The Light Dies Down on Broadway (part 1)

May 21, 2015:

Dreamraker finds herself inspired by LSD and old prog rock records, so she merges a few hundred minds together into a merged nightmare based on an album titled "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway".

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway - full album


Fade In…

Evening has come, and those who choose to sleep find themselves in a peaceful slumber. But all is not peaceful in this world, for one young woman, distraught with a disturbing and mentally unraveling power, has chosen to unleash herself upon this mundane world.

An hour past, Lynette Shackleford was bored, so she put a thin piece of paper laced with LSD upon her tongue. She sat back upon her rooftop balcony and waited, patiently, for the drugs to kick in.

When the feeling began to spread, she dashed into her apartment to grab her records. Rifling through them with insane eyes, she picked out a personal favorite; a title from 1974 by British prog-rock giants, Genesis.

'The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway' is considered by some to be the band's quintessential masterpiece under Peter Gabriel. By others, it is considered an effort in doing too much, too quickly. However, with four sides, the album will provide an ample soundtrack for the nightmare she is to create amongst the minds of Manhattan.

Steadily, one by one, various minds are plucked from their pleasant (or otherwise) dreams, and thrust into a landscape that is altogether too real. Each of them find themselves with the insatiable urge to walk, a lulling that eventually will draw them out and into the quiet streets. The mind is tricked by the oneiropathicmastery of the Dreamraker who, even in her drugged state, merges their minds together in such a way that everything seems real. Taste, touch, sound, smell… so real, in fact, that those victims of her co-joined nightmare might be wholly tricked into believing it is all real.

People pass to and fro in the middle of the night, until the dreamers are all drawn together at an oddly quiet Times Square. A dust begins to fill the air, falling steadily until the dust forms a film of sorts upon the victims' skins.

*

This is… this is not where Kamala fell asleep. But that's not the sort of thing you think in a dream, not mostly. The diminutive Kamala Khan, dressed in her superheroing costume but with, curiously enough, her Captain America boots with the stars on the toes. She pauses, standing alone for a moment, reaching up to rub her temples. Something feels so weird. Discordant all the way down her spine. Frowning a little further, she extends her hands and turns them back and forth. Their soft brown is being dusted in grey, and she wrinkles her nose before looking around the rest of herself. It's like cinders. She rubs at her hands, her wrists, trying to get it off.

*

"We have a habit of meeting here, Lois." The man says.

Her scene was in the park, a black coat and gloves were soon seen wrappingabout her, she could feel the press of cotton against her fingers, the way the coat buckled against her. It felt warm like a blanket, only it carried enough heat to make her sweat.

"Meet where? The park?"
"No. The beach."

It was nice out, the sand didn't look like sand itself; but a light brownish blanket of diamonds that scattered itself as far as the eye could see to her left and right. Ahead of her, the crashing waves of the light blue ocean provided a calming affect, calming enough for her to lean back upon the plastic slats her sun-tanning chair provides.

"What I wouldn't give for a.."

"..Walk?"

Lois now was outside the bar, cigarette in hand that looked a little too large. Her fingers nearly held upon it like a claw that was soon brought to her lips to try to fit around the circumference. The smoke traveled through her lungs and lifted her from the ground to float, that large cigarette soon tossed away and replaced with a glass of water that does not quench her thirst.

"..Dad?"
"No. Some other type of thing."
"That doesn't make any sense."
"If the parent isn't responding, just kill him and his children.."

'I didn't want this..'

Dreams were a strange thing.. for she lands upon her feat within the middle of Times square, her royal nightgown nearly a beacon in the dark light that hosts the area.. which soon is dull and dimmed, as well as the lights nearby, a squinting of her eyes as she draws her hands along her arms, a press against her face. This.. it .. no. This was real. She could feel herself. When did she wake up?

"Hello?" She calls out to Kamala. "Hey! Can you… help?"

