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Sweet Dreams (Aren't made of this)

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Parkhurst Hotel
Lantern Hill, Freedom City, New Jersey
Friday, January 4th, 2013
12:01 AM
A thundering series of knocks echoed from the door to the elderly Rene de Saëns' room in Parkhurst.  It was far later into the night in which any sane person had any business knocking on any doors.  In fact the only reason the artist was even at the residence was due to the fact he had deemed it too late to waste time that could be better spent sleeping with a trek to his own home.  
Stirred awake by the commotion Rene groggily made his way to the door.  On the other side of the door he was treated to the visit of a pale thin looking woman dressed in an authentic French soldier's uniform from the Napoleonic Wars.  To anyone else her yellow tinted eyes would have a strange glow about them, but under Rene's particular gaze they had a dull if not slightly uneven sheen to them.  Long strands of unkempt hair settled onto the shoulders of her uniform.  From Rene's perspective the woman had a bold outline and a distinct mixture of coloring that made her surrounding area easily confused for a synthesist painting rather than one born from impressionism.
"Please...I need your help.  A darkness is coming." The woman's words came out as if she was pleading, but not a trace of emotion showed itself on the canvas Rene was staring at.  She came off as cold, detached, almost robotic really.  But there was a sort of honesty all the same.

Inside the mind of one very special Grue, Freedom City, New Jersey
Friday, January 4th, 2013
12:01 AM

After the college's entire student body had finished their third surprisingly coordinated and choreographed dance number it had come time for lunch.  Daphne Celeste, the spunky heroine who seemed to spend every waking hour with her two closest friends and practically no one else, had just absent-mindedly crashed tray first into new student Devon Lee.  Sending a plate full of pasta and other assorted mess inducing foods all over his letterman jacket and the girl stumbling onto the ground.  No one questioned why a new student already had a letterman jacket on his first day.  It just simply was.

The cafeteria was filled with silence as both Daphne and Devon suddenly got an inordinate amount of attention.  "What no breadsticks?" A laugh track played overhead.  Not that anyone acknowledged the unmistakable sound.  Devon stretched his hand out to help the girl to her feet.
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Rene wiped his eyes, still groggy. He was old, and his mind was never quite on, or in the world. He never used the term mundane world, however. For him, every world was full of wonder. 


He wondered if he was dreaming. He was often not quite awake, and as he got older, his mind was spending more and more time deeply in the world of slumber. 


"Bonjour, Madam" he said, stumbling over the words. At this time, both in terms of his age and the clock, not much surprised him. 


"Please come in. I shall make some coffee. I love ze uniform. Magnificent. Although I recall Napoleon being somewhat of an...how do you Americans say...an ass" he said, with a smile and a snap of his fingers. 


"And then I shall help!" he said, beckoning her in. "I am but a feeble old man, of course. But when darkness is coming, I will try and make sure the light is following just behind it!"

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"Non, you are correct the man was most certainly the very definition of an ass.  Mais he was a dreamer and I am not American.  I don't hail from the world of the Waking."  Taking the invitation into Rene's quarters with stride the stoic woman made her way inside.  Taking a moment to remove the military headgear she would look around the room.  Inspecting the residence thoroughly but not commenting on the contents that her eyes draped over.  "I am called Mona.  I just had a most unfortunate experience while traversing a city in the Vale carved out in Bonaparte's image.  A quaint take on humor by a mage who lived through the experience." 

Pausing for a moment Mona would make her way over to a blank canvas.  Tracing her finger on the material in the shape of a tea cup.  Before finally her palm reached into the paper pulling out the cup tea and all.  "Nightmares had been plaguing the village for a few days now.  As I am sure you are well aware time being quite relative.  As the Guardian tasked with investigating the trouble, I of course excelled at uncovering the danger.  Nightmares had been dragging Waking deeper into the dreamscape.  Twisting and contorting them until their spiritual selves became shells of their former existence.  When they reunited with their physical selves the victim's corrupted state allowed them to become living nightmares.  That was all I could learn before I found myself injured by a demon barely escaping with my wits about me."

While Mona relayed her tale taking the occasional sip in between statements there was still not a hint of emotion in her body language.  "I was not able to ascertain the root of such an atrocious endeavor.  However, both the Waking and the Dreaming are at risk.  Bogeymen, Demons, and even nightmares are all amassing for some nefarious purpose.  Henri spoke highly of you in a drunken stupor once, and in my current state I find myself in need of assistance to prevent whatever tragedy comes to sweep the realms." Mona's hand shook as she set her cup down.

