Trust the dreams, for in
them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Sandman had come to hate the night.
Dark, always dark, the twisted matte of blacks and purples
pressing in. Pressing down. And in these final hours before
night gave way, apparently, to day (though he hadn't seen
daylight for thousands of years), the sickly, milky grey of
pre-dawn washed all nuance away, gave to each shadow a gritty,
He stood on the roof of an apartment block and watched as,
twelve stories below, a shadow slid along the street. It danced
and wove in streetlight. It stretched to look like a finger,
accusing. Or perhaps beckoning. And in its wake it dragged a
Worse and worse, the Sandman thought.
He liked men least of all.
This one was —
— a puppet on strings, restless and groping.
The Sandman leaned over the lip of the building for a closer
look. The man wore a suit with the buttons undone and a tie
hanging long on his neck like a tongue. One hand — whether by
design or coincidence — was wedged in a trouser pocket. One
floated free, now conducting an orchestra, now curling a lock of
invisible hair by his ear. Head lolling, knees sagging, the man
pushed on, spine spongy with the effort of staying upright. He
didn't so much walk as fall along the street.
The Sandman could almost smell him from here — the sweat, the
stink of pulse, the alcoholic breath. This one, this man, had no
need of the Sandman's aid. He was tired enough that he would
sleep without it. The Sandman leaned back, dismissing the man
from his mind, and returned to his counting. It helped to fill
the time — the one thing he had too much of. He drummed a
staccato beat on the handle of his cane.
One-two, one-two, one two
A hollow catalogue of sand, the last few grains that remained,
wedged tight in the seam of his pocket for safekeeping. Just
three grains, not quite lost. Not nearly enough. He sensed each
one the way an animal senses injury it can't see, and resented
them the same. These three grains kept him awake. Or rather, it
was the itch and nag of human need —
— like grit under the eyelids —
— that cancelled out his rest. It kept him in this place, and
other places like it.
He loitered, not quite ready to give in; unable, so far, to give
up. So it had been for millennia; so it would be until the sand
was gone. Then he could rest, of course he could. If he
He tapped his cane experimentally against his foot, rolled it
along his palms and spun it in the air. Then suddenly he
somersaulted up, off the roof. Flew at the unwelcoming sky,
straightened out and aimed at Heaven — or whatever was behind
the sagging clouds, the blue-black tar of night. He flew until
he was far enough away that the call, the itch, the human need,
loosened just enough and he began, almost, to miss it. Began to
feel its absence in him, somewhere in his side, beneath what
would be ribs, if he were human.
Missing it was almost worse than enduring it.
He was further from humanity here, but no closer to God (or what
passed for God behind the milky scratch of stars). Night,
endless night, crowded out everything, made all places the same.
Pinned in the dark, he turned and sharply fell. He plummeted,
hooked his descent and skimmed past the blur of unlit windows,
the doors shut firm. He flew faster and faster so the world was
a dizzying smudge, so it melted and bled.
He liked it better that way.
Then, inevitably, the itch returned. A pang, a prick, a spasm of
need at first, a nagging in his temple. It drew him on and over,
across the sleeping town.
Nearly dawn, yet someone here was awake. It called him and he
surrendered to it. He allowed himself to be twisted around and
dragged to a narrow house in a block of six. Identical
grey-red-brick houses with pointed roofs and long, mournful
He was thrown at the second storey. Didn't even see the window
until he was almost upon it. There was a tug as he spun through,
like a pin through the skin of a bubble. Rolling in the air,
flipping onto the floor, he stood hard and hauled his cane up
with him. Instantly, he flung his other hand out in front of
him, ready to bewitch the occupant to blindness.
Silver moonlight washed the room through open curtains. It
caught the shape of something that stood between the Sandman and
the half-closed door. A ghost. Its edges hung over the bed, its
head trembled and wove, white and pointed like a flint, an
The Sandman was transfixed.