*

"KICK HIM AGAIN!"
*WHAM!*
"KEEP KICKING!"
*KRAK!*
"HARDER! KICK HIM!"
*KRNCH!*

Sobbing, Wilson Fisk savages a teenaged boy with sandy brown hair with kick after kick to the ribs, midsection, skull— wherever he thinks will make his dad yell at him a little less.

"COME ON, KEEP KICKING HIM!"

Dirty alley water splashes onto his pristine white suit and purple ascot with each kick, washing the custom-tailored fabric away and leaving patches of bare flesh behind. But Wilson doesn't stop. Wilson can't stop, not with his father's screams driving him onwards like a lash.

"YOU FAT WASTE!" his father hollers before skittering closer and hunkering down in a catcher's position, both to observe up close and get right.
Next.
To Wilson's.
Ear.

"KEEP! KICKING!"
*KRAK!*

Blood geysers from the teenager's lips when Wilson's feet sinks into his belly. Tears shaken free by the Kingpin of Crime's fearful shudder fall into the midst of the spray, carving visible channels through on the way down.

"D-dad…" the boy on the ground whimpers when one of those tears falls to his cheek. Trembling, Richard Fisk uses what little strength is left to him to turn his head and meet Wilson's eyes.

"You— you have to—"

Wilson Fisk starts awake in the back of a black limo as it pulls to a stop in Times Square. He allows himself to pant fearfully exactly three times before clenching his jaw for a bracing second and pushing the dream down into the depths of his consciousness, where it belongs.

"Sir?" his well-groomed and glasses-wearing right hand asks from his seat across from Fisk. "Is everything alright?"

"I wasn't… ahem." Wilson dabs sweat from his brow with a handkerchief, stuffs it into the still-intact breast pocket of his tattered jacket, then works on adjusting his lapels as he continues, "I don't seem to recall scheduling any family time, Wesley." He cracks the door and sticks a bare ankle out. "See to it that it does not happen again."

Wilson looks as if he came directly to Lois and Kamala's corner from a month long desert island getaway. His no doubt expensive, white jacket, shirt, and pants are halfway gone, leaving him in what may be the finest hand-crafted belly shirt and shorts combo a man has ever worn in Times Square.

Maybe.

Lotta club kids out there, after all.

"Help?" he interjects, setting eyes on Lois and thensweeping them towards Kamala to take stock of them both. "I believe I might be able to do just that; it is what I do, after all." He flashes his best congenial smile despite the state of his attire. "I do so love helping people."

*

Fly on a Windshield

'And I'm hovering like a fly, waiting for the windshield on the freeway.'

The dust begins to gather into a massive wall, eclipsing the tallest of buildings as it becomes something of an impenetrable force. Each person trapped within the dream begins to experience something unique; their friends, enemies, the strangers that they may have been conversing with suddenly begin to look away, off toward the sky.

To Lois, Kamala looks off to the sky; yet to Kamala, Lois does the very same. To both, Wilson looks off to the sky, and to Fisk, the two ladies do the same. Perspective is a fascinating thing; the Dreamraker, here, is simply amusing herself.

The wall moves closer, faster than any of them find that they are able to run, should they move away. It's inevitable; the wall strikes each of those trapped within, thrusting them into a dimension of mental instability. Things that should not be take place.

Wilson Fisk finds himself shaking hands with Superman, only to crush the Man of Steel's hand with his meaty grip, causing the hero to crumple before him. Ms. Marvel finds herself tumbling through the void, her skin bleeding and deteriorating, rather than healing, as she may have expected. At first, it doesn't hurt, but soon enough, the pain becomes quite visceral. Lois Lane finds herself standing on the Red Carpet, dressed in a horrific gown and walking arm in arm with a smelly Jerry Springer. They're all laughing at her, while Tom Brokhaw sneers at her behind a flaming cigar.

The visions disappear, and those trapped within find themselves separated from each other, each of them regaining consciousness in some musky half-light. Each of them are warmly wrapped in some sort of cocoon, the color of which matched the dust that had settled upon their skins in Times Square. The only sound is dripping water, which appears to be the source of a pale, flickering light. A cave, of sorts? Perhaps?

