by T.K. Wade
In the dark space between fantasy and reality lies the imagination. It is a wild, untethered and often corrupt realm. The slightest spark could ignite the creation of many beautiful things. However, that same spark could just as well bring about darkness and chaos. But what if the boundary between the real and unreal was broken? Such power was never intended for human hands. This is a story of how our own demons can be turned against us.
It was an unusually chilly night in nineteenth century London. Penelope Mathews adjusted the painting on the hallway wall once again. It had not been cooperating as of late. “There you are,” she spoke to it as if it was listening. “Perfectly balanced like you should be. It seems like you go crooked just to provoke me. Well, I will have no more of that from you.”
The picture depicted a dark forest with the top of a castle just barely visible due to its lighted windows. In the darkness between the trees were two yellow eyes and the indiscernible, strange form of a creature. Penelope commented, “It’s you, isn’t it? If it were not for the price of this bloody thing, I would have thrown you away! Sometimes, I wonder what attracted me to such a frightful painting.”
A little girl said from behind, “Mummy? Are you talking to the painting again?”
Penelope was startled. “Mary Ann Mathews! Don’t slink up on me like that!”
Mary Ann held a raggedy, little doll to her chest and peered up at the painting on the wall. “It’s moved.”
“Yes, I put it back, dear.”
“No, I mean… the creature.”
The mother gazed at the painting, trying to see the same. She could not tell if the creature had moved or not, and besides, the very idea was preposterous. “Try not to let your imagination carry you away. Besides, it’s time for bed. Make sure you bundle up extra tight tonight; there is a startling nip in the air.”
The obedient girl nodded. “Yes, Mummy.” She walked into her bedchamber leaving the doorway only slightly open.
The mother walked over to the wall lamp and turned down the wick, dimming the light. She wondered about what her daughter had said. Had the creature really moved?
Penelope looked once more at the picture. Something was off. Slowly, she crept over to it. As she approached the dark picture, a new question was ringing in her mind. Where had the creature gone?
Her voice choked under her own breath, “Impossible.”
A cold, icy feeling moved across Penelope’s back. The woman had the overwhelming feeling that something was watching her from down the darkened hallway.
She slowly turned around. “Hello?” she nervously said. Slowly, she approached the darkness.
Bright, yellow eyes appeared within the shadows. They seemed to float among the darkness, as did the creature in the painting. She stopped and shook her head in disbelief. “Impossible. That is not possible. You cannot be real.”
“Mummy?! What’s wrong?!” Mary sat up in her bed. She had heard her mother talking to someone through the crack in her door. She could hear an overwhelming twinge of fear in her mother’s voice.
The mother suddenly yelled, “No! Stay back! Stay away from me!”
Mary heard her mother scream in what sounded like terrible agony. She got out of bed as fast as she could and ran for her bedchamber door. No time was wasted in throwing the door open. Mary covered her mouth in shock. The sight that met her eyes would haunt her for the rest of her life.
* * *
From the edge of fantasy and reality, come I. I am a builder of dreams, and with my hands, I can create the impossible. However, with my existence comes a terrible price: the earth slowly spins out of normal time and space, bringing with it all of its inhabitants. It is my job to protect these people. I am Nigel Brimmington. I am… the Imaginist.
The eloquently dressed Nigel Brimmington sat at a table just in front of his lavish, Victorian house near Hamstead. It was a lovely summer day for the Englishman; a perfect day to enjoy a cup of tea with his most trusted companion. And as strange as it would seem, this companion was a tiny mouse wearing a monocle and eating a small wedge of cheese with a tiny fork and knife.
Nigel questioned, “I say, Montique, do you ever consider yourself to be in league with your fellow vermin?”
The mouse replied in a similar tone, “I think my differences are plain to one’s eyes.”
“Yes, I know. I can see the obvious differences. You can speak and stand on two legs like a person. Your diet consists of the same, at the very least. Yet, does that really make you anything greater than the rodentia living in a commoner’s walls?”
Montique nodded and replied, “Ah, where it is true that I share a love for fine cheeses with my primitive similar, there is one thing that sets me apart that makes all the difference.”
“And what might that be, my good friend.”
“Unlike the other rodents that you have seen, only I eat my cheese with a fork and knife! That makes all the difference in my book.”
Nigel politely acquiesced as he took another sip from his teacup. “Indeed. Normal mice do lack proper manners.”
