Published by Yan Terrien at Shakespir
The weather was promising and as the morning light was flooding the terrace, Charles and Fabian decided to have breakfast there. They quickly prepared it and settled comfortably in an armchair facing the beautiful sight.
The house overlooked the city. It was a spacious modern building surrounded by a green park keeping it safe from prying eyes. It was separated by a tiled courtyard from a small concrete shack holding their father’s laboratory. The park’s vegetation was dense but well kept and, in the late spring, flowerbeds were all in bloom.
As every morning, Fabian had to wait for his brother to finish his coffee before starting to drink his. It had been that way since birth, and the respect for this kind of rules had allowed them to live together for more than seventeen years, despite their strange nature. Fabian used this break to let his gaze wander over the city.
The night had left some fog patches over the roofs, especially near the river. The port was still completely covered with these fluffy scarves, and only black silhouettes of cranes were emerging here and there. The red rays of the morning sun were reflected on the wings of seagulls beginning their incessant ballet. Closer to the house, the towers of the business district was sending blinding reflections from their glass facades.
The colossal hum of traffic was attenuated by distance, but its power echoed in the ears of Fabian.
“All these people!”, he thought. But he tried to conceal his anxiety. He did not want his brother to feel it. The picture forming in his brain, with all these busy people going to work, barely awake, in the feverish excitement and the roar of engines, made him feel sick.
They were about to go into town for the first time in their lives.
It seemed crazy, unthinkable, because they had been living in this house for seventeen years. They were born in it. The park was their only playground, and they had never crossed the high boundary walls.
All in all, only three people knew about them: their parents and their nurse, a big black matron they called Nanny. Their parents had never authorized anyone else to see them.
But two months ago, Charles and Fabian became orphan when their parents died in a fire that completely destroyed the laboratory. After this terrible accident, Nanny had continued to follow the instructions, and she did not let them out, but the parents’ death had weakened the authority of the nurse. It was increasingly difficult to deny access to the outside, more and more difficult to contain their desire to escape and to explore the unknown …
Each day following the accident, Charles harassed her to get the keys of the gate. She kept them on her belt, and their tinkling accompanied each of her wanderings in the corridors of the house. Charles started with caressing supplications whose hypocrisy did not fool the nurse, and she did not surrender. Then Charles became more menacing. His hatred for the “dirty nigger”, as he ended to call her, became stronger each day.
This hate culminated one day: during a violent argument about the keys, Charles had seized a large kitchen knife in an apparent attempt to plant it in the belly of the poor nurse. Terrified, she ran away from the house.
Charles had won: she had left the gate open in her escape and she did not come back.
This outbreak of violence horrified Fabian, but he did not do anything to retain his brother because he was completely loosing control of their body when his brother was getting angry. Charles dominated him and when Fabian was seeing their common hands performing gestures he disapproved, he was closing his eyes and bowing his head until it ended. Despite this constant domination, he deeply loved his brother. He often disagreed with his attitude, but how could he hate this other himself, as they shared the same two-headed body?
So they were left alone in the big house for the first time. Charles was thrilled. This event was what he had always dreamed of, and he tried to communicate his thirst for freedom to Fabian. He spent the rest of the evening and a part of the night trying to convince him to leave the park, and he succeeded, despite the terror of his brother for the idea of stepping outside.
Fabian had resigned to the idea because of tiredness though he was not convinced, but the fact was there, and terrible thoughts were beating in his brain as he watched the city: they were going to walk through the gate and walk down the street, they would meet people, brush past them … and where would they go? … What for? Fear twisted his guts, he bitterly regretted his cowardice. Why not try to lie to make his brother change his mind? But it was not even worth trying, he knew well …
-“Are not you hungry?”
Lost in thought, Fabian had not noticed that Charles bowl was empty.
-“No, I’m not very hungry,” he replied with a sad grin.
-“Come on! Don’t be frustrated. You’ll see, I’m sure that as soon as out of home, you’ll thank me for twisting your arm about it,” said Charles ruffling his brother’s hair. He did not look convinced and his sullen apathy annoyed Charles. He suddenly stood up and replied in a strong voice:
-“Come on, let’s go. Where did you put the bag?”
The subterfuge they had found not to attract attention was to put on the head of one or the other a bottomless sports bag. One hand on it, and they would look like a schoolboy going to the gym with his equipment on the shoulder.
Fabian told him grudgingly where the bag was, and Charles took a coin out of his pocket.
-“Heads or tails?”
-“It’s not worth it, I will put on the bag,” said Fabian, “I prefer.”
-“This is not what we agreed. Right, I choose tails.”, said Charles tossing the coin then blocking it on the back of their hand. “It’s heads … Be first to see the world”.
While slipping the bottomless bag on his head, he made his brother promise that it would be his turn in one hour, as agreed. He was furious not to be the first to see the city up close, but respect of common decisions was the key factor in their sustainability, thus he hid his face without flinching.
One hand on the bag, as decided, Fabian headed for the gate.
He took a deep breath and made their first step into the street.
The road leading to the city was going down hill in long winding bends, but Charles and Fabian had spotted a shortcut on a plan. This path uncorked by the house and plunged straight down the slope. It was steep and rocky, but Fabian started racing down at top speed. They had become accustomed to a daily exercise and their body was well trained.
Fabian thought of nothing. The anguish was evacuated in his head. He was tanking, headlong, his eyes fixed on the uneven ground to avoid falling.
-“Gently, grumbled Charles.
