There are many who don't wish to sleep for fear of nightmares. Sadly, there are many who don't wish to wake for the same fear ~ Richelle E. Goodrich, author of Dandelions: The Disappearance of Annabelle Fancher.
My gut told me not to polish off the rest of the deep dish pizza with mushrooms, black olives and extra cheese, but it was just so tasty I couldn't resist. After gorging myself I brushed my teeth and retired to the bedroom. I placed my copy of the Hellraiser score CD (with music composed by Christopher Young) in my compact disc playing machine and pressed the play, then timer buttons. Finally I slipped under the covers and laid my head down on a fluffy pillow.
An indeterminate amount of time later I woke with a start. Slowly my eyes adjusted to the darkness and I realized to my horror that some other-worldly presence had invaded my abode. There crouched on top of my reading armchair was a winged daemon. It's appearance was humanoid, but with a simian-like pronounced snout, pointed ears and a dog-like nose. In human-terms, it's body appeared very much like a gaunt but muscular young man. A pair of leathery wings protruded from the shoulder blades of his hairless alabaster hued body. With the exception of a loincloth he was completely bare.
"I am one of the many sibling of Morpheus, the master of the land of dreams" he intoned in a deep resonating voice. My name is not important. What is important...", the unnamed daemon breathed, turning to stare directly at me, "...is that I am here to offer a warning. You will not wake from your slumber until he who has arranged for your visit to his realm has been rebuked".
"I'm dreaming?" I guessed. The daemon answered "Yes, this is but the world of dreams, but the danger to your life here is very real. Or it will be, once you pass through the gateway". The daemon gestured with a clawed hand to a dark corner of my room, where I was surprised to see what appeared to be a mini black hole; a orb of swirling inky blackness that seemed to be literally sucking in the moonbeams that illuminated my sleeping chamber.
"What is that?" I managed to ask in a hoarse whisper. "It is a conduit to the Land of Nightmares", the unnamed daemon replied. "It is also your only way back to the waking realm. You must travel there and defeat he who is preventing you from waking or your slumber shall be eternal". "And who might that be", I naturally inquired. "That shall be revealed soon enough", the daemon growled while flapping his wings. "But now I must depart, for any longer and the fact that I am attempting to help you will be detected and held against me". Then the daemon rose into the air and flew out my open window.
"That's odd", I thought "I do not recall leaving that window open". Eyeing the black orb again I decided not to heed the daemon's advice and attempt to use it, if it were indeed a gateway to the land of nightmares. That was somewhere I decided I definitely did not want to go. I opened my bedroom door and walked down the hall toward the kitchen. "A midnight snack would hit the spot" I said out loud for no particular reason. Opening the fridge door I removed a platter containing a second deep dish pizza that was untouched. Selecting a slice and raising it to my mouth, I was horrified to find it was covered with squirming maggots.
"Gross!" I cried, so shocked I dropped the slice on the tiled floor. No need to clean that up, since this is only a dream. "I wonder what my neighbor is up to" I thought. So I sprinted down my driveway and across the street. Circling my neighbor's house I peeked in a bedroom window. A young woman was lying in her bed, sound asleep. "Can you hear me?" I asked, rapping on the window. Getting no response I tried again, this time very loudly pounding and yelling "Hello?". Just then I felt a wet nose touch my hand. Looking down I saw what I presumed was a neighborhood dog.
"You cannot stay here", the dog said. "Seriously, the longer you delay the higher the chance is you will be stuck in this in-between place for all eternity. The danger of that is great", the pooch counseled me. "So, you're saying I should use that black hole orb to travel to the land of nightmares... is that it?" I asked my new canine friend while scratching him under the chin. "Yes", the appreciative canine confirmed, his rear leg thumping involuntarily.
"Very well", I dejectedly agreed. We returned to my bed chamber where the orb was waiting. "Touch your hand to the orb and you will be transported", the talking canine instructed. "Will you accompany me?", I implored, desperate for some help, or at least some companionship. "Hell no", the dog barked, the fur on his neck bristling. "I understand", I said. Scratching the canine behind the ear and patting him on the head I hesitantly raised my hand and touched my palm to the atramentous sphere.
Suddenly I felt my body being drawn into the black hole. Time and space bent, and, after emerging on the other side, I found myself engulfed in ebony darkness, unable to see my hand in front of my face. "Now what" I said out loud as the black hole closed with a sucking noise behind me. I took a few tentative steps forward, feeling the rocky and uneven terrain beneath my feet. Thinking I heard something, I stopped. A noise that was clearly breathing. "Who's there?" I asked.
A raspy voice replied. "There is a door approximately ten paces in front of you". The unseen entity instructed me to move toward it. Afraid, I yelled a warning. "I have a weapon!" I fumbled in my jacket pocket for my taser (a jacket I had fortunately thought to don before touching the black orb). It was an item I made sure was close at hand at all times. Given the fact that I was almost abducted and possibly murdered not that long ago in a restaurant parking lot.