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Goodbye, Gabriel, Goodbye

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12 years on, it was still way too hard for Gabe Kilten to comprehend the loss of his mother, or the only person who he had known as a parent figure for the first 7 years of his life. All he could remember was that 12 years ago, he’d been watching some kids show on TV when his younger twin brother, Simon, had gotten fed up and decided that he wanted food. So, he went to wake their mom. Half an hour later, when Simon had unsuccessfully woken their mother up, he returned just as the door opened, revealing their Uncle Stan, who lived with them. Simon had innocently told Uncle Stan that their mom wouldn’t wake up. Then there was a tornado of adoption papers, funeral attire and a large investment of money from their mom’s bank account into Uncle Stan’s before everything was declared okay.

Gabe began acting out though. His mom was dead, and he found it unnecessary to live with his uncle. Sure, he got his own room now that he lived there, but his uncle was weird. He wore ratty old clothes and half of the time, he’d go fishing on the boat he owned or take a few passengers out to the lakes of Hatchetfield, or even further sometimes if the waters were calmer to the nearby ocean. His hair, as well, almost always seemed to be soaking wet. Simon adored their Uncle Stan. Gabe hated him. Or maybe that was because Uncle Stan gave Simon and him equal amounts of attention and he suddenly wasn’t the favourite anymore.

He grew up in Uncle Stan’s house down at Starry Cove. For a rich area of Hatchetfield, even Gabe had been surprised at first that his weird Uncle had managed to obtain a house there, but he had. From there, it was a five-minute walk to his boat where they also stayed sometimes. It was like their vacation home. As well as that, the grave of their Auntie Maura was nearby to their house in the graveyard, and he often had to go and pay respects to her. Gabe couldn’t remember Auntie Maura very well, so he didn’t understand why he had to go and say his prayers to her, but he did.

They grew up, him and Simon. They were twin brothers by nature, but they certainly didn’t want to be brothers by heart. Simon got into drumming when he was 12 and Uncle Stan bought him his first drum set. From the get-go, Simon spent pretty much all day and night on the kit, and it’d annoy Gabe to every extent. They started fighting and Gabe started forcing his little brother out of his life. Simon continued attempting to try to be in his brother’s life, but Gabe wasn’t having it. He didn’t want anything to do with Simon Kilten. He often found himself praying to any higher power that he was an only child, and that he didn’t have to deal with Simon.

Shortly after he turned 18, he met Grace Chasity and instantly knew she was going to be the girl he dated. Sure, he had said that about every other girl he’d managed to gain a crush on beforehand, but it didn’t matter. Like his dead mother, he soon became a hardcore Christian because Grace was, and he needed to do everything in his power to impress Grace. The more they had in common, the better chance he’d have of dating her. In June, he decided he was going to go to Abstinence Camp that summer. It’d give him a chance to get away from his annoying family and Simon’s annoying friends in the so-called band that they played in.

Late in the evening of July 30th, 2020, Gabe Kilten was busy stuffing the rest of his belongings in the suitcase that he would be taking to Abstinence Camp for the rest of the summer when his door opened. He turned his head over his shoulder to see his mess of a brother standing at the door, twirling one drumstick in his hand.

“Uncle Stan says dinner’s gonna be ready in ten.”

“He could have told me that himself.” Gabe scoffed, turning around.

“Yeah, well I just got the message to pass on to ya. I’m just doin’ what I was told. No need for you to be such a dick about it.

“I literally have never met someone I have hated more than you.”

“Aww.” The younger brother pressed a hand to his chest. “Love you too. But don’t worry about it, Gabriel. I’ll be outta your hair.” He put the drumstick in his belt, alongside the other one. “Thrash ordered an extra rehearsal for our first gig at The Slaughtered Pig. We wanna get everything down good before our performance at the Honey Queen Pageant.”

Gabe snorted then, turning his nose up at his brother. “You? At the Honey Queen Pageant? On stage?”

He paused, an anxious smile appearing on his face. “Um…yeah.”

“You. Who had a panic attack when you had to say two words to the principal at school on stage in front of a crowd of thousands, with a potential camera crew?”

