ignore.  Being smart, not to mention exceptionally smart, turned them into torch and pitchfork wielding villagers.  

                Jordan pushed his way through the less than nonchalant glares and approached his locker.  He always carried his books with him through the halls; getting them from his locker in the morning and returning them in the afternoon.  None of them had ever been opened.  He didn’t need them.  He and Jordan only carried them to try and make themselves look like everyone else.  Not that it helped.  This time, he stopped short of opening the cheap metal door.  Was there any point now?  Was there ever any point?  Everyone in the school knew who they were, and carry books in the hall wasn’t going to change their perception.  No.  For that you’d have to abandon the person who was as close to you as your own heartbeat.  Abandon them to impress others with some new found ability that, technically, made you even more of a freak. 

        Jordan started to lower his hand from the combination dial when he noticed them from the corner of his eye.  The looks were no longer feigned ignorance, but obvious direction.  During the brief moment of his contemplation, the students nearby had gathered around.  Watching.  Waiting.  Waiting for him.  The locker.  They were all waiting for him to open it.  Jordan looked to his left and saw Chester standing there right in front or a group of students.   That wicked smile that he had begun to wear.  Almost as if he’d had his face surgically altered to only bear that grin. 

        “The bell’s about to ring.” Chester said.  Speaking to the crowd more than him.  “Don’t you need to get your books?” 

        Jordan reached up and grabbed the dial and slowly turned it, never taking his eyes off of Chester.  The slow clicking of the tumbler rumbled in his ear, like a time bomb. 

Left.
Right. 
Left. 
Open. 

Jordan pushed down on the latch and the door swung wide.  The entire locker had been filled with petroleum jelly.  All his books and pens were suspended in a form of jellified amber. 

        “You’re gonna need your history book.  I hear we’re having an open book test.”  That was all the crowd needed to erupt in a chorus of laughter that reverberated off the tinny locker doors and down the halls of the school. 

        Jordan closed the door quietly and turned away from his adversary.  The crowd parted to let him by, taunting him as he walked the verbal gauntlet.  Jordan closed his eyes.  It would all be over soon.  And when it was, things would go back to normal.  Not quite.  After this, he would be more of an outcast than ever before, and this time they would fear him. 

                Now was the time.  It was perfect.  The thought raced through his mind so fast he barely had time to register it.  Had he known the time would come so soon, fear would have taken control of his mind.  Jordan had never been in a fight before, or even been hit in an aggressive matter.  He had only been hit a few times strictly by accident.  Bumping into things, and the like.  Knowing before hand that he was about to experience true pain firsthand would have made him nervous and scared.  Now all he had to do was light the fuse, and let everything unravel on its own. 

                Jordan threw the verbal attack over his shoulder as he continued to walk away.  “Is that the best taunt you could come up with?  I guess you’re not as smart as I thought.” 

                Chester was on Jordan before he could take another step.  No one seemed to notice or care about the speed to which he had reached Jordan, they were all focused on the punch he delivered to the square of his back. 

                Jordan fell to his hands and knees.  He tried to remain calm, but the blow to his back had knocked the wind out of him, and he was desperately trying to breathe.  A pulled kick to his side rolled him over on his back, and Chester was on top of him, with a knee in his chest.  The crowd became a roaring mob, scrambling on top of each other to watch.  Teachers stepped out of their classrooms, and stood in the doorways watching along with the other spectators.  They had been wanting something like this, and now, watching them fight each other was so much the better. 

                Chester drew back his arm and landed a solid blow to Jordan’s eye.  His form was horrible, but the message was well received.  As were the three other blows that followed.  Jordan couldn’t say he felt it, any of them.  It was all so fast.  There was no time to react, not even instinctively.  He didn’t even move to defend himself.  Jordan’s arms stayed at his sides the whole time. 

                Chester glanced down at his brother.  He hadn’t done any serious damaged, or even hurt him that bad.  His nose was bloodied, but not broken.  Black eye, busted lip, all in all not bad considering.  The point of all this was to crush his spirit, not his body.  Chester stood like a gladiator among his cheering audience.  They were all entertained. 

                “I hope you understand now.  I’m no longer tethered to you.  I’m my own man, and it would be in your best interest to stay away.” 

                 The teachers broke through the crowds, forcing them to scatter.  They ushered Chester off to his class, and left Jordan on the floor.  As he laid there on the cold ugly tile of the school hallway, all he could do was think about how quickly it had happened and that it was already over. 

