WP: Make me sympathize with a man who killed his own brother.

Adam sank to his knees, shivering in the cold autumn breeze. He pressed his palms to his eyes, rubbing hard as if he could somehow scrub away the visions of fiery death and misery that danced through the air. Screams echoed down the narrow alley, bouncing from wall to wall until they reached the avenue beyond and escaped into the darkness. But no, that was just his imagination. The screams had stopped long ago.

He gritted his teeth and forced himself to stand, yelping slightly at the pain in his right shin. He was almost positive his leg was broken, but he considered himself lucky to have suffered nothing worse. I deserve to be dead. 

Limping to the street, he hailed a cab and flopped into the back, wincing at every bump in the road and avoiding the driver’s curious looks. He tumbled out in front of his house and barely made it to the door before collapsing.

The door swung inwards, throwing a beam of light onto the porch and releasing the warm scent of home. There stood a short woman with jewel green eyes and whitening hair. Her face looked worried, but she said nothing. She stooped to help the man inside and he flumped onto the couch. There were questions spilling from her eyes, but he merely croaked, “Water, then I will tell you.”

She hurried away, then returned with a large pitcher and a cool cloth. She sponged his brow as he began to speak.

“Last night, I was called to a private meeting with a potential client. This man was very wealthy and very private, and he wanted to meet in a warehouse. I should have seen through it. When I arrived, I knew something was wrong. No one was there. But as I stepped from room to room, looking for the client, I heard a door swing shut. Suddenly, fire sprang up all around me. It was a trap! I ran to the door and yanked it open, but what I saw made me queasy. There was my brother, fiddling with a lock. As he looked up, surprised, I punched him squarely in the jaw, then kneed his stomach before he could recover.

“He fell to the ground, kicking his legs violently at me. His heel connected with my shin and I felt a sharp crack. But I didn’t have time to feel pain. I pressed my foot into his neck, trapping him. ‘What the hell is going on, Sammy?’ I demanded. ‘I was hired… By Electricians Associated… To take you out. They want your company to… die. I didn’t want to do it, Adam… but I had no choice’ he croaked. This made no sense. ‘You’re trying to kill me? Why would you do that? You always have a choice,’ I responded angrily. ‘You don’t understand. They will kill me. I need the money… so badly. Please forgive me.’ Our eyes locked for a long minute, but I had made my decision. ‘No.’

“I gave him a kick to the head for good measure, then ran for my life, slamming doors behind me as I went so he couldn’t catch up to me. But one must have had a lock, because as soon as I got out, I heard fists pounding on metal and screams. He was crying for help. ‘Adam, my brother, would you abandon me? Don’t leave me to this fiery death!’ The pleas went on and on, eventually dissolving into yells of terror and then, silence.

“I sat there for almost thirty minutes, sobbing, before I heard the sirens. I knew I had to get out of there. Please forgive me for intruding. I didn’t know where else to go, Mom.”

Thank you Kasim’s Korner for this challenge and prompt! Anyone who wants to do this writing challenge, check out their blog.