The sound of his brother’s voice made Fabian jump. The sun was hot, and he realized that Charles was suffocating in the bag. He slowed down and continued his descent. Occasionally he even dared raise his head to look around. There was not much to see. The path ran along the high walls of the residential district’s properties and Fabian felt a little reassured to see that it was an unused path because it was not maintained. Thinking that he would probably meet nobody before reaching the bottom relieved him.
But when he arrived on the main road, fear paralyzed him. He stood there motionless, leaning against a wall for more than a minute. Traffic was heavy. The cars were spinning at full speed. The noise was deafening.
-“So what? What are you waiting for?”, said Charles impatiently in the bag when he realized that his brother was not moving anymore, “You stand on the curb and you lift your thumb, this is not rocket science!”
Fabian obediently obeyed. “At this point, better go,” he thought, and he began to hitchhike.
They did not wait long. A car stopped within a few minutes. It was a big blue van. The driver stuck his head out the window, wiping his forehead with a large handkerchief. He talked to Fabian:
-“You go to town, kid?”
Fabian had reluctance when he saw the ruddy and shiny face of the sweaty man. But his voice was warm and friendly and thus felt confident upon hearing it.
-“Yes, thank you for your kindness,” he replied, sitting down beside him.
The driver drove off at once and Interlocked in the queue of vehicles going towards city center. He pointed his thumb over his shoulder and turned to Fabian:
-“Put your bag in the back, you’ll be more comfortable.”
Fabian had expected such a question. It was indeed strange to keep a bag on his shoulder while sitting in a vehicle. He had prepared his answer:
-“No, thank you, it will do, I am easily distracted these days and I don’t want to forget it in your car.”
The big man shrugged and did not insist. He asked him once more if it was okay to drop him in the city center, and kept silent after the Fabian’s acquiescence. He drove in silence for several kilometers.
Fabian relaxed. He thought that, despite everything, things were at best. He looked at the suburban homes behind the open window. Of course, he knew what the world was like, but only from the television screen.
The reality was different. The colors, the noise, more importantly the smells, how could they live without this?
The car rode at walking pace. They were along a market, and the crowd of pedestrians was blocking traffic. They stopped at a red light, very close to a group of girls who were chatting on the sidewalk. They wore revealing summer clothes. He even could smell their fragrance. Fabian leaned back on the seat, blushing and sighing with happiness.
When the car started up again, he did not feel any more anxiety. He mentally thanked Charles for having twisted his arm. Staying in their prison would have been stupid.
But this relaxing moment short-lived:
-“Tell me kid, perhaps I am indiscreet, but I wish I knew what you were doing in the professors house?”
Fabian remained open mouth, breathless. How could this man, this stranger, know where he came from? How did he know the professor, their father?
In front of the stunned look of the boy, the driver smiled and hastened to explain:
-“Do not be afraid, I’m not a seer. I am the gardener of the villa next to the professor’s house. I saw you going out and taking the shortcut. It surprised me as it barely happens to see someone cross that gate. “
Not knowing what to answer, Fabian stammered:
-“We … uh … I … was visiting a friend”
He cursed his brother and his stupid ideas. They were out for just an hour and already in trouble. The sweat ran down his forehead when he heard Charles teeth gnashing in the bag. He knew him well and it was a big sign of nervousness. This noise often preceded violence. Anguish squeezed his stomach.
The driver raised his interrogative eyebrow when hearing Fabian’s embarrassed answer.
-“A friend?”, he was astonished. “From what I know, there is only a nurse in the villa, since the fire of the laboratory. Besides. I saw her go into town yesterday. She ran as if the devil was after her, and I have not seen her coming back since. What were you doing inside?”. He seized Fabian’s arms while saying that. “Would you be a dirty little thief, by chance?”
At these words, Charles was seized with a fit of terror, reinforced by the darkness of the bag, and he took violent control of their body. He tore the cloth that covered his head, reached into their coat and pulled out the large kitchen knife.
The driver screamed at the sight of this two-headed monster threatening him and dropped the wheel. The car swerved to the vehicles on the reverse lane.
Charles brutally planted the knife in the body of the big man, who collapsed.
A huge truck was bearing down on them.
Fabian turned his face to his brother and lost consciousness.
Darkness was total. He felt as if he was floating in an unknown element. He was falling but without any sensation of gravity. It was very unpleasant and endless. He wanted to grab something but there was nothing. Besides, where were his hands?
He heard a sound. It was like a voice, distant and muffled. He recognized the words:
-“He wakes up.”
He tried to open his eyes but his eyelids did not move. Another voice – more serious – said something that made him shudder:
-“It might be better if he never wakes up.”
Fabian tried to regain consciousness. What did this sentence mean? Was he completely paralyzed? He could not feel his legs. Was he going to end his life as a vegetable, confined to a hospital bed?
-“You are right,” agreed the first voice, “Awaking from a coma for ending his life within four walls is not very encouraging.”
Hearing these words, fear twisted Fabian’s guts and he opened his eyes.
-“Shut up, he opened his eyes.”
Fabian saw a man and a woman in a white coat looking at him. Smiling awkwardly, they asked:
-“How do you feel, young man? Can you please try to move your arms and your legs?”
Fabian complied. With their help, he even sat on the bed. He felt very weak, but without any special suffering. He moved his feet, legs, arms, everything seemed to work. He passed his hand over his face, there was no injury. But …
… He put his hand on his neck …
-“Where is Charles?”
-“Charles? Who are you talking about?”
…Under his fingers, he felt the warmth of a bandage.
Tears came to his eyes. His fingers trembled on this piece of gauze, on that horrible absence. He dared not understand.
-“Charles, my brother, where is he?”
