Guest Blog: Disheveled Dreams: Happiness and Other Diseases by Sumiko Saulson

guestblog2 
For the month of March, Sumiko shared an excerpt of her series, Happiness and Other Diseases.  
Sumiko says,
“It deals with the Demos Oneiroi, which is the Greco-Roman land of dreams. The book is titled Somnalia after Somnuts (Sleep Party).
In this specific series, his foil is his twin brother, Thanatos, the god of peaceful death (not to be confused with the god of War, Ares).
It’s a horror story with a paranormal romance at it’s center: Charlotte “Happiness” Metaxas, heir apparent to the throne of the kindgom of erotic nightmares, is in a constant struggle with relatives who want wrest control from her. Her dad, the classic philandering Greek God Brash, ran the kingdom like a really cool night club for kinksters. He reincarnates and leaves her to run things. to turn her paranormal romance kingdom. Her uncle, Phobetor, the god of Nightmares, thinks she doesn’t know how to run things, and tries to take over, accidentally turning paranormal eroticaville into the land of torture porn. Her sister, Mercy, doesn’t like being trapped in the world of dreams, and wants to creep into the real world like Freddy Krueger and take things over with her sidekick, sister Sympathy, the queen of hentai.
 
A comic-book spin off “Dreamworlds” is a Cool World-like take on the series, where the dream world attempts to seep into the real world through this author in particular.”
Read an excerpt from Happiness and Other Diseases by Sumiko Saulson Act I: The Arrival of Happiness Nightmares
It was the same dream he’d had every night for the past year, but every time it haunted him, little details changed. Minor changes in setting and action were not the only differences in his bedtime story. Each time he had the dream, things went a little bit further than the last. The last couple of dreams had taken place in a powder gray office chair behind the plain white Formica-coated IKEA computer desk in his cubicle at work. He was tired of staring at the navy blue cubicle tiles. Four mismatched pushpins secured a print out of the company’s phone directory. He was more than a little relieved for the change of scenery. This time he was sitting on a barstool at Murphy’s Tavern. A half dozen co-workers from the call center were seated around the bar, sucking down shots of tequila and pint glasses of domestic beer poured out in abundance from the various ten-dollar pitchers purchased for the party.
Richard and Cindy from accounting were on stage, belting out their drunken rendition of “Summer Lovin’” from the musical Grease. Richard hammed it up with gratuitous hip gyrations, winking and serenading the secretaries seated in the front row. By contrast, Cindy failed to make eye contact with anyone, keeping her doe-eyed gaze fixed firmly on the karaoke monitor. Flynn remembered that part of the dream from last October. It was a going-away party for someone from the constantly rotating administrative pool temporary staff. He couldn’t remember the girl’s name, but he remembered her suits. She was in her late twenties or early thirties, yet she wore these tailored pink and powder blue designer suits that put him in mind of Nancy Reagan, of all things. They seemed very incongruous for a woman of her age and economics. He had always wondered if they were hand-me-downs from a formerly fashionable maiden aunt.
Richard and Cindy finished their song right after he finished his beer. Four drunken, obnoxious dudes from the IT department were half way through their voluminous and off-key rendition of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” when that thing finally showed up. Just like in every previous nightmare, it materialized suddenly, out of thin air. One moment he was looking at his own dog-tired mug in the mirror on the bar back, the next he was staring into the gaping maw of whatever it was that terrorized his dreams. It rarely took the same form twice. This time, it was shadowy and semi-translucent. It had withered legs and arms resembling the gnarled branches of a lightning-struck tree. They were almost humanoid, yet woefully emaciated. The creature was straddling his lap, facing him, with its talons resting on either side of his shoulders. Flynn gasped as he felt its claws sliding effortlessly into the flesh of his right shoulder. He felt a hot gush of blood flow out of his wounds and then slowly trickle down the back of his white t-shirt.
