“What’s wrong?” Victoria asked seeing Herbert and then suddenly she saw only a white face in the middle of nothing. “Donald!” she screamed, “Come out here right now!”
Donald came running out. He saw Victoria laying on the floor, apparently in yet another faint. He gazed back over at Herbert to see the face of Timmy floating aloft by itself next to Herbert. He looked very pale and as if he might faint but instead, he knelt down to check on his wife.
“What’s going on here?” Herbert asked and then looked over at Timmy. “You have to calm down or we’re going to die here in your house!” he shouted walking Timmy over to the mirror in the hallway.
“Now, just how do you suppose I calm myself down?” he asked very irritated.
“You’ve got a big television over there. Shouldn’t there be a comedy on? You stay there and watch a movie and I’ll get to work on them. Go!” Herbert pushed at Timmy to get him moving.
The darkness grew thicker. They didn’t have much time before the Fear Eater would devour all the living energy it could get a hold of. Even if it was only them who saw the Fear Eater when it broke through to the living world––everyone would just die and no one would know why.
Herbert half carried Victoria and then he helped a weakened Donald walk to their bedroom as well. He splashed cool water on their faces and lightly slapped their cheeks.
While Herbert got them back on their feet, Timmy flipped through the channels to find something good, anything to keep his mind off of everything around him.
The entire apartment grew so dark anyone could have sworn midnight had arrived already. Just then, daylight interrupted the deadly darkness. The light was coming into the apartment once more.
“Hi there. We need to get him out of the house,” Herbert told the parents the moment he got them fully awake.
“Where is he?”
“He’s watching something on the big screen. I really don’t think he’s going to get out from under the hat if he stays here. Even if the Elders choose to help, we won’t last until they come.”
“Just where do you suppose we take him? Where else could be a better place to help him get out from under the hat?” Donald asked.
“He said something about school. Some of the kids there laughed at him,” Herbert told them.
“You hope if he sees his friends or the place where he might be happy it will make the hat come off?” Victoria asked.
“No…no. I really would just like to know why the children laughed at him and if he can tell us that, just maybe he wouldn’t want to hide anymore,” Herbert explained, “I’ve been doing this forever. Every child is different but it could be a place to start?”
With his explanation, Timmy’s parents stared at him in a strange way.
He shrugged and made his way out of their room.
When Herbert walked into the entertainment room, he saw Timmy looked better. The film showing did the trick but it wouldn’t be the solution. “We need to talk.”
Timmy stopped watching the movie to look at him. “Have you figured out an easier way of getting me out from under this hat?”
“Possibly, but then you’re the one that’s going to need to do all the hard work. Are you willing to try?”
“I’m already ten hours past enjoying any of this, what do you need me to do?”
Just then, Victoria and Donald walked anxiously into the room.
“We’ll have to get out of the house.”
“Just one thing…it’s an apartment and not a house.” Timmy grinned at him.
Light seemed to be draining from the windows as the day started drawing to a close.
“Sorry, an apartment, but then you’re dressed and we’ll need to move if we want to get there before the real sunset happens.” Herbert headed to the door.
“Why do we need to get there before the sun sets?” Victoria asked.
“Because if we can do it and get out in the day, then it would be harder for the Fear Eater to catch us. Children love the day and it might confuse the Fear Eater as to where we really are. If we leave it for later, like say dusk, then it would be worse for us. There are many grown-up as well who hate dusk or even the night. It would give us a few minutes…Covering our tracks as it were.”
“What about Shadow? Wouldn’t he come here if he thinks you’ll be here waiting for him?” Timmy inquired.
“Shadow would come to me no matter where I am. Just like the Fear Eater, he can sense only me and know where I am. There isn’t enough time to wait for him.” Herbert waited patiently at the door…knowing far too well not one of them wanted to go outside and face this thing. “Believe you me, just how do you think it will it be for me, since I’m suddenly visible and I’ve never been before. Never before in all my existence. What to say about being in your world. Who knows? There might be someone out there who’ll see me, someone I might have helped when they were young. Not one of us knows what we’ll find beyond that door.”
They stared at him for a long moment and then each of them split up, rushing to their rooms perhaps to get something they would need when they stepped beyond the door.
“Now then…what should I get for myself?” Herbert wondered, waiting patiently for them.
“I forgot! There’s nothing out of my room I can take with me. I’m not real right now,” Timmy griped loudly as he walked back to the front door. “It would be nice if I could go take a leak though.”
Herbert rolled his eyes at the boy’s preoccupation with his bladder.
