Hole in the Head
Belgium Waffles

Prologue


"Come on, Jan, just gimme my ticket!" Felix Edmunds snapped, his wiry arms reaching up to try and snatch at least one of the two small slips of paper out of his older brother's hands and snarling when the tickets were held high out of his reach. January grinned, finally relenting and lowering his hand to allow the disgruntled teen to grab at the carnival ticket. Fussing with Felix's unkempt blond and blue hair, January allowed his brother to shove him off and stomp towards the admissions booth.

After being allowed through the small gate and into the actual carnival, Felix flicked his hair out of his eyes and turned to January with a flippant stare.

"Just go on without me, okay?" His pale gaze caught two kids his age shooting water guns at a nearby game booth and he seemed drawn to them. Taking a step in their direction, the blond seemed to pause before glancing over his shoulder.

"I've got mom's cell, so I'll call you. I'm gonna hang with Sadie and Matt." Without even a wave goodbye, the young teen was jogging towards his friends and leaving January standing near the carnival entrance with a bewildered look.

The original plan, when he'd proposed it to Felix, had been for them to spend a day at the carnival for some family bonding, since January had been busy the past few months with senior classes and a part time job, and he thought that his younger brother had missed hanging out with him. Apparently, however, Felix had been thinking otherwise.

Trying his best not to make a hurt face, January waved half-heartedly at Felix's retreating back. He had to remember that Felix was fourteen, which meant that he still had a bit of puberty to go through before he would even try to act as nice as January tried to be. Then again, being seventeen made January a little meaner at times than he knew he should be, but that was probably just because Felix could get on his nerves every now and then.

January's gaze wandered around, inspecting his surroundings before he gave a limp shrug to nobody in particular and made his way into the heart of the fair. Laughing and screaming children were drowned out by obnoxious tunes that came from various rides and the horribly exaggerated sound effects of game booths. His sneakers crunched unevenly over the gravel pathway, hands shoved into the pockets of his jacket and the cool October weather biting at his cheeks and nose.

He closed his eyes for a minute, breathing in the scent of fried dough, funnel cakes, and corn dogs, before reopening them and heading down one of the many walkways. Most of it was fairly typical as far as carnivals went: a Ferris wheel, tilt-a-whirl, various booths and games. A scowl reached his features when he realized that he'd made it to a dead end -- the Poultry Judging barn standing innocently in front of him, crows and clucking coming loudly from inside.

Turning on his heel, January opted for another route, passing by a funhouse where a little kid was screaming and holding onto the railing as the floor under him wobbled. The boy's nose was running, shaking his head wildly at his mother, who was standing on one end, trying to coax him into walking across.

Shaking his head in bewilderment, January continued his slow meander, taking in the sights with mild disinterest. The farther down he went, the more obscure things became. He knew he was definitely on the outskirts of the fair by the time he reached the 'World's Largest Pig!' booth, which he was sure definitely did not actually have the world's largest pig, unless the pig population of the world had suddenly reached a devastating famine.

Pausing a moment to snort at the sign and the elfin pig that was cramped inside of a wooden pen, January turned away from the booth. His stomach was churning uncomfortably, begging him to fill it with something fried and preferably covered a dust mound of powdered sugar. It was then that a small tent caught his attention from the corner of his eye. Upon closer inspection, he discovered it was a fortune teller booth, judging from the post forced into the ground in front of it.

Curiosity piqued, January ignored the disappearance of gravel under his shoes as he approached, which was replaced with dying grass. He reached out a questioning hand, grasping at the cloth that hid the inside from prying eyes and pulling it back, head ducking to peer inside curiously.

The inside was decked out with tasseled purple and red cushions surrounding a shallow table where a curvy middle-aged woman sat, clothed in many elaborate layers of colored scarves. Her eyes were obscured by her large, curly mass of dark hair, but January could still distinctly feel the weight of them when she looked at him.

"Do you ask to have your fortune told?" Her voice was low, luring him in with its utterly mysterious tone, elegant hands poised gracefully above her ethereal-looking crystal ball, decked in an array of bracelets and rings.