Edited by HG Morrison
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Is this happening to me, it must be some kind of dream...

Giggling to herself she took the dreamy Devon hand so he could help her to her feet.


The real reason Daphne was giggling was not because she had met the guy of her dreams but because she was well aware she was asleep and dreaming. She had been able to lucid dream since she could remember, Mother Unit had explained that it was due to organized manner of Grue brains, it didn’t really matter how or why she could dream like this she was more than happy to play along with the dream.

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Devon flashed a winning smile that served to distract from the splatter mass of sauce that was now his shirt.  "So might want to get insurance for the next high speed pasta collision.  Don't want to end up at the nurse on my first day"  Suddenly a pair of teens ran up to Daphne's side.  One a redheard girl with a decidedly punk rock fashion sense.  The other a scrawny latino male with a clean cut appearance.  The girl was the first to speak up quickly establishing her role as one of Daphne's designated friends for the sake of the dream.


"Golly Daph.  You goofed up, I would be so embarrassed if it was me.  Oh my, my, my he's kind of dreamy isn't he?"  The girl quipped obviously not having much of a filter on her mouth.  Which again prompted a response from the laugh track.  Daphne being the only one in the room even reasonably aware of the sound effects could easily play along when everyone took a comedic pause for the fourth wall induced effects.  Perfectly aware by now that her lucid dream was structured much akin to a generic family friendly television show.


"Eh, he's not that great."  The designated male friend bitterly responded.  Clearly unhappy with the meet cute occurring in front of him.  A feeling that was put to rest by a swift comedic elbow into the chest from the female friend.

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"Just visiting from the world of dreams, then" concluded Rene. Such passings were not unfathomable. Indeed, they happened often, but less rarely were they as concrete as Mona. 


He listened to Mona's story carefully and with worry, rubbing his brow. For the longest while, he said nothing, just poured himself a coffee. 


"Perhaps we could do with Napoleon, then" he said solemnly. "An army of darkness, it seems. Well, Mona, as you knew, I will bring my old self to the battle" he said, smiling. He was old, and weary of battles and bloodshed. But the dreaming was his to be alive and free of bones in. 


"I wonder which Henri you refer to, I have known many", his mind flitting through several, including Father Henri, from his youth. 


"Perhaps I should look into this dream myself? Will you accompany me?"

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Her eyes shifted around the room as mona tentatively contemplated on the matter. Silently drinking from her cup as Rene prepared his own beverage.  "I shall accompany you if you so desire. They are likely not to be operating in the same location any longer.  The victims they abscond with are those with particularly viv-"


Whatever words that were about to escape Mona's lips fell on deaf ears.  Rene found himself compelled to his canvas.  Enveloped in a series of bush strokes the worries of the outside worlds left him momentarily as he fell into a trance.  Once the aged painter had completed his work he took a step back to examine the work;  Mona promptly returned Rene's coffee that had liberated itself from his grasp while under his trance.  It was a bright apartment complex that had caught Rene's eye in the city at least once or twice.  The building completely enraptured by a  billow of darkness.  A face with a cheshire grin implanted on it at the very center of that billow of shadows.  The painting gave off a blank almost empty feeling.


While some details weren't  apparent at a glance.  Rene knew could recollect some of the details not outwardly apparent on the image.  The fact that the emptiness came was coming from the residence itself.  In the corner of the drawing there was a word inscribed, but it was not the artist's signature as could be expected.  The word simply stated Serenade.

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"Serenade?" pondered Rene, putting down his paintbrush. He was accustomed to the odd vision from his paintings, but rarely had he been gripped by such an automatisism, and never with such force. 


"The walls of dreaming are thin, today, are they not? Thinner than they normally are..."


And normally they were thinner than most people thought them. 


"Something leaking onto Canvas, and it is not my ink. Serenade...Serenade....what is this? A lovers song? And it came when you mentioned that the troubles are inconstant, mercurial. One cannot find them, which I am not surprised to hear, for such is the nature of dreams. The other side of reality. Is this a compass to finding them?"


"Serande?" he asked once again to Mona. "Does this mean anything to you?"

