Desperate times call for desperate measures, but how far could you really go?

On the east side of Colorado lived a small family of four; a mother, a father, and two boys. The boys' names were Jeffery, the eldest, and Liu, the youngest.

Liu was a slightly lanky preteenager with blond hair and slightly tanned skin with pink cheeks and bridge of his nose. His eyes were light blue and were slightly sharp at the edges. Rosy pink flesh coated his thin lips lightly but still added a contrast between his lips and his cheeks and chin.

Jeffery was lanky as well but he was more muscular and fitter than his brother, who had some muscle but not much. Originally his hair was like Liu’s, a dirty blond color, but after avoiding the sun for most of his life his skin had lightened more than his brother’s and his hair had darkened. His eyes were rounder than Liu’s but his lips matched his brother’s. The pigment on his face was very different and didn’t actually show much at all. There were two things Jeffery treasured most: his journal, and his white jacket, which symbolized the good times he had in his old home.

They had moved there from Oregon three years before then. Their little old house was placed in the middle of nowhere. The ground was mainly sand with little scruffs of grass here and there, but nothing substantial.

The two boys’ ages were fifteen and twelve, though Jeffery was about to turn sixteen that month. Jeffery was very protective of Liu since he was a little boy, and it’s been no different since then. Though Liu says he gets annoyed by having two mothers with Jeffery around, he not only loved his brother, but he loved what his brother did for him. He remembered how his brother always gave his bullies a real scare when they’d hurt him. Although Jeffery got into trouble a lot with his teachers and parents, he thought it was worth it every single time.

The small house they bought came with a basement, separate from the house. Before they settled in they decided that Jeffery would be the one to keep the door open while him and his father would hold it close in the case of a tornado. Often times the boys would make jokes about how if they stayed in the house during a tornado they could go to Oz. Their parents didn’t want them joking about it, though. Where they lived was a part of “Tornado Alley” which meant they could actually get stuck in one, but of course the boys didn’t listen.

They’d stay up and camp out in the shed. Together they would come up with stories of how they would hear a tornado outside and they would be stuck in the place for days. It didn’t matter because, not only would that likely not happen, but they also had food in the underground shed to eat if they did get stuck. The fridge held a week’s worth. Their camp outs didn’t last long very often. Before they could really get started their mother or father would find them and scold them for trying to sleep in there. They did it because they feared that the boys would break something, leading to a safety disaster if a tornado came along randomly.

One sunny day, the family was all outside. Jeffery was leaning against the house’s marble pillar, his mother was playing with Liu, and his dad was enjoying the view. Though the landscape was bare, the boys’ father was a horizon painter, and was preparing for another work to sell. Liu often tried to get Jeffery to play with him and his mother, but he would refuse, saying:

“The pillars are nice and cold, I’d rather not leave them,” he would then lay back, leaning against the cold stone. “And there’s no wind to keep me cool.”

“You miss Oregon, don’t you?” Liu asked.

“Maybe,” Jeffery smiled. “I’ve never been much of a hot weather person, and you know I hate tanning.”

“Yeah, that’s why your hair is so much darker than mine,” Liu laughed.

“No, my hair was that color when I was your age, yours will get darker too,” Jeffery intoned while still leaning on the pillar.

“Yeah, right,” Liu’s hair was a dirty blond color, while Jeffery’s was a very dark brown. It was on the edge of being black but he still got out sometimes.

Liu was wearing a sport’s shirt and pants. Jeffery wore black pants, white shoes, and a white t-shirt. He normally wore his jacket, mainly to cover himself from the sun, but he couldn’t find it. With the sun he moved so he was constantly in the shade.

“Chicken!” Liu mocked when he moved into the shade.

“At least I’m not getting skin cancer!” Jeffery called back.

“C’mon and play with mom and I!” he laughed.

“No thank you,” Jeff looked back up. “I’m not your age anymore, Liu. I want to relax, especially with school starting in less than a month.

“C’mon!” he whined, drowning out the “o” in the word.

“Stop!” Jeffery turned slightly to lock eyes with his brother. “I mean it.” Though he tried to sound serious, there was a strange chuckle in his voice that made Liu think otherwise.

Silently Liu crept towards his brother, keeping his legs much like a grasshopper while he snuck towards Jeffery. Strangely Jeffery didn’t notice his brother sneaking towards him. Liu’s feet creaked slightly on the wood, but by the time his brother noticed it was too late for him. From his left side, Liu tackled Jeffery and drove him into the dirt.

“Liu!” Jeffery exclaimed. “Let me up, damn it!” Liu climbed on top of his brother and kneeling on his back to keep him down.

“Then stop being such a stick in the mud, Jeff,” he wrestled with him. “You need to—loosen up—a bit.” He struggled keeping his much older and stronger brother on the ground. Jeffery was at a disadvantage, being pinned to the ground on his stomach. Before they knew it both boys were rolling on top of each other like little kids again. When they looked into each other’s eyes, they saw themselves as small children, back when Jeffery was Liu’s age, and Liu was only eight or so.

They only cut out of it when they heard their parents laughing, and then they went back to the annoyed sibling appearance.

“Get off, twat,” Jeffery pushed against his brother, who was once again on top of him.

“In your dreams,” Liu began to poke at Jeffery’s stomach. “And don’t call me ‘twat.’”

“Make me,” he grinned and tried to push his brother off of him. Then the competition became real between the two, though still playful like siblings. It became a long running match of who would get the most dirt on them. The wind began to blow slightly, but the only one who noticed or cared was their father, whose paper was being blown away because of it.

“I’m going to put my art away, okay dear,” he called to his wife.

“That’s fine, darling,” she giggled, still looking at her kids.

Each and every turn and switch of power between the boys caused another call for help from their mother, where she’d tell them that “they were big boys who could defend themselves.”

Their father stood at the entrance of the house door, watching his sons the same way his wife was, with a warm beam across his face.

Suddenly the wind began to pick up; the whole family noticed it. Stopping dead in their tracks. They walked to the side of the house and all four of them looked out to their back yard and saw that a few miles out was a small tornado starting to form and could possibly turn into a larger one.

“Everyone, get underground!” their father exclaimed. The four of them began to run to the underground shed. “Wait,” their father stopped suddenly, his feet dragging into the ground. He held his hands up and took deep breaths to calm himself from his sudden sprint and stop. “Do we need to grab anything?”

They all stopped for a moment to think. Jeffery turned to open the door for his family while his mother and brother just shook their heads. He froze in his tracks. Much like a dancer Jeffery spun around quickly and faced his family with wide eyes.

“My journal!” he exclaimed. “I need to get it!” he ran towards the entrance to the house. His feet stepped up on the small step that surrounded his house before he felt a force hold him back and turn him around.

“No!” his father’s hand was on his shoulder, pulling his son towards him until they were both on the step but only a few inches apart. “I’m going to grab it. Where is it?”

“In my room,” Jeff removed his father’s hand from his shoulder. “But why can’t I get it?”

“You need to open the doors so Liu and your mother can get in,” he pushed Jeffery slightly towards the door. “Now go, I’ll meet you there!”

“But dad, it’s no big deal!”

“If you don’t come out soon enough you will die up there and I don’t want that to happen to you!”

“But then you’ll die! You don’t know where my journal is!”

“I’ll find it! Go, now, your youth will last longer than what little I have now! I’ve done more in my life than you have and you deserve to experience those things, go,” he put his hand on his son’s shoulder again. “Now.”

Jeffery forced back the tears, for himself and his brother, and ran towards the shed, taking his brother by the arm and just a few yards from it before his mother spoke.

“I’m staying,” she stated. “I’m going to stay at your side.”

Jeff and Liu froze and turned around. They were half way between their father and the shed.

“Darling, please,” their father reached to her the same way he did to Jeffery.

“No, I will not disobey my wedding vows,” she held his arms. “Now run, stop asking questions.”

After looking back at her, trying to convince her with his eyes to go with his sons, and then looking at his sons and to his house, he sprinted into the house to get Jeffery’s journal.

“Come on, Liu!” Jeffery pulled at his brother’s arm but his brother pulled away, bending his arm against his brother’s thumb.

“No, I’m sticking with mom,” he looked into his brother’s eyes, which were now at his height since Jeffery was bent at his knees slightly. “You have to go though, keep the door open for us.”

“But, Liu, I don’t want to lose you like this.”

“You won’t,” he raised his eyebrows to his brother. “Now, go, we need someone to open the door.”

“What are you going to do? All that could happen is that you could get in the shed or you could get stuck in the tornado, it’s a fifty, fifty chance if you stay here with mom and dad.”

“Something is telling me that I’m going to be needed, for something a bit bigger,” he looked back at the house then turned his head to his brother. “Maybe it’s God telling me this, maybe it’s my gut, but all that I know is that I need to stay here, it’s better for the plan.”

“Liu, please,” Jeffery couldn’t control himself anymore, and he began to cry. “You don’t have to—“

“Go!” Liu exclaimed before Jeffery had a chance to cry or continue his statement. “I’ll be there, don’t worry about me.”

“But why must you stay out here? Come with me and we’ll both be safe,”

“I’ll be there just keep the door open,” he put a hand on his brother’s shoulder. “I promise.”

Seeing how the tornado was far enough away that Jeffery didn’t worry as much, he put a hand on his brother’s shoulder in empowerment. “I remember when I had to protect you, keep your chin high. But now you’re mirroring that upon me.” He began to tear up and with a trembling breath he hugged his brother, his chin resting on Liu’s right shoulder, and same with Liu’s chin on Jeffery’s right shoulder. “I love you, Liu.”

“I love you too, Jeff,” Liu began to cry too.

“And remember,” Jeffery pulled away. “You were the only one I allowed to call me that. So you really are special to me.”

“Thank you,” Liu laughed and saluted his brother.

Laughing, Jeffery straightened quickly and saluted Liu back with a large smile on his face, and turned to run to the doors to keep them open for his returning family.

The wind began to pick up in speed. It swirled around the house and three family members. With every second they became more and more nervous. To them it seemed the tornado was inching towards them instead of away like they had hoped.

At that moment, Jeffery’s happiness died within him. He regretted ever mentioning his journal. It seemed that it would cause his father’s demise and possibly his mother and brother’s. His stomach sank to his feet but shot back up into his throat, nearly causing him to cry again. With these feelings his hands and arms began to shake under the pressure. He wished he never allowed his dad to get it, that he had sprinted to his journal, knowing exactly where it is instead of his father possibly having to search his room for it.

A loud sudden crash was heard, along with a distant thump. Around the corner Jeffery’s father came with his journal and a few pens, which he didn’t have to get for Jeffery but he did. The wind had gotten so strong that Liu felt like he’d fly away and it even affected his father while he ran towards his family again. Dirt was loosened and flew around them, hitting them like small bullets. Though their view was clouded, Jeffery could see his father.

Over him came a warming feeling as he convinced himself that his father would survive. It seemed more and more likely that he was going to be right, as his father stayed up, though it soon hit him like it did before, to his feet then his throat.

Under his father’s feet it seemed a rug of dirt had been pulled from under him. He struggled with all of his strength to get up, but it seemed that either God or Mother Nature was teasing him, especially Jeffery. The second he was on his hands and knees the stone column that Jeffery remembered so strongly leaning against earlier that day, and every day before it, fell on top of his legs on his mid-thigh with a subtle and muffled crack.

His scream pierced the wind and ripped into Jeffery’s eardrums. The noise paralyzed him, making him stare out onto his front lawn, which was now clouded with dust.

Without thinking, his father gave his wife the journal and pens to give to Jeff, but she didn’t move. Instead she handed it to Liu and told him to give it to his brother. Though Liu and Jeffery’s father bickered with her, she pushed Liu away too soon before he could protest anymore, staying by his side. Liu tried to help his mother and father, but the column was too heavy and his father’s leg was caught underneath it and too deep into the ground.

