An Island of Nothing
Part Six: One Answer and Seven Questions
"Do you believe in an afterlife? Reincarnation, maybe?" Seth asked in all seriousness as he folded his arms behind his head for support. Michael and he were currently sharing the couch in the living room, and Michael was holding a cup of coffee, as usual. He had a feeling that he would need it.
Out of everything, that question was one of the things Michael did not expect. "What does that have to do with anything?" he asked.
Seth rolled his eyes. "Just answer the question."
"Not really, no. I've not really thought about it much, though. What does that have to do with what happened yesterday?" Michael asked again, shrugging.
"It has everything to do with what happened yesterday." When Michael gave him a confused look Seth sighed. "I guess I'll have to start at the beginning."
"The beginning is generally a good place to start," Michael quipped with a grin, earning him a very familiar scowl from his young charge.
"Yeah well, it's too annoying and overdone. I wanted to start somewhere more interesting, but you're just too stupid for that." Michael crossed his arms, trying to look highly offended. It didn't work very well, since he was grinning, but he figured he could give it a try anyway.
"Sorry, I'm just not looking forward to telling you this."
Michael relaxed into his seat. "I know, take your time." He took another sip of his coffee.
Seth closed his eyes, feeling a terrible sense of dread. He had never felt the need to share his story with anyone before, and he couldn't figure out why he was doing so now. It wasn't necessary, after all. In fact, Seth could get up and walk away right now, not ever looking back.
Michael, though, he considered family, and he liked to think that family stuck together. They didn't leave when the going got tough. Well, they weren't supposed to, anyway. No, Seth thought to himself, he couldn't abandon Michael, especially not after all that he'd done for him.
A couple of feet beside the couch, Coaster let out a meow loud enough to wake the dead and rolled onto his back, purring. Seth considered that a sign that it was time to begin. It was now or never, as the saying went.
"Okay. First of all, I was born on an uncharted island in the Pacific Ocean. At least, in this life I was." Seth wordlessly held up a hand to stop Michael from asking any questions.
"Really though, I wasn't supposed to be born. It was sort of a fluke. I have a twin brother, you know. His name is Kenny." At this he grinned, looking, for all the world, as if the very name brought forth good times. "He was the original, the one who was supposed to come into this world."
"You yelled out the name Kenny when you collapsed," Michael informed him, looking surprisingly calm and understanding.
Seth nodded, hoping the look on Michael's face would remain that way. "I'll get to that later. As I was saying, the island had really strict rules. One of them, the most moronic in my opinion, stated that no one could have more than three children. Well, our mom already had two. She was only meant to have Kenny, not me, so it was really my fault that she got in trouble for having four kids. No one ever had twins before, you see, and we were looked upon as sinful, as different."
"People have twins all the time," Michael said, taking a rather large gulp of his coffee and gazing at Seth with an unreadable expression.
Seth rolled his eyes, probably wondering why he put up with such stupidity. "Of course they do, in the real world. I'm talking about the island; reality is really twisted there."
I felt something last night. Kenny said suddenly, unaware of the conversation he was interrupting. Are you okay, brother? It felt really cold.
Seth frowned, "You felt it, then? You weren't supposed to . . ." he whispered aloud, as he usually did while talking to his brother.
"What?" Michael asked, confused.
Realizing his mistake, Seth continued in his head. It was nothing, Kenny. I just have a cold, is all. What's up?
The sky? Kenny's giggle resounded throughout his mind. Nothing really. Mom's being really weird, though. She keeps asking me if I'm okay, and she doesn't let me play outside anymore.
Seth opened his eyes to look at Michael, who was watching him through narrow eyes. He looked suspicious, and Seth couldn't blame him. "Hold on a second," he said before closing his eyes again.
Did she just start acting like this today? Seth asked, concern mixing with anxiety. Hopefully, Kenny's mother had no suspicions of Kenny's odd ability to talk telepathically, for Seth knew for a fact that normally people couldn't do that, and anything different in the world was frowned upon by the general public. He didn't want Kenny's mom thinking ill thoughts about him, because that would both make Kenny unhappy and, in the worst possible scenario, make his mother dislike him and treat him differently.
Seth could almost see Kenny shrug. She started yesterday, actually. It's getting on my nerves.
