SIBLING RIVALRY • by Carine Engelbrecht

They swam like fish folk in the waters of their mother’s womb… sharing thoughts like nutrition, until a shadow fell into their world, a sanctuary where no shadow should fall.

What’s he doing here?

They knew, of course, still remembering the bony imprint of his fingers upon their souls from the last time.

He’s here for one of us.

Unease cooled the fluid around them. Hopeful sat nearest to the channel through which they both must pass.

It will be me.

Hopeful shivered.

No no no no no

Hopeful had passed through a dark channel of flesh such as this one on three previous occasions, to draw breath under different skies. He wrestled with vague dreams of past debts that must be paid this time. And then he struggled against his brother. The channel into this world opened and closed, but Hopeful was held back by the tangle of his brother’s limbs, tugging, keeping him fast. A woman’s scream, ragged and incomplete.

And still he waited.

One of us.

The channel winked and wavered, closing again. Hopeful withdrew, exhausted to the farthest corner of his mother’s womb.

Another day dawned.

Another night fell.

His brother had beaten him to emerge head first into the Egypt of Moses’s final plague. No cry, after his robust performance of the night before.

Hopeful followed, sliding out into the midwife’s arms, missing Death’s Angel by a whisper and a sigh.

Carine Engelbrecht plays guitar, writes and creates art. She has been a waitress, barlady, call center operator, craft market stall holder and film extra. She is a member of the Adamastor Writers Guild, a small Cape Town based group dedicated to promoting greater awareness for fantasy, science fiction and horror.

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