The Nightmare Plague: Illusions of Sanity, part four

Marley began to walk around seemingly at random.  Latricia watched with puzzlement and looked to Sonny and Ambrose.  Both bears shrugged and watched intently. The bear was reaching out with her hand as though looking for some texture in the air.  When she stopped, they watched a pantomime of patting at the air. All three were surprised when she began to push against nothing.  The space in front of her began to stretch, breaking apart like the edges of a jigsaw puzzle. She laughed mirthlessly.

“Come here, all of you.  At my signal, we all shoulder in.”  They followed her instructions and all four lunged into seemingly empty space, breaking through the walls of illusion and into the distressed land that it hid.  Before them was the edge of a dark forest of blighted trees. The sky was a noxious yellow.

Latricia looked like she would be sick.

“What is it doing to the child?”

Ambrose put an arm around her shoulders to give support.

“It is trying to poison the mind.  This appears to be a dream, but that encourages the mind to dwell on it while sickening the child from inside.  The child is going mad from seemingly nothing.”

The younger bear quailed.

“What is the point?”

“It feeds the nightmare, but there is something else going on.  Bogeys can be subtle, but this is designed to destroy the child quickly.  There is a lot of energy being gathered with speed.”

Marley listened to the exchange while examining the landscape.  It was the same bogey. Yes, they could be subtle, but this one is trading that for expedience.  She thought back to that day and idly rubbed where her fabric had been restitched. It was still numb, which was something more disconcerting than if it ached.  The infection of its presence was deeper than she had previously thought.

A whimpering sound tugged at Marley’s ear.  She paid surreptitious attention to her companions:  Ambrose seemed strained, but was attentive of their surroundings.  Sonny and Laticia, though, were clearly having trouble. The sound had come from her, but Sonny was poorly concealing his agitation.  Marley felt alarm rising at the possibility of dragging the two bears through the nightmare. Obviously Sonny had not encountered a bogey before.  

Sonny had been trying to put on a brave face, telling Latricia “I’ll take you back to where we came in.”

“No,” Ambrose said, “you cannot.  Not unless you can fly.”

Both bears looked equally alarmed, realizing that they were trapped.

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