map A Young Person’s Guide to the Brothers Fullam

by Charles Harper

Published in Issue No. 215 ~ April, 2015
Photo by Sharyn Morrow

Photo by Sharyn Morrow

Dedicated to Justine G.


Aton ascended. He was fashionably late for his own party. The guests were all in attendance, all the super-rich and ultra-powerful were there. Chatting. Clinking glasses. Waiting for Aton.

Aton went up immediately to Giorgio Soren.

“I just spoke with the Chinese. Good to see you.” he said.

“Yes,” said Aton, smiling with his eyes. The best two words to describe Aton would be tall and evil. It’s just the way he was.

“They want to meet you to firm everything up.”

“That’s the final step. After that we’ll have clearance to start building. Have we started building anyway?”

“No, but they’ve been moving people out of their homes.”

Aton felt a little sad. “Wish I could be there for that.” He said.

Aton was having a celebration for the Stockhausen family on the occasion of Annie Stockhausen’s turning 13. There she was, in her nice dress. Her brothers and parents were with her, hanging out by the large window which looked out over the city of Chicago. Recently the Stockhausen family had fallen out of step with the dance of the powerful. Their bubble had burst. They sat over a decayed and useless infrastructure of some obscure cash crop. To the young Stockhausen family this party seemed like a gesture to welcome them back into the fold, as they felt they had stumbled out of “the loop”.

Aton’s mouth burned. He grabbed a glass full of ice water. Little Annie Stockhausen could swear she saw steam coming out of his nostrils as he drank.

The guests were chattering less as the sun began to sink over the city. It cast the skyline in a fierce golden tone. Aton sensed that people were getting ready for the real celebration, and as such he approached the Stockhausen family and clinked his glass with a knife, thus drawing everyone’s attention.

“We are here to celebrate the first communion of this young lady.” Aton placed his hand on her shoulder. She could feel an unnatural heat coming off his hand. “But before we get down to business and really party let me just say that, well, man. Man speaks for God. God has no voice. We are his mouthpiece. We have always been his mouthpiece.

“So let him say, ‘you need to keep your numbers in check.’ We are on the cusp of a great crisis, and if we do not act now we will be enveloped in darkness.”

Aton’s head began to thrash. His mouth burned fiercely and he needed a drink of water. He gulped his drink. He left an ice cube in his mouth which began to melt instantly. Aton saw a singular pale light atop a cave in a dark desert.

But it passed, and Aton carried on with his speech.

“To you I say ‘bravo’. You have created the means by which to feed billions of people. I want to challenge you all. Maybe you are all aware of my art. The one piece of art I am most proud of. The Georgia Guide Stones. Many of you thought it was a nice idea, but didn’t take it seriously. But I wish to reiterate the first rule written in stone upon their face. ‘Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.’”

The guests were forming a circle around Aton and the Stockhausens.

“Have your fill, my dear guests. And be aware that I am speeding things up. I challenge you. I challenge you to do the will of God.”

Aton left the circle. Behind him came the screams of the Stockhausen family as they were stabbed. Aton got in the elevator and ascended still.


Little Annie’s dress was covered in blood. She limped. Night. The city was dark and she was vulnerable. Yet in the blackness she felt safe. She knew where she had to go. She knew things would be all right once she got there.

She had seen her family murdered. Her parents stabbed as if they were pin cushions. Stabbed over and over. Her brother’s necks stomped on. But she had escaped. Not without injury, though. A man had grabbed her in the confusion and lacerated her leg. She kicked him in the forehead and scrambled off in the confusion, unnoticed into an open elevator. In her shock she couldn’t feel any pain.

She made it to The Brothers Fullam Detectives At Large L.L.C.. She knew that she could have gone to the police. But she remembered something her father had said to her:

“Annie my little babushka, if we are ever ceremoniously murdered and you happen to escape, do not, and I repeat, DO NOT go to the police. They own the police. Seek out the Brothers Fullam!”

“The Brothers Fullam? Who are they?”

“They are only the wisest and best detectives in all of Christendom.”

Inside the building she came face to face with a pretty blonde girl who was sipping tea and minding the front desk. The secretary.

“My, what happened to you?” She had a good phone voice. Very officious.

“I’ve been…My leg…my parents!” All at once Annie felt the pain and the confusion—the raw facets of trauma—burn into her. And she sobbed. “I…I…I need to see the Brothers Fullam!”

