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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Horror/Scary · #2319442
Morpheus blows radiant Sands of Infinite Slumber at people, to send them into a coma
Morpheus, the Maker of Dreams, had returned. He was walking slowly along Theobald Street, Glen Hartwell, not far from the railway station, when the three teenagers spotted him from across the road.

"Hey, look at the old dude in yellow," said Ace, a tall lanky sixteen-year-old with long shining black hair.

"It's mustard, not yellow," corrected his would-be girlfriend Krissy, a short, freckle-faced fifteen-year-old redhead.

"Mustard's a shade of yellow," insisted her older brother, Karl, a short, fat seventeen-year-old. He never missed an opportunity to show up his little sister.

"Leave her alone," instructed Ace, the leader of the pack.

"Wonder what he's got in his handbag?" said Karl, to draw attention away from himself.

Looking around Ace and Krissy saw that the grey-haired man was carrying a drawstring bag, also mustard yellow.

"I've heard of colour-matching your clothes," said Krissy with a snicker: "But this old dude has overdone it."

Starting across the road, Ace called out: "Hey, Old Dude, wait up."

Hearing the youth, Morpheus stopped and looked around.

"Are you addressing me, young master?"

"Young Master?" said Karl with a snicker.

"Yeah, Pops," said Ace, making Krissy and Karl chortle: "Whatcha got in the bag?"

"This, my curious friend?" asked Morpheus, holding up the drawstring bag: "Why, nothing but sand."

"Sand?" asked Ace in disbelief.

"More accurately the Sands of Infinite Slumber."

"The what...?" asked Ace. He looked around at Krissy who was the brains of their group, but she merely shrugged at him.

"Allow me to demonstrate," said the old man.

Undoing the drawstring, he lifted a small amount of radiant yellow sand from the bag. Lifting his hand to his face, he blew gently upon the radiant sand, which wafted across to Ace, shimmering like Tinkerbelle's pixie sand.

"What the...?" asked Ace, mesmerised by the shimmering sand as it moved ever so gently across to him.

Then when the powder reached the teenager, he started to yawn uncontrollably.

"Jesus, I'm so tired, all of a sudden," said Ace.

Finally unable to keep his eyes open, he managed to half sit, before falling to the footpath, unconscious.

"What the fuck did you do to him, you old arsehole!" demanded Karl.

By way of an answer, Morpheus blew some of the Sands of Infinite Slumber across toward him. The teenager started by yawning, then was unable to keep his eyes open, and finally fell to the footpath beside his leader.

"What have you done!" demanded Krissy, before the old man blew some of the radiant yellow sands toward her.

"Just demonstrating the power of the Sands of Infinite Slumber," said Morpheus as Krissy fell over to sleep beside her brother Karl, and leader, Ace.

"Goodnight sweet princes, and princess," said Morpheus, before drawing the string on his bag and continuing upon his way down Theobald Street.

Terri Scott, Colin Klein, and Sheila Bennett were in Terri's police-blue Lexus heading down Mitchell Street, Glen Hartwell a couple of hours after breakfast.

"Gawd what a boring day,' said Sheila yawning widely. At thirty-five she was the second-top cop in the BeauLarkin to Willamby region; an orange-and-black-stripe haired Goth chick. She was also the designated driver of Terri's car.

"Don't start jinxing us, Sheils," said Colin Klein. At forty-eight he had recently retired after thirty years as a top London Crime reporter and was employed by the Glen Hartwell Police Force, as well as being engaged to Terri.

"Yes," said Terri Scott. A tall attractive ash blonde, she was the top cop of the area and boss to both Sheila and Colin: "We've just finished with that Syrian murder business; we don't need you wishing another goofy case down upon us."

"When have I ever done that?" demanded the Goth chick.

"Like plenty of times," insisted Terri.

"And somehow your wish always comes true," insisted Colin: "And we end up with another goofy case we have trouble explaining to Russell Street."

As though in agreement with him, Terri's mobile phone suddenly chimed. Pressing the connect button, she said:


After a couple of minutes, she disconnected and said: "That was Jesus, they've found three teenagers sleeping on the footpath in Theobald Street."

As Colin and Terri looked at her, Sheila said: "There's nothing goofy or supernatural about that. As long as the Victorian Government keeps wasting seven billion dollars on the commonwealth games, before pulling out, there are going to be kids sleeping in the streets."

"Except these kids aren't street kids," said Jesus Costello (pronounced 'Hee-Zeus') twenty-odd minutes later. At forty-eight he was the administrator and chief surgeon of the Glen Hartwell and Daley Community Hospital: "Krissy and Karl Hunt's parents are wealthy investors, and Arthur 'Ace' Hynde's father owns his own building firm."

"Had they run away from home?" asked Terri.

"Not as of this morning when they all had breakfast at the Hynde family home in Wentworth Street."

"Have you managed to wake them?" asked Colin.

"Not so far,' said Topaz Moseley, a gorgeous thirty-something platinum-blonde nurse.

"So they're in comas rather than just sleeping?" asked Sheila.

"Yes," agreed Tilly Lombstrom: An attractive fifty-something brunette, she was Jesus's second in command: "And people don't usually just fall into comas for no reason."

"It happened to legendary singer, Jackie Wilson," pointed out Sheila: "He was performing live on stage in 1971, singing and dancing, when he suddenly just fell to the stage. At first, people cheered, thinking it was part of his act. Then after a couple of minutes, his backing singers went over to check and found he had fallen into a coma while singing and dancing. He stayed in the coma for twelve years before dying in 1983, without ever waking up. And they never found out why."

