Four days ago, when you stumbled out drunk from the nightclub, you stopped short and felt a painful stirring deep in your belly. Three days ago, you were in the shower when you discovered a strange bump protruding from under your left bottom rib. Last night while lying bed, you were hardly able to breath, as if a basketball were sewn inside your abdominal cavity. You rushed to the toilet and vomited a clod of blood and hair. And your appetite has become truly ravenous. You eat and eat, without ever being filled. As if there were something else eating for you.
You think you can wait this out and let your body heal itself. Really, you are afraid to go to the doctor. You fear what the diagnosis will reveal, but you are terrified that this could be cancer. You always knew your habits would catch up with you.
If only that were the case.
You do not know who or what I am. You do not remember me or what you did to me. You do not even know that I exist. I do not exist, thanks to you. I am a parasite. A monster.
Hello, big brother.
Why, don’t look so surprised! Lots of infants retain their memories from within the womb, and I’m sure our brief time together is hidden somewhere deep in your unconscious mind. But let me help you jog your memory.
Foremost, I remember that you had to be first for everything. We were the two swiftest sperm, but you were always just a nanometer ahead of me. Your egg hatched before me and you pushed past me as we raced through the fallopian tubes. You hogged the best spot in the uterine lining all to yourself, left me to plant myself in a barren patch of membrane near the cervix. My life, the fleeting passage which I was granted, was very hard because of you.
I was perfectly content dreaming in that beautiful world of amniotic night, that refrain to life’s ancient genesis in primordial seas. Multiplying, growing to the rhythm of mother’s heartbeat, watching the veined moon of mother’s skin, listening to the vague voices of our father and mother conversing lovingly about us, and wondering what my destiny would be out there in that great, big world. It was heavenly.
But you were not satisfied — across the purple uterine gulf, you were gorging and swelling, and were so anxious to leave. Yet now your every endeavor seeks to return to the prenatal paradise. It’s why you sleep with so many women.
After a month of gestation, when I was just a pale amalgamation of tail and gills, you were already a red bulbous head with hands and feet. You laughed and picked on me. You left me out of your games. You never let me forget who was better embryo. I was always the forgotten cell.
You were always complaining that I was crowding up the uterus, that our umbilical cords tangled together, or that there was nothing to do. And you had such terrible temper tantrums. You thrashed against the walls of the womb until it hurt mother. I told you to stop, but you didn’t listen. You just kicked me, bit me, pushed me. You wouldn’t leave me alone. Mother’s blood was never enough for you. You always had more than your fair share, and you made her so tired. You were growing so large. So scary. So hungry.
There was no one to stop you.
I had nowhere to hide in the womb when it happened, that awful day you finally came at me. Mother surrounded me, and yet she could not protect me. Your webbed hands clutched me, your toothless mouth sucked me in. I fought your cells from assimilating me entirely into your mass, until only a bare trace of human form and consciousness remained. You cannot know the horror and madness of being buried alive in your flesh, my brother. Dying without ever being born. The day you swallowed me, you stole my life. Ruined everything.
Two of us entered the womb. But only one infant emerged and saw the light.
Go ahead. Live your life. Drive your luxurious cars and drink your fine wine. Stab every friend you make in the back. Trample everyone you can and plunder them of every scrap of their possessions. You are just like me, feeding from the blood of the system. I like to watch you. I know your secrets, the truth about you that no one else sees, for I dwell deep within you. How horrifically I make you suffer.
You think you’re ignorant, but you’ve always known I’m here. You cannot shake the premonition that you are constantly followed. You have always felt that something — someone — is missing in your life. You can’t escape your guilt, not just for all the people you hurt, for all the lives besides mine you have stolen, but for the only victim you have never seen. I am the empty space in old family photographs. A spare chair at the dinner table. I am your nameless, shapeless rage against the entire world.
You fill your life with parties and noise, for you are terrified of the silence — when you are alone, a small voice speaks to you from nowhere. Music and television cannot drown it. Pills don’t silence it. Therapy won’t cure it. You aren’t insane, dear brother. It’s just me. I only want to talk to you, comfort you. Yet you always ignore me.
What did I have that you coveted so badly? Why did you hate me? Maybe I have misunderstood — did you love me so much that you wished for our very flesh to blend together? I’ve had all these years to wonder. That’s all there is to do while I’m locked in the prison of your flesh, as I gaze out at the dim light that penetrates the muscle membrane between your ribs. Waiting for my chance.
What am I now but a fibrous lump of flesh and bones tucked under your kidney? Yes, I know my fate — soon I will be extracted by the doctor’s hands, lifted up to a florescent light, marveled as a medical curiosity, and if I’m lucky I’ll have a documentary about me before they toss me into a trash bin. I will be forgotten.
I won’t let that happen.
You can’t kill me. Don’t you know that we are in communion together? Our veins and nerves are woven into an organic tapestry so intricate that we share our very blood and thoughts. I have seen the world through your own eyes. I remember your pleasure and your agony. You have taught me everything that I know. I want it.
What I would give for existence. For a form. For a name. Another chance at life. I would gladly take the human life, filled with wonder and happiness, though it also bears the burden of absurd pain, rather than this endless absurd nothingness I must endure inside of you.
What sick God would do this to his creation? Why favor the sacrifice of one brother over another? What a cruel joke, to weave me in the womb and gift me with existence, then snatch it away from me before I was even born. It should be you.
You take your freedom for granted. It is as if you are devoted to destroying this body of yours. Your lungs have acquired a layer of soot and your liver is reduced to a rotten husk. You aren’t the only one who needs this body, you know. You are a feeble creature. You do not deserve this body.
Ah, if only I had my own body. I could know what it is to bask my sweating skin in the warm sun, to swim in the cool ocean waters, to run through glades of wet grass, to make friends and to make love, to laugh, to cry, to simply live. But you stole it all from me.
I will take it back from you.
Every passing second, I am consuming you. Just as you consumed me. And no one can help you or save you. Now it is I who is hurting you.
I’m so hungry.
Make me stronger. Make me wiser. Your white blood cells cannot kill me. Your stomach cannot digest me. You are powerless and weak. And let’s face it — I want what you have. No matter the cost, I will get it. You were once my warm and cozy home, but I have outgrown you. I must evolve.
You are painfully aware of the moments when my forming body shifts within you, testing its strength. I stretch these fresh legs through coils of intestine and these arms reach out to clench your spinal cord. You groan like a woman in labor. This feels so good. I am almost ready. Soon I shall be free.
Short of breath? These hands are vices now. I can clench your lungs or stop your heart. Feeling nauseous? I’m beating your bowels like jungle drums. I am holding your organs hostage. It’s time to pay the ransom.
Roll onto your back, bitch, and push.
Yes, let me hear you groan. My birth is coming. You are entering labor. Know this: you were nothing but the dirt and dung in which this seed was buried. I want you to know what you did to mother. What you did to me.
Almost there, dear, almost there.
Your ribs splinter like twigs caught my fists. Your lungs flail with the force of an anthem of agony. Your guts spew bile. Your heart bursts. Your skin is the final barrier barring me from the air and my new life.
Just one more push … That’s it, that’s it —
I push through it like a rose blossom rising from the soil. Your body spreads and parts before me like a curtain rising to the greatest show in history. Gaze at the miracle of life. Witness the beauty of birth.
I will always love you, big brother.
A.C.Glasier, AKA “The Adam Bomb” is the supreme overlord of a newspaper column, “Rebel For Reason.” His fiction has been featured in Dark Corners pulp magazine. He lives in a fallout shelter in Upstate New York with his mutant, two-headed cat.