The bookstore bells tinkle as a young boy walked into the store.”I’ll be there in a second!” Lucas yelled; slightly busy modifying his jet boots. The boy was age 10 with bright blonde hair and amber eyes, freckles covering the bridge of his nose and a tiny height of 48 inches. He was a near replica of his father at his age. Lucas walked out, dirty hands running through his hair. He stops in shock at seeing just who was at the door. “Joseph? What are you doing here?”
“This is a bookshop, is it not? I want to buy a book.” Joseph says calmly but his insides were spinning and hands growing sweaty.
“I thought you had already bought your schoolbooks, kid.” Lucas asks suspiciously. “Do you need a book on sports history or something?”
“No, I was more hoping for a book on science fiction…” Joseph responds refusing to meet Lucas’ eyes.
“Ha! Dad doesn’t know you’re here does he?”
“No. And you better not tell him!”
“Dad’s little shining star following the dreaded path of imagination and hopeless dreaming? Being led into the great abyss of stories and science by his older half-brothers? Oh, this is good!” Lucas laughs but inside he doesn’t know whether to be amused or angry. This is the kid he’d envied, the kid with everything he wanted, and he wanted to throw it all away?
“I never wanted to be Dad’s little shining star. You were doing that part well from the stories Kalan’s told me.” Joseph scowls.
“Kalan? Kalan told you? What is Kalan doing telling you things like that? Kalan should be minding his own beeswax. But, yeah sure, I was the sports star, the straight A student. I did everything in my power to make sure Dad was proud of me. Because I knew I wasn’t really his son.” Lucas would have gone on but Joseph interrupted.
“Knew you weren’t his son? Of course you knew. Just as I know I am his son. He just won’t let me freaking forget it! Blood is everything to him. Then, it’s my being a little mini me of him. If I do one little thing he doesn’t approve of I’m in trouble! He’s a perfectionist and expects me to be the same. He doesn’t see that I’m not him!” Joseph’s face was red and tears were threatening to fall down his cheeks.
Lucas was shocked speechless. How could this be true? Was Joseph really going through everything he went through at the hands of Matthew Morris despite being Matthew’s blood child? Was Joseph really willing to rebel completely against Matthew? There was only one way to find out.
“Hmm…here kid. This is A Wrinkle in Time by Madame L’Engle. And this is the first copy of Action Comics, the original.” Lucas handed the two books to Joseph with a grin.
“Action Comics? Wasn’t that made in the ‘30s? Why does it look new?”
“Now that, young Joey is a secret.” Lucas said with a wink.
“How much do I owe you?” Joseph asked pulling out his wallet.
“Those books, once you’re done. You’re my little brother and those books are not for sale. I have a hidden collection that I’ll let you borrow from. You can come and read them anytime you’d like. But you have to bring them back, in perfect shape. Okay kid?” Lucas asked with an eyebrow raised.
Joseph nods quickly before stopping fearfully “What if something happens to them?”
“Then, I’ll fix them good as new. But I want you to try you best to keep them safe. Okay kid?”
Joseph nods again smiling and rushes out the door calling, “I got to get home before Dad gets suspicious. Thanks Luke for the books!”
“No problem kid, come and see me again when you’ve finished them.”
“I will!” Joseph returns home happily, the books hidden in his backpack. At the shop a woman with long black hair comes out from the backroom of the bookstore, goggles on her head.
“Wow Luke, you sounded almost mature there. And responsible, I’m impressed.” She said smiling.
“Thanks, Rae,” Lucas said rolling his eyes. “I live for your approval.”
“It will be fun corrupting the kid. Training him in the ways of science and fiction, technology and biology, imagination and facts, teach him how to play with words and such.” Rae said a dreamy look in her eyes at the thought of passing on her knowledge to the next generation.
“Yes, and teaching him about time travel and portals right Rae?” Lucas said looking at her a smile on his face.
“Of course! Your brother will be the perfect person to inherit our legacy.”
“If he doesn’t want it though, we don’t push it on him. He is not our mini-me.”
“Of course he isn’t! But that doesn’t mean he won’t be our legacy. He’ll just be our legacy in his own person. I don’t want a mini-me, that’d be boring. But he is the perfect person to continue our legacy.” Rae smiled in excitement.
“What about children of our own?” Lucas asked curiously.
“Are you suggesting something, Kross?” Rae responded smirking, an eyebrow raised.
“You wish, Muse! I meant, typically, your legacy is your children, not your baby brother.” Lucas laughed but inside he felt a little flustered. ’Children, with Raechelle Muse’? He thought before gently shaking his head. ‘Not something I should be thinking about.’
“I know,” Rae grinned, “One day, when we have kids, they will be our legacy, but it helps to have some in more than one age group. I’m dividing our team by decade. We have one decade, Kalan another, Joseph another, so on and so forth. It keeps the team in check with the times and provides better relations when dealing with different age groups.”
“Is all that really necessary?” Lucas asked her. He couldn’t figure out what her plans were exactly and felt like the plans she had were different that the plans he and his brother had started out with. He didn’t know if this was a good thing or a bad thing. All he knew was that upon meeting this strange woman, everything looked different. Time and space seemed easy to manipulate, the world around him seemed both mysterious and dull at the same time. Just looking about his brightly colored bookshop, the books organized by genre and alphabetized in their areas, hiding a more wondrous storage facility for items from all over time and space, he couldn’t help but wonder what was it that others saw? Does his shop look the same in other dimensions?
“It’s necessary. It’s necessary if we want to continue our research. Trust me Lucas; I know what I’m doing.”
Lucas nodded but couldn’t help but think, ‘You know what you’re doing, but do I?’