Ch. 1: Memories (No.01)
I breathe in the dusty air of the arcade. Synthesized sound
pulses from tiny speakers on the cabinet. The display before
me gives a colorful flicker, and the game begins.
A musical note appears on the screen, along with a blast of
song. I being to dance, stomping my feet on the correct
panels in time with the symbol. I concentrate on the game
as my feet fly, riding the waves of the synthesizer with my
entire being. I forget everything happening at home.
Everything that happened at school. I dance.
When the music comes to an end. I pause to catch my breath.
Fervor seeps from my body, quickly pulling back to reality.
The screen shows the score for a player whose username is
"LEVANIA." It isn't a bad score, but no one competes against
me anymore; there are only a handful of arcades now that even
have outdated games like this, much less people who want to
My gaze darts to the corner, where a cabinet of the same
game sits dark and alone. They used to rest side-by-side
so people could play and compete for a high score together.
But now it's covered in dust. Like a stone. Like a grave.
A long time ago, Mom would have been on the other machine.
When I was much younger, I'd often dance with Mom after my
afternoon lessons. She was awkward in general—and especially
terrible at dancing—and we'd always laugh when she stumbled.
It was a good way to pass the time while we waited for Dad
to pick us up in the car.
But she isn't around anymore. Six months ago, the illness
that had been plaguing her for years finally set her free.
I stand there and space out, letting a flood of images roll
through my mind. Eventually, a staff member comes and
tells to go home; city law states that anyone under the age
of 20 needs to leave the arcades by six. Nodding, I grab my
school bag and head out.
Dad's there when I get back to the apartment. He usually
works late into the night, so it's unusual to see him home.
"Welcome back!" he calls out as he busies himself preparing
dinner in our cramped kitchen.
"Tell me if you're gonna be home early," I say—and in case
my annoyance isn't clear, I slam my shopping bag on the
table with a loud thud. "I wouldn't have gone out of my way
to buy dinner if I knew you'd be making something."
"You were at the arcade," says Dad, conveniently ignoring
my annoyance. "Your teacher said you're not allowed to go
there after school anymore, remember?"
I ignore him and go to the portrait of Mom sitting in the
corner. I close my eyes and begin to speak, telling her
everything I did today. It's something I do every evening,
but this time, I barely get started before Dad interrupts.
"Are you listening to me? This is for your sake, you know.
Your mother would be worried too."
"Shut up when I'm talking to her!" I snap without opening
my eyes. He doesn't know anything about me. All he does
is nag, and every little thing he says is irritating.
Why did this have to happen? We got along so well
back when Mom was alive.
Hey, Mom. Everyone's annoying me. Dad. The people at school.
Everybody. I wish they'd all just go to sleep forever.
A loud thud cases my eyes to snap open. I whip my head
around toward the kitchen and see Dad sprawled across the
floor. Even though he'd been nagging me just moments
before, he now lies there in silence—no matter how many
times I scream his name.
＊ ＊ ＊
They take Dad to the hospital. The doctors say he's fine.
Just...asleep. But that doesn't make me feel even a little
bit better. I know about the sleeping sickness that's been
causing panic across the city lately. People fall asleep,
even though there's nothing particularly wrong with them.
They never wake up.
There's no cure.
And now Dad has it.
I visit him in the hospital the next day after school.
I know nothing will have changed—he'll still just be
sleeping—but I can't leave him there alone.
The hall smells of medicine as I make my way down the
hall to his room. The setting rays of the sun pour in,
filling it with an ashy light. But when I get to the door,
I see Dad standing next to his bed.
He's awake. He's awake.
I call out to him, my voice a mixture of shock and joy and
nerves. But as the words dissipate in the air, I realize
something is very, very wrong.
He's facing the wall, a pen in his hand. He's scribbling on
them over and over. Turning them black. Like a child might.
When I look closer, I realize the mass of black looks like
the kind of monster I'd see in games back when I was a kid.
A dark monster that resembles nothing more than a mass of
thick, wiry hair.
This isn't normal. Scribbling on walls isn't normal.
But no matter how many times I call out, he never replies.
That's when I realize his eyes are closed. He's still
asleep, dreaming some unknowable thing as he scribbles
darkness onto the white hospital walls.
Ch. 2: City in Daydreams (No.02)
Two weeks ago, Dad caught the disease that's been ravaging
the city. It's called "the sleeping sickness," and people
who get it suddenly fall asleep and never wake up again.
