Disclaimer: the Sandman universe is the intellectual property of Neil Gaiman and DC and I don't own anything out of it.
Author's notes: The idea for this story comes from The Jane Fonda Room from The Panic Hand collection by Jonathan Carroll. The idea for Desire's helper who put the idea into its head and who resembled Andrew Lloyd Weber stems from the thisman org site.
There were fewer people standing in the line since the last time Joel Flynn was in here. Since last night. Fewer even than the first time he was here, which was three months ago. The people in line were of both sexes and a wide variety of ages - from preteens to those whose seventies had already come and gone long ago - though it was mostly teenagers and those in their twenties who prevailed.
They were of different cultures as well. During his first few visits to this place that existed beyond time and space as understood by ordinary humans, he saw a plump black-skinned woman in her forties, dressed in a robe Joel identified as a traditional Somalian guntiino. The dark-skinned guntiino lady always stood at the back. Every time Joel's sleeping mind took him for this magical trip he'd catch glimpses of her hiding between the other people in the queue, so the man had no opportunity to talk to her even if he wanted to. Anyway, she was only there for the first four or five times until one night when he arrived and didn't find her in the line. He had no idea if she stopped coming here or if she finally decided on entering the gate and he had no one to ask about it either. The Somalian lady and her fate remained the Schrödinger cat for Joel.
There was also an elderly woman with visibly Japanese features, wearing a kimono. Joel saw her here, in this specific waiting room, from time to time, looking around with curiosity, as if she wondered where she was and how she got here. There was also an elderly, Amish-looking gentleman who appeared in here once two months ago, but Joel hadn't seen him here again.
The vast majority of those waiting, however, were ordinary looking people wearing plain European clothes. Their eyes were filled with some mixture of fear and anticipation. Some of them wore a delicate, dreamy smile, as if they couldn't quite believe they were here, putting the experience down to some amazingly realistic dream they were having. Some of those waiting in line for their turn to enter the gate - or to resign, thus ceding their place to someone else - were smiling widely, as if their fondest dream was just coming true. And that's just what was happening. Their faces, glistening with pure happiness, reminded Joel of the people from the brochures of Jehovah Witnesses, that showed the saved Christians amidst the green splendor of fields like from the Garden of Eden, surrounded by animals all living in harmony with each other-a lion lying down with a lamb. The entity who summoned all of them in here, gathering them in this silent waiting room with its white walls that seemed to stretch away into the invisible distance, wasn't, of course, the Christian God, in whom Joel didn't even believe. It was someone almost as powerful and, more importantly, giving their favors for free. More precisely, giving those whom the being found worthy of it a new life in any world they chose.
However, there was some limitation concerning the wishes of the waiting. The entity, which introduced itself to Joel as Desire of the Endless during their first meeting, gave him – and the rest of his companions from the waiting room – an interesting proposition. Each of them could be taken to a world of his or her own choosing. This generous offer, proposed by this beautiful entity on a sudden magnanimous impulse, would allow Joel to choose a world at random - a world from a movie, book or comic, even a painting or a myth if he wanted - in which he would like to spend the rest of his life. That was the limitation - the world he chose must come from someone else's imagination. A writer, a movie director, a comic creator - it didn't matter, as long as the fabulous dimension of imagination came from the fantasy of some other creator. This was Desire's whim, which for some reason the entity followed.
Joel didn't know why it was so; if it was dictated by Desire's capricious nature – it seemed to be an owner of such a nature indeed – or by its inability to take him into a real world. He didn't know what sex Desire was either. When asked, it only smiled with this mysterious Sphinx-like smile, which made Joel feel a not unpleasant shiver floating down his spine, and said he could call it as he wished. Man, woman, hermaphrodite or someone not possessing any gender at all – it depended entirely on how one wished to refer to it, as Desire didn't know any limits in this respect as conventionally assumed. It was all in how you saw it. For Joel however, Desire looked most like a beautiful woman, more sensuous than any one he ever had a chance to encounter. He would perceive himself lucky, if this fabulous being could become his other half. But it would never happen and even if it did, he wouldn't be too happy with this cold and cruel entity.
