Blood Brothers

📅 Published on March 6, 2021

“Blood Brothers”

Written by J.S. Johnston
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 8.67/10. From 3 votes.
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“I’m not going to let you do this,” said Eugene. “You’re the closest thing I have to a brother and I don’t want you to die.” His eleven-year-old knees shook and buckled on the sidewalk of Mountain Road, that cold night in November. The bracing wind cut through his thick coat and stabbed him to the marrow of his bones.

“You heard them,” explained Horatio. “They won’t let me in unless I bring back something from inside the house.” His determination led him to the front gate of a supposedly abandoned house. Its shutters were falling off and its windows were broken. Graffiti replaced the once cheery bright yellow of its vinyl siding. Its front door and porch were situated in such a way that if you squinted your eyes just right, it looked like a waiting open mouth. “Besides, you are my blood brother. The law says you have to come with me.”

“There’s no law that says that.”

“Yes, there is. Just like there is a law that says I get to slug you every time we see a Beetle on the road.”

“That’s not a thing.”

“Oh, it’s totally a thing. You know Samantha Parker, the blond girl in Science class? Her dad is a lawyer and she asked him.”

“She did not.”

“You can ask her.”

“Well, you’re not going in there. The last guy that owned the place murdered children. He cut off their fingers and toes while they were still alive, sautéed them with some olive oil and ate them with noodles. Even bums won’t go in that house, because it’s haunted, now.” Eugene stood beside Horatio but gave the house a wide berth, as if its evilness was somehow contagious.

“Oh, yeah? So, what happened to him?”

“He got so fat from eating kids that he died. They found his body weeks later when the neighbors complained about the smell.”

“Whatever. The kids just made that up to scare you,” said Horatio, trying to convince himself more than Eugene. “It’s just an abandoned house. No big deal.”

“Well, it’s more believable than what Samantha’s dad said about the slug bug law. Seriously, don’t you wonder why bums won’t go in there?”

“Because this is a good neighborhood. And there are locks on the doors.”

“The broken windows and graffiti agree with you. Let’s get out of here. If they want something from inside the house, just show them one of your mom’s doily coasters. They’ll never know the difference,” said Eugene as he grabbed Horatio’s arm and tried to drag him, away.

“I’m going in there,” said Horatio as he opened the gate. It creaked as it opened, as it would in any good horror movie. As soon as it opened fully, a gust of extra cold wind invaded their bodies.

“Stop it!”

“Stop me,” Horatio said as a smile grew on his face. He slowly walked up the path to the front door. Each step seemed to get louder.

“Come back here!” Eugene shouted in a whisper from outside the gate. “The ghost of the old man is going to cut you up and eat you!”

“Sure. But you have to come get me!” Horatio made it up the path to the door. He turned the knob, expecting it to be locked. He fully expected the front door to turn him away and make him have to climb in a broken window. But the knob turned. So, he turned it and pushed the door in. Horatio walked in, surprised and cautious. He looked back at Eugene and playfully faked getting choked by a monster hand and closed the door.

“Dammit,” said Eugene. He stepped a foot on the other side of the gate like he was dipping a toe in the ocean to see if anything came up to bite it. “Horatio, get back here! Horatio!” He took a deep breath and held it then closed his eyes and put the other foot on the white gravel path on the other side of the gate. Once there, he hopped across it like it was a minefield. He expected hands to rise out of the ground to grab his feet and pull him down to Hell with them. He expected zombies to crawl out of the basement windows so they could swarm him and devour his eleven-year-old flesh. He was the human version of veal, after all – young, fatty and tender. That’s just what the ghost of the old man would be looking for. Eugene was certain that he would be delicious, roasted and basted in his own juices. Or maybe in some noodles with a thick cream sauce.

The house seemed somehow stronger, now that Eugene was closer to it. It breathed in and out like something alive. It seemed to look down on him and warn him about what he was going to do. “Stay away,” it seemed to whisper to him without saying anything. The door was unlocked and bums don’t come here. He repeated that in his head as he walked closer. Eugene stood on the porch and noted that he didn’t hear the warm cheeriness of a normal house in the neighborhood that he’d come to visit for Trick-r-Treat. It was cold and foreboding, like the wind that had been with him since they got there. He put his hand on the doorknob, turned it and pushed it open.

The inside was untouched. It was dark, but the streetlights outside let him see the blue and green striped wallpaper covered the walls, along with paintings of oceanscapes. None of it was tarnished by graffiti. The wallpaper still hung perfectly. There were no gaping holes in the walls. There were no piles of trash or dead animals taking up floor space. It was fully furnished, like people were still living there. At one end of the living room, there was a big-screen TV and a huge couch at the other. A floor lamp stood beside the couch. An end stand stood beside the lamp. A bookshelf took up most of the far wall, made of deep cherry wood. It was almost full of books and none of them were strewn on the floor. They were right. Bums don’t come here. No one comes here. A knot grew in his stomach, so tight that it almost made him retch.

