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by MayDay
Rated: E · Fiction · None · #2319536
Theresa meets the Imaginary Rule Enforcers and learns the truth.
Theresa found herself on a metal platform that was glowing blue. She startled, looking all around. She seemed to be in the middle of a colorful town. Rick led the way through the surprised crowds, toward a black castle off in the distance. As they walked, Rick turned his head to the left and pointed, “That's my old home, the cave.”
Theresa looked where he was pointing and, sure enough, she saw the terrifyingly dark cave in which Rick had lived. Theresa shivered and continued walking, seeing many places in which she had imagined. The bakery she had worked in one time, the blacksmith shop she had made swords in for her friend the knight, the factory, the farm, even a store. And in each imagination, she now remembered seeing a black castle in the background. It was strange, everything else was different all the time, the surroundings, the professions, the objects, but she always saw that same castle. The same castle she was approaching with Rick.
Theresa didn't want to have to face the castle any sooner than she had to, and she continued watching the places she had been at and worked. There were the ashes of the building she had put the jar of her superpowers in. Oh, and there was the arena where she had fought Harry the Strongest! The strongest imaginary man she had ever imagined. She glanced at her body, full of imaginary scars. Some of them were from that incident with Harry. She sighed, remembering all her imaginary adventures. There was a lake leading to the ocean, where the pirate ship she had ridden on was parked. She remembered the exploration perfectly, the sailing, the band of pirates, shouting “land-ho,” and finding the treasure. Unfortunately, the other pirates had beaten her up and taken the treasure, marooning her on the island alone. She had made her own ship and set sail after them, catching them all by herself and making them walk their own plank. And then, she had taken the chest full of treasure to the mainland, where she gave freely to the poor folk of the town called Gold-Seekers. Theresa still felt the nice tingle in her spine that came from helping a needy family—more than one family, actually. She had helped so many people on her adventures, including Rick. She glanced at the man's face as she remembered her adventure when she had helped him become visible. She realized too late that he had stopped walking, and she yelped with alarm as she slipped and skid into a fall, displacing dirt. She looked down and saw water. Her arms jerked upward, and she remembered the rope tied to her wrists. Rick had the end of that rope, and she heard him grunting with the effort to pull her back up. Theresa's arm and shoulder screamed in pain, and she groaned softly in pain. She felt herself being raised up to ground level and tried to help Rick out by grabbing the edge of the cliff with both her arms and pulling up. She collapsed onto Rick, who didn't hesitate to roll her off him. Theresa rested for a moment, adrenaline pumping through her veins as she groaned, massaging her shoulder and arm. She got up slowly, and with a glare from Rick said, “Sorry, I wasn't paying attention. I was remembering my past imag—I mean my adventures.”
Theresa corrected herself before she could break the rule again, talking about her imaginary adventures. Rick stood up and said, “No, no. It's my fault. I should have warned you that the moat was coming up. I know how distracting it can get to pass by the places you've adventured. Not that I've ever adventured like you, I just know it's distracting. And besides, now we found another use for tethering you.”
Theresa smiled ever so slightly, like she did when she had mashed potatoes for dinner. Theresa brushed herself off as Rick grabbed something Theresa hadn't noticed before. A radio. He pushed a button and announced, “I'm back. The girl passed the test, and she'd like to see the Enforcers.”
There was a crackle in the radio before a voice replied, “Roger that. Opening the gate.”
There was a loud booming sound, and a gate started opening on the castle, falling toward the water. Theresa turned to Rick curiously and asked, “What did you mean, 'the girl passed the test,'? What's that supposed to mean? You told me one of us had to kill the other, and then the plan changed!”
Rick shrugged and said, “You'll see. But all I can say is, a nice guy like me can still keep secrets.”
They walked across the bridge, the ropes still tying Theresa's hands together. She tried to smile, but her face would not cooperate. She felt too weak even to move the muscles in her face. Instead, her face stayed blank as she stepped into the castle that she had dreaded only a few minutes before.

Theresa was led through the dimness of the dark castle. She was quite spooked by the darkness, but Rick kept assuring her that they were almost there, and then proceed to lead her through the darkness for uncountable minutes. Finally, they came to a door. The first door in the castle. Rick put his hand on the knob and turned. The door creaked open, shining light in Theresa's eyes. She shielded her eyes from the brightness and let her eyes adjust before stepping in. In front of her was a glass desk with two dark-wooden chairs on one side, and on the other side there were three. In the three chairs, three figures were seated. As Theresa got more used to the light, she saw two men on either side of one woman. Rick sat Theresa down in one of the two chairs on their side and took the other one for himself. The woman nodded at him and said in a sweet voice, “Good work, Rick.”
The woman turned to Theresa and said, “I'm afraid Rick here hasn't been totally honest with you, dear. My name is Mitchel. These are my brothers, Harold and Ernest.”
The men nodded at Theresa, and she began to feel more at ease. Mitchel had a nice look. She had dark brown hair, the color of the chairs. Her face was smooth and round, her eyes crimson red. She had fair tan skin and wore a nice business suit. Ernest and Harold seemed to be identical twins, with their blond hair, green eyes, and light brown skin. They had narrow faces and seemed to look about the opposite of their sister. However, they too wore nice business suits. The men wore name tags, which Mitchel explained was the only way to tell who was who. Mitchel held out her hand to shake, and Theresa took it. The men followed their sister's lead and shook Theresa's hand.
“How exactly did Rick lie to me, ma'am?” Theresa asked Mitchel, who answered politely, “I'm afraid he lied about almost everything, child. Except, of course, his childhood. But never mind that. Unfortunately, his lies were our doing. It was the first part of a big test, all for you, child.”