Yes, Desire was like that. Joel couldn't deceive himself any more that it was any different. A fascinating beauty, yet at the same time a very calculating, capricious entity in whose chest a heart of ice was beating. Assuming, of course, that the Endless had any hearts at all. They weren't humans, after all, but the family of seven entities, each of whom represented one universal force of the universe. That was what Joel knew from Desire but he, personally, came to know the names of only two siblings of it. These were Death and Dream who cooperated with Desire. Dream let Desire use a part of his realm of dreams as the waiting room for those who were given the chance to move to a realm chosen by them. That was why he and the others whom Desire made an offer were able to find themselves in here only at night – because dreams were the domain of Desire's brother and the waiting room was such stuff as dreams are made – Joel remembered Shakespeare. This quote fit here very well.
Joel knew why Desire of the Endless decided to offer people it chose at random the chance to live in the worlds of their dreams. There was this weird guy, looking very like Andrew Lloyd Weber, who accompanied Desire when it approached Joel for the first time in his dream. Joel only saw 'Weber' once, but from this singular encounter he got the feeling that this man and Desire were lovers. Later, when Joel asked Desire about this, the entity only waved its slim, beautiful hand with its long, sharp nails and, laughing charmingly (and very coldly at the same time, Joel noticed), explained that mortals weren't supposed to love the Endless and its companion was only its very good friend; a man who put this idea into its head. He was a writer who had a weakness for imaginary worlds and Desire followed this idea willingly. It was great fun, the entity said, although Joel suspected there was more to it than that. He couldn't imagine Desire doing anything just to please people; such selflessness didn't fit it at all. There was probably much, much more about this generous offer that Joel didn't understand, but Desire of course didn't explain it to him when he asked for specifics. All he got for an answer was this enigmatic, charming but cold smile once again, leaving him to guess as to the identity of Desire's mysterious companion and to wonder whether the man was more for the entity than a mere toy.
Joel didn't have any illusions that 'Weber', the same as himself and the other people from the line which formed in the waiting room, could be anything more for the member of the Endless family than just a plaything which would be put away on a shelf when Desire felt bored with it. He could have put the idea which would keep Desire amused for years into its head but he probably wasn't anyone important for having done it. Joel wondered who he was. Probably just a normal, ordinary guy who simply happened to arouse its attention, that's all. He appeared in several of Joel's dreams, but they were just ordinary dreams, not real meetings in the world of dreams, the domain of Desire's sibling.
It was during those dream meetings, as realistic as real life, when Joel Flynn met Desire. The first time took place three months ago. Joel still remembered it very well – his shock that it was more than just a dream, his amazement that this entity proposed such a generous offer… After this first meeting he was taken by Desire to the waiting room which consisted of a kind of a long corridor - so long and narrow he couldn't see where it ended- filled with people who as it seemed had all received the same offer. During Joel's talks with them they admitted that it was like that indeed. The line actually wasn't a regular line in which people stand one by one; it made an impression of a line because of the narrowness of the monotonous corridor with its white walls, white floor and white carved gate adorned with sculptures, where the gathered were filling the place. They didn't feel any tiredness; it was happening in the world of dreams after all so regardless of how much time they spent in there, they weren't tired and could stand in there, in this white, impossibly long room filled with the silent murmur of their conversation. From time to time someone from the back squeezed through the crowd to enter the gate, never to return. They chose their fate.
Joel and the others chosen by Desire had as much time as they pleased for choosing the world where they were to spend the rest of their lives. They could come here every night in their sleep, waiting for their turn. And when it came, they weren't forced to enter the gate to talk with Desire, telling it about their choice. They could stay here to ponder this option one more time and come here the next night. Joel decided on using this privilege as many times as possible. He basically decided on some worlds he would like to live in but he still needed some time to make a final decision.
And he could do it while talking with the others who were doing the same. There was a group of people he came to know during those three months. He recognized them but he didn't know much more about them than just their names – it was strange to him and it seemed the others shared this feeling, that they could talk about more down-to-earth things in here, in the corridor that existed only in the world of dreams.
There was for example Miranda, a woman in her fifties who every time Joel saw her here, was wearing an elegant ball dress made of dark green silk. As she told him, she had it in her youth and now, in the dream world, where everything was made of the delicate astral matter, she could have it one more time. Miranda revealed to Joel her desire to stay in one of the worlds of Disney – maybe a Hunchback from Notre Dame one? She was a history teacher and Middle Ages were her favorite epoch. Or maybe the Peter Pan one? It would be great to live in Neverland, with the Lost Boys, Indians and pirates, not caring about hardships of ordinary adult life too, she said, but she needed time to make a choice.
