A/N: Here's the new edited version of the story. I hope you enjoy and review.
It was a warm summer night. Only a tiny breeze filled the air of Boston. The street lights buzzed into the night, illuminating the sidewalk for everyone. However, one man viewed the darkness as a source of evil that lurked into the night. A man stood on a rooftop, watching over the city. He pulled a lighter from his pocket and brushed his messy blonde hair away from his face. The supposedly abandoned building over the road had many doors and windows boarded up, though pinpricks of light shone through small cracks in the wood.
The wind swayed the white coat against his lean yet muscular body. A peaceful night was rare on his job; this was a moment he chose to enjoy despite his duties. An orange spark burned through the round ends, the cigarette smoke lingering in his mouth. He exhaled the sweet taste of nicotine into the air.
All good things must come to an end, as demonstrated by the cacophony of his ringtone. He raised his round grey-blue eyes to the dark sky, briefly glancing over countless flickering stars. He frowned, irritated that his break had been interrupted, yet the person who was calling upset him the most. "Hello," he answered.
An upset and cranky old man yelled over the phone. "Dante, why must you leave destruction on every mission? The objective is never leave traces of our presence in the real world, yet the director's on my ass about the screw-up from my department. I expect a report over the incident on my desk first thing tomorrow!"
Dante sighed. "Is there some kind of point you're trying to make here, old geezer? I figure you'd call about my previous report that I plan to send out tomorrow. However, things would have been a lot worse if I didn't stop the beast."
"Dante, I do not care how you handle the situation. Just leave the damage to a minimum."
Dante considered a smart remark yet chose to keep his mouth closed. If there was one thing he had learnt working under Master Zen, it was to keep the sarcastic remarks at home. "Sure, I'll try my best."
Master Zen cleared his throat. "Listen, Dante, I have a special assignment I need completed."
"A special assignment?" He wondered if he heard the old geezer correctly. He had been assigned to special cases before, of course, but it was rare. And after a screw-up like this? The old man must have been desperate.
"Yes, I sent a profile of the case since I believe you're the best candidate to handle the situation."
Dante held the cigarette between his fingers, blowing another puff of smoke. A white beam projected a holographic profile of a young child above his phone. He pondered over the information. It hardly appeared special. "Why can't the bouncy and cheerful Nicole handle the job? She's assigned to this district." The only reason he was here was to settle an old debt while he enjoyed his break.
Master Zen sighed, the wheels squeaking as he leant back in his chair. "That's true. However, I have my reasons to give you this assignment. Plus, I believe this mission suits your abilities. I sent the coordinates and I expect the report on my desk this Friday."
"I understand." Soon as the phone call ended, Dante exhaled one last time and quickly put out the cigarette. The break he wished to enjoy was no more.
The wind picked up intensity for a moment. Dante concentrated his energy as the wind rotated until a vortex opened in the air, the pressure inside stabilizing as the portal changed from blue to clear white.
Dante leaped into the portal and the sky returned to normal.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the city, a young girl lay in her bed, tossing and turning over a nightmare that tainted her dreams with fear. She shook her golden brown hair away, sweat dripped over her olive forehead as she squeezed the stuffed animal in her arms.
A strange creature had been chasing her throughout her dream. In the beginning, she was with her grandmother in a beautiful garden full of tulips and daisies. The cloudless sky made the weather serene. A small house stood near the garden with an old maple tree, from which hung a rocking chair that held the petite yet old woman. The little girl listened closely as her grandmother finished "The Three Little Pigs" as she exclaimed over the last pig outsmarting the wolf.
Little noises came from the old chair as the grandmother stood. Her warm green eyes became empty of all emotions; tiny black horns grew over her wrinkled forehead. Her soft olive complexion turned as pale as a ghost. "Haley," the way she called her name didn't sound like the sweet grandmother who made tasty snacks and read adventure stories.
Haley cautiously took a step away when she realized the imposter was not her grandmother. "Haley, where are you going?" Her lips parted as she smiled, revealing the dagger-like teeth of a predator. "Patiently, I sat and waited until the time came for me to devour your soul. I can smell the mouth-watering yet delicious dream essence. I can't imagine the number of children's dream I have devoured that never filled my appetite. Now, I can enjoy my full course dinner."
Chills crawled over Haley as the imposter seized her arm. She struggled against the firm grip, but the creature dragged her closer. "Let go of me!" she screamed, punching her in the face.
"How dare you damage my face?" An ominous aura poured over the grandmother, spreading across the land like wild flames. The garden dissolved into black petals as they crumbled to dust. Pale greyish-yellow engulfed the beautiful sky. The imposter's true form revealed a shredded white dress over the pale blue figure. "This is my real form when I'm not deceiving children!" A loud shriek echoed from their mouth; as a result, torn black and red butterfly wings sprouted across the monster's back.
