|Publisher:||Lulu Publishing Services|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||19 MB|
|Note:||This product may take a few minutes to download.|
Read an Excerpt
By Maria Dahlen, Sage Stanley
AuthorHouse LLCCopyright © 2014 Maria Dahlen and Sage Stanley
All rights reserved.
It all began with the usual 'Once Upon A Time....'
Sandman scurried across the world nightly to give Earth's population the precious gift of sleep. Since the population increased daily however, he was finding it more and more difficult to keep up with the demand. Though immortal, he too wasn't getting any younger, and he was growing increasingly desperate for help.
Sandman sat slumped at his desk. He was exhausted after another long night of spreading his golden sleeping sands about the Earth. Though tired, he knew that doing nothing about his situation wouldn't help improve things. The problem would only keep getting worse by the night. So, taking quill to parchment, Sandman set about writing an ad for help.
Looking over the finished ad, Sandman couldn't imagine who would take such a position.... The hours certainly weren't good. This person would need to be time-oriented, dependable, courageous, and people-friendly. Having no other options, Sandman sent out the advertisement anyway ... hoping.
As expected, there was very little interest in the position within the magical realm in which Sandman lived. In fact, the only person who showed up for an interview was a mean looking little troll named Blackie. Sandman looked upon the beady-eyed little figure and sighed. Though not 100% confident in his decision ... resume unseen, credentials unchecked, Blackie was hired. Sandman was desperate.
Blackie, in fact, was a bad choice for the internship position. He was lazy; he took short cuts; he was never on time; he skipped many of the households on his assigned route. In fact he just plain hated people in general as he found them to be rather dull. He had only taken the job as the Sandman's intern because he was bored, out of work, penniless, and needed to find a new "racket" for himself. Blackie figured Sandman's job would fix his first three problems, and at least give him some good leads on how to fix the fourth.
One of the few households that Blackie did manage to visit on his nightly route was that of the Mare family. This fluke had more to do with the Mare's place on his work route than anything else.
The Mares were a mother and daughter household. They lived in a somewhat old, rundown little house at the edge of Rocky Forest. What the house lacked in repair and modernity however, it more than made up for with its' comforts and charm. Each room was filled with brick-a-brac, worn, over-stuffed chairs, and love.
One night Blackie found the Mare house just too inviting to simply blow some sand around in the dark and pass on. The comfy chair by the crackling fire looked so very, very tempting. And, he was so tired—tired of coming up with excuses and finding ways of not working.
Room to room Blackie went with a scant pinch of his golden sleeping sands and carelessly blew them into the darkness, assuming that the sands would reach the intended targets and put the household to sleep. The little troll then hurried over to settle himself in the over-stuffed chair by the fire. He placed his ginormous bag of golden sleeping sand under his feet as a foot rest and immediately fell asleep.
Back in her bedroom, Sage indeed had not been hit by the sleeping sands. Hearing strange noises coming from the other room, much like an excited toad burping, she decided to investigate. Peeking out into the darkened hallway toward the living room, Sage saw the room sparkle and glow golden, as the sands reflected the firelight and bounced playfully upon the walls.
Sage gasped out loud. "How beautiful!" she whispered.
Creeping forward toward the living room, Sage saw a little troll sleeping in the overstuffed chair by the fire. He was a tiny, blackish-green, wrinkled form with a long nose and pointed ears. The tufts of white hair growing out of his ears were caked in dried ear wax and dandruff. 'How odd!' she thought to herself. Sage then spotted the ginormous bag of golden sand that lay beneath the troll's pointy-shoed feet. Suddenly she understood who he was and why he and his sand were there. A wonderfully mischievous idea sprang into Sage's head. Quickly she sat
down on the floor next to the troll and his sack and filled one of her socks with the magical sand. Once she was sure she had enough, she snuck back to her bedroom unnoticed.
Blackie was long gone by morning.
The next morning, after a quick breakfast of porridge and juice, Sage and Mother Mare left the house to go their separate ways for the day. Mother Mare had more resumes to distribute about the village. She had lost her job recently and was actively looking for work. Sage, on the other hand, was unusually eager to get to school. Her mother was suspicious of this new-found urgency for school, but shrugged it off to the fickleness of youth.
Patting her bulging sock in anticipation, Sage kissed her mother's cheek and hurried off.
The little Mare girl smiled at Micah as she entered her classroom and made her way to her desk. Sage thought that he was cute, with his dark curly hair and dimpled chin. Micah however had yet to acknowledge her. "That will soon change!" she mumbled to herself, smiling.
As his class settled in at their desks ready to begin a new school day, Mr. B, the math teacher, cleared his throat. He had a surprise for them. "Pop quiz!" he called, chuckling as his students let out a collective groan.