He would have screamed, but he knew from experience no one in the bar would hear him. His breath came in ragged, gasping pants as he struggled to maintain his composure. That creature knew it was hurting him, but Flynn didn’t want it to see him sweat.
“So,” he hissed under his breath, “The last time you showed up as a foxy-looking redhead. You aren’t bothering with pretenses this time I see?”
“This isn’t my true form, either,” the thing cooed back, leaning over and licking the side of his face with its wide, green tongue.
In the mirror, Flynn could see a thick trail of snail-like goo on his face where its saliva touched him. Its breath was mossy and tepid, but not entirely unpleasant. It smelled like the inside of a cave on a camping trip he remembered from childhood. Without wanting to, he found himself relaxing into the short leather back of the barstool. He felt warm and a little dizzy, but he knew it wasn’t the alcohol.
“I thought I would see if you like it rough this time,” the creature whispered in his ear.
Flynn turned away and lifted a hand in front of his face. “Don’t, please don’t,” he begged to know before the words left his lips that all of his pleas would be in vain.
A slender tendril of quivering flesh extended from a spot in its forehead, above and between where its eyes would have been. Instead of eyes, it had a row of five vacant dimples, each a shallow, empty socket lined with a membranous gel that breathed in and out like the gills of a fish. The appendage was as thick around as a large earthworm and lengthened rapidly, engorged until the throbbing tip touched his skin. He could feel it writhing its way up his cheek. Although he knew what to expect by now, his body convulsed involuntarily. He felt the tendril wind its way up to his nose. It thrust itself into his nostril, sliding in deeper until it penetrated his brain. In this incarnation, the creature’s mouth was as wide as his own head. Behind the series of fleshy polyps that jiggled, dangling from its moist lips, its hideous jaws were lined with sharp, jagged teeth. Its voice was wet and sucking, the sound a puddle of hot shit in a clogged up bar toilet would probably make if it started to speak.
Flynn hated its voice. “I can do whatever I want to you,” it cruelly purred.
“I can even make you like it.” A mucilaginous blue fluid pulsated through the fleshy appendage, and Flynn watched helplessly as the drug traveled through the tendril and entered his bloodstream, headed directly for his brain.
Wave after wave of chemical stimulation hit his nervous system and as he succumbed to the intoxicant, his fear gradually gave way to intense, almost painful arousal. The air molecules surrounding the creature’s form trembled slightly, in a way only Flynn could see. He watched as its form slowly shifted, reverting to the familiar freckle-faced buxom bar girl with the rust-colored hair. Over her shoulder, he could see his face in the bar-back mirror. He could feel something foreign invading his flesh, throbbing under his skin in perfect counterpoint to his heartbeat. As each fresh wave of euphoria hit him, he observed a strange, orange glow pulsating in the veins that were pounding out a rhythm in his temples. When the girl bent over and bit his neck, he whimpered. “I don’t know what you’re doing to me,” he mumbled, “but I don’t really want you to stop.”
It laughed at him. “But you should want me to stop,” the woman told him.
“I am a parasite and I’m feeding off you. I will gradually drain the life out of you, and leave you a dead and empty husk. And you would like that, wouldn’t you?”
“Yes,” Flynn muttered compliantly.
“Yes, you should eat all of me until there is nothing left.” His reflection stared back at him, slack jawed and vacant.
The whites of his eyes were clouded by bubbling peach-colored swirls of viscous alien matter, like tiny ocular lava lamps. There was even a slightly pink tinge to the tear that was sliding down his cheek. Cindy and Richard were standing on either side of him now, watching the scene unfold in eager anticipation. Four drunkards from the information technologies department joined the telemarketing team. The whole group was riveted by the theatrics. The secretarial pool held him in its hungry gaze as the temp with the pastel Bill Blass suit pulled out a pair of orange-handled office scissors and slit open the front of his t-shirt.
“I love playing with my food!” the monster shrilly announced to its admiring sycophants.
