Ch.1: The Sandmen

Smiling, I looked up at my grandfather as he pulled the blankets up to my chin and grinned down at me. In the next bed over, Jacob, my big brother, watched the two of us with a bored look, ready to go to sleep. I wasn't tired (well, I was a little) but Grandpa wouldn't let Jacob or I stay up any longer.

"Goodnight Dakota." Grandpa said as he kissed my forehead gently. I giggled as he stood up straight again, groaning and holding the lower part of his back gently. He grinned down at me again when I laughed and he shook his head. Looking over to where Jacob was lying, Grandpa said, "Goodnight Jacob."

"Night Gramps." Jacob replied, turning over in his bed so his back was facing me and Grandpa. He pulled the covers over his shoulders and buried his face in his pillow. Grandpa rolled his eyes at Jacob's display and shook his head.

"Goodnight Grandpa!" I said, sticking my hand from the blankets so I could wave. My grandpa smiled down at me again and waved back, mouthing one last goodnight at me before he turned around and headed for the door. He turned the lights off and slowly shut the door behind him, leaving Jacob and I in darkness. I snuggled into my blankets and closed my eyes, ready to go to sleep.

It didn't take me a lot of time to get to sleep. It only took me about five minutes to get to sleep but I woke up only a few minutes later. I frowned when I opened my eyes again and saw it was still dark in my room. Even worse: I wasn't tired anymore! Not even a little!

Maybe Grandpa would let me stay up with him a little longer. Then he and I could watch TV without Jacob, who liked to talk through all the shows. It was annoying and I don't know why Grandpa never made him stop.

I pushed myself up and gasped as I passed through my blankets! I looked at my hands weirdly as I saw everything below my waist still covered with a blanket. Gulping down the lump in my throat, I crawled to the edge of my bed and slid off the side. I tilted my head to the side as I noticed that there was still a big lump in the blankets.

I screamed when I saw that my body was still lying on the bed with its-my-his eyes closed.

"Jacob! Jacob!" I yelled. I ran around my bed and stumbled to my brother's. When I got to his bedside, I reached out to shake him but my hand just went through his shoulder. I yelled again as I tried to wake Jacob up with my voice but he didn't move. I screamed and started crying as I tried to get his attention but Jacob didn't hear me.

Grandpa! Maybe Grandpa could hear me!

I started running for the bedroom door but tripped over my own feet. I landed on the ground in front of the mirror hanging from the wall. When I sat up, I sniffled as I rubbed my head. I rubbed the tears from my face and wiped the snot from my nose as I looked into the mirror hanging from the wall.

I screamed again.

Getting to my feet, I ran for the door again and jumped to reach the handle. I just fell through the door. I didn't really care as I ran to the living room, where Grandpa was drinking some water and watching the TV. I jumped in front of him, waving my arms and screaming at him while I cried. He didn't hear me or see me, just like Jacob.

"This isn't funny, Grandpa!" I yelled, hiccupping as I rubbed the tears from my eyes to see. My stomach was starting to hurt in the way it usually did when I became scared. My shoulders shook really hard and my lip wouldn't stop wobbling. "Why can I walk through things?! Why is my hair white?! Why are my eyes green?! Why can't you see me?! Grandpa!"

All he did was press one of the buttons on the remote and scratch an itch on his neck.

I cried more as Grandpa didn't see me and I put my hands to my face, hoping Grandpa would see me eventually. He didn't though and, after a long time, he turned the TV off and began going to bed. I watched him walk down the hall and cried harder. What was I going to do? If Grandpa couldn't see me, how was I going to fix things?

I stopped for a minute when I thought of Casper, my best friend.

He lived just down the street and we played together every day. It wouldn't be hard to get to his house but what if he couldn't see me either? And it was really dark outside! I wasn't supposed to go outside if it was nighttime. It was against the rules and I didn't want to get in trouble. But what else was I supposed to do? Cas might be the only one who could see me!