He sobbed, clinging on to the nurse’s blouse. She laid him down again gently:
-“There. Calm down You had a serious car accident, but luckily you are unharmed, apart from a nasty neck injury, you have nothing serious but you stayed a week in a coma, probably because of the shock and you are still very weak. You must rest. Your wound is almost healed, we take away your bandage tomorrow. In a few days you will be back on your feet again. Calm down, everything is fine “
-“Charles is dead, it’s awful,” Fabian realized. He reminded the car accident, and the face of his brother torn to pieces by steel sheets … and the knife … he asked in a shaky voice:
-“And the driver?”
-“His body was thrown out during the crash, like yours, just before the car caught fire Too bad for you, if he had stayed in, he would have been charred and we could not have found your fingerprints on the handle of the knife that was stuck in his belly.”
It was not the nurse nor the doctor who had pronounced the last sentence, but a man leaning against the bedroom door. He had just come out of the shadow and he was wearing a police badge on his lapel.
-“Nice shot! In the heart He did not suffer!”, he added in a cynical smile.
In a flash, Fabian had a clear picture of the situation. He could never prove his innocence. He would end his days in a cell for a crime that he had not committed.
He turned his head towards the window and saw that it was closed by solid bars. He looked at the sky through his tears. In seventeen years of life, he had had only one hour of freedom, just the time to go from one prison to another. From now on he would be alone in this second prison. His brother, his playmate would never be on his side anymore and he would never speak of him to anyone. Who could believe this?
The sound of shuffling feet in the corridors of the prison followed by the sound of a key in the lock of the cell took Fabian out of its torpor.
-“Get up, you lazy bones! There is somebody waiting for you in the visiting room.”
“A visit?”, thought Fabian, numbly watching the door ajar where the prison guard was waiting.
One month had past already, enclosed within four walls, and his mind was going numb. A speedy trial had sentenced him to life and no one had moved. One more young thug banished from society did not interest anybody.
While walking along the corridors, he was barely wondering about the identity of his visitor. The loneliness and monotony of his imprisonment had made him resigned and submissive.
But, when he arrived in the visiting room, the surprise was enormous. Nanny was there, sitting behind the table, wearing her ageless check dress.
Fabian sat in front of her and remained silent during several minutes, her black hands in his, unable to utter a word.
She broke the silence first:
-“It was Charles who killed him, not you!”
-“Why didn’t you come to say it at the trial, Nanny?”
-“And you, Fabian, why didn’t you say anything?”, she replied knowingly.
Of course, how to confess this?
“I have been raising a two-headed child for seventeen years, Your Lordship.” “Really? And where is he, Madam?”. “He is there in front you, but his other head was cut in the car accident, and this other child is the one that killed the driver, not the one you accuse.”
This kind of talk would have caused hilarity of the court and send the nurse in a psychiatric hospital!
Tears flowed out of Fabian’s eyes. He was not able to retain them.
-“Do not cry,” said Nanny in a soothing tone, “You’re rid of him now. He was bad”
“Yes, he was bad, but he was my brother.”, said Fabian, “and I cannot live without him.”
Their hugs were soon interrupted by the arrival of the guard signaling the end of the visit. Fabian returned to his cell and collapsed on his bed.
Torpor invaded him again, mixed with thoughts of suicide. All this made no sense. His whole life made no sense.
… Then he felt an itch in his neck.
He touched the scar with his fingertips … there was, in the middle, a little ball that he had not noticed before, but he fell asleep without paying attention and stirred in a dream:
“We both run in the countryside. We each have our own body, jostling and rolling with laughter. Charles wears a brightly colored Indian shirt and I see his muscles move under the fabric. The air is soft. We come to a lake. The water is delicious and we dive there, in a perfect synchronization of our parallel bodies. We swim a long time. Too long. I’m breathless, my limbs become heavy, my eyes blur. I don’t see the shore anymore. Charles’ big hand presses my head and sticks it under water.”
Fabian woke up screaming. He passed his hand on his sweaty neck. The ball had even become bigger and was itching increasingly. What could it be? Doubt and fear overwhelmed him. He started banging with all his strength on the iron door, calling for the prison guard to lead him to the infirmary.
The excitement and the anxiety of the boy was such that, despite the late hour, the guard agreed to accompany him.
-“It is nothing,” said the doctor after a quick examination. He prepared his instruments and put on his gloves. “Just a small incision and you will be rid of this abscess”
He sterilized a scalpel and carefully approached Fabian.
Since entering the white room, Fabian was feeling like things were moving in slow motion. The light was unreal and the doctor’s voice was muffled, as with echo.
The shining blade approached his neck and he felt an uncontrollable rage rising throughout his body.
He screamed: -"Killer!"
It only took him one second to seize the scalpel, to slice the doctor’s throat and to jump out the window.
He landed one floor down in a perfect roll, stood up smoothly and ran away from the city jail.
It was night, the streets were deserted, and when the police sirens began to sound, he was far enough.
Fabian slowed down the pace and criticized Charles for this murder. His brother could not answer him in words, but since the last violent event he could hear his thoughts directly into his brain.
Charles told him that it was the only thing to do because they could not stay in this gloomy prison forever, and these sentences rocked Fabian who listened obediently.
Charles had always been there, even when he could no longer communicate with him. Always there since the accident and he would never leave him. Fabian felt good. Everything was almost back the way it was before. They were going to hide away. This world was not their world. The world of their conniving games was infinitely more beautiful. They should have never got out their childhood’s house.
Nanny had left her address to Fabian during her visit. It was at the other side of the city, and they took that direction.
She was the only one who could help them. Perhaps they could stay at her home? They walked along dark alleys to avoid the main roads and it took them hours to get to the specified address.