                The pain was starting to set in as he picked himself up off the floor.  He would have to clean up in the bathroom and make up some kind of excuse for his mother.  She couldn’t see him like this, or know the truth.  Mr. Witherton was making his way back to class as Jordan was standing. He put a hand on his shoulder, and gently turned him towards the nearest exit. 

                “I think it would be best if you went home.  I’ll let the principal know that you’ve gone for the day.”  Jordan nodded politely, and walked off.   

                Jordan went over everything in his mind during the long walk home.  Again, and again he examined each piece of the picture.  Was it really what he thought?  Did Chester actually have some sort of extraordinary ability that set him apart from everyone else?  The possibility of it wasn’t that hard to believe.  Especially, not considering who he was.  It wasn’t the why that had him so troubled, but the what pulled on his heart and mind like a sinking ship.  What was he going to do about it?  That was easy.  He was going to kill Chester.  His best friend.  His brother.  His twin brother.  Easy?  The solution sounded easy, and he had come to that decision easily, but what bothered him was, did he come to it too easy.  Was there another way, another answer that was escaping him?  Maybe something that he wasn’t allowing himself to consider cause it was too hard.  Maybe it meant letting his brother go.  Severing their mental rapport and each going their separate way.  That would be hard on Jordan.  Too hard.  It would be easier for him to deal with his brother’s death than him simply walking out of his life.  There wouldn’t be any unanswered questions as to why he left, or who was to blame.

                Was that the real truth of the situation?  No.  There was more.  The things Chester was capable of doing were fantastic, and he couldn’t resist letting everyone know about.  His ego was getting the better of him.  It hadn’t before when he was just smarter than those around him, but now the desire to show them what he could do was too great to suppress.  It would only get worse as time went on.  And, as Jordan proved today, when someone dared to challenge him, he would retaliate on a higher scale.  As Chester became more confident, more arrogant, he wouldn’t feel the need to disguise what he could do.  He would blatantly display his abilities with out care or regard for who saw him and who knew.  It wouldn’t matter, no one could stop him.  Jordan feared if left to his own devices, Chester could become a threat to the entire world. 

                No, the decision wasn’t easy.  There was still his mother to think about.  Losing a son was going to devastate her, but losing him because he was killed by the other one…  Jordan wasn’t smart enough to think of a way to not break her heart.  He had already put together a recovery program for her.  Outlining when he should be close, and when he should keep his distance.  Times when they should reminisce, and always keep him in their heart.  And of course, the lie he had to give her to hide the truth and constantly show her how sorry he was.  This was the only part of his plan he was unsure of.  His mother wasn’t like the other people in Chamberlain.  He didn’t like trying to analyze her, and run her through the same predictability program as everyone else.  He liked being surprised be her thoughts and actions.  What he was going to do today would shatter their bond, and he needed to find a way to rebuild it. 

                No.  He couldn’t think about that now.  He had to focus on the task at hand.  Focus on what he was about to do.  His mother had to be pushed out of his thoughts completely, not just to the back of his mind.  Thinking of her could get him killed.  She could cloud his thoughts, and cause him to miscalculation a crucial step.  Or, even worse, hesitate when it was time for the final blow.  He had to focus on Chester. 

                Chester.  Jordan has seen him going and leaving the woods.  He’d been using the old fort they had built back there.  The Fortress of Mentality.  Such a stupid name.  Superior intellect couldn’t stop you from thinking like a kid sometimes. 

                Jordan knew that’s where he had been spending his time.  But why?  He wouldn’t use it as a place of solitude to organize his actions.  It was too easy for Jordan to find, let alone others.  Wallace and his brother Castor were known to pass through there occasionally while searching for the ghost of the grey wolf that killed their father.  They would even spend the night in the constrained wooden shelter if they became too scared.  Chester had to be using it for something else. 

                It wasn’t until he was in the cabin that it all made sense to him.  Jordan felt as if the air had been knocked out of him for the second time that day.  Practice.  The signs were everywhere, and damn near impossible to ignore.  He had been practicing his power.  Learning how to control it; but more importantly, learning how not to lose control of it.  And why not there?  Jordan had spent nearly every afternoon there during the time Chester was gone.  The quiet solitude.  It gave him time to think and be away from everyone.  It kept him calm and at peace with himself.  He was able to cope and understand all the things he was going through during those lonely months.

 It was so obvious, that Jordan cursed under his breath that he hadn’t realized it before.  He had been such a fool.  Chester hadn’t been gone a full two months.  That wasn’t nearly enough time for him to develop his talent and learn to control it.  He had gotten so caught up in his own fear that he failed to use common sense. 