“People change. If it’s anyone to know about that, it’s you.”

“And what the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“Well, we used to be as close as anythin’. Then you became a Jesus freak like mom and now you hate my guts.” He walked out into the hallway, grabbing his bag. “I’m going. Have fun at Idontwannabang. I’m not gonna be here to see you off, though I’m sure you’re glad about that.”

“Of course, I am.” Gabe rolled his eyes, turning back to zipping up his suitcase, now sure that he had everything. “Goodbye, Simon. Goodbye.”



“Skud. My name’s Skud.”

“No. Skud is your nickname, therefore it becomes an obligatory decision for a person to use your real name or your nickname. Your name is Simon. Simon Kilten.” He tutted. “I know you failed all your tests when we were in high school but heck, Simon, I didn’t realise you were that dumb.”

Skud listened in closely, his heart pounding in his ears. He shouldn’t let his asshole brother’s words get to him, but he’d been going by Skud since he was 15 years old. It had been nearly 4 years since he’d been going by that name. He shut his eyes and his somewhat confident façade fell. “I’ve been going by Skud for years at this point. I don’t know why you don’t just accept that.”

“Sure. Whatever. ‘Skud.’” Gabe rolled his eyes and the next thing he knew was Skud had ran from the room, slamming his door. He didn’t question it, didn’t even think of doing so.

When he walked downstairs and sat down for dinner with his weird Uncle, his plate was set down in front of him and the room stayed in silence until Uncle Stan had sat down. The look in his eyes told a thousand sharp, bitter stories and Gabe swallowed nervously. “Gabriel.” Uncle Stan began, taking a sip of the water in front of him. “We need to talk about the way you’ve been addressing your brother.” And, in that moment, Gabe knew he was in for a long night.

Meanwhile, in the middle of Hatchetfield, Skud had just arrived at Needy Beast’s rehearsal space. He swung himself down on to his stool, pulling his drumsticks out from his belt, gritting his teeth. The sudden opening of the door had finally drawn attention to himself by his other bandmates, Rose and Thrash. Skud swallowed, shaking his head. “I don’t wanna talk about it.”

Rose looked in Skud’s direction and lifted up her guitar, swinging the strap over her shoulder. “Alright, well uh, me and Thrash had been talking and they have got a camera crew for the Honey Festival. It’s gonna be broadcasted throughout America, I’m sure. Something in hopes of drawing in tourism to Hatchetfield or whatever to save the Lakeside Mall but pfft.” She swatted her hand. “But that means we’re gonna be broadcasted across America. So, we needed to choose our setlist, okay. So, we’ve got half an hour to broadcast Needy Beast. Record producers are likely gonna be streaming in.”

“Holy shit, so this is like huge huge.” Skud said, calming down as they began to talk business.

Rose nodded, a smile forming on her face as she noticed him beginning to loosen up. “So, we decided on having Nightmare Time as our closing number, okay? We talked with Thrash about it, and it makes the most sense because that was the first song that we finished writing as a group. Thrash wants to do that one number by Taylor Swift.”

“Put some respect on her name, Rose!” Thrash said, suddenly piping up, running a hand through his pink and brown hair. “I think we could do a boss cover of Did Something Bad, and you know it too!”

Rose shrugged. “Yeah, so I’ll be singing main for a few, as will Thrash but then we need a filler. And we were thinking, you know that one song you wrote about the Axe Man?”

“Yeah. During my cryptid Hatchetfield phase.”

“Yeah!” Rose nodded. “Well, it’s really good and we were wondering if you’d like to sing that? Like, on your own alongside me? If not, we can stick to the five songs.”

“I’ll um…I’ll consider it.” Skud said as he tapped his drumsticks on his kit.

“Okay. But I will have to warn you that you know how we’re doing Jasper in Deadland with Hidge and the Starlight? Yeah. They want us to do the six-minute number with the entire cast to try and bring some more people to see the shows so Hidge can fund his musical or some shit.”

“Yeah, you see, I’m fine with that, because that’s Skud as Jasper Jarvis, not Skud as Skud.” He ran a hand through his thick, light brown hair. “Okay, can we get to rehearsal now? I gotta take my anger out on somethin’ and if I don’t start drumming soon, I’m gonna lose it.”

