The Wild Wild West
The Night of the Dream Come True
Notes: The characters are not mine and the story is! Since the season 2 episode The Night of the Man-Eating House ended with the group apparently coming upon the exact house Arte spent most of the episode dreaming about, it seems that his dream might have been a warning or premonition. And one would think that once he realized everything was the same, he would become worried about preventing the events of the episode from playing out. And I want to prevent the sheriff from dying! Hence, this fic. The sheriff was played by an actor very dear to me, William Talman, and since the fellow needed a name, I have given him William's middle name in his honor.
Something felt wrong as soon as the strange old house came into view. It was all too familiar—the two stories, the white pillars, even the ivy clinging to the walls. But Artemus pushed back his misgivings, even as the door creaked open and his heart gathered speed.
No, he balked. No, it couldn't be true. It couldn't be just like my dream.
And he walked ahead until he came to the doorway and passed through into the cobweb-laden parlor. Above him, the blue chandelier loomed with real or imagined malice. The others gathered around, Sheriff Whitney bringing up the rear with his lantern.
"It doesn't look very inviting," Jim said flatly.
A cold chill stabbed Arte in the heart. "It looks worse than that," he said under his breath. Everything was identical. It was impossible, but it was the same house that he had spent a restless night dreaming about. Even the dialogue they had spoken before coming inside was the same.
Did that mean that everything would play out the same as in his dream?
He whirled to face the others. "We shouldn't be in here!" he burst out. "We have to get out now!"
Jim stared at him in disbelief. "Arte, what's wrong with you? I admit, the cobwebs aren't the greatest décor, but they've never bothered us on missions before."
"It's not the cobwebs!" Arte retorted. He marched in determination towards the door. "We're going to be prisoners in here. The sheriff is going to die! Day is going to unleash rats carrying the bubonic plague all over the state!"
He missed the way the convict Day went board-stiff. And Jim and Sheriff Whitney were appalled and disturbed, to say the least. Sheriff Whitney sidled up to Jim, still holding the lantern. "Are you sure he's feeling alright?" he said in a loud whisper.
"I don't know, but I'm going to find out," Jim said, brushing past him.
The door creaking shut of its own accord caused all of them to turn their attention to it. "There's no wind," Sheriff Whitney gasped. "What's causing that?" He started at a loud series of clapping sounds and turned to look with wide eyes. "And them shutters; they're closing all by themselves!"
Arte ran up to the closing door. It slammed shut the rest of the way, leaving him to strike it in frustration with his palms. "It's the house itself!" he cried in despair. "It's locking us in, just like my dream!"
Jim went up to him. "Wait, what?" He stared at his fellow agent and best friend. "Arte, this isn't like you."
"I know it isn't, but this isn't any ordinary house!" Arte shot back. He rattled the knob in desperation, to no avail. "This is the Day family manor. I dreamed about it last night. This place is just like it in every detail, right down to the cobwebs!" He hit the door one more time as he turned back to Jim. "Remember that woman you heard me calling for?"
"Caroline," Jim said in surprise.
"Right," Arte nodded. "Well, she's our esteemed prisoner's mother! She's connected to this house somehow. Every time we hurt the house trying to escape, she, the house, something, cries!"
Sheriff Whitney squinted at him, the unbelief quite clear in his blue eyes. "Hurt the house? What kind of nonsense talk is that?" he exclaimed.
"Aha, and you said that too!" Arte said, waving his forefinger at the shocked lawman. "Now that we're locked in here, everything I saw is probably going to play out. Maybe the sequence will be different, but it will still happen!"
Jim had taken a few steps back during Arte's tirade. Now he was standing, thoughtful, as he crossed one arm over his chest and supported the elbow of his other arm, holding his hand to his chin. Arte had indeed called out for some woman named Caroline off and on throughout the night. And when he had awakened he had asked if Jim believed in ghosts. Of course Jim had said No.
Now it seemed that they were standing in the very house Arte had dreamed about, and everything else Arte had seen was happening. If Jim had not known Arte for as long as he had, he would be inclined to dismiss all of this as utter nonsense. But considering how normally levelheaded and scientific Arte was, and how increasingly panicked and hysterical he was becoming, Jim was growing concerned.
"Why don't we ask Mr. Day about this?" he spoke up at last, gesturing to their grizzled prisoner.
"Oh, he'd never admit to any of it," Arte objected.
"That's where you're wrong, Mr. Gordon!"
Again the trio turned to stare. Despite having been stricken with swamp fever, Day was now standing firm and erect. His eyes glimmered with hints of insanity.
"I don't understand how or why, but you gained knowledge of my plan to return the state of Texas to Mexican rule. And now that we're in this house, Mother will never let any of you leave. Yes, Sheriff, you will die. And so will you, Mr. Gordon, and you, Mr. West. Your fates have all been sealed!"
He burst into peals of mad laughter. And even as Jim, Arte, and Sheriff Whitney watched and listened in astonishment, the faint sound of a woman crying reached their ears. The two noises intermingled and echoed eerily off the old walls. At their peak, the lantern suddenly went out, plunging the house into darkness and silence.