Herbert’s Hat

A Novel

by Cobus Vermeulen

Chapter One

TIMMY WALKED into yet another door… He never listened to those around him; reading books while walking… that’s dangerous. For a second he was stunned, sitting eventually. Herbert didn’t tell him that there was a door in front of him––better jet;
“Herbert did you open the door so that I would walk into it?”
Off course, no one else could hear the conversation and they didn’t really care anymore.
“It’s a phase that would pass.” Doctor Owens told his parents.
But no matter what he told them, Victoria and Donald became very worried as Timmy’s injuries intensified over the last two months. Even thought this, they couldn’t get Timmy to stop playing with Herbert.
“It’s understandable, for an only child like him to react this way. He might just be crying out for help or attention. He’s lonely and he is possibly unable to tell you how he feel. Because most of the times children do not know how to express their own feelings about this, for he must not know what is wrong himself.” another Psychologist told them.
Donald and Victoria struggled even more to come to terms with this. Suspecting that there might be something seriously wrong with their son. Not that Timmy was looking worried in the least. It was just that Herbert wasn’t going anywhere.
Timmy got up from the floor and walked with his book under his arm, heading to his room. He needed to brush his teeth and get ready for bed. At twelve years old, he was an easy going boy. He loved reading. With imaginative capabilities of child his age––he would sometimes also sleep with the light on and this was a big joke for Herbert.
Timmy didn’t at all show his wild thoughts and brave side to his parents. It might just shock them. He was a fast runner, getting out of trouble at most times. He had black hair, which came from neither his parents––but within the family though. Having the darkest brown eyes––almost looking black at times, everyone seeing him, were astound by this look. Still developing, Timmy was the same size of the other boys and girls. He stood firm went things went astray and he needed to help.
“Are you ready?” Victoria asked, sitting down on the bed, reading to her son before he’d drift off to sleep.
Victoria didn’t need to read much before Timmy was fast asleep; the last few weeks were really hard on all of them.
Why he suddenly needed an imaginary friend, was in reality, beyond believe of most of the specialists, who spoke to Timmy and his parents.
The tiredness drew even faster on both Victoria and Donald. They got into bed and were fast asleep in short time.
They had to move from Chicago; Victoria had at a last earned herself a position at a local television studio in the news room. Donald landed a position at an architectural company; each their dream job. Now they had to renting from the Manhattan based Apartment Company.
Neither of them was as strong, as neither suspected their young son to be. If Timmy didn’t stand next to them, no one would believe he was their son. Even their personalities differed from his. Neither of them was adventurous in the least. Avoiding confrontation at all times.

IT WAS three fifteen Friday morning when Timmy got up out of bed, walking to his
bathroom. He was almost sleepwalking, maneuvering his room and tripped over the strange thing on the floor. He truly fell himself awake. Immediately taking notice of it, even though he needed the toilet badly.
“What is Herbert up to this time?” he asked, very irritated, getting up.
Timmy saw in the little light, the thing he’d fallen over was indeed a strange object. He didn’t have his glasses on, thus getting on all fours he saw better what exactly it was that lay just out of his reach.
Timmy took a hold of it, getting up, realizing that it was a hat…
“Now why would Herbert take out my hat?”
Just then Timmy felt the hat in his hand vibrated. Looking at it, he saw that it wasn’t his hat at all. There was something strange going on with it.

In the meantime Herbert and his shadow ran as fast as they could, getting to Timmy’s room. As soon as Timmy picked up the hat, they both knew there was something very wrong.
“I just hope that he doesn’t put it on!” Herbert shouted.
‘What do we do if he does?’ his shadow asked in Herbert’s mind.
“Just cross your shadows that it doesn’t happen…” Herbert said, looking into Timmy’s room.
They saw that Timmy had the hat in hand. Both of them knew that the hat was up to tricks, feeling the vibration from it across the room.
What’s going on here?” Timmy asked, “Whose hat is this, if not mine?” Timmy wondered, starting to feel much happier than he could explain at being.
Just then Timmy saw a bright red shining feather growing out of the side of the hat like a tree. The taller it grew out of the hat, the brighter it became as well. This was impossible to happen, but then he was totally mesmerized at what was going on.
“Herb… buddy… if this is your hat, this is one of the coolest tricks you’d ever pulled on me so far… Why do you always just hurt me, especially when this is so much nicer than what you’ve done to me so far?” Timmy asked; blown away with this shining red feather.
It was held in place by the material of the hat itself. There was a band reaching around the hat. It was the same width as a plastic ruler Timmy had in his school bag. It was funny; the band was a mixture of different patens and colors, all running across the band. It closely resembled the running text of advertising space at Time Square.
It was made of a combination of plastic, like the ruler and a material which felt like, neither and both at the same time. Then, while Timmy held the hat, the material-plastic band around the hat changed. It almost looked like the shining colors of the sirens of the police cars, ambulances or the fire-engines, he’d seen on the Television––not only the lights; he could hear the sirens, in his head as well.
Timmy looked around him, seeing that the light was bright and bouncing off the wall in his room. The sounds were loud enough; if his parents could hear them, they’d have woke-up.
“How is this possible? Who is Herbert actually?”
Timmy stood in disbelieve, looking at what was going on inside his room.
Then, right on top of the hat there was something pushing through. Timmy saw, it was something like an antenna––the kind they would use for a space buggy on the moon. It was turning around and looked funny like it wasn’t completely built, but then it looked right, nonetheless. It just then started turning as well.
Herbert my friend, if that human boy puts on the hat, do you even know what will
happen?’ Shadow asked inside Herbert’s head.
“Shadow; thinking such things, will not help us right now. Without the hat on, he would see you as well. This cannot happen…” Herbert told him, while they kept a close eye on Timmy, with hat in hand.