“They cannot help it, you see. They were not born with the level of sophistication that I have been. Still, I cannot say that I do not miss their company.”
The Englishman was surprised. “You do not expect to have any guests over in my residence, I would hope. I did not purchase this dwelling for it to be infested.”
Montique was only slightly offended. “I could say the same for your guests as well. Why would I want to share a house with fumbling humans?”
Nigel nodded in concession. “You know that you are not as agreeable, as I thought you would be.”
The mouse gazed away and took a tiny sip of tea. “Yes, I see the conflicts. I must have seemed like the perfect companion when you first thought me up. But as you see, when thoughts become reality, they do not always behave like you first imagined.”
“Actually, I find it refreshing.”
Montique’s interest was renewed. “How so?”
“The prospect of having absolute control over my creations could prove dangerous to those who I have sworn to protect.”
The mouse sighed. “Ah. The theory that your existence means the end of all things.”
Nigel took another sip. “It is not a theory, Montique. The world has already ended. The comforting thing is that nobody has realized it.”
“And if they did?”
The gentleman looked off towards the sky as if in deep thought. “I am not sure. But whatever the occasion, I would be solely to blame.”
The mouse once again found himself sighing. “Sounds to me like you have gone mad.”
The voice of a man called from beyond the residence, “Hello there, Nigel! Enjoying the day, I see!”
Nigel turned his head and smiled. “Constable Greene, this is a pleasant surprise.”
The policeman stepped up to the two. “I see you are having tea with that… ah… rodent friend of yours.”
Montique seemed plainly offended. “Rodent Sapien, if you would, Constable.”
Greene appeared to be rather uncomfortable. Nigel only chuckled and remained silent, forcing the constable to speak next. “I am sorry, but the majority of the mice that I have seen do not act like people.”
Montique felt as if insults were compounding against him. “That is because I am a person. You can plainly see me here enjoying a fine cheese with my fork and knife. Have you seen any other mouse eating cheese with a fork and knife? I highly doubt it.”
“Ah… terribly sorry.”
Nigel spoke up, “Forgive my little friend, Constable; his shipment of imported limburger is running a bit off schedule.”
The mouse added, “I expected it by noon today. I will most likely think many times before using this supplier again.”
Mr. Brimmington inquired, “So, Constable, have a seat. What brings you to my residence?”
The guest sat down and leaned forward slightly. “I have been looking into a rash of murders lately. Very mysterious and quite horrific, I must say.”
“Mysterious in what way?”
“The victims were pierced, stabbed, and torn apart by something not unlike an animal.”
Nigel set down his cup of tea and commented, “Sounds like a job for a zookeeper, if you ask me.”
Greene seemed uncomfortable. “No, it’s not that. It cannot be an animal. The murders were too far apart. If it were an animal, we would clearly be able to outsmart it by now.”
Mr. Brimmington smiled. “You have something you wish to show me.”
“Yes… ah… there was another attack just last night in the more impoverished area of town. The mother of a child was murdered before the little ones eyes.”
Nigel became quite solemn at those words. “Oh, dear.”
Montique asked, “Was she not harmed by whoever did this?”
Greene once again looked like he could not find the words. “Ah… No, she was left alone. She said… ah… She said…”
Nigel encouraged, “Out with it!”
“She said a painting killed her mother.”
Both man and mouse were shocked. Nigel replied, “A painting? Fascinating!”
Greene nodded. “Yes, I thought this might be in your realm of expertise.”
Montique asked, “Where might we find this place?”
The constable replied, “18 London Street. I have some men waiting there. Mary Ann Mathews (the little girl) is also there. I thought that you might want to talk with her.”
Nigel took hold of his walking stick and stood to his feet. “Of course! I will have my valet prepare my carriage immediately.”
“Is… ah… Is your friend coming as well?”
The mouse spoke up harshly, “The name is Montique Terrington, Esquire! If it helps, I can write it down on a piece of paper so that you can remember! And for future reference, I go wherever Nigel goes and with few exceptions!” The constable stood to his feet, took a polite bow, and returned to his carriage.
* * *
Mary Ann Mathews sat on the steps of her flat on London Street. The poor, little girl was quietly crying her eyes out. The sight she had seen only hours earlier was still heavy on her mind. Although the day was bright, her life had a dark shadow cast over it, and nothing seemed good anymore.