Gabe sure as hell wished he’d have stayed at home after what he’d experienced. Absolutely no girl was worth staring Lumberaxe in the face again. His plan to propose his feelings to Grace had not gone the way that he had wanted them to. She had not reciprocated the feelings he experienced for her and in result, he ended up getting turned on just by the idea of her being his girlfriend, and when he went to sort himself out…

He’d never run so fast in his life, somehow managing to buckle up his khaki shorts in the process. He ran, stumbling and tripping through the Witchwood, hearing his heavy footsteps behind him. He knew that if he could get to the mainland then Lumberaxe wouldn’t be able to get him. He kept running, ignoring how tight his chest was becoming at the lack of physical exercise he had participated in over the years. It was times like these he wished he hadn’t skipped out on all of the PE lessons during the time he went to high school. He would do anything to go back and do the mile run over and over again if it meant saving him from his inevitable fate.

He thought he was a goner. He thought he wasn’t making it out of the Witchwood. But then, by some miracle, he broke out on to the main road, and he kept running, wanting as far away from Lumberaxe as possible, the psycho. It was only supposed to be a story to frighten kids. It wasn’t actually supposed to be a half-zombie man over eight foot tall with an axe that he dragged against the forest floor. The distinct image of the grey skin and the one yellowing eyeball behind black, matted overgrown hair almost made Gabe throw up.

He didn’t have time. He found himself falling. Falling, falling, falling. Down, down, down. Until nothing. Until cold, until water, until blue.

He woke in a hospital room. There was a mask pressed over his face and he was attached to several wires. He groaned, scrunching his nose up as he went to reach for his phone only to realise it was still in his room at home. He decided against taking it to Abstinence Camp. He didn’t trust the sketchy councillors from what Grace had told him and what Grace had told him only. He thought he was alone save for some nurses. He did not expect to hear a gruff voice from beside him.

“Yeah. The kid’s just woken up. I gotta message the rest of us. Yeah. Gimme two seconds and I’ll put you on speaker.”

Gabe turned his head and turned to see a man with short brown hair and scars across his face dressed in a brown overcoat and a black denim button up shirt. Or waistcoat. Through blurred eyes, Gabe couldn’t tell. He didn’t recognise the man, but he did strike an uncanny resemblance to Uncle Stan. Gabe watched nervously as the man set down his phone, clicking a button.

He turned and clasped his hands in his lap. “So, you’re Gabriel Kilten then.” He asked, raising an eyebrow. “Well. I expected you to look a lot more like the rest of the family.”

“And what’s that s’posed to mean?!” An angered voice over the phone asked.

The man in the trench coat pinched the bridge of his nose, sighing. “I mean long blonde hair and blue eyes, looking exceptionally homosexual.”

“I have a wife.”

“I’m not gay?” Gabe forced out, though his voice scratched, and he coughed. The mask fogged up slightly and Gabe groaned.

“You had a wife. She left you because you were an alcoholic.” The man turned back to Gabe. “This is going to take a little bit of explaining, but who cares. Good afternoon, Gabriel Kilten. My name is Gareth Icacks. I am your eldest cousin. And on the phone here, is your third oldest cousin, Micah Icacks. Or, Barry Swift.”

“First of all, Gaz, fuck that second name. Only call me Barry Swift if you’re going to associate me with Helen or with that one British cleaner commercial man.”

“Micah, what the fuck?”

“Hi. I’m Barry Scott. Introducing the new Cilit Bang-“

“Right so anyways. Micah is also in hospital. He got kidnapped and his leg is diseased, infected, and I’ve been trying to get a hold of his ex-wife.” He eyed Gabriel up and down. “We’ve never met before.”

“N-No. We have not.”

“Right. Well, I used to work for the military. I am 61 years old. I am older than some of your aunts and uncles. I disassociated myself from this family a long while ago.”


“I hate them.”

“Hate you too, dumb bitch.” Micah piped up over the phone.

Gareth rolled his eyes, typing out another message on his phone. “Listen, kid. I just texted Solomon. He’ll be over soon enough. My introduction was simply to keep an eye on you while Solomon went back to the boat to check on Skud.”