Ok, I'd just go over to his house and see if he could see me. If he couldn't, I'd come right back. Yeah, that's what I would do.

I trudged towards the door and carefully stuck my hand out. I tried to touch the door but I just went right through it. I gulped and walked through the door, stopping when I stepped onto the front porch of Grandpa's house. I looked around, trying to see through the darkness, though the street-lights were all on. Nobody was out and all the houses up and down the road were dark too.

Gulping down another lump in my throat, I shuffled towards the steps and began stepping down them. I walked down the driveway and onto the sidewalk, looking everywhere for anybody that might want to kidnap me. I rubbed my arms and walked faster, trying not to think about the bad people who took kids as I looked all around me and at the dark houses.

Something moved under another house's outdoor seats. I stopped and gasped, thinking about the monster that was under the chair as my shoulders shook again and my stomach twisted painfully. The monster under the chair screamed, which made me scream. I began running down the sidewalk again, panting as I tried to get to Casper's house quickly. It was the only safe place in the entire neighborhood!

Then I rammed into something. I yelled as I fell back and fell painfully on my backside. I sniffled again and rubbed my head as I heard another cry from someone else. I looked up when I remembered I knew that voice and my eyes widened when I saw Cas sitting on the ground in front of me, rubbing his head too.

"Cas!" I yelled, smiling as I saw my best friend. All the pain in my head went away as I jumped forward, hugging Cas while laughing. For a minute, he screamed and tried to push me away but I said, "Cas! It's me! You can see me! And you have white hair and red eyes! How'd that happen?"

"Koda?" Cas asked, looking at my face as I sat down next to him. His scary, red eyes blinked a few times and he rubbed them before looking at me again. "Y-You can see me?"

"Uh-huh! And you can see me too! Jacob and Grandpa couldn't and why do we look so weird?! All I did was go to bed!" I answered, tilting my head at him as I frowned again. The stomach ache came back and I felt more tears come to my eyes. Cas was crying too and we grabbed each other's arms, snuggling close as we looked at the dark road and sidewalk, scared.

Casper sniffled next to me and rubbed his eyes. "What do we do, Koda?"

"I dun know." I answered and heard something scream again. Cas and me jumped and got to our feet, ready to run. We held onto each other's arms still and looked around, trying to find the monster that made the sound. I tugged on Cas' black sleeve and asked, "Do you know what that was?"

"No." Cas answered, looking around. He was just as scared as I was. Casper began tugging my sleeve, trying to lead me to his house. My feet were stuck to the sidewalk though. I couldn't get them to move as a loud hiss flew through the air. Cas tugged my sleeve harder and said, "Koda, I wanna go now."

I tried to answer him but all I did was whine. Cas tugged even harder, pulling me in the direction of his house as he yelled, "Koda! Let's go! I'm scared! I want to go back to my house! Koda!"

The hiss came closer until we saw two red circles begin floating above a car parked against the sidewalk in front of us. Cas stopped pulling on my sleeve as we looked up at the red circles that looked a lot like Casper's red eyes. The hissing continued and the circles came closer, crawling into the light of the street-light. Casper and I froze.

It was a monster, like I thought it was. It looked like a regular person with black hair and red eyes but it's skin was dark grey. The monster didn't have any arms or legs or feet. Instead, it crawled on thin sticks, like a really big spider. The thing's mouth was huge and had two tongues and spiky teeth. It didn't have a nose, just a big hole where one should be, and its eyes weren't really eyes. They were red, glowing rocks that were popping out of the monster's head.

"Koda…" Cas whispered and his voice cracked. There was a weak tug at my sleeve as he whimpered, "I wanna go home now."

The monster growled in its throat, stood up on its stick legs, and made itself really big, bigger than our moms and dads and my grandpa. The rock eyes rolled back and forth in its holes, a slimy substance dripped from the hole in its head, and the two tongues rolled over its teeth. Its ears swiveled in our direction, taking on a life of their own as they twitched in annoyance on its head.

"Koda." Cas whispered again, barely pulling at my sleeve.

The ears focused on the two of us, suddenly becoming still at the sound of Casper's voice. Its head stilled too and the rocks stopped rolling in their holes. Somehow, despite being pointed in another direction, the rocks still seemed to be focused on us. The only sound in the dark streets came from the ragged breathing of the scary monster in front of me and Casper.

The next person to make a sound wasn't Cas this time. It was me and the only thing I whispered was, "Run."

Casper and I took off at the same time, running down the street as fast as we could from the monster and towards Casper's house. It moved the same time we did and came after us, roaring loudly and hurting our ears. The monster was faster than us and jumped, nearly plowing into us. Cas and I split from each other and ran in two directions, though, barely being missed as the monster reached out to grab the back of our shirts.

The monster ran after Cas instead of me and I turned to watch as he slid under things, turned every which way, and hid behind anything big to get as far away from the monster as possible. It's why he was always so good at tag and I wasn't. He knew how to get away from me.

Nothing Cas did could get him far from the monster though. It was always right behind him, no matter how many times he turned and jumped away from caught by the roaring monster. Cas screamed as he ran and I screamed with him because I didn't know what to do and the monster roared at the both of us but he always ran after Cas, never looking at me. I stayed screaming in my spot.

My screaming got louder when Cas tripped and fell, yelling as hit the road. I wanted to shut my eyes as the monster jumped at him again and began falling so it'd be right on Cas when it finally landed. I couldn't close my eyes, though, and Cas screamed as the monster quickly flew towards him. Neither of us knew what to do.

"NOT TONIGHT, UGLY!"

Right as the monster was about to land on Cas, another person knocked it out of the air and they rolled across the road. The person rolled to their feet quickly and stood back up, holding up a pair of swords my eyes bulged at. My eyes quickly became larger when I saw the person was a girl with long, white hair in pigtails and purple eyes. She jumped forward towards the monster as it began getting up, slashing at it with her swords. It cut the monster and green slime oozed out from the slash.

The monster roared before jumping at the lady, making me scream again, but she jumped to the side and began slashing again. She and the monster fought back and forth, lashing out at each other as they tried to hurt each other and maybe even kill the other. The fight started going down the street, with the two of them jumping from buildings and cars but not damaging a single thing.

"Koda!"

I looked to the side and saw Cas being picked up by a woman with more white hair and aqua-blue eyes. Casper kicked and hit the lady but she wouldn't let go of him. She spoke calmly to him as she pressed his body against hers and began running towards the nearest house. Cas screamed and cried but the lady still carried him away.

"Cas!" I yelled, getting my friend's attention instantly. Casper looked at me with wide eyes as I began running after him and the woman. I only managed to take a few steps before someone grabbed me from behind, picking me up and tossing me onto their back easily. I gripped their shirt tightly as they began running for Cas and the lady rushing through Miss Gonzalez's door.

"Shut up and hang on!" The man that had grabbed me said, looking over his shoulder. My mouth closed with a snap and I silently took notice of the man's green eyes, like mine. He only looked at me for a few seconds before turning his head back around. He followed the woman through the door- literally, straight through it –and headed in the direction of her footsteps on the stairs. We passed Miss Gonzalez's cat on the way up the stairs and he watched us with his freaky green eyes.

The man followed the woman to one of the guest rooms (I guess it was a guest bedroom; Miss Gonzalez wasn't sleeping in it). As soon as the lady saw the white-haired man, she nodded at him and stepped into the big mirror hanging on the wall. The man followed her through and my eyes widened when we didn't appear in another room in Miss Gonzalez's house but into a cave tunnel with neon purple lights hanging from the ceiling. The woman holding Casper was waiting for us with a smile, rubbing circles into my friend's back as he held onto her.

