Jasmin watched The Doctor lying there asleep on a big beach towel under a huge umbrella he had found in one of those mysterious rooms full of junk the TARDIS had. He looked different from usual. He was, like the rest of them, wearing swimming gear. In his case a rather outlandish pair of baggy trunks that came down to his knees. They had made everyone laugh when he emerged from the wardrobe in them but somehow they DID seem to suit him.

Alec was asleep, too. Wyn had gone to look for an ice cream vendor. Jasmin had been reading a book but had given up because after the months she had spent travelling with The Doctor nothing fictional ever really measured up any more. She sat and looked at him - the man who had first saved her life and then changed it in ways she could not have imagined in her ‘ordinary’ life that he took her from.

What sort of dreams did a thousand year old man have? Jasmin considered that question as she watched the rapid eye movements that showed he was in that part of the sleep cycle where dreams occurred. She hoped they were happy dreams. He deserved that. But if even half the stories she had heard about him were true then it was possible they were not.

She moved closer and watched him as he slept. He didn’t LOOK as if he was having sweet dreams. His face was contorted and troubled and his breathing was strange. She reached out tentatively and put her hand over his left heart. It was beating madly as if he was running. So was the other one.

“Hey,” she whispered, brushing her hand against his cheek. “What could frighten YOU so much as that? It’s all right, Doctor. You’re safe. You’re safe here with us. Among friends.”

But he didn’t respond. Wherever his mind had taken him he was unaware of the warm sunshine and the kind thoughts of friends. He was aware of only one emotion.


Whatever he was dreaming about was very frightening. Jasmin thought of some of her nightmares that made her wake up shivering. The worst was one where, for reasons she wasn’t entirely clear about, she had to go into a long corridor and get to the other end. There was something horrible about the corridor. She could never remember WHAT the horrible thing was, just that it was something that made her feel awful and she had no choice but to go through it. She knew that safety lay at the other end of the corridor, but it seemed so far away and the creeping horrors she had to endure first were almost unbearable.

She usually woke up before she reached the safety. She could never remember afterwards why the corridor was so frightening or why she had to walk down it, but it was a horrible nightmare that left her feeling vulnerable afterwards.

The Doctor didn’t seem to be reaching his safe place, either. His hearts were still racing and his breath came in short gasps. His skin was clammy to the touch despite the warmth of the day. His lips moved as if trying to speak but no words came out.

The Doctor had a lot of things to have nightmares about. He’d been through a lot in his life. He had defeated all kinds of monsters, not just the imaginary ones of bad dreams, but real, living nightmares. He’d faced death many, many times. He HAD died nine times from what Wyn had explained about how Time Lords regenerate. The memories of those deaths must be a source of grief to him.

Dying nine times. Jasmin looked at The Doctor’s gentle, handsome features and wondered how he ever coped with that. The religion she was raised in didn’t hold bodily reincarnation as one of its tenets. The Doctor in many ways was a living embodiment of something utterly outside the framework of her beliefs. She wasn’t even sure if she could explain him to her more traditional relatives.

What her religion did promise for those who lived right, who walked in the light, and especially those who fought against the sort of evil The Doctor fought all his life, was an eternal paradise where the warrior was rewarded for his selfless life and his sacrifice for the sake of others. The Doctor had earned his right to that paradise many times over and was still struggling against the forces of evil, still trying to do right in a universe of wrong. It was as if Heaven rejected him and made him go on struggling. His soul was still a long way from paradise. That seemed wrong to her.

It was certainly enough to give anyone nightmares.

“You WILL have your place in Paradise one day, Doctor,” she whispered. “Nobody could deny you. But for now, come on back to us.”

Suddenly his eyes opened and he sat up straight. He didn’t seem to see Jasmin kneeling beside him. His eyes were glassy and unseeing still. Then he blinked and looked around at the sun-drenched beach and then, finally, focussed on her.

“Where are we?” he asked. “How did we get here?”