To Timmy’s astonishment, he now saw there were a boy and dog running all over the top of the hat. They were playing with a Frisbee. The dog caught it every time. Once or twice the dog even jumped far over the rim of the hat, catching the Frisbee out of reach and then touched back down on the hat itself. At these times, the dog got a little naughty and the boy had to chase after it, getting the Frisbee back. Timmy saw that the two were really happy while they played with each other.
On the side, Timmy saw there was a railway-track which now popped out of the hat. There was one tunnel and as the two carts hooked on each other, they splashed through some water at the front of the hat. Very little droplet, hit Timmy in the face, just enough to notice.
This took place on the side-wall of the hat and then at the back––he saw that there was another tunnel. As the carts ran in the one side, there was a light coming out of the exit of the little tunnel. Timmy was amazed at seeing just how bright the light was. There was even a spot of light on the wall, the moment the train came out of the tunnel. This time it was a small locomotive, pulling two full passenger cars behind it. Not only did Timmy see the light, he heard the whistle and the puffing of the steam engine as well.
There was even vibration on the hat, this while the track just kept going around the hat, looping around the side of the hat. Laying itself with the train coming, disappearing when it past.
Before Timmy put the hat on his head, he saw there was now a girl on a bicycle, who kept riding on the very rim of the hat. She kept looking and smiling at the boy. Riding her bicycle and looking while he played with his dog. She never fell off the bicycle and never stopped peddling in a circle around the two either.
What Timmy didn’t even realize was, he could see all of this clearly, without even using his spectacles.
The second Timmy put the hat on his head; he felt something tickling his ears and his neck at the same time.
“What in the world is going on now?” touching his ears and neck; “How is it possibly that my hair is suddenly growing like this?”
Timmy’s hair grew all the way, reaching his shoulders. His hair was so brilliant black that it actually glittered. Only when he took a hold of it, looking at it in his hand––his pitched black hair suddenly changed into bright silver.
“This… cannot be happening!” Timmy thought, stressing a little; “Now why would Herbert leave his hat here? I still don’t understand why he’s here and why he cannot just go back home… And now, this hat?” feeling his hair just stop growing to shoulder length––“This could be one of his pranks and I’ve once again fallen for it, really good!” Timmy said, looking around him, not sure where Herbert was.
Just then Timmy took a hold of the hat, trying to get it off his head. It was stuck to his head, sticking like superglue. It wasn’t going anywhere. Not that the hat was too big or small, it should have come off easily.
Great! There’s a heap of trouble on the way…” looking at shadow.
‘He’s very interested in knowing why you left your hat on the floor… Why… did you leave your hat there, for him to find?’ Shadow asked, seeing Timmy walking to the mirror on the closet door.
“This is not good! Not good at all!” sneaking quietly into the room.
‘He’s going to see what happens when the hat’s on his head! His going to know!’ Shadow shouted and jumped, the fear of separation hitting him now.
This time it’s only Herbert that looked from behind the bed. He didn’t see Timmy’s shadow anymore, knowing that Timmy was wearing the hat. Knowing there was a great deal of trouble coming. Herbert knew they should be really careful now; for Timmy, his life and so much more depended on it.
“Shadow, you’ll have to go back and get some help! Hurry!”
Just then, there was a sudden thunderous boom ripping through the room. There was lighting and the loudest roaring of wind, which Herbert had never heard before. As soon as this happened, Herbert couldn’t see Shadow anymore.
Herbert lay on the floor. The wind had hit him pretty hard. Suddenly Herbert could feel a great deal of pain.
“What in the world… real or not… was that?” he asked, unable to speak louder, having the wind knocked out of him.
Herbert got up slowly.
He was in Timmy’s room.
He was in the same building Timmy lived in.
He was in Timmy’s world.
He had become… a real boy.
Herbert had light gray eyes. He had pure white spiky hair. His hair was short enough not to penetrate through the hat itself. With the hat always on his head, his hair had never gotten any sun, giving it any color. This was changing as well, while he lay there, his spiky white hair changed into a shining black and the spikes also disappeared. He was only halfway up, looking around him and then he saw that shadow wasn’t there anymore.
“What’s going to happen now? Where did shadow go?” Herbert asked aloud, stressing more than he wanted to, “Did anyone of them hear any of that?” he wondered, grabbing hold of his mouth, looking around the room.
TIMMY LOOKED at himself in the mirror and didn’t really know what was going on. His mind wasn’t with him at the moment.
“This is really cool…” finding that he didn’t see himself, “I’m… I’m invisible!” he shouted as loudly as he could.
Timmy didn’t think twice, running from his closet. He’d just gotten as far as Herbert, running right into him.
Herbert fell backward and looked at Timmy, getting up off the floor, feeling the impact on himself and the floor––yet again.
‘What’s going on?’ Timmy shouted, at the boy he ran into.
“Well for one thing, no one except for me can hear you… shouting at me…” the young boy told him, “So, speak normally and I’d know what you’re saying.”
‘Who… are you? What are you doing in my room?’ shouting again.
“Don’t you recognize me?” asking him and smiled as nicely as he could, looking far weirder than what he imagined himself to look.
‘I really don’t know what you’re talking about!’ shouting a little more, starting to worry himself, ‘You better get out of my room and our apartment, if not… then I’ll call my parents!’
“I’d really like to see that one happen.” the boy told him, smiling at Timmy; “It’s me, Herbert… you idiot!” he shouted just a little too loud.
‘Whoever you are, you better keep it down or my…’ Timmy wanted to say and then heard his parents’ room door open.
Timmy stood looking at Herbert and grabbed the hat, he tried to pull it off but found that it was truly stuck on Timmy’s nugget!
‘Hey idiot… do you seriously think I’ve not tried that one yet?’ looking really frustrated
––‘Why can this thing not come off my head?’ he shouted in utter terror by now, ‘What? Do you really think it would work if you pulled my head off my shoulders? If either one of my parents walk into my room and find that I’m not here, they’d call the National Guard, the Police, the FBI and everyone else who could help!’ he shouted blistering loud at Herbert.
