In his head, Phil could be anyone or anything. Bouncing on his bed, he dreamed he was a pilot in a fighter plane. The enemy was all around him and it was his job to take them down. Firing off the guns, he made a dive and swung about. He was an Ace pilot, the king of the sky in his bright red plane and nothing could stop him.
Tumbling off his bed, he swopped about the toy plane in his hand. Rushing by the slightly open window, a slice of red caught his attention. He stopped and went back. He lifted the net curtain with a grumpy hand and looked outside. He saw the pastel blue sky streaked with plane jet streams.
Frowning, he opened the window fully and looked further out. In the distance he could hear the sound of pounding engines. Biting his lip, he tried to not think any more about being a pilot and his red plane. However, it was too late and before his eyes a small collection of World War Two German Messerschmitts had appeared.
Phil watched them grow as the panic filled him. The Messerschmitts become completely solid, their engines droning loudly in the sky. They formed an arrow formation and aimed towards him. Phil clutched the window sill and quickly imagined the king of the sky back again. He couldn’t think of anything else to do. He thought hard and desperately muttered under his breath as he brought his imagination into reality.
The sound of rat-at-tat gun fire caused his eyes to snap open. Before him a bright red plane was darting around the brown Messerschmitts and it was raining bullets. Phil almost squealed in delight, but managed to keep his excitement in. A Messerschmitt exploded and a ball of fire lit up the sky like a smaller second sun.
Phil ducked down, but he held onto the window sill still and peered over the top of it. He watched plane parts tumble from the sky and heard distant voices shouting. The dog fight was heating up above him and eagerly, he watched things play out. The king should have easily been over powered by the mass of Messerschmitts, but somehow he was able to dodge their bullets and take them all down.
Jumping up, Phil watched the last two planes fall from the sky in smoke and flames. The bright red plane did a loop-de-loop and vanished into a cloud bank. Phil leaned out of the window and looked across the flat countryside that lazily stretched before him. Passed the pale brown fence of his garden, he could see the burning body of a plane. Further on and the scarred ground was scattered with twisted metal, crushed wings and components.
A screaming voice, sent goosebumps along his arms and Phil scrambled under his bed. He heard running footsteps on the stairs then his bedroom door was flying open and the footsteps came into his room.
‘Phil? Where are you? Did you do that outside?’ his mum’s angry voice called.
He stayed still, holding his breath and keeping his head as empty as possible.
‘Phil? Come out here now,’ him mum continued.
He heard her open the toy chest and the wardrobe.
‘I mean it! You’re in big trouble, mister!’
The footsteps came closer, he heard his bed being searched then his mum getting down on the floor. He opened his eyes to meet her’s and shrink back as he saw the fury in them and on her face.
‘How many times do we have to tell you?’ his mum snapped.
She put her hand under the bed and dragged him out. Phil didn’t protested, he knew it was far too late to even try. His mum pulled him up and they sat on his bed together. Phil could smell fire and oil drifting in from his bedroom window. He tried to steal a glanced outside, but the window was too far away.
‘You have to control it,’ mum sighed.
Unexpectedly, she hugged him and Phil snuggled into her. He could smell damp earth, summer flowers and sweat. He listened to her heart beating and her steadying breathing. In the background came the sound of sirens, voices and burning.
‘I didn’t mean to,’ Phil mumbled into her chest, ‘I really tried. Honest.…’
‘Hush. It’s okay,’ mum smooth as she pulled back and held his face in her hands, ‘you’re very special and you have an amazing gift. But you can’t just go willing fighter planes into life. That’s not right.’
Phil looked down and began to concentrate on the blue flower pattern of her dress.
A car horn beeped outside and Phil could hear muffled voices talking. His mum got up and went over. She fixed the net curtain and closed the window.
‘That’s Dr. Mandle. I better go. Stay here and wait for me to call you down. Okay?’
Phil nodded and watched her leave. She shut the door and he gave her a few moments to go downstairs. Then he went to the window and looked out. Four men were standing in the back garden. One was his father, the other was Dr Mumps- Phil’s doctor- and the other two he had been told were Dr. Mandle and his assistant, Mr Baxter. They were looking and discussing the destroyed planes, which were now surrounded by fire trucks, police and ambulances.
Phil came away from the window and after a few moments of looking around his room, decided to read a book. He selected one from his bookcase and sat on the bed. He knew as long as he didn’t think in too much detail, the world of the book would stay inside in the pages.
It seemed like too shorter time had passed when he heard his mum’s voice calling him downstairs. He went into the kitchen, taking his time to get there and slumped down at the table. Mum was preparing a pot of tea and some snacks. The backdoor was open and he could hear human voices mingling with animals calling to each other.
A young giraffe, slipped it’s head through the open kitchen window and starred at them. Phil smiled and watched the giraffe sniffing around the potted flowers and sink.
‘Get out of here, Jessie!’ mum snapped and tipped the giraffe’s nose.
Jessie withdrew and swung her head about as she walked away. The rest of her body passed the window and despite himself, Phil hurried to door. The giraffe stopped and bend down to his open hand. Phil rubbed her face then she was off again back to the other four giraffes. From the doorway, Phil could see a handful of buildings and fenced enclosures. A collection of animals, more commonly found in a zoo were gathered around.
‘Sit down, Phil. I don’t want you to go wondering off like last time,’ mum called.
