Three children stood in a poorly lit room casting shadows on all of their faces as well as effectively hiding the strange man in the corner. There was a teenage girl with large, brown eyes that were slightly hidden by her mid-length hair. Slightly pointy ears poked out of the hair as if curious to see what was going on. A pointy face matched the pointy ears giving the girl a slightly elfish appearance that caused an impression of cautiousness.
The youngest boy’s face was pointy just like his sister’s however, his ears were outrageously huge and round. His hair was a mass of messy dirty-blond that looked shocking compared to his pasty skin. He was sporting large, owl-rimmed glasses that took up most of his face causing him to appear as a little mouse.
The final boy was the same age as the girl but not related, he seemed, however, to recognize her for he kept staring at her thoughtfully as if trying to place her in his head.
They all seemed disoriented and looked around the room seeing no windows or doors. A man stood in the room with them and was mouthing words. The man became more and more hysterical as he tried to communicate with the three.
Finally, the girl looked at him and spoke, “What do you want?”
The man trembled and his skin wobbled around his frame giving him the appearance of nervous jelly. He mouthed something again but this time the little boy thought he heard a whisper.
“We can’t hear you!” the little boy explained, becoming impatient with this strange man.
The man suddenly seemed to understand and relief flashed across his face before he was back to the hysteria. He held up his hand then promptly swished it down again. The children felt a whoosh of air blow past them and they could suddenly hear.
“Your Uncle is in danger. You must come to Dreamland now and help him.” The strange man spoke with urgency gesturing wildly at the three children. The children themselves looked bewildered and terrified.
“Who are you? What’s Dreamland? What Uncle?” The eldest boy finally spoke up, his words filled with confusion and more questions on the tip of his tongue.
The strange man sensed this and hurriedly answered, “Brian, Uncle Brian! Please you have to help! Quickly, there’s not much time!” At the mention of Brian’s name the girl quickly looked up, “Uncle Brian?”
“Yes, your Uncle Brian, that’s what I’ve been saying! You must hurry here, there’s really no time to discuss this now! Please hurry, it’s the only way!” The strange man had begun to plead and the young boy started to suspect that he would get down on his knees soon.
“But aren’t we already here, wherever here is?” The eldest boy looked confused as he said this, trying to make sense of what was happening.
The man seemed to understand what he was asking but simply became more frustrated, “No, no, no! You aren’t really here, only I am! Don’t you understand? But of course you don’t, you’ve never even heard of Dreamland have you?” The last part was full of despair as the man seemed to realize what a huge task this would be for himself and the children.
The children sensed the anguish and remained silent as the man continued to babble to himself but quickly so the children only caught snippets such as “Nightmare Department” and “useless”, finally he stopped and looked up at them.
“I’m sorry we don’t understand but really you’re not explaining this very well.” The young boy looked up at the strange man as he said this and the man looked away whether in anger or in embarrassment they weren’t sure.
“Fine, listen closely, and keep an open mind.” the man waited until all three nodded then continued, “When you sleep do you ever wonder where your mind goes? Who creates the dreams? “
The youngest boy was nodding his head, along with the oldest; however, the girl seemed to be unwilling to admit it although she did seem curious as to what the man was going to say.
“Well, your mind is not what creates the dreams,” he paused for effect but then continued, “It’s where we are now, Dreamland. Yes, Dreamland, it’s the place your mind goes when you’re asleep and it’s where your Uncle is imprisoned right now! You have to get there, or rather here. As soon as you wake, contact each other and group up. I’ll be here waiting for you!” The man who, while explaining Dreamland, was calm became excited again at the idea of Brian and became harder to comprehend.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t have an Uncle Brian and I might know these two,” the eldest boy jerked his head towards the siblings, “but you expect us to believe this?” the girl was nodding along with him looking more and more determined to prove this crazy man wrong.
“Look, I have an Uncle Brian but if you really believe in ‘Dreamland’ I think you need serious help and… oh,” suddenly she was struck with the answer and smiled, “this is a dream! Hah!”
“No! Wait, please, you don’t understand!” The man begged desperately and, as the youngest had suspected, he went on his knees, “please don’t…” but it was too late, the girl had already pinched herself and was gone.