Well, ask her about it. I have to go, Kenny, can we talk later? Seth didn't want to stop chatting with his brother, but he knew that he needed to finish talking with Michael about everything. Besides, Michael was probably wondering why he was just lying there. Seth would just have to make sure that Kenny and his mother were doing all right when he was finished with his conversation.
Okay, I'm going to draw a picture for you, so you can feel better! Bye-bye, brother! Kenny said enthusiastically, and Seth repeated the goodbye before opening his eyes and getting back to business.
Michael was staring at him. Well, he supposed that was to be expected.
"I just got dizzy for a second. I'm better now." Seth said.
"Anyway, don't ask questions until I'm completely done, okay?" At Michael's nod, he continued. "Well, after we were born, it was up to the elders of the island on what to do with us. The elders were the people that ruled. They made all the decisions and everyone blindly followed whatever they said." Anyone listening could tell that he disagreed with that type of dictatorship.
Seth paused, unsure of where he was supposed to be going with this, unsure of what he really wanted to reveal. After a moment, he took a breath and continued. "Well, since we were the first twins of the island, and we were abominations in the eyes of the elders, it was ordered that they have us killed."
Michael gaped openly, and Seth took a moment to look at his future father. He looked surprised, shocked maybe, and just a little bit pale. "What's wrong?" he asked, even though he mentally scolded himself afterward. That was probably the single stupidest question he could have asked.
Michael shook his head. "Nothing, I just don't understand why anyone would kill babies for being born… that didn't happen though, right? I mean, you're obviously here and alive, but your brother's alive too, right?"
Seth grinned, Michael's concern for his brother was something he hadn't been expecting, but he welcomed it with open arms. Maybe someday, Michael and Kenny could meet, but that would only be happening after he had a chance to meet Kenny face to face himself.
"Right, I was getting to that. Well, our family certainly didn't object to us being killed. In fact, the only person on the island who actually did anything was the doctor who helped our mom give birth to us."
Seth smiled, remembering the old doctor as if it was yesterday. "He was a great guy. I never did learn his name, but he sacrificed himself for us, and I'll never get to show just how grateful I am for him."
Michael took a drink of his coffee, and then promptly yawned. Covering his mouth with his hand, Michael gave a sheepish grin. "Your story isn't boring or anything, I just haven't slept in a while. Sorry, continue."
"Maybe you should take a nap, then? I can finish when you wake up," Seth suggested, wondering if the reason his housemate was pale was due to the fact that he hadn't been sleeping.
Michael quickly shook his head, objecting immediately. "No, no, I'd never be able to fall asleep when I don't know all of this."
Seth shrugged, shoving his concern aside so that he could finish the story quickly. "Okay, well, a couple of hours before we were supposed to be killed, the doctor protested to the elders. He said that we never did anything; that we shouldn't have to die. He argued for over an hour, and they still thought that we should die. The elders said that if the rules were ever broken, then something bad would happen to the island. They said that if we didn't die then the island would be destroyed. So, the doctor helped us escape. He put both of us, Kenny and I, in different baskets, and then blessed us with holy water before pushing us out to sea."
Seth could remember if as if it were yesterday. The ocean was calm that night, almost as if Kenny and he were destined to survive.
"That's how Kenny ended up in a different place. Our baskets didn't say together, which was for the best. He lives in Florida now, with a mom that, hopefully, loves him. I'm glad he didn't end up with me, really."
Seth wasn't really sure who he was trying to convince. Sometimes, he wondered what it would have been like to grow up with Kenny beside him. What would have happened if they'd been able to fit in the same basket? Would he have gone with Kenny, or would Kenny have ended up with him, homeless and fighting everyday?
He shook his head to clear those thoughts. None of that mattered anymore.
"What does this have to do with what happened before? And how do you know where Kenny lives?" Michael asked after a moment, and Seth sighed, wishing that Michael could think all this through on his own and come up with the only obvious, logical conclusion.
"You can't think for yourself, can you? No wait, don't answer that." Seth sighed again. This story was getting redundant. "Well, the thing that was coming after me before was a Cipher, and a Cipher's job is to kill anything and everything that has a quality of bad luck, or something that brings about bad fortune to the island."
Seth looked Michael square in the eye. "Namely, me."
Michael's eyes widened and the blessed coffee cup dropped to the ground.