It’s been five hundred and forty-nine years since he took on this godforsaken job. Damaskus stares out of the dirty window in the woods and sighs heavily as the horizon eats away the very last of the fireball hanging in the air.
Every night at exactly eight o’clock he dresses himself in his purple cloak and heads out to the homes of the mortals. He gathers their dream catchers and empties them into the pockets of his cloak, for the nightmares to be taken back to his home and to be released by dusk.
He was a small boy when he was assigned to this task, not entirely knowing what he would get himself into, he agreed eagerly. He remembers the tears in his mother’s eyes and couldn’t understand why she was not happy for him. At the time, he was proud to have the dream catcher title amongst the wizards, not knowing what was lurking in the dark.
Damaskus spots the evening star, an indication that he can start his journey. He wraps the purple cloak around his shoulders and closes the dusty, wooden door beind him. The forest is alive with the creatures of the night and Damaskus sets foot on the stone path, just like he’s done for the past five hundred years.
The home he will be visiting tonight is not far from where he lives. As Damaskus rounds the corner he can make out the stone cottage between the thick branches in front of him. A beautiful garden surrounds this little house and it makes him feel a sense of comfort. He takes out a crumbled piece of paper from his pocket and scans the name. Stella. He puts his face against the window and can see the little girl sound asleep. With one sentence, Damaskus can transport himself to the inside of her room and he tries to be as quiet as possible. There’s only one rule when it comes to catching nightmares, never let the mortals see you.
Stella is sound asleep and surrounded by pink ruffles. Damaskus smiles as he looks down on this perfect little girl.
“There, there little one. I will make sure that you have no bad dreams” he whispers as his eyes searches for the dream catcher.
Damaskus unhooks the catcher from above Stella’s head and shakes it a few times and watches the dark mist release into the pocket of his cloak. Once done, he puts the catcher back but stares at Stella for a little while longer. He feels a sudden peach sweeping over him and feel the need to protect this little girl from any danger.
A salty tear creeps down his wrinkled cheek and he turns around and head back into the woods, leaving Stella sound asleep and her catcher nightmare free.
The sofa creeks as he sits his old body down. Soon, he won’t be able to walk around these woods any more. He can’t imagine his jo being taken away but if he is unable to gather the nightmares, he will have no choice.
He remembered the first time he had to empty the cloak. He was a thirteen-year-old boy, excited and nervous all at the same time. He was taken into the den and a golden key in the shape of a dream catcher was given to him. He remembered the words of his trainer;
“The only way to send the nightmares through the portal is to experience them yourself first, only then will they release”.
Damaskus blinks, he walks over to the den and with shaky hands open the portal with the same golden key he got over five hundred years ago. He releases the black mist and soon he sees himself going through the black tunnel. It’s a little girl, how bad can the nightmares be? This one will be easy, of that he is sure.
Silence. Damaskus finds himself in an open field. He is standing in the way of two tracks beading towards one direction. He squints his eyes to see in the distance but the white cloud of mist is too thick for him to see clearly. He starts walking towards the cloud and feels a cold breeze blowing through his thick white beard. What is this place?
As Damaskus breaks through the first fluff of the misty cloud he can see what looks like an old abandoned theme park. A rusty roller coaster, clearly unused for a long time is now visible through the mist. A Ferris wheel, opposite the roller coaster is covered in bushes and with a frown Damaskus walks around trying to make sense of it all.
Broken oversize tea cups, a dinosaur with only one leg and a headless pony was only a few things scattered. He walks over to the abandoned wooden building, hoping that he’d find more clues there. The door is half way open and he tries and shoves the door to the side. A dove shoots up into the air and Damaskus ducks while holding his head. His heart beating out of his chest and he laughs nervously. He makes his way through he rubble, not entirely sure where he’s heading.
A door at the end of the hallway captures his attention. It’s painted a bright yellow. That’s odd he thought. It almost looks as if it was freshly painted. It’s covered with cob webs so it couldn’t have been. He touches the knob and a shock wave is sent through his old body. He releases immediately. Damaskus beds down and closes one eye to take a peep through the key-hole.
A blood curling scream sends shivers down his spine and he falls on his back forced to grab and shut his ears. He hears a cracking noise and then suddenly darkness surrounds him.