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It’s a World Gone Crazy

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    The Cosmos

    Emily was on the floor of the living room, Nikoli standing over her, leg raised ready to stomp her abdomen, the belt he usually wore was swinging from his right hand, with the large silver buckle vascillatin like a counter weight. Emily was bloody from her face to her waist; blood spattered the walls around her, and the edges of his buckle glistening with the same viscous matter splashed on the walls. His back was to Vega when she entered the house, she’d gasped at the gruesome sight before her and he’d turned slowly, so very slowly. As alike as the sisters were, their brother was that different.

    Emily had been a loving child, with never a bad thing to say about anyone. She’d been the bane of Nikoli’s existence since the day she was born, leaving him as the middle child. He had tormented her mercilessly; as they got older, it only got worse. She’d taken his cruelty and the brunt of his temper and become quiet and withdrawn around him. Vega had been her protector, keeping Emily off Nikoli’s radar.

    Vega, the oldest, was always the peacekeeper. Distracting Nikoli from his younger sister had become more and more necessary. She thought that when the world shut down, things would be different between her two younger siblings. She’d been so very wrong; they had only gotten worse.

    Nikoli, Niki to those who wanted to tease him; and there were very few who ever did, was the quiet one, until something set him off, which could be anything at all. He responded by screaming, yelling, lashing out cruelly, and often brutally.

    When the world had gone to shit, Emily started spending nights away at the Barrington farm. Nikoli hated this; it took his punching bag away. Vega was actually grateful that Emily was gone, Stone and Aleksander had been more like brothers to her then Nikoli ever had. Emily was safe with them.

    Alexsander, Zan to his friends, was a joker. He could be loud and obnoxious when the situation called for it, but just as refined and poised when needed. He’d fallen in love with Vega when she was about six, he would have been 10. He remembered the day as clearly, as if it had just happened. She thought he was a cootie-ridden boy. He spent next few years pursuing her as only a child can; with complete and utter abandon, and totally inappropriate behavior. In their teens, he’d asked her out repeatedly only to receive a resounding, “No.” At sixteen, she’d relented and gone out with him. He finally caught her, vowing never to let her go. She’d not married him yet, it wasn’t for his lack of trying. It was more her cold feet, but he knew, without a doubt; he would warm them, eventually.

    Stone, just stone, was outgoing and a friend to everyone. He was the quintessential nice guy, as far as everyone knew. Those that knew better had crossed him once and never again. Some because they couldn’t, others were just terrified of what he would do to them. He never made idle threats and never started the fights he got into, Stone finished them.

    Vega didn’t know that Emily and Stone had been sleeping together until Emily turned up pregnant. Emily told her one night among a million tears, some yelling and an extreme fear of Nikoli knowing. Vega told Emily he was going to find out sooner or later, this was something she couldn’t hide. When Nikoli found out Stone was the father, all hell was going to break loose. There would be a fight of epic proportions.

    No one knew exactly why, the two men hated each other so much. Only that they couldn’t manage pass each other on the street without it coming to blows. Some said a girl was involved, most chose to believe it. Others said that Niki had killed someone, and Stone found out, and in deference to his sisters chose to keep it quiet, holding it over Nikoli until it was needed.

    Vega had come into the house, to find Nikoli standing over Emily, while she lay on the floor in a crumpled heap. When she gasped, Nikoli turned and advanced on her. She’d pulled the gun from her waistband and fired without any hesitation. Surprise registered on Niki’s face as he fell backwards into the wall, and slid down leaving a crimson trail of his own. The brothers, who had been on their way to the house, heard the shot and burst in as Vega dropped the still smoking gun. Stone went to Emily immediately, swearing and cursing Nikoli. Zan took Vega outside where she sank to the ground and shook uncontrollably.


    The Cosmos

    Aleksandar and Vega sat outside waiting for Stone. He came out of the house carrying Emily. “She’s alive, he was, but isn’t now.” Stone’s voice betrayed no emotion at all. Vega cringed, “I killed my own brother.” It was more a reaffirmation than anything else. Stone shook his head. “No, Vega, *I* killed your brother.” Again his voice was completely void of any intonation at all. Stone laid Emily with her head in Vega’s lap. He stood and went back into the house, returning with the gun. He handed it back to her, Vega shook her head, Aleksandar took it and put it on the windowsill. Emily started making small noises, and Vega smoothed her hair and the younger girl calmed. Stone spoke again, “Zan, I need you to come with me.” Aleksandar stood and followed Stone back into the house.

    Once inside Aleksandar saw the brutality of what had happened. He hadn’t seen it before because of his single minded focus on Vega. It looked like a crime scene from one of the TV shows they used to watch. Furniture was knocked over, the coffee table flattened, broken glass, and there was enough blood that it looked like a massacre had occurred in here. Aleksandar turned to Stone, “What do we do with this?” “We don’t do anything. I will deal here.” “Stone, what did you need me for.” “I know Vega didn’t believe me when I told her she didn’t kill her brother. Look at him, Zan. What do you see?” “His neck is broken,” Stone nodded. “And the gunshot is in his too high on the chest to be fatal.” Stone nodded again. “You did kill him.” Stone spoke quietly through clenched teeth. “He hurt her once too often, and this considering…” Stone shook his head, “was entirely too much.” It was Aleksandar’s turn to nod. “I’ll make sure Vega understands.”

    Aleksandar looked around the room, “The girls cannot stay here.” “We’ll take them back to our place, after I’m done here.” Zan nodded again, “What can I do to make this go faster?” “Go get some…No…Stay here.” Stone left the house and stepped outside to speak to Vega. “Look here is the deal, we have a body and a bloody mess, and while I don’t think the police are going to come running for this, others might. I have a suggestion and you may not like it. You and Emily can move into the farm with us and we will burn this place.” Vega looked at him, she couldn’t believe what she heard, “You want to burn our home?” Stone nodded, “There is no way to clean up the mess inside. Even with just soap and water and a fresh coat of paint, the stains would still seep through.” “Do we have to do this now? Can we at least get our stuff out?” “If we do this quickly, yes. Take only what is most important to you. Zan can help.”

    Stone went to the barn to gather what he would need to torch the place. While he was collecting what he would need he muttered under his breath. He wasn’t sure who he was trying to convince as he spoke, “This *is* the easiest way. It takes care of the body and the mess and the girls, without Niki, shouldn’t be alone here.” He continued mumbling all the way back to the house.



    They cleared the house taking only what was most important to them. Zan went back to the farm and brought their sisters over to help. Ava and and Mia were more than willing to help. It was done methodically and quickly. Stone used some of Nikoli’s alcohol stash, along with some other household items as accelerants. The girls took the food, alcohol and rest of the stuff far enough away that it wouldn’t catch fire. While the boys lit the house up. There was very little talking involved until the guys returned. Emily had not regained consciousness, she would be devastated to learn of the house. The others stood in silence watching the house catch and burn in the night.

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