Mary squinted upwards. The sun was blotted out by the figure of a very tall man. His choice of clothing was posh; the walking stick gripped firmly in his right hand only added to this distinction. On his shoulder was what looked like a mouse. It was not a normal mouse, but one that might be found in a child’s storybook. She gazed up at the near-silhouette in disbelief.
Nigel spoke, “Mary Ann Mathews, I presume?”
The girl rubbed her nose with a sniffle. “That’s me.”
The tall man lowered himself with the aid of his cane and looked into the little girls eyes. “My name is Nigel Brimmington. The mouse that you see on my shoulder is known as Montique. I have come to ask you some questions about the terrible incident that you witnessed last night.”
The girl looked towards her feet and sobbed. “Why? You won’t believe me. Everyone here thinks I’m bonkers.”
“Constable Greene did not think so. It was his good judgment to contact me, and I guarantee that I will be more open minded of things than most people that you will meet.”
Mary Ann returned her gaze to the man and asked, “What did you want to know?”
“Did you see who murdered your mother last night?”
The girl nodded. “I did. There’s a painting in there. The creature in the painting came out and…” The girl choked on her own words.
“That’s enough. No need to say anymore; I believe you.”
“Of course, I do. Would you be terribly bothered if I examine this painting inside?”
She nodded with a quiver. “You can… but… She’s still… My mummy is…”
“Shh. Not another word. Leave that to me. Montique will keep you company.”
The little mouse nodded and Nigel allowed Montique to travel down his arm at only a moderate incline. He took his place next to the girl while still holding onto his own little cane. She could then see the little monocle that he wore, now that he was so close.
As the tall man walked into the house, the girl asked the rodent, “Can you talk?”
Montique made a little bow before the towering girl. “Of course, I can. I am not your common, household variety vermin.”
Mary Ann gasped. “That’s amazing! Where in earth did you come from?”
“From the mind of the Imaginist. Of course, sometimes I feel he regrets my creation. I rub him the wrong way sometimes, you see.”
The girl cracked a tiny smile. “You are such a cute little thing.”
Montique scoffed, “Cute?! I assure you that I am anything but cute! I am a mouse of superior breeding and quality. You cannot call such a thing cute!”
“None of the other mice talk to me. And your voice is so much squeakier than a normal person’s. I think you are very cute!” A smile overtook the girl’s face.
The mouse became very flustered. “That is a design flaw that I simply cannot overcome! Dear girl, I encourage you to look past such things!”
“Are you Nigel’s pet?”
“Pet?! I am Montique Terrington, Esquire! Did you hear that? Esquire! I would never be anyone’s pet! Nigel is but a partner of mine that I choose to go with.”
The girl beamed and began to rub the mouse between the ears. “I don’t care what you say. You are still very cute.”
Montique was prepared for rebuttal, but finding the sensuous rubbing between the ears to be quite wonderful, he decided to remain quiet and let her do her work. At the very least, she was smiling.
Nigel held a tissue over his nose, as he examined the body of the late Penelope Mathews. It was a terrible scene. Stab wounds were everywhere, and her body had been torn open as if by a wild beast. “What a pity,” he said to himself.
His attention was then drawn to the painting on the wall. It depicted a dark castle, a forest, and two yellow eyes protruding from the midst. It was as if they were staring at the viewer and waiting for him to lower his guard so that the creature could attack.
Constable Greene walked into the hallway to meet Nigel. “You can’t really believe that painting nonsense; can you, Nigel?”
Nigel chuckled. “You must have to some degree, or you would not have come for my assistance.”
“What do you make of it then?”
“Well, it certainly is an expressively dark piece. I shutter to think what the artist’s intentions were.”
“I was referring to the woman.”
Nigel glanced at the constable. “Ah, yes. She is quite dead. Very tragic.”
The constable blinked in confusion. Nigel was obviously more interested in the painting rather than in the crime scene itself.
Mr. Brimmington continued, “This signature on the painting: Dubois; the name is familiar to me.”
Greene shrugged. “I’ve never heard of it.”
Nigel began to stare at the painting once more as if getting lost in it. “This painting… It is so dark and brooding. It is filled with… so much hatred. If it were to come to life, it may very well tear me to shreds. But one thing throws me off: why did it leave Mary Ann alone?”
“We have had one child death in this case. A family of three was murdered in the same way only several nights ago.”