When Jesus, Tilly, and Topaz turned to stare at her, Sheila explained: "Hey, there ain't much about the 1950s through to the 1980s that this little chickadee doesn't know."

"Strange but true," said Colin, making everyone laugh.

"Okay, on rare occasions people fall into comas for no obvious reason," conceded Tilly: "But not often."

"I'll settle for that," said Sheila, making them laugh again.

Morpheus, the Maker of Dreams, was walking along Wentworth Street, not that far from the G.H. Hospital when the two scruffy-looking men came out of the alleyway, almost colliding with him.

"What ya got in the bag, old-timer?" asked Billy Holland, a tall anæmic man with blond hair, which was blackened by the filth of sleeping outdoors.

"Nothing to concern you, my curious friend," said Morpheus.

"Curious? Are you saying I'm strange?"

"Not at all; I merely remarked upon your curiosity toward my bag."

"He's taking the Mick, cut him, Billy," said the second man, a short half-breed Aboriginal man who called himself Teeoh, for reasons that nobody knew.

"Gonna cut you, old-timer," said Billy. He withdrew a rusty Bowie knife from his ancient army coat, and held it out expecting the old man to show terror; to beg and plead even.

Instead, Morpheus calmly said: "No need for that, I'll gladly show you what I have in my magic bag."

Undoing the drawstring, he took out a small handful of the radiant yellow sand.

"Is that gold sand?" asked Teeoh, eyes gleaming almost as brightly as the yellow sand.

"No, it is the Sands of Infinite Slumber."

"The what of which?" demanded Billy Holland. Although he was still holding the rusty Bowie knife, he was no longer waving it about menacingly.

"The Sands of Infinite Slumber," repeated the old man: "Allow me to demonstrate."

He quickly blew some of the sand toward Billy, then toward Teeoh.

"It's like that stuff in Yellow Beard with Tinkerbelle," said Teeoh.

"I think you mean Peter Pan," corrected Morpheus as the two thirty-something would-be-muggers started to yawn widely.

Soon they were struggling to keep their eyes open. They finally fell forward, for a moment holding each other up, before finally collapsing together onto the footpath, arms and legs entwined like lovers.

"'Curiouser and curiouser' said Alice," said Morpheus, before tying the drawstring on his bag, then turning to walk away down Wentworth Street, enjoying the sweet smell of pine and eucalyptus that wafted in from the neighbouring forest.

At the Glen Hartwell and Daley Community Hospital, Jesus Costello had made a breakthrough of sorts while hunting through patient records on the BeauLarkin to Willamby Medical Data Base:

"I should have known about this," he apologised to Terri and the others: "But it was a little before my time. Back in the early 1960s nearly two hundred people in and around BeauLarkin were victims of an unknown plague, and mysteriously went into comas"

"For how long?" asked Terri Scott

"Forever. No one ever awakened."

"What was the cause?" asked Colin.

"They never found out," said Jesus: "People were going to sleep for weeks. Then suddenly the so-called plague ended, but the people never awakened. After sixty years many of them have since died. But there's still nearly a hundred on life support. Originally they were kept at the BeauLarkin General. Then when it closed, some were transferred here, others to hospitals in Melbourne, even a few to Sydney and Brisbane."

"And there were no clues to what had happened?" asked Sheila.

"A number of people reported seeing an old man dressed in a mustard-coloured suit, carrying a drawstring bag talking to some of the victims before they fell into their comas. Lawrie Grimes, head cop in the area at the time, investigated, but couldn't track down the old man ... then the so-called plague stopped and the old man stopped being spotted."

"As though he somehow caused the plague, then went away again, so the plague stopped," suggested Colin Klein.

"Possibly,' said Jesus: "But don't quote me on that."

"I wonder if we can find Lawrie's notes on the police database?" Terri thought aloud.

"We're talking early 1960s," pointed out Colin.

"Who wants to spend days hunting through paper files in those three old filing cabinets in Mitchell Street?" asked Sheila unenthusiastically.

"No one, but I see file hunting in our future, as Doris Stokes might well have said in this situation," said Terri as they headed towards the elevators.

After a couple of hours of searching, they managed to find the ancient yellowing notes that Lawrie Grimes had left behind on the BeauLarkin Coma Case, as Lawrie had titled it.

"That would make a good title for a Vera episode," said Sheila, as they set out to read the lengthy notes.

"Quiet, Cleopatra," said Colin.

By the time they had finished, they had learnt little more than what Jesus Costello had already told them.

"I don't suppose Lawrie Grimes is still alive?" asked Colin.

"Yeah, he recently celebrated his one-hundredth birthday," said Terri: "In a Sale hospital. He's been gaga for the last decade or so."

"He wears a nappy now, which they empty out whenever he drops a load," said Sheila: "It ain't a pretty sight."

"What about his second in command at the time?" asked Colin.

"Mel Forbes," said Terri: "Yes! Mel's still alive, he turned eighty-nine a short while back, and the last time I saw him, he still had his full faculties."

"Then let's go see him," said Sheila.

As Terri, Sheila, and Colin arrived at Mel and Darlene Forbes' villa house in Westmoreland, ambulances were arriving at the Glen Hartwell and Daley Community Hospital with Billy Holland and Teeoh, found sleeping in the streets.

"Two more for you," said Derek Armstrong, tall black paramedic, as he and his boss, Cheryl Pritchard wheeled the stretchers up to the wards.

"So it really has started again," said Jesus Costello.

"What?" asked Cheryl, a tall athletic woman of sixty-three.

"The Coma Plague from sixty years ago."

