Hillary of Nibiru by Brad Danbrook - HTML preview
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Hillary and Digby held each other’s hands as the elevator proceeded down.
It seemed to move very slowly and haltingly, as if hesitant. The young girl was now beginning to feel very odd. She was not at all she that Digby was leading her back home. He was mischievous in that way, often acting precisely opposite. Sometimes he could be mean and scary. Still, he remained her most treasured friend. Hillary looked over at her trusty companion. “I wish that Nana was with us. She always knows what to do. Digby, do you think these big dolls were girls once, like me?” Digby was unsure. “I don’t know…maybe….perhaps they are really alive, but they just aren’t moving.” Hillary rejected the hypothesis quickly. “No, I don’t think so.
If they were alive, why wouldn’t they speak with us?” She waved furiously at the large brunette mannequin across from her in the elevator. It stood stone still and ignored the gesture. The elevator continued to move downward. “Digby, my Mom said that people like Peter Pan and Wendy were not real…that they were just pretend. Is that true?” Digby shook his head furiously. “Of course they’re real. She was just joking with you. I’m real, aren’t I?” Hillary pondered the question momentarily. “Yes…you must be real. Maybe you’re right, Mommy was just 32
joking. My teacher Mr. Heidegger told me that it’s good to read and think. He said that it would make me smarter when I grow up.” After several minutes spent in silence, the elevator came to a dead stop. Hillary and Digby turned together to face the doors. They watched as the elevator opened up. Before them was a long narrow gravel path. On either side a ten foot high thick green hedge grew. The heavy foliage structure stretched out infinitely towards the horizon. They stepped out carefully onto the gravely path. Hillary stared up to see a brilliant blue sky filled with little fluffy clouds. The billowy objects were fixed motionless above them as though from a Victorian landscape painting. The air was perfectly still and of a comfortable temperature. The two friends decided to follow the path forward.
They walked along happily anticipating a new adventure. Hillary broke the silence.
“Digby, do you think we’ll ever get home again? You did say this was the way home. You weren’t lying were you? I wonder where this strange place is? I’ve never been here before, although I have imagined someplace quite like it.” Digby looked pleased in his new surroundings. “I like it here better. This place is more real to me. This is actually where I was born.” Hillary looked puzzled. “What do you mean? I thought you were born in my imagination?” Digby looked confused.
“I don’t know for sure. Maybe you were born here also…maybe this is where we both belong.” After ten minutes of walking in the same direction the path diverged in two opposite directions. Hillary looked quizzically at Digby. “Which way do you 33
think we should go?” Digby turned his small red head, first left, then right. “Let’s go this way.” With that, he headed down towards the left path. His companion dutifully followed.
Officer Gardner returned to the cabinet where Hillary had previously been hiding. The two dogs were still held on leashes, attempting to pull away. Charles Penrose caught up with him and pointed at the door seen on the surveillance tape.
“That’s the one there! She must be somewhere through that door.” The group walked quickly over to the door in question. The store supervisor Mr. Boggs walked up and pulled at the door. It refused to budge. “I don’t see how she could have gotten in here. This door is always locked. It’s rarely used. It only leads down to the supply basement.” Sergeant Hancock responded to the remark. “Well, can you open it?” The flustered store employee fumbled in his pocket and pulled out a huge tangle of keys. He began to quickly flip through them and try each one in the deadbolt lock. After trying a dozen different ones, finally the correct key was found as the door flung open. Like a crashing ocean wave, the searchers flowed down the stairs into the black, cold basement.
Officer Gardner was a street-toughened black man in his late thirties. He was married with two young boys. He loved his wife dearly and hated being apart from her. In his extensive experience, there was no such thing as an unsolved mystery. The detective lived in a world of absolute values and rational explanation.
He shone his heavy flashlight around the quiet, dark room. The ghostly group of store dummies appeared out of the darkness as Sergeant Hancock found a light switch. Carolyn was aghast at the bleak emptiness of the scene. “Where is she?
Hillary? Are you down here? It’s time to go home now! We’re finished playing hide-and go seek. We’re not mad at you Hillary!” Her words traveled meaninglessly through the dank basement. Her husband walked up to look at the motley collection of mismatched mannequins. “God this place is creepy! No wonder she was down here. Hey Carolyn, you think this is maybe where your mother hangs out when she’s not flying around on her broom?” The sarcastic gibe was met with a withering glare. Detective Gardner watched as the two scent dogs followed the trail across the floor. They seemed slightly confused, running in different directions at one time. “What’s wrong with them, Mike?” The officer holding the leash seemed puzzled. “I don’t know…the scent seems to be going all over the place.” The Sergeant’s flashlight found the elevator doors off to the right.
