"I did not make it up!"

"Did so!"

"Did not! Mother, tell Susan I didn't make it up!"

Peter was near tears for the umpteenth time that month thanks to his sister's teasing and he turned desperately to his mother, who sat in the drawing room knitting beside the open window. The sounds of the evening traffic were dimly audible in the distance and the movements of the families to either side of Peter's rowhouse echoed within the walls like large rats looking for food.

"Susan," sighed Mother as she looked up wearily from her knitting, "Leave your brother alone. You know how he gets. And Peter," her gaze shifted. "Isn't it time to stop all this foolishness? You're a growing boy and you're too old to be pretending anymore."

"It's not pretend! It was real!" whined the boy.

She opened her arms to him and he enfolded himself within their embrace, tears streaking on her dress. "Sometimes dreams can seem very real, sweetheart, but they are still dreams when you wake up. They're not real, just like a daydream. Do you understand?"

Sniffing, Peter nodded slowly and wiped his reddening eyes.

Susan walked up to the boy and peered at him squarely in the eye. "Peter's a dreamer! Just a little dreamer!"

Pushing his sister away, Peter ran out of the room and up the stairs, tears trailing after him, not noticing his mother's criticism of Susan, nor Susan continuing taunts of "A dream is better than the real world for the little dreamer!"

Slamming the door to his room behind him, Peter stood behind it, waiting for the tell-tale footsteps that would either be Susan for more punishment or Mother for a consoling hug. When, after several minutes, neither came, Peter was unsure as to whether he was happy or sad at that. Susan always tried to continue her teasing and Mother always came up to soothe him. The fact that neither occurred left him feeling strange and hollow inside.

He thought back to several weeks ago when he had first had The Dream. That wonderfully real dream of the flower world and the English girl and talking raccoon that lived there. The smells and the feelings of that place were still with him just as if he had gone on holiday there with his family. It was so real that no one seemed to want to believe him. This was what made him so angry and why Susan teased him so. If he had come down one day and said: "Family, last night I went down the road," or "Today I will go to the docks," they would believe him instantly, for he was a child who did not normally lie. But telling them, "While sleeping, I visited a magical world and met an English girl and a talking raccoon and was startled out of a tree by a large shadow," produced laughter and disbelief. His mother had tutted, Susan had laughed and laughed, and, worst of all, was what Father had done. Father had looked over the top of his newspaper and stared at Peter with unblinking, piercing eyes for a moment before turning back to the paper. Not a word was uttered by him at his son's happy news. Not even a tiny sign of emotion. Nothing.

But it had changed Peter, he knew that despite what the others thought. He had changed. He knew there was more to the world than just school and playing; there were whole other worlds out there that needed exploring. He now eagerly went to bed each night, much to the astonishment of his mother, and he willed himself to sleep each and every night, even though the dream world has so far failed to reappear. Like Christmas, good things are worth waiting for.

Peter brushed some more stray tears aside and looked around his room. Everything he owned was within sight but he wanted none of it. He only wanted to revisit his little world of dreams! Why could he not go back? It had been weeks now since that first time and nothing since had happened. The girl, Rose, had told him that people usually just appeared in that world, with no regard to plans or schedules. Luck of the draw, maybe.

Another tear wound its way down his cheek at the thought of never seeing that land again and, for as real as it had felt, it may as well have been imagined.

Holding back a sob, he launched himself at his bed, burrowing his wet face into the fluffy pillow and quickly falling asleep…

Slowly, Peter awoke and for a brief moment believed himself in a new world, where the darkness hinted at a cave or other deep shadowy place. He fully opened his eyes and nearly began crying again as his eyes adjusted to the darkness and he realized that he was still in his bedroom but that a moonless night had fallen.

Sadly getting up from his strewn sheets, Peter made his way downstairs to see all the lights of the house out and the door bolted. The family had gone to bed, it was so late. He had missed father coming home and had missed the evening meal.

As he wondered how he could have slept through the entire afternoon, a bright light shone through the curtained windows that faced the rear of the house, through the kitchen. The light filtered through the dark rooms like a liquid, moving this way and that as if searching for something, before falling upon an awestruck Peter standing at the bottom of the stairs.

The boy felt the light curl around him, warming his body and gently tugging at him, pulling him toward the rear door. He willingly – and in a daze – obliged.

Without timidity, Peter put his small hand on the brass knob of the door and twisted, pulling it open to shower him in the brilliant light that now flooded his vision, and he was suddenly and irrepressibly happy.