Nigel stared into the yellow eyes in the painting. “So, it has no qualms about killing little children, but why was Mary Ann untouched?”
Greene was oblivious. “It is a mystery.”
Mr. Brimmignton pulled the painting from the wall and faced the constable. “I will need the names of the victims as well as a list of art dealers in the area.”
Greene bowed politely. “And you will have them. Honestly, Nigel, if you cannot solve this one, then I will loose all hope.”
Nigel smiled. “Have no fear, Constable. The Imaginist is at work.” As he was leaving, the tall man inquired, “Oh, yes. Are you planning on delivering the child to her next of kin?”
The constable sighed. “She had no one else but her mother. We’ll be taking her to the orphanage.”
Nigel stopped and looked back with shock. “The orphanage?! I will not hear of it! That place is dreadful!”
“I know how you feel, Nigel, but there is little we can do under the circumstances.”
Nigel paused for a moment and thought about the situation. He finally looked up at Greene and very solemnly answered, “No.”
* * *
“Up you go; that’s a good girl,” said Nigel as he helped Marry Ann into the carriage.
Mary Ann took her seat. She seemed rather confused. “Where are we going?” she asked while carefully placing Montique upon her lap.
The tall man smiled reassuringly. “One moment, dear.” Nigel proceeded to the front where his valet manned the horses. He placed the painting aside the older man and requested, “Would you be so kind as to take us back to Hamstead, Mr. Crossford.”
The elderly valet nodded politely and replied, “Yes, sir.”
“Oh, and mind that painting, would you? It is liable to attack.”
The valets eyes went wide, yet he only replied, “Yes, sir.”
As the carriage slowly proceeded back to Nigel’s residence, Mary Ann once again asked, “Where are we going, sir?”
Montique added, “Yes, Nigel. Where are we going, indeed?”
The tall man leaned on his cane and kept his gaze forward. He replied with a voice as calm as it was resolute. “We are heading off to my residence. It is a much better place than that horrid orphanage.”
The girl was shocked, but Montique was enraged. “You cannot be serious!”
“Not now, Montique.”
The mouse shrugged and held his peace, but Mary Ann could not keep silent. “You don’t have to do this.”
Nigel looked at her silently for a moment. “When you saw that painting, how did it make you feel?”
Montique interrupted, “How on earth does that relate with taking her to our home?!”
“Montique, if you would not mind…”
The mouse grumbled and signaled his silence with an annoyed wave of the paw. Nigel nodded to the girl and she replied, “Well, I thought it was sad.”
“Yes, it was sad.”
Nigel did not understand. “Why on earth did you think it was sad?”
“I don’t know. That’s just how it made me feel.”
The tall man turned his head forward in silence. He did not speak another word for the rest of the journey.
* * *
Later that evening: Montique stood at the edge of a table, which centered the residence’s library. He was quite flustered. “What on God’s earth were you thinking when you brought that little girl here?! I hope you do not plan on raising her!”
Nigel was sitting in front of the mouse while rubbing his chin with a slight grin. “Is it not my own residence, Montique? I do believe that I am well within my rights to bring anyone I choose into my household.”
“Not only is she a child; she is… common! She belongs in an orphanage, not in a place such as this!”
“You know me better than that. You know well that I could not bare seeing someone forced into one of those disease-ridden sties.”
“She is not you, Nigel. You cannot take her in just because of your unpleasant upbringing.”
Nigel never flinched. “She is staying. I have made my decision.”
“Then I will have my own guest!”
“I beg your pardon?”
“I will find a female mouse and invite her to stay here with me.”
Nigel took a deep breath and answered with a stark demeanor, “Dear lord, are you mad? I cannot have vermin running around my residence, multiplying and whatnot!”
“Well, if you are so unappreciative of vermin, why, pray tell, would you ever have created me?”
Nigel immediately stood to his feet in a huff. “Temporary insanity!”
“I have made up my mind. If you are going to persist in keeping the little brat here, then I will bring my own female in as well. And if you still plan on denying me this, then I will have to take my leave.”
“Mary Ann is not a brat. She just lost her mother. In fact, she has lost every family member that she has ever known!”
Montique rolled his eyes. “She called me cute!”
“Well, you are cute, Montique! I designed you that way! That’s what children like. They like cute, cuddly, and all that rubbish! You were what I wanted at the time you appeared. And Mary Ann is not a brat; she is brilliant.”