“Hey, over here!” Officer Gardner walked briskly over to the doors. “Well if they’re not somewhere in this basement, they must have gone through here.” The 35
flustered supervisor Mr. Boggs stared at the dusty black elevator doors. “I had forgotten all about these doors. We haven’t used this basement, as you can see, in quite a while.” Charles Penrose was impatient. “What are we waiting for? She must have gone on inside!” He pressed the round elevator button. It flashed on as the sound of creaking rusty cables filled the air. The elevator car approached and then came to a halt. The grimy steel doors slowly came open. The scent dogs barked ferociously at the entrance. “Obviously they must have gone this way, sir.” As many as could fit inside the car entered. Officer Gardner looked at the panel of unlit buttons on the panel. “They could have gone either to the main floor, the second or the third from here.” Carolyn looked confused. “Are you sure there are no basements below us?” She stared down inexplicably at the floor of the car. Mr.
Boggs shook his head. “Well, I admit that we don’t use this basement much, but I do know there’s nothing below us but the cold dark earth.” Charles pushed his way forward to the panel of buttons. “We’ll just have to check every floor. They must be up there somewhere.” The remark failed to convince Carolyn. She sensed that something was amiss, but could not articulate her concerns. The detective spoke up,
“let’s get started. They could still be in this store…they didn’t vanish into thin air.” 36
Digby and Hillary walked hand in hand along the gray gravel pathway. Up ahead in the distance a dark figure appeared. It stood in the dead centre of the path, but was still too far away to recognize. “Look Digby! Maybe it’s Mommy up there!” Digby looked over at her. “We don’t need your Mommy. She’ll just tell you to go home…and anyway, she doesn’t like me.” Hillary shook her head in disagreement. “No, that’s not true. She just doesn’t believe in you. She thinks that you’re just an imaginary friend in my head.” Digby looked sad. His curly thick red hair fell over his darting green eyes. “You don’t think that…do you?” Hillary responded happily. “Of course not silly! How could you be imaginary if I can talk to you?” The figure ahead of them slowly came into view. Digby ran ahead to meet the stranger. Hillary followed behind. She was slightly taken aback when she recognized the stranger, who was really no stranger at all. “Hello. My name is Hillary. Why do you look so much like me?” The question was addressed to a small girl in every way identical to Hillary, save her clothing. She was dressed in a deep blue and green tartan pattern dress, in contrast to Hillary’s red and yellow tartan. The doppelganger looked again at Hillary, then at Dibgy. “My name is Samantha. It doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside, it’s what’s inside that counts…what you like to think about. I live in this place with my friends.
We’ve always been here. It’s lots of fun, and we can stay out forever. There are no rules here. We get to eat candy and ice cream all day long, and nobody ever calls us 37
in at night. It never even gets dark here!” Hillary seemed very pleased by the explanation. “That sounds like fun. Are there any grown-ups here?” Samantha shook her head wildly. “Well, only the ones that have always lived here. Across the marshes there is a great kingdom where they live. Grown-ups from your world aren’t allowed. Anyway, how could grown-ups live in a world without rules?” Digby saw the truth of the remark. “She’s right, Hillary. Your Dad would hate it here. Your Nana might like it though.” She nodded thoughtfully. “Yes, my Nana would like it here. Maybe we can look for her.” Samantha grabbed one hand from each of her new friends. “Come along with me. We have lots to do, and you have to meet some of my friends.” With that, the new trio walked happily down the pathway. The same steep green hedges lined their passage on either side. The sky overhead was perfectly blue and still, filled with small motionless clouds. Just then a small dark creature exited from the elevator doors onto the pathway. It began to crawl quickly toward the three friends.
After numerous hours spent scouring the entire store, the search was finally abandoned. Detective Gardner advised the distraught couple to return home to get some rest. They reluctantly agreed and left the store. They returned home to a 38
conspicuously empty house. Carolyn broke the awkward silence that had enveloped them like a choking fog. “I’m going to call my Mom.” Charles was immediately incensed by the suggestion. “Well you go right ahead and do that!