My eyes darted to the lights hanging from the ceiling. They were changing from purple to pink. It was a slow change and took a lot of time but it was happening, casting a purple-pink glow over the cave walls, me, Cas, and the two adults that had taken us from the side of the road. All of our hair didn't look white anymore and I made a face at the girly colors.

"Alright, we're safe. We can take it easy now." The lady said as she bent down, releasing Cas from her grip. He took a step away from her, looking at her with his scared look.

The man set me down as well and Cas and I quickly went to each other's side, linking our arms so the two adults wouldn't separate us again. Cas, who was a little shorter than I was, rubbed his forehead against my shoulder as we looked up at the two strange people. I couldn't do the same back so I grabbed his hand instead.

The woman smiled down at us with the look a lot of women gave us when Cas and I played with each other. The man looked like he could care less as he crossed his arms over his chest. Ignoring us, the man looked to the woman with blue eyes and asked, "So, we gonna take these two to the directors, Carter?"

Above us, the lights slowly changed from pink to red.

"Of course." The lady- Carter -responded, turning her eyes towards the man beside her. She placed her hands on her hips and gave him an annoyed look. "Just let them get their bearings, Eli. It's not every day a couple of Dream-Catchers rise and get attacked by a Nightmare; all of which happened in half an hour. Let them catch their breath, dingus."

The man- Eli, I guess -huffed and rolled his green eyes. He looked away from the blue-eyed woman and towards the direction of the window that looked into Miss Gonzalez's guest bedroom. He didn't say anything more and the woman smirked at his back. She didn't say anything either.

I looked at Casper and he looked back at me. His red eyes were wide and I could feel mine being the same way. We both looked back at the strange adults and tightened our arms around each other. Cas lifted his head off my shoulder finally but I didn't release his hand. I didn't want to and Cas held it back, showing he wanted me as close to him as much as I wanted him next to me.

The lights faded from red to orange.

Standing in the changing lights, I finally noticed the way the two adults were wearing and really looked like in general. Their hair and eye colors didn't just add to their weirdness.

The lady's white hair was short, really short. It hung above her shoulders and ended in pointy, uneven spikes. Her spiky bangs hung in her eyes a little bit, covering her forehead completely. She wore a plain, black shirt that had sleeves that ended at her elbows. She wore black tights with white swirls all over them that ended somewhere inside her big, black boots. There was a black band around her upper arm with a white dream-catcher on the side and another, plain dream-catcher hung from a small chain around her waist.

The man's hair was also really short compared to most of the other men I've seen. He didn't even have any bangs to cover his forehead with and I could almost see the skin on his head. He had some white hair on his chin but not a lot, like some men had. His face looked really mean but also very calm. He wore a plain black tank-top with a high neck, black jeans, and boots. There was a band on his arm too, only it rested just under his elbow with the same white dream-catcher on the front of it. Instead of a dream-catcher on a chain on his waist, though, he had a long, silver chain with a gold ring at the end. At the end of the ring, there were smaller chains with spikes at their ends.

The lights changed from orange to yellow.

"Where are we?" Cas suddenly asked, startling the two adults and me. I jumped at his sudden voice and Cas looked at me for a second before looking back to the woman with short hair. He tilted his head the way he did when he wanted to learn something new. Cas did it all the time at school to our teacher, Mrs. Pearson.

The lady- Ms. Carter, I guess I should call her –looked away from Mr. Eli and turned her eyes towards Cas again. Her smirk became a smile at the sight of him and she motioned for us to follow her. Mr. Eli did the second he heard her moving away. Casper and I didn't move for a few more seconds before I tugged at Casper's arm and began following the two adults down the tunnel.

"Right now, we're just in the Mirror Tunnels." Ms. Carter said as she walked out of the tunnel we were in to another one. The lights weren't yellow here but blue turning into purple again. I guessed they must've been out-of-sync with the hallway we were just in because they skipped green.

