Heliotrope was lost.
All was dark.
There was still pain. But it would heal quickly, as always. He could not be killed in such a manner. At least as far as he was told.
Suddenly there was light. Dark and shadowy, but light.
This was familiar.
The dream world.
He drifted through the familiar crossroads for a time, but where were the other dreamers? He could not see them.
Then all of a sudden, there they were. All of them. ALL of them.
Finally, he could reach everyone who was asleep! All he had to do was reach out… but no.
They were reaching for him. Pawing at him. Clawing at him. Digging their fists into his flesh. Into the wounds. Pain seared his every moment, like lemon juice being poured into the gashes and slashes.
Then their hands started to penetrate, reach into him, pull out chunks of his spectral essence.
And with hunger in their eyes, they consumed it. They ate him. The bestial hunger in their expressions turning to madness.
Each creature swallowed part of the demon and turned away, screaming in agony and clutching their heads. Some began babbling, some ran as fast as they could, some collapsed on the spot. Some started to attack the others, clawing them, biting into their dream-self flesh, or unhinging their jaws like snakes to swallow their fellow dreamers whole.
Some invented weapons, of horrible design, of the sort to come from… nightmares… and used them on their neighbors.
All went dark again as Helio’s dream self was consumed bit by bit, the purity of the madness spread throughout the dreams of the entire city of New Babbage.
Some found themselves new patients at the Alice-Henri Asylum, and their mad droning chants of “horse, horse, horse” began to drown out those from the other patients, chanting “raptor, raptor, raptor…”
Those who survived and awoke the next day surely thought twice about going to sleep the next night.