Many of us had imaginary friends as young children. If your imaginary friend grew up alongside you, what would his/her/its life be like today? (Didn’t have one? write about a non-imaginary friend you haven’t seen since childhood.)
Luca and George had an incredible friendship. They were inseparable. Wherever Luca went, George would follow, although every now and then George would disappear for a little while, and although George couldn’t speak, Luca knew that he had other stuff to do on the other side.
It didn’t bother Luca to know that George wasn’t real, he didn’t mind. He just enjoyed having somebody there to keep him company; somebody to play with; somebody to talk to. It was difficult being an only child, and whilst he had a nanny, he spent most of his time avoiding her, and instead kept to himself, in his room, surrounded by toys.
Luca wasn’t always an only child, he used to have a brother, Alexander, but when Alexander was a baby, he died mysteriously whilst in his cot. The family and the Police passed it off as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) a.k.a. ‘Cot Death’, but Luca never believed it. He always suspected that George knew the truth behind what really happened, but it was frustrating because George couldn’t speak.
Day in, day out the two of them would play up in Luca’s gigantic bedroom. They’d pull faces at each other in the mirror, or run around pretending to be planes, or even hide and seek, but George would always win. Sometimes they’d draw and colour together – although Luca would do all the drawing, and George would pick all the colours, and at the bottom of every picture, Luca always wrote ‘By L AND G’.
Initially his parents were quietly concerned about who ‘G’ was, and even when he started Kindergarten, his teachers called Luca’s parents in to ask them, as he would even write ‘L AND G’ at the bottom of the picture. One day, his parents called him into the sitting room, and noticed he walked down the stairs with one of his hands stretched out to the side and his hand almost half closed, as though he was holding somebody’s hand.
His parents looked at each other puzzled, and then just as Luca got to the bottom of the stairs, he looked into the sitting room and saw another man sitting there on the other couch, opposite his parents. He hesitated and turned his head, quietly saying something, before continuing to walk into the sitting room. He and George sat on the opposite end of the couch, down from the strange man, and his parents said they wanted to talk to him about his drawings.
They had noticed he had written ‘BY L AND G’ on almost every single drawing he had ever done, and they were curious as to who this ‘G’ character was.
‘Oh, the G stands for George. He’s my friend. But he’s only my friend. You can’t see him. Only I can.’
Taken aback by their child’s candidness, they exchanged glances with each other and then the strange man. ‘Luca, honey, this is Doctor Schlett, and he’s here to talk to you about a few things, is that okay?’
‘Can George stay as well?’
‘Um, well, of course he can, honey.’
Luca’s parents then got up and left the room, closing the door behind them, leaving Luca and George sitting on the couch with Dr. Schlett. Luca immediately got up, and walked over to the door to open it, and then returned to sit on the couch opposite the Dr. Luca patted a space next to him, suggesting that George come and sit next to him.
The Dr. sat there quietly observing this behaviour, scribbling some notes on a writing pad.
‘So, Luca, your parents have shown me so many drawings that you and, um, George, have done together. You’re really good at drawing. Who decides what to draw?’
‘Oh, I usually decide what to draw, and George picks out all the colours. Sometimes he tells me what to draw because he can’t hold a pencil, because he’s invisible.’
‘Okay, and do you always draw what George wants you to draw?’ questioned the Dr., as he pulled out a few different drawings.
‘Only sometimes. He can’t talk either, which is sad, because I wish he could talk, but he can’t – somebody took his tongue away.’
The Dr. paused, staring at Luca and the empty space next to him, ‘Somebody took away his tongue?’.
‘Yeah, they cut his tongue out, because he didn’t want to do what they told him to do, and he tried to stop them from doing the bad things, but they cut out his tongue instead, so he couldn’t say anything about them or say his magic words.’
‘Fascinating! But if George can’t talk, then how do you know this?’
‘Oh he told me. But he told me in my brain. He sounds like a kid, like me, but he looks like a bigger kid, but he sometimes says things in my brain sometimes. It’s like magic, but in my head. It’s how he talks to me.’