“Ooh, the Brothers Fullam are very busy. Do you have an appointment?”

“I…I don’t.”

“Let me check,” Christine began pecking at the keyboard, “and your name?”


“Why yes, it looks like the brothers were expecting you.”

“But how?”

“Never you mind, you big dummy. Go ahead and have a seat and the brothers will be in shortly.”

And then Annie lay upon the couch and fainted. Her cut stopped gushing blood. She was at peace now that she was in the safe clutches of the Brothers Fullam.

Our heroes, meanwhile, were very busy playing a game of Connect-4. They had asked that all calls be held and that all appointments be kept waiting.

Most people who are playing Connect-4 are smiling and laughing, as is correctly advertised on the box. But the Brothers Fullam did not smile, not for this. They always kept their emotions in check. They only smiled into the windows of parked cars so as to get a good look at their teeth.

Alex Fullam, wearing a light suit to contrast with his blonde locks was sitting up straight in his chair. He carried with him the waspy air of a Colgate graduate (which he was).

The slightly smaller and younger Spencer, with his narrow eyes and subtle comb-over, was hunched over in thought. His head was larger, more round. He wore glasses and was fond of electricity.

Both were pencil thin.

They had a dog recently. The actual police had brought in a blind man on the charge of indecent exposure. He had with him a service dog. The police and the Brothers had an arrangement that the latter would take off the unnecessary gaggle of small time crooks that made up any metropolitan police force’s workload in exchange for the legitimacy of their existence.

The suspect had claimed that his dog was a “seeing eye dog.”

“I don’t know. I don’t think you understand,” said the blind man.

“No. I think it’s you who doesn’t understand,” said Spencer, who gave the dog a good kick.

“Stop! He’s a service dog! I have a license! He sees for me.”

“The only person who sees,” said Alex, “is The Seer. And you don’t see him around here do you?”

Spencer rolled up his sleeves, “And how many times have you seen The Seer, Blindy McGee?”

“I’ve never seen him.” Said the blind man.

(It’s really hard to explain why the brothers were acting like this. Perhaps they had too much coffee. Normally they are far more reserved. But sometimes we in the center fall out of harmony with the way of nonaction.)

“We’ve seen him, not one, not two, but three times.” Alex held up three fingers and waved them in the blind man’s face.

“But we despair.” Said Spencer.

“The joy of detective work has left us,” said Alex, who then gave the cowering dog another good kick.

Eventually the blind man and his mutt would be discharged.

The brothers had indeed been feeling rather lethargic. As they slid the Connect-4 pieces into place their melancholy bubbled and sloshed in their guts.

“What is it that we need?” Thus Spencer.

“I think we need to see someone.” Thus Alex.

“Someone who can connect the dots. The dots of our despair.”

“Like who? A doctor?”

“No. Doctors are expensive. Well maybe. Maybe we can find a doctor. I don’t know.”

But none of this needed to be said, and it was soon quickly forgotten as a large man entered the offices. At first the brothers thought that it was the C.E.O, C.F.O, C.O.O and resident D.D.S., Mr. Dzairski, but when they looked at him they saw it was…no…no it couldn’t be. It was The Seer. They knew it was him even though they didn’t know what The Seer looked like. No one knows what The Seer looks like. All they knew of him was that he was tall and wore all black.

“You don’t need a doctor,” said The Seer. “You need a higher power. A greater wisdom.”

“Where? Where would we find such a higher power?” asked Spencer.

The Seer leaned over the table and slid the bottom lever on the Connect-4 game, thus discharging all the pieces into a discordinate heap. “I can’t tell you where to go. You will know it spontaneously.” Said The Seer.

There was a moment’s pause. Spencer and Alex heard music. Still notes from a bow being drawn across piano wire. Two floating and concurrent notes. A distorted drone floating beneath.

“Dr. Josh,” said Alex.

“Dr. Josh,” said Spencer in agreement.

The brothers then took to mumbling. In times of excitement, and in times of quick decision making the Brothers are able to join consciousness by way of extremely fast mumbling. In the ensuing psychobabble the brothers are able to transmit ideas and process thoughts at many times the speed of your average genius.

Here’s what we, poor us sitting on the outside looking in, here’s what we can understand.

“Dr. Josh…Free…Free consultation…Worries about…Worries concerning…Free…No money…Never gives us money…Out of the office…No sign…Sign sez…Maybe an hour…Northwestern…Fancy…Fancy hospital…Free…”

And so on.