Before him lay a bright and surreal landscape.

A single, thin pathway of stone led from his feet to a large ledge of mountainside on which a city of immense size reached up. The ledge wound its way up through the many houses, becoming a street and melding into the bedrock that the entire city was built into. The city was built layer upon layer up the side of the mountain, moving up like a staircase. A waterfall fell from some unknown height over the city, rivulets catching here and there to create small streams which fell around the city and streets. Numerous smokestacks rose from the many houses, their smoke mixing with each other and finally dissipating somewhere in the sky.

Above it all, the sun shimmered down and reflected off of the glimmering water to light up the whole city as no electric light could ever hope to do.

Slowly, his eyes bright with wonder, Peter inched his way carefully over the stone walkway, bridging the gap between his backdoor and this new world. No sooner had he set his foot down upon the hard bedrock of the city, than a loud noise startled him so much he almost fell backward into the abyss.

Steadying himself, Peter looked around to see a small, red caravan headed down the cliff ledge toward him. With no room to step out of the way, Peter stood still in the centre of the road and waved his arms, hoping the caravan would stop before running him over.

Lucky for him it did.

Peering out from behind a large horse, sat a squat man with a large, floppy hat upon his head that nearly completely blotted out his features. Only his bright eyes stood out from the gloom.

"What are you doing in the middle of the road?" asked the man in a deep, but highly confused, voice.

Peter shook his head and pointed back the way he had come, across the stone bridge to where his back door hung in the air, free of any building.

"I came from there," he said. "My house."

The man looked from doorway to child and back again before shrugging.

"A dreamer, I take it?"

"Am I? Am I dreaming? Am I in the dream world?"

The hat wobbled as the man nodded. "Where else would you be?" he said.

"But where am I?"

The man looked at the boy from beneath his hat, no emotion visible. He answered slowly. "The…Dream…World. I just said that."

No! No," cried Peter quickly. "I mean, what city is this?"

"Oh! Right. That's Missive. Everyone passes through it at some point." The stranger leaned forward in his seat. "I'm guessing you're new to Dream World?"

Peter nodded. "Oh yes! I've only been here once before!"

"Ah! Well, hop on up and I'll give you the tour of town. It's really not all that big."

Thankfully, Peter accepted the offered seat settled himself beside the man.

"This here road is called The Path. Don't know who named it that, but it's the only road through town and it goes from here – the bottom – to the top – up there," here the man pointed above their heads at the distant top of the mountain.

"I'm here for the trading, you see. Market day is coming up, so lots of folk will be arriving. Name's Bobby, by the way. Bobby Wishmaker."

"Wishmaker?"

The man waved his hand dismissively. "A nickname. And you are?"

"I'm Peter. Peter May."

"And you've only been here once before? Most people don't get to Missive so soon. It's kind of a centre of Dreams. Gotta be a deep dream to come here."

"Last time I came here, I was in a giant field of flowers."

"Oh! You were at Ruin! Lovely place.

"Ruin?"

Again the hand was waved. "Just a name, I'm sure! What's in a name?"

They were silent for a moment, with only the clop of the horse's hooves echoing along the rocks around them. Peter allowed his gaze to wander around him, taking in the crags, waterfall, and breathing the mist-filled air.

"I met a girl there," began Peter.

"Always good."

"She was an English girl named Rose."

"A dreaming girl?"

"Yes."

"There don't seem to be as many dreamers now as there used to be," the strange man said sadly, shaking his head. "There used to be many, many more. If you're looking for someone here, then there's a "

Peter looked at the man and timidly asked the question that had been on his lips since he sat beside him.

"Are you real or a dream?"

The man shrugged. "If I was ever in your world, I don't remember it. But then, I don't remember much of anything these days." He paused for a moment, thinking. "I suppose the fact that I'm here suggests I'm a dream, don't you think? Do I look like I might be of your world?"

Peter eyed the man whose face was hidden in shadow but whose eyes were plainly visible. He shook his head slowly. "No. I've never seen anyone like you."

"There's that mystery solved then!

Peter nodded slowly, thinking about this. Then he said, "A creature I met last time told me that he was a dream. He said someone in my world maybe dreamt him up and then he existed."

"Could be. Could be. Stranger things have happened. I don't think much on creation and origins, though." Here the strange man paused, before turning slightly to Peter. "Are you real, or a dream?"

Shocked, Peter responded, "Of course I'm real! Why wouldn't I be?"