"Hey that would've made a great title for a New Tricks episode," said Annie Colfax, the Nurse-in-Charge, a short blonde in her late thirties.

"So, who are these two?" asked Jesus, looking at the two men without recognising them.

"The white bloke's named Billy Holland," said Derek: "The black blokes called Teeoh."

"Teeoh, that's not an indigenous name?" said Annie.

"It's a nickname he calls himself,' said Cheryl: "No one knows why. Considering he's usually doped up or zonked out on booze, he probably doesn't know why himself anymore."

"Well, let's get them both on life-support," said Jesus.

Over at the Mall in Boothy Street Glen Hartwell, Morpheus had just entered and walked past Lulu Wellins, at the checkout counter.

"Hey, nice mustard-coloured suit, mister," said Lulu.

"Thank you. Most people wrong call it yellow."

"I work in a supermarket, sir. I know the difference between yellow and mustard," explained Lulu, a petite pixie-cut brunette, as Morpheus blew some Sand of Infinite Slumber into her face.

"Nightie night," said Morpheus before stepping into the aisle behind where Lulu now slept.

Seeing Mary Matfield, a tall beautiful blonde, wheeling a triple-width pram, with her triplets, the old man walked across to her and said:

"Nice day."

Before blowing the sand into her face, sending Mary to sleep.

Ignoring the three little blonde girls, he continued down the aisle to where two obese men in football gear were debating-arguing the merits of Australian Rules Football, versus Rugby.

"Rugby's just a group of incredibly fat men, carrying an incredibly fat football as they waddle down an incredibly fat paddock before, for reasons no sane person can understand, doing a Belly Wacker in the mud," said the Aussie Rules fan.

"Aussie Rules is just ærial ping pong," said the Rugby fan: "It's a kiddies' game, not even a real sport."

"Personally, I prefer sleeping," said Morpheus; before blowing a handful of the radiant sand toward the two men, who were soon sleeping soundly: "That's one way to end an argument peaceably."

He continued on to where three school kids, wagging school, were chewing gum from a pack they had opened without bothering to take to Lulu to pay for.

"I hope you plan on paying for that gum?" teased Morpheus.

"What's it to you, Grandpa?" asked a tall thin ravenette, who called herself Raven.

"Just asking," he replied, blowing the sleeping sand into their faces.

As they fell asleep, Morpheus continued on along the aisle. He stopped as he saw an old man trying to pick up a young girl.

"Naughty naughty, she's under-aged," said Morpheus.

"Get stuffed Pops, it's none of your business," said the girl. Just before he blew some sand at them, sending the young girl and old man to sleep. "Hopefully I saved her virtue ... but I doubt it! She's probably been selling herself on the streets since she was seven years old."

Over the next ten minutes or so, Morpheus continued around the mall, really just a two-storey supermarket, before people started noticing the sleeping beauties.

"What'll we do?" asked a young blonde teen.

"Better call triple-oh," said her grotty-looking brother.

"Good idea," agreed Morpheus, before sending them both to sleep.

Then, wisely, he decided it was time to make his departure.

Over at Westmoreland, Terri and co were welcomed inside the rustic-styled villa house by Darlene Forbes, a tall, thin eighty-two-year-old woman, with bobbed grey hair.

Seated on a grey armchair in front of the telly with a can of Victoria Bitter in his right hand was her husband, Mel. A tall stocky grey-haired man, with a Sergeant Carter-style brutal crew cut.

"Terri, Sheils," said Mel: "And who's this?"

"Colin Klein," he introduced himself: "I just started with the force."

"He's a fast worker," said Sheila: "He's already bagged Tare, and now they're engaged."

"Sheila!" said Terri.

"Congratulations," said Darlene.

"Fast worker is right,' said Mel, smiling: "Beer anyone."

"No, we're on duty," said Colin.

"We came to ask you about one of your weird cases from yonks ago," said Terri.

"Oh, we had plenty of those, Danny Ross, Terry Blewett, and me."

"No, when you were with Lawrie Grimes," said Sheila.

"The only weird one we had with Lawrie was the BeauLarkin Coma Case, as Lawrie called it."

"That's the one," said Terri and Colin together.

"Have you read Lawrie's report on it?"

"Yes, but it didn't add much to what Jesus Costello had already told us, from the hospital records."

"Well, then you know that people fell into comas which they never came out of, and that people saw a bloke in a mustard-coloured suit talking to some of the victims before they went down. One witness swore he heard the man call himself Mobius. But I think it was probably Morpheus."

"I've heard that name before somewhere,' said Terri.

"Morpheus in mythology is supposed to be the Maker of Dreams, who lives in the Land of Dreams. He carries a drawstring bag from which he takes a radiant yellow sand, which he blows into people's faces to send them to the Land of Dreams.

"Well, anyway we put all our people out on twelve-hour shifts for a month, including extra cops we managed to borrow from Sale."

"We stick our necks out and call through to Russell Street when we need extra help," said Sheila.

"How does that work out?" asked Darlene.

"I get shouted at a lot by the big bass from Melbourne," said Terri: "Nowadays when I ring them, they put me straight through to the Assistant Commissioner, who seems to shout louder than any of his underlings."

"Anyway," continued Mel: "We caught sight of Morpheus just twice. Both times he ducked into alleys and just vanished ... we don't know how."

"Drop scones, anyone?" asked Darlene, holding out a large plate of hot buttered Scotch pancakes.

"Thanks, Dahls," said Mel, helping himself to three of the drop scones.

"Don't mind if I do"' said Sheila, as she and the others each took two."

"Yum, these are delish," said Terri.

"Yes," agreed Sheila: "I'll have to get Mrs. M. to make me some."

"Deidre can be stubborn about her cooking habits," warned Darlene.

"Yes, but I'm her fave," said Sheila: "Besides, I'll be roundabout; I'll say, 'Darlene Forbes gave us some delicious drop scones.' Then she'll make us some just to prove she can make them better."

"Nothing like taking advantage of your fave status," teased Darlene, making them all laugh.

They had just returned to the Lexus when Terri received a call about the comatose victims at the Glen Harwell Mall.

"Boothy Street, Sheils," said Terri disconnecting: "He's struck at the Mall; forty-three people down this time."

"Wow that blows the others out of the water," said Colin as the car took off.

When they arrived at the Mall, three ambulances were parked outside the main doors; and three others had already left with victims.

"He's been busy this time," said Elvis Green, the local coroner. Nicknamed due to his devotion to Elvis Presley; and his long black sideburns.

Walking inside the Mall, they saw the checkout counter vacant.

"Lulu, was their first victim, we think," said Tilly Lombstrom.

"His," corrected Colin. He went on to tell her what Mel Forbes had told them about Morpheus, the Maker of Dreams.

"Oh no," said Sheila: "Who'll take care of Woof." Referring to the petite brunette's massive Bull Mastiff.

"Well, Lisa Williams has become good with dogs, after looking after Don's dogs, Slap, Tickle, and Rub, for weeks," said Terri, referring to the fiancée of Officer Donald Esk who was in hospital recovering from radiation sickness: "Maybe she'll help out."

"When is Don due home?" asked Sheila.

"We're releasing him sometime next week," said Tilly: "Possibly earlier if the hospital gets too full up with coma victims."

"Then we'll give him a couple of more weeks of unofficial sick leave while he's home being nursed by Lisa," said Terri.

"It's a damned good thing you two work hundreds of Kays from Melbourne," said Tilly: "You'd both be for the high jump if Russell Street found out about even half of the liberties that you take."

"We prefer to call it looking out for a fellow officer in arms," said Sheila.

"Exactly," agreed Terri.

"Don't look at me," said Colin: "After six months in the Glen Hartwell area, I still don't believe most of the things these two get up to."

The next morning at 9:05, forty or so people were waiting at the Glen Hartwell Railway Station in Theobald Street. Although due at 9:00 the train from Melbourne was rarely on time.

Stanlee Dempsey, a tall dark-haired bull of a man, was driving a police-blue Land Rover past the railway station when he saw Morpheus enter the single-platform station. Having been advised by Terri to look out for an elderly man in a mustard-coloured suit, he parked the Rover across the road from the station and rang through to the Mitchell Street Station.

"Don't tackle him unless he attempts to leave the station," said Terri over the phone: "If we're lucky he's waiting for the train. Since it's never on time that gives us a good twenty minutes to get there."

"Morning all," said Morpheus walking onto the platform. He decided to start before the train arrived; although he did hope to get the passengers as well.

Walking across to three thirty-something, fashion model-thin women, he blew some of the Sands of Infinite Slumber at them.

"Wha...?" said one of the women, before all three of them collapsed to the platform.

"What happened to them?" asked the Station Master seeing the three women.

"They're having a slumber party," said Morpheus as the man walked across to them.

"What...?" asked the Station Master before Morpheus blew the sand into his face too, sending him to sleep lying with his head on the shapely backside of one of the three women.

"That's highly inappropriate," teased Morpheus. He walked across to three elderly ladies all dressed in thick winter dresses, even though the really cold weather had not started yet in Victoria: "Morning ladies, said the old man dipping an imaginary lid to them."

"What a gentleman," said one of the ladies; just before he sent them all to the Land of Dreams.

Yes, thought Morpheus: But I think it was Rita Hayworth who said, 'A gentleman is just a wolf in sheep's clothing!'

As he walked along the platform, three burly labourers in brown overalls and brown leather work boots turned around and saw the sleepers at the entrance end of the platform.

"Hey, what happened to them?" asked one of the labourers.

"I did," said Morpheus, before putting them to sleep also. He continued to walk along the platform, putting people to sleep, until forty-one people lay sleeping upon the bitumen-covered platform.

Looking back at the sleeping beauties, the old man said: "I really love my work!"

It was 9:28 AM with no sign of the Melbourne train when Terri's blue Lexus arrived parked outside the railway station.

Seeing Terri and Co. alight from the Lexus, Stanlee Dempsey walked across to them.

"Is he still inside?" asked Terri.

"Sure is. He put everyone to sleep quickly, then stayed ... so he must be still waiting for the train."

"Thank God for the ever-unreliable Vic Rail's joke timetable," said Sheila.

Inside the railway station, Morpheus was starting to get impatient.

"It's supposed to have been here by nine o'clock!" he said angrily.

He waited until 9:45 AM then, with a frustrated sigh, he turned and walked along the platform toward the chain link gate.

"Surprise," said Colin Klein as Morpheus stepped out of the station. The redheaded man snatched the drawstring bag from the Master of Dreams.

"Damn you!" said Morpheus: "Are Victorian trains always this unreliable."

"Yes," said Sheila: "One thing you can always rely upon is the unreliability of Vic Rail trains."

Colin opened the drawstring bag and took out a portion of radiant yellow sand. He blew the sand at Morpheus, who immediately vanished.

"Did you get him?" asked Terri: "Or did he vanish just in the nick?"

"I vanished just in the nick," said Morpheus's voice out of nowhere: "Now you can either wait for my return in another sixty years, by which time you will all be ancient, or dead ... Or you can have the guts to use the Sands of Infinite Slumber upon yourselves and chase me through the Land of Dreams."

