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Obsession 2

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dark
curse
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tragedy
twisted
mystery
scary
secrets
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Blurb

Facing two counts of first degree murder, Sammy Franklin faces the death penalty if found guilty. Once a stand out scholar athlete and community volunteer, Sammy leaves those who knew him puzzled by his sudden violent behavior.

Insisting something must've happened to him, Sammy's younger brother, Michael, starts investigating his brother's case and runs into a mysterious man who claims he can help him. Michael uncovers a world of dark magic that traces back through his family linage for hundreds of years. But will he be able to get to the bottom of it and save his brother before it's too late?

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Chapter 1- Shame
Dallas, Texas 3 years later... "Please state your name for the jury," the defense lawyer says, straightening out his navy blue designer tie that probably costs more than my car. "Michael Haru Franklin," I speak into the microphone. "And what is your relation to the defendant?" "He's my older brother," I reply. "Are you and your brother close?" "We used to be, a long time ago," I shrug. "That's too bad. Can I ask what happened?" I look at my brother, but he won't even meet my eyes, that coward. "He became distant and...withdrawn...he moved away to California a few years ago and none of us heard from him for a while." "Any particular reason he became withdrawn? Did...something happen?" he asks. I keep my eyes on Sammy, hoping he'll look up; hoping he'll finally have the spine to face me. But he doesn't, and he won't. Because he's guilty. I've wanted so badly to believe that it was some kind of mistake. But it's not. He's evil. Akuno, as mother would say. "We visited our grandparents in Japan. My mother's parents...as we do every summer. But about three years ago, after our trip, Samuel began acting strange. At first, it was just...small things...like mood swings, short temper, excessive...sweating. I begged him to tell me if something was going on, but...he insisted everything was fine. And then he just disappeared. No trace of him..." "Would you say when your brother returned, he was acting out of character?" he asks. I nod slowly. "Yes. The person that returned from Japan that summer was not my brother." "So this man, your brother, wouldn't have committed these crimes he's accused of before this trip, would you agree?" "No, never. Samuel was a good brother. A good son..." This is it. This is the moment I knew was coming. The district attorney warned me that the defense would get personal, that they would use my love and respect for my brother against me. But I can't forget what I saw with my own eyes... My brother... It wasn't him. He was someone else. But no one would believe me if I said that. I'm not even sure I believe me. "Do you really feel your brother, in his right state of mind, committed the heinous murders of Stephanie Sanders and Olivia Carter?" he asks me. Again, I look at Sammy. He hasn't so much us flinched throughout this whole trial. Motionless and emotionless. A shell of who he used to be. "No," I finally answer. "My brother would never hurt anyone." "No further questions," he says, taking a seat at the table next to my brother. I swallow hard when the assistant district attorney stands. Curtis Kapinski- the young prodigy that rocked the city of Dallas with a win record that rivals even the most experienced veterans to the law game. His dashing good looks and dimpled smile make him look trustworthy, but he's really just a snake, hiding behind the cloak of "the people." He tried to make it seem as if we were friends; like he really only wanted what was best for my brother. His intent was never to punish him, just merely get him the help that he needs. And given Sammy's tendency to vanish here lately, he knew he had to play his cards right and get me and my mother to cooperate. "Mr. Franklin, you stated that your brother began to act strange after returning from a family trip to Japan. What part of Japan did you visit?" he asks, walking towards me with a smug smile on his face. "Kyoto. My grandparents and aunts and uncles all live in Kyoto." "And Kyoto is known to be the current hot spot for the Yakuza, correct?" he asks. I swallow again, getting visibly uncomfortable. I don't like where this is going at all. But before I can answer, the defense attorney stands. "Objection. Relevance?" "Sustained. Get to the point fast, Mr. Kapinski," the judge warns. "Sorry, your honor. The Yakuza, for those of you who don't know, are a Japanese version of what we know as the mafia," Kapinski explains. "My brother wasn't involved with the Yakuza!" I shout. "We were taught since we were children to live and make money with honesty and integrity. Samuel would never steal and he would never hurt anyone. Whatever happened to him...it didn't involve gangs, or the mafia...it was something else." "Something like...drugs?" I hang my head. "I don't know. If he got involved with drugs, he never told me." "What else would cause a man who was perfectly normal to turn so violent in such a short amount of time?" he asks. "Objection," the defense calls out. "The witness is no expert." "Sustained. Where are you going with this Mr. Kapinski?" the judge asks. "Your honor, we've heard nothing but good things about our defendant, Samuel Riku Franklin. He was an honors student, graduated at the top of his class, went on to finish his undergraduate education at Northwestern before being accepted into John Hopkins, which as we all know, is very impressive accolades. So what would cause someone with this much potential to suddenly snap? Why would he attack two women, who as far as we know, had no prior interaction with him?" he looks back at me as if he's sizing me up, getting ready to put the nail in the coffin. "You yourself saw him. You saw the aftermath of his actions. Put yourself in the shoes of those girls' families. No matter who Samuel Riku Franklin used to be, today, he sits before you as an accused murderer. But what's worse, we have no reason why. No closure for those grieving families. No justice for Stephanie and Olivia." I flinch every time I hear Olivia's name. Her eyes....I'll