As I came back to reality, back from the General’s- my brother’s- memory, I saw his face loom into my realm of vision. I made a choked noise and scrambled out of his grasp, “You!” I cried, pointing at him with a shaking finger, “No, no, you can’t be…” I had thrown myself into the corner of the soft wall and was huddled with my legs pressed firmly into my heaving chest.
Mild surprise crossed his face and he tried to take a step closer to me, to which I screamed, “Don’t come any closer, you- you monster!”
Full on shock rushed across his features, “I’m not a monster!” He exclaimed, but he remained rooted in place and didn’t come any closer, “Alison, don’t you see? I’ve done this all for you! I attacked the Ringmaster camp because you weren’t safe in there! I was trying to find you to save you from the Ringmasters! They’re evil, they’ll use your powers for their own benefit without any consideration to you! They were going to kick me out, our parents were going to kick their son out because they said that I was ‘preaching’ the wrong ideas!
“What kind of parents would kick their own son out of their organization because he believed in something else? They’ll use your power and when you can’t possibly work any longer, they’ll throw you out. That’s what they were doing to me, I was slowly losing my powers and I knew they were going to throw me out, so I did the only thing to save myself; I faked my own death then became known as the General, keeping my real name a secret. I didn’t want anyone to know that I was the kid who died in the fire.” The General- or should I call him Cameron- explained in a rush.
I was still glaring at him from the corner but I felt compelled to believe him, “I saw your memory, Cameron. I saw you talk to the Reaper, before killing it. You were already its master before you faked your death.”
He nodded, “Yes, it was through the Reapers that I found out that my parents were planning to throw me out. At the time, the Reapers were peaceful creatures- well, kind of peaceful, they lived alongside the Ringmasters and planned with them. My- our parents decided that my way of thinking wasn’t to be allowed and I was poisoning the others with it, so, they were going to punish me for it. But I had managed to change the Reapers’ way of thinking, they were now on my side.
“They told me what our parents were going to do, so I had to make my move. You see, Alison, this hideout is actually inside the Ringmaster camp, if I were to be kicked out, I would be banned from entering and I didn’t want to go through the hassle of finding a new hideout. Now, if I were dead to the Ringmasters, they wouldn’t ban me, I mean, what’s the point of banning a so-called dead person? It worked perfectly and everyone fell for it! Tada!” He threw his arms out to emphasize his point.
“What about Jessica?” I asked, and his smile curled downwards.
“I couldn’t bring her along, no matter how much I wanted to, she wouldn’t have been able to handle it and there was always the possibility that she could run back to her Ringmaster friends and spill everything. No, I couldn’t have that happen, so I left her. Some things just aren’t meant to be.” Cameron sighed heavily.
“Then why are you telling me this?” I asked slowly, “I have Ringmaster friends too, I can always run back and tell them exactly what you just told me. And I can tell them that you’re really alive too!”
At that, Cameron just smirked, “But are they really your friends?”
I hesitated, not really sure how to answer, so he went on, “They forged your memories of Erica and Mason, you don’t really know who they are. They were sent to protect you and almost failed, did you see that rush to get you out of there? Insane! But no, they aren’t your friends, the memories you have going to the amusement parks, carnivals, even just hanging out, those are all fake! Fake, fake, fake! So, again, I’ll ask you, are they really your friends?”
My breath caught in my throat and I couldn’t speak, “Alison, do you know the other reason why I attacked the Ringmaster camp? Oh, I’ll tell you! It was to find you. Our parents had recently given birth to you, you were so cute! With your big eyes and chubby hands, I could’ve played with you all day! But never mind that, I knew what your fate was, just like every Ringmaster in that hellhold, you were to use your powers to the maximum extent and when you were completely drained, they were going to throw you out.
“So, just like any protective older brother, I set to work, planning my way to save you, I had the Reapers build those giant robots, and soon there was enough to form an army. And that’s what we called them, the Army, and I was the General.
“When we attacked, it was supposed to be quick, burn the forest to create a distraction and then snatch you. It’ll look like an attack against the Ringmaster government, considering the fact our parents were apart of the Ringmaster Official group-”
Quickly, I cut him off, “Wait. Our parents are Officials?”
He nodded, “Yeah, I think you did see mom when you woke up downstairs? She was wearing that dull white sweatshirt. And you thought she was just a regular person, nope. Mom is an Official and guess who dad is! He’s the lead Ringmaster! The head honcho, the master, the top, number one! Whatever you want to call him.
“Now, you’re probably wondering, ‘if mommy and daddy are so powerful, why didn’t I just stay here in the Ringmaster camp? Why did I get sent away?’ Well, I’ll tell you why; even though we didn’t get you during our attack, we did scare our parents, enough to be worried about your safety, so they sent you away, somewhere I couldn’t find you. But I did, I found out where they kept you.
“With the help of my Reaper, that your annoying friend Mason killed, we flushed you out of your hiding place and back here. All according to plan.” He smirked at me.
I felt my blood chill, “Ok, well now you have me. What do you want?”
I stared at him, “What the heck is that supposed to mean?” I demanded from my brother.
“You have an incredible power, Alison, and the Ringmasters will use it for their own uses, something I do not want. Please, they made the General seem like a bad guy right? Don’t believe them! I’m fighting to stop their madness, please Alison.” He begged me, and I saw, in his eyes that mirrored mine, a passion. He was fighting for what he truly believed was right, something I didn’t even know.
So, do you believe him, or not? The question lingered in my mind, making me doubt every single thing that I had ever believed in.
Read on: Chapter Twenty Eight