But a police car was parked outside Nanny’s house.
With infinite care, they slipped into the garden and crept up to a half-open window from which they could hear a loud voice. It was Nanny’s. She was feverishly speaking to the police:
-“My God! That is just terrible! I thought it was over, I was sure that he was finally cured!”
-“Cured? From which disease does he suffer?” asked a policeman.
Fabian realized she was talking about him, but why saying he was sick? He did not understand the point. He moved closer to the window to listen to the conversation:
-“It’s a long story. Please have a seat gentlemen, I’ll tell you.”
Chairs passed from hand to hand. The policemen settled and Nanny started her speech:
-“Seventeen years ago, the professor and his wife gave birth to twins, Charles and Fabian… beautiful babies. Then they hired me to serve them because they were working full-time doing research in their laboratory.”
“If you knew how I loved those kids … they were so happy to play together all day and they were so similar … but they did not have the same character. Charles was more malicious than his brother. When there was something to mess around with, he was the first. But we forgave him all … “
“One of their favorite games was to both enter a large bag and to play the ‘two-headed monster’ as they called it. They were running through the garden howling ear-piercing shrieks. Yes…. “
“If they did not have this silly idea, all this would have never happened …”
She paused and continued:
“One day, I do not know how, their feet were entangled in the fabric of the bag and they fell like a stone. Fabian was not wounded but Charles … oh My God!” She continued in a breath, “… the head of Charles hit a rock and he died instantly.”
She paused again for breath.
“The poor little Fabian was so traumatized by the death of his brother that he never recovered. He is still convinced that he is a two-headed monster. He talks to his brother as if he was still there and when he does something wrong, he says that Charles did it…. that’s what he said when I visited him in the prison.”
She sobbed again and continued with difficulty:
“He said it was his brother who killed the man in the car and I did not argue with him …. Oh My God! This is my entire fault. It was too protective with this child. As he was not very normal, they would not let him out. We should not have … and I continued to protect him after the death of his parents … but he threatened me and I ran away … that’s it! “
Fabian curled up on himself under the window, trembling. What was this tale? He was not at all crazy! He turned his head to look at Charles, in an old habit, and his absence terrorized him harder. I’m not at all crazy!
But the voice in his head began to reassure him:
-“She said this to protect us Fabian, as she has always done If others knew the truth, they would exhibit ourselves as a freak. Let’s go. We’ll manage without her.”
And Fabian’s doubts vanished as he plunged into the darkness of the night with his brother.
Fabian fell asleep. With the dose of sleeping pills that Charles had made him take, he was not going to wake up soon. That way he would know nothing of what Charles was about to accomplish: he would certainly have been opposed to it.
He already had had a nervous breakdown, the previous week, when Charles knocked down an old man in the street, to take his money. “Fabian really has no practical sense”, Charles thought. “How could they pay the hotel where they had taken refuge, no matter how moldy it was? And their food? How to find a job while the cops were after them?”
“He could not live without me,” said Charles aloud, walking through the room door.
His head was growing rapidly. Within a few days, it had reached a normal size. Only it was not really a head, like the one he had before the accident: Mo mouth. No eyes. But he could speak through Fabian’s voice, when he was taking control of the body. And he could see through of his brother’s eye. His head was a kind of ball, which had developed at the bottom of the neck. In addition, it had grown on the back, which was very convenient because they could impersonate a hunchback.
They had been locked in this hotel room for a week. They had spent most of their time sitting behind the dirty window curtains, spying on a prostitute in the opposite building.
Today, Charles had decided to visit her.
Based on the number of weird guys they had seen marching in her room, he was not afraid of her reaction when he arrived on the sidewalk where she was working. She just raised her eyebrow a little bit when she looked at his “hump”, but no comment.
She was a plump girl but pretty cute. Going up the stairs behind her, the tiny miniskirt offered Charles the hot view of promising panties. At each step, the inside of her thighs was pressing against the garter belt, and his heart accelerated.
Right after the bedroom door was closed she expertly slid Charles trousers to the ground and walked him to the sink.
-“Well! It did not take you long to be excited!”, she said while washing him with soap.
This gentle hand on his cock made him close his eyes with ecstasy. She removed her panties and Charles penetrated her deep.
Fabian awoke. He had a dry mouth and a foggy brain. The last thing he remembered was that Charles urged him to take tablets. Then it was a black hole, followed by this sudden awakening, accompanied by a warm and wet feeling around his cock.
He opened his eyes. His two hands were on a woman’s hips, and he was inside her. It was so sweet and electric that he could not stop himself. He immediately ejaculated, moaning with pleasure.
Charles, frustrated in his desire, transmitted a bunch of insulting thoughts to him and tried desperately to regain control of their body.
“He’s going to kill that girl!”, thought Fabian right out, and he concentrated all his strength to prevent him from gaining the upper hand. He picked up the trousers, feverishly got dressed and left the room without a word, grinding his teeth in rage.
He ran down the stairs, his whole body was twitching, and he staggered out of the building. Bystanders, accustomed to this kind of dodgy event, did not even notice him. He barely escaped a collision with a car when crossing the street but still managed to regain their hotel room safely.
He double-locked the door and collapsed on the bed.
“And if Nanny had told the truth to the police? And if I was really crazy and Charles a product of my imagination? And if this lump in my neck was nothing but a huge abscess, an after effect of the accident? And if I was going to die because of infection?”.
Fabian had sat on the edge of the bed and his thoughts were rattling inside his head. Charles was not showing any activity since their escape from the opposite building and his brother’s silence increased the doubts he was having about his own mental health.
