As Tim slept in his bed, a sinister figured looked on. Tim suddenly screamed and writhed in terror, squirming first out of, then deep into, his blanket. Then, as suddenly as it began, he laid still. As silent as a mouse in a trap.
Tim awoke to a wonderful Saturday morning. The sun was shining and the rain from the the previous days had all but evaporated into the heavens. He popped out of bed and traded his dinosaur pajamas for a green shirt and a pair of corduroy trousers. This was going to be a glorious day for playing outdoors. He had been cooped up inside for the past few days as storms ravaged the outside world.
After strapping on his shoes and assuring his mother he wouldn’t wander far, he picked up Arthur. Even though he was only a small, stuffed bear, Arthur was Tim’s best friend. They did everything together. Today would be no exception.
Bounding down the stoop and across the front yard, Tim and Arthur made their way to an old tree in the neighbors yard. The tree didn’t have many leaves, even though it was already late spring. It’s bark was gnarled and the few branches it had twisted every which way. Tim pulled away a fist-sized piece of bark from the base of the tree, revealing a sizable cavern filled with dollar bills and various coinage. He removed the two dollars and sixteen cents of lunch money he had saved from the previous week and shoved it deep into the recess of the old tree.
“I hope this is enough,” Tim whispered to Arthur. “I don’t want the dreams tonight. I never want the dreams.”
Tim starred at Arthur for a reaction. But Arthur just sat silently propped next to the hole in the tree.
The rest of the day was spent wandering the nearby fields and inciting war against various legions of insects. As the sky grew dark, they headed back home. Tim moved slowly. He was worried about the night ahead.
Dinner went without note as did the rest of the evening. But when it came time for bed, Tim’s chest was tight. He washed his face and brushed his teeth. Then, cumbersomely, clambered into bed.
Tim didn’t want to sleep. He had paid a sizable amount early in the day, but it didn’t always seem to be enough. As the hours wore on, Tim sunk into a deep, unrestful sleep.
Once it was certain Tim was asleep, Arthur moved closer. The stuffed bear loomed ominously over the boy. Then, like a whisper of smoke, Arthur traversed through Tim’s nose and into his soul.
“It’s never enough. Never.”