The crowd oohed and aahed appreciatively as she used her razor sharp fingernails to shred the rest of his t-shirt before removing it from his body. It was white cotton, the perfect medium for absorbing the blood that had been expressed from the many little abrasions she’d clumsily left on his torso while removing the garment. When the creature bent down to bite his nipple, Flynn threw his arms around its neck and arched his back to make it easier for the thing to completely devour him. His labored breathing gave way to moaning and trembling with anticipation as he resolved to give himself over to this monster completely. Then he woke up.
“Fuck you, bitch!” he screamed at no one in the room.
“I want to live!” “Fuck you, too!” his neighbor screamed back from the apartment above, punctuating the exclamation with a stomp on the floor.
A stream of further expletives followed. They were laced with creative suggestions for what kinds of objects Flynn, and the whore the old man upstairs imagined he must have been banging last night, could unceremoniously shove up their collective ass. Flynn jumped up from the soiled beige frameless futon mattress he called a bed, and ran into the cramped little closet-like bathroom of his tiny apartment. He barely reached the toilet in time to grasp the sides of it and lean his head forward in order to evacuate his meager stomach contents into the bowl. Waves of unrelenting nausea caused him to vomit repeatedly until his stomach was empty. After all of the food was gone, he sat on the floor for another half an hour feeling his throat burn as he dry heaved and spat up stomach acid. He was sick like this a lot lately. Flynn stood up and turned to face the sink. There was no walking necessary… it was about two feet away from the toilet.
The room was so small he could extend his arm and touch the plastic curtain of the claustrophobic, coffin-sized shower. He looked into the mirror in the medicine cabinet. It was about three feet high and two feet wide, bordered with a thin strip of discolored chrome, covered in a film of soap scum, and occasionally dotted with random drops of toothpaste and dried dirty bathwater. He didn’t look so hot. Under his eyes were bags deep enough for a weekend shopping spree. His solemn brown eyes were bloodshot and red-rimmed. His once golden skin was now sallow and jaundiced. His cheeks were the gaunt, his eyes were sunken. He decided he looked like a junkie.
“This shit is killing me,” he told his reflection.
He could still feel pain in his shoulder blade where the witch had impaled his flesh with her claws in the dream. His body hurt in other places, but that was the worst. He lifted his hand and touched the side of his neck. When he pulled away his fingers, they were covered in blood. He stood back from the mirror and observed a dozen tiny lines on his chest, minuscule scabs where she barely grazed the skin, and the blood had already dried. His nipple was still bleeding a little bit, and it was sore when he touched it. Flynn sharply sucked in his breath. He was very shaken up. He was afraid he was going to burst into tears. Pulling himself together, he stumbled into the nearby shower and stripped off his boxer briefs. He tossed them out past the slightly moldy plastic shower curtain with the gaudy tropical fish and seahorses painted on it.sumikodreamcover
They landed inside out, and he shook his head a little when he noticed the stain from last night’s involuntary emission. He turned on the shower and enjoyed the hot water coursing down over his aching flesh. He was exhausted, but he knew he had a doctor’s appointment that morning. He didn’t want to walk into Dr. Lester’s office smelling like jizz, sweat, and shame. He tried not to think about his night terrors, but the harder he tried to forget about them, the more persistently they prodded at his waking mind. Soon, he found himself with a raging boner. It was hard to deny that he did like it rough. Still… that was not something he wanted that nightmare succubus to know and he most certainly had no desire to be eaten alive. Of course, there was a very good chance this succubus creature did not exist.
Flynn had begun to doubt his sanity sometime last summer, about a month after the dreams began. His therapist had assured him this monster did not, could not, actually exist. He must be hurting himself somehow in his sleep. The exhaustion must be a sign of his depression. Lots of depressed people felt tired. He would feel better soon, when the medications started working. Dr. Lester had an explanation for everything. She even told him he should not be ashamed of his fantasies, no matter how perverse he might deem them to be. They were only fantasies, and everyone has fantasies. In fact, his fantasies weren’t even all that uncommon. There was no need to be embarrassed by them. With that in mind, he decided it would be very therapeutic to beat off in the shower. Commentary Nyx was impatiently waiting for an answer.
