! H Brotherly Love

Editor’s Foreword

Now this one is a challenge. After all, we don’t have a category for “twisted”. But, I do need to fill up the Horror category, so here goes... The easily disturbed might want to turn back now.

When I received my first TIME GIFT™ from Time Gift Inc. (a great Oxford company) I nearly split my sides with laughter. It was so novel; I couldn’t imagine anything funnier or more attractive.

Let me tell you something about the mechanism. The TIME GIFT™ delivery man arrives in his lilac coloured box van. You sign for the package and whammo, you’re there, dressed to the nines, if you’re a woman your hair and make-up are impeccable, if you’re a man you have on your favourite cologne, your moustache and toupee are in tip-top shape. You have on the latest fashion, you look a million dollars in fact. It could be a night at the theatre, your loved one already in situ, the wine at the correct temperature, the hors d’oeuvres ordered, soft piano music. It could be a day at the races with a few thou’ thrown in to waste on your horse of choice. It could be anything really, a simple loving gesture or an extravagant financial statement, your imagination (and the depth of your pocket) the only boundary; a trip you’ve always wanted to your wife/husband someone on; a surprise party up the Eiffel tower for your daughter/son and her/his friends; a special meeting for your brother/sister with a famous baseball/ballet star; as long as you could afford the Time Gift Inc fees, the world was your oyster waiting to slip its succulent, juicy meat down your gaping throat.

I couldn’t believe it when it happened to me. It was a real heart-felt gift from my half-sister, and totally unexpected. She’d always known that I was afraid of spiders. So, she’d arranged for me to have intensive exposure therapy. I didn’t know this when I signed for the TIME GIFT™ package at the door as you’re supposed to, while the guy watched me (a little too intently, I thought, but what the hell, it’s his job right?) and took it inside to unwrap it. The next thing I know, there I am. In a 3-meter sided translucent glass cubicle, no obvious entry or exit points. Naked and alone. Flat-screen TV monitor positioned low on one wall. Sarah’s face appeared on the screen like those dating videos. I squatted down so that the screen was at eye level.

“Charles, I’m doing this for you as my most cherished half-brother (she made it sound like she had other half-brothers and sisters but I was sure she and I were the only ones who could call each other family). I’ve known for as long as I’ve known you, that you have a terrible and debilitating affliction, a fear of spiders, so with the help of Time Gift Inc…”

She opened her mouth and there at the back of her throat, I thought I could see something moving, something long and black and hairy. I crawled forward to get a closer look, what was that thing? It was tapping away at the back of her throat, like an Irish bomb disposal operative stamping his foot through a minefield with his hands over his ears. I could hear the thing patting the saliva at the back of her tongue. Sarah seemed to heave then. And a bucket load of spiders spilled forth from her mouth, landing on the floor where I knelt.

I scurried back. I was gasping for breath. I started to sweat instantly. I kept scurrying back until I banged my head on the translucent ‘glass’ of the cubicle. It didn’t hurt at all like I’d expected it too. It’s like the glass was padded. I hammered the glass with my fist and screamed at the top of my voice.

“Help! Let me out.” I pleaded. Cried like a child. Got angry. All futile. In all those first moments of pure mood-swinging panic, I didn’t once take my eyes off that pile of spiders that settled eventually into a flat colony and those that were still alive started to explore their new home.

They seemed to sense I was in the room with them. They sensed there was an enemy. An opponent. Well. Let me tell you. They didn’t survive for long. I crushed them all underfoot - obviously not all at once. One couldn’t imagine plunging one’s naked foot into a pile of settling spiders like that on the first impulse. No, I ran about a bit first. On tiptoe. My naked back to the glass. Trying to escape. Danced round the pile of spiders as it settled. I had no idea where I thought I was going. I was just in a shock.

My flesh exploded with goose bumps when I first saw the pile start to crawl off in multiple directions, some were much faster than others. I froze in the corner of the room. My back pressed up into one corner. My eyes hadn’t blinked for nearly two minutes; I could feel them starting to dry out. But I didn’t care. No way was I gonna let my gaze be disturbed by a blinking eyelid. You never know when those spiders are gonna rear up and leap into your mouth or tangle their legs in your hair.

I screamed again. I know this is melodramatic. Even then I knew it. But my autonomic system, my fight or flight mechanism, was demanding some reaction from me at the most primal level. The only way I could have stopped myself screaming would have been to scratch out my vocal chords with my own fingers. I stood there panting. Watching those things expand out like some enormous furry mantrap ready to snap shut on me. I couldn’t take my eyes off the horror of their slow considered approach. I was being stalked. Readied for the kill.