He tried to remember his childhood, but the images that came to his brain were only fuzzy memories, a blurry movie. Did he really have a twin brother? He saw himself running with him in the garden, but he could only recall memories of laughter, smells and colors. It was impossible to see if their body was only one or if Charles was a separate human being.
He could not recall anything before the fall against the large stone.
“The fall? The fall? I remember falling! The story of Nanny might be true!”, he thought, wiping his forehead. He tried to focus on an image that had already left his mind.
“We run. I see the colors of the flower beds, that our father lovingly took care of, scrolling on one side and I hear Charles’ breath on the other side. I turn my head, and I see his profile, his hair in a sunny back-light. He is very close to me but I cannot see the rest of his body. Is this our two-headed monster game? Are we a real one? “
“We turn into the driveway leading to the orchard, slipping on the white gravel and laughing. The path along the apple trees is sloping. We accelerate the pace and I am suddenly afraid of not being able to stop. I am going too fast. I stumble, I lose balance and we fall to the ground. “
-“But when we stood up after that, our body had no scratch and we continued to play,” said suddenly Charles’ voice in his head.
-“Why suddenly stop sulking?”, Fabian replied. “Do you want to prevent me from remembering?”.
-“What are you talking about, Fabian?” His voice was meant to be reassuring. “You’re still torturing your mind and you see the dark side of things. If I was not there for you, urging you to have fun from time to time, you would spend your life with your head buried in your hands, trying to understand the incomprehensible or to see the invisible. Come on, get on with it, we will not stay in this room doing nothing. Let’s go to a place full of people, it will clear our mind.
His voice was warm and friendly, but Fabian could not help being worried:
-“What mischief do you intend to commit this time? I don’t think I could stand more violence. If I did not stop you from taking control, just now, I’m sure you would have killed that girl! “
-“But of course not! You crazy bloke!”
-“So why have you forced me to take these pills?”
-“I wanted to make love to this girl and I would have had a long discussion with you to persuade you to go there, too long. And, you know… I also wanted to be alone. You could understand why. I was really angry when you woke up but I would not have killed her. I was angry about you, not about her. Think! I never killed for pleasure, but always by necessity. It was necessary for our survival, believe me. Do you believe me? “
Fabian hesitated, and then replied:
-“Yes I believe you, but please swear that you will not kill again, even if it’s necessary.”
-“I swear.”, Charles told him solemnly. “Good! Here we go. There is a huge nightclub next to the hotel. You know, this is where they record the TV show we used to watch all the time. I saw posters in the street just now, announcing a big fancy dress party. The theme is ‘Monsters and Vampires’. We will not have much effort to do to go there unnoticed. “
This joke made Fabian laugh. This idea pleased him and he agreed heartily.
With a few pencil strokes on their face and a cape on their back, they were soon transformed into a hunchback servant worthy of the worst horror movies. They went down the stairs.
In the lobby, they startled when the hotel concierge called out to them:
-“Sir! You go to the costume party, I presume?”
After their affirmative answer, he added:
-“You’ll certainly come back late and the hotel is closed at night. Please take the door key.”
They took the key he held out, smiling. And they went out of the hotel.
At the entrance of the nightclub, a sign read: “Entry prohibited to not costumed people”. They passed without problems, under the indulgent gaze of the doorman.
In the hall, a group of young people, consisting of two boys and three girls, were discussing, probably waiting for other friends. The two boys were dressed as zombies, they had stuck pieces of meat on their face. The three girls had entirely painted their skins in white and they wore long black transparent dresses that were revealing their perfect bodies. Charles/Fabian had to move among them to access the entrance of the room. One of the two boys pointed at him and laughed:
-“Too bad you’re a fake hunchback, people say it brings good luck.”, he said, putting his hand on their “bump”. Surprised by the contact, he immediately withdrew it, adding:
-“But this is not a fake! You’re a real hunchback! Wow! That’s pretty funny!”
One of the girls came to stand between them:
-“Leave him alone, Michael”, she said to the boy with a critical tone. “I think he’s nice with his angelic face and his hump.”
She spoke to Fabian/Charles:
-“Are you alone?”
He nodded painfully, with a swollen throat. The beauty of this girl petrified him. She had big green eyes with purple hues and her mouth was slightly open, as if to receive a kiss. She took his hand and said:
-“So! You spend the evening with us. I was waiting for a friend, but he did not seem to come, too bad for him.”
The disco was deep inside ancient catacombs and they had to go down a long staircase to get there. The more they sank and the more Fabian felt lighter.
At the top of the steps, he had the feeling that Charles was anxious, as if to penetrate underground frightened him, but he was not saying anything. As he was descending, Fabian felt his presence less and less, as if Charles was gradually falling asleep. It was a strange feeling that surprised him at first. But then he forgot it because the sweetness of the girl’s hand holding his made him forget everything.
They came down. Everything was only colors and sounds. Lasers drew moving figures that the eye could not follow on the arches of the ceiling. On the walls, giant projections of abstract images gave an impression of infinity. The floor was made of a transparent material inlaid with illuminated fibers. Fabian was like walking into another dimension. The air was vibrating with pulsations of a powerful sound whose bass transferred throughout the body and whose treble gave goose bumps. Yet they managed to talk without having to shout:
-“Is this the first time you come here?”
-“Yes, this is the first time. My name is Fabian and yours?”
-“Christy. You like it?”
She was asking about the place but Fabian thought she asked him if he liked her name:
-“This is a beautiful name and I even believe that I’m already in love with you.” He was feeling wonderful. Christy answered with a smile and they sat on colorful cushions, still holding hands.