The man shrugged. "Things are strange here. Not always what they seem at first glance, you see."

Peter, who did not see, merely nodded and hoped that passed as an answer.

"Look ahead, boy!" cried Wishmaker, suddenly, pointing before him. "We've arrived!"

Peter looked away from the man beside him to view his surroundings. He could hardly take it all in. They had just passed under an arched gate and now the Path was surrounded on both sides by vendors and their stalls and goods of all sorts. Colours mixed and mingled with the many strange creatures which milled through the street under the bright awnings that kept the spray of the waterfall from the goods.

The vast majority of the beings in the street were small, pruney little things in tunics that were too big for them. They looked like little, shrunken old monks. Thin whisps of blue hair fell down their shrivelled heads and their wrinkled hands were always moving in quick, precise movements as they bartered and barked at merchants.

Noticing his gaze, Wishmaker whispered to Peter, "Those are the original inhabitants of Missive. Wise creatures. They get their wrinkles from always being in such a wet atmosphere." Seeing Peter's failing look, he continued. "You know how if you take a swim or have a bath, your fingers and toes get all pruney?"

"Yes….?"

"Exactly."

"But - ?"

"We call them Missions."

Peter decided – wisely – that it would be best to just keep quiet, otherwise he might collapse from too much strange information.

Together, the boy and the strange man rode their caravan through the crowds until they came to a large stone building with a sign hanging out front. The sign depicted a shooting star.

"This is Heaven," explained Wishmaker matter-of-factly as he jumped down from his seat. "Some of the best food this side of The Divide. It's also a favourite stopping point for anyone passing through Missive."

Together, the pair entered the building to find themselves surrounded by bright colours and flying streamers. Every surface gleamed gold or sky blue, with party favours being thrown around by the many dozens of patrons, whose forms varied from animals to humans, to everything in between. Behind the bar stood a large octopus serving the drinks, his tentacles zipping every which way pouring drinks and opening bottles and delivering mugs.

"Peter!"

The boy turned to the voice to see Rose, the girl he had previously met in the field of flowers, smiling broadly as she came toward him from out of the crowd. She hugged him briefly as she began speaking quickly.

"It's been weeks since I last saw you! Have you been touring the dream world? What new people have you met? How have you been? Lot is here somewhere, but I can't see him right now. Have a drink?"

Peter, confused by the string of questions, could only mutter an "ueahh?" and hope it passed as a good enough answer.

"Excellent!" exclaimed the girl, clapping her hands. Turning to the octopus-bartender, she raised her hand and pointed to Peter over the crowd. Somehow the octopus knew what she waned and who she wanted it for, because almost immediately, a drink appeared in Peter's hand. It was a cold mug of something amber in colour, with tiny bubbles rising inside of it.

Taking a small sip, Peter felt a rush of heat followed immediately by a slight chill that went through his body, starting from the tip of his tongue right down to his ankles. Somehow, his feet were not affected.

"What do you think?" Asked Rose, taking a sip of her own drink.

"It- it's amazing!" stammered the boy, still eying the drink closely, as if to view its contents.

"Come," said the girl as she took his hand and led him through the crowd, "sit down with us." She dragged Peter through a maze of beings, so dense that he had no idea where he was. He could have left the bar and would have no idea otherwise. Finally, a table came into view where a lone racoon sat mulling over his drink, tail swishing slightly beneath the table.

"Peter," called Lot stoically as he stood to welcome the boy. "How have you been?"

Peter waved to the creature before sitting down beside Rose. "I've been tearing my hair out trying to get back here! It's been weeks!"

Rose and Lot both nodded. "You can't force it," said Rose quietly.

"It will only come when you're relaxed, not excited," finished Lot.

"Is this only you're second visit, then?" asked Rose, taking a drink from her mug.

Peter nodded. "How many times have you been back?"

Rose looked to Lot before answering. "Ten or twelve, maybe."

"How often do you come here?"

"Almost every night. Almost."

"Does it get easier to get back?"

"Oh yes! Once you know how, it's very easy. Like Lot said, you have to be relaxed when you go to sleep at night. If you're excited then you won't come. And if you want to then you definitely will not come back."

"When did you arrive?" asked Lot.

"Not long ago, I ran into a strange man." Peter suddenly looked around him, turning this way and that, craning his neck in all directions, trying to find out where Wishmaker had gone off too. Turning back to the table, he said, "I ran into a man named Wishmaker who brought me here. I've lost him!"

The girl and raccoon exchanged looks and then caste their gazes around the room.

