The Children of Light

Chapter 1

I have to apologise to all my readers and fans regarding the formatting of my installments.   I wasn't aware of a few things, and as such am not happy with the publication of my story with these flaws.   So, my editor and I are going to work on converting to HTML format and replace each chapter as we complete them.   When I say we, I actually mean him, cause I don't know a thing about it! Heh.

Please bear with us as we get this done.   I am still writing Chapter 17 as this process is taking place and we will publish that once the chapters have been replaced with the HTML versions.

Again, I apologise about the delays in getting this done, but, I feel like my work is compromised in its current condition and want to rectify this before we proceed with the story.   I hope you understand.

I will update everyone on the blog with what's going on and how well everything is progressing.   Pop along to http://the-children-of-light.tumblr.com and follow to keep informed.

This piece of fiction contains supernatural themes and eventually sexual interactions between consenting male adults.   Please do not read this if it is illegal where you are, or you are not of age to do so.

All characters are fictional and any similarities to known actual people are coincidental, unless otherwise specified.

Visit my blog for visual aids for the characters... http://the-children-of-light.tumblr.com.   Head on over, see what ya think, add suggestions, or what you see when thinking of the characters.   That would be interesting to see/hear.   Please, if you don't/haven't, think about making a donation to Nifty to help with maintenance.   Thanks guys!!!