‘You… you need to get into my bed. Just answer any questions that either of them might ask. We need to buy some time!’
“I’m not entirely inclined in helping this situation.” Herbert told him, seeing the face Timmy was making and almost laughed.
Herbert just looked as if he wanted to ask another question, when Timmy shoved him in the bed. Standing in front of the bed––then moving out of the way, thinking they’d see him.
Timmy moved behind the bed and waited for which one of his parents would walk past him and into the room.
“Timmy… are you okay?” Victoria asked from the hallway.
‘I just got up to use the toilet mum, fell in the dark… everything’s all right.’ Timmy whispered to Herbert, not happy with what he heard.
“Yes mum, I’m okay––good night.”
Timmy was instantly boiling beyond his limit, ‘What are you doing? She’ll coming in, and then she’ll give you one look!’ he jumped up and down, seeing out of the corner of his eye that the door started moving, ‘When they realize I’m not here, they’d go really crazy and they’d lock you up in prison!’ Timmy shouted still, stressed out of his mind, ‘This is it! She’s coming in!’ Timmy shouted and stopped jumping, realizing that he would be seen––not use to the idea of being invisible.
Both their hearts beat really fast, while neither knew what was coming next.
“Good night Timmy.” pulling the door close.
Timmy wiggled himself out from under the bed. He had grown far too much in the past year and wasn’t able to fit under the bed that good anymore.
With the move from Chicago and everything they’d been through; there was a good many things which had been forgotten. Keeping fit enough and not growing too much, just two.
‘What do we do now?’ shouting at Herbert, worried even more.
“What do you mean, what do we do?”
‘I mean, she didn’t come in, that was a lucky break. But then, tomorrow you’re going to eat breakfast and both of them will see that you’re not me! That is something that you might have thought of before you… you…’ he shouted again, freaking out like they’d do.
“First off; this is the first time it has e…v…e…r happened that a human child, got a hold of a hat or anything belonging to one of us. Second of all––have you never heard that you shouldn’t touch things that do not belong to you?” Herbert asked him very politely, just looking at Timmy as he did so.
‘What do you mean, the hat… this hat on my head, was lying on my floor! In my room! I
stumbled over it! How was I supposed to know that I shouldn’t have touched it nor have put it on my head? Is there any place… on the hat that says that it shouldn’t be done?’ Timmy shouted at him, easily reaching the top volume his lungs could provide––so much so that Herbert saw that he was getting pure white in the face, smiling at the funny situation.
“As a matter of fact; on the inside of the hat, there’s an inscription that tells you… that you shouldn’t put on the hat, for you would become invisible… as well…” Herbert said and looked in amazement at the antics, which Timmy got into.
Looking like he was dancing, but wanted with all his might to kick and fight Herbert.
‘Now he tells me!’ walking around in a small circle in his room, ‘Not only do I find out that I shouldn’t put on this hat… You just might not be the best person to even have this kind of a hat!’ shouting still, looking at Herbert, ‘What am I going to do now? What else is… going to happen?’ he asked unsure, knowing that Herbert must be enjoying this to the fullest, ‘Just tell me when… would I get it off my head?’ Timmy asked very serious, once more turning ghost-white in the face, the only thing showing was his pure white face and the rest of him had been wiped out.
“First off, you need to calm down.”
Still Timmy was standing; breathing heavily, barely able to believe what was going on.
Then Timmy lost his footing and slammed down on the floor, head first, ‘I cannot believe it… it doesn’t hurt!’ he shouted, looking at the face that Herbert was making at seeing him
falling like that.
Herbert got of the bed and walked over to him. He gave Timmy his hand and pulled him up.
“Now you need to listen to my, there’s a few things that you need to know.” Herbert told him and saw that Timmy was ready to launch himself into a head-first, dive-bomber attack on the floor, “Do you want to stay invisible for the rest of your natural life? As short as it may be?” he asked, getting Timmy’s attention immediately.
‘What; do you mean? You can get me out of this, by just saying the magical words? Can’t you?’ he asked and then suddenly they realized that both could feel there was a light vibration reaching them inside the room.
“That’s what I wanted you to know, there’s a thing out there that lives of fear. Thus, to balance it out, the creatures that are sent to make you happy stop it from visiting you too often. It literarily would kill you with your own fear and steal your soul in that way.” Herbert said and walked to the door; “What is worse than that, if it got your soul… It can reach into your world and eat everyone it comes in contact with.” Herbert told him, seeing Timmy’s face once more turned pure white, “If they felt fear or joy or any emotion at the time, it doesn’t matter.”
Herbert opened the door and looked out, not sure if there was anything out there.
‘What… what… what… what are… they?’ he didn’t really want to ask, seeing the way that Herbert was looking back at him.
“Have you ever heard me talk to you in a bad way? Have I ever lost my temper? You’re getting white in the face and you need stop right now so that you wouldn’t stick out like a sore thumb, in the middle of the dark of night?” Herbert told him, turning slowly toward him, “If it gets you or me… then the other one would be doomed to stay in the form they’re in… forever…” Herbert told him, seeing that Timmy now understanding a little better, “I’m not a real boy so there isn’t a way that I’d ever pass as one; for very long. You need to trust me on this.”
Herbert told him and walked back to Timmy––“You need to stay as neutral as possible. For everyone’s sake.”
Herbert took Timmy by the hand and they walked to the bathroom, there Herbert showed Timmy that he was becoming visible again––“If you do not listen to me, it would bring out the Fear-Eater”.
‘What do we do now?’ he asked, looking really worried.
“Whatever you do, don’t think of something silly…” Herbert said and saw that Timmy got the idea without knowing it at all.
‘I need to smile and tell you a joke, for this to change and that thing to leave?’
“My shadow went to ‘headquarters’ to get someone to come help us. It could take some time; so we’ll have to figure out a way, get things back to normal ourselves.” he said, smiling at Timmy, “That is if we can.”
‘What… are you smiling at?’
