The Island of Nightmares
Aliya strolled down the halls of clover tower, her hand gently running over the cool grey stone. She was wired right now, Gray having almost pushed energy into her their time together had been so intense. She headed for the top of the tower, liking high places and how the breeze would almost push you toward the edge. Maybe it would help settle her until she could pass some of her energy off to Nightmare.
As she passed through the glass doors leading outside, she spied him already there, cut out from the night, his hands braced against the stone guardrail. She had never seen him look so intimidating before. His eyes liquid silver as they fell upon her, his face serious and nearly cold. His grey hair stirred gently in the breeze, the long black jacket he wore mimicking the movement. He appeared almost sinister, making her shiver a little in trepidation. Aliya new that she never had to fear him, but in that moment, she fully realized he was something to be fearful of, the most powerful being in the land of wonder when at full strength. The strength she had been steadily giving back to him. Still, she refused to be unsure of him. She walked until she was just before him, waiting for him to speak.
He reached out and ran his fingers through her hair, not bothering to replace the eye patch he had taken off. He was tired of hiding what he was, so tired. True, he did have a humorous side, part of him vastly amused at the way people viewed him, never knowing the danger until it was too late. There was only one who knew his true purpose and they had kept each other’s secrets.
Only Gray had ever been as close to him as the woman who stood so carelessly before him, soft smile on her face as she waited upon him. He loved her, madly and deeply and that would never change. “Will you come with me, Aliya?” his voice low as he held out his hand to her. Without a word, she placed her hand within his, both fading from sight as his fingers curled around hers.
They appeared on a beach full of stark white sand, blinding with the thick black water that crested on the shore. It felt like powder to her bare feet as she looked up to see a world, twisted and menacing. There were trees with ebony bark and leaves of fall, orange and brown. Tangled bushes lined a barren pathway, their dark green leaves and twisted vines the perfect backdrop for blood red and deep violet flowers. Heavy silver mist clung to the ground, rolling away from them as he led her toward the center of the island. Unearthly howls and ear piercing screams came, followed by low growls and low whispers that seemed to follow behind them.
They came to a stop. In the very center of the island stood a great stone arch, marbled with black, white, and grey. Dark vines wrapped around it, blooming with more of the same flowers that appeared to glow in the murky atmosphere. Nightmare stood before it, the truth of him laid bare before her. His silver eyes flashed, a liquid silver filling the space between the chilly stone like a warped mirror. She waited patiently, knowing that he had a purpose in leading her to that place.
He turned toward her, his face a mask of frigidness, with only the burning silver of his eyes to give warmth. “Aliya, I need to tell you the full truth, of this place, and me.” He looked back at the arch, looking into the far away past. “In the darkness, red appeared. Swirling, pulsing, fear and anger feeding into it, the terrors of man forming to life, but trapped away from them. From this, formed the mother, essence of the land of wonder. In time and loneliness, she was able to form children, shaped like the human beings that had given her life, clocks for hearts so that they could be restored if they were ever broken. They were without faces and violently slaughtered each other for senseless reasons, but loved by her just the same. That was when she made the game and rules that her children would have to follow.” He paused, thinking. “One day, a man with a spark of enchantment in his soul, fell into this newly formed place. To him it was a place of wonder and his admiration charmed the mother. She pushed a part of herself into a faceless girl, giving her a new face and powers like none other, she became the first role holder, governing over the land of hearts, its first queen. He became her king, giving her a son. Together they ruled and Wonderland expanded like decks of cards, a thing the man had loved to play with. Until one day, a faceless dug out his heart for jealousy. The queen in her sorrow, took her own life, passing her face and position to another, leaving their son alone.
“Nightmare…” Aliya took a step closer to him. He held out a hand to stall her, needing to finish his tale.
“The first fading began. Having an outsider in wonderland, a dreamer as he had been, had fed power steadily into it allowing it to grow and to change. The small energy given off by the faceless was not enough even to sustain it. But, the child of the outsider and the role holder grew stronger every passing time change. She had had a purpose for him, a way to connect to the beings that made her with their weaknesses, fears and desires. The man had brought light as well to the world, softening its fearful edges, the monsters of the beginning fading away, their essence trapped on a very special island. There lay a pathway to the human world, to their nightmares, a way to feed, and a way to terrify. To this the boy was forever connected.”