The Seer disappeared out the door. The brothers followed and came upon their secretary.

“Oh.” She said. “Oh I’m glad you’re both here. Remember how you had me put everything on hold?”

The brothers grunted their assent.

“Well I forgot to tell you that you had an appointment.” Then, in an unconvincing tone she said, “sorry.”

“Who?” asked Alex.

“It’s Annie Stockhausen. She’s asleep on the couch.”

“Did you see The Seer?” said Spencer.

“No I didn’t see him come in.” Not breaking eye contact with the brothers, she covered up the Sudoku puzzle on her desk. “Maybe he’s just a figment of your imagination.”

“Brothers,” said Annie Stockhausen sleepily. “They killed my parents!” she cried.

“We know.” Said Spencer.

“Now little girl,” said Alex, as he knelt down in front of Alex. “Who did you see kill your parents?”

“There were a lot of them. All people I never knew before. I don’t know.”

“We’re going to find them.” Said Alex. “We’re going to find them deep in here.” Alex pointed to his heart.

“Christine, you and your cats can keep an eye on Annie. We’ll be back.” Said Spencer.

“’Kay,” said the secretary, who pulled two cats out of the drawer in which they were sleeping.

And with that the Brothers Fullam strode out of the office.


“I am disturbed.” Thus Evelyn Chalmers. Beautiful with chestnut hair, her thin body laying supine in the office of one Dr. Josh Cahan, her psychiatrist.

“Go on,” he said.

“I see things.”

“What do you see?”

“I see a large evergreen in a dense thicket of Norwegian forest. A dwarf is hacking at it with an axe.”

“Gimli,” supposed Dr. Cahan.

“No. He’s well dressed. He has an evil air. And he is hacking ruthlessly at this tree.”

“And where are you in this…dream? This vision?”

“I am nowhere. I am in a different place. I see eagles swooping down and plucking babies from their strollers. The mothers shrieking in agony. I see gangs of blacks shooting each other over something like drugs. Then I can hear their mothers wailing. There are demons lurking about: Hiding in the corners and the shadows; their long pointed tails wormed around rusty fences, hanging from the eaves of a tunnel.”


Evelyn: “Then I am at home. I am in my bed and I hear someone playing the violin. A lofty tune that reeks of desert sorrow. I follow the noise down to the basement and into the laundry room. There standing with a single candle lit upon the ironing board is a very old man with a big wicked smile.”

Just then the Brothers Fullam burst into the office. A secretary was standing behind them, smiling big. She exclaimed happily, “Look who I found shoulder-deep in the vending machine!”

“Why it’s the Brothers Fullam!” Exclaimed Dr. Josh. He stood up and bounced over with his arm out for a good shake.

Evelyn Chalmers sat up. She felt confusion, and then anger. Who were these people? Why was this okay?

“To what do I owe this splendid surprise? Do come in!” Said Dr. Josh.

The brothers, mumbling, sat down on the arm chairs surrounding the couch. Evelyn by now had sat up and was looking alert. Spencer lit his pipe.

“Miss Chalmers, I know how this may seem…” Dr. Josh cleared his throat, “…but if there has ever been a nicer surprise for both of us it is a visit from Spencer and Alexander Fullam. All patient confidentiality breaches and prospective malpractice suits aside, not to mention city smoking ordinances.”

“Highly regarded,” said Spencer.

“What’s the problem?” asked Alex.

Dr. Josh sat down happily.

“The problem?” Said Evelyn. “The problem is that I’m still here!” She moved to get up.

“No.” Said Alex.

“No?” And then, much to her own surprise, she sat down again.

“No action.” Said Spencer. “That is the true way. To sit in silent contemplation is wrong. To sit in silent silence is correct. But what does that mean, correct? To be correct and to be incorrect are facets of a singular chaos.”

“Do nothing…Silence…” Evelyn said, as if pronouncing these words for the first time ever. “Why that’s just it!”

“Exactly.” Said Dr. Josh. “These visions you are having…from my notes I see that you are having them all the time. Agonizing. Being bombarded. It’s like running through the rain. No matter what, you’re going to get completely soaked. All you do by running is tire yourself out. The confusion you feel stems from your impulsivity, and your drive drives you into the darkest parts of your mind. It is a form of paranoia, this desperation to terrorize your inner-world. Consciousness is an ocean and in it swim dark portents. But as we expand our consciousness day by day, through interaction with our peers and through work and other enrichments, by these things we enlarge both the good and bright with the dark and passive. Maybe we can work on giving those portents more space to swim and at the same time less places to hide.”