"Um," he replied, looking behind him awkwardly. Nope. No one there. She was definitely talking to him. He looked back to her, blinking owlishly when his dark bangs fell from the side of his face to partially obscure his vision, tickling his nose in the process. "If you're a fortune teller, shouldn't you already know the answer to that?" he queried, voice skeptical. His fingers flexed their grip on the entry flap, debating whether to enter and satiate his curiosity, or to turn tail and run.

Her painted lips tilted in a smile, and she gestured graciously to the plush cushion situated on the other side of the table from her. "Sit," she said, accessories clinking gently at the action.

He took another moment to look awkward before he decided oh, what the hell, and dropped onto the cushion and folded his legs. "Okay, so. What do I do? I've never been to a fortune teller before." He looked around the tent awkwardly, trying to find something to keep his attention piqued and failing miserably when he realized that the only thing remotely decorative was the gaudy crystal ball that was sitting in front of them both.

She waved her fingers over the ball and raised her thin eyebrows. "Ask me a question and I shall tell you its answer." Her bracelets clinked again and January couldn't help but stare at them with some form of vague interest.

He glanced up at her dark eyes, realizing that she was staring at him almost impatiently, and ducked his head in embarrassment, "Right," he murmured, mostly to himself, and pondered what question to ask. It took him a second of thought before he blurted the first thing that had come to mind -- a question that had been plaguing him for the past few weeks. "Is Felix going to stop being a dick any time soon?"

The woman hummed, moving her fingers again, but never actually touching the ball. "Felix," she said, drawing out the name in long, complicated syllables that eventually didn't even sound like a name anymore. "Yessss, the boy. I can see him." Her hands were making massaging motions as they hovered over the glowing orb, eyes drawn into the back of her head and revealing more white than anything.

Yeah, right, January thought to himself, rolling his eyes. What a crock. This was so corny it was ridiculous. But that's what he got for getting his fortune read at a low-budget county fair.

Either oblivious or unfazed by his scorn, the fortune teller continued, closing her eyes with a somewhat troubled look of concentration. Her long, dark lashes dusted pale cheeks, dark lips pursing before drawing back to speak. "You must be careful," she began slowly. "Your relationship is not what it seems. He will be in danger, and you must remain aware of your feelings for him."

"My feelings for him?" he echoed dubiously, shifting uncomfortably in his seat. "He's my brother." He contemplated leaving the booth right then and there. "This is stupid."

"Stupid?" Her eyes shot open, pupils shrinking, and she frowned, seemingly breaking out of whatever trance of concentration she'd been in. Resting her elbows on the edge of the table, the woman folded her hands, chin resting on them. "Say what you will now, but beware of your feelings for the young one. It will lead to his doom if you are not careful."

Patience snapping, January clenched his jaw. "Whatever." Scoffing, he leveled her with a doubtful glare. Between them, the crystal ball was still glowing, and he narrowed his gaze at it and pointed. "Is this thing even real? I'll bet it's plugged in somewhere."

As he reached out to grab it to find out where the cord was hidden, the fortune teller suddenly lurched forward, trying to intercept his hands before he could take it.

"Stop! Don't touch that!" she barked, decorated arms shoving him backwards, but it was too late; he already had his hands pressing against the glowing object. The second his fingers made contact with it, he felt like all of the muscles in his arms were seizing up, leading a trail up his shoulder until a sudden and unstoppable agony flared in his head.

Shouting in pain, January dropped the ball, hearing it thunk against the ground as he rose both hands to clutch at his aching head. He could feel the fortune teller hurrying around the table to approach him. His heart was pounding loudly in his ears, body so sensitized that he felt like he'd suffered an electric shock. The hairs on his neck were on end, goosebumps rising all over his body.

"I tell him not to touch it, and what does he do!? He touches it!" He heard the fortune teller snarl, her voice so close it was like it was coming from his head. He growled, blinking an eye open to see who she was talking to and seeing no others in the tent.

"Well it isn't my fault that you didn't tell me your stupid ball was a safety hazard!" Having said that, he closed his eyes again to try and flush out the blinding pain in his head.

It has begun. The woman's voice was loud in his head, solemn.

"What are you talking about?" January groaned, stumbling away from her and near the edge of the tent. Suddenly, everything in the carnival seemed to be magnified. He could hear everyone talking, as if they were standing right next to him.