“Liu, go, please!”

“But Mommy,” Liu screamed, nearly crying. His inner child was coming out and seeping through his skin like sweat. “I don’t want to go! I want to be with you!”

His mother held his hands between her own, seeing the tears drag across his face from the strong wind. “Please, you’ll be safe with your brother, I promise. You’re a big boy now, you can do this.” She kissed him on the forehead. “Now, go, please.” She looked as if she was going to cry as well.

Seeing the tornado inching closer and closer, Liu ran for the shed to meet with his brother. Pieces of the house were starting to come off and swerve over to the side.

“Jeffery, Jeffery!” Liu cried. “Close the door, close the door!”

“Okay!” Jeffery screamed to him. “Get in!”

Liu ran through the doors and Jeffery closed them as soon as he could, feeling himself accidentally hit Liu lightly on the shoulder with his elbow.

“Sorry, kiddo,” he apologized. His ears were too focused on what was outside to notice what Liu said or anything else from inside. He only listened for his parents. Why did I say that? We all thought he could make it! Why did the tornado have to go so fast and head our way? Tears came to Jeff’s eyes. All I had to do was not mention my god damn journal. Now I’ll never be able to even look at it without thinking of my parents. I’d happily burn the book now if it meant having my parents back. His strength was now connected more to his anger than it did his knowledge of what would happen if he slipped even slightly. He then remembered the lock that was supposed to keep the door closed. Quicker than he ever did anything before, Jeff located the lock and jammed it close, making sure nothing would open it. Just at that moment he remembered how his parents were out there, and how he should keep the door at least unlocked for them in case they can get up. But when he listened to the door, all he heard was strong winds.

Shaking, Jeff turned and sat on the stairs right below the door. His breath was trembling and hiccupped with small whimpers from stress and sadness. He pressed his face against his knees. “Liu, I’m so sorry you had to go through this. You’re my brother; I should have protected you better. You mean the world to me and to have you scarred like that hurts me more than anything. I’d happily do anything to get Mom and Dad back, but you can only do so much.” He lifted his head from his knees and looked at the refrigerator from across the room and focused on it. “We’ll be fine, I promise. After this we’ll both go back to school, and who knows, maybe Mom and Dad will have some injuries to them, maybe very bad ones, but they could still be alive, right?” He searched for audible reassurance. “Right?” He looked over to his right and saw his brother, laying on the ground, face to his left side and his eyes slightly open. “Liu,” Jeff knelt down towards his brother. “Liu, Liu, get up.” He calmly shook him. “Please,” Jeff began to cry. “Please, please, no.” He rolled Liu onto his back. Blood rolled down his face from his forehead. His skull had been cracked and must have caused too much head trauma for the twelve-year-old’s head to bear. “Liu! Liu!” Jeff began to scream and shake him. “This isn’t funny anymore.” He tried to convince himself that his brother was still alive. “You’re too good at this, bro,” he laughed. “Now, come on, the ground must hurt to lie on like that. And it’s so cold.” He continued to laugh, unconvinced still of his passing. Desperate for a companion in this dark time, began to perform CPR. Not knowing what else to do, he tried to breathe life into Liu’s dead corpse.

As he tried and failed to get Liu breathing again, Jeff felt a cold rush over his body. Completely defeated he collapsed onto his brother’s body, weeping over his brother’s death. “I’m sorry, Liu. I’m sorry.” He held himself up and looked onto his brother’s bloody face. Feeling guilty, Jeff propped him up, making him sit upright, his back against the mini freezer and wiped away the blood with the lower part of his shirt. “There, good as new,” he chuckled. “At least you might be with Mom and Dad, huh?” he closed his brother’s eyes. “At least you’re happy.” His brave face crumbled and soon again he was back to his completely broken self.

He reminisced in what he remembered of Liu, and all of the good times they had together. It seemed like his life flashed before his eyes, not his whole life, just what little of it was spent with Liu. Though it was twelve and a half years it felt so short now that he was gone. Any other time, Jeff would have said that his time with Liu was truly how long it was, but to him then it seemed like merely an hour, and not even that long. He held Liu’s hand. With a smile on his face, tears still in his eyes, and his sniffling continuing, he kissed his brother lovingly on his nose. “Love you, kiddo,” he choked out. “I’ll miss you.” He turned his attention to the freezer. Without a moment of thought he opened it and removed all of the frozen food and shoved it in the refrigerator. Folding his brother’s body slightly he placed his corpse into the freezer. “At least you could have an open casket.” He then closed the freezer lid, hoping that he wouldn’t have to deal with it too much longer.

To keep himself calm he lit a lamp to keep himself occupied slightly. Jeff always enjoyed fire, experimenting with it, seeing it, and sometimes even touching it, or seeing how close he could get to it before it hurt him. It didn’t help him forget anything that happened, but it slightly lessened the blow.

Though it upset him, he did write in his journal, but it was so his family’s life didn’t go wasted. He accounted for every day he could remember to take time to write in it, knowing that he should stay there for at least two days or so, just to make sure the tornado was gone. Fearing for the worst, he decided to ration his food, only eating when he really needed to and eating very little at that.

Day one, what I’m sure is the worst day. My brother is dead, and my parents are very likely dead too, and it’s entirely my fault. If I had grabbed my journal, if I had it with me, or just not cared, my family would be alive. Why did I have to survive? Why couldn’t Liu have held the door open? Why couldn’t I have cracked my head open on the cement floor? Liu didn’t deserve to die this way. He should have died with the last image being his loving family he made with his own flesh and blood, not concrete. I was the one that messed up, I was the one who put my family in danger, I deserved to suffer, not the people who simply wanted to grant my every wish. It makes me want to vomit every second I think about it, how I could have changed it, how I would if I had the chance. I cry every second he isn’t with me, all I hope for is that Liu is happy with my parents now, and that I finally get over myself. I need to sleep; it is the best cure for troubles.