Theresa raised her eyebrows and asked, “For me? Why would you go to all the trouble for me?”
Rick interjected here, “Ma'am, do you really think she's ready? I mean she's so—”
“It is decided, Rick. Did she not run from you for as long as she did? Was she not smart enough to ask to meet us? The Enforcers? She has strength, stamina, and intelligence. She is ready. She has trained long enough, as I told you before, and she has passed the test. Do not doubt the results,” Mitchel snapped. Rick shrugged, and Mitchel turned back to Theresa to begin her long explanation, “About four years ago, we started having trouble with a certain imaginative boy who imagined himself powers and destroyed the scenes in which he imagined himself. He was very powerful, not just because he imagined himself powers, but because he was very imaginative. As imaginative as you, even, young girl. In fact, it was the same time when we saw a young girl peacefully imagining adventures, living them as if they were true, not imaginary. We expected that girl to stop imagining her adventures, like most—but not all—extremely imaginative children do. But she didn't stop. We used her imaginations as training, for her to learn to stand up to the boy known as Destructor, make him stop messing up our world. Theresa, you are that girl. Just yesterday, we met with Rick and told him you were ready for the test. He made an excuse—the Imagination Rules. We set up a test for you—Rick would pretend to try to kill you, and if you asked, he would bring you here, where we would explain everything to you.”
Theresa was confused.
“How did he get the time to tell you I was ready? He mentioned the Imagination Rules the same day I first imagined him,” she asked.
Mitchel nodded and Rick explained, “Just a stroke of luck...remember when your mom called you for dinner? That gave me the time I needed to meet the 'Enforcers'. They told me you were ready, and to give you a test...so I did. I just wish it hadn't terrified you so much. I saw the terror in your eyes, in your posture. That's why I doubted that you were ready. Along with the fact that you didn't even really fight, like you were supposed to. While Mitchel is right, you do have some stamina, strength, and intelligence...you also have fear.”
“But she overcame her fear with a great idea!” Mitchel protested.
Rick snorted, “That's because I hesitated so long in 'killing' her!”
Mitchel made a sort of growling sound and retorted, “That was the plan! You hesitated for long enough for her to get the idea, just like you were supposed to!”
Rick narrowed his eyes and growled, “But Destructor will not hesitate! He pins her, he kills her, no hesitation. We've seen it with all the imaginations we send, it will be no different with her! You want to send her out there to die? Is that what you want? Because I'm not for losing our only chance for restored peace in the land! And besides, I don't want my imaginer to die, either. She dies, and all her imaginations die, too. Because she hasn't shared any of them, remember?”
“I shared them with Zander,” Theresa pointed out shyly. Rick glanced at her sidelong.
“You didn't seem to enjoy the idea of death earlier,” he retorted curtly. Theresa bit her lip nervously.
“I didn't. I mean I don't. I mean...I was just making a point, alright?”
Theresa broke into a light sweat, suddenly afraid that Rick might kill her after all. Rick seemed to read her mind, because he put his hand on her shoulder comfortingly and assured her, “Don't worry, Theresa. I'm not going to hurt you. I'm just pointing out that Destructor might.”
Theresa suddenly remembered the fight earlier, and she whispered, “I almost fainted, earlier. You know that? The only reason I didn't was because I thought the moment sleep settled in, you'd kill me. You wouldn't have actually killed me?”
Rick shook his head.
“Of course not,” he assured her. “If you fainted, I'd have assumed that you failed the test. I'd come up with some excuse to leave you alive, or while you were asleep, I'd explain to your family and tell them to keep a secret. They'd be able to tell you when you woke up that they'd scared me off or something.”
Theresa became suddenly angry.
“You would've left me thinking you'd be back to finish the job some other time?”
“I said or something!”
Rick shook his head in exasperation.
“Point is, I wouldn't have killed you,” he said. “And now that you know the truth, you're not a 'prisoner' anymore.”
Rick reached forward and untied Theresa's wrists. Theresa straightened her hands as the ropes fell off. She got up and looked out the window, at the giant expanse of buildings and fields and caves. Mitchel walked over and stood by Theresa's side.
“The World of the Imaginary is made of every imagination anyone has ever had. Ever read a book? Every place, every character in that book, everything is here. Ever seen a movie? Everything you saw is here. Ever listened to a song? Every song—even the non-published or personal ones, but only until their makers die—exist in the only band around, 'Imagine Tunes.' You get the idea.”
Theresa nodded, understanding why the expanse was so big. She understood that ideas were formulated every moment. The World of the Imaginary was growing every second. Bigger and bigger it grew. Some of it only very few people ever got to see. In the distance, she saw the townspeople scurrying about. There were three in particular that were running extremely fast, right toward the castle. Mitchel saw them, too, and she spun around exclaiming, “Ernest, close the gate! Harold, check the watching screen, look for people near the castle.”
The two men ran off and Mitchel ordered Rick to close all the windows off until further notice, then Rick too ran off to do what he'd been told. A few minutes later, Harold came back and reported, “Three people approaching the castle. One boy, one woman, and one man. All look very worried, sister. What should we do?”
Theresa knew exactly who the people were, and she exclaimed, “It must be mom, dad, and Zander! You have got to let them in, if it's them, they must be so worried about me! They might even think I'm dead!”
Mitchel nodded and said, “Tell Ernest to reopen the gate and let the guests in. Lead them here, where they will see Theresa waiting for them. We do not wish to appear threatening, so we will be in the screen room for the first part of their reunion. Hurry, Harold, we must not waste time!”
Harold nodded and hurried off. Mitchel ran after him and Theresa was left alone in the room, waiting.
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