Adrian Montgomery’s ex-wife calls his efforts as a social worker a “hero complex,” but Adrian never saw it that way. Then again, his wife never knew about his sister; or the guilt he feels for his role in her fatal accident. Nobody knows because Adrian hasn’t talked about her for twenty-five years. He’s never mentioned the nightmares, either – the ones where a cloaked man comes to take him away. Over time, Adrian learns to forget his dreams and lock away his memories in carefully sealed rooms in his mind.
All of that changes when one of his clients, seven-year-old Nathaniel Weaver, disappears from his backyard. The only clue about his whereabouts is a drawing he left behind depicting a familiar tall, cloaked man. Obsessed with solving the disappearance, Adrian visits Nathaniel’s home and finds a doorway where none should be. On the other side is Tagestraum, a faerie world built and occupied by human dreams. Here, the lines between dreams, memories and nightmares are blurred, and lingering too long can shred a human’s sanity.
In order to find Nathaniel and return home before the world tears them apart, Adrian must face his oldest, darkest memories…and they’re not happy about being forgotten.
The Nightmare Man came today.
Adrian could still hear the echo of Nathaniel's words in his mind – the words the boy had said when he made the drawing. The sketch now stared up at Adrian from his coffee table with its wide, blank eyes. Though drawn in black crayon, it was still recognizable: a tall cloaked man with a gaping mouth rimmed in teeth like the maw of some deep-sea fish.
What bothered Adrian about The Nightmare Man wasn’t his menacing appearance or Nathaniel’s insistence on his reality. It was the nagging feeling of familiarity, the feeling that Adrian had not only seen this creature, he actually knew him in some way. The first time Nathaniel had shown him the drawing, months ago now, a cold chill had crept up Adrian’s back, a sense of déjà vu that he could not entirely place. It bothered him. Now, with Nathaniel missing, it bothered him a whole lot more.
In his hand, the cell phone was sweaty and the heat of the battery was uncomfortable against his palm. In his other hand, he turned the detective's business card over and between his fingers. Outside, the moon was high and pale in the sky. A dog barked, somewhere, but otherwise all was still.