Montique inquired, “How on earth is she brilliant?”
“There is a spark in the little girl. She sees beyond the pale glass; something few ever accomplish, and most never do as early as she has. She needs protection that the orphanage cannot provide!”
Montique stood firm. “My deal still stands.”
“One mouse. One hole in the wall. Keep her in line, or I will begin deploying the traps; I promise you.”
* * *
A while later: Nigel sat with Mary Ann in her new lavishly decorated room. She had not been very responsive since her arrival. The poor girl was still very sad about the loss of her mother. She said, “I’m very thankful for what you are doing, sir. But if it is just to cheer me up…”
Nigel held up his hand. “No, Mary. I am doing this for far greater reasons than you can understand right now. You have suffered a great loss, and I am sure you feel terribly lonely. I have come here to give you something that might help.”
The little girl cocked her head. “What is it?”
Nigel made a fist and held it up to the girl’s face. She wondered what he was doing. Suddenly, he opened the fist up which revealed a glowing, white, fuzzy ball with two little, black eyes. It seemed to float about in mid air and bob around, as if it was swimming in water that simply was not there.
She stared at the strange thing incredulously. “What… What is it?”
“It does not have a name, and it never existed until a just moment ago. However, it is real.”
The little creature seemed attracted to Mary Ann and began to swim towards her. It appeared to be blinking as if curious about the little girl. She gasped when she felt how warm it was when it got very close. “It’s warm! Is it for me?”
“Yes, it is yours. When you hold it, it will fill you with warmth.”
Mary Ann held it in her hands. She was beaming with happiness. “I think I will name it Fuzzy.”
Nigel smiled. “If you need anything, send for Mr. Crossford. I have asked him to assist you with whatever you may require. In time, we will decorate this room more to your liking.”
The girl looked up at the man appreciatively. “Thank you, sir.”
* * *
The following day: Nigel found himself at a local art vendor in London. It was the third one he had visited that day. To his surprise, the door would not open. “Well, that’s odd,” commented Nigel to himself. “Hardly an hour to be closed.”
The man knocked on the door and raised his voice. “Pardon me! Might I inquire about your hours of business?! It is a matter of extreme urgency!”
Nigel sighed when no answer was forthcoming. However, upon peering into the window, he noticed a long line if dried blood on the inside of the glass. The tall man cocked his head and remarked, “Ah. It seems I will be needing a key to this door.”
Only moments after he said those words, Nigel opened his hand before him. Lying on the palm was a metal key. He then proceeded to unlock the door with it. As soon as the door opened, Nigel was taken back by the very obvious smell of death. There was also a very chilling rush of frigid air that came with it.
Placing a handkerchief to his face, he slowly peered through the doorway. The merchant was on the floor as if reaching for the way out. His back had been completely torn apart.
The eyes of Mr. Brimmington shifted to the gallery of paintings. Four of them were very similar to the painting at Penelope’s flat. All of them had those yellow eyes staring back at him as if waiting for the right moment to attack. He looked back at them and muttered under his breath, “Why, hello there.” Nigel grinned and closed the door. He then immediately reported the incident to Constable Greene.
Upon finding the scene, Greene could not keep quiet. “Not again, Nigel! Whoever is doing this must be stopped!”
Nigel was admiring the four paintings on the wall. They each depicted the yellow-eyed beast in different yet similar dark settings. “The beast cannot hide from me much longer. The answers will be hidden in this building, no doubt.”
“You still think those paintings committed the murders?”
“Something of the sort.” Nigel walked behind the counter and began looking through the merchant’s personal documents. “Were you aware that I have been to two other vendors before this one? Neither of them offered any paintings by this Dubois fellow?”
“What are you getting at?”
“Those merchants are still very much alive. Ah, here we go.” Nigel pulled out a large book and placed it on the counter. “Behold, Constable, the merchant’s ledger!”
Greene stepped behind the gentleman and watched as the tall man flipped through the pages. The constable remarked, “It looks like he kept good records of business.”
“Yes, that is to our fortune, Constable. It seems our deadly painter goes by the name of Silvain Dubois, and here is his address.” Nigel tapped the page with his finger. “Now, I remember. I have not heard from this man since I was a mere child!”
“Who is he?”