“Skud? Do you mean Si-“

“Yes. Skud.” Gareth nodded firmly. “They haven’t been doing too good these past few days, but they’re performing at the Honey Queen Pageant in a few dates. In six days exactly. They’re gonna be on TV. It’s exciting.” He stood up. “That was all I needed to say. I shall be leaving. Who knows, maybe I’ll see you at Thanksgiving.”

“Considering how large the fucking family is, Gaz, probably not. Nobody’s house is equipped that much to host a family as large as ours with moms, dads, aunts, uncles and grandparents are involved.”

“Grandma and Grandpa are dead, Micah. Besides, I don’t think you’re gonna get Helen back any time soon.” He shook his head and looked back to Gabe. “See you around.” He began speaking directly into his speaker as he walked out of the room, leaving with a, “Micah, I’m coming to your hospital room now. I’m gonna ring Helen.”

As Gabe watched him leave, he shook his head confused, allowing a nurse to walk in and explain the situation in full. He had several injuries, many of which involved drowning and he had a few head injuries, though minor, which explained his headache and blurred vision. He shut his eyes, allowing himself to fall back asleep, not caring about what the rest of the head bought for him.

He opened his eyes the next day, October 2nd, and there were three people seated beside him that time. The first was of a man, around 5’8, with light brown hair similar to the colour of Skud’s. He wore thick, red rimmed glasses and suspenders as well as a pink shirt, floral pants and brown trousers. Beside him was a woman taller than him with dark brown hair and kind eyes. She was dressed in something floral as well that appeared vintage, but Gabe wouldn’t have the knowledge to comment on that. Then, there was a man a lot younger beside the two of them who had long golden hair that was put into a braid. In his ear was something that looked like a more complex hearing aid, but it stretched across his face slightly and down his neck. He was wearing a brown jumper and jeans.

The older man noticed Gabe awake and a bright smile lit up on his face. “Hello, Gabe! Oh, goodness! When Gareth told us what happened, well! We were all so shaken up, none of us knew what was going to happen to you!” He shook his head, squeezing the woman’s hand. “Oh my goodness, how could I be so careless?! You haven’t seen me since you were a new-born! Or maybe it was at your mother’s funeral.”

“Ken, don’t be so dismal, darling.” The woman commented with a gentle smile and Ken tutted.

“Of course, of course. Well, it sure has been a long while! How old are you now? 18? 19?”

“19 in September.”

“How time flies!” He gasped. “Yes, the last time I saw you was when you were 7 years old! That was a long time ago! There’s no way you’d remember your Uncle Ken!” He stuck his bottom lip out and his eyebrows creased. “Well, I’m your Uncle Ken Davidson and this is your Aunt Carol. She’s my wife.”

“I kinda figured. That’s usually what an aunt and an uncle have to be to be an aunt and an uncle.” Gabe rolled his eyes, already sick of these peppy freaks.

Ken didn’t notice. “And this is our son! This is Andrew, this is our Andy. He’s staying with us while his wife’s on a training course.”

“Ken, I can speak for myself.” Andy said with a gentle smile, his voice sounding slightly scratchy, almost robotic.

“Right, of course.” Ken smiled at Gabe. “We’re here because your Uncle Walton-“

“We call him Uncle Stan.”

“Oh! Well, your Uncle Walton wanted someone to keep an eye on you while he went to go and pick your brother up from rehearsal for the Honey Queen Pageant.”

“Right. Okay. Don’t care. I’m fine. Goodbye.”

Ken smiled again and hooked his arm with Carol as he stood up. “I’ll be leaving at your request! I’ll message Uncle Walton.”

“Uncle Stan, Ken.” Andrew corrected. “And I gotta message Jenny. See how she’s doing and when she’s coming home tomorrow so I can get her welcome home gifts.”

Ken chuckled and ruffled his son’s hair. “Okay. Let’s go home.”