And while you’re at it, tell her to keep her nose out of our business from now on.” Carolyn was instantly on the defensive. “I can’t believe at a time like this you’re blaming her. She had nothing to do with this!” Charles whirled around to face her head on. “Oh really? I’m not so sure about that! She always filling Hillary’s head with all kinds of nonsense…reading all those crazy books. Why won’t you face the fact that our daughter has a real problem dealing with reality!” Carolyn was nearly apoplectic. “You should hear yourself now! Dealing with reality? Do you realize that our daughter is five years old? She’s just a child! Children need to dream, and imagine!” Charles shook his head vehemently. “That’s just not true. I didn’t grow up like that, and there’s nothing wrong with me!” Carolyn walked away in disgust.
She remarked casually as she walked away, “Don’t be so sure about that, Charles…” She made her way into the office and picked up the phone.
Just then the door bell rang. Charles rushed quickly to the door as Carolyn returned to the foyer. Expecting some good news from the police, the identity of the visitor could not have been more disappointing to the unhappy father.
“Annie…what a pleasant surprise.” The sarcastic quip barely masked his abundant displeasure. The solemn visitor spoke. “Something is wrong with Hillary, where is 39
she?” Her daughter rushed over and threw her arms around her frail mother’s neck.
Annie was very near seventy years old. Her long straggly gray hair and sharp Scottish features only added to her witch-like countenance. After her husband past away twenty years ago, she had begun to grow increasingly isolated and strange.
Rarely leaving her old house, her only real human contact was with her beloved only granddaughter Hillary. Charles and Carolyn were both very busy with their careers when Hillary was born, and Annie had virtually raised her single-handedly from a baby. In the past year, Charles had noticed that Hillary had begun to adopt some of the perceived oddness of her grandmother. He therefore deemed it necessary to sever the close bond that connected them. It had become a point of contention within the Penrose household. Hillary adored her Nana. Carolyn brought the diminutive matriarch over to the sofa. They sat down and held hands. “Mom…I don’t know how you knew about Hillary, but…she’s gone…disappeared…” Annie reached up with her thin bony hands to wipe the heavy tears from her daughter’s beautiful face. “I knew she was gone. Don’t worry, she’ll be back.” Charles forcefully marched over to confront the old woman. “What are you talking about? Are you saying that you know where she is? If you did anything to her, so help me!” Carolyn pointed her finger accusingly at her husband. “You shut up!
Don’t be so ridiculous. You know as well as I do that Annie and Hillary have always had a special connection. I don’t pretend to understand it completely, but it 40
may be our only chance to find her at this point.” The confused father stood motionless and helpless with his hands hanging aimlessly. He saw the obvious truth of her observation. He finally spoke gently to the aging woman. “I’m sorry Annie.
Maybe I’m just jealous of what you and Hillary share. I admit that in a way I’ve never really understood my own daughter. If there is anything…anything at all that you can think of…did Hillary every talk to you about running away from home? Did she ever mention some sort of secret hiding place?” He looked plaintively into Annie’s deep dark eyes. The intelligent, quiet woman put her arm gently upon his shoulder. “Annie is different than other children, but you knew that already. The last time I saw her, she told me that she wanted to escape, before it was too late.” Carolyn was obviously struck by the remark. “Escape…escape from what? Do you mean she ran away?” Annie lowered her head and spoke softly, realizing that her words were both incredible and difficult to accept. “Hillary did run away…but not how you think…she escaped into a world created from her own imagination.”
Hillary, Digby and Samantha trotted happily along the gravel pathway.
Ahead the path branched apart in different directions. They came up to the juncture and halted. There were now three different directions to choose from. “Which way do we go now, Samantha?” The look-alike peered around and finally chose the 41
correct path. Digby looked up at Hillary. “I’m getting hungry! Are there any of those cookies left?” The sack of cookies had long since disappeared. Samantha answered for Hillary. “Don’t worry, there’s lots of food up ahead. We just have to find the secret place.” Hillary was intrigued by the remark. “What is the secret place?”
“All you have to do is learn your way around inside the maze. This maze is the in-between place. If you go back to the elevator, you can go back to the real world, but if we find the way into the very centre of the maze, then we’ll be free forever!” Hillary was confused by the comments. “So I’ll never see my Mommy or Daddy ever again?” Samantha nodded her head in agreement. “Well, that may or may not be true, they could always come and live here with us. As long as they find it also. Once we find the spatial-temporal vortex, you can live here forever and ever. You’ll never grow up, and you’ll never have to go to school!”
