Somber Sleep

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Part 4

William had to call his mother with the Harris’s phone. She drove by and picked him up on her way home from work. The drive home was a silent one. His mother tried to start a conversation, but when she saw he was not up for it, she gave up. As they drove through the Tree Tunnel, the naked branches on the trees all looked like pale four-fingered hands reaching down for the car. William had to close his eyes until they made it through.

When they got home, William did his homework like usual and spent the rest of the evening in his bed, only coming down for dinner. Not even Taco Tuesday could cheer him up. His parents tried to talk to him, but he was distant and did not desire to talk to anyone about anything. After dinner he went back to his room to sit in his bed. He wanted to be alone because he felt alone.

There was no one William could go to who would understand his situation. The other children worshipped Mister Fumplestink. His parents would tell him that it was just a dream, that none of it was real. Dr. Jacob would just analyze everything he said, looking for some greater reason for it than it being the truth.

There was nothing he could do except sit in his bed and wait for the inevitability of falling asleep and going back to “Fumplestink’s Fun Emporium”. He knew that if nothing changed, eventually all his friends would end up joining Fumplestink in Dreamland or imprisoned in their own rooms. Deep within all this hopelessness was the feeling of guilt. William couldn’t help but feel responsible for the whole situation. He thought that if he had never entered the tent, none of this would have ever happened.

“William! Come take your medicine!” He heard his mother call him from down the stairs. He got up and slowly crept downstairs. That medicine was what made him fall asleep each night. Maybe if I don’t take it, I can stay awake. He took the pill and shifted it beneath his tongue. It felt uncomfortable and tasted funny, but at least he managed to avoid swallowing it. When he got back upstairs, he spit the pill out into his trash can, turned the lights out, and sat back in bed. He would not go to sleep that night.

Hours passed. He heard his parents make their way up the stairs to go to bed. When they stopped by his room to check in on him, he lay down to pretend to be asleep, so they would continue on without catching onto his plan. Exhaustion began to set in, but William would not give in. He would not fall asleep. Then he was in the field.

The field looked different this time. There was no tent. Instead there was a stage. The white shack he had seen with his father was in fine shape and there were other buildings near it. Near the buildings were a mass of cars parked in a section of field bordering the road. The sky turned from black to red, and he turned to face the moon. It was full in the sky and a blood red color. A beam of red light seemed to shine down from it to the middle of the field, where the tent normally was.

In the beam, swimming down to earth, were things like he had never seen before. Some looked like giant insects, others like misshapen fish. As they drew nearer, the buzzing and nausea returned and grew in intensity the closer they got.

William turned and began to run from them. As he ran, the grass in the field began to become patchy and then nonexistent. The world around him became a foreign, rocky, alien landscape. He reached the edge of a cliff and stopped to turn around. The field, the moon, and the things were gone. The night sky was black once more. He turned back around to face the edge of the cliff.

The moon was large on the horizon in front of him. It shone redder than before, transforming the sky to match its likeness. The buzzing and nausea became overwhelming, but he could not remove his gaze from the moon. At its center, among the red, was a black orb. From the orb, lines branched out, forming a cracked pattern along the moon. The cracks soon covered it in its entirety. A large piece fell away, revealing a dark crevice. From inside the crevice, many mangled appendages reach out, some resembling hands or claws or talons, others more tentacle-like. They reached out of the crevice and grabbed the cracked moon. It crumbled in their grasp. Then all at once, it exploded into thousands of pieces, blinding William in red light as it did.

The ground beneath William gave out as the moon exploded, and he fell for what felt like an eternity. Eventually, his body hit ground with a loud thud. William expected the fall to kill him or at the very least injure him greatly, but he felt nothing besides the buzzing and nausea. He managed to lift his head and look around. He was in Warwick Field. The grass was freshly mowed, and the buildings were all gone. A large circus tent sat at the middle of the field, the flap open, lights, laughter, and calliope music escaping from inside.