Nigel continued to peruse the book. “Who he is is not important. I am more concerned with what he has become.” Nigel lifted the book from the table and held it for Greene to see. “And there you have it: your list of victims clearly marked here in the ledger as buyers of Mr. Dubois’ work.”
Greene examined the list. It was absolutely mind-boggling to him. “Are you serious, Nigel?”
“Mr. Dubois did not ask for much, which I find rather strange.”
“Why is that strange?”
“Because as paintings go, Constable, his works are quite good. They should sell for far more than this. I suspect that he wanted the paintings to be purchased by men of different classes or (in Mary Ann’s case) the late widow Mathews.”
“So what happens now?”
“Well, if Montique can spare a moment from his search for a bride, I think it could be a very opportune time to pay Mr. Dubois a visit.”
* * *
Day became night. A cold wind blew through the streets as the carriage slowly traveled along its path. Constable Greene was very worried for the man and mouse sitting across from him. “Are you sure you must go in alone? This Dubois fellow could be dangerous.”
Nigel held onto his cane as the cab lightly shook from side to side. A look of determination was apparent on his face. “I thank you for your concern, Constable, but I cannot assure your safety within those walls.”
“All the same, I would still go in for you, Nigel.”
Montique, who was sitting on the tall gentleman’s shoulder, spoke on Nigel’s behalf, “The Imaginist knows what he is getting into. It would be wise to take his advice.”
Constable Greene sighed. “Understood. Regardless, I will still come in if I sense you are in danger.”
Nigel nodded appreciatively. “If that is your wish.”
Montique asked, “Is there any reason that we are traveling there at night? It is dreadfully cold for such a season.”
Nigel remarked, “Yes, and that is precisely why. Have any of you noticed the strange chill in the air? Further more, did either of you realize that it only became so frigid when we approached this particular street?”
Greene’s eyes went wide. “Good Lord, he’s right!”
The little mouse cocked his head. “What does it mean?”
Nigel answered, “Dark forces are at work tonight at the home of Silvain Dubois.”
The carriage soon came to a halt. A cold breeze blew through the cab sending chills through everyone inside. Nigel and Montique disembarked and proceeded to the place in question. It was a rather drab location. Montique wondered why anyone would choose to live in such a place. He then noticed the door. “Did he forget to shut the door, or are we being invited inside?”
Nigel grinned. “The latter, I’m afraid.”
The mouse fretted. “Perhaps this venture would not be wise. I do value my life, you know.”
“I want you with me, Montique. Just stay on my shoulder, and you will be safe; on that, you have my word.”
Nigel pushed the door open and casually walked in. The hallways were dark and filled with an unnatural, black mist. It was most difficult to discern direction from within. Nigel stopped a ways from the door and summoned aloud, “Silvain!” There was no answer. Once again, Nigel called out, “Now, stop this nonsense, Silvain! People are getting killed!”
A voice rang out from inside the dark mist, “I don’t care! Let them die! Let them all die!”
Nigel calmly answered, “Well, that is not very kind of you. You used to be such a friendly chap.”
The front door suddenly slammed shut. Both man and mouse witnessed the entire doorway melt out of existence as if it was never really there at all. Montique shivered. “Where did… Nigel, the door!”
Nigel nodded knowingly. “Yes, Montique. It’s gone.”
The darkness spoke again, “I hate them, Nigel. Nobody understood me; nobody cared about me. I want them all to die, even you, Nigel!”
Nigel slowly began to walk forward. He was still unable to see anything. Montique was very anxious. “Careful, Nigel. You are liable to run into a wall.”
The man assured, “There is nothing left, Montique. Nothing left but us and him.”
The voice cried, “Don’t come any closer!” Four sets of yellow eyes opened in the darkness.
Nigel proceeded towards them. “Silvain! It saddens me to see you degenerate in such a way. You were such a good friend back at the orphanage.”
“Stay back! You have no idea what I am and what I am capable of!”
Nigel stopped and released a sigh. “Oh, but I am very aware of what you are, dear Silvain. You are an Imaginist. Our shared childhood was no coincident. We were two brothers drawn together by the magnetic hands of fate. How else did you find your way to London from Paris? You were, by all reckoning, merely a homeless urchin.”
The voice of Silvain cried out to Nigel, “But I am more powerful! Where you have created a simple talking mouse, I have created a darkness that will consume the world! Everyone will die!”