“It sounds just like never-never land! Do Peter-Pan and Wendy live here?
Can they be my friends too?” Samantha grabbed both of Hillary’s hands. They began to dance around happily in a circle. “Of course! They’re all here! Everyone you’ve ever read about or dreamt about is here!” Hillary stopped suddenly as her face turned ashen. “But…what about bad people and monsters…do they live here too?” Samantha nodded sagely. “Well, usually the monsters aren’t that bad, as long as you’re careful. Speaking of that, we better get going. We need to find the Great 42
Thinker. They’ll be able to answer all your questions. Hillary heard a sound coming from behind them. She turned quickly to see a small dark figure running towards them. “Samantha…look! What is it?” The other girl watched intently. “I was worried about this. Hurry, this way!” They ran down the path as rapidly as their small legs could carry them. The path again branched out in two opposite directions. Samantha ran to the left. She pointed to the tall green hedge. “This way!
I know a special way out.” She reached into her pocket and pulled out a small glass bottle. She pulled off the top and threw the bubbling purple liquid inside all over the leaves of the hedge. Slowly a small round wooden door materialized. She grabbed hold of the iron doorknob and pulled the door open. She climbed quickly inside as Digby and Hillary followed on hands and knees. Hillary turned around briefly and saw what was chasing them. It looked to her like an angry black troll.
It was the sort that she had once read about in a story, the kind of troll that would eat little children. She shut the door behind her just as the vile creature had reached her. “That was a close one! I’m glad that you knew about this door, Samantha. Would that troll really have eaten me?” Samantha nodded sadly.
“Probably. Look up in the sky!”
Charles Penrose was dumbfounded. “She escaped into her own imagination?
What in God’s name does that even mean?” He was now pacing back and force like a caged tiger. Carolyn was more sensitive to her mother’s unique and sometimes puzzling manner of speech. “Mom, if you know where Hillary is, you need to tell us. You do understand that right?” Her smile was ingratiating, yet her tone conveyed the slightest menace. The old woman was unconcerned. “I want you both to understand that Hillary is fine. There’s nothing at all wrong with her…she’s just special. She needed to get away for awhile, so she could learn a few things for herself.” The gesticulating father again pointed his finger angrily at the woman. “You still haven’t explained anything! Where is she right now? And don’t say, she’s in her own mind! I think you’re out of your mind, quite frankly.” Carolyn gave her husband a stern look to fend off his scathing attack. She continued her carefully worded interrogation. “Mom, nobody is accusing you of anything. We just want to know if there is any way that you could contact her, to ask her to come home. I don’t pretend to understand the special connection you two have…I don’t think I ever will. Can you at least tell me if she’s okay?” The weary matriarch was sympathetic to her daughter’s imprecations. “I’ve told you she’s okay because I know where she is now…it’s very hard to explain…this place is both real and imaginary. I visited this place when I was young myself. Hillary will come back…if and when she is ready…the decision must be hers. I will try 44
to contact her, if you really want me too.” Carolyn nodded appreciatively.
“Yes…yes that would be great. You just tell her that we miss her very much, and that we want her to come home soon. Okay? Could you do that Mom?” The older woman nodded and got up to leave. “You two just relax. If I hear anything from Hillary, I’ll be sure to let you know.” She put on her long rainbow coloured scarf and her old black wool coat. A brown tam sat upon her long gray hair. She smiled and left the house.
The loud ring of the phone broke the ensuing silence. Charles picked it up immediately. “Yes detective? No, still no sign of her. The other child in the video tapes? No, I don’t think Hillary has any red-haired friends…to tell you the truth, she barely has any friends, unless you count the imaginary variety. Yes, thank you.
I realize that you are doing all you can. Yes, yes…thank you.” Carolyn looked up searchingly. “Nothing new? Why didn’t you mention what Annie said?” Charles shrugged his shoulders. “What…that Hillary has escaped into her mind? It doesn’t even mean anything!” Carolyn concurred with the succinct assessment. “What did he say about the other child in the security tape?”
