|Chapter One||Chapter Two||Chapter Three||Chapter Four||Chapter Five||Chapter Six||Chapter Seven||Chapter Eight||Chapter Nine||Chapter Ten|
Across the skies the Sandman flew, surveying his kingdom.
Far beneath his billowing robe, the entire world lay sleeping, wrapped securely in a blanket of dreams; every human, every animal. London ... Berlin ... Moscow ... Cape Town ... Cincinnati ... no one and nothing had escaped his notice or his magical sand, which brought instant and permanent slumber.
The planet had fallen utterly silent. There would be no more polluting the land, seas and air. Ozone layers would no longer be depleted. Overpopulation had been effectively stopped, as had death. Nothing could touch his subjects as they slept, secure in the arcane state of stasis his power placed them within.
Starving children in Ethiopia dreamed of devouring all the food they could obtain. Homeless nomads in cities around the world claimed ethereal mansions, filled with everything they’d ever dreamed of having and despaired of never attaining. There was no want, no denying any longer. Each man, woman and child was given what they craved, and given bountifully.
A smile crossed his gray, weathered countenance. He had succeeded where his brethren had not ... could not. They would never have dared risk so much for such a prize as this. But he had. And the world was now his.
Peace on Earth, goodwill to men.
It had taken so long for the Sandman to achieve his dream; the interference of the Ghostbusters and his subsequent incarceration at their hands following his first attempt had forced him to reconsider his plans. He put the time to good use, carefully adding stealth and cunning into his schemes and patiently absorbing the energies of lesser entities around him. With each surge of power, the Sandman grew more confident that he would eventually be free of this technological prison.
Then came the day when only two other entities dwelled in the containment: the nightmarish entity known as Samhain and the odd creature that called itself the Boogeyman. A brief struggle proved that they were too evenly matched, and so the Sandman instead proposed they pool their resources into escaping together. The Boogeyman, pathetically eager in his desperation to be free from these sterile confines, quickly agreed. Samhain, aloof and disdainful, considered the matter briefly and gave a quick nod of his pumpkin head.
Their combined strength was just enough to shatter the containment’s barrier systems and send them spilling out into the outside world. The Ghostbusters had of course been given ample warning of their prison’s imminent breakdown, but they had no idea of what would emerge from it. The Boogeyman had gone first to draw their painful fire, and while they focused their attention on the one, the Sandman was able to slip out and take the five of them by surprise. Within seconds, they were all within his power. Samhain for his part simply watched and waited until the battle was over before emerging.
Quickly the Sandman wove the Ghostbusters’ individual dreams into a single, unified universe and gave them a plausible alibi for giving up the idea of chasing ghosts. Every wish, every yearning was freely given them, keeping his foes content and unwilling to break free of the dream. And to ensure their captivity, the Sandman kept a constant eye on his special quintet, distracting them whenever any of them grew distrustful. Simplicity itself.
After he was finished, the Sandman watched as the Boogeyman trotted upstairs on his twisted, hoofed legs, cackling insanely to himself as he searched for the nearest portal to his kaleidoscopic universe. Not surprisingly, Samhain was already gone to wherever he belonged. And good riddance, the dream master thought with a nervous nod of his oversized head; the living manifestation of Halloween had made him distinctly uncomfortable with his quiet, watchful ways.
By now the Boogeyman would have discovered that with every man, woman and child sound asleep in happy dreams, there would be no fear for him to feed upon. More likely than not the creature had already starved to death. And as for Samhain ... his actions would bear watching in the future, but as for now, he probably posed no threat.
Today the Ghostbusters, tomorrow the world. Nothing could stop him; nothing could keep him from his rounds. By dawn the next day every living creature was in his power.
Asleep in heavenly peace.
The Sandman tore away from his reverie as a far‑away psychic alarm reached him. Back in New York, the Ghostbusters had somehow managed to escape his gilded cage. Disturbing, to say the least—he had taken great care to give each of them—especially Spengler, the clever one—everything they’d ever wanted, even things that they hadn’t known they craved. And yet, somehow, they’d managed to free themselves.
No matter. The Sandman turned toward New York, so far away and yet no distance at all, and willed himself in that direction. He had contingency plans now; this possibility had been considered and alternatives determined. He would recapture the Ghostbusters and place them within his power more securely than ever. Nothing would stop him this time.
Nothing would destroy his perfect world.
* * * * *
The Sandman arrived at twilight.
Like an avenging angel he swooped down from the blue‑red skies towards the little battered firehouse. His face was etched with determination to return his errant charges to their cages once and for all. This time he would set aside clever, elaborate traps; he would instead imprison each of these Ghostbusters in their own private nightmares for all eternity.
