‘Know anything about volcanoes?’
Cy stopped rummaging through his bookcase and turned to speak to the small worried-looking dwarf who was sitting cross-legged on his bed arranging the folds of a large silky cloak.
‘Dream Master,’ Cy said in a louder voice. ‘I need some fast facts about a famous volcano.’
The little man didn’t raise his head. ‘Etna, Olympus Mons, Krakatoa, Mount St Helens. Which?’
‘All. Any,’ said Cy. He stepped aside smartly as a pile of books cascaded onto his bedroom floor. ‘School starts soon and I’ve got to hand in an assignment about volcanoes to Mrs Chalmers.
The Dream Master glanced up. ‘The week before a major school project is due to be handed in is not the time to he researching the subject.’
What do you suggest then?’ asked Cy. ‘The week after?’
Cy’s Dream Master looked at him severely. ‘You have had all six weeks of the summer break to prepare your work for the new term. You shouldn’t leave things until the last minute and then expect other people to do your homework for you.’
‘It’s not my fault. Our computer is on the blink and I couldn’t look on the Internet,’ said Cy. ‘Are you going to help or not?’
‘What do you want me to do?’ said the little man crossly. ‘Use my dreamcloak to take you on a volcano tour of the Pacific Ring of Fire? Volcanoes are extremely dangerous,’ he went on quickly as Cy opened his mouth to say ‘yes’. ‘You don’t want to be anywhere near one when it erupts.’
‘Well, what about, sort of… close by?’ asked Cy.
‘Volatile Vulcan!’ snapped the Dream Master. ‘When Krakatoa blew up, the explosion was heard nearly three thousand miles away. It caused a huge tsunami tidal wave which washed up in Australia. Where volcanoes are concerned, "close by" is not an option.’
‘Oh, all right,’ said Cy in a calming tone of voice, ‘an extinct one will do.’ And then, as the Dream Master didn’t reply, Cy pleaded, ‘Can’t you just hold up your dreamcloak and let me have a quick peek through it? If we both concentrate our minds on volcanoes we’re bound to see something.’
The Dream Master hesitated.
'I’ll be very careful only to think about non-active ones.’ Cy knew that his Dream Master often complained that Cy let his Imagination run away with him when he was in his Dreamworld. He grabbed a notebook and pencil from his desk, and quickly wrote down the four volcanoes the Dream Master had mentioned. ‘Look, I’ll take notes. It will be my own work… mostly.’
‘The problem is - the Dream Master pulled out one of the folds of his dreamcloak — ‘the problem is that a "quick peek" might not be an option either. Look at the state of this!’
‘What?’ Cy shoved his notebook in his pocket and sat down beside the little man. He looked at the part of the dreamcloak which the Dream Master had spread out on his bed. The pattern of Cy’s duvet cover shone clearly through the pale flowing ripples. ‘I don’t see anything.’
‘Exactly,’ said the Dream Master. ‘You and your wild dreams are wearing me and my dreamcloak to a frazzle. If it’s not Vikings from Valhalla, it’s Extinct Egyptians. Every time I let you have a hand in your own dreams I end up doing Double Time to keep you out of Danger. Why can’t you be like most other twenty-first-century humans who go to sleep and let their Dream Master order their dreams? They are quite happy with having their dreams inside their head. That’s how it is supposed to happen, that’s how humans dream. Why do I have the Incredible Ill Luck to be Dream Master to a stroppv boy who always wants to do it in reverse?’ he added bitterly.
Cy didn’t like to say that his dreams were much better when he managed to get inside his dream and dream up his own stories, rather than have his dream inside his head with the Dream Master doing the dreaming for him. So instead he said, ‘My dreams are interesting. You said so yourself. you told me that ever since you let me have a say in thinking up the story of my own dreams your life had become more exciting.’
The Dream Master passed his hand across his face. ‘ "Exciting" is not always pleasant. Do you know what the pejorative use of a word means? Never mind - ‘he held up his hand as Cy shook his head — ‘you can look it up later. At my time of life one can have too much excitement. My dream-cloak is getting thin. I think your Imagination is wearing it out.’
Cy looked at the dreamcloak spilling out over his bed. Parts of it were almost like clear glass. Usually it was dark and deep, with currents flowing through the folds and hollows. If a dream was about to start, the cloak would thrum like wind through telephone wires. But now it lay passive and still. ‘Isn’t there any way to repair it?’ he asked.
‘I’m not sure,’ said Cy’s Dream Master, chewing
on his heard. ‘It’s the first time I’ve ever seen it
so shallow and pale. There is an unsteady, dangerous feel all around
it, and… He hesitated.
‘Well, look here.’ The Dream Master pointed to the hem of his dreamcloak. ‘Do you remember at the end of the Egyptian dream when a bit of my dreamcloak got torn off?’