No one knows what causes it—or how to treat it. And since
my mom died six months ago, I suddenly found myself alone.
But a few relatives reached out to help, so I kept going to
school like a normal kid—except that I ended every day by
visiting my father in a hospital.
But one day, I found him out of bed and scribbling a
picture of a monster on the wall—even though he was still
asleep. The doctors said they wanted to keep the drawing
"for research," so now I have to look at this black,
horrible creature every day when I visit.
And I feel like it's watching me.
＊ ＊ ＊
I hear the other students singing off in the music room.
There's a school-wide choir competition next month, and all
the classes are practicing for their part. But I'm not singing—
instead, I'm standing outside as my class president
and his lackeys pelt me with questions.
"Why didn't you come to practice yesterday?"
I tell him I skipped practice to see my dad, but they don't
care. Other kids have parents with the sleeping sickness,
and apparently they're still willing to come sing a
bunch of stupid songs, so I should just suck it up.
It's all BS. My mom is dead, and my dad is apparently going
to sleep until he dies too. I'm unhappy enough at home;
I sure as hell don't need people giving me grief at school.
As the class president continues to berate me, I close
my eyes and scream inside my mind as loud as I can:
I WISH YOU'D ALL JUST SLEEP FOREVER!
There's a loud thud, then two more. When I open my eyes,
the class president and his goons lying on the floor—
the same way Dad did two weeks ago when he collapsed.
But then it gets worse. Way worse. Like someone
pressed a switch, a continuous series of thuds and crashes
ring out as people start dropping all around me. Students
walking the halls. Teachers lecturing at blackboards.
The janitor and his mop. Even the sounds of singing
suddenly cut off, replaced by a cacophony of thumps
as bodies meet earth.
I start running through the halls in a panic. Everyone is
asleep. Everyone. The entire school has apparently
caught the sleeping sickness at the exact same time. I run
to the office and pick up the phone to call for help, but
no one answers. Not the hospital. Not the police. No one.
Shaking, I run down the hall and burst out the door into a
completely silent city. Everyone is down. Old people out
shopping. Men and women in business suits. Kids. As far as
I can tell, I'm the only person awake in the entire world.
I wander the city in a daze; it feels like walking through a
weird, dark forest. With no idea what to do, I make my way
to the shopping center, figuring there
has to be someone who's
still awake. And the moment I passed through the district
arch, I see a tall, thin shadow at the end of the street.
Someone's awake! I think as I start waving frantically.
But then my arm slows and slowly drops to my side as I take
a single step backward.
Because the thing at the end of the street isn't a person.
It's a monster.
It looks a lot like the character in a game I used to play—
and exactly like the thing Dad drew on the wall.
I have to be dreaming. This can't be real. I look
down for a second to clear my head, then look up again.
The monster is still there.
And then it sees me.
The moment I catch its attention, it trills a pair of huge
insect wings and rushes toward me. I should run. I should
scream. But fear is my entire world, and my body has decided
that shutting down is the best thing to do right now.
The monster lurches to a halt in front of me, staring down
at my shaking, quivering form.
And then? It talks.
"I want to...eat dreams... I ate...everyone else's...
I want to eat your dreams."
Its voice is coarse, like vocal cords being scraped over
a cheese grater, but I can still understand the horrible
things it's saying.
"M-my dreams?" I whisper.
"Your dreams. All dreams. When I eat all dreams,
I will become human."
My body finally decides to let me have a modicum of control,
and I take a step back, trying to put distance between us.
But then, a thought appears in my head:
The monster said it eats dreams. Is that why everyone is
asleep? Is this thing the reason for the sleeping sickness?
It's an insane idea, and I wonder briefly if thinking it
means I've lost my mind. But then I remember there's a
monster standing in front of me, and figure concepts like
"sanity" have probably gone right out the window.
"Um, is no one's waking up because you ate their dreams?"
I'm clinging to this idea fiercely now, because if the
monster caused everyone to fall asleep, maybe it could
reverse the process.
"...Give them back. Give them BACK!
GIVE MY DAD'S DREAMS BACK RIGHT NOW!"
The words come out of me in the loudest voice of my life,
and the monster leaps away and begins to run. I don't even
hesitate—I run after it, pumping limbs with newfound fury.
