People across the world share an ethereal netherworld during their sleeping hours. The purpose of this alternate reality is as yet unknown, but its occupants are soon to find out ...
It was dark here. Darker than a normal night on Earth.
Stars failed to pierce the broiling fog that obscured the heavens. The moon was visible only as a fuzzy orb, glowing menacingly like an admonitory orange eye. Warped, twisted trees thrust up from the barren ground like hands clutching for escape.
There was no smell here except for that of stale paper, no sound except for a faint whistling, as if of wind underwater. No breeze lifted the hair on his head. The air was stagnant.
As he drifted, the land rippled. Great jaws of jagged mountains opened up beneath him, their snowy screes devoid of vegetation. Then, tombstones of desolate houses rose up, their windows dark and lifeless.
He found himself walking on arid ground, bare feet rubbing irritably against brittle stems and leaves. Through the mist, a figure was emerging, its shape definable as human, but its features indistinct ...
... then, he caught a gleam of a dusty blue eye, and the world collapsed.
Aden Smith sat up suddenly in bed, body drenched in sweat, hair and bedclothes sticking to his flesh.
He had been asleep.
But it had been no dream.