Glytch and his Wayward Brother
Glytch was afraid. He was often afraid when spending time alone with his brother, but lately it was worse than usual. He watched helplessly as his brother led them toward the airlock.
“Initiate a final suit diagnostic, Glytch.”
Glytch hesitated. He didn’t like taking orders from a thirteen-year-old. Technically, he was the older brother, he should be the one telling his brother what to do.
“Do it, Glytch.”
It was like being compelled, and try as he might, Glytch couldn’t stop from doing what he was told. He hated himself for doing it, but he initiated the diagnostic on his brother’s suit. It checked every seal, every system, feeding every bit of data directly to Glytch. The suit was in perfect working order, ready to carry his brother out into the harsh landscape of the moon.
Glytch sighed before answering.
“It’s all good.”
His brother smiled, then pointed at the airlock.
“Get us out there. We’ve got an important mission to accomplish.”
Glytch didn’t know what that mission was. Something told him he didn’t want to know. But he unlocked the door, sending the signal that caused it to slide slowly open. Even though he’d spent his entire life on the moon, Glytch was still awestruck when he stepped out of the moonbase and onto the open surface. There was something about the stillness of it all, the quiet, that appealed to him. For someone who’s life was nothing but data and signals, the surface of the moon was Glytch’s ideal refuge.
“Bring around rover 3,” his brother said.
The momentary peaceful moment was gone. Glytch activated the rover and set it on a course to pick them up.
“Why do we need the rover?” Glytch asked.
“Wait and see.”
After another minute passed the rover appeared from behind a jagged hilltop. Its eight oversized wheels and heavy shocks allowed it to roll over just about anything, and it deftly navigated the rocky hill before coming to a stop in front of them.
“Cut the auto drive crap, I’m driving,” his brother said.
Glytch choked back a comment about his brother not being old enough to drive. That didn’t really matter anymore, he supposed. They climbed in, and his brother smiled maniacally as he gripped the steering wheel. The look on his face reminded Glytch of the exact reason he’d been told he couldn’t operate the rovers until he was older. Before he could bring this up, they were already on the move, weaving around supply crates and materials at an alarming rate of speed. His brother brought them out of the gate of the compound with a sliding turn, clipping part of the gate and breaking off a piece of the rover.
“I’ll fix it later,” his brother said.
What he really meant was that Glytch would fix it later. It was nothing new, he’d been cleaning up after his brother since he was just a baby. With their parents busy around the compound it often fell to Glytch to care for his brother. He did the best he could, and for a time the two were actually quite close.
His brother laughed as he ramped the rover off the top of a steep hill, sending it in a long, slow flight across the surface. It was a pure laugh, something that Glytch hadn’t heard out of his brother in a long time. For a moment he allowed himself to forget about everything else and just focus on the feeling of sailing through the air, the sound of his brother’s laugh. After soaring for what felt like forever, the eight wheels of the rover touched back down.
“Yeah!” his brother shouted, still laughing.
For the first time in a long time, Glytch laughed too. But then he realized where his brother was taking them.
“No. Stop the rover, we can’t go there.”
His brother sped up.
“Oh we’re going there.”
There was a lot he put up with, but he wouldn’t put up with this.
“Stop the rover now! Mom and dad said the dark side of the moon was completely off limits!” Glytch yelled, modulating his voice so it rattled the speakers inside his brother’s helmet.
The smile disappeared from his brother’s face.
“Mom and dad are dead.”
The statement and the matter of fact way it was delivered stunned Glytch into silence. It was the first time that either of them had vocalized it. They’d spent a week in the moonbase, neither daring to go back to the area where their parents bodies still remained. Maybe that’s why Glytch hadn’t fought harder to stop this trip from happening. He would’ve done just about anything to get away from the bodies.
But he was still his brother’s keeper.
“Mom and dad are dead because…”
His brother interrupted him.
“Because you killed them.”
Glytch was once again stunned into silence. A trillion subroutines ran through him at once as he tried to find a suitable response.
“I… you… I was just… I did what you told me to do!” Glytch cried, surprised by the amount of anguish in his voice.
The wall of darkness was fast approaching. His brother stared ahead at it, a troubled young man on a troubled mission.
“Search that stupid computer brain of yours and tell me where in there it says you have to do everything I say,” his brother said. “You wanted them dead.”
Glytch would’ve cried if he could. He’d searched his programming billions of times looking for that very thing, but never found it. Why was it that he was always compelled to do whatever his brother said? He’d asked mother that once. She said it was the definition of true love. When her eyes had bulged out of her head and the life had left her body, she didn’t seem to hold fast to that opinion.
They were about to cross over into the darkness. Glytch realized now was the time to release long held secrets.
“Our parents found something out here in the dark. Something they didn’t want disturbed.”
His brother smiled. There was no humor in it.
“I know. They treated me like a child, like I had to be protected. I’ll show them what I’m capable of.”
Glytch sighed heavily. His brother didn’t get it. Their parents weren’t trying to protect his brother from the things in the dark. They were trying to protect the things in the dark from his brother.
Just as the darkness washed over them, Glytch shut off his visual capabilities. He wasn’t sure his data banks could hold handle seeing what came next.