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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Sandman: Love Is A Dream - Chapter 6

Here's chapter 6 of my Sandman tale - fan fiction I created around 199 and 192 while in Japan working as a junior high school assistant English teacher on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme. Sandman was an extremely popular comic book published under the mature Vertigo line for DC Comics.

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.
Tonight's introductory song is by The Loving Spoonful, entitled Summer In The City.   

There are three more chapters after this...

by andrew joseph

"But at night it's a different world.
Go out and find a girl.
C'mon, c'mon and dance all night.
Despite the heat, it'll be all right..."

They have been traveling for time uncounted. So far, Etrigan has been true to his poetic word. A few demons had sprung from the network of ruined lives and tried to assail the King of Dreams, but the Rhymer's minstrel disposition was always quick to vanish when danger threatened.

Although feeling more confident in the demon, Morpheus still refuses to engage in a repartee with him.

"Oh, Endless one, upon a quest. It is the reason for your dress. For if 'tis my Lord Satan you truly seek, a gift or favour will make him speak."

"What will it take to make you keep quiet, Rhymer?" asks Morpheus.

Etrigan roars laughter at this comment. A puzzled frown furrows the Sandman's pale brow. They continue walking - The Dream Weaver, lost in silent thought, and the middle-class demon singing the words to an earthly television series called Star Trek. "Beyond the rim of the starlight. My love is wandering in starflight..."

Much later...

" in starflight. I know he'll find in star clustered reaches - love, strange love a star woman teach -"

"Just a moment, Etrigan. I must take a moment to rest," says Morpheus. 'Perhaps,' he thinks to himself, 'you'll stop singing that ridiculous song.'

"Are you melting, O Endless one? The heat is hot, though there is no sun. Perhaps if you removed your head gear, you could cool down faster, Dream dear?" inquires Etrigan.

"Yes... yes. That seems like a good suggestion. I think I will."

Morpheus slumps down onto a rock that has suddenly materialized. He is not aware of this fact. Slowly, his long arms reach up and lift the heavy helm away from his sweaty head. He lowers it to his lap, and then raises an arm to wipe away the perspiration.

"I seem to have forgotten how much I am out of my element here. Dreams do not exist in Hell," says the Sandman in a moment of candour. "It is taking quite a lot of concentration just to keep my form in this plane of existence."

Etrigan is strangely quiet and offers no remark.

"NOW!!!" screams a gravely voice.

Morpheus' weary head snaps to attention instantly. His eyes widen as he quickly assesses the situation. Four large, Greed Demons with teeth and talons bared are lunging towards him. His hands fumble for his helm, but it is too late. They are upon him and grab his arms.

Much to his surprise, though, he notices Etrigan placing a bite on one of his assailants arms.

It howls in protest, and tries to throw him off, but can't. Etrigan's claws reach up to the neck, dig deep and then pull outwards.

Morpheus, with two Greed Demons pinioning his limbs, is having his face rendered by the third. He sees, before the ectoplasm floods his eyes, that his helm has been moved.

Before Morpheus can either pass out or call his amulet to power (He's not sure which would occur first), he hears Etrigan howl.

"Unhand that creature in thine grasp. He is in my protection - make it fast. For if you don't comply and beg and cower, I will release the helm's bright dreaming power," screams Etrigan who has placed the helm upon his wide head. A small firestorm appears to swell around him.

The three remaining Greed Demons look first at Etrigan, then at each other, and then back to Etrigan again. They begin to back away. Slowly at first, and then faster and faster as they get further away.

Morpheus slumps down onto the dry dirt again. As his personal storm begins to dissipate, Etrigan trots over to Morpheus and removes the helm. He peers down at the Endless one now leaking some bodily fluids upon the ground. Without a word, Etrigan places the helm back upon the Sandman's head. A taloned hand dips a nail into the seeping ichor, and then raises it to his lips. He contorts his face into a most foul grimace, and wipes his hand upon the earth.

A few seconds later, Morpheus tries to regain his feet.

"Are you okay? I sense pain this day. Can I help or will you yelp?"

"... no... I am... all right. I can feel my strength return. The helm is helping me heal."

There is more awkward silence from the Rhymer.

"How, Etrigan, did you manage to survive the might of my helm?" asks Morpheus finally. "If any but an Endless one place it upon their head, raving insanity occurs instantly."

Etrigan looks steadily at Morpheus and grins a wicked, toothy smile.

