You taught me honor. The calm voice comes from nowhere, but the father knows who spoke it. Live the way you want your Child to live. Live with honor.
He takes up that plastic samurai sword. That kitschy toy he got his son so long ago.
Yes. Use me. Stand with courage.
The father still crouches in the door. The nightmare’s attack is still too fresh, too real. And he has a plastic sword for a weapon. Real useful against a nightmare.
Me, too! A different voice. I won’t sit this one out! Not again! The voice is young, excited, scared, eager.
The father reaches for the green futuresaber his son favors. It sparks to life in his hand. He turns attention again to the beasts struggling in his son’s room. He trembles.
The dark form has spread like shadowed water, tendrils wrapping around the hairy beast. The brute now whines, flexing his muscles against the black bonds. Around whines it growls.
“My dear Guardian, I will take all the toys.” All the father can see in the dark face are bright, bright teeth. “I will suck the marrow from the stories the Child imagined for them. One by one, they will be mine. And without you, who will guard the Child?”
“I will.” The father stands, a plastic samurai sword in one hand, a glowing green futuresaber in the other. He feels like an idiot.
The dark monster begins to retract from the hairy beast. “The father stirs. Come, then. Fight a nightmare with toys.” Oily tendrils draw away from scarred flash to reform the gaunt figure of a nightmare.
Yes. Definitely an idiot.
It is never folly to face darkness with a brave heart. It is never folly to protect your family.
He shakes his head. A chunk of plastic is talking to him.
I am all your son imagined me to be. I am all you taught him to make me. I am the soul of a samurai.
The father grips the blade.
“Yes. That sword looks so sharp.” The last tentacles of darkness draw back into the black form. It smiles. “Hurt me. Defend your Child’s nation of toys.”
Come on! Hit him!”
The father glances down at the green cylinder.
I’m as powerful as the Child imagines me to be! Think of what I could do to that thing!
Facing down a nightmare? Using his kid’s playthings?
The hairy brute gazes at the father. “Guard your son better than I ever did. You can destroy his nightmares.”
The courage of a man wields all the imagination of his son. Two blades: one made of honor, the other constructed of dreams. They face a creature who consumes stories.
The father does not slash with a blade. He does not strike with a futuresaber. Not yet.
First, he roars.
Darkness falls before him. It trips onto the floor. It scurries backwards.
The father advances. With a sword made of plastic he stabs down into the thing’s heartless chest.
With a glowing blade he slices.
“You will not have my son. Whatever you are, whatever nightmares you gave me or him or anyone else, they’re over!”
Courage and imagination. There are no greater weapons.
Read more of the Nation of the Child here.