As the abearmination pads off the stairs, Drake steps into its path, flashing his glamour in an attempt to deter the beast from attacking. He is only marginally successful. As it begins slashing at them with horrid claws, the rest of the group opens fire. As puffs of stuffing explode in the air around it, the thing turns its second set of eyes—the baby’s face on its belly—at them in turn, the flashing eyes having detrimental effects upon their weapons. The hail of gunfire is relentless, cotton flying everywhere, the thing moaning, and the malicious child-like voice from the air protesting, “This isn’t fun any more!”
Drake asks if it would like to surrender now or should they keep going? Morgan attempts to curse it, and Gareth finally takes it down with a short burst of bullets. As they ponder their next steps, Goom does his best to repair the guns that had malfunctioned. He is able to do so, save for Wally’s—whatever the bearstrosity had done to it ruined the clip release mechanism irreparably, at least with what they currently have at hand. Wally switches to a pistol, leaving the semiautomatic behind. They ascend up to the next floor.
As they look up, they see natural light pouring in from the next landing and from an apartment with an open door. Initially the interior of the domicile seems normal, but it stretches out, seemingly into an endless savannah. The air is humid, and the stairs, though normal under their feet, has turned into a waterfall. Drake calls out to the child voice that he thought it wanted to play, and they continue up. Down the hall to the right is a child’s ride on toy which resembles a dinosaur, to the left is a Little Tikes Cozy Coupe that keeps ramming itself into the wall. From the savannah ahead of them comes a bass-heavy roar. Drake closes the apartment door, shutting off the savannah, and as he does the dinosaur starts trundling toward him. As they step up onto the next set of stairs, the dinosaur bumps at the stairs, but goes no farther. Goom punts it, and it flies down the hall with a whine.
Welcome to your nightmares... Well...
As they round the landing to the fourth floor, the child voice comes again. “You broke my toy. You brought guns.” It whines, and then in a booming growl, “YOU’RE NOT VERY NICE!” Drake reasons with it that they’re friendly to people who are their friends, and they could all be friends if the child would like it. It bellows again, “FRIENDS DON’T USE GUNS. I’M GETTING MY FRIEND.” And then nothing. They carry on to the 4th floor.
The 4th floor is water . As though retained by an invisible barrier, the space from floor to ceiling, as far as they can see, is all water. It is clear, deep blue, and with little illumination. They all turn on the torches that are mounted to their guns, which helps a bit. They can see apartments and seaweed throughout the floor. As they again ponder their next move, fate decides for them. The water wall comes crashing down, stunning all of them. Most are able to find a handhold, but Gareth and Alex are swept away, bashing into walls and stairs, down to the 2nd floor. As the 4th floor drains, the scenery around the rest of the group has changed.
They’re now in a cloud land, standing on an island of clouds. The rest of the building around them seems to have disappeared. They see a four-poster bed floating some ways away from them and spinning rapidly, a hand drawn castle, and behind them—the last vestige of any sort of building interior—the Manhattan skyline is visible through a window.
Drake attempts to exert his will against the dream in an effort to restore reality. They feel the world flex around them, but nothing changes. Alia also attempts to fight it, but with similar results. After some discussion, they determine that they should make for the bed. Alia is able to conjure a cloud that will transport three of them through the sky, pulling up a section of the cloud beneath their feet. Goom and Wally choose to remain behind, while Drake and Morgan join Alia. They climb on as their cloud ferry begins to move.
