The Sleep of Reason

Mikey Hope

He awoke disoriented, picking his way between tents and ramshackle wagons in late autumn woods. Fog drifted over rain-flattened leaves. A booming voice spoke to him from inside and above his head, dreadful and deep, but lacking obvious malice.  
The basso of the Dreadful Thing, not his own measured tenor, escaped his lips. “OF COURSE.” 
The ground beneath the gypsy camp opened up and a pale figure, moldering and mottled, emerged. He reached to embrace it. It embraced in return and down they sank. As loam covered them in waves, the body he clung to crumbled into agonizing embers. 
The Elder snapped awake in his tower, naked and gasping on sweat-dampened linens. An orange coal was slowly burrowing into the feather mattress of his bedstead. As it faded, a wisp of acrid smoke escaped. In one smooth motion he rose and allowed his undergarments and silver-starred robes to drift off their hooks and clothe him. He bid his gleaming skullcap set itself upon his bald pate, and with eyes burning ghostly blue, extended his awareness into the world outside. Amongst the layers of being, he sensed the presence of many dreaming minds, urgent with need. From the myriad chaotic and intimate images, he gleaned one held in common - a coal of madness burrowing down into the earth as choking fumes wafted above.  
Some might consider that a coincidence, he thought, but not I.  
He let himself slip into the Veil seeking the locus of distress. Before him coalesced a vision to drive a Dutch artist mad - figures human, animal and other in a panoply of tortuous yet sensuous vignettes. Appetites base and sublime were each fed in kind. A reek of dread, hope, lust, fear, greed and regret emanated into the aether as screams of ecstasy and pain, triumph and loss echoed. “I wish!” “Help Me!” “This isn’t what I wanted!” “Just one more chance!” “You lied to me!” “Damn you!”

Diverse humans appeared in the ever-changing panorama, became wonderstruck and then crumpled in despair. Their forms twisted into unspeakable abominations, or their surrounds betrayed and consumed them. Tears, blood, gold, rainbows, even corpses appeared, rained in showers, crashed in waves, then vanished in mist.  
With lambent gaze he scryed through layers of nightmare to an imposing form at the tumult’s center. Seeming of Persian nobility its edges dissolved into oil-dark smoke which trailed downward into an ornate antique lamp. Howdare it
“You there, djinni!” He flew forward with accusing finger outstretched. “By what authority do you intervene?” 
A sinister smile revealed gleaming rubine teeth. “I should think that was obvious to one of your wisdom, lord.” Its exaggerated bow mocked true courtesy. “I am granting these deserving people the desires of their hearts. Their dreams called out to me.” A black brow arched feigning confusion. “Did you not hear them?” 
The Elder’s eyes narrowed into bright slits. With a breath he allowed the insult to roll down his white beard, ignoring the malfeasant spirit’s bait. 
“Begone, purveyor of suffering!” With an arcane gesture he unleashed a volley of silvered thunderbolts. The barrage struck with a great shock and rivulets of fading blue light coruscated over and off of the djinni, bowling it backwards. It easily righted itself, brushing away sparks with its muscular arms. 
“I see the hospitality of Tower Argent leaves much to be desired, but I’m afraid I have every right to be here, as these dreamers have summoned me hence.” 
Abandoning further banter, the Elder remembered the great oak tree felled by lightening when he was a boy. He dreamt of it, raising his hands high. A leviathan of groaning wood erupted from the ground, coiling like a gargantuan serpent. It arced overhead, smashing directly onto the djinni like a stone from Heaven, heaving splintered destruction all around. The fiend was buried. 
Better than I’d hoped. He thought. I must study on that dream in more depth.

