Landon was practicing using his invisibility cloak. Buddy had cast more spells on it to keep the cloak from pulling him too far into the invisible universe the way it once had his sister.
She was a lot older now but still a baby, especially when she threw her big tantrums. Buddy was busy talking with Grandpa in his study and his sister Dani was playing with her toys in the living room. Here was his chance to play a trick on her. He looked at himself in the bathroom mirror to make sure he couldn’t see himself, then he snuck out into the hallway.
The living stuffed animals were playing a rousing game of “Uno” in his bedroom so they wouldn’t be in the way.
He tiptoed into the living room. He could see Buddy and Grandpa in the study through the glass doors. They were still talking. Grandpa was showing the little Ambrosial Dragon something on his laptop. Dani had her back to him playing with her duplos. I wouldn’t matter if she were looking right at him though, since she’d see right through him.
He got closer and closer and closer. Just as he was going to touch her shoulder and scare the socks off of her, the twenty-eight month old girl turned around, smiled, and cried out, “Hi, brother!” Then she gave him a hug.
Landon was so startled he fell back landing on his bottom with a thud. “How can you see me, Dani?”
She looked puzzled as if it never occurred to her that she shouldn’t be able to see him.
“What’s up? What’s up?”
The eight-year-old boy turned to see Buddy in the hall looking in with Grandpa standing behind him.
“Oh, hi,” they heard the boy’s voice coming out of thin air.
Grandpa was momentarily surprised until he remembered the invisibility cloak.
“I said practice, no tricks, no tricks, Landon.”
“Yes, Buddy.” Landon was disappointed and took off the cloak. He immediately returned to visibility. How had Dani been able to see him? He’d have to ask Buddy when he had the chance.
Later that evening after Dani had gone to bed, he went into the bathroom and put on the invisibility cloak again. Buddy said it was dangerous to wear it outside since cars wouldn’t see him when he crossed the street. Invisibility doesn’t mean invulnerability, but he’d be careful.
Daddy had come home from work and he and Grandpa were watching a movie on television. Buddy was playing with the living stuffed animals in his bedroom, levitating them all around which they loved.
Landon walked into the laundry room and then into the garage. He went out the side door, opened the gate, and then found himself in the front yard. It was dark but there were some street lights illuminating the evening. No cars were coming. They lived some distance outside the city, so they didn’t get much traffic at night.
The boy decided to take a stroll. It wasn’t a lot of fun because there wasn’t anyone outside. It was October and already getting cold, so no one was out for a walk or anything. At least that’s what Landon thought at first.
Up ahead, he saw a figure. He couldn’t see any details including whether it was a man or woman. For that matter, he couldn’t tell how big or small the person was. All he could see was sort of a dim outline.
Landon decided to risk making more noise and broke into a trot trying to get closer. The figure turned in his direction for a second and then turned back and ran. Did the person just hear Landon, because he definitely got the feeling he could be seen.
The child checked and he had no shadow so he had to be invisible.
Whoever it was kept running, and for a reason he didn’t understand, Landon ran after.
Finally he was getting closer just as the figure stopped. It looked back at him one more time and then seemed to be turning something. A doorknob?
Just then, Landon saw the outline of a doorway open in front of the figure. The figure stepped through, the door closed, and then it was gone. The real problem was the door appeared in midair right above the middle of the sidewalk.
The boy got to the spot where the saw the door (or thought he saw it) but absolutely nothing was there. He felt around but didn’t touch anything. He heard a hiss to his left and saw a cat in the shadows of a bush staring at him, back arched, and making a horrible sound.
The cat didn’t have to see him to know the boy was there. It could detect the invisible lad by the noise he made, his scent, and probably in a bunch of other ways animals had that people didn’t.
It was getting late and he decided he’d better get back home before anyone found out he was gone.
The next day, he packed the invisible cloak in his backpack. He wasn’t sure why. He knew he wasn’t supposed to take it to school, but he just had this feeling.
“Bye-bye. Bye-bye. Buddy miss you.” The dragon gave Landon a good-bye hug. It was Daddy’s day off so he’d be staying home with Dani while Grandpa took Landon to school.
“I’ll miss you too, Buddy. I’ll only be gone a little while.”
“Okey-dokey. Miss you anyway.”
“Bye-bye, Landon.” Dani have him a hug, too.
“Time to get going or you’ll be late.” Grandpa hustled him out the door and into the freezing cold morning air. Good thing they talked him into wearing long pants and a heavy coat.
When the first recess started, Landon made an excuse to go back to his cubbie so he could get his cloak out of his backpack. The classroom was empty as he put the invisibility cloak on. Instantly, he became transparent. His shadow and reflection were gone.