"Mirror Tunnels?" Cas asked, still tilting his head as he and I walked quickly behind the two adults.

Mr. Eli looked over his shoulder with a grin that wasn't as nice as Ms. Carter's. I noticed the white-haired woman was giving him a glare but Mr. Eli didn't notice the look or was ignoring it. He said, "Yup. This is how we get into anybody's house we want to, even yours. How did you think we got to you two so fast?"

SMACK.

"OW!" Mr. Eli yelled, rubbing the back of his head and glaring at Mrs. Carter. She glared back much more fiercely than him but Mr. Eli wouldn't look away from her look for nothing. The two didn't notice the way Cas and I had widened our eyes and looked at each other, scared. Our arms tightened again and our hands were starting to turn white like our hair.

They could get into anyone's house? Even mine and Casper's?

Holding up her hands in surrender and turning away from Mr. Eli, Mrs. Carter took a step towards Cas and me and crouched in front of us. Cas and I took a step back away from her but she didn't seem to notice. Her light blue eyes stayed locked on our faces as she calmly said, "Look, we don't mean any harm when we do it. We travel through mirrors to get to the places we want to go to. If we had a choice, we wouldn't go through people's houses and invade their privacy but that's what we have to do. Do you understand?"

The lights faded from yellow to green.

Before I knew I was doing it, my eyes were widening in shock and I chirped, "Sandmen!"

The two adults' eyes widened in shock at my simple statement and Casper gasped as he remembered the story as well, even though it had been a good four years since the last time we heard it when we were four. His red eyes met mine and we both stared stupidly at each other. And then we laughed at each other and our arms loosened against the other. Our hands released and we both grinned at Mr. Eli and Ms. Carter. Like we always did, Cas and I said together, "You're Sandmen!"

"How-how do you know that?!" Mr. Eli asked, stunned beyond belief. All of his earlier rudeness had vanished into the air as he looked back and forth between my friend and I. At his feet, Ms. Carter was opening and closing her mouth like a fish out of water. It was a little funny to look at and Cas and I laughed.

The lights changed from green to blue.

"Grandpa told us all about you! He used to tell us stories about the Sandmen all the time!" I said, excitedly looking back and forth between Cas and the two agents of the coolest organization ever. I bounced on my feet as I looked every which way at the Mirror Tunnels. I only paused when Cas gasped unexpectedly. Looking at him and his shocked expression, I asked, "What?"

"Does that mean we ran into a Nightmare? The same ones from Mr. Hightower's stories?" Casper asked, looking at me as if I knew the answer. It took him only a second to realize I didn't the answer for sure and we both turned to look at the two Sandmen. We both opened our mouths to ask when Ms. Carter slashed her hands through the air to stop us both from saying anything.

"Stop!" She said quickly. Cas and I closed our mouths obediently and stepped back from the short-haired woman, as did Mr. Carter. Ms. Carter took a deep breath while closing her eyes, calming herself down carefully. When she re-opened her eyes, they locked onto Cas and she calmly asked, "Did you say Hightower? As in, Harvey Hightower?"

Again, the lights began turning purple, the blue fading away.

Casper looked at me for confirmation because he didn't know my grandfather's first name, as it had never been mentioned in his presnece. Ms. Carter turned her blue eyes towards me as I nodded. "Yeah! That's my grandpa!"

"Damn…" Mr. Eli muttered, shaking his head slowly at us, not noticing the way I frowned at the bad word he said. Ms. Carter scoffed and shook her head slowly at the two of us, mumbling something under her breath as she did.

The man's use of words was quickly forgotten though. I wondered how they knew my grandfather so well. They both seemed so shocked to see we had any sort of connection to him and they gave us these astounding looks people got on their faces when something extraordinary happened. It was weird and I didn't particularly like it but it was ok. The expressions drained from their faces quickly enough.

Above us, gone was the purple as pink took over again.

