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'Theo's Wish' - Fifth Instalment
‘Theo’s Wish’ – Fifth Instalment
By Tony DeLorger © 2011
‘The Mist People’
Zandra raised her arms and the Mist people became silent. ‘This is Joh and Cheryl. They have come a long way and will stay with us while they are here.’ There was a slight rumble of voices, then two rather embarrassed looking souls approached and Zandra glared at them, wearing a pointed expression of disapproval.
‘And these are your captors, Max and Tara,’ said Zandra sarcastically.
‘We just want to say …sorry,’ announced Tara.
‘It was just some fun,’ added Max. ‘We do it all the time. But when you came through the grate…well, you scared us half to death- if we were alive in the first place. Sorry.’
‘You did give us a fright,’ replied Joh. But how did we get through the grate?’ he asked.
‘No idea. But you aren’t human, are you?’ asked Tara. Cheryl stepped forward.
‘We come from a world created by dreams. We’re just like you, stuck between worlds, and that’s why we have come.’
Zandra wanted to know more and called them to sit down and tell her what they planned to do.
‘You see, we are like this because our dreamers didn’t complete us,’ explained Cheryl. ‘Joh now knows who his dreamer is and if he can find this boy and help him to dream Joh complete, Joh will then be able to live in the dream world, just like a real human boy.’
‘I’m not sure that anyone from my world has ever been here before, and we just don’t know exactly what we can and can’t do,’ added Joh.
Max was listening attentively and his mind was working overtime, relating their quest to his own plight. ‘Perhaps we could do the same,’ Max supposed. ‘We’re stuck here like you, but we have no memory of why.’
‘It has always been so for us, living in the shadows and unable to move on,’ said Zandra, sadly. ‘We have seen many of our kind, tied to houses and people, destined to walk the same path forever. We are not as they are, and we are free to move in this human world, but cannot move toward the next life, stuck here in limbo and never knowing why.’
‘There must be a reason,’ added Joh. ‘You must be tied to something, you just can’t remember.’
‘Perhaps you’re right, but for now tell us what you must do, to find this boy,’ replied Zandra.
Joh sighed deeply. ‘The boy’s name is Theo and he dreams of having a brother…that is his greatest wish. I know what he looks like, but how to find him in this huge city…I have no idea.’
‘There are many of us in the city,’ suggested Tara. ‘We could pass the word and have everyone look for him,’ she said with a lively smile.
‘That would be fantastic,’ replied Cheryl, grabbing Joh by the hand and squeezing it supportively.
‘Yes, thank you so much,’ added Joh.
‘So, tell us all what you know of Theo,’ said Zandra.
Settling himself, Joh took a deep breath then began to describe his vision in every detail. Soon all the Mist people gathered around and listened to his every word.
‘So we have a task to fulfil for our new friends,’ said Zandra, addressing her people. ‘Please go into the streets. Search the railway stations, old houses and deserted buildings. Someone must know of this boy. Spread the word.’
Zandra turned to Joh and Cheryl. ‘It may take time but you will have your second chance at life- we will see to it.’
‘I don’t know how to thank you, Zandra,’ said Cheryl.
Zandra smiled warmly. ‘Come with me. Let me show you our world.’
They walked the city streets and on into the surrounding suburbs. Occasionally a child would squeal with fright and run off having somehow seen Zandra, as well as many dogs and cats that would take one look and run for the hills. But for the main, people went about their daily lives without any idea that they existed.
Joh and Cheryl walked slowly behind Zandra, fascinated with human life. ‘It’s just wonderful, all of this colour and movement, all in one piece and working perfectly,’ said Joh, awe-struck.
‘Don’t be too carried away Joh; the humans have their problems too, believe me,’ replied Zandra.