As he watched and wondered, the ghost came undone. Its head
split, becoming two, trembling again in this new form. Then it
faltered, fell and washed away, the white sheet emptying. The
twin heads slapped the mattress and flopped out the sides,
becoming feet. At the other end, a face appeared.
A young girl rocked up to sitting, her brown hair tousled and
her face silver-pink in the moonlight. She pulled the sheet away
and turned towards the Sandman. Their eyes locked and he,
unbalanced, caught off-guard, could do nothing but stare.
"Who's there?" said the girl, though dawn hung like a threat in
The Sandman raised his hand again, then realised she was already
"Daddy? Is it you?" said the girl.
She wore pyjamas with grey-orange flowers and muted purple
fruits. By her hand, a brown bear gazed dolefully, its button
nose hanging loose.
The Sandman hesitated, but the girl was twisting her head,
seeking him out. She knew he was there. So he summoned his voice
from a half-forgotten place and searched his memory for one name
in all the names.
"Klaas," he rasped at last. "Klaas Vaak."
She took this without fear or regard. "Are you a friend of
Klaas nodded uncertainly, then thought to say, "Perhaps," in a
He stepped closer and saw magenta scarring across her brow. It
was healed, but recently. Her short, soft hair was beginning to
cover it. The scars dipped into her eyelids and pulled at their
edges, twisting them sideways. Despite this, her eyes were
perfect. Irises that were whole and round, and coloured a pale
honey. He leaned in, rubbing his finger and thumb together, and
contemplated — despite himself — what it would be like to pluck
those eyes out whole and roll them between his fingers, rest
them in his palms like pebbles, scoop them into a pocket. It was
a passing fancy, born of boredom. It was a game he played, not
cruelly or with malice. Just something to fill the long dark
hours of the long dark night.
Finding himself mirrored in her grey-black pupils, he drew back.
If she were able to see him, this girl, she might describe a
dark figure, cloak wrapped tight. She might be alarmed by the
arrow-straightness of the face that floated above the cloth, the
beaked nose and stabbing glare, and the matching hands, all
angles, that grasped a black cane (and this almost invisible
against the black cloak). She might note — if she were paying
attention — the way the moonlight glanced around the shape and
never touched it.
She would not, even if she could, even this close, make out the
thousand pockets that lined the cloak. Pockets empty and slack
and far too numerous for the three small grains that remained.
As if a castle had been built to house three mice.
"I’m Hannah," she said, pushing her knuckles into the mattress.
"Like my grandmother." She drew her knees up and twisted her
fingers around her toes. There were scars on her hands, too, and
some of her fingers didn't curl quite right. She stared toward
Klaas, though no longer meeting his eye.
"I’m practising handstands."
Klaas frowned. "At this . . . hour?"
Hannah shrugged. "Why not?" she asked. "What else is there to
do? Everyone's always asleep."
"Not always. Not everyone." Hardly anyone, hardly ever, by his
reckoning. They were always awake, always needy. "You wish to
sleep, too?" he offered. The only gift he had.
She shook her head. "Nope," she said, "I don’t need to sleep.
But maybe you can hold my ankles?"
Klaas turned this over in his mind, seeing for a moment the girl
like a grain of sand, tumbling through the air. He asked, "For
She grinned, nodding.
The Sandman rolled his cane anxiously between his palms. "And
then," he said, "you should sleep."
Gracelessly, Hannah shrugged. "I guess."
The deal struck, he rested his cane against the bed. Hannah was
reaching out for him, so he held his hands towards her. She
found him and folded her fingers around his.
"Ow," she said, "you're freezing."
"I apologise," he said. "Hannah."
She was assured, though, that he was there. So she flopped
backward onto the mattress, fitted her palms under her shoulders
and rolled, pushing her feet in the air.
"Okay," she puffed, "hold my ankles."
Carefully at first, Klaas gripped the little ankles in front of
him. Her bones were thin; he was careful not to snap them.
"Tuck in your chin," he advised. "Unbend your arms."
