Landon kept walking down, down, down the endless, onyx spiral staircase when he stubbed his toe or should have. It didn’t hurt.
“Hey. Wait a minute. I know what’s going on. I’m dreaming. I’m having a lucid dream. Cool. That means I can control everything.” Great. I think I’ll fly the rest of the way to the bottom.”
Landon took a leap expecting to fly like Superman, but he only went up so far before going back down. “Hey!” He was starting to fall and got scared. What if hitting the stairs hurt this time? Then he began to slow and soon he was taking big, bouncy steps.
“At least this is faster than walking but I really wanted to fly.” Now that he realized he wasn’t going to get hurt, he stopped being scared, but it was too late.
Malevolent eyes were watching from the darkness, their owners chuckling to themselves.
“We have another one, brother.”
“Indeed sister. He has entered the first layer.”
Yes he has and he doesn’t know it. Now we will take full control of the dream.”
In the outside world, Buddy and Grandpa kept trying to wake up Landon but they couldn’t. Worse than that, his body was just a tiny bit transparent.
“What’s happening to him, Buddy?” Grandpa was starting to get frantic. He didn’t want to call his son at work yet, but if something weren’t done soon to bring Landon out of this, he’d have to.
“Bad news, bad news, Gramps. Landon caught by Dream Reapers. Trying to take his soul. Replace real boy with evil Reaper in real world.”
“Can’t you do something?”
“Nope, nope, nope. Dream Reaper Magic very powerful. Most dragons die because of Reaper Magic.”
“But not you, eh?”
“Me too most of all, Gramps.”
“So what do we do? We’ve got to save him.”
“Have idea but need to find something or someone.”
“Dani wakes up from nap soon. You take care of. Buddy has to take a trip.”
Without answering, purple energy crackled around the small, golden dragon and he vanished.
Grandpa put his hand on the sleeping boy’s shoulder. “I promise that somehow we’ll get you back, Landon, but it’s all in Buddy’s hands now.”
Bounce, bounce, bounce, Landon was surprised to find out he made it all the way to the bottom of the staircase. It ended right at the beginning of a maze but it was a maze he had never heard of before.
When he was on the staircase, everything had been black and his surroundings were only dimly lit. Now it was full daylight and the staircase was gone. The maze he was in was made of giant, trimmed hedges taller than Grandpa’s house. He could go forward, back, left, or right but didn’t know which way he should turn.
“Maybe I can still bounce high.” He jumped up, but only got as high as he could normally jump.
“Oh come on. I know I’m dreaming. How come I can’t control what’s happening. Maybe I should just wake up.”
Landon expected to find himself in his bedroom but that didn’t happen. He was still in the maze.
“Hey, dream. I want to wake up now.”
Still nothing. A cold breeze blew from in front of him making him shiver.
“Well, not going that way.” He turned to his right and saw a big, scary looking clown leering at him.
“Yah!” he screamed. Then the nine-year-old realized it was a picture, like a movie poster for a horror movie or something.
“Whew. Glad you’re not real. Maybe I should go back the way I probably came from.”
As Landon turned more to his right, he didn’t see the eyes of the clown in the picture follow his motion or the evil smile on the face get just a little wider.
“How about this?” Landon started walking. He went straight for a few minutes until the maze forked left and right. “Okay, now what?”
He heard Ana’s voice from the left so he called out, “Ana, is that you?”
“Yes. Come down this way, Landon.”
The boy practically ran down the left hand path until he saw her standing in the middle. “How did you get here?”
“Buddy sent me to get you. He can’t come himself but he said I’d be able to bring you back.”
“How, you don’t know any magic yet?”
“Don’t worry, Landon. Buddy gave me a spell. It’s really easy but you have to come with me.” She held out her hand.
“Where? Why can’t you do the spell now?”
“It won’t work here. We have to go to a different part of the maze.” She took his hand and pulled almost yanking Landon off of his feet.
“Wow. You’re stronger than I thought.”
“Come on, Landon. It’s dangerous here. We have to go.”
With that, Ana pulled Landon after her and she was running so fast, he could hardly keep up. She expertly made a complex number of lefts and rights, navigating through this part of the maze like she’d been here all her life.
“How…how do you know the way?” Landon was huffing and puffing because they were running so fast.
“Don’t ask questions. Just keep running.”
