Born of the Imagination
Brenna was bored, noted Williard. Something needed to be done about it. He couldn’t blame her really. While the Isle of Man off the coast of Britain was lovely with its rolling hills and jagged cliffs, the sleepy island lacked the bright lights to interest a 13-year old girl.
As Williard led Brenna by the hand (‘dragged’ is a better word), through the ancient coastal Celtic village of Gal Breneaugh, he sought in vain for something that might interest his sulking daughter.
Along the boardwalk, a row of benches lined the gravel that led to the beach. Upon every bench, pensioners gathered like a flock of rowdy gulls. Some cheered, some groused. Most voiced that traditional chant reserved for fireworks.
“Ooh! Aah! Woh!”
The pensioners stared out to sea with intensity, and though they watched a championship rugby match. An elderly woman, with pink knitting on her lap and a daisy protruding from her bonnet, shouted, “Get ‘im! Get ‘im! Rip ‘is lungs out!” Williard gazed across the waters and saw nothing but calm seas.
Perplexed, Williard stopped beside an old fellow who seemed slightly less focused than the rest. “Pardon me, sir,” said Williard. “What’s all the excitement about?”
“Seem like we’re all barmy, doesn’t it?” he grinned. He removed his cap, then took off a curious contraption of sensor pads, computer chips, and wires. He offered it to Williard, saying, “It’s called Imaginarinet. We’ve all got one. Everyone wearing one shares a sensorial fantasy. It’s dynamic and changes all the time. The folk are enjoying a favorite just now.”
Williard inspected it tentatively. “Could I try?”
“How old are you?”
“Oh ye is old enough. Give it a go.”
Williard put the Imaginarinet on his head and his senses came under assault. Out to sea, he saw four giant sea monsters, hundreds of feet high, engaging in a pitched battle with the Royal Navy. Pincers and tentacles raged against missiles and naval cannon. Smoke filled the air and the monsters howled with ear-piercing voices.
Overwhelmed, Williard snatched the device back off his head. At once, the sea was calm and empty. He put it back on just in time to witness a monster snatch a destroyer up in crocodilian jaws and shake it about until the keel broke in twain.
At last. Something to entertain Brenna.
While the pensioner wasn’t looking, he surreptitiously placed the Imaginarinet on Brenna’s head and pointed her out to sea.
To keep the old man distracted, Williard said. “This is incredible! Why isn’t this on the market?”
“Don’t know the specifics,” said the man. “That’s one for the boffins. All I know is it plays about with reality and probability wave functions. All very technical ye know.”
Williard looked out at the calm grey seas. “But why did you ask my age?”
“That’s easier. When ye get older ye stop really believin’ in fantastical things. So yer imagination isn’t so active it gives the probability generators enough to make it solid.”
Williard felt his throat tighten. Belatedly, he watched his 13-year old wearing the Imaginarinet and staring fixedly out to sea. “Real? What do you mean, real?”
“Not to worry, me boy. You’re over thirty, so nothing untoward will happen.”
“You mean, like…”
“Well like them bloody sea monsters will appear for real!”
Williard snatched the Imaginarinet of Brenna’s head and handed it back to the pensioner.
He dragged Brenna away, hoping the old man was toying with him.
As they reached the car, Williard thought he heard the howling, the howling of an immense creature born of the imagination.
Glossary for my American colleagues:
Pensioner = Retiree
Barmy = Crazy
Boffins = Scientists
Written for Sunday Photo Fiction. Flash fiction from photos by Alistair Forbes. Look here for more stories based upon the pic above: https://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2015/05/31/sunday-photo-fiction-may-31st-2015/