This is, of course, Chapter 4 of my fan fiction novella featuring DC Comics (via the Vertigo imprint) Sandman character... my foray into fantasy and horror.
Dream, aka Morpheus (and Oneiros, the Shaper, the Shaper of Form, Lord of the Dreaming, the Dream King, Dream-Sneak, the Cat of Dreams, Murphy, Kai'ckul and Lord L'Zoril,) rules over the world of dreams. He is one of the seven Endless: Dream, Destiny, Death, Desire, Delirium (formerly Delight, but is now two in one), and Destruction.
After being captured and held prisoner for 70 years, Dream is now back in business, rebuilding his kingdom... but there is still much he doesn't know about the power vacuum that occurred in his absence. He has been around for billions of years, but still does not know all that much about humans, as he has, in the past merely acted as King... a king unaware of what his subjects and realm requires outside of the basics.
The Japan connection? I write it 23 years ago while in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan as a junior high school assistant English teacher (AET) on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme.
I haven't changed a word except for a few typos, making wonder if I was a better editor back then or simply a better writer. My writing style has certainly evolved since those early days as a writer, but I wonder if it is for the best?
I'll let you in on a little secret, though. Then... as now, I have a story idea, begin writing and have no idea what the outcome will be. I plot nothing and trust to the Fates to steer my along the way. So far, so good. I like to be surprised by a story, too.
LOVE IS A DREAM
by andrew joseph
"I don't know,
But I've been told.
I feel that woman,
Ain't got no soul."
The paleness of her skin accentuates the reddish purple tongue that sits unmoving upon her left cheek. Her once green and lively eyes have now rolled up inside her head. Several trails of tears have mixed with the fluid snot and hang precariously from her chin.
Morpheus, after his initial bellow of shock, has said nothing further. Several agonizing moments later, punctuated by Matthew's concerned caws from the world outside the nightmare, Morpheus lowers his gaze.
With his eyes burning, the fallen form of Meridia vanishes in a flash and appears in his thin, but immaculately strong arms. He bends his pale androgynous face towards hers, sighs and flickers out of the zone of Kr'thal. Her laughter, choked with flowing pustules, continues unabated.
Back in his "room", he lays her deceased figure upon a large, round regal bed that appeared at the same time Morpheus and Meridia did. Pure white veils hang down from the canopy enveloping those within. Eleven, miniature cyclopean towers so pure in their blackness that they suck in all nearby light surround the bed and support the canopy. Morpheus sits on a rounded edge of the bedding and stares at the human with a feeling he has never felt before. His sister, Aponia, would "enjoy" this particular feeling if she could enter the Dream World. It is not often that an Endless one feels true despair.
Matthew flitters over to the ornate, amber table placed nearby and absentmindedly pecks at an insect trapped eons ago in the gooey substance. He waits for his Master. After awhile, the suspense becomes too much.
"Uh, Boss," he calls out, "uh, you aren't engaging in necrophilia or anything repulsive like that?"
"OUT!!!!" booms the Dream King.
Matthew flaps a hasty retreat to a nearby windowless window and tries to recall a time when he had heard him so angry. He fails. He hopes he hasn't struck a nerve.
At that instant, another form flicks into the room.
Matthew sizes it up immediately as Old Man Death himself. Dressed in a long, matte robe and hood that obstructs its features, the figure stands motionless. However, the bleached white skeletal hands that grip the sharp well-used scythe is an obvious indication to Matthew of who it is.
The figure slowly turns towards Matthew and draws the cowl back revealing a hideous leering skull. Matthew flaps backwards in fright, losing a few feathers in the process, but does not leave the room.
Death then turns its head towards the black and white structure obscuring the bed, and vanishes.
"Boss! Boss! Caw! Caw! Death was here," shouts Matthew.
"Yes, Matthew. I know. Please leave us now," sighs Morpheus.
Matthew picks up his feet and launches himself over to another window and peers over the towers, trying to peek inside.
"Matthew! I said leave!" screams the Sandman.
Sensing that this time he really means it, Matthew beats a hasty retreat towards Corban and the entranceway into the Dream.
"Hello, my brother. You know why I am here," says an expressionless, pale young woman in black "punk" fashions. She is wearing tight fitting leather pants that sit sexily upon her slim waist. It is accentuated by a large silver belt buckle in the middle emblazoned with the face of Sid Vicious. She is also wearing soft, knee-high grey leather boots that help aid her youthful appearance. Her thin cotton shirt barely clings to her bosom via ultra-thin spaghetti straps. The "look" is completed with the addition of pale black lipstick, eyeshadow and nailpolish, and wild, angrily chopped shoulder-length black hair that seems to shimmer with stars.