Lachlan - tempus-fugit@windowslive.com or thechildrenoflight@live.com

***

`No.   No, please don't!' The woman whimpers.  
`Shut up!' The man yells, landing a punch in the woman's stomach, causing her to double over and collapse to the floor.   `Please.' She gasps.   `Please don't hurt them.'
`I... SAID...SHUT...UP!' The man says, kicking the prostrate woman in the torso with every word.  
In pain and fear, the woman loses consciousness, rolling onto her back.   The man looks down at her limp body with rage, his chest rising and falling with rapid breaths.   He hears a muffled bang down the hallway and starts walking in the direction it came from.   The click of his heels against the wooden floor echoing in the narrow hall, the rustle of his denim jeans and the quiet creaking of his leather jacket all amplified by the silence.   He stops outside the room the noise came from.   He places his ear to the door to listen for any other sounds.   He can hear the muffled sounds of a child sobbing and what sounds like a very distant jet engine.   In confusion he looks at the door and takes a step back.   As his weight shifts to his back foot, the jet engine noise becomes much louder, as if there is an aircraft on the other side of the door.   Just as panic is about to take hold of him, he immediately realises what is making the noise.   In fear he turns to run.   But time slows down, as often is the case in life threatening situations.   As he takes his eyes off the door, in a vain effort to seek shelter, the door of the bedroom explodes, the once solid wood splintering and shattering into hundreds of pieces.   The frame, in which the door was once fixed, is torn from the wall by the same force.   As the shattered pieces of the door and frame make contact with his body, he is lifted bodily from the security of the polished wooden floor and slammed viciously into the wall.   Time resumes its normal pace, just as he screams in terror and agony.   The man's twitching body is staked gruesomely to the opposite wall.   Several large splinters of wood from the door and frame are scattered about his body, pinning him grotesquely to the wall.   His body is covered in large gashes and wounds, the denim and leather now shredded to pieces, his blood flowing quickly from his wounds, cascading down his staked body.   A large, sickly pool of blood collects beneath his still twitching feet.   He screams again, as he looks into the room.  
`Where is our mother?' A boy of 8 asks calmly.   He has his hand held out in front of him, his palm facing the man, appearing to be holding him against the wall.  
`You dirty little FREAK!' The dying man spits towards the boy.   The man's spit, mixed with blood, trickles down the face of the boy.   The boys green eyes glaze over with hatred.   His pale blond hair speckled with the dying man's blood, lying limply across his lightly sweaty forehead.  
`Where...is...our...mother?' The boy asks again with barely contained fury, closing his hand into a fist.   The man's eyes cloud over rapidly and his breathing becomes laboured.  
`She's...she's in...the lounge.' The bleeding man gasps through his ragged breaths.   The boy drops his hand; the man gasps dramatically with a deep breath and coughs a few times, his body sagging with weight against the splinters of wood holding him to the wall.  
The boy steps over the wreckage that is the remnants of the door and races down the hallway to where his mother's body is lying.   He throws himself over her chest, tears falling down his face silently.  
`Mother?' He asks taking her face into his hands.   He turns her face to look up at him.   Her eyes flutter slightly, and open quickly.  
`Jaden?' She asks quietly, looking beyond her son, not quite focusing.  
`Yes mum.   I'm here.' He answers, trying to gather her into his arms, holding her hand to his face.  
`Jaden...run.   Just run my darling.   Take your brother and run.' She says in a panic.  
`It's okay mum.   The man won't hurt us anymore.' The boy says smiling down to his mother, pressing her hand firmly against his cheek.  
`Jaden...you must go...NOW!' His mother screams at the same time a boy in the bedroom down the hallway screams his name.  
`JADEN!' Came the cry from the room.  
Jaden looks towards the carnage of the bedroom and sees that the man has managed to free himself.   As Jaden releases his mother and stands up, taking a step over his mother and in the direction of the bleeding man, the blood soaked man takes a step over the wreckage of the door.   The same loud engine sound erupts in the lounge as an invisible force is expelled from the boy's body, and races down the hallway leaving a faint static residue in its path.   As it makes contact with the now freed man, he is slammed through the air and launched towards the wall at the end of the hallway.   As his body makes contact with the solid wall, several loud cracks can be heard from numerous parts of his body.   His eyelids flutter briefly as his eyes lose focus.   The man falls to the floor, no more than a corpse now.  
`Cade?' Jaden shouts running into the bedroom.  
`Here.' The other boy replies, standing up, his eyes closed, hands covering his ears in pain.   He has the same pale blond hair as his brother.   Jaden strides the few steps to his brother and takes his face into his hands, forcing Caiden to look at him.  
`What's wrong?' The first boy asks.  
`There's more coming.' Caiden replies, his eyelids twitch and finally his eyes open.   With the same piercing green as his brother, he looks straight into his twin brother's eyes.   A moment of silent communication passes between them.  
`RUN MY DARLINGS!' Their mother screams from the lounge.   `RU...!' Her scream is cut short by a sickening crunch of bones.  
`Mum.' Jaden gasps quietly, turning from his brother towards the hole in the wall where their door used to be.  
`No.   They're here.' Caiden says, reaching out and grabbing his brother's upper arm.   `We need to go.'
`But...'
`Jaden, they're here!' The second brother cries.  
The first brother wraps a hand around his brothers wrist, turns back to face his brother, a single tear threatening to fall from the corner of his eye, his heart breaking.   He pulls his twin closer to himself.  
`Let's go.' He barely manages to say over a sob.  
As the three men come scrambling into the room, they catch a glimpse of two boys, barely four feet away from them, identical in almost every detail.   Holding each other close, they look towards the intruders as one of them raises his hand toward the three men and they both close their eyes.   One of the three men reach out to the twin with the raised arm, his own right arm extending toward them, his ice blue eyes focused on them as a surge of mysterious energy explodes around them, knocking the intruders off their feet, as the twins vanish from sight.  