Just then there was a loud bang, followed by horrific screaming. People rushed out of their homes and across to a house a short distance away from where they stood. Joh and Cheryl looked at each other, bewildered. A moment later several sirens sounded and within a few minuted there were police cars and ambulances parked erratically across the road outside this little cottage. As Zandra, Joh and Cheryl drew closer to the house they saw a crowd of people parting to make way for two paramedics who were pushing a stretcher with someone on top of it. The person had a sheet covering them.
‘Are they dead?’ asked Cheryl, shocked.
‘I’m afraid the humans have many problems, even in a world that looks so perfect,’ followed Zandra. Just then two police officers dragged a man from the house, kicking and screaming.
‘You deserved what ya got!’ he shouted, squirming to get free. The police officers threw him in the back of a police van, locked the door and with sirens blaring sped off.
‘They kill one another?’ muttered Joh, surprised at the reality. Cheryl put her arm around Joh to console him.
‘They may look whole, but perhaps they’re not,’ suggested Cheryl, turning to walk away from the scene.
The three walked slowly back toward the city, both Joh and Cheryl realising that it seemed everyone had limits in any world. Even in the human world, nothing was complete. It was simply how you looked at it.
‘I can’t remember being human,’ said Zandra, rather sadly. ‘It has been so long the memory of physical life has long faded. But having witnessed so much strife within the human world, I’m not sure that I want to remember.’
Joh looked at Zandra with a renewed sense of understanding, and was fast learning that life itself in any form, was a gift. He realised that it wasn’t so much the limits that life afford us that was important, but how we handle them that makes us who we are.
He suddenly felt confused again about what he was doing, and felt a little selfish, knowing now that his life had not been bad at all. He had friends and people who cared about him and his disability hardly made any difference in the Half World. He then thought of Errol, who was so disadvantaged, and who was one of the most positive and happy souls he had ever met.
When Zandra, Joh and Cheryl returned to the underground shelter, the darkness of night had slowly engulfed the streets as the humans streamed out of the city buildings on their way home. From an entrance in the city parklands, Joh stayed by himself for a while to watch the exodus of human beings in cars and buses, tooting and beeping, the half-light slowly yielding to the street neons and colourful shop signs. Joh still felt guilty for being so dissatisfied, but his longing was as real as ever, and he wondered what Theo was doing, and if the Mist people could find him.
Eventually Joh returned to the shelter and made his way to their room to sleep. As he lay down on his stretcher, Cheryl turned to him and frowned with concern.
‘Are you OK?’ she asked.
‘I’ll be fine. It’s just…well, this little trip has been harder than I thought.’
Cheryl reached over and placed her hand over Joh’s. ‘We’re going to find him, Joh. I just know it,’ she said with conviction. Joh nodded and rolled over to go to sleep, his mind still filled with many unanswered questions.
Cheryl woke up excited and raring to go. She knelt down next to Joh and shook him gently. ‘Come on Joh, it’s a new day. Let’s look for Theo.’
Joh slowly came around and sat up awkwardly. As his thinking came into focus, his eyes widened and he looked up at Cheryl.
‘You’ll never guess what? I had a dream, I saw Theo again!’
‘We must be close,’ said Cheryl.
‘It must be being here, in the real world. I had a real dream...it was so clear,’ added Joh, climbing to his feet.
‘He was in a big open area, playing with some other kids…some ball game.’
‘What else did you see? What were the buildings like?’ asked Cheryl, searching for clues.
‘The floor was hard and painted, and there was a wire fence all the way around. And one of the walls of the buildings that sat on the edge of it had a sign or something painted on it,’ Joh explained.
‘Think hard, Joh. This could be important,’ insisted Cheryl.
‘It was a name, I think,’ added Joh, trying desperately to imagine the sign.
‘I think it started with a ‘P’, I just can’t remember, exactly. Para…something. Paramen, Paramel, Paramount- that’s it! PARAMOUNT!’
Joh and Cheryl rushed out to tell Zandra and she quickly gathered the others.