Their voices were loud, abrasive, and painful to his already sensitive head. The tent began to spin dangerously out of focus and he tripped his way out of it, gasping at the sudden roar of people speaking. His vision faded once, twice, before everything fell silent and January felt himself hitting the ground with a final flare of pain before he lost consciousness.

-

January wasn't quite sure what had awoken him first - the throbbing ache in his head, or the one in his left ear. A groan escaped him before he could think of it, arms stretching above his head to alleviate the tired weight that they seemed to have accumulated. His movement was stopped by the feeling of a wall stopping them half-stretch. Eyes snapping open, January rolled over as his mind caught up with him, eyes rolling about the room and wincing when something pulled his tender left earlobe. His hand shot up to grab at it, double-taking when his fingers came into contact with some kind of earring dangling from a freshly pierced hole.

Thoughts foggy, January fiddled with the back of it, clasping at the piece of metal that kept the earring from sliding out of its new home. He sat up, trying vainly to ignore the dull throb in his head, his other hand going to try and take the earring out. He gazed down at the lumpy cot that he had been lying on, his heart nearly leaping out of his chest when someone spoke up from nearby.

"I wouldn't touch that if I were you." Had January not remembered the voice of the fortune teller, he wouldn't have recognized her from where she stood with a cigarette dangling limply from her pale mouth. She was dressed normally now, skinny hips clad in boot-cut jeans and a T-shirt, her long hair pulled into a sloppy ponytail and tucked inside a trucker cap. She stood straight from where she'd been leaning against the side of the trailer that they were in, tapping one boot against the floor and inhaling deeply from her cigarette, looking at January and breathing out a cloud of hazy smoke.

He made a face and fanned the smoke away with his hand. "Why not?"

"Because," she said, giving him a look like it was painfully obvious. She reached a hand out, tapping the cigarette roughly and causing hot ashes to scatter across the dirty floor of the trailer. "That's the only thing keeping everyone's thoughts givin' you one hell of an overload and puttin' you in a coma. I wouldn't recommend taking it out until you're somewhere less infested with idiots and animals -- namely teenagers." She replaced the cigarette back in her mouth, one arm crossed over her stomach and the elbow of her other arm resting against it, taking a deep drag and exhaling loudly.

"Animals and teenagers," January repeated dully, now fingering his new accessory absently, expression suddenly shifting to one of complete horror. His hand fell from the earring, a curse slipping past his lips as he frantically dug through his jacket and jean pockets until he found his cell phone, flipping it open to see two missed calls and three texts from Felix.

"Shit. I've gotta go." He stood up, flipping his phone shut and stuffing it into his jacket temporarily. The fortune teller gave him a firm glare, stepping in front of the door to block the teen from exiting the trailer.

"Not yet, you aren't. You need to realize what you've gotten yourself into. I told you not to touch the crystal ball, and you did. Now you have to deal with the consequences." She coughed thickly, bursts of cigarette smoke coming out of her mouth at the action as she flicked loose ashes off of it. January ran his hands through his hair, frustration growing as it flopped uselessly back in his face.

"How was I supposed to know it was going to do -- well, whatever it did?" he barked, hand stuffing to get his cell phone out and snap it open again, thumb pressing against Felix's speed dial number as he held the phone to his ear. "You're lucky I'm not calling the police or something. Now if you don't mind, I have to find someone."

Lightning fast, her hand shot out and took his cell phone, snapping it shut. "You have no idea," she said, voice low and dangerous, the cigarette smoke twisting ominously above her head in dark waves. "That was no ordinary crystal ball."

"Yeah, I gathered that much," January scoffed, arm reaching for his cell phone. His efforts were in vain as she yanked her hand away and then dropped it down the front of her shirt, patting her right breast, where his phone now made a bulge in the shirt. "What the hell, lady? Give me my phone. I need to find my brother." It took all of his willpower not to strangle the woman before him, instead flexing his hands angrily.

"What you need is to listen to me. Very carefully. Everything that made that crystal ball real, is inside of you now. Its powers are yours now." She took another drag of her cigarette, walking away from the door, now that she had something of January's in her possession, and taking a seat in a beaten old lawn chair near the bed. Leaning her head back, she exhaled a puff of smoke into the air.

