A Brotherhood Story
By Mark Meier
I followed Simon as he followed the new guy. I noticed the thousands of imps keepin’ their distance. They’d clustered in a ring about two hundred paces from the non-Brothers, whisperin’ to people.
Chamos then seemed to solidify and interact personally with the humans. Imps couldn’t do that, and I got jealous. My limits were now so obvious it hurt. I couldn’t affect livin’ things all that much, and I couldn’t actually speak to Simon. All I could do was whisper and hope he understood.
I could tell Simon thought about Philip. Since I’d been distracted I didn’t know directly, but from what I could sense the stranger had spoken of a powerful being able to work wonders.
That’s exactly what I’d promised Simon, but somehow he wanted more than what I’d given him. I seethed. Simon was doin’ exactly what he’d wanted for years – taking what he wanted, amazin’ people with his words, and even his father had come to listen a few times. Now this Philip was goin’ to pull him away from me?
I’d been yankin’ folks out of Simone’s way, but then I was so mad I pulled on a man’s tunic and it tore from his body. I stood there lookin’ at it. Others walkin’ by only saw the cloth hangin’ in thin air. They laughed at the half-naked man with his clothin’ floatin’ next to him.
Simon’s surprise didn’t last long. He waved the cloth toward the ground and I let it drop.
“See what I can do?” Simon glared at the man in front of him. “Stay out of my way.”
My wrath faded. Simon was mine again.
Then he said to himself, “Philip will teach me to do even more.”
Hate rose in me. I’d never been that mad before. In a way it scared me, but mostly it felt good. I vowed to destroy Simon just for the fun of it. I didn’t like bein’ crossed by a human.
The next day Philip was in the agora again. Crowds gathered, and the man and his attendants cured diseases, healed wounds, and spoke wisdom.
Chamos had told me to stay away, but since Simon was mine I could draw strength from him and be close by. Eventually I noticed a man bein’ forced toward Philip. He had the signs – obvious to Brothers – of bein’ inhabited. The full Brother inside him had the man convulsin’ and fightin’ every step of the way.
As the man was thrown at Philip’s feet, the Brother inside him spat and snarled. “I know you, Philip. The time hasn’t arrived yet, so you can do nothing to me.” He laughed like a crazy man.
Philip’s face fell. “No, it’s not that time. But I can do some things.”
What he said next I couldn’t hear, though Philip spoke loud. For some reason the words wouldn’t stick in my mind. But the next moment the Brother fell away.
When that Brother looked at me he snarled in hatred. “What are you looking at, imp?” The Brother shook himself and vanished into thin air with a POP!
Then the man with no Brother inside him blinked like he was confused. He dropped to his knees and said, “Thank you, Philip. You’ve saved my life. Thanks be to –”
Again his next words were gibberish to me.
Simon stepped forward, and I could see his lust for that kind of power. I did my best to build that up.
“Philip, my name is Simon. How might I gain this ability?”
The people around us in the agora gasped. They’d been in awe of Simon for years. He’d struck down people, blasted buildings, even ended droughts. Now he was askin’ Philip how to do what he’d done to my Brother.
A familiar voice spoke from behind me. “You’re not a Brother, imp.”
“No, but I’m a one of the Brotherhood.” I turned to look at Chamos, who was directin’ a pair of women to entice a man, distractin’ him from Philip.
“I told you to avoid those three.”
One women touched the man, and he allowed himself to be drawn away. Chamos followed, sneerin’ at me over his shoulder. The women parroted exactly what Chamos said.
My attention turned back to Simon, who was gettin’ dunked in a watering trough. Disgustin’. Animals drank from that water, leavin’ trails of drool and slime behind. Why would anyone do that?
I felt my influence on Simon weaken, though not vanish. Over the next few weeks I did my best to strengthen my bond with him – to a certain degree of success.
Whenever Simon tried to emulate Philip, I’d interfere. A woman with a crippled left arm approached. Philip gestured for Simon to perform a healin’.
Simon reached out and grabbed the arm, and I was able to swat away the non-Brothers. Then I drove invisible knives into the woman’s arm, opening her flesh. She bled profusely.
The woman screamed and pulled away.
“Leave us, imp!” one of Philips attendants commanded.
Though I felt an urge to follow the woman as she ran off, I drew more strength from Simon. “No. He is mine, and I will stay.”
That non-Brother whispered to Philip. Again I couldn’t make out the words.
Philip said to Simon, “You have an evil influence in your life, brother. That is why you couldn’t heal that woman. You must throw off all other concerns except for,” and the rest was gibberish.
Philip and his non-Brothers went back to healin’ those in the crowd.
I noticed Chamos watchin’ me, so I asked, “What’s goin’ on here?”
“Something you’re not equipped for,” he said. “However, I’m impressed an imp could stand up to those two.” He nodded toward Philip and Simon.
For some reason I knew he didn’t mean the humans, but rather the two shiny folk who weren’t Brothers. “Who are they?”
Chamos paused for a moment. “If I say who they are, you wouldn’t be able to hear the words. You’re an imp, not a full Brother.”
“Could I be made a full Brother?”
“Perhaps.” He looked toward the crowd. “Another Brother would have to be demoted to imp for that to happen, though.”
If you appreciate this story, please consider supporting the author's ability to write more stories by purchasing The Brotherhood, available in print and on Kindle. Any shares to social media would also be appreciated. The next section of Mastema will be posted next week.