Dwelling in Sleep, Part 2

So here is Part Two! I will now be working on the NaNoWriMo story primarily now, so I won’t be posting much.

 

I slipped on my bathrobe and burst out the door.

I heard someone stumble downstairs and exclaim.

Tying the cord around the robe, I rushed down the stairs.

Isaac stood gaping at me.

“Fist eight forty-five yesterday, now eleven thirty?” This is crazy! I knew we were up late last night, but still,” he trailed off, not finishing the sentence. I had an odd feeling, but couldn’t explain why.

“Is Samuel back?” I asked.

“Not that I’ve seen, anyway. You could check his room, I suppose.”

I nodded and walked back up the stairs. I took a left at the top, instead of the normal right I took to go to my room or study.

I had only once before been in Samuel’s room, just after we moved in. Most of the time he kept the door locked.

I tried the handle, and it worked. I slowly opened the door, now wanting to wake him if he was in there and sleeping. Then I remembered the time and decided to just go in, and that if he were still sleeping, he would probably want to be woken up anyway.

His room was sparsely filled. He only had a bed and one partially-filled bookcase inside.

But he was nowhere to be seen in the room.

I stepped back out of the room and closed the door with a clock.

For some reason, I found myself relieved to get out of the room.

Confused and concerned, I went back downstairs.

“He isn’t there,” I said somberly to Isaac. “I’m concerned.”

“Don’t worry. I guess I’ll make some breakfast…er…lunch, I suppose.”

“Thanks. I guess I’ll just…” I looked around, trying to find something to do.

“Sit down. You need to stop worrying about him. It’s no different than any other time he has gone.”

I know, I though. Why am I worrying so much this time?

I, under guidance of Isaac, sat down at the table.

“I’ll be bringing out sandwiches in a moment. Just relax,” Isaac said.

I closed my eyes and tried to relax. In a few minutes, Isaac came out of the kitchen bearing two plates, each with a sandwich.

He set one plate in front of me, then sat down across from me with his sandwich.

“He will probably be home soon. Don’t worry.” He bit into his sandwich, chewed, and swallowed. I slowly picked mine up and bit into it. My spirits lifted slightly.

“I really don’t know why I have been so concerned. It just seems different this time.”

Isaac was eating, so he just nodded.

I began to take another bite, but as soon as I had sunk my teeth into it, the door opened and Samuel walked through.

I threw the sandwich down onto the plate and rushed over tot him. In the exhilaration of seeing him again, I hugged him, then took an awkward step backwards.

“I…am just happy to see you safe. I was concerned.”

He looked gravely at Isaac and I. “And well you had reason to be. I’m guessing you both woke up just a little while ago, even later than yesterday?”

We both nodded.

He sighed. “I have to talk to you urgently, about why I was gone and what is happening.”

Isaac and I looked at each other in shock; Samuel never talked about why he had been gone.

He beckoned us upstairs. Isaac left his sandwich, and, along with me, followed him up the stairs.

Samuel went into his room, and, once we had both gotten inside as well, he shut and locked the door.

In that moment I realized that the same circle from the book of Samuel’s was drawn into the back of the door, a place I couldn’t have seen it earlier that morning.

“That symbol…” I said quietly, looking at it.

Samuel gave me a surprised look. “You know of the Areathen? How?”

“I saw it in a book of yours last night. The one you left downstairs. I’m sorry,” I admitted.

“No, no, that’s fine. I was surprised, is all. Anyway, about everything that has been happening,” he began.

“I suppose I will start with why we have been sleeping in strangely recently. There is…something in this house that has been feeding on our dreams. During the night, it leeches off our sleep, and, in turn, makes us sleep longer. It does this gradually, adding a few hours everyday. But if not stopped, it will continue to do so until we fall asleep eternally and it feeds off of us forever, keeping is in an unconscious state. I don’t know where this being lives during the day, but that is what I want us to find out. We must destroy this thing before it does so to us.”

“But how can we destroy something that is able to feed off of sleep?” I asked.

“I know how to. I am more than you know I am. You know those three years I was gone a while back?”

I thought back in pain to a time many years ago when Samuel had vanished for three years. Isaac, Samuel’s family, and I searched desperately for him, but had never even found a clue to his whereabouts. He had been proclaimed dead a month later. But at the end of three years he returned, refusing to say anything about where he had been.

Isaac and I winced and nodded.

“During that time, I studied an ancient art. A very dangerous art, too. It was magic relating to dreams and horrifying creatures of nightmare set loose upon the earth, the real world. When I returned, I hoped to never need to use it, for the danger involved is great.

“I came here with you two, hoping to find this place as a respite. But somehow people who knew of the dream world found me out and some would ask for help. Those were the times I disappeared for a few days on end. They would pay me greatly for saving them from whatever terror ailed them, and this was how I earned money.

“I came to both of you in your dreams last night.”

Isaac and I looked at each other, nodded and looked back as Samuel.

“I was waking you up. The being was hungry, and, seeing as how I wasn’t there, was feeding more heartily on you two last night. Who knows how long it would have kept you asleep had I not interfered.

“Just to show you the affect the dream world and its arts have on this world: The Great War was first caused my a misuse of the arts, at the end of the twenty-second century.

“This caused great war in both the real world and the dream world. Everything was devastated, in both worlds. Technology reverted back to somewhat what it was in the early twentieth century.