She ordered cocktails with foolish names from the waiter and jumped to her feet, turning to the other two couples:
-“We came to dance!”. She pulled Fabian hands. “You come?”
The disc jockey was installed in a transparent bubble above the dance floor. He was not only mixing records but he was playing synthesizers and doing a great show. The result was throbbing. One would have to be of stone not to dance. Besides the dance floor was full. Christy undulated in front of Fabian and the shadow of her naked body under the dress flashed at his eyes in the rhythm of the strobes.
“How good it is to dance.”, he thought. He often danced with Charles. They used to turn up the volume and it was one of their greatest pleasures. “Well, it’s true. What about Charles? How is it that he remains silent? Perhaps he has decided to let me have fun this time”.
The voice of Christy took him out of his thoughts:
-“So what Fabian? Are you dreaming? Take me in your arms!”
Lost in his thoughts, he had not noticed that the DJ had mixed a slow dance song. Christy snuggled against him and her body’s warmth gave him a pleasure he had never dared imagine. He buried his face in her hair and got dizzy from the fragrance. He stroked her back and she pressed her body a little more against his.
When the slow music stopped, they returned to their table and all Fabian’s worries had disappeared. He took Christy in his arms and gave her a long kiss. She returned with caresses.
The other boy, the one Christy called Michael in the hall, tapped his shoulder kindly:
-“Then it’s love at first sight?”, he said with a smile. He continued: “Are you a student?”
Fabian lied by saying he was in an architecture school. They were five in a medicine school. The other boy was called Duke, and the girls were called Sandra and Chloe.
They then discussed all sorts of topics, drinking cocktails, dancing, laughing, as if they had known each other for years, punctuated with kisses and caresses from Christy.
The night passed very fast, and Christy suddenly said:
-“Fabian, do you know it’s six in the morning?”
He replied that he did not care and he would certainly not leave her. She whispered in his ear:
-“I want you.”
-“Me too Christy, I want you… but…”
-“I never made love”, Fabian said in one breath.
-“You’ve never made love? But it’s wonderful!”. She put her finger to her lips, paused for a short thought then added with a firm tone:
-“Look! For your first time, it has to be in a beautiful place. My parents have a nice country house one hundred miles from here and I have a super fast car. We go?”
-“Obviously, we go!”, Fabian replied, jumping up.
The others promised to join them on the evening to continue the party, and they both walked to the exit.
Shortly after leaving the nightclub, Fabian felt the presence of Charles again. He spoke first, internally, as he walked to the car with Christy:
-“Charles, you did not show out for the whole night and I thank you for this. You know, I now understand what you told me last night about your desire for solitude. I’m sorry for my stupid reaction. “
He continued, with hopeful optimism:
-“What would be really good is that you staid away from my mind all day. Is it too much to ask.?”
-. “No problem, Fabian,” Charles replied without a fuss. “I accept, provided you leave me take total control of our body for at least two days after that. Okay?”
-“Have a lot of fun! I disconnect. And, by the way, congratulations, she’s beautiful!”
Hearing the last words, Christy told him:
-“Who do you thank, Fabian?”
He had spoken aloud without realizing it and Christy continued, laughing:
-“You are really weird sometimes but if you were not, I don’t think I would have fallen in love with you so quickly. You know, I’m not an easy girl.”
They reached the car. It was a brand new Porsche. Fabian slid into the leather seat with a happy sigh and Christy got behind the wheel, still talking:
-“Not an easy girl. You can ask Michael. It’s been a long time since I have not been moved like that by a boy….”
She started the engine and took the avenue. She headed towards the city north exit.
-“How is it that you have never experienced girls?”. He did not answer so she kept on talking: “After All. OK. It is none of my business.”
The street lights were still on in the morning’s deserted streets, but the sky was already purple. Fabian still had the laser colors in his eyes. The mixture was magical. He listened to Christy talk without saying a word:
-“I am sure that the house will please you. It is a proper paradise.”… “We are entering the highway. I don’t have any more change, do you have some for the toll?”.
Fabian reached into his pockets to root out a few coins and he suddenly heard the anxious voice of Charles echoing in his head:
-“What’s with the highway? Where are we going?”
Fabian reproached him silently for not keeping his promise as they passed the toll:
-“Didn’t you hear when Christy invited me to the country house of her parents, one hundred miles from here? Were you sleeping?”
-“In the country? One hundred miles?”, Charles became like crazy. “Do not! Tell her to turn around!”. And he tried to regain control of the body.
The horrible thought that he might commit another crime gave Fabian strength to prevent him from taking over. His whole body started to tremble. He was at the brink of fainting, which greatly worried Christy:
-“What’s happening, Fabian? Are you are epileptic? Do you want us to stop?”
Fabian managed to speak with difficulty:
“No. Please don’t stop. Don’t worry. I’ll explain later. Keep on driving. It is only temporary.”
He resisted. Charles gradually let go, but he was still threatening and trying to convince his brother to tell Christy to turn around. Fabian ignored the calls, preventing him to take control.
Christy was driving at high speed. She occasionally glanced at him with concern, but she said nothing.
The sun rose up and the countryside revealed its peace.
Gradually Charles surrendered, and then became silent. After fifty miles, Fabian felt that all danger was over and he relaxed completely. Exhausted, he laid down, his head over Christy thighs, one hand on his knee, and said before falling asleep:
-“Don’t worry. I love you. I promise you I’ll explain…”
The sun was setting behind the trees as Fabian hung up the phone. It was Michael ‘s calling to say that he had contacted some fifty people to arrive around midnight, with everything needed to party.
Fabian went into the garden and walked slowly across the lawn. He was moving in a dream with his eyes half closed. His body was burning of desire.