No one groaned louder than Sage though. She had been so busy sketching hearts declaring 'Sage plus Micah' that she hadn't cracked her math book in over a week. She was more than sure she would fail the quiz. A smile came to her lips then and quickly spread across her face. 'This would be the perfect opportunity to test the golden sleeping sands!' she told herself.
Mr. B was now walking up and down the aisles between the students' desks, handing out a really difficult looking quiz that had all sorts of funny and unrecognizable formulas printed upon it. "Class, please put everything away in your desks except a pencil."
When Mr. B reached Sage's desk, she leaned over, pretending to have an itch, and reached for her sock. With a small amount of the golden sleeping sand firmly in hand, she straightened and blew a golden cloud right at Mr. B.
Mr. B didn't know what hit him. He and three students who were also in the path of the sand were immediately put to sleep where they sat, or stood.
The pop quiz was cancelled. Principal Carlson called for an early recess. All of the school windows and doors were opened to air out the school and wake the sleepy-heads.
"Recess!" kids screamed. Not needing to be told twice, the entire student population quickly emptied the building and made a mad rush for the playground.
Sage sat on one of the swings. She gawked at Micah who was on the monkey bars with a bunch of other boys from their class as they goofed off. Off to the side, by himself, Tyler sat. He was also watching. Tyler had a medical problem called muscular dystrophy which made him unable to use his muscles or communicate with words. Sage barely glanced at him. He was always 'watching.' Sometimes he really bothered her.
A small band of bullies suddenly appeared from the corner of the school. They were led by Peter, a tall white haired boy with cold blue eyes. Acting like they owned the playground, they raced up to Micah and his friends and began to hassle the boys.
Sage tensed. She hated that boy. She hated the whole bunch of them!
The bullies threw playground sand at Micah and his friends, and chased after them, calling them sissy names. Sand landed on Tyler also, but no one noticed.
Sage was furious. 'No one could push her boyfriend around!' She got up from her swing and marched over to the monkey bars and began chasing the bullies around the playground equipment, throwing a big fist-full of sand at the bullies to stop them.
Within minutes both Sage and the bullies were caught by the playground monitor and immediately ushered into the office.
"They started it!" Sage protested. She was still in trouble though.
There would be no more recess for any of them for the remainder of the week.
That night, exhausted from doing nothing interesting or good, and remembering the soft overstuffed chair and the welcoming fire at the Mare's house, Blackie returned. Following the same routine as the previous night, he halfheartedly blew a speck of the golden sleeping sand into each of the bedrooms from the doorways. Again the sand completely missed Sage. And, once again, she snuck out into the living room when the troll was asleep and helped herself to another sock full of golden sleeping sand.
There was a school assembly scheduled for the next morning, but Sage had a different plan in mind.
Principal Carlson greeted the students the next day at the door to the auditorium before the program. The school was going to be treated to a lecture on stargazing in the night sky. The principal, however, didn't see that same small band of bullies from the previous day close behind in line as they shoved to try and make their way into the auditorium.
'This might be my best opportunity!' Sage thought to herself. She stealthily went for her sock by faking another itch. Just as she rose and was about to blow her handful of golden sleeping sand at the bullies however, the line was suddenly knocked forward several paces by these same boys. Her handful of sand was swept ahead into her own face and the faces of the other kids in line before her. Within seconds large sections of the line fell, imploding onto itself like Legos in one big heap before the Principal.
This time Principal Carlson had no question as to how his school was being put to sleep. 'It was Sage!' Sage's punishment would be much much worse than missing a week of recess, or a note sent home from school. This time, as soon as Sage woke up from her nap, she would be suspended from school for a week and would be in much more trouble at home.
Mother Mare was in the middle of a job interview when she received an urgent phone call from school. She was told to pick up her slumbering daughter since she had been suspended. Her family desperately needed her to get this job at the Pixie Sweets Manufacturing Plant. Mother Mare had been unemployed for nearly a year and things were desperate at home.
Not only did Mother Mare take a personal call during the interview, which is considered a 'no, no!', but in all of the commotion she accidently dumped the interviewer's coffee across a desk full of papers. The papers had been ruined, and the interviewer hastily waved Mrs. Mare out of the plant.
"How could you do such a thing?" Mother Mare screeched as she made her way home with her sleeping daughter. She wasn't sure that her daughter was really still asleep and not able to hear her. Mother Mare suspected that Sage was now faking being asleep to avoid confrontation. "I am so disappointed in you! You can just stay in your room for the rest of the evening!" Without another word Mother Mare tucked her daughter into bed and left the room, slamming the door angrily behind her.
Sandman's intern Blackie was also in trouble. The Sandman had received thousands of complaints about Blackie from every part of the world. He now called the little troll on his slacking off and the steadily depleting inventory of golden sleeping sand. Despite the troll's pleadings and promises to do better, there was nothing Blackie could do or say to change Sandman's mind. He was fired!