When the three police officers hesitated, Morpheus taunted: "Chase me if you dare!"

"We dare," said Sheila.

"But not just yet," corrected Terri: "First we need to get onto life support at the G.H. Hospital, and give Stanlee instructions on what to do if anything goes wrong."

"Why Stanlee specifically?" asked Colin.

"He's next in charge of the area after me then Sheils."

"You told me I was ahead of Stanlee."

"Yes, but I had to keep you placated till I got a ring on my finger," said Terri, holding up her left hand.

"Sneaky, sexy cow!

At the Glen Hartwell and Daley Community Hospital, they struggled to convince Jesus Costello to go along with their plan. Finally, however, he came around.

"I'm still not happy about this," said Jesus, as he, Tilly Lombstrom and Topaz Moseley set up the life support equipment, including putting catheters into their arms, to feed them.

"I'm not happy about .. ouch! ...getting a catheter put into my arm," responded Sheila Bennett.

"Don't tell me we've finally found something you're afraid of, Sheils?" teased Topaz.

"No! I just hate needles."

"Well, that's different," said Topaz, making them all laugh.

Once they were all attached to the equipment, Terri said: "Okay, Jesus, put us to sleep."

Rather reluctantly, Jesus reached into the drawstring bag and extracted some radiant yellow powder, which he blew at Sheila first, then Terri and Colin.

In the Land of Dreams, they found themselves in a world of pink skies, blue grass, and different coloured doors floating just above the ground, without being attached to any wall or building.

"Which door do we try first?" asked Colin, looking around at the seemingly hundreds of blue, green, yellow, orange, red, or purple doors.

"Here's an easy way to find out," said Sheila. She walked between two of the floating doors and stepped behind it: "Hey, there's nothing here, just an empty field."

"You cannot reach what lies behind the doors, without going through the doorway," explained the Voice of Morpheus.

"Trust you to make things difficult," said Sheila as she returned to Terri and Colin.

"So what do you suggest?" asked Colin.

"Red's my lucky colour," said Sheila, leading the way toward the first red door.

Shrugging, Terri and Colin followed after her and stepped into a verdant forestland, except with blue grass and yellow trees.

"You know," said Sheila: "This Land of Dreams is nothing like the one that H.P. Lovecraft, then Brian Lumley wrote about."

"Although," warned the Voice of Morpheus from out of nowhere: "If you open the wrong door you could find yourselves face-to-face with Great Cthulhu, Haster-the-Unspeakable, Nyarlathotep, Yog-Sothoth, Night-Gaunts, Shoggoths, burrowers beneath, dholes ... you name it."

"I used to play with dolls as a girl," joked Sheila, drawing frustrated looks from Terri and Colin.

"Even after Millennia visiting your kind, I will never understand what passes as humour amongst you mortals," said the Voice of Morpheus.

Ignoring him, they continued through the forest, until hearing movement not far ahead.

"Follow me," said Sheila.

"She's determined to prove she's still brave after that needle fiasco at the hospital," teased Terri.

"Hey, so I'm afraid of needles ... Dholes and shoggoths don't worry me."

Finally, they came to a clearing where a group of topless natives stood around a cook fire, roasting a large carcase.

"They look friendly enough," said Sheila: "Just like indigenous Aussies."

"I wouldn't bet on it," warned Colin.

At the sound of their voices, the natives turned to face the intruders. Then one by one they opened their mouths to a seemingly impossible width to reveal row after row of long, shark-like teeth.

Only then did Terri and Co. notice that the roasting carcase was that of a headless man!

As the natives began to squeal-whistle in an incomprehensible voice, Colin said: "Time to make a strategic retreat."

"Or we could stay and fight," said Sheila, reaching down for her handgun; only to find both the gun and holster were missing.

"Ah-ah, can't let you have an unfair advantage," said the Voice of Morpheus.

"This bloke is really starting to shit me," said Sheila as she reluctantly turned and raced after Colin and Terri.

Squeal-whistling at a higher pitch than before, the cannibal warriors started to race after them, as the three cops desperately raced back through the forest the way that they had come. Just hoping that they could find the door to the outside again.

As they finally approached the door, the warriors began hurling long, steel-tipped spears at them; one of which crashed into the red door, fortunately without penetrating it.

"I hate running away," said Sheila, as Terri and Colin reached the door just ahead of her.

Relieved that the door opened, Terri raced out followed by Colin, then a reluctant Sheila.

Pulling the door closed again, Colin said: "Here's hoping they can't get out."

"They can't even see the door, let alone leave through it," said the Voice of Morpheus: "That world is their totality."

"So which door do we try next?" asked Sheila: "By the way, red is no longer my favourite colour. I'm tending more now toward turquoise or burnt umber."

"Then let's try a nice, soothing amber-coloured door," suggested Terri, leading the way.

As soon as they entered the wooded glade, they could hear 'Let the Sun Shine In," blaring out of the sky, as though from invisible loudspeakers.

They had barely set out, when they came to a large clearing where hundreds of teenagers and young adults sat around on blankets, smoking marijuana cigarettes or from glass bongs. They were dressed in psychedelic robes or jeans and tie-dyed shirts, sitting before a large stage where a hippy band was performing.

"Hey, the sixties lives on," said Sheila.

"If they start singing 'the Age of Aquarius', I'm outta here," teased Terri.

And as though hearing her, the band, The Lonely Hearts, started singing "This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius, the age of Aquarius, Aquar-ee-us."

"As you requested, M'Lady," teased Colin.

Hearing them, some of the hippies turned round and saw them.

