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The Problem with Being an Older Brother

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On the day that Venturus was born, Erskine was nowhere to be found. Actually, he was just down the hall of the delivery room and listening closely to birth that was happening on the other side of the doors.

Erskine was not very happy about the new sibling that was coming into the world. He already had five, and they were as terrible as older brothers and sisters often were. Okay, they were not all that horrible, he did get along with Torquil and Hathaway all right, even if they could be infuriating as the older ones.

The point of it all was though, that he saw absolute no reason for their to be another child. It was just another being that he would have to be around. And this was worse, because everyone went on about how as an older brother he would have to look after this new one. This was the special seventh child, and would need to be cared for.

Well maybe Erskine did not want to look after a child, particularly one that one day would be much stronger and more powerful then he was. That was the last thing the family needed, Erskine thought, they already had too much power as it was.

Erskine looked back worriedly at the door to the delivery room. The sounds from within were getting louder, and he sensed that it would be soon. And he was right. It wasn't long before the shriek of a newborn baby could be heard throughout the house.

And it had to be the most ghastly sound that Erskine had ever heard. It was loud and long and it made his ears ache. Definitely not a good sign.

It seemed like forever had gone by before the crying and the shrieking stopped and everything began to settle down.

Erskine stood in the hall, plain to see now, and waited. It was twenty minutes later when one of the nurses came out with his father, holding the now quiet but once annoying earsplitting babe in her arms.

Erskine stood there and looked at it for a moment. Already big and gangly and out of proportion for his age, Erskine looked at the child with almost fear and wonder and resentment.

"Erskine, this is Venturus," his father said (but not proudly, they were a family of power after all, and after seven births, it was hard to feel pride at the spectacle of childbirth anymore), "you must look out for him Erskine. He is your responsibility." Erskine looked at the baby, and wondered for an instant whether this Venturus really would be all that powerful in the future, and if he would be why did they need Erskine to look out for him.

As if on cue, Venturus opened his small eyes and looked up at Erskine, and almost uncannily reached out his hand to grab Erskine himself.

Erskine looked at the baby uncertainly and as if he had lost control over his body held up his right index finger for Venturus to cling to. His finger was of course too big for Venturus to wrap his own small palm around. But Venturus clung has hard as he could.

And then he shrieked, and Erskine knew that it would be this sibling who would be the most troublesome one of all.

Venturus was indeed as infuriating and annoying as Erskine had expected him to be. Everywhere Erskine went, Venturus would not be that far behind. He was always there, always demanding, always having his opinion known. In fact the only time when Venturus was not absolutely loathsome was when Erskine took him outside at night to look at the stars. While Venturus could be and was a big brat and an annoyance with all the other siblings, it was Erskine who he bothered most. If Erskine was lucky, Torquil or Hathaway might steer him away but those times were few and far between.

However, it was odd. Whenever Venturus was not around (usually off making demands and whining at someone else), Erskine would feel as if something was wrong and guilty, as if it was wrong for him to not be looking out for Venturus. Maybe all the commands to watch after Venturus had settled somewhere in his brain to where they would never leave them, so even if Venturus wasn't bothering him, his subconscious was.

Erskine only feared the day when Venturus' powers came; he feared what Venturus would be able to do, and then he worried that he would not be able to keep up or watch out for him when that time came.

He liked having Venturus around, if nothing else, Venturus' presence was a comfort and made him feel a little bit less lonely. Where Erskine had been unable to really connect and feel close to his other brothers and sisters, he was in an odd way connected to Venturus.

He actually cared about what would happen to him.

This increased when all the siblings had been kicked out of the house. They all knew why, they were too much too handle and their parents feared Venturus, and what his power would bring.

Erskine would not be afraid, and even though Venturus was just as much as a terror as he had ever been, Erskine kept constant. And so the years went by, and Venturus powers awakened and they were as might and awesome as everyone had feared them to be. But unlike Archer and Dillian and Shine, Venturus seem enraptured in the idea of a spaceship in space. Erskine watched as Venturus, who almost matched him size, scribbled out equations and drawings and plans.

Erskine would visit him at times but Venturus would only order him to get him his things.

"What will you do with it once it is done?" Erskine asked.

Venturus looked at him.

"I will explore and do whatever I want," Venturus replied.

"You sound like Archer," Erskine said.

"Ah, but unlike Archer, I will truly be able to do it," Venturus replied.

Erskine looked at Venturus and a weird sense of fear came over him. Something bad was going to happen. And Erskine eyed his younger brother warily. He would have to keep a closer eye on him. Just to make sure.

That bad thing happened a mere two years later. Erskine tried to walk over and visit Venturus, but suddenly realized that he could not get there. He quelled the panic inside him. And searched all over town, and then when he tried to leave town to find Venturus he found that he could not leave.

He wondered if the others had disappeared, but there was a block. It had to be one of them, he knew, no one else in town had their kind of power.

He tracked down Torquil first, which was simple since Torquil was the most flamboyant, and Archer came next. They were both angry, with each other, and Erskine. Through Torquil, Erskine learned that Hathaway had descended back to the past. Dillian and Shine were found close within each other, although neither were that happy to see him. However, Erskine could not in and of himself find Venturus.

After the anger and the frustration was burnt through, the six siblings mysteriously split from one another, each of them taking one aspect of the town. Erskine, being the youngest present, got stuck with the sewers and the waste. They did not want to hand over that duty to Venturus because they all feared what the youngest would do.

And so things went. Erskine was stuck in the sewers, and as he wandered through the labyrinth that was the sewer system, he began to feel uneasy. It was ten years later when he meet Quentin and Catriona Sykes and their ten year old son. It would be almost three years later when Erskine fully recognized the boy (although he had suspicions before that).

The anger, betrayal, and sadness flushed over him rapidly. And then just as he went to confront Venturus, it was as if another wave had come. And of all of sudden he was in the sewers, with no memory whatsoever of what had transpired.

It would be another thirteen years before it all came to pass again.

Erskine looked down the roads. He was free. No longer constrained to that town or the sewers, and with Archer, Dillian, and Shine safely in space, he could do anything and go anywhere.

But that feeling had never truly gone away. Erskine realized that somewhere else was really nowhere else when your mind and heart were thinking of that little town, and that thirteen year old boy who was not really thirteen, and the words "You must look after him," forever floating in his mind.

He wondered how Venturus (now called Howard) was doing. Whether he was being cared for, and he thought of Awful. She would be older now. He remembered how pretty she looked in the future and he smiled thoughtfully. Venturus, no wait, Howard would not be pleased with his line of thinking.

He had seen the world and tried to write, but it just wasn't working. Besides, who was going to look after Howard. He was a big brother after all, it was what he had to do.

He sighed to himself. Being a brother really was a tiresome and troublesome experience.

But it sure as hell beat a lifetime and a sewer full of loneliness.