In the real world, Lynette leans back upon her couch as the vinyl spins, a cigarette draped lazily from her hand as the LSD trip enhances her metahuman senses.

*

Kamala stares at Lois, stepping toward her. Extending her hand, but not a word comes out. To Wilson Fisk… the man looks like his clothes went through a Cuisinart, and she looks at him with sincere bafflement. Her lips purse, then part, and she's just about to speak when —

When the wall starts to build up. She reaches out to tug at Lois's arm to get her to pay attention — "We've got to go, lady. Buddy," she adds, looking to Fisk. "Come on, pay attention! Get the car started and — "

And she's gone from them. It's dark, so dark. She can't see, but there's nothing to see except herself. Except her skin starting to rot away, to slough off, to show veins and bone underneath. All that shows is her hands and her face, but she can see herself crumbling underneath her clothes. Clutching herself, clutching her arms, her chest, her cheeks, Kamala lets out an agonized and ululating scream. She can feel it. She's not dreaming. She can't be. In her dreams…

In her dreams, her grandmothers and grandfathers and their mothers and fathers were all at an impossible and impossibly large family reunion, all finding every fault with their descendant. She doesn't wear the hijab. She's immodest. She sneaks out and disobeys her parents. She's lazy, she's wrong, she's forgetting who she is.

Even now, Kamala's not sure if that nightmare was worse than this reality as she's picked apart by this impossible-to-understand entropy.

*

"You can help?" Lois takes a step towards Fisk, concern within her gaze. There was nothing about, but the dust that was settling upon them had the makings of a horrible apocalyptic type setting. Was there a building on fire? Was this ash upon her skin? She shakes her hair out, her worried gaze drawn upon Kamala as they both look to the sky..

BOOM!

Lois tries to grasp for the two, her fingers drawing into nothingness, the wall hitting her at her back which sends her flying limbs sprawling, fingers attemping to latch upon to something until a bright light shocks her senses and brings her to the sound of laughter…

..laughter that mocks and kills the soul with every step that was taken. Eyes were upon her, the rancid smell of body sweat and something old clouds her senses. Who's arm was this? Was it Clark?

No!

"Oh god!" She shrieks out, drawing away from the man as those surrounding her give sneers, fingers pointing in her direction, arms crossed along their bellies as they try to contain their lunch. Her get up was something to be remembered, and not in a good way. Pink with large bows, frilled with a train that had puppies strawn along it. Only, those puppies were made by five year olds and often left a trail of.. wait.. oh god.. no.

Her hands begin to claw at the garb decorating her, the bonnet that was strapped upon her chin tossed to the side, fingers drawing against the fabric to rip and tear asunder as she's left there in…

A cave. And back into her pajamas. Sweet baby Jesus..

"Hello?" Lois calls out.. the light flickered, she was unable to see where she was. Her feet were cold, and there was the constant cadence of water..

THOINK! THOCK!THOINK!

..in tandem with her beating heart. Her chest was tightening just a little, she could feel a chill drawing up her spine and separating into her arms, branching off to the tips of her fingers which draw an unsteady shake of her hand..

"Guys?"

*

Wilson's eyes move rather inevitably from Lois and Kamala to the wave of dust rising ever higher over the skyline.

Unlike them, though, he actually manages to tear his attention away from it long enough to bark, "I can indeed— beginning with leaving this wretched place before its filth consumes us!" He takes a step towards his limo - still sitting there with its door hanging open and someone who isn't quite visible from the street watching the proceedings intently - only to look back and see that Kamala and Lois are still looking up.

"Suicidal— "

Kamala grabs his arm without looking down.

"Unhand me!" he snaps before— seizing her hand and trying to shove her towards the limo. "This is for your benefit, young lady; once we've departed this place— nngh— "

She doesn't budge despite giving up God knows how many pounds. He pulls, he grunts, he digs his heels in, and— nothing. No movement at all.

Except for the dust crashing down on them.

"No— Noooooo— !"