Eugene took another step in. He whispered as loud as he could, “Horatio!” Just in case people were still living there, he didn’t want to wake them up. From the surroundings, that’s exactly what it looked like. He was afraid that at any second, some old man would come down the staircase with shotgun in hand. Or worse yet, chef’s knives.

“Horatio!” he quietly called, walking further into the house. “Horatio, answer me!” All he heard was the silence of the house. He expected the rhythmic tick-tocking of a wall clock, at least but there wasn’t one. All he could hear was his own breathing. He watched the air escaping from his nose and mouth condense into frost, a serene moment in the fully furnished house.

Then a bubbling in the kitchen caught his attention and he smelled spices like cumin and garlic.

“Hello?” he asked leaning over to try and see into the kitchen. “Is anyone in here? Your door was unlocked and I didn’t think anyone lived here, anymore.”

Eugene could see a large pot on the stove, once painted a muddy green and since flaked off. Steam billowed from the top as liquid boiled in its bottom.

“Hello?” He asked as he walked into the kitchen. The stove was directly in front of the door and a large wooden dining table stood to the right with all its chairs. The scene was as if someone was waiting for diners to show up, but no one was there. The room was empty. Eugene could feel the warmth from the stove and saw the waves of heat climbing up the sides of the pot.

He inched a little closer to see what was inside, just from curiosity. Not that he planned to help himself to someone’s dinner. But all he could see was the billowing steam. He found the knob to turn down the heat and turned it. On the counter beside the stove, there was a metal slotted spoon, poised at the ready. Eugene picked it up and scooped in the pot to pull up whatever was in there, but steam still concealed everything.

All of a sudden, he noticed someone sitting at the table. It was a boy, his age with shaggy blonde hair, down to his shoulders. He had his hands laying on the tabletop, but it looked like his fingers were missing.

“Hey! Hey kid! Are you okay?” Eugene asked, trying not to shout. “Kid!”

The kid sitting at the table turned his head to Eugene, showing a pale, colorless face and dark empty pits where eyes once were. He opened his mouth to speak, but blood poured out and all over the table.

Eugene froze solid from fear, at the site of the boy. He couldn’t even breathe. The boy kept looking at him from his seat at the table with eyes that weren’t there. He moved his mouth, sloppily like he was trying to talk but something wasn’t right. Then Eugene realized that the boy’s tongue and teeth were gone when he drew his lips back. He looked down at the spoon that he was still holding to see it was full of fingers that were just the right size to belong to the boy at the table.

He dropped the spoon into the pot and backed away from the stove. The boy at the table reached a finger-less hand for him. He could plainly still see the finger bones from when they were chopped off. The boy started to stand up from his chair, swinging a leg around to stand on. Eugene backed up toward the door to the kitchen. When the boy at the table stood up and swung his other leg around to step on, Eugene could see it wasn’t there. It had been cut off below the knee and blood still dripped from the wound.

The boy tried to step on the leg that wasn’t there and came crashing to the floor, instead. Eugene screamed, then tripped over something when he tried to back up towards the door. He came crashing to the floor, as well. The boy crawled along the floor, reaching for Eugene with fingerless hands, trailing fresh blood along the white linoleum tiles of the kitchen. He kept trying to yell something, but it just sounded like a blood-filled mumble, without teeth or a tongue.

As Eugene scrambled backward on the floor, he kicked the boy in the face. The boy tried to growl and scream but just gargled through the blood, and let it gush out of his mouth. Eugene pulled back shoes that were covered in it. The boy restlessly kept coming for him and now he was angry. He reached out to try and grab Eugene’s foot. But his hands just slipped off with nothing to grab with.

Eugene scrambled to his feet and ran to the front door. He tried to open it and escape, but it was locked. How did it lock? He screamed in his mind. Where am I? What is this? “Horatio!” he screamed with all the love and all the fear he had in his body. “Horatio, where are you?” Eugene’s heart climbed out of his chest as he fumbled to get the door unlocked. “Horatio, please!” he screamed with all he had and beat on the door that stood, mocking him. He felt hot breath down the back of his neck and turned around.

The boy from the table stood right in front of him, with cavernous eye sockets and blood still pouring from his mouth. He was now close enough that Eugene could smell his stink of rancid grease. The stench invaded his nose and coated the inside of its passages, like an unwanted army at the castle doors. And he could see the oil that soaked and darkened the boy’s blonde hair. He put a fingerless hand on Eugene’s shoulder. His touch was like fire. Eugene shouted and recoiled from the surprising pain.

