I’m never going to get used to bedtime. Not like this, not with my special contact lenses out for the night and my sightless Hamster Eyes blinking into the vast nothingness. Before the whole New Eyes fiasco, night used to be dark—but not this dark. It makes me think how ridiculous it is, how some kids are afraid of the dark when they’ve never really been in darkness. There’s usually a digital alarm clock somewhere in the room, the standby LED of a DVD player, television set, or game console, or light from the street lamps outside filtering through the window. That’s not true darkness, that’s just dark.
Darkness is lying wide awake in bed and wondering…what if there’s a fire, or any earthquake, or a tornado? Would I have time to jam my lenses in before I’m burned to a crisp, crushed like a paper cup, or blown right out the window?
A creepy whisper coming from the direction of my desk distracts me from my thoughts: “Wake up, Theo.”
I sit up. It sounds like Mini-Theo’s found his way out of the closet. Annoyed—but glad for the diversion—I fumble for my lenses. I can hear the first bombastic notes of “Movement 1” off of Vangelis’ Mythodea blaring from my PC’s speakers. Quickly, I pop my contacts in and look over to where Mini-Theo has climbed onto my desk and is working the mouse with both hands. He looks at me for a moment, then points solemnly at the screen.
“Come…witness the end,” he says in a horrendous backwards whisper.
I get out of bed (I’ve recently switched places with Beta, reclaiming my bed and relegating his gear to a corner of my desk), pad over to the desk. On the computer screen, Ernie’s SuperMegaNet window has been maximized, allowing for a crystal-clear view of what can only be described as a visual cacophony. Mrs. Goodale has taken on an otherworldly form. She’s now eight feet tall, clawed, and bearing a gigantic pair of wings, and is moving through Ernie’s bedroom with tidal force. “Movement 1” scores her motions: a cymbal crashes in time with the swing of her arm as she knocks a shelf’s worth of PlayStation games into an oversized plastic garbage bag; the choir chants almost demonically as she moves over to the closet, ripping the door from its hinges and uttering a series of nonsensical screechings when a barrage of Twinkie cartons, M&M’s packets, and honey bun boxes comes tumbling out onto the shag carpet.
Behind her, Ernie, his hair mussed, his face bruised and bloodied—oh, wait, it’s only chocolate syrup—is screaming and flailing his arms and trying to get past her, to save what he can before it ends up in the garbage bag—to no avail. Mrs. Goodale has become a rigid hunk of remorseless, middle-aged grandma, impervious to assault, verbal or physical.
This is confirmed when Ernie, out of desperation, grabs his bedside lamp and hurls it at her. The lamp base shatters, the light bulb exploding, the lampshade fragmenting into a thousand pointy shards. Ernie covers his face with his arms and wails miserably as Mrs. Goodale lumbers toward his computer, her outstretched claws reaching for the webcam—
—a chat window pops up the in the middle of my screen. Eva’s sent me an instant message: OUR PARENTS ARE ONTO US. BE CAREFUL.
Ernie’s window goes black.
So that’s what’s going on.