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If It Could Only Be Controlled

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It was a total shock for Dan when he actually had off on a Saturday night. He didn’t need to be at the hospital until the following afternoon and had the whole night to himself. Well, to himself he meant himself and his roommate, Herbert West. Even though Herbert kept to himself in the basement of their home, it didn’t make up for the fact that Dan knew he was there and couldn’t spend the night totally alone.

Dan and Herbert hardly ever had the same nights off. Once every two months or so their schedules would line up and they’d spend the night at home together. Or Dan sits up stairs watching movies on TV while Herbert hid himself away in his lab doing experiments on who only knew what.

In Dan’s defense, he didn’t expect Herbert to have off that night. Herbert had told Dan a few days prior that he was working on Saturday night at the hospital. Then all of a sudden that morning, Herbert said that he didn’t need to go in and that was that. There were no details into why he didn’t have to, but he left it at that. To this news, Dan blurted out;

“Your brother’s coming over tonight.”

“Ugh, why?” Herbert scoffed at the thought of his twin brother in the same house as him.

“Because I thought you were working tonight, that’s why. He usually comes over when you don’t work ya know?”

“But why?” He asked again, almost as a whine instead of a question.

“I actually enjoy talking to your brother, that’s why.”

“Dan.” This time it was a full blown whine.

“Few things. One, he’s your twin brother. Two, you were supposed to work tonight,” he emphasized on ‘supposed to’ to make it very clear that it was technically Herbert’s fault, “and three, be nice to your twin brother for a few hours.”

“But why is he even coming over, Dan?”

“I’m sorry if I’m friends with your brother too. I do have other friends besides you, ya know?”

“But him?” Even mentioning his brother seemed to leave a bad taste in Herbert’s mouth.

“Herbert, I never said you had to interact with him. Stay in your lab for all I care.” Then it dawned on him. Dan gave Herbert a strange look. “Wait a second. You’re always in your lab anyway, so why do you care if Crawford comes over for a few hours? You won’t see him, and he won’t see you. Problem solved?”

“But I know he’s here.”

“For Christ’s sake, Herbert.” Dan sighed. Herbert West was worse than a four year old. Hell, a four year old would be easier to talk to about siblings than Herbert West.

A knock at the front door broke the two up from their bickering and both turned to the door. Dan then turned to Herbert.

“The least you could do is answer the door.”


“Herbert. Door. Please.” He sighed. It was worse than talking to a three year old.

Herbert groaned loudly before slowly ambling to the door. With a final sigh, he opened the door to his face but on a different person. Crawford was a bit surprised when he saw his glasses donned twin brother. He obviously wasn’t expecting his brother to even be home, let alone answer the door.

“Oh, hey Herbert.”


“Uh, I didn’t know you were here…?” Crawford remarked, fiddling a bit with his hands out of awkwardness. Despite them being identical twin brothers, Herbert always gave him strange vibes that he could never understand or even explain.

“Yes well…” He trailed off.

Thankfully, Dan joined the two at the door and gently nudged Herbert aside. “Come on in, Crawford.”

He smiled to Dan a bit. “Thank you.”

Dan continued to nudge Herbert aside and somehow make himself the barrier between the two brothers. As long as Dan had known the two, they had always had a dislike for one another and he never figured out why. They didn’t grow up together, they had only recently met in college. The two attended a Miskatonic University tour in their senior year of high school and had ran into one another in a science lab whilst on two different tours for two different majors.

Ever since that meeting, their adopted parents kept pushing that they would interact with one another. Despite their forced interactions, they still didn’t really have much to say to one another. Crawford was much more standoffish than Herbert, who was a lot more quieter but more forceful in interactions. That and the fact that Herbert always seemed to say things that made Crawford question how they even managed to share the same DNA.

For some stupid reason, Dan continued to spend time with both brothers. Occasionally inviting Crawford over for a few beers and to just talk and hang out, and not to mention share a house with Herbert. It was a strange friendship that Dan had with the two of them, but didn’t stop him from attempting to make Herbert interact with his brother.

Crawford wanted to spend time with his brother. Unlike Herbert, Crawford was an only child and wanted to know what it was like to have siblings. Herbert was adopted into a family with two other children, an older and a younger sister. Siblings always left a bad taste in Herbert’s mouth, so finding out he had a twin brother just sort of made it a lot more unpleasant on his end in comparison to Crawford.

