Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Sacrificing Brother (A. Cain Arlini)

There was a chink, the sound of ice moving in a glass. The room was lit respectively, it was not too bright nor too dark. There were no windows in the dining room and if there were, the sight was not worth the look. The room was, like the rest of the house, decorated with reds, off-whites, creams and browns. It was finely dressed and not pompously rich. The room showed the owner to be rich, the kind that was not to be flaunted, but also not to be hidden. Every object in the dining room had a purpose and there was not much art.

A. Cain Arlini was not a man for the arts. He did not care for paintings or play, and certainly not musicals. He did dabble in a book or two, but they never struck a fancy or even a chord. Cain was just a man. Cain also had a very peculiar interest in pulps. While his brother, Abele, read books avidly, watched plays with awe and listened to concerts in rapture, Cain found solace in horror comics. He kept that fact hidden.

The inhabitants of the dining table was an older man, who sat at the head and had a pepper-and-salt mixed with chestnut clean-cut and short hair, an older woman, who was black-haired and devoid of wrinkles and also sat across from the older man, and two men, who were in-between their 20s and 30s. The man was the Father of Cain and Abele. He was highly respected, and also highly feared. His name was Adem and he ran mostly illegal businesses (and a very nice theatre for opera, which they had named The Globe). The woman was the Mother of Cain and Abele and her name was Ava. She ran the opera most of the time and was the reason why they owned the theatre. She had a relentless love for opera. The two last men were, to lightly put it, very special. The one on the right hand of Adem was Abele. He had darker brown hair and the same colour eyes. The one on the left side of Adem was Cain. He had the same colour hair as his father and his eyes were the same brown. Abele’s hair looked soft, the cut made him look kinder than his brother, who’s hair formed horn-like flips. This made Cain look imposing and devilish, which made Abele look like a victim when near him. They both were the same height and almost the same weight. Abele was skinnier by default and it gave him a look of incompleteness. Cain was more filled out, but he was not portly. None of them were, in any way, overweight or chubby. Despite what most people thought, they were not twins. Cain was a year older than Abele. Abele’s leg was bandaged and, if one looked closer, he had several small cuts. Cain tended to look at his brother menacingly from time to time. The reason was because Abele would not be silent.

“If you insist, youngest son, then we might indeed see the opera. Zukerman, that would be the Arianna the papers have been gibbering about these days, will be our lead soprano. The Globe is showing Tosca.” Ava said. Abele was about to mention something happily when the cook came out, followed by four waiters, to announce that dinner has begun. They were treated to Cain’s favourite dish: softly roasted lamb, cooked spinach, whipped potatoes and a mushroom sauce. It was always divine. Disobedient or rotten cooks lost hands, if they were lucky, and cooking a dinner for the Mother and the Father of Cain and Abele was the worst time of the year for the cooks. Cain made sure to personally visit the kitchens to announce that his parents were coming and that the food was to be perfectly celestial. The cooks did not dare to try and quit then. They had heard the stories of bits and pieces of arms or legs found in waste bins. Cain did not like pressure and finding a magnificent cook on short notice entered his list of ‘pressure’. After the cook announced, fairly bluntly, on what the dish was, the waiters strode forward and placed their dished in front of each person.

“I shall now allow the masters and mistress to dine,” the cook said and left. If one looked closely, they could have noticed the small shaking in his legs.

Adem looked at his dish, teasingly amused, “I suspect that this is all you eat, oldest son? This is all you ever serve us.” Abele smiled and nodded in agreement. He received a small kick underneath the table; he made no movement, he did not dare to show to their parents any thing such as fighting.

Cain, pretending to be amused, answered, “It is a fine dish, father. It is both respectable, but not pretentious. I have found that a superb lamb is hard to find and this is a perfect dish to show off my cooks’ skills. Do not worry, though, we will certainly not be dining on the same dish every night.”