                And now, here he was in the proverbial belly of the beast.  He could see it all.  Chester’s strengths and weaknesses.  The small wooden table in the center of the room told him everything.  There were large items sitting on the floor at the far end.  Logs, large unearthed stones, gallon jugs of water.  On top of the table it was the exact opposite.  Smaller items, matches, toothpicks, dominoes, playing cards, and several open packets of Chicklets.  Jordan understood.  It was easy to push or force midsized objects, even moving his own body was a cinch.  But, the smaller they were, the more concentration they required.  He couldn’t just “push” them the way he did the others.  He needed a more delicate touch.  It was the same with the bigger objects.  Too much force could cause him to lose control.  A small miscalculation, and he could destroy the entire town, or even himself. 

                Jordan had more than a fair understanding of power.  He saw it as a balance that could be shifted, but only slightly.  Too much force or pressure on either side could send it spinning out of control.  Power out of control couldn’t serve anyone’s needs, and was dangerous for everyone. 

                Jordan walked through the room slowly, surveying the surroundings.  He began to move in an odd manner, profiling what he perceived to be Chester’s routine.  He sat in the far chair and stared at the table, imagining himself moving the objects on the table.  Stacking the dominoes one at a time, arranging simple patterns which became more elaborate as he got stronger.  Building a house of cards.  Moving each card slowly, while focusing most of his attention on supporting the frame.  The matches and toothpicks were lifted into the air and arranged in various patterns and designs.  Jordan then noticed the charred bones of dead matches and realized that he was also practicing striking them.  Applying the write amount of pressure to ignite the head, without snapping the stem in two. 

                It was much the same with the other items.  Trying to find the right force to lift and pull them.  Juggling the logs and stones in the air.  Using his unseen hands to feel around the stones, determining their exact shape.  Twirling the logs in the air, feeling the shift in the weight as hey flipped end over end. 

                The floor at the opposite end of the table was wet.  The water jugs.  Of the three that sat, one was empty.  They weren’t being used for weight like Jordan had originally thought.  Chester was working on his precision and control.  He was lifting the jugs and transferring the water from one to the other. 

                The saturation of the wood was in a large misshapen circle.  That hadn’t come from a simple spill.  It was as if a large puddle of water had hit the ground.  Of course.  Jordan began to move his hands in the air as if he were kneading dough or juggling a slinky.  He imagined feeling the water in his hands, in a way that he physically never could.  Holding the water in the air.  Stretching it out.  Molding it into different shapes.  But it’s water.  Small beads and drops began to fall away, slipping between his intangible hands.  That little bit was all that it took to lose everything.  He reached out to grab what was falling, and lost his concentration on what he held.  Suddenly it was all over, and he lashed out in anger. 

                Jordan looked around.  He could see the results of Chester’s failure everywhere.  The walls of the fort were spotted with cracks and splintering impressions.  He could almost match each mark with the various stones and logs that were slammed into it.  Among the signs of frustration were noticeable scorch  marks in the wood.  Jordan walked over to one and ran his fingers across it.  He sighed.  He knew that Chester wasn’t responsible for those. 

                Jordan was still walking through his mind when the door to the fort slammed shut.  It wasn’t until he found himself shoved against the wall that he realized he was no longer alone.  Jordan tried to push away and turn around, but felt as if he were trying to do push ups on the ocean floor.  Behind him, Chester giggled like a child torturing a small animal.  Delighting in their unconscionable actions. 

                When he realized that Jordan was no longer fighting against him, Chester let go.  It wasn’t fun if you couldn’t get the other person to cry “uncle.”  Chester relaxed the pressure on Jordan. And spun him around to face him. 

                “I wondered how long it would take you to come here and see things for yourself.  I even allowed myself to think that maybe you were too scared to come down, especially after this morning.  But, I knew deep down that your curiosity would eventually bring you here.  Welcome.”   

Jordan ran his fingers lightly along the outside of his pants pocket, feeling the impression of the gun through the denim.  The gun belonged to their mother who had bought it out of impulsive fear when the boys were very young.  Chester and Jordan knew where she kept it, and had taken it apart and put it back together several times.  They had even drawn up diagrams for vast improvements on the design and structure, even eliminating the kick of large caliber guns without compromising their size.  Ultimately, they decided that the world was better off without this and destroyed the designs; like they had done with many of the other ideas they felt would only serve to push mankind down its inevitable decline even faster. 

                Chester stared at his brother, as if unsure of what was to happen next. 

