The Sandman's True Colors
Amelie, a specter, is finding a way to get some sleep, even though she doesn't need it at all. She is on a quest to meet The Sandman, who is well-known for being cold and devious. To find out why Amelie needs sleep, what lengths she has gone through to get some sleep, and how did she meet The Sandman, read the short story below.
I haven’t slept properly in over a week. I know I don’t need sleep because I am one of the undead. I am neither a zombie nor a vampire. I am a specter. Most of the living and undead creatures I have met don’t understand why a specter like me would want to sleep.
The reason is simple... I make a living by being curious.
I know what you are thinking. How can someone make a living out of being curious? What is the significance of needing sleep to be curious?
I will try to explain this in a simple way. If I am continuously curious, I will be able to tackle any subject with rigorous research and tests. The results of tackling a subject must be known and published in the “Library of the Betwixt”. I will be paid 5 to 6 aurum coins by the head librarian, Cato, every month.
In a nutshell, you could call me a researcher. I mostly research humans and animals from alternate worlds.
As for the other question, sleep is essential to me because most of my ideas and revelations come from my dreams provided by the cold and devious Sandman.
To transport myself to where the Sandman is, I have to sing the song of the “day”. I sang “Mr. Sandman by The Chordettes” exactly 10 times before I got transported to where they were.
This time, however, something was different. Instead of finding myself before the Sandman, I was transported to their secretary. Before I could even ask a question, the secretary, Ms. Twinkle, told me that the Sandman had returned to their sleeping fortress.
“It’s not possible to wake them up unless you go on a quest,” Ms. Twinkle says without looking up from her typewriter.
“What quest?” I inquire excitedly.
“A quest to schedule an appointment with me at the earliest possible time. After I mark down your appointment to their schedule, you can have an audience with them”, she tells me in a deadpan manner.
I was hoping for more of an adventure. Alas, I have settled for this kind of quest instead. I guess it is better than nothing.
“Alright. What is the earliest possible time I can meet them?”
“Hmmm… Let’s see. Ah! The earliest possible time you can meet with them is after having 100 dreams.”
“100 dreams?!?! Are you insane? You must be joking,” I scream so loud that my voice echoed throughout the halls.
“I beg your pardon,” Ms. Twinkle finally looks up and is taken aback with what I have screamed.
“Sorry. I am terribly sorry for my outburst. Is there any way I can see him today or tomorrow night?”
“No”, she scoffs.
“Come on, Ms. Twinkle. Pretty please give me another way to see them. I know that out of all the secretaries out there, you are the best,” I plead by putting my hands together.
“Dear, thank you but I have already heard that compliment 2,924 to 4,386 times already,” she tries her best to look unimpressed, but I could see her muscles trying not to smile.
“Please, Ms. Twinkle. I will do anything in order to meet the Sandman,” I plead again.
“Really? Are you sure? Dear, you better not be playing games with me.”
“I cross my heart and hope to die.”
Once I said those words, she stood up from her seat and put her hand over my mouth.
“What the heck are you thinking, Dear?!?!”, she exclaims.
“I wanted to show you how sincere I am by crossing my heart.”
“You know the consequences of crossing your heart. You might really die from it, if you don’t keep your promise,” she says it with a stern expression.
“Ms. Twinkle, I am already dead,” I interject.
“Ooh… Aah…”, she is trying to clear her throat and compose herself.
“Okay. If you really wish to see him. You’ll have to do something for me... Now, tell me how to summon Sir Peregrine,” she says in a hurried tone.
“Do you know how to write a Haiku?”
“Yes, I know how to write one.”
“That’s all you need to summon him. You can figure out how many haikus you need and what themes you will use. See, I told you that I keep my promises,” I say while elbowing her side.
“Alright. Alright. Alright. Since you have kept your promise, I will tell you how to wake them up,” she annoyingly says.
“Wake them up?!?! I can’t wake them up. You and I know what happens if we wake them up.”
“Yes, wake them up.”
“Will they be angry if I wake them up?”
“No, they will probably put a curse on you and everyone you love and care about.”
“Then, why are we doing it?!?!”
