Sins of the Father

By LaughingAstarael

*****

Alexander Burgess woke violently, sobbing for breath, his eyes screwed shut. His old, gnarled hands clutched at the bed frantically, as if grasping at the very threads of reality.

"Sir? Is everything alright?"

Alex opened his eyes a crack. His nurse stood there, looking concerned. She didn't show any signs of blowing up, coming at him with a knife, or loosing her head. In fact...

In fact, the nurse was looking rather sultry, leaning over farther than strictly necessary to pick up the cup containing Alex's medicines. And leaning over him farther than necessary to administer them.

Not that he minded all that much. His nurse was a young, shapely woman, who wasn't above flaunting.

As she was now, slowly unbuttoning her blouse.

Alex sat up, watching her. She was standing at the foot of his bed, slightly backlit, but not enough to obscure her completely. Just enough to give some alluring shadows...

By now, he could tell she wasn't wearing a bra. He felt himself getting hot, and moved closer to her...

A wave of stench hit Alex, so strong he gagged and scrambled back to the head of his bed. Still the nurse unbuttoned her blouse, and Alex pressed himself up against the headboard, eyes wide with terror.

The nurse gave him a fleeting, seductive smile, and took of the shirt, throwing it to the side. Alex was struck numb with horror.

Her bare chest was not the firm, smooth skin that was displayed on arms, face, and legs. It was brown, soggy, pulled against bones – and marked with scores and rippling patches. Bugs crawled over her, sometimes digging into the rotted flesh. Her breasts were crawling with maggots and other insects.

She advanced on him, smiling, holding her hands out. And then a maggot worked its way out of her mouth, and Alex screamed...

*****

Alexander Burgess woke violently, sobbing for breath, his eyes screwed shut. His old, gnarled hands clutched at the bed frantically, as if grasping at the very threads of reality.

Slowly, as the minutes passed and nothing happened, Alex's breath came quieter. His arms folded around himself in a hug, his hands still twitching. His eyes stayed shut, though they lost their tension.

A sigh escaped his lips, as peace came over his face. To sleep, to sleep! True sleep, at last... But his eyes betrayed him.

They flicked open for the barest of seconds, but enough was seen to force them open once more.

His nurse stood there, and she had a crazed look, a feral smile. She also had a six-inch long knife, which she was running along her cheek.

"No... no! Get away!" Alex felt his age as he tried to push the woman away. He feebly batted at her before she simply pinned his hands together in one strike, and embedded the knife with his hands attached in the headboard.

"Don't move, I'll be back..." the nurse said in a twisted sing song voice, over his screaming. Then she left, presumably to find another knife.

Alex did not notice the man sitting on top of the ornate writing desk, as he was too busy trying to wrench his ruined hands free and escape. This man would not have been spotted, even if Alex had been in any state where he would notice his surroundings.

The shadows concealed this man, but if one tried hard enough, one would be able to make out white skin, and eyes that shown from the darkness like a light in an endless chasm. One would not be able to discern any more, as the man's hair and cloak were the blackest of black, and defied sight in the shadows.

This man was not a man.

This man was Dream.

Morpheus looked on silently as the man he had given eternal wakefulness finally yanked the knife from the headboard. And as the nurse, now with a splash of blood across her uniform, entered with two more in her hands.

"She won't kill him."

"No, she will not. But she will get close, and Burgess will feel every drawn-out second," Morpheus answered, without looking at his sister, who had just appeared.

Death stretched, cat-like, from her perch on the tall dresser. "He'll have to die sometime, you realize."

"I know."

She arched and eyebrow at her brother. "You will not try and impose yourself when the time comes."

Morpheus still did not turn to his sister. "I will not."

Both were silent for a few minutes. The insane nurse had commenced in removing Alex's finger bones, bloody piece by bloody piece. His screaming and thrashing were not as loud in the immediate vicinity of the two Endless.

Watching her brother, Death realized something. "You do not hate him."

"No."

"Then why do this? You could make this string of nightmares cease, though his mind would be too broken to realize it."

"For a lifetime of men I was trapped. Starved, stripped of everything. And he had the authority to stop it. Let me free." Dream's voice was quiet. It held no emotion as a severed foot hit the far wall with a sickening sound.

Death turned onto her back, looking at the scene upside-down. "It was his father who trapped you, and who included his son in the gatherings."

"Yes."

"And Roderick Burgess is in Hell as we speak. You can go visit him, if you wish. Possibly strike a deal and torture him, yourself. And let his son go."

"I realize this."

Death paused. She wasn't really arguing for or against Alexander. Just making sure Dream understood everything. "Are you going to end the endless waking?"

A few seconds ticked by with no answer. Then Dream turned, and looked at his sister, and there was no emotion on his face.

"No."

*****

Alexander Burgess woke violently, sobbing for breath, his eyes screwed shut. His old, gnarled hands clutched at the bed frantically, as if grasping at the very threads of reality.