“But the visions…”

“Visions. Hmm.” Spencer puffed upon his pipe. “Give me a vision of your visions.”

“I see an ascending bright light blinding the world. The world feels like it’s ending sometimes. I’m in my car and in my mind the engine squeals and fire comes billowing out of the air conditioning vents. I die. I die a thousand times a day.”

“I can only suppose,” said Dr. Josh, “that there is a dark force feeding these thoughts into you. And somewhere there is a person who is always bright and cheerful being bombarded with the reality of your existence as it is free from these visions—one of peace and tranquility; the inner dark. According to my notes you lead a very peaceful life.”

“At one point I considered becoming a Jain.” Said Evelyn to the brothers.

“But something is out of whack,” said Dr. Josh. “Something is ascending too high. Something is pushing you down too low. Something is trying to enlarge the container. This is a problem that will require some sincere cognitive behavioral therapy. As I said, it’s fortunate that the brothers are here, for I’m sure they are having a problem that can be solved just as yours can.”

“Can indeed,” mumbled Spencer.

“I would suggest that you two pair up and explore with one another the scenes from your inner turmoil and try to find that ascending bright with the small pouch of dark.”

“We’ll take the case!” said Alex.


Let’s change the scene for a second. Get out of Chicago, you know. It’s good for you, to get out of the city once a month or so.

Liuzhou, a Chinese boom town. The city produces Wu-Ling mini-mini vans. They are tragically unsafe things that are as affordable as they are uncomfortable. They had turned this south-central Chinese city into a booming metropolis of 4 million people.

Fantastic. Back to Chicago. We join Aton and the blind oracle Caecus Edidi. Aton comes to Caecus for consultations.

Aton had had sculptors lovingly create a 1/100th model of the city’s downtown, which was built up in the teardrop of land created by the long snaking Liu River.

Caecus Edidi was perched atop a platform inside the apartment; a giant penthouse suite on the top floor of a skyscraper. Aton was the owner, but Caecus was kept here for his convenience. Nothing was lacking in the blind oracle’s life, and he had neither reason nor desire to ever leave.

“Tell me what you have seen,” said Caecus.

“I see bright orange sand under a starry sky.” Said Aton, obviously distraught. “I see the calm shimmering lake beneath a full moon. Now, oracle, tell me what you have seen.”

“I see brothers. And I see The Seer.”

“No.” Aton was astounded. “Again?”

“Yes. And I see the brothers at the center. I see the darkness welling up from perforations in the floor. You are overplaying your hand, Aton.”

Then for a while there was nothing but the thin reedy high violin notes of bright sunlight in the apartment.

“I am doing no such thing,” said Aton.

“You are. You are.”

“I will not discuss this further. Let’s do what I came here to do.” Aton set a cooler on a table. Inside was the liver of Samuel Stockhausen. Annie’s father.

Suddenly Aton seized. He grabbed his head as a vision of peaceful dark swept upon him. He saw evergreen trees in a tranquil night. The moon over the cool desert with a family of foxes sniffing a tree. The peaceful dark. The empty vessel.

Caecus Edidi began to chant as Aton writhed on the floor.

Awaken sun, blight the earth

Fires twisting in great mirth

Serious fire, what do we do?

Deedely deedely diddly doo.

Aton snapped out of it. For this is why he kept Caecus Edidi around. This is why he kept him happy in his tower in the sky.

Aton unsnapped the cooler and took out the liver. He placed it in the pot suspended via tripod over the model of the city. He set one of the buildings on fire with a flick of his lighter and immediately the liver began to sizzle. They both smiled as its metallic scent filled the air.

Meanwhile in Liuzhou an unfinished skyscraper collapsed, unleashing a thick cloud of smoke that covered the karst peak to the south and the city to the north, across the river. From the billowing ash came a platoon of demons with thick blue skin and horns. They were wearing Imperial Japanese army regalia circa 1939.

They began to terrorize and plunder Liuzhou city. Committing all the horrors of war. One only needs a cursory knowledge of the Rape of Nanjing to get an idea of what they got up to.

