Night mares are misunderstood. He’s had his herd for centuries and he’ll trust them with his favourite mug any day. Unlike those disastrous dreamwalkers who don’t know how to keep their sticky hands to themselves.
It’s not the mares’ fault that bad dreams cling to them like a drowned cat, but people like to confuse cause with correlation. So when one of his mares escape their pen, he starts his search immediately.
He finds the runaway a few hours to dawn in a child’s dream garden. Four hooves planted on the cotton candy grass while dark teeth chomp at a large marshmallow hanging from a candy cane tree. A line of charred and writhing dots shows the path the mare took to get the sweet snack.
A gentle touch against the long neck is enough to guide the mare away from the tree. A little skip and both of them are airborne. But the dots remain, little scary shadows in an otherwise happy childish dream. He reaches into his sack and sprinkles slivery gold dust into the landscape.
The dark patches lighten into iridescent butterflies. The beat of their wings tinkle like windchimes as they dance in the garden.
His night mares can’t control the bad dreams that follow them, but he hopes the good dreams he brings will supersede any night terrors.
Sweet dreams, little one.
July stories: 21/21
In the dreamscape, anything’s possible, so it’s only natural for lucid dreamers to dream of all the impossible things that can’t exist in real life.
Her grandfather is no exception. He has created roller coasters made out of jelly worms, sprawling underwater mansions, a world of giant insects, ice animals that sparkle in all colours of the rainbow, but no matter how much everything changes, the one thing that always remains is an ordinary shed.
The old shed is a replica of the one her grandfather grew up with. In the real world, it burned to cinders in the same freak firestorm that almost took her grandmother too. Even though she has never seen the actual structure, she’s visited it in her grandfather’s dreamscape that it’s more familiar to her than her own room.
Seeing it is both a source of comfort and worry. One day, just like the real shed, her grandfather will be gone, and his dreamscape will go with him. What will she do then?
A wet fish to the face slaps her out of her thoughts.
“What are you daydreaming about? Come on. I’m growing old here,” her grandfather teases, youthful eyes bright under his dark hair.
The dreamscape is so much more interesting than the real world. Why waste her time worrying about something she can worry about when she’s awake?
She grabs the fish and tosses it back at him. The slippery thing turns into a flying disc that her grandfather catches neatly between his fingers.
He grins, showing off his long canine teeth that he’s lost in the real world with age. “That’s more like it.”
Genre: fantasy, family
She’s in a meadow of white roses that stretch as far as the eye can see.
But when she sniffs the air, all she smells is duck.
Five spices, onion, thyme, soy sauce. It feels more like she’s on a plate about to be served. This dreamer must have gone to sleep hungry.
She shakes her head, as if she can shake the smell off her. It doesn’t work. The tantalising scent coils around her like ivy. Even though she’s in the dreamscape where she doesn’t need to be hungry if she doesn’t want to be, her mouth still waters.
That’s it. She’ll get the job done lickety-split, and when she wakes up, she knows what she’s eating for breakfast.
The heat followed her into her dreams in the form of fire-red grass and flame-blue flowers that danced beneath her feet even as they burned her.
That her fever in the real world managed to seep into her dreamscape was just another sign of her continued deterioration. One day, she wouldn’t even be able to hide from the pain in her dreams.
Her lips pressed together at the beautiful but unwanted reminder. She shook the leafy tendrils off her limbs and stepped into the sky.
Her family was working on the antidote for the poison burning through her body. All she needed to do was endure.
She left familiar wings unfold from her back. Flame-blue, just like the flowers. She frowned. With just a thought, her wings shifted into amethyst-purple. Abandoning every reminder of the real world, she dove into the dream world.
This trip, she would like to find someone dreaming about a cold winter’s day.
Genre: fantasy, speculative fiction
The nature of night terrors was that despite the intense fear it caused in the sleeper, the details were often forgotten once the sleeper awoke. Which was a problem for her clients, who needed the information in the night terror.
That was where she came in.
As a dreamwalker, she could enter the night terror and take the information out into reality. All they needed to do was wait, and once the night terror began, so did her role.
Going to sleep in a stranger’s place didn’t get easier, but it got less weird. With practised discipline, she slipped from reality into the dreaming world. From there, it was a hop, skip, and a jump away to the night terror of interest. She would go in, get the information her clients were after, get out, get some moolah, and go home happy with another success under her belt.
Then she saw the secret hidden inside the night terror, and she knew she wouldn’t be allowed to waltz out of this job so easily.
Time to pay her favourite bodyguard a visit. She hope he was still asleep.
If you’re interest, check out other stories about dreamwalkers here.