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Mona shook her head.  "Non, the only Serenade I have ever heard of is of a musical nature.  Yet, I do know the nature of the music is not limited to a lover's serenade.  Despite what romantic literature would have one believe.  It could be speaking of the act of serenading one to sleep.  Or perhaps it is a reference to something else.  On this I am not sure."  Mona simply stood by examining the canvas.  "But it does warrant investigating."

Mona furrowed her brow in slight exasperation as she continued to gleam nothing from the image itself. Whatever connection lied between it and her words, it was clear from her posture to Rene that Mona had not fully formed the connection.  She looked up at the shadowy creature in the background before finally pointing at the appartment building in the picture's landscape.  "Does this strike your recollection?"

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This was the bit of the dream Daphne enjoyed most, and the time with the most options. If she was in a hurry she was do something to catch Mother Unit’s attention, normally kissing Gail did the job. Mother Unit was still trying to protect her from certain facts even though she knew a lot about humans due to being in there heads. Today however she remained to the script.

“You know I could clean that stain off for you if you want? You’ll have to take that shirt off though...â€


She enjoyed this bit as she was fascinated by human anatomy as a whole, though not for the reason the show thought.

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"Oui, I have seen it, I think..." answered Rene, rubbing his temples. 


"Forgive an old man, my memory is hazy from centuries of life, and the deepness of sleep" he said, trying to piece together exactly where he had seen the building. It looked pretty much like somewhere in the City, but he never paid so much attention to where things were, but more to what the looked like. 


"There is a simple way to find out!" he concluded, taking Mona by the hand. And with that, he stepped into the painting...


...and into a sidewalk of Freedom City, just by the buidling itself. 


"I still don't know where we are, but I know we are here!" he smiled. 

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Devon looked around the room with a huge smile on his face.  Chuckling before moving to reach for the base of his sauced up shirt.  "Thanks.  Hope it's not too dirty for you."  The act was accompanied by a stock audience wooing noise.  An effect that became slowly distorted halfway through the act.  Daphne wasn't treated to the sight of washboard abs or any other stock teen idol anatomy.  No, what revealed itself was a demonic looking face laughing maniacally on the male's abdominal region.  The color from the dreamworld slowly fading away as sitcom inspired slumber took on a very black and white horror movie tone.  An adjustment that would raise more anatomy questions than answers.


Suddenly Daphne's assigned friends reached out for her from behind.  Both clearly looking to take advantage of the distraction afforded by the massive tone switch in the world.  A distorted laughter could be heard carrying throughout the dream.  With the rest of the student body inside the cafeteria standing in cadence with one another.  Together they would turn in tandem to face the commotion.  Clearly ready to slowly close in on Daphne.



Mona smiled in response to Rene and simply began walking forward to try and get a better look around the building.  Rene eventually caught sight of sign revealing the apartment complex to be named White Oak Residential.  Examining the area in her soldier's outfit which completely threw out inconspicuousness by the wayside.  The Dream Guardian eventually found herself directly in front of the entrance to the building where she would proceed to call for Rene.  Once the elderly painter had caught up to her, the confusion on her face was clearly evident.


"Dis door.  It opened on its own."  She was quick to point to the intercom unit for residence.  Indicating that non-residents would have to be buzzed in barring having a copy of the key.  An indicator light connected to Apartment 313 in the residence would rapidly flash on and off.  As if whoever lived there was actively using the intercom system and turning it off.  But there was no buzzing noise.  Not even a quick bit of static to acknowledge it being in use.  Almost as if someone was leading them to the specific apartment in question.

Edited by HG Morrison
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"A fine welcome" answered Rene. He had walked into enough traps in his life, some by accident, some by design. 


Sometimes, the best thing to do with a trap was walk into it. Then, it ceased to become a trap. 


Rene did not bother with Mona's flamboyant costume. His own choice of colours and cloth was usually somewhat rich. Rich enough to mimic the bright spandex and cape of the superheroes that flew, leaped, and whizzed through the streets of Freedom City. Whilst the costume may have attracted attention, it was bright and lovely. And he loved it. 


"I just hope they have a lift" he said entering. The elevator was his favourite invention of the twentieth centuries. "My knees and hips are worn through! I am just a feeble old man, you know!" he said, a little more loudly than normal, just in case anyone was listening. 