                “I guess you want me to explain everything, huh?  It was the summer camp.  That’s what they did.  Why else would they come to a place like Chamberlain?”  Chester said, breaking the silence. 

                “They were recruiting you.”

                “Please.  Nothing quite so totalitarian or fascist.  More to study us.  To get a better understanding of who and what we were.  More to the point, to help us understand ourselves.  I sill don’t know how they knew, but they knew.” 

                “And that was it?”  Jordan probed to get Chester to open up more.  He was nervous.  Scared.  He had to bide his time until the time was right.  Or, until he could summon the strength to act. 

                “Of course not.  They weren’t really there to help us.  They’re scared of us.  They were there to see what we could do, and to figure out how best to use us.  Or, if necessary, kill us.” 

                “And then they just sent you home?”

                Chester snorted a laugh. 

                “All this time I thought you were smart, and it turns out you were just imitating me.  No.  They’re keeping an eye on all of us.  They never openly implanted me with any kind of tracking device, but I’m sure I have one.  Satellites monitoring our every movement, and all that.  But, honestly, they don’t care what we do as long as it doesn’t get out of hand.  They want us to use our abilities.  Grow stronger.  They want to see exactly what we’re capable of.  It’s the invisible fence tactic.  True control comes from allowing the other person to feel that they’re free.” 

                Jordan began to pace back and forth within the confines of the shelter.  He could only take four or five steps before heading back.

                “I had always felt that there was something more inside of me.  I couldn’t place it.  Sometimes I thought you felt it too.  The people at the camp, they knew.  I don’t know how, but they knew.  That’s why they just asked for me and not you, too.”  Chester pulled his shoulders back and stuck out his chest.  “You didn’t have anything they wanted.  But, I did.  So did Elijah Halverstein.” 

                Jordan thought back.  He had forgotten about Elijah.  He had gotten an invitation to the same summer camp as Chester.  He had left a few days before, but still had not come back home. 

                “He’s not coming back.  He died the third week I was there.  They had gotten to me before my abilities had a chance to surface, and they were about to awaken them in me, and teach me how to control them.  Elijah had been struggling for months to learn how to control his.  He could harness electricity.  Can you imagine that?”  Chester continued to pace back and forth in the cramped space, speaking matter-of-factly as if he was giving a lecture. 

                “A quiet little know nothing, do nothing like Elijah having that kinda ability.  They said they thought mine was based on a section of my brain being overdeveloped… you know being super intelligent, and all that.  That telekinesis was just a side effect of sorts.  Neural pathways from this ridge connecting to that.  Just guesses and theory, really.  No hard scientific proof.  But, hell, I guess that theory’s out the window, huh?  Look at you.”  Chester sneered and a laugh got caught in his throat.  He wiped away the spit that came to his lips. 

                “Now, Elijah they had pinpointed.  The iron and other various metals that naturally occur in the body were being over produced in some cases, and being supercharged by his body’s own electro-chemicals.  He could pull electricity from places, even redirect it.  But what he couldn’t do, was harness it.  He had no mastery of it.”  Chester gathered up the scattered toothpicks off the table and formed them into a little house.   

                “He blew up the bunker next to mine.”  Chester sent the toothpicks flying across the room.  They imbedded themselves in the wood, turning the shed into a large iron maiden.  “Killed himself and everybody in it.  Probably better off that way.  I can just picture him standing next to you, looking equally stupid, trying to look tough, while at the same time trying to keep his fillings from sparking.” 

                “Chester,”  A light patter of rain sounded on the trees and leaves outside.  Jordan’s chest began to beat hard in his chest.  His brothers animosity towards him was so strong that he was unprepared for the fear it was building up inside him.  “This power is too much.  You’re letting it take control of you.  Give it up.” 

                “Give it up?!  You’re crazy.  You’re too smart to say something that stupid.” 

                “You’re talking like you’re invincible.  Unstoppable, but you’re not.  Having power doesn’t make you better than everyone else.”  The rain began to beat harder now, as if Jordan’s own fear were controlling it, 

                “I would expect an answer like that from you.  You have no power.  You have no idea what real control feels like.”

                “Oppenheimer.” 

                “Come now.” Said Chester.  “Are you really going to take this route?”

                “He regretted what he had done.  After the bomb was dropped he said: ‘I am become death.'” 

                “He wishes.”  

                “You’re going to burn.”  Jordan’s brow furrowed. 