With a laugh, Ms. Carter asked, "Wow. You two are something else. What are your names?"

"Dakota!" I chirped.

"Casper!" Cas said right after me, smiling brightly.

At the second name, Mr. Eli snorted and shook his head at my friend. Cas, already seeing where the man was going with his name, only glared at the man. I glared too, irritated that he was getting teased for his name again. Mr. Eli ignored our looks as he rolled his eyes and muttered, "Wow. Casper. Because the names of kids these days couldn't get any worse."

"Hey Eli." Ms. Carter said, rolling her eyes and refusing to turn around to look at the man. Mr. Eli rolled his eyes and asked what she wanted. The short-haired woman answered, "Why don't you shut up, focus on the important thing here, and stop being an ass, despite how talented you are at being one?"

Goodbye pink. Hello red.

The green-eyed man only rolled his eyes at the woman, not giving her an answer. Ms. Carter also rolled her eyes and stood up from her crouch, turning around. Mr. Eli also turned and begin wandering down the hallway, becoming a small figure the farther he got. Ms. Carter smiled down at Casper and I again and said, "Come on before Eli leaves us completely. You two still need to meet the Directors."

The three of us quickly caught up to Mr. Eli, who was scowling as we moved along. The blue-eyed Sandmen grinned at him before bumping his arm with hers and teasingly telling him something in a low whisper. Mr. Eli refused to acknowledge her at first but he eventually gave in and, with a smirk on his face, began bantering with Ms. Carter as we walked along. The two talked quietly, not allowing Cas and I to hear what they were saying.

As we moved throughout the winding tunnels, the lights dangling from the ceiling continued to change colors, going through all the colors of the rainbow slowly. Cas and I began a conversation on the lights by ourselves since the adults didn't want us hearing their conversation. The two ignored us and our conversation.

It was awhile before we turned a corner and there was a tunnel that didn't end in darkness and flashing colors. Instead, bright light cut through the changing colors and chased away the darkness of the Mirror Tunnels. Beyond the light, I could see a wide room and people's silhouettes running back and forth in front of the doorway. They were far away and there were so many of them that they couldn't be counted.

Ms. Carter and Mr. Eli walked towards the light without even looking in its general direction, still talking in low whispers as they smirked at each other. However, I was anxious to see the room beyond the tunnel and Cas looked nervous, tilting his head at the scene beyond our reach with his curious red eyes. He frowned but I smiled at him, getting an anxious smile in return when he finally noticed my look.

When we got to the end of the tunnel, Mr. Eli and Ms. Carter stopped in the exit and stepped out of the way. They gestured for Cas and I to step forward and into the room. Mr. Eli was still wearing a smirk when he looked at us but Ms. Carter beamed and gestured to the room beyond her, "Dakota, Casper, welcome to the Dome!"

I stepped forward first and pulled Casper along. We walked past the two adults and stopped just beyond the two to see the place Ms. Carter called "the Dome." What Cas and I saw made our eyes pop out of our heads and our mouths to drop open in amazement.

The room was huge. It was bigger than the football fields I saw on TV and was much more of a circle. The walls were made of shining gold and rose far, far above the rest of us, curving inwards the higher it got. The floors were made of silver, metal plates with white edges in-between each square. There were other entrances to Mirror Tunnels around the room, where people were running in and out of. There were two other hallways, both of which were also being used, but didn't lead to any Mirror-Tunnels. And, on the other side of the room, there was one more doorway that stretched many feet above my head and was just as wide, practically taking up one whole side of the dome-shaped building. I could see inside and caught sight of a large, glowing orb that was also bigger than me as it sat on an elevated landing with white steps leading to the top on all sides of it. Only two people that I could see stood on top of it, even though others were wandering around the room.