I have to get my dad's dreams back.
I have to wake him up.
I have to.
Because If I don't, my mom—the person that loved him
with all her heart—would be devastated.
Ch. 3: Unforgettable Visage (No.03)
I run down the eerily quiet main street of the shopping
district in pursuit of the monster.
All my classmates had collapsed into a deep sleep. It was
an illness that had been getting a lot of attention in town
recently—one where those who fell asleep never reawakened.
The same illness that claimed my dad.
But students weren't the only new victims of the disease.
Everyone was asleep now. Everyone except for me.
At the far end of the downtown shopping district, where I'd
come in search of other waking people, I'd found a dark
monster that looked like it stepped out of a video game.
"I ate everyone's dreams," it said, and I was sure that was
why everyone was asleep. But when I tried to scare the
monster into giving the dreams back, it whirled around and
fled. So I gave chase, because I wasn't going to let it
escape until it returned Dad's dreams and made him whole.
I dash down the street, making sure not to step on any of
the people sleeping in the middle of the road. Ahead, the
monster runs with ferocious speed, occasionally pausing to
look back at me, almost like it wants me to follow.
I eventually enter an run-down building on the outskirts of
downtown. With a start, I realize it's the arcade where I
used to spend so much of my time. As I follow the monster
through a set of broken, sagging doors, the eerie silence
of the city falls away, and soon my ears thrum with the
noises of arcade machines.
I make my way forward, searching for the monster. Eventually,
I find it standing in the furthest corner of the room, right in
front of a darkened and forgotten two-player rhythm game.
I know this game: It's the one I used to play with Mom when
I was a kid. And in the six months since her passing,
I'd played it over and over, looking for a shadow of her
memory in its brilliant lights.
Upbeat dance music suddenly blares out of a speaker as the
machine springs to life. The monster stares at the neon
screen and tilts its head, a human-like gesture without a
hint of terror.
"This game's a lot of fun," I say, speaking to the monster
before I even realize what I'm doing. It looks at me, gives
a small nod, and timidly reaches out for the screen. But its
hands are bulky and awkward, and I realize I'm going to have
to take the lead. I drop a pair of coins into the machine—
two coins for two players. Then we pick a song from the list.
I doubt the monster can understand human music, so I choose
for it—a song Mom and I used to play all the time.
The screen explodes with light as the game begins. Notes fly
across the screen in tandem with upbeat music. Our task is
to step on the correct panels at our feet, and as I move my
body, I feel genuine joy start to bubble up from deep inside
me. It's so strange, but even with a monster standing
beside me, I'm somehow enjoying myself.
As I dance, I glance at the neighboring screen. The monster
is hesitant, stepping on panels with clumsy, awkward haste.
"You're so bad at this!" I chuckle. And it's true: The
monster is dancing like a clown, and I can't help but laugh.
The monster makes something like a frown then, and begins
moving its feet as quickly as possible. But the harder it
concentrates, the more it loses its rhythm, and soon any
kind of coordination has gone out the window in favor
of flailing arms and legs about wildly.
As I watch the monster's awkward movements, I feel something
well up in my chest: A nostalgic yearning for a time that
had slipped away from me so, so long ago.
The next thing I know, I'm standing in perfect stillness.
I've never given up in the middle of a game before, but I
can't tear my eyes away from the monster dancing next to me.
It's so bad, yet its steps are filled with pure joy—
a child suddenly presented with some new and unexpected toy.
It all reminds me of something. I know these movements.
I know who the monster is.
What the hell am I saying? I wonder. I want to laugh
and cry at the same time, but I can't help but think of the
monster as my mom. I watched her dance like this countless
times as a kid, and relived those memories countless times
over the past six months.
The monster stops dancing and turns its eyeless face to me.
There's a pause, an eternity filled only with the sounds of
unending electronic music. Then the monster opens its mouth
and murmurs my name in a dry, scratchy voice.
The name my mom gave me.
Ch. 4: Dancing With You (No.04)
Everyone in town was asleep. My dad, the students at school,
the people walking down the street—everyone but me. It was
all the result of a strange illness that caused people to
suddenly fall asleep and never wake up.
Then a monster appeared before me, one the color of an abyss.
It told me it ate everyone's dreams, which I knew was the
cause of the illness. Then it ran off to the old arcade
where Mom and I used to hang out before she died. We played
a dancing rhythm game together, and I suddenly called the
And the monster replied with my name. It used my name.
