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Luke stared up at the giant steel wall. He tilted his head back so far that spots began to creep into his peripheral. The sky really did look darker on the other side, now that he looked at it. A large black crow flew over the barrier, a dark shadow passing into the light. He croaked as he perched himself on top of the steel. A yellow beady eye swiveled to stare at the boy. Luke instinctively flinched back in fear.
“Hey buddy, you ready to climb over that wall yet?” A hand landed heavily on Luke’s shoulder. “Think you can get past Cerberus?”
“Yeah right Danny, like he really exists.” Luke said, puffing out his chest in indignation, and turned to face his brother.
“Well if you’re so sure he’s not on the other side, why don’t you just climb on over?” Danny smiled, poking him in the stomach. Ever since Danny had gotten a girlfriend over the summer and started high school he had begun to pick on Luke more and more.
“Why don’t you climb over?” The younger boy retorted, sticking his tongue out in a taunting manner. The effect was lost on the older boy, who simply ruffled the sandy cowlick sticking out of Luke’s head.
“Because squirt… didn’t you hear? Ever since that Steven kid fell over, Cerberus has only hungered for pre-pubescent boys. Lucky for you, you’re in your prime. Eight has always been his preferred age for victims.”
“Well then you should go Danny! He won’t eat you!”
“Aww but see, where’s the fun in that?” He laughed and scooped up his brother, throwing him over his shoulder like a dead body. “Now, where do you think he’ll start? You’re head? Nah, that would be too merciful. Seeing as he has three of his own to occupy. One will go for your hand, the other your neck, and the third… your spleen.”
“My spleen!” Luke cried, clutching his head. (He thought it was a part of the brain).
“Yes, yes he’ll rip it out and then start on your entrails! He never got enough entrails in the underworld. And of course you know that one of his heads went blind during his time down there, guarding the gates. Not enough lighting, bad for your eyes squirt. You better keep that in mind as he rips out yours.”
“My eyes!” The boy cried out, his stomach lurched in his throat and he began to tremble in his brother’s grasp.
“He smells fear too, better try and think of pretty butterflies and Annie Williamson while you face your doom.”
“I don’t like Annie Williamson!” Luke retorted indignantly, kicking his brother’s chest.
“I never said you did squirt.” Danny chuckled. He nimbly grabbed the squirming boy’s feet and flipped him upside down. With his left hand he held him aloft, and with his right he began to tickle the red faced boy. “Did you really think I would let Cerberus eat you up?” He shouted over the giggling in a mocking tone. “Who would I have to always beat at videogames and wrestling? Annie Williamson?”
He dropped his brother softly to the ground. Luke looked up at him, squinting in the sunlight. “No, you can’t wrestle a girl!”
“That’s right Luke, you can’t. And do you know any other available little brothers that suck at wrestling?”
The boy sat pondering for a moment, “Billy Johnson isn’t very good and he doesn’t have a big brother.”
“Yeah, but Billy has an older sister. I couldn’t steal him from Nicole.”
“Oh, yeah I guess not.”
“See what a hassle it would be if you were eaten? It would probably take me a whole month to find another squirt!”
“Yeah, I guess I am kind of important.” Luke smiled at the sudden realization.
“Hey, now let’s not get any crazy ideas! C’mon, mom will want us home for dinner.”
The older boy pulled the smaller up, and together they trudged through the dusty road. As the sun began to set, the large black crow winked its yellow eye and flew low beyond the wall. A growl and then a sharp cry broke the stillness of the land. One single black feather floated up in the breeze, sailing over to the other side of the fence, and landed in the dust.