Abele, muttering under his breath, said, “Every day would be better… There is breakfast and lunch, of course.” Cain arched an eyebrow at his brother.

“Did you say something, brother? Is something not to your liking?” he said, there was an undertone warning.

“O-of course not, brother. The lamb is d-divine. I love it. I was c-complimenting on the dish.”

“I do hope so, brother.” Cain took a sip of his red wine. There was a small silence, except for the chinking of silverware on good china.

“I was saying, Abele, the Globe will be showing Tosca. Perhaps we ought to go this week?” she offered. Abele and Adem nodded. Cain was neutral.

“I have yet to see this Zukerman. I have heard that she is outstanding,” Adem said. “When is the best time to see it, dear wife?” Abele looked from his father to his mother as they discussed the times that were best to view the opera. He avoided his brother’s gaze; he knew that they were not benevolent and kind looks.

“I would like to do it this week, if that does not displease you, my oldest son. It would be a nice family outing,” said Adem. Cain politely bowed his head slightly.

“No, it would not displease me at all, father. When would be the best showing, mother?” he said. Ava gave a pause, thinking. Abele ate his potatoes and ate around the lamb. He always felt bad eating lamb. He did not really care about the animal itself, but he just had an inner, distinct feeling that when his brother served lamb, something was not right.

“The weekend is never the best, of course. That is when all the commoners come. Today is Wednesday, so they do not play tonight. There is no time, anyways. They do play tomorrow. Do you have anything for use planned, dear older son?” Ava replied and asked. Cain remained control of his face, but his hand was white-knuckled. He had planned on them to see a play. His family did not take well to plays, but adored operas and musicals. He never minded operas, only when they were obstructing something far more interesting. In this case, the play was on outside and natural rendition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was to be done without costume and only natural sets. There were the necessary masks, of course, and the natural lighting. He was quite looking forward to it. It was like his brother to ruin his brilliant plans.

“No, mother. I did not have anything special planned for tomorrow. If you wish, we shall go.” He responded. Silently and mentally he was hitting his brother over and over again.

“Good. Tomorrow, then.” Ava concluded. She gave a nod, and asked for a pardon. She was tired and full. Cain gave her pardon. Adem, Abele and Cain silently ate for a while. Adem then asked for a pardon and left to join his wife. Cain glared across the table at his brother. Abele looked down.

“S-sorry… b-b-brother.” He said.

Cain continued to glare at him. Awkwardly and ashamed, he began to eat his lamb. Cain picked up his knife and Abele automatically gave a small flinch. Cain slammed his fist down onto the table. Abele stared at his brother. Cain sat like that for a while, trying to control himself. He was forced to not harm his brother for the whole of the week. Abele looked down at his lap and stared at it intently. One of the lesser cooks came out to take the plates. He gingerly took Adem’s and Ava’s. He did not come back. The moment broke and Cain dropped the knife onto the table. He sighed with exhaustion. “Go, dear brother.” He leaned back in his chair while Abele scurried off. Cain stood up with effort and lumbered towards his quarters.

He changed into his favourite pyjamas (black and warm) and lay in bed for a long time. He finally closed his eyes and slept.

It was day. He was sitting, nay, kneeling on grassy land. His hands were wet with blood and his eyes were closed. He felt a presence. It was not the person beside him and it was no ordinary presence. It was, he supposed, The Presence. Then the person beside him spoke and he groaned internally. He opened his eyes slowly as the person beside him waved and said, “Wot’s… er… your name?”. It was Abele. Cain elbowed him, hard. The angel stared at Abele.

“Are you daft, brother? Who the hell do you think he is? He’s the Metatron,” Cain said. Abele looked at his brother, confused.

“Who’s that?” Abele asked. Cain glared at him. Even though they never read the Bible, on principle (for it gave them the shivers), they did learn Christian mythology.

“Shut up,” he retorted. The angel looked from one to the other. He looked fairly bored and extremely annoyed. Cain felt he understood.