‘We have great news. Joh has had a dream about Theo. I want you to look for a playground next to a large building. On this building is the name ‘Paramount’. We are one step closer, and there’s no time to waste.’ The Mist people streamed out into the city streets to intensify the search. Joh and Cheryl decided to go with Max and Tara.
Two blocks from the shelter, the four approached a huge main street intersection, where cars, workers and shoppers were everywhere. They tried desperately to keep out of the way of passing pedestrians but occasionally they would collide, the person turning around to say sorry, and finding no-one there at all. The looks on their faces were amusing, having been barrelled over by no-one they could see.
They were all enjoying themselves when, out of nowhere, a voice sounded.
‘Hey you? Got a few crumbs for an orphan?’ it said.
They all looked around and saw nobody except the constant stream of rushing pedestrians.
‘Are you deaf?’ the voice sounded, once again.
Joh looked down to discover a scruffy, flee-bitten dog at his feet. ‘Is that you?’ he asked, with surprise.
‘Who did you think it was?’ said the dog.
‘Well…I just wasn’t expecting a talking dog.’
‘And I wasn’t expecting a kid with no face, but here we both are. ‘By the way, what’s with the see-throughs?’
‘You can see them?’ asked Cheryl, curious.
‘Listen, I got a face. It may be pointy, and a bit hairy, but I can see well enough, and I smelt you lot over a block away.’
‘There’s no need to be rude,’ added Tara.
‘So what’s the deal, you got any food or not?’ asked the dog rather bluntly.
‘Well no, we don’t eat,’ replied Joh.
‘Don’t eat? Where are you from? No, don’t answer that, I don’t want to know. My stomach’s grumbling.’
‘How can you see us and the humans can’t?’ asked Cheryl.
‘I’m a dog,’ he followed sarcastically. ‘Humans see nothing; they may as well have no eyes at all. I’ve gotta find something to eat,’ the dog added, about to leave.
‘Wait!’ snapped Max. ‘Perhaps you can help us.’
‘And why would I want to help you?’
‘There could be food involved,’ added Tara.
The dog’s brow lifted just a little. ‘Go on.’
‘You have friends, I’m guessing many friends?’ asked Tara.
‘So,’ replied the dog, thinking of a reward.
‘We’re looking for a boy, Theo is…’
‘One human boy in this city,’ interrupted the dog. ‘You’ve got to be kidding?’
Max knelt down next to the scruffy dog and looked him in the eye. ‘I know an alley where food scraps are overflowing the bins. You could eat until you exploded.’
The dog was suddenly drooling, his empty stomach gurgling with anticipation. He swallowed pointedly and turned to Max. ‘All right, you’ve got me. What’s this kid look like?’
‘What’s your name?’ asked Cheryl.
‘Chester, but my friends call me Chez.’
‘This is Joh, Theo’s his dreamer and…’
‘I don’t want to know,’ interrupted Chester. ‘You humans are so complicated. A full stomach and somewhere warm to sleep. What else could you want?’
‘Who can you get to help?’ asked Joh.
‘The cats are best, they always know what’s going on,’ explained Chez.
‘But I thought that dogs hated cats,’ said Cheryl.
‘Nothin against ‘em, they just talk too much- never shut up and always have to have the last word, they’re the gossips on the street, and if you’re lookin for someone, well…they’re your best bet.’
‘So what can we do?’ asked Tara.
‘Follow me, we’re going to see Alf- he’ll know how to go about it. Oh and after that, I wanna see this alley. It better be worth it.’
The four followed Chez through the streets and alleyways of the city. The dark and gloomy recesses of man’s cement playground were seemingly never-ending and it revealed a far less appealing side of real life.
They finally arrived at a metal staircase outside an old warehouse that descended beneath the pathway into the bowels of the underworld.
‘Hey Alf, ya down there?’ shouted Chez.
A moth-eaten looking rat scurried over and stood on its hind legs, studying them all. The creature was squinting as if it were trying to see them. It had only one eye and its left ear had been chewed off.