*POP!*
*POP!*
*POP!*

Wilson looks down at the hand in his as cameras go off around him, then up the arm enrobed in blue to rippling pectorals emblazoned with red and gold heraldry proclaiming his position as a man above all others.

All others but Fisk, of course.

His eyes continue upwards until they meet bright blues that can melt steel. His lips stretch wide in a predatory grin. He squeezes.

*POP!*

Fingers capable of derailing a speeding locomotive fold into a gnarled bundle as Fisk's grip tightens.

*POP!*
*POP!*

Wilson Fisk starts awake in the middle of a black— something.

"what— rr— rrrRRRAARGH!"

Still-clenched fists swing wildly in an effort to break free; this mostly serves to make his cocoon bulge and undulate weirdly. After a couple seconds of struggling, he accepts that perhaps punching is not the answer, here, and settles down enough to drop his hands to his sides.

"An excellent game," he calls out to no-one in particular, "but it is past time that it ended! Soon, my absence will set countless, dedicated men to combing the city, the state— the coast for clues of my whereabouts."

He's quite good at not betraying it wholesale amidst the calm, confident bluster, but there is a flicker of uncertainty— of fear underlying his promise.

"In due time, this… frivolity will come crumbling down around whomever thought to bring us here," he continues in a lower voice meant only for Lois and Kamala. "Worry not: your salvation is already here, and his name is Fisk."

*

In The Cage

'Outside the cage, I see my brother John. He turns his head so slowly round. I cry out 'help!' before he can be gone, and he looks at me without a sound.'

The walls of the cave begin to press in again, like some twisted revisitation of what took place in Times Square. There seems to be no escape, as the prison collapses and forms, squeezing it's victims until a glimpse can be seen of what surrounds them.

An endless cave, each of those minds trapped within the Dreamraker's clutches dangling in rocky cocoons that enclose their avatars and threaten to pop joint and bone. Somewhere amongst the throng, rather than 'Brother John', there stands the nightmarish visage of Dreamraker. This, Lynette's avatar as she trips further, injects herself into the nightmare itself as a raven-haired puppetmaster, dressed in syrupy purple and draping black.

She laughs, and turns toward each victim in their own minds, a single tear of blood running down her face.

The world begins to spin, faster and faster into dizzying mayhem, until the cages are dropped into some kind of factory that could have been taken straight from the set of a Tim Burton film.

Each of the victims have been dropped onto conveyor belts that twist and turn and climb and fall, much like the carnival melody that seeps into the victims heads.

A sign dangling from the vaulted ceiling reads:

'The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging'

A simple look around will reveal other bodies, lifeless hunks of skin and bone, being wrapped up in something resembling bacon flesh. High above, in a control box, stands the Dreamraker. She pulls and pushes at various levers, triggering traps and obstacles should her victims make any attempt to find the ways out.

*

She's landed. Or she's settled. Or she's… somewhere, staring up at a strange and horrible face with bloody tears and creepy robes. Or something.

Whatever it is, Kamala is so not on board. She struggles upright, crouching on the conveyor belt and doing her best to stay halfway upright. Her head whips around to see if she can find the other two people in particular, calling out: "Hey! If you can hear me, shout out! It's okay, I can find you, I can get us out of here, if I can just — "

She crouches, leaps to another part of the conveyor belt. Oh God, it's horrible. They're dead; all around her, just… horrible, dead, dessicated bodies.

"If this is a dream," she mutters, "my subconscious needs therapy."

*

"Fisk?" Lois echoes out..

Until the walls fell.

They begin to press and move, Lois taking off in a run, her hands pressing against the wall to squeeze herself through the narrow tunnel to salvation. She presses her back against, pushing with all of her might.. if this is a dream, why can she feel the tension built within her arms? How her muscles ache as she tries to free herself from this prision. This was hell. And this was starting to become too real. "Aaaarrraaahhh!" She screams out, desperation in those tones, to get attention, any attention, even if it was in the form of red and blue. There was reluctants to call, but it was made.. gone out into the ethers and unanswered.

