I grew up in a small town called ‘not important’ in the state of ‘doesn’t matter’, and childhood for me was pretty comparable to your average Joe Schmo Americano. Loving parents, decent school, and loyal friends; I was fortunate enough to have all these things, even though I was adopted.
I had one sibling, and he didn’t do your typical little-brother type stuff, like ask you to help him with homework or try to tag along when you go out with friends. He never asked me to take him to the arcade or threatened to tell our parents when I cussed. He didn’t like to play outside and didn’t have any friends. In fact, my friends probably never knew I had a brother because he was so elusive. It wasn’t until I was 17 that I realized something was really wrong with him.
I once saw him sitting at the open window in his room with a bird in his hand; it must’ve flown in, and he somehow caught it. I waited for him to hurt or kill the blue jay, confirming my suspicions that he was going to be a serial killer, but he simply held it for a minute or so and let it fly off. When I finally announced my presence by asking him what he was doing, he looked through me with a blank stare and replied:
Keep in mind, my brother was eight years old at the time. What eight-year-old cradles a wild bird at his window, stares off into pondering void of self-discovery and replies with ‘thinking’? No eight-year-old ever, that’s who.
The second time he freaked me out was about six months later. I had my then girlfriend over, and we were streaming a movie. My parents went to have dinner, and I got tasked with watching my brother. This didn’t really bother me since they didn’t care if I had a girl over during my babysitting shift, and my brother usually kept to himself. We were cozied up on the couch, and I was rounding second base when I feel him breathing on the back of my head. I whip around and the little freak is standing behind the couch, within licking distance of me and my girlfriend. I snap at him to tell me what the hell he was doing, and his answer straight-up made me squirm:
My girlfriend grabbed her bag so fast I swear she must’ve got purse-burn. I begged her to stay, but she wasn’t having it. I grabbed my little creep of a brother by his arm and drug him upstairs. This was the first time I ever put my hands on him in anger. He didn’t fight me or cry, he just looked at me as I threw him in his room and closed the door, same blank expression on his face.
On my eighteenth birthday, we had a pool party at our house. My parents allowed me to invite as many friends as I wanted. My brother obviously didn’t have anyone to invite, opting to stay in his room. My parents even got me and my friends some beer, so long as we all stayed there and spent the night at my house. The party went great, and my friends and I littered the living room like a refugee camp. It’s about 2 AM when my girlfriend texts me to meet her outside for my ‘birthday gift’; she couldn’t make the party due to a family function. We’re getting busy in the back of her car when I hear tapping on the window. There he is, standing outside and staring at us with those dead eyes. I about go ballistic and s****h the little cretin by his throat as he squeaks:
My yelling wakes up my parents, who are immediately lay into me for grabbing my brother by the neck. My mom takes him inside and my father tells my girlfriend to go home. He and I stand in the driveway for a minute before he finally explains that my brother was born different, with some kind of cognitive processing disorder that affects his understanding of boundaries. It’s apparently something the doctors haven’t seen before, and my parents aren’t sure how to handle it. I told my dad about all the weird things he’s been doing, who assured me that he’d talk to him but warned me not to get physical with him ever again.
The next couple weeks were normal, with him only leaving the room for school and meals. I had finally convinced my girlfriend to come over one night that my parents went on a date. I headed upstairs and texted her to come by, then popping my head into my brother’s room to see what he was up to. He was just sitting on his bed in the pitch dark and staring back at me. I asked him what he was doing:
I didn’t understand what the hell that meant and didn’t want to, so long as he stayed in the room while my girlfriend was over. She got there a little after midnight and we plopped onto the couch on flicked on the TV. Things start heating up and I swear I feel him breathing on my neck again. I whip around, about ready to punch the little pervert, but no one was there. This freaks my girlfriend out again. I assure her that he’s in his room, but it’s not enough to keep her engine running. She agrees to stay and hangout, but nobody’s getting any action. My little brother managed to screw it up without even being in the room.
About a month later, I’m out with some friends at a local pizza joint/arcade. We’re playing one of those hot-shot basketball arcade games and the place is packed, which makes sense since it’s Friday night. There’s a literal flood of children tearing through the place, and I manage to catch a glimpse of what I thought is my brother walking into the bathroom. I take off from my friends and crash through the doors, nearly knocking some guy over. The bathroom is otherwise empty. I bend down to see if there’s anyone in the stalls, which there isn’t, and notice the single window at the end of the room is open. I immediately call my parents to ask if my brothers in his room, but neither of them answers. My house is only like three blocks from here, so I decide to book it home and cut the freak off. I get there and storm up the stairs, intent on hiding in his room and catching him trying to sneak back in. I hop in his closet and close the folding doors, leaving just a crack to peek through. About five minutes pass before I hear him breathing, right behind me. I explode out of the closet and fall onto my back. My brother, who is standing behind the hanging clothes and has never shown any sort of emotional expression, was smiling at me. I don’t even have to ask him:
I’ve had enough. I pounded on the door to my parent’s room to wake them up. They shuffle out of their room and are oddly rigid, like they are in the military position of attention. Their eyes are blank like my brothers and don’t respond at all to my complaining. I heard someone standing behind me and turn to look; it was me. Or someone that looked exactly like me, just staring back at me with cold, lifeless eyes. I started to shake my head in disbelief, and the thing mirrored me exactly. My parents agonizingly seized my shoulders and start dragging me into their room, the other me smiling and waving as I thrashed against their unyielding grips. I begged for them to stop and tell me what was going on: