A little while later, Herbert walked into the living room and saw them sitting on the sofa. He kept a good distance, unsure if they had calmed down yet. “If you two would just calm down. I can explain everything.”
“We’ll sit here but only if you tell us what happened and we want the truth,” Donald replied looking very upset and worried.
“Don’t worry. Except you may have trouble believing what I am about to say.”
They both sat still and gave no reply as they waited.
“Well, to begin with, Timmy is still here. I’m unfortunately the only one who can see him and—”
“Yeah…I’d really like to go now,” Timmy interjected, “I don’t like this at all.”
“—Hear him,” Herbert finished and saw Donald getting up. He didn’t waste any time getting back into Timmy’s room before Donald took one step.
“We want to know what’s going on and you’d better sit still and control yourself. I want him back as much as you do,” Victoria told Donald, pulling him down again.
This time, Timmy worked at begging Herbert to come out. He really felt worried about his parents.
Eventually, Herbert walked out of the room and saw they were sitting on the sofa with coffee mugs in hand. Herbert had a cup of this as well. Only now, could he sample what he’d seen Timmy enjoy on the sly.
“If we wanted to kill you, I could have gotten my gun,” Donald warned him.
“My dad really does have a gun and you couldn’t run from it.”
Herbert sipped at his coffee. The after taste was nice and he only felt a mild burn drinking the coffee so fast. “Like I said, you’re not going to believe me, but you have to promise me one thing––if you tell any of this to any other grown-up they wouldn’t believe you either and once you get everyone upset you’d have a lot of trouble getting Timmy back. Not to mention you would throw the balance off in the world of hope, dreams and imagination.”
“You need to speed it up or they’re going to call the police very soon!” Timmy warned.
“Don’t call the police yet, if after I’m finished and you want to…then do it I guess?”
The two glared at him and waited.
“You know the imaginary friend Timmy has been talking to? Well, that’s me.” He smiled and waved. “Hi there.”
Timmy’s parents did not react or smile back.
Herbert cleared his throat and sighed. “It all happened by accident––as the other things that happened around here too—”
“What’s your name?” Victoria asked out of the blue. “If you think I’m going to believe you about my son, then I’d like to know just who I’m speaking to.”
Both Herbert and Timmy felt totally stunned, wondering if there was a slight chance they would really listen to him.
“My name is Herbert. I’m an imaginary friend. I was sent to another boy in this building but then I got the information wrong and ended up in Timmy’s room. I can see you don’t believe me. So, do you have a knife?”
Timmy stood stunned. “What are you going to do with a knife of all things?”
“What are you going to do with a knife?” Both Victoria and Donald repeated the same question.
“I just want to show you that I’m not a real person.” He walked into the kitchen.
The three followed him into the kitchen, not entirely sure about what he was up to.
“I really hope you’re not going to kill yourself, because we still don’t know where Timmy is,” Victoria said, keeping a close eye on the little boy.
Herbert walked over to the wood block and took one of the steak knives in hand. He turned and walked closer to them, stopping a safe distance––not to frighten them too much.
Still, they stepped back unsure if he wasn’t crazy after all.
“Just look and see if you can see any blood running from the wound or on the blade,” Herbert said.
“You know if you let me, I could show them something they haven’t seen and they’d believe us!” Timmy tried his best to get Herbert’s attention.
Herbert stuck the knife into his arm and flinched, because he felt pain as the knife sunk into his flesh. Only like he’d told them, he didn’t have blood the same as them. “I do have something but it’s different from your blood,” he said smiling.
Both Victoria and Donald looked beyond stunned and then she passed out as Donald caught her.
Then Herbert pulled the knife out of his arm.
Donald studied Herbert as if disbelieving what he saw. Still, he couldn’t argue either. Then, he keeled over, barely holding onto Victoria while both lay there on the kitchen floor, out cold.
Timmy gaped at them lying on the floor, then slapped the knife out of Herbert’s hand and grabbed him by the throat. “What did you do that for? I told you to give me time, so we could show them something else! They wouldn’t be passed out on the floor, you dummy!”’
Just then, Donald woke slowly and sat up. He stared over at the pair and almost believed he saw Timmy. Shaking his head, he looked again. It was only the odd boy as he walked closer to him.
Herbert gave him a hand and pulled Donald up. “I can die…but what happened with Timmy was an accident.”
Donald placed Victoria on the sofa. “You say you can die, but not like us. An accident?”
