Along the undulating hills of the Quilt and the jagged edges of the Posts, in the flat plains of the Eider and the steep drops of the Edge, in the deep mines of the Sheets and the peaks of the Pillows, trouble stalked the Land.
The Slumberer lay uneasy and when the giant rumbled it meant worry for the residents of the Basket.
“It is the Special Time,” Barbie the Wise said. “The Slumberer should be at peace.”
The Special Time was when the numbers of inhabitants of the Basket increased. There was the Minor Special Time, six moons before, when sometimes they would gain a new friend. Legoman the Blacksmith was one of those, and Troy the Horse. Strangers could arrive at any time unexpectedly too. But the Special Time was… well, Special.
It was when the Stocking came to be suspended over the Leftend Post, and people from all over the Room came to gaze at its natural magnificence. It was green, with a red and white trim. The Doll People saw it as a sign of their status as Chosen Ones. It was shaped like the garments they wore on their feet.
The Slumberer began her Slumber earlier and earlier every night during the Special Time, culminating on Special Time Eve Night where she eagerly slept – in so far as the Basket people could sense a giant eagerly sleeping. There was just something about it, Gecko said.
“Something is wrong,” Barbie the Wise said, as she frowned at the Slumberer rolling over. “Maybe we should check.”
“I will go,” Sir Stuffing said. He was the bravest of all in the Basket, a true knight and warrior.
“Oh, be careful, Sir Stuffing!” Mrs Stuffing worried for her son, clutching her paws to a red spotted handkerchief.
“Mother,” the bear lowered his sword and patted her arm. “I am not afraid. The Slumberer comes first.”
The Basket watched agog as Sir Stuffing made his way across the vast desert of the Room Carpet, with its red and yellow shifting sands. It burnt his feet, but he refused to rest. There was a blessed oasis of wood before he tackled the steep cliffs of the Bed.
He mopped his brow with his mother’s handkerchief and took a deep breath. He slung his sword across his back and slowly, slowly clambered up the Rightend Post.
It was painful to watch. He slid and slipped, and it seemed to the observer that he no sooner made progress than he faltered again. But eventually, eventually, after what seemed like an eternity he made it to the summit.
The Basket people forgot themselves and let out a loud cheer. Sir Stuffing scowled and pointed at the Slumberer, issuing a loud shush. The Slumberer herself made a little groan and fell back into her fitful sleep.
The flat, smooth plains of the Eider were a welcome relief after the climb, and Sir Stuffing made good progress towards the Pillow Peaks. And then he saw it.
He had heard tell of them before, in legends, and his mother swore she had seen one when she was a cub. But he had never believed that Nightmares could be seen before. Here it was, a dark grey cloud swirling over the Slumberer’s head. He swallowed.
The battle was fierce and long. Sir Stuffing realised, after sinking into the softness of Pillow Peak, that his sword would never dissipate the swirls of the Nightmare. In exhaustion, he lay beside the Slumberer. Just a minute’s rest….
The Slumberer’s soft hand, so familiar from years of cuddles, reached for him and pulled him close. She smiled in her Slumber, and Sir Stuffing felt himself too sinking into sleep.
As he closed his eyes, he saw the cloud break apart into the ether.
Róisín Tuohy currently lives in Waterford and works in the motor industry when not writing. She has worked in journalism and has had short stories published in a number of anthologies. She hopes to finish a novel someday and not have it live in a drawer forever more. Róisín has been a member of Cupán Fae for 4 years and has contributed to the Fiercepunk anthology.