"Cheese it, the fuzz," said a girl, looking no more than twelve, but clearly an experienced bong user.

Terri and the others looked down at themselves to confirm they were still wearing their police uniforms.

"Relax, hippy dip," said Colin: "We're not here to bust everyone."

"The name's Bunny Hops," said the girl, making them laugh.

"How did you get that nickname?" asked Sheila, between laughter.

"It's my real name! My parents are idiots, okay!"

"They must be," agreed Terri.

"So what do you squares want?" asked Bunny.

"We heard the nice music and came to listen," lied Colin.

Looking puzzled, the hippy dip said: "It's not often squares like good music."

"We don't all listen to Charleston Charlie," teased Colin, drawing a puzzled look from the girl.

"Who's he?" asked Bunny: "Does he have his own group like the Dave Clark Five or Herman's Hermits?"

"Something like that," agreed Colin, trying his best not to give it away by laughing. However, Terri and Sheila had to turn away so that the girl couldn't see them grinning idiotically.

"Well, take a seat or hit the beat," said Bunny.

They were still trying to decide what she had meant when The Lonely Hearts started singing, 'The Eve of Destruction'.

"I think we'll hit the beat, Bunny. Nice talking to you," said Terri, as the three cops turned and ambled back toward the amber-coloured door and out into the Land of Dreams again.

"See ya!" called back the hippy dip.

"So what now?" asked Sheila: "Do we keep trying every door until doomsday?

"Let's try one more coloured door, before deciding," suggested Terri.

"Okay, but if we find Great Cthulhu playing with his Dholes, that's it for me," said Sheila.

"What about green," suggested Colin: "That's a nice safe colour."

"That's what I thought about red," said Sheila. Nonetheless, she followed Terri and Colin across to the nearest green door.

Inside they found themselves at a beach with sparkling orange water and pink sands. Seemingly hundreds of surfer dudes and surfer babes were carrying their boards, or riding the waves.

"Hey dude and dudettes, strip to the max and start hanging ten," said a blond surfer dude coming over to them.

"Man I'm amped to see you hot wahinis," said the surfer dude to Terri and Sheila.

"He said you're lookers," translated Colin.

"Don't be a Barney, dude."

"Sorry," said Colin; not sure what he'd just been accused of.

"You three Bennies?" asked the surfer dude.

"He means not from around here," explained a redheaded surfer babe: "Lonnie likes to impress people with his hip surfer speak."

"Don't be a Barney, Lola," said Lonnie.

"So, you lot from around here?" asked Lola.

"No, we're from way, way away," said Colin.

"Just came to check out the waves, this time," said Terri.

"Next time, we'll have our boards with us," said Sheila

"Full stick or clam draggers?' asked Lonnie.

"Clam draggers are bodyboards for chicks," explained Lola: "For dudes, they're called dick draggers."

"Definitely full stick," insisted Colin, trying not to laugh.

"Gnarly," said Lonnie, waving as Terri and Co. turned to head back toward the green door.

"Bye," said Lola, waving.

"Hot wahinis," said Lonnie, watching Terri and Sheila walking away.

"Concentrate on the surfing, bro," said Lola.

"Relax, bra," said Lonnie.

Outside again, Terri and co. considered their options.

"Let's try one more door," suggested Terri.

Walking across the 'corridor' she opened a bright purple and green-spotted door.

Inside they found it was a moonlit night, with a full blood-red moon shining down malignantly upon them as though the Man in the Moon had gone mad.

From close by they could hear a strange whishing noise, like the night ocean, although they seemed to be to be in a wooded area with no smell of the ocean or any waterways.

They heard a strange croaking, gurgling voice, followed by insectile chittering as something very heavy approached, making the ground tremble beneath its leviathan-like bulk.

Overhead they heard monstrous croaking and saw something night-black as large as a dinosaur, but vaguely elephantine in shape pass in front of the blood moon.

"Something tells me we should hightail it out of here before Great Cthulhu shambles up with his complete set of Malibu Stacy Dholes," said Sheila, trying her best to keep the fear out of her voice.

As a hellish shrilling started up in the treetops not far away, Terri said: "I think you're right, Sheils."

With that they hurriedly retreated to the purple and green door and hurried outside, slamming it shut behind them. Seconds before something heavy slammed into the door, making it shudder, although thankfully holding up against the assault.

For a few seconds, they thought they heard frog-like croaking as something vast slopped-loped-crawled away. Then blessedly the sounds of silence took over.

"Okay," said Colin: "I vote we forget about the varicoloured doors and start searching elsewhere for old Morpheus."

"Good thinking, if belatedly," said the Voice of Morpheus: "I could have told you that at the start ... But thought it would be more fun to let you risk your lives wasting time hunting through the doors."

"Don't suppose you'd tell us how to find you?" asked Sheila.

"Ah ... now that would be telling," he said before falling silent again.

"So, which way, Chief?" asked Colin.

Terri looked about herself for a few moments, then pointed down toward the direction that the doors followed, saying:

"If the doors are just a distraction ... which is what he seemed to be saying ..., maybe what we need to find will be past them."

"Good thinking Tare," said Sheila as they started to quick-march down the long row of doors toward whatever lay beyond. She started to sing: "We're off to find the Wizard, the Chunderful Wizard of Oz."

"If she starts skipping along, I'll kill her," teased Terri.

It took a couple of hours to get beyond the 'corridor' of doors, by which time they were down to slow walking, then another hour or so to reach the end of the blue-grass forest, where they saw a gigantic radiant yellow castle. But not a true castle, rectangle, made from bluestone bricks on one level; rather a Disney-style multi-turreted, multi-storeyed castle.

