Freighted With the Memories and the Dreams of Time
In any other circumstance, I would’ve never believed the letter I got from Gloria. “The dreams”, she said in her correspondence, “they speak of unknowable evil and have an undeniable vividness to them. I implore you to help.” Gloria was a writer, and in her work she often wrote of strange and off-putting things. We had shared a few experiences together in our fractured past and I rarely gave her ramblings more than a cursory glance, writing them off as fiction from a lonely soul.
I would’ve never believed her… had I not had the dreams myself.
I had a feeling we wouldn’t be able to take on a force of this magnitude ourselves, so I leaned on a bounty I had gone soft on earlier in exchanged for an unnamed favor. It was time to collect, and Skids was more than willing to oblige. He didn’t say as much, but I have a feeling he felt the same lingering terror that Gloria spoke about.
The first portal we came across proved to be no trouble to close from within. After dispatching of the unsuspecting cultist I can only assume was responsible for opening it, Skids had gone in himself with the usual disregard to his safety I had observed and somewhat grown to admire. Minutes later he stepped out of the other side, visibly shaken as the rift in reality silently closed behind him. Thinking that was that, our group sent word of our success to each other in the party.
We resolved to meet in South America to celebrate our success, which was weird considering none of us were particularly fond of the continent. Once we arrived it was as if snapping out of a subconscious state - something in our minds had driven us to a remote location in the Amazon, and it was here we noticed another Gate. But this one was different; on the other side weren’t alien vistas, but rather a hazy familiarity that we all independently recognized. I was the first to arrive, and also the first to explore this new land. Here’s hoping there’s a way out on the other side.
The lady burst into the restaurant, going on about demons and dreams and the like, her voice quickly switching between whispers and shouts. The boss was quickly on the phone with the cops and I tried my best to calm her down into a booth to avoid her frightening the customers any more than she had. Gloria, she said her name was between breaths, was quickly taken away. Most would’ve left it at that and chalked it up to another strange day in the service business, but there was something about her that… made sense.
I later tracked down the institution Gloria ended up at and found her in a chair, staring blankly out a window overlooking a stark forest. “The books”, she said without me announcing my presence, “they’re the cause of all this.” Gloria told me of her writings over the years, of her adventure with two other men and their attempt to save Earth from The Dreamlands. And then she handed me a book that appeared to be in a foreign language, but flipping through its pages it was one I strangely understood. “The Book of the Dead” it was titled.
I spoke with Gloria of my own dreams, ones of a lone man taking on all sorts of other-worldly demons in various vistas, which she reconciled with her own accounts. We spoke for hours, and I left having earned her trust and a call to action; to reach out to one Skids O’Toole.
Skids, as he demanded to be called by all who tended to him, was one of the more difficult souls we’ve had at the monastery in awhile. When he was lucid, he was a belligerent fool demanding to be let go, insisting that he had important work to do. More often than not he was reduced to a delirious state, speaking of the “Madness from the Sea” and “The Dreamlands”. I haven’t shared this with the rest of the staff because of the madness of it, but my own dreams are starting to become more and more vivid with Skids’ descriptions. Obviously a side effect of working with such a troubled mind.
He often references one Tony Morgan in either state, demanding to speak with him. Assuming it was the closest thing to a next-of-kin that we’d receive from Skids, I had our office look into it. Turns out Tony had been committed himself around the same time as Skids, albeit in another hemisphere. Tony was found in a comatose state, completely unresponsive but still breathing of his own accord. He was found by a local gravedigger in Australia and promptly checked in to a hospital for observation and care. It turns out Tony is a well known bounty hunter; given Skids unknown background and general demeanor I can only imagine they were acquainted through conflict.
There wasn’t much left of Dad when I finally got around to seein’ him. A man I had grown to admire despite his distance, one that was viewed in the community as a strong, solemn man. Susie was always convinced that he would eventually catch something from his gravediggin’ job, despite my reassurances that he doesn’t actually handle the corpses. He was proud of his work, even though didn’t often talk about it. “Somebody’s gotta do it” he replied, knowing full well that people wanted to hear about it just as much as he wanted to talk about it.
So to see him in this state, restrained twice over to make up for his strength, violently pulling at the straps and yelling incoherent nonsense into the emptiness of the sterile room… I knew something had to have pushed him past his point, and that something was big. When he noticed my approach he suddenly became calm and a look of hope glinted in his eye. I did my best to listen to him; he implored me to seek the void, the Dreamlands, and that I was the last hope of the world. Any other person would’ve wrote off his words as lunacy (and several doctors had already), but I left that room determined to put an end to whatever had taken my dad away from me.
There had to be an explanation for this, I thought to myself. My analytical mind wouldn’t let me rest until I could reason with the recurring nightmares - always the same visions, monsters pouring out of rifts between realities. Normally I’d write these occurrences off to a scary movie from my childhood or a night of intoxication, but the dreams were recurring and relentless.
Normally I’m not a fan of the soft sciences but I leaned on some resources I had from earlier in my college days and learned of the theory of dream portals; links between the dream world and our own. After exhausting every viable cause this seemed to be the only reasonable hypothesis worth pursuing, so I find myself now traveling to South America. There was recent news indicating more and more were falling into an unresponsive comatose state for inexplicable reasons, which lined up with the theory of the effects the dream portals could have on the human psyche… wish me luck!
THEY ARRIVE JUST AS I AWAKEN, AN ODD SENSATION FOR ONE WHO WATCHES OVER THE DREAMLAND. THEIR ACTIVITY AND INSATIABLE VIGOR SURPRISES ME IN A LAND THAT HAS NOT SEEN NEED FOR ACTION IN MILLENIA. AN ARTIFACT IS FOUND, A MOVEMENT IS MADE, A FIGHT ENSUES. ALL FOR NAUGHT. THE PORTALS I USED TO GAIN PASSAGE TO THEIR MORTAL WORLD CLOSE AS GRADUALLY AS THEY OPEN. THEIR REALITY IS MINE NOW, LIKE SO MANY BEFORE THEM. THEIR SOULS LOOK TO ME FOR RESPITE. I REPLY.