Eugene closed his eyes and screamed at the top of his lungs and with every ounce of air he had in them, “Horatio!” When the echo died from the walls of the house, the breathing was also gone along with the smell of rancid grease. He opened his eyes and saw a fat old man.

His hair was white and unkempt, with a few days’ growth of his beard. His eyes were piercing and fixed on Eugene, as would a predator’s. The corner of his mouth curled upwards in a half-smile. He held in his hand the neck of Horatio, who stood just in front of him. Horatio shook in the convulsions of tears as they streamed down his face.

“Horatio…” Eugene started to shout his name in a huge relief until he realized the situation. So his name started as a shout and ended as a whisper. “Why are you crying?” he asked when he knew nothing about this was right.

“Show him,” said the fat man in a voice that sounded like he gargled broken glass. He shoved Horatio forward by the grip he had on the back of his neck when he did.

Horatio turned his head away as if he was ashamed. His mouth opened to speak but he was crying too hard to say anything. He strained against the fat old man’s iron grip on his neck.

“I said, show him!” he shouted, shaking Horatio like a rag doll. “Show him why you’re so upset.” His voice changed to a soft, mocking tone. Like the Wicked Witch from the Wizard of Oz.

Horatio slowly raised his arms. Every movement of air across the wounds brought pain and made him wince.

“Fine! I’ll do it!” The fat old man grabbed an arm and thrust it up to show Eugene the stumps from where his fingers had been cut off. He could see they were still moist with blood. “Did you like the soup?”

Horatio screamed in pain. He tried to drop to the floor but the man’s grip on his neck kept him from going anywhere.

He laughed. The fat old man laughed in amusement at Horatio’s pain and the way he cringed from it. His face lit up with delight. He shook Horatio’s wrist as he gave a mocking whimper along with him.

“Stop it!” screamed Eugene.

“What’s that?” asked the fat old man. “You want me to stop it?”

“Yes, please!”

“Hmm… I can. But it’s not as easy as you think. You’ll have to do something.” The old man cocked his head, playfully.

“What? Anything! I’ll do anything! Just let him go!”

The old man smiled deeply. He lowered his head and drew closer to Eugene so he could whisper, “Take his place.”

Eugene’s stomach dropped at the thought of becoming that man’s plaything. He envisioned himself being slowly chopped to pieces while he was still alive and the pain he’d go through.

“Ha! I love this part! You can’t do it, can you? You were all gung-ho until you had to take his place.” The old man whispered into Horatio’s ear. “You got all hopeful for a second, didn’t you? He’s not really your friend. Watch.” The fat old man produced a lit candle from somewhere. Eugene sure didn’t see it when he came in. Its light spread all over the room and shook as the old man brought it over to Horatio.

“No…” said Horatio, trying to wriggle free. The man’s iron grip on his neck simply tightened. He brought the candle closer to his hair. When Horatio saw what he was about to do, his eyes widened and he tried to knock it out of his hand. The old man picked Horatio up by the back of the head and slammed him onto an end table, knocking everything off of it. He smashed Horatio’s face against the table, laughing as he did. Horatio’s fingerless hands thrashed around to try to knock the candle out of the old man’s hands but didn’t do any good. He just thrashed at thin air.

“Have you ever watched hair burn?” The old man asked as he brought the candle closer to Horatio. “This might sting a bit.” He bared his teeth in an exhilarated grin.

“Stop! I’ll do it!” yelled Eugene.

“You’ll do what?” asked the old man in a challenging tone.

“I’ll take his place,” Eugene clarified. “Let him go and I’ll take his place.”

“Eugene, no. He’ll just do the same to you,” Horatio said through the tears.

“I… I know. I just can’t let him do that to you. You’re my blood brother.”

The fat old man stood up. A look of disappointment washed over his face. “No. It’s not supposed to work like that. No one ever makes the change.”

The fat old man and the furniture and the paintings and the wallpaper and everything in the house started to fade away. Within seconds, everything became as ethereal as morning mist.

“Damn, you kids! If it’s going to be like that, fine! You’re coming with me!” The old man rushed Eugene, his arms opened wide. But before he could reach him, the old man and everything in the house vanished, as surely as the afternoon sun burns away a fog. That is, all the trappings of a lived-in house vanished. The paintings and freshly hung wallpaper were replaced by graffiti. The couch and TV were replaced by bags of garbage. The clean carpeting was now just bare wood. In the span of a few heartbeats, the boys found themselves standing in the middle of the run-down abandoned house they expected it to be.

“I don’t get it,” said Horatio. “Where did everything go? Were we dreaming?”

Eugene looked down at his hands to see that his fingers were missing. The naked bones protruded through the bleeding meat. “Oh my god. I took your place. I took your place, Horatio!”

Rating: 8.67/10. From 3 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by J.S. Johnston
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: J.S. Johnston

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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