Dan had managed to push Herbert aside enough to get him almost half way to the basement door, high key hinting for him to go into the basement. Herbert got the drift about seven and a half feet from the front door and into the living room.

“I get it.” Herbert rolled his eyes and stepped away from Dan and headed into the kitchen.

Once out of the room, Dan sighed and whispered to Crawford. “I am so sorry. He told me last minute that he wasn’t working and I didn’t have enough time to text you. I expected him to be held up in his lab, but-“

Crawford held up a hand to silence his friend. He smiled a bit to his nervous and apologetic friend. “Don’t worry about it. It was just a surprise is all. Someone has to be the bigger person after all.”

“Which shouldn’t have to be you all the time.”

“It’s not my fault that my brother doesn’t like the idea of ‘siblings’ and ‘family’.” Crawford shrugged. “I don’t let it bother me too much. I get to see him occasionally and we do talk sometimes. Even at work in passing.”


“I know, right?” Crawford chuckled a bit. “Even so. Some interaction is better than none and I don’t let it totally get to me.”

Herbert had returned with two pint glasses in his hand. He handed the one to Dan. “Here.”

“Aren’t you going to ask Crawford if he wants a drink?”

“He doesn’t drink liquor.” Herbert noted.

“For once, he’s right. I don’t drink hard liquor.” His brother nodded.

“Too much of a light weight.” Herbert then snarked.

“I’m sorry if alcohol doesn’t like me. Not my fault.” Crawford crossed his arms across his chest, fluffing up his sweater a bit atop his arms.

Herbert said nothing to retaliate to his brother, a first for him. Instead, he took the second glass and headed to the basement. When the door shut behind him, Crawford gave Dan a strange look.

“So wait. He makes mixed drinks for you?” He asked, attempting to wrap his head around his brother being a nice person and doing things for other people.

“Yeah. Sometimes. He usually just makes me jägerbombs. Surprisingly, he makes really good mixed drinks. At least a few things.”

“That doesn’t seem very… Herbert. I mean, does he experiment on you that way?”

Dan shook his head. “Nope. He can usually tell when I don’t want to deal with anything, especially his shit. So either he’ll make me coffee if I need to stay awake for work, or a alcoholic beverage if I need to forget work. It doesn’t sound like him at all, but it’s just a side of him that he doesn’t show very often. Cherish those little moments when you can. Hey,” he gently nudged Crawford’s shoulder as he remembered something, “if you’re lucky, you might get to experience Drunk Herbert.”

“Drunk Herbert?”

“Yes. You’d like him. He’s much nicer than sober, normal Herbert.”

“That I’d like to see.”

“Give it about ten minutes. He should be into a few drinks by then.”

“I saw him take one glass down there though?” Crawford pointed towards the door.

Dan and Crawford sat down in the living room. Dan in an arm chair and Crawford on one of the couches. Dan took a sip of his drink and set the glass on a coaster next to him.

“Yeah, he has some bottles down there too. Sometimes he does a shot of whiskey to keep himself going or need a new angle to look at a problem. It’s an interesting process.”

“Seems it. Wouldn’t pin him as a drinker though.”

“He doesn’t drink often, but when he does,” Dan smirked, “he’s such a nice person. It’s great how awesome Drunk Herbert is.”

“I like how you keep saying drunk is a substitute first name. Like, his name is really Drunk Herbert.”

“It may as well be.” Dan shrugged and took another sip of his drink. “Just wait it out and see if he decides to show his face again. Like I said, he’s a lot nicer.”

“I’ll believe it when I see it.” Crawford scoffed.

With that in mind, the two turned their attention to the TV as they agreed to order a movie they both wanted to see but didn’t have the time prior to. Dan ordered the movie as Crawford stood up and got himself a beer that he’d nurse for the rest of the night. By the time Crawford sat back down, the movie had already begun.

Ten minutes or so into the movie, the two heard a ruckus from the basement. Dan paused the movie and listened to see if the noise would be heard again. He always had to make sure that any loud bangs were checked on to make sure Herbert didn’t hurt himself on something, especially when there was alcohol in his system. It was just a precaution.