Though it continues to spin, they can see that upon the bed is a middle aged African American woman, limbs akimbo, with a redbrown stain spreading beneath her. A yellow tube is wrapped around one arm and a needle sticks out from beneath it. They ask aloud if this is the child’s mother, but only receive silence. Alia offers to help clean her up, make her pretty again, and the spinning slows enough to allow her on. When she pulls the needle out, she can see the vein collapse and the woman’s hand clasps around her wrist, milky eyes staring. Alia asks how she can help, and the woman says that they have to find the needle. Alia asks if it is a syringe needle, but the woman doesn’t definitively answer, as she begins coughing. Alia scoops up some cloud, and squeezes water from it into the woman’s mouth. Some recovered, the woman says, “He’s a good boy, but there’s poison there.” She proceeds to describe the building, the effect of the sand upon it and its denizens, as well as her boy, whose name is Duayane. “He’s a good boy, but something happened. Find the needle. 601. It’s almost here.”
Meanwhile, down on the 2nd floor, Alex and Gareth come to in a bit of pain, but otherwise not drowned or dead. The water that had washed around them is now falling as rain, and they are standing amidst a roiling stormy sea. Everything is in grayscale, even they. As they try to move around, they realise that the surface beneath them is made of faces, screaming, moaning, saying awful things. Waves of faces rise, crest, and slam into them over and over. None are familiar, although all of them are “brown”—faces of persons who are not Caucasian. In trying to figure out what to do, Gareth tells Alex about his last experience in a dream, how he sprouted wings when he appeared as a horse. At the mention of “horse”, one of the faces perks up, excitedly jabbering about heroin and asking Gareth if he has any, and asking turns to begging. Gareth replies that he doesn’t right now, but if the man will tell them how to get out of here, he promises to “hit up his guy” and get some real soon. The face sneers and starts screaming “FAGGOT!” at him, dozens of other faces taking up the cry as well.
Doing their best to ignore the slurs, Gareth and Alex return to their discussion. Alex figures it can’t hurt, and so exerts his will and glamour, and finds that he has sprouted wings. He scoops up Gareth, who is running low on his reserve of glamour, and they take to the sky. Both of them agree that this is more than a bit awkward, Gareth nattering on about some similar dream he once had (but not about Alex, he swears) and they speak no more of it.
As they rise, they see a hole appear in the stormclouds above, as though someone had pulled up a plug. Alex gives one more push with his wings, and they’re both able to grab onto the lip of the hole and haul themselves up.
Back on the ground of the cloud world, Wally and Goom see a pair of grey hands scrabble at the edge of the cloud where Alia had pulled up her transport. They level their guns at it, not knowing what to expect. When Alex and Gareth appear, they’re slightly relieved, although the two men are still completely grayscale. Just as they’re starting into their updates for each other, darkness washes over them. Above, Alia, Morgan, and Drake are similarly plunged into darkness, and they plummet to the ground inside an apartment. As they land, the others feel the surface beneath them become solid hallway again. The child voice booms around them, “I BROUGHT A FRIEND.”
There is a sound like a wrecking ball, and something large and orange begins crashing toward them, plowing through the walls, floors, and ceilings of the apartment building, centered on the 4th floor. Not used to seeing it from this angle, it takes the group a moment to realise what it is. The Statue of Liberty’s flaming torch is headed straight for them, and quickly. Panic ensues.
Gareth and Wally sprint down the stairs, away from the rest. Alia and Drake are able to sprint out of the apartment and into the hall, Alia yelling about apartment 601, that they need to get the boy. Goom heads to the 6th floor. Alex, Alia, and Drake are not swift enough and are swept up by the torch , falling to the floor below, Drake and Alex passing out from the extent of the injuries they have taken. Alia manages to dodge the worst of it and, spying another staircase at the far end of the building, begins taking the stairs to the 6th floor. Still in the apartment, Morgan watches in horror as the torch passes within inches of her. She can see outside, that the tarp over the building has been ripped away, and purple haze is venting out of the structure. Some floors down, Wally and Gareth stop, and similarly make for a side staircase, knowing that the stairs they had been using are now rubble.