Victoria seemed to be resting on the sofa, then she instantly popped up and looked around her.
“You can see the sunlight is disappearing, although you haven’t got the curtains open––that’s the Fear Eater. He smells my blood if you can say I have blood and also any extreme emotions from Timmy. If Timmy gets too happy, angry or afraid…then it’ll come after him as well. It doesn’t matter for me, that’s the normal way things happen to keep a balance in our world,” Herbert tried to explain to them, “If he goes outside or if he feels any intense emotion then it will come into which ever place and catch Timmy. It wouldn’t see me, because we traded places. Only once before did it get a whole group of children and I’ve got no idea how it happened.” Herbert held his wound tightly hidden.
“So now, you say Timmy is still here and only you can see him. But if he gets upset or too happy or too fearful something will come to eat him––maybe all of us? So, just how do we get him back?” Donald asked looking very sceptical.
“That’s the big problem we now have. He put on my hat. We’ve got tools making us invisible to everyone except the child we come to as a friend, they can see us and speak to us. They also hear us speaking back to them and hence the friendship. He found my hat, laying on the floor of his room while my shadow and I were playing. He put on the hat and now—well, we’ve changed places.”
“Couldn’t he just take the hat off?” Victoria asked eventually.
“Do you really think I’d be invisible right now if it was so easy?” Timmy shouted at her––she couldn’t hear him, but he got a sour look from Herbert.
“I told you not to get upset, the Fear Eater can get here very fast,” Herbert warned him and realized both Victoria and Donald still didn’t believe it.
“What did he say?” Victoria asked.
“You played with your shadow?” Donald asked.
“He just wants to get back to normal and yes, do you have any idea how boring it gets at night when children sleep? We’re not allowed to interact with them while they sleep, they need to sort out their problems highlighted by us during their time sleeping. This would also be the time their imaginations either gather strength or they use them to dream with…” He acted as if they should know this as a fact. “So, the authorities decided we could take our shadows with us. Sometimes, we accidentally move things while we play and then sometimes, we bump into you during the day that’s when the children don’t need us so much anymore, so we just stick around making sure everything is still good with them.”
“Timmy has tried to get the hat off and it didn’t work?” Donald asked, getting back to the part about the hat.
“Yes, and yes.”
“So, just how do we get him out of this mess?” Victoria asked.
“I don’t know. Timmy’s the only one who has the answer. But…there is still another catch to this. If he’s constantly invisible for twenty-four hours in your world, then he’ll stay invisible even though he can get out from under the hat afterward. Just look at me here in the light, do you see my shadow at all?”
They looked beyond him, leaning right and then left as they titled their heads.
“You didn’t tell me that!” Timmy shouted and then he saw the shock and fear ignite on his parent’s faces.
“So, you’ll need to help and we can get him out of this situation,” Herbert finished with his explanation as he sat down on a chair.
Absorbing the information as an adult wasn’t as easy as the two boys thought.
His parents called their work as well as the school to let their whole world know they wouldn’t be anywhere close to work or school. They would have to make a few plans.
While this went on, Herbert and Timmy saw that Donald and Victoria did their best in trying to wrap their minds around this whole concept. They made many calls from the study and seemed to try to prepare for whatever may come.
“What’s gonna happen if I get stuck being invisible? Would the Fear Eater come after me in any case?” Timmy wanted to know, not sounding too happy with the situation.
“As I told your parents I have no idea what will or won’t happen when your time is up. I’ve never ever been in such a situation before. I just don’t know what will happen.”
“When will Shadow be back?”
“The thing of that is if he made it there, and then if the Fear Eater didn’t catch him. Then, it depends if the elders want to help or not. So, we really should plan on sorting this problem out on our own. Waiting for them doesn’t really sound like a good plan,” Herbert told him.
“Just how am I supposed to know what I need to do to get out from under this hat of yours?” Timmy asked him and got up hitting one of the closet doors his parents had opened.
“You’re just very unhappy no matter if it’s here or at school aren’t you?” Herbert laughed.
“You know I wish I’d got back at you more! With all those jokes you pulled on me. Getting me into trouble all the time. It isn’t fair now that I’m caught in this stupid situation!” Timmy shouted.
Both boys froze while seeing the midday light slowly reseeding into the walls as if their day came to an end early.
Afraid now, both of them ran out of the living room to look for Victoria and Donald.
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