“And I say we’ve waited long enough. It’s time to take matters into our own hands before it is too late.”
The high-pitched screechy voice of the witch made Pollyanna cringe. Why did she have be so loud, intrusive? In fact, why couldn’t all of her be less offensive, less negative? Looking at the witch Pollyanna could almost understand why it had all transpired as it did. Pollyanna would be happy and maybe even able to live with the way things had turned out if it meant never having to listen to that voice or others like it again.
“Surely there’s no need to turn to aggression.” Just the thought revolted Pollyanna. “People will come to their senses. They’re inherently good, they won’t let us die. We just need to have more faith.” She caught the witch’s evil glare and shuddered; if circumstances had been different Pollyanna would have been in so much trouble now. As it was, no matter how angry the witch got, there was no danger to Pollyanna or any of the others.
“Silence!” The knight roared his command before the witch could open her mouth and lash out at her and despite the lack of danger Pollyanna released a huge sigh of relief. She’d given up on trying to remember everybody’s name ages ago. They weren’t supposed to be together and should never have known the others existed. Whatever happened next, there was no need to know who everybody was. They’d either all disappear or be restored to the places they’d come from. Both options lead to the same result; they’d never be in each other’s company again.
“The time for waiting is over. We have to take action now or we will all evaporate – lost to the world without a trace, as if we never existed.”
Put in those terms even Pollyanna had to admit their future looked dismal, but maybe it wouldn’t get so bad. There was good in the world, and in her experience that good always triumphed. Pollyanna knew better than most that with enough patience it was possible to beat the odds eventually. She opened her mouth to say as much as when a mouse with a giant head pushed to the forefront of the meeting with his rather silly looking sidekick close on his heels.
“I have a plan.”
Pollyanna sighed; the mouse’s voice was no improvement over the witch’s screechy tones.
“What? What do you want to do tonight, Brain?”
His answer was as swift as it was predictable.
“The same thing we do every night, Pinky, or at least, the same thing we’ve been doing every night until they got rid of us, try and take over the world. And this time failure really isn’t an option.”
“If failure isn’t an option we really don’t want to put him in charge. Look at his track record.”
Pollyanna had no idea who’d said the words and gave up trying to figure it out as other voices joined the debate. By the sound of it there were as many opinions as there were participants in the debate and Pollyanna stopped listening. She’d said what she wanted to say and clearly she was in a minority of one. The opinions on what exactly should be done differed, but all others agreed that something needed to happen.
“Enough.” The deep voice had barely been raised but still silenced the shouting match. “We’ve been working on something and I think we found the solution we need. The potion is potent and should restore our status, provided we can find a way of releasing it and as many of us as possible can be present during the release to boost its power.”
Pollyanna looked at the two grey-haired wizards. She’d never be able to tell who was Dumbledore and who Gandalf but she trusted both of them. They’d been a calming and stabilising influence on their mismatched group since the start.
“I think I may be able to help with that.”
Pollyanna turned and looked at the man wearing the rather silly leather cap and sporting goggles on his forehead.
“Ah, you are...wait, don’t tell me...” Dumbledore – or Gandalf, who knew – stared at the man. “Biggles, that’s your name. And I think I know what you’re going to suggest. That might actually work. You’re plane still exists? It still works?”
“Yes Sir.” The man named Biggles face stretched into a half-smile. “The plane is faring better than I am. I can feel myself fading but the plane is still rock solid. I guess it’s less fictional than I am.”
Fictional. Pollyanna still couldn’t get her head around the concept. She’d listened to the explanations at least ten times and still the idea was as strange as it was abhorrent. How could she possibly be the figment of somebody else’s imagination? Who’d ever heard anything so ridiculous? There was nothing fake or unreal about her life, the hardships she’d gone through, the lessons she’d learned or the good she’d encountered. And yet, she couldn’t deny her memories of exactly how she’d lived her life were beginning to fade. She knew there were holes in her back story and no matter how hard she tried she couldn’t fill them anymore. Every day there seemed to be less to her, of her.
“Listen child.” The old woman had looked at her from her sick bed, petting the head of the wolf who’d snuck on top of the covers. “You don’t need to know all the details. All that matter is that those in charge of the world have decided that imagination is a dangerous thing. They banned the use of and access to it. Books, movies, oral stories all of them have to be factual. They’re eradicating the fictional, one bonfire at a time.” The sweet old lady had stroked Poliana’s cheek before continuing. “Just like you, the people can’t or won’t see what’s happening. By the time those in power have succeeded the public won’t remember we ever existed and we’ll be gone, forever, never to be heard off again.”
A decision appeared to have been made while Pollyanna’s thoughts had wandered back to the conversation she’d had earlier that day, and a few hours later she found herself being ushered towards the fragile looking airplane.
“Biggles,” the knight who’d clearly taken charge of affairs turned to the pilot, “how many of us can you take?”
“As many as want to come.” Biggles’ smile looked sad to Pollyanna. “We’ve lost so much of our substance already; there is no risk at all.”
The situation was beyond strange and Pollyanna knew without a doubt that should their mission be successful she’d never forget sitting on the wings of a bi-plane with creatures and characters she’d never encountered before in over a hundred years of existence.
Five minutes after takeoff the plane neared the centre of town.
“Three. Two.” One of the wizards counted down. “One. Now!”
A bright red cloud erupted behind the plane and slowly spread over the town and surrounding land as it drifted ever lower towards the ground. Almost instantly Pollyanna felt more substantial and as she glanced along the length of the plane’s wings she saw the same was true for the other members of the group. The clock chimed. A man whose face was covered in ashes had to hang on to the legs of a woman who threatened to be pulled into flight by her umbrella. A black horse reared and kicked its front legs in pure joy, while a man clad in only a loincloth swung from one wing to another. Inside Pollyanna’s chest a rose opened and she thought back to the words her father had said.
“I’m glad...” She paused as she felt the eyes of every person, creature and item on the plane turn towards her. “If it hadn’t been for almost disappearing I would never have known how amazing it is to exist in peoples’ imagination.
As you may have noticed, this week flash is somewhat longer than usual. We’ve decided to allow that because there is so very much going on in the picture. For me the combination of picture and extra words resulted in a story unlike anything I’ve ever written before. I do hope you enjoyed it and would love to hear what you think. More flashes based on the same picture can be found in the Monday Flash Fics Group on Facebook. Enjoy!