Don Yarber Don Yarber
Recommendations: 42

bowed their heads when in "his" presence. ?????

John Tucker John Tucker
Recommendations: 23

Only one 's' in focused.

John Tucker John Tucker
Recommendations: 23

Although, it could be the English/British variation. If it is, please ignore.

Don Yarber Don Yarber
Recommendations: 42

American Heritage Dictionary has it either way.

John Tucker John Tucker
Recommendations: 23

Drop the 'him' at the end of the last sentence in this paragraph.

Summer Breeze Summer Breeze
Recommendations: 19

Again, the Brit in me coming through.

Deborah Boydston Deborah Boydston
Recommendations: 45

Do you have a reason for these short,incomplete sentences that are by themselves?

Summer Breeze Summer Breeze
Recommendations: 19

Yes. I am in the character's head right then, and it's an added thought. It is also emphasized to make it seem more ominous. Guess it didn't work for you! Haha!

John Tucker John Tucker
Recommendations: 23

You need to add an 'an' before old woman, an 'a' before cancer patient, an 'a' before teacher, and an a' before pregnant woman.

Deborah Boydston Deborah Boydston
Recommendations: 45

Should these two sentences be one. You really should never start a sentence with "and" since and is a continuation of a previous statement.

Deborah Boydston Deborah Boydston
Recommendations: 45

This feels to me like it should be in the same paragraph as tbe previous two statements above. "Which meant he mustn't be dreaming after all" is an incomplete sentence.

Deborah Boydston Deborah Boydston
Recommendations: 45

I know you say he went to sleep slowly it still seems like it is too soon after such an encounter so it makes it hard for me to believe. Also I could never put such a horrifying experience in the back of my mind, but that is just me.

Summer Breeze Summer Breeze
Recommendations: 19

He was exhausted. I know when I'm exhausted nothing stops me from passing out.

Deborah Boydston Deborah Boydston
Recommendations: 45

Same here the word "but" is a conjunction, meaning it connects two sentences I think this paragrash should be connected to the previous sentence with a comma after "moment". "At least for a moment, but what a moment it would be."

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Summer Breeze Summer Breeze
Recommendations: 19

Dream Eater


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She had a friend.

Unsealed windows and doors, small cracks in the foundation, an open vent...you'd think these were the ways they got in. But no, it was the last sigh that left the body before sleep finally claims it that served as gateway to the Dramora -- the Dream Eaters.


They came at night, though they found daydreams equally delicious -- the dark was just so much easier when it came to concealing their true appearance. Most humans found their shadowy, blistered, completely hairless forms abhorrent, to say nothing of the cavernous hole that functioned as a mouth, or the lack of any eyes whatsoever. They had long narrow feet, though they were not used for the most part, not like their arms were. One hand, formed with long digits ending in globular fingertips, held their prey's head immobile and 'read', or 'projected' thoughts, while the other, a single claw of lethal proportions, served as their only physical means of protection should they be caught unaware while feeding.


But that was a rare occurrence, for they were very skilled at what they did. Their kind had been eating and gathering dreams since the very beginning. They were masters of timing, and disguise, with a talent for projecting the illusion of a prey's loved one should he or she suddenly drift into semi-consciousness at an inopportune moment, their minds an intricate network of images pooled from every dream they'd ever tasted.


Rahshen was no exception to any of this, though he did stand out amongst his own kind in another way: He was one of the elite - the rare few who carried so many images within that others actually bowed their heads when in their presence. 1 comment


Fear and awe were wonderful things.


He streamed into the room and stretched his long body as much as the limited space would allow, opened his senses. He may have no eyes to see, nor any visible ears either, but what he did have was highly-developed. He could pick up the smallest of sounds, inhale the slightest wisps of scent, especially dream scent. Each had its own distinct flavour, with one underlying commonality that defied description. If a human were to try, they would simply call it 'food'.


