Take an exclusive sneak peak at the first three chapters of the epic adventure of a generation. Part one of this fantasy book trilogy available now on Amazon.
Dreamland Part 1: The Fabric of Dreams by Barry S. Brunswick
Copyright © 2019 Barry S. Brunswick
All rights reserved.
Dreams—every single one of us is a dreamer. We all dream. As we lie in our beds and fall into the deepest sleep, our minds take us to the strangest and craziest of places. This is the dream world. It is a world where anything at all can happen. Think of all the weird and wonderful things you’ve dreamt about yourself.
Deep in our dreams, we can go places and do things we would never think possible when we are awake. Maybe some nights we can fly; maybe other nights we could be a hero on a quest. Also, we can laugh and skip and have the most amazing time, even though we are asleep, but these are all good dreams.
As we all know only too well, we can also have dark and scary dreams. These dreams can be so frightening they can make us jump instantly awake, leaving us lying there, heart pounding, trying to make sense of whatever we were dreaming about.
I often wonder, as you probably do, why does your mind do these things? How does it?
We all dream, yet we always know when we’re awake, and we always know when we’re asleep. That is, apart from the briefest of moments—the moment we wake from the most vivid dream and we’re not really sure if it’s a dream or if it’s real. It is a very strange feeling indeed.
Imagine never knowing; I mean, never knowing if it is real or if it is a dream…
Eric could never be sure if he was dreaming or if he was awake. It was most confusing and harrowing for the poor boy.
Sometimes he’d dream he had got up, had breakfast and been to school. Then, to his surprise, he’d wake up in his bed.
Sometimes he’d see strange visions and think he was dreaming, and it would turn out that he was awake all along. Poor little Eric walked the endless line between the dream world and reality.
His parents and teachers did not know why he had the strange visions and dreams. Full of concern that Eric had a serious mental illness, his mum and dad fretted endlessly about their son. So, with little choice remaining, they began to send him to countless different doctors and psychologists to find out what on Earth was wrong with the poor boy.
Even though the clever doctors were experts, they still could not find any solution. No matter what therapies or pills they put him on, the dreams and visions would still flood into his head and at the most inopportune moments.
While Eric was at school playing football; all of a sudden, his body would freeze, and his mind would fly to another place. There was no telling what strange visions he would have. Bubbles would float around rainbows in the sky. Mystical beasts and magical creatures would appear before his very eyes. They even spoke to him.
To poor little Eric, it seemed so real, but everyone saw Eric standing there frozen, talking to thin air.
They weren’t always nice visions either. Sometimes terrible nightmares would pop into his head which were evil, dark and scary. Monsters and demons and dark creatures endlessly taunted him.
Little Eric had no friends. He was far too strange and spooky for all the other children to play with. His skin was pale, and his eyes were surrounded by dark circles because he could never sleep. He would talk to himself or stare endlessly out into space. Eric knew he was strange and that his visions and dreams were not normal. He was stuck in a very lonely and scary world.
The other kids thought he was crazy. They would call him names and laugh at him. It really was not much fun for Eric, being Eric.
Though he would never complain or moan, Eric walked around like a zombie, being his spooky and distant self.
Eric’s parents were at their wits’ end. They had no idea what was wrong with their beloved child. They spent countless sleepless nights worrying about their son.
Eventually, after long conversations into the night, they decided they would send him at great expense to a well-renowned doctor who was a specialist in dreams and sleep.
Poor Eric was made to sleep in a cold, white room at the hospital. He had wires stuck to his head and his heart, so the doctor could monitor him as he slept.
Little Eric didn’t dream at all while he was in the hospital. He could hardly even sleep in the uncomfortable and unfamiliar surroundings.
The doctor would not admit he didn’t know what was going on, so in an act of desperation, he gave Eric some pills which were designed to stop him dreaming at all and sent him on his way.
For a while these pills worked, and Eric’s day and night dreams stopped. His parents were so relieved. They felt as though he was cured, as long as he took the powerful pills every morning.
Eric, however, felt far from cured. He felt terrible, worse than ever in fact. Dreams play an important part in organising things in a person’s mind, and without any dreams, Eric’s mind was a cloudy muddle. He was always confused, and after a while he could not stand to feel that way any longer.
So, on one winter’s morning, Eric decided he should stop taking the pills. His mother handed him his tablet as always, but instead of swallowing it down, this time he held it under his tongue, then spat it out of the window when his mum wasn’t watching.