“But anyway, this being in the house found me out as well. Many of his kind I have killed to help people, but he is more powerful than any of the others, for he is there king. ANd I will need the help from both of you . But be warned: this creature does not attack physically. It affects your through your mind, creating illusions that slowly kill your mind, tricking it into making the fantasies real and therefore killing the body.

“Now please, come with me in searching for this creature of nightmare. I think it may be in the basement. Shall we go?” he asked, looking at us pleadingly.

We both nodded to him anxiously.

“Andrew, that circle you saw last night. It is important. It protects you partially from the attacks of the zhelesh, for that is the name of the creature. But do not speak its name more than is necessary.

“We can be protected by the Areathon by drawing it on our foreheads. This blocks one of the way that it is allowed into our minds.”

He picked up a pen and came over to Isaac, with me following.

“I can draw it for us. Other than that, you need not bring anything I will be the one to kill it. You will be there to support me. It will try to attack all three of us and will be weaker. I will use this weakness to destroy it. Oh, and why I was gone from yesterday to today: I was researching how to kill this nightmare. I already knew how to kill the proletarians of the species, but for a leader the method is different.”

He drew the symbol on each of our foreheads, then we set out.

“Andrew, can you look up in the attic for it? We will look around the rest of the house, then we can meet up in the mudroom before going to the basement, where I think it is.”

I nodded and started walking up the stairs, lost in thought. All of the mystery surrounding Samuel suddenly fell away. But it in no way decreased my fear for him, knowing what he was doing the times when he disappeared.

I went into the the main hall of the upstairs, where all corridors converged. There was a panel in the ceiling, which led to the attic. I pushed it up and to the side, and a ladder slid down automatically, another invention of Isaac’s. I climbed up it.

We had a small attic, and I looked around. There was a bed up there for no reason evident to me. I walked around the room, looking for anything mysterious. I didn’t see anything, so I climbed back down the ladder, pushed it up and slid the panel back over the opening. I then headed down the stairs and to the mudroom, where the small door leading to the basement was. Isaac and Samuel were already there.

“Find anything?” I asked.

“No. Did you?” Samuel responded.

“Nothing here either.”

We looked silently at the door going to the cellar.

“Here we go. Remember, don’t trust your eyes down there. I’ll tell you when I’m done. Before that, don’t follow me if I go somewhere, beckoning you. I have no doubt that it will try to ensnare you by giving that illusion. And another thing. It knows your dreams and your nightmares. It will try to use them against you. We should go now. Remember, you can trust all your senses excluding sight. That is the only one it can trick you by.”

He opened the door with a creak. Cold, musty air rushed up at us, smelling of death.

He turned on the light switch just inside the door and proceeded down the stairs, Isaac and I following.

“How long has it been since you two were down here?” I asked. “For me it was several months ago.”

“Same here,” Isaac said.

“I was down here a month ago, and didn’t see anything,” Samuel said.

We got to the bottom of the stairs and spread out slightly, looking around. The basement was well lit, but for one corner. And, looking in that corner, I saw a mass of shadow lurking there, a few tendrils reaching out.

“There!” I yelled, pointing.

Samuel was already rushing towards the mass. An arm reached out of the shadows and grasped around my neck, squeezing. I choked for air, gasping out for someone to help me. Samuel turned to face me. “It’s just an illusion. Focus on the fact that it isn’t there.”

I did so, and the arm faded away into nothingness.

Isaac cried out in terror, then I saw him close his eyes and take a breath. We started to walk towards Samuel, but stopped when he spoke.

“Wait.”

He was drawing a circle into the dirt floor near the shadows, a massive circle many more times intricate than the one I had seen in the book. When he had finished, he spoke in a tone of voice I had never heard from him before.

“Kelenirel, shakuntn, vethagran dafulin, czehen apurelein.” A glowing filled his hands and he started to bring his hand down onto the centre of the circle, but suddenly flew back several feet as if hit by something. I cried out to him, and turned to Isaac, but was affronted by Isaac walking towards me, a knife in his hand. The last few feet he ran, and plunged the knife into my gut. I coughed, and blood splattered onto the ground. He pulled the knife out and gave me an evil grin. My hands had gone to the wound, and I pulled them away, covered in blood.

“Why…” I stuttered. Then Isaac blurred suddenly, and I saw the real him looking at me, concerned. I took a breath and turned back to Samuel. His hands were still glowing and he had started back up and was crawling back towards the circle. He paused and winced once, but continued. He slowly reached out his and and struck the centre of the circle, yelling.

“Vurkerule!”

There was blackness, then a glowing purple grew where the shadow had been. It grew until it was unbearably bright. Then it exploded.

And we were left standing alone in the basement. In the corner where the shadow had been, there was only something small on the floor.

“It is over,” Samuel said, and breathed a sigh of relief.

We headed back upstairs.

The rest of the day was mostly uneventful. We finished our lunch, Isaac making another sandwich for Samuel, who hadn’t eaten since he had left the day before and was famished.

We played card games that afternoon, played music, and for a little while in the evening I wrote.

From then on, there wasn’t near as much mystery surrounding Samuel. That night, I slept soundly. No strange dreams. I woke up at seven o’clock to the smell of Samuel cooking breakfast.

We went back down to the basement the next day. The small thing that we had seen on the floor the day before where the shadow had been was a small black cube. Samuel took it, saying that it was the mark of the zhelesh’s king and that he would take care of it.

I never saw a trace of it again.

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