never forget them. "Look, I don't know who or what caused his change in behavior. All I'm telling you is that my brother wouldn't hurt anyone. But he's not my brother anymore...he's...something else..." Finally, Sammy looks up and meets my eyes. And for the first time in over three years, I look into the dark, soulless eyes of my older brother. He's not the same. He's not Sammy anymore. "My brother is dead. That man sitting here now...he's someone else..." I say. After court is adjourned, I stand out on the front steps of the courthouse and light up a cigarette. My nerves are shot now and this tiny bit of nicotine isn't going to change that. But that's not even why I'm smoking anyway. "Excuse me, Mr. Franklin?" I turn around to see a swarm of reporters coming at me. I quickly drop my cigarette to the ground and stomp it out before hurrying down the steps and through the assembling crowd. I can hear their voices get louder when my brother exits the courthouse with his attorney by his side. I look over my shoulder and for just a split second, he meets my eyes again. I quickly turn back around, but when I do, I crash into someone. "I'm so sorry," I say, keeping my head down. "Haru Franklin?" I look up when I recognize the sound of a man's voice, thick with a Japanese accent. I'd recognize it from anywhere after hearing my mother's for the past twenty-six years. And no one calls me Haru other than my mother. "My name is Kai Sweeney. We need to talk." "I'm sorry, do I know you?" I ask. I know I don't know him, but somehow, he looks familiar. Maybe because he's of Asian decent, like me. "No, you don't. I heard about your brother's case on the news and I think I might be able to help you." "Help me? Help me with what exactly? I know my brother murdered those girls. I saw him with my own eyes," I tell him. "Yes, but you're right about what you said in your interview. Your brother isn't the same. And I know why." I stare at him for a few seconds before I finally scoff and shake my head. "It doesn't matter why anymore. Whatever happened to him destroyed his life forever. He's not getting out if this. Not alive, anyway." "Listen to me. I know this sounds crazy, but...the same thing happened to me a few years ago. My older brother gave me a sash- it was an ancient warrior's belt from the Natukama. As the legend goes, wearing the sash awakens the spirit of the great warrior, Hirushi. At the time, I thought it was cool. But I had no idea what it was doing to me. I started to get these strange...urges...that I couldn't control. I became violent and crazy. I attacked a girl that I loved. I killed her mother. I tried to kill her, but...thankfully, someone was there to intervene. Someone who opened my eyes to the curse." "Curse? Really?" I scoff. "I don't believe in legends or curses." "I didn't either, until the curse fell on me." "If you killed someone, how come you're standing here right now. Shouldn't you be in jail?" I ask. "Yes, I should be. Except, there's a way to fix this. There's a way to banish the curse for good, but it won't be easy. Your brother...he's capable of a lot of things right now. If he wanted to, he could easily escape police custody and hurt someone else," he explains. This guy is nuts. I truly do believe something happened to my brother to cause his violent behavior, but it's absurd to believe a curse is behind all this. This is nothing more than some raving mad lunatic that saw my brother's case on television and in his delusional mind, thinks he can magically fix it. "Look, I appreciate your...concern, but my brother got himself into this mess. If something happened to him, he's not talking. And if he's not willing to talk, he can't be helped. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get home to my mother." --- "Mom! I'm home!" I call out when I walk into our house. Usually at this time in the afternoon, the house would be filled with the smell of dinner. Is she even home? She never told me she was leaving. "Mom?" I walk into the kitchen, through the living room and even check the garden in the backyard where mom grows tomatoes and cucumbers. I check her bedroom and sigh in relief when I see her in bed. She must've not woken up from her afternoon nap yet. "Mom," I whisper, shaking her gently. But something's not right. Her lips are so...blue. And her skin... I touch her face and gasp at how cold she is. Being a pre-med student, my first instinct is to check for a pulse. I feel around for a while, but there's noting. I go numb. I go blank. No... "Okaasan!" I cry out, shaking her. "Okaasan!" I take my phone out of my pocket to call an ambulance, my hands trembling so badly, I can barely dial the emergency number. "9-1-1, what's your emergency?" the dispatcher asks. "I think my mother may be dead. Can you please send someone? My address is 555 Meadowbrook Lane." "I'll have emergency services dispatched immediately." "Thank you," I say, ending the call. It doesn't matter who is on their way. She's gone. There's nothing anyone can do. I knew she was only hanging on by a thread, but Sammy's trial has pushed her to her breaking point. We just lost my father a few years ago. Her sons were all she had left here in the US and one of them shamed her and our family. She would've been shunned if she returned to Japan, so she was forced to remain here, in a place she never quite felt at home. I look over at the framed family photo that's been sitting on her nightstand for as long as I can remember. It's all of us in front of the iconic castle at Disney Land. I must've been five at the time, so that made Sammy about nine. Mom looked so young and beautiful back then. So happy. She loved our father so much. He was so good to her, despite the fact that her family wasn't happy that she chose to marry a white man and move to the US. But they learned to live with it and eventually, accepted my father. They're finally together again, at least. Or, that's what I tell myself. I place my hand on top of hers and finally let the tears I've been holding back fall. I accept the inevitable, that I'm about to be alone, with absolutely no one. Sammy is the only family I have in the entire country and he won't be around much longer either. Sammy... I've got to tell him about our mother. He needs to know that his evil deeds drove our mother to an early grave.

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