A/N: I struggled, I really did, to find an epigraph that captured my intentions for this story – that smacked of pure evil, and mortality, and mind-bending absurdity. Something so utterly wrong that the only possible responses are to laugh or go stark raving mad on the spot. Such a tone can be difficult to capture in a blurb. Therefore imagine my delight when I, unsuspecting, having never looked at the franchise before, opened up Sandman: Endless Nights and turned to the first page.

"The Count, to whom the palazzo belonged, had decided that it was his desire to be crushed to death by a bull elephant, between two beautiful virgins, at the moment of orgasm."

~Neil Gaiman

PROLOGUE

Quentin Holmes was right to be afraid of the dark.

One night he woke up and stared at his closet door. He knew, he just knew, that something was in there. Something indescribable and all the more awful for all that. Some thing. So he did the sensible thing.

"Mom!" he shouted. "Mommy!"

Rashanda Holmes hadn't fallen asleep yet. She had been too busy thinking the same thoughts over and over: Three more days, and then the next check comes in. What will Quentin eat until then? I can't feed my child, I'm a little stupid bitch, what am I? I was so confident I could take care of him and what will happen if – Quentin's cry was a half-welcome interruption. She got up and shuffled to his door.

"What is it babe? Are you all right?" In the dark blue of midnight the single mother, divorced at twenty-three and wasn't that a great idea, whoo, could have been a ghost. "Quentin?" Her creamy robe almost seemed to glow, and her dark skin drank the light and left a void.

"Mom," the five-year-old whimpered, "there's something in my closet."

"Oh baby." Rashanda knelt by his little bed, felt for his hand, and clasped it in hers. "There is nothing in your closet but clothes and toys. Here, I'll show you." Rashanda crossed the room and flicked on the closet switch. A yellow light came from under the door. "See?" she said as she opened it. "Only clothes and OHMYGOD-"