by GDL 629 19136
The Dream Dimension suddenly went stark white. Wesley Dodds fell gently to the ground that wasn’t there. Ramulus was trembling with fear.
“You dare… to bring your petty conflicts into my domain? You presume to reshape the Dreaming… without my leave?” The voice resonated through Wes’ and Ramulus’ entire beings.
“Lord Morpheus, I didn’t–” began Ramulus.
Wesley was struggling to rise.
“You. I… know you. My earthly avatar. I put a fraction of myself in you… during my absence. Poor creature. It has drained you badly.”
“I… I’ve seen you before… I remember you now,” Wes wearily spoke.
“To see you so withered and frail… I would not have this. You are needed… as an earthly reminder… of Dream.”
“I’m… dying… aren’t I?” Wes could feel himself slipping away; in the corner of his sight, he spotted a petite woman wearing an ankh. She was as chalk-white as the backdrop, her jet black hair tousled unruly in contrast.
“Hi, Wesley,” she spoke in a warm, cheery voice. “Normally, you’d be seeing me when it’s time to go.”
“But… I… have made a request to my dear sister Death… for a favor.”
Suddenly, the whiteness compressed into a painfully thin, painfully pale man, the black pools of his eyes dimly lit by twin stars. He helped Wesley up.
“It… has… been very hard for me… to admit when I have done something wrong, Wesley Dodds.”
Morpheus’ sister nodded, proud of her brother’s admission.
“I have wrongfully allowed you to deteriorate… while in my service… though you knew it not. You will be… recompensed.”
“Time to buzz off, Despair! No lunch today!” Death announced, presumably to someone Wesley couldn’t see.
Suddenly, Wesley felt a bizarre tingling sensation. His pulse slowed. His breathing was no longer labored. He felt himself growing stronger; he felt the pain of his arthritic limbs vanish.
He realized what had been done.
“Now then. I will return you both to the Waking… You will not remember what has transpired… You will not see me… in the Waking ever again. You have much more work to do, Wesley Dodds. Use my gifts well.”
“‘Bye, Wes! ‘Bye, Rammy!” The not-quite-so Grim Reaper waved goodbye. “See ya much later! Well, maybe not so much later for you, Rammy!” She allowed a sly grin.
The dream came again, swirling round as a lanquid tide, a liquid reality that Wesley swam through, glimpsing the past, present, and the future. He would only take fragments back to the waking world with him, but it would be enough.
Desire ran the back of her hand slowly down Sandy Hawkins’ cheek, savoring the mixture of fear and desire.
“Loki’s right, you know. Your emotions feed me; such a pity, to have to…”
“Uh-oh.” Loki scrambled up immediately. “Uh, Desire, we’d better get out of h–”
Wesley and Ramulus both awoke with a start.
Wesley leaped up with an agility he hadn’t possessed in decades, and while Ramulus rose to attack, Wes sliced in with an uppercut, hurling him off the table toward the far wall.
Sandy couldn’t believe his eyes. “We… uh… Sandman? Wow!”
Desire’s alabaster countenance became uncharacteristically ugly as Sandy suddenly broke free of her influence. She — or was it he? — took that as a cue and slid over to the doorway, not wishing to participate in the melee.
Ramulus raised his fists, and his trademark vines erupted from the floor. The vines darted around like serpents, striking at Wes and Sandy, who were leaping around them, but the vines were getting closer.
If only I had my guns, thought Sandy, just narrowly dodging a tendril aimed at his feet.
He spotted Loki creeping behind Wesley, who was busy electrocuting one of the vines that threatened him. Without hesitation, Sandy jumped over the table, using it as a springboard to land feet first into Loki’s back.
The wiry god of mischief landed hard. He turned, eyes ablaze with fury. “No one can strike me and get away with it!” Loki lunged at Sandy, forgetting his magic in his rage.
“No, ya dope… the name’s Sandy!” replied the young daredevil, laughingly taunting his opponent.
Loki made a feeble attempt for Sandy’s neck and received a sharp judo blow to his own neck in reply. Loki would need a few minutes to get up from that blow.
Sandy was deliriously happy. This is tops, thought the 1940s New York kid, sidestepping yet another vine, bounding over them like some crazed acrobat to assist his mentor. Wesley was struggling with two vines that had robbed him of his trusty wirepoon and wrestled him to the ground.
Ramulus, busy orchestrating the legion of writhing serpent-like plants, caught Sandy heading for the wirepoon gun. “Stay away from that, you little–” shouted Ramulus, mentally ordering some of the tendrils toward Sandy.
Sandy grabbed the displaced wirepoon gun and did a double somersault through the onrushing stalks, firing the wirepoon in midair. The cable wrapped its way around Ramulus.
Wesley, though busy fighting for his life, shouted, “Sandy! Press the middle button!”
In doing so, a mild electric current shot through the wire, and Ramulus writhed in anguish. His hair, or rather what was left of it, shot out like quills. With a groan, he fell to the ground. The vines abruptly stopped moving and fell limply wherever they stood.
Sandy dropped the gun and ran to help pry Wesley out from under the fallen vines. “Geez, I hope I didn’t kill him,” Sandy said worryingly as he lifted the stalks. “Well, at least not totally,” he added with a grin.
“That’s not the way we play, Sandy. That middle button was the stun setting,” Wesley said as he rose to his feet, which astounded Sandy, as Wes did so agilely and without a cane.
“What happened to you? A minute ago, you were almost dead!”
“I don’t know, son! I can’t remember much,” said Wes, trying to piece the fragments of the astral battle.
“So, ah, Sandman, just when did you add that trick to the gun?” Sandy teased, in mock seriousness.