“You look like a very strange circus clown; just without your red nose and the rest of your outfit. You reassemble a ghost even more than a clown.” Herbert joked with him.
‘You know; you’re not helping. I can’t help it if I don’t look so good, I am invisible you know. I bet that I’d be better at this than… say… you.’ joking back.
As soon as they both smiled, they could feel the presence to the Fear Eater disappear.
“You have to remember that you need to stay neutral. If you are too happy the monster would come and scare the happiness out of you. Then the children around you would know that there are things that really do eat children at night. They wouldn’t want to sleep and that in itself would bring the ‘fear-eater’ as well. If you don’t stay neutral then it would find us and which one is left behind, would stay that way, not to mention all the children who would disappear if something went wrong. Now you understand why it’s so important to hold on until the others come to help us?” he asked, yawning.
‘You better get into bed, tomorrow will be a tough day. There might be no ‘fear-eater’ you’d be facing, but what you would… there’s no telling how they’d react to you. ’ Timmy told him, smiling happily as he could only imagine what was coming.
“One thing; you shouldn’t leave the house and don’t do anything that an invisible person would do. If you draw too much attention to yourself, well then, you’ll be an invisible boy for the rest of your natural life.” Herbert warned him, “There’s nothing better for the Fear Eater to gobble up, than a human boy. Children gives it the purest energy. It doesn’t matter if it is fear or laughter––you’re vulnerable now and until we can figure out how to get both of us out of this mess… You’d need be extra careful.”
Just then Timmy lifted the toilet seat and saw that it was even worse funny for him now, seeing what Timmy was about to go.
‘Do you mind, I’d like some privacy to have a little pee… that was what I wanted to do before I fell over your hat…’
“I know what you want to do, but then I can almost promise you… it’s not going to happen. I’ve never ever had to go, thus, there’s a brilliant possibility that you’d not be able to pee in this form either…” he said, doing all he could not laughing himself into a fit.
Not worried about Herbert right then, Timmy just had to show him.
He got ready and stood there, having a full bladder and the feeling he’s going to wet himself. Still, where Timmy stood, he stood. Nothing happened and he could feel Herbert lying on the floor, desperately trying not to laugh.
Graciously Timmy finished in there, unable to open the tap, touch the towel or close the door.
He only walked to his room and waited for Herbert. The moment Herbert got in the bed and his head touched the pillow, he was out cold.
‘Tomorrow I’ll crack myself at you…’ Timmy thought, ‘You should be really lucky about this, if I was able to pee… It would have rained all over you buddy!’
SHADOW WAS running over the city as fast he could. He was jumping and bobbing
from one shadow to another. Most of the animals that he passed didn’t know what hit them. They just saw the shadowy movement passing them. But then, they didn’t hear him and were so stunned by the sudden movement, which most of them were scared off into running away.
Shadow didn’t look behind him; he didn’t want to know if the Fear Eater was behind him. The only thing he knew was, he needed to get to the Headquarters and get some help––very fast indeed.
Running as hard as he did, it still didn’t feel like he was making any ground. Thus, he worked even harder in getting back there. Running so hard, he started to look like a shadowy mark over a page. There was no way of seeing any movement anymore, he was running far too fast, looking like this black stripe reaching over all the roofs, running further and further away from Herbert.
TIMMY FOUND that he wasn’t sleepy. He sat up the whole night. Donald walked into the entertainment room, thinking that either of them forget to switch off the big screen and switched it off, before he walked back to bed.
Timmy waited and looked in on them, making sure they were sleeping––then he was in there again, watching more movies. Early enough he was finished and wanted some water to drink. At this moment he figured out that he didn’t need to eat or drink either. He realized that his invisible body didn’t hold on to air, water or any food. He didn’t need a thing to ingest to generate any energy.
Timmy patiently waited for the percolator to activate. He walked into the kitchen and did his best not smiling too much. Timmy found that it was much harder to keep neutral than to cracking himself at what was to follow.
‘Good morning Mom… Dad, I’d really like to see what your reaction will be… when you hear about “this” one.’ Timmy thought, not that they’d heard him speak––doing what he could not to smile.
“Is Timmy awake yet?” Victoria asked Donald.
‘Ho brother, is it Saturday or a weekday, I forget…’
“Did he have a nightmare last night?” Donald wanted to know.
“I looked in on him but he sounded good, but this imaginary friend of his is really bothering me.” she said and Timmy bumped into her when she moved to fast for him––not feeling him in the least bit.
“Why is it that we bump into things in this place and there isn’t anything there to justify it?” Victoria asked, looking worried at the same time.
‘If you only knew… what is in-store for the both of you. Then you’d get that I’m not the one that’s got the issues. Herbert is here and I didn’t ask for any kind of imaginary friend. Just setting the record straight…’ Timmy said, not happy with their discussion.
“I really don’t know, but this morning the television was on at three o’clock; do you think that Timmy was watching something?” Donald asked her, while both looked even more worried.
‘Boy; do either of you know what this morning holds for you?’ Timmy smiled, then
immediately stopped smiling, looking around him and outside.
Victoria was taller than Donald. She was slender and would have been a knockout on the cat-walk; if only she’d ever possessed the determination and courage to do so. She had light blue eyes, with her dark brown wavy hair. She was happy when she caught Donald’s attention.
Both believed they were lucky with each other, not ever knowing how true it was.
Donald and Victoria were forty and forty-five respectively. They’d never planed having children, so it was quite a surprise when Timmy came along.
Donald had just gotten a little overweight, not by much. He was only barely losing some of his blond hair and could see grey’s popping out by now. Like Victoria, he had just as light green eyes. Their combination didn’t explain how Timmy was so different from them.
At this time Herbert got up, firstly walking into the bathroom––first time he’d ever needed to use the toilet.
Timmy stood just inside the door, seeing that Herbert didn’t close it. He’d never needed to do something like that.