“You cause nightmares in the human world?” she asked, trying her best to understand all he was telling her. It sounded like a fairy tale of old, made to frighten young children into staying in at night.
“Some.” He replied, “Only the extremely fanciful ones anymore. Most people hold enough terror in their waking world to haunt their dreams at night. Next, my trial came where I nearly killed the next two role holders and an outsider. Your fathers role was first held by a woman, by the by, and the queen that took my mothers’ place, and one outsider brought to the land of hearts by a vial of liquid dreams. Afterward, I created a softer way, the dreaming void, in memory of my father who loved fantasy so much.”
“The outsider?” Aliya asked, enthralled by all he had told her.
“Filled her vile and went home, vowing to forget the whole place and live her life as a normal woman.” Nightmare said absently, “However, from her sacrifice, a few of us role holders could sneak up to the world, oddly enough through a thinning of the veil in her back yard. Time passed, role holders changed faces and bodies until a curious rabbit by the name of Peter White, escaped his aggravation by slipping through and being a pet for a girl named Alice. For three human years, he spent countless hours with her, watching as she fell in love with her teacher and her heart break from losing him to her sister, the bitch that she was. He came to me and asked that I give him a vial, introduce her to the game. She was special, her dreams already helping to sustain wonderland, stronger even than my father had. So I agreed and helped him kidnap your mother, bringing her to Wonderland.” He laughed a little, “she certainly livened things up, so unpredictable. She was light in a dark world, trying to teach peace and showing caring to everyone. Then she goes and falls in love with the darkest one of us, the one whose nature is closest to those early creatures. Even his sister, who is the most violent queen hearts has ever had, is not dark like him.”
“There is light in him to, Nightmare, it’s just harder to see, but when it comes out, it burns brighter for all the dark in him. My mother said so and I know it to be true.” A shrill noise and a rumbling of the ground had her asking, “So what exactly lives here?”
His grin was positively wicked, “There are two Bandersnatch’s, one jabberwocky, one jubjubbird, several borogrove, gryphons, snarks and three boojum that originated in Wonderland. I particularly like sending them after the dreams of nasty people, like your aunt. There are some of human minds as well, monsters of all types. Here they have purpose, but cannot truly cause harm.” He trailed his fingers through the liquescent doorway.
“What would have happened if you had faded, Nightmare?” Aliya asked in all seriousness, thought she was sure of his answer.
“They would be free to haunt who they choose, however they choose. The dreaming void would collapse and Wonderland would fade until nothing was left but a new beginning, a new darkness.” He said calmly, walking to her side. “I am grateful to you, my love, more than you will ever know. When Alice was here, things got better, when she left, power left this world like sand through a broken hour glass. You saved us and most of this world will never know it.”
“Good.” She said, wrapping her arms around his neck. “I would hate to have people actually like me now.” She giggled. Aliya kissed him, feeding him energy in a hot rush.
He broke away gasping. Damn, the molten feeling went all the way to his toes. “Slower, darling.” He lowered his mouth to hers, slowly feeding her back some vitality to show her what he meant. If she had kept on that strong, he would have gotten scorch marks.
“Ummm.” She hummed in his mouth, taking over the kiss mimicking him. The problem was the longer his tongue fought with hers, the more hot lust filled her. Aliya drew back, nipping at his bottom lip. She had feed him enough to heal him and sustain him for a while. His fingers dug into her bottom, pulling her tight to his hardened body. She buried her face in his chest groaning, her body clenching painfully tight. “We have to wait, don’t we?”
“Unfortunately, yes. I am at full strength, but you are not. I will not risk draining you.” He said seriously.“Damn.” Aliya said as another crash was heard from the forest around them. She kissed him lightly, the taste of power absent, but the heat remained. “Then could you take me from this fucking creepy place, pretty as it is, and maybe feed me something?” His laughter echoed across the island long after he had wrapped her in his arms, doing as she had requested.