They stood at the door. The plan was that Timmy would hold onto Herbert since they could see each other while Victoria and Donald would follow them.
Just as they turned the doorknob, the doorbell rang.
The four of them halted. They had no idea who could be at the door. They didn’t expect anyone.
Timmy walked forward while the other three stood like statues, almost not even breathing. He looked through the peephole. The doorbell rang again. “What the—it’s the Cooke family and it looks like they’ve been keeping an eye on us to see why we’re still home.”
“Timmy says it’s the neighbors ringing the doorbell,” Herbert told them.
Donald walked to the door seeing the three of them waiting, and then came the repeated knocks on the door.
“Hello…where are you?” Pete shouted while knocking at the door.
Victoria jumped each time the door was hit. “I can’t believe the Cookes’ are being so intrusive!”
Pete stood shorter than his wife, but he looked to be built strong. He’d become overweight in the last few years. Not a lot of exercise and then eating secret take-away food when Rita his wife wasn’t in the vicinity. So, indeed, he possessed enough power to really shake the front-door of the apartment.
Most men who saw Rita instantly liked what they saw. Most men would go out of their way to chat with such a stunning woman. Only the moment she spoke, would be when most intelligent men would realize she wasn’t all there. Having a high pitched voice and speaking in that same squeaky, high tone all the time. Keeping up with Pete wasn’t hard at all for her. They were after all…the perfect couple.
Pete and Rita’s son, Andy landed them in the same situation as Donald and Victoria. They never expect to have a child. Andy stood barely taller than Timmy. Both were the same age. Andy was far lazier than his parents were at his age. Using his large build, he became one of the bullies at school. This way, he could get what he wanted whenever he wanted.
“We’re not leaving through that door,” Herbert surmised, walking to the master-bedroom while the three followed him.
“Just what are you doing?” Timmy asked curiously, “Why are you going to my parent’s room?”
The knocking on the door increased and became a loud banging on the door. Donald stared at it, as if unsure if the poor door would hold-up against the onslaught.
“He’s really got a big problem…” Herbert told them walking to the sliding door and opening the curtains. “We’ve lost a lot of time and Shadow has not come back yet.”
“What are you doing?” Victoria asked.
“You want Timmy back right? If you’re serious, you’ll have to trust me.” Herbert opened the door to the balcony.
“What are you getting at?” Donald asked.
“Yeah buddy, why are you going outside like this?” Timmy asked. “Those idiots at the door will leave eventually, and then we can go out using the door!”
“Seeing that they’re there we can’t go that way anymore. Besides, we’ve got to make it to the bridge that’s just right outside.”
“What bridge are you talking about? There’s no bridge close to us,” Victoria argued. “Especially—not right outside of the window!”
“He means for us to drive over the bridge or what?” Donald asked.
Herbert walked onto the balcony. “Come on, you won’t fall.” He motioned at them.
Donald, Victoria and Timmy didn’t look the least bit happy about standing on the balcony so late in the afternoon. Not even to talk about why they were there or what would happen when they did follow Herbert onto the balcony.
“Okay now…we’re all going to take each other’s hand and then…” Herbert waited seeing how they would react to what he told them next, “…Do not let go or you’d fall to your deaths!” He watched them back away from the balcony. “Do you want Timmy back? Do you want him normal again?”
“We just keep holding hands? Who would be taking Timmy’s hand, seeing neither of us can even see him?” Victoria asked.
“I’ll take his hand and you’ll take mine. Now then, close your eyes and think…fly. Just think it and then push gently off from the balcony…Keep your eyes closed until I tell you to open them…if you want.”
Very slowly, Donald and Victoria took each other’s hands. They stared at Herbert and then saw him taking Timmy’s invisible hand.
Herbert made sure to take a good hold, unwilling to let him go now. “With the two of us, anything is possible. I’m from the world beyond your dreams and you’ve got more power than what you can even imagine. Now come on, just think fly and just lightly press with your toes off the balcony.”
Donald and Victoria stared at the boy talking to the emptiness next to him. Both closed their eyes and held onto each other. Timmy held onto Herbert for dear life. Each of them pushed away from the balcony gently. Slowly but surely, they lifted off the balcony and before they even knew it—they were airborne.
“I’m still in my pajamas! I’ve got only slippers on! I’m not dressed to go out anywhere anyhow!” Timmy shouted, “This kind of crazy thing could make anyone WET themselves!”
They were all floating in the air, hovering a few feet above the balcony. By now, gravity didn’t have any influence on them.
“Just think…fly!” Herbert repeated.
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