The figure of the woman.. it stills her, catches her breath as she screams out.. "What do you want from me!" Us. There were others here right? Why couldn't she see…

..because the room was spinning, faster and faster, her hair whipping against cheeks that threaten to burn and fall prey to the weight of her tears. She just wants this to stop.. god make it stop..

*WHRIZRZZRZ!*

The cogs that turn the belt make the noise of nightmares, each roll and turn has her pressing her hands against a chest of an unknown victim, gripping his shirt to climb over to rush UP the belt..

She could hear someone.. someone in the distance. "I'm HERE! I'm HERE! WHERE ARE YOU?! Where's FISK?!" Where were they?!

The sharp twist and turn of the belt has her falling from the platform onto another, landing upon the soft plush of the deceased, the air gone from their bodies create a disgusting noise that nearly makes her stomach turn. But her body does, hand pressed to face of the dead, only to draw back..

"LUCY!!!?!" She shrieks out, fingers grasping and pawing at the ruined, bloodied, bacon type shirt of the victim. "LUCY! NO LUCY OH GOD NO NO NO LUCY NO!!"

*

"I will— nngh— "

Try as he might to stand tall, the walls crush Fisk down to his knees. Every attempt at pushing back against them tears his flesh and threatens to shove bones out of joint.

Kneeling isn't enough to make it stop; the walls close in until his arms are compressed against his chest in an unbreakable embrace. Until he's fetal and crying out in agony, in rage— until he's desperate to free himself and begins to realize that he can't.

And then he sees a face. Hears her laughter, looks deep into blood-stained eyes. "You— " he snarls. "I will end you! Your life will be meaningless, desolate— "

He falls, threats unspooling into a meaningless roar echoing through the madly revolving space between the cave and the factory. The belt shakes when his body crashes to it and bodies jump, but manage not to fall off.

It's kind of a feat, because there are a lot of bodies. Old, young, male, female, in every color of the rainbow. Many are faceless, stacked atop one another like cordwood and differentiated solely by the odd brightly colored bandana or track suit before they're turned into heaping mounds of bacon-wrapped flesh. Fisk rushes to his feet now that the walls are gone, scans the factory for signs of Lois and Kamala. He can hear voices, but he can't see anyone past the bodies— except whoever's in that control box. He begins to turn his attention there before a fresh body falls from a hopper to land at his feet. His gaze falls.

"— Vanessa?" he whispers as his eyes widen. The cold, calculated rage simmering in them breaks as what he's seeing sinks in, and he kneels to lay a hand against her cold cheek. "How could— I never intended for…"

A fresh sheet of meat winds around her and him, binding them together for a brief moment before he tears himself free and turns his eyes squarely to the box.

"I'LL KILL YOU!" he bellows while stampeding down the belt, bodies flying every which way as he barrels through them. He can see a ladder leading up to the box all the way at the end of the line, but it seems to get further the more he runs.

Worse still, he is inevitably forced to negotiate a lurching drop as he moves, and try as he might to maintain his stability, his foot hits a puddle of grease and he tumbles down the belt towards a vat of milky, boiling fat.

*

Laurel Lance had been sleeping fitfully in her flat, plagued by the nightmares that haunted her daily.

She was in a military base and arguing with a handsome man, she was extremely angry, "Kurt, you bastard! How could you? With her of all people?"

The man shrugged his shoulders and smiled at her charmingly, "It meant nothing, alright? It was just a fling and I Lo—-"

Kurt was cutoff mid-sentence and Laurel screamed at him, "LIAR!"

Her eyes were opened wide in anger and she continued to scream profanities and incoherent words in the throes of her passionate rage.

Glass began to shatter in the room, the windows began to splinter before shattering as well.

Laurel was not just screaming, she was using her signature Canary Cry and the man in front of her; her husband was now dead. His skull crushed by the sonic force of her scream.

As Laurel went to rush towards Kurt she screamed in anguish only to wake up, only she wasn't awake she was hanging in one of the cages in this strange room.

She wasn't sure how she got here and she seemed terrified more so by the fact.

