It glided down the dark street, forked staff thrust out before itself like the prow of a ship. Shadows clothed it. They billowed and fluttered round long spindly limbs, knobby knees and bony elbows. The creature was tiny, small as a baby. Its skin shimmered pale gold, his hair white. Inhumanly large black eyes made it all the more alien. Its bare feet swung limply behind its floating form, talon-like toenails scrapped dully along the sidewalk.
The bright lights of a passing car swept across the creature but the light
did not illuminate it. Instead it merely threw a strange shadow across the walk
no mortal would have thought twice about. And tonight was no exception. The car
continued on its late-night errand, the ruby tail-lights wandering off in the
distance. The creature's breath hissed between pointed teeth as it tested the
air. It breathed in again, longer, more carefully. Mingled with the lingering
stench of the car, it could taste a faint flavor. The flavor of what he sought.
“Sweet. So… sweet,” it sighed. The creature scanned the neighborhood, eyes
narrowed critically, and soon located its target on the corner beside the
It faded, and like a dandelion seed drifting on the wind, floated easily
through the wood and drywall of the house, passed the wiring, the book shelves,
and taped up water color scrawls meant to look like ponies and rainbow-clad
skies. It entered the child’s room. Slowly the fae drifted to the head of the
bed where the little girl’s black curls lay fanned upon pink flannel. The scent
permeated the air here, thick and heady. Its mouth watered. Its fingers
Dreams. Intoxicating dreams.
Lowering the forked staff, the thief reached down and slid it
insubstantially through the girl’s head. Her dark, round face pinched slightly
in her sleep. She gave a little moan, and he froze. It had been too eager. Wake
the dreamer and the dream was spoiled, useless. Catch the dream at just the
right moment and…
"Ah! There we are."
The staff came gently from the girl’s head, the fork tangled in the gossamer
glow of a perfect dream.
It could hardly contain its glee. Most dreams were mundane, day to day
events, work, school, chores. Some were disturbing, confused or angry, others
were true nightmares. All were useless. But the sweet dreams, the perfect
dreams, they were worth a fortune to the right faeries. A perfect dream could
pay off the likes of Turnbow before the gnome got any ideas about slicing off
fingers or ears.
"And what a lovely dream you have here, child. Truly perfect," the
thief whispered. "You won't miss it will you? Piffel! You'd probably give
it to me if you were able to, a sweet little thing like you. No. You'll never
miss it. Not at all. You can go back to your ordinary dreams and never know the
It drizzled the glowing threads of the dream into an amethyst phial and then
ghosted from the house, leaving the dreamer to her less valuable dreams. The
dream thief alighted on the sidewalk again and renewed its slow search, slitted
nostrils flaring as it took in the night air. The sweet scent came again.
"Another? What luck!" It quickened its pace, but then paused. The
scent was getting stronger, impossibly so, coming from every direction at once.
The dream thief froze.
“I told you what would happen if I caught you stealing dreams again,”
growled a voice deep as the dark.
The thief swallowed and slowly turned. A towering figure of shadow loomed
over it. A pale sword, clear as crystal, thin as paper gleamed as it slipped
from its shadowed scabbard. The thief shrunk back, black eyes searching
desperately for a rout of escape.
“S-s-sandman, you’re mistaken. I swear—”
“My dreams,” Sandman rumbled, “are not meant for the fae. My dreams are not
meant for you.”
The thief tried to run. The sword flicked forward. Black blood splashed on
the sidewalk and hissing, evaporated, leaving not even a stain behind. The vial
of violet crystal tinkled against the hard ground and shattered into a thousand
glittering shards. The dream faded away.
Down the street, beside the little park, sheltered in the wood and plaster,
wire and paint of her house, the dreamer sighed, and the stillness of night