The Nightmare

by Alfred Brandis

Somewhere in the night, a mother was tucking in her little boy and kissed her goodnight over his forehead. Then she left the room, closed the door behind her, and went to her own bed. Not long after the boy was fast asleep.

            It was then, out of nowhere, the Nightmare appeared into the boys room. With his black robe and evil eyes, you could be sure it was the nightmare.

            He picked out some magical dust, as black as night, in his pouch and sprinkled them over the boys closed eyes. It was a magical dust that brought nightmare. In that moment, the sleeping child, unaware of the intrusion, had his nightmare.

            A middle-aged woman, with eyes as big as an owls, was reading the history of Egypt for her students. While the rest were listening to her, our dreamer was busy doodling over his notebook. The teacher noticed what he was doing, went across the classroom to his desk, and rapped the ruler she was always carried with her, barely missing his hand. Startled, the boy had pushed the pencil hard over his notebook and broke the lead. He hastily closed the notebook before his furious teacher could see it. She had seen it!

            What are you doing? the teacher asked angrily. Why arent you listening? Then she held her hand before him. Hand me your notebook, she added.

            But the boy stubbornly refused. She snatched it away from him forcefully. She leafed pages after pages. And then stopped! One page captured her attention. She wasnt angry anymore. She was mad. In the notebook was a caricature of her. She knew the drawing was her. Written below the drawing were these words: Im Miss Molly, the Monster. She was the only Molly in the room.

            The monster had big eyes and big mouth that bared with long, sharp teeth. And in the middle of her forehead was a horn.

            Boiling with rage, the teacher demanded: What is the meaning of this? the boy did not look at her. Look at me! she shouted. The boy obliged. He was shivering, not of coldness, but of fright. You insolent boy. Her cheeks turned red and green. Then a tusk sprouted in his forehead and her teeth were long and sharp and yellow.

            With her transformation, the whole class screamed and scattered out of the room. But the boy couldnt move a muscle. He wanted to scream but no sound came out of his throat. He was doomed. The monster was going to devoured him. The teacher opened her mouth, and grew bigger and bigger like a cave, until it was big enough to consume him whole.

            The boy tried to scream again. This time he could actually scream. The monster was gone. He bolted up in his bed. He had awakened before the monster could devour him.

            As to the Nightmare, he was chuckling diabolically to the product of his magical dust. Then he disappeared into the night before the childs mother entered her sons bedroom to comfort him.

            Not yet satisfied with his devilish scheme, the Nightmare, when he had left the screaming boy, materialized into someone elses bedroom. This time he was in a little girls bedroom. But she wasnt alone. Someone else was in the room, standing beside her bed. And the Nightmare knew the other visitor well.

            Hello. Brother, said the Nightmare.

Sandman turned his head over his shoulder. Arent you satisfied with your foolishness?

            Im just doing my business, said the Nightmare. Its my job to give children nightmare the way you give them good dream.

            Arent you feel guilty, said Sandman, frightening the children and giving them scream?

            I cant help it, said the Nightmare. You know that.

            Of course you can, said Sandman. Throw all your magic dust into the ocean.

            And then what? Give the fishes nightmare? he said jokingly. Children need a fright sometimes, he added. Im just a balance of an equation. You give them good dream and I give them bad dream.

            But not to the extent of killing them in their dream.

            Youre doing me an injustice, he said. Its not my fault they have a weak heart. Then surreptitiously, he put his hand in his pouch and produced some sand which he sprinkled over the sleeping girl.

            What did you do? asked Sandman. You are ruining my work.

            Just give her a little fright, is all. Then he vanished, leaving the Sandman with the little girl who had no idea something was going to happen in her dream.

            The girl was sleeping soundly, with a smile in her face, and was dreaming a wonderful dream. It was her birthday in her dream, though in real it was still three months away. She was in the living room, admiring the gifts she had received. The tabletop was covered with gifts all over. Some gift was over the floor and on the sofa. Excitedly, she opened a gift which came from form her aunt Lisa. It was The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Her aunt Lisa had given her a book because she knew she loved to read. She put the book beside her and opened another present. A gift from her Aunt Marissa. She torned the green wrappers away and found a red shoes inside the box. She fitted the shoe and found it fit. She put aside also.

            The next gift she was from her Uncle James. But before she could open it the Nightmare intervened in her dream.

            She ripped away the wrappers, excited to know the gift. She pulled the lid of the box, and then

            The box flew into the air and the snakes inside scattered out of the box and landed over the gifts on the table and on the floor. The poor child was screaming. Her mother and father and Uncles and Aunts and the neighbors ran to the living room from the kitchen.

            What happened? asked the worried mother.

            Snakes She pointed the snakes to them.

            Where did they come from? asked the father.

The birthday girl, who was clinging to her mothers arm, said that snakes were in his Uncle James present. Every one looked at him, accusingly.

            Im sure I did not put the snakes in the box, he said. I have no idea how it happened. My gift was a DVD. Her favorite. The Bridge to Terabithia.

            Who put the snakes then? asked the father. He backed away when a snake slithered toward him.

            But before anyone could guess, the snakes melted into a black liquid and the black liquid boiled into smokes and nothingness.

            Sandman left the girl in her bed after he had saved her from the Nightmares mischievousness.

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