Where strange fact and stranger fiction collide
Sweet dreams are made of this
Who am I to disagree?
I travel the world and the seven seas
Everybody’s looking for something
-Sweet Dreams Eurymics.
Over a hundred Imperial marines lay dead. Their guns, canons, and their faith in the service of their god emperor did not save them, nor would it save Akira Soto.
The little biologist ran deeper into the damp hot jungle night. But the darkness would not protect him from the things that were chasing him. His pursuers came from a place of utter darkness. They had clawed their way out of the abyss to this island that his compatriots had dubbed ‘Tengu Island.’ No one could remember why the first Japanese Marines to land here had dubbed the island such, it just seemed appropriate. The people who lived here had another name for the island, or they did until they had been killed, every last man, woman and child. Perhaps the Buddhist were right, maybe it was karma, and Soto was going to die for what they had done to the islanders.
When Akria was a little boy, right before his bedtime, grandmother Hotaru would tell him awful and scary stories. The old despicable woman loved the tease the chubby intellectual boy before he went to sleep. She told him of stories from Japan’s myth shrouded past, not just of the avian demons Tengu, but also about the wairn, the alligator dogs, who leapt from behind bushes and attacked wayward children, of the yukionna, the snow maidens, who punished men for cutting down trees, and the sambeitio, the dreaded Dragon King’s warrior shark men.
The young boy would become so scared of the dreams that he would have after hearing these stories he would fight falling asleep, until his eyes turned red from the tears and his body would shake from exhaustion. His mother would comfort him telling Akira that her mother-in-law was a crazy old woman, who took joy in torturing children. And that the monsters the old woman had warned him about were not real. But here on Tengu Island they were very real. Somehow, someone had made the creatures form his scared childhood imagination solid, and now they wanted their vengeance.
There creatures where more sadistic than the old crone had ever been. They had killed the soldiers first, then the other researchers. Leaving Dr. Soto for the last. They were going to rip his body apart. But first they were going to destroy his mind. They showed him visions, of how the war against the Unites States could only lead to the defeat of the Empire. How in the end entire cities would be destroyed, vaporized in a flash and cloud of ash. How even if he had escaped his other worldly pursuers, his cause was doomed.
Honor demanded that he return with the information of what they had discovered here. But it was more than boshido that kept Soto struggling for his life, it was his wife and son back home in Japan. He needed to survive to warn them of the doom that would fall upon their city of Nagasaki, he had to live to save his family. In his right hand he held Lieutenant Watanabe’s samurai sword. The sword had been in the officer’s family for generations, and seemed to be the only thing that could harm the nightmarish intruders. Doing far more damage than the Namboo pistols and Arisaka rifles did. Or at least until the unfortunate solider was ripped limb form limb.
In his left hand he clutched his precious research. The information for which over five hundred Sauderleurean Islanders had died for. Maybe it was worthless now, but Dr. Soto’s honor as a scientist and officer of the imperial army, demanded he preserve it as much of it as he could, just as his love of his family, inspired him to fight for his survival.
He hadn’t piloted a boat in over ten years, he did not know what direction the home islands were, but if he could get to the docks, and he could reach a vessel, then put out to se, Soto could get away from this accursed place, and in the safety of the Pacific he could radio the navy to rescue him.
Cresting a hill, Akira Soto could now see the harbor. A small cargo vessel was tied to the dock. Maries lay dead around the huts where they had guarded the ship. The little man began to laugh as he ran to the boat.
The ground between him and his route to freedom began to glow in an unearthly green. The particles of light began to congeal into matter. A loathsome shape of tentacles and scales began to form. He heard chanting in an ancient tongue, the spirits of the dead islanders where summoning their fearful drowned god.
In the face of such a madding sight, Dr. Soto dropped the sword and let the papers fall to the ground. Bathed in the unearthly green light he began to scream, and didn’t stop, until he was no more.
Jack Mora stood under a sky the color of pink lemonade. Gray wisps of smoke like clouds hung high in the atmosphere. He was looking for something, or rather looking for someone.