“How can they do this… everyday?” he asked, “How can they sleep only this little, I really need to spend the whole day in bed.” Herbert said, yawning so much he struggled to aim correctly; steadying himself.
Timmy stood looking at Herbert, wanting with all his heart to crack himself at the little boy wonder…
‘Hi there buddy…’ Timmy said, seeing that Herbert swung around and missed the entire toilet-bowl now––‘You know what would be really nice?’ Timmy asked him, seeing that Herbert jumped and turned back again––‘To relieve myself and let my very full… bladder go!’ Timmy said loudly, seeing that Herbert wasn’t in the least happy.
He almost didn’t wash his hands––“This kind of life will be the death of me… Where do you even get the energy from, to even play?” he asked, ignoring what Timmy said.
This was really funny for Timmy, having realized that his bladder wouldn’t go no matter what he did.
Then Herbert walked out of the bathroom, he wasn’t looking to well––since he had never slept like a real boy. Herbert had no idea what was going to happen or what he should be doing; looking miserable. Herbert was dressed in a pair of black pants. It wasn’t Demin, but it was sturdy. He had a gray shirt on and just as he walked out of Timmy’s room, he saw that he was wearing what looked like old shoes. Not even Timmy knew what they were. There was no time and Herbert walked into the kitchen. He saw Donald and Victoria were already having breakfast. There was no easy way, walking into the kitchen and look on the reaction they would have, when they saw him and not… Timmy.
“O… there you are. Timmy, did you watch television this morning?” Donald asked, walking around the corner of the kitchen table.
Victoria wanted to know what was going on. Did he react like this because they moved and all his friends were left behind in Chicago.
“Timmy why don’t you answer you father?” she asked, moving along the table’s edge.
‘This will be ho so good…’ looking at the unsure Herbert; ‘The tension can almost make you ‘wet’ your pants… or what?’
They stopped the second they set their eyes on the strange boy, standing in their kitchen. Neither of them knew what to say nor knew how to react.
Herbert stood as tall as Timmy was. He had pure black short hair and when they looked closely, he had much lighter skin, than even Victoria. Then as well, he had light gray eyes and
had darker gray pupils. Dressed in the almost black clothes just sealed the shocking deal for them.
“Good morning. This must not… be; what you expected to find this morning, or what?” Herbert asked, shocking them even more.
Both looked really stressed, walking very slowly toward him––stopping and then while they looked at him, mouths wide open, they tried to see if he was real.
“I do understand… you would have figured; Timmy would have been here this morning,” Herbert started, “But then… something’s happened––which you wouldn’t believe… when I tell you.” Herbert said, both still looking at him, totally stunned and still unmoved.
Each of them aimed for a chair. Victoria just had to get off hers chair again, walking up and down, talking hysterically––pacing over the kitchen floor.
“There was a little accident, but Timmy is in no danger or even been hurt.” Herbert told them, “Wow… this is much harder than I thought it would be…”
They only looked at him. The thought that there was an accident and that their son was now missing. Victoria ran to his room and Donald right behind her, they plundered the clean room in search of Timmy––but, Herbert could have told them, they wouldn’t find him.
“Timmy! Where are you?” both of them shouted, at their own time.
Still rambling through the room. Opening every door and moving everything they could.
Herbert walked into the room and looked at them, plundering through the room still, looking for Timmy.
“He’s in your house, but then you can’t see him.” Herbert told them, seeing how they reacted now, turning mutinously toward him.
Herbert turned around and ran out of the door; he ran through the kitchen and headed toward the foyer. He saw the way Timmy’s parents reacted when they thought they lost their son and he wasn’t particularly interested in getting beaten up by them.
Suddenly Donald shouted behind him and unfortunately Herbert turned around, not looking where he was running and fell over the golf-bag dropped in the middle of the hallway.
“Timmy! This isn’t the time to play tricks on me!” Herbert shouted, sliding over the floor, lightly hitting his head against the door.
“What did you do with Timmy?” Victoria screamed, very high pitched from behind Donald, who couldn’t get to Herbert when he slid over the floor.
Herbert jumped up, standing against the wall and ran from them again. He knew he just
needed to get them tired enough, and then they would talk.
“I’ll kill you if you hurt our son!” Donald shouted, turning and running after Herbert again.
By now Victoria was totally emotionally drained. She stopped, sitting down on the sofa in the living room. Donald realized that she wasn’t running behind him and stopped immediately. Then he saw that she was sitting on the sofa.
“If we stop chasing him, then he’d come out and tell us what he knows.” she told Donald, sitting on the sofa breathing hard.
“What… do you really… want to tell me…. that he’d… tell us,… the truth?” Donald asked her, breathing hard himself.
“Just how many friends… does he have here,… who would help him… playing such a prank… on us? Even if Timmy’s as angry as everyone suspects of him,… he’s our son and I cannot ever believe he’d do something like this. He’s not cruel.” Victoria told him, while the tears rolled now––“If he’s not here. Let’s hear what the boy has to say and find Timmy, that’s all that I want.” she told him, while she cried even more.
Donald, out of breath, walked up to her, sitting on the sofa and held her close. They were both scared of the situation.
Just then both passed out, when the shock of the situation hit them.
ALMOST ONE hour later Herbert walked out of the room and saw that they were sitting on the sofa. Herbert kept a good distance, making sure he’d be in Timmy’s room before they could get a hold of him.
“If you two can just calm down… then I can explain everything.” Herbert said, walking into full view of them, keeping well out of reach.
“We’ll sit here, but only if you tell us what happened and we want the truth, not at the tenth time!” Donald told him, looking very upset and worried.
“Don’t worry, you are the only ones that will be laughing at me,” he said and saw them looking funny at him, “Well, to begin with; Timmy is still here. I’m unfortunately the only one that can see and really unfortunately…” Herbert said.
‘Yeah… I’d really like to go…’
“Hear him.” Herbert said and saw that Donald got up, Herbert didn’t waste any time and was back in Timmy’s room before Donald took one step.