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Mona let out a lighthearted hmph noise as if stopping before an actual chuckle could form.  Following after his lead and making.  As the pair entered the lobby they would find the actual standing area wasn't the largest.  Designed solely for the traffic of the tenants moving about there were rows of mail boxes each numbered to a corresponding appartment.  The area split off into three exits two of which lead to visible staircases.  The last a hallway that would take actually traversing to examine where the path split.  Opposite from the entrance that they had entered from there was in fact an elevator.  It was the only visible elevator shaft in the lobby area with a numbering system from L to 8 indicating the floors.


Before anyone could reach for the buttons the elevator doors would swing open.  "It seems our host is most understanding on the etiquette of associating with the elderly.  I feel most gracious."  Or whoever it was just wanted to make sure they got inside the elevator.  Perhaps to trap them inside an enclosed area or to lead them somewhere worse.  Either way it seemed the destination had been laid out in front of the pair.

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"How kind" commented Rene. "Looking after my poor old legs. I'm not a young man any more, you know" he said, effecting a slightly more sedate, shuffling gait. 


An elevator was clearly a much more risky proposition. A possible, literal, death trap. But then, he was not entirely lying about his age. Over two centuries of wear and tear. He aged two or three times the rate of most men, his mind and soul having long since expanded beyond the world as most knew it. But it was an old body nonetheless. He could surely have made eight flights of stairs, but he would be honestly complaining by the end of it. And out of breath. 


In any case, he hoped that whoever was opening the path for them was doing so for a reason. Which meant that they would not slam the axe on them halfway through their enticement. 


"Come then, let us ascend, there is nothing to be scared of!" he lied to Mona, entering the elevator and pressing up. 

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"This is one of those moments which makes one miss a less corporeal body so to speak."  Mona said stating her reassurance as the elevator door closed.  Calypso themed elevator music played overhead.  The beat had a pleasant ring to it.  Obviously designed to be aesthetically pleasing.  Of course residents whom had actually used the elevator hundreds of times may have more diverse reactions to the music.  There wasn't actually any one around to confirm or deny their opinions on the elevator noise.  In fact, the noises from the elevator were the first and only sign of life that Rene and Mona had run into thus far.  Still the ride up was completely uneventful aside from the sound of elevator music.


The lights were running.  There were vehicles in the parking lot.  But no one was making a sound that could be heard through their walls.  Even after the elevator doors swung open and the pair found themselves inside a corridor.  The hallway's walls were painted an eggshell white with light grey tiles beneath.  Each apartment had a hard wooden door with the corresponding numbered plastered in gold colored letters over the doorway.  Apartment 313 was well within their line of sight upon exiting the elevator.  Except this door did not swing open like the two before.  Apparently lacking the same technological comforts that came before.


"I suppose we knock?"

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"One would suppose" said Rene, without firm agreement, pausing a moment. He was glad to be free of the music. Whilst he preferred classical, he quite liked Calypso, it reminded him of fine times in Parisian bars discussing art and philosophy. And Calpso had just been assassinated in the elevator. 


"Appartment 313 is it?" he mused, a question which needed no answer. He paused to bend down, a little stiffly, a put his beady eye through the keyhole. 


"Quite the mystery. 313. Maybe that has some quaint or pertinent meaning. Maybe ze numbers indicate some mystical connection with ze stars. Or maybe it is just a number" he said, turning to Mona with a wink. Normally, he found it was the latter. 


"But, as we have had a polite invitation, we should respond in like, non? not ze spying through ze keyhole, but, as you say, ze knock!"


And thus, he knocked. 

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No answer.  No matter how many times Rene knocked no one answered the call.  A muffled noise could barely be heard through the door.  But no one actually made a move to turn the door knob as far as they could tell seeing as they were left standing in the doorway.  Mona tilting her head in confusion.  "That was not the response I expected.  Or lack thereof.  All that build up."  It was hard to tell if Mona was actually miffed, considering her responses continued to carry the emotional weight of a box of cardboard.  Aside from when she almost chuckled at Rene shouting for an elevator it was the second time the reserved woman had appeared slightly less stoic. 

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"How rude" muttered Rene, somewhat perplexed by the conundrum. 


He looked left, then right. Wondering if they had the right room, or if something else had permeated the block. But only empty corridors and doors met him. 


"I wonder then, if we should not ask a neighbour" he said, with some trepidation. "Alas, for the modern age, and the cities of tall towers, ones neighbours are no longer as intimate as in ze olden days. Heh, although that was not always for ze best either" he said, recalling his long centuries of experience. 