The family pet growled low in its feline throat, then hissed and shot from the foot of the bed. The slimmest of openings was then put to good use, as it streaked around the bedroom door and out into the hall. The Dream Eater let it go, for animal's dreams were far less tasty than human's to him, much less imaginative, and focussed instead on the child abandoned to her fate. 4 comments


The girl slept blissfully on. Rahshen felt it and thought it a shame. Were she to awaken right then, she would shriek in terror and never be the same again for the rest of her days, which would supply him with an endless amount of sustenance for the future in nightmares. Desires of the heart were the ultimate in taste to any Dramoran, but fear was much easier to inspire. He considered provoking her but decided against it; she was already dreaming, and precious night was wasting. Inhaling deeply the scent of her dream - sweet, innocent, and full of childhood delight - he curled his lip. It wasn't much of a meal, and almost identical to another he'd consumed a few nights ago which made it even less desirable, but it would do him. 2 comments


For a start. 2 comments


Following the sound of her breathing, he floated upward and came to rest just in front of the warmth emanating from the girl's mouth, his body aligned perfectly just inches above hers. From a small pouch of skin hidden within the folds of his chest he took a tiny piece of himself - a seed of sorts - and dropped it between the youthful plumpness of her parted lips. It would seek out the dream and any emotions associated with it, grow around it all, capture and contain it, before returning to the body from which it came. This left the dreamer with less than what they'd previously owned, but he didn't care - all Dramorans knew that humans could always create more. They'd been doing it since the dawn of their existence.


The child let go of her dream with a small mewl of protest, and within moments the 'seed' was back at her lips, now a blue phosphorescent bubble. He sucked up the ethereal delicacy, tossed his head back and gulped. Down it slid, down, down, down his snake-like throat, until it came to rest gently at his left hip, protruding slightly through one of the many thousands of holes in his skin. Only then, after it had found purchase, could he properly draw on and savour the fresh images and emotions that had entered his being.


In terms of food, they didn't satisfy him for long. A playground, a mother laughing, her arms wide. The girl running, then skipping her way into them, getting picked up and twirled. A few kisses. Love and affection. And then the rush and novelty of it all faded, and he allowed them to be contained once more within the bubble, where they would remain unless he required them for an illusion.


The main problem for his kind was the thrill of experiencing another's dreams was a craving that could never be satisfied; the more they collected, the more they needed to collect. And the greater the emotion they fed on, the greater they wanted the next emotion they fed on to be. It was an endless cycle of need, and like addicts kept from their drug of choice they became ravenous for their next fix. In this particular dream there had been no fear to savour, no underlying veins that led back to a traumatic experience, so....it was time to move on.


Somewhere a dreamer sighed, and Rahshen vanished.


The night went on, from old woman with visions of death, to cancer patient full of anxiety, to teacher terrorized by her students, to soldier missing his family, to pregnant woman worrying over the future of her unborn child. Each of their dreams were tasty to the Dramoran - especially once he'd let his illusions slip and 'projected' his true image into their minds for a second or two -- and he was pleased at the diversity, but none of them were the kind he truly enjoyed. Only a heart's desire dream would satisfy him enough now. He knew just where to get one, too, but his dreamer was not co-operating. 1 comment


Normally the gateway had opened for him by now. He wondered what, exactly, was keeping the man from dreaming. Was he working through the night again? Was he suffering from insomnia? Or had - no, Rahshen refused to consider the possibility that another Dramoran had gotten there before him. In reflex he tapped into one of his favourite dreams and drew on the pure fury contained within it, added it to his own. A portal opened and he barrelled his way through it, still seething.


* * *


After a long and tiring night arguing with his ex, all Kevin Parrod wanted to do was fall face first into bed and sleep for a year. Every time he saw her lately they fought, and all he really wanted was to win her back. He was trying his darnedest, but nothing was coming out right. Well, he thought, for tonight he was done. Maybe he could have her in his dreams, or at least get enough rest to get the energy to try again. He thought he must have made it to the bedroom - or at least dozed off somewhere along the way - because the next thing he knew he was looking at the most frighteningly hideous creature he'd ever seen. Covered in glowing blue boils from what he imagined was its chin on down, its elongated body came out of his own mouth (which he found disturbing in itself ) and immediately turned toward him.


