**Rated 18+ for gore and violence**
He was alone.
There was so much blood.
Dream had agreed, quietly, reluctantly, to follow his mother home. She came to him when Hamlet – his prince, his son – had gone to the Red Sun Inn. She came to him quietly, like a softly clad demon beckoning the dead into Hell. He made not a sound as he followed because he knew what the outcome would be. He silently wished it had been his father that found him. At least his father could be seen as compassionate once in awhile. But Lady Night was far beyond the realms of compassionate, or empathetic, or anything Dream needed right then.
So, he followed.
Hamlet had said, once, that Dream worked too much. That Dream was always working. That he never stopped working. But the truth was, although Dream worked excessively, his progress had slowed, and quieted, and calmed, ever since Hamlet strolled into his life. There were less nightmares. Less harm had been done by the Dream King save the incident with his failed nightmare, The Corinthian. He had grown soft around the edges. He was vulnerable. And when was the Dream King ever that? He never used to care.
Vulnerability lead to gentleness. Kindness. There was a warmth, a softness, that Dream had never shown before. He was careful. He was open. Still sulking, still quiet, but lighter. He had been getting better, his sister would have said. There was no room for self-pity when all his attention belonged to a young attention seeking prince.
But he was too soft, according to Her. It didn’t matter that his work got done on time, that he attended every meeting and did all he was created to do. It didn’t matter, because he was /soft/. She noticed it when he started begging. When he went limp in Her grip that was so tight he was meant to pop, like a balloon, and instead he begged Her not to put on a finger on his son. And She thought it was disgusting. How dare a creature that She created care so much about one little prince from one little story? It was not meant to be this way. She would have to fix it. Her own creation was flawed.
So Dream walked, with his head lowered, saying nothing. He walked to Her realm. He walked into Hell, into his prison. And when he tried to speak, he became aware that he could make no sound at all. He couldn’t even open his mouth. So he stood there, helpless, and watched the midnight blue mist around him form into the beautiful, ghostly figure of his Mother, with Her midnight hair and eyes full of galaxies. He even watched as She paced before him, showing Her freedom, while he stood behind bars.
The reacting came when She tore the bright, shining emerald from around his neck. He flinched away. She laughed...
“You have disappointed me greatly, Dream of the Endless.” She said finally, and the words echoed all around him, for the realm of the Lady Night was not just a realm: it was Her, all of Her; every facet of Her being. “You were created to work. To be lonely. Instead, you coax a useless creature of literature into your world. You give him love and kindness. It disgusts me.
“You have no right to be called Dream. From now on I shall call you Daniel. That is your name, after all. Look at all the trouble you’re making me go through, Daniel. This could have been easy. I told you to destroy him. That was all you had to do. But you are lonely, and you are arrogant, and you are stupid. And now, I will make a replacement. A better you. A you that does his job.”
Her hands were ghostly, and cold, like the vastness of space. A cold that seeped inside of you and chilled your bones. And the fingers of the cold hand met the warm, alabaster skin of Dream’s – Daniel’s – neck. And nails sharper than the stare of a thousand galaxies coming from Her eyes dug into the warm flesh, and with a pull, She delivered unto him the same punishment Dream had thought the Corinthian deserved: She ripped his fucking throat out.
Violent red, like paint, splattered the stone walls of his prison. Dream stumbled, and fell against the wall. He choked on blood, on nothingness, and it was a miracle he was even alive. Well, not so much a miracle, since he could not die, and all he could do was sit and silently suffer. His nails dug into the dirt ground, and his warm skin went suddenly cold. He was forced to strip himself of his white robes, leaving him in only a white shirt, and gray pants.
And from the body part She ripped away from him, She created a new thing. The thing was tall, with blonde, fine hair, and void eyes. She made him without blood, without love, without remorse. She made him with hatred, and cruelty. She made him sadistic. And to add to him, She gave him the robes of Her former son, which She had sewn in the blood of Daniel, creating a violent red pattern all along the bottom.
“You will not disappoint me, Dream of the Endless. If you see the boy, make him suffer. Make him feel what his creator feels,” She said to him, for she refused to call Hamlet Dream’s son. And this new Dream was obedient, and he left no room to argue. And he bowed to Her, and kissed Her hand, and left to find the child of Dream-Daniel.
* * *
Hamlet was tearing himself apart. Dream of the Endless made sure of it. He fed the former prince’s mind to his own nightmarish creations – things with no faces, no bodies, but with words, and forms so insidious they could seep beneath the skin, into the blood, into the brain, and eat you alive, bit by bit, until, like Hamlet, you were clawing gashes into your face, your arms, your chest, just to pull the nightmares out. They could make you scream until they filled your mouth, until they took your tongue and made your voice turn hoarse. These nightmares were not meant to just cause fear. They were created to destroy.
Hamlet got relief when he slept. He could bury himself in his father’s robes, and, given enough sand, he could sleep, and see his Dream. Time after time, Dream arrived, to tell him everything would be okay. Until, one day, he wasn’t.
He wasn’t there to help. He was nowhere to be seen.
Because Dream had done a Very Bad Thing. He had been instructed not to see Hamlet at all. To ignore him if Hamlet called. To instead dig his nails into the skin of his cheek, and peel it off in layers, to stop the pain of ignoring someone you love so much cry for help. But Dream could not listen to those instructions. He could not hear his son scream and turn the other way.
So instead, he was ripped out of his prison. He was fed to dogs that would not touch him, for he was still Dream, and he still had power, and the dogs were still afraid.
“What shall I do to such a disobedient mistake?” His Mother pondered. But Dream could not speak, and so he stood in fearful silence, drenched in blood, a gaping wound where his throat should have been, and glistening scratches down his face. And, without another word, Lady Night opened up behind him a dead star, and pushed him, mercilessly, into the black hole.
And the black hole did what black holes were meant to do. It pulled him apart, grain after grain, atom from atom, until he was nothing. Until all he could feel was pain, emptiness, and the cold of what the end of the world would be. Here, he could scream forever. No one would hear him. No one would ever even know.
And Dream was left there, indefinitely, to suffer. He did not think he would ever get out. He did not have the right mind to think of anything much at all.
He only knew one thing for certain: he had to see his son again. He had to see his replacement.
And there would be blood.