Aphelion Issue 275, Volume 26
August 2022
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Byproducts of a Gifted Imagination

by Jeremiah Martin

Rodney may not be the true beginning to my story, but he's what brought Dwight and me together so he is where I will start. Rodney was a very ordinary and harmless looking man, as most monsters are. He had thinning black hair and always wore a salt and peppered stubble goatee. He had large hands and a very athletic build. His smile was sinister, but engaging enough to be very dangerous. He was a plumber and an avid softball player. He was also a murderer of children.

I met him by accident (or so I thought then. Now; maybe not so much) on a Tuesday after school had let out downtown. I had spent my morning as I normally did in those days; walking undetected through the halls of an elementary school. I would stroll in the silence and bask in the aura of children's minds hard at work. Then as soon as the bells would ring the doors would shoot open and out they would come filling the air with the wonderful buzz of excitement and joy that can only come from not yet knowing the true nature of the world. All that laughter is like music to me and it was the closest I could get to them, the normal ones anyway.

After school I was standing on a billboard overlooking the parking lot when I noticed Rodney driving very slowly past the playground. Then I saw him turn his big brown car into an alley just seconds after a third grader had done the same on his bike and a strange feeling crept into my gut. I decided to investigate.

What I saw I will never forget.

I immediately began to follow Rodney wherever he went and though I knew his full name, his address, where he worked, and the numbers on the back of his car, I was helpless to stop him. While he was at work or asleep I spent my time scouring the city for a child I could get through to, but I found none. I watched him steal and eventually discard two more innocent kids before he made the mistake of luring Leon into the big brown sedan.

When I saw Leon and Dwight, I figured the monster would have to keep looking. How could he possibly abduct Leon when he was walking next to a man that looked like he could bench press a doublewide trailer? Dwight was a giant, standing seven feet tall, with shoulders as wide as a teacher's desk. His hair looked like it had been sheared off in a hurry and he had a full thick brown beard. He wore gray sweat pants that were jaggedly cut off above his watermelon-sized calves, clean white basketball shoes and a plain white T-shirt. I was very relieved.

Then I saw brake lights.

The brown car slowed down and pulled over about twenty feet in front of the unlikely pair. When Leon walked by Rodney called to him. Twenty seconds later seven-year-old Leon got into the car and Dwight disappeared. At this point I realized that Dwight was like me and that he was about to witness his best friend in the world get strangled to death and there would be nothing he could do about it. I wish that I could have warned him, but when an Imaginary Friend is engaged with his child, he cannot see others like him. There are to be no distractions, it's one of the rules. So once again, I was helpless. But I had to remain close, because very soon Dwight would no longer be engaged, and I would be there to try my best to comfort him, and hopefully enlist him in the fight.

When Dwight linked up with Leon in the brown car he was excited because Leon was excited. "Hey Dwight, we're going to get a milkshake," Leon said

"Who's Dwight?" The man said from the front seat.

"He's my buddy. He's in the back seat."

"Oh, I see," the man said. "Dwight's your imaginary friend. How cute."

Dwight was used to adults reacting to him this way, and he did not at all sense the danger of the situation.

"I named him Dwight, cause he's Da' white dude," Leon said, smiling.

"Very clever, Leon," Rodney replied and patted the boy on the head.

"You didn't name me, I've always been Dwight," Dwight said then quickly changed the subject. "Who's that guy driving?"

"Dwight wants to know who you are, but you said I had to keep it a secret. Can I tell him?"

"That depends..." Rodney said. He leaned closer to Leon and whispered, "Can Dwight keep a secret?"

Dwight reacted defensively, "Hell yeah, I can!"

Leon chuckled and then said, "He says he can."

"Then I guess it's okay," Rodney said and stared into the rear view at nothing.

"He said it was okay, Leon," Dwight said, excited.

‘This is Rodney, he's a schoolteacher. He's got lot's of money and he's real nice."

"That's cool. Hey! See if he'll buy us one of those high powered pump squirt guns, the one with the tank that you wear like a back pack," Dwight said

Leon relayed the request.

"Sure…no problem" Rodney said as he turned into an empty parking lot flanked by two abandoned buildings. I was standing on the roof of the taller of the two.

"Make sure it's the red one, yellow is for girls," Dwight said.

Dwight doesn't like to say what happened when the man stopped the car and attacked the boy. He doesn't like to remember that Leon was screaming his name during the entire episode. Or that it made the monster laugh.

After he finished with the boy, he opened the door and pushed Leon's body out onto the concrete. Dwight was insane. He was flying at and through the man screaming profanities mixed with unintelligible sobs and groans. Despite Dwight's rage, Rodney didn't feel so much as a slight breeze as Dwight's massive but ineffective fists passed through him at a furious pace.

After a few seconds Dwight's hysteria seemed to subside, and he stood breathing hard and sniffling and mumbling to himself. Tears ran down his face and dropped away.

Dwight's tears should have vanished in mid-air, but I followed one to the ground and miraculously, it splashed. I knew then that something incredible was about to happen.

I was not sure whether or not Dwight could see or hear me yet, but I tried to console him any way. I told him that we were going to catch the man and that the adults would surely kill him once they found out what he had been doing.

I was waiting for the monster to leave, but rather than get back in his car and drive to his big blue house in the suburbs, he did something that differed from his normal routine. He got out of the car.

I noticed immediately that his shoes did not match. He was wearing one black dress shoe that looked at least five sizes too big and one brown sandal that was so small he had to curl up the toes on his left foot so they wouldn't touch the ground. He lumbered up to Leon, and took a small digital camera out of his pocket and snapped a picture.

Dwight's face tightened. "What was that?" He said, "A photograph?" The sadness evaporated.

He stood up. Next to him was a yellow diamond-shaped road sign that read NO EXIT. Maybe I was imagining it but Dwight's body seemed to swell until his head was at least six inches above the top of the sign. As Rodney rotated the camera to get a vertical shot of his victim, Dwight dropped to one knee and wiped his eyes with his plate-sized palms.

"Say cheese!" Rodney joked and snapped a third picture

"You son of a bitch," Dwight said and wrapped his large fingers around the pole holding the sign. I saw a crack form at its base. When he ripped it from the ground a large chunk of the sidewalk came with it and hung like a hornets nest from the bottom of the pole.

Rodney reacted as I suspect most anyone would if a screaming giant materialized out of nowhere and came charging at you swinging a road sign like a battle axe. He froze. Just for a split second, then he turned to run, but it was too late.

Dwight swung the sign at a slight downward angle and hit Rodney in the neck, taking off his head and a good deal of his shoulder. When the body fell Dwight hacked at it like a crazed lumberjack until Rodney looked like hamburger and the sign was an unrecognizable wad of steel.

When he finally dropped the sign to the ground, I approached him and tried to console him to the best of my ability. It took several minutes before he even acknowledged that he could hear me.

"Who are you?" he said, dragging his bare forearm across his face.

"My name is Jack," I said, "and it looks like I'm your new imaginary friend."


© 2008 Jeremiah Martin

Bio: Jeremiah Martin lives in Cincinnati Ohio, with his wife and young son. He is a published writer currently working on his second novel..

E-mail: Jeremiah Martin

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