Hunted by Nightmare
A great emptiness filled the world. The world was not dark, even though with all the emptiness, it should have been. In every direction, a peculiar light that wasn't light glowed, so if you did find something, you'd be able to see it when you did.
This was where the monster lived.
A whimper escaped her throat as she tried to make herself small. Maybe, if she was as small as a baby, the monster wouldn't find her this time. But the monster always found her, always chased her, and every time, she feared that this would finally be when it succeeded and swallowed her whole.
She made herself as small as she could, drawing into herself until she was tiny. She didn't want the monster to find her. If she was small, and if she didn't move, it couldn't find her. Or so she hoped as she quivered in fear, trying not to make any noise. Could it hear her in the emptiness?
It was there. A menacing presence that was scarier than the worst nightmare. It was aware of her, even though she had made herself small, had kept quiet and tried not to move. It knew where she was. She knew it knew.
An awful wail filled the emptiness. It was coming for her. She ran.
The howl echoed in the emptiness. How could something echo where nothing existed? She ran faster. She did not want to see that awful skull face, its fangs jutting out like oversized knives and those empty sunken pits where eyes should have been. It was evil, pure evil, and it was hungry.
Why did it chase her? She hadn't hurt it! She was a good girl! Even if Mama scolded her every so often, it didn't mean she was bad! Big brother, help! Help!
No matter how she called out to her big brother, he never appeared. It was the only time he did not hear her. Anywhere else, if she called for him, he could hear her, and then he would appear, and stand against anyone or anything. She hated it here. The monster chased her even though she was a good girl, and it cut her off from her big brother. It was a terrible place!
The maw appeared. She could feel the jaws opening wide. It was going to eat her. The monster was going to crash his mouth shut and eat her and she would never escape even though she was a good girl who had never-
The jaws did not close. Her heart skipped a beat. She turned around.
A figure sat on an awful black throne. He was the image of a ghost, all made of mist, because he was there, but he wasn't there. She could see through him, but at the same time could see him. He had long yellow hair, and there was an amazing tattoo on his forehead that was more real than the rest of him.
The dream man had stopped the monster again.
He was dark too, like the monster was. But unlike the monster, he did not want to hurt her. Every time the monster tried to eat her, he appeared before it could close its mouth around her. It could have eaten them both, but it never did. Something held the monster back from eating the dream man.
That should have made the dream man happy, but he never was. She could feel it, every time he saved her, a deep sorrow that made her want to cry, a weeping despair that was so old, so heavy, that it was a miracle he could sit on his ugly throne and not be crushed by it.
She ran to towards the dream man. If she could hold his hand, if she could get him to feel the warmth in her little hand, would he be happy again? If she clung on long enough, would he stop being so lonely?
The monster and the dream man disappeared. She never reached the dream man in time. She ran as hard as her little legs could carry her, but he always left before she could reach him, even when she desperately screamed for him not to leave her.
The emptiness kicked her out. It was always what happened after the dream man saved her. She was in Shilka's garden, with all its beautiful trees and blossoms. There were flowers of every color, with roses, chrysanthemums, lotuses and more kinds of flowers than she had names for. It was her favorite place in all the world, especially under the orange blooms.
A girl her own age with a heart-shaped face smiled at her, her blue eyes sparkling with happiness. The girl's coronet glistened in her lime green hair before it turned into a slicer and flew away, far up into the sky, where it stopped and grew out into a purple sphere that floated in the night sky. The girl smiled at her and took her hand, then stopped when she saw a boy their own age wearing a white cloak, his face proud and serious. The girl looked at her for permission. She nodded, and the girl timidly took the boy's hand too, blushing all the while. Then she ran up into the sky, her hands in theirs, taking them up to the moon, where something waited for the boy, determined to beat him, while the garden promised to become safer.
Gwyn opened her eyes. It was night in Landen, and she could hear her twin's soft breathing on the bed next to hers. She looked over to her side and poked Kara in the ribs. The girl murmured before she snuggled into the covers deeper. She poked her new friend again. The blue eyes opened sleepily .
"I'm going home with you."
"Um, good," her friend murmured. "Didn't want to leave you or my prince."
The moon princess drowsily hugged her. It made Gwyn glad that Kara didn't ask how she knew. People didn't like that she sometimes dreamed of the future. She didn't always know what her dreams meant, but this one she had understood, a little. Enough to know they were going to Kara's home.
"Does a man ever appear in your dreams?"
"Um, no," Kara replied sleepily. "I saw my prince, though..."
"My brother," Gwyn whispered fiercely.
"Love you both," Kara said, hugging Gwyn tighter. "Wanna be your sister... wanna be his princess..."
Gwyn listened as Kara fell back asleep, holding her tightly. Mama and Papa told her they loved her every day, but she had never had anyone else tell her they loved her. No one had ever said they wanted to be her sister, either. She wondered if the dream man had ever had someone tell him that he was loved.
She snuggled closer to the moon princess. If she ever met the dream man, she'd thank him and tell him he was loved. He protected her from the monster that tried to eat her, just like Adan protected her from the bullies that always tried to hurt her. Any man that protected a little girl from monsters was worthy of love. Even if she couldn't help him be happy, she could let him know that much, couldn't she?