                “You mean in hell?  We never official answered that question, did we?”  Chester smiled, and his body seemed to bounce as it hovered in the air.  The rain banged against the wooden refuge like an angry drunk, while the thunder barked its ugly demands.  “Remember when we were six and we set out to prove, scientifically, whether or not God really existed?  We came up fifty-fifty, didn’t we?  Never really decided, huh?  Well, let me answer it for you now.  This power has shown me that there is a God.”

                “Let me guess, you’re it?”

                “No.”  Chester’s smug grin got even wider.  “But with a little more practice, I think I can kill him and take his job.” 

                “You’re insane, Chester.”  Jordan hadn’t realized that his brother was so far gone. 

                “It seems that the high school kids have had an effect on you, too.  I never would have thought you to make such a dismissive statement.  It’s so easy to call someone or something that you don’t understand crazy.  This just shows how far above you I am.” 

                Jordan went to take a step closer to Chester, but instead took two steps back.  He reached in his pocket and pulled out the handgun.  He carefully aimed it at Chester’s upper body. 

                “You plan on shooting me, Jordan?”  Chester held out his fist, wrist up.  He opened his hand slowly, like a blossoming flower.  Jordan watched at the gun came apart in his hand.  The individual pieces floated in the air for a few seconds, then dropped to the floor. 

                “Now what?”  Lightning flashed outside the building’s one small window, as if even it bowed to Chester’s will.  The blinding light illuminated everything in the room, bathing them all in its split second glow.   The lighting seemed to pull a black curtain behind it as it left, leaving them in momentary darkness.  Jordan used that time to strike. 

                Jordan drove himself, with all the strength and speed he was capable of, towards where he had last seen Chester.  He planted his right shoulder straight into Chester’s breast bone.  Both boys hit the ground hard.  The back of Chester’s head grazed the walk behind him.  Disorientation swept over him.  The ground suddenly shook as the sky bellowed with rage, issuing a late warning for the flash that had come before.  The blinding horror that bellowed outside had ripped open a section of the roof, and threatened to come inside and get them.   Jordan grabbed a piece of burning wood and swung it at Chester.  The fiery plank just missed his brothers head, and singed the sleeve of his shirt. 

                Chester was lifted from the ground, and on his feet before Jordan could lift up on knee.  He reached out for his brother, but the rain pelted his forehead and eyes, distracting him.  Jordan moved again, thrusting the burning spear towards his brother’s face.  The makeshift torch was now fully engulfed in flames.  The red and orange devourers took no sides in this battle, and made threatening advances toward both boys. 

                Jordan’s attack brought him too close to Chester.  An angry and frightened mental shove knocked the burning weapon from his hand, and sent him sprawling backwards against the wall. 

                Neither boy had noticed the flames around them or the rain blowing in from the hole in the roof.  To them, it was inconsequential.  All that mattered was the other person, and their need to die.  Chester grabbed Jordan with one hand and thrusted him into the air, holding him over the whole in the roof, blocking the rain.  With his other hand, Chester tore away a broken, jagged piece of the fort wall.  He held the pike just under Jordan’s stomach.  Jordan, didn’t know if he was going to force the wooden stake through him, or shove him down on top of it.  Neither was a comforting thought.  He allowed himself a second to acknowledge the errant thoughts that run through your mind in desperate times. 

                Jordan realized that Chester was only holding him in the air, and was not holding his body still.  He swung his right arm out wildly, striking the edge of the hole in the roof.  Broken, flaming pieces that had hung precariously fell down atop Chester.  Most of what fell narrowly missed him, but two choice pieces struck his outstretched arm and the back of his head.  Chester dropped to his knees, and Jordan fell towards the floor.  His eyes stayed fixed on the wooden spike beneath him as it fell as well.  He had no control over where and how he was going to fall, and could only hope and pray that the pike fell over on its side, and didn’t stand straight up. 

                The large stake twisted as it fell, with Jordan only a few seconds behind it.  The edge of the splintered beam caught his stomach and ripped across, leaving behind small souvenirs of his near death experience. 

                Despite being soaked by the intrusive rain, Chester found himself ablaze from the debris that had fallen on him.  He tried to use his abilities to put the fire out.  It was of no help.  Unlike the water, he couldn’t grab the fire and force it away.  The fire started to spread.  In his mind, he screamed.  Waves of fear slammed against the walls of the fort repeatedly. 

                Jordan rolled away from the near death that he laid atop.  He grabbed his side and started to stand.  Chester was on his knees infront of him.  Jordan watched as the fire sought him out and converged on him, like brightly colored, illuminated ants scrambling across a piece of candy.  He suddenly felt Chester’s fear as it pounded against him an invisible rhythms. 