Scowling, January turned, but didn't approach her, unsure of what to do or think. He settled for staring blankly at her. "Its what?"

"You heard me. Don't play dumb." Tapping her cigarette against the edge of a cup that sat in the built in nook on the chair's armrest, she reclined back."You know exactly what I'm talking about. Why do you think you passed out?" Rolling her shoulders, she lifted her head enough to stare at January with an expectant look.

Realizing what was expected of him, January frowned and began thinking back to the brief moments he could recall before he'd dropped into unconsciousness. All he could remember was the flaring sensation of electricity raging through his veins and the intense crush of voices on his ears.

"I don't know." He supposed it was expected that his irritation with the woman began to rise with each second that she held his phone captive. He folded his arms, eyes narrowing into a glare to show her his obvious displeasure. "Probably because I was electrocuted."

She snorted, excess smoke bursting from her nostrils. "Choose whatever you wish to believe. I can't change what has happened. When you finally decide to accept your fate, remember this: don't abuse your powers, and protect the boy." She stubbed the cigarette out on the arm of the chair, dropping the crumpled butt into the cup and reaching into her shirt to pull out his phone, elbow sitting on the arm rest.

"The boy? What boy?" He furrowed his eyebrows and thought back to the reading she'd done earlier. "Do you mean Felix?"

Shrugging, she raised a hand to fiddle with the bill of her hat, tucking a few loose strands of hair behind her ear and replying. "I don't know. I only see what the ball tells me. Although it won't be telling me much anymore now that its powers have gone elsewhere." She looked at him pointedly, mouth pursing.

"Whatever." Having said that, January approached her quickly, arm reaching out to snatch his phone from her hand and holding back sneer when she had the nerve to look offended. "I'll deal with it later. I have to go protect the boy." His fingers rose to make quotations around the woman's own words, turning to leave the trailer.

"Take it seriously or it will be your doom." Her warning followed January as he opened the door and stomped down the creaky wooden steps.

"Yeah, yeah. Ridiculous," he muttered to himself, thumb flipping his phone open as he marched across the miniature campsite and towards the outskirts of the carnival in the distance. He noted the new text from Felix, but didn't bother reading it, going straight to speed dial to call him again. He'd barely made it through the first ring before Felix answered in with a mixture of worry and frustration.

"January?" Felix paused as January greeted him shortly, instantly interrupting anything else that his older brother was going to say. "Where the hell have you been?" In the background, January could hear the occasional whinny of a particularly unhappy horse over the chatter of people.

"It doesn't matter. I got distracted. Where are you?" He swerved away from a vicious looking carnie as he headed for January with a handful of darts, waving a hand at the man and stuffing his hand back into his pocket. By the looks of things, he'd been out for a good portion of the day. The general crowd seemed to have dwindled somewhat as the evening brought on cooler weather.

"The Horse Judging, or something. You'll smell it before you see it," Felix replied, his voice laced with a mixture of relief and boredom. "Sadie threw up on the tilt-a-whirl and he and Matt went home, like, an hour ago. I'm out of money, so I've just been sitting here watching these dumb horses because it was the only place to sit.Can we go home now?"

"Sure. Be there in a sec. Sorry I didn't answer my phone, I forgot to turn it off vibrate after work last night." Although it wasn't entirely untrue, January would have normally felt the phone vibrating, had be been conscious.

"Its fine... I guess. Whatever," Felix mumbled, and hung up. Sparing a second to fume at Felix's rude habit of not saying goodbye before he ended a conversation, January stuck his phone in his back pocket. He'd already changed his course to go head in the direction of the animal stadium, nearly colliding with a small girl and her mother. The little girl's balloon smacked him in the face and he batted it away, leveling the back of her lopsided pigtails with a relatively fierce glare. His mood hadn't been very cheerful before the fortune teller fiasco, and it was in no way any brighter. Possibly mottled with brown, if January had any say in the color of his mood. (Maybe even a gross shade of green)

He also had a very overwhelming feeling that his earring (which hurt everytime it swung back and forth with his steps) wasn't helping to make him look as intimidating to the general public as he would have hoped.