"What does he look like?" asked Lot.

"He's got a large hat that covers his head so that all you can see are is eyes."

"Shouldn't be too hard to spot him then," commented Lot, pointing to a figure dancing toward them. "Is that him?"

Peter stood up to introduce his old friends to his new one, but before a word escaped his mouth, Wishmaker took his hand and hushed Peter.

"I have a friend I would like you to meet, Peter! Oh! You must be Rose, Peter's friend! Wonderful to meet you!"

"And you, Wishmaker. Peter was just telling us about you."

"Ah! Fortuitous then! My friend would love to meet such a courteous young lady such as yourself as well, I'm sure. And you are the dream creature, Lot?"

"I am," came the response.

"Please! All of you are welcome. Please come! My friend will be very excited to meet you all, I'm sure."

Quickly, Wishmaker ushered the children and Lot from the busy bar onto the slightly-less-busy street.

"Where are we meeting your friend?" asked Rose after a minute of being buffeted along the street.

"The Lighthouse. It's not far! Not far at all."

Silently, the four made their way along the winding street, past hunched and wet buildings, past cobbles lined in moss, past ponds overflowing with clear water and filled with brightly-coloured schools of fish. As they travelled further and further upwards, the crowds thinned out until, finally, near the very top of the waterfall, the group stopped amid a deserted lane that led directly to the front door of a squat, but think, lighthouse painted in black and white stripes, with an overly-large, bulbous light atop it. A faint light was slowly rotating within the spire, not illuminating much.

The roar and spray of the waterfall was less near the top, but that only left the children feeling damp and their ears not feeling right, as if the world had suddenly gone quiet. They traipsed through a short unkempt, wet lawn at the end of the lane, picking their way carefully, so as to keep their pyjamas dry, and stopped at the black-painted wooden door. Its doorknocker was a brilliant brass, almost glowing from the light shining off of it, and slippery to the touch thanks to the endless wet.

Wishmaker nodded to his companions and knocked on this door, his gloved hand slapping moistly against the thick wood. After a second's pause, the door opened silently upon well-oiled hinges and the children and the dreams stepping into the darkness beneath the Lighthouse.

"A-amazing!"

Peter's mouth automatically formed the word without him even thinking about it. His eyes could hardly take in the wonderful surroundings within the room that must have taken up most of the inside of the building. Opulent cushions and embroidered curtains lounged everywhere. Tassels dripped off of every corner and every surface like fuzzy stars in a sky of warm velvet. The smell of incense wafted through the dry air, spread by a small animal in a cubby near the ceiling constantly huffing and puffing at the fumes above a lit burner. In the centre of it all reclined a man of the normal sort, the expected sort of the real world, but one who has long since grown accustomed to the world of fantasy.

He sat on one side, propped up on his elbow, sequined feet crossed at the ankles, dressed in brightly coloured silken garments that shimmered in the light which shone down from above. His tunic was the most brilliant of reds; his pantaloons a soothing shade of blue. His turban – yes, turban – was made of a long, twining cloth that could best be described as 'arabesque.' Long, well-kept, blond hair cascaded down from beneath the turban, bangs almost covering his piercingly blue eyes and pale face.

Wordlessly, the man motioned for his guests to sit around him upon the cushions, a faint smile on his lips as they took their seats and stared at him.

Wishmaker coughed discreetly and made introductions.

"Children, this is Prince Jung," he bowed slightly as he spoke the name. "Prince, these are two children from the real world."

The man – Prince Jung – smiled, showing his brilliant white teeth. "Children, welcome to my home away from home. Please, tell me your names." He beckoned Rose to speak up first.

Awkwardly, unsure of the proper protocol to follow while meeting a prince in a world of dreams, Rose stood quickly and made a short curtsey before nearly falling back onto the cushion. Blushing profusely, she spoke: "My name is Rose, sir."

The man smiled his ethereal smile. "Welcome, Rose. I am honoured to meet you." His eyes moved to Peter.

The boy bobbed his head, even more at a loss as to what was expected than his friend. "'m Peter."

"Welcome, friend Peter," purred the prince. Passing his gaze over Lot, he spoke to a servant, hidden in the shadows. "Bring some food and drink for our guests."

Lot coughed and the prince's eyes shot to the racoon. "Ah, yes. Forgive me."

"I am Lot, of the dream world."

"Welcome, Lot, to my home. Please make yourself at home."