Or Folami, this little Nigerian girl. She was ten but looked so much younger. Before she told him her age, Joel was inclined to estimate her age to be more like seven or eight. Folami was very mature for her age. She was obsessed with the myths of her country and the thought she could see the favorite characters from it with her own eyes. Like Olódùmarè the creator, the irunmole spirits and the whole rest of this big, happy, divine family. Everybody. The girl whom Joel befriended in spite of their age difference – they could be father and daughter – was so excited about this perspective. Joel questioned the ethics of making a child face such a choice but… if this young Nigerian wanted to enter the world of myths she told him about with excitement that made her big dark eyes sparkle with glee, if it was her choice, let it be. Joel knew without ever asking that Desire wouldn't agree to change its choice of giving this opportunity to a child. It was capricious and gave its gifts generously when it felt like doing it, regardless of whether it might not be appropriate for some. Folami so far, was afraid of making the ultimate choice, though. Like the majority of the people here, including Joel himself, she was delaying the moment for as long as possible. Some of the people from the corridor came there for more than half a year. Folami herself claimed that she was just going to prolong the anticipation but Joel knew she wasn't telling the truth. She could convince herself that she was waiting so she could better enjoy the simple, sweet rush of delighted excitation at getting a delicious treat but Joel was sure there was something more behind her hesitation.
Folami was scared. Joel could feel the fear oozing out of her words when the girl was explaining to him that she didn't want to leave Mom and Dad. (Here, the fact that she wasn't speaking English didn't matter; everybody in the corridor understood each other exquisitely well.) This simple statement wasn't what it seemed; the girl, however much she wanted to seem brave and happy all over, was scared of Desire's gift just as much as Joel was. It was why she was delaying the moment of having it handed to her. She was just a child, so Joel wasn't surprised that she couldn't put her sinking feeling into words like he could, but it was what he himself felt.
A fear. Fear of leaving the world he'd lived in for more than thirty years in favor of the one chosen by him, even if the change was to be one for the better. Joel's life was boring and sad. He longed for something better for many years and now when the opportunity had finally come to him, he was scared of it. He could understand his young friend. He understood her very well.
But he wasn't going to let this fear; the fear of the unknown as well as of Desire's whims which might turn out otherwise than he expected – there probably was some sort of catch awaiting those who agreed to accept the cruel entity's offer – prevent him from making the choice today. Yes, Joel Flynn decided to chose this very night. Standing in the queue, between a teenage Twilight fan and a young man who was here for the first time, cheerfully informing everybody within his reach that in a moment he was going to ask Desire for the life in the world of Star Trek, Joel knew that this was going to be the night when he chose his fate.
During one of their first meetings, Desire had told Joel what would happen once he entered the white gate behind which Desire resided and listened as those who were selected revealed their chosen destinations. Joel's spirit would be taken to the imaginary world of his choice where it would remain until the end of his life, while his spiritless body would be found the next day. Or maybe, in Joel's case, in a couple of days when his workmates missed him and called the police. Joel Flynn lived alone. He had no wife or girlfriend-not because he didn't want to, because the exact opposite was true-but because he was too shy to date. All the women he knew considered him a boring dork. He was painfully aware of this sad truth, hiding in the world of books and movies. Those imaginary worlds were safe, unlike the real one; no one in there was going to mock him. Desire's offer was something he never imagined would happen-until now. He was going to agree to the offer without hesitation. He'd come here almost every night for the past three months. He'd had a lot of time to ponder it and he decided to do it this very night, in spite of the fear he felt at the thought of ultimately entering an imaginary world only to die in the real one. Although, it wasn't to be a real death as one would normally understand it. If the process of his spirit departing his lifeless body were an actual death, then all he would see would be the sunless lands of the realm of Desire's other sibling, Death, instead of this world or the new one he had chosen.
As the people from the corridor entered the gate never to return, Joel's intent only got stronger. The Star Trek guy opened the white carved door with a wide, happy smile on his face and the Twilight fan, wearing a black T-shirt with Bella on followed him soon. Joel had no idea what Desire was talking with them about but he knew he would find out soon. Very soon. The Twilight teen entered the door, with an excited look on her pretty face, waving farewell to Joel and the people just behind him, awaiting their turn – two males in their late teens or early twenties and a tall woman with bushy dark hair who was just telling someone behind her in a loud whisper that she was not going to miss the chance to become part of the Harry Potter world.