But that was the least of his worries, he realized, because not only did it have no eyes to speak of while still seeming to stare directly at him, but it was pissed, and at the end of its left arm was a wickedly long claw that could do some serious damage to his person. He thought it a good thing that he was dreaming.


He could have gotten past the enormous mouth -- it didn't contain any teeth that he could see - if it weren't for the fact that it was suddenly much too close to his own. Terrified, he wondered if it was trying to climb back in. If so, he decided, there was no way he was letting that thing get back in his head, dreaming or not.


He gagged as the fetid stench of the creature's mouth connected with his nostrils. Immediately he shut them down and tried to breathe through his mouth, only to realize that left him vulnerable again. He closed his mouth and went back to using his nostrils. But this caused his eyes to tear up. Blinking furiously to clear them, he was shocked to suddenly find his grandmother leaning over him, touching his face in concern.


Which was really not right, he thought, considering she was dead.


And had always hated him. 1 comment


Which meant he mustn't be dreaming after all. This all felt way too real to him, he thought, to be a dream. There was only one sure way to find out though. He reached out and pinched the back of her hand - hard. 1 comment


Silently, Kevin swore. He really wasn't dreaming. Where grandma had been only a second before, the creature now stood. Floated. Did the thing not even have feet? he wondered crazily. He really needed to focus. And he did, by slamming his fist into the creature's face. Its head snapped back for a second, but then it sort of snarled and grabbed his head, pressed its strange fingertips against his cheek and -- "


Fear gripped his mind, a terror so strong he didn't think he could bear it. He'd never felt anything like it before in his life. It was unreal. Unreal. And then something entered his mouth; in reflex he tried to spit it out, but it had already made it to the back of his throat. He was choking on fear, choking on whatever it was, until it finally left his throat and went God-knew-where but it wasn't down. He heard an unearthly sort of purring, and for some reason that frightened him most of all. Grasping blindly at air -- at anything -- his fingers connected with a spongy column of delicate bumps. He dug in.


*


Rahshen cried out as the man's fingers dug into his throat and all the dream bubbles situated there were squeezed beyond what they could withstand. He felt them break open and flood everywhere - inside and out. In a desperate attempt to save them, and himself, he pulled his claw across the man's forearm, leaving behind a long, oozing cut. Then he backed away and gasped in air, covering as much of his throat as he could to hold in what was left of his precious collection. He needed to leave -- now -- to assess the damage and try to salvage what he could of them. He tapped into the only orb situated deep within him, the one that recalled to him the winds that forever flowed throughout the caves of his home world -- and disappeared from view.


* * *


Kevin was having trouble believing his eyes. One minute the...thing was in front of him, possibly bleeding, and the next it simply vanished. His fingers closed on air and dropped. Yes, it was gone. Well, he thought to himself, most of it anyway. Some of its 'blood' was still floating before him. In fact, if it wasn't for what he was seeing right then, and the cut on his own arm, he'd be thinking he'd lost his mind. Since he wasn't, he pressed a corner of the bed sheet against the wound and moved on to his next thought: Where did the creature go? And for that matter, why had it been here in the first place? What did it want from him? With no answers immediately forthcoming, and the possibilities alone enough to keep him shaking for the rest of the night and beyond, he made a conscious decision and tucked it all firmly away in his mind. Then slowly, so slowly, his exhaustion overcame him once more, and he fell back into sleep. 2 comments


* * *


Rahshen paced from one end of his nest to the other. He was hungry; twenty-three dreams had been destroyed by that human, and he felt their loss keenly. A few of them had even been favourites. He paused to fondle the delicate shells he'd placed in the recovery pod. Gone. All gone. There hadn't been enough left of them to hold onto.


He thought about the other pods around the dark, circular cave -- the ones he'd always had the option of filling but had chosen not to. These were not recovery pods, but special cases designed to hold the more unique dreams in his collection. He'd never placed any in them because first and foremost, he wanted them with him to tap into at will, and second, he didn't trust any of his race not to steal them while he was away.