The two boys looked at each other in surprise and were just about to pinch themselves as well when suddenly, “Alright, I’ll hear you out but you better make this good.” The eldest boy seemed as surprised as the other two when he heard himself say this. However, he knew that he meant it.
“Thank you! This means so much to us all. Thank you” he was interrupted by the youngest, “isn’t there something you needed to tell us?”
“Oh yes, thank you. Well, you see, Dreamland is the place your soul travels to when you sleep. Have you ever heard the myth that you only use 10% percent of your brain?” The youngest boy was nodding, seeming to understand ideas better through facts.
“Well, it is untrue, you may only use 10% of your brain during waking hours but you use 30% of it during sleeping hours. That 30% is where Dreamland resides. It is a highly complex system which I would love to chat with you about but I’m afraid we’re running out of time.”
“Wait, I thought that time wasn’t relative while sleeping. When I sleep I can have dreams that last only 10 minutes but I’ll wake up and its morning.” The youngest boy pointed out skeptically. The man realized he was losing them and started to rush again.
“No, no! You don’t understand, you can have more than one dream per night! You simply don’t remember them all. It is now seven o’clock in the morning.”
“I’m waking up soon.” The eldest boy realized and the other boy nodded.
“Yes, I know, so please listen carefully.” The man sighed and wondered how he was going to explain this. A mission of such importance obviously couldn’t be spoken in the welcoming hall but it was so difficult to make the humans understand and believe in Dreamland without its aid. He took a deep breath and tried, once again, to explain about Uncle Brian.
“You see, Dreamland isn’t like any place you know of. We don’t have wars or issues, at least not until now. I have reason to believe that the Nightmare Department...”
“I’m sorry, the what?” the youngest interrupted.
“The Nightmare Department! We don’t have all night and this is of highest importance. I will answer your questions later.” The man said ‘questions’ with slight disdain almost as if he did not really think they were all that important. “You see, one of our celebrity minds has disappeared for some time. He went exploring some of the more obtuse parts of Dreamland and never came back.”
“Uncle Brian.” The youngest breathed with understanding.
“Yes, your Uncle Brian. And, what’s more, he was last seen near the Nightmare Department. Of course, nobody will believe the Sandman” He sounded bitter as he spoke his name for the first time.
“Is that who you are?” The eldest said with an odd mix between a laugh and a choke.
“Yes, but let’s not get sidetracked, shall we? As I was saying I was reporting my suspicions to the mayor, unfortunately he didn’t seem to take me seriously.”
“And why should we?” The youngest asked critically.
The Sandman seemed annoyed at the question and seemed to deflate as if he was a balloon that just got popped by a needle.
“Because your Uncle needs you! And now your most important asset left without a second thought! Now please, this is what you must do; tell the girl it is true, convince her however you can. Next come here, your body and your mind. That is very important.”
Finally the eldest boy spoke again, pushing long, brown hair out of his face before speaking; “Now listen, I would love to believe in ‘Dreamworld’…”
“Land, Dreamland.” The Sandman corrected.
“Okay, Dreamland but I can’t. I’m gonna have to have proof that this isn’t just a dream.”
The Sandman started muttering again, pacing back and forth in the small room. He seemed to finally make a decision and looked up at them again.
“You see, the problem with proving this isn’t just a dream is the fact that it is just a dream. “
The eldest boy shook his head with force then sighed, “Listen ‘sandman’ I have to go. This is getting too weird” and with that he pinched himself and was gone.
The sandman cried out then, with desperation turned to the youngest, “Please, do you believe me?”
“Well… my logic is telling me the obvious no but… oddly yes.” The youngest gave small half-smile as he spoke.
“Oh thank you! Thank you so much! Now listen, here is your mission: when you wake up convince your sister this is real. Next get the boy and get back here. I will explain the rest later.”
The boy nodded in understanding, “So… should I wake up now?”
“Oh no need” The sandman said with the first smile the boy had seen on him.
With that the boy felt a distinct pulling on his conscience that he suddenly became aware of. He only had a chance to say a small ‘oh’ and then he was gone.
The last thing he saw was the Sandman looking up with a mix of hope and nerves on his face.
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