An ancient evil has crossed from the dream-lands to the waking world... Only a handful of people have the power to even see the Malandanti, let alone banish them.
I'd woken with a start, the sounds of her scream fading to blurry memory.
My heart pounded in my chest, my neck, my forehead. I forced myself to breathe calmly and slowly; I unknotted myself from the sheets. The wall on the far side of the hotel room glowed cherry-red intermittently, awash from the hotel sign outside my window. It illuminated the television-set, the writing desk, the chair beside it and the clock on top of the television.
3:41 in the morning. No other time seems quite as still as 4AM. No other time seems to blur the line between wakefulness and sleep. I wished it were a dream, but sadly--
"You're awake." A woman's voice startled me out of bed with a yelp.
Irrationally, I leaped out of bed and gathered the covers around my naked frame. "Who the hell?"
"You snore." she said as she moved from the shadows of the entryway into the garish light of the hotel-sign.
She was tall and had dark hair that looked blood-red under the light. She wore a sleeveless black top and dark pants. She moved silently, with a sinuous grace I was too distracted to appreciate consciously. My gaze was drawn to the glimmer of red on her chest--a pendant in the shape of a crucifix, but with two horizontal bars instead of one. In the light from the window, she seemed young--perhaps in her mid twenties. She had angular features and a wide mouth set in pursed look of disgust.
"Who are you?" I asked.
She didn't offer me any sudden movements. Simply gazed down at the street and sighed. "Why did you come here?" She asked.
I screwed up my face, indignant. "I don't see how it's any of your--"
"Damn it." She snapped. "Why did you come *here.* To Vancouver?"
I'd come because I'd been having such vivid dreams that I was starting to have difficulty telling dreams from reality. And in my dreams, terrible things kept happening. But I wasn't about to say that. I'd come because the best sleep center on the west coast was in Vancouver. If anyone could figure out what was going on with me, Dr--
"Salminiw." She interrupted. Again. "Yes, I know. But why him? You could have gone to Seattle or Bellingham."
"He's the best." I said. She knew my doctor. She wasn't in my room by accident. I'd heard that Salminiw had had some unorthodox techniques, but sending someone to my hotel room in the middle of the night hardly seemed like a tactic to combat sleep problems. Although, given the way she was dressed, perhaps the goal was to tire me out so much that--
"Pfah." she huffed. She reached over and grabbed my shirt and pants from the chair and threw them at me.
"Get dressed, Michael." She said, distaste coloring her words. "We're not safe here."
"Just what are you on about?" I asked. "And who are you? How do you know Dr. Salminiw? How did you get in her anyway and what--"
That's when I saw that she carried a sword.