“Plot and scheme?” her son Thanatos, the god of death protested.
“We would never.” “Settle down, brother,” Somnus interrupted.
“Mother, it is not his fault. I know what you speak of. It is the work of my son, Brash, and his children.
They’ve grown unusually bloodthirsty as of late. “I apologize for their behavior.”
“Aaahhh,” his mother said. “I am aware of what you speak of and I appreciate your honesty in this matter. It seems Brash and several of his children have been dissatisfied with their rightful place in the underworld in the Demos Oneiroi and have instead decided to enter the mortal realm and inflict themselves upon the living like some plague or disease.”
“I will speak with them,” Somnus reassured her.
“It has gone beyond that,” Nyx warned.
“They threaten to disrupt the natural order of things and to cause war between myself and those of greater power than even myself. I have decided they must be tested, and punished if necessary.”
“How will you test them?” Somnus asked.
Nyx lifted a burdensome scroll to the table and partially unfurled it, revealing a spot in the middle. It was a map of the Demos Oneiroi, the Greco-Roman mythological realm of dreams. She pointed to a tiny spot on the map with the very tip of her slim, tapered finger.
“Do you see that young man there?” she asked, tapping the spot twice.
“Look closely, and you will see him. He is the one begging your granddaughter Mercy for his life.”
“I see him,” Somnus responded.
“The fate of the entire line of Brash lies with him.” she said.
“Let’s say that mortal is able to persevere. Let’s say he is able to survive for the short span these fragile creatures are intended to live. Perhaps he will become the progenitor of a bloodline, for offspring are the closest any mortal being comes to immortality. If he is able to thrive, then they shall as well. If not…”
“If not?” Thanatos asked a little too eagerly.
Being the god of death, he had a pleasant feeling about where this might be going.
“If not, then as they so envy the mortals, let them be mortal. Let their endless lives, with which they have become so bored and tired, come to an end,” Nyx ordered. “Let them die, like all the rest.”
“He is my son,” Somnus protested.
“Surely, you will at least allow me to call forth a champion, to protect this mortal upon whose fragile shoulders you place such a heavy burden?”
“Very well,” Nyx relented, after a moment of silent consideration.
“You may, but you must call forth a champion from your own line. More specifically, this champion should be one of Brash’s progeny. To the best of my knowledge they are cruel, brutal and irredeemable, but if you have one with whom you might trust such a charge, name him.”
“Her,” Somnus corrected.
“Happiness. I name her. She will protect him.” Nyx furrowed her brow. “I have not heard this name before. Who is she?”
“She is a demigoddess,” Somnus explained.
“She is the offspring of the most recent dalliance between Brash and a mortal mistress.” Nyx laughed.
“You mean a demisomnali? To be a demigoddess, she would need to be the child of a god, and surely we are not elevating your wayward son Brash to the same status as you or your brother?”
“Very well,” Somnus conceded, not wishing to offend his mother.
Certain among his thousand sons the Oneiroi were considered gods. Morpheus was the god of dreams, and Phobetor the god of nightmares, for example. Brash would have been the god of erotic nightmares, but he was obscure and had no worshippers.
“A demisomnali, as you say. I name her.”
“For their sakes, I hope she’s a great deal gentler than her sisters,” Thanatos remarked. “They’ve sent many a mortal my way.”
“I am a parasite and I’m feeding off you. I will gradually drain the life out of you, and leave you a dead and empty husk. And you would like that, wouldn’t you?”
“Yes,” Flynn muttered compliantly.
“Yes, you should eat all of me until there is nothing left.” His reflection stared back at him, slack jawed and vacant.