Meanwhile on the roads leading out of Liuzhou County sat the stern visages of the Chinese military. They had orders not to let anyone leave, and by no means were they to venture inside. Again, that powerful influence from the top found ways to squash their curiosity and dampen any mutinous feelings.


Everyone was so pleased to meet the Brothers Fullam! As the brothers made their way down State St. there was much hand shaking and many autograph signings. People loved the Brothers Fullam, and they were always talking about them!

The brothers were out with Evelyn interviewing anybody they could. Regrettably the masses did not have much to add in the way of answering their question: “From where does the source of true light draw its power? Where is its dark heart?”

They made their way to the park. The brothers sat down on a bench, Evelyn in the center. By way of magic they produced two glasses of sparkling water with lime. Spencer lit his pipe.

She was feeling confused and angry, yet at the same time excited. It was as if they had begun to home in on the source of her confusing visions. And it was an exciting feeling. Still, she worried about the brothers not having quoted her a price. When she asked all they responded was with a reassuring, “don’t worry about it.”

Alex said, “Close your eyes, I have an idea.”

Evelyn obeyed.

Alex licked his hand gave her a gentle pat on the cheek. Spencer gave no hint of emotion.

Evelyn looked at the brothers with disgust. On their faces were knowing smiles. The wisdom of the universe.

Then Spencer said, “You’re getting the full Brothers experience. Brothers in stereo.”

“In stereo,” said Alex.

Then they started shifting around from left to right saying, “Brothers Fullam.”

Then they stopped. Alex said, “No really, I have an idea. Sometimes when I look up I see glimmers of a vision. And when I look down I see what’s below, and in the darkness I see the light. These visions revolve and yours comes full circle. I see a temple…”

“Sexy temple,” said Spencer, caressing his body.

“I saw something once,” Alex continued, “Cruder shapes flickering in a haze. When I see the snake’s head I see what you see.” He regarded her, “What did you dream last night, my child?”

Evelyn focused. “I am looking south from the north. There was nothing above me.”

“By golly, that’s it!” Cried Spencer. “The Trump tower!”

The Trump Tower, for those of you who are not acquainted with its horror, looks like a big hypodermic needle sticking out of an otherwise pretty skyline. 98 floors. Not the tallest building in Chicago, but certainly the ugliest, and certainly the place that Evelyn was at in her dreams. (But where are we in our dreams?)

Dikhavati Adami, the building attendant and sole security guard, was scanning IDs and X-Raying suitcases when the Brothers and Evelyn strolled in. He was a serious man and a very good building attendant. He knew everyone who came in regularly, and treated like shit those who were just visiting.

When he saw the brothers he exclaimed, “My dear dear brothers! What an honor! What a very big honor! What can Dikhavati do for you?”

Evelyn felt like the only person who had neither heard of nor was a great big fan of the Brothers Fullam. She never felt so confused and alone.

“We need a favor.” Spencer said.

“Yeah. A favor to savor.” Said Alex.

“Brothers,” cooed Dikhavati, “Brothers brothers brothers.” He plopped a box full of doughnuts onto the counter. “My dear brothers. What can Dikhavati do for you today?”

“Top floor.” Said Spencer.

“The top…ahh, but why? Why dear brothers?”

“Can’t say. B.F.B.S.,” said Alex.


Then Spencer added helpfully, “Brothers Fullam Business, Stupid.”

“Ahh! But I can’t!” Said Dikhavati. “In my villiage in India it is an easy way to bring a horrible curse upon you and your family to deny the Brothers Fullam a favor. But I can’t! I must suffer! Poor Dikhavati, poor brothers! What a sad day for the both of us. Now, let Dikhavati be autographed upon his wounded bosom.” Dikhavati ripped open his shirt and then implored, “Sign me.”

Just then a group of black youths came wandering into the building.

“You got a dollar?” asked one of Alex.

Dikhavati buttoned his shirt angrily and took out a whistle. “No! Out! Out! Out!” He blew the whistle and flew out from behind his desk. The black kids began to protest, claiming that they did not, in fact, do anything.

In the ensuing commotion the brothers stood looking agog. Evelyn managed to slip behind the desk and grab a key card for the elevators. “Come on,” she said.

They made their way up to the very top floor. Directly in front of the elevator was a bright yellow door. The brothers began to mumble excitedly. Evelyn gave a knock.

“It opens!” came Caecus Edidi’s voice from the other side.

And indeed it did.