As the racoon nodded, Jung's gaze shifted back to the humans. "Tell me, dear friends, of your home and your adventures in this magical world. I wish to hear your tales." He glanced at Rose. "My dear, if you would kindly go first?"

Exchanging a look with Peter, Rose began telling of her life in England and of her journeys in the Dream World.

Excusing himself from the conversation, Peter stood up and made his way over to a corner of the room, where Wishmaker stood against a velvety wall.

"Is he real or a dream?" whispered Peter.

The dream shrugged. "He has been here for ages and I've never seen him leave the Dream World. Therefore he's a Dream, although it can be difficult telling the difference sometimes."

"How did you come to know him?"

"Ah!" Wishmaker whispered in exclamation. "That's an interesting story! I was one day walking along a beach and I found him washed up on the shore. He had no memory of where he had been before the storm that must have ruined his ship, and so I brought him here to Missive, renowned for its healing waters and its skilled healers. He's been here ever since." The man paused. "Now that I think about it, it's not very interesting, is it?"

"What does he do?"

"Do?"

"How does he support himself? This looks to be a very expensive lifestyle."

"Oh! He and the Missions have some sort of arrangement. Yes, an arrangement. He does work for them in return for this home and amenities. I think. He insists on meeting every dreamer who comes through Missive, which is why I brought you two here. He is very interested in your world."

"Why?"

Wishmaker shrugged again, an action he seemed very comfortable using. "Who knows? I told you that everyone passes through Missive at one time or another, yes? This is the perfect place to be when learning about far off worlds."

"Friend Peter," came a voice from behind the pair in the corner, the soft voice of the price. Peter turned to see both Jung and Rose looking at him.

"Yes?"

"Would you please entertain me with your tale?"

Peter retook his place beside Rose, opposite the prince, and shifter uncomfortably.

"I'm afraid I've not got much to tell. This is only my second visit to the Dream World, you see."

The prince's eyes widened. "Second? How astonishing! Many dreamers are quite familiar with this world before they finally arrive here in Missive. You must be a very special young man."

"Oh no, not at all," protested Peter.

"But you must be," pressed Jung. "Please, tell me of your first time in this world."

"Well, I woke up in a field of flowers. Wishmaker tells me that it's called Ruin, but it was too beautiful to have been a ruin of anything."

The prince waved a perfectly manicured hand. "Just a name."

"That's what he said. Anyway, I came across Rose and Lot there and we followed a stream until we saw the source of it – a huge tree. We climbed the tree right to the top and, as I was looking out over the branches at the view, some large shadowy thing knocked me from my branch and I fell into the spring at the roots of the tree. Then I woke up."

The prince nodded slowly. Then he turned to Rose.

"What did you do after friend Peter fell?"

"Well, I climbed down to where Lot was standing over the pool at the bottom of tree. We waited for Peter to come back up, but he never did. We assumed that he had woken up and gone back to the real world, so we went on our way."

"How interesting. Did you see the shadow?"

Rose sadly shook her head. "I was too shocked by Peter falling to notice the beast, and Lot was further down the tree. We never saw what it was."

"Pity. I would have liked to know what nearly killed friend Peter. Tell me, what happens when you wake up?"

Rose and Peter exchanged looks. "What happens?" asked Rose.

"We just… wake up," supplied Peter, lamely.

"But," the prince insisted, "how do you do it? Does it just happen? Is there a cause that takes you out of this world and into yours?"

Peter looked to Rose helplessly, obviously too inexperienced to answer.

The girl took a breath and collected her thoughts, a thoughtful expression on her face.

"I don't think there is any single cause, sir. Sometimes it may be an event in this world, sometimes it may be an event in our world."

"Can you choose to leave?" asked Wishmaker from his corner.

"My door appeared in this world when I came here," said Peter, eyes shining with revelation. "My house was part of the dream! I suppose I could just walk back through, get into bed and fall asleep here."

"…And wake up in the real world?" whispered Jung.

"I've never done that before," said Rose. "I don't know if that would work."

The prince stood up suddenly. More like leapt, actually, his sudden action startling the children.

"Then let us try it!" he exclaimed. "Experimentation is what we need!"

"But I don't want to leave yet," protested Peter.

The prince calmed down at once and leaned over the boy, placing a hand on his shoulder.

"This is something amazing, friend Peter. You have the chance to explore a new way to and from this world. This may lead to an easier path between our two worlds. Wouldn't you like that? You could come back every night, if you wished to. You could control when and where you come back. All you have to do is try."