The next time Gabe received an unsolicited visit from a member of his family was August 3rd. That time, he was aware of the fact that his uncle was in the building because he had heard the conversation occurring outside the door. Then, a man in a navy-blue floral suit walked in, straightening the collar, moving his hair on to his shoulder. It was dark brown and was done half up half down. He had sharp grey eyes and a beard, much like the rest of what his family seemed to have. The man sighed and took a seat beside Gabe’s bed, pulling out a cheque book.

“Gabriel Kilten, my name is Cash Icacks.”

“That’s a fucking stupid name.”

“Your mother named you after the supposed angel from the Bible who definitely was not some guy that Mary had an affair on Joseph with and happened to make her own period typical Wattpad fanfiction.”

“What’s your name, dweeb.”

“Don’t call me a dweeb. I’m here to pay your medical bills and leave. You’re going home tomorrow.”

“Yeah, I don’t care asshole. What’s your name?”

“Don’t give me smart talk, Gabriel Joseph Kilten.”

“Don’t full name me guy who goes by Cash. That’s almost as ridiculous as Skud.”

Cash pursed his lips then, sighing. “My name’s Hugo Icacks. I’m born February 18th, 1978. I’m Gareth’s younger brother, and the older half brother to Barry Swift. Happy now? I’m your rich cousin, hence why I go by Cash.”

“Go fuck yourself. Capitalist.”

“I’m not a Capitalist. I’m just very, very good at my job and predicting who’s a stronger fighter.” He wrote up the cheque and cleared his throat. He pinned it to the clipboard at the end of Gabe’s bed. “And now, I’m leaving. Nice to see you for the first time. I can confirm you’re an asshole.” He smiled, scrunching up his nose, leaving.

Gabe didn’t see any more unsolicited family members in hospital, but he did have his Uncle Stan bring him home, talking to him about what he’d missed while at Abstinence Camp for the little time he’d been there, but Gabe wasn’t listening. Gabe wanted to go home, curl up and go to bed. Which is exactly what he did when he got home. He hailed himself to bed, curled up under his covers and tried to go back to sleep to take in the blissful amounts of sleep he would be able to get now that the room was going to be dark.

Unfortunately, that didn’t last long for a few hours later, Gabe heard voices downstairs and soon heard his uncle’s footsteps walking upstairs. They were shortly followed by a sharp knock at the door. Gabe whined as he sat up, expecting for his uncle to be bringing him food, but when the door opened, Gabe took a glimpse at three of the most intimidating men he had ever seen. His Uncle Stan was there as well and he stepped inside, crouching beside his bed. “Now, Gabe. I’ve gotta go pick Skud up from practise. For now, though, General McNamara, Officer Sweetly and Lieutenant Lee are here to ask you some questions.”

“Lieutenant Lee is here to make sure General McNamara doesn’t strangle Officer Sweetly.” One of the men corrected and the man beside him nodded.

Gabe rolled his eyes, shaking his head. “Sure, sure, fuck off. Go pick Simon up or whatever.”

A mournful look filled Stan’s eyes, but he left his nephew be. He did, however, step aside so the three men could enter the room. The tallest of the group was also the youngest. He had fair hair and sharp blue eyes. He wore a yellow jacket, and the rest of his outfit was entirely black denim. He fumbled around on his shirt, unclasping a pair of aviator sunglasses, putting them on. The next man was much smaller and seemed the oldest. He had golden hair and a scar that ran from his right eyebrow to the top of his upper right lip. He also had sharp blue eyes and a variety of scars that covered his arms, neck and face. The third man was around 5’11 and had dark skin and a sharp cut jaw. He wore a leather jacket and black denim as well, though he did have a blue crystal hanging from around his neck.

The three men sat down and the eldest turned to Gabe. “Gabe Kilten, my name is General John McNamara. I’m your most traumatised cousin. This is my husband, Xander, and this is my idiot cousin Sam Sweetly. He’s a cop and I work for a branch of the military where we are able to peer through the doors of reality into pockets of time and space and therefore, we get glimpses of alternate dimensions. You know. To take a PEIP.”

Immediately, Xander groaned, running a hand across his face. “Goddamit John, I thought you ran out of those.”

“Never.” John smiled and leaned closer to Gabe. “But I do hear you had a run in with Lumberaxe. The Mad Woodsman?”