She tucked in her chin and straightened her arms and he pulled
her upward until she hung perfectly still in his grasp.
"I'm doing it!" she puffed.
"Yes," said Klaas.
"I really am!"
He held her ankles and waited. Her elbows trembled until he
pulled her higher, allowing just her fingers to touch the
Finally, in halting tones and with evident regret, she asked to
be let down. "Not too quick!" she cried, and he had to seize her
ankles again, because he had let go too soon.
Slowly and with infinite care, he lowered her to the mattress.
"Did you see me? I did a real handstand! Did you see?"
"I did," he admitted.
"Even Mum could never make me go that high."
Her face was red, even her ears. She bounced up to standing and
seemed almost as though she would hug him, her arms outflung.
But instead she swayed dizzily and had to step back to steady
herself. Her eyes shone a pale gold.
"You were very good," Klaas said. "And so. Now. Handstands are
done. Time to sleep."
Hannah shrugged. "Okay, but I’m not sleepy," she cautioned.
"Ah, but you must be worn out. You need to sleep."
"Nope," she grinned.
"So I do magic," he said. "And make you sleep."
He picked up the brown bear and pressed it to her hands. She
took it and obligingly folded herself neatly to the bed with a
sigh. Klaas tried inexpertly to drag the rest of the bedding
into place. Hannah punched the pillow into shape and placed it
under her cheek.
"Are you going to sleep, too?" she asked.
"If," Klaas smiled, "you insist."
"Yes!" she said. "I insist. I'll sleep if you will." Delighted
with this logic, she laughed, pulling the sheet to her chin.
"But if I sleep . . ." Klaas began, plucking a blanket from the
floor where it lay.
"What?" Hannah asked.
What, indeed? He wasn't even sure himself. "Perhaps . . . others
"So?" said Hannah. "What then?"
They paused, wondering, each calculating the possibilities of
the new world.
Hannah said, "There’d be more time for handstands." She seemed
to think on this a while. Then she sat up sharply; so sharply
the Sandman, leaning over her, drew back to avoid collision.
She whispered, breathless, "You make people sleep?"
"Some," he replied. "Those who have forgotten how, or have lost
their way. I send them through the Cimmerian Gate and into the
eternal land, the land of sleep. Lie back down, now, Hannah."
She lay again on the pillow, frowning hard. "Cinnamon?" she
"Cimmerian," Klaas corrected gently. "The black gate, between
this world and the next."
"Do you make people sleep forever? The way Mummy's been
sleeping? Since the accident, I mean."
"Never. No." The same accident, Klaas guessed, that had scarred
her face and taken her sight. He felt a strange need to comfort
her, to reach out and perhaps pat her shoulder, smooth her hair.
But he was afraid of his cold skin on hers. "Mine return," he
As if reeled in on a fishing line, they would come back. Sleep
was just a glimpse.
He withdrew one gain of sand from his pocket and balanced it on
his fingernail, where it rocked pale and round. Tipping forward,
he drew a breath and blew the sand into her unblinking eyes.
"So, what magic do you do?" Hannah asked. But she was already
yawning, turning her face toward the pillow. One hand twitched
by her cheek, and she was still. The bear, clasped to her
shoulder, continued to stare.
The light in the room was not so icy now; dawn had sent pink
threads through the sky. Time had passed, and for a while Klaas
had forgotten to feel it. Alone again, he picked up his cane and
moved to the door. Perhaps there was more work he could do here
before he left. Another piece of sand might be spent.
It was dark in the corridor, darker still in the next room. He
found a bedroom with the bed unmade, found, also, grief in the
crumpled sheets and loneliness in an upturned alarm clock. In
this room, he understood, time had too much meaning. The
intended occupant had fled elsewhere.
Downstairs in the loungeroom it was warm; too warm, almost
stifling. Curtains were drawn tight. Tawny light trickled from a
lamp and fell on an old cracked leather armchair, its stuffing
spilling out. The chair held a man in much the same condition.
