After a night filled with monstrous dreams I finally wake up. Beads of sweat roll off my forehead as I sit up groggily in the bed. The night's dreams begin to become distant memories as I ruffle through the sheets to find my phone. With luck not being on my side I can't seem to find it. I give up with a deep sigh and lay back down. The grogginess of the early morning heavy on my shoulders. I glance around the dark room with a sinking suspicion that something is off. I sift around for my phone once more without getting up this time. There were many nights that it gets tossed to the floor, so, not finding it wasn't cause for much distress. To no avail I came up with nothing.
"Johnny!" A muffled voice calls out to me.
I shoot up in my bed and look around hastily. The distant voice calls to me again so I jump out of bed and rush to the door. When the door flies open I'm not met with the hallway I was expecting. Instead an eerie darkness falls upon me. A gasp escapes my lips as I frantically look around. The voice continues to shout my name, sounding even further than before. What sounds like crying also begins to echo through the pitch black nothingness. I turn to find familiarity in my room only to discover that it has disappeared into the darkness as well. I sink to the ground as my heart begins to start pounding in my chest. I bury my face into my knees with tears streaming and sobs shaking my shoulders.
The only sounds around me became my own and the distant crying. I cautiously glance up in a weak attempt to ground myself. The nothingness continued to consume me so I dropped my head and squeezed my legs closer to me. I tightly confined my body into a ball and focused on my breathing. This had to be a continuation of the nightmares so I told myself I just had to wake up. My breath slowly evened out and the tears subsided. The sound of heavy footsteps halted everything and made my eyes shut even tighter than before.
"Hello?" A booming yet friendly voice echoed
I began to shiver, refusing to look up, afraid of what I might find.
"J-Johnny is that you?" The voice was quieter yet still thunderous in the emptiness.
At the sound of my name I dared to peak up from my knees. My eyes followed a pair of hairy, purple legs up to an even hairier, familiar looking face. "Bubby?" My voice was loud and bounced around even though it came out in what felt only like a whisper.
"I thought that was you!" Bubby, my giant bear like imaginary best friend, exclaimed as he scooped me into his big arms. "How did you get in here? I haven't seen you in so long!"
"Well I honestly don't know… I just woke up here." My answer was louder than I intended yet again and echoed for miles. Even in so much fear, the familiar warmth of Bubby's embrace soothed my soul.
"Hmm" his hum rumbled through my body, "that's so strange. It's also crazy to hear how loud your thoughts have gotten with age."
"Thoughts?" My question boomed.
Bubby looked at me puzzled for a moment, "your dreams, day or night, we never really talked I guess. It's also normally less dark when you are around. You sure do love to think up some crazy adventures for us." He chuckled.
"So I am dreaming?" I left my question unspoken and the volume of the thought sounded as though it came straight from my lips.
"That's my guess but something is different this time… and I haven't seen you in so long, I thought I was forgotten years ago." Bubby's shoulders slumped and a sorrowful expression fell across his face as he spoke.
I'd never seen him like this before. He was always so joyous in every situation. Even the time we slayed the dragon a smile remained on his face as he confidently led me through battle. Something was off, it really was different this time. Even with all of the creativity and imagination of a child, seeing my imaginary best friend never felt as real as it did now. As my thoughts pieced together Bubby straightened up and threw me a confused and slightly panicked glance.
"No… no," he muttered while placing me on my feet, "you can't be in here…. No… that would have to mean something terrible happened." His voice shook as he spoke.
Before another thought could cross my mind the distant sound of sirens filled the air.
"NO!" Bubby cried out, the sound louder than anything I'd ever heard before.
Ringing filled my ears as my hands instinctively flew up to cover them. Bubby picked me up once again and threw me over his shoulder as he began to run. My head was spinning as it started to throb in response to the ringing. Everywhere around us felt as though it was closing in. Suddenly I noticed a bright light in the distance.
"Don't worry I'm getting you home!" Bubby called to me.
His footsteps matched the rhythm of a beating heart as we raced towards the light.
"Just don't give up on me. Please." He pleaded.
My eyes began to shut to block out the piercing light.
"Please wake up John. I can't lose you again." His voice became muffled and sounded almost feminine, "please I need you."
The ringing started to subside as the sound of a woman crying replaced it. The sound of a monitor beeping steadily also filled my ears.
"Don't do this to me, please just open your eyes.." The woman pleaded.
I recognized her voice immediately once it was clear, it was my mother. Her words brought a warm feeling to my chest. I fought to open my eyes to see her but I couldn't find the strength. I tried to move but nothing seemed to be working. Eventually I gave up and that's when I felt hands on my shoulders.
"You need to get back out there. But before you go…" It was Bubby, I saw him in front of me. His large frame being my only view. "You should try and think of me more, even if it's just for this," he suggested as he pulled me into a tight bear hug.
When he let go my eyes fluttered open to a bright room. I winced at the light and heard my mom gasp. She called for a nurse as my eyes adjusted to the room. Along the wall I saw my dad and fiancé standing from their chairs. A smile landed on my lips as I was relieved to see them. Even in this joyous reunion there was a part of me that wasn't ready to say goodbye to Bubby. Time and time again he was always my hero. He was right, I'd have to think of him again, even just to say thank you and catch back up.