My ninth birthday was the greatest. I got a transformers play set with Bumblebee and Megatron action figures, a really cool Optimus Prime cake that my mom made herself, and a pair of old walkie talkies that my dad said were his when he was a little boy.
“Sometimes, son,” he’d tell me with a pat on my little shoulder, “the old-fashioned toys are the greatest. You would not believe the fun I had with these when I was a kid, and now, I want you to have that fun too.”
I wasn’t sure about them at first, but I came around pretty quickly. Dad would always have one, and I’d have the other, and we’d talk to each other like we were the Autobots carrying out a secret mission.
“Bumblebee, this is Optimus,” he’d say to me. My dad already did a great Optimus Prime voice, but the crackly reception of the walkie talkies made him sound even better, “I think the Decepticons are planning an assault on the kitchen, they’re going to steal all your dinner.”
I gave a gasp of mock-fear, “Oh no! What can we do, Optimus?”
My dad chuckled down the line. He loved my Bumblebee voice.
“I think they’ve already began stealing the fish sticks, those fiends, but if you get in here fast, I think we can save the chocolate sundae from Starscream!”
“I’ll be down there at the speed of light, Optimus.”
Then we said, at the same time, “Autobots, roll out!”
It went from being just an okay gift to one of my favorite presents ever. We got hours of fun out of the walkie talkies, at home, in the park, and even at night time – if I got scared by some of the funny noises that come out of the basement sometimes, all I’d need to do is pick up the walkie talkie and press the button on the side, then I’d hear my dad become Optimus Prime, and I’d feel safe again.
But, two weeks after my birthday something really awful happened. My dad was having some rooms in the house soundproofed so mommy could practice playing her violin, and while all the work men were in the house my dad’s walkie talkie went missing. It had totally and completely vanished.
I cried for quite a while after, even though I’m a big boy. I just had so much fun goofing around with my dad on them, it made me really sad that we wouldn’t be able to have that fun again. He told me he’d buy me some new ones in future, but that didn’t make me feel any better then.
One day something weird happened, though. I was in my bedroom playing with the transformers play set that mom and dad had gotten me for my birthday, when I heard my walkie talkie beeping underneath the bed – the kind of beep it makes when someone is calling me on it.
I’d stashed the walkie talkie under the bed since dad’s went missing, but I quickly dropped Bumblebee and Megatron and grabbed it. I pressed the little receive button on the side of the walkie talkie and She said. She sounded like a hurt puppy.
“What kind of help do you need?” I asked, feeling so nervous. I didn’t feel as much like Bumblebee then.
She kept doing these quiet sobs, like she was really badly hurt.
“The monster, he took my arm yesterday. He took my leg last week when I tried to run away.”
“How did you get my walkie talkie?”
“I don’t know. It’s so dark here, I’m so afraid. I want my mommy and daddy.”
Now I was getting really frightened.
“Where are you?” I asked.
“I don’t know, the monster took me from my house and put me here. He wears a white mask and he has a big knife. I think I’m going to die if I don’t get a doctor soon. Please hel-”
There was a creaking noise, like a door opening, and the walkie talkie stopped. She must have taken her finger off the button, you weren’t meant to do that.
I didn’t hear anything from the girl on the walkie talkie after that. It seemed like such a silly, mean joke, but I did keep the walkie talkie close to me just in case she called back. I felt really worried for her.
The week after that, the walkie talkie started beeping, and I pressed the receive button with a trembling finger.
“Bumblebee, this is Optimus,” my dad’s voice was full of happiness, “guess who just found your walkie talkie!”
I squealed in excitement. My dad was beaming when he walked into the bedroom, holding the walkie talkie proudly and giving it a few clicks just to make sure it was in tip-top shape. Of course, I ran over and hugged him.
“Where did you find it?” I asked.
“Oh,” he said, “it was just laying around in the basement. It must have fallen out of my pocket the last time I was down there, silly me.”
Giggling, I gave him a great, big hug while he hugged me back.
I have such a great dad.
featured image — Mike Mozart