His paunch protruded above unzipped trousers, his socks were
greasy and so was his hair. His head rested uncomfortably,
emphasising yellow folds in the skin of his neck. A pair of
spectacles balanced on his nose though his eyes were closed.
Already asleep, then.
The Sandman stepped closer, just to see. To admire the way the
lamp caught the planes of the man's face and sank the rest into
charcoal shadow. There was little of Hannah in this figure, but
when he looked for it, he thought perhaps he could see something
in the height of the brow and the cast of the nose.
He reached delicately for the man's spectacles and propped them
on the side table, far enough from the edge they wouldn't be
overbalanced by an errant elbow. Then he hunkered down and
leaned in, examining the small black spots of new beard and the
chalky flakes of skin, the oily shine of the man's eyelids as
they trembled and —
The Sandman froze. Or rather, he was frozen. Not by the man, or
some strange presentiment of fear. Rather, it was a thing, a —
— white plume of smoke, rising like a serpent from behind the
It reached out and grasped his wrist, and he saw a hand as white
as powder, its fingers slim with long red nails. Then the rest
of her pushed forward, forcing his gaze up to meet hers. She had
bone-white hair and a death-white face, and her red lips were
fixed in a sensuous smile. Her eyes were no colour at all, but
deep and dark. She kept leaning, compelling the Sandman’s stare
into her marble cleavage.
"You enjoy his eyes?" she whispered.
She had a way of spotting truth.
Like the Sandman, she was old, had many names. He called her
Lilit, if he had to call her anything. She was the fallen, the
succubus, and the somnambulist already belonged to her.
"See? He dreams." She looked slyly from under her long lashes.
"Do you remember what it's like?"
Her gaze worked the Sandman and he knew what she saw. The empty
pockets, the prickle of his desperation.
She said, "It must be time for your dreams, too, time to dream
and turn your dreams to sand, to feed the dreams of others."
Then she laughed, for all the world like this amused her, the
image of him sleeping.
He stepped back as if struck and snapped his wrist from her
grasp. But he was still trapped. She had no power over him, or
shouldn't have, but her words, like a charm, weighted his
fatigue even further. It was always like this with the succubus.
Her gaze, her ruby mouth, her eyes that held only darkness, her
strange, sinister knowledge — he was always confounded.
"Oh," she whispered, pouting. She pinned him with her eyes, and
pulled her lips together in a red stain. "You put off dreaming.
As though waiting will make it easier. The keeper of sleep, kept
away . . ."
Still the Sandman was silent, while between them Hannah's father
grunted and seemed almost to snigger. Under the ministrations of
the succubus, he would wake more exhausted than when he first
dozed. This, though, was not the Sandman's fight. Yet for an
instant — the time, perhaps, between heartbeats — he felt a stab
of familial care.
Lilit had grown bored. She wrapped herself around her victim and
bent to his face, angling her chin so the Sandman could watch
her soft, possessive kiss. She expected him to back away, he
knew, and he expected the same. But compulsively he stepped
forward. Unable to get a hold on smoke, he gripped instead the
loungechair and shoved it so hard it skidded across the floor.
Lilit collapsed around an armful of empty air. She howled, mouth
square in rage. The Sandman blocked her with his back and
focussed on the sleeper. He withdrew the last two grains of
sand. He had need of only one, but there was no time to count.
He blew both into the sleeping man's face. The dreamer sagged
deeply and was still.
"Why?" Lilit screamed.
The Sandman had no answer. He smiled thinly to cover his own
surprise. With the release of the sand, sleep hollowed him out.
Lilit was still howling when he leapt. He threw himself at the
window and through, into dawn.
The unexpected light brought tears to his eyes. The world was
not, as he had supposed, more beautiful when it was coloured in.
He missed the depth and subtlety of darkness, the coolness of
its mattes. He rushed to catch up with the meniscus of
It was time to make the trade: his sleep for the sleep of
others. Time to remind himself what lay in that exchange. Time
to re-acquaint himself with a kind of eternity different from
the one in this waking night.