“Don’t worry. This method of waking them up will not disrupt their sleep. All you need is to find a contraption among the other “collectibles” they possess.”
“What kind of contraption is it?”
“It is a powerful contraption that can customize someone’s dream by using the remaining tears of the Sandman.”
“Wait, how will that help me? Ooh… I get it now.”
“If you get it now, then hurry along.”
“Hurry along where?”
As I say those words, she vanishes into thin air. When I look behind me, I see mountains and mountains of different things, from a broken ceramic teacup to a Jar of Nightmares.
In the middle of the pile, there lies a contraption, which I can’t see properly. I have to move forward cautiously. I need to make sure there are no traps hidden. When I thought I had succeeded, I tripped on a red-haired ragdoll. Everything seems to be in slow motion as I trip down to the floor. The glass pedestal, where the contraption is supposed to be on, tips to the right side and falls. There was a loud bang, reverberating through the end of the halls, and then the pieces scatter all over the place while the contraption slides down to another hall.
Geez, how many halls does this place have?!?! I keep on waiting for something horrible to happen, but nothing really happened. I finally released the breath I didn’t know I was holding.
“Strange. How come a prized contraption by the Sandman doesn’t have any hidden traps or alarms? Well, c’est la vie, I guess for now,” I thought to myself.
I stand up and brush myself off. Then, I head down to the other hall, which was plastered with an array of different animated mosaics from the ceiling to the floor. Each one has a color scheme that ranges from dark blue to gold.
I don’t know where the lights are coming from, but I am mesmerized that each mosaic was emphasized by the lights. As I go deeper down the hall, creatures from the mosaics try to make exaggerated gestures of “DO NOT GO DOWN ANY FURTHER!” I try my best to nonchalantly brush it off, but I feel an impending doom growing stronger deep down at the pit of my stomach. Still, I keep on looking for the contraption, but I don’t see it anywhere. I start to have doubts and worries.
Did I miss anything? Is the contraption hidden beneath the mosaics? Did one of the creatures from the mosaics take it and hide it away from me? Should I go back and never return? What if I won’t be able to find it? Will I be able to keep my job? How many coins do I have in my bank? Is it enough for me to survive, until I find another job? Will anyone accept and hire a specter?
My doubts and worries were interrupted, when I bumped into a golden, huge, and heavy metal door.
“Oof”, I grunt.
I was too caught up in my doubts and worries that I didn’t see it! A specter can talk and move like a human being, except we can materialize in different forms from swirling mist to an orb and we can pass through and possess many things, such as walls, ceilings, living and undead creatures, and etc. Anyway, let’s go back to the story.
I have to be prepared or else I won’t be able to pass through the door. The worst case scenario would be getting stuck between the doors for a long time.
I try to calm down my doubts and worries by focusing on what could go right instead of what could go wrong. Easier said than done, I resort to folding 10 traditional Japanese paper cranes to regain my focus and calm everything down inside my head. It was helping me a little bit. Moment of truth, I did some deep breathing. Then, I pass through the door smoothly.
“Yes!”, I exclaim.
I shouldn’t have exclaimed so loud. Big mistake… I saw a shadow looming over my shadow.
“WHO DARES TO WAKE UP, THE SANDMAN?!?!”, they said in a deep and menacing tone.
I turn to face the Sandman. They look at me closely with slightly red eyes and grit at the sides of their eyes upon waking up.
“You dare to wake me up from my slumber, specter. Hmm… It is the first time a specter woke me up. Now, why did you wake me up? You better have a good reason or else I will make sure that you and everyone you love and care about will be cursed,” they said in a cold and calculating yet curious manner.
I gulp and try to open my mouth, but no sounds escape my lips.
“The Sandman, I am… very sorry...rry-to-to-to-wake you up,” I nervously said, phantom tears starting to form in my eyes.
“Anything else, before I curse you and everyone you love and care about?!?!”
“Please, The Sandman. Don’t curse, Aurelie! She is already going through too much already.”
“You think that will work on me.”
“Instead of putting a curse on her, put it all on me. I am the one who woke you up, not her.”