“By TARDIS,” she replied. “We were supposed to go somewhere else but I accidentally nudged something on the navigation panel and we wound up in the Seychelles. And you decided it wouldn’t hurt to have an afternoon in the sun.”

“Right….” He looked at her as if he was only slowly remembering. “My throat feels dry. Is there anything to drink?”

Jasmin reached into the cool box they had brought to the beach and found a can of coke. She gave it to him and was surprised to see his hands shaking so much he couldn’t hold the can, let alone pull back the ring pull. She took it and opened it and gave it back to him. He took a long drink and finally composed himself.

“I’m… ok,” he said. “Sorry to scare you that way. Don’t… don’t mention this. Alec would worry and Wyn…. She thinks I’m invincible. If she knew I got the heeby-jeebies just from dreaming it would destroy her faith in me.”

“I won’t tell. But what WAS wrong? What did you dream?”

He looked on the point of telling her. But then they heard Wyn calling to them. She was trying to carry four large ice creams that were rapidly melting in the sun. Jasmin looked at her and then back at The Doctor but he had locked his worries back behind his crinkling smile and almost boyish shout as he jumped up and ran to help Wyn. The melancholy had passed.

“Chocolate mint chip with a big chocolate flake and sprinkles,” he said when the two of them reached the shade of the umbrella. Alec woke rather abruptly with a dollop of ice cream falling on his face but he accepted the treat with good grace. As they sat eating the ice creams they were a cheerful bunch of friends again, enjoying an unplanned afternoon of complete normality in a life where they could take nothing for granted.

Except every so often The Doctor forgot to be cheerful. He looked away into the distance and his expression was anguished.

And every so often Jasmin caught him looking that way and found a way to distract the others until he remembered himself and came back to them.

It was the same later, when they retreated from the beach and spent the late afternoon at a bayside bar where they watched the sun go down over the ocean, or later still when they enjoyed supper at The Doctor’s expense at a very exclusive restaurant. Every so often he would seem distracted.

Finally, they came back to where they had parked the TARDIS in a nicely incongruous spot. The Doctor told everyone to go to bed and they were tired enough not to argue. But he, himself, went to the console and began programming in their new destination. He told them they would be there in the morning.

“It’s amazing, isn’t it,” Alec said as the three Humans found their bedrooms in the corridor beyond the console room. “We go to bed on Earth and wake in the morning on some other planet and in another time. It’s totally amazing and we take it for granted. Are we lucky, or what?”

“We’re lucky,” Wyn agreed.

“Where is his bedroom?” Jasmin asked out of the blue.

“Whose bedroom?” Alec answered.

“HIS. The Doctor’s. I know it's daft, all the time we’ve been here. But I’ve never seen him go to bed. Doesn’t he have a room?”

“He must have,” Alec reasoned. “It’s HIS TARDIS. Why wouldn’t he have a bedroom?”

“He doesn’t,” Wyn told them. “He doesn’t sleep the way we do. So he doesn’t need one. The TARDIS creates rooms according to need. He doesn’t need one.”

“He slept with Dominique, when we were on her planet,” Jasmin recalled.

“Well, he did something with Dominique,” Alec replied pointedly. “I’m not sure sleep came into it all that much. But let’s not go there. That’s his business. So is what he does or doesn’t do in his own TARDIS. Come on, if you girls are going to stand in the corridor debating, I’m going to get the bathroom first for once.”

At that, Alec dashed away and slammed the bathroom door behind him. Wyn looked at Jasmin and tried to make a trivial comment, but then stopped.

“Why are you worried about where The Doctor sleeps?” she asked.

“Who said I’m worried? I was just asking.”

“He’s not Human. You have to keep reminding yourself that. He’s 1,000 years old and he’s brilliant and he doesn’t do things like we do. He doesn’t need a bedroom because he doesn’t sleep.”

“That can’t be right,” Jasmin said. “Even for a Time Lord. He MUST sleep.”