Jack’s mind was sluggish, he was still caught in a cerebral fog. He moved his hand in front of his face and he could see ghosting images until he stopped moving it and the after images caught up with his real hand. Jack struggled to remember, he was looking for someone, defiantly someone.
As he became more in tuned with his environment he realized that though there was a huge rose colored sun peaking from behind the gray cotton candy like clouds, there were no shadows on the earth below. Wasn’t it like that all the time in the land of dreams? He was in the land of dreams, asleep but not asleep. It hit him like a landslide, he was looking for Helen.
Helen! His wife he had to save Helen! Panic climbed up his spine like a lizard. He had to save Helen!
No, Helen was all right, well her body was all right. She was on the plane with him. But her soul was lost. That was why they were going to the island. So he could find her, to bring his wife back to him.
His body was miles above the Pacific, but his soul was here in the land of dreams, and some where lost in this world of spires, and depthless pools was Helen. The warrior that Jack was took over, he began to survey his environment for insurgents and other threats. He was at the base of a round hill. Trees with pine needles made of a blue ice like substance spotted the hill. Despite the arctic look to them, it was warm. Were you supposed to feel temperatures in dreams? He thought.
He heard rather than felt the wind. On the hill top, it began to spin like a small tornado, blowing ice blue pine needles, crystalline pinecones and small rocks in a circular pattern. The debris began to fuse together in a flash of light. Emerging from the light was a woman of incredible beauty, a level of physical perfection that had never seen before. More beautiful than a model, more beautiful than an actress, more beautiful than even his Helen, the mysterious woman had the beauty of a goddess.
Her dark curly hair matched the deep blackness of her eyes, a sharp contrast to her alabaster skin. She wore a silk dress of purple and gold. Lush dark red lips formed a knife blade of a smile, radiating both seduction and cruelty. Her voice called out to him sounding like bells that seemed to pierce his physical being.
‘Our life is twofold; Sleep hath its own world,
A boundary between the things misnamed
Death and existence: Sleep hath its own world,
And a wide realm of wild reality,
And dreams in their development have breath,
And tears, and tortures, and the touch of joy;
They leave a weight upon our waking thoughts,
They take a weight from off waking toils,
They do divide our being; they become
A portion of ourselves as of our time,
And look like heralds of eternity;
They pass like spirits of the past -they speak
Like sibyls of the future; they have power –
The tyranny of pleasure and of pain;
They make us what we were not -what they will,
And shake us with the vision that’s gone by,
The dread of vanished shadows -Are they so?
Is not the past all shadow? -What are they?
Creations of the mind? -The mind can make
Substances, and people planets of its own
With beings brighter than have been, and give
A breath to forms which can outlive all flesh.
I would recall a vision which I dreamed
Perchance in sleep -for in itself a thought,
A slumbering thought, is capable of years,
And curdles a long life into one hour.’
Her voice was so perfect it hurt his ears to hear it. A fallen angel still swathed in the glory of God. Her smile became deeper more personal, and more deadly. “I shall see thee yet again dreamer.”
Then she was gone.
And the world seemed to morn her disappearance. The clouds turned a dark steal gray color, blotting out the rosy sunlight. Wind spun around him like a whirlwind. Tightening around Jack, closing in on him.
Every thing turned dark, the wind was buffeting him from all around. Ahead in the darkness two eyes of yellowish light closed in on him, ready to strike. As they neared he recognized them for what they were, oncoming headlights.
The world jerked up then slammed down.
Forcing Jack Mora awake. He was in some kind of enclosed space…he heard the roar of the mighty engines…a plane he was in a plane. Helen! Where was Helen! He tried to get up but the restraints stopped him. Then he remembered that even if he wasn’t strapped in he couldn’t stand or walk, not since the accident.
Standing over him in insignialess brown overalls was the crew chief, he wore a crash helmet with dark goggles that made him look like some kind of alien from outer space. The only flesh that could be seen was his stubble covered chin, “You all right?” He asked above the roar of the C-130’s engine.
“Helen!” Jack chocked out in a panic.