‘So George is pretty special then?’
‘I guess so. Or… um… I don’t know. He can go invisible which is cool, and he can go through the walls, and that’s how he always wins hide and seek.’
‘That’s amazing. Is George a ghost?’
‘No, He’s just a kid, he’s not a ghost. Ghosts are scary and evil and they hurt people. That’s how Alexander died. A ghost did it, but it wasn’t George, because he was away in the other world.’
Shocked by what had just come out of Luca’s mouth, the Doctor quickly rummaged around in his briefcase and grabbed a tape recorder. ‘Luca, I’m going to press record on this, and I want you to tell me again what you just said about George, and Alexander’, he pressed record, and Luca sat there looking at him somewhat puzzled.
‘What do you mean?’ Luca queried.
‘Well, Luca, can you just repeat what you just said?’
‘Oh, I’m sorry you didn’t hear me!’, Luca then began to shout, ‘I SAID, THAT GEORGE ISN’T A GHOST, BUT HE CAN GO INVISIBLE AND HE WINS HIDE AND SEEK ALL THE TIME AND GHOSTS ARE SCARY AND GHOSTS KILLED ALEXANDER BUT IT WASN’T GEORGE BECAUSE HE’S NOT A GHOST.’
The Doctor sat there with a small grin on his face, ‘Thankyou Luca, but I did hear you, I just wanted you to say it again for the tape recorder. So, can we talk about Alexander? Is that okay with you?’
‘I guess so, but Mummy always told me it’s rude to talk about people if they’re not here.’ The Doctors gaze was momentarily distracted as he saw Luca’s mother quietly creep through the door. Dr. Schlett continued questioning Luca, without revealing his mother was present, ‘So Luca, you said that a ghost killed Alexander?’
‘And who do you know this?’
‘Because George told me.’
‘And how does George know?’
‘Because he saw it happen.’
‘And George told you this?’
‘Yes, He told me in my brain.’
Doctor Schlett then held up a couple of different pictures, they didn’t really look like much, just lots of dark colours, lots of red and black scribble. ‘Okay, Luca, let’s talk about these drawings?’
‘I don’t want to’, Luca said quietly, averting his eyes.
‘And why is that, Luca?’
‘Because they’re sad drawings. George didn’t want me to draw them, but I did. I drawed them just after Alex died, and George got angry at me, and we had a fight and I got sad.’
‘And why didn’t George want you to draw them, Luca?’
‘Because he didn’t want me to draw the ghost that killed Alexander. He wanted me to stop, but I didn’t want to. George was the one that started the fire. He made the fire happen to stop me drawing. But I already drawed it.’
Unaware of any history of a fire, he glanced across the room, behind Luca as his mother, who was standing there with her hands over her mouth, tears rolling down her cheek, tried her best to remain silent as she watched Luca.
‘George knocked the candle over, not me. I was in my room. Mummy always told me never to touch the candles because fire is dangerous, but George didn’t care. He wanted to stop me drawing. He didn’t want to get into trouble with the other side, so he made the fire.’
Furiously making notes on his notepad, Doctor Schlett sat there in silence for a few minutes, pausing momentarily to observe Luca’s mother, whole was still standing flat against the wall. Her mascara had run down her cheeks from her tears, and her hands cupped her mouth, to stop her from making any noises.
‘Okay Luca, what else can you tell me about the fire?’
‘Um… well… I remember there was lots of smoke, and I remember hearing screaming, and then I remember waking up outside on the grass behind the house.’
‘And where were your parents?’
‘I… um… I don’t know. I remember I rolled over and saw the bedroom window was open.’
‘Did you jump out the window?’
‘I don’t know. I can’t remember.’
‘Well, Luca, I don’t think you jumped out of the window. Your bedroom is on the second floor, isn’t it?’, said the Doctor, glancing over at Luca’s mother.
‘And if you jumped out of the window you would have broken your legs or your back. And you didn’t break your legs, did you?’