Landon walked outside and no one noticed. He had to be careful since kids were running all over the place. It would be too easy for one or more of them to run right into him and that would blow his cover big time.
The boy ran out into the field behind his school. Kids were everywhere playing tag, catch, frisbee, and a bunch of other games. He had to blink his eyes to convince himself he wasn’t seeing things. It was a figure like the one last night. No, there was more than one. There were a bunch.
Every time a kid tripped and fell, Landon could see one of the figures had stuck out their leg to do the tripping. The same for different slips and falls, kids running into things at the last second like bushes or playground equipment. It was like these figures were causing all of the things everyone thought were just accidents. Kids were getting bruises and scrapes by the score.
Landon had to do something, but he couldn’t let anyone at school know he was invisible. Finally, one of the figures came close enough to him and had his back to the boy. Landon reached out and grabbed whatever it was by the shoulder. “Stop that,” the eight-year-old commanded.
Fortunately, none of the students or teachers were close enough to hear where the voice came from and anyone who did assumed it was just part of what all of the other kids were saying and yelling while playing.
The figure turned and for the first time, Landon was close enough to see the face. It looked like an adult but the figure was about the same height as the boy, maybe even just a tad shorter. “You can see me?” it asked in a terrified voice.
Then it broke Landon’s grip and started running and yelling. Landon could hear it but it seemed no one else could. “The jig’s up. We’re busted. Go back, go back!”
Landon saw all of the other figures turn and look in the direction of the one yelling. Then they turned and looked at him. Finally, they all started running, each of them finding one of those invisible doors, opening it, and vanishing. The boy ran for the nearest one, but it shut and disappeared right before he got there.
The bell was about to ring and Landon had just enough time to get back to class and stash the cloak in his backpack before recess ended. When everyone started filing back inside, some of the kids asked where he’d been.
“Oh, just hanging around,” he said hoping his excuse would work.
“Where?” asked Charlie. “You look all hot and sweaty. You must have been running around doing something.”
The teacher told everyone to sit down so Landon escaped having to answer a bunch of pointed questions. The rest of the day, he had a tough time concentrating on his school work thinking about those invisible things. For the other recesses that day, he didn’t have a chance to put on his cloak, so he couldn’t tell if those creatures came back. He did notice that not nearly as many kids fell, tripped, or had other accidents while playing, so maybe they were gone.
Finally it was the weekend and his friend Anna invited Landon to watch her play soccer. Her Mom picked him up at Grandpa’s house. Landon decided to take his backpack, explaining that he had some games inside for them to play later. That was true, but he also had his invisible cloak at the bottom.
After the game started, Landon said he had to go to the bathroom and took his pack with him. Inside one of the stalls, he put the cloak on and became invisible again. Once back outside, he saw some of those invisible figures. They were causing all kinds of accidents during the first quarter of the game, even tripping one of the referees.
The strange beings were all too busy playing pranks on the children to notice him, so Landon grabbed one from behind and pulled him away from the field. He was surprised that the figure didn’t seem even as strong as he was. It was easy for Landon to put his hand over the creature’s mouth to keep him from yelling. He pulled the figure behind the bathroom and then pushed him against the cinder block wall.
“Who are you and where do you come from?”
“How can you see me?” the figure replied.
“Never mind that. Who are you? Why do you hurt those kids.”
“It’s what we do.”
“What do you mean? What are you?”
“Pests. Imps, Gremlins, Poltergeist, take your pick. We’ve got lots of names.”
“Why did you come here?”
“What do you mean? We’ve always been here. We’re the things that make you have accidents, well a lot of them anyway. Sometimes you really have accidents all on your own.”
“You hurt kids.”
“Not seriously. Just bumps and bruises most of the time. Sometimes we have accidents of our own and cause people to get hurt badly, but we don’t mean to.”
“We always have. We’ve been doing this as long as there have been people.”
“Where do you live?”
“Just a fraction of a second away. Easy for us to get here but impossible for you to follow us back…well, maybe you could if you can see us. You’re wearing something, aren’t you?”
“I want you to go away. I want you to leave Anna alone.”
“Who’s Anna? Why should I care?”
“What if I won’t let you go back?”
“You can’t hold me here forever, kid. You’ll get tired or have to go home or something, and then I’ll go home, too. I’ll tell all of my people about you. We’ll find a way to stop you. I said we don’t like to hurt people badly. I never said we couldn’t if we had to.”
Now Landon knew he was in big trouble. The Imp or whatever it was happened to be right. He couldn’t hold the thing forever and there were a lot more of them than there was of him.
