Another day indoors. Tad sighed as he stared blankly at the book in front of him.
He wanted very much to be out in the field playing ball with his brothers instead of reading a 500-page manual on ‘How to un-root an Energy Canister’, as though removing an energy canister was the job only for a highly professional engineer, if that was the case, the world would have plenty of them.
Tad shut the book forcefully and peered out the window. He could see his brothers being interrupted by his father in the middle of their game. He knew automatically that they were being ordered to get back to work. He couldn’t help but smirk. Maybe reading wasn’t so bad after all, compared to feeding the chickens and milking the cows on his father’s farm.
And yet Tad wondered why he was the only one that needed to do all these reading and counting. He once asked his father but instead of a reply, five more books were placed in his arms. When he asked his mother, she said he was special and that both she and his father loved him very much. Tad concluded that he was their favorite, which proved true when he was the only one given second helpings during dinner that night.
Tad wasn’t all that hungry but he ate anyway. He caught his brothers eyeing him with a hint of jealousy, but that didn’t bother him. He had gotten that look way too often to bother responding.
When dinner was over, his mother asked his brothers to clean up while his father took him to the room he and his ten brothers slept at night.
“I saw you watching your brothers today Tad,” his father said, shutting the door behind him.
Tad didn’t know what to say. There was no point denying since it was true.
“I know you want to go outside and play, but for right now, it is better if you stayed indoors and study. I do not want you to work on the farm with me when you get older. Your brothers are already doing so. The future you have is not here. Do you understand?”
Tad sighed and nodded. He had heard his father mention his future a million times, and yet he never said where it would be if not the farm. Some future, he thought to himself.
“Good. Now that our little talk is over, why don’t you get ready for bed? And reduce the energy release on the canister will you? We’re running short. You DO know how to do it, don’t you?”
“Yes. I’ve read how,” Tad drawled. His father responded with a smile and patted him on the shoulder before leaving the room.
Tad headed to the far corner of the room where a metal cabinet was. He pressed some buttons and the cabinet doors slid open. In the cabinet was a cylindrical canister with blue electric veins pulsing in it. It was the same energy canister he was studying earlier that day.
The energy canister was hooked up to multiple wires which supplied energy to the entire house. All the houses used a canister as their source of energy, and one canister lasted for a month for most homes. When all the energy is used up, the canister must be replaced with a new one if they wanted to survive.
Tad slowly turned a knob at the top of the cylinder, being careful not to touch any of the wires. Immediately he saw the reduction of energy flow in the wires. And that was when the lights in his room started to dim. Tad nodded to himself and shut the cabinet with a press of another button.
Tad stared at the cabinet for a while and wondered who his father would send to the city this time to exchange the canister. He secretly wished his father would pick him as he had never seen the city before. He heard his brothers mentioning of high rise structures and super highways with cars powered by blue energy. Unfortunately for him, the only car he had ever seen was the old junk that ran on fuel.
Tad sighed and headed to his mat on the floor. They couldn’t afford beds and this was the best they could. Moments later, he heard his brothers entering the room, but he just ignored them and fell straight to sleep.
He was awakened shortly after by a tremor. He sat up trying to get his bearings but no hint of light was to his aid. The ground beneath him was vibrating violently and it felt like it was about to give in. Tad stood up and waved his hands blindly around him in search of a wall, but there seemed to be none.
Tad started to panic but before he could react, he saw his chest glowing. And then, as if crawling out of the shadows, were his brothers. Their bodies were hunched, in a prostrate manner, surrounding him. Tad swallowed hard and he didn’t realize he was holding his breath as he watched them bow to him expressionlessly.
Briefly taking his eyes off his brothers, he began to notice the glow in his chest becoming brighter. Both terrified and amazed, Tad closed his eyes expecting the worst when a sharp pain pierced his stomach.
Tad opened his eyes immediately and found himself back in his bedroom. His third oldest brother stood hovering over him.
“Get up,” Simon said monotonically.
“You didn’t have to kick me.” Tad glared at Simon and sat up.
“I was trying to make sure you weren’t dead.” Simon smirked as he folded his arms.
