Every day it's always some argument with my brother. We fight all the time, though sometimes we don't do so aloud. Some days we shout, others we just hiss back and forth and make vague references to each other online. I've always hated my brother, though I'd never say that aloud.
Everyone thinks we're best friends who share blood. They think it's cool what we have. I think they should keep thinking that. My brother is useless, really. He's never going to go anywhere in his pathetic life. I can't trust him. I can't talk to him about anything. I know he never has actually hit me, or really yelled at me, but he's kind of scary. He could hurt me. And I could hurt him, too, but that wouldn't look very good, would it?
I suppose the trouble started somewhere around Christmas. I wasn't getting much sleep. I'd been pulling a lot of overtime to make money for the holidays. I didn't tell anyone about what I was seeing.
Every now and then, a man would just appear in the periphery of my vision. I couldn't really make out what he looked like. It was just like a blurry, dark flash of an image, and then he was gone. I shrugged it off and it went away for about a week.
When I saw him again, I noticed he was dressed in dark greys from head to toe, though I couldn't make out any details, still. While speaking with a co-worker I was telling them that I wouldn't be able to come in Friday because of a doctor's appointment in another city.
The truth was that my friend and I had plans to head out to the exact city I mentioned, just for different reasons. There was a special event at the mall there, and a band I loved was supposed to show. The man made an odd noise before vanishing again. Was it a laugh? A cough? Oh, hell, it didn't matter. He wasn't real!
As it turned out, on that Friday, my doctor called me and asked me to come in. He wanted to run some test. Apparently there was something troubling with a sample of blood he'd taken from me only a few days before. I did not get to go to the mall. I didn't tell my brother. I figured he'd just laugh at me and be satisfied that I didn't get to go.
The next time I saw the strange, hallucination man, I was out with my friend and brother at the store. Sometimes we had fun late nights in the store when we were bored. Of course my stupid brother always had to tag along, though he almost never had a reason to go to the store. Never bought anything but snacks on occasion. He had the gall to ask me to buy him a useless toy.
He said he'd pay me back, but like I said, I didn't trust him. He'd probably stiff me until the end of time! I told him I didn't have the cash on me and that I needed to watch what I was spending. I saw him give me a look at that. Screw him, my money, my say in how I spend it. If I want a shirt for myself, I'll get one!
The man in grey appeared behind him in the aisle. I could make out an old fashioned hat on his head. He looked like he was wearing a long trench coat. I think his hands were tucked in his pockets because I couldn't see them. He made another sound like a laugh, though louder this time, then he was gone.
Over the next few months he appeared more and more often. He seemed to show up more when I was around my brother. My damned brother was causing this! I couldn't sleep, I couldn't think, I couldn't eat without seeing the man. I never could make out his face, no matter how close or how clear the rest of him looked.
For some reason, it was like a blur. When I tried to remember it, my mind couldn't recall it. He was slowly driving me mad. Every time I held even short conversations, he would appear behind whoever I spoke to and laugh. It was always the same, short, soft, arrogant laugh. He was ruining my life!
For some reason I kept running out of money or food, or my plans would get ruined at the last minute with little or no explanation. I knew it was my brother. It had to be! He was doing it all to spite me!
Just because I said no, he must have been the one taking my food, maybe stealing my money. I bet he was telling people to cut off plans with me behind my back online. That would be just like him, ruin my happiness for his own.
Eventually, I got sick of it all. After he and I went our separate ways and the bastard wasn't under my roof anymore, I went off on him, telling him exactly what I thought of him. I told everyone what I thought. I hated him. He was heartless. He was conniving. He was selfish and cruel! He never did think of anyone but himself, and he never cared who he hurt!
All the while that damned grey man stood by. As I spilled my words out into the post I was making about it all, he stood there. He began laughing slowly, softly at first. His laughter grew and grew. I thought when I was done typing it would end, but it didn't. He laughed for minutes, hours, days. There was hardly a waking moment when he wasn't there, laughing. It drove me mad! I figured that maybe if I got rid of the post he'd stop. I was wrong. Even when it was gone he kept coming back. I didn't know what to do.
Off and on for another couple of months he was there. A few times his laughter was silenced, and he just followed me everywhere. I learned to ignore him and the creeping feelings that came off of him. He made me feel afraid, alone, guilty? I had nothing to be guilty for. I bet he was projecting my stupid brother's feelings onto me. That heartless bastard was sending him to me! I just knew it!
I don't know how long it was before he stopped coming to me. Even when he was gone, I was sure I could still hear his laugh. That damned, maddening laugh! After just a few short weeks of his visits ending, he came to me one last time. I was lying in bed, and I heard something nearby. The sound was so soft I couldn't tell what it was. A breathing? No, too short. A thumping? No, too gentle.
I looked up around me and saw the man standing there. I still could not make out his face, but I did make out one feature. He had a wide, toothy, eerie grin on his face. He was not laughing, but pointing at the pillow next to the one I'd been using. I looked, but did not reach for it.
I knew the sound was coming from under it, and I was terrified to see what it might be. I trembled and stared at the grey one. He chuckled just for a moment and spoke. The only words I ever heard from him sent shivers down my spine. I went cold inside and out, from head to toe.
“I wouldn't want to make a liar out of you.”
He began laughing again after that. The laugh grew and grew into something wild, crazy, evil, and twisted! I looked at him, wanting to scream at him to go away. He only kept pointing at the pillow until I snatched it up and threw it across the room. His laughter ceased, leaving me in a stunned, horrified silence. It had been a thumping of a sort. The last sounds of the pumping of a heart. The heart under stilled on the sheet, staining it red.
He never came back after that. I thought for a second that I saw him in the reflection on the T.V. the next day, but I guess I was imagining things. It didn't matter what was in the reflection anyway. What mattered to me was what was being broadcast on the local news. A young man had been found with his heart cut out of his chest. My brother... my little brother. If he were here he'd probably be warning me to be careful on my night shifts. But my brother is not here, he's on the T.V.