“Why would you go through such lengths to protect her? Why, WHY, WHHYYY!!!”
“Because she is the reason why I am still here in Limbo. Without her, I would have gone already to Hell and suffer a terrible consequence of losing who I used to be, who I am, and who I might have become! DO NOT DARE HARM HER IN ANYWAY OR ELSE I WILL DRAG YOU TO HELL MYSELF!”
Clap, clap, clap… I hear from the shadows. I try to discern who was clapping by squinting my eyes to no avail.
A smaller version of the Sandman emerged into the light.
“Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! Finally, someone has a chivalrous attitude! I have been waiting for someone like you,” the smaller Sandman said with vigor.
“Wait… What is happening? I don’t understand who you are and why you are clapping. Did you say you are waiting for someone like me?” I said in a confused state.
“Kiddo, I am THE SANDMAN. This fellow right here is my secretary. He is a Puca, the ultimate shapeshifter, named Gallagher.”
“Nice to meet you, Miss Specter. I am sorry for scaring you…” Gallagher said shyly.
“Name’s Amelie. Not specter,” I angrily said to them.
“Look, kiddo. I know that you are angry that we pranked you, but it is the Sandman’s duty to do it.
“Your what?!?! Duty to scare anyone out of their wits! Duty to deceive anyone!”
“Now… Now… Kiddo, calm d...”
“MY NAME IS NOT KIDDO! IT IS AMELIE! DON’T TELL ME TO CALM DOWN!”
“Okay, I understand what you are going through.
“No, you don’t understand at all.”
“Let’s sit down and drink some tea. Gallagher, please bring us some tea.”
Gallagher goes straight through a secret door, while the Sandman sits on a chair opposite mine. I sit down, not because he asked me to but because I am too mentally and emotionally tired from going through such an ordeal.
The Sandman cleared his throat and said, “I am really sorry for scaring and deceiving you. I am not asking for your forgiveness. I am just asking you to lend me even just one ear.”
“Why do you want me to listen to you?”
“I will explain why you have to go through it.”
“I am listening.”
“I made a deal with Nightmare. A deal where I have to do this and spread rumors on how cold and devious I can be to prevent him from making every creature have their worst nightmares appear in their dreams every time they sleep.”
“So… you stained your own reputation and character just for others’ sake.”
“Oohh… Is there anything I could do to help you?”
“Amelie, after what I have done to you, you still want to help me?”
“Well, not everything is black and white. Besides, I have calmed down.”
“I am sorry, Amelie, but there is nothing we can do about this situation.”
“No buts…” the Sandman interjected.
A teacup appears in front of me and Gallagher pours the tea, while we sit quietly.
“Drink this cup of tea. It will help you to sleep and dream.”
“How did you know what I needed?”
“Remember Ms. Twinkle?”
“Did she tell you about me?”
“No. Not Ms. Twinkle. Gallagher told me.”
“I am sorry, but I am confused.”
“Remember that Gallagher is Puca, a shapeshifter?”
“The Sandman, thank you.”
“For what, Amelie?”
“For being selfless.”
“I thank you for being selfless too.”
“Don’t thank me. I don’t think I am selfless.”
“After what you have done, you have proven yourself selfless.”
“I really don’t think I am selfless. What if I am just doing these things to please you and to garner praises from Aurelie and others? Isn’t that selfish?”
“Amelie, you started with what if. You didn’t start with “I am”. Remember what you always keep trying to tell yourself and do some other things to distract from those thoughts”.
“Not all thoughts are true.”
“That’s correct. I know it is easier said than done, but I will try my best to always remind you through your dreams. Take this package. It will help you sleep and dream.
“Wait. How will I be able to go home?”
“Just sing the song that transported you here.”
“Okay. Thank you for explaining your side of the story and being ‘hospitable’. Goodbye”, I waved at the Sandman, before singing “Mr. Sandman by The Chordettes”
“Not goodbye. See you later, Amelie. Sleep tight. Sweet dreams. Don’t let the bedbugs and nightmares bite,” the real Sandman said to me as I was singing the song of the “day”.