“Right. Well, I’m not.” Tad climbed to his feet. He wasn’t as tall as Simon but he was almost his height. Tad secretly wished he was taller, that way he wouldn’t have to look up at him all the time.
“I had a dream about you. You were bowing to me, and so were the others,” Tad continued.
“Wow! Isn’t that something! Let’s tell Roth and the others,” Simon said sarcastically as he grabbed Tad by the arm and dragged him downstairs where his other brothers were already having breakfast on a wooden table in the tiny dining room.
“Let go!” Tad squirmed out of Simons grip and managed to free himself.
“What’s the problem?” Roth asked uninterestedly.
“Tad had a dream about us,” Simon announced.
“Must be some dream eh, Tad?” Luther jeered. Luther wasn’t the oldest, but he came in second after Roth and he was famous for his fist of anger.
“He dreamt we were bowing down to him.” Simon turned to eye Tad.
“And I was glowing!” Tad blurted out. He immediately felt stupid as laughter erupted at the table.
A wave of embarrassment washed over him. He was being ridiculed by his own brothers but his pride made him continue with details of his dream.
“You were all bowing to me! Every single one of you!” Tad said loudly, even though his voice wasn’t as firm as he wanted it to be.
“So you’re saying you’re going to be king?” Luther stood up and shoved Tad against the wall. “You’re going to rule over us? Us, who are older than you?”
Tad tried to stand his ground but fear crept up his spine. He could never stand up against all of them and he silently prayed for a miraculous intervention. Just when he was about to receive a broken nose from one of his brothers, his father came through the door.
“What the devil is going on here?” His father began pulling his brothers away from him.
“Go get yourselves to work!” his father ordered his brothers out the door as Tad breathed a sigh of relief.
“What was going on, my boy?” His father turned to him.
“Nothing. Just a misunderstanding,” Tad muttered.
“Well, if that’s the case, let’s just leave it as that shall we?” his father said and suspired.
Tad nodded and followed his father out into the front yard. He saw his brothers watching him as they carried hay into the nearest barn. He somehow knew he wasn’t at all safe from a broken nose yet.
Trying to keep his mind off them, he turned his attention to his mother who was carrying a package in her hands.
“Have you forgotten what day today is?” she said as she gave him a tight hug.
“Tuesday?” Tad was slightly confused.
“You poor boy, how could you have forgotten your own birthday!” She pinched his cheeks and handed him the package. Tad never liked the pinching but he gave his mother the benefit, after all, she loved him the most.
“See what all the studying could do to him?” his mother said sternly, speaking directly to his father as Tad chuckled. Mother knows best, Tad silently thought to himself.
Tad waited for his mother to nod at him before he started unwrapping the package. It only took him a second to realize what he was holding in his hands. It was a silver vest, and running along the sides were small tubes, with blue energy flowing through it. His parents must have ordered it from the city, and with no doubt, he knew it was an expensive order. Tad took a minute or so staring at it before he quickly put it on and asked excitedly, “How do I look?”
“Handsome. I think your father wouldn’t mind letting you have the day off from those books,” his mother said as she eyed his father with her beautiful brown eyes, and his father nodded in agreement.
“Yes!” Tad exclaimed as he gave his parents a peck on their cheeks. Tad was ecstatic. He had the day off from books and it felt like heaven.
Turning seventeen wasn’t all that bad after all, especially when he had the day all to himself and a new silver vest. He couldn’t wait to show it off to his brothers, and the best way he thought he should do so was to walk pass the barn they were in as slowly as possible, making sure the sun’s reflection catches their attention, and when they looked, he wouldn’t say anything, since a picture speaks a thousand words anyway. And so he did what he had planned to do, and after he caught all their jealous faces, he decided to spend the rest of the day, by himself, at a nearby creek, in which he had fallen in love with the first time he found it when he was twelve.
Soon day was slowly giving way to night and Tad decided to head home. On his way home, he saw a familiar sheep running across a small hill. He assumed his brothers were grazing the flocks in nearby field and decided to spy on them, since he didn’t have much to do anyway.