One of them was standing in front of the firehouse—Spengler, the Sandman determined. He smiled at the thought at how easily this one had acquiesced to his will, almost eagerly accepting his gift the instant it was offered him. The Sandman decided to offer it again, but never permit him to actually obtain it when Spengler was once more within his power.
The others were no doubt lying in wait to ambush him, but they could wait. He would turn their petty little attack strategy against them, allowing each one to come out and fall in turn. Starting with Spengler...
The Sandman increased his rate of descent, reaching for his blowpipe and bag of sand.
Spengler stood there, watching his foe draw closer but remaining perfectly still.
From the shadows, Ray Stantz crossed his fingers and stamped dawn on a pedal.
A barrage of blinding, glaring light exploded from every window of Ghostbusters Central, slamming into the Sandman’s eyes and driving him off‑balance. And before he could recover, the lights suddenly burst into a sequence of strobes, causing him to careen wildly about in the air and forcing him to retreat in a ball of smoke.
“Heads up,” Egon warned via walkie‑talkie. “He’s vanished.”
* * * * *
The Sandman materialized behind the firehouse, rubbing his eyes and blinking rapidly in an attempt to rid himself of the spots that danced before his face. A foolish, though dangerously effective ploy; he would have to be more careful than ever, now. He fought them on their home ground; the advantage was theirs.
The building whine of a particle thrower altered him to danger. He was barely able to leap into the air just as the explosive energy crackled beneath his body. “Airborne!” yelled the chubby one whose dreams were an odd mixture of childlike innocence and the bizarre. Instinctively, the Sandman reached for his pipe and bag of sand. He didn’t need a precise location on anyone in order to snare them in his sleep spell...
A deafening cacophony of noise slammed into the Sandman from above. Reeling once more, he tumbled backwards through the air, unable to concentrate; sand poured freely from his upturned bag. From the third floor of the firehouse, Peter Venkman peered between the speakers and thanked his lucky stars that held found those safety earphones in Egon’s lab. Black Flag’s “Louie Louie” at full volume was nothing to trifle with, even when the array of speakers were pointed outwards. He took aim with his thrower and fired.
The Sandman screamed as tendrils of energy surrounded him, attempting to snare him and leave him at their mercy again. With an incredible surge of effort born of panic, he somehow was able to break free, but the effort caused him to tumble helplessly towards the ground. Summoning all his concentration, the Sandman disappeared once more.
“Guys, he’s vanished again,” Ray warned from the alley.
* * * * *
Now the Sandman stood inside the darkened firehouse; he could feel as well as hear the deafening music two floors above him. But here, nestled in the comforting shadows, he could gather his scattered wits and concoct a plan to deal with these annoying mortals.
He whirled at the whine of a particle thrower being activated from nearby. The redheaded woman’s face was bathed in the eerie aura of the weapon as she fired. “Eat hot particles, bozo,” she sneered as the beam slammed into him dead center. Screaming, the Sandman tumbled helplessly backwards from the sheer force of the full‑power beam, crashing through the wooden doors and bouncing against the hard asphalt of the street.
Nearby, Winston Zeddemore smiled grimly and flipped a switch.
It hadn’t been easy, finding ten cars that could be hot‑wired, driven to the firehouse, and set in a neat, straight line. And it had taken awhile to wire his little present up. But now, as he slipped on his own set of safety earphones and hit a foot petal taken from a broken trap—now was when all the effort became worthwhile.
Ten car horns blared incessantly at the Sandman, driving him back down to his knees. On cue, Janine activated a second set of streetlights, which strobed at rapid, variable frequencies without pause. The Sandman howled as he fought a losing battle to regain any semblance of equilibrium. And now, from the firehouse came a rousing version of “Rock and Roll” from Led Zeppelin.
“I love the classics,” Peter screamed to himself.
Battered from all sides, unable to think, much less escape, the Sandman wailed in impotent fury as Egon Spengler gave the final signal. The Ghostbusters fired as one, entangling their captor in five bands of radiant energy. The Sandman made a feeble attempt to become airborne, but the stream held him securely as be hovered feebly in the air.
Spengler rolled a trap into place. “Get ready!” he screamed over the unearthly racket around them.
“Do it, Egon!” yelled Ray.
The Sandman looked down at the tiny, seemingly innocuous device that sat directly below him. In seconds the trap would spring open, drawing him inside with irresistible finality—he would be imprisoned once more, unable to free himself. His spell would be severed; the world would awaken again and resume its insane path to destruction. The Sandman’s dream would be shattered ... all because of the Ghostbusters, Spengler in particular...