“He’s ok. He’s a tough guy. He may look like a geek in plimsoles and a naff suit. But underneath he’s a superhero. Only he doesn’t need to wear bright red and blue spandex and a cape.”

Alec came back from the bathroom and Wyn took advantage of Jasmin’s distraction to get in next. Jasmin waited her turn, wondering idly why the TARDIS couldn’t have provided them all with en suite bathrooms, but her central thought was still for The Doctor. She WAS worried for him.

By Earth time it was about three a.m. Too late to be late at night, and too early to be early morning. The Doctor was feverishly working at something under one of the TARDIS floor panels.

“There isn’t really anything that needs doing down there, is there,” Jasmin said as she knelt above him. He looked up in surprise and smiled warmly.

“Course there is. I was rerouting the power conduits from the spatial accelerator to the positive ion agitator.”

“I don’t believe the TARDIS has either of those things,” she replied. “You’re just fiddling to pass time until we all get up and give you something else to think about.”

“I do important maintenance to the TARDIS at night when you lot aren’t around to distract me,” he insisted. But he knew the game was up. He put the wires back in place and climbed out of the service hatch. “So why aren’t you fast asleep?”

“Just woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep,” she lied. She had, in fact, set her alarm clock to wake her because she was curious about what The Doctor did at night if he didn’t sleep. “I was going to make a cup of tea. Want to join me?”

“I can’t think of anything nicer to do in the middle of the night than have a cup of tea with a charming young woman,” he replied. She blushed and smiled. He could be so sweet when he wanted to be, even if the flattery did have an ulterior motive of distracting her from the real reason for her nocturnal visit to him.

A reason he knew very well. He knew she had noticed he wasn’t his usual self today.

He reached and took her hand and walked with her to the kitchen. He sat at the table and watched as she made the tea in a pot and found a packet of biscuits in the cupboard. They neither of them spoke until she was sitting at the table with him and pouring the tea. And then his comment was purely trivial.

“Ginger nut biscuits,” he said with a grin before he crunched one with his strong white teeth. “One of the wonderful things I love about Earth. Along with chunky orange marmalade and honey, and mint choc chip ice cream.”

“They didn’t have any of those things where you come from?” she asked him.

“No,” he answered. “We had a lot of good stuff. Cúl nuts. They’re fantastic. And pathiza berry jelly. But I just love Earth food. Jelly babies. They’re brilliant. I used to carry a bag of those around with me all the time. Fantastic way to break the ice when you meet new species – offer them a sweetie.”

“You’re kidding me, aren’t you?” Jasmin said. “You didn’t REALLY do that.”

“Little cakes with edible ball bearings, too,” he continued. “And TEA of course. I think if more of my people drank tea they’d have been a lot less unbearable to live with.”

Jasmin laughed despite herself. She couldn’t help it when she looked at him in that way, his smile splitting his face and his eyes crinkling with humour. But she knew his joking manner hid a seriousness. When he spoke of his people in that way he suppressed the ever present grief that they were no more. And his chatter was just to delay the inevitable questions she wanted to ask him.

“Doctor,” Jasmin said at last. “Why don’t you sleep?”

“Too little to do and too much time to do it in,” he said. “Or is that the other way around?” He tried to fend off the question with more light-heartedness, but it wasn’t working. His smile faded into a serious expression and he toyed with his tea cup in the lengthening silence.

“This is about this afternoon, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” she said. “You fell asleep and you had a really bad nightmare. And it WAS bad. I could tell. You were so freaked out by it, I thought you were going to have a heart attack. And it’s been haunting you all day since. I asked Wyn, and she said she doesn’t think you DO sleep usually. You don’t HAVE a bedroom on the TARDIS. You spend all night in the console room working when the rest of us are asleep.”

“I like to think by myself,” he said.

“Yes, but it's not just that, is it. When WAS the last time you slept properly?”

