Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer
Marcus leaned, hands shoulder width apart on the pipe steel railing, looking down upon his brothers vacated domain. He’d been gone three weeks, and yet the tear inside was as raw now as it had been when the call had finally come from the hospital.
Eleven minutes separated them at birth, but Nathan had always considered himself the ‘big brother’, more athletic, more self assured. Marcus grew up always right beside him, and yet forever in his shadow.
He closed his eyes for a moment, and in that instant was laughing and rolling on the families basement floor, trying desperately to gain the upper hand, having it, just for a moment before his twin would twist free, and lock him in a strangle hold. “You may be fast, but I’ll always be faster little brother.” Tears struggled to the surface as he reopened his eyes and surveyed the carefully orchestrated chaos spread out below.
They’d been so very much alike as boys, through grade and high school. Only in university did they start to assert themselves differently, Marcus pursuing biochemistry, and Nathan robotics. They’d become fiercely competitive, starting countless arguments at family dinners over the relevance of each others work, and betting who would be first to discover the secret to perpetual life. Nathan looked to replace inadequate body parts with alloys and electronics, while Marcus immersed himself in the promise of carefully manipulated DNA.
The space below was littered with opened and abandoned crates, some offering glimpses of skeletons cast in exotic metals, some polymer organs of indeterminate function. The floor all but hidden beneath work benches, each littered with what seemed like miles of fibre optics and piles of microelectronics. Test equipment perched on benches and wheeled carts, tools packed counters and shelves, and every vertical surface flickered alive in liquid crystal, scrolling data from hundreds of watched processes.
Nathan had gotten the cancer, not Marcus, that was something they wouldn’t share. He supposed it must have been eating at him for years, his big brother too busy, too stubborn to see a doctor until it had advanced too far to treat. He’d gone from vibrant to vapour in three short months, merely a withered and empty shell at the end.
Marcus forced himself along the mezzanine level, orbiting the room to the stairs, his Oxfords falling heavy on the expanded metal treads as he descended into his brothers world. The wall at the foot of the stairs obscured behind a motley collection of full sized mechanical men, each in various states of construction, or deconstruction, he really had no way of telling which. At the end of the row, one stood notably complete, draped in a lab coat and comically garbed in chinos and workboots. Marcus stopped, face to face with the strange mannequin, and wondered who his brother had envisioned as he crafted the features on this polymer face, somehow familiar, and yet still so completely alien. He reached out to touch it, and in an instant, the machine snapped to life, stepping forward and grabbing his outstretched arm, twisting it forcibly behind his back. Marcus found himself stunned and off balance, having turned completely around to avoid having his arm torn off. He’d barely thought to cry out before the machine had him pinned neatly in a vice like grip. A scream died in his throat, as a voice whispered in his ear “You may be fast, but I’ll always be faster, little brother…”