Is that you?

By Alyssa Parker

“ Is that really you?” I questioned. “I thought you were dead?”

“Yeah, well it didn’t stick.”

One hour earlier

Approximately 23 more seconds until I can leave this place, forever! Well, forever might be a stretch but for at least 48 hours. As much as I like running my own business it gets quite dull after a while. It’s been a slow week and I need something interesting to make this week just a tad better. Unfortunately, I never have anything to do on the weekends, so I’ll probably just read a book or watch a movie. Like always.

Yes! It’s 5:30 on the dot. I start to pack up my belongings to head out of my office. Out of the corner of my eye I see this bright flash of light; almost like a camera flash. When I look up I’m met with a picture, one that I haven’t seen in probably 20 years: it's a picture of me and empty space, or well to them it was empty space but to me it was him, it was Sam.

Sam was my best friend, he was my family, he was the monster under my bed. He wasn’t a monster though. He’s tall, slender, he has long brown hair, the reason he was sent to be a monster under my bed was because he was supposed to be the scariest. I had around 15 monsters before him, they were all scared of me. Sam was their last choice, but we ended up becoming best friends, well family actually. I wonder why he’s back?

The sound of glass breaking snaps me out of my trance. I immediately reach toward my pepper spray, just in case. All of a sudden I hear a voice, a familiar voice, a voice that belongs to my best friend.

“Sam?” I question. “Is that really you? I thought you were dead?”

“Yeah well it didn’t stick.” There it is, the sarcasm that I’ve missed so much. He comes strolling through the doorway, the same smirk I hadn’t seen for years.

“Wow, I can't believe it’s really you.” I put my hand out. “Still remember it?”

He just laughs and takes my hand. The same handshake we made years ago. Our hands clap, then our fists bump, then our thumbs interlock and we shake our fingers.

“So, why are you here? I never thought I’d see you again because of your promotion.”

“Yeah, I never thought I’d have to come back, but we have a serious problem.” He sighs. “Do you remember one of the first monsters you had: Raymond?” I shake my head up and down. “Yeah, well he got kicked out of the business years ago, and he’s furious. He’s trying to make the organization disappear, he’s sending monsters to the Crooked house, and I need your help to save the organization.”

What? Why me? I can’t do anything about this. Why would he ask for my help if he knows I can’t.

“Why would you ask me?” I gesture to myself.

“Because Alyssa, you are more powerful than you think. You have powers that most people would kill for, you just don’t know how to use them. You see Alyssa, you have the power of imagination.” There’s silence for a while. I just stare at him.

“Pft, that’s a power? Okay whatever you say, I trust you. Let’s go stop Raymond.” Sam starts running around the room in a frenzy. He’s jumping up and down smiling like a child that just got a new puppy for Christmas.

“Alright,” Sam concludes. “Let’s go stop Raymond!”

One bus ride later and we arrive at a run-down gas station. Really? A gas station? This is where Raymond is devising his plans. Wow, must be better on the inside.

“You literally have more power than almost anybody in the world and you couldn’t get a car, or at least a taxi?”

“Hey, don’t judge. I don’t want to risk getting kidnapped.” He replies. I just stare at him with a dumbfounded look; seriously, sometimes the things he does makes me wonder. “Alright let’s get going. We have no time to waste, Raymond needs to be stopped.”

“Alright, what’s the plan?” I ask. He’s silent for a moment, just staring at me.

“What plan?”

Ha. I start cracking up laughing. When I compose myself I look up to see a very serious looking Sam. Oh, he’s actually serious.

“What do you mean ‘what plan?’ Don’t tell me you don’t have a plan. Everybody knows that when you are about to fight a villain you have a plan. It’s common sense. Do you not have common sense?”

“Of course I have common sense,” he argues. “I just didn’t make a plan.”

“Are you kidding me? Great, now we’re both going to die.”

“No we won’t. I’ll make a plan, just give me a minute.” The only reply he gets is a scoff.

After about five minutes Sam comes up with a plan and explains it to me. Basically we are going to trick Raymond. I’m going to walk into the gas station while Sam goes around back. Once he gives me the signal, through an earpiece he gave me, I will distract Raymond with my “power” and then we’ll lock him up forever. I’m not entirely sure how this is going to end, but I have faith; maybe.

As I walk up to the entrance of the gas station I notice a tiny black box right next to a potted plant. It has a red dot on it and a green one near the red. I don’t think much of it. Sam goes around back and walks towards the back door. When he’s standing right in front of it he takes a deep breath; in, out, in, out. He shifts nervously from one foot to the other, a look of determination on his face. I can hear his voice come through on the earpiece; he sounds timid.

