Tim found himself sitting on a log in a forest. He was surrounded by trees so high and thick that only pockets of sunshine could reach the ground. The clatter of metal was replaced by the chirping of the birds, and Tim took a deep sigh. This was another happy summer memory. Every August, Tim's parents brought him to a nearby nature walk where he was allowed to explore the forest. It was another perfect day, but Tim had no time to enjoy the serenity.
Tim began wandering through the forest looking for the distinctive purple robe of the Dream Thief. He was startled by a rustle in the bushes. To his relief, it was just a bunny. After a while, he came upon a rushing river. Tim decided to see where the water led downstream.
The glint of purple shone on the horizon and Tim ducked behind a bush. The forest cleared out once again and revealed the edge of a cliff. At the very tip of the jagged rock was the Dream Thief -- with his back to Tim.
"OK," Tim thought, "running at him won't end well, considering he can destroy a Ferris wheel in the blink of an eye. Maybe if I got the drop on him, I could pin him down and figure out what's going on."
Tim moved out from his cover and began making his way to the thief. Though he wasn't sure about his plan, he was soon within arm's reach of the thief.
Then came a piercing scream.
"TIM F. HEADER, GO TO BED!"
Dazed from the strength of the scream, Tim collapsed. He tried to straighten back up, reaching out for something to support himself. His hand met another, and with a pull, Tim was back on his feet.
Just as he was about to thank the stranger, he realized he was staring straight into the eyes of the Dream Thief. Before he could react, that same bony hand grabbed Tim by the collar and raised him skyward. Tim yelled with all the confidence he could muster, "You don't scare me! Stop messing with my dreams! I'm not afraid!"
The Dream Thief chuckled. Then he spoke. "Foolish child. You really think I'm going to just fade away? I am a part of you, which means . . ."
He paused. In that moment, Tim looked down. He was dangling miles above the ground. The Dream Thief's grip was the only thing keeping him from a deadly plunge.
"I know what you're really afraid of."
As quickly as he got him in his clutches, the Dream Thief let Tim go. The last thing Tim heard was a maniacal laugh as he plummeted, closing his eyes for what seemed to be the final time.
Chapter 4: The Final Battle (check back tomorrow)