“When I was with Dominique,” he admitted. “In her arms, warm, safe, I could sleep. I had no fears, no nightmares. But other times, no, I don’t sleep. I restore my body with periods of meditative trance. I don’t dream at all when I do that. And I only need a few hours of it to recover my strength. But sleeping like you do… I haven’t done that for years, for centuries.”

“But sleep is important,” Jasmin insisted. “Dreams are important. They help the mind process all the things it sees in the day. And surely you don’t just have nightmares? There MUST be good dreams, too?”

“Yes, sometimes,” he said. “But mostly I have the bad one.”

“Always? Every time you sleep – except when you’re cuddled up to Dominique?”

“Always,” he repeated.

“And it’s always the same dream?”


“But what kind of dream could scare somebody like you that much?”

“One I’ve had all my life,” he said. “As long as I can remember. I always woke myself up from it. It frightened me so much.”

“What is it you dream about?”

“I don’t know. When I first wake… for the first few moments I feel as if I can remember it. But then it vanishes. All I know is that I feel more frightened when I have that nightmare than I have ever felt facing Daleks or any other real threat.”

“It’s worse than Daleks?”

“It must be.”

“But you don’t know what it is?”


“And you’ve never tried to see it through, work through the nightmare to its end? If you did, maybe it would go away. Because you’d know it was over.”

“No. I’ve never tried to do that.” He looked away from her, staring into the distance.

“You’re scared to try?”

“That surprises you, doesn’t it,” he said, turning back to her.

“Yes, it does. Because you’re... you’re a hero. You’re not scared of anything. You’re not a coward.”

“You think I’m being cowardly by not facing up to my inner fears?”

“No,” she said. “If it was anyone else I WOULD think that. But it's you. So I think there must be something else.”

The Doctor smiled faintly and studied her face for a long time. Jasmin wondered what he was thinking.

“I’m thinking that I don’t deserve the faith you all have in me. Not just you three, but all the people who have been with me all these years. You all believe in me. And that belief is my strength. But I don’t know if I deserve it. You none of you know how unheroic I feel most of the time.”

“Yes, we do,” she assured him. “We all know you’re not a god, Doctor. We know you feel afraid sometimes. That’s all right. Because the really heroic thing is facing up to evil despite your fears. And that’s what you do every time.”

“And it’s what I tell you all to do.”


“But I won’t face my own deepest fear. I run from it. I wake myself up rather than let the nightmare take its course.”

“And there must be some reason,” Jasmin said. “You’re not a coward. You’re not afraid to face anything. So there MUST be another reason.”

“No,” he told her. “There isn’t. In that one respect, I AM a coward. I AM afraid to face my fears.” He looked at her and smiled. “Now I HAVE shaken your faith in me.”

“No, because I think you’re just saying that. I don’t think it’s true at all.”

“It’s true,” he insisted. “But I can see you don’t believe me about that.”

“I don’t know why you would keep saying it if it's not true,” she said. “So I must accept it. You DO have a weak spot. You’re not totally invincible. You have frailties like any other man. So I’m supposed to think any less about you? I don’t think so. You’re still the greatest man I have ever met.” She reached out and touched his hand as it rested on the table. “A great man who needs help from his less great friends,” she added. “Let me help you. Tonight. The others won’t know. You don’t have to lose face in front of Wyn and Alec.”

“What do you have in mind?” he asked.

“You’re going to go to sleep,” she told him. “You’re going to stay asleep until you’ve faced up to the nightmare. I’ll watch you. I’ll be there for you. I’ll take care of you until it’s over.”

“You’d do that for me?”

“For all you’ve done for me, for all of us, for the planet I live on, it's a small thing I can do for you in return, Doctor. But will you let me try?”

The Doctor looked at her keenly and his mind turned over what she had said.

And he knew she was right.

He HAD to face this thing ONE day. He had to bite the bullet, face his demons. He had to see this through to its logical conclusion.

“You’ll sit and watch me sleep and be there to make sure I don’t die of fright?”