Gabe swallowed and he felt his breath hitch slightly in his chest. “Uh-“

“We’ve been following the case of Lumberaxe for a long, long while now.” John continued. “And we need to know as much information about Jerry Jerryson and Jeri Jeridaughter. There are a few arrests that need to be make at Abstinence Camp.”

“Yeah. We’re planning to shut the fuckin’ place down. That place gave me enough religious trauma like, jokes on you parent one and parent two. The guy I dated in high school was trans actually so go fuck yourself.” Sam muttered, flipping open a note pad. “But yeah. What John said. I’m a cop, I’ll be making the arrests, and these fuckers from the military will be the ones to be harvesting and murdering Lil Jez.”

“Shut up, Sam.” Xander warned, and Sam’s eyes widened behind the pair of aviator sunglasses.

“Men, play nice.” John said, taking Xander’s hand in his right one. “Start when you’re ready Gabe.”

“Well…it’s embarrassing.”

“Yes, I’m aware. I also encountered Lumberaxe in my youth and I didn’t think he was real for a long while so I’m aware how you summon or draw attention to Lumberaxe.” John said gently until Sam muttered ‘Lil Jez’ under his breath, which got Xander slapping him over the head. John moved back between them, acting as a physical barrier to stop a fight breaking out between his husband and his cousin in front of his younger cousin.

“Well, I…” He sighed. “Jeri and Jerry are just weird. They preach virginity and spew all this bullshit to us about why sex is bad and that if we have sex they’re gonna put us in a canoe? I don’t know, I think Boy Jerry has a canoe kink, honestly. And him and Girl Jeri are really weird around each other. Like, they always tell us not to have sex and they have their tongues down each other’s throats so uh, that’s all I know. And they also told us that we couldn’t masturbate and if we had the urges to, we needed to make a wallet.” He paused. “So, I tried to ask this girl out who I like. She friend zoned me.”

“Yeah, been there, done that.” Xander whispered, earning a gentle nudge from John.

“So, uh. I already let myself go ahead and I ended up…going to make a wallet.” He cleared his throat, face now red in front of his family. “Then Lumberaxe chased me through the woods, and I nearly drowned.”

“Alright.” John stood up. “Xander, we’re going to the Witchwoods. Sam, if you wanna head straight to Abstinence Camp and free all of the young adults of their pain, I’m gonna put my plan into place.”

“And what’s your plan?”

John met Xander’s eyes, a smirk written in his irises. “Do you really want me to say the plan?”

“Uh. Yeah. I’m hungover, I don’t fucking know what’s going on aside from the fact me and my team are making arrests.”

“Well. I’m going to get pressed up against a tree and I’m going to stun a Hatchetfield Cryptid while getting fucked in the ass-“

WOAH okay, thank you for the plan and being blunt. Now I’m leaving to bleach my fucking insides! Goodbye John!” Sam quickly left and John stood up, taking Xander’s hand in his.

Xander looked down at John as he shut Gabe’s bedroom door, raising an eyebrow. “Is this one of your little fantasies?”

“I’ll never say.”

The final member of his family who he had the pleasure of meeting was his own brother. August 7th came around and his uncle, the weird sea captain known throughout Hatchetfield by the name of Solomon Walton, or Stan, was sat on the edge of Gabe’s bed, the two of them watching the TV in their room. In between segments for the Honey Queen Pageant, Stan would cut across to a different channel where they could watch the entertainment, hosted by Donna Daggit and Dan Reynolds.

Immediately, they were met with a bright flash of a smile from the news presenters as they leaned forwards into their mics. “And what a performance from Miss Linda Monroe over on Channel 4 there!”

“That’s right, Donna!”

“And I just received news that the next segment of the entertainment is ready to go! Ladies, gentlemen and everybody else watching at home, this is huge! This has been an upcoming band and I know for a fact that these guys have been rehearsing extremely hard! Having only made their debut at The Slaughtered Pig a week ago, I’m surprised they managed to pull this gig but hey! They can’t be that bad.” Donna chuckled and gestured to the stage. “Introducing Needy Beast”

At once, the lights went up on stage and Gabe sat up a little more, turning up the volume as he tuned into the segment.