Jeff fell asleep that night, not sleeping well, but still slept. His sleep was dark, no dreams, no thoughts, just his brain flicking a switch on then off. Though to him it seemed like less than a second, he had slept for about eight hours before getting up again.

Once he woke up, he looked around. Gulping nervously, he approached the freezer. He thought that maybe his brother and he were playing around in the shelter again, that everything was a nightmare, but he was mistaken. He opened the freezer and saw his brother’s body. Liu’s body was stiff and his skin was blue and white. His lips were an aquamarine blue, turning deeper as it neared the inside of his mouth. Icicles formed in and around the crevices in his skin and between his limbs. It seemed that his body had thinned since he was alive, but it was hard to tell for sure. He still wore his white button up shirt and blue jeans, but they seemed crisp and still. His hair was also still blond, but any loose strand was coated in small shreds of ice.

Suddenly images flooded into his mind once again. Shivering from the chill that came over him, he curled into a ball with his hands on his head and his fingers digging into his scalp. His mental state relapsed into the day before and he started to scream. It seemed oddly worst this time, seeing how the shock and adrenaline had worn off by then. With some of his hair between his fingertips he covered his eyes and began to sob.

“Why, God?” His fingernails clawed into his skin so red marks were left on his forehead and around his eyes and cheeks. His dead and new skin was stuffed under his fingernails and caused some parts of his head and face to bleed. “Why! Why have you done this to me? Done this to my brother, my parents? They didn’t deserve this! Why am I the one who survived? I don’t deserve to live! This was all my doing! Why didn’t I suffer for it?”

Day two: I’ve realized why God left me alive. To pay for what I did. He left me on earth to suffer the loss of my parents and closest friend; my brother. My thoughtless actions were repaid with consequences which I would have never had assumed would be reasonable, but in God’s mind apparently it is. Ever since I was born I thought God favored my brother; He had him planned since my mother gave birth to me. God liked Liu more than he liked me, and I felt the same way. Though, unlike what I’ve come to believe, God was and still is a greedy son of a bitch and wanted Liu for Himself. He took Liu away from me to punish me for thinking of myself and my journal over what God thought I was so ungrateful for, and I was. I was ungrateful for my family; my brother, my parents, everyone and everything I owned and loved. I didn’t show how much gratitude I felt towards my loving and understanding family and friends. God always planned to teach me what it was like to have none of it, so He did this to me. He made me think of my journal at the last second, He made me not stand up to my father and bravely get my journal, possibly dying in the process, and He was the one that caused me to shut the door too early, elbowing my brother to the floor and to his death. It was all a part of His plan to torture me, and I fear for what else He has in store.

He closed the freezer and directed his attention to the doors to the outside world. Slowly he crept towards it, peering out of it through a small hole in the wood the door was made of. The wind was gone, the tornado was gone. He wouldn’t have to wait another day, he could go outside, get his brother a funeral, and solve all of his problems through time taken outside. From outside he could feel the warm air and the hot sun. There he could smell the large and free deserted yard, the wide open farmland, the never-ending grassland, which was dry but still oddly alive, and especially the hint of lavender from the forest a mile away. All he had to do was push the door open, freedom would be his; he could run free and escape from his hell.

But the door was jammed.

Jeff’s eyes widened with his attempt. He’d lie on his back and kicked against the door, shaking the dry wood, causing dust and woodchips to fly into his lungs and eyes. After an hour of kicking the door over and over again, he realized that the lock was rusted together. Not only that, it was still cemented into the wood, keeping it from breaking during the tornado, but also making it impossible to get out. If it can survive a tornado, it could survive some kid kicking at it from the inside. Jeff thought. There’s no way I’m getting out of this soon. He knew that he lived far away from civilization, but someone had to find him eventually, right?

“I just found out what He had in store. The door is jammed and won’t open, though I’m sure in about a week or so I’ll be found. I have a lamp, both with a candle and an electric one with a box of batteries. I’ll be fine. Though it keeps me thinking what else will happen. I fear for myself, at least I know Liu, my mom, and my dad are happy where they are, they’re where they’ll be happy forever and where they belong.”

He waited in the silence, only having his journal to write and draw in. On the side of his passages in the margarine he’d doodle in ball point pen things like pretty eyes and vines. He also drew barbed wire like many tattoos had. Jeff had dreamed of being a tattoo artist, but he knew that he couldn’t make much of a living doing it, but at least he’d enjoy it, much like making his small drawings in his journal. To calm himself he tried to practice drawing little flowers on the vines, which didn’t solve much but it was a nice type of meditation for him, much like the fire. He often took deep breaths to relieve his nerves.

At random times he would cry out over what happened, but as soon as it started he’d calm down and draw again. Much like turrets, these bursts of emotional distress came and went at random and wouldn’t return for an hour or so, but sometimes would come again within the ten minutes he waited. He couldn’t predict them at all and at times he even wished he wouldn’t do it, but he couldn’t help it in the slightest.

Weeks into his isolation he began to feel strange. There was no one to talk to and no other noise or anything audible to distract himself from his environment, situation and emotions.

Day ten: I’m very lonely in here. There’s no noise really, no human voices to listen to. Often if I don’t talk long enough I forget what the human language sounds like. I remember what things mean, what English is, how to speak it, and how to communicate, but I can’t remember what it sounds like to have a conversation. I know what my voice sounds like, but not any others. All I hear is Liu’s last words, but I can’t remember anything else he’s ever said to me. It’s becoming harder and harder for me to remember anyone fondly except for him. I’ve stopped blaming myself for what happened to me, which had been plaguing me for almost a week. It wasn’t my fault. My father was too slow, he should have made his family go, and my mother shouldn’t have abandoned her children like that. How could she do that to us? That stupid, disgusting bitch! She killed her son; she’s the reason why I’m here. And really, how long can it take to find a god damn journal? Jesus fucking Christ, Dad! You shouldn’t have let his wife stay with him! You should have known better! You’re just as selfish and repulsive as the dirty mutt you decided to marry! How could you two do this to us! You two killed your own son and sent your other one to a living hell and you’re unapologetic about it! You are revolting fucking pigs!