“A small indulgence on my part, but I learned early on that abusing your abilities will ultimately lead to the loss of your own sanity. And where as I have lost much of mine, you have clearly let loose of yours altogether. I am sorry you were mistreated as you were, but I did my best to be your friend before we became separated. I am saddened that it was not enough in the end.”
“Enough! You abandoned me! And now you and everyone in the world will die!”
The yellow eyes began to advance on Nigel. The man stood his ground as the creatures surrounded him. Montique was wary but still trusted his companion. The creatures hissed and growled in the darkness but never attacked. Nigel lifted his head up bravely in defiance of the beasts.
Silvain yelled, “Why?! Why won’t they attack?!”
Nigel explained, “You are a painter by trade; are you not? Of course, you are.”
“What does that have to do with anything?!”
“Those people, murdered by your own creations, died of fear. They looked into the painting and saw what you were hoping they would see! But one little girl saw something different. That little girl saw the truth in what you created.”
Silvain snapped in return, “And what, pray tell, was that?!”
“A scared and lonely man, angry at himself, and taking it out on the world around him.”
“That is a lie!”
“That is the truth that you will not admit! Those creatures of yours will not attack me, because I have interpreted the painting correctly!”
Silvain shouted, “Be quiet!”
“You have misused your gift and sacrificed your own sanity! More than that, people have died in the name of your own selfishness! I kindly ask for your surrender, before anymore innocents have to die!”
“Never!” shouted Silvain as the man ran straight out of the darkness. He darted directly for Nigel with a dagger in hand. His face was filled with rage and hatred for the man who told him the truth. Nigel twisted the end of his cane and quickly slid out a hidden blade from inside. The Imaginist took a quick step to the side, and in one quick swipe, he sliced Mr. Dubois across the chest. The surprised man dropped the dagger and fell onto his back; blood began to form from his wound.
Nigel looked down on the wounded man and inquired, “This gift was such a beautiful thing, Silvain. Why would you do this?”
The fallen man sobbed. “You were the only one who understood. You were the only one who cared. Why would you leave me like that?”
“I was adopted.”
“You left me. You left me alone in this dark and cold world filled with predators of all kinds. I hated you. I hated myself. I just wanted to be normal.”
The yellow-eyed creatures turned to their master and began to approach. Their snarling became louder and louder as they crept closer. Nigel turned his back to his old friend, but Montique protested, “They are going to kill him! Can’t you do anything?!”
Nigel shook his head. “They are his creations, Montique. He brought this on himself.”
Silvain slid back into a corner and cried, “You’ll never know what that’s like, Nigel! I hate you! I hate everything! No, get away! Please! Don’t let them hurt me!”
Nigel released a long sigh and bowed his head. “I am so terribly sorry, Silvain. I cannot help you.”
The room was suddenly filled with terrified screams. Neither Nigel nor Montique could watch, but they knew what was happening. Silvain Dubois was being destroyed by his own fears. Nigel could not help but release a tear from his eye.
Soon, it was over. The black mist faded. Nigel and Montique found themselves in an abandoned room with the corpse of Silvain Dubois. The poor man was lying in a corner with a look of fear in his eyes. Constable Greene burst through the door holding a revolver. He shouted, “Nigel! Are you alright?! I heard screams!”
Nigel replied, “It is over, Constable. There will be no more murders. As you can see, Mr. Dubois has fallen for his own creations.” Greene saw the bloody scene and seemed at a loss for words. Nigel tipped his hat and proceeded outside to wait in the carriage.
* * *
Back at the Brimmington Residence: Nigel and Montique once again found themselves sitting on their porch while sipping from their respective cups of tea. The mouse was the first to speak, “How is the little ragamuffin acclimating to her new surroundings, Nigel?”
“Mary Ann is doing quite well. I am looking into enlisting her into one of the finest schools in London. Have you found yourself a bride as of yet?”
“Still looking, I’m afraid.”
Nigel tried not to sound sarcastic. “What a shame.”
Montique continued after sipping some of his tiny tea, “There is just one thing that I was wondering in all of this.”
“Yes. Why could you not just bring back the girl’s mother? It is within your abilities, yes?”
“Capital question, Montique. You see, if I had done such a thing, the woman might act like her mother, she might talk like her mother, she might even cook like her mother. However, she would never be Mary Ann’s mother. I am not God, Montique. I never will be.”
The mouse acquiesced, “Ah. Very well.”No tags for this post.