Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"Memories of a Dead Soul" by David Barrera

Sometimes I wonder if my life is over. Other times, I wonder if I am just an illusion. Well I think that all these questions are just some forgotten memories. I hate to remember, but I can’t stop all those ghosts of my past bothering my mind every night. One of them is an unusual night like tonight when the moon leaves the land in a complete darkness. I am in a horrible prison. Nobody here understands me, although we share the same destiny. They only ignore me without talking to me, even though in their faces a deep fearful expression can be seen, and that drives me crazy. Today, I will finish with this eternal punishment with a final cut. Yes, I’m going to commit suicide. But, before I do that, I would like to talk about of my suffering.

I was born on a rainy day. Maybe you are wondering how I know that. Well, let me tell you. My father often mentioned that terrible storm of the winter of 1970. Since my birth, they had thought my life was going to be short. It would be different from my older brother’s life. He was always expected to be the best. I understood their love for him. His qualities were above mine. He was a big, strong, and a handsome boy. During his life, the whole neighborhood talked about his nice personality, without mentioning his years in school. He always got the best grades in all subjects, and his athletic skills helped him to become the most popular boy in the school. I remember the cheerleaders always flirted with him when he played and won a game. You needed just to listen for ten minutes, to be mesmerized by his words. Everybody loved him except me, me, his own brother!

We shared blood, family and life, but I never could stand living under his shadow. I hated him from the bottom of my heart. While we were growing, many times I wished he would disappear, or be kidnapped, taken away from our life, but his luck was always with him.

It was in December, when I expected the best gift a child can wish for, a bicycle.

I was counting the days to get that bicycle that never came. Instead, my brother got one. My hate increased more and more until I reached the point where I planned to break his bicycle. First, I cut the brake wires, waiting for him to suffer a little accident. After that, I hid behind a tree and just waited for the moment when I saw him. He was riding the bicycle and crossing the street. Suddenly a car came fast. He tried to stop, but the brakes didn’t respond. The car hurt him so badly that he died due to the accident, despite the fact that he was attended quickly by the paramedics. Everybody cried his about his death; my parents and relatives were very sad. Nobody took notice of my joy. My brother never did anything against me even though I never missed him. Since that day I grew up alone without anybody ruining my life. But it was no use. My parents never forgot him and always talked about him if he were alive. Over the years, I muddled along being the second son to whom nobody paid attention. Because of that, I decided to leave my home and study in a foreign country so far from my past, so far from my brother.

It was my 28th birthday when I decided to major in industrial engineering, and finally my parents gave me the attention that I had always wished for. I graduated from a good university with honors and then I got a high paying job working in the city and county of San Francisco in a prestigious design firm. Therefore, I thankfully was able to erase my brother from my world. But, one day in the office the phone rang. Normally my secretary answers the calls but unfortunately She was on her break. Well, I picked up the phone, and I said “Hello” waiting for a voice. But I heard in the most creepy voice, I’ve ever heard, “Hello, brother.”

Brother! Oh my God! I couldn’t believe my ears. Immediately I felt a terrible chill traveling in my body as soon as I hung up. I harbored so many questions that I could hardly breathe. I felt that my heart was jumping out of my chest. In that moment, my secretary came in the office and was scared to see me in such a panic state. She asked me how I felt and what had happened during her absence, but I couldn’t answer anything. My voice was broken. I was determined to keep silent for fear that somebody else would know my forgotten childhood years or worse. They would think I had gone mad. So I decided to delete the thought from my head and continue to enjoy life. However, the next day when I collected my mail, I found a strange envelope without a stamp or a return address. It simply said “To my brother from his older brother”. I was again dominated by the feeling of terror, and without realizing it, I crumpled up the envelope, then I took the car keys and I headed to the office. I opened the doors in a bad mood without greeting anyone. I sat at the desk and I turned on the computer ready to go to work, and that’s when hundreds of unread messages appeared that said, “ Hello, brother.” At first I thought it was some small joke by a colleague, and because of that, I started yelling at everyone. Because of my nerves running rampant, my boss sent me home for one month and suggested visiting a psychologist. But I refused. I didn’t have any intention of anyone knowing that I had killed my own brother, I couldn’t allow that. My brother is dead, and the dead never return. I thought this was a prankster’s trick. But I can’t believe that anyone could have seen me sabotaging bike cables that day. Moreover, I hadn’t said anything concerning the crime I had committed. The more my head kept spinning, the less I could find any logic to the strange messages which unfortunately didn’t stop coming. They appeared in letters, text messages and emails. In short, all my communication devices were with messages from him. It was so difficult to endure this nightmare that I started missing work for fear of seeing more notes from that ghost of my childhood.

I got fired and my bad luck continued. The bank froze my accounts, due to the fact that I had overdrawn all my credit cards. After that, I lost my house and ended up begging in the streets. Even so, the messages kept coming. Strange children passed to my left leaving messages, then disappearing without explanation. One of these many notes made me shiver to the bone. It was a warning that told me to get ready for a visit because we had accounts to settle. The warning note indicated precisely the date of his death anniversary: December 25th.

In my childhood, I had always looked forward to Christmas, but instead of joy, I was dying of fear. So I stole some fruit for the purpose of getting arrested and thereby avoiding the awful encounter with the ghost.