When he heard it again, a bit quieter this time, Dan brushed it off as nothing. If the noise continued, he just assumed that Herbert was still upright and functioning and not blacked out on the floor. Again. As if nothing happened, Dan resumed the movie. Crawford gave him a strange look that indicated that he wanted to know what was going on. Instead, Dan waved him off as it was nothing but Herbert being Herbert.

Nearly twenty minutes into the movie, the two heard footsteps walking up the stairs again. Dan looked over to Crawford, almost as to indicate a ‘told you so’. Crawford was about to say something when the door opened and Herbert emerged with the same glass as when he went downstairs, but this time it was empty.

“What were you doing down there?” Dan asked, glancing to Herbert quickly before returning his eyes to the TV screen.

“Experiment… didn’t go as planned. Had to take care of it…” He nodded a bit awkwardly. “Sorry if it was a bit loud.”

“No harm done. New angle didn’t help?”

“Nope.” Herbert called over his shoulder as he made his way into the kitchen again.

Dan smirked and paused the movie again. Crawford gave him a ‘seriously’ look, for he was engulfed into the storyline of the film and could barely pay attention to anything else. Dan just held up a single finger to Crawford as if to indicate ‘watch this’.

“So, I was just telling your brother that you make a really good brain hemorrhage.”

Crawford’s eyes widened in confusion and fear. Dan gave him a reassuring look that it wasn’t anything bad and that he could calm down. Still confused and a bit freaked out, he just sat back and waited to hear his brother say something in return.

“Oh really now? Does that indicate you’d like one?”

Dan nodded to Crawford and stood up. Still wide eyed with confusion, Crawford nodded and followed Dan. The two made their way into the kitchen as Herbert had a few bottles of alcohol sitting on the island in the middle of their kitchen. He had his glass from earlier as well as three shot glasses, one for each of them.

“Yeah. Crawford here has never had one of your brain hemorrhages.”

Herbert arched an eyebrow. “Oh really now? We must change that.”

“I’m not much of a shot drinker, Herbert. You know that.”

“Nonsense. One shot won’t kill you. Hell, if you die, I can just bring you back anyway.”

“Herbert, no.”

“Herbert, yes.” Dan egged on.

Crawford gave Dan a horrific look. “Dan!”

“What?” Dan then took Crawford aside towards the living room again as Herbert began to prep the shot glasses. In a hushed tone, Dan began to explain. “Listen. Do you really think that sober Herbert would offer to bring you back to life if you die? Be honest here.”

“Okay that’s true, but-“

“Crawford. He’s being nice. Just embrace it. He might get nicer after a shot. It’s not even him pretending to care, it’s him legitimately caring. Let him go and see how the rest of the night pays off. And besides, at least you know he won’t do anything to your drink.”

He nodded. “That you’re not wrong about. I still remember last time.”

“I do too. I won’t let him forget that.”

Crawford sighed and nodded, giving into whatever insanity was about to ensue with the drinks. The two about faced and headed back into the kitchen. Herbert had only gotten the mixes he needed for the drink.

“I wanted to wait so you could watch how they’re made.”

“Okay? I don’t see why that would matter?” Crawford was still extremely confused.

“Starting with some peppermint schnapps instead of peach cause we ran out a little while ago and I haven’t gotten more.” He poured the clear liquid into each shot, filling it about seventy five percent full each. “It shouldn’t matter though. Anyway, then pour in some Irish Cream slowly so it can seep to the bottom of the shot glass.” As he gently poured the light tan coloured liquid into the glass, it began to curdle and fall to the bottom in streaks.

Crawford’s eyes widened at the disgusting drink that his tipsy brother was making before them. It was absolutely unappealing and he couldn’t figure out why in the world Dan wanted him to try it so badly. By the sight of the schnapps and Irish Cream curdling in the glass, he didn’t want to put that anywhere near his mouth in risk of being sick.

“To make it actually look like a brain hemorrhage,” Herbert picked up a bottle of almost empty grenadine syrup and added a few small drops to each shot, “a few drops of grenadine for that bloody red colour. And there you have it, a brain hemorrhage.”

Herbert then slid two shot glasses to Dan and Crawford. Dan took the drink without hesitation. Crawford on the other hand, was a bit more reluctant to pick it up. After a second, he picked it up and looked at Dan.

“I don’t know about this, Dan. You sure this won’t taste disgusting?”