The whites of his eyes were clouded by bubbling peach-colored swirls of viscous alien matter, like tiny ocular lava lamps. There was even a slightly pink tinge to the tear that was sliding down his cheek. Cindy and Richard were standing on either side of him now, watching the scene unfold in eager anticipation. Four drunkards from the information technologies department joined the telemarketing team. The whole group was riveted by the theatrics. The secretarial pool held him in its hungry gaze as the temp with the pastel Bill Blass suit pulled out a pair of orange-handled office scissors and slit open the front of his t-shirt.
“I love playing with my food!” the monster shrilly announced to its admiring sycophants.
The crowd oohed and aahed appreciatively as she used her razor sharp fingernails to shred the rest of his t-shirt before removing it from his body. It was white cotton, the perfect medium for absorbing the blood that had been expressed from the many little abrasions she’d clumsily left on his torso while removing the garment.
When the creature bent down to bite his nipple, Flynn threw his arms around its neck and arched his back to make it easier for the thing to completely devour him. His labored breathing gave way to moaning and trembling with anticipation as he resolved to give himself over to this monster completely. Then he woke up. “Fuck you, bitch!” he screamed at no one in the room.
“I want to live!” “Fuck you, too!” his neighbor screamed back from the apartment above, punctuating the exclamation with a stomp on the floor.
A stream of further expletives followed. They were laced with creative suggestions for what kinds of objects Flynn, and the whore the old man upstairs imagined he must have been banging last night, could unceremoniously shove up their collective ass. Flynn jumped up from the soiled beige frameless futon mattress he called a bed, and ran into the cramped little closet-like bathroom of his tiny apartment. He barely reached the toilet in time to grasp the sides of it and lean his head forward in order to evacuate his meager stomach contents into the bowl. Waves of unrelenting nausea caused him to vomit repeatedly until his stomach was empty. After all of the food was gone, he sat on the floor for another half an hour feeling his throat burn as he dry heaved and spat up stomach acid. He was sick like this a lot lately. Flynn stood up and turned to face the sink. There was no walking necessary… it was about two feet away from the toilet. The room was so small he could extend his arm and touch the plastic curtain of the claustrophobic, coffin-sized shower.
He looked into the mirror in the medicine cabinet. It was about three feet high and two feet wide, bordered with a thin strip of discolored chrome, covered in a film of soap scum, and occasionally dotted with random drops of toothpaste and dried dirty bathwater. He didn’t look so hot. Under his eyes were bags deep enough for a weekend shopping spree. His solemn brown eyes were bloodshot and red-rimmed. His once golden skin was now sallow and jaundiced. His cheeks were the gaunt, his eyes were sunken. He decided he looked like a junkie.
“This shit is killing me,” he told his reflection.
He could still feel pain in his shoulder blade where the witch had impaled his flesh with her claws in the dream. His body hurt in other places, but that was the worst. He lifted his hand and touched the side of his neck. When he pulled away his fingers, they were covered in blood. He stood back from the mirror and observed a dozen tiny lines on his chest, minuscule scabs where she barely grazed the skin, and the blood had already dried. His nipple was still bleeding a little bit, and it was sore when he touched it. Flynn sharply sucked in his breath. He was very shaken up. He was afraid he was going to burst into tears. Pulling himself together, he stumbled into the nearby shower and stripped off his boxer briefs. He tossed them out past the slightly moldy plastic shower curtain with the gaudy tropical fish and seahorses painted on it. They landed inside out, and he shook his head a little when he noticed the stain from last night’s involuntary emission. He turned on the shower and enjoyed the hot water coursing down over his aching flesh. He was exhausted, but he knew he had a doctor’s appointment that morning. He didn’t want to walk into Dr. Lester’s office smelling like jizz, sweat and shame. He tried not to think about his night terrors, but the harder he tried to forget about them, the more persistently they prodded at his waking mind.
