Point of View

October 4, 2008
David's dark hair stuck up at odd angles from the many times he'd run his hands through it. His equally dark eyes were encircled by black framed glasses that rested on the bridge of his smushed nose. He turned his head and felt along his jaw line where the bone stuck out just a little and a purple bruise was taking over.

He kicked the shard of glass he was gazing into and sat up straight on the bench. He was sitting on top of his apartment building, glaring out at the sparkling lights of the surrounding buildings. David tugged at his tie and loosened the knot at his throat a little so he felt less confined.

Things were becoming more important than work, something he'd never seen coming. Every day he got up, shrugging off the night's events, and put on a button up shirt, black slacks, a perfectly pressed tie, and black dress shoes. He would head out the door, grabbing his suit jacket and his briefcase on his way, and would walk the three blocks to his office. David had done this monotonous routine for years, relishing in the predictability of it all, and then a few days ago everything just changed.

David had been picking up groceries for himself as he did every Tuesday night when he'd run head long into his brother. He had immediately set to apologizing as he bent over to pick up his dropped head of lettuce and can of tomato soup until he looked up. The familiar dirty blond hair, dark eyes, and fidgeting stance of the young man standing before him made him want to hurl the can of soup at his forehead. He'd controlled his impulses and merely nodded curtly at Layne and pushed past, hoping against hope that his absent minded brother would leave him be.

No such luck, though. Layne followed him, muttering things about the end of the world and men that were chasing him. Then he mentioned something that went straight to David's heart and made the muscle stop beating--the change. Every night it happened and David's ears would elongate, pointing out like an elf's, and he would sprout two fleshy spears on his forehead that protruded like horns, a tail that end in a spike would erupt from his lower back and from between his shoulder blades two wings like that of a demon's would burst out. The change had started on his fifteenth birthday and at first he'd been scared, but had quickly gotten used to this extra part of him. At night, instead of sleeping like regular people, he would float above the city, lazily taking in the scenery. For almost sixteen years he'd thought he was the only who knew of his secret, but Layne seemed to know of it and described it in such detail that the blood flowing through David's veins froze solid.

Layne continued to mutter as he trailed behind David through the store. His mutters turned to sobs of despair as they neared the check-out counter. Layne needed help and David was the only out that could do anything about his problem.

"Please, David," he had begged, grabbing at his brother's forearm. "I know you're the one. I've never changed and these people have it all wrong." He released David's arm and pulled at his own hair as tears coursed down his face. "I can't help them, I can't. David, please."

The side of him that cared for his screw-up brother tugged at his heartstrings and he nodded. He vowed right then and there to help him with whatever his quest would entitle. Only after they got back to his place did Layne tell him that he would need him to die.

"Die?" David had sputtered, leaning against the counter in the kitchen for support. "Layne! Of all the hare brained schemes you come up with this is the worst!" He slammed the can of soup he was holding in his free hand down on the counter and the contents erupted, splashing out on the tiles and counter top. "I am a human being, Layne, not some stupid experiment of yours. How do you figure if I die things will be better for you?"

"Because, because," Layne said, staring at the crushed can of soup, "if you die then something is supposed to happen to let them know that the threat is gone. David, you're the threat. You've got some power, some thing inside of you--apart of you, rather--that is supposed to be of great strength and this--whatever it is--is supposed to kill these guys. They're afraid and they're doing whatever it takes to kill me because they think I'm you. You're supposedly this demon reincarnated from the underworld that is to bring death and destruction to the world and they have to stop you. You need to die, David, and go back to wherever the hell the other side of you came from."

Of all the things Layne could have asked from him, he asked for him to willingly die. That was insane and even moreso, because he'd lived sixteen years being whatever it was that he was without any death or destruction. Flying above the city checking things out didn't exactly seem like a hazard to him. Occasionally he'd fly around planes, but even then he was cautious not to be seen. No one even knew the other half of him existed, well except for these nutters that seemed to think he would cause the end of the world. What poppycock. He was the most genial person in the world and even in his "demon" state he was quite kind. Not even a whisper of bloodlust came to his mind at night.

"I can't die," he said, turning to grab some disinfectant wipes to clean up the mess he'd made. "That's a serious thing to ask of me, Layne, and I'd appreciate if you thought through things before coming to me. That was always your problem, you know? Even when we were kids you'd always have a half-baked plan and expect me to help you out. We aren't eight anymore, Layne, it's time to grow up. You can't gamble with my life and expect me to go along with it."

"You can't... you can't....," Layne took the wipe from his hand, "David, this is my life, too. These people are trying to kill me and I haven't done anything. You're the one with this huge secret that is supposedly going to bring the world to an end. If you die, everyone else lives. If I die, no threat is gone. What good would that do, then?"

"You never think!" David screamed, taking the wipe back. "I'm not dangerous! I've been this way half my life--don't you think I would know if I was going to cause the end of the world?"

"You never listen to me," Layne said, turning away from his brother. "You have three days to make a decision and I'll be back for the answer--if I'm alive."

Layne had indeed returned and this time he wasn't alone. On either side of him was a man that had to be twice David's size and they looked mutinous.

David touched his fingertips to the jutting bone on the side of his jaw and clenched his eyes in anger. Layne never thought of repercussions. It was all about him and no one else. He'd brought the two guys, two of the four chasing him, to help him do away with 'the real threat'. What an idiot Layne could be. Three days earlier he'd seen him crush a soup can with his bare hands, something not many people could do, especially if they were as scrawny as he, and now he brought men to deal with him.

He ran his hands through his hair again and tugged at the strands. He looked towards the sky which was now black with that gleam of light spreading across it from the city's lights. In a few minutes he would change and be able to escape the disaster he'd turned his life into. Maybe he'd go to France, he'd always wanted to visit Paris, or maybe he'd go somewhere where no one would think to find him like Africa--who went to Africa after they murdered two men?

