Tuesday was the day it was all supposed to happen, according to the lady in the head shop, so I went to town early. Thanks to my Groucho glasses and Batman cape, I was able to observe the bus in the market square rounding up the last few stragglers – no Mark, thank the Lord.
“Here you are,” said the nice lady.
“No new comics, then?” I said.
“Sorry, not this time. But I think you’ll like these.”
She handed me three magazines: Spiderman # 6, Daredevil # 11 and Incredible Hulk #1.
“I can’t possibly afford these.”
“No, you can’t. I’ve enjoyed these last few days. Thank you for dreaming me.”
I couldn’t think of a single thing to say, so I decided to just stand there like a prat.
“And your friend would like a word before we go.”
The jacket and Mark were right outside. This time, I knew he wasn’t going to evade me.
“Will you come back next time I dream you?”
“I doubt it. They missed this loophole, but will be looking out for others.”
“What happens if you don’t go back?”
“You’ve seen zombie movies, haven’t you?”
“Yes, but they have nothing to do with dreams or dreamers.”
“Nevertheless, we don’t want that on our consciences.”
“Did I dream the lady in the shop? I don’t remember her.”
“Did you search for comics in your dream?”
“Oh. What about my grandpa?”
“What about him?”
“I don’t think he wants to go.”
“Did you dream him?”
“No, my mum and my grandmother did.”
“Then for their sakes you should tell him to catch the bus.”
“What do you want me to tell your family?”
“That I love them, that I’m sorry I missed the bus to Middlesborough, and whatever is bothering them, it’s just a load of bastard cornflakes.”
“Bastard cornflakes. Got it,” said I.
Mark was gone. I hurtled home.
Grandma and Grandpa were both defiant (and rather green) when I got home.
“I’m not leaving” said Grandpa.
“He’s not leaving” said Grandma.
“He’s not, you know” said Mum.
A bus horn honked outside.
Then the doorbell went.
“They can’t get in,” said Grandma.
Grunty went nuts in the hall, begging to differ.
The sinister schoolmaster loomed in the kitchen doorway. Grunty stood by him, making happy hog noises.
“Come on, Arthur,” said The Sinister. “You’re acting like a child.”
“No. I’m happy. And so is she. I’m staying.”
“You don’t belong here. You know that.”
“We belong together,” said my grandfather.
“I see your point. How about this?”
There was a blinding flash of light. I blinked and blinked.
When my eyes recovered I saw my gran lifeless in the kitchen chair. My mum was next to her, yet she wasn’t in the least bit upset. She looked grateful, if anything, and no longer the least bit green. I looked toward the doorway.
With the Sinister was the most handsome couple I had ever seen. My grandfather, who looked to be about thirty-five and dashing in a thirties suit, was accompanied by a ravishing young beauty with movie-star hair and dress to match.
I thought of my choices of clothing and vowed to spruce things up when I got a bit older.
“I think that’s everybody,” said the Sinister. “Tell your friends if you wish. We have nothing to hide.”
And he winked at me and went to the bus with the last of his crew.
The bus melted as my grandparents waved and a hand in a beige sleeve gave us the thumbs-up.
My brother burst into the kitchen.
“Ern’s still here!”
“Ern’s the only one who got to stay behind.”
“That’s ’cause no one notices guinea pigs, until it’s TOO LATE!” said Henry, making fang gestures.
“I can understand the Sinister Whatnot forgetting about a guinea pig, but if you did not dream him, as you claim, then who did?”
In the kitchen, a distinctly-green Grunty went: “Arf.”
Picture source: Jonnie Nord