Sam starts to explain how my powers work, for probably the fifth time. I guess he’s just trying to make sure that this goes well.

“Any questions,” Sam asks.

“Yeah actually, um, there a little black box on the ground here, what does the blinking red light on it mean?”

“Oh that’s no— wait, blinking?”

“Yeah what does,” I don’t have time to finish my question, Sam is already whistling in my earpiece signaling that I can go inside.

The walls inside are a dusty grey color, with paint peeling off the walls. The floor is littered with plastic bottles and canned food, all covered in a thick layer of grime. The air smells of mold, it’s kind of giving me a headache. There’s this ringing sound in my ears and a stabbing pain in my forehead. Behind me, I hear the clicking of a boot against stone floor.

“Well, well, well, look who we have here. What’s your name again? Alyssa? Yeah Alyssa. Why I haven’t seen you in years, what brings you here.” Raymond walks towards me. With each step he takes I take another one backwards, I’m almost at the entrance again.

“No reason I was just in town and I wanted to pay a visit to an old friend.” I smiled devilishly. He looked confused, probably because of my sudden change in facial expressions. My eyes flicker to look behind him, to look at Sam. They next few things happen in the blink of an eye. First, Sam uses a bright red rope to tie Raymond’s hands begins his back, second, Raymond is pushed into a chair, and third, the pain in my head becomes almost unbearable. Then all I can see is black.

The lights are blinding when I finally open my eyes. I can make out a figure tied to a chair, must be Raymond, and I can sort of see a person in the corner of the room.

“Alyssa, are you awake?” Sam turns around. I don’t respond. Instead, I stand up and look at Raymond, who’s already staring back at me. Finally, I understand what I have to do. I understand that imagination is a power, you just have to know how to use it. Images start to flood into my mind: The Crooked House, the poor monsters that have been taken there, and the image that will help the most, the directions for The Crooked House portal.

My eyes slam shut, I start to form pictures in my mind. The doors to the portal start to form, after a while they are complete. Now here comes the tricky part, I latch onto the image of the portal doors, then I gradually open my eyes, making sure that the picture is still there. When my eyes are completely open I’m met with a wonderful sight; there are a set of dark, double doors that are engraved into the wall.

“I did it! I can’t believe I did it!” I run towards Sam, a huge grin on my face. We take a minute of celebration before I look back at Raymond. I turn to Sam and ask him what we should do. I don’t know much about The Crooked House, but I do know that there are only two people in the world who can access it: the one with the key, and the one with the power. Maybe if Sam keeps the key and we lock Raymond in The Crooked House then he will be imprisoned forever. Yes. That’s what we’ll do.

I explain my idea to Sam and he agrees. I walk up to Raymond and take the shiny silver key from around his neck. Once its off I examine it, it is actually more of a light blue, it has intricate details engraved into the key. I turn it in my hand a few times, that’s when a notice two tiny letters engraved into the key: SA. That’s odd.

I hand the key to Sam and it immediately shines a crisp white; there’s a new letter on the key, an M.

“Looks like it found its owner.” I smile at Sam. He just chuckles and walks towards the door. The key fits perfectly into the slot on the handle. Sam’s hand turns the key and the large doors creak open. There is a flood of monsters that fill out into the gas station. They all disappear the instant that they get their powers back. Inside there is a small shack that has a red roof, that’s falling apart, and a black door that’s fitted between two barred windows.

“Alright Raymond, time to go.” Sam unties Raymond and shoves him into The Crooked House. He then slams the portal doors shut and locks the doors; the doors disappear.

“Looks like it's time for me to go back home. You should come visit us sometime, I know that the other monsters would love to see you.” Sam chuckles.

“Yeah, I bet they would. I would love to visit.” I walk towards Sam. I put my hand out, he grabs it and we do our secret handshake.

“Don’t forget Alyssa. You are incredibly powerful, but that doesn’t mean you should always use your power. This can be a dangerous thing, you need to control it.” Sam stares me dead in the eye, a serious look on his face.

“I may be dumb, but I’m not that dumb. I know that this can be dangerous, I won’t do anything stupid, okay?”

“Okay.” Sam turns around and heads for the entrance of the gas station. He stops in front of the double glass doors and looks back. I grin at him and he turns around, opens the doors, walks outside, then he’s gone.

I guess I really did have the power. I can’t believe it. I’ve always thought that imagination was just another characteristic to a person. That just goes to show that you can do anything with a little creativity.

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