The young fan of the vampire stories went to the room behind the gate – it was way too massive to be called a mere door – about five minutes ago and Joel started to grow impatient. What was this silly girl doing there for so long? Did she change her opinion on the world of her choice or what? Other people who went in there spent maybe a minute or two. He clenched his fists in the pockets of his pajamas, impatiently awaiting his turn, until an oddly familiar male voice called from behind the small fissure the half ajar gate created: "The next dreamer!"
It was his turn, he knew it. His dream would come true now. The morning would bring the world the revelation of a dead body of a plump man in his middle thirties, whose spirit had left the lifeless crush to explore the new and amazing world the man so far only read about. And which he could enter now. Just a moment, one short moment of awaiting…
Joel came through the white carved gate. The splendor and uniqueness of the room which he saw behind it, and especially its very size, stunned him for a moment. The room stretched away into the distance; the man couldn't see where it ended. From the one side at least; the other side was a huge balcony with white marble columns, between which strange plants were twining. He was standing now in front of Desire, who was smiling and stretching luxuriously on an expensive looking sofa on the floor of the balcony. Near the sofa there was a leather armchair which was taken by Desire's companion. The last piece of furniture on the balcony was a table with crystal glasses and a bottle of red wine. Desire was holding a glass half filled with the ruby liquid and looking at Joel smiling a mysterious smile. Its companion, the one who hit upon the idea of letting people follow their dreams by sending them into the worlds which had their origin in someone's imagination, wasn't drinking but he was looking at Joel too. On his face there was this look Joel couldn't identify in any way. Impatient expectation? Joy that he could help people make their wish come true? Joel wasn't sure. But whatever this weird guy was thinking, it didn't matter; in a moment he would be in a different world, having left the real one and the strange world of the white corridor and the balcony room he entered when he walked through the gate.
It was really strange, but then Joel knew that nothing about Desire of the Endless was run-of-the-mill. He stood on the balcony with Desire and its friend, looking at the view stretching out before his eyes. He slowly approached the columns of the balcony, ignoring his two companions, and looked out, sweeping his gaze both up and down. It must be Threshold, the realm Desire inhabited that it told him about during their first meeting. Desire hadn't gone into detail; all Joel knew was that Threshold was a huge statue representing Desire itself in the heart of which the entity lived. Turning his head up, Joel could see the silhouette of the head of the huge Desire-like statue vanishing into the clouds. When he turned his eyes down, he saw the walls of the statue-building were modeled after Desire's body from the chest down. The door to the balcony was heart-shaped. The gate Joel entered to get here had disappeared - he was just suddenly in here, with Desire the Endless, who was lazily sipping wine, and its manipulated plaything - Joel didn't believe even for a moment that this man could actually be more important to this entity than just a deliverer of amusement. Desire was going to send him wherever he wished now purely for its amusement; a better amusement the hermaphrodite being probably hadn't had for years. Otherwise, why bother itself satisfying humans' desires for free? Desire didn't look like someone who would do that. Joel didn't understand it completely, but he could feel in every fiber of his body, knew down in the deepest part of his heart that there was more to this than Desire was telling. Either Desire of the Endless was really bored with the pleasures it experienced before its new friend showed it this new game that pulled it out of the apathetic lethargy of someone so overexposed to ordinary pleasures as to become desensitized to them, or there was some catch to this offer that he hadn't been informed about. Desire, of course, denied this, emphasizing that Joel would be able to spend the rest of his life in the fabulous world of his choice. Joel was afraid the latter was true. He was afraid of it, but tried to hide his fear even from himself. And his young Nigerian friend who hadn't come to the corridor tonight was afraid of it, too, like she sensed some danger as well. Many of the corridor people must have sensed something and it was probably the real reason they delayed their choices as long as possible, and not just the ordinary nervousness of leaving their old way of life, not just the qualms of conscience they had over leaving their loved ones just to satisfy their own whim.
Joel turned back to Desire and its friend and smiled in a nervous smile, trying to encourage himself before he spoke the first words since he came here:
"I am ready."
He desperately wanted to have it over with, to have it finished, so he could enjoy the pleasures of his new life as a movie or literary character from now on, forgetting about any doubts he might have about Desire's sincerity.
"Have you chosen the world you want to go to?" It was the man who put this idea into Desire's inhuman mind and who was now sitting in the armchair, looking so out of place on a balcony… however here the rules concerning how the insides of apartments should look didn't seem to apply.
Joel raised his head to look in the eyes of the man. He nodded.