Rose piped up. "It could be that nothing will happen, Peter. Maybe you cannot go to sleep here and wake up back home."

"But we shall never know," added the prince, "unless you try. Let me propose a deal, friend Peter: If nothing happens, I will take you on a tour of this grand city. If you do leave this world, you must promise to return the Missive and tell us." He squeezed Peter's shoulder slightly, looking deeply into his eyes. "Deal?"

Peter looked from the stern and hopeful face of the prince to the interested and fair face of Rose to the unreadable snout of Lot, who had so far not voiced his opinion.

"What do you think, Lot?" the boy asked. "Should I try it?"

The dream creature did as Peter had done, looking from face to face before speaking. Finally, his gruff voice rang out.

"Do it," said the beast. "The worst that can happen is you wake up in your world only to have to come back one day. I think you could live with that."

The boy nodded and stood up, as did the others. He looked to the prince and held his gaze.

"Let's go then."

Clapping the boy on the shoulder and then clapping his hands together, the prince let Peter lead the way out of the lighthouse-house and down through the streets of Missive with the small party following him. No one spoke during the walk, which was strange for Peter. He felt as if he were being led to his death instead of an experiment. This was a dream, wasn't it? He could not actually die in a dream. Right?

A sudden panic overwhelmed him as the party finally left the city walls and walked down the path toward the door. What if he went to sleep in this world and never woke up in the real world? What if he would become stuck in the dream world forever? Or - perhaps worse - stuck in the real world forever, never to return to this magical place he had only just come to love and enjoy.

It seemed to take too long to reach the bend around which his door hung, suspended in the air, and for each minute Peter's mind created dozens of new horrors that might happen as soon as he attempted sleep. He began to sweat under his pyjamas and his throat went dry. Palms sweaty and moist. Stomach churning.

Finally, the party turned a bend and Peter's wooden back door came into view, hanging, suspended in the air, the small path picking its way through the misty aether.

Peter's feet halted at the edge of the road where the path met the rock.

"Go on, friend Peter," said the prince, nudging Peter toward the door. "Only a few feet now. Go on."

"Come on, Peter," called Rose, taking the boy's hand in hers. "We'll come with you to see you off. That'll make it easier for you, won't it?"

Jung and Wishmaker nodded at the suggestion. Lot remained stoic as ever. Together, with Peter leading the way, the group carefully made their way along the floating path to the unobtrusive door hanging before them. Peter, unable to swallow the large lump in his throat, turned the handle and was inside the door before he could pull back. The others joined him and they all stood in silence at the interior of the house.

The dream beings marvelled at everything they saw, even the most mundane of objects. Wishmaker picked up a frying pan and staring intently at it; Lot looked into the oven; Jung ran his hands over the countertops, a strange look in his eye. Rose spent her time looking in the other rooms. Only Peter had his eyes fixed on one thing while the others submitted to their curiosity. He stared long and hard at the stairs that led up to his room.

Each having taken their fill of their strange new surroundings, the others gathered around Peter, each placing a hand upon his shoulder.

"Come on, Peter. Nothing to worry about!" chirped Rose, a smile on her face.

The boy nodded and began to climb the staircase, Rose slightly behind, followed by the prince, Lot, and finally Wishmaker, who still cast his gaze about in an attempt to see everything at once.

Too soon, the group stood around Peter's bed, and Peter had crawled under the covers. Jung had taken his place at the foot of the bed.

"Do not worry, friend Peter," he said. "The worst that could happen is that you go back to your world. And that cannot be so bad, can it?"

"But I don't want to go back home!" wailed Peter, tears nearing his eyes. "I waited so long to get back here and it is so much better than my world! Can't I just stay here?"

"You could," conceded the prince. "Of course you could. But then when you woke up – which you must at some point – you may never return. This experiment could be the means to let you come back whenever you wish. You must be able to see that it is in your best interest to go through with this."

"But I don't want to!"

Jung placed a comforting hand on Peter's ankle, a sad smile on his face. "We cannot always do what we want, friend Peter. Sometimes we must do what we must."

Sadly, Peter nodded and settled down into the covers and was hit with an intense desire to sleep, a desire that had only just appeared.

As his eyes grew heavy and his muscles relaxed, Peter was dimly aware of people moving around him and then all was black.

Rose, the prince, Wishmaker, and Lot all retreated from the house more or less at a run, each unsure as to just what might happen when the boy woke up. Safely on the mainland, they turned to see the wooden back door vanish in a wink without a sound.