Phil took his chair again and watched her set the table for afternoon tea, ‘that wasn’t my fault,’ he stated, ‘Aunty shouldn’t have brought me those books for Christmas. I didn’t know that walking through my wardrobe could make that happen.’
‘I don’t want hear it, okay? They’re coming, so just behave.’
The four men had seen outside before came and sat around the table. Mum began serving them tea, coffee and cakes. Phil got a glass of milk and a chocolate brownie. Whilst the adults talked, Phil studied Dr. Mandle and Mr Baxter. They didn’t look like doctors or rare animal specialists, they reminded Phil of polite gentleman.
Soon enough, they turned to him and encouraged, in the way that all adults do, for him to join in their conversations. Dr. Mandle started with, ‘What wonderful animals you have. Did you really bring them all into being?’
Phil nodded his head.
‘Of course, we had to get rid of the lions and tigers,’ his mum butted in, ‘we could hardly keep then around could we?’ she half-laughed as if it was a joke.
‘But the zoo wouldn’t take the other exotics?’ Dr. Mandle asked.
‘They took a few as did some other places, but when he was younger he really couldn’t help it, and we and they become quite over run,’ she explained.
‘And what happened this morning? Before we arrived?’ Mandle pressed.
‘Oh. He was playing with some planes and got carried away.’
‘It was very realistic,’ his dad cut in, ‘he even created German pilots!’
Phil bit his lip and stayed quiet.
Dr. Mandle turned to him with a soft smile, ‘you still like making animals though don’t you, Phil?’
‘I guess,’ he mumbled into his milk.
‘Well, we’ve got something very special for you to try and do for us…’
Placing down his glass, Phil watched Mr. Baxter take out a large photograph and hand it to Mandle. Who then showed the photo to him, it was of a small white fluffy lemur with a black face and hands. Phil looked at it and decided it was cute.
‘This is a Silky Sifaka. It’s one of the rarest animals on the planet and we’d like your help to bring them back,’ Mandle explained.
‘How?’ Phil asked.
‘By using that amazing imagination of yours.’
‘But, I’m not allowed too,’ Phil pointed out.
‘But this time it’s okay. It’s for a good reason. A true purpose,’ Mandle rushed out, ‘you could help save this cute animal. You wouldn’t like it if it was gone forever would you?’
‘Mr Mandle!’ Phil’s mum cut in.
‘Doctor, please,’ he countered back.
‘Doctor. We agreed we wouldn’t force, Phil, into it remember? It’s up to him.’
‘Of course, of course. I’m sorry.’
‘Phil, now,’ mum said as she came to stand behind him. She pressed a hand to his shoulder and they looked at the photograph of the Silky Sifaka together.
‘You don’t have to do this,’ she said with a hint of a threat in her tone, ‘it’s up to you. But your father and I would rather…you didn’t.’
‘It’s just a monkey, mum,’ Phil pointed out.
‘It’s a lemur,’ Mandle corrected.
‘That…doesn’t matter,’ mum chimed back in, ‘but I don’t want you to have to spend the rest of your life…dealing with people and their wants, okay?’
Phil pulled a slight face and thought back over the other things he had brought to life with his imagination. He’d never been asked to create something for someone else before. He wasn’t even sure he could do it. He looked down at the photo again and the cute black face staring up at him.
‘I could try,’ he whispered, ‘I don’t know what’ll happened though.’
‘Good. Good,’ Mandle cried with a clap of his hands, ‘then we must get you over to the wildlife park right away. We’ve built a home for the lemurs already.’
Phil felt his mum’s hand pressing deeper into his shoulder and her nails catching his skin. He wiggled out from under her and followed the men outside. Leaving her in the kitchen to tidied up, dad drove everyone to the park in the Land Rover. Phil looked at the photo for most of the way, thinking about how he was going to make that image real.
It was almost evening when they got to the park. Mandle led them over to the enclosure that had been made for the lemurs and they went inside.
Phil held the photo up and thought hard about the Silky Sifaka. The photograph give him all the description he needed, just like the photos of the giraffes, zebras and lions he had seen and thus made real when was younger. For a good few minutes, he thought deeply about the Sifaka under the watchful eyes of the adults.
He was on the point of giving up, when a tree branch close by started to shake. Phil opened his eyes and they all watched a Silky Sifaka appear in front of them. Phil heard Mandle saying ‘yes, yes,’ under his breath. The lemur became solid and after a few moments of watching them, moved off higher into the tree.
Phil thought about another one, imagining all the trees having a Sifaka on them. He shut his eyes and opened them seconds later to see that it had become real. The lemurs began calling to each other and playing together.
‘More, more,’ Mandle hissed.
Phil imaged more and soon enough the trees around them were shaking with white fluffy forms. He heard Mandle laughing and saw him spinning around under the trees. Phil began to feel dizzy and slipped backwards. His dad caught him and he fell into a deep slept. He dreamed he was in the forest surrounded by Silky Sifakas thanking him. When he woke up, Phil found himself in his own bed and it was the middle of the night.
He rolled over and turned on the desk lamp next to his bed. The light hurt his eyes and it took a few moments for him to blink sleep away. Sitting up, he looked around his room and wasn’t surprised to see the twitching tail of a Silky Sifaka on top of his wardrobe.