The lump beside his feet began to stir and moan. David looked down at his brother and frowned. He'd caused so much trouble for him that last thirty two years of his life. You'd think with Layne being the older sibling he would be more mature, more collected, but no such luck. He was such a mess and such a twit when it came to things involving other people.

"What happened?" Layne groaned, putting his hands to his forehead.

"You happened," David growled back. "You leave a path of destruction wherever you go, Layne, maybe that's why those men wanted you dead. Maybe it's not because of this demon sh**, maybe it's because you're such a screw up!"

"What're you---oh my God."

David looked down at him as he set his jaw as much as he could without causing himself pain. After the change the pain would eliminate itself and his jaw would heal as if that man had never broken it, but until then he had to suffer. Just a few more minutes, though.

"Your risk taking has ended up in those two men losing their lives, Layne. If you thought their friends were hankering to kill you before wait until they find out what happened tonight. And you know what?" He got up from the bench he'd been sitting on and crossed the roof to the ledge. "I won't be there for you when they come. I'm leaving tonight and I won't be back. I hope you're really happy with how many lives you've destroyed tonight. You were always happy with hurting others, though, weren't you? Never a care for others, only for yourself. Well, here's to you." He turned back around to face him and nodded to him.

Layne got to his feet, swaying slightly as he did so. "I can't let you go. You have to die."

David smirked, something he took care not to do often. It made him look malicious. "And what the heck could you do to stop me from leaving? Not even those two heavyweights were a match."

Layne reached into his pocket and pulled out a small knife. He waved the blade at his little brother and cocked an eyebrow. It took all of David's self restraint to not roll his eyes in exasperation. A knife was supposed to stop him?

"You're joking," he said, walking towards him.

Layne's tongue slipped out and licked along his lips as the silver from the blade glinted in his eyes. "You have to die, David. Maybe they'll forgive me for Wayne's and Kace's death if I kill you." He nodded, looking slightly deranged as he did.

"All right, bring it on," David said, curling his fingers inward to beckon his brother. This was ridiculous and it would end soon. He pushed his sleeves up and checked the face of his wrist watch. In a matter of three minutes he would change and then, whether or not the fight was done, he would be leaving.

The older of the two lunged forward, knife slicing through the air. David bent back and leaned to the side, cleanly avoiding the sharp tip. He twisted back as Layne rushed past and brought his elbow down into the other's back. Layne flung back around, waving his knife wildly. David narrowed his eyes and struck out with a closed fist and knocked his brother's hand aside, the knife flying tip over handle over the edge of the building. He hoped there was no one walking along when the knife finally did land.

"ARGH!" Layne cried out, flying toward his brother with his arms outstretched.

Almost lazily, David threw out his fist and caught Layne on the underside of his jaw. His face jerked upward and there was the sickening crunch and pop of breaking bone as he stumbled backward toward the ledge of the building.

Panic seized in David's chest as he stumbled after his brother, reaching his arms out to stop him from falling. Layne's arms whirled around windmill style as he teetered on the edge, his eyes wide as he looked at David's outstretched hands. His footing slipped and over the edge he went, his arms grappling at the concrete ledge of the building.

David fell back as pain ripped through his skull and he collapsed on his knees. His spine rippled and cracked and his shoulder blades widened and reformed as wings, black and leathery, burst from his flesh and ripped through his shirt. From the top of his slacks burst a tail, thick and scaly like an alligator's. He drove his head into the concrete as his ears and forehead bubbled. The ears elongated into waxy spikes and his forehead shot up into horns. His nose shrank back into his head, forming two small slits that seemed to enhance his smell. For the second time in sixteen years, his change hurt and twisted his body reluctantly almost like it was his first time again.

When the dizziness in his head and the dull ache in his back subsided, he got to his feet. He swayed a little as he looked around, sniffing at the crisp night air. The tang of fear hit him and he ran toward the edge of the building.

"David!" Layne screamed, his hands slipping on the concrete. "Help me!"

His first instinct was to bend down and so his spine curled, but he stopped almost immediately and straightened back up again. If he helped Layne up he would, no doubt, try to murder him again. It would be a neverending battle to save his life and maybe, just maybe it really was Layne that needed to die. Maybe those goons, two of which were now dead, had it right. Maybe it wasn't really David that was going to end the world and the fact that he changed into this thing was just a coincidence and not related to the thing at all. Maybe Layne was just being the selfish man David knew him to be. Or maybe he was insane. Or maybe he just really wanted David dead and had somehow figured out his secret.

He ran his hand over his jaw line, smiling slightly as he felt that it was smooth again. "I can't help you, Layne," he finally said as his brother slipped back a little more. "I'm sorry." He stepped forward and put the tip of his dress shoe on his brother's finger tips. "It's better this way." David stepped down and Layne's face twisted in pain. "Good bye, Layne." He stepped down on Layne's other hand and grimaced as his brother's eyes widened shortly before he fell.

There was no scream, not even a sound when he hit the ground. It was all silent, almost as if David had gone deaf. The cries from police sirens didn't reach his ears and the screams from the people collecting at the scene never came up from the ground. There was nothing. Just silence. Just peace.

David's whole body relaxed at once as though a weight were taken off his shoulders. There would be no more taking care of Layne, no more covering up for him, no more helping him out of tight spots, and no more making outlandish committments to a brother who never cared whether he lived or died. He let out a breath of relief as he stretched his wings out, relishing in the freedom of it all. He bent his knees slightly and leapt from the surface. He would go to Japan, live in Tokyo. Maybe he could be like Godzilla and chuckle as the little men ran before him. He shook his head as a smile crossed over his face. Whatever he decided to do it would be all right. Everything was all right now.

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