*

In the real world, Side A of The Lamb grinds to a cacophonous halt. Within the dream, the factory does the same; the belts grind to a halt, the traps cease movement, and the Dreamraker looks down upon the terror of her creation, laughing maniacally.

The laughter stops, and she draws in a deep breath, before the word from her mouth resounds throughout the Grand Parade in a deafening whisper.

"Remember."

Suddenly,the group is separated again. The factory fades, and is replaced by a place fond to each of her victims.

Lynette turns the record over, dropping the needle onto the leading groove.

'I see faces and traces of home…'

Back in New York City

It is a brief reprieve from the mayhem. Each of the Dreamraker's victims are given some time to relive moments of their real lives, as if waking from the terrible nightmare. It's pleasant, but for those who haven't broken free from the nightmare, something about it seems… off.

As if an invisible force was guiding them to face those deep places of insecurity, of dissatisfaction. A time to shave the hair from their hearts and indulge in their greatest of wishes…

*

Laurel Lance had been sleeping fitfully in her flat, plagued by the nightmares that haunted her daily.

She was in a military base and arguing with a handsome man, she was extremely angry, "Kurt, you bastard! How could you? With her of all people?"

The man shrugged his shoulders and smiled at her charmingly, "It meant nothing, alright? It was just a fling and I Lo—-"

Kurt was cutoff mid-sentence and Laurel screamed at him, "LIAR!"

Her eyes were opened wide in anger and she continued to scream profanities and incoherent words in the throes of her passionate rage.

Glass began to shatter in the room, the windows began to splinterbefore shattering as well.

Laurel was not just screaming, she was using her signature Canary Cry and the man in front of her; her husband was now dead. His skull crushed by the sonic force of her scream.

As Laurel went to rush towards Kurt she screamed in anguish only to wake up, only she wasn't awake she was hanging in one of the cages in this strange room.

She wasn't sure how she got here and she seemed terrified more so by the fact.

*

The belt grinds to a halt, which actually causes Kamala to lose her balance and tumble and fall to another belt. She was doing her best not to look at the faces. She can hear screaming from all over the place, echoing from the walls, bouncing from the windows and the ceiling, and she makes the mistake of looking down —

"…Amma?"

Her voice is strained suddenly as she stares down at that face. Her hands cup the woman's cheeks, her thumbs moving over her cheekbones. Suddenly her movements are frantic as she looks up, around. Her father. Her brother. No, no, this is impossible; this is a bad dream, a bad dream. Kamala's fingers curl into claws and she tears at her arms, desperately trying to wake herself up. This is impossible, but the smell of the musty, long-dessicated bodies chokes her nostrils —

No. It's tea. The musty smell is tea, and it's not musty. It's warm and spicy and pleasant.

She looks upslowly to find herself kneeling on her bed at home. Her computer's still on, her level 90 character in World of Warcraft still idling on the screen. Unfolding herself, she pads down the stairs. It's only when she reaches the foot of the stairs that she realizes she's still in her costume. Did she sleep in it? But her mother looks in from the kitchen and smiles brightly, and there's honest pride in her eyes.

"You're up and dressed! Your friends are here for breakfast. Go say hello to them."

Looking to her right into the living room, it's… it's Captain Marvel. And Captain America. And the Martian Manhunter and her father and brother and her friends from school, and they're all watching a news story about her. About the people she's saved. About the city being so proud. About her parents being interviewed, and they're proud.

"I had the worst dream," she croaks, padding barefoot into the living room. But they're getting up, one by one — her heroes, her father, her brother, and they're hugging her one after the other, clapping her on the shoulder, grinning and laughing and telling her they knew all along, really they did. And they're proud. They're so proud.

*

The laughter fills the air surrounding Lois, her teary eyed gaze striking up with anger towards Lynette, her teeth gritted and bared as she unleashes a hellish scream…

Until it all goes black.

The room was a basic hotel room that one could get, it wasn't cheap by far but it was affordable, something that the middle class workers could indulge in during their times away from home. The walls were an egg-shell white; pictures of pots and fruits littering the wall to create a livable space that seems a bit spartan yet with a touch of feng shui that makes it all the more bearable.