Two weeks had passed by, and Jeff wasn’t rational in the slightest. His sanity was sick and dying very quickly. He found himself chewing on his flesh randomly, not even thinking anything of it. All over his body were little cuts and sores that he often didn’t even remember causing. He didn’t try to eat himself by any means; it just became an impulse that he couldn’t seem to discover for a long while.

Another way he’d harm himself out of boredom and lack of creativity was to scratch at his skin with his long and chipped nails. At first he’d just get pink spots, but after a while he started to bleed and bleed. It may have been caused by an extreme feeling of nervousness. The little food he had left he knew wouldn’t survive until he got out, if he ever did.

Day twenty: I’m losing all hope. No one’s going to find me, I’m going to die in the darkness and I’m losing myself and I don’t know how far I could go on. I can feel myself slipping into a dark place. I’ve had too much time to myself. I’m thinking bad things, very bad things. I’m finally dreaming again, but it’s all demonic and showing me what I can only assume to be the only place worse than my current world. Something unsettling about it was that I sometimes saw light and often faded images of my brother. I convinced myself that he was happy, but didn’t even think that he may have ended up in hell, which scared me. I didn’t mind it if my parents ended up there, because of what they did to me and my brother, but not Liu. He didn’t deserve to suffer like me or anything half as bad as what I’m currently suffering. But, hey, they’re only dreams. At least that’s what I hope.

Jeff had just turned seventeen, but he couldn’t tell. He had lost track of the days. It was almost a month since he’d been outside, and he began to hear things. He could hear people saying his name, trying to talk to him, get his attention, but there wasn’t an image to these noises. It seemed that Jeffery was slipping away from reality and may have even tried to.

His food was officially gone, nothing was left. He had nothing left to do, except one thing, but it could torture him more than anything else.

Day twenty-eight: I found one last way I could survive. Today I smashed a pickle jar, and took the sharpest piece. On the cement ground I was able to sharpen the edge and am going to use it to cut Liu’s foot off. I’m going to do it tomorrow, though. I intend to eat Liu from the feet up, so that he could still have an open casket if their other family members decided to. It’ll be hard for me, but it’s a price I’m sadly willing to pay. I don’t know why I still thrive to live, maybe it’s my animal instinct within me ripping through my skin and into the world, but I don’t want to die in here. I can’t. I can’t.

It was the day after. He had to eat part of his brother in order to survive. Hesitating he opened the freezer and released his brother’s feet and part of his leg. With a candle from the lamp he used it to thaw out Liu’s ankle. When the flesh eventually softened he used the sharpened glass to cut through the flesh. It leaked with blood slightly, but it was an odd color, or maybe it was the heavily dimmed light. It looked almost brown or burgundy, like the blood had dried but was still a liquid somehow. As he cut he found he couldn’t cut any deeper. He had hit the bone. With the glass he had he couldn’t cut through the bone like he might have been able to with a knife. His hand was shaking as he held his makeshift knife. Knowing he couldn’t break the bones of a tanning and milk addicted early teenager, he cut off the top of his foot in sections instead of simply removing his foot and eating it whole.

His teeth pressed against the piece, trying to separate different bites, which eventually succeeded. The blood was frozen and cracking with every chew Jeff took and soon melted in his mouth. It was metallic as blood normally is, but it was cold with sharp needles poking Jeff’s tongue and throat as the melted blood went down. The meat was thin but hard to separate through compression. It had the flavor of veil but the texture and tenderness of gristle. After Jeff’s warm mouth and hands defrosted his brother’s flesh it was easier to eat. Jeff couldn’t even remember eating the flesh; he just remembered chewing on cold beef jerky which was actually a strip of his brother’s foot. It meant nothing to him anymore. He was an animal, and needed to eat, even if it was the skin and flesh of his own. He was no longer empathetic towards what he was doing.

The skin around his eyes was beginning to darken and his eyes had begun to do the same. His pupils had grown very wide and his once brown eyes had turned black. His skin was almost white which caused a large contrast between his skin and his eyes. Like his hair had been for the past few years, it had darkened. But now he couldn’t get sunlight, unlike before where he just tried to avoid it as much as he could. So now his hair was obsidian with a reflective oily texture. His skin was covered in sores from his scratching at his skin with his chipped fingernails, opening and reopening cuts and wounds. He looked like a meth addict, and many people would have thought so had anyone saw him.

Day twenty-nine: it wasn’t so bad. I’m going to admit it; it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be to eat part of my brother. I even cut off the top of his foot like dismantling a car; piece by piece, though it was more personal, but it meant nothing. Nothing means anything anymore. I’m never going to get out of here, might as well try to survive.

Later he mentioned his cuts and sores in a continuation of his twenty-ninth day.

They hurt so much. Why can’t I stop? They keep on stinging but I keep on picking. I don’t know why and it’s driving me mad! I can’t take it anymore. Every time I heal and my pain fades I pick at them again and again. I hear the cracks when my skin flexes and it sometimes burns. Just today I tried to burn the blood with the candle, see if it dried it up quicker, but it didn’t work, and it hurt more than anything I’d ever done. The only thing I haven’t touched is my face. I don’t know why that is, but I have no urge to scratch at my skin there. I’m so thankful of the fact that I don’t have acne otherwise I would be picking at my face and causing the scars I will most surely have on my body for the rest of my life.

The voices in Jeff’s head became louder. Some of them weren’t even human. They were just growls and shrieks, all directed towards him. Every once in a while he heard manic laughter, which was contagious. He would laugh along with them. It had been a long time since he sincerely laughed. Those times it wasn’t even sincere; it was merely out of discomfort. He’d laugh until he was coughing, and then he coughed until his lungs hurt. After a while he would laugh until he was doubled over on the floor. That day he tried to write a passage in his journal, but it was nearly impossible to be read by any human.

