- Abominable Snowcone
- Max's Mother
- Professor Wilson
I felt like the walls were closing in, slowly crushing me, pushing me to the brink of madness. "I know you're there kid. I sense fear. The creature’s footsteps... or clawsteps... faded slowly. It had turned the other way. Good. I took some turns through the twisted maze, finally breathed a sigh of relief and pushed my back against the wall, panting with exhaustion and fear. “He’s gone... finally...”
A shadow crept over me and sneered. “Not by a long shot, kid.” The beast was even more gruesome up close. Black scales glinted in the dim light that was in the labyrinth. Beady, blood red eyes followed my every move, piercing into me. A long, slender tail rose up above the monster’s head, topped with a poisonous stinger. It looked vaguely like a scorpion, but about 110% more evil.
“Who are you? What do you want from me?”
“Name’s Scrax, kid. Second-in-command of Ragnarok, supreme overlord of the Dream Dimension! I could go on and on, but right now, I just wanna kill ya.”
He threw his tail over his head, aiming straight at my heart. Before it could impale me, I dodged, leaving him stuck in the wall. Following my instinct, I ran. I didn’t think of anything else I could do. I looked behind me, seeing if that scorpion had got back on my trail.
“So, kid. Is running your solution to everything? You know, you can’t run away from death. It’s always coming. You can delay it, sure, but right now, you can’t. You think you can just snap your fingers and this dream will be over. Well, let me tell ya firsthand, kid. That ain’t gonna happen.”
I clicked my fingers, thinking he may have been bluffing.
“Wait, no! I didn’t mean it...”
He faded away, along with the labyrinth.
I woke up, my face dripping with sweat. My younger sister Diana was staring at me anxiously, clutching her teddy bear in fright. “Are you okay, Maxy? You were whispering ‘don’t hurt me’ all night. I-I was scared."
"Don’t worry, Diana. It was just a dream. Come, sit here."
She plopped down on my mattress, and lay down against me. “I don’t like dreams. Every night I have the same dream. This weird unicorn keeps singing this song about rainbows and stuff."
"Don’t worry, Diana. You can get him out. Just believe in yourself."
She wrapped her arms around me. “I’m glad you’re not dead, Maxy."
"I’m glad I’m not dead too."
"Maxy, what was your dream about?"
"You sure you want to know? It might be a bit scary."
"I don’t care. I want to hear. I’m a brave girl."
I managed a laugh. “I was in this maze, being followed by a monster. This monster was a scorpion, with red eyes, and black scales, and a voice that would really scare a girl like you.”
“No, it wouldn’t!”
I stifled a laugh again, but the more I thought about the nightmare and that scorpion Scrax, the more frightened I got myself.
Diana looked at me. “And?”
“He tried to kill me. I survived.”
“Of course you did, then you wouldn’t be here now.”
“Can I tell you a secret? I was scared myself.”
“Maybe Mummy’s present will help.”
I raised my eyebrow. “What present?”
“Mummy got you a present. It was a surprise. She said she’d show you this morning.”
“Cool. Care to tell me what it is?”
Diana thought about it for a moment, and then shook her head. “Nope! Surprise!”
As if on cue, our mum’s voice called from downstairs. “Max, I have a surprise for you!”
Diana gave me a withering look. “If you say one word, I’ll do what that scorpion tried to do to you!”
I grinned at Diana as I stood up to go downstairs. That girl had attitude.
Mum shouted out again. “Max?”
“I’m coming, mum! I’m just speaking to Diana for a bit.”
“She better not have told you the surprise!”
Diana gave me the same stern look. “Don’t worry, Mum, she hasn’t said anything!”
I rushed down the stairs. Mum was sitting on a couch, holding a box. It was big enough to fit in a few books, ten or so, or a pair of sneakers.
She set it down on the coffee table, and gestured for me to open it. The way that Diana talked about it made me pretty excited. I ripped it open, and stared at the thing lying inside.
It was a wooden ring, being held together by a cobweb. Three strings hung from the bottom, ornately decorated with beads and feathers. “What is it?”
That wasn’t the reaction Mum was expecting. But still she kept her enthusiasm. “It’s a dreamcatcher! Native Americans used them to keep away bad dreams. If it worked for them, it will work for you.”
“But it didn’t work for them. It can’t have. Magic isn’t real.”
“Who says it’s magic? Maybe it’s... Dreamerology!”
“You made that word up on the spot, didn’t you?”
“Mum. It’s a waste of time.” I got up to leave for school, but Mum stopped me before I had the chance to open the front door.
“Honey, come on! It comes with a free chat with Professor Wilson, a dream interpreter!”
“A dream interpreter? Mum, do you even hear yourself?”