The lantern. It was worth a shot. The small amulet was always around his neck and sometimes it let him communicate telepathically with Buddy.
“Buddy, Buddy, are you there?” Landon was thinking as hard as he could. “I’ve got a problem with a bunch of Imps or Gremlins or whatever.”
“Got it. Got it. Coming.”
Landon heard the dragon answer him in his head but he couldn’t believe Buddy was actually going to show up at a soccer game in broad daylight. But instead of Buddy coming to them, they, or rather the little Imp went to Buddy.
The boy could see Buddy’s two front paws appear out of the wall behind the creature, grab him, and pull him inside, except it wasn’t inside the bathroom, but inside whatever dimensional warp the dragon was using.
“Take off cloak. Go back to game. Buddy handle.” Landon heard Buddy in his head again and realized his friend and magic teacher was right. Anna’s Mom was probably wondering why he was taking so long in the bathroom.
Fortunately, the Men’s room was still empty when Landon ran back inside and took off the cloak. Becoming instantly visible again, he stuffed the cloak into the bottom of his backpack, and then ran back to Anna’s Mom.
The first quarter of the game had just ended and Anna was coming back to them from the field. “Did you see that goal I made, Landon?”
“Yeah,” the boy lied. “It was really cool.”
Anna’s Mom knew Landon hadn’t been there to see it but she didn’t say anything.
Landon hoped Buddy would be able to do something because Landon couldn’t think of any more excuses to sneak off and put the cloak back on. He sat with Anna’s Mom and watched the rest of the game wondering every time a kid fell or tripped if they did it on their own or if an invisible Gremlin caused it.
Landon was back home in time for dinner but he didn’t dare ask Buddy what had happened. He wasn’t sure he should let Grandpa and Dad know about the Gremlins or how he’d been using his invisibility cloak without permission. Of course as far as Buddy was concerned, he was busted, but that couldn’t be helped. It was more important to find out about those Imps and stop them if they could.
That night after Dani was asleep and while Grandpa and Dad were busy in the living room, Landon was sitting on the floor of his bedroom with Buddy and the Stuffed Animals. Buddy had something important to say.
“Imps always around, always around. Part of human history, part of the world. No way to stop.”
“But Buddy, that one Imp said he was going to hurt me, maybe kill me.”
“No hurt, no kill. Buddy protect. Buddy make deal.”
“What sort of deal, Buddy?”
“Remember Buddy close and lock all doors between world and other dimensions?”
“Yes, so Shadow Dragons, wizards, and other bad guys can’t attack us.”
“Right, right, right. Except for dreams and time travel, no attack, no attack, except…”
“…except the fraction of a second where the Gremlins live,” declared Landon. “If a Shadow Dragon or anything else could get into their world…”
“…they get into ours.”
“What’s the deal you made with the Gremlins, Buddy? Are they doing to close the doors to the other dimensions so they can’t be invaded?”
“They can’t. They can’t. No power. No magic they have does this.”
“Deal is they no hurt no kill you and let me explore their place, protect them, stop evil from invading them.”
“So you’ll go into their realm and close the doors to other dimensions for them.”
“If I can, if I can. No one ever visit Gremlin world before. No one, not even dragons.”
“But you’ll try.”
“We try, Landon. We try. I make plan. Let you know. Be ready, be ready to visit Gremlins.”
Landon shivered with cold and fear. The last Gremlin he saw threatened to hurt him badly. Maybe Buddy’s deal would stop that, but somehow he knew you could never trust a Gremlin. In the back of his head, he heard the little Imp’s malevolent laughter, “I’ll tell all of my people about you. We’ll find a way to stop you. I said we don’t like to hurt people badly. I never said we couldn’t if we had to.”
There was one more thing he had to know. He figured out how the Gremlins could see him since they were invisible too, but how had his little sister been able to see him? What had happened to her? Did something get to her? Was she still even human?
This story comes right after Landon to the Rescue but isn’t directly related. It begins the next chapter in the boy’s adventures with his dragon and introduces a new enemy, one as old as the human race itself. People have always blamed accidents and misfortunes on some sort of outside force. This time, I gave it a body and a few names. I also decided to dust off the invisibility cloak and let it out for some air. Seems invisibility works both ways.
Welcome to the latest entry in the series of adventures I’ve been writing for my grandson for over a year now. To read the series from the beginning, go to The Day a Dragon Came to Live with Us. At the bottom of that story is a link to the next. Each subsequent story has a link to the next chapter, so all you have to do is keep reading and clicking and you’ll eventually get back here.