`No!' The young man cried out, waking violently from his nightmare.   He had sat bolt upright in his bed, with his right arm outstretched, his hand grasping at the empty space in front of him as if trying to grab someone or something.   He took a few quick breaths, and tried to relax, finally managing to take a steadying deep breath.   Retracting his extended arm, he ran his hand over his face, in an effort to wipe the images he had seen in his dream out of his mind, as well as the film of sweat now saturating his forehead.   He threw the sweat drenched sheet off of himself and swung his legs over the edge of the bed, placing his feet steadily on the cool wooden floor.   Resting his elbows on his knees, he placed his hands on either side of his head as he leaned over and tried to steady his breathing.   Sweat trickled down his forehead and temples, his neck, chest and back.  
After a few deep restorative breaths, he stood up with a slight groan and stumbled the few meters into his adjoining bathroom.   He flicked the light switch on and was bathed in an eerie fluorescent light after a few splutters from the bulb.   Squinting his eyes, he turned the cold water faucet on, cupped his hands under the water flow and splashed his face.   Catching another handful of water and splashing his face, he rubbed his forehead and cheeks with his finger tips for a moment, then rubbed his eyes firmly.  
He looked into the vanity mirror with great interest.   The stark light made his normally pale olive complexion look a sickly green.   He saw bubbles of water trickling down his forehead, down the side of his face.   He watched as a bead dropped from the tip of his straight and angular nose.   He looked into his own eyes.   The pale blue eyes had tiny specks of grey in them, lending him unusually coloured eyes.   His pupils were slightly dilated, even with the stark light shining harshly on his face from the bulb above the mirror.   He watched a bead of water snake its way down his brow and down the left side of his nose.   It fell to the left of his full, pale pink lips, parted slightly.   He closed his eyes and shook his head side to side a few times.   He looked back in the mirror and saw his hair standing on end.   Normally sitting shoulder length, his long black hair was now tousled and teased, looking like he'd been electrocuted.   With a giggle at his appearance, he turned from the mirror, flicked off the light and re-entered his bedroom.  
He stood beside his bed, picked up his cell-phone from the side table and checked the time.   4.52am.   Instead of climbing back into bed, he took a packet of cigarettes and lighter from his side table and headed for the veranda door.   Out in the cool, crisp air of early morning, he took a cigarette from the packet, put it to his lips and lit it, closed his eyes, took a big drag on it.   He held it for a few seconds and exhaled with relief.   He took another large draw on his cigarette and opened his eyes as he released the smoke.   He looked at the large apartment building across the road from him.   There were 20 floors in the building, and 15 apartments per floor on this side of the building alone.   With the amount of windows and inhabitants, it was common to see several lit windows in the building.  
He glanced down his body, remembering that he wasn't wearing anything.   He looked past his firm and solid pectorals with a small splattering of dark hair across his chest, past his flat, smooth and sculpted stomach, to what he decided was one of his best physical features: His impressive 9 inch penis, hanging limply at a proud 5 inches flaccid, just below a well groomed thatch of dark pubic hair.   Clearly he trimmed them regularly.   He wiggled his hips briefly and watched as his flaccid manhood slapped against the top of his thighs alternately.   His smooth scrotum containing his larger than average testicles, sitting snuggled between his firm, hairy thighs.   Being on the 16th floor of his building, he had a metal plated banister on his veranda.   Unless someone was looking down at a 45 degree angle, no-one was going to see anything X-rated.  
He took another draw on his cigarette and leaned against the banister and looked down to the street below.   Resting his forearms against the banister, he watched a rubbish truck driving slowly up the road, away from his building, as every now and then a person would jump off the side of it, pick up a bag of residential garbage and throw it in the back.   As his gaze drifted to the bottom of the building opposite his, he spotted something odd.   He looked closer at the alleyway between the apartment complex opposite his building and the one to the left of it.   As he focused, he could make out a person looking straight back up at him.   He was curious.  
He took a final drag on his cigarette and flicked the butt over the balcony, in the direction of the person looking at him.   As the cigarette butt fell to the road below, he concentrated more on the partially hidden person and was surprised when the cigarette butt which was 3 levels from hitting the road, burst in a shower of sparks and small flames.   His concentration broken, he focused on the exploding cigarette end and didn't notice the mysterious person had vanished.  
He looked back at the alleyway and couldn't see the person anywhere.   Shrugging to himself, he stepped back inside and locked the door behind him.   He walked over to his wardrobe, flicked on the internal light and found himself a pair of boxer briefs, a pair of track pants, a sweat shirt, a pair of socks and his favourite runners.   He returned to the bed and dressed himself, ran his hands through his hair and tied it in a low scruffy pony tail, getting ready for a morning run.  
In the elevator and descending to the lobby, he briefly stretched his muscles in preparation for his run.   He started with his lower legs, then moved to his upper legs.   By the time he was stretching out his torso and arms, the elevator doors opened to the lobby.   He stepped out into the silence of the empty lobby, the soles of his shoes squeaking on the polished tile floor with every step, and made his way to the main building entrance.   He pressed the button to the side of the sliding doors and exited the building at a brisk jog.   He turned right once on the street and made his way into the morning darkness.  