Tad quickly but quietly followed after that lone sheep as it made its way to the field, but to his surprise no one was around. The sheep however, continued trotting into the forest by the field and Tad decided to follow. He had caught his brothers with their alcohol before and maybe he would catch them again, at least that would save him from an impending broken nose.
The sky was turning dark, but Tad took no notice. He followed the sheep as quietly as possible as it led him to a clearing. There he spotted his brothers, and with one wrong footing, they spotted him too.
“Look, it’s the dreamer!” Luther exclaimed sarcastically and his brothers laughed.
“He’s come to tell on us again.” Tad heard one of them say as they started to form a circle around him. He tried to find a gap between them in hopes of making a quick dash out of their circle, but he found no escape.
“I have an idea. Let’s kill him and throw him into that cistern. Then we’ll just tell father a lion ate him up,” Simon said and to Tad’s surprise, the rest agreed.
Did they hate him that much? Tad could hear his heart pumping and a quick silent prayer he made. A broken nose was way better than death.
“You can’t kill me, I’m your brother,” Tad quickly said, hoping it would save his life.
He heard his brothers laughing at his statement and Tad couldn’t believe they found it funny.
“I agree with Simon. Let’s just kill him and then he’ll be out of our hair forever,” Luther said as he walked up behind Tad and placed his strong hands on his shoulders.
Tad tried to free himself but Luther’s grip was too tight. Tad looked to Roth, his oldest brother, hoping he would save him as he mouthed ‘Please’ to him.
“No. Let’s just throw him in that cistern and leave him be. We shall not kill our own brother,” Roth said sternly.
“Half brother,” Simon muttered in disappointment.
Tad sighed a small relief. Maybe one of them will come back for him later, or so he hoped. His brothers tussled him around as they took off his vest and shoved him towards the cistern. It did not take another touch as Tad fell right down into it.
It wasn’t very deep as he didn’t break any bones on the landing, but it was dark and cold. Tad sat and hugged himself, trying to stay warm. His thoughts were racing and so were his emotions. What were his brothers planning to do? Leave him? He felt a concoction of emotions and the coldness around him became more bearable than the coldness and hatred his brothers had showed him.
He began to feel tired and weak and he was nearly falling asleep when he heard voices. It was his brothers talking. He heard them mentioning of traders and money when a rope came falling down the cistern.
“Climb up!” He heard one of his brothers shouting to him.
Relieved that they weren’t really going to leave him there, he quickly made his way up. As he nearly reached the top, strong arms pulled him out of the cistern, but they didn’t let him go. It took him a while before he realized that those strong arms belonged to two men he had never seen before.
“He’s rather scrawny don’t you think?” one of them said to the other.
A third unknown man came up to him and eyed him from head to toe. He dressed sloppily in a suit, and he wore a crooked smile that showed his golden tooth. He had gold rings around his fingers and he had tattoos all over his hands. Tad personally found him scarier than the men that were holding on to him.
“We’ll take him for twenty silver coins,” the third man said.
“Sold,” Luther announced as though the bidding was over, taking the bag of coins the man had handed to him.
Tad was confused more than ever. Did his brothers just sell him off to these city traders? He didn’t have to question himself any longer as he was sure he knew what had just happened
“No! You can’t sell me! I have rights!” Tad shouted at his brothers.
“Well, we’re town people, we don’t have rights brother, especially you!” Simon chuckled.
“You still can’t sell me! That’s against the law! Please!” Tad tried to free himself from the men’s grip.
“No such law young lad,” the third man said as he started walking out of the clearing. The two men holding him were following after and dragging Tad along the way.
Tad could feel tears swelling up in his eyes as he shouted to his brothers, “Please! I’m your brother. Please don’t do this!”
But his brothers did not respond to his pleas and Tad knew, from that moment, that he was on his own.
“No!” Tad screamed and kicked. He tried to wiggle himself free and he seemed to be doing it right as the two men were losing their grip on him.
“Knock him out,” he heard a voice gave an order and then he heard a loud thud. Tad was knocked out in a millisecond.
The Dreamer is now available in the bookshop!