Chapter 5: Truth

I awoke again in the cold darkness of my prison. What was up with this dream? I could remember all of it now. I could remember every detail as if it were a memory rather than my brain keeping me entertained while I napped. Why was I dreaming about all the toys? And why did this dream make so much sense? I felt like there was a message I was supposed to be getting out of it, that there was some secret that kept eluding me. I closed my eyes and tried to get back to the dream world, but I was done sleeping for a while. I wasn’t at all tired.

I stood up and paced the length of my cell, back and forth, back and forth, counting the steps. It wasn’t very big. It was eleven footsteps from the front to the back and six from side to side.

I was walking towards the back of the cell again when a noise outside in the corridor made me spin around. I found myself face to face with my butterfly.

I stood there for a moment, not sure what to say.

“I… I thought you left me. What are you doing here? Where are all the others?”

“Back in their cells. Thomas, the clown who spoke to you before, is a little crazy. None of us have ever been truly locked in our cells. We simply Imaginate them open. We could escape anytime we want, but there’s no where to go, so we stay here. Every once in a while, when we get bored, we pretend to leave. We never go far. Garrote is always watching.” She shuddered as she spoke the gorilla’s name.

“You know his name? Serlena talked about him like saying his real name was amazing. She talks about him like he’s all special. I’m not particularly fond of him these days though.”

“There is reason to fear him. He is evil. But to ignore that fact that he exists, to pretend that he is not real, or to ignore the use of his name, only causes more confusion and gives him more power.”

“I guess that makes sense. But you didn’t answer my other question. What are you doing here, talking to me? I thought you didn’t like me.”

The butterfly smiled briefly. “I had some time to think about what you unwittingly spoke aloud. Knowing Serlena as I do, I believe she sent you here as a sacrifice of sorts. She doesn’t particularly care if you give her information about us, but rather, feels threatened by you and wants you to give up. There are many toys still up above who understand the plan and know how powerful imaginating is. Serlena desires only to serve her master who wants all the power for himself.”

“Her master? Who is Serlena’s master?” I asked.

“Why, Garrote of course,” replied the butterfly.

I drew back, a little shocked. Serlena was in cahoots with the evil monkey? Well, maybe that did make sense. I suddenly felt like I had too many odd ideas roaming around in my brain. I changed the subject.

“You haven’t ever told me your name. I’m Taylor Trent.” I stuck my hand out through the bars for a handshake, only to realize that the butterfly didn’t actually have hands.

She put out a corner of her wing and shook anyways. “I am Aeolianna.”

I staggered backwards and sat on my “bed” as the memory of my strange dreams came rushing back to my mind.

“You’re Aeolianna?” My homely yet amazing friend from my dreams was none other than my butterfly! That’s why the girl in my dream had seemed so familiar.

“That’s what I just said,” she replied, looking a bit puzzled at my enthusiasm. “Before, you said I was your friend, and now you talk about me as if you already knew me. Why?”

“Well…” I hesitated, unsure. Did I trust her? Could I answer her with the truth? I decided that if I couldn’t tell my own butterfly the truth, I wouldn’t be able to tell anyone. My situation couldn’t get much worse than it already was. “I’m not a toy,” I started.

I paused a moment, waiting for her reaction. She still looked a bit confused. “I’m a human, a real flesh and blood kid. I live in this house. Garrote was one of my toys when I was little. I went in to check on him and got swallowed somehow, but that’s all I know. My dad is a toymaker and helped me make…” I stopped. I had a small inkling how Dr. Frankenstein must have felt to come face to face with a living breathing creation of his own hands. “I made you,” I said lamely.

Aeolianna fluttered her wings slightly and stared at me with intense eyes, trying to take it all in. Finally, she spoke.

“I believe you,” she smiled. I breathed a sigh of relief. “You did look familiar to me when I first spotted you with Serlena. Now I know why. I do not have any answers as to why you are here, but there must be some reason. The Maker does not do anything without a purpose. There must be a reason your father sent you here.”

“The Maker? You mean my dad? He didn’t send me here. I told you, I just went into the Collections Room, looked at Garrote and…” I suddenly remembered something else from the moment I was swallowed. I had heard something. I had heard whistling! And there was one person I knew that whistled all the time. Did my dad really have something to do with me being here?

“Of course. There are few of us who know the true identity of the Maker. Some of the sillier toys, like Serlena, have let Garrote or others manipulate them and they have been deceived as to the true identity of our Maker. They call him a monster named the Wog and fear him. They do not understand.”

“That’s sad. How did they get like that? And how did Garrote get to be so bad? Do you know?”

“You do not know the true origins of Garrote? That is a story for another time, one that I cannot tell you. You may have to ask your father. As for the other toys, there are many I suppose, that suspect the truth of the Wog and do not fear him as others do. Did you perhaps meet my friend Zinga?”

I told her about everything that had happened to me since I had been swallowed. She grinned broadly when I told her about Zinga glaring at Serlena.

“He would. He knows the truth, even if his brothers do not. They underestimate him, but he is much more capable than they suspect.”

I told her about the food fight, about Patrick the Expert, and everything that Serlena had told me before dumping me down here.