‘Who wants ta know?’ asked the rat.
‘It’s me, Chez, you blind fool.’
‘Who’s the crowd?’ asked the rat.
Chez, about had it with the banter...‘Fred, is he here on not?’ He spat.
‘No need to get ya fur in a knot,’ replied the rat. ‘Follow me.’
Fred turned and scampered along the cement floor to a room at the end of an open area. Inside the room a lit lamp sat in the corner, offering no more than a dull light.
‘Alf? Where the hell are ya?’
‘Is that you Chez?’
Over behind the room was an old packing case, and perched on top of it was a large, overweight ginger cat.
‘Hey Alf, how’s it hangin buddy?’ said Chez
‘Ah! You know how it is. I’m not the cat I used to be.’
‘Look Alf, I got these friends here, and they’re looking for this kid, Theo.’
‘Come into the light, so I can see ya,’ said Alf.
Joh, Cheryl, Max and Tara slowly moved forward.
‘Woo! Where did you dig up this lot?’ asked Alf.
‘Don’t ask, you don’t want to know,’ added Chez. Alf looked up slightly and thought about it.
‘For Chez, I’ll help. Tell me about the kid.’
Joh stepped forward and explained everything to Alf, what he had seen in his vision and the dream and the sign on the building. Alf muttered and considered all the information. Then, at the end of it, he turned and called for Fred, who came scampering into the room.
‘Meeting tonight, Banyon Hall. Spread the word.’
‘I’m on it,’ replied Fred, as he dashed out of the room.
‘I’m a little tired now,’ said Alf, with a huge yawn.
‘Later, big fella,’ said Chez.
‘Take care, my friend,’ Alf replied as he rested his head and closed his eyes.
‘Let’s get out of here,’ said Chez to the others, and they quickly left the warehouse.
Outside in the street Chez stopped and looked up at Max. ‘Something to show me, then?’ he asked, with an expectant expression.
Max smiled and nodded. ‘I guess you deserve it. Come on,’ he said, leading the way down the street.
They followed Max to a lane not far from the park. It was the rear of an Italian restaurant, and sure enough the bins were filled with leftovers and scraps. Chez stood there at the entrance to the lane and began to drool. ‘Paradise,’ he murmurred, and rushed to the nearest bin, removing the lid with his nose. There were pastas and meat and pieces of bread, and Chez didn’t know what to eat first.
As he tucked into the feast, the four laughed heartily at Chez’ complete enjoyment.
He suddenly looked up at them, his snout covered with pasta sauce. ‘Where can I find you, when I have some news about the boy?’ he mumbled, his mouth still full.
‘The old sewer entrance in the park, near the fountain,’ replied Max. ‘We’ll be around.’
‘Mm, hmm!’ nodded Chez, returning to his bin.
‘I think our job is done,’ said Tara with a smile.
‘Yeah, let’s get back and tell Zandra,’ added Max. ‘It’s been an awesome day!’
When Joh, Cheryl, Max and Tara got back to the shelter, the sun was setting and a cold chill whistled through the streets, the daily exodus of workers from the city buildings, brought the darkened landscape to life.
Zandra listened closely to the events of the day and about their meeting with Chez and the cats of the underworld. ‘You have done well my friends, learning quickly about our world and what the humans don’t see,’ said Zandra warmly. ‘Your dreams can become reality, even in this world.’
That night Joh and Cheryl stayed up late telling stories to the Mist people, and explaining to them the reality of life in the Half World. Being so far away made it easier for both Joh and Cheryl to see the funny side of their past life, and some of the stories were amusing, sending many of the Mist people into hysterical laughter. There was empathy experienced by all present, their lives similar in many ways.
When Joh finally went to bed, he couldn’t stop seeing Theo’s face, his eyes clenched tightly together, praying. Finding him is one thing thought Joh, but helping him to dream, quite another.
Theo's Wish by Tony DeLorger
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