Outliers and Misfits is a collection of stand-alone flash-fictions all set in the same universe, a universe where there’s no such thing as normal …
The brothers had been close ever since their parents had brought Harry home from hospital. Daniel, who had been two years old at the time, took one look at his little brother and then handed him his favourite toy, Nake – a foot-long anaconda knitted by their grandmother – and even though Harry was only a day old, he grasped Nake and smiled a gummy smile. From that moment on, the brothers hardly spent any time apart.
It was only once Daniel started pre-school, though, that their parents realized just how close the brothers actually were. At first, they thought Daniel was leaving Nake behind for Harry to play with, but it soon became clear that something else was happening.
‘Has your mum knitted another Nake?’ asked their father one day.
‘No,’ replied their mother. ‘Why?’
‘I could have sworn Dan took Nake to pre-school with him this morning, but when I went up to check on Harry, Nake was in his cot.’
‘Hmm … Danny definitely had it when you put him in the car.’
Moments later, they stood over a just-woken Harry and watched in disbelief as a disembodied child-sized hand appeared in front of their youngest son, grabbed hold of Nake and then vanished. Once they had pulled themselves together, however, they came up with a plan, and as soon as the brothers were old enough to understand, their parents explained to them how important it was to keep their talent hidden, and that if they used it, they should use it for good, not evil.
Of course, as they got older, the brothers pulled a few pranks, such as the time they ‘wormholed’ their scout leader’s car from the street to the roof of the village hall, and they almost gave into temptation on the day of Harry’s German GCSE exam. Languages had always been more Daniel’s thing. But, being by nature sensible and kindhearted boys, the brothers were generally happy to follow their parents’ advice.
At school, they took part in charity events by performing magic tricks that weren’t actually tricks. When Daniel decided to take a gap-year after college, he chose to spend it volunteering his way around the world’s orphanages. The children loved the endless supply of treats he pulled from his backpack. And at university, when Harry joined the caving club and ended up stuck down a hole with a fellow student who’d sliced open an artery on a sharp piece of rock, Daniel made sure their first aid kit stayed stocked with bandages until help could arrive.
It came as no surprise to their parents, therefore, that when the European Space Agency announced its manned mission to scour the solar system for new sources of energy, the brothers decided it was time to share their talent with the world. Things didn’t go as smoothly as they’d hoped though. Not only were they subjected to a media frenzy and endless rounds of scientific experimentation, they also came to a devastating realisation: they could not go into space together.
(The original version of this story was published on the Ether Books app under the title of Outliers and Misfits: Brothers.)
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