“Positive. He makes the best.”

With a shrug, he agreed to do it with the others. The three of them toasted and tinked their glasses together before tossing it back. Dan and Herbert finished the shot without problems and set their glasses upside down to indicate they were done. Crawford on the other hand was having a bit of trouble getting the shot down. The amount of alcohol in the drink burned the back of his throat as the liquid slid down. He shuttered and set the glass down the proper way on the island.

“Well?” Dan asked, curious to see what Crawford had to say about the drink.

“Interesting.” His voice cracked a bit due to the alcohol still burning the back of his throat. “Too much peppermint for my liking.”

“I’ll make you a proper shot when I get more peach schnapps. Had to make due with what is available. Dan, care for another jägerbomb?”

“I would love another one. Lemme get my glass.” Dan smiled to his roommate.

Dan turned and headed back to the living room, leaving Crawford with his brother. For some reason, Crawford felt as if he were in an episode of the Twilight Zone. He was just waiting for Rod Sterling to start talking and saying how the seemingly normal scene he was in was going to go horribly wrong really quick.

“What about you, Crawford?”

Crawford jumped a bit, a bit surprised to hear his brother speak in a normal tone of voice to him. Nothing condescending or pompous, just a normal question.

“Uh, I don’t know. I think that shot was enough.” Crawford laughed a bit awkwardly, not really sure of how to take his brother being nice to him. Dan was right, he thought, Herbert is a helluva lot nicer when he’s drunk.

“Oh come now, brother. Here, I have a drink you may like.” He turned and went to the fridge. “You do like the peppermint, correct?”

“Yeah, I liked it. That shot just had a lot for my liking.”

“No harm done. I have something you may like. Simple enough and not much alcohol. It’s mostly for a flavor anyway.”

Dan had returned from the living room, taking his time so the two could talk and Crawford could get a real feel for Drunk Herbert. As soon as Dan set the glass on the island, Herbert had turned around with a can of Dr. Pepper and another pint glass. He poured half the can into the glass and added a few splashes of the peppermint schnapps.

“And here we have a Dr. Peppermint for a Dr. Tillinghast.”

Dan gave Crawford a sideways ‘I told you so’ look. Without question or request, Herbert took Dan’s pint glass and made him another jägerbomb. Once he dropped the shot into Dan’s glass, he slid it back to him and poured another shot of jäger for himself. He pounded down the shot and let it soak into his blood stream. Crawford had just picked up the glass of carbonated soda and schnapps and sniffed it a few times before taking a sip.

The beverage was refreshing and both flavors complimented each other very well. And what made it even better for Crawford was the fact that he couldn’t taste the alcohol that Herbert put in, but still could taste the hints of peppermint. It was a win win situation from a surprisingly kind and generous twin brother.

Dan and Crawford seemed to have a silent conversation via facial expressions consisting of ‘I told you so’s and ‘okay I’ll give you that’s. In and amongst their silent conversation, Herbert had snapped his fingers and scurried off towards the basement. The other two didn’t know he was gone until they heard the basement door shut.

“What the hell?” Crawford asked, pointing towards the door. “Who was that? Because that certainly was not my brother.”

“I told you, as I’ll keep telling you tonight. He’s a totally different person and much more enjoyable. Was I wrong?”

“That’s the scary part, you’re not. He is much nicer. Dan, he acknowledged me as a doctor. It’s like I don’t even know him anymore.”

Dan nudged Crawford a bit. “Come on. We have a movie to finish.”

“Almost forgot about that.”

“How could you forget?” Dan asked as he made his way back to living room. “You’re eyes were glued to the screen.”

“I’m sorry if the fact that my brother was being nice sort of shocked me for a second. It’s not often that he’s nice to me.” Crawford rebutted.

“Herbert? Nice?”

“I said not often.”

The two flopped back down into their starting seats on the chair and couch. Once settled down, Dan hit the play button on the movie and the two resumed. Crawford went back to being engulfed into the movie the second after the movie played again. It wasn’t long since they resumed the movie when Dan spoke again.

“You said ‘not often’.”

“Hmm?” Crawford asked, only half paying attention to Dan as his eyes were glued to the screen. Somehow he managed to take a sip of his drink in an amongst all of that.