‘Yes’ said Cy. ‘When we left the Valley of the Kings I was holding on to the dreamcloak so tightly that part of it came away in my hand. What about it?’
‘Well, the part of the cloak where the piece was torn off has faded away completely. It’s invisible, as if… as if… my dreamcloak is leaking.’
‘Leaking?’ said Cy. ‘Leaking what?’
‘Whatever energy it’s made of,’ the Dream Master said crossly.
‘What is it made of?’ asked Cy.
‘It’s too difficult to explain to you,’ said the Dream Master quickly. ‘You are too young and too …too… human to understand.’
Cy groaned. Adults always did this if they couldn’t be bothered to explain something, or if they didn’t want to admit that they didn’t really know about it themselves. Nearly every adult, that is, except his grampa, who always said that ‘understanding relies on things being properly explained.’
‘My grampa,’ began Cy, ‘says that understanding relies on—’
‘Anyway, at the moment it doesn’t matter what energy it is made of,’ the Dream Master interrupted rudely. ‘What I’m concerned about is where my dreamcloak’s energy is going.’
‘Maybe we should have tried to stitch that torn piece back on?’ suggested Cy.
The Dream Master gave Cy a filthy look. ‘Puh-lease! Who do you think I am? Peter Pan?’
Cy jumped off the bed and, kneeling down, he carefully pulled out the bottom drawer of his chest of drawers. In the space below were his precious things, hidden away from his nosy older sister Lauren. He pushed aside his fossil stone, Grampa’s war medal and the little matchbox with the sand from Arabia. There, nestling below them, was the scrap of dreamsilk torn from the Dream Master’s cloak. It was strange how sometimes it could move like quicksilver, yet just now it appeared to be slumbering. As if it were resting. And yet it gave the appearance of not being completely still. It looked, Cy thought, more as if it were waiting… So innocent but so powerful, holding every potential dream that he might have.
Cy knew that he had to be very, very careful about what he was thinking
of whenever he touched the dreamsilk. His Dream Master had warned him
many times: ‘Remember, in a dream you can have all that the Imagination
allows. Anything can happen — anything at all.’ Keeping his
mind focused only on the dreamsilk, Cy gently lifted out the piece of
dark material. It looked different somehow but he didn’t know in
what way. As he held it out to show the Dream Master the edges drifted
down over his hand. ‘Can’t we reconnect it to the main part
of the cloak? This torn piece looks in better condition, as if it has
more energy. it might help re-energize the dreamcloak.’
‘It might also ignite a chain reaction of unknown power.’ The Dream Master stretched out his hand to pick it up. And then he stopped, his fingers a millimetre away from touching the dreamsilk. He peered closely at the scrap of material in Cy’s hand.
‘Suffering Stromboli,’ he whispered.
‘What is it?’ asked Cy, suddenly conscious that the scrap of silk had turned warm in his hand.
‘I see Trouble,’ said the Dream Master.
‘Twenty Types of Trouble - Double Mixed?’ asked Cy.
‘Much worse,’ said the Dream Master. ‘This is Triple Trouble.’ He gave Cy a look of absolute terror. ‘Triple Trouble Times Ten.’
‘Triple Trouble Times Ten … Cy repeated slowly.
When faced with a problem Cy’s brain always slowed down. Inside his head he heard gears clunking, grinding together like an old car with a clapped-out engine. He wished his friend Vicky was here. She was great at mental arithmetic.
‘Triple Trouble…’ he muttered under his breath. ‘Triple . . . That’s three threes …and three times three times three is—’
‘A lot,’ snapped the Dream Master. ‘Don’t you see how that piece of dreamsilk has changed? How it has grown?
Of course! Cy now saw what was different about his piece of dreamcloak since the last time he had seen it. The torn section had once fitted into the palm of his hand. Now it was overlapping the edges, trailing over his fingers. And as he gazed at it he felt it start to vibrate gently. Hurriedly he laid it on the bed.
‘Look!’ wailed the Dream Master, holding up the frayed hem of his dreamcloak. ‘My dreamcloak is tattered at the end. Your piece is growing stronger.’
‘Omigosh!’ gasped Cy.
The Dream Master was right. Under Cy’s gaze the small piece of dreamsilk glowed red. And it was moving. In contrast to the Dream Master’s own cloak, which lay inert on Cy’s bed. Cy glanced up. The day was warm, his bedroom window was open, but there was no wind. Yet the silk shimmered with life. Cy reached out his hand.
‘Don’t touch it!’ shrieked the Dream Master, grabbing at Cy’s arm to snatch him back.
As Cy’s fingers connected, there was a blinding crack, a roar
of hot rushing air, and Cy and his Dream Master were sucked inside the
whirlpool of TimeSpace.