“I know it sounds crazy, but the reviews on his website say he’s incredible!”
“So what you’re saying is... ditch school? If so, I’m in.”
The meeting was a lot better then I expected. Professor Wilson had some great insight. Just kidding. I didn't understand a word he said.
I waited in the waiting room (because that is what you do in there, right?) until my name got called out. I felt weird without Mum with me, but Professor Wilson specifically said that it decreases dream recall if there are too many people in the room. So basically, ‘two’s company, three’s a crowd.’
His office was painted black, so it helped ‘melatonin’ and stuff. Professor Wilson sat behind his desk, stroking his beard, waiting for me to speak.
“I'm her for a dream interpretation? My name is Max. Max King.”
“Oh yes, I know very well who you are. But what are you here for. What did you dream about last night?”I told him what happened just as I told Diana. But as I talked, I got more and more engrossed in telling the story, describing every moment with perfect detail.
“Well, that sure is... an interesting dream. A nightmare, or a toxic dream, as us dream interpreters call it. A scorpion can represent fear, anxiety. Are you scared of something, happening in the future?”
“I was definitely scared at the time. But no, not that I know of.”
“Interesting. A labyrinth, or maze if you will, means there is an upcoming challenge, or puzzle you will have to solve.”
“Like how a dreamcatcher would help me not have nightmares. That’s definitely a puzzle.”
“I’ll have you know a dreamcatcher is very... No. You must find that out for yourself.”
“Find what out for myself?”
“Apparently, you don't know what ‘find out for yourself’ means.”
“Well, time flies. It appears that you have to leave now.”
I rose from my chair and walked out the door. As I looked back at the office, I thought about Professor Wilson. There was something strange about that guy. He knew something. In fact, I think I heard voices when I left the room.
The day past, but my thoughts always came back to those voices. Where did they come from? What did they want from me? Who were they? What were they?
As I walked into my room to go to bed, Diana hung up the dreamcatcher.
“Diana, what are you doing?”
“You should use a present if it’s given to you, Maxy.” She said, putting her hands on her hips.
"Anything for you." I said sarcastically, falling on my bed.
"Really?" She doesn't understand sarcasm. She says everyone should tell the truth. I'm sure someone invented lying for a reason. Those voices... they mentioned a name. A specific name. A name that scared me. Frightened me. Terrified me. A name that radiated fear just by saying it. A name that sounded something like... Ragnarok.
I looked up to see a full moon, shining down on me. How the heck did I get here? I know I fell asleep in my bed. I looked around. Nothing but barren land as far as the eye could see.
"Another nightmare?" I groan, throwing my head back and then lie back down on the sludge. Wait a minute... sludge? I start rolling down the mountain of slime and probably would've flattened myself like a pancake if something hadn't grabbed me by the collar and totally freaked me out.
"Hello!" The goo monster shouted enthusiastically, setting me down on the sandy ground. "I am Gloop!!!"
"Nice to meet you... Gloop." I said, standing up and rubbing the dust of my pyjamas. "Mind telling me where I am and why I woke up on a pile of muck?"
"Gloop not mucky!" Gloop shouted, kinda proudly. "Gloop, gloopy! I am your garden!"
"Your my garden?" I said, scanning him. "You don't look like flowers would grow easily on you. I think they'd become rabid meat-eating plant monsters."
Gloop looked hurt. But before he could respond, a dog came from behind Gloop. Not a regular dog. This dog had three eyes, blue fur and... he floated. "Ooh, puppy's here! Puppy can tell Max everything!"
I nodded to the 'puppy'. "Cool dog. But how did you know my name?"
"Everybody knows Max's name. We are Max's gardens!"
"For the last time, Gloop, guardians! Not gardens, guardians!" The dog shouted at Gloop, then turned back to me. "Greetings, Maximillian King. I am Caxeno the Costander. I, along with Gloop and the hunter Artemis, am your guardian, here to escort you across the Dream Dimension to defeat the horror that is Ragnarok! You have been chosen by the dreamcatcher!"
"Got it!" I said. "So I've got defeat this giant monster and get rid of nightmares because a feathery decoration chose me?"
"Yep!" Gloop said. "Yay, Max!"
"Did you hear that?" A familiar voice said, somewhere in the shadows. "Sounded like that stupid ball of slime, Gloop."
"That's... Scrax!" I said, trying to talk low-key.
"We must get out of here, and fast!" Caxeno said. He closed his eyes and I got a strange tingling sensation. "Close your eyes, Max! They'll find us!"
"Why?" I asked.
"No time to explain. Just close them!"
I closed my eyes, and a blue light almost blinded me. When I could see again, all I saw was... ice-cream.