“You said ‘not often’.” Dan repeated himself. “When we were talking about Herbert being nice. You said not often. What did you mean by that?”

When he didn’t respond, Dan rolled his eyes and hit the pause button again. Crawford blinked a few times. “Dan, what gives?”

“What did you mean when you said ‘not often’?” Dan asked again, laughing a bit at his friend’s confusion.

“What? About Herbert being nice?”

“Yes.” Dan laughed.

“I mean, sometimes he’s nice to me when he’s not drunk. Like, in the middle of the day or something. He has been known to be a decent person towards me occasionally. That’s what I meant by that. He’s not often nice to me, but he can be and has in the past.”

“That doesn’t sound right…?” Dan trailed off, actually a bit confused at the new information about Herbert. To compensate for it, he took a long sip of his drink.

“Before he went to Switzerland, we were all each other had. Didn’t have friends and because of that, we sort of just flocked together and quietly hung out. Our first summer before college, we moved into a small house together. We kept to ourselves but still interacted on occasion. That continued into our first year of college. We would sometimes help each other with studying and experiments here and there. Nothing too major but not as much arguing as we have been. Then when he went to Switzerland, we moved out of the house and that was that. That whole year during our second semester, we hadn’t talked.

“When he came back from his studying with Dr. Gruber, I thought we’d go back to how we were. But… we didn’t. I don’t know why. We weren’t the same kinda close brothers we used to be our first year. He met and moved in with you first. It wasn’t until we stopped each other at the hospital one day when we quickly caught up about what we were doing. He told me that he was onto something incredible and found a new lab space that was better than the one at the house we were living in.

“I think it was around that time when I met you then, Dan. Then you and I started interacting more than Herbert and I and that’s been how it’s been since. Only talking to Herbert in passing or if he’s here when you invite me over.”

“Is that why you get so nervous around him still?”

“A little.” He shrugged. “I don’t know. A part of me wants to give him that space that we had before and then into that time when he was in Europe, but then another part of me wants that interaction that we had before. So I’m always nervous about what he wants to do about that. I don’t know if he wants to go back to being around each other all the time and barely talking or minor interactions and somehow erupt into arguing or whatever else have you.”

“You make valid points there. I don’t blame you, really I don’t. Especially if Herbert wasn’t so… Herbert.”

“All I know from his studies in Switzerland, he and Dr. Gruber were quiet close. They had a special bond, a father-son sort of vibe. Something that he didn’t have much of growing up. Since we were both separated and adopted to different parents, his adopted parents got divorced. From what I know about that, they adopted him to keep their marriage together but it didn’t work and his father left when he was only five.”

“Did he tell you this?”

Crawford nodded. He then sighed. “Please don’t tell Herbert any of this. He might get pissed that I told you all about his tragic backstory and I know he’s not going to tell you. It’ll probably help you understand him a lot more.”

“Is that how you know how to talk to him?”

“Yeah, I guess. When we do talk that is. Either way, loosing Gruber really messed him up and has been much more distant. I don’t know why he has, but he has. If anything, I’d love to know why he’s the way he- Wait. What’s that sound?” Crawford completely cut himself off at a faint sound of someone talking. Like a radio or something from another part of the house.

“What’s what sound?” Dan asked, then he realized what he was talking about. “Oh yeah. That’s just Herbert.”

“You sound so nonchalant about it.”

“Drunk Herbert h as a tendency to parade around his lab and sing this one song in particular when he’s had one too many drinks. It’s quiet amusing. Here.” Dan stood up and went to the basement door. He opened it most of the way so they could hear better.

When Dan opened the door, the singing had gotten louder. Crawford stood up and took a few steps closer to the door to get a better listen. After a few seconds, Crawford arched an eyebrow and gave Dan a strange look.

“That’s Herbert? Singing that?”

“Yeah. He’s not too bad, right?”

“Not at all. Lucky him…” Crawford trailed off, a bit jealous that his brother got some singing ability beyond Crawford’s pathetic excuse for car and shower singing. He shook his head. “But wait, why does he do this?”

“He thinks it’s funny how the song correlates with his work. I, personally, find it funnier that he hasn’t even seen the entire musical that this song is from.”

“This is from a musical?”

