Where nightmares come from

The nightmares came slowly, subtly. Working their way through the mist of his sleep, the dreams came. They came and they would not stop.

They got so bad that he resisted sleep. After two or three days in the ring of resistance with a punch of coffee, a jab of no-doze, he found himself on the ropes. Then he was down and asleep, and the nightmares were back. He asked several of his friends to keep him awake. They tried their best, slapping him awake, even used him as a punching bag from time to time. This worked for about a week. Then he fell flat on his face. He was down and out.

The day he fell asleep at the wheel of his BMW, he crashed into a tree. His car was totaled, and he went into in a coma.

That’s when the gods really got active. Hephaestus forged more nightmares, hammering them into hard, steel swords.

Several days later Hermes came to the Swordmaker’s furnace. “I’m here for the swords,” he said to the Swordmaker.

Hephaestus took each of the ten swords, admired his work, then passed them on to the Messenger. Hermes turned and jumped. His winged boots lifted him into the air and to the River Styx, that dark, dank cesspool which flows out of the Underworld. Chiron was there to meet him with his ferry.

The Boatman drove his barge uphill toward the Halls of Olympus. The river slowly cleared of its puss and soon they were at the foot of the home of the gods.

Hermes flipped a coin to Chiron. Otherwise he could not get off the barge. Even gods have to pay the piper. He arrived at the Halls of Olympus and Hera stepped from behind a curtain.

“Are these them?” she asked, realizing that they were.

“Good,” she said, lifting the swords into her arms.

She took them and made the ten thousand miles to the Dream Room with three steps. As she did, she thought, “This will teach that son of a bitch not to choose me.”

The nightmare-laden man lay in his coma while the swords dropped one by one into his subconscious. They came fast and furious. One after another, they came.

His body jerked, then shook.

“Call the doctor, stat,” the nurse called out from his room. She grabbed the paddles from the defibrillator and placed them on his chest, trying to jumpstart his heart. A doctor in his green scrubs rushed into the room. He did a quick take of the situation, then stopped the nurse. He realized that the man’s body was dead.

He turned the cleaning-up over to the nurse and walked out of the hospital room and into the waiting room.

“I’m afraid Paris is dead, Miss Troy,” he said to the tall, blue-eyed blonde Amazon before him.

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