I stamped on them as the came closer; I thought if I stamped on them fast enough I wouldn’t notice the fact that I was squashing a living thing under my foot. I didn’t bother counting them. One scurried towards my arm and I smashed my fist into it, smearing it along the translucent glass. Did I hear a little scream escape it? I saw then that many of the spiders had fled to the ceiling and they were advancing towards me from on high, abseiling down on delicate silk ropes. I felt my irises tear open and I thought my eyes would just rip open and I’d have to face this horror totally blind. I vomited into the corner there without a moment’s hesitation. The stench was so powerful I struggled against hope to remain on my feet. I couldn’t let myself fall into that pile of spiders. I couldn’t.

Sarah’s flat-screen image flickered on once again and thousands more spiders spilled out onto the corpse-strewn floor as if there were no end to her fecundity…

Hell, how was I to know that was the best way to cure one of one’s afflictions, one’s phobias? I was so impressed, I bought shares in the company and one day swore that I would become a major shareholder and run this company the way it should be done, with style and class. I was so taken by the product I lost all sense of proportion. All critical faculties went out the window as I signed on the dotted line for my first batch of shares.

I resolved to help her, too, my half sister. I’d put my own money into the venture, unlike she, who’d got our parents to pay for my therapy. I mean, it worked. I am now totally cured of my debilitating arachnophobia. I can have ‘almost’ any breed of spider crawling about on my naked hand, over my forearm, its feelers investigating my rolled up sleeve. Only the really long-legged ones still turn my stomach. The brightly coloured ones, the stripey backed ones, the real hairy ones, the tarantula sized ones, in fact all those sorts of spider that shared that cubicle with me for those three hours. No problem. It’s the really light-looking ones, the flattened looking ones that seem to float on their towering legs that put the willies up me. I bet I could deal with it. Remember this is not a negative appraisal of TIME GIFT™ products or services. I am a new man. As she will be a new woman when I’ve finished with her.

She’s always been a bit of a slapper. Oh, how can I put this in a more polite form? She knows what she likes and she regularly goes out in search of it. She’s not cheap or slutty or anything. But she has had MANY casual sexual partners. She seems to go for the same type of man every time, too. They have a moustache and long brown hair, they are shorter than her, just like me. In fact, if I was to think about it too hard, I’d imagine she had a bit of a fetish for her half-brother. I am two years older than her for example, though I have no idea if that has any relevance, just stating the facts. And the facts are what separate reality from fantasy.

I arranged for the adult movie actors with the largest manhoods and the most notorious reputations. I’d bought the face masks (perfect copied of my face rendered in a soft, lifelike latex material complete with moustache). I’d arranged for the venue (a stinky lock up under the train bridge) where I’d arranged for it to be done. Have her gang raped. Time and again. Until she couldn’t stand the sight of me. I’d cure her of her crush on her half-brother. I’d pay her back for her charitable act, her cleansing of my phobia. I owed her at least this much. Her freedom, her liberation from her self-imposed hell, was paramount. She would be improved. Her life from that point would be enriched.

The TIME GIFT™, you see, is fully guaranteed. I didn’t get my money back, but their insurance policy was thorough. The after service care was second to none. They needed it, too, because of what the TIME GIFT™ was. The idea was you take the parcel off the delivery guy and you prick your finger on a needle in the unwrapping. It’s just like the story of Sleeping Beauty. You could be re-awakened at a later date and location and your TIME GIFT™ surprise could be delivered to you. To the client it would be an instantaneous effect. You took the gift. You could arrive in any part of the planet, for any surprise.

But that’s not how it happens for her.

I was stood over her comatose body in a shiny, new hospital. The prognosis wasn’t good either. They said she might come out of it at any time. And when she did, they’d honour their guarantee to deliver the TIME GIFT™ in a timely, professional fashion.

She was gonna love it when she finally came round, and the Time Gift Inc rep assured me they had the technology to keep comatose bodies alive indefinitely. So, one hundred, two hundred years from now, I only wish I could be there to see the smile on her face.


About the Author

Mike Philbin is the man behind the surrealist writing entity Hertzan Chimera. Mike is the editor of the Chimeraworld anthology (now in its fifth year). In 2008, Silverthought Press of New York will release his two new novels Bukkakeworld and Planet of the Owls.


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