Joshua couldn’t stand flying. It why he only ever flew on an airplane once, when he was a child. As an adult, if he had a long trip to make, he would drive or take a bus, even if it was extremely inconvenient. At least all the extra time would be spent on the ground. Never mind that, statistically speaking, flying was the safest way to travel.
So when his figment took the form of wings and lifted him into the air, his eyes instinctively closed. It didn’t help, though. Happy Face showed him what was going on from his own perspective. They went up toward a particularly fluffy cumulonimbus and flew around it with such great speed, even Happy, with his enhanced remote vision, had trouble making out its details.
“I don’t want to see!” Joshua shouted. With the wind rushing by them making a deafening roaring sound, there was no way Happy would be able to hear him if he had to rely on sound, but he didn’t have to. They were connected mentally. “Turn it off!”
“We’re perfectly safe,” Happy replied. “It feels so good to finally be able to flex my muscle. Lifting you is as easy as lifting nothing. I could keep us up here forever.”
“Put me down! I hate flying!”
“I don’t understand how you can not want to see this. It’s–”
“Down! Now! Please! There are other ways you can cut loose. Maybe just fly lower.”
“Are you sure you want that? We’re much more likely to run into–”
Suddenly, a small airplane passed through the cloud and came within inches of hitting them.
“All right, we’re going down,” Happy said. He turned off his connection to Joshua that was allowing him to see what the figment saw until they were close enough to the ground to be able to touch the roofs of trucks. He also slowed to match the speed of traffic.
“That’s better,” Joshua said, opening his eyes. “This is still fun, right?”
“I guess. Can we mess with the cars?”
“No way. We could cause an accident. You should make us invisible while we’re doing stuff like this.”
“Or I could make us look like a dragon. Or better yet, Superman!”
“Happy, we’re not a superhero. I don’t want to hurt anyone, even if they are robbing people or whatever. Let’s just not attract any more attention. I’m the one who gets hurt when we do.”
Happy reluctantly agreed and made them both invisible. When he did that, people could still see them, but their minds wouldn’t process the information or remember it.
The road they flew along ran through a hilly countryside. The weather was warm, and the sun shined brightly when it wasn’t blocked by one of the city-sized clouds above them. Happy looked up at them longingly.
“Where are we going?” Joshua asked.
“I don’t even know where we are,” Happy replied. “Mom and Dad are going to be worried when they hear we’ve escaped from the Happy Place. We should go and tell them we’re all right.”
“That’s a good idea, though the cops will probably be watching.”
“And you don’t want me to hurt them while they try to capture us.”
“Then we’ll be careful.”
After checking a map at a gas station along the road they were flying along, Joshua and Happy turned around and doubled back toward their parents’ house. They flew low but fast–too fast for Joshua to make any sense of the scenery. Happy knew what he was doing. It was the kind of thing he’d been doing his whole life. He’d crossed the ocean and even orbited the planet in minutes. His speed defied the laws of physics, and that made sense when it was just him. He was a projection of Joshua’s mind controlled by an alternate personality. The ease with which he could carry a person at that speed made Joshua wonder if there was something to what Adoniel said. Maybe they were a god.
Following the map’s directions, they soon arrived at the home of George and Martha Peterson. Nobody was out front, and no cars were even parked anywhere other than in driveways for many blocks. Joshua and Happy hovered in the air about two hundred feet above the house.
I think they’re trying to make it look safer than it really is, Happy thought to Joshua.
Can you tell who’s in the house? Joshua thought back.
Just Mom and Dad. The house could be bugged though.
Do you think they’d bother? They only think we’re crazy, not dangerous.
I guess we’ll find out. We’re touching down.
Joshua breathed a sigh of relief as his feet touched the front yard and the wings on his back turned back into the round, imaginary body of Happy Face. Both he and the figment wanted their parents to see him so they would know that it was a mistake to have them committed.
As they stood in front of the door, it opened before they pressed the doorbell. The aging–but not yet old–Martha Peterson stood on the other side with a nervous smile. The smile became confusion when she saw the figment of her son’s imagination standing on his left shoulder.
“I take it we were expected,” Happy said.
Martha’s confusion became fear as she backed into the house and the always-plaid-shirt-wearing George approached from behind her with a stern look on his face.
“Joshua, you need to go back to–what the hell is that?”
“I’m the reason you had us imprisoned,” Happy told him. “You can call me Happy Face, but really, I’m as much your son as this body I’m standing on.”
George stood there on the other side of the doorway, frozen with indecision. Acting on a hunch, Happy tried listening in on his thoughts. It was hard to read a foreign mind through all the static that he hadn’t learned to sift through like he’d learned to deal with his own, but the main sense he got was that George was afraid that he had gone insane.
“You’re not crazy, Dad,” Joshua said. “And neither am I. I do have the additional personality, but he’s not crazy either. We can do things.”
“Like break yourself and someone else out of a mental institution?” George asked.
“Yeah, like that,” Happy said. “And we can fly.”
“I’m not interested in your input. You’re not even here, so just stay quiet. I’m talking to my son.”
“He is here,” Joshua argued. “He’s in my mind, and I’m projecting him into your mind.”
“Then stop! It’s bad enough you’ve lost touch with reality. Don’t take us with you.”
Their minds are closed, Happy thought to Joshua. We’re wasting our time here.
I’m not even sure why we came. What did we think was going to happen? That they’d see us and understand that there’s nothing wrong with us?
Suddenly, sirens sounded behind them. Martha had called the police while Joshua, Happy, and George were arguing. Joshua and Happy turned to see three police cars in front of the house.
“It’s time to go,” Joshua said.
Happy became a pair of dragon wings and carried Joshua into the sky beyond the reach of the officers, who were prepared for a struggle but not for a flying mental patient. They looked into the sky and then at each other, silently deliberating which of them, if any, would be writing this incident on their report.
Take us up high, Joshua instructed Happy as they zoomed up into the sky.
Are you sure? I know you don’t like heights.
I figure I might as well get used to them. Anyway, it’s the best place to get away from them. They won’t go looking for us up there if they’re afraid to even admit to each other that they saw us fly away.
So they kept going straight up until it became difficult to breathe. Happy stopped, and they stood there in the sky. The air was cold, and it blew much harder up there than it did on the ground. It was also getting dark.
“We’re alone,” Joshua said sadly.
“A little,” Happy agreed. “What about Sarah? Maybe she’ll listen.” Sarah was Joshua’s older sister.
“I don’t know. I guess we can try.” Joshua’s stomach rumbled. “But first, we should try and find something to eat. Preferably something free. These hospital robes don’t have my wallet in them.”