Of course, the people running through the large rooms were just as a sight as the building itself. Everyone had white hair and black clothing as they rushed around. I didn't see anybody with weapons, like Mr. Eli and Ms. Carter, and no one wore the same style of clothing. They usually wore comfier looking clothing, like regular t-shirts, jeans, and sneakers, as they raced around. Their eyes were all different too; girls had pretty, golden eyes while boys had a lighter color of brown and orange that Daddy had called bronze before.

The only thing that was the same as the two adults standing behind me was the arm-bands. Even then, the picture wasn't of a dream-catcher but of a white needle with a thread wrapped around the circle at the top of each thin, metal spike.

None of the people, whose ages ranged from kids to teenagers to adults, running around bothered to acknowledge us. They were caught up with sorting through big stacks of paper that they took out of messenger bags slung around their shoulders before they stuffed them back in, rushing towards one of the Mirror Tunnels and disappearing into the dark but colorful depths of the cave systems.

"Dang." Casper said next to me, just as stunned by the massive, sparkling room and the sheer amount of people whirling around in it. I nodded my head next to me, totally agreeing with his simple statement.

Behind us, Ms. Carter laughed while Mr. Eli hummed in amusement. The nicer of the two (who was Ms. Carter, obviously) stepped around Casper and walked in front of us. Her smiling face beamed at us as she gestured for Casper and I to follow her. "Come on, guys. It's time to meet the Directors. Stay close to me and try not to get in any of the weavers' way. They hate that and will quickly consider you an enemy that needs to be destroyed."

Her words didn't make Cas or I feel very safe but Mr. Eli laughed behind us and, for once, it didn't sound mean. He just heard a really good joke he liked and was expressing his amusement. It was nice to hear it without having Cas or I at the expense of the man's amusement for once.

Ms. Carter quickly ducked into the crowd, dodging past hurrying people that weren't paying attention to where they were going. Some noticed the short-haired woman and said greetings but there weren't many people who did that. They just hurried this way or that as they mumbled under their breath, pulling papers in and out of their messenger bags, and flipping through the pages in their hands.

Sometimes, Cas and I fell away from each other and the two Sandmen leading us through the crowd, nearly getting tripped over by guys in sweat-pants and girls with ponytails. Being so short, we couldn't see past the taller, older men and women rushing to their destinations. Luckily for the two of us, Mr. Eli was keeping a good eye on the two of us and always managed to find us in the crowd quickly, pulling us back to where Ms. Carter was weaving her way through the crowd with Cas or I right behind her. The group was never split up for long, which was a comfort in the large stadium-like building.

When we finally passed through the large archway that led to the next room with the platform, I noticed immediately how the crowd thinned out so we were one of the few people in the room. Once again, we were mostly ignored by the golden and bronzed-eyed people drifting everywhere.

Ms. Carter stopped in front of the gleaming white steps and Mr. Eli stepped around us, joining the blue-eyed woman at the bottom of the stairs. As one, they both saluted the two people standing on the platform. They kept the togetherness going when they both said, "Good evening, Directors."

Casper and I looked at each other from the corners of our eyes with questioning looks. The two Sandmen sounded far from serious, even borderline sounding teasing, but they wore the gravest expressions I had ever seen for a casual meeting. It was almost like the two were mocking their superiors and I wondered how the two Directors would take it.

Speaking of, the two Directors both turned towards the two agents after they spoke. My eyes bulged out of my head once again as I say their appearances. Beside me, I could feel Casper slumping as his mouth dropped open in disbelief. The two of us looked at each other again, silently asking, 'Is this seriously real?'

The two directors were one man and one woman. Both of them wore similar, sleek, black jumpsuits that covered them from head to toe. The woman had a v-neck collar and heeled, leather boots while the man had a high collar instead and thick, combat boots. The two also had belts, though the woman's was made of metal rings and the man's were made of white leather. The two also had matching arm-bands with white orbs in the center.