This went on for several days until the dreams returned. The visions came flooding back, even more than ever before. The boy seemed to totally lose touch with reality all together.
Inside his head, he could go on an adventure which took hours or even days, but in the real world only minutes had passed. His dreams were becoming the real world to him. He was no longer sure whether it was real or whether it was a dream. He never even knew if he was awake or asleep.
It was now becoming almost like he was living two lives: one here with us on Earth and another in a strange and misty dream world.
His mum and dad were losing their minds with worry. His mum had found the pills he had been spitting out the window one day, so she had started to crush them up and mix them with his food to trick him into taking them, but the pills were useless now and did nothing anymore. The dreams kept right on coming. Pills are supposed to fix whatever is wrong with someone, but in this case, there was nothing wrong with Eric. This was just the way he was meant to be.
The dreams came more and more often and for longer periods of time, until Eric one day slipped deep into the dream world.
This time it was not like one of his normal dreams. It was deeper. He went further into the dream world than ever before. So deep in fact, it could be he may never return at all.
His tearful, loving mum and dad sat by his hospital bed as little Eric slipped into a deep, deep coma. Deep inside his head, Eric was going on the most incredible and wondrous adventure. It was an adventure so amazing, so spectacular, and so strange you’ll hardly believe the tale.
While Eric’s body was in a comatose and sleepy state in his hospital bed, inside his head he was wide awake.
In his dream, Eric woke late at night in his bed at home. This night was not like any other; it felt so strange. A ghostly haze lingered in the air. There wasn’t even a sound in his room. There was an eerie feel to the chilled air which tickled goose bumps on his skin.
Eric kicked back his blankets with his feet and spun them down onto the floor. There he sat still, with a wide-eyed stare on his pale face. Inside his misty brain, Eric wondered if it was a dream or if he was actually awake.
He stood up, and in a stiff-kneed zombie-like walk, he creaked his way to the bedroom door. The door squeaked as he slowly and nervously opened it. The world felt so spooky, so strange.
He poked his head around the doorframe before he stepped gently out into the hall. All was dark and quiet, uneasily quiet. He felt his nerves jangle as the little hairs stood up on his arms and at the back of his neck. It was cold enough to turn his breath into instant mist. Something didn’t feel right in his house.
He edged gently and carefully down the staircase, feeling his way in the blackness with his bare feet curling over the edge of the steps and his hand clutching at the banister. The air was even colder down there; he blew even more mist from his mouth and nose. His skin shuddered as the cold cut right through his stripy pyjamas.
Eric was shivering as he stepped carefully through the hallway and into the kitchen. He reached out his hands in the darkness to feel for the door handle. It was a sliding door and he slid it open with a whoosh. He fumbled around, reaching up for the light switch. He walked his fingers along the wall until he finally felt it. He clicked it on. The light did not work, and the cold room remained deeply dark.
‘How very odd,’ he thought to himself as he turned gently around and headed for the lounge room. This was at the front of the house. He trudged blindly back through the hall until he found it. He found the light did not work in there either. His nerves ran like electricity down his spine and through his body. It was then he heard it—the cold, strange voice of a woman calling out to him.
“Eric… Eric…” the voice called.
His heart pounded in his chest as he was wrapped in a cloak of fear. Despite his fear, the echoey voice seemed to grab hold of him and pull him unwittingly towards it. It was like a voice from another world.
“Eric… Eric…” the voice lingered in the cold air. It called to his senses. He turned around as it dragged him helplessly closer.
The weird voice seemed to be coming from outside the front door. Eric slowly approached the door, which at night was always locked. Still the voice kept calling his name.
He reached out a trembling hand for the handle. Most children would have run away or screamed for their parents. Eric did neither. Fuelled by his burning curiosity, he bravely opened the door, which for some reason wasn’t locked on this night. Inch by inch, slowly, slowly, it creaked further and further open.
With a mighty crash, the door swung free of his hand and banged into the wall, like a gust of wind had grabbed hold of it. Though tonight, there was not a breath of wind.
Eric shuddered as he poked his head through and looked onto the dark street. Everything seemed normal, quiet. He could see the house over the street and the orange glow of the streetlight.