Morpheus neither looks at the new voice or answers.
"Oneiros, I've already taken her Material Plane form, but because you are my brother, I've allowed you to keep her dreamself image with you awhile longer."
Dream remains motionless.
Teleute fumbles with the large silver ankh that hangs from a leather strap around her neck. A moment later, her hands travel up her long, heavily teased hair and pull absentmindedly at it. She then places her long, slender pale right hand on his shoulder. After any sort of reaction, she digs her blackened fingernails into his mimicked flesh. She realizes she can't hurt him. That is not within her power nor in her demeanour.
"She's gone, Morpheus. She's dead. She has been claimed."
Morpheus slowly turns away from Meridia's dream image and looks up towards his sister. His lips part as if to speak, but no words come out. He buries his face in her waist, though no tears come. Elder sister Death cradles his head in her hands and says nothing else.
Meridia quietly vanishes from the Dream.
On this universe's material plane, undreaming dreamers wake from a fitful sleep.
Death slowly drags the limp form of Dream to his feet. They take three steps together and vanish in a flash.
"Thank-you for allowing me your favour, dear sister," says the Sandman. Death nods in acceptance.
Morpheus glances around her "home" after it wavers into existence around them, and sees the furnishings of Earth's early 1920's. He looks again at his sister and notices her hair and garb more in fashion with a Flapper's than one older than the stars.
"I must go, Teleute. I must find her."
"She's gone, Morpheus. Claimed. Let her go her way."
"I can not. I must ask her why she has done this to me."
"To YOU!!!" stares Death incredulously. "She has done very little to you, little one. What she has done affects her most of all."
Dream stares blankly at Death and shakes his head slowly. "Hmmm. You are, of course... correct. But still, I must find out why. Her dream-scent - it changed, Teleute! Why? I need to know. I must find out."
"If I were you," explains a now Victorian-like entity under an open black lace parasol, "I'd leave her alone and get back to your duties."
"Your advice will be taken into consideration, sister," says Dream as he vanishes quietly with his eyes flashing like blazing white-hot stars.
Elsewhere, in a place between the realities, the Dream King walks along a misty corridor. There is a bright light ahead of him.
"Hello, Lord Morpheus," says a voice from behind him.
Dream, unaccustomed to being snuck up upon, starts and then wheels around. He stops and stares into a face he has seen before but can't quite place.
"Do I know you, stranger?" asks Dream.
"Yes. I suppose you do, at that."
Dream takes in the stranger's appearance in an instant. He is dressed in a black cloak that shimmers with midnight blue. He wears pants of the same colour that appear to contain no pockets. His shoes are similar to ones Death had once pointed to him in an American department store. Leather, black, smooth and shiny. There are no tassels or useless buckles. Simple, solid shoes. To Morpheus' unfettered sight, however, they look ancient and worn.
He looks into the stranger's face but discerns no features. A broad fedora obscures his eyes, but does reveal a shock of white hair underneath the sides.
"May I help you, Dream Weaver?" he asks smoothly. "Endless ones never venture into this place."
"I... come seeking... a friend," explains Morpheus hesitantly.
"She's not here, Oneiros."
"What? How do you know of whom I seek?"
"Everyone knows. She's not here, o Dream King."
"She must be here. My sister, Teleute, said she has been claimed!"
"Yes, Dream. She has been claimed. But not by us. Another has claimed her. His hold is stronger."
"Of what do you say!? Meridia was a good woman. She never did harm to anyone! I know of what I speak, stranger."
"Of course you know of what you speak, Sandman. But her crime against herself... her suicide... makes Meridia HIS property."
"Satan's. I am sorry."
In another plane of existence, flashing red eyes laugh in glee.
For you comic book fans, the man chatting with Dream at the end of this sequence was the Phantom Stranger... a mystic figure who helps those who are worthy cross over towards Heaven's Gate.
Of course, Death is Timeless, and her living space is wherever and whenever her mood chooses it to be. She can and does change her form to fit the accepted mythology of the deceased.
Aponia is the name given to Dream's sister, Despair. Oneiros is the name of Dream. Teleute is the name of Death - but don't call for her! These are their Ancient Greek names.
Shhh... I think it's awake,
Image from: http://miradge.deviantart.com/art/Harpy-366808251