He lay back in a warm current of air, feeling snug. Rolling
once, he nestled his face in the crook of an elbow. And slept.
approaches each dreamer differently. For the Sandman, it was a
wave. It rushed over him and pulled him down. It shut with an
He stumbled, and by stumbling, realised he was walking. His eyes
were open, but he only knew this by reaching a hand to his face.
It was dark, yes, but perfectly dark — not like the grainy soot
he was used to.
For a moment he thought it unfair. Must he dream in darkness,
too, as well as live in it? But if this was darkness, he had to
admit he had never known darkness at all. This was a heavy,
chocolate black, an ebony fire, a raven flood.
It occurred to him then that he did not walk alone.
"Do you take me to the Plains of Judgement?" the Sandman asked.
He should have asked,
Are you Charon, the Ferryman, come to take
me to Eternity?
But somehow he already knew that answer.
"Were you to be judged," came a voice, though not from his
companion, "you would not be found wanting."
The Sandman was not so sure.
They hung in space, but space was a solid darkness. Klaas feared
they may have to dig their way out. He imagined his feet slicing
the inky dark with each step.
He searched his pockets for a coin to give the Ferryman, but
they were empty. Or not quite empty, since they were filled with
water. He was in a river, the water up to his neck. He sensed
another river to his right, and more rivers beyond that.
one-two . . .
He counted seven the first time, eight each time after that.
Nine rivers in total, nine rivers that were all one. He called
the river Styx, though it could be anything. It wrapped the land
like a serpent enfolding its prey.
What glimpses of eternity others found here, he could not say.
What they discovered beyond the gate, and brought back with
them, was not his concern. He only knew that in his Eternity,
death was real. He was drowning in it.
A fire burst beside him, so bright it threatened to burn out his
eyes. Charon had thrown back the cloak he wore. He stood bare
against the dark, but hardly naked. There was little skin to be
seen between the silver coins that lined his body like eyes.
They gleamed in the shadows, small diamonds of amber flesh
winking between. His eyes were mere imprints of other coins, and
when he smiled he revealed teeth of curled silver.
He opened his mouth as wide as Hades itself. Then he showed
Klaas his silver tongue.
Klaas pitched backwards. In the afterglow of the light, black
waters turned red. They rushed away, heavy as quicksand. They
gathered him up and pushed him down, toward the gate.
Too soon, but there was no stopping it. He heard —
"Wake," a voice by his ear.
The Sandman turned away. In his mind, still foggy with sleep, he
was a white fish, swimming up waterfalls to the ocean. He spun
in waves as warm as summer, as bright as day.
"Wake!" the voice commanded, and he had to obey.
He opened his eyes and saw —
— lips as red as blood, skin as white as sheets.
Lilit lay over him, her face against his. They moved through the
air, across rooftops and along suburban streets. Dimly he was
aware of this, but his focus was on her.
"Sweet dreams?" she smiled, leaning in for a taste.
They turned lazily in the air, the fish and the net.
"Not all," the Sandman muttered, "not so sweet."
"Ah!" said Lilit, surprised, perhaps, by his voice. Then,
When he frowned, still caught in the currents of sleep, she
added, "The people, the humankind. Too many for us. They're
yours again, now."
Surely they had never been.
He reached up with a hand as thin as paper to press his nose
between thumb and finger. He sighed. He wasn’t ready to face it
all again. He pulled from her grasp and hurtled backwards toward
the street. The tips of his coat brushed the ground and he
rushed up again, toward the sable sky. He somersaulted onto a
rooftop and stopped.
The dreams fell from him like water droplets and he was awake.
He was alert and alive; his senses jangled. His coat groaned at
the seams, fat with sand: his dreams made into dust. He was
strong. He could carry this burden for another eternity if he
had to. And all around him it was night.
Night, always night.
