There was a knock on his bedroom door. William wiped his face and said, “Come in.” His parents entered and sat on the bed next to him.
“Hey pal, your mother and I spoke for a while downstairs. I don’t believe in this nonsense that those crazy people were pushing, but I also don’t have special dreams like you do. Neither of us do. Therefore, we decided to leave it up to you whether you want to take your medicine or not,” His father took out the bottle of pills and set it on his nightstand, “And listen son. We are not your biological parents, but I am your father, and this is your mother. We are your real parents, and we love you very much. Please don’t keep things secret from us anymore. We are here to help you, okay?”
“Okay Dad,” William hugged his father and mother, which made him feel better already.
“Now it’s late. Do you want to come sleep with us in our bed?”
“No, I will be okay.”
“Okay pal, get some sleep.”
His parents left and William took a shower. He got dressed in his pajamas and brushed his teeth. He sat in his bed and stared at the bottle of pills, thinking of what Ms. Wong had said about how not taking them could be the difference between life and death. He would not take them. He had a plan for tonight. He would not be wandering in his sleep tonight.
William went over to his closet and pulled out his school belt. He used it to fasten his left arm to the post of his bed. He gave it a few tugs to make sure he couldn’t pull it loose. Then he climbed into bed and fell asleep.
William woke up the next morning, still in bed. His plan must’ve worked, and he had no dream he had to suffer through. He reached to unlatch his hand and froze. A chill ran down his spine as he saw a face in his closet. A round pale face. The roof of the room was lifted away, and sunlight spilled in, blinding William. When he opened his eyes, it was night and his bed was in Warwick Field. The field was overgrown with vegetation, but the tent still sat at the middle. He could hear laughter and calliope music on the inside and see light spill through the open flap.
“Hear that William?” the shrill true voice of Mister Fumplestink came from William’s right. The buzzing in his head returned, accompanied by nausea. He saw Fumplestink standing atop the dilapidated white shack near the edge of the field. Even though he was so far away, the voice sounded like it was right in William’s ear.
“That is the sound of all your friends, all the good children, playing. They are having a good time while you sit out here. You could be having fun with them, but instead you chose to be naughty,” Mister Fumplestink fell off the roof of the white shack into the thick vegetation and began crawling on all fours with immense speed towards the bed. As he moved through the field, the vegetation was pushed to the side, indicating his location.
“NAUGHTY CHILDREN MUST BE PUNISHED!!!!!!!”
Fumplestink reached the bed and grabbed the foot of it with his left arm. He remained in his speed crawl as he turned and moved towards the tent, dragging the bed behind him. William watched the sign reading “Fumplestink’s Fun Emporium” quickly approach, then disappear behind him. As they moved through the open flap Fumplestink let go of the bed and stood up. He walked leisurely into the tent and stood on the pedestal in the circular area in the middle of the bleachers. William saw the bleachers were full of the children from his class, minus Betty and Carl.
“Children, it saddens me to say this, but William has been a naughty child. He refuses to come and play with us, and I cannot let anyone else into Dreamland to play with me until he joins us. Now I think what he needs is what any naughty child needs…”
The children in the bleachers all stood up and said in unison, “To be punished.” They made their way down the bleachers to the entrance of the tent. The mob of children surrounded the bed and lifted it. They began carrying it into the tent.
William tried to break free from his belt, but it had turned into a large metal chain. He yanked at it over and over, but it would not come free. He began trying to plea with the other children to set him down and leave him be, but none of them even acknowledged him speaking, not even Mike or Neil. It was like they were all in a trance.
Upon entering the tent, the calliope music was no longer melodious but discordant and haunting. Mister Fumplestink had stopped disguising his face and voice in the presence of the other children. It seemed they didn’t care what kind of monster he really was. They carried William to the center of the tent, where the pedestal was. One of the kids moved it to make room for the bed. They set the bed down, facing the section of bleachers with the metal door behind it that read “Timeout” above. The children grabbed the section of bleachers and moved them from in front of the door.
Mister Fumplestink leaned in close to William’s ear and whispered, “And what better way to punish a naughty child than timeout?”
The chains fell off the door, and it swung open revealing darkness. The children all began chanting and cheering and dancing around maniacally. Mister Fumplestink stood behind the bed with the biggest smile on his pale face that William had ever seen. A whimpering came from the darkness. A very familiar whimpering. The same whimpering William had heard when he first entered the tent. He could hear something moving, coming closer to him. The whimpering grew louder and louder.
William tried his luck again at the tether holding him in place. He yanked and pulled and yanked and pulled, but it was no use. He wasn’t going anywhere. He turned around to face the darkness and the thing in it. A pale, fleshy hand became visible as it reached out of the darkness. It was unnaturally long and reached all the way out of the door before falling to the ground with a thud. The hand consisted of four, long crooked fingers. A thumb, an index finger, a middle finger, and then where the ring finger should have been was a mass of flesh that resembled two fingers fused together, with two separate nails coming out at the tip. The long fingers dug into the ground and the arm flexed as if struggling to pull a body from the darkness.