Christy did not take him for a tour of the house on arrival. She led him straight to her room. She undressed him. She had undressed. She caressed him on the king size bed. She laid on him, her hair cascading. He felt the softness of her skin, her upright breasts, her sweet mouth, her pussy for hours, him in her, her around him, constantly, outside time, merged into one.
They were looking at each other, astonished at their own existence, eager to each other, amazed that life had given this gift.
Then they fell asleep, late in the afternoon.
Fabian arrived under the trees at the top. The landscape he overlooked was huge. All the surrounding hills were lower than the one where the house stood and his eyes wandered upon valleys, forests, rivers, few villages and roads.
He heard footsteps behind him. He turned and Christy snuggled in his arms. They walked along the aisles without saying anything.
She first broke the silence, while they were returning home:
-“Do you have this kind of bump since you were born?”
He knew that sooner or later she was going to ask this question and he had prepared himself to lie. When he turned to her, as they were walking back to to the living room, his lie was ready, but in front of her beloved face, he felt compelled to tell her the whole truth:
-“Look, Christy. It is a long story. Do you really want to know?”
-“Yes, I love you and I want to know everything about you,” she said, leading him to a sofa. “Come on, we settle by the fireplace and I promise you I will not interrupt.”
And he told her everything. He told her about his strange nature, Charles and their childhood, at least the little he remembered, the fire in the laboratory and the death of their parents, the violence and the murders of his brother, the jail and the escape. He also told her about his doubts after the conversation that he had heard between Nanny and the police.
She did not interrupt, but could barely contain her fright as he was telling this incredible story. Yet she asked with a calm voice, after a pause:
-“And… does Charles…”, she cleared her throat, “…could he talk to me right now?”
He then explained his brother’s reaction on the highway and told her about the fear of his violence, but she insisted. He closed his eyes to try to contact Charles. No answer. He insisted, concentrated all his strength on it, but felt emptiness. He had a terrible feeling of absence, the same as he had felt after the car accident.
-“Christy, is it that I’m crazy?”
-“I don’t think, Fabian. Look, I’m a medicine student, may I examine your hump?”
He removed his shirt and let her do. After a brief examination, she raised her head:
-“This is more like a large abscess, and if this is the case, you should have surgery done as soon as possible. Maybe this is what causes you these psychological disorders. I have a friend who is radiologist and his clinic is nearby. What if we went there now? The others do not arrive before midnight, we have time. “
-“Now?”, said Fabian dressing back, “OK.”
He too wanted to finally know the truth and accepted without hesitation.
On arrival at the clinic, Christy’s friend did not wait long and immediately took the pictures of Fabian’s abscess.
-“There is no doubt we must do an urgent surgery, you are at risk. You should not have waited so long. This abscess is huge. I wonder what may have caused it.”
The three were in front of the x-ray images, and the friend of Christy had just uttered this sentence.
Fabian watched the dark mass on the photo. No doubt, it was an abscess and it seemed to contain nothing that would look like his brother’s brain in any way. Curiously, this diagnosis did not surprise him. He was relieved in some ways and was anxious to get rid of this horror. Christy was right, the infection was certainly bothering his mind.
They took an appointment for surgery the next day and headed to the exit.
As they walked out the door, the doctor called them back.
-“Wait! There is still a weird thing on one of the images.”
He was standing in front of a picture hanging on the light-wall. They approached him.
-“Look there.”, he said, pointing to a snapshot of Fabian’s neck’s base. “There should be a dark mass at this place. I would like to make some more images of that spot. This may be a mistake in the negative, but I would be sure.”
They returned to the next room, and while the radiologist took ten shots, Fabian did not let Christy’s hand go. It was amazing how, overnight, she had become his strength, his reason for living.
“If I am really mad, I will heal for her.”, he thought, smiling.
The succession of shots was over. The doctor put the pictures on the light screen and uttered a cry of surprise. He turned to them and said:
-“It is amazing! You have some sort of electronic device grafted to the base of your brain! What is this thing?”
Fabian replied, just as surprised as him, that he knew absolutely nothing about it. Christy and him approached the image and examined the circuit board full of components that was very clear on close-ups.
-“Look, we even see the component references!
It was true. Fabian had just studied electronics, with his father, and he recognized the transistors, resistors, integrated circuits, but was unable to guess what all this stuff could be used for.
Christy continued excitedly:
-“It is great Fabian! You are probably not crazy at all. This is surely the key to your problem. Let us go home!” She took the snapshot and pulled Fabian by the hand to the exit. “Duke is passionate about electronics, he will certainly tell us what all this mess is.”
They did not talk while driving back home. All this was going too fast and they both had trouble to put order in their ideas.
When they arrived, some cars were already at the gate and the feast had begun on the road. The guitar chords of an old rock ‘n’ roll were coming out of one of the cars and some bottles were passing from hand to hand.
Christy quickly introduced them to Fabian and they all entered the property. They all seemed to be regulars. Seeing that everything was organized without her, Christy took Duke by the arm and led him to her room with Fabian. They examined the strange image.
Fabian watched Duke meticulously copy the circuits on a sheet of paper. The fact that this thingy could be in someone’s head did not seem to surprise him. He was entirely at his problem: try to understand what was the use of it.
It took him less than fifteen minutes:
-“It is a kind of particular transceiver coupled to a specific modulator-demodulator.”
Christy asked him to be a little more explicit, and he complied:
-“Simple! Somewhere there must be an identical device implanted in someone else’s brain. If I’m not mistaken, the person who has the power can receive Fabian’s brainwaves. In addition, it seems that he can also be able to emit waves to control Fabian’s brain. I don’t fully understand how, but, if you look at these connections, I am pretty sure this is it.”