Panic, rage and desperation mixed and fueled the creature into one last attempt to escape his fate. To everyone’s surprise, the Sandman broke loose and soared heavenward. Screaming in pure hatred, he abruptly descended, loading his blowpipe and heading straight for Egon, who stood there momentarily paralyzed and helpless.
The Sandman fired a stream of dream dust at the Ghostbuster. There was sufficient sand to ensure that he would never awaken again.
Egon stood there, lost in curious fascination as the deadly stream fell unerringly towards him.
He heard a soft cry from nearby, then felt something ... no, someone crash against him, knocking him to one side and to the ground. Jolted from his reverie, he looked over just in time to see the sand hit Janine full force.
“NO!” Was it his own voice, or the others as well? Egon couldn’t be sure. He lurched forward, arriving just in time to catch her limp, lifeless body before it smacked against the cracked sidewalk. Carefully, tenderly, he lowered her to the ground and checked for a pulse.
It was there, faint but steady. Her eyelids were shut tightly, and the ghost of a smile flickered on her lips as a soft sigh trickled past them.
Egon gently set her head down on the ground, then looked up at the Sandman, who wobbled triumphantly in the air.
With a scream of pain, anguish and fury, Egon fired a full‑power stream at the entity. Three other streams followed a heartbeat later, snagging the Sandman securely once again.
“TRAP OPEN!” Egon bellowed, his eyes dancing angrily as he watched the device envelop the creature in its aura. The Sandman screamed as his essence was inexorably sucked into the miniature containment unit, which seconds later snapped shut and beeped softly in triumph.
Winston silenced the car horns. Peter turned off the stereo and the firehouse lights. Ray was about to do the same thing with the street lights, but without warning they abruptly shattered into a thousand shards, forcing them all to duck and cover their heads as they ran over to where Egon shielded Janine’s body.
“Egon?” Peter asked, panting.
“Is she...?” said Winston, not wanting to know the answer.
“Janine...” Egon’s voice was a raspy whisper, desperate to receive an answer that would never come. Peter tried to pull his friend away so that Winston could conduct a quick examination, but Spengler angrily pushed him away, forcing Zeddemore to work around him.
“Everything looks fine,” he said quietly. “It’s just that ... she’s asleep…”
“Janine...” Egon softly pleaded to her.
Ray came up, concern etched on his features. “I’ve got the Sandman. Question is--what do we do with him?”
“Ray,” snapped Peter, “just put him in the...” Realization dawned upon him, cooling his temper. “Oops. Forgot. Sorry.”
“That trap going to hold him for very long?” Winston asked.
“It should,” Stantz shrugged. “He’s probably pretty weak right now. We’ll have to get the containment working again before too long, though.”
“Wait a minute,” Winston suddenly said, raising a hand for silence. “Listen—the world’s still asleep!”
“Oboy,” Peter whistled.
Zeddemore stood up and looked around the quiet city. “Last time we trapped the Sandman, his spell was broken almost instantly! But...” He glanced up and cocked his ear, straining to pick up any signs of renewed life in the neighborhood. “But nothing’s changed! She should be awake, guys! Egon, what’s going on?”
“Janine...” Egon whispered.
Peter leaned forward. “Egon, I’m sorry, but right now we need you more than she does, okay? Help us now, and maybe we’ll find something to help her later. You listening, Egon?”
“Well, without Egon, this is strictly conjecture,” Ray offered, setting the trap down warily, “but I’d say that in the city’s case, the sleep spell’s been in effect long enough to have gotten a strong foothold, so to speak. Maybe the dreams of all its victims are enough to keep them bound. As for Janine ... well, it was a pretty big amount of sand that he was sending Egon’s way. Maybe it’s akin to overdosing on the stuff. I don’t know.”
“Come on, Egon,” Peter demanded, his voice tightening with frantic intensity. “We need our mad scientist—now!” When the scientist would not even respond, Peter took a deep breath and suddenly backhanded Spengler, sending him flying to the ground.
“Peter!” Winston yelled.
“I ... I’m sorry,” Egon blinked, slowly coming back to life. “I apologize, gentlemen. Uhhh ... what seems to be the problem, again?”
“The sleep spell on New York isn’t broken.”
“Egon,” Peter said carefully, “we need a much better plan than simply ‘oh’!”
A soft rustle of leather in the breeze, accompanied by a polite “ahem”, shattered the argument. As one the Ghostbusters turned around.
“Perhaps I may be of assistance...
|Chapter One||Chapter Two||Chapter Three||Chapter Four||Chapter Five||Chapter Six||Chapter Seven||Chapter Eight||Chapter Nine||Chapter Ten|