The deathly silence was broken by a faint whirring. He looked around until he noticed in front of his feet there was a tiny golden spark dancing around on the pathway. The spark glittered and twinkled in the night. Eric stared right at it, lost in astonished wonder. As he watched, the street around it remarkably started to ripple, as though it was made of water. His disbelieving eyes watched on as the golden twinkle changed into crackling red sparks which began to ignite the sky. The whirring sound grew louder until it screamed out as the sparks became bigger. They were spitting and hissing like a sparkler, spinning and dancing into a glowing ball of white light. The middle of the ball burned as brightly as the sun.
Eric’s heart thudded in his chest as he shielded his eyes from the brightness. The ball grew brighter and bigger and louder as it spun faster and faster. The whirring sound now became a high-pitched wail. It was so loud it hurt his ears and so bright it hurt his eyes.
Eric covered his face and ears with his arms as he tried desperately to drown out the sound and the brightness. Even then he could still see the light, as if it burned directly into his head.
With a mighty crack, like thunder, the light exploded. Eric ducked, clutching his head tightly with his eyes shut as the wild energy exploded all around him.
Then it fell silent.
Eric picked himself up and carefully opened his eyes. To his amazement, there was a smoking red, spinning, glowing hole in the path in front of him. The hole was filled with the strangest blue mist-like water. A huge glowing pond had appeared in front of the astonished boy. The strange water swirled in mysterious circles in front of his eyes.
Once again, the strange voice called to him. “Eric…Eric…”
To the boy’s amazement, it was coming from the depths of the pond. Eric fought desperately to keep control of his fear and his sanity. The emotions overflowed within him. A crazy cocktail of confusion, fear and doubt bubbled up wildly inside.
“Eric… Eric…” the voice called out again and again.
Losing control of his senses and losing control of his mind, the boy was overcome with a mighty urge. He was somehow brainwashed as he stepped forward towards the edge of the pond. Eric snapped out of his trance and realised what he was doing with his last step, but it was too late. He looked down and braced himself for the rush of cold water.
The strange water was not cold and surprisingly, it wasn’t wet either. He disappeared down below the surface.
The water sucked him down. He struggled to swim, but it was hopeless. The water pulled him down deeper and deeper with relentless force.
He flapped his arms wildly. He kicked hard at the water with his feet in an attempt to swim back to the surface, but Eric was at the water’s mercy.
His last lungful of air was growing desperately short. He had to breathe and breathe soon, but still he was sinking like a stone. His lungs burned for another breath. His desperation grew as he fought to hold on for just a little longer. He helplessly tried to swim upwards.
Eric’s parents’ faces flashed through his brain. He wished he could see them again, but now it really seemed his time was soon to come to an end.
The panicked boy tried to cling on, but now he simply had to draw a breath. Breathe he did, but this was not, as he expected to be, his dying breath. To his total amazement, instead of water filling his lungs and drowning him, he actually breathed normally.
That was the moment he realised this wasn’t water at all. He was being helplessly pulled by some strange force through the misty ‘water’ for what seemed like forever, until eventually he dropped in freefall out of the sky and crashed down onto the ground with a mighty thump.
With an Oooofff! the air was forced out of him by the impact.
He lay there clutching his stomach, winded and groaning for a few seconds. He looked up. Then he looked around. Where was he? He didn’t recognise this place at all. This strange place was nothing like he’d ever seen before.
Eric rubbed his eyes with his shaking hands and took a moment to register his new surroundings. He slowly started to take it all in. Where on Earth was he? That is, if he was still on Earth.
This was by far the strangest place he had ever seen. Was it a dream? The sky was the most amazing pink above him. The clouds were like golden cotton wool as they were tickled across the sky on a warm, strawberry scented breeze.
He forgot the pain of his fall as he struggled to his feet. The gorgeous sunny rays warmed his pale skin. He could hear the gentle sound of water flowing next to him. The most beautiful clear spring trickled gently, cutting and snaking its way through the ground.
He could not help but smile as he stood up and his feet sank into the springy cushion-like floor. The lushest, greenest grass he had ever seen felt cool between his bare toes. He looked around in joyous wonder as he took in the amazing scenery. How beautiful this place was. Bubbles of silver and gold floated in the gentle breeze around his head. The breeze wrapped itself around his face and hands, creating the loveliest warm tickle upon his skin.
Eric, with a huge smile on his face, felt the uncontrollable urge to run. So, run he did, as he began to explore this strange new land.