No one else was in the cell. The cops on duty regarded my presence as unimportant and ignored me. Despite my loneliness, however, I felt safe behind the thick bars. But the chiming clock warned that the twenty-fifth day of month 12 was approaching when my brother would soon appear. A sudden cold began to invade the premises. The light bulb began to flash unleashing a huge fear in me. I closed my eyes and I collapsed into a corner. Then, I heard a few steps approaching at a slow pace and the unmistakable voice of my brother echoed in the halls of the prison house. I had hardly opened my eyes to see what was happening around of me when I found the ghostly figure of my brother with me in my cell. So I looked up to view his face and that was when I ran into the worst nightmare I ever imagined. His eyes were intensely colored dark, protruding from the pale skin of his face. But what shocked me most was his mouth which was sewn with a wire that I instantly recognized. It was the same blue wire that I had intentionally cut in order to hurt my brother and which then ultimately led to his death. I wanted his forgiveness and to explain that it wasn’t my intention to kill him. but it was impossible. Each time I tried to speak a word, I only offered strained whistles and gurgles. My tongue was made of knots. My brother said nothing either, just looked at me and cracked a wicked smile as if thrilled to see me petrified. I didn’t know what to do or where to go because my muscles didn’t respond to any commands, and in my helpless situation. I resigned myself to pay for my sins or rather die once and for all. However, he placed his head on mine and for a moment the fear was gone. It was then I felt his hand. It had a small knife and with cruel violence he began to cut me leaving serious wounds on my arms and face. I blacked out and didn’t remember how long this hard ruthless punishment had lasted. I woke to find myself in Saint Luke’s Emergency Ward.

While I was still in critical condition, the police interrogated me about the bloody incident looking for a logical response, because no police recalled seeing anything unusual. They just found a knife and an envelope addressed to me. And when I related with details that my brother had returned from beyond to torture me, that explanation only served to convince them to send me to a mental hospital. There was no witness to attest to the validity of my version. So, it ends here, living with the community of the forgotten. According to the letter that I’m writing now, tonight will be the last visit. Tonight he is destined to take me. and it's one minute before his arrival. I have only this knife to defend myself, I know I must lose this final bloody battle. Therefore, I’ve decided to take away my own life before he comes through those doors. At this moment there is the first sound of twelve strokes, and again the lights begin to fail. Oh my God, my brother is here, help me God, please help someone there, nooo....

One hour later, his corpse was found and covered with wounds from all sides. A coroner doesn’t take much thought about it and stuffed the corpse into a black bag. Then the ambulance took him to the morgue.

Currently a nurse gives him the record of decease and reads quickly. She discovered that the patient suffered from schizophrenia caused by childhood trauma after the loss of his older brother whom as an adult, he claimed to see and hear, even receive messages of all kinds. She explained that his mental breakdown over time developed into depression and paranoia which led to a suicide attempt. She wrote in her report about this death that the evidence is a letter with a strange written message in his own blood that says “Goodbye everyone, I’m happy that my older brother is now by my side. Greetings from hell,” your forgotten brother.

The perspective in the nurse’s analysis did not adequately explain the contents of this last manuscript. The writing was inconsistent with the disastrous death of the patient. However, the coroner acted as a professional and only noted the strange phenomenon in his book.

No more doubt remained to disturb his reasoning intelligence. He ruled that it was just another case of suicide.


1. One Christmas, the narrator was disappointed because _________________________ .
a: his brother received a bicycle for a present, but he didn't
b: he received a bicycle, but it was damaged
c: his father promised to teach him to ride a bicycle, but didn't
d: his brother didn't lend him his bicycle

2. The narrator went to jail because he _____________________________ .
a: murdered his brother
b: left his parents
c: stole some fruit
d: stole money from his firm

3. The narrator's parents expected ____________________________ .
a: him to be the best
b: his brother to be the best
c: both of their children to be successes in life
d: neither of their children to succeed

4. The narrator's brother died in a bike accident because _____________________
a: he rode too fast
b: he rode in heavy traffic
c: the brakes were damaged, so he couldn't stop
d: he rode his bike over a cliff

5. Schizophrenia is ________________________________________ .
a: a stomach illness
b: a serious mental disease
c: an inability to control thoughts and feelings
d: a form of insomnia

6. After the narrator's death, the police _______________________________ .
a: apprehended the brother's ghost
b: found a note written in blood by the narrator
c: found the gun used by the murderer
d: found a broken bicycle next to the dead man

7. When the brother's ghost visited the narrator in prison, his mouth was _____________________
a: larger than his face
b: sewn with blue wires
c: missing all of its teeth
d: constantly moving, but with no words coming out

8. As a child, the narrator was extremely _____________________________ .
a: jealous of his brother
b: happy for his brother
c: full of admiration for his brother
d: interested in the same things as his brother

9. The Narrator was fired from his job because ______________________ .
a: he began acting strangely
b: he didn't show up for work
c: he became angry with his co-workers
d: his email was flooded with messages from his dead brother

10. The narrator was a successful engineer until ___________________________ .
a: he began to receive messages from his deceased brother
b: younger engineers competed successfully against him
c: he made a major error in a construction design
d: he met a woman who distracted him from his job

1 comment:

John Robinson said...

This is an amazing and scary story. David is a writer who has learned his craft from reading widely in fiction that interests him. He has read a considerable amount of Poe, as well as Steven King and the very fine writer Neil Gaiman. David also is up on the latest in pop music and its history as well. However, David has his own voice, and it is refreshing and powerful. I hope that NMJ can continue to showcase his work and that eventually he'll reach a wider audience. David, if you're reading this, thanks very much for "American Gods" by Neil Gaiman. You have introduced me to a writer I didn't know about but, thanks to you, I've come to admire and enjoy greatly. American Gods is not afraid to mix reality with the fantastic and thereby weave an intensely gripping yarn here. I plan to read more of his work. You have done something like it, but with your own spin, in "Memories of a Dead Soul". To you the readers of this story, I know it's not Halloween yet, but it's always fun to dip into the realm of the dark side while you're awake enough to both shake and smile.
You can comment on this story and others in this comment field, or reach me at my email: johnnyboylr@gmail.com

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