On the stage were the rock group, each dressed in their own matching outfit. Thrash took the microphone off the stand as Rose played the opening riff to Nightmare Time and he smiled. “Good evening Hatchetfield! How are we tonight?!” He was met with a tremendous roar from the crowd, and he grinned. “My name’s Thrash Metal, this is my amazing guitarist Rose Michaels and this kid, ladies, gentlemen and anyone else who identifies outside of the gender specific binary is Skud Kilten! And this is our first song we wrote together as a group, Nightmare Time.” Thrash put the microphone back on the stand and began to play the keyboard.

They played their set of five songs and the lights went down. The crowd was roaring, and Gabe’s heart was beating. The camera panned back to Dan Reynolds, who grinned at the viewers at home. “And that was Needy Beast! Their social medias are linked on the official Honey Queen Entertainment website! Now, while we await the decision of Roman Murry and his judges, we have time to fit in another slot.”

“That’s right, Dan!” Donna chirped. “Now this is exciting because we don’t get to see this very often unless we pay full price but for tonight, we have been given exclusive permission by Henry Hidgens himself!”

“We have been working very hard alongside The Starlight Theatre to bring a preview of their Summer musical to all you viewers at home! Featuring one of the best casts I’ve ever had the witness of seeing directed by Professor Henry Hidgens, this is Goodbye, Jasper from Jasper in Deadland!”

The lights went up again and Gabe thought his eyes were deceiving him. He had no idea how fast the costume change had managed to be, but it had been very quick. But there, centre stage, sat his brother, dressed in jeans and a blue zip up hoodie. His long hair was a mess, probably from how hard he’d been performing, and his eyeliner was rubbed off.

But Gabe watched as his little brother performed as the lead role of Jasper and he had no idea that his little brother had been able to sing like that. He also noticed that Rose was portraying Jasper’s love interest and he decided not to question it. But he watched as his little brother performed his heart out. He knew he fucked up. Skud Kilten was a fucking good performer, and Gabe felt guilty as to how he’d treated him before.

After Skud’s performance, and after the Honey Queen had been revealed as Zoey Chambers like everybody already expected, Stan went to go and pick up his little brother.

Skud came bounding through the door, tapping the dreaded drumsticks against any surface that’d make noise. He was humming to himself as he bounded up the stairs. Gabe hadn’t expected Skud to notice him, but Skud stopped at Gabe’s door and peered through the door. He met his little brother’s eyes and soon, Skud flung his arms around him, and Gabe coughed.

“Asshole! I got told ya fuckin’ drowned and you almost died, and you just show up here!?” Skud asked as he squeezed Gabe tighter. “Jesus, fuck you had me worried!”

“Well, I-“ He coughed again. “I am never going back to Abstinence Camp again.” He let himself be squeezed until he was let go. Gabe swallowed and looked at him. “I uh…watched your performances. On the TV just now. You did good and I’m sorry for mistreating you. Cuz you are one hell of a performer.”

Skud smiled, running a hand through his hair. “Thanks, Gabe. Means a lot.”

Gabe nodded, swallowing again. “I uh. I met the entirety of our family between being in hospital and here. I met the older cousins, the uncles, the younger cousins. None of the aunts, though. Just the Icacks’, McNamara who, by the way, told me his very explicit plan to take down the Axeman-“

“Wait, he’s real?!”

“He chased me through the Witchwoods, and I fell into a river I was so disorientated. Yes. I don’t lie about shit like that, you know that, Skud.”

Skud’s grin widened. “So, you gonna come see my show at the Starlight then?”

“I might ask Uncle Stan to get us a couple tickets, you know. Might be an early thanksgiving.”

Skud smiled and nodded. He hugged Gabe again and ruffled his hair. “I am off to bed. Needy Beast got signed for a record tonight and my Instagram is blowing up, dude. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Weeks later, if anybody saw the front row of the starlight theatre bought out with the seats filled with men who looked exactly the same as each other with varying eye and hair colours, with Gabe seated right in the middle, he’d never let anyone know why even though he and Skud both knew the answer.