“Yeah. Few years back a Frankenstein musical came out with this song,” Dan about faced and headed back to his chair and sat back down, “and he found it online somewhere. Since then, he’s been obsessed with it. Low-key, that is. Until he’s had a bit to drink. Then it’s high-key love.” Dan toasted his drink to that and took another long sip.

Crawford slowly returned to his own seat, still listening intently at his brother in the basement. He desperately wanted to go actually see what he was doing, but Dan had already played the movie again. Crawford’s eyes went directly to the TV screen again and got lost in the movie once more.

During a quiet spell in the movie, Dan perked up a bit at the drunken man still singing in the basement. He sighed and paused the movie again, to Crawford’s dismay.

“Again, Dan?” Crawford groaned.

“Herbert’s been singing the same song verse for the past ten minutes. I think he needs to go to bed.” Dan sighed and set his half full glass on the table before standing up. “And I’ll be damned if you don’t sound exactly like your brother when you whine. It’s scary.”

With that, Dan bounded down the steps into the basement. Crawford could hear a bit of their conversation. Mostly just Dan coaxing a Drunk Herbert out of the lab and away from the alcohol. It sounded like there was a bit of a debacle on Herbert’s part before he gave in and agreed to leave the lab. It was mostly a safety factor that he wouldn’t create anything insane or fall and hurt himself on something. That was the last thing Dan needed to see in the morning.

Dan was gently ushering Drunk Herbert up the stairs, using his foot to shut the basement door behind him. Crawford put a hand over his mouth to hide his grin from Dan and his brother.  Something about an intoxicated Herbert made him seem more innocent, impressionable, and not as painfully intolerable.

Dan smirked, not afraid of either of them seeing it. “Say goodnight to your brother, Herbert.”

“Crawford, you are an impeccable scientist and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.” Herbert stammered instead.

“Thank you, Herbert. Goodnight.” Crawford pulled his hand away long enough to speak to his brother before Dan and Herbert disappeared up the stairs. When he heard their footsteps reach the second floor, was when he burst out into laughter. If only he had his phone to record the moment to cherish it forever and maybe use it against him whenever Herbert decided to poke fun at his theories and methods in the science community.

It took a few minutes before Dan finally walked down the stairs once more. He then flopped back down in his chair before taking another long sip of his drink, almost finishing it. Once he set it back down on the table, he turned to Crawford.

“Well, he’s asleep. Didn’t really do much, just sort of pushed him onto the bed and took his glasses off. Gave him a glass of water and an aspirin for his headache he’s going to have in the morning. Job well done.”

“You were not joking about Drunk Herbert.”

“I told you.”

“I wish I had my phone out to capture him saying that he admits me of being a good scientist.”

“You have a witness at least.” Dan picked up his beverage again and toasted it to Crawford’s comment before finishing it off.

Soon he resumed the movie once more and Crawford’s undivided attention was to the screen. Despite all of the pauses throughout the night, they had finally finished the three hour long film. Crawford stretched his arms over his head.

“That was amazing. Probably have to find a copy of that on DVD or something. So good, right Dan?” Dan didn’t say anything. “Dan?” Crawford asked again before turning around and facing Dan. “Dan?”

Dan was already zonked out, sleeping soundly. Crawford shook his head with a smile. The alcohol had taken over and caused him to completely pass out. The clock above the TV read 11:42 pm. It was time that Crawford should be heading out, seeing that both of the members of the house were both asleep from intoxication.

Crawford stood and took the liberty of cracking his back from sitting too long. Being the kind houseguest; he flipped off the TV, causing the whole living room to be come dark enough to just barely see. Thankfully, he could see a blanket sitting on the back of the couch. Crawford took the blanket and unfolded it. Gently he laid it on the sleeping man in the chair. He just hoped that Dan didn’t have to get up for work early the next morning or else he’d be in trouble.

Once Dan was tucked in and all the lights were turned out, Crawford let himself out. He made sure that at least one of the locks on the door were locked up behind him. Double checking that the door was locked up tight, he fished his car keys from his pocket and headed to his car parked near the end of the driveway.

Half way to this apartment, he groaned loudly. His phone had fallen on the couch at his brother’s house. All that mattered with that situation was that Dan would more than likely find it first, and there was a passcode and fingerprint lock on the phone. He’d just stop by before going to work the next morning, and just hoped that someone was awake and partially coherent. Hoped was the key word.