The page was covered in drawings. Many of them were eyes. They were all the same way, the tear duct being on the left side. There were all different shapes and sizes, some of them were cat eyed and others had round pupils. The pupils ranged from not there to the whole eye. They all had eyelashes, which were long but different levels of curl. Some of them were completely curled up and others were straight out. The eyes all seemed feminine or demonic.

Day forty: there are monsters in the darkness. They say there are monsters in the dark. I don’t know whether I should believe it. They say that since I ate my brother they want to kill me for eating my own kind. To keep myself awake I’ve been using the candles to burn off my body hair, or I’d pluck them out with my nails or the glass by lifting it by the follicle. It’s fun and distracting. The pain keeps me awake. When I pluck the hairs it stings slightly which keeps me awake for a while. It keeps the monsters away.

Two months into his isolation and Jeff was beginning to see things. One of them was his brother, Liu. His spirit seemed to be haunting Jeff relentlessly which hurt Jeff deeply. He’d try to plug his ears to filter out the sounds of his brother’s anguished screeches but he could crawl through every crack in Jeff’s body, between every finger, every gap between his palm and his ear and even through the small cracks in his skull.

Day fifty-five: he won’t leave me alone. I love Liu, but he’s gone too far now. Yesterday he had begun to tell me how he felt bad that I wasn’t happy. I tried to tell him how it was hard since he wasn’t there because of how good of a friend he was to me. He screams that ‘I don’t smile enough’ and that ‘I should smile more.’ When I try to he says it’s not convincing and he didn’t believe me. ‘You’re not happy anymore, Jeff!’ he’d shriek. ‘Why aren’t you happy? Why do you hate me? Do you not want me to be happy? Do you want me to think I abandoned you? I’m right here, Jeff! Look at me! I’m here, Jeff! Do you not see me anymore? Am I nothing to you now that I’m dead? Have you forgotten about me?’ he’d repeat this so many times that it’d drive me insane. I’d hear him along with other voices. Men, women, children, and animals, all kinds of animals, some of which I’ve never heard before. I try to plug my ears but they’re in my head. they’re using it to torture me, they’re all working for God, who still hates me and wants me to experience hell because I didn’t die like my mother, father and brother did. I would scream to try to drown out the voices, but then I’d lose it and my throat would be sore and dry. Sometimes I’d believe I was tasting blood, but maybe it’s all a part of my insanity.

It was two and a half months later; his brother had been haunting him for four weeks and he’s been getting louder with every day. At this time Jeff’s drawings had gone from flowers and vines to barb wire which were sometimes shown to be hurting or killing animals or humans. His sketches were darker and scribbly with jagged edges and spots at every vertex. The ink bled onto the opposite side at some points, though the pen he used didn’t do that before. On his first day or so they were fluent and flowing, but at that time they were scratchy and could be made just as well by a cat with long claws.

Day sixty-three: why won’t he stop? I’ve done everything today, going all the way to mutilating myself. Liu keeps on screaming all the same things, keeping me awake all night. It hurts so much to think that he hates me so much that he went out of his way to scream at me to be happy. I took the glass today and cut a smile in my cheeks, because nothing else to be enough for him. I began to scream to him like he did with me. I tell him that I’m happy and that I’m smiling. It stung a lot, but it was worth it. Maybe he’ll calm down. I cut all the way down until I could feel the tip of the piece of glass scraped against my molars and gums. I remember how shaky my hands were when cutting; they’re still shaking even now. Blood was everywhere and I didn’t know what to do. So I tried to write this passage in it, since I’m sure my ink will be running low soon. Luckily I found some pens from when I was here before. I thought I lost those long ago, but I guess I left them here by accident. I still need to savor them. I don’t know what I’d do without you, without my writing. I’m sure I’d be insane by now. God knows I am now. I’m insane. I’ve been insane for a long time now, but I’m determined to keep what little sanity I have within me. I can feel it coming back. The noises are getting softer and softer. Or maybe I’m getting used to them now.

Jeff’s only comfort now was a white jacket he had left in there a week before he was trapped in there. It had so many memories attached to it and he thought that he had lost it, and seeing it made him so happy. He tried to protect himself with it to no avail. And the voices are telling him lies to justify their actions.

Day sixty-five: I have a shield now. I hope it’s good. I’ve been covering myself in my large jacket, which wasn’t always this large. I’ve gotten thinner since when I originally wore this. Now I’m nothing but skin and bones and I’m concerned for my body. Not only because of my lack of eating but also because of the darkness. The voices tell me that there are monsters there and they’re creeping in on me. They also say that they’ve been protecting me. Apparently my parents have been trying to get me and drag my body and soul down to hell with them so they could happily hear my pain and suffering. They tell me that my parents were bad people. They tell me of when my father beat me with whatever he could find, resorting to belts, hands, sticks, and sometimes just putting on as many rings as he could and slapping or punching me in the face. They also tell me that my mother would sometimes assist because they both enjoyed my suffering. Liu was often forced to watch and it hurt him so much to see me like that. My parents were sadists who, like God, favored Liu over me. Though I wonder if I wasn’t there if they’d simply be happier, or if they’d abuse Liu like they did me. This is why the voices yell and scream at me like they do. They’re trying to protect me from the people I thought I loved, until they fed me this knowledge. I don’t remember much about my parents, but at least I know more now than I ever did before.

He’s beginning to black out. It’s torturing him that he fears for himself in the darkness. He has dreams of himself being eaten alive by demons and it wakes him up constantly, but he believes he has a solution.

Day seventy-seven: I know what I have to do. The monsters will get me if I’m in the darkness, so I can’t risk sleeping. I’m going to end my fear and my ink problem. Tomorrow I’m going to cut off my own eyelids. It’ll keep me awake for a long time and I’ll be able to write in my blood and save my ink for another day. I wish I could preserve my blood better, doing it this way makes me waste so much of it. Oh well, better than nothing, right?