“Nothing…he just wanted to know if Hillary knew any little red-haired boys.” Carolyn looked down at the rug and then closed her eyes. “… I know this is going to sound completely crazy, but that sounds a little like…Digby.” 45
“What are you talking about? You don’t mean her little imaginary friend that lives under the sink?” Carolyn was somewhat ashamed, but could not help but acknowledge his correct identification. “Charles…I’m not saying that this Digby is real, or anything…that’s crazy…I just know that Hillary always described him in that way. You have to admit that it is a little bit weird.” He walked away in disgust.
“Oh…now I understand completely! Our daughter was kidnapped by her imaginary friend, that lives in her mind!” Carolyn felt a terrible uneasiness grip her. She looked out towards the kitchen sink cabinet and wondered where her little girl had gone.
Hillary was amazed by what she saw around her. The deep blue sky above her was suffused and saturated with a dazzling congregation of impossibly huge butterflies. Enormous creatures with massive bright wings fluttered gently all around her. The air was alive with a vivid explosion of vibrant patterned colour.
Some had dark blue wings with red and yellow spots. Others had bright orange and black stripes running through them. A purple, red and blue flying creature came down gracefully towards them. It alighted on the ground before the three adventurers. “It’s wonderful!” Hillary could not believe how lucky she was. She 46
had always loved butterflies, and enjoyed studying them. She had often wondered what it would be like to actually fly upon one. “Samantha, are they friendly? Do you think they might take me for a short ride?” Samantha nodded eagerly. “Of course they will. You can go for a short ride, but remember, we can’t stay here for long. This place is only a temporary escape. It will disappear after a while. We still must return to the maze. You go for a ride, and I’ll find some food for Digby.” With that, Hillary walked over to the delicate, finely illustrated insect. It’s huge purple wings slowly folded back and forth. Hillary reached out her hand to pet the creature. It responded by lowering itself for her. The curious little blond girl gingerly climbed onto its thin body. Instantly the duo took flight. Hillary laughed and shouted down to her two friends below. “Digby, look at me! I’m flying!” Hillary felt a wonderful sense of freedom and abandon. Higher and higher the butterfly flew until it was sailing through the white cottony clouds. After a good time in the air, the creature glided gracefully back to the ground. Hillary carefully got off and thanked the butterfly for the trip. It flew off again to rejoin its winged friends.
“Wow Digby, that was so much fun! You should try it!” Digby was far too busy stuffing his face with tasty sweet treats. “Look what Samantha found for us!” He pointed down on the grassy ground to a huge assortment of delectable candies.
All of them were carefully wrapped in cellophane and in different piles. “Look 47
here, Hillary, these ones are marshmallow and chocolate, these ones are vanilla cookie and strawberry jam, these ones are peach and those ones there are grape and banana flavoured.” Hillary reached down to grab a candy. She quickly pulled it open and popped it in her mouth. “Mmmm…I’m not sure what flavour this one is…raspberry I think. Where did you get these, Samantha?” Hillary’s look-alike walked over to a large camel that sat not far away. “Look here, it’s easy. You just reach in and take what you want. The camel doesn’t mind. That’s what they do.” She proceeded to push her arm gently through the skin and into the camel’s large hump. Her hand emerged soon after filled with candies. “You never know what you’re going to get. Just make sure that you don’t eat the poison ones.” Hillary was suddenly alarmed. “Poison? Which ones are they?” Samantha seemed very calm and quite matter of fact. “The ones that are white with orange dots, don’t eat those ones.” Hillary ran over to see Digby. “Digby, make sure you don’t eat those ones there.” Digby looked up questioningly. “Why not? They tasted okay to me.” Hillary shrieked in horror. “Samantha! Come over here! Digby ate the poison candy!” Digby had grown quiet. His small body grew limp in Hillary’s arms.
Samantha looked down hopelessly at the small red-haired boy. “I thought he knew!
We need to get out of here. We need to find the Thinker. We’ll take him with us.
I’ll get the camel.” Samantha grabbed the reigns of the desert beast and led it back to her two friends. As it lowered its long neck, Hillary and Samantha carefully 48
helped Digby onto its back. Digby was precariously balanced between the camel’s two humps. The entourage made their way back to the hedge. Samantha reached down into her pocket for her purple portal potion. She quickly opened the glass bottle and sprayed a few drops onto the leaves in front of her. As before, a small round wooden door materialized. They opened it up and ran through. The camel was somehow able to stretch its large body through to the other side. Hillary followed close behind. As Samantha shut the small oak door in the green hedge, it disappeared completely.