Christy was ecstatic:
-“You mean, take remote-control of his body? You’re not crazy my love. And above all, you are not a murderer!”.
“No, I am not crazy.” Fabian thought.
He knew very well for, suddenly, because of the shock, all the memories flooded back to his mind.
“We turn into the driveway leading to the orchard, slipping on the white gravel and laughing. The path along the apple trees is sloping. We accelerate the pace and I am suddenly afraid of not being able to stop. I’m going too fast. I stumble, I lose balance and we fall to the ground.”
“I protect myself from the fall with my arm and successfully, miraculously, do me no harm.”
“I then pulls out of the canvas bag in which Charles and I are wrapped with difficulty.”
“But Charles does not move. His head and body have an odd angle and he is not breathing anymore.”
“I scream and run to the laboratory.”
Fabian was lying against Christy. The memories were flowing in his head, as if they had just opened the doors of a lock which had been closed for too long. He told her.
His father was a biophysicist. He was a being apart, with original ideas, perhaps too original for he soon abandoned his research teams to create his own laboratory near the villa. The work he was doing there, assisted by his wife, mainly concerned the preservation of organic tissues. He was haunted by one goal: keep the brain of deceased individuals in a suspended state of life and thus ensure their eternal life.
When Charles had his accident, it was a boon for him. He immediately operated the twin’s body and pulled out his brain. He then immersed it inside a jar containing a liquid which was to artificially maintain vital functions. The experience of his life, carefully prepared, had finally found a subject.
To check at every moment that no lesions damaged the enclosed brain, the professor had made two brainwave transceivers. Fabian became his second experience subject and received the other device’s graft. Thus he found himself in direct contact with his dead brother’s brain. Fabian was only seven year old and it was like a new game to him. Not only his brother could contact him, but he could also take control of his body. It was magical.
Initially cohabitation was difficult and their body sometimes executed disorderly movements, which even occasioned him some injury. But gradually, Fabian learned to withdraw and let his muscles obey to Charles’ brain when he wished. It came even, during specific games, that one was leading legs while the other was leading arms, under the passionate eyes of their parents who lived it as a revolutionary experience.
Nanny – the woman who looked after them since birth – was entirely devoted to her masters. She was simple and as she did not well understand what was going on, but accepted the fact without difficulties. However, the day the professor grafted a robotic head that only Charles could command on Fabian’s shoulder, she found it very hard to admit. She could not imagine that this little face was Charles and she almost never talked to him.
Over the years, Fabian forgot that his brother’s brain was locked in a jar, and was increasingly persuaded to be a two-headed monster.
Charles, however, conscious of the situation was becoming daily embittered and violent. He always teased the poor nurse, playing dirty tricks.
One evening, the laboratory caught fire. Fabian never knew what caused the fire. Alerted by the crackling, his parents stormed out of the house and rushed into the flames to try and save their valuable experiences. It was at this point that the structure collapsed. Parents never reappeared.
From the window of his room, Fabian was watching firefighters put out the fire when he heard Charles’ voice:
-“We will have to manage things on our own now. I’m sure it will be great.” And he ended his sentence with an unpleasant sneer.
Apparently, Charles’s brain was not damaged by the fire. The professor had certainly placed it in a safe place, somewhere in the park, to protect it from potential disasters like the one that had just happened.
After this episode, Nanny’s life became hell. The Charles’ nature became worse. On his seventeenth, he was caught in a rage against the nurse and tried to kill her with a large kitchen knife. She fled out of the house, leaving them alone for the first time in their lives.
-“You know the rest of the story.”, said Fabian to Christy.
Exhausted by his long effort, he slept down like a log.
Christy had trouble getting to sleep. All this was too crazy. She had fallen in love with Fabian because of its strangeness and now that she knew his story, this love was even stronger. She finally fell asleep determined to use all her strength to fight the destiny that was bent against him.
It was the night for Charles, all his senses were blacked out. Since the contact with his brother had been broken on the highway, he had no reference. He knew that the range of the transceiver could not exceed fifty miles and he was enraged to have lost control of the body in the car. He gradually lost track of time. How long was he there, mass of thoughts and memories as a motor rotating in emptiness, useless energy?
He was surely alive and that was precisely the drama. The thought of living forever, simple brain in a jar, made him increasingly mad, consumed by hatred.
His whole being was haunted towards a single goal: take revenge of this cursed brother who had abandoned him. He did not reason anymore. He dreamed only of one thing: kill Fabian and take his place.
Suddenly, a voice echoed in his mind:
-“Hello Charles. This is your father who speaks to you.”.
-“My father?” thought Charles, “But this is impossible! He’s dead, charred in the the laboratory fire.”
But the voice continued:
-“This is a recording that I programmed. It should start in case the contact stops between you and your brother for more than three days. So if you hear my voice now, there are three possibilities: Fabian died or he is too far for the transmitter’s range, or else the device does not work anymore for some reason.”
-“When I considered these possibilities I installed your brain in the room where you currently are. It is buried in the soil of the park and contains another laboratory.”
-“I have built a robot on which you will be able to connect. It is not a very sophisticated robot, but the room also contains all kinds of books and instruments. Thus, you’ll be on your own to improve your new body.”
-“To activate it, you have to strongly think of a code that I am going to give to you and the relays will snap between your brain and the robot. Good luck, son. If you hear this message, it means that we are dead, your mother and I. So I hope that, in memory of us, you will continue our work.”
-“The code is: DUO SOLO.”