The angel rolled his eyes and began to speak: I AM THE VOICE OF GOD. (“Oh, said Abele quietly and received a glare from his brother). GOD THANKS YOU, ABEL, FOR YOUR GIFT. HE ACCEPTS IT GLADLY.

The angel bowed and looked as though he was going to take off. “Hey now! Wait a minute. What about mine?” Cain asked. He was not just going to allow his present, whatever it was, to be ignored.

The Metatron looked at him momentarily, as though thinking of what to say. This made Cain a little uncomfortable. That, then made him a little scared. He hardly felt uncomfortable or scared. Finally, He (despite that the he in question was, in fact, genderless) spoke again: GOD DOES NOT ACCEPT YOUR GIFT, CAYN. PLEASE TRY AGAIN.

Cain stared as the angel flew off. His gift was not accepted? What was better about Abele’s gift? He looked over at the stone slab which held their gifts. Cain was a slab of cut meat, from what it looked like. Abele’s was plainly a lamb that was slaughtered. Did God prefer whole lamb? Cain felt his anger rise like never before. The more he thought upon it, the more it rose. He could not temper and cool it. In the background, off miles away, he heard a stammering apology. Cain spied the knife he used in front of him. Without thought, he grabbed it. He rose and faced his brother, who was beginning to back away. Cain took a step closer. His brother fell. Cain screamed and lunged forward with the knife. He was blind and deaf in anger.

Cain was confused. In front of him stood his brother. His brother stared at him, surprised. Cain noticed that he was sitting up. He also noticed that his fist was a centimetre away from Abele’s head. Cain regained his composure. “What is it that you want, dear brother?” His brother wrung his hands.

“W-well, the servants were busy with our mother and father. I th-thought you might want to get up.” Abele looked down.

“Yes... well, thank you then. Leave, I need to change” Cain said slowly. Abele left quickly and thankful that his brother did not strike him. He was trying to remember a dream he had. He was fairly certain that he had heard it before. He shook his head. He found that the dream was slipping away into his subconscious and sneaking out the door into forgetfulness. By the time he was standing in front of his bureau and putting on his trousers, he could only faintly recall that he had a disturbing dream and nothing more.

Cain looked over at the clock on his bedside table and rolled his eyes. It was 6 a.m. Cain always awoke at 8 a.m. Sometimes he woke up later, but he would lay there, thinking, or read or listen to the servants talking. Cain loved laying there in the morning, basking in the pause of time before he would be forced to work and play politic games. Abele had taken that away from him today. Abele had taken away a lot of things today. First the outside and ‘natural’ theatre and now his lounging time. Cain knew this was not going to be a good day. He stood, staring, at his rack of ties, picking up one, placing it back and nodding his head. He wanted to, if anything, wear one of his favourite ties today. He finally found what he wanted and walked over to the mirror, tied it and left, smiling.

The tie was black with a red tear-shaped drop bordered with white.

A/N: This took a long time to do. I ran into homework (well, I was on vacation before; I miss it) and school and I kept watching movies instead of working (this week was Pirates of the Caribbean, both movies, and Nosferatu). So it got put on hold. I was in the middle of the dinner conversation and it probably seemed a little boring compared to the movies I was watching, so I kept saying 'after this movie'. Anyways, I finally sat down yesterday and today and finished it off.

I did the big 'author no-no' and copy-pasted, haha. I wanted to keep the dreams the same, just from different perspectives. I hope it wasn't too boring. I think it's because I love that dream way too much. I love the Metatron; he is based off of Alan Rickman's performance in Dogma. My dad (who is, basically, my editor) looked at me while he was reading and asked 'Have I seen this before?'. I told him it was from The Sacrificial Brother and he responded with 'Oh'. The fact that is seemed very familiar, but not so familiar as to directly correlate with my previous story is very amusing. I wanted that to happen. I wanted to make them seem as though they could have come from anywhere (or anytime).

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