Another arm reached out of the darkness and grabbed the top of the doorframe. The hand had three digits, a thumb and two triangular slabs of meat that could not be classified as fingers. The arms flexed some more and then lifted; the first arm reached farther out towards William before sinking into the ground. The second arm reached up further on the tent wall, tearing into the side of the tent as it groped for something to hold onto. The whimpering constantly grew louder as the thing crawled further and further into the tent.
A third arm reached out of the darkness and grabbed the side of the doorframe with a hand possessing two long fingers, neither of which was a thumb. The three long pale arms finally pulled a head from the darkness. Then a torso. The head was round and pale with fleshy lumps of the same pale color all over. The torso also had these fleshy lumps. The head moved slowly upwards, until William saw the face. The right eye was small, round and yellow. There were two slits for nostrils that dripped fluid. The left eye had a lump growing above and another growing below it. The two lumps pushed the eye into an elongated position that forced the pupil to look outwards. The mouth was long, like Fumplestink’s, with a handful of jagged teeth which pushed the lips apart and left the mouth in a state of being always open ever so slightly. The lips quivered as the whimpering sound escaped them.
The thing rose to its feet as it entered the tent from the darkness. The feet each had three fleshy claw-like digits connected to stubby legs which supported the body. The body was naked and misshapen. There were no reproductive organs, but there was a total of seven arms: four on the right-side and three on the left. The longest arm with that came out of the darkness first, as well as the third arm to come out were both on the right-side, along with another arm that split into two shorter arms, each with three fingers on the hands. On the left side was the second arm to reach out, which was almost as long as the longest but not quite; there was also a small arm that the thing kept pressed against its chest. The seventh arm was the smallest. It sprouted out of a hump on the thing’s back, above the left shoulder. This arm’s hand only possessed one long finger.
As William followed the length of this last arm with his eyes, he caught sight of something behind the creature. Seven circular holes were in the wall of the tent, revealing the black night sky, where the monster had torn it. The middle circle was large, and the six surrounding, three above and three below, were smaller. He knew that this symbol was the same that Ms. Wong had shown him, the Isilinga. His eyes shot back to the creature from the darkness as it began to move.
The hump on the creature’s back forced it to hunch over. It used its arms for support as it walked towards the bed. William was frozen in fear as the thing came up to the foot of the bed. The two longest arms grabbed either side of the bed and effortlessly lifted it. William was now staring directly into its horrible face. Using its other long arm to stabilize itself, the pale creature turned around with the bed in its hands and began making its way back to the darkness.
The monster stared blankly and unblinking at William the entire way to the threshold of the metal door to “Timeout”. William could not help himself but to stare back at the thing which held him. He knew he had to wake up, had to fight this thing somehow. Maybe he could use the prophet’s sight as a weapon! He knew he must do something, but he couldn’t. He couldn’t even yank on his tether anymore. All he could do was stare into this thing’s eyes and listen to the whimpering as the two of them disappeared into the darkness together.
“Go easy on this one Wimbelwoan,” Mister Fumplestink’s voice was the last thing William heard before the door slammed shut.
William shot up in his bed, screaming. He looked around, and as he did, he began to calm down. He was in his bed in his own room. His plan worked. He turned around to remove the belt that tethered him to the bed post. The sight of his hand caused him to let loose another scream. It was twisted around on his wrist and bent to the left. It was a red, bloody pulp. The belt was twisted and tight and dug deep into his wrist. He reached for it to try and loosen it, but upon touching it, all the pain in the world rushed through his arm. He called for help and heard his parents moving from their room, towards his.
William began to turn to his door and froze on his closet. The door was open ever so slightly, and through the opening, he could see an all too familiar round, pale, misshapen face staring back at him with one yellow eye.
The door to his room burst open, and his parents ran over to him. As they did, they knocked the closet door closed. They unleashed a barrage of questions upon him, asking what happened, if he was okay, how this happened, what was he thinking, but all William could do was stare at the closet door.
Eventually, William was freed from the belt, and his parents rushed him to the hospital. In the car, his parents kept up their interrogation, but William could only give one answer to all their questioning.
“He got me.”
They reached the hospital, and William was placed in a room relatively quickly. The doctor took some examinations of William’s wrist and told his parents he had broken the bones in his forearm, his “Radius” and “Ulna”, as well as several bones in his hand. She said it was going to be a long recovery time for him, and that he would have to come in periodically to make sure the bones were healing correctly. His arm was fitted with a cast, and he sat in a room and waited for the doctor to return and give them the okay to leave.
Both his parents decided to take off from work and stay home with him. William was relieved he would not have to go to school. He didn’t think he could face his classmates after they betrayed him like they did. He looked out the window and saw it was lightly raining. On the sidewalk, across the street from the hospital, a couple walked holding hands through the rain. In front of them, a little way down the sidewalk, stood a hideous pale creature that stared up at William. The couple walked right past the thing without even noticing it. The creature never flinched and never blinked, not even as raindrops fell onto its face.
William backed away from the window and sat next to his parents. The doctor returned and told them they could go. They all climbed into the car. His mother sat in the back with him and held him in her arms. Once more, he felt safe. He knew everything would work out in the end.