"'Curiouser and curiouser' said Alice," said Colin as they approached it.

"Either Disney invented Dream Land, or one of them plagiarised the other," said Sheila: "My money's on Morpheus ripping off Disney."

"Real-life castles are so boring and grey," said the Voice of Morpheus: "I liked Disney's multi-turreted design and borrowed it."

"You do know Disney sues at the drop of a hat?" teased Sheila. However, she got no response: "I think I may have miffed him."

"Miffed him off big time," agreed Terri: "I wonder if we'll have to fight our way inside?"

However, as they approached the castle, they saw the drawbridge conveniently lowered.

"Welcome to my parlour," said Colin as they started to cross the drawbridge.

He half expected it to suddenly raise, throwing them in the orange-water-filled moat. Or else for the portcullis to roar down, locking them out, or even killing them with its spiked bars. However, they managed to enter the castle without anything untoward happening.

Inside they found a traditional mediæval castle, complete with silvery suits of armour, military pendants from various nations hanging from the ceiling, and paintings of ancient, and mostly homely aristocrats in mediæval clothing.

"A ghouls' gallery," said Terri: "I just hope Mavis Dracula doesn't appear to welcome us."

"Why not?" asked Sheila: "Mavis is the best character in Hotel Transylvania. Besides, her married name is Mavis Dracula-Loughran."

"Trust you to know that," teased Colin, as they started down a corridor, complete with more doors.

"Not more bloody doors," said Terri. However, this time the doors were all amber or white.

"Don't worry, there are no monsters within these doors," said the Voice of Morpheus: "That doesn't mean, though, that there is nothing behind the doors that can kill you."

Inside the first door they tried, they found a wall-to-ceiling length black-wood cupboard - in fact everything in the room was painted black Inside they found numerous unmarked two-litre sized stoppered glass jars, full of different coloured powders.

"Some powders will wake the sleepers," explained the Voice of Morpheus: "Others will kill their souls, so their bodies will barely be alive; others will do nothing. Each colour has a different meaning."

"Hey, it's just like Alice in Wonderland with the little bottles marked 'Drink Me', 'Snort Me', "Shoot Up On Me'," said Sheila.

Ignoring her, Terri asked: "But you're not going to tell us which coloured powder does what?"

"No. In a movie or story, they would be conveniently labelled to make your job easy. But I found it wiser to colour code them and memorise which coloured powder does what. Makes my job easier, and yours much harder!"

"If only we knew where the souls are?" said Terri.

"You will find souls of the sleepers through any of the amber doors," answered Morpheus.

"How do we know we can trust you?" asked Colin.

"Why should I lie? You have no way to wake them. And if you did, I could always sneak up on you and destroy your souls, while you were doing it."

"If the others are sleeping?" asked Sheila: "How come we aren't?"

"I've let you three stay awake in the Land of Dreams so that we can have some sport ... hunting each other."

"In some ways, he's just like a human," said Sheila.

"Yes," agreed the Voice of Morpheus: "I've noticed how you humans have a love for blood so-called sports."

"He's got our number," agreed Terri.

Taking two of the jars each, Terri, Sheila, and Colin headed back out into the corridor and stepped across to the first amber door. Inside they found 'sleeping' people from babies through to ancients, each on their own cot. With the rows of cots seeming to go on for infinity in each direction.

"Uh-oh, this could take till doomsday," said Sheila goggling at the seemingly myriad sleeping souls.

"Let's start with the youngest first," suggested Terri.

"What if we kill them with the wrong coloured sand?" asked Sheila.

"Maybe we should test on the ancient ones," suggested Colin wisely.

"Good idea," said Terri: "Who wants to be first?"

"Me, I suppose," said Sheila.

She was carrying a jar full of pink powder, and a jar full of cobalt-blue powder. Putting down the jar of cobalt she removed the stopper from the pink powder and went to reach inside.

"Ah-ah," warned the Voice of Morpheus: "Some of the powders can melt your skin away at the touch."

Thinking for a moment, Sheila tipped the jar up until some of the powder flowed out, then carefully blew the pink grains into the face of an ancient elder.

Who cried out, as though awakening, then exploded into black smoke.

"Some of the powders are explosive," said the Voice of Morpheus.

"Thanks for warning us!" said Sheila angrily, feeling that she had murdered the ancient man.

"Don't worry," said the Voice of Morpheus: "He had been here for centuries and was well and truly dead."

Placing the jar of pink powder near the wall by the door, Sheila picked up the jar of cobalt blue powder and asked:

"Does anyone else want a go?"

"Okay," said Terri.

She handed a jar of lilac-coloured powder to Sheila, then removed the stopper from a jar of orange-coloured powder. She followed Sheila's procedure of pouring some of the powder into the air, then blowing it onto the face of an ancient.

Who opened her eyes, smiled broadly, then slowly swirled up into the air and vanished from sight.

"I might have found the right one," said Terri.

"It's not that easy," said the Voice of Morpheus: "That one releases their souls to go up to Heaven; which is fine for the ancients. But for the younger ones, you would be sending their souls to Heaven while their bodies are still alive on Earth."

"Well, at least we can release the souls of the ancients," said Terri.

She walked across to blow some of the powder into the faces of two more ancients, both of whom smiled at her and then swirled ghostlike up to Heaven.

"All that's fine, babe," said Colin: "But since there are gadzillions of them, we really should be trying to free the younger ones, who might still be alive, first."

"Good idea, lover boy," said Terri.