The same one mom had given me.
Now, as I stand here stunned, it repeats my name under its
breath over and over again. Like it's trying to remember
something—or maybe confirm it. It then slowly walks over to
me and reaches out to brush my cheek with a malformed hand.
"I...want to be human," it says. "I can be human if I eat
everyone's dreams. And then I can see you again."
The monster—my mother—is speaking to me. I can tell she
feels terrible for leaving me behind, and I don't blame her.
I'm stubborn, impulsive, and terrible with people, and she'd
always worried about me. But now, she's returned in the form
of a monster.
I pull my mom into a hug. Even though the armor on her body
looks like it would be cold, it holds a human warmth. I'm so
happy to see her—and yeah, maybe that happiness is all just
a dream, but you know what? I don't care. I just want to
stay like this forever.
But I know Mom will worry even more if I say that out loud,
which is why I have to find a way to tell her I can go on.
"I'm okay, Mom," I whisper. "I'm gonna be fine. But please
give everyone's dreams back. Give Dad's dreams back."
When I say that, Mom wordlessly unwinds me from her arms.
The next thing I know, her darkened form emits a soft, faint
light that sort of...fades away into the air. Worried that
she's about to vanish, my vision starts to blur with tears.
But to my surprise, Mom's fading hands reach down and select
a new song on the arcade machine. Electronic music pulses.
Without a word, she begins to stomp her feet on the buttons,
her fading body moving with awkward, uninhibited joy.
She looks over at me. I can't read the expression on her
blank monster face, but I can tell she wants me to join her.
So I do. We dance together, giving in to childlike glee—just
as we did when I was little. And while my heart aches to
watch her vanish, that emotion is no match for the
exhilaration I feel dancing with her.
Finally, the music ends. My feet stop. When I turn to look
beside me, Mom is gone. There's no trace of the monster.
I feel like I'm in a dream. But when I look at the score
on the screen—a score for two—I know she was here.
＊ ＊ ＊
When I step out of the arcade, the sleeping people are all
sitting up, their eyes wide and bewildered.
The monster—my mom—has given everyone's dreams back.
I run to the hospital and discover that Dad is also awake.
When I burst into his room, he's busy cleaning up the
drawings he'd scribbled on the wall while asleep—drawings
of a monster that looks very, very familiar.
"Kind of creepy I was drawing all this in my sleep," he
murmurs. "It reminds me of a fairy tale I once heard—one
where people who die are reborn as dream-eating monsters."
He pauses, embarrassed. He doesn't want to finish the
thought and admit that maybe Mom died, become a dream-
eating monster, and came to see us.
But I knew the truth: Mom did become a dream-eating
monster and she did come to see us.
But I don't tell Dad that. I don't tell him tell the truth,
because I feel like everything that happened to me is barely
hanging on to reality. And if I tell a single person about
it, it's going to slip from reality to a dream. So instead
of telling him, I join him at the wall and help him clean
away the scribbles.
"I hope you've been keeping your room tidy," he says to me
at one point. "You don't get a pass on chores just because
I've been in the hospital and couldn't remind you."
Okay, seriously? Nagging already?
But this time, I decide not to talk back, because I know
Mom will worry if we started fighting.
I mull everything over in my mind as I watch the monster
doodles slow vanish from the walls. I doubt the loneliness
I feel from Mom's passing will ever go away. But now I know
she lives on as a dream-eating monster somewhere. I know
she's watching me from afar. And that's why I have to keep
walking. Why I have to keep going forward.
Because I don't want to worry her anymore.
The Monster's Instincts (No.05)
"The dream-eating monster is
a species that instinctually
devours dreams in an attempt
to secure a human form. This
particular monster, however,
chose to turn the girl back
into a human rather than
keeping the form for himself."
"Then he's acting against his
instincts? How kind! It must
Goodness, but those two are
such a bother. Carrier
always speaks in such a
while his substitute just
mumbles under his breath.
I know, I know—if Mama can't
say anything nice about them,
perhaps I shouldn't say
anything at all. Still, I find our
conversations so unpleasant!
"Why do these monsters want to
become human, anyway? I mean,
they're sturdy enough as is—
far more admirable creatures
than those human meatbags."
"How can you say such things
considering all the knowledge
you have on the matter?"