“If we want to know what’s going on, then you better sit still and control yourself. I want him back as much as you do.” Victoria told him, pulling him down again.
This time Timmy had to beg Herbert to come out, for he was really worried about his parents’ sake.
Eventually Herbert walked out of the room and saw that they were sitting on the sofa
with coffee in hand. There was a cup of coffee near to Herbert and they looked at him.
“If we wanted to kill you, I could have gotten my gun.” Donald told him.
‘My dad really have a gun and you wouldn’t run from that, it’s just coffee––try it and you’d see… its good! Believe me!’ Timmy said, then he walked closer to the cup; smelling as best he could––not that he could, as he couldn’t even go to the toilet––‘Ho… would I ever want a cup of coffee round about now!’ almost sticking his nose into the cup.
Herbert walked to the cup and drank it in one gulp. It wasn’t that hot or Herbert would have been in some pain. He looked at them, seeing they were still sitting and got a bit more comforted.
The aftertaste was nice, he only felt a mild burn, drinking the coffee so fast.
‘Why couldn’t I have gotten a cup before all of this took place… Why couldn’t I have taken a leak before all of this… Ho brother…’ Timmy said, standing close to Herbert, still trying to smell the aroma.
“You’re not going to believe me, you have to promise me one thing––if you tell any of this to any other grown-up they wouldn’t believe you; that means, you’d have a lot of trouble getting your son back. Not to mention that you’d throw the balance off; in the World of hope, dreams and imagination.” he told them, not making any sense to either of them.
‘You need to speed it up; they’re going to call the police very soon!’
“Don’t call the police yet, after I’m finished, if you want to… then only. In any case, by then you’d be even more shocked and blown away.” Herbert said and bought the two of them some time, “Just listen to me.”
The two looked at him and waited. He saw the stage was set and started again.
“You know the imaginary friend that Timmy’s been talking to, well… that’s me. Hi there,” Herbert said, smiling and almost waving at them; “It all happened by accident––as the other thing happened too… He saw me as we spoke and thus I’ve got to stay with him until it’s time for me to leave.” Herbert saw that they weren’t really hearing all of it and wondered just how close they were to calling the police.
“What’s your name?” Victoria asked out of the blue, “If you think that 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 looked totally stunned, wondering in fact if there was a slight chance that they were going to listen to them.
“My name is Herbert. I’m an imaginary friend that was in fact sent to the boy two flights down but then I got the information wrong and ended up in Timmy’s room,” he told them, “I can see that you don’t believe me, do you have a knife?” he asked them, this time even Timmy was worried.
‘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 asked him, worrying even more now.
“I just want to show you that I’m not a real person.” he told them and walked into the kitchen.
The three followed him into the kitchen, not entirely sure what was going to happen.
“I really hope that you’re not going to kill yourself; we still don’t know where Timmy is.” Victoria said, keeping a close eye on the little boy.
Herbert walked to the wood block and took one of the steak knives in hand. He turned and walked closer to them, stopping a safe distance from them––not to frighten them too much. Still they stepped back, not sure if he wasn’t crazy after all.
“Just look and see if you can see any blood running form the wound or on the blade.” Herbert said.
‘You know if you let me I’d show them something they haven’t seen and they would believe!’ Timmy tried his best to get Herbert’s attention.
Herbert stuck the knife into his arm and flinched, there was pain for he could feel the knife going into his flesh but as he told them––there was absolutely no blood on the knife nor did they see any in the wound.
“I do have something, but it’s different from your blood.”
Both Victoria and Donald were beyond stunned at the moment, and then she passed out again. Donald had to react fast, taking hold of her. Then Herbert pulled the knife out of his arm. There was no blood, which even Donald couldn’t believe what was going on. At this moment even Donald keeled over, barely holding onto Victoria, while both lay there on the kitchen floor.
Timmy looked at them, and then looked at Herbert. He slapped the knife out of Herbert’s hand and grabbed him by the shirt.
‘What did you do that for? I told you, you can give me time so we’d show them something
else that wouldn’t make them pass out!’ Timmy shouted at him, stopping and walking back to where they lay on the floor.
Just then Donald woke slowly and he sat up. He looked at Herbert and almost believed he saw Timmy. Shaking his head and looked again. There was nothing and saw that Herbert walked closer to him.
Giving him a hand, pulling Donald up.
“I can die… but what happened with Timmy was an accident.” Herbert told him, while Donald placed Victoria on the sofa.
“You say that you can die, but not like us and that there was an accident?” Donald asked
him, as soon as Victoria rested on the sofa, she almost instantly popped up and looked around her––not sure where she was, shocking both of them, yet again.
This time Donald and Herbert stood close to each other, seeing the bewildered Victoria, looking pretty scary.
“Before anything else… do you see that the sunlight is disappearing although you’ve got the curtains open––that’s the Fear Eater.” Herbert told them, “He smells my blood, if you can say that I have blood and also any extreme emotions of Timmy.” Herbert told them, “If Timmy gets too happy, angry, afraid and so on… it would come after him as well. It doesn’t matter for me, that’s the normal way things happen to keep a balance in the our world.” he tried to explain to them, “If he goes outside and or if he gets too excited; any intense emotion, then it will come into which ever place and catch Timmy. It wouldn’t see me, because we changed places. Only once before did it get a whole group of children, I’ve got no idea how that happened.” Herbert told them, seeing the light inside the apartment slowly dissipate.
“So now, Timmy is still here and only you can see him. But if he gets upset or too happy or too fearful, that thing can come and eat him––maybe all of us? So just how do we get him back?” Donald asked Herbert.
“That’s the big problem, he put on my hat––we have things that make us invisible to everyone but the one person, the child we come to, as a friend; they can see us and speak to us.” Herbert told them, sure that they wouldn’t believe a single word he’d said, “They also hear us speaking back to them and hence the friendship. He found my hat… which… lay on the floor of his room when my shadow and I were playing. He put on the hat and now… we’ve changed places.” Herbert got into the thick of things––shocking them again!