The concussive waves pushed him backwards, and knocked the breath out of him.  Jordan watched in amazement as the air that was forced from his lungs ignited mere inches from his face as if he were breathing fire. 

Even amid the raging storm around them, Jordan could hear the creaking and moaning of the shelter as it began to die. 

Jordan gave one last look at Chester who writhed in pain on the burning floor.  This wasn’t how he wanted to end things.  The pieces of the gun laid scattered at his feet.  If there were time, he would put it together and end his brother’s suffering.  He owed him that.  But, there wasn’t time.  All he could do was escape the mini hell that the two had made, and start putting his follow up plan in motion. 

                Jordan escaped through the collapsing hole where the door used to be.  He wanted to run away from the destruction and loss of everything he loved that was behind him, but didn’t.  Couldn’t.  He walked away slowly, accepting everything that had happened, and the role he played in it.  He had determined this was the only course of action, and now he had to live with it. 

Six Months Later

                Jordan watched, no, analyzed his attorney, Paul Webster’s, every sentence and movement.  He had gone to great length to coach the man.  If they were going to win, then Paul would have to follow Jordan’s instructions to the letter.  So far his performance was flawless. 

                Paul paused, as they had practiced, and retreated to his desk for a glass of water.  Jordan could see the desperation in Paul’s face.  It was the one thing he had trouble hiding.  He had a lot riding on the outcome of the case.  The deal he and Jordan had arranged was contingent on his winning, and he desperately needed to win. 

                Paul had made one too many mistakes the previous year.  Mistakes that went beyond those of the average underhanded lawyer.  He secretly wished that he had just over extended himself financially or, had mob dealings.  What he had done was… indescribable.  It was like comparing the Taj Mahal to a sand castle. 

When Jordan showed up at his door requiring his services he wasn’t sure what to think.  Like everyone else in town, he was scared of the intellectually superior child.  His fear grew, when Jordan revealed that he knew about Paul’s secret.  A deal was struck soon afterwards.  In exchange for Paul’s services, Jordan would help him with his little “problem.”  

                Jordan had already worked out the entire trial and presented Paul with his notes.  A script and a day by day account of what he presumed would happen.  So far, it was exactly as he said it would be. 

                Paul took two sips of his water, a deep breath, and counted the heartbeats in between.  Two.  Three.  Four.  He turned sharply and once again addressed the jury. 

                After fifteen days the trial was over and Paul Webster sat next to Jordan King, waiting.  Paul stared at his watch counting the minutes as they ticked by.  According to Jordan’s timetable the jury was due back with a verdict in two minutes.  After everything else that had happened, Paul was still surprised when the call came in five minutes later.  The jury had reached their verdict. 

                Not guilty. 

                The words were still ringing in Paul’s ears when he and Jordan walked out the courthouse.  They had won.  He had won, because now he would be able to take care of that other matter.  He reached into the inside breast pocket of his suit jacket and fumbled with a pack of cigarettes.  He had been trying to quit, but the past seven months had made things incredibly difficult.  He pulled out a lighter and fumbled with it as well.  He held it before his face and flicked it several times, holding his left hand out in front to block the wind. 

                Jordan was quiet.  He had been like this ever since that night.  He had a lot on his mind.  No, that wasn’t true.  There was only one thing on his mind, his mother, and it was a weighty subject.  He and Chester were all that she had.  Their relationship was strained as it was, but now it was even worse.  It would take time for this wound to heal.  Jordan would have to try very hard to reestablish what little connection that they had and make it stronger.   

                As far as the townspeople were concerned, one freak had killed another.  They were equally horrified by the fact, as they were relieved.  Chester had changed in more than just Jordan’s eyes.  He had assimilated himself into the town, becoming a local football prospect.  That scared them even more.  As they saw it, better the one they knew and hated, than the one they knew and had grown to like. 

                It was all over now.  And as usual, the town continued on like nothing had ever happened.  This was Jordan’s only solace.  His brother was dead, and he had killed him.  His brother.  If only Chester had told him.  Together, the two of them could have done wonderful things. 

                Jordan looked over at Paul Webster and his futile attempts to light his cigarette.  The attorney looked down at him with a weak smile. 

                “You wouldn’t happen to have a light on you, would you?” 

                Jordan stared at the end of the cigarette hanging from Paul’s mouth.  The tip of the cigarette began to glow than burst into flames. 

                Yes.  The two of them could have done wonderful things.

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