The Toothbrush Vanguard by John Gabriel Adkins

Stood staring into bathroom sink with hands on sinksides he knew some thing could not be taken back, some smallthing and his brother had threw a glass, and his brother was very sad. Said to his brother You could use my guest room till things are sorted out. Very bad. Everyone had told him Don't mention the ugly business. Everyone had told him What if it breaks the camel? He had broke the camel.

He was Charles his brother was Andrew sister was Zoe. He raised eyes from sink to the mirror, a bruise lip. He reached and turned the bathroom light off so just window moonlight illuminated. It hit the toothbrush jar. Andrew and reuniongoers gone out now to drink... after Zoe convince him to unbarricade the bedroom door upstares.

The guests were shook, Andrew was screaming for—

Charles slouched in the dark bathroom corner tiles thought Why couldn't I join the Toothbrush Vanguard? In the Toothbrush Vanguard nobody gets left behind. Brushy, Flossy and Seamus are all here. In the barren orange badlands with cliff-faces and hoodoos they are the only justice. In this episode Seamus loses his pet moose and no one knows what to do.

Reunion had been all friendly-strained cocktails and shrimp cocktails, polite music and conversation in the family home as outside sun fell. Andrew had hugged walls, sometimes disappearing outback for smoking sometimes just disappearing, old wood entertaining hall. No one discussed—but knocking on the bathroom door.

Zoe said It's me.

Charles said no thing.

Zoe said I'm coming in.

Charles said no thing. What about Flossy, the spunky best friend who protects her team at any cost? The case of the missing moose begins when she leads an expedition into Gloamy Gorge. Brushy is pensive.

Zoe came in. Charles was slumping in corner with moonlight over his shoes. Zoe in the doorway with hand on the doorknob, lightly, she said I'm to blame for tonight. I should've known Andy would be... not stable.

Charles slid further over sidewise, eyes shutted, he murmured It is my fault.

Zoe murmured Andy always had his phases.

Andrew had didn't use his words, he did violence. He pulled the tablecloth he hitted Charles and the wall... pushed hard Zoe. He ran in one bedroom for hiding & screaming. But when the Toothbrush Vanguard sets out, they make sure everyone is all right. They are searching the gorge for Shirtless Dave and his Plaque Rats, the bad bunch from last time. In the spooky quarry Seamus loses his moose and there is a panic—so Flossy decides to search by her lonesome.

Zoe to Charles asked Will you be all right?

Charles from the corner said Yes... call Andy. Please close the door.

And Charles in dark was by himself. Andrew had screamed for Rose. Brushy is chasing after Flossy because he smelled mouthwash, which is always a not good sign. Flossy had soaked two Plaque Rats but there is no time, and Seamus's moose is still really missing. Tune in next time for the thrilling—

Later Charles was tired downstairs waiting away with one light when Andrew come back sagging, very drunken. Front doorway framed snow plus his shamble body into the night from the heated fancy welcome room. Charles standed up. Andrew came up very sleepy and sad and said, when drooping right before Charles with such an alcohol stench, he said I'm so sorry.

John Gabriel Adkins is a writer and video game developer. His stories and articles have appeared in The Escapist, Apocrypha and Abstractions, Foliate Oak and Gone Lawn, and he is a member of the United States artist collective Still Eating Oranges.