The sleep plague has spread quickly through New Victoria, plunging nearly all of its citizens beneath shiftless, monochrome dreams. The nucleus of it all, a contagious nightmare of wakeless landscapes, has become little more than a dim and phantasmal sun around which we all circle in our sleep, our orbits ever-shrinking.
The original vison itself isn’t entirely uniform anymore, having mutated into a number of distinct strains of communicable nightmare. The initial dream still persists—its view of a massive, cracked gateway fronting a ruined city beyond sleep remains widely pervasive. However, it is sometimes joined by an offshoot dubbed the “Walking Dream.” Sufferers are forced to tread some endless, spiraling expanse of descending stairs as dim laughter alleviates the silence in agitating turns of snicker and caterwaul. This latter variety has given rise to thousands of somnambulists that now wander empty city streets and silent countryside, mumbling incoherently as they stagger along.
A “Boundless House” variety has also been recorded, though not as frequently as the aforementioned strains. Victims are said to wander a house with no end, ruined room after cobwebbed closet offering no escape from labyrinthine hallways, tittering attics, and shadow-blackened bedrooms. Some sufferers claim to have stumbled upon a huge indoor sea, frothing across cracked, marble-tiled “beaches.” Massive and moldy couches, affixed with sails made from sullied curtains, sail away beneath water-swollen ceilings weeping a dirty rain, a giant hurricane lamp in the distance providing a simulacrum of dying sunlight.
One of the most unpleasant dream-strains is called “The Graveyard.” The poor souls suffering from this malady are forced to reside within a mausoleum city, where shacks and skyscrapers alike are risen from fungi-laden tombstones and the whited, cracked remains of giants. The city is filled with colossal coffins that peek ever so slightly above the stinking loam, each box choked with corpses whispering to be freed. The dreamer is compelled to unearth the caskets, pry open the encrusted lids, and bow to the corpses that emerge.
Rumors of a night-terror called “The Larvae” are also prevalent. Victims find themselves writhing within the translucent skin of some hellish and insipient insect, their forms twisted into grotesque, squirming things. Soon, the metamorphosed dreamers are loosed upon a rotting mountain of festering corpses, within which they are impelled to gnaw and wallow.
More strains surface almost daily, yet I feel I may have contracted the worst of all. More horrifically, I seem to be its sole carrier—patient zero.
I’ve tried my best to sleep far from others, in distant and hard to acquire places. I’ve tried killing myself, but like so many, I awake after my “death” as if it were only a dream. Yet this particular nightmare must not escape me, for in this dream, they come—unfathomable things from the other side of sleep. They tumble monstrous and hungry from without their spider-black outposts of deepest sleep, gods and monsters of the Unwaking world, eaters of sanity and solidity.
This latest strain I call, “The Invasion.”
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