Ten minutes later found him jogging through a large park near the center of town.   The hundred year old trees creaking in the light breeze, the leaves of both the trees and the shrubbery around the base of the trees rustling gently.   As his path wound further into the heart of the park, he found the silence becoming heavier, unable to hear the normal white noise of city life.   He glanced to the sky, noticing he could barely make out the sky, even though it was just beginning to lighten with the approach of dawn.   Scanning the path ahead of him, he picked up the pace and pushed himself to get out of this eerily dark and frankly, sinister park.   As he came around a bend, he saw the street lights ahead, guiding him to safety.   His step kicked up a gear and he broke out in a sweat, pushing himself to get out of the darkness.   As he broke through the tree line and into the pool of orange light cast by the street lamps, he felt a chill wash over him.   He shuddered with fear and stumbled to a standstill.   Turning to look back into the urban bush he had just exited, he thought he could see a figure on the path he had just run over.   Shaking himself in an effort to remove the fear that was slowly creeping up on him, he turned back toward the street and with a renewed burst of energy, he raced back to his building, as fast as his muscular legs would carry him, occasionally glancing over his shoulder.   Taking the electronic key out of his pocket, he ran toward the door of his building.   Quick as lightning, he slammed the key to the electronic reader on the pedestal just to the side of the door and squeezed through the door as soon as he was able to fit through it.   Turning around, gasping for breath, his chest heaving with exhaustion, he doubled over, hands on knees, and watched the door opening the remaining distance.   It stayed open for a few seconds, and then slowly began closing.   Movement on the street caught his attention.   In panic, he glanced to the left through the window to the opposite side of the street.   Squinting into the pre-dawn darkness, he couldn't see anything.   The door clinking shut, he moved to the window looking harder.   He raised his hands and cupped his eyes against the glass trying to look for whatever had caught his attention.   He focused on the alleyway between the two buildings across the road, some 40 meters away.  
`There!' He all but shouted, his voice echoing in the lobby.   He saw the outline of a person, standing, brazenly staring back at him, or were they? It was too dark to see their face.   Were they even facing him? He strained to focus on them, holding his breath.   The figure took a step backward into the alleyway and disappeared into the shadows.   Exhaling slowly and feeling frustration and fear, he pressed his forehead to the window.   He closed his eyes briefly, enjoying the cool of the window against his warm body.   As he opened his eyes, standing right in front of him, on the other side of the window, was a person staring intently into his face.  
With a scream of fear, he leapt backward, clutching at his chest.   The rubbish man giggled silently, then turned away from the window and ran toward the rubbish truck.   With his heart pounding against his rib cage, damn near beating as quickly as a hummingbird, he staggered over to the elevators almost hyperventilating.   He pressed the call button several times quickly, wanting to get back to the safety of his apartment.   The doors opened a few seconds later and he forced his way between the opening doors, slammed his electronic key to the panel and pressed his floor number.   The doors closed and the lift ascended slowly in silence.   As the elevator beeped announcing its arrival, he again forced his way through the doors and all but raced to his door.   Retracting a security card from his back pocket, he slammed this against the panel above the door handle, waited for the recognition beep and all but tore the door off its hinges in his effort to get inside.   He slammed the door firmly and leaned against it, finally relaxing, his breathing returning to normal.  