The apartment was mostly empty, and all windows. It was the same exact view looking out over the city that Evelyn had seen in her dreams. In the center of the apartment stood a very tall, very thin man with long hair and a beard. He wore dark sunglasses to indicate his blindness. He was standing at the head a long table, the only piece of furniture in the entire apartment.

“Brothers! Dear Brothers! Do. Do have a seat.” Said the blind man.

The brothers and a very scared looking Evelyn sat down.

“I’ve been expecting you. All three of you.”

“What have you got for us, old bean?” asked Spencer.

Caecus sat, an air of finality about him, a dark presence, as if to say, “This is it. This is what you have come to see.”

“Why am I having these awful visions?” Blurted out Evelyn.

“Awful? Visions? They are neither. They are connected to the visions of your opposite.”

“Who is my opposite? Who killed that little girl’s family?”

“Your brother!” Cried Caecus.

“Brothers,” mumbled Alex.

“Fullam,” finished Spencer. The brothers began to mumble excitedly. Caecus had inadvertently stroked their pleasure center.

“Give me your hand,” said Spencer to the blind oracle. Caecus complied, and Spencer placed his own hand on top. He whipped out a switchblade and began to feverishly stab at the spaces between their fingers. Spencer stuck out his tongue in concentration.

And for a while there was nothing but the rhythmic tapping of the blade on the table.

“Enough!” Cried Caecus. “Spontaneity. It is a trait you brothers possess. Most enviable. But unfortunately it will not serve you well here. It will not stop what has been set in motion.”

“So if I may,” said Alex, “We represent the middle. The darkness descends and the light ascends. The ascension, however, has been corrupted.”

“The ascension has not been corrupted.” Snapped Caecus. “At first I was like you and had my reservations. But all things proceed as they should and all is going as it should be. And you,” Caecus shot a look towards Evelyn, “I’ve got half a mind to kill you where you stand. But I cannot kill you. Only Aton may do that. And when he does then he’ll have taken over. The ascending light will have come to its fullest and will have eradicated the dark.”

Just then Evelyn felt the blood rush from her head and into her large intestine. She doubled over in a fit of agony. In her daze she managed to whisper a feeble, “help me.”

“What’s happening to her?” Asked Spencer.

“What have you done!?” Alex shot up from his chair in a very dramatic fashion.

Alex lunged at Caecus. Caecus stepped aside. The force of Alex’s body could not be stopped and he pounded into a window. He seemed to have been aiming not for the blind oracle, but through the blind oracle. Such was his speed and deliberation.

Spencer leapt up at that moment, but Caecus whipped a plate at his head which bounced off with a satisfactory thud. Evelyn was writhing in pain on the ground, all the vision draining from her head as two black curtains of noisy particles enclosed her vision.

Caecus grabbed Alex and crashed together through a window, both plunging to their deaths.

“Brothers Fullam,” were Alex’s last words.1


It was all a blur. The moment Alex and Caecus Edidi’s bodies had slammed into the street below, her intestinal trauma began to subside. She had not seen the two jump, nor had she seen the plate collide with Spencer’s head, but from the broken window and the whistling of the wind she had been able to grasp what had happened.

She pulled Spencer up, he was mumbling disconsolately. She put his glasses back on his big head and dragged him to the elevator. He weighed practically nothing.

Down in the lobby Dikhavati Adami, the building attendant, was engaged in a shouting match with the rowdy black youths. She carried Spencer in her arms past him and out into a waiting taxi cab.

Back at the offices of the Brothers Fullam she saw Christine the secretary and her two cats playing Clue with little Annie Stockhausen.

Spencer began to mumble a bit more coherently. The secretary, Annie, Evelyn, and the cats regarded him. One of the cats let out a grumpy meow.

And then it was Spencer’s turn to faint. Here’s what he dreamt:

Mountains and sky. Mountains in the sky, actually. A great billowing roll of cirrus clouds ending in a mountain range, the two being continuous. Spencer was lighter than air, yet he was standing on solid ground. And there before him was Alex, looking resplendent in a navy blue suit and holding a bouquet of flowers.

“Flowers,” mumbled Spencer.

“Grandma,” Alex replied. “Some relatives. Happy to see me.”

Spencer grunted. He then began to try to mumble with Alex, but the aether of fast flying words and ideas spread to a point halfway between them, and like a half rainbow spanning across a valley with no rejoinder, it fell and shards of the rainbow impaled a few magical creatures in the valley. Spencer’s soul sank.