Up on the 6th, Goom faces the door of Apartment 601. It is locked, so he invokes one of his contracts, and kicks the door open, shouting “BOY!” as he does so. In one bedroom, he sees a young black boy asleep in a bed. He shakes him, but the child does not wake, he gets some water from the toilet reservoir (the taps aren’t working) and splashes the boy in the face. Nothing. He picks the boy up, intending to shake him again, when he hears wood, plaster, and glass shattering behind him. He turns, holding Duayane in front of him, as a shield. The torch stops at the last second; the boy does not awaken. Goom says aloud that they’re only trying to help, and that he’d be much obliged if they weren’t attacked any more. As the torch is in the way of the apartment’s entrance, Goom searches for another way out.
Alia has made it up to the 6th floor where she is eventually joined by Wally, Gareth, and eventually Morgan. On their way up, they could all see the big green wall of Lady Liberty’s skirt obstructing the windows. Alia begins explaining to them what she learned from Duayane’s mother, when Goom bursts through the wall carrying the sleeping boy. Morgan tries waking him, to no avail. When she mentions the needle Duayane’s mother spoke of Gareth decides to search the apartment—between his past history with drug use and Alia’s regular contact with junkies, they figure they should be able to suss out any hiding places. Meanwhile, Goom goes down to the 3rd floor to aid Alex and Drake. Morgan eventually joins Alia and Gareth, while Wally waits in the hall.
The search for a needle, any needle, is fruitless. After some debate among the three of them, knowing that time is precious and short, Alia and Gareth decide to enter Duayane’s dream, and Morgan will keep watch over them.
In the dream they are still in the apartment. Everything is off, but not alarmingly so, the way things appear when one dreams a familiar place. They do, however, hear a scratching coming from the door that they know to be the boy’s. They do a quick once over of the apartment and, finding nothing of note, decide to open the door. Immediately they see Duayane cowering in a corner, transfixed by something. That something is a man-sized medieval marionette with a giant iron needle sticking from its head and a massive black widow, easily a couple of feet across or more, also impaled by the needle, and scratching at the marionette’s face. Gareth goes to help Duayane, who starts yelling that the spider is hurting his friend and they’ve got to help. Gareth tries explaining that the marionette is a bad man, who has caused a lot of trouble for a lot of people in the city, but the boy won’t listen.
Alia manages to free the spider from the needle, and it immediately turns against them. She, Gareth, and even Duayane try fighting it. They eventually dispatch it, although in the scuffle Alia is bit and falls unconscious. Trying to process that and keep Duayane from freeing the Hand Made Man, which he still assumes to be the right course of action, he grabs the child and manhandles him out of the bedroom.
Back in the real world, Morgan watches in horror as Alia’s body begins spasming. She’s still alive, though unwakeable; she calls for Wally. When he realises that Alia and Gareth just decided to go into the Dream without consulting the rest of the group, or at least bringing him into the discussion, he starts freaking out. Morgan explains that they felt they had no time and acted they way they thought was best. And now since something has happened to Alia, she has to go in after them. Helplessly, Wally agrees, and stands watch while Morgan lies down next to Gareth and Alia, slipping into the Dream.
She enters right as Gareth is carrying a squirming Duayane from the other room. He makes brief introductions and explains, quickly, what’s going on with the Hand Made Man in the other room. While they talk, Duayane manages to wriggle free and dash into his room, where he proceeds to start pulling the needle from the Hand Made Man’s head. After a short struggle, Morgan has him with his arms pinioned behind him, and instructs Gareth to set the puppet on fire. He pulls out his lighter, holds it to the thing’s clothing. It catches… a little, but it isn’t going up fast enough.
Back in the real, Goom has returned to 601 with Alex and Drake. When they see the two girls and Gareth asleep, and Wally explains what has happened, shouting commences. In the anger and commotion, Drake says he knows the only way to end this for certain, M. Butterfly even said they might have to do this.
He pulls his pistol and places it to Duayane’s head.
Wally pulls his own pistol and levels it at Drake, warning him that there has to be another way, and if Drake shoots, so does Wally.
Drake pulls the trigger.