The voice was small, and it was just barely enough to stir the man from his dreams. That didn’t really mean he was willing to be awake, though.
He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to go back to sleep.
“Hey, wake up!”
He felt cold metal tap his face, and flinched back.
Groggily, he raised his head, giving a quiet groan as he rubbed the sleep from his eyes.
When he looked up, he found himself faced with a young kid with a telly on their head, a red umbrella in hand, and a matching jacket standing on his desk and crumpling his papers under green rain boots.
“…Are you a hero?” They asked, and he startled slightly as the colorbars displayed on their screen twisted into something of a smile.
He took in a breath, and sighed, putting his head in his hands.
How the hell was he supposed to react to… this? Some kid had broken into his office, and was now asking him if he wanted to be a hero.
She didn’t look any older than ten, but still old enough to know better, surely?
“…well?” They prompted again, kneeling down to his level.
He pressed his hands together, closing his eyes for a moment. “…How did you get into my house?” He asked. “Where are your parents?”
“I got in through the window. And don’t worry about it.” They said, shrugging. “Are you gonna answer my question?”
Well. It didn’t seem like he had much of a choice in the matter.
He sighed. “Well, I suppose…”
“Awesome!” They bounced back up excitedly. “Come on! No time to lose!” They exclaimed, hopping down from his desk and running to the door.
He looked in exasperation at the papers on his desk— crumpled, but at least they were likely salvageable…
“Are you coming or not?”
“Yes, yes.” He said, rolling the seat back and standing. He walked over to the entryway, grabbing his coat off the coat-hanger. “So… who are you, again?”
“My name’s RGB! Argie for short.”
“Odd name, isn’t it?” He asked, frowning as he pulled his coat on.
“It’s ‘cause of my colors, silly!” They said, pointing at her screen.
“Ah.” He nodded, pulling his hat from the coat-hanger.
“...Are you ready?”
“I believe so.”
“…No one you wanna say goodbye to?”
He was startled by the genuine worry in her voice.
He suddenly had a creeping feeling that, wherever he was going, it might be a while before he came back.
“…It’ll be fine,” He reassured, shaking the feeling. After all, children were wont to have active imaginations, and she was likely lost nonetheless. It wouldn’t hurt to play along in the goal of getting her home.
Argie looked at him with what looked like a small frown, and he noticed that drops of blue were dripping from the TV screen, which was… strange.
Before he could ask about it, she grabbed his sleeve, tugging him along. “C’mon.”
After Argie had pulled him through the skylight, he had begun to notice more strange things; She didn’t seem to have limbs, for one. No neck, no legs, no arms, even though she still wore normal clothing as if she did. And he could swear the mouse-eared speakers on her head twitched occasionally.
He was, at this point, fairly certain he was dreaming.
He looked to them as they walked off. “…Er… why are we on the roof, again?”
“Because—“ They tapped their umbrella against the chimney, and the smoke formed into a staircase. “—That’s how we get to where we need to go.”
Yes, I’m definitely dreaming… And I’ve been watching Mary Poppins too much, evidently.
They crawled onto the stairs, before grinning. “C’mon! They’re solid, don’t worry.”
He walked over, and carefully placed his foot on the first step.
He continued upwards, following Argie as she sprung up the stairs.
A thought suddenly hit him; one that, frighteningly enough, made quite a bit of sense— except one would think that he’d be going down instead.
“…Am I dead or something?”
“Of course not!” They hesitated for a brief moment, looking back with a frown. “Well, I don’t… think so?”
“…that’s comforting,” He mumbled sarcastically, adjusting his hat.
It took them a while to finally reach the clouds, but when they did, Argie rushed ahead, jumping into the clouds and landing with a fwumpf.
He stepped onto the fluffy surface as she pulled herself up, shaking water vapor from her head. She ran towards what looked like…
“Is that a door? In the clouds?” He asked, bewildered.
“Yep!” They pulled a key from their pocket as he walked over. “Ya ready?”
“…Well, as ready as I can be, I suppose.”
As they stuck the key into the lock, the eye pattern above it blinked open.
He watched incredulously as the door swung open into a blue-tone landscape, where there was a yellow path and the black-bark trees had glowing wisps instead of leaves on their branches.
They stepped through, and turned back. “Well? The door’s not gonna stay open forever!”
He stepped through, looking around at the scenery—
And was immediately hit with exhaustion.
In fact, he was fairly sure that if he wasn’t careful, he’d fall asleep on his feet.
…This is why I shouldn’t stay up all night doing work.
“You tired?” They asked.
“…how’d you know?”
“It’s late here.” They looked around. “The trees are sleeping already.”
He wasn’t even going to ask at this point. Sleeping trees… It made about as much sense as a telly-headed kid breaking into his home and leading him off to Neverland, or wherever they were.
Suddenly, he felt Argie grab onto his hand, tugging on his arm. “C’mon,” She began, “we—“
He didn’t wait for them to finish speaking; instead he ripped his hand away from their grasp, pulling it back towards himself.
Argie trailed off, looking back in bewilderment. “...Hero?”
“…sorry.” He murmured, tugging on his gloves nervously. “I’m not really one for hand-holding.”
“…’s fine. I should have asked anyway.” They mumbled. “C’mon, we gotta get there before light.”
The walk to— well, wherever they were going— was incredibly quiet.
Aside from the faint white noise that hung around Argie, the only thing breaking the silence was their footsteps.
It was incredibly unsettling.
After a while, they stopped, looking on at a small pool. “Alright. Should be okay to rest here.”
As Argie flopped onto a pile of grass, he sat down to lean against a tree and pulled his hat over his face.
“…do you dream?” Argie asked.
“Mmm? Well, I suppose, but I don’t usually remember… Is this important?”
“Mhm— but as long as you dream, we’ll be safe.”
He closed his eyes as he heard the click of a TV turning off, and then, static.
After a while, he managed to fall asleep.
When he opened his eyes again, he was extremely disoriented.
At first, he’d simply remembered last night’s events, and hadn’t been too worried.
But then, well, the utter bizarreness of what had happened came back too; it wasn’t something that should be in any realm of possibility for him to really be here.
Perhaps it was a silly metaphor, but… well, he wasn’t so sure he was in Kansas anymore.
He looked to where Argie was still… well, ‘asleep’, if you could call it that. A snail was crawling across their screen, its shell, oddly enough, seeming to be marked with the static on her screen.
“You don’t trust them?”
He jumped at the voice, looking over and seeing a butterfly perched on the plant next to him, two eyes expectant of an answer staring back at him.
“Well…” He looked back over to Argie. “…not really, no.”
“That’s good. It is wise to be wary of them… you are a wise Hero.”
He looked at the butterfly cautiously. “You… do realize I’m not a hero, right?”
“Of course you are. You came here, didn’t you?”
He shifted. “Yeah, but… I don’t see what that has to do with any of this.”
Somehow, that sounded oddly like a threat.
“I must go now. But we will see each other again,” The butterfly said, before fluttering and beginning to fly off. “Be wise, Hero— be wise.”
He watched it fly away for a moment— before the painful realization hit him that he’d just been talking to a bug, of all things.
He’d lost his mind. That was the only explanation anymore. There, surely, was no other possibility that was actually in the realm of believability.
…alright, don’t lose your head yet.
He decided he’d ask about what was going on when Argie woke up. It wasn’t likely that the little telly-head would have many answers, but it was at least a comforting thought.
In the meantime, a walk wouldn’t hurt.