He bounded along with the soft grass cushioning his way and the wind rushing through his hair. His heart raced with excitement and exhilaration as he was overwhelmed with a euphoric happiness.
He’d never felt so free, as he dashed giggling through the strange landscape. He looked down as the world rushed past him and the cutest, fluffiest white bunny rabbits hopped and skipped around, chasing each other in the most playful of ways.
He heard a rumble and turned his head as a herd of unicorns ran freely past him. Eric’s joy could not be contained at the amazing sight.
Mountains of mystic blue reached skywards far in the distance and stretched high above the clouds. They were so beautiful.
Eric heard a cry from far above him. He looked up and saw the hugest, mightiest golden eagle swooping over his head crying out his eagley greeting. Eric waved at the eagle and laughed. He was in awe of such a majestic and mighty creature.
He ran further and further and faster and faster; the greenest and lushest trees lined his path. They had cushion-like canopies and the most wonderful blossomy fragrance. Birds sang their beautiful songs to the morning, as the laughing, giggling boy bounded swiftly onwards. He had no idea where he was going, but he was having such fun.
Soon he was running through fields of pretty perfumed flowers of stunning purples and pinks. The smell was so sweet in his nostrils as they bowed down at his feet in the wind. The furriest and fattest bumble bees buzzed busily from flower to flower, collecting their bounty of sweet nectar. The most colourful glittery butterflies fluttered and flittered gently around his ankles.
He ran forever, for miles, until eventually the soft grass beneath his feet made way for warm, silver, shining sand which glinted and winked in the golden sunlight. He sank up to his ankles when he realised, he was running up an enormous sand dune.
As he reached the top, his ears were filled with the familiar and comforting sound of an ocean’s waves licking the shoreline. He jumped and ran and skipped down the other side of the dune until he reached the bottom. There before his eyes was the most amazing beach he had ever seen.
He stopped panting as he stood on the sand, looking out to the most wondrous ocean. Its turquoise waters gently licked the sand as it glinted and sparkled, winking in the sunlight. He stood and stared with a huge smile upon his face.
He sucked in enormous lungfuls of the cleanest air. There he stood, and as he watched the amazing ocean, he was wrapped up in a great sense of wonder. He could see huge whales creating enormous foamy splashes with their tails. Dolphins danced and played, skipping among the waves. To his amazement, a narwhal poked its head out of the water and splashed into view, a whale-like creature with the most amazing long, twisted unicorn horn on its snout.
Far in the distance, something else caught his eye. He strained to see what it was, but he couldn’t quite make it out. Was it a dolphin? Or was it another narwhal? It was just beyond his view. The creature seemed to be swimming right towards him. It swam closer and closer. Finally, he could make it out among the waves. He was lost in utter disbelief. There in the turquoise ocean was a beautiful blonde-haired mermaid waving to him.
Eric really didn’t know how to react to this, so he did the only thing he could do and waved back. As quickly as she had appeared, the wonderful and amazing creature dived down and disappeared gently back beneath the waves.
Then, out of nowhere, like it came from the sky itself, that strange, lingering voice called to him again.
Without even so much as a thought, Eric was drawn once again towards it. The voice seemed to pull him, to guide him, as he headed blindly towards the unknown source.
His legs started to move against his will. It was like he was hypnotised, like he was being drawn. As the voice constantly called out to him, Eric trudged his way across the silver beach.
After what seemed a very long walk, with his feet sinking deep into the soft sand, Eric noticed a cliff surrounded by rocks ahead. The cliff glowed a burning orange in the sunlight. Eric had an irresistible urge to climb up the cliff. He somehow knew this was where he’d find the owner of the voice.
He approached it slowly and put his hands on the rock, but before he could start to climb, a squeaky voice came from below him.
“Hey! Hey, you there.”
Eric took his hands from the cliff and turned his head around to find where the voice had come from. He couldn’t see anybody at all. Did he really hear the voice? Or did he imagine it? He shook his head in disbelief and placed his hands back on the rock as he prepared to climb.
Then the voice squeaked again. “Hey you, down here.”
Eric looked down, and, to his surprise, at his feet there was a chameleon. The chameleon’s skin was made up of the most vivid colours you ever saw. It had all the colours of the rainbow, pinks and greens and blues. And most bizarrely of all, the chameleon was, indeed, talking to him.
