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Dragged Away

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When Creativity first split, both halves remained together, played together, created entire worlds together. It didn’t matter that there were now two separate entities to represent both halves of the same whole. It didn’t matter that Roman remained the airy, hopeful, light-hearted optimism in the world. It didn’t matter that Remus was drawn to the dark and gritty, to the pain and grotesque, to the morbid humour that most consider abhorrent. They were brothers. And they loved each other.

When Creativity first split, Roman and Remus re-enacted play after play after play. Roman, still young and still so naive, always played the part of a dashing hero, coming to save the day. Remus, twice as crude and with not an inch of Roman’s filter, played the Dragon Witch, the evil stepmom, the villain to end all villains. They fought with plastic swords and plastic words, they danced to imaginary music in the depths of the Imagination, they conjured other beings together so they could play and play and play.

When Creativity first split, all of them were but young children.

When Creativity first split, Logan was filled with boundless curiosity. He prodded Roman, prodded Remus, and remarked on the differences and similarities between both. Logan, just a child back then, merely stated that Thomas was developing two different ideas for what “Creativity” looked like, and the split was borne from those ideas. Both halves of Creativity worked with Logic for science projects and essays. Remus was smitten with the Side who jumped thoughtlessly into filth just to hold a frog in his hands, eyes gleaming with awe. Roman thought it was adorable.

When Creativity first split, Patton had been the most excited to have two new Sides to play with. Even back then, Patton wore glasses and Remus would often “steal” them away so Roman could come in as a dashing knight meant to remedy Patton’s unfortunate short-sightedness. Then when everything was over and when the “evil” was defeated, they would all adjourn to have a cookie break and Patton would always push more cookies onto Roman and Remus than he probably should. Patton hung around Roman more, easily frightened by Remus’ grandiose imagination of blood and witches and evil sorcerers, but when Remus had a mishap with his mace, it was Patton who came first, cradling a box of bandaids in hand.

When Creativity first split, there was a shy Side who seemed to enjoy spending time with Remus a lot more than Roman. The shy one wore a lot of purple and was oddly flattered when Remus likened it to the colour of bruises. Both of them had quite an odd friendship. They bounced cryptids and monsters and disturbing conspiracy theories off of each other. The shy purple-wearing Side talked about what lies beneath the bottom of the ocean, Remus supplied his ideas of eldritch monstrosities. Roman was disturbed, but Remus had the most fun they’ve ever had. And sometimes, the shy purple Side would visit Roman and softly babble about Disney and the two of them would get lost in conversations about which prince was better.

When Creativity first split, there were more Sides that hadn’t gone into the light that often, Sides that were rarely seen. The one dressed in yellow had taken an interest in the two halves, attacking them with curiosity much like Logan had though he was far more… reserved. He asked questions that Logan would never dream of, asked them if they remembered being part of one whole, if they would ever miss being apart from each other, if they would like to meet the ‘Others’. Remus had gone without question, bouncing with excitement. Roman had declined.

The yellow Side appeared to them more often. Remus pestered him as much as physically possible. When scales slowly began to appear on the yellow one’s face, Remus had deemed it appropriate to pluck out one brown eye and give a yellow slit-pupiled replacement. The yellow Side loved it. When he smiled, Roman couldn’t help but notice the hint of tiny fangs poking through. It was cute. Remus relentlessly teased him for it. Both Creativities adored him.

When Creativity first split, Thomas began to question the dichotomy of good and evil. What was “appropriate” and what was not. Which Side of Creativity he wanted to listen to more. The Imagination began to shift, the Sides began to change, and, well, Remus was left behind.

Not by intention. Roman spent every second of his diddly darn existence trying to include his twin. Acting scenes in the Imagination? Remus would always be there. Helping Logan with a science project? Remus was there to wreak a little havoc and make everything a little bit more interesting. Doing something fun with Patton? Remus would always make the jokes a little too teasing but they’d all laugh about it.

But the hidden parts of Thomas’ psyche, the darker parts, the Dark Sides, grew further and further away. Roman forgot how the purple Side’s symbol looked. Roman forgot just how many facets of Thomas’ personality was kept in the shadows. Roman forgot the cute fanged smirk and nighttime discussions of how they were going to get away with accidentally breaking grandma’s vase. And Remus, his brother, his twin, the only one who understood Roman down to the very bone, began to drift further and further into that Darkness, away from the Light.

When Creativity first split, nothing changed much. Roman had a brother, a twin whom he loved so dearly. A companion and friend with whom he could share life’s toils and joys. They grew, both still attached at the hip, both constant, both resolute. They grew from children to teenagers, following along with Thomas’ mind. And they both watched everyone around them change.

They watched Logan as he lost his passion, his drive, bit by bit. With every question unanswered, every curiosity unsated, they watched his eyes grow dimmer and dimmer. Roman had tried to rekindle their friendship, offering wild ideas to spice up the research project for their high school literature class like he used to do in show-and-tell back in kindergarten. Logan dismissed him, opting to take the serious mature approach. Remus tried to cajole Logan into hunting for frogs again, getting his hands dirty again, reigniting the spark of glee Logan used to have. Logan did not acquiesce.

The Creativities barely remember the passionate little Side who spent hours out in the wild, taking pictures of butterflies and flowers. Logan had become an uptight young man who had lost the stars in his eyes.