“Couldn’t he just take off the hat?” Victoria asked eventually.
‘Do you really think that I’d be invisible right now if it was that easy?’ Timmy shouted at her––not that she’d heard him, getting a look from Herbert.
“I told you not to get upset; the Fear Eater can get here very fast.” Herbert said and realized that both Victoria and Donald still struggled in believing it.
“What did he say?” Victoria asked.
“You played with your shadow?” Donald had to ask.
“He just want to get back to normal and yes, do you have any idea how boring it get at night, when children sleep. We’re not allowed to interact with them while they sleep, they need to sort out the problems that brought us to them––while they sleep.” Herbert mentioned to them, “This would also be the time their imaginations either gather strength or they use them to dream with…” as if they knew this as a fact; “So the authorities decided that we can take our shadows with. 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 to make sure that everything is still good with them.” Herbert told them.
“So he tried to get the hat off and it didn’t work?” Donald asked.
“He did and it didn’t work.”
“So just how do we get him out of this mess?” Victoria asked.
“I don’t know; he’s the only one who has the answer to that.” Herbert told them, “But… there is still another catch to this. If he’s constantly invisible for twenty-four hours; here in your world, then he will stay invisible even though he can get out from under the hat after that.” Herbert told them, blowing their minds again, “Just look at me, here in the light––do you see my shadow at all?” he asked them, seeing they just looked at him.
‘You didn’t tell me that!’ Timmy shouted, and then he saw the shock and fear ignite on his parents’ faces.
“So, what I want to tell you is this, you’ll need to help so we can get him out of this situation.” Herbert told them, sitting down on a chair.
Absorbing the information wasn’t as easy as they’d thought. Both of them had to call work as well as school to let the whole world know that they wouldn’t be anywhere close to work or school. They’d have to make a few plans and while this was going on, both Herbert and Timmy saw that they did their best, trying to wrap their minds around this.
‘What would happen if I get stuck, being invisible? Would that Fear Eater come after me if that happened?’ Timmy wanted to know, not sounding too happy with the situation.
“As I told your parents, I have no idea what will or wouldn’t happen if your time is up.” Herbert told him, “I’ve never ever before been in such a situation before and so, I just don’t know what will happen.” being unhappy with the current situation himself.
‘When will Shadow be back?’
“The thing is, if he made it there and then if the Fear Eater didn’t catch him. Then it depend if the elders want to help or not. So, we really have to sort 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 which his parents had opened.
“You’re just very unhappy, no matter if it is here or at school.” Herbert laughed and saw that Timmy didn’t react to this.
‘You know, I wish that I laughed at you more; it’s not fare that I must be caught in this stupid situation!’ Timmy shouted very upset and then stopped, seeing the midday light slowly reseeding into the walls as if their day came to an end.
Both of them ran out of the living-room, starting to look for Victoria and Donald.
“What’s wrong?” Victoria asked, seeing Herbert and suddenly she saw there was only a white face in the middle of nothing.
“Donald! Come out here right now!” she screamed and passed out yet again.
Donald came running out, seeing that Victoria lay passed out on the floor. He looked at Herbert and then saw the face floating in the middle of nowhere.
Just then he dropped to the floor, passing out himself.
“What’s going on here?” Herbert asked and then looked at Timmy, “You have to calm down or we’re going to die here in your house!” Herbert shouted, walking Timmy over to the mirror in the hallway.
‘Now just how do you suppose do I calm myself down?’
“You’ve got a big-screen Television; there should be a comedy on? You stay there and watch the movie and I’ll get working on them. Go!” Herbert told him, pushing Timmy to get him moving.
The darkness was growing thicker and they didn’t have much time––the Fear Eater would devour all the living energy that it could get a hold of. Even if only they saw and found the light dissipate, as soon as the Fear Eater broke through to the living world––everyone would just die and no one would know why.
Herbert half carried Victoria and then he got Donald to their bedroom as well. He took towels and soaked them both in the bathroom-basin, splashing them with the water hidden in the fabric. While Herbert was getting them back on their feet, Timmy flipped through the channels, looking for something good; anything to keep his mind of everything around him.
The entire apartment was so dark that they could swear that it was midnight already. Then the daylight interrupted the deadly darkness and they found that there was light coming into the apartment once more.
“Hi there, we need to get him out of the house.” Herbert told them, the moment he got them fully awake.
“Where is he?”
“He’s watching something on the big-screen. I really don’t think that he’s going to get out from under the hat, if he stays here. If they choose to help, we’ll not last until they come.” Herbert told them.
“Just where do you suppose do we take him? Where else could be a better place to help him get out from under that hat?” Donald asked.
“He said something about school that some of the kids there laughed at him.” Herbert told them.
“You hope that if he sees his friends or the place where he might enjoy playing he might want to get back there?” Victoria asked.
“I really would just like to know why the children laughed at him and if he can tell us that, then maybe he wouldn’t want to hide anymore.” Herbert said, “I’ve been doing this forever. Every child is different, but it could be a place to start.” he told them, walking out of the room.
WHEN HERBERT walked into the entertainment room, he saw that Timmy was looking better. The film, which was showing, did the trick but wasn’t that good, it did stop him from freaking out too much.
“We need to talk.”
Timmy stopped watching the movie, looking at him.
‘Have you figured out, an easier way, to get me out from under this hat?’ Timmy asked, smiling all the way, but not too hopeful.
“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 this, what do you need me to do?’
Seeing Victoria and Donald walked anxiously into the room.
“We’ll have to get out of the house.” Herbert said.
‘Just one thing… it’s an apartment and not a house.’ Timmy said, seeing that the light was again being drained from the windows, the real day was 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 sun set.” Herbert said, walking 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 a little harder for the Fear Eater to catch us. Children love the day and it would confuse the Fear Eater to where we really are. If we leave it for later, dusk, then it would be worse for us. There are so many, grown-up as well, who hates that time of the day or night. It would give us a few minutes… Covering our tracks as it were…” he told them.