Steam fills her gaze as she lifts the handle to tug upon the leg of the suit, drawing the vacuum down it's length as she glances back towards the bed to watch the sleeping man for a moment, the steam burning her hand as she lets out a slight hiss and a shake of her hand, drawing it up to her gaze to survey the damage.

"Lois?" The man says. "Are you alright?"

She smiles as she turns, her head tilted just right, "I'm fine Clark. Are you alright?"

His words were muffled briefly, for she continued to steam the suit to perfection, her fingers drawing down the cloth as she tugs at the leg of the pant.

"Couldn't sleep?"
"No.. just some weird dreams. Think we need to lay off the meat before bed.."
"I have to tell you something.."
"Hm?"
"I ..I.."
"I know.."
"You don't."
"I.. don't what.."
"You can't possibly know what I'm about to tell you.."
"Oh for fucks sake Clark, just spit it out already.."

*

Wilson claws at the belt, seeking any groove, seam, or hole he can latch onto for purchase— anything to save him from being rendered both dead and deliciously deep fried.

Anything to help him crawl free of the conveyer and extract slow, bloody vengeance from the Dreamraker.

When the machinery stops, he finds himself still in spite of the angle he's laying at. Still, but unable to retake his feet; he tries, but as soon as his soles touch the belt, he begins to slide. He gives himself a few moments to catch his breath, then fills his lung and looks over his shoulder. He can still see the box up there, leering down at him.

Mocking him.

Fuck physics.

Still running his fingers along the belt in the vain hopes of finding something he can cling to, Fisk braces his feet against the belt, sliding as he stands. Sliding without a care beyond Vanessa's lifeless face and the Dreamraker's malevolent laughter.

Sliding down, down, down until he crashes into six hundred threads of Egyptian cotton rumpled atop a king-sized mattress. Laughter echoes in his ears, bright and affirming and signifying an impeding crash—!

"Got you, Daddy!" a young Richard Fisk exclaims as he lands on Wilson's belly. The boy is quick to wriggle up Wilson's body until little hands can shoot towards his face. "You're it! I tagged you, and now you're it!" Wilson allows the contact; he even lets the boy's fingers roam across the myriad of lines already etched into his face for a second, and then:

"Am I?" he replies with an arching brow. "You've tagged me, true, but there is a problem here: regardless of what the rules to your game may say, I do not wish to be 'it', and your game lacks any form of enforcement that could compel me to comply with this status. Thus, a proposal: relinquish your claim over me, and in return, I will grant you one ice cream sundae, to be constructed by me." Grabbing the boy's wrists, Fisk sits up, which pushes Richard down his body until he's seated on his father's lap.

"It shall be made to my specifications— identical in every way to the one that I will then make for myself," he continues, stony visage cracking with a small smile. "We will eat them together. There will be no stains." He releases Richard's wrists and engulfs the boy's shoulders instead. "What do you say?"

Richard lowers his head in thought for a few seconds before tentatively murmuring, "Well— I— kinda wanted to play tag, but… I guess ice cream's okay too…" A beat later, his head snaps up with a bright smile. "Alright, deal! Thanks, Daddy; I— "

Wilson Fisk starts awake in a pitch-black room, on 600 threads of Egyptian cotton soaked through with sweat. He pants heavily, eyes darting uselessly in the darkness for a good minute or so before he even begins settling. Even when his breathing starts to slow, he can't do any thing to keep his heart from trying to leap out of his chest.

Eventually, with his left hand settling over his heart, his right reaches to the other side of the bed and finds a shoulder— a warm shoulder that shifts subtly with the rhythms of sleep. He releases a slow exhale through his teeth, brings both hands in to mop some of the sweat dripping from his face, then leans over to kiss the cheek of the woman beside him.

He still pulls most of the covers with him as he leaves the bed, but it's not intentional— nor is there any malice behind his leaving them piled on the floor. There's just no time to deal with them, not after— that. Whatever it was. Whoever was with him.