"Oh, but I don't know as much
as you, my dear! Perhaps
you'd be willing to teach me
more about them, mmm?"
"Well, how can I say no to
Carrier is right: I know far
more about the monsters,
which is why I understand
just how much of a miracle
his sacrifice is—and how
close to destiny it flies.
Not that Mama would teach that
rapscallion a single thing!
With Love, From Carrier (No.06)
"Hey, Carrier. Is she here yet?"
Silence, you incessant boob! It's always she this, she that with you!
"Goodness me! That is a bit worrying, isn't it?"
Does this fool even remember why
he's walking around like this in the first place?
Well, better do my job and remind the oaf that this is no playdate.
"When you eat the young miss's dreams, you will become human."
"But of course you did! You are so clever after all, Master Levania!"
Good god, now I have to flatter this dunce just to keep him on track.
You're working for ME, pal! ME! And I'M the one using YOU!
You ain't worth SQUAT without me, and don't you forget it!
...All right, that's enough internal screaming for one day.
Best settle into work mode for the day and
keep my darling idiots on the straight and narrow!
"Now then, I believe the young miss should be here soon."
"And...here we go!"
The Monstrous Trio (No.07)
Gloomy Monster: This dream...
Shallow Monster: Mine's great.
I really hit gold this time!
Doubtful Monster: QUIET, YOU.
TASTE DOESN'T MATTER.
SM: Don't be such a stick in
the mud. Hey, you agree with
GM: You...are annoying...
DM: SEE? IF YOU WOULD BE SO
KIND AS TO SHUT UP WHEN YOU
GET THE HINT.
SM: Aww, that hurts! This is
why all of you are a miserable
bunch of monsters.
DM: I'M FINE BEING MISERABLE.
DON'T YOU AGREE?
GM: I want to be...
DM: HAH. LIKE THAT COULD EVER
HAPPEN TO YOU.
GM: How do I...be cheerful?
SM: Think of what a delightful
future you'll have once you
DM: AND WHAT DELIGHT IS THERE
IN BECOMING HUMAN?
SM: Oh, that's easy! It's...
Actually, I have no idea.
DM: THEN WHY DO WE WANT TO
SM: No idea.
GM: Then why...are we alive?
Promise for Another Day (No.08)
Two figures stand atop red
leaves blanketing the cold
stone floor. One is the dark
monster, the other the girl
who follows close behind.
"There are so many things I
want to do with you when you
turn human, Mister Monster!"
says the excited girl.
"Like what?" asks the monster
without turning around.
"First, I want to look at
flowers with you. Next, I want
to eat cake with you. Then,
I want to do study with you so
we can learn lots and LOTS of
fun things together!"
Though the monster immediately
dismisses the girl's ideas,
the strides which had kept him
slightly ahead of her slow to
a stop. After a moment, he
peers down at the her and says
gruffly, "Just let me eat more
of your dreams. Then maybe we
can do some of those things."
A smile blooms on the girl's
face. "Okay, Mister Monster!
It's a promise!"
The Path to Monsterhood (No.09)
A silent girl stands on the dusty stone path and stares
at a closed door. She holds thoughts of the dark monster
in her heart—the one with willful eyes that appeared before
her and Mama and then vanished. Though they pursued the
monster, they eventually lost sight of it. However, there
can be no doubt it now lies beyond the closed door.
The dark monster stands on the precipice of despair.
Unable to understand human emotion, perhaps she will
never comprehend the meaning behind the child's pain.
The monster hates this thought, and curses her own
powerlessness. But she also knows she can be the child's
friend—and stay with her.
"I know how you feel, but let's keep going."
Mama's voice comes from behind the girl, gently urging her
forward. And she's right—they have no time to stand about.
They must restore the warped tales within the memories,
collect the weapons, and take back the lost fragments.
All so they might save that child.
Let's Be Friends (No.10)
"You didn't get to be human, Mr. Monster?"
"It is...all right."
Amidst their struggles and clashing emotions,
monster and girl at last assume their original forms.
Their hands intertwine. They stand together in the light.
And as he basks in the girl's warmth, the monster comes
to a realization.
He thought he wanted to become human, and so followed his
instinct to consume dreams. He believed that was his sole
purpose in life. But now, as he looks at her smiling face,
he realizes his purpose is to be her friend.
At long last, he has found the answer he was searching for.