‘What about Shadow, wouldn’t he come here if he thinks that you’d be here waiting for him?’
“Shadow would come to me, no matter where I am––just like the Fear Eater he can sense only me, know where I am. There isn’t enough time to wait for him.” Herbert said and waited patiently at the door––knowing far too well that not one of them wanted to go outside and face their fears.
“Believe you me, just how do you think would it be for me; I’m suddenly visible and I’ve
never been that in all the time I’ve been in existence. What to say about being in your world. Who knows, there might be someone that sees me, who I might have helped, when they were young. Not one of us knows what we’ll find beyond the door.” Herbert told them.
They looked at him and then walk to the door. Each of them split, running to their rooms, getting something that they would need when they stepped beyond the door.
“Now then… what should I get for myself or stand here waiting?”
‘I forgot, there’s nothing out of my room I can take with, I’m not real right now…’ Timmy said, looking at his messy room and walked back; ‘It would be nice if I could go take a leak though…’ Timmy said, seeing that Herbert wanted to scream by now.
Everyone was there, first would be Herbert and then Timmy; holding on to him since they could see each other and then came Victoria and Donald.
Just as they headed for the door, the doorbell rang. The four stopped. They had no idea who could be at the door. They didn’t expect anyone.
Timmy walked forward while the three stood like statues, almost not even breathing, silently waiting. With only Herbert able to see what Timmy was getting up to––he grinned. Timmy got to the peephole.
The doorbell rang again.
‘What the…’ Timmy said, while Herbert now smiled, seeing that Timmy had jumped with the shock of what he didn’t expect––‘It’s the Cooke’s family… it looks like once again they’ve been keeping an eye on us, seeing why we’re still home…’ the told Herbert who only looked at Donald and Victoria.
“Timmy says that it’s the neighbors who are ringing the doorbell.” Herbert told them, seeing that now Donald walked to the door, seeing the three waiting at the door, and then came the repeated knocks on the door.
“Hallo… are you there?” Pete shouted, knocking at the door once more, not in the least worried who may be there.
Victoria jumped each time the door was hit. She couldn’t believe them being so intrusive.
Pete was a short man, still for his height he was pretty well built. 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. Thus, he had enough power to really shake the front-door of the Wilson’s apartment.
Most men who saw Rita, instantly liked what they saw. Most men would go out of their way to chat-up such a stunning woman. That was until she spoke and most intelligent men would realize she wasn’t all there. Having a much too high pitched voice and speaking on the same 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 had the same situation with Andy; as Donald and Victoria had with Timmy.
Andy was barely taller than Timmy. He was the same age as Timmy and was far lazier than his parents were at his age. Not only that, he used his overweight size to be one of the bullies at school. This way he could get what he wanted when there was something to be had. To say the least, neither one of the boys liked the other.
“We’re not leaving through that door…” Herbert told them, walking to the master-
bedroom, while the three followed him.
‘Just what are you doing? Why are you coming into my parents’ bedroom?’ Timmy asked, not sure what was going on.
They walked into the main-bedroom, while the knocking on the door increased, becoming banging. Donald looked back at it, not sure if the poor door would hold-up against the onslaught from Pete.
“That guy really has a big problem…” Herbert told them, walking to the sliding door, first opening the curtains––“We’ve lost a lot of time and shadow has not come back yet.” he told them, looking at Timmy.
‘Just where do you think you’re going?’
“What are you doing?” Victoria asked.
“You want Timmy back, if you’re serious about that, then you’ll have to trust me.” Herbert told them, opening the sliding-door to the balcony.
“What are you getting at?” Donald asked, really worried now.
‘Yeah buddy, why are you going outside like this? Those idiots at the door would leave and then we can go out that way!’ Timmy said, stressing just a little bit while he looked what Herbert did.
“The only reason we’d have gone out that way, would be to walk over the bridge, but then, the Cooke’s are out there––we cannot do that anymore.” Herbert told them.
“What bridge are you talking about? There’s no bridge close to us, which we’d immediately walk over.” Victoria told him, “Especially… not right outside the window?”
“He certainly means for us to drive over the bridge or what?” Donald asked.
‘Herb… buddy, why are you opening the door?’ Timmy asked, seeing that Herbert walked onto the balcony.
“Come on, you wouldn’t fall.” Herbert told them, standing there looking at them.
Donald, Victoria and Timmy weren’t in the least bit happy at 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 told them, seeing that each of them were so scared that they walked back into the room.
Herbert looked at them, “Do you want Timmy back? Do you want him normal again?” he asked them, waiting patiently for them to get onto the balcony again.
“We just keep holding hands? Who would be taking Timmy’s hand, seeing that neither of us can even see him?” Victoria asked.
“I’ll take his hand and you’ll take mine.” Herbert told them, “Now then, close your eyes and think… fly…” he told them, “Just think it and then push genteelly off from the balcony…” Herbert told them, “Keep your eyes closed until I tell you to open them… if you want.” he told them.
Very slowly Donald and Victoria took each other’s hands. They looked at Herbert and then saw him taking Timmy’s hand. Herbert made sure to take a good hold and unwilling to let them go now.
“With the two of us, anything is possible. I’m from the world beyond in your dreams and you’ve got more power than what you can even imagine.” Herbert told Timmy, looking at him, “Now come on, just think fly and just lightly press with your toes off the balcony.” Herbert told
Timmy.
This while Donald and Victoria looked at the boy, talking to the emptiness next to him.
Both closed their eyes and held onto each other and Herbert for dear life.
Each of them pushed away from the balcony genteelly. Slowly but surely they lifted off the balcony and before they’d 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 w… e… t… themselves!’ Timmy shouted at Herbert, knowing there was no way he was able to do much more than that.
Before any of them knew it, they were floating in the air, hovering more than a meter above the balcony already. By now, gravity didn’t have any influence on them anymore…