They watched Patton as he began to care less and less about himself. He did not hate himself, did not think less of himself. But Patton, as they grew, began to give more than he took. Began to think that running himself dry for others was the only way to go. Began to think that Thomas, putting others before himself, was the only way to be happy. Began to think that he came in second. Began to think that even the tiniest bit of selfishness was evil. Remus tried to bring the old Patton back, the Patton who took time to do the things he enjoyed without worrying about what others thought. Patton called Remus selfish and self-serving. He apologised after the fact, but Remus’ smile had gone stiff. Even Roman, trying to coerce Patton into doing something for himself, was rebuffed.

Remus had stopped visiting Patton as often anymore. Patton rarely put in even half the effort he gave to meeting Roman into Remus. Patton wasn’t unkind. He talked to Remus if he happened upon him. But there was a chasm now, one that they could never seem to bridge.

They watched as the shy violet Side turn away from awestruck babbling of creepypastas and cryptids. They watched Anxiety slowly inch further and further away from them, into the recesses of Thomas’ mind, growing more jaded and bitter with each passing day. Growing resentful, growing fearful, growing more and more reclusive. Try as he might, Roman couldn’t quite bring him out of his slump, couldn’t quite cheer him up or make him laugh as often as he used to. Anxiety only ever talked to Remus most days, and even then, their conversations were stilted.

Remus looked as though he was torn between staying by Roman’s side and going with his friend. Anxiety barely talked to any of the Light Sides anymore. He looked so lonely. Like the walls were caving in with no way out.

They watched the yellow Side reveal himself to be Deceit, a self-proclaimed snake in the garden. He did not mean that, his eyes were too sad for it to be true, but the others believed him, proclaimed him to be an evil part of Thomas that should be locked away. Deceit did not argue, did not debate. Roman watched as Deceit melded into the backdrop with scales slowly spreading down his body. Remus, beside Roman as he always was, shook.

Before Deceit left, truly left, before he disappeared into the forgotten corners of Thomas’ mind, before Thomas shut them out, he visited the Creativities one last time. “Acting is no different than lying, dear Roman,” said Deceit. “In both cases, one chooses to don a mask with the intention to deceive. We are the same in that regard. It’s why we get along well, you see.” It would be the last time Roman would see Deceit for a long while. They talked for hours, Roman listening intently to his ideals, his philosophies, listened to his sibilant monologues and watched every roll of his eyes.

“It’s not going to last,” he said to Roman. His slit-pupiled eye seemed to glow in the darkness, and his mouth was turned into a sad frown. The snake eye which Remus had given to him as a gift darted to the side, where Remus slept. Before he vanished, Deceit said to Roman, “I’ll make sure he’s not lonely.”

Roman did not understand what that meant until much later. Until Remus was taken away from him.

It was an otherwise uneventful day. Thomas was finishing up his last year of highschool, Logan was stressed, Patton was stressed, Roman and Remus were stressed, and Hercules only knows what the Dark Sides felt. The Mindscape reflected the beautiful day in the real world, with bright blue skies and nary a cloud in sight.

Roman and Remus’ domain in the Imagination held a grand open-air stage akin to the ones used in Ancient Hellenic theatre. The edges of the stage blossomed with thorny rose bushes and the audience was filled with human constructs both of them had conjured together. Green and red streamers waved above the stage and glittery skulls hovered as spotlights. Roman and Remus were alone in their part of the Imagination, re-enacting Hamlet. The ending scenes, with Hamlet fighting to the death with a poisoned sword, never failed to delight Remus’ gruesome delight in watching things meet a tragic end.

There were rainbow-coloured songbirds and puppies frolicking about near the stage. A picture perfect day. Sunlight streamed down onto the stage, glinting off their conjured swords.

On that day, Creativity was split for the second time.

In the middle of his line, Remus was silenced by the Minscape. It was alive, and it was fickle. As Thomas grew and matured, as he looked at both “Creativities” and saw two different Sides, the Mindscape adjusted. The shift of the idea of Creativity, the notion that only “good” and “friendly” ideas should exist, came with no warning.

The shadows came alive. They wrapped around Remus’ limbs, around his legs, his arms. They wound around Remus’s torso, around his neck. And dragged him off the stage. Roman watched in shock as his brother was bound and immobilised, shadows covering Remus’ cries for help until all he could do was writhe and struggle in vain. Remus’ sword clattered to the ground as the shadows dragged him further and further away.

Roman rushed down the stage, shock replaced with anger, with fear, with desperation. Not Remus. Not his brother. Not him. Please. Please not him. Sword still in hand, Roman swung at the darkness. It did not relent. Remus was still bound, hauled away like he weighed nothing. Roman threw his sword to the side and instead tried to loosen the darkness that had ensnared his brother.

Before Roman could even try to set Remus free, the Mindscape ensnared him as well. It pried both Creativities apart, further and further away from each other. Roman can’t see where the shadows took Remus through his tears.

Remus was screaming.

Then nothingness.

The thorns of the rose bushes around the stage melted. The glowing skulls that served as dramatic lighting turned to floating fairy lights. The decorative streamers changed completely to red.

For the first time in his life, Roman felt alone.