January knew he was getting close to his destination when the scent of dried hay and manure hit his nose. The early October breeze did little to deter the scent, and the teen flipped his collar up to try and block some of the stench. He stepped under the stadium coverlet, watching the horses trot around the ring with their riders and then scanning his eyes over the bleachers, landing on a disgruntled looking Felix, who was hidden near the top, leaning sideways against the railing. The blond had his chin propped in his hand, elbow resting against the railing and watching the horse show with mild disinterest.

Lucky for January, Felix's fondness for wild hair always made him easy to pick out of a crowd, and this month's color of choice was a bright blue that was streaked throughout his bangs, highlighting the pale bleached blond hair neatly. Felix caught sight of January, but didn't bother to stand. Shaking his head at his brother's antics, January sighed and trekked up the stairs to flop down in the empty spot next to him.

"Took you long enough," Felix grumbled, picking his head up and crossing his arms, glaring petulantly at the horses. His eyes, a paler shade of blue than January's, were following the movement of a chestnut mare as it trotted around the ring, hooves kicking up soil and tail bouncing with each step. January leaned back against the wall, hands shoved into his pockets.

"I got held up. Its not like you told me when you were going to be done hanging with your friends, anyway." It was a pathetic attempt to change the subject, and Felix didn't bother taking it, instead nudging his older brother in the arm with his elbow.

"That brown horse, the one with the girl in the pink helmet?" Felix uncrossed his arms to point at the mare that he'd been watching and January squinted at the animal.

"What about it?" he asked. Felix shrugged once, withdrawing his hand. "S'got only one eye." As Felix said this, Jan averted his gaze to the hole in the animal's skull where there should have been a very depressed and downcast eye. He grimaced.

"That's horrible," he muttered. Felix turned to say something to him and his eyes widened. "Speakin' of horrible, what's in your ear? Did you - did you get that from a carnie?" Felix reached out a hand to take the earring in between his forefinger and thumb, tugging on it experimentally and getting his hand slapped away by a very unhappy January.

"Don't touch it!" January snapped, cupping his hand tenderly around the throbbing ache in his earlobe. Felix had the audacity to look affronted, scowling and flicking a few locks of blue and blond hair out of his eyes. "Mom's gonna have a coronary when she sees that, you know," he said matter-of-factly.

January leaned back, watching the horses with a scowl. "She doesn't have to know. What do you care?" Felix huffed, mimicking January's position. Stretching his legs out before him, Felix rested his elbows on the bleachers behind him, faded converse thunking against the seats in front, ankles crossed.

"If you get AIDS or some kind of HIV from an infected Carnie needle, I'm not explaining it to mom," the younger Edmunds grumbled half-heartedly, occasionally peeking to the side to stare at January's earring with some mixture of surprise and adoration.

"Its. uh. cool... in a creepy, gothic, homosexual kinda way," Felix amended. January snarled and shoved him, earning a laugh from Felix as he tried to push January back, only to have his older brother bolt down the bleachers. Calling out for Jan to wait, Felix chased after him. They slowed their run into a jog and then eventually into a walk to the parking lot, Felix chattering about something involving Sadie pulling Matt's pants down in the haunted house and accosting a man in a bear costume.

By the time they got home, the sun had started to set, highlighting their small home in hues of red and orange. Both boys cut through the grass and January noted with disdain that he'd probably have to mow it within the week. Jingling his keys a little, January tromped inside after Felix, hanging them up on the small hook set by the door, next to his father's. Felix made a beeline for the living room, lip curling up in a scowl when he realized that their father had beaten him to the television, watching baseball with a detached sort of rapture. January went for the kitchen, calling out a greeting to his mother and seeing her in the process of cooking dinner.

He placed a hand on her shoulder, peering at the stove and grinning at the sight of stuffing, rice, and mashed potatoes. "Chicken?" he asked, kissing her cheek and laughing when he received an elbow to the gut.

"Yes, and if you know what's good for you, you'll stay out of the kitchen until I'm finished cooking it." She shook her spoon in a threatening manner and January held up his hands in a sign of peace, backing out of the kitchen to head for his room. He passed Felix's closed door on his way, opening it and peeking inside to see the blond fussing with his old Playstation, muttering under his breath when the controller fell off of his desk.

