The forest was so dark. Much darker than usual. Nightlight had never known the forest so black. He wasn’t sure if the stars were out above the dense forest canopy but there was no sign of moon light. Nightlight was with his friends Dreamier, Glow and Hope but he had no idea where they were. He wasn’t sure how they had got here. But wherever they were, he was certain this was no place for a fairy. Something wasn’t right about this place. Hope was the bravest of the friends. She led the way through the thick trees. Glow followed her friend closely with the two boy fairies at the back. Where were they going?
Suddenly, there was a sound from behind them. The fairies turned to see a huge pair of red eyes staring at them and a monstrous jaw with ferocious teeth. ‘Run’ shouted Hope. They ran as quickly as they could through the branches and shrubs made it difficult. ‘Fly’ came the cry but Nightlight found his wings wouldn’t lift him. He turned and saw the monster coming towards them. Glow was now at the back of the line of friends struggling to keep up. The monster was just behind her. As Glow screamed, Nightlight woke up with a jolt.
Thank heavens it was just a nightmare. It had felt real but as Nightlight looked out the window at the sunrise, the danger was fast fading and he felt safe. Later that day, he would tell his friends and they would all laugh about it.
But when Nighlight told Dreamier about the strange dream his friends jaw dropped. ‘That’s so weird, I had the same nightmare’ said Dreamier. It got weirder when they met Hope who in the most extraordinary coincidence had also got the same chilling dream. It dawned on the three fairies almost at the exact same time that Glow who was normally the first fairy to rise was nowhere to be seen and they were all instantly overwhelmed with a feeling of dread.
Hope was still anxious that evening as she bedded down for the night. Glow had not been seen all day and she usually shared everything with her best friend. Hope put her little sister Little-bird to bed and decided to have an early night herself. She would find Glow tomorrow safe and well she told herself. She nodded off and dreamt that she and Little-bird were having a lovely picnic. But the ants wouldn’t leave them alone and they kept trying to steal the jam sandwiches. ‘Go away’ shouted Hope full of frustration. ‘Go away’ repeated Little-bird. But the ants would not go. They swarmed around them and then they picked up Little-bird and carried her off. ‘Leave her alone’ screamed Hope but the ants melded together and formed a monster. Hope woke up in a panic and ran to her sister’s room. She was gone.
In the morning, the queen of the fairies called a meeting. Several fairies had gone missing in the middle of the night. There was a great danger in Fairyland. Hope found Nightlight and told him about Little-bird and the ants dream. Nightlight had also had another nightmare last night and Dreamier was now missing. But when the friends told the fairy queen about the Nightmare-Monster who was haunting their dreams, she was not convinced. ‘We must not start panicking over a few scary dreams, we must keep our heads and deal with the very real threat of these missing fairies. Until the danger is passed, no fairy must sleep alone. I will have my guards patrol the village every night and my best detectives will be on the case.’
Lullaby was relaxing in the front of the boat whilst her friend Teddy rowed. It was a beautiful day out on the lake, with not a cloud in the sky, Teddy smiling at her. Lullaby thanked Teddy for an amazing date but the young handsome fairy seemed confused. ‘Thanks but It’s weird. I don’t remember how we got here. Where are we?’ Lullaby looked around. Suddenly they were surrounded by a thick fog. She could hear faint screams in the distance. The waters began to swirl and looking over the edge, Lullaby could see a shadow swim beneath them. A monster leapt out of the water and Lullaby screamed. Teddy tried to fend the Nightmare-Master off with his oar but the monster pushed him overboard. Lullaby fell back in the boat and woke up screaming.
Next to her, Teddy was still asleep but he was not restful. He was shouting ‘help! Lullaby, help me!’ as if he was drowning in his bed. Lullaby shook him until he woke. He was soaking wet as if he had been swimming. How was this possible? Lullaby thought of the stories she’d heard from Nightlight about the Nightmare-Monster.