Haley stared at the monster with fear plastered over her face. She was unable to utter a single word as she registered that the nightmare had implanted someone she loved into a creature who preyed on children. She considered her grandmother was alive, yet the imposter made things clear, Haley was not the first victim. "Who are you?" She managed to get across her lips.
"I'm simply a demon who loves tasty dreams." A twist smile curled over the creature while taking a step forward. "Now, I want you be a good girl and stand still so I can devour you!"
The monster staled forward on small feet, three black, bean-like eyes narrowed. Haley gasped like a deer frozen in its tracks. Her heart was pounding in her chest, so loud that she wondered if she was the only person who could hear the rhythm. Don't just stand there like a statue, run! The inner voice inside her conscious screamed until the message slapped her out of her thoughts. Her legs wobbled as she ran into the dark forest behind the small house, Haley heard the monster laugh at her attempt to escape.
Meanwhile, Dante watched the portal reveal his location. The profile he read was a seven-year-old named Haley who stayed with her mother and father. The last few weeks she had been having terrible dreams about her grandmother who had passed away. The bond Haley had shared with her grandmother brought the child happiness. The organization didn't state the type of monster since the I.D number vanished whenever they updated the status of people's dreams.
Soon Dante landed inside the room before the portal vanished. The room was painted in soft pastel colors. There was a small bed, stuffed animals organized on the shelves, and ballerina posters tacked over the wall. He silently strolled across the soft carpet, pulling a device from his pocket that detected the amount of negative energy from a person's dream. When Dante held the device over Haley, the expression across his face went serious when he read 109. The number flashed red to confirm the amount of negative energy. "I see. So, I'm dealing with a psychic demon that absorbs a person's dream piece by piece. This girl's dream won't return normal until I destroy the source of the negative energy." Dante sent id # 2115 on his cellphone to confirm his suspicions. Right away, the screen displayed a small psychic demon who implanted themselves inside a dream, taking a little dream essence as they get stronger. The main prey was children since their dreams were vulnerable and difficult to defend.
Dante realized why the old geezer had thought he was suitable for the job. Before diving inside the dream, he removed any barrier demons would use to keep dream keepers away. The invisible yet weak barrier dematerialized with a single touch. A smirk curled over his lips, rather disappointed at the small challenge.
Dante went into action as he threw himself straight into the nightmare.
Haley stumbled through the thick forest. The strange territory had large, charcoal tree branches that made her panic, yet she held on to her courage. Leaves crunched and crackled beneath her feet. Everything inside her small body was on fire. Haley was overwhelmed with exhaustion, but she refused to rest; the demon was right behind her.
Haley jumped when she heard fallen trees echo throughout the forest. Cold fear replaced the bravery she had gained.
"Sweetie, where are you hiding?" The strong aura weakened the life inside the forest. Plants began to wither. "I just want to taste..." A familiar scent suddenly reached the demon's nose, a scent that posed a threat as if someone was interfering with the plan. She rushed into the wood. "I better devour the child before I deal with the intruder."
Haley took a minute to catch her breath, and the forest was silent once more. She just wanted to go home. As her breathing pattern returned to normal, the sudden snapping of a twig caught her attention. She quickly glanced around, only to find empty forest all around. However, she heard more rustling come closer.
Before she could blink her golden green eyes, the demon flew out the bushes. "I found you!" it screeched.
Startled, Haley stumbled backward, tripping on a root, and collapsed on the ground. Dirt smeared on her floral dress, yet she was more worried about the beast.
"I won't let my meal get away again!" The creature swooped down and prepared to consume the girl.
Haley's eyes widened with shock as she realized she was frozen to the spot. Tears escaped out of the corner of her closed eyes; she knew no one was going to save her as she took her last breath.
A heavy object hit the ground with a thud. Haley opened her eyes slowly.
The monster lay limp on the ground, a huge bloody gash across its torso. However, it was the tall man who caught her attention. He stood before her, breathing heavily and with a tiny spot of the monster's blood on his shirt. A long sword hung from his hands, glinting slightly. He blew a strand of messy blonde hair out of his eyes.
Haley was speechless; the sight of her savior was bewildering. Blonde hair swayed over his neck, yet the swordsmanship had shown this wasn't his first battle. The blade was sharp and clear, and obviously well cared-for. The black and gold hilt was parallel with the rectangle guard. Flicking the blood off his sword, he put it back into its sheath, next to another blade. He turned around and walked toward the little girl.
"Are you okay?" Dante asked, crouching down before her as their eyes met.
Before a word could leave her mouth, a blanket of darkness covered her eyes and she lost consciousness. He quickly caught the girl before she hit the ground, scooping her up in his strong arms. Dante figured the nightmare had overwhelmed her, yet he was relieved the demon hadn't drained all the dream essence. Dante turned around to find only a puddle of blood; he muttered curse words under his breath. His eyes darted around cautiously around the wooden area, sensing the demon's movement from the sky.