Whoever the woman with the bloody tear was.

He gathers a cell phone from his night stand, then leaves the room and paces down the hall that leads to the rest of the penthosue before finally making a call.

"Wesley," he murmurs in a cracked and weary voice when he's answered. "Send a sketch artist to Meeting Room 4, immediately. There is… there is business to attend to…"

*

Laurel suddenly woke up, in her bedroom in Gotham; her childhood bedroom.

She started to cry from the nightmare and her mother ran in just as she remembered to comfort her, stroking her hair and kissing her on the forehead.

"Mommy I had a nightmare."

Her mother stroked her cheek and told her, "It will be ok sweetie. Tell me about what happened."

The young girl started to relate the horrifying nightmare to her mother, feeling safe and secure already. What crazy things she had dreamed.

*

Things go on within the dream, as they supposedly should. Dreams are fickle things, where time has as much meaning as it does not. For some, the moment of presumed lucidity lasts a few minutes, for others, weeks… months… and therein lies the true danger of the Dreamraker's evil. For her dreams are so real that they might easily be confused for reality.

Eventually, however, our victims will find themselves crawling. For whatever reason, be it a scene of war or a playful crawl with a toddler upon the floor, but the crawling lengthens, perceived time slowing, until a doorway is passed through and the lot of them find themselves within a chamber of 32 doors.

There are others here. Some strangers, some familiar faces, but they clamor about, going through door after door, unable to find their way out; for each door leads into another chamber with more people, more doors, each room identical to the ones before it.

*

All around me are familiar faces, worn-out places…

Kamala's life goes on. And on. And on. She celebrates with her friends, makes new ones. Wakes and sleeps, wakes and sleeps, lives her life in the dream without a care in the world or any idea that it's anything but a dream. Her powers grow. She can fly. She can transform into anything from a blue whale to a hummingbird, and it's when she's transformed into the shape of a cat to slip into her old school to rescue an entire auditorium of kids that the air vent she's crawled into is longer… longer, longer, so much longer.

Smoothly she rises back into her own shape, turning left and right. Years have passed. She's still Kamala Khan, but she's blossomed into the woman she always hoped she'd be, tall and elegant, strong and capable, and not blonde this time. Clearly something strange has happened in here. There must be some kind of magic trapping those kids in there. She tries to stop people, grabbing one, then another by the shoulders.

"Where are we?" she asks. "How did you get here? I'll find us a way out. Follow me. Follow me!" And if she can, she's going to be corralling all those people together, trying to organize them. Trying to go about this search systematically, but it's like herding cats…

*

"Your cooking is terrible.."

Lois stares at Clark, then busts out laughing. The days and months went on, scenes changing almost rapidly as the dream itself continues, Jimmy at her side snapping pictures at the latest destruction of Metropolis and Clark there with her going over the rules of spelling.

I before E. Except after C.

A row of books litter the house in Smallville, the words faded and gone as the sound of children laughing outdoors while playing a game of football warms her heart. The kettle whistles loudly, hot water poured into a mug, the teabag dropped within as three spoonfuls of sugar were added to the liquid.

"What do you think of this tie?"
"If you're going to wear that, wear the blue shirt."
"Blue? To General Lanes funeral?"
"He loved the c.."

She awakes with a start, then falls back into bed again. Eyes closing.

She awakes with a start, then falls back into bed again.. eyes half lidded..

She wakes with a start, then rolls out of bed to exit the bedroom with a stumble and tangle of sheets with her legs, her hands planted upon the ground as she tries to crawl herself free from the binds. It felt like quicksand in reverse, but she managed to break free with a turn of the knob..

..all of the sudden she stood.

There was Jacqueline. Her fish and chips are typically awesome. Her Rhubarb pie the best.. wait. Is that Jimmy? Where is he going? There's Clark..

What is Bruce Wayne doing here? He's.. wearing the same clothes from the party.. gross..

Mom? But you were..

From door to door to door to door, Lois was becoming confused, and a little perturbed. "Alright.. ENOUGH with the doors!"

*

To be continued…?

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