The silhouette of a tall man appeared in the opening, casting a long shadow through the field, all the way to where William lay. William looked down at the shadow next to him, and when he looked back up towards the tent, the man was standing over him. The man wore the purple clothing of Mister Fumplestink and was the same height, but the face was different. The face was round and pale and did not look human. It reminded William of the face he saw in Carl Harris’s window. The eyes were no longer green but black with a red outline. Wherever they looked, red light shone, similar to spotlights. The mouth stretched across the face, like William had seen it do before in the occasional smile, but it did not smile now. The face seemed to grimace at William hungrily. When the large mouth opened to speak, it no longer had the gentle voice that Mister Fumplestink once possessed, but instead, it was shrill and pained the ears.

“There is no escaping me William. You brought me here, and I will not leave until you are mine.”

The long arms reached for William, and William struggled to crawl away. He had to fight through the painful buzzing and debilitating nausea to push himself backwards away from the reaching arms. Mister Fumplestink did not move his body, other than to smile a large menacing smile at William while he struggled to get away. The arms seemed to stretch endlessly after him as he crawled. Eventually, they caught up with him, and the yellow gloved hands came down upon him. William braced himself and yelled, “NOOOOOO!”

The buzzing and nausea went away. He felt long blades of grass brush against his skin, and the cold night air chilled his body. He looked around and saw overgrowth surrounded him. He knew he must be in Warwick Field. Did I walk all the way over here in my sleep? He stood up and made his way through the field, careful about his foot placement with each step. He was barefooted and didn’t want to step on anything that could injure him. The dilapidated white shack came into view, signaling that the road was near.

It was very cold out, and William had only his pajamas for clothing. He made his way down the road and to the highway. There were no cars. William wondered what time it was. The moon was present in the dark night sky, and William was relieved to see it was not red. He got off the highway and made his way through the dark streets of Rempstone. The porch light of a house on his right came on, and a woman walked out.

“Are you alright sweetheart?”

“Y-yes m-ma’am. I’m j-just trying to g-get home,” William responded through chattering teeth.

“You poor thing, let me give you a ride.”

William knew he was not supposed to get into a stranger’s car, but between that and freezing to death, he decided to take the risk. The lady seemed nice, and she turned the heat on extra high to warm him up.

“What is your name?”

“William. William Adler.”

“Where do you live sweetheart?”

“Pine Hills.”

“What are you doing all the way on this side of town? And at this hour?”

William did not have the energy to make up some excuse, so instead he told this woman the truth. He started with when he first dreamed about the tent in the field and ended with her finding him. She was respectful and quiet the whole time. She even seemed interested, especially in the part about the red moon. By the end of the story, they had arrived at his house. The front door was open, and all the lights were off. This comforted William because it meant his parents were still asleep and hadn’t noticed his absence.

“Thank you for the ride,” William began to climb out of the car.

“Wait. I have some friends that may be interested to meet you. I’m not sure if they will be able to help you, but they might be able to explain what is going on. Would you mind if I brought them by tomorrow evening?”

The idea of finally having someone understand what was happening with him and better yet, help him understand what was happening with him filled him with hope.

“Yes! Wait no! I mean, no I don’t mind, please, yes bring them.”

The lady smiled, “Alright then. I will see you tomorrow,” she looked down at the clock in her car, “Oops, I mean I guess I will see you today.”

William chuckled and waved goodbye as the nice lady drove away. He went inside his house, closed the front door, and crept upstairs to his room. He looked at the clock in his room which read “4:38 am”. He knew that in a few hours it would be time to get up for school. He felt better after telling the lady his story and hopeful about people coming to talk to him about it, but he dared not go back to sleep. He sat in his bed and looked down at his feet. They were filthy. He knew he could not shower and run the risk of waking his parents, so instead, he put on a pair of socks to hide them. He would just shower in the morning.

With that plan devised, he contemplated how he was going to explain this parents people coming over to talk to him about his dreams without telling them he had wandered all the way to Warwick Field. He spent the rest of the night trying to figure something out, and as the light of morning shined through his window, he had nothing.

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