A smell of fresh-split timber washed over the surrounds as a burst of wind whipped them. Smoke billowed copiously from the ruined pile of wood and it burst apart into glowing scarlet coals. The djinni, emerged from within, holding one ember in hand, looking none the worse for wear. 
“Are you finished demonstrating your courtesy, Master?” The djinni cooed, and tossed the ember at the Elder’s silken boots. 
The Elder exhaled sharply. “No, I don’t believe I am. Of course you are correct, how rude of me to dismiss a visitor so brusquely. You have come offering your services and who am I to disregard them. Your offer is open to all who wish it, yes?” 
Now the djinni looked taken aback, dubious that the Elder would play by its rules. 
“Ah...n-well yes...lord, but-” 
“Excellent! I’ll have some of your wishes, please. How does this work? Oh yes! Oh great djinni of the lamp, grant to me these wishes three...hmm, upon reckoning, I need only two. My first wish is to have only two wishes.” 
“You cannot have more than three wishes!” The djinni chortled. 
“I didn’t ask for more,” the Elder replied. “I wished for fewer wishes.” 
“You used a wish to wish for two wishes?” The djinni began to fret. 
“Correct,” he rebutted. “I had three, and then I used one to ask to be granted two.” 
“My lord -” The intruder’s face began to flush. 
“Well, are you granting wishes here today or aren’t you? That is what you do isn’t it, djinni?” now his voice carried a sly tone of ridicule. 
“W-well, yes-” the genie blurted. 
“Then proceed!” He called out. “Carry out your function according to your nature, Djinni. I insist.” 
“B-By your command, lord.” the djinni yielded. “I hereby grant you three-uh, two wishes, as your heart desires, what is your will, oh Master?” The fiend’s tone was near panic. 
“I will make my wishes known in a moment, after I consult with my advisor.” And with that he floated over to the last soul to arrive, making a display of consulting with her. 
The latecomer asked “Why...did you do that, my lord? Waste one wish?” 
“It was no waste. I did it to unsettle the djinni. Now its mind is agitated. I used up a third of the power of its contract with no act of great import and it had no chance to pervert my command, not that it matters. Observe.” 
He called out to the nervous spirit and gestured at the tableau of misery around them. “My first wish is that you had never granted the wishes of any of these poor fools – dissolve what you have manifest!” 
The djinn’s face shone like a hot poker and it nearly choked on the words “Yes...Master” but it snapped its fingers and the chaos that plagued the assembled dreamers vanished like a soap bubble bursting, leaving them naked in what pose their twisted gifts had visited upon them. 
“How generous of your lordship, thinking of others before yourself,” the djinni demurred. “Surely there must be some small desire in your own heart, a recompense for all you have done for this needy rabble?” 
“Oh yes, spirit, I have a desire that would make me very happy, and I will enjoy it most selfishly I assure you.” 
The djinn’s face blanched white as a sheet and a look of dread marred its otherwise handsome features. 
“My dearest wish is that you alone be bound inside your lamp for all eternity, never more to grant another wish. So mote it be!” 
The djinni screamed in defeat. Its diminishment echoed far and wide as it burst into a clotted pall of smoke. It rushed into the spout of its lamp as a ghost flees the sunrise. The lamp stoppered itself and all was still. 
The Elder sighed heavily. “I should have done that forthwith. I was caught off my guard. Thus endeth the lesson.” 
He bid those near him awaken. Slowly the huddled throng arose and faded away as each dream ended. 
“Were they really in... danger?” asked the latecomer. 
“Oh yes. Dreams may be fleeting but only a fool would ignore them. Regrettably, I cannot return you home.” 
“Why is that?” 
He stared at the lurid ember still smoking at his feet. “Because we aren’t really here.” 
And then he was bound in billows of satin, the gleaming coal betwixt his flailing legs. Teeth like rubies spread themselves into a crescent of menace as sinewy arms pressed him down in the dark. 
“I decreed that you alone would be trapped in your lamp!” 
“And so it is, my lord. You above all should know that each person met in a dream is but another facet of your own soul. Your wish was granted centuries ago, Master, when you were but a callow fool who thought himself clever.  Your wish turned my lamp into a pyre. Now, burn in it!” 
An avalanche of scorching coals smothered the Elder’s screams as dread laughter echoed.


Mikey Hope lived in and around Atlanta, Georgia for many a moon, providing art and massages to all the people of the land until one day, he got a wild hair somewhere a wild hair ought not to be and he moved to New York City. This came as a great surprise to everyone, but especially New York City.  

Now he awaits the activation of his clone army so that each may fully pursue one of his interests including: writing genre fiction, exploring his new stomping grounds, tabletop role-playing, creating digital art, teaching and performing massage, and making music.

He enjoys inflicting his nefarious scribblings upon an unsuspecting internet, whether in the world of tabletop RPG's, 13 Stories Til Halloween, or other spots on the web.

Blindman's Bellows” on 

On a related note, his artwork may be viewed at his DeviantART page:

Image created by Jordan Drew and Mikey Hope.
Jordan Drew - 10/23/2015 12:32 AM
Love it, Mikey! Thank you!!
Matt Roberts - 10/23/2015 12:57 AM
Excellent! Not enough Djinn stories anymore, but I always enjoy them! This was great!
joey - 10/23/2015 9:10 AM
Well done! I really enjoyed this story!
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