"Yes, I've already chosen it. Please, take me into the world of Lovecraft." He broke off for a moment and asked:"I assume you are familiar with the name of this man? He was a writer."
Desire and the man giggled, as if Joel just said the funniest thing in the world. Not having actually any real reason to feel like that, he suddenly felt very foolish.
"Of course we know" – said the man sitting in the armchair, smiling knowingly. "Desire knows everything. And I know who this man was because I was always a big fan of his. Lovecraft demands an acquired taste, not everybody likes his works. But I must tell you that you have chosen wisely. Nothing bad is going to happen to you in there; it's not a real world. It does look real but it's just someone's imagination, that's all. It was me who, as you were probably informed by Desire, hit upon this idea. Isn't it amazing to be able to make the wishes of so many fanboys and fangirls from the whole world come true? They are often boring geeks and their boring life. Thanks to Desire's generous offer, they can now shine with new light, if I may use this poetic expression. You must be so grateful to my friend for this amazing gift."
"Enough, honey" – said Desire affectionately, reaching its hand out from the sofa to pat its companion on the shoulder of his dark jacket. "Don't waste his time. Time is passing in a different way in here, much faster than in the corridor but there are so many others waiting in there too. So, Joel, my dear" – the entity said in a seductive voice, winking its eyelids painted blue – "you are sure you want to go to the world of Lovecraft, are you?"
Its focused gaze lay on Joel's face who felt a wave of heat showing up on his cheeks. He lowered his head to hide the blush. Yes, he wanted to see the world created by the long dead writer from Providence with his whole heart. Some people were fans of Harry Potter, some others, like the girl who was in this room before him, liked Twilight which in the last years replaced the Rowling series in terms of popularity. There were also fans of Disney, the X-Men or Stephen King as well. Actually he mused over Stephen King's worlds too but he came to the conclusion that the contemporary Maine King wrote about didn't have that much charm for him – Joel came from this state himself, for heaven's sake. As much as he would like to meet Carrie, John Smith, Jack Torrance and the rest, the world they lived in was boring. The Dark Tower world and the Territories one were pretty interesting – very interesting to be honest – but Joel finally decided on the morose Providence loner H. P. Lovecraft and the world created by the power of his imagination.
"Yes" – Joel said, raising his head to look in the eyes of the seductive entity. "Yes, it's my final decision."
"Are you one hundred percent sure?" – teased Desire. "You know there's no way to withdraw from the decision once it's made. You will be there for the rest of your life. So let me ask for the last time: are you sure?"
Joel only nodded his head.
Desire stood up, putting the glass on the table and so did her companion. It took his hand and reached its hand towards Joel – now its nails were painted red and on its index finger there was a ruby ring the color of wine; Desire's appearance was changeable. Joel took Desire's small hand in his. His heart was beating rapidly. His wish was to come true. Bye, the real world.
Joel felt a shiver which seemed to overtake every single cell of his body. The inside of Threshold disappeared from before his eyes, replaced by a different sight. He was standing in the street of a run down town he didn't know. People dressed in the fashion of the 1920s gazed at the three figures who appeared suddenly in the middle of town, but no one seemed to be that interested in them.
"Don't be bothered by them" – he heard Desire's voice. "They aren't real. Yes, they have human flesh but they are just fragments of a writer's imagination. I hope you like Innsmouth."
"This is Innsmouth?"
Joel looked around. He noticed the windows in the buildings were covered with wooden planks instead of glass and there was this disgusting fish odor permeating everything. However, the dirty town did look like the Innsmouth he remembered from Lovecraft's books.
"And what about the other places? I understand I'll need to travel to them by train or by car on my own?"
The voice of the man who was Desire's companion and the creator of the idea of making fans' desires come true, resounded in the air smelling of fish: "No, why complicate things? All you need to do is say you wish to be found in a location chosen by you-within the reach of the Lovecraftian worlds, of course. You are in Innsmouth now but all you have to do is think about being in Miskatonic – wouldn't you like to read Book of Ebon or Necronomicon?" – the man smiled. "Or you could drop in Dunwich, right into the Whateley home. I bet Lavinia is a nice lady. But be careful - I'm afraid Wilbur could get jealous of his mommy a bit." – the man laughed.
Yes, it was what Joel was planning to do. Innsmouth, Dunwich, even Kingsport with its mysterious house on the cliff… Boring for some? Maybe, but Joel Flynn was a geek, like so many other fanboys and fangirls all over the world. For him the joy of it was making his most secret wishes, the ones he never shared with anybody, come true. He turned back to Desire.