The bathroom door opened, steam billowed out of the small room as he walked out casually naked, a towel over his head as he hand dried his hair.   He stood beside his dresser, bare feet leaving a sweat mark on his wooden floors as he finished towel drying his hair.   When he finished, he hung the towel over a clothes drier and picked up a hair brush.   He wandered over to the window and began the struggle of detangling his hair.   He absentmindedly brushed his hair while he glanced out the window.   Not at all paying much attention, he happened to see a woman leaning against her apartment window, much like he was earlier in the lobby.   He focused a bit more and realised she was staring at him.  
Scrunching his face up in confusion, he wondered why this woman was staring at him.   He glanced down briefly and remembered he was still completely naked, and half-mast from the freedom.   He also realised, his drapes had been drawn, allowing anyone who so happened to glance in his direction, a front row view of his naked glory through his full length, floor to ceiling windows.   Laughing loudly to himself, he tossed the hairbrush onto his bed and faced the window.   He flexed his arms in the manner of a bodybuilder and saw the woman's face flush with excitement.   He smirked slightly and stood close to the window.   He ran a hand across his chest, tweaking his left nipple briefly, fingered his way down his rippled abdomen, ran his fingers through his short and manicured pubic hair, finally grasping the base of his half plumped 9 incher and running his hand along the shaft.   As he released it, his penis, inspired by the attention, jumped slightly.   He looked over to see the woman had one hand fondling her left breast as her other hand attempted to snake down the front of her jeans.   Giggling to himself, he smiled, saluted the deviant woman and pulled the string on his blinds, dropping them to the floor, hiding him from the world.  
He sauntered over to his bed, his proud manhood flopping about in front of him, and picked up his discarded hair brush.   He walked over to his vanity dresser and put the hair brush down on it.   He took a hair tie and running his fingers through his still damp hair, he pulled it into a tidy pony tail at the base of his head.   He shuffled into his walk in wardrobe and fished around for a pair of boxer briefs.   He found a snug fitting white pair and pulled them on reluctantly, arranging his now deflating penis into a comfortable position.   He pulled on a pair of thin black socks and rifled around for a few moments, before finding a pair of faded boot leg jeans.   He pulled them up and over his firm, muscled legs and ever so edible butt, buttoning up the dome fly.   He looked around the shelves and found a skin tight baby blue long sleeve shirt and pulled that over his head.   Once fully dressed, he stepped in front of a mirror and assessed his outfit.   His jeans, though not exactly the skinny jeans that emaciated models suited, were rather tight fitting on him.   They fit quite snuggled to his muscular thighs and sculpted and lifted his perky butt just that little bit more.   His skin tight shirt barely contained that expansive and chiseled torso.   Smiling at himself, he walked into the corner of his wardrobe and slipped on a pair of black boots and made his way to his bed side.  
He scooped up his phone, slid it into his pocket after checking the time, 7.55am, grabbed his cigarettes and wallet and walked to the window.   He pulled the string that lifted his window blinds and tied it off.   The woman across the way was still at her window, although her pants were now around her knees and she practically fisted herself.   He laughed at her, waved politely and walked into the kitchen, as she looked mildly disappointed.  
He picked up his electronic key for the building and his access card for his apartment and made for the door.   Once outside his apartment, he made sure the door was locked and walked down the hallway, over to the elevators, pressed the call button and waited.   As the bell sounded announcing the arrival of one of the carriages, the doors opened quietly and he stepped inside.   Pressing the button for the lobby, the doors closed and the elevator slowly descended.   As the doors opened upon the lobby, he stepped out and with a click from the heels of his boots, he made his way to the main door.   As the doors opened automatically, he stepped outside into a brisk morning, the sun not quite making it to the street his building was on.   At 8am, the street was much busier than it was earlier, even for a Saturday.   He looked down the street for a taxi and couldn't stop himself from looking toward the alleyway across the road from him.   Nothing.  
