“Where’s Steve?!” Hans screamed, barely maneuvering his jet off the path of a fidgeting tentacle. They had not counted on the alien bug blowing up into an abomination the size of ten cruise ships (maybe more… they had only been around to see it swallow that much) and throwing a fit like a roomful of teenage hormones (drunk on booze, privilege, and not much else), in under an hour like it’s on a tight schedule to cause as much nuisance as it could wreck. And all this while their Captain (that perpetually stoned donkey!) was holed up somewhere else in a mood of his own.
“He’s on the way!” Barry gasped, caught in a battle with one of the bug’s four wailing heads. “Said we should start bolting in together so he could just snap right on when he arrives!”
Hans blurted out a string of what-the-fuckeries echoed by the other three (yes, even Barry)—knowing their captain too well to believe that nonsense and already seeing tomorrow’s front page feature on the infamous headless robot who came within an inch of its life, but (thankfully and by some flukish miracle) still managed to save the day.
The sandcastle begins to crumble as Georgie grapples for the right words to say. Warren doesn’t even bother looking at him this time.
“It’s okay…” The sigh that finally escapes the ageless boy’s throat sounds resigned, grinding the very grains of Georgie’s soul just as a tower collapses. “We both knew this was bound to happen anyway. So it’s okay, Georgie. Don’t sweat it. I’ll tend to our castle until you return.”
Georgie lets out a chuckle, more breath than delight. But when Warren finally glances back at him, apathy breaking into a smile, his own anxieties begin to melt. He wraps his arms around his twin, marveling at how familiar this feels even after a decade and six. “I’ll see you soon, Warren…”
“Warren, what’s a paradise?” one boy asks his brother, eyes and hands otherwise fixed on fortifying the grainy walls of their sandcastle.
“This…” Warren taps a handful of sand on a crumbling tower. “You, me and our sandy monarchy. With nothing but the sea around us, the wind within us, and the sun rising before us… This, Georgie, is our paradise…”
Georgie smiles, tearful and bittersweet. For sunrise always reminds him of the morning that’s about to come. One where the dream ends and his twin brother is dead again.