She walked across to place the jar of orange powder by the wall near the doorway. Then she took a jar of red-coloured powder from Colin, leaving him with a jar of green-coloured powder, and said:

"Your turn, honey."

Following the example of the women, Colin unstoppered the jar and blew some of the green-coloured powder onto an ancient. Who immediately started shaking furiously from side to side for a moment, before imploding into a mound of grey ash.

"Green doesn't always mean safety," said the Voice of Morpheus with a sadistic chuckle.

"Very funny," said Colin, placing the jar of green-coloured powder beside the jar of pink-coloured powder near the amber door.

Returning, he took the jar of lilac-coloured powder from Sheila, leaving her with the cobalt-blue-coloured powder, and said:"

"Your turn, Sheils."

"Here goes nothing," she said, walking across to one of the ancients.

Repeating the procedure, she blew some of the powder into his face. The old man opened his eyes for a few seconds, looking puzzled; and then closed them again as though nothing had happened.

"Oh, too bad," taunted the Voice of Morpheus: "So close and yet so far."

"I'm really starting to hate that bloke," said Sheila.

"Temper, temper," teased the Voice of Morpheus.

"You're not the only one," said Terri.

She unstoppered the jar of red-coloured powder and blew some upon the face of one of the ancients. For a few moments nothing happened, and then he burst into flames, shrieking shrilly as he burnt away to ashes.

"If this takes much longer, I'm gonna end up at the Shady Rest Sanatorium in Westmoreland," said Terri.

"Then, we can share a room there, babe," said Colin, walking across to one of the sleeping ancients.

"Hopefully we can get a three-bed room there," said Sheila.

"Sheils, you know what they say about three being a crowd," said Colin, just before blowing some of the sand into the face of the ancient.

"This time the ancient opened her eyes, smiled and swirled up toward the sky again, on her way to Heaven."

"It's the same as the earlier lot," said Terri.

"Not necessarily," said Sheila.

"I think she's right, we may have struck gold," said Colin. He shouted to Morpheus: "Is that right, you old fart?" He handed the jar of lilac-coloured powder to Terri, saying: "Here, babe, start awakening them."

By way of answer to Colin's taunt, Morpheus suddenly appeared, in a blinding flash of radiant white light, temporarily blinding Sheila and Colin; who both fell to their knees crying out in pain.

Before they could recover, Morpheus quickly doused them both in the radiant yellow sand and in seconds their bodies dematerialised, then reappeared upon cots left vacant by ancients sent to the afterlife.

"You have all done remarkably well," taunted Morpheus: "But you didn't really think that you could actually defeat me ... Morpheus, the Maker of Dreams ... did you?"

"One lives in hope," said Terri.

Putting down the jar of lilac-coloured powder, she crept across to where the souls of Sheila and Colin were now sleeping; just hoping that Sheila still had the drawstring bag with the sleeping powder inside. Seeing that she did, Terri ripped the bag from Sheila's uniform and leapt backwards falling onto her backside, but avoiding the wisp of yellow powder that Morpheus had blown toward her, having seen her intention.

"Clever cunt," said Morpheus: "Now we are even."

"No, mate, you're definitely odd," said Terri.

Not bothering with subtlety, she threw a handful of the radiant powder straight at the Dream Maker's face.

"Temper, temper," taunted Morpheus.

"Temper, temper yourself," said the ash blonde: "I'm perfectly calm. I don't see any point in wasting time on subtlety with a dip-shit like you."

As she spoke, she threw another handful of powder at the old man, forcing him to duck, so that the powder he was readying to throw at Terri fell harmlessly to the floor. And making him almost drop his own drawstring bag of yellow powder.

"I'm starting to really hate you, Bimbostein!" he said.

"Sticks and stones, Nowhere Man," said Terri.

She began to hum the Beatles's 'Nowhere Man' as she started after Morpheus, who for the first time in millennia found himself back-peddling. No longer the offender, but now the defender as Terri determinedly moved in for the kill.

She threw another handful of radiant powder just missing Morpheus. Who, however, in his desire to escape her, fell into an aisle between rows of sleepers.

Before he could recover she emptied her sack of sleeping sand full onto his face.

"You cunt!" were his last words before dropping into eternal sleep.

"Oops, I'll need this, said Terri.

She raced across to snatch up the jar of lilac-coloured powder...

Just before waking up in bed beside Colin in the Glen Hartwell and Daley Community Hospital.

"You're awake," said Topaz Moseley, pushing the emergency button to call more staff in.

Sitting up slowly, Terri used a little of the powder to revive Colin, then went across to awaken Sheila.

"Tare, I had the strangest of dreams," said Sheila. She stopped as she saw the two-litre glass container of lilac-coloured powder.

"Sometimes fact is stranger than dreams," misquoted Colin, slowly sitting up.

"So you're back," said Tilly Lombstrom coming into the ward.

"Yep," said Terri holding out the glass jar: "And this should wake the sleepers; old and recent."

"Gee, the old ones will be pissed when they find they're now ancient," said Topaz following Tilly out into the corridor.

Terri quickly related to Sheila and Colin what had happened after Morpheus had sent them into full sleep.

"Well, if Doofus is now in eternal sleep?" asked Sheila: "Does that mean that no one will have any dreams anymore?"

"Ask me again after I've had a good night's sleep," said Terri. Then she and Colin returned to the bed to snuggle up.

"It's all right for you," said Sheila: "Some of us have to sleep alone."

"Then go out into the big wide world and find yourself a man to snag," said Colin Klein.

"I wish I had some of that sleeping sand, to make it easier to snag them," said Sheila, making them all laugh.

© Copyright 2024 Philip Roberts
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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