Sibling Rivalry

Father made it clear that Thomas was his favorite. Daily he would ask me,

“Why can’t you be as good at math as your brother?” or, “Thomas can read, write, and speak Mandarin fluently, where you only know Cantonese and barely any English. How is that going to get you anywhere in life?”

It’s not like we had an equal playing field. Father spent money on Thomas to get an education outside of the Walled City. If I was lucky, a noodle merchant might take pity on me and teach me some basic money math or a few phrases in Mandarin. One thing that set Thomas and me apart was that while he was outside the walls, I crawled through them and knew their secrets.

On one of my explorations of the city, I found an elderly woman’s body. It sat in a rocking chair with its hands clutched around a black book. I took the book. I could barely make out any of its ancient Chinese but I knew some of the words. They were powerful words that could pull demons from hell to earth to do your bidding. I studied it for many weeks.

I surprised Thomas today when he was about to go to school. Now he lay here before me, bound and gagged. I lit some candles in a circle around him. The candlelight shone in his wide and scared eyes. My thumb found a bookmark, and I opened the book to a page labeled “Human Sacrifice Number Two.

I began to chant, and Thomas began to scream that I didn’t know what I was doing. He begged me to stop. I ignored him, and I reached the final verse. The candles flickered out.

Several days later, a junk scavenger found a room with a ring of candles on the floor. Next to the candles, was a old black book. The page it was open to was titled “Double Human Sacrifice.

By Roger Price from Antwerp, Belgium ([1]) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons