The Visit

Frankie enjoyed going for a walk out at night. The darkness and the pitch-black sky seemed to give the town a different and sleaker aura than the sun bestowed, playparks always seemed to have an odd beauty to them without the screaming children, and, with the exception of the zooming cars which she mostly ignored, a peace had washed over the streets which she preferred to the hustle and bustle of a daytime shopping centre. Observing the peaceful night scenery, she forgot about the fact she was carrying some rather heavy groceries, including a pair of two litre bottles of Dr Pepper. While the twisted elements of the interior of Foster's House elicited a sense of sadistic joy within her, to see the streetlights and the inky blue palette actually seemed to calm her somewhat, and make her feel relaxed. Even though she got her driver's license about two years ago, she still preferred to walk when going out, and she went out quite often, as she was quite an outgoing person.

Also to lessen suspicions. While she saw a full-scale attack on the human race in her future, she knew she had to keep things subtle while the plan was still in its infancy. After her grandmother was found dead, by her hands of course, she was briefly a suspect due to her being the only person on her grandmother's will. Her story 'checked out', no DNA was found, and a search round the house turned up nothing. She was no longer a suspect, and it was because of the Shadow, and for that, she thanked him.

In retrospect, doing so seemed such an odd thing to do, considering all the times she saw him a few years back, walking down the foggy streets like a Sherlock Holmes reject. His slinky way of moving, his odd dress, and the glimmer of yellow eyes from underneath were intensified by the fact she was the only one who seemed to notice him. A foreshadow of her destiny, it seemed, looking back. Resting on a bench, Frankie thought back to that day when he selected her. The only reason she went to her grandmother's house was just for a visit, and she felt she needed some company, especially after the kids in the neighborhood iand/i the local newspaper were mocking her and her ambitions. Although she could clearly see why. Bringing imaginary friends to life? Opening up a 'home for imaginary friends'? It all seemed ridiculous. It still felt ridiculous when she walked into the house and spied the weird man she had seen walking down the street right in the doorway, and it still felt ridiculous when she promised her power. The last one certainly had an air of temptation about it though, but maybe that's what made it seem so ridiculous to begin with.

Throughout her life, Frankie had always felt like she was under a thumb. Whose thumb she didn't know - God's? - but it still seemed strongly intent on pummelling her as flat as a pancake. So maybe it was because of that thumb that she felt it was necessary to do away with dear old Madame Foster. After all, it was being a blood relative to her that earned her all those odd looks and teasing in school, and she was about one hundred years old so it was just as well. It also seemed quite necessary to change the imaginary friends into what they were now: bloodthirsty, murderous monsters. Especially if those poor friends were mistreated by some mad hatter and overlooked as if they truly didn't exist. In her world as well, imaginary friends were just seen as things to outgrown, and if you still believed in them, you were childish or insane. Wilt was too big a part of her life (and Herriman to Madame Foster's) to completely forget him or any other friend for that matter. Their transformations? That was the only way they could be taken seriously.

She even saw it necessary to use the Foster house as a base of operations. Every town needs a haunted house.

However, as she walked away from the serene town at nighttime, she did not go back to Foster's House, the nightmare house at the end of the town that everyone is scared of going into. No, she actually made her way back to her own apartment, the same one she had spent many lonely nights in contemplation. Another way of lowering suspicions, and making her excited about how surprised they'll all be when she reveals her plans. Plus, the Shadow thought that Frankie needed some time off from commanding the army of imaginary friends every now and again. This was a very dangerous line of work she had wound up in, he'd warn her, and if she were to get too caught up in it, she'd go insane, prey for the Hatter.

After she plopped her shopping bags in a corner of her room, she took a look in the mirror and began to think it was time she ineeded/i some time off. Huge black rings framed her wide eyes, her hair was all tangled and needed a brush and her skin had lost all its colour. Kicking off her boots and undoing her hair, she slumped onto her bed and took in the normal surroundings. Although she had dreams of greatness and felt a childish glee living in a spooky mansion, she still felt a sort of sentimental attachment to this old place, so despite its humility, she still felt comfortable. So after a few minutes of channel surfing, she fell asleep straight away.

That sense of comfort did not last however. Waking up groggily and slowly, she found herself shielding her eyes from the sun's rays like a vampire. The brightness that the sun brought into this room was certainly a contrast to Foster's House - it wasn't as dank and dark as one would suppose, but rather subdued. So why was it that the bright sunlight made her think of Foster's and what she was doing there? While she was still on 'vacation' as it were, she couldn't help but spend breakfast still with that house in her mind. While she still felt she needed time away from that house and what went on it, she still felt a biting urge to go back, as well as a tiny voice telling her what she was doing was wrong. Although she knew it would be just a day or two before she could be considered well-rested and thus could return, she still couldn't help but feel a frantic impatience bouncing within her. With these thoughts in mind, the day passed rather slowly, until somewhere near one pm, where she had a rather crazy idea.


"OK, OK, you're doing good, good..."

Slithering down the large room, Wilt observed the imaginary friends all training for that big day. They didn't know exactly when that day was coming, or what it would even be like, but they did know it was coming and it was going to be big. With Frankie taking some time off, Wilt was left in charge of making sure the imaginary friends train, and train hard. That day, the friends performed basic training. Push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks...it was all good when keeping in shape.

"OK, I think that's enough, now get ready..." Wilt took out a strange remote, and slowly pressed the button. "Go!" An army of transparent soldiers materialised into the room, and the malicious friends all dived at them, dodging gunfire, pouncing at their throats, ripping off their heads and basically making them all a bloody pulp. Except for one, who bounced back onto the floor after being shoved by a particularly nasty-looking imaginary soldier. The diving, dodging, pouncing, ripping and bouncing continued on for hours, all with Wilt looking on with his famous beaming grin, feeling a burst of energy even though he wasn't joining in.

"OK, I think we did well! You've all learned a rest! There's some lunch downstairs!"

All the imaginary friends left to satiate their ravenous hunger brought on by their transformations, leaving Wilt in the large room that acted as a gymnasium all alone. Being alone, he decided to take advantage of it, slithering over to a box of sporting equipment used for training and taking out a basketball. After bouncing it in his palm a few times, he played an imaginary game, dodging opponents, and bouncing it against the wall, which counted as scoring a point. Just as he raised his bony arm over the victory, none other than Bloo floated in, playing paddleball as usual.

"Hey, Wilt!"

"Bloo, I'm sorry, but you missed training today!"

"Um, Wilt, what does it look like I'm doing?"

"Playing paddleball."

"Um, yeah, I'm training."

"No you're not!"

"I'm training how to play paddleball!"

"I'm sorry but how will that help us in our goal?"

"Well, suppose instead of a ball, there was a grenade or something. I could bounce it into someone's face and kill 'em!"

Producing an axe out of nowhere, Wilt swiftly chopped the paddleball toy in half.

"My baby..."

"Look, Bloo..."

"Master Wilt!" The voice of Mr. Herriman boomed from downstairs. "There's a phone call from Miss Francis for you!"

Wilt's annoyed expression suddenly became a wide, excited grin as he quickly slithered towards the phone, which he thought probably hadn't been used in a donkey's years. After holding the phone to his ear, or what counted as his ear, he heard the most strange request.

Frankie wanted him to come over that night.

It was a request Wilt couldn't believe. Was Frankie actually asking him, now a hideous monster, to walk the streets? Even so, such a thing would be impossible, considering now the house had some sort of force field around it preventing anything imaginary brought by her to escape. Frankie, it seemed, had thought of those things. She could manipulate the force field however she felt, being the leader of these friends, and would go to the outside of Foster's House to pick Wilt up. As for the matter of a monster walking around in public, all she said on the matter was to wear a disguise.

So that is what Wilt decided to do, pulling out a bunch of old clothes that used to belong to Frankie's father and pulled them over his body in an attempt to make him look vaguely human. After putting on a shirt, and a pair of pants over his tentacles, and squeezing the ends of said tentacles into two boots, he still looked like a monster, but a ridiculous one, as the clothes were really undersized for him.

"Hey, Wilt, whatcha doin'?"

"Oh, hey, Bloo. Frankie invited me over to her apartment for somethin' and I need a disguise to go about in public in!"

"Well, ya should have come to the Bloomeister, shouldn't ya? I've got just the thing."

Out from another closet, he pulled out a rather long trenchcoat, and draped it over Wilt, hiding his face. Bloo floated up on top, wearing a hat rather low to disguise his blue pigment, as well as a comical moustache. "TA-DA!"

"Bloo, I can't see!"

"Sorry!" Using a claw materialised from nowhere, Bloo unbuttoned the coat a little, allowing Wilt to see.

A while later, Frankie came over to the gates of the house to manipulate the force field, and both Wilt and Bloo came out in that ridiculous disguise, wobbling all the while. After softly laughing, Frankie noticed Bloo. "Bloo!"

"What?"

"Oh, never mind." So off walked Frankie, Wilt and Bloo, and the disguise worked in a sense. While one or two people gave them odd funny looks, nobody screamed in terror or tried to kill them, and that was all Wilt was hoping it would accomplish. They made their way back to Frankie's apartment though, and the two friends threw off the coat, and Wilt took off his clothes and threw himself onto Frankie's bed. The same sense of comfort that Frankie felt came to him too, as he felt much more comfortable here than he did even in his own room back at Foster's. When Frankie looked at him straight in the eye, that feeling of comfort disappeared, as he remembered that training session from earlier that day, how the imaginary friends were being trained to kill. When it happened, he remembered taking so much joy in it, but now, he could only look back on it in disgust. Imaginary friends shouldn't be murderous monsters, they should be cute childhood companions helping kids learn about the world and growing up. To see them as intruments for a war was abominable, and Frankie, who sparked off this, was a monster for even consideirng the idea. Staring into those pale eyes, he saw a vampiric beast who just wanted to turn imaginary friends evil for the heck of it, yet at the same time, sensed the slightest tingle of innocence.

"OK, so why did you ask me to come over, anyway?"

The first thing Wilt noticed after he asked that question was the odd facial expression Frankie seemed to pull. "Well, it's just...you know I'm on 'vacation', right?"

"Right."

"Well, gee Wilt, you've worked really hard, and I think you deserve some time off too...plus, it's a chance for us to, you know, hang out..."

Yes! The 'good Wilt' inside the monster felt a burst of excitement. He knew something as humiliating and horrible as this couldn't last - even as a bloodthirsty murderous beast he was still optimistic. Looking at Frankie's expression, he just knew she couldn't keep this up much longer. Just a night with her, said a voice inside his head, and she'll learn the error of her ways and fix everything. The imaginary friends would turn back to normal, and would no longer be trained to be killing machines. He'd change back to normal as well, become a happy furry red creature again, maybe even gain back his left arm, and he and Frankie would live happily ever after.

"But I didn't tell you to bring Bloo!" The minute she pointed to Bloo swinging on the ceiling lamp, Wilt's hopes seemed to disintegrate, yet still remain to an extent.

"Aw, c'mon Frankie, don't I get a holiday too?"

Frankie snarled in irritation. "No. You still need more idiscipline/i!"

"Gee, Frankie, you sound like Mister H!"

"He's right, Frankie," said Wilt, patting Frankie on the shoulder, "You should relax more!"

"It's hard to relax with him around!"

"Chill, chill. I actually think Bloo's kinda fun!"

Taking a deep breath, Frankie lay down. "Maybe you're right. Maybe I should chill out."

"Humph!" said Bloo, "I can see when I'm not wanted. If anyone needs me, I'll be in the bathroom."

"Just don't go out!" said Frankie, still wanting some subtlety at this point in the plan. So off Bloo floated to the bathroom, leaving Frankie alone with Wilt. The latter stretched his tentacles and lounged on Frankie's bed right next to her.

"Y'know, we live in the same house, yet we never see each other that much."

"Well, that's work for ya. You know, recently I've been having my doubts..."

"Me too. I mean, I'm sorry, but becoming all scary and murderous just doesn't feel right."

"Well, you guys want respect, don't ya?"

"Yeah, but isn't there some other way? Can't we get respect just by being normal?"

"Look, Wilt, the world is...well...a difficult place. I just don't think there's room for 'happy' imaginary friends. I mean, as I grew up, life just seemed to get more and more depressing..."

"Well...imagianry friends could help cheer everyone up who's depressed!"

"You just don't get it, do you, Wilt? If you were 'nice happy' Wilt now, some ithug/i would either beat the shit out of you or worse..."

"Frankie, I'm sorry, but I'm beginning to think you're just making excuses. That you just want to make us killers for the heck of it!"

In a second, Frankie slugged Wilt in the face, causing him to flop about on the floor. "Look, Wilt..." said Frankie, "You think I'm doing this just because I can? You think I don't deserve it?"

Letting out a nervous laugh, Wilt tried to answer. "No, no!"

"You probably want me to change you back, is that it?" Wilt gave only a small nod. "Well, you can just forget it! You know, I'm actually doing you a ifavour/i..."

"Wait!" All of a sudden, perhaps to avoid Frankie's gaze, Wilt had an urge to rush to the bathroom. When he arrived, he saw the window wide open, letting in the chilling night breeze. "Aw, man, Bloo's gone!"

The hat and coat he came in with got thrown in his face. "Then go find him!"

Not wanting Frankie any more angry than she was at that moment, Wilt put on the hat and coat in a way to hide his monstrous features, and ran outside to find Bloo. Despite his disguise, he found himself hiding behind buildings and bushes in his search for that floating blue ghost, trying to avoid the gaze of humanity. For a few minutes while searching, he looked at the few people out and thought: if they saw him, and knew he was an imaginary friend, how would they react? Would they ask him why he looked like that, and go to the Foster's House to sort everything out? Would they dismiss him as a childish thing? Would they even kill him? Or maybe it could be the start of an utopian society where humans and imaginary friends could co-exist peacefully. He scoffed to himself at the last thought, despite his optimism.

An hour or so he spent creeping around the streets searching for the twisted visage of Blooregard Q Kazoo, until he came across none other than the Shadow, the person who truly started this whole mess, causually lurking in an alleyway.

"Oh, hello Wilt."

Upon seeing this thing, Wilt darted towards the alleyway, not caring if anyone saw him and tried to punch the Shadow the way Frankie punched him, but the Shadow slinked away. The response was a frustrated growl, as images of bloodshed, murder and war fiercly danced in his head once again. With these images, he threw the axe, and narrowly missed the Shadow.

"Aw, that shows the conversion worked."

"What are you doing here?"

"I'm here to take you home."

"Shove it, I'm here to look for Bloo!"

"But Bloo's been found, let me show you." With a wave of his finger, the Shadow whisked himself and Wilt back to Frankie's apartment, where she sat on her bed, talking to Bloo.

Bloo's fingers were stained with blood.

"Bloo!" cried Wilt, taking off his coat.

"Y'know Wilt, killing is kinda fun! And it gives you notoriety!"

Wilt bit his lip with his jagged tombstone teeth. "Who did you kill?"

"Mac's dad."

"Really?"

"Yeah, he was a real boring guy. Such a workaholic. For the best, really."

"Ah, remember when I said we should recruit humans for our army, Francis? Well, this would be the perfect opportunity to test this creature's creator. Who knows, he could be the key to lead us to victory!"

Frankie stroked her chin. "Hmm. You know, you do kinda have a point."

"I'm sorry..." Before he could continue, the three seemed to shoot a glare at Wilt that made him freeze for a few moments, before he laughed. He laughed long and hard, laughed about the man's death, the new plan, the visit as a whole. That's all he could do.

"Now, Frankie, I'll send these two home. Be sure to come back to the Foster's House tomorrow. I have some ideas I want to discuss with you." The three odd creatures left, leaving Frankie alone with her thoughts. After absorbing the comfort of her apartment one last time, she fell asleep.