“Wake up, Johnny.”
Johnny jumped out of his computer chair. He reached for his baseball bat. He had kept it in his room as a token to a childhood gone by. He never thought he would actually need it, but a voice calling his name in an empty apartment was the perfect opportunity.
“Violence is so unnecessary, Johnny.”
Johnny flipped on the light. No one was there. The only movement he could see was from the Carrot Crazy video playing on his desktop monitor. He did not remember turning it on, but someone had and it was on loop. The images of an animated bunny chasing after mounds of carrots were tripping him out. He took a moment to catch his breath. “Andrew, I thought I told you to leave.”
The silhouette of Johnny’s imaginary friend, Andrew, appeared on his bed. “Something is changing in me, Johnny. I can feel it inside.”
Johnny sat back down in his computer chair. Every time he had seen Andrew in the past, he had looked like a regular man. “Where is your face?” he asked. He also noticed little electric sparks were popping out of Andrew’s finger tips. “What the Hell is going on?”
Andrew floated a few feet above the bed in Indian style, “I know about the appointment you made, so let’s get down to brass tacks. I am not Santa Claus. I am not the Easter bunny. Hell, I am not the fucking tooth fairy. I am not going to disappear because some shrink tells you to stop believing in me.”
“What are you—”
“This isn’t an open forum.”
Johnny swiveled in his computer chair. He made sure his exits weren’t blocked.
“Thank you, Johnny. I’ll continue by saying that I’m as much a part of you as you are of me. As I am a creature formed completely in your brain, we can’t exist without each other.” Andrew slowly glided his fingers as they plucked the air. Each finger rang the chord of a harp string.
A slight ping in Johnny’s chest formed. He could feel his chest tightening. Breathing was becoming difficult. He placed a hand over his lungs.
“Does anything hurt, Johnny? Why don’t you tell Dr. Andrew where it hurts?”
Johnny fell to his knees, “Why—are—you—doing—this?”
Andrew snapped his fingers, which produced a hologram with a giant red play button. “BORING,” he yelled. “If you ask me another stupid question, I’ll hit play so you can relive Davie’s bath. What do you say, Johnny? Why don’t we give little Davie a rinse?”
Johnny wanted to scream. He wanted to tear Andrew’s head off, but oxygen was running low. He couldn’t help thinking this was the end. He mumbled a weak, “No,” and worked to slow his breathing to no avail.
“Honestly I’m not that cruel.” He waved the screen away. “Good friends don’t trudge up the past and we are better than good friends, aren’t we? I’ll accept mumbles and brief terror-filled gasps as a yes.”
Andrew lowered himself to the ground. He was now eye to eye with Johnny.
“Let go, Johnny,” he said. “Let go and it won’t hurt anymore.”
Johnny lowered his hand. The pain that had felt like a sharp knife moments before was alleviated. He could breathe again. The beating of his heart was slowing.
“Listen to me closely.”
Andrew held Johnny’s attention. The watering of tears formed around Johnny’s eyes.
“You are never going to get rid of me, Johnny,” Andrew continued. “Pills can’t do it. Therapy can’t do it. Killing yourself will only make me more powerful.”
Johnny wiped his eyes. His sadness shifted to anger. “I created you, didn’t I?” he said. “You can’t possibly be that powerful.”
Andrew tipped his head back with laughter, “You didn’t just create me, Johnny. I am you.” He pointed at the mirror that made up Johnny’s closet door.
Johnny couldn’t believe it. It was him hovering a few feet off the ground. He reached out in front to see if he could touch Andrew. When he made contact, he could feel it on his collar bone. “I—I—“
Andrew flicked his wrist, which made both of them stand upright. “Words aren’t necessary,” he said.
Riddled with sarcasm, Johnny said, “Gee, Andrew, then what do you want to do tonight? Buddy ole pal?”
Andrew chuckled, “The same thing we do every night, Johnny – try to take over the world!”
**Winner of Third Place in Mutant 750 #39**
Thomas William Shaw is an author and stage actor from Birmingham, AL. He lives with his wife, Lauren, their children, and their cats in a quiet place. Occasionally he will post about it.