“Oh… I was going to make it a surprise for you… well, at least part of the surprise, anyway.” Wesley smiled underneath the mask. “This seems to be the day for surprises, it seems.”
“Whaddaya mean, Sandman?” Sandy always remembered his training, to never use their real names in flagrant alter ego.
“Let’s get back to Dian,” Wes replied. “She’s probably worried sick — Wait! Where’s Loki and that woman?”
“Worry not about foul Loki, Wesley Dodds,” spoke the immense figure that entered the room. His very presence was one of royalty, his remaining eye blazed afire. He was almost too much to take in, and his attire seemed to change every time Wes and Sandy blinked.
“Odin, so you have come for Loki, then?” Wes remembered the recent battle of Ragnarok, though toward the end, his memory seemed fuzzy.
“Aye, dreamer. Thy plight hath come to mine attention, and t’would seem that something hath changed in thee. None of the mortal world are here to witness thy transformation, Wesley Dodds. Mayhap thou wouldst remove thy helm?”
“Well, just look at the time. Gotta go…” Desire slinked over to the exit.
“Aye, thou foul temptress,” Odin scornfully admonished. “Thou hast caused enough mischief this day! Thy brother and sister will be tending to thee soon enow! Depart!”
With a wave of Odin’s mammoth, outstretched hand, Desire vanished in a cloud of darkness.
“And now, good dreamer, wouldst thou grant Odin this boon, and oblige?”
Wesley doffed his fedora, then unhooked the straps that held the gas mask to his face.
Sandy gasped in shock. There stood a Wesley Dodds who looked no older than thirty. “Wes! You should see yourself!”
“Was this the boon you promised to us all, Lord Odin?” Wes asked.
Odin let forth a hearty laugh. “Nay, good dreamer, nay! Thy boon hath not been selected by thee. This be not my doing! What wouldst thou ask of mighty Odin?”
Wesley’s thoughts turned to Dian, so frail as he had been.
“Thy boon be granted, Wesley Dodds,” Odin solemnly proclaimed.
“But what did you…? Oh.” Wes then realized what awaited him at the Dodds estate and felt very happy for Dian. He couldn’t wait to see her.
“As for Loki, grim punishment awaits!”
Odin produced a small glass orb from his constantly changing wardrobe, with what looked like a battle enacting inside.
“That globe looks familiar, Odin,” Wes slyly commented.
Odin smiled coldly, then returned the glass to a pouch that suddenly appeared in his raiments. “Aye, his wife and son hath missed him. Now, thou shalt depart, and take yon base villain with thee, to face thy mortal justice!” announced Odin, pointing to the unconscious Ramulus, who was twitching in a fitful slumber.
Pleasant dreams, thought Wes. “Hey, uhh… Odin, wait! How did you know to find us here?”
“On a sworn oath, the whole truth be not mine to reveal… Suffice to say that thou shalt not be troubled by Loki or Desire anew. Fare thee well.”
Wes and Sandy vanished in a haze.
The vapors parted, and Wesley and Sandy found themselves at the entrance to the Dodds estate.
Dian Belmont came out running. “Wes, Wes! Look what’s happened to me!” She looked even younger than the day Wesley had first met her, her long, jet-black hair freely blowing in the breeze.
“And that’s not all, my dear!” Wesley said, pulling down his mask.
“Why, Mr. Dodds…” Dian joked in a deep voice, batting her eyes, “…you’re ravishing!”
“I always thought I was,” Wes sparred back.
“Aw, cripes,” complained Sandy. “Oh, sure… show no concern for your beloved nephew. That’s OK.”
And they all had a good laugh.
Inside the crystal globe locked in Odin’s Royal Chambers, Loki screamed in abject torment. He was bound to a slab of rock hewn from the cave that formed his prison. A serpent hung above him, dripping venom into a small wooden bowl that Sigyn, Loki’s long-suffering wife, held over Loki to catch the burning green rain that caused Loki much pain.
As the bowl was filled, drips escaped, causing Loki’s flesh to bubble up and ooze dark crimson. Loki knew that, here in Ragnarok, soon he would escape, die, then return again to this point, throughout eternity. Loki shrieked, cursing and threatening his wife, who — despite Loki’s barbed comments — was glad her beloved was home.
At the home of Desire of the Endless, she was hurriedly tossing several pieces of clothing, her turkish cigarettes, and her precious giant vanity mirrors into a small overnight bag, her — or was it his? — perfect features harried with fury.
“How did they find out? I sealed off that cormer of the Dreaming. He shouldn’t have been able to even see it!”
“Going somewhere, little sister?” Morpheus stood beside her (his) left.
Death stood on his (her) right. “You know the rules, Desire. No interfering in your sibling’s realm. Destiny’s also severely ticked.”
For the first time in eons, Desire knew fear.
Sandy Hawkins’ curiosity had finally gotten the better of him. “Come on, Wes! Where are you, and what’s this surprise you said you have for me?”
“We’re in the lab, Sandy! Come on down!” came the reply from the basement door.
Wes and his Aunt Dian were waiting, holding a brand-new outfit that slightly resembled Wes’ Sandman suit, with a trenchcoat and a curiously gold-painted gas mask.
“What gives, Wes? I thought you told me that you’d never give up your original outfit again!”
“Sandy,” Wesley said, smiling, “these are for you! After all, I can’t have my partner running around, clashing with my green suit like that!”
Dian chuckled at Wesley’s comments.
“Besides,” Wes continued, “I swore I’d never wear that yellow and purple eyesore ever again.”
“Wes! I spent hours on that ‘eyesore,’ as you so kindly put it!” Dian punched him in the arm.
“Oh great. Thanks a whole lot, Wes! With these new duds, now I gotta find me a new code name!” Sandy jibed good-naturedly.