However, they were creepy. The woman's long, straight hair pulled back from her face and the man's loose buzz-cut were both streaked with gold, cutting through the white easily. Their skin was white as paper, matching their hair. Their eyes, instead of having a full iris, just had a silver ring hovering over their black pupils. The two both wore no-nonsense expressions, which further upped the creep factor.

Upon seeing the two Sandmen standing at the bottom of the steps, the Directors raised an eyebrow at the two agents, sensing the teasing notes in their voices. They shook their heads, irritated, before the woman with gold-streaked hair took the front of the conversation while the male began staring into the shimmering orb that was larger than him. The woman dryly asked, "Yes, agents? What is that you need?" The woman asked before her eerie eyes fell on Cas and I. "And who are they?"

"Director Jade, meet two new recruits for the Dream-Catchers. Their names are Dakota, the little warrior, and Casper, the little trapper." Ms. Carter said cheerily, not wigged out at all by the look her superior was giving her. She seemed rather used to the serious tone she was bound to get every time she approached.

Although, I had to wonder. What did Ms. Carter mean by 'trapper' and 'warrior?'

The man instantly perked from his spot by the glowing orb as the woman- Director Jade –raised a curious eyebrow. Instantly, the male director wandered to his partners' side and asked, "Dream-Catchers?"

Of course, now Casper's and I's attention was wandering between the two sets of adults. We recognized the name from my grandfather's story and I knew the gist of what they did, though I didn't know too many details. Of course, I had a feeling Casper and I were going to find out fairly soon what the job requirements were. All four Sandmen were calling us Dream-Catchers, after all.

Ms. Carter, smirking and looking over her shoulder at me and Casper, nodded her head with laughing, blue eyes. She crossed her arms over her chest loosely while Mr. Eli grinned cheekily at the two directors. Ms. Carter said, "Oh yeah. They're Dream-Catchers alright. Their eyes are the right color."

What did the color of our eyes have to do with anything?

"Yeah and get this- you'll appreciate this one, Director Desmond -they're pretty much best friends, live relatively close to each other, and the little warrior is related to one Agent Harvey Hightower." Mr. Eli continued, crossing his arms over his chest.

I blinked, listening to the word 'agent' ring, bounce, and echo back at me from the domed walls. The realization hit me like a sack of bricks and I felt stupid for not thinking of it sooner. It was so simple. How else would Grandpa know about the stories of the Dream-Catchers and all of the Sandmen? It also explained his emotional attachment to the stories he told. They were probably things he had done.

Beside me, Casper came to the same realization and muttered, "Oh… My… Gosh…"

Director Jade turned towards the orb and stretched her hand out to it. The massive, marble-like ball pulsed brightly for a moment before dimming again, shimmering in the light that came from everywhere but nowhere. I would find it hard to look away from the sight but Director Jade looked back towards our group without any hesitation and demanded, "I want to know everything that happened now."

Cas touched my shoulder, getting me to look at him. He mouthed 'what's going on' and I could only shrug stupidly in response. I didn't know a thing, though something was obviously off in the Sandmen's world and we were part of the problem. The two of us silently listened as the two Dream-Catchers quickly went through the story of what happened, giving details that seemed irrelevant to me but made a huge impact on the Directors.

When Mr. Eli and Ms. Carter finished explaining the story, the Directors started talking about getting Cas and I a new recruits teacher and other arrangements that made little sense to the two of us.

"Heh, I can do all of those things. What are you talking about all these arrangements for?"

I perked immediately at the new voice and I could feel Casper do the same, knowing the voice just as well as I did. We turned on our heels quickly, large smiles blossoming across our faces as we took in the sight of my grandpa. He stood in the large archway, standing straight instead of hunched over. There were less wrinkles than I remember and he looked strong. His graying hair was stark white, matching ours.

Grandpa looked at the two of us with a beaming smile full or pride and said, "Welcome to the Sandmen, boys."


Damn, first person writing in the eyes of a kid is really hard, especially since I'm not good at first person in the first place. Oh well, I'll live with it.