Those reasons were still valid. Even now, after such a disaster. Also, this would damage his reputation, and he couldn't have that.


He resumed pacing. If he only had some way to guarantee his return to the same dreamer, perhaps he could retrieve something of the lost dreams. Enough for others of his kind to not question him. A previously collected dream from the same person would do it, but he didn't have one, he'd never retrieved the seed he'd planted in this dreamer's head. He hadn't had time before the situation had gone awry.


Then it occurred to him that he did have one thing: the human's blood was still on his claw.


He'd heard tails of one of his kind, long ago, who'd managed repeat visits to a dreamer. She'd found the man's dreams especially tasty, to the point that she'd almost been satisfied. Of course Rahshen didn't believe that to even be possible, but that wasn't what interested him. What interested him was her method of returning to the same dreamer. If he remembered correctly, it had involved nicking the human right before she departed each time, then, when the next portal opened, sticking her claw through it first. It supposedly acted like another kind of homing beacon. The DNA in the blood recognized and sought out its match in time and space.


Or so the story went. He was about to find out if it was true.


* * *


Kevin was dreaming. Oh, how he dreamed! Like he'd never dreamed before. There were people he'd never met before but felt safe with, and places he'd never been yet pictured with such clarity. It was really quite bizarre, especially when he looked down at himself and felt a baby kick within his own womb. He knew it was wrong -- so wrong -- but couldn't help feeling protective regardless. And worried. He smoothed his hand over his rounded stomach in reflex. It flattened, and suddenly he was in a hospital bed with tubes sticking out of his arms. Fear struck him then -- the fear of death.


There is something worse than death in here.


Like what? he wondered. He had a feeling he should know, but the answer was eluding him. He turned his head and looked down a long green corridor. Maybe it was down there.


* * *


Rahshen smelled it the second he hit the room. Dream-scent. And this one was very strong. His mouth opened wide in anticipation: soon it would be his. He float-crawled his way to where the dreamer lay, rested his fingers lightly on the man's cheek, 'read' him. And that's when he knew he'd made it back to the same one as before. This, he thought, was going to be the best meal he'd ever had. He'd make sure of it.


But wait. What was this? A heart's desire hidden from the dreamer himself? Not only hidden, but not even sought. Instead, the man sought....


Oh.


He mind-stared at the tucked-away image of himself in the firm grip of rage right above his prey. Is that how he appeared? he thought absently. He'd projected his image many times, but never had he imagined how a human mind might perceive it. It was quite different. Mentally, he shook his head and pushed the image aside. It wasn't important right now -- interesting, but not important. He would just distract the man, who had obviously decided their encounter was too traumatizing to look at anyway, maybe use the image with another dreamer sometime. What was important right now was the fact that here was what he'd been looking for, swirling amongst the remnants of all the dreams he'd lost. The man must have inhaled them. If the seed he'd left here could contain all of this, he may be the first of his kind to fully satisfy his craving for collecting.


At least for a moment.


But what a moment it would be. He focussed all of his attention on redirecting the man's current stream of thought. 1 comment


*


Kevin reached the end of the hall and found himself face to face with a room full of extremely hyper school children. Frustrated at the delay, and more than a little shocked at the sudden and rapid firing of enthusiastic questions in his general direction, he plowed across the classroom as quickly as humanly possible. Unfortunately, the mob of youngsters followed him - all but one, that is -- clinging to his legs like psychotic little monkeys. Something about the lone child made him want to pause, but the faces of those in front of him quickly changed to suit their actions -- with shrieking mouths demanding to be heard, until he thought he would go crazy at the noise -- and he had to go. He covered his ears, struggled to shake them off, and plunged through another door. Had he wanted children? he thought wildly. Maybe he'd rethink that one.


*


No no no! Frustration pooled inside of Rahshen; children should have led the man to his ex-wife, not away from her; they were supposed to be linked to the human's desire for her. But it had all gone wrong. The dream wouldn't even form at this rate.


