The walls of reality were crumbling, and Samir knew he wasn't enough to stop it from happening. He was barely enough to stop it from devouring him. And that's what the Leapers wanted. They consumed mens' dreams, trying to gather enough energy to push through to the waking world.
In the first dream Samir had had of them, he'd been at the cottage on Lake Eerie. He was alone, relaxing on a wood-slatted recliner and savoring the taste of one-hundred-year old brandy as the sun descended in one of his favorite sunsets--a blaze of September reds and oranges he'd recalled from his childhood.
A woman had emerged, unbidden, from the water, and approached him. She'd been full-bodied and naked, but trailed motes of darkness. He'd thought her a stray-thought or perhaps a lead-up to a dream of nocturnal-emissions, but when she'd clamped her hand to his shoulder with no small force, and lowered her head so her eyes met his, he knew he hadn't dreamt her.
"Wake up, damn it." She said, her voice a gravelly command. Her grip strengthened, until it became painful. "They followed me through. Wake up or we're both dead!"
And he'd woken, then, with a start. The pillow was moist and the blanket twisted at the foot of his bed. He'd been thrashing in his sleep. He rose and stumbled towards the desk, hoping to capture the details of the dream before the details fled. But the desk drawer was open and his dream-journal was already lying open on the desk.
There was a new entry in a shaky hand with only one word: "Malandanti."
Since then, he'd fought the Leapers every night. They came whenever he started to doze off. In the two weeks he'd learned of them, he'd even begun seeing them during the day. They fed on his dreams, his creativity. And at night, those Leapers that had made it across into the waking world... they craved more physical sustenance. Blood, mostly.
Waiting, staring at the now-bare walls, he felt himself nod off, the constricted air-flow in the room lulling him to a sense of exhaustion.
Another mote of darkness formed, thickening noticeably around the middle, extending two shapeless tentacles towards him. This one didn't seem to have a head. It jumped forward, and Samir drew the crossbow up again, lodging it against his shoulder as he pressed the release, hitting it full in the chest, it writhed for a moment before remaining still.
This one left a stronger smell behind, scorched hair. It had gotten further along to giving itself a physical form. That meant he was starting to slip. The long minutes to daylight clawed at him, enticing him to lay down his burden, to rest, to surrender...
The woman had not appeared again, though he'd tried calling to her often. He'd tried recreating the setting in which she'd appeared, but it seemed lackluster, somehow a pale replica of itself. And every time he recreated the scene, the shadows that formed weren't hers, but instead, the shapeless black of the Malandanti slowly taking form to prepare for the leap to the physical world...
He needed help.
Samir knew he was losing the battle.