Nightlight and Hope had fallen asleep with with a candle still burning. Nightlight was now holding that same candle, lighting the way through the gloomy and damp castle. He had lost Hope somewhere in the castle but he dared not call out to her for there was something strange lurking in the corridors; a kind of zombie or ghostly figure with a hood had been spotted and could be heard groaning. Nightlight could also hear someone shouting. He followed the cries and found a dungeon. Through the bars he could see several prisoners. ‘Nightlight, help us.’ It was Dreamier. He was one of the prisoners. But Nightlight couldn’t open the door. He needed to find the key. Inside the dungeon, Dreamier, Glow and all the missing fairies were chained up. And he couldn’t help them without the key. He heard someone call out his name. It was Hope. He ran towards her voice and then he saw her. She had found a big golden key but she had also found the monster. It had her pinned against the stone wall. Nightlight tried to distract the monster waving his candle but it held on to Hope tightly. Suddenly the two of them disappeared. Nightlight was woken and met with the two faces of his friends Lullaby and Teddy.
‘Be careful with that’ said Teddy ‘you’ll start a fire.’ Nightlight was clutching the burning candle in his hand. As he looked to where Hope had been sleeping, his fears were confirmed. She was gone. ‘I need to save them’ he told Lullaby. She nodded. They made a plan. It was perhaps not the best plan but it was the only plan they had. Teddy would stay awake and watch over them whilst they slept. If either of them got into danger, they would have to yell ‘banana bread’ and this would be Teddy’s cue to wake them. It took them both a while to drift off. Neither Nightlight or Lullaby felt much like sleeping but eventually Nightlight found himself inside a nightmare labyrinth.
The hedge-maze was spooky and unsettling with large hedges towering over him. He tried to fly up but again he found his wings heavy and they wouldn’t work. He knew that he had to find the centre of the maze. That was where he’d find the Nightmare-Monster’s prisoners. He turned this way and that thought the labyrinth but every hedge seemed to be the same as the last. Then he came face to face with a great big monster in the form of a lion. He yelled but the monster didn’t move. The big green lion was still. Nothing more than a sculpted hedge, the leafy lion was motionless. Nightlight gave a sigh of relief. He moved on with his search but he couldn’t tell whether he was getting any closer. Somewhere he heard a scream. It was Lullaby but where was she? He turned a corner and came face to face with yet another lion. Nightlight shook his head and ran towards it but as he approached it, he had to skid to a stop as the lion’s paws came towards him. This lion was alive. He stumbled backwards and the lion reared up to pounce on him. ‘Banana bread’ he shouted and was woken with seconds to spare.
‘Are you alright?’ asked Teddy. Nightlight nodded. ‘What about Lullaby’ Teddy asked. Nightlight looked over to Lullaby. She was still there, thank goodness. Nightlight got up and ran into his garden toolshed. Teddy gave him a strange look when he returned with a pair of garden shears but he had no time to explain. He had to get back to sleep.
Nightlight was back in the hedge maze but this time he was prepared. His plan had worked. In his hands, the hedge sheers he had got from his shed, brought into the dream world. He chopped away at the hedge walls and carved out a straight path to the centre of the maze. He cut away quickly keeping an eye out for lions and monsters. He chopped and chopped endlessly. In the most bizarre way it seemed to take forever and also no time at all to reach the middle of the maze. There, he found all the missing fairies tied up. He cut the ropes and led them out of the maze. It was not over yet; the Nightmare-Monster was still out there.
He heard Lullaby screaming, somewhere back in the centre of the maze. He told the others to keep running but he had to be brave and go back for Lullaby. He found her. She was trapped in an enormous net. But it wasn’t a net. It was a web. A great big spider’s web. And Lullaby was stuck in the middle, hovering over a great big pit. Nightlight stared down into the great abyss. He had to reach her somehow and he couldn’t fly. Lullaby screamed. An enormous creature emerged from the shadows. A giant eight legged monster with a horrifying face came towards her. Then Nightlight suddenly remembered. ‘Lullaby, you’ve got to say it.’ She didn’t seem to hear him. ‘Say it. Lullaby, say the words.’ he shouted. Lullaby looked at him. The spider was nearly on top of her. ‘Banana bread’ she cried. A moment later she disappeared. Nightlight began to cut away at the web as quickly as he could, thread by thread. The web began to fall. The Nightmare-Monster fell into the abyss, screeching until it could no longer be heard.
Nightlight opened his eyes. Teddy was smiling over him. Hope gave him a hug. Was it over? All the fairies were safe and the next night, there were no more nightmares. But the village never forgot their nightmare and every now and then on a particularly dreadful night, a fairy has a frightful time and for just a moment, the cries of the Nightmare-Monster can be heard fading in the morning.