“Go to bed and wait for the Sandman.”
Even as it came out of James’ mouth it seemed to him a strange thing to say, and he was not sure why he had, but for some reason it worked: Daniel went to bed.
The next morning, though, he asked: “What does the Sandman look like?”
James was making breakfast. Daniel sat at the table, short legs swinging under his chair. “Nothing, really,” James said. “It’s just an expression.”
“What does it mean?”
“Just something people say.” He put a plate of eggs in front of Daniel and kissed him on the top of his head. He thought that would be the end of it.
Until he saw the Sandman for himself.
He was getting ready for bed and stopped by Daniel’s room to check on him while he slept, as he often did. It was such a routine precaution that when he saw a pale, naked man sitting on the edge of Daniel’s bed, rocking back and forth, it took a moment for him to process what he was seeing.
He reacted the way any father would, of course: He ran into the room screaming, and for a moment he thought about attacking the intruder, but then the man on the bed turned, and that’s when James saw that it wasn’t really a man: It was a pale, slithery thing, hairless and warped, its joints turned the wrong way and its body out of shape with itself.…