In his mind though, Blackie believed that none of the complaints against him were his fault. All he wanted to know now was who had been stealing his golden sleeping sand. He was determined that he would find out and make sure that person paid for getting him fired!
Blackie still had a bit of golden sleeping sand leftover, stashed in his possession. Having plenty of time on his hands now, that night Blackie put himself to sleep. It was a long, hard sleep where he dreamed that he was sucked deep down into the inner core of a black hole. There, his dream-self harvested the black hole's dark and weighty anti-matter that stretched miserably before him. These were the nightmare sands of the mortal realm. Then, as quickly and magically as he had gotten there, the dream ended. Blackie woke up in his own hovel with a ginormous bag of sparkling black sand that he had just harvested next to his bed.
Armed for revenge, Blackie set off to re-trace his steps and find the one who had stolen the golden sleeping sands from him and had gotten him fired.
Not quite halfway through his never before completed route, Blackie came upon the Mare's house. Again, he settled into the home's comforts. A nagging thought now dogged him. 'Could the people who lived here have stolen his sands? He had certainly spent enough time there to have presented an opportunity for someone there to do so.' The troll decided that he would find out.
Following the same routine as the previous nights, Blackie halfheartedly blew the last couple grains of his golden sleeping sand into the two bedrooms. As always, the sand completely missed Sage. Then Blackie settled himself into the soft, snuggly, oversized chair, and waited. He peeked out at the room through slit eyes, hoping beyond hope that someone would come and prove him right before he accidently fell asleep.
As before, once she was pretty sure that the troll had fallen asleep, Sage snuck out into the living room. She planned to take another sock-full of golden sleeping sand. This time however, the sand was not to be used as a plaything for pranks. This time her plan was to make everything right and fix things both at school and with her mother's job interview.
Sure that the troll was again asleep, Sage plopped herself down on the floor next to him. Eagerly she dug both her hands deeply into the ginormous bag, not noticing that the sands did not glow gold. These sands were instead a sparkling jet black, more course and quartz-like than the sleeping sands had been. Sage did notice however that she couldn't lift any of the sand, not even one grain from the bag. Its gravitational weight was too great for her to manage. Her hands were now stuck in the sand.
Now, opening his eyes wide, with one fell swoop, Blackie sprang up from the overstuffed chair. He leaned forward, grabbed one of Sage's wrists from the bag, and held her tightly in his long, crooked, pickle-like fingers.
Blackie stared at the little girl with an evil and unwavering eye. He cackled vengefully through withered black lips, "For making me lose my job little girl ... I condemn both you and Sandman! You—you will become Night Mare. You will become a black horse, forever galloping through the night as you follow Sandman on his route around the Earth. I will be your rider. Together we shall spread these black sands across the Earth, dispensing bad dreams in Sandman's wake. Sandman will forever be condemned to not catching up to us to stop the cycle of mayhem that we shall cause. Sandman will be ruined! Ruined I say! Heh heh heh heh!" he chuckled.
With that, the little troll reached into the bag of sparkling black sand. The weight was nothing to a creature of the magical realm. Then he blew a handful of the magic sand into the terrified little girl's face. Before disappearing, the troll left her with the ominous words ... "I'll be back!"
Immediately Sage fell into a deep and troubled sleep. Her mind clouded with dark and terrible images. Her body ached as it began morphing into unknown dimensions and became infected by the nightmarish black sands.
Having calmed down a bit, Mother Mare crept into Sage's room with a tray of dinner later that evening. She was sure that Sage would be awake by now. She wanted to tell her daughter that she still loved her, despite her earlier rage. Now, not quite so angry, she wanted to discuss what had happened and to ask her daughter why she had done what she had. Inside Sage's bedroom, Mother Mare found her daughter tossing and turning in her sleep, burning with fever. Her small form now seemed too big for the bed as it pulsated and seemed to grow ever bigger as it tossed.
The dinner tray fell to the floor with a loud crash. Mother Mare just knew that something was terribly terribly wrong. She sat down on the edge of Sage's bed and wrapped her arms around her daughter to comfort her, and kiss her, and try to figure out what was wrong so that she could help.
Immediately upon being kissed, Sage finished morphing into her new form and rolled out of bed. The covers fell from her limbs to reveal the once small and pretty girl to now be a large midnight black horse with enormous rippling muscles and fiery red eyes.
Excerpted from Night Mare by Maria Dahlen, Sage Stanley. Copyright © 2014 Maria Dahlen and Sage Stanley. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Nice story and beautiful illustrations!
Night mare is a beautiful story full of creativity and imagination. Also, it shows the seriousness of bullying. I really like the illustrations.