He checked on the progress of the seed, and found it to be growing fine but in too large a shell to be retrieved in the usual way. That would still be all right, thought Rahshen, except that it would ruin the man's mind for future dreaming. He realized he would have to separate the man's thoughts or lose everything. It would still be a large meal, just divided into smaller portions. A bit disappointing, but still salvageable. Twenty should do it in his estimation. Not quite the number he'd lost, but not everything was here. He dropped the seeds into the man's mouth and got to work.


*


Deep within his mind, Kevin turned his head. Something was happening. The comforting arms of his mother surrounded him, kept him safe, but like any child his curiosity was too great.


Or was it his mother? he wondered. He looked up at her again and saw his wife, Jennine, instead. Yes, his wife, he thought, not his mother. His wife... He felt joy begin to spread throughout his chest. Here was his chance to win her back.


Suddenly, off to his left, a death's head appeared in a tree. He opened his mouth and screamed like the old woman he was, then quickly curled his frail body into a protective ball around Jennine.


In the next second everything was gone. He wondered why he was curled up, and stretched, looked up at his mother and smiled. Her face morphed into a grey thing with no eyes, a thing that had the biggest mouth and --


It disappeared.


Above him, Rahshen cursed. The man was starting to recall details about what he'd seen. And to make matters worse, this latest bubble had removed his projected image of the man's ex-wife. With everything swirling around in there, it was bound to happen; he couldn't possibly separate everything fast enough. Good thing, Rahshen thought, that the dreamer had lost this particular memory, and that Dream Eaters could project any image they desired. He quickly checked the details of what he required and re-entered the dream stream.


Kevin, meanwhile, was wondering where he was and what he'd been looking at. He couldn't remember what he'd been about to do. And where had all these children come from again? he thought. They were horrible, just horrible, but Jennine was here so she would take care of them. She would calm the little monsters if they didn't eat her alive first. He should help her, he realized, and he would if it weren't for all the tubes all over him, and that his family needed him, and --


The thoughts vanished as though they'd never been, and Kevin felt tired, so tired. But he didn't remember doing anything particularly exhaustive. A vague sense of unease rolled through him. It didn't make sense that he was so tired, yet he felt like he had when he'd studied for exams in university -- as though his mind had been working overtime. He looked down the long, narrow hallway to the door and determination grew within him. Something was behind it, he was sure of it. It felt huge, whatever it was, and terrifying, but if he wanted an answer he'd have to seek it out and face it. He began walking again.


Again? Had he been walking? he asked himself. He thought he might have been. Yes, he had, he silently replied, before the... the... Well something must have stopped him the first time. It struck him as odd that he couldn't recall what it had been -- that he couldn't recall much at all. Maybe opening the door would explain that too. He picked up his pace.


A small boy appeared in the hallway to his left. Kevin stopped short in surprise, then watched the child pull something out of his pocket and get down on his haunches. Carefully and precisely, the boy placed stones of different shapes and lengths on the floor, then looked up at Kevin and smiled. Intrigued, yet not wanting to get sidetracked from the door, Kevin merely nodded in response. The child looked sad then, but Kevin steeled his heart and walked on.


Rahshen grunted at this surprising turn of events, then furiously got to work inserting the image of the man's ex-wife wherever possible; it consistently produced the strongest emotion in his prey and distracted him from the door. But the dreamer was constantly being pulled away from 'her' by the remaining lost dream images, so he was also kept a mental eye on the progress of the rest of the dream bubbles. As soon as each reached a critical size, he 'called' it back to himself and inhaled it. Eating them one after another was giving him the biggest rush of his existence. So close, he was...so close... Soon, he thought, he would be tasting the best one of all.


*


She was everywhere Kevin turned. Maybe, he thought, it was a sign that all was not over between them. They really could work it out. Things were certainly going well. They were at the cabin now, a place they both loved, and they weren't arguing. He handed Jennine a drink and used the opportunity to enfold her in his arms from behind, look out at the night sky with her. It was full of stars, and absolutely gorgeous. But not as gorgeous as the look in her eyes when she lifted her mouth to his; it was all he'd ever dreamed of seeing there again. He claimed her lips gently, then looked back out at the water with a deep, contented sigh.