"Still, a polite word and question may do ze trick?" he guessed. So gathering all his politeness around him, letting it infuse his demeanour, he strode up to 314 and knocked on that door...

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Again no answer.  314 brought with it the same result as the door before it.  Once again Rene could hear a faint sound coming from inside the apartment.  But the door muffled the noise loudly enough that it could not be clear.  There was only silence.


Mona kept her attention on 313 dropping to one knee to examine the door knob as Rene Jested of earlier.  "If I only had a notepad I could probably pick this lock.  One acquire certain talents when the need arises."  Standing away from the door, she examined it before turning back to Rene.  "Anyone home there?"

So much for the common courtesy of a neighbor nowadays.

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"Nobody polite is at home" answered Rene, not pleased. 


He patted his pockets for a notepad. But found none. 


"Paintbrush? Wallet? Pocket watch? Comb? Snuff box without any snuff? Jelly baby?" he asked in succession, emptying out his pockets, of which he had more than a few, and all slightly dusty. "But no notepad, I am afraid. I did not come prepared to sketch" he sighed. In retrospect, he thought, one must always come prepared to sketch. 


"I don't wish to intrude on a man's privacy" he muttered, annoyed with himself. "I could make ze door invisible, or leave my body and traverse through the dreamtime to see inside" he explained. "But this would be intrusion. Still, we have come so far, and you cannot pick ze lock. I forget how to, myself"


He knocked once more, hard, more out of irritation than hope. 


"Enough then..." he said, slumping down on the other side of the corridor, and closing his eyes. In a few moments, he was asleep. 


And he felt his psyche arise, soft and weightless, to float through the door...

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Rene's spiritual body easily made its way down the corridor and through door unencumbered.  His form no longer tied down by any silly physical restrictions like a sealed door.  However what he found on the other side of the door was not an apartment.  The moment Rene stepped through the door he was inside of a courtyard.  The various signs strewn about made it apparent it was the site of a college or university campus.  Signs which Rene was able to read clearly due to his spectacles getting around any precariousness that came with attempting to read in the dreamscape.  That was the thing with language for the sleeping, the written word was not always agreeable.  As such the translations in the text mostly amounted to clarifying that the location was in fact a school.  Occasionally what appeared to be a the tune to a tv show theme song would be written out by beat.  But nothing of value had actually been transcribed.


What was clear though, whether intentional or not.  Renee had not found himself inside someone's living quarters.  There was no longer a trace of the door he had entered from either.

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When everything went to hell Daphne had a rather unusual reaction. She gave a little squeak and clapped her hand together in joy, she almost left the ground in pure joy.

This must be one of those Nightmare she had heard so much about.

She wasn’t sure how this is happened, her brain should be incapable of producing a nightmare without her control, maybe Mother Unit did in a sulk because of something Daphne had said during the day? For now she decided to play along with the dream.

With a look of horror on her face she carefully backed away from all of them into a relatively clear corner.


“What... what’s happening? Why are you doing all this?†she hope she had the right amount of panic in her voice.

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Strange laws of time and space were not a surprise for Rene. Just as they were bent and broken in dreams, so they twisted and turned in every world - after a fashion. It was a matter of perspective. 


The practicalities were not lost to him. No door in meant no door out. Of course, the routes in and out of reality were myriad and subtle, leaking to and fro. Reality was fragile, and one could find ways in and out, hidden and surprising. 


But the solidity of a door behind your was much more reassuring. 


"A school! I approve!" he said, heartily. Whatever had lead him here was quite probably still observing. No need for coyness on his part. 


"Let us see what I can learn!"


With that, he pottered off, slowly, towards what he judged the biggest building with the grandest entrance. 

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Rene carefully examined the strange school. Or university. Or academy. Whatever it was. Perhaps it was all three, or none. If this was a dream, or nightmare, then the world was formed more from ideas, visions, or fantasies, than concrete causality. 


The campus had signs, directions. Some were dull, leading to nowhere, or perhaps where he had just been. 


Again, he had the feeling he was being herded into a certain direction, like an insect falling down a funnel. 


He clucked and stroked his grey goatee, pondering the experience. If he was being herded, then so what? Malign or benign, the force behind this was unknown. Perhaps it was even unknowing. In any case, he had no difficulty swallowing his pride. Let him be herded!


He read a few more of the signs and directions, and followed them, navigating by instinct rather than geography. 

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