‘So you say that George started the fire, because he didn’t want you to draw the ghost. And this particular ghost is the one that you say killed your brother Alex. Is that right?’
‘And after the fire started, you don’t know how you got out of the house, but you woke up on the grass at the back of the house, below your bedroom window, rather than out the front of the house with your parents and house staff?’
‘But you don’t know how you go there?’
‘Okay, I just wanted to make sure that I had it all correct. So now, can you talk to me about the ghost you were trying to draw?’
Luca looked to his side and whispered something. He was clearly talking to George.
‘Luca, are you talking to George?’
‘And what is George saying?’
‘He doesn’t want me to talk about it. He doesn’t want to get into trouble.’
‘Well, you can let George know that he won’t get into trouble. He’s safe here, it’s just the three of us.’
‘Four. There’s four of us.’
‘No, Luca, there’s three. You, Me and George.’
‘And Mother. That’s four. She thinks I don’t know she’s standing behind me against the wall, but I know she’s there. George told me.’
Doctor Schlett’s eyes widened and he looked over at Luca’s mother, who’s mouth was gaping.
‘You may as well come and sit down, you’ve been here the whole time.’ said Luca, without even so much of a turn of his head.
His mother reluctantly walked over to the couches, sitting down next to the Doctor, across from where Luca (and George) were sitting. ‘Luca, honey, you know that Mummy loves you so very, very much. But I need you to tell me what happened with Alexander.
‘I can’t. George told me not to. He’ll get into trouble, and I don’t want him to get into…’. Luca stopped mid sentence and looked to his side. He was talking to George again. Luca held a pillow up to hide his conversation from his mother and the Doctor, and the whispers grew slightly louder – loud enough for them to hear what he was saying.
‘No… George, don’t. Don’t. No! No, you can’t make me. I won’t do it. George, no! No! No, you’ll get into trouble. No, you can’t do it. I don’t want to lose you! No, you can’t go. Please. No! GEORGE! NO. STOP!! STOP IT!! GEORGE, STOP IT!!’
As Luca’s voice got louder and his anxiety grew clearly stronger, something strange began to happen. Objects around him began to rattle. Photo frames and various ornaments on display all started to rattle and shake, and a vibration sound began to fill the room. Luca’s mother retracted into the Doctor’s side, who was speaking softly and quickly into his voice recorder. As the sound of the vibration grew louder, Luca began to levitate slightly off the couch.
‘NO GEORGE! I WON’T LET YOU!! YOU CAN’T MAKE ME! I WON’T LET YOU TELL THEM. I WON’T LET YOU LEAVE ME! YOU CAN’T LEAVE ME! I NEED YOU!!’
Then, without any warning, the empty space next to Luca erupted into a fireball. Everybody screamed in surprise and terror, and then the Doctor realised that the fireball was not only floating in mid-air next to Luca, but was beginning to take a human form. He sat there is disbelief, talking into his voice recorder, documenting everything he was witnessing. The fire ball began to move, almost like a fiery, flame-like liquid and eventually transformed into what could only be described as a small ‘being’. Clearly not human, this ‘fire’ man sat next to Luca, holding his hand, as they levitated into the air. He opened his mouth, as though speaking to the Doctor, but no sound came out. Suddenly, Luca screamed, and a very deep voice bellowed from his tiny mouth.
‘I AM SORRY BUT I MUST DO THIS. I KILLED ALEXANDER. HE NEEDED TO DIE. HIS BODY WAS TAKEN OVER BY A DEMON BEFORE HE WAS BORN. THE DEMON COULDN’T POSESS LUCA AS HE WAS TOO PURE OF HEART, AND COULD ONLY EXIST IN A CHILD. YOUR UNBORN WAS THE PERFECT HOST. MOST TIME A DEMONIC FOETUS DIES BEFORE BIRTH, DESTROYING THE DEMON IN THE HOST BODY. IT HAD ALREADY INFECTED ALEXANDER BEFORE YOU GAVE BIRTH, AND BY GIVING BIRTH YOU ENSURED THAT THE DEMON WAS FOREVER LINKED TO YOUR CHILD, AND YOUR FAMILY WOULD BE FOREVER DOOMED. HE HAD TO BE DESTROYED. LUCA DIDN’T WANT ME TO DO IT, BUT I HAD TO. I’M SORRY, BUT IT NEEDED TO BE DONE.’