It was the day after. Crying out loud, Jeff took the sharp edge and kept his eyes open. He used the reflective side of the refrigerator to precisely cut so that he didn’t cut any part of his eye. To him it no longer hurt. It all a sacrifice he had to make in order to survive the creatures hiding in the darkness, ready at any moment to hurt him.

Almost all of the meat on his brother’s foot was gone as well, same with his brother’s haunting image. Or was he truly gone?

Day eighty-one: what to do now. I have nothing else. My eyelids are gone, they’ve been gone for about three days or so, I can’t remember. I’ve lost track. Finally I’ve seemed to notice that Liu is fully gone. He doesn’t talk to me anymore, but my face is a scar of when he used to be here. It hurts more than anything else. I wish I could get him back. Even though he screamed at me, he made me happy at least, even if it was forceful. He always tries to find a way to make me happy.

That day he finally finished off the meat on Liu’s right foot and had started on his left. Later on he became very fascinated with his brother’s de-fleshed body parts. He wrote again later in the day as a continuation in his journal. Then he got a new, oddly lightening feeling.

His bones are still connected to the joints. I don’t remember what keeps them together, what they’re called, or anything like that, I just know that now I can bend and move the individual parts. Today I played around with them. The bones felt colder than anything I’d ever felt in my entire life, but eventually they started to warm up as I moved them around. Then I heard him again. It was such a relief, like honey running over a sore throat, and such a warming feeling inside. "Does it feel real, Jeff?" he’d ask me lovingly. "Does it remind you of the good old days, when we were together in the same world? Of course I’d kick you in the face by now, but it was always nice how we’d still laugh even though you were bleeding from your nose." I laughed. How clearly I saw his light blond hair and peach colored skin. His blue eyes glowed like headlights to a car. Everything else was merely a gray fog. It soothed me seeing him again and hearing his voice, or what I remember of it. I laughed with him harder than I remember I’ve ever laughed. Now the time seemed to have flown by. I’ve reached enlightenment. This was all in God’s plan. He took away my abusers and allowed me to be with my brother forever in the darkness. Liu is all I need and he is all I ever will need. Partnership in marriage is unnecessary, it was never necessary. All I need is my brother, he will do anything and everything I need him to do as a companion. He’s perfect in every shape and form. Why would I want anything more? There’s nothing more. I can’t do better than him. I never will be able to. I’m happy to stay in here as long as I’m with him. Everything else is worth it.

Jeff had stayed up for much too long. He had been fully conscious for twenty two hours and would unknowingly pass out for two hours, sometimes four, every once in a while. For that time he thought he was awake. In his dreams he was being pulled at by monsters, or he was just laying down in dimly lighted silence. The image was burnt into his mind; the small light from his lamp was etched into his eyes like his fake smile was to his cheeks. While he was awake he had begun to fear because of a certain change.

Day ninety-five: I can’t hear the voices anymore. They stopped suddenly. Right before they stopped they were louder than ever. Liu’s not even talking to me, but he sits right by his body. His head is in his knees and his arms were wrapped around his ears, covering his face. I try to get him to talk, but he won’t. It hurts so much to see him like this. He used to love to talk and not stop, I was annoyed with it at one point, but now I wished he never stopped in the first place. He’s so depressed now, or at least he seems that way. The silence will drive me insane.

For five days there had been complete silence. Then the voices came back. They were softer, but still there and lingering. He’s also begun to lose track of the days and couldn’t even seem to read his old hand writing.

Day seventy: the voices are back, my friends are talking to me again! I thought they left me! They’re the best friends I’ve ever had! But Liu is still sad. He hasn’t talked in over a week. I’m scared for him. He could be depressed for all I know. I just hope he starts talking soon, I’m nothing without him. He’s my other half, so why shouldn’t I be afraid? Sometimes I laugh thinking about what he joked about before. It did nothing to him. He didn’t even react. I’ve just started laughing randomly. I don’t know why I’m laughing like this. I’ve been laughing like a loon for almost an hour now. It all started with trying to make Liu laugh, but after a while I started lose it. I thought I could control it, but I’m way past the point of control. I’ve been past that point for quite a while now. I’ve lost track of the days, I only know how to write and I can’t read anymore. I feel like I’m speaking gibberish when I try to talk, I don’t even know if what I’m writing is my old language anymore. I can’t read my own old pages, they mean nothing anymore. I mean, what are numbers and letters anyway? How were these words conceived by man? What caused them to make letters look this way? Oh, well, what is the point of pondering when no one will hear your questions or answer them?

Day eighty-five: such gorgeous voices. The voices are of small children. They are oddly soothing to my ears. Though every once in a while I hear one of them being tortured, the other’s will make themselves louder in order to keep me happy. Oh how I love these children.

Day ninety-three: Liu is dead. He is truly dead. His spirit and body have collapsed. I sadly feel no pain for it. The children have convinced me that he’s happy and that’s all that matters. They say I’m a good brother if I listen to them. That’s all that matters, that I am good and that what I’m thinking is good, though I do miss him. I don’t know how long he’s truly been gone. The days and nights have been blended together so well that I can’t tell how many of them have passed. So far I’ve finished Liu’s legs and his bones are starting to fall from the joints.

Day eight: just earlier today my body nearly melted. The floor became the floor of hell and my body began to disintegrate. Luckily the children were there to save me. I can’t believe my luck of these children and how they have helped me so. But now the floor is colder than ever. The air is the same as the floor. Everything is cold, not even my jacket helps, and colors are changing in ways I’ve never seen them before. I water my eyes every day now, and sometimes put a bandana over them and pour water on it. How lucky am I to have so many gallons packed up since my first day? And the fact that the pipes leak completely clean water is amazing too! But it doesn’t matter. Sooner or later I won’t need to drink water. I will become an entity, a creature inhuman in survival. Eating, sleeping, drinking, and sociability will become a thing of the past to me. In just a few years I won’t remember the taste of my favorite juice, or have to feel any kind of refreshment sleep used to provide for me. Though, I must say, I do miss my dreams. Often I think about what it would be like to dream. Just to have a high of the highest and best proportions. I’d have the reaction to drugs but not the consequences. Sometimes, I really do miss a good nap, or a dark rest, but otherwise the monsters will get me, they’ll hurt me, and make me wish I had died long ago.