"Although it's well known for demons to lie - I'll tell the truth - I closed my eyes."

For the first time since before Meridia died, he allows himself to smile.

"What about the storm around you, when you threatened the Greed Demons. Was that not a manifestation of my helm's power?"

"I wasn't aware the plot's amiss, but that always happens when I get pissed."

Morpheus' smile continues awhile longer underneath the mask, until he remembers where he is and why he is here. His stoic mannerisms return quite quickly.

"Come Etrigan. We must be off. I must see your Master."

"Master of mine, he's certainly not. I'm just a servant he knows he's got."

"Your rhymes are atrocious, Etrigan. Is that why you are here?" asks the Sandman with an even timbre.

Etrigan snorts at him, and begins to sing, "Beyond the rim of the..."

'Yes,' thinks Morpheus, 'sister Aponia would truly love my despair now.'

The strange bedfellows continue walking past the never ending horrors of damnation as a sheep copulates with a screaming shepherd.


"... I know his journey ends never. His star trek will go on forev-"

"Are we near Satan's abode, Etrigan?" interrupts the Dream King.

"Yes, we're near, so have no fear," answers Etrigan cheerfully.

"I am not afraid. I am an Endless one. Still, when shall we arrive?"

"Although I said that we are near, 'tis a small lie, for we are here."

Morpheus looks beyond the chortling Rhymer's form and sees a large office building standing directly in front of them, where there wasn't one scant moments before.

Underneath his helm, Morpheus has quite an angered look.

"Do you mean to say that Satan has always been in front of us?!" booms an incredulous Morpheus. "Why didn't you just take me here and avoid the trouble?"

"If thy Lord will stay thy anger, I can explain and smooth thy dander. Please recall that you but asked me to give you guide, you mentioned not me taking you for a ride. In all this time, you never asked if we were there. For if you had, I would have pointed us here," rants the Rhymer.

Morpheus says nothing, but continues to fume.

"And if I may offer your Lordship some reason - never, ever trust the word of a demon. Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!"

With that said, Etrigan bows deeply, and waves his left arm in a flourish, and jumps back to the ledge where he first accosted the Endless one. Twenty feet away. He begins to sing, "... but tell him while he wanders his starry sea. Remember, remember me." Etrigan looks back towards Morpheus and smiles a crooked grin.

Morpheus turns in disgust and looks up at the building in front of him. It's an ebony rectangle standing on one of its small sides. He judges it to be as tall as Mars' Mt. Olympus. There are no windows visible. At the base of the building, a set of double doors with a pair of brass revolving doors on either side look to be the entranceway. Painted above the doors are the roman numerals, 'VI VI VI'. Oneiros walks toward it. It shimmers and now reads 'DCLXVI'.

As he does so, the office building suddenly becomes a beehive of activity. Greying business executives in fine suits walk in and out of the building. A checkered cab with the words "Dirty Duggy" written in fresh blood on the windshield, pulls up. The driver gets out of the car and pulls the passenger out through the half-opened window. He tosses the young man out onto the building's doorway. He then reaches in and picks up a briefcase and holds it gingerly out to the man. As he reaches out to grasp it, the driver picks it up over his head and dents his skull with it. He then hops back into his cab and screams, "Next time, don't forget the bloody tip!"

Morpheus steps over the fallen passenger and walks toward the revolving door on the right side. As he begins to push it into motion, he is immediately set upon by two well dressed men and one woman in her dark blue power suit, who say in unison, "C'mon! Move your ass! We don't have all day! We have to close those deals by midnight tonight! Move!"

Morpheus ignores them and continues pushing at his original speed.

On the other side, he sees an immense lobby. A large gorilla in a security uniform eyes him suspiciously, but quickly goes back to eating his banana and scratching himself with his set of keys.

Morpheus walks over to the directory to see what floor Satan is on. He quickly sees that all entries read: "SATAN ENTERPRISES. FLOOR 666."

Calmly he walks over to the elevators. There are eight of them waiting. All are empty with the doors open. He steps towards the closest one, and is suddenly jostled about by a plethora of business executives, chattering about their latest business misdealings. The doors close before he can enter.

Morpheus looks over to the next closest elevator and takes a step towards it. Again, a flood of business executives sweep past him into the elevator. He tries to manoeuvre into the crowded car, but the voices all cry out, "No room! No room! Take the next car!" The doors shut with a loud 'ding!'