He felt like something was wrong but he didn’t know what. The sky overhead was getting more gray and cloudy. It looked like it might rain. The air was colder, too.
“Ana…Ana, wait!” Landon pulled his arm away from her hard and got his hand free. Then he stopped.
The girl ran back to him and yelled, “What are you doing? I told you we had to get out of here. Are you crazy, Landon?”
Landon had never seen Ana so angry before but it took him a moment to catch his breath before he could answer. “What…what are you going to do? Where do we have to go for you to use the spell?”
“Just follow me. I’ll show you. Buddy has been teaching me a lot of magic since you’ve been gone.” She tried to grab his hand again but he moved it away from her before she could.
“Gone? I’m in a dream and so are you. I’m asleep, not gone. How long has Buddy been teaching you.”
“I don’t have time for your silly questions, you little boy. Just come with me before it’s too late.”
She was acting really weird. It looked and sounded like Ana but what if it wasn’t her? He reached for the magic lamp amulet around his neck to see if its light would reveal anything but it wasn’t there.
“Missing something, Landon?” Ana pulled a chain out of the collar of her shirt and it was there. She was wearing his amulet.
“How did you get that?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know?” She was smiling at him, but it was an evil smile. Landon thought he might have just enough magic to do it if he was fast enough. He mentally commanded the lantern to shine a bright light over Ana.
“What have you done?” She shrieked. Then she wailed and burst into flame.
“Oh no! What have I done?” The boy thought he’d lit one of his best friends on fire. Then she began to shift and change and a moment later, laying at his feet was an adult-sized person who looked like they’d been dead for a thousand years. That parts that were still flesh were totally mummified.
“What the heck?”
A whisper escaped the corpse’s decaying lips, “Almost fooled you, Landon.”
The third-grader whirled around and ran back the way he’d come as fast as he could. When he got to the fork again he stopped, exhausted. He sat down, his chest heaving, desperate to get air into his lungs, and he was shivering with fright.
“It…wasn’t…Ana.” It took him a minute to absorb what that meant. Something in the maze was trying to trick him and could appear even as someone he knows really well. That also meant Buddy might not even know he’s in trouble if he and Grandpa just think he’s in bed sleeping. And that meant, the child was probably on his own. How was he going to get out of this mess.
Then he remembered that he had been so scared, he forget to get his lantern amulet away from the dead person. He decided to rest a minute before heading back.
He was still sitting, facing the left hand fork where he had gone with the fake Ana. Directly behind him, from the right fork. there was a movement in the shadows. Landon thought he heard something and turned. There was a shape in the darkness and then a glint of gold.
“Buddy!” Landon, his fatigue forgotten, leapt forward and hugged the Ambrosial Dragon. “Buddy, I’m so glad you found me. Take me home.”
“Nope, not yet, Landon.”
The boy let go of his friend and stepped back. “What do you mean?”
“Amulet. Dead body has your amulet. Need it to return, to go home.”
“But how did you get here?”
“One way trip into dream. Need lamp to light way home, Landon. Go get now.”
“You’re coming with me, right?”
“Right-o. I be right behind. You lead way.”
“Well, okay Buddy.” Landon would have preferred that the dragon lead the way but if Buddy had his back, he’d be fine.
“Let’s go then.” The child started walking with Buddy behind him. What Landon couldn’t see was the change of expression on the dragon’s face, the evil look it had. Then Buddy opened his mouth and thousands of needle-thin, razor-sharp teeth were revealed and at the same time, he began to change color and get bigger.
It was no longer a dragon that followed Landon but a giant, carnivorous worm with a huge appetite and that loved the taste of children’s flesh.
This is a direct sequel to The Dragon’s Legerdemain and we find Landon has been trapped in an exceedingly dangerous realm this time.
Actually, Landon created this dream realm and the dream reapers who inhabit it including its list of rules. Frankly, I’m not sure how Landon will get out yet but I’m sure I’ll work something out. I know he really wants me to write this so hopefully I’ll get it right. This may be his most exciting and hazardous adventure yet.
Welcome to the latest entry in the series of adventures I’ve been writing for my grandson for almost a year-and-a-half now. To read the series from the beginning, go to The Day a Dragon Came to Live with Us. At the bottom of that story is a link to the next. Each subsequent story has a link to the next chapter, so all you have to do is keep reading and clicking and you’ll eventually get back here.
The next chapter in the story is Riddle Me This!