He walked in the direction of the alleyway, looking at it from the safety of his side of the street.   When he came level with it, he glanced down and saw nothing out of the ordinary.   A yellow taxi came screeching to a halt on the road in front of him.   The window buzzed down followed by a terse call from the driver.  
`You want ride?' The obviously foreign driver called out.  
`Please.' He said, still looking at the alleyway as he opened the back door and climbed in.  
`Where you going to?' The driver asked in a thick unidentifiable accent.  
`75 Manchester Place please.' He replied.   The driver planted his foot on the accelerator and launched them into the now increasing traffic.   He gazed out the window, his unfocussed sight not paying the slightest attention to the city whizzing past him.   After a few minutes of chaotic driving, obviously rude foreign and unintelligible curses from the driver, his cell phone began ringing.  
`Alex speaking?' He said formally, answering his phone.  
`Alessandro, it's your mother.' A female's voice with a thick Italian accent replied.  
`Hello Mamma.   How are you?' He asked with less formality, his accent increasing slightly in response to his mother's voice.  
`I'm good piccolo.   Where are you?' She asked.  
`I'm just on my way now.   I'll be there in about 30 minutes.' He answered as the taxi driver blasted the horn and screamed obscenities out the window.   `Hmm, make that 20 minutes.' He added with a chuckle.  
`See you soon caro.' His mother said hanging up.  
`S Mamma.' Alex said dismissing the call and putting his phone away.   He looked back out the window and stared off into the distance, again not paying attention to the outside passing by.  
As the taxi screeched to a halt at the address he had given to the driver, he was pulled out of his reverie.  
`$77.80 please.' The driver said, holding his hand out to Alex.  
`Keep the change.' Alex said handing the driver four $20 notes.  
`Have good day.' The driver said jumping on the accelerator as Alex barely managed to climb out of the car and close the door.   Standing there perplexed at the drivers immediate departure, he smiled to himself and turned around.   He looked toward the grand house that he had grown up in.   Across the huge front lawn, which was a rich green colour, he spotted his mother's car in the driveway.   As he stepped toward the gate, he heard someone call his name.  
`Alex!' Said a gentleman of equal stature to himself.   Almost as tall as he is, not quite as broad shouldered, or muscled.   His hair was the same black as his, but cut much shorter.   His nose was even the same shape, his eyes a luminescent green, his lips the same colour as his own.   He had a rather corny looking goatee, a triangular shape covering most of his chin.   His skin was a deep olive colour, much darker than the older brother.   He was wearing a loose fitting pair of dark blue jeans, a skin tight white t-shirt and a brown leather jacket.   The young man jogged up to him smiling broadly as he held out his arms to his older brother.  
`Franco!' The older brother said embracing his younger brother and hugging him firmly.  
`Good to see you.' The younger brother said breaking the hug and looking at his brothers face.  
`You too my brother.   You too.' Alex said clasping his brother's shoulders.   `I like the beard.' He added.  
`It's itchy as all hell.' The youngest brother said stroking his goatee.  
`I bet it gets the girls.' Alex chuckled.  
`I wouldn't know.   The whores barely stand still long enough to ask them a question.' The younger one said laughing heartedly.  
`Stop calling them whores, and one might actually answer you.' The older brother chided, softly punching his brother on the upper arm.  
`Yeah, yeah.' Came the reply.   `Let's go.'
Alex opened the yard gate and lets his younger brother go in first.   Closing the gate behind him, he pushed his brother gently to the side and sprinted across the lawn to the front door.   With his brother right behind him, he leapt up the several steps leading up to the door.   Managing to stop himself before plowing into the door, the older brother laughed as Franco stomped up the stairs dramatically.  
