Disclaimer: don't own Dream, not the Dreaming and not the real people. The first two are Vertigo's, though the latter belong solely to themselves.



Tomorrow



A Sandman poem

By Joan Milligan



The millenium turned in the realm of the Dreaming.

The year 2000 had started an hour before,

And in the heart of the realm, five silent figures

Stood ready and eager to enter the castle

That lay and awaited, with ease most unsettling

For the passage of the next one thousand years.

On the gates stood a Wyvern, a Gryphon and a Pegasus

And at the figures looked down grimly,

Till one of the gate guardians spoke.

"Follow the flame, and do not stray from your path,

Our Lord has been expecting you all.

Your claims will be heard."

And thus, four of the dreamers

Stepped forth and entered the castle fearlessly

And the fifth sneaked behind them to follow the flame

And went unnoticed by any.



Flames crawled on the sleek marble floor

Leading the figures - four men and a girl -

Into the very depth of the castle

Where a throne stood; eternal and proud

And on the throne there appeared a sixth figure

A tall man of skin as white as ivory

And eyes that reflect the most distant of stars

Looking down at the figures, he bid them all welcome

As the girl crawled into the darkness of the room

And waited for something great to come to pass.

Anything great.



The four men moved forward to kneel

Before he who is lord of the castle and realm

Yet he asked them to rise, and bid them to speak

"You have not come to bow to me. No one has yet.

Speak your hearts and I shall listen.

You all have been expected here tonight."

Thus they rose; and if frightened, it did not show on their faces.

But they stayed still and hesitant.

Till one walked forward and spoke to the Dream King.



"Lord! I have come, since this year has arrived

And certain thoughts trouble me on this day.

You would remember - you gave me a gift

Many ages ago, when I still walked the mortal plain

And promised me, one Jules Verne, the secret of tomorrow.

So now I ask, Dream Lord, why does the conundrum

Stand yet unsolved? For yes, my tales

Of machines of tomorrow have all come true

And men today speak of them as reality

But Lord, the tomorrow that I had in mind

Was marvelous beyond thought and great beyond dreams

Was fair to behold - and most inspiring

Yet, today all my dreams are but uninspired reality,

Familiar to all and magnificent to none.

Where is my tomorrow, Lord, today?"



The Dream Lord nodded, but made no reply

And his eyes merely sparkled as twin stars

As the next man came forth and spoke his heart.



"King of Dreams! You would do well to remember

The year of 1949, when I

Came to this realm requesting a boon

That you would let me give warning to my fellow men.

That one George Orwell might tell of tomorrow

So that mankind would know what it must not let happen

How dark may their beautiful tomorrow be

It was a gift granted, oh Lord - inspiration

And the power of writing were at my command

Yet stories are stories, and reality

Does not seem to have changed - men still lie, men still hate

So that, Lord, my warning failed, and tomorrow

Is as bleak as I sought it not to be.

Thus, tell me, oh you who are king of illusions

Is this the only tomorrow there is?"



The Dream King made no movement, said no word

Not to approve and not to disapprove

Only his star-eyes locked on the next man

Till he stepped forward and spoke out his claims.



"Lord of Dreams! It is me, yet another dreamer

Whom you gave a gift thirty-odd years before

To try and spread a word through the craft of the arts

However, my words might have seemed quite different

Back when I asked for them to be heard!

Yet today, This one Gene Roddenberry is remembered

As one who has brought millions hope of tomorrow

With something as small as a television show

For them - for all mankind - I created utopia

But not merely, Lord, to entertain!

How far-fetched may this fantasy had seemed

Many hoped it to someday come true.

Yet today is 2000, Dream Lord, and yet

My bright tomorrow has yet to arrive

And I, who gave hope, am swiftly losing it.

I sought a bright tomorrow, and millions with me.

Will it ever be found, Lord?"



A smile seemed to flash on the Dream King's pale lips

Yet he made no reply; merely indicated

The next man, who, after hearing his companions' claims

Seemed somewhat shy, but spoke nonetheless.



"Sir! It would seem that my claim might seem lesser

After all you have heard from these people tonight.

I was no visionary, and gave no warning

Nor hope. All I have done, Lord, was write.

You, who gave me, one Isaac Asimov,

A gift many years ago would know

How I wrote of tomorrow and dreamed of tomorrow

And hoped for tomorrow all of my life.

And with me, Lord, six billion now dream

Each in a fashion different from the rest

Of a better future that might someday shed it light

On their dull, brief lives; they all dream of tomorrow.

And I, who have sworn myself to tomorrow

Am starting to fear, Lord... that there is but today."



He finished his words, then, and the Dream King

Rose from his throne and looked down at the men

And for a moment seemed pondering, considering his reply

Until he spoke to them in a tone

Neither comforting nor disappointing.



"I have heard your claims, and remember your gifts,

And truly wish I could change what is

But in truth, sirs, I can't - this realm of dream

Is not one to interact with the realm of reality

And thus often the dreamers are disappointed

Because their dreams have had no effect.

I would gladly give you dreams of tomorrow, good sirs

But what is - is, and that is all there is."



The four's faces fell; none of them said a word

And by truth, they seemed ready to both cry and leave

And then the Dream King's gaze shifted

To a darkened corner in the room

Where the girl was listening in absolute silence

And summoned a light to glisten on her features

And spoke to her in a voice both booming and soft.

"You came here as well, with those four,

Yet I do not remember you, child, as a barer of my gift.

Speak your heart." And the girl rose up, and did.



"Dream King! I came here to ask to be blessed

With the same gift you bestowed on many men

Of creativity, the gift of the Word, in hopes

That this new young one be great as these four!

And yet now, Lord, I take back my request

I do not wish for a pair of dream-wings

For I live the tomorrow these writers have spoke of

And tomorrow never comes to my world

And it would not, Lord, for all that they wish it,

And I believe that the answer in known

This matter is one of an excess of dream!

Wings granted so powerful their barer was carried

Far away to the sky, until he left the Earth

Behind, and drifted along with the dreams

So that the Earth was not his to change,

Not his to effect - and one cannot bring tomorrow to my world

When one lives it in a world of dreams.

Thus I renounce my request, oh Lord

So that I may remain on the ground, and have power

Over the world - and the power is there

Tomorrow is ours for the making!"



And before the four writers' amazement-filled eyes

The Dream Lord smiled at the brave young girl

And *did not bless her*, and instead sent her back

To a world of fear and blight and despair,

To a world of pain that must be healed,

To a world of wrongs that must be put right,

To a world of people that must be led to believe

That the future is there waiting to be brought,

With two feet on the ground and the mind in the skies

To dream - and make dream and reality one

And aye, God willing, to bring on tomorrow!



"If you can dream - and not make dreams your master

If you can think - and not make thought your aim..."

Rudyard Kiplin -- "If - "



End

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No, I don't really think I can do better than these four writers, but it WAS my idea... (