"I don't know why you are doing this, but thank you" – he said. "I'll pay a visit to the town now. I'll buy some warm clothes and go to Antarctica. I want to see shoggots with my own eyes. And later I'll try to find the ones who could tell me of Cthulhu. I know for an ordinary person exchanging the real world for an illusory one would be pathetic but this was my wish. Maybe I'll miss the old world from time to time but it doesn't matter… I will be able to spend my whole life in here, won't I?"
"Yes" – said Desire, looking at the man in whose eyes there was this characteristic look typical of fanboys. "You will be able to stay in here always."
"Yes. Always" – replied Joel, absent mindedly. He couldn't wait to get to know the fascinating worlds he knew only from the short stories of a long dead writer. But politeness made him stay and wait for Desire and its artful "plaything's" last words they had to tell him. Was this guy really just a mere plaything for the member of the family of the Endless though? Now Joel didn't believe in this at all. Desire could be manipulative and cruel but this time this wonderful gift it handed him was really for free. "This world is really great. It isn't going to pall on me ever."
"I'm glad to hear that" – said Desire again. "You are a happy man, Joel Flynn. Your heart's desire got fulfilled. I'm glad to hear that you aren't going to be bored with this world ever."
"Never ever" – Joel assured it. His heart was singing and he couldn't wait for those two to leave him alone at last. "I will visit all the places in here. Even R'lyeh. Hell, Cthulhu isn't even real so he isn't going to hurt me. I wonder what I will do later." – Joel laughed. "When all the places will be visited by me."
"You will be able to visit them one time more" – it was Desire's companion this time. "And one more. Many, many times more, for the rest of eternity."
"Yes. You will visit all the places here. And when you're out of the new places you could pay a visit to, you will start again. And again. And again. For the rest of eternity." – said Desire. Its mysterious smile suddenly started to have more sense for Joel.
"Eternity?" – that was all Joel could whisper with his lips which got pale. "You said it's only for the rest of my life…"
"Call it as you want, sweetie" – laughed Desire. "When you are going to live eternally in here, it is like it's the rest of your life, isn't it? My sister Death isn't going to take you, it's our agreement we have with each other. Your body is dead and will be found in the morning but your spirit is going to live in here until the end of the universe. Which for a mortal human being like you can be safely called eternity. Awww, come on, Joel." – on the full lips of the cruel entity formed a mischievous smile, like on the lips of a child. "My friend had a good idea for satisfying mortals' desires. There are so many fans of something in the mortal world. Many of them would actually give their very soul to be found in the world they love so much. Yes, Desire satisfies every desire." Desire winked at him and took its companion's hand again. Joel couldn't believe his own ears.
"No, you can't…" But Joel knew that his words didn't matter for those two. He had made his choice and couldn't withdraw it. Desire and its companion waved at him and disappeared in the rain of golden sparks, leaving Joel in the dirty street of Innsmouth from a story of some writer who had no way to know at the moment when he was writing it, that many years later, some geek would find a way to the reality of it, only to never come out of it. Being embedded in this creepy fantasy of a creepy writer until the universe comes near its end. Which in practice meant practically the whole of eternity.
Joel Flynn looked around once more. Innsmouth didn't look that interesting any more when you knew that instead of like fifty years, you had the whole time in the universe you could need to explore it. Especially when any companions of your solitude in here you can count on having, are shoggoths and the Deep Ones. This town was so dirty. And so smelly. Joel winced. He wasn't here even for five minutes and he already started to hate this place.
The man hoped his companions from the white corridor chose better. If they were going to spend so much time there, then, at the very least, may the worlds their dreams took them to be pleasant – not some smelly hellholes of towns. Joel Flynn sighed and made his way towards the town. Maybe he'd find some warm clothes in the local stores which would serve him for his Antarctica trip to see shoggoths. He wondered how many times he would have to see them – and other mysteries of this world – before he finally felt bored with them. But at least one thing changed for the better. He didn't have this horrible feeling that Desire was plotting something against him and the others any more. Now at least he was free from this fear which nested in his heart and was biting it with its venomous fangs, making him wonder what this cruel entity was secretly preparing for those who accepted its gift. Now Joel Flynn knew the truth. Desire's gift wasn't really for free, now he knew it. Now he could see the catch.