“I don’t understand though,” I said. “She called me the Rescuer, and I’m guessing I’m supposed to rescue everyone from the Wog. But since the Wog isn’t really who she thinks he is, they don’t need rescuing. So, why am I here? And why was everyone so impressed that I could Imaginate?”

“We are in deed in need of a rescuer, but not the kind that Serlena thinks. We need someone who can not only free us from Garrote, but teach everyone about the Great Plan the Maker has for us. We are toys. Our purpose is to bring joy into the lives of children and wear ourselves out in service. So many toys have gotten selfish and only worry about themselves, and in the process, have forgotten who they really are and why they exist.” She hung her head sadly and a tear ran down her cheek. She really cared about her fellow toys.

“Well, I don’t know what I can do, but I’ll help any way I can.” I wanted to hug her, but I was stuck in this cage. Suddenly, I had an idea. I closed my eyes for a moment and pictured a key fitting into the lock of my cell, turning, and the door clicking open. As I did, I heard a real click. I opened my eyes to find the door slightly ajar, an actual key in the lock.

“Wow, that really does work!” I pulled the door completely open and gave Aeolianna a big hug. She smiled back.

“You do very well with your imagination. No wonder you were able to create such a wondrous food fight for everyone. When you told me, I half wondered if you were exaggerating. But I can see now that you do indeed possess a talent for Imaginating. Do not take such a wonderful gift lightly.”

I looked up and down the dank corridor and took a deep breath. I felt almost free, just knowing I didn’t have to remain in the dingy cage.

“Thanks for believing me, Aeolianna. And thanks for giving me another chance to explain myself. It was rather lonely there for a bit.” I wasn’t about to tell her about how I’d cried myself to sleep after all the toys had left me, friendless and alone. She’d probably understand though.

“You are welcome, Taylor Trent. Would you like to have a tour of our lodgings?” She asked as if we were staying in a five-star hotel.

“I would. It might get me tired enough so I can fall asleep again and get back to my dream. What a great dream! It’s a little odd though…”

“A dream? You see things when you are asleep?” Aeolianna looked awestruck.

“Well, yeah, of course. Toys don’t dream?”

“No, we don’t actually sleep either. We just become inanimate. What do you dream?”

“Normally, nothing much. But since I got here, it’s been kind of a linked together dream. Every time I fall asleep, I pick up right where I leave off. It’s rather interesting. There’s was this shepherd dude, and a wall, and a whole bunch of the toys I’ve met so far, including you! Except all the toys are real people, not toys. And there’s a path, and birds singing poems, and we have to find a key…”

“A key!” Aeolianna  exclaimed. “Your dream! It is the answer! You are the one! You are the one we have been waiting for, just not in the way that Serlena thinks.”

We had been walking down the hallway a little ways, but now we stopped. When Aeolianna had yelled, several tattered toys popped their heads out of their cells.

“He’s the One?” said one voice.

“Did I hear someone found the key?” called another voice.

“Hooray for Aeolianna! She’s found the answer!” shouted another.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” I said. “I’m not sure what you’re talking about. I don’t have any special key. How is my dream an answer?”

“Don’t you see,” said Aeolianna. “Your dream is the purest form of Imaginating. You have the power to change what this place is, make it become as the world of your dream. And through that dream, we will be able to find the key and defeat Garrote. We will be able to escape!”

I wasn’t quite sure how my dream would help everyone escape, but it sounded like an intriguing idea.

“Okay, I’m game. Where do we start?”

She reached into the stuffing coming from her tattered wing and pulled out a small blue covered book.

“Do you know what this is?” she asked.

“It looks like a book,” I replied.

“Yes! You are the first I have met who has known that word,” she smiled.

“What word, book?” I asked.

“Yes. For most toys, this is simply an object to be looked at, or maybe to be used as a building block. It has no pictures and therefore, toys cannot decipher it’s meaning. I have tried, but I have never learned how to understand the markings on its pages.”

“You mean, toys don’t know how to read?” I was a little surprised.

“Read? What does that mean?”

“Reading is what you do with words that are written down, just like in books. When I was on my way here, I saw sign outside this building that said it was called Strawberry Hills Resort. How did that get written if no one knows how to read?”

“That sign was created by Zinga. We always thought it was just a random bunch of lines. Serlena had it posted as a favor to the gnome brothers so that they would agree to be her guards. They do not understand their brother, but they do love being able to show off his creations. I wonder why Zinga created a sign?”

“And how did he learn to read and write?” I wondered aloud.

“Zinga is a special creature with abilities most do not understand,” said Aeolianna. I thought about my dream. In my dream, rhyming Winston had talked about how Zinga knew things, talked to the birds, and was someone extra special. I was beginning to see how my dream wasn’t just some random bunch of memories and ideas my brain was turning into sleep time entertainment for me. There was a reason I was having the dream.

According to Aeolianna, by using my powers of imagination, I would be able to turn my dream into reality. The Book had all the information we needed to guide us, and then we would be out of here in no time. It sounded a little far-fetched, but it was worth a shot. If it didn’t work, we wouldn’t be any worse off than we already were.

So, first things first, I had to read the book.

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