`You cheated.' He sulked, crossing his arms.  
`You're slow.' Alex laughed ringing the doorbell.  
A girl with long flowing black hair, radiant green eyes, a similar shade of skin as the younger brother, the same triangular nose and pale pink lips answered the door.   She was a good 6 inches shorter than the brothers.   Her face split into a glowing smile as she looked at her brothers.   The oldest brother stepped inside and gave her a warm hug and tender kiss on the cheek.  
`Hello Sofia.' Alex said stepping aside to let his brother greet her.   `Beautiful as ever.'
`Always the kiss arse.' She said with a twinkle in the eye.  
`You offend me.' The older brother said clutching his chest, pretending to be hurt.  
`Franco.' She said embracing the youngest brother.   `You're getting taller.'
`Hopefully taller than that big prick.' He replied laughing at his older brother.  
`Honestly, I sometimes think I'm adopted.' Alex said walking down the hallway.  
`Hey Mamma? Was I adopted.' He called into the house.  
`No.   I gave birth to you while I was on the toilet.   I thought I'd shit myself.   Then I saw you staring at me from the toilet bowl.   Ugliest shit I'd ever taken.' His mother called from the kitchen with her accented voice.   His siblings guffawed loudly behind him.  
`Definitely adopted.' Alex said to himself with a smile.  
`Come here!' Alex's mother called when he entered the room.   She was about the same height as her daughter, with a soft, warm face.   Her hair was black with shocks of grey throughout.   It was tied neatly in a bun at the back of her head.   Her eyes were faded green, almost hazel.   As Alex reached out his arms to hug her, his mother wrapped herself around his waist and hugged him firmly.  
`You need to stop growing so damn tall.' She said looking up into her oldest sons face.  
`S Mamma.' Alex said bending down and kissing his mother on the cheek.   She took his hand and led him to the breakfast bar and motioned for him to sit down.  
`Franco.' She called and Franco came skipping in.  
`Hello Mamma.' He said leaning down and kissing his mum and giving her a gentle hug.  
`Shave your damn face.' She said smiling up at her youngest sons face.  
`S Mamma.' Franco said looking sour.  
Sofia walked into the kitchen smirking at her brothers, who were both seated at the breakfast bar now.  
`Sofia, set the table.' Their mother barked with a vague gesture toward the dining table under the window, sunlight pouring through, bathing the room in a golden glow.  
`S Mamma.' Sofia said her smile wiped clean off her face.   Her brothers giggled quietly.  
`Your Pap will be down shortly.' Their mother said as she dove into the oven collecting breakfast out of it.  
`How is he?' Alex asked quietly.  
`He's fine.   Still sore, but he's fine.' She answered, flipping scones from the oven tray into a basket.  
`That's good.' Franco said drooling slightly as he eyed the scones.  
`Ah, my boys are here.' Came a jovial voice from the doorway.  
Their father, had he not been stooping slightly, would be almost as tall as the oldest brother.   He was thin, skin barely clinging to his wasted body.   He looked up to his sons and smiled.   On his gaunt face, his cheek bones almost cutting through the skin, the hollow beneath them, he looked like a skeleton with a sheet over it; it was a grotesque looking smile.   What would have been a healthy tan was now a sickly shade of green colouring his face.   He had big, dark circles around his blue eyes, the skin of his lids puckering obscenely.   His once thick and dark hair now lying limp and thinning atop his head.  
Heavily dependent on a walking stick for support, he slowly made his way to the table.   Alex stood up and walked briskly to his father's side and helped him the rest of the way.   The son withdrew a chair and safely deposited his father on it.  
`Are you okay Pap?' Alex asked resting his hand on his father's shoulder.  
`I'm fine thank you son.' The old man said patting his son's hand.   `Go help your Mamma.' He nodded in the direction of his wife, half concentrating on breakfast, and half eying her husband with concern.  
`Yes Pap.' Alex answered going to help his mother.   He took the basket of scones and the tray of spreads to the table, while Sofia and Franco collected the rest of their breakfast and brought them to the table.  
`Let's eat.' Their mother said, sitting in the seat next to her husband.  

***