Lost in thought, it was some time before any of the bears spoke. It was Sonny who finally broke the silence.
“I should not have said that I had fought a bogey,” he said softly. “This is far worse than I could have imagined.” He went silent again and Latricia took his hand.
Eventually Marley spoke: “We are all capable of succumbing to bravado at times. Be careful of overestimating your abilities. Or trying to impress someone else.”
Latricia squeezed his hand and both flushed with embarrassment.
After another long period of silence, Ambrose spoke.
“This nightmare seems rather empty, doesn’t it?” His tone was clinical and professional.
“There is the pleasant illusion to lull the child into being more open, thus allowing the rot of the hidden nightmare more pleasant thoughts to contaminate. When I first fought this particular bogey, I was able to stop her nightmare in spite of being defeated,” Marley said.
Ambrose sounded shocked when he spoke next.
“Are you implying you have fought more than one bogey?”
“Yes, but I had Barnabus’s help then. We learned to fight well together.”
“Against nightmares or each other,” Latricia asked with a laugh.
“Both,” Marley said with a smile.
She took in a deep breath and asked, “Bogeys create boogeymen. You need to be ready for that. Even if it is alone, the longer it remains here, more can be created. That’s what makes fighting these creatures all the more terrible.”
The silence that had marked their travels returned.
“Thanks for lightening the mood,” Latricia said wryly. That remark got a few chuckles.
“I know it’s terrible to dwell on, but you need to know, particularly since I think we are getting close.”
Her quiet determination gave them a spark of resolution.
Marley was pleased to hear the whisper of cloth as wooden swords were drawn from the nothing where they are stored.
However, the texture in the air was different, though. It seemed that more than three swords were drawn. She sniffed the air and her muzzle formed into a tight smile. The others walked past her after Marley stopped.
“You’re late,” she said as another voice said, “I’m late.”
“Marley,” the bear said cautiously.