“It won’t work. I know too much.” Alex said.

“What do you know?”

“I know this. Our time here is very limited. Listen, can you hear the world? There is no god. Still, we live on after we die. We live with one another as we knew one another. Not in a world like our own. The man who lives an evil life, who swerves across lanes of traffic in a hurry, he will be troubled still. To that man who lived his life in peace and happiness, there is that still. Only they don’t continue on on the stage of the Earth.”

“Is there peace?”

“For some. You and me, yes. For the Fullams we knew, there is. We all had balanced lives. We all knew that the principles of nonaction and forbearance are facets of the way.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

“Because your work is not finished. You could have seen this coming, so it is okay to tell you. Just as two people agree on the weather outside, so too do we agree on what makes for a good life, a bad life, and a life in accordance with the way. You must go to China.”

“China. Expensive.”

“It’s where Evelyn’s brother is at. You must both put a stop to his rise. He is in violation of the way. His is the ascending light. You must act to balance things. I know that it will be hard without me. But as he acts, so too you two must act. It’s time to fall out of step with the way.”

“When will I see you again?”

“It may be a while. I must go.”

And then the vision began to fade. Spencer awoke with a splitting headache and a bandage around his head. The three girls and the cats were staring at him.

“Evelyn told us what happened,” said Christine. “You got knocked out.”

“What do we do now?” asked Evelyn.

“I know.” Said Spencer.


Spencer insisted upon taking the window seat. Throughout the whole flight he rested his aching head on the window, drifting in and out of consciousness. He mumbled incessantly in a feverish daze. He was searching, fruitlessly, for Alex in the foggy veil of dreams. He found no one, no matter how hard he tried.

Evelyn was also having a terrible time. No trans-pacific flight is without its hardships. It’s back breaking boredom. It’s soul crushing. Everyone jammed inside a metal tube, flying 30,000 feet over certain death. People are crammed inside like so much shit inside a colon.

Spencer was oblivious to all this. He was suffering in a haze of fleeting and ghostly voices. Blackness.

They landed and made their connecting flight to Lai Bin, which is a smaller city right outside of Liuzhou, which is where the madness of the Japanese Demons was still unfolding.

Meanwhile inside Aton’s hotel suite there was a toast to be made. He would be clinking glasses with a certain real-estate mogul over a multi-billion dollar deal to erect massive domes in all major Chinese cities. These so called “harmony domes” could hold up to 500,000 people apiece. All the important people that could get their country running again, safe from whatever catastrophe was in store for the future.

After the toast was made, Aton waited patiently for his guests.

Spencer and Evelyn made it to the hotel. They stepped into the ornate lobby, up into the elevators and there at the top floor was Aton.

“Ah, Spencer, and…and you.” He sneered with disgust.

Evelyn and Aton regarded one another with ice in their eyes.

“I am drawn to you,” said Aton. “I don’t know what it is, but I see in your eyes a bright light.”

“And I see pitch darkness in yours.” Said Evelyn.

“It’s no accident, that.” Said Spencer. “You, Evelyn are the descending dark, and you, Aton, are the ascending light. Like all things in life there is good in evil and evil in good. Just as we are at our lowest point, you Aton, are at your peak.”

“But what is above the apex?” asked Aton.

“And what is below the nadir?” asked Evelyn.

And with that Evelyn approached Aton. The gravity around them began to fluctuate and turn in towards itself. They were absorbed into one another. There was a loud crack and the world rushed back into place.

Standing where Aton and Evelyn had stood now stood Alex Fullam.

“Brothers Fullam,” said Alex.

“Brothers Fullam,” agreed Spencer.

At that moment a man, a servant of Aton, came into the suite, bowing low. “Sir,” he said, “now that you are transformed, what is it that we must do?”

Alex regarded Spencer. He smiled knowingly and said to the man, “Do nothing.”

1 You will remember that the Brothers Fullam may kill one another and return to life. The topic was covered in My Friends the Brothers Fullam. So naturally you think that Alex may be coming back to life. This is not the case. The terms of resurrection are contingent upon a brother Fullam being killed by another brother Fullam only. Maybe reread that last paragraph and let the tragedy sink in. There’s a good lad/lass.

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Charles Harper is a graduate student at the University of Illinois in Chicago. He is obtaining is ME.d in Special Education.