What he couldn't do via brute strength, he accomplished with magic and so it was in the early evening hours when he appeared with his top hat in place, torches lit, eyes flashing in the firelight.
Let's go, he said, and everyone followed suit, taking a torch up behind me. Off we went, down into the depths of my mind, dodging doors with huge creatures locked behind them, skirting dark corners we didn't want to investigate further, until the air grew cold and the light came up and the telltale crunch of leaves could be heard underfoot.
Almost there? He asks me. His free hand has mine tucked inside it tightly. Close behind us still is my beloved army.
Almost, I whisper. I don't want to bring everyone here. I don't want to be here.
We get to the door and he opens it but Ben steps through first. The light is on but no one's home. They're not here. See, Bridge?
I nod. It's so empty. Our voices echo.
He's not calling you, it's just your mind playing tricks on you.
This isn't the kind of magic I like.
Then let's go back home, Lochlan reaches down behind my ear and brings his hand back, holding up a house key in front of my face. I take it.
I tell Ben to leave the door open. Like I left it before, I tell him by way of explanation.
Sure thing, Bumblebee, he says, and swings it wide, letting it rest against the outside wall.
We make our way back quickly into the dark and then back through into the light. They're gone for real. It was my mind. Everything is okay. It was just a dream.
Lochlan looks pale when he finishes safely stowing away the torches and hanging his hat back on the hook. You always had such a vivid imagination, Peanut and I tried to foster it as much as possible over the years but I wasn't expecting that. Fully constructed rooms. Traps. Dark passages that couldn't hold an echo. Amazing.
It isn't. It's terrifying.
That's why we're fixing it. All of us. Together. For you.
Ben said I had to fix it myself.
I didn't know what we were up against, Bee, Ben says abruptly. I made a mistake.