Right on cue, the demon zoomed toward Dante and Haley. "How dare you steal my meal, Dream Keeper?" Its needle-sharp scream pierced the stillness of the forest like a knife. "Now, I will devour you and the girl's dream essences!" The demon soared high up, raising its monstrous wings, and explosive spheres tumbled over them.
Dante held Haley close to his chest as he bounded through the forest, dodging all the attacks. The explosive spheres left many holes in the ground.
"I swear I'm going to murder that old geezer," he grumbled, moving his hands into counter clock wise position. Though Dante had no issue with the rescue mission, he hated small fry demons who acted high and mighty. Annoyed and pissed at the shifter demon and tense from lack of nicotine, he clasped his hands.
Suddenly, blue spiral rings hovered over the air. The creature fended off the Dream Keeper's attack, releasing horrific pitches that frightened Haley when she had regained consciousness. The sound was like a piece of chalk being dragged against a blackboard. Haley clung to Dante's jacket.
A simple smirk was plastered over his lips. The rings moved over and over before entangling the beast in a glowing, pulsing prison. A pulse of electricity was charged in the palm of his hand, Dante sensed the static energy at his fingertips.
"Nova Bolt!" The voltage ball caused the demon to shriek, sending shocks throughout its blue body. The demon fought and clawed against the Dream Keeper's attack, but the prison detained the creature before the final blow.
Dante figured electricity would weaken his opponent. "Stay here," Dante placed Haley on the ground. She obeyed, and her eyes watched him leap toward the thrashing demon. Unsheathing his weapon, Dante plunged his sword into the demon's heart. He pulled it out as the demon crumbled into ashes. Soon, Haley's dream returned to the peaceful scenery of before as Dante reappeared in her bedroom.
He laid a finger over her forehead to reassure her that the nightmare was over. A small voice grabbed his attention when leaving the room. Dante turned around and stared at the girl.
"Who are you?" She asked, rubbing the sleep from her eyes.
The outcome caught him off guard. Nobody was supposed to be able to see him! How can she see me? I was positive her dream had returned to normal. Dante walked toward Haley while she stumbled from the bed. Rushing to a small corner, she shielded a blanket around her body, and hoped the stranger would leave. Dante sighed.
"Please, don't hurt me." Haley pleaded when she felt the man pull the blanket aside.
"Haley, I'm not going to hurt you." Dante calmly said when he lifted her off the floor. Horror filled the small girl's eyes as she struggled against her capturer. The second she tried to scream, Dante covered her mouth. Panicked thoughts went through her mind, and Haley fought against Dante with all her strength. He held her for a moment, before whispering, "Please, calm down. I promised you I won't harm you."
The sincerity in his voice startled Haley. She looked at him more carefully, noticing his strange attire. Moreover, she noticed a small light that encircled her room before the light vanished from her line of sight. Once her heartbeat had calmed down, Dante stared at her and said, "If I removed my hand, you have to promise me you won't scream." Haley nodded as he removed his hand; he watched her move across the bed.
Breathing heavily, she repeated her question. "Who are you?"
Dante glanced at her as he struggled to understand why Haley seemed...different. "I'm a Dream Keeper who protects and destroys the nightmares that plague dreams." He shortly answered. "Now, I have a question. Tell me, Haley Monray. How can you see me?"
Haley, surprised at the weird question, just smiled. "Of course I can see the strange man in my room. You're not invisible like the superheroes in cartoons."
"I see." Dante thought about the girl's explanation. Whenever he checked someone dreams, the person wasn't supposed to notice him. He wondered why the usual routines changed today. While he thought over the possibilities, Dante noticed a hand tugging at his sleeve.
"Um, excuse me, mister. How did you know my name?" Haley glanced at him.
Dante simply replied. "All Dream Keepers are responsible for memorizing people's names."
"What's a Dream Keeper?" Haley's green eyes filled with curiosity.
"I check people's dreams and destroy nightmares. However, I still don't understand why you woke up." The answer came to his mind.
He needed to protect her. If a human noticed a Dream Keeper, they would become his or her dream guardian. If danger threatened both worlds, Dream Keepers would ask for their assistance.
"What do you mean?"
"Just forget about it." He sighed before smiling. "I suppose you are a lucky girl."
Haley grinned with content since she was able to witness this event. "How long are you staying?"
"Sorry, but I can't stay. However, I will continue to watch over your dreams." He noticed the disappointment across her face. Preparing to leave, Haley stopped before she hugged him.
"Um, thank you." She nervously said. Though Dante felt disappointed to leave the girl with more questions, he returned the hug before he casted a sleeping spell. "Can, I know the name of my savior who rescued me?" She felt her body become tired.
"My name is Dante. I'm your dream protector, Haley." He told her as he watched her drift off into a peaceful sleep.