Day thirty-two: I have concluded how I will resurrect myself into my new life with this enlightenment. For hours the children have been telling me that I need to go to sleep, that I need my rest. They say I should hold my brother in my arms so it could be like we went to sleep together. With my bandana over my eyes I complied with them. They had only helped me in my journey, so I should trust what they say. They tell me that when I wake up I will be powerful and I will rid the world of the injustice to the earth known as man, women, and children. Only God knows what they are truly like, and they will be punished or rewarded with what they deserve. They tell me I am the son of God and that it’s what He wants me to do. I am convinced that they are the spirits of aborted and stillborn babies who tell me what to do base on their eternal life viewing the human world from above. They must know so much more than anyone on this planet. That is why they’re here; they’re here to teach the son of God what he is to do in his new life. I feel guilty disrespecting my Father before, now I know better. Had I known He was my Father, I would have treated him so much better in my mind. Oh how I can’t wait to properly thank Him. Well, goodnight, journal, I hope to talk to you under much better circumstances than this, hopefully when I end my quest to properly dispose of the bodies of man while their souls are judged by God, I will see you again, and write one last passage. Again, goodnight, I need to retrieve my brother, so we can rest together, for the first and last time.

When Jeff removed his brother from the freezer, the body was frozen completely solid. His knees were the lowest part of his body now and his feet were completely detached. He laid his brother on the ground and rested beside him. Curling up against his brother’s body as if he was still alive but merely asleep, he listened to the voices of the children lull him to sleep with their whispering and angelic voices saying “go to sleep. Go to sleep. Go to sleep.” He knew just by listening to them, that that phrase meant something, but he didn’t know quite what at the time.

Jeff looked up at his brother’s face. It was alive and looking straight at him. Liu’s eyes were as bright as ever and happy to see his brother again, for one last time. With a finger to his brother’s lips and the bandana over his eyes, Jeff held a smile even under his cut open face. “Shhhhhh,” he hushed his brother. “Go to sleep.” His head fell and he passed out. No one knows how long he slept, but it refreshed him quite well.

The other members of his family had worried long ago, but they didn’t know where he, his brother, and his parents actually lived. They moved right before this and they drove there instead of taking a plane. None of his family knew where they lived. All they knew was what state they lived in, but it wasn’t specific enough. After almost four months of investigating they finally found out where the house was and started heading there. By the time they got there Jeff was sleeping next to his brother. They believed that they were both dead, but they unfortunately learned otherwise.

One of the men went over to the bodies after they broke down the door. The man saw Jeff and his brother. Seeing how Liu’s legs were half way stripped of flesh he assumed that he died first then Jeff went soon afterwards. They looked over the boys solemnly as the one head man came to remove them both.

Jeff awoken when they opened the door, but became afraid when the man approached him. All he saw was a shadow through his bandana, which acted like eyelids for him. He sprung up when the man touched him, trying to move his arm that was wrapped around his brother’s shoulder. The men jumped back. Once Jeff removed the bandana from his eyes the men looked at him in shock.

The man who touched Jeff’s hand and woke him looked at the papers. “Are you Liu?” he asked.

“Don’t speak my brother’s name in such a manor!” he growled. “I am not Liu, I will never be Liu; I am the messenger of our Father.”

“You mean Scott?”

“No! Not that disgusting brute!” He stepped towards them over his brother’s body. “We are children of God himself. He took away our parents because he wanted us to do other, better things.”

“Now, young man, you’ve been here for too long,” the front man approached Jeff while the others stepped back. “We will get you somewhere where you will be treated like the good boy we know you can be. You will get a free ride to a very nice home and everything will be happy for everyone.”

“Not for Liu! Not for our Father! I will not disobey my Father’s wishes,” before the man could respond Jeff lunged towards him and stabbed him with the glass shard. He fell from the cut to his jugular vein and soon died. “He is now to be judged by my Father, my true Father, and no one can stop me now.” He ran to the men and quickly attacked them before they could react. Jeff never stabbed a single one of them in the chest; he always cut their arteries so he didn’t have to pierce the bone protecting their organs.

As the men moaned, bleeding to death, Jeff stood over them. He smiled and looked at the near dead man that had tried to talk to him earlier. “Shhhhhh…” he pressed his finger against his lips. “Go to sleep.” He used his thumb and index finger to close all of the men’s eyes. Before he could close the eyes of the last man he reached up and grabbed Jeff’s throat. With a split second reaction Jeff plunged the glass into the man’s chest, breaking it against his bone, but causing enough damage to stun him to let go of his throat. Jeff stepped back and waited for the man to bleed to enough to not be strong enough to move or fight. When he didn’t move much he walked over to the man and stomped on his chest where the glass was in his body, crushing his ribs from his sternum and very likely squelching the now vulnerable heart. He searched the man that tried to strangle him and found a knife, which he found to be the best weapon, seeing how it was so close to his piece of glass he had been using for so long now.

Jeff stepped outside. His eyes burnt under the sun, but he shielded his eyes from the sun by placing his hand horizontally against his forehead. He looked back, contemplating whether he should go back to retrieve his journal. After thinking for a while he decided that he would return when he finally finished his Father’s wishes, and would report to it as soon as he could. With his bandana in his pocket, his white jacket covered in blood, and finally tasting the sweet, sweet air of the open fields, he walked on. In his mind all he thought about was obeying what he considered to be his destiny, a destiny brought to him by God.

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