But hardly dark.
"It's been . . . ?" he began.
Lilit, swimming by, arched her back and stretched. "Yes." She
washed up against the thick oil spill of his cloak. "Months.
Months and months."
The Sandman nodded at her impossible answer. What had time ever
been to either of them? Something, entirely, to be endured.
This, though, this was different to any night he had seen.
Beneath and all around him was light. Streetlights, house
lights, lights strung up in trees and along gutters. Lights
poured from windows and fell in crisscrosses against the ground.
He could see this in street after
street: night diluted utterly
People sat or slouched on lawns, too tired to speak, too ruined
to be alone. Those that walked did so as though the air itself
was heavy. Radios and televisions chattered noisily with
messages of reassurance, lullabies, gentle good-nights. He could
see this, from where he stood, in street after street after
Just beneath him a group of young people flipped cards at an
upturned hat. Further away, another group sipped from cups and
murmured about days left behind. They watched each other with a
shifty camaraderie. Jealously, they waited for sleep.
The Sandman, used to the solitude of his lonely visits at night,
had never seen this many people at once.
Lilit gestured to him. She floated above a street and pointed
down, spinning slowly around her outflung arm. In the
intersection beneath her was a metal snarl: two cars crushed
together as if gorging on each other. People had begun to close
in, coming nearer, glad for the distraction. They walked with
sloping shoulders and crossed arms.
The Sandman scanned them all, looking for a face in all the
faces. He caught Lilit looking at him, and tried to hold her
stare, tried to shelter himself from her sharp possession. Tried
not to let her see his —
"Reality," she said.
He was too late.
"It is too much for some to bear," she smiled, "for long."
The Sandman turned from her. He stepped lightly from the roof
and dropped to the street. He joined the fringes of the human
group, though their sheer number unnerved him and the itch of
their need threatened to tear him apart.
This close, he could taste the anxiety and sickness. He sensed
aches and pains that would not heal. He saw the sharp red eyes
and throats that clenched painfully on each breath, the skin
that was splotched and swollen with everyday maladies.
He smelled alcohol and other drugs. And something else.
Something that mixed fear with remorse. It was sorrow, plain as
day. Sorrow for a glimpse of eternity beyond the gate —
something to balance their waking mortality.
In the middle of the crowd, the two drivers who had collided
were climbing from their cars.
"Did you fall asleep at the wheel?" someone called.
The crowd leant in hungrily. "Did you?" they echoed. "Did you,
"No," said one driver, a woman. She was pale skinned, red
haired, watery eyed. She raised her head. "I’m just . . ." She
drew in a breath. "I can’t concentrate, I can't think."
The crowd swayed back and released a collective sigh.
That's what she was saying. So, so tired. They all understood.
The Sandman's palms tingled. Without thinking, he reached into a
pocket and fingered the white sand there. In this press of
people, he was afraid to release it.
Then suddenly, all the lights went out. The Sandman thought for
a moment that the gate had claimed him again. Or perhaps it had
overwhelmed this world, spreading like a spill of ink. He almost
expected to see Charon blazing against the sky.
"The power's out again," someone said.
They were already pulling torches from their pockets, the weak
lights fluttering against the wide dark. The Sandman understood
it was not the power that had failed, but the human race.
Sleeplessness was dragging them from their posts.
One woman grasped the Sandman's elbow, sensing something in the
restfulness of the dark figure beside her.
"I see things," she said. Her slack face was the colour of old
flour, and her eyes were blue-bruised and bursting. "Strange
things. I see . . ." she trailed off. "Please."
The Sandman knew what she was asking, but not how she knew to
ask it. Here, on this road, in this press of people, he was
afraid to give what she craved. The cloak hung heavy as guilt on
Others turned to fix him with reddened eyes. Too late, he backed
away. As he did so, something caught his eye. A girl with a
So it had reversed. Rather than an endless night where all
places were one, he found himself in a new night, in the same
place. The very place where he'd begun.