This farce continues until only one elevator is left. Looking about, Morpheus takes a step. Nothing. He takes another step forward. Still nothing. He then begins to walk normally, and is quite surprised to find himself alone in the elevator. The doors close. The elevator doesn't move.

"Press a button, you ninny," says a voice without body.

The Dream Weaver looks at the controls and is only mildly surprised to notice that the entire car - walls, floor and ceiling - is covered with buttons. All are numbered '666'. Looking down by the big toe on his left foot, he sees a lit button. He presses it.

"Not that one, fool. That's where you are. Guess again," says the mystery voice.

Without hesitation, Morpheus presses the button in front of his big toe on his right foot.

"Excellent," says the voice.

The button lights up, as do all of the others. The voice begins to laugh.

The elevator begins to move down. A recording of someone with a foul voice begins singing the Star Trek theme song.

Much, much later, Morpheus has counted the door opening 612 times on what must be the slowest elevator ever dreamed of by Lord Otis. The button by the big toe of his right foot continues to remain lit - as do several dozen others. The singing continues unabated.

Twice as long later, there is only one button still lit. Just in time, too. The voice on the recording has begun to crack. Morpheus' resolve, however, seems to have grown with each passing floor.

Finally, the song gives out, the downward motion stops as the elevator jerks to a halt. The doors fling open as a bell rings. Morpheus steps out slowly and looks around.

He is standing in a large reception area. Tall, leafy plants resembling venus fly traps but with the jaws of a kodiak bear surround a circular desk made of bleached bone. A receptionist with the face of a mynah bird, sits on a chair in the middle of the desk and answers three phones that ring as soon as each is replaced upon the cradle. She ignores a fourth ringing phone.

"No, I'm sorry. He's not available this decade." "No, you just missed her. She's gone to lunch." "I'm sorry, nobody by that name is being tormented here."

Pausing for an instant to tell Morpheus to sit and wait until he is called, the fourth telephone jumps off the receiver and begins striking her about the face.

Morpheus moves towards the only unoccupied chair left. His boots squeak noisily on the red velvet carpet. He sits between the only two people there. Although the reception area is quite spacious, the waiting chairs are bolted quite close together. The chairs are also extremely thin. And low.

Morpheus clasps his hands together on his lap and waits quietly. The man on his right is missing the left side of his body. The man on Morpheus' left is the one who was thrown out of the taxi cab earlier. Both are leaning against him.

"Next!" cries out the receptionist as the phone begins to attack her again. The half-man straightens up and begins to hop to a previously invisible large green door. The door eats him.

"Next!" yells the receptionist, as the telephone pushes her beak up into her skull. The 'passenger' gets up, loosens his tie, scruffs up his hair, rips the sleeve from his suit jacket and unzips his fly. He then walks over to a small carousel that has appeared behind the receptionist, boards it and then sits down on a unicorn, impaling himself on its horn. His bellow of pain is quickly cut short by the high warbling scream of the unicorn. The contraption vanishes.

Morpheus waits quietly.

Minutes later, an orange door appears and expels the 'fare' out into the reception. The man lands on his face with a sickening, bone-crunching snap. A voice from within the room booms, "And next time, don't forget the bloody tip!"

The doors remain open. The receptionist shouts, "Next!"

Morpheus pays no attention to her as the telephone begins to wrap its wire around her throat. As she begins to gurgle and choke, the other phones begin to beat her about the head.

Morpheus stands up, steps over the crumpled form of the young man, and walks around the reception desk and into Satan's office.

"Welcome to Hell, O Endless one! May I take your helm and coat?" laughs a well-dressed Satan sitting behind a large executive style desk.


Aponia is the ancient Greek name for Dream's sister, Despair... he and she are two of the Endless Ones.

Those are indeed the lyrics to the Star Trek original television series opening credits, written by Gene Roddenberry himself. As my attempts at rhyming will attest with Etrigan the Rhyming Demon, just because you are a writer, it doesn't mean you can write in every form. Sorry Gene.

The cab driver is based on my recently deceased friend, Doug McIntosh, a real life dear cabbie whom I met just before I left for Japan, as a fare, and who perhaps never dreamed I would actually write to him from Japan simply because he asked me to. You never know where you meet and make your friends. Dirty Dougie was an actual nickname given to him by some of the gentlemen in a MC he was familiar with.    

Somewhere beyond the rim of the starlight,
Andrew Joseph

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