“That’s right, stupid. Like I said, down here,” the chameleon squawked, as if chameleons are supposed to talk.
Though Eric was wondering what was happening, he did the only thing you should do if a chameleon ever speaks to you, speak back.
“Hello there,” Eric said.
“You’re not gonna climb up that cliff, are you?” the chameleon enquired.
“Yes, I was thinking about it,” replied the boy.
“Well, don’t. It’s very dangerous, very, very dangerous indeed.”
“There was a strange voice calling to me. I just felt like I should,” Eric explained.
“Voice, a voice, you say. Don’t listen to her, she’s bats,” the chameleon squeaked back.
“Her who?” Eric asked, as it seemed the chameleon knew the owner of the voice.
“It’s crazy Lacy. Silly old bat, she’s mad as a hatter. She’s always talking about crazy things and calling to people from the human world.”
“The human world? So, I’m not in the human world now?” Eric was more confused than ever.
“Can chameleons talk in the human world? Is the sky pink there?” reasoned the strange reptile.
“I suppose not,” said Eric. “Where on Earth am I then?”
“Where on Earth? You’re not on Earth now, my laddo, my boy. Oh no, you sonny Jim, are in Dreamland.”
This did kind of make sense to Eric when he thought back to the unicorns and the mermaid and the bubbles and all the other weird and wonderful things he had seen.
“Dreamland,” the chameleon rambled, “the paradise, the land of wonder, the land where anything at all is possible.” He was clearly very proud of his home.
Eric stopped him before he rambled any further. “What’s your name then? I’m Eric.”
Eric reached out two fingers to shake the chameleon’s tiny mitten-like hand.
“The name’s Dutch, Dutch Dobble of Dreamland. Pleased indeed to meet you. Very pleased, very, very pleased.”
They shook hands. Then the mischievous side of Eric came out. “If anything is possible in Dreamland, then why can’t I climb the cliff?”
Dutch’s voice took on a serious tone. “If you were to fall, you would break your neck or your back or your skull. One slip and it would all be over for you, sunshine.”
“I’m sure I won’t fall,” said Eric.
Dutch barked out, “Well, I’m sure you will. The rocks are very unstable. They are made of biscuit.”
“Biscuit? Who ever heard of a cliff of biscuit?”
Eric reached out, and sure enough, a rock came off in his hand. He took a nervous bite, but it did not break his teeth as he feared; it was indeed made of sweet, moist biscuit. He then knew for sure he would not be able to climb it.
He and Dutch talked a little bit more until Eric had an idea. Eric knew in his dreams he could sometimes fly. So, it stood to reason that he would be able to fly in Dreamland.
“I’ll fly,” Eric announced.
Dutch doubtfully shook his head. “Oh no, my old fruit bat; you can’t fly in Dreamland.”
“I fly all the time in my dreams, so why can’t I fly here?” asked Eric.
“Well, I’ll tell you, buckaroo. When you’re asleep, Dreamland sometimes lets you fly because you need to get somewhere. But you don’t decide when you can fly; Dreamland does.”
Eric refused to listen to Dutch. He closed his eyes and concentrated. He imagined floating upwards. He could feel the power bubbling up within him. His little body started shaking like a leaf in the wind.
“What are you doing?” asked Dutch, filled with great concern.
Eric did not utter a word. He stooped down and picked up Dutch in his hand. Then, to Dutch’s amazement, slowly and oh so gently, Eric’s feet left the sand.
“You’re flying!” cried the astonished chameleon as they rose.
They climbed higher and higher. They floated up all the way to the top of the cliff, and when they got there, Eric landed as softly as a butterfly lands on a flower. He placed his new friend upon his shoulder as his feet touched down on the ground.
Eric looked, and in front of him he could see there was a little white cottage with a thatched roof. Smoke gently puffed from the chimney. Then it hit him. The most amazing smell of home-cooked apple pie filled his nostrils.
“Who lives here?” Eric asked his new friend, who was perched happily on his shoulder.
“Why don’t you knock and find out?” Dutch suggested.
Eric walked right up to the door and knocked, thinking whoever had called to him surely lived inside.
Barry Brunswick is a children’s author. You can buy his children’s books on Amazon, The War of The Turnips, The Secret Tale of the Cupboard Gnome, the short story collection Barry S. Brunswick’s Tall Tales and the new fantasy adventure – Dreamland Part 1 The Fabric of Dreams.