Hannah's face was drawn, like the others, and there were dark
circles under her eyes. The scarring on her face had faded to
pale pink lines. Many months, then, since her accident. Many
months since he'd seen her, though surely it was just a moment.
Behind her stood her father, his hand on her brown hair.
Recognition flickered, too, in his gaze, but unsure, he turned
away, back to the accident.
In the gloom of torchlight, the Sandman stepped toward them.
Though he said not a word, Hannah nodded recognition. She
reached out and he took her hand.
"Hello again, Hannah."
"Hello, Klaas. You've come back."
Yes, he had. Of course he had, as if he'd always meant to.
"No handstands tonight, Hannah?"
She smiled. "Not tonight."
"You must be very good at them by now."
"Yes," she laughed softly. "I'm a bit bored now."
"Are you?" the Sandman smiled. He stood with her, just for a
while, letting time pass. At last he said, "So, to sleep?"
She nodded. "Sleep."
The Sandman rested his cane by his side and slipped his hand
into a pocket by his hip. He pushed some silver grains into the
whorls of his fingertips. Wordlessly, he pressed these to
Hannah's pale eyes and caught her as she fell.
Her father, feeling her slip from his grasp, turned then, and
held his arms out instinctively. Slowly, taking his time, Klaas
placed the girl in her father's embrace. She lay bonelessly
against his chest.
"Look," someone whispered. "She’s sleeping!"
The knot of people tightened around Hannah. One by one they
looked to where the Sandman stood between them. Then they
reached for him.
He couldn't stop them all.
Hands clawed his cloak and tore the pockets there. Fingers
dipped into white sand. Someone raised a pinch of dust to the
torchlight, brought the sparkling sand to his mouth and licked
at it like salt. As though his spine had turned to water, he
dropped to the ground.
In one voice, the crowd roared.
The Sandman's cloak tore; its black cloth turned grey with
spilled sand. People dragged at him, eyes hungry through the
blur of dust they raised. Panicked, he pushed at them and tried
"Stop him!" someone shouted.
A fist was aimed at the Sandman’s face. As it swung groggily
towards him, he leapt. He shot straight into the air, dragging
the most tenacious attackers with him. He rose higher and higher
until they fell. Out of their reach, he began to spin, slowly at
first. He spun and spun and the sand formed a silver spray
On the street, their mouths open in thirst, people fell. They
collapsed against each other like the ground had given way,
their eyes closed, hands curled. The Sandman rose higher still,
sending a tide of sand into lawns and windows. Everywhere,
people slumped, pulled to the ground, and slept where they lay.
He kept spinning, until the night was a purple blur, until
handfuls of sand reached all corners of the impatient sky, until
not one voice was raised above a sleepy murmur, until all breath
was smoothed to sleep.
Finally, when there was not a person awake, he slowed and
stopped. Pride made him drunk. He looked for Lilit, but she was
nowhere to be seen. This victory, then, was entirely his.
Good, he thought.
Good. The night, at last, belonged to him.
He pulled his cloak around him and wiped at the slick of dust on
his shoulders. For once, the night was not long enough — the
dark not deep enough — to hold everything he had to give.
There were dreams enough to keep and dreams to give. Enough
dreams, more than enough, too much, for all.
'Cinnamon Gate' first appeared
Orb Speculative Fiction Magazine
(editor: Sarah Endacott) 2004.
first story in 2000, winning
Aurealis Award for Best Horror
and subsequently winning a Ditmar
for Best New Talent. She has also received a Ditmar for Best
Short Story and has earned four Honourable Mentions in
Datlow and Terri Windling's
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror
over the past three years.
Her stories have appeared in
as well as
anthologies such as
Asked about some, uh,
offered a tasting so small that
she might secretly run a 5-star restaurant. As for
"I live in Sydney with a cat.
My favourite food is dessert.
I am in a battle with the universe, that promises
& delivers not enough!"
You can find Deborah Biancotti