Soon, he found himself with a raging boner. It was hard to deny that he did like it rough. Still… that was not something he wanted that nightmare succubus to know and he most certainly had no desire to be eaten alive. Of course, there was a very good chance this succubus creature did not exist. Flynn had begun to doubt his sanity sometime last summer, about a month after the dreams began. His therapist had assured him this monster did not, could not, actually exist. He must be hurting himself somehow in his sleep. The exhaustion must be a sign of his depression. Lots of depressed people felt tired. He would feel better soon, when the medications started working. Dr. Lester had an explanation for everything. She even told him he should not be ashamed of his fantasies, no matter how perverse he might deem them to be. They were only fantasies, and everyone has fantasies. In fact, his fantasies weren’t even all that uncommon. There was no need to be embarrassed by them. With that in mind, he decided it would be very therapeutic to beat off in the shower. Commentary Nyx was impatiently waiting for an answer.
“Plot and scheme?” her son Thanatos, the god of death protested. “We would never.”
“Settle down, brother,” Somnus interrupted. “Mother, it is not his fault. I know what you speak of. It is the work of my son, Brash, and his children. They’ve grown unusually bloodthirsty as of late. I apologize for their behavior.”
“Aaahhh,” his mother said. “I am aware of what you speak of and I appreciate your honesty in this matter. It seems Brash and several of his children have been dissatisfied with their rightful place in the underworld in the Demos Oneiroi and have instead decided to enter the mortal realm and inflict themselves upon the living like some plague or disease.”
“I will speak with them,” Somnus reassured her.
“It has gone beyond that,” Nyx warned.
“They threaten to disrupt the natural order of things and to cause war between myself and those of greater power than even myself. I have decided they must be tested, and punished if necessary.”
“How will you test them?” Somnus asked. Nyx lifted a burdensome scroll to the table and partially unfurled it, revealing a spot in the middle.
It was a map of the Demos Oneiroi, the Greco-Roman mythological realm of dreams. She pointed to a tiny spot on the map with the very tip of her slim, tapered finger. “Do you see that young man there?” she asked, tapping the spot twice.
“Look closely, and you will see him. He is the one begging your granddaughter Mercy for his life.”
“I see him,” Somnus responded. “The fate of the entire line of Brash lies with him.” she said.
“Let’s say that mortal is able to persevere. Let’s say he is able to survive for the short span these fragile creatures are intended to live. Perhaps he will become the progenitor of a bloodline, for offspring are the closest any mortal being comes to immortality. If he is able to thrive, then they shall as well. If not…”
“If not?” Thanatos asked a little too eagerly.
Being the god of death, he had a pleasant feeling about where this might be going. “If not, then as they so envy the mortals, let them be mortal. Let their endless lives, with which they have become so bored and tired, come to an end,” Nyx ordered.
“Let them die, like all the rest.”
“He is my son,” Somnus protested.
“Surely, you will at least allow me to call forth a champion, to protect this mortal upon whose fragile shoulders you place such a heavy burden?”
“Very well,” Nyx relented, after a moment of silent consideration.
“You may, but you must call forth a champion from your own line. More specifically, this champion should be one of Brash’s progeny. To the best of my knowledge they are cruel, brutal and irredeemable, but if you have one with whom you might trust such a charge, name him.”
“Her,” Somnus corrected.
“Happiness. I name her. She will protect him.” Nyx furrowed her brow.
“I have not heard this name before. Who is she?”
“She is a demigoddess,” Somnus explained.
“She is the offspring of the most recent dalliance between Brash and a mortal mistress.” Nyx laughed.
“You mean a demisomnali? To be a demigoddess, she would need to be the child of a god, and surely we are not elevating your wayward son Brash to the same status as you or your brother?”
“Very well,” Somnus conceded, not wishing to offend his mother.
Certain among his thousand sons the Oneiroi were considered gods. Morpheus was the god of dreams, and Phobetor the god of nightmares, for example. Brash would have been the god of erotic nightmares, but he was obscure and had no worshippers. “A demisomnali, as you say. I name her.”
“For their sakes, I hope she’s a great deal gentler than her sisters,” Thanatos remarked.
“They’ve sent many a mortal my way.”
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