They didn't talk much, but there didn't seem to be any need to. Instead, they stood on the grass as they were, and watched the sky rapidly lighten. To Kevin's surprise the boy from the hallway appeared on the bank before them. Like before, the child pulled stones from his pocket, got down on his haunches, and started arranging them. Kevin watched him for a moment, strangely drawn, but unwilling to leave Jennine. Slowly, as if sensing his indecision, she pulled his arms from around her and stepped away.


Outside of the dream, Rahshen quivered in anticipation. Finally, after all his hard work, the human was right where he wanted him. He gave him a little push to speed things up.


Kevin stared at Jennine, then at the boy, then back to her. She was encouraging him to move if her small shove was anything to go by. Then she made shooing motions at him, leaving no doubt in his mind. He went to the boy. "What are you making?" he asked him. It was long and narrow whatever it was, and so familiar. The boy didn't reply, but kept on with his creation. Rocks in the sand, that were slowly but surely forming a shape Kevin knew. An aeroplane. It was an aeroplane. Just like the ones he'd made as a child.


In the sand. With rocks.


He used to love doing that. In fact, he'd sort of imagined way back then that he'd grow up and build real ones. Life had intruded of course, and taken it from his mind. And then he'd met Jennine, fallen in love, and the last of it had gotten lost in trying to make her happy. For what? he thought wryly. She'd left him anyway.


Kevin took a good look at the boy beside him, his mind so much clearer now, and knew he was looking at himself. He turned to Jennine to tell her what he'd discovered and found her hanging over him. He rose at the look on her face.


"And now you are mine."


Her demeanor was smug, so smug, and her voice.... it was not her usual voice. She spoke in a sort of purr -- low-pitched. In dawning horror Kevin realized where he'd heard it before. The door in his mind flung wide open then, and he felt sick with fear. As if in accord, the sky around him began to swirl alarmingly. Giant, smokey tendrils formed out of nowhere and began to encompass the cabin, the lake, them. He saw a way out and turned to run.


"Oh no, you don't," the Jennine who was not really Jennine at all growled, clamping down on his shoulder with amazing strength. "I want you to see your dream disappear, feel it. You deserve it after what you did to me, what you stole."


Kevin struggled to untangle his shirt from the creature's claw as it floated them up into the sky. It had dropped all pretense now and was in its true form. "'Stole'?" he said. "What do you mean, 'stole'? I didn't steal anything. You attacked me in my bed and I defended myself! So you bled a little. I bled too. Let's call it even. You can let me go, leave and never come back. I won't say anything to anyone about your existence. I don't even know what you are for God's sake!"


Rahshen shook him. "Oh no, we are not even. You owe me a meal!"


"A meal?" Kevin cried, bewildered and terrified all at once. He was trying desperately not to turn around and cling to the thing at this height. "What are you talking about!"


"I am a Dream Eater," Rahshen roared, "a collector of dreams, and you have destroyed part of my collection!"


All the pieces fell into place. The blue orbs he'd destroyed, they hadn't been blood at all, but dreams. Kevin looked at the sky. And this was one of them, come to take his dream away. He looked down at the small figure below. He would be eaten along with it. Would he feel it? Would Kevin, the grown man, remember any of it if his child self were consumed? Not likely, he realized. And he'd only just discovered how much it all meant to him so he wasn't really willing to let it all go just yet.


Which meant there was only one thing he could do now: fight. And if this was all a dream...


Kevin imagined his shirt gone, and suddenly he was free-falling through the sky. It was a terrifying feeling, but accomplished in seconds what he'd hoped for. He gasped in air and sat up in his bed, wide awake. Above him, the Dream Eater roared.


"You think you have won?" it demanded in a low, sinister voice a moment later ."You have won nothing. Eventually you will fall asleep, and I," -- it leaned in so close Kevin choked on the stench of its breath -- "will be here when you do."


And it vanished.


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