Luca’s mother sat there crying, watching the tears fall from her son’s eyes.
‘George…. I… I…’
‘DO NOT FEAR ME. DO NOT BE SAD. ALEXANDER WAS HELPLESS AND HIS LOSS IS UNFORTUNATE. YOU MUST CLEANSE THIS HOUSE. I MUST GO. TELL LUCA I’M SORRY, AND I WILL MISS HIM. I SAVED HIM FROM THE FIRE. YES, I STARTED IT, BUT I SAVED HIM. HE WILL NOT BE ALONE FOR LONG, AND I WILL SEE HIM AGAIN.’
And in a heartbeat, the fiery figure dissipated into a puff of smoke, and Luca fell back onto the couch. His mother frantically scrambled over the coffee table to reach her son, cradling him in her arms, crying uncontrollably. The Doctor sat there observing, continued talking into his voice recorder. He could tell that she was going through a myriad of emotions right now, confusion, terror, grief. He knew she was going to be inconsolable for some time, but knew that she needed to calmed down immediately.
Reaching into his kit bag, he pulled out a small glass jar, and a syringe with a needle attached. He stuck the needle into the jar, pulling back on the syringe to fill it with some clear liquid. ‘Mrs Haversham, what you have just experienced is something quite incredible and defies belief, however I was here with you, and witnessed the same thing. You’re certainly not crazy, or require hospitalisation, however, you are quite overly-emotional right now and I believe that you would benefit from a slight sedative and a bit of nap, in order for you to settle your mind, and allow you to think clearly once you awaken again.’
He knew that she was oblivious to anything he was saying, but knew that he needed to say it regardless. As he walked around the coffee table to stand behind her, he crouched down and jabbed the needle into her fleshy, plump buttocks, and stood up waiting for the sedative to take effect.
Within seconds her crying began to slow, and her words started to slur, before she collapsed in a heap on top of her son. He lifted her arm and let it flop down onto the couch to ensure that the sedative had worked, before he picked her up, and carried her up the stairs and down the hall to her bedroom, gently laying her on the bed, and covering her with a blanket. He then returned to the lounge, picked up Luca, and carried him to his mothers bedroom, placing him on the bed next to his mother. He knew that she would wake up feeling as though what had happened were a dream, and she would panic if Luca wasn’t to be found.
He walked out of the room and down the hallway. As he approached the top of the stairs, he heard a noise coming from Luca’s bedroom. He walked towards the door that was slightly ajar, and peered in. He heard a crayon drop onto the floorboards, and as he opened the door, he saw a piece of paper gently floating down to the ground. Doctor Schlett glanced around quickly, expecting to see somebody else in the room with him, but saw nobody. As he bent down to pick up the piece of paper, he gasped, and jumped back with a fright. There, on the piece of paper, was a drawing. It was of Luca, and George, playing together. Holding hands. Below it were the words ‘Friends Forever.’ and in the corner, ‘By George.’
A tear escaped the doctors eye and he left the drawing on the desk by the window. A surprise for Luca when he awoke. The doctor looked around, ‘Thank you George.’ and slowly backed out through the doorway, gently closing the door. He turned and went down the stairs, gather up his belongings and put them all into his kit bag. He wrote a letter to Luca’s mother, leaving it on the coffee table in a sealed envelope. It explained the events that he had witnessed, and explained to her that she wasn’t crazy, and suggested that she must speak with him whenever she felt the need to. Same for Luca. He would gladly assist them in any way he could.
Doctor Schlett put on his coat, straightened his glasses and picked up his kit bag. He walked through the front door and out into the sunshine. Unable to explain what had happened, he knew this was going to be a story that stayed with him forever.