The crew chief looked over his shoulder. There in a life support chamber lay Jack’s unconscious bride. She looked like a Disney princess in a glass coffin to him. Kneeling beside her was the brown haired med-tech, the girl’s Aussie accent was so thick Jack could barely make out what she was saying half the time. She wore the same patchless overalls the crew chief, but without the helmet or the goggles. The tech checked the instruments on the container, then looked up and gave Jack a reassuring smile and the thumbs up. Helen was OK, or at least alive.
It was ironic, that Jack had survived a tour in Iraq, two tours in Afghanistan and two more years as a covert operative for the CIA, and he never got a scratch on him. But it was a drunk driver on a Northern California highway that took his legs and put his new bride in a coma. He just ended his high risk lifestyle, taking a job as an analyst. Helen had told him she wouldn’t marry him if he was putting his life at risk everyday. But now, he couldn’t even talk to her.
Jack had become despondent. The only reason he didn’t blow his own brains out was the hope that someday she might wake up, that and the dreams. In his dreams he could be with her again. They were like no dream he had ever had before. Before the accident his dreams were in black and white, like watching an old TV, but now they were in color, even colors he had never seen before in waking life. And unlike seeing his dreams as if they had been on a flat screen, these dreams had depth to them, a third dimension, and smell, and taste and touch. The sweet sensuous touch of his beloved Helen.
He began to realize that these were more than dreams, that somehow he was really meeting her seeing her, loving her. Despite their separation they could still be together. Then she vanished. He still dreamed of the places he had dreamt of with her, but she was no longer appearing in these dreams.
Then they showed up, agents of the Morpheus Foundation. They seemed to know about his dreams and that he no longer dreamed of Helen, or as they called it dreamed with Helen. They said they could help Jack, reunite them, all they asked was that he trusted him. The one thing the solider and spy in him found it hard to do. But he would do anything to be with Helen again, in any form.
So after signing more nondisclosure documents than he had with the CIA, the Foundation packed both them up in to a unmarked jet liner and flew them to Australia, after running a battery of tests on them both, they were now on their way to some island called Sauderluer. There was a lab or something on the island, the Foundation wasn’t very clear on why they wanted Jack and Helen to go there, but as much as he hated it Jack Mora was in no position to make any demand for information from his mysterious benefactors, not if he wanted to be with Helen again.
The crew chief stepped before jack and slapped his watch with index and middle finger twice. “Two minutes till touch down.”
Jack nodded and grabbed the harness that kept him secured in to the seat of the cargo plane. As the Hercules began to bank so he could see there destination, a small island with basalt mountains. On one side was a sand spit that was mostly taken up by a run way. At the base of the mountain were what looked like three ziggurats, and then a facility that he was sure now housed the Morpheus Foundation.
He been on the island for almost a year and only the HR department and the girl he showed a modicum of romantic interest in knew him as anything other than Wedge. The stocky computer tech was on his knees working on a sever that had a strange hand shaped burn on its outer shell. The C-130’s engine rumbled above, and Wedge began to laugh. Still on his knees, he pointed to the sky and yelled out “De Plain, De Plain!”
The dreadlocked man working on the wires next to him gave the nerd a dirty look, “You making fun of the way I talk.” He said in a thick Patios accent.
Wedge was more afraid of alienating one of his few friends on this damned island rather than actually angering the infamously unfazeable Jamaican. “No, dude…I mean… its form a TV show haven’t you seen Fantasy Island?’
The dark skinned man let out a hardy laugh. ”I just be yanking your chain, mon.” His brown overalls were unzipped to his waist. A picture of Bob Marley peeked out form underneath it on a tee-shirt.
The other worker, who Wedge only knew as Toadie continued to laugh. “I hear we are getting fresh meat.” Wedge said finally getting up.
Toadie looked down at the clump of wires in his hand. “Kind of strange that you call them meat, when the last thing the Foundation care ‘bout is their bodies? Think they know what dey be getting in to?’
“Does anyone truly understand what they are getting into on this island?”
“True dat, mon,” Toadie replied, “true dat.”