Grinning at Felix's antics, January headed for his own room, locking the door behind himself and turning to flop onto his bed with a sigh, wincing when the action jarred his tender earlobe. Rolling on his side, he fiddled with the earring before unhooking the clasp at the back and sliding it out of his ear. At first, all he heard was a loud buzzing in his ear, before the buzzing began to multiply and form into different voices that he soon recognized to be that of his family.

This stupid thing is retarded. I don't see why mom can't shell out a hundred bucks to get me the PS2, I mean, seriously, the THIRD one is already out, it makes no sense that I get stuck with January's hand-me-downs.

I wonder if I should add some spices onto the chicken. Manuel told me that a lot of families love adding seasoning to their food. Oh wait, I probably've had the chicken in the oven too long to add anything, dammit.

I can't believe they have Sanchez as their first baseman, the guy can't catch. Zimmerman- he's got one hell of a pitching arm, but the coach is a fucking idiot if he thinks the man can keep it up after four innings.

I don't even have any good games for this -- basil might work -- centerfielder is a screwball -- Spyro is so old and the graphics are -- wonder how the boy's trip to the carnival went, they didn't seem too -- no wonder baseball isn't big like it was when I was a kid.

January clasped his hands over his ears, the earring falling out of his hand and rolling off of the mattress. It seemed to do nothing to help as everyone's thoughts bombarded him noisily in his head. He could hear the faint echo of his neighbor's arguing, and if he wasn't mistaken, the girl across the street from them was having sex with her brother's best friend while everyone was out seeing a movie for his birthday. Concentrating, he tried to think of something to stop the noise, and after focusing on the thought of some kind of obstructing wall, he was able to muffle most of the voices outside of his family.

Clenching his eyes shut, January curled his body into a fetal position, hand blindly reaching out to try and find his earring and cursing when he hit nothing but his comforter. Felix's complaints were echoing the loudest in his ears, changing occasionally to a thought of a certain song or a move to be performed in his game. He could hear his desk rattling loudly, and hoped to god he wasn't hearing the thoughts of inanimate objects as well.

The neighbors were back, and the girl across the street was nearing orgasm, a repetitive mantra of 'oh god, oh god' that was occasionally drowned out by the grunting 'so good's from what he assumed was the best friend. There was a constant 'gotta go, gotta go' from a childish voice, and the thoughts of someone who must have been walking by their house and commenting on how the grass needed to be cut.

He groaned, begging for it to stop. His desk was shaking wildly now, and the girl across the street screamed in completion as something in his room shattered and January snapped his eyes open to see his porcelain lamp in pieces on the ground beside his computer chair. Felix's thoughts stopped for a half second before switching to a worried drabble on what had broken before he heard his door knob jiggle for a second and Felix's thoughts cursing January for having locked his door before the door opened over the din of voices.

"Jan, you alright?" Felix asked softly, stepping into the room and shutting the door behind himself, a small key was gripped in his hand, knuckles white from the ferocity that he gripped it. January muttered something incomprehensible under his breath, motioning to where he knew he'd put the earring.

"Can you grab my earring? I took it out and it hurts like a bitch."

Felix complied, walking beside his bed and kneeling down to retrieve it. His pale eyes gave it a skeptical look over before handing his brother the small article of jewelry. "Your lamp must have fallen down, want me to get a broom?" January didn't speak, sliding the earring in with a bit of difficulty and shaking his head.

"I got it, Feel, don't worry. Go back to playing Spyro." Felix, who had been in the process of leaving, turned to give him an odd look.

"How'd you know I was playing that?"

January clasped the back in, sitting up and rubbing at his temples. "Just a lucky guess," he croaked, a sickening feeling churning in his gut as Felix shrugged and left the room. He fingered the earring, brows furrowing as realization struck him fully while staring at the broken remains of his lamp.

"Oh. My God."

--

End Prologue

This was mostly Rooster's idea, but Ree helped. We make a super awesome writing team. Also, probably a pretty good crime fighting team.

Please review, because each review left is ten more minutes that we spend writing. :3