“And you won’t wake me up no matter how terrified I look or how much I scream?”


“Ok, I suppose I’d better go to bed then,” he said. He drained his tea cup and stood up. He was smiling in that eye crinkling way of his, as if it was a game. But Jasmin thought he had never been more serious in his life.

“Where are we going?” she asked as he took her hand again and led her out of the kitchen and along the corridor.

“My bedroom,” he answered.

“I thought you didn’t have a bedroom.”

“I don’t usually. The TARDIS creates rooms according to need. I don’t need a bedroom so I don’t have one. But right now I need one, so it’ll be along the corridor along with the rest.” He stopped by a door that looked exactly like any other door on the corridor - a plain grey door in a grey frame that matched the grey walls and ceiling. He turned and looked at Jasmin. She was wearing a long, pale pink flannel nightdress and a dressing gown.

“You trust me, don’t you?”

“You mean I trust you to not take advantage of me because we’re going into your bedroom and I’m in my nightie?” She smiled. “Yes, I trust you, Doctor.”

“Well, that’s ok, then.” He turned the handle and opened the door.

Jasmin wondered in the moment before she stepped inside what sort of bedroom The Doctor would have. Her own room here in the TARDIS was a duplicate of her bedroom at home. So was Alec’s, and Wyn’s, right down to the mess under the bed. The Doctor had explained that the TARDIS created rooms they all felt comfortable in, based on their own memories.

So what kind of room would it create for him?

“The bedroom I had when I was a boy on Gallifrey,” he answered even though she hadn’t asked the question. He went to the window and drew back the curtain to look out at a view that brought a nostalgic lump to his throat. The garden of his family home stretching to the woodlands on the edge of the estate, and beyond that, the mountains of Southern Gallifrey that he had loved to explore and climb. He turned from the view and went to the dresser where he kept an assortment of artefacts; fossils, interesting looking rocks, the tooth of a Pazithi wolf, a large chunk of iron pyrites with its false glitter. The things that fascinated the boy that he was nine centuries ago.

The bed was neatly made with crisp linen as it always was mid-morning when the maids did their work.

It was in that bed, when he was a boy, that the nightmare had first begun to disturb him. He couldn’t remember how old he was when it started. He had dreaded going to bed. He had stayed awake as long as possible, reading and working out mental puzzles, anything to keep his mind active and stop himself drifting into the nightmare.

And then he would wake in the dark, in a cold sweat, and he would run to the window and look out at the moon, Pazithi Gallifreya, shining brightly in the sky. The moon had been a comfort to him. It had been proof that everything was all right after all - that his world was still there.

His world wasn’t there now. The view out of the window was a very good illusion created by the TARDIS out of his memory. But there were other worlds out there, just as real. Earth, the nearest place he had to a homeworld, now. Earth was real. Earth was there.

He looked around at Jasmin and smiled shyly. It DID seem strange standing in this room, the room of his boyhood, with a young woman in a nightdress. He tried to remember if young women in nightdresses ever featured in his thoughts when he slept in this room. Probably not. He was the sort of boy who collected rocks and wolf fangs. Women of any description didn’t feature very highly in his interests.

Well, he thought. No more prevaricating. He slipped off his shoes and his jacket, pulled off his tie and unfastened the top button of his shirt, then he pulled back the covers and lay down in the bed. It felt comfortable as he laid his head on the pillow. The smell of fresh linen was a nice one. It went with the comforting feel of the familiar room.

Jasmin pulled up a chair and sat beside him. She reached out and touched his hand. His fingers closed around hers.

“Thank you,” he whispered and then he closed his eyes. Jasmin remembered she was going to ask him how he intended to send himself to sleep. Counting sheep didn’t seem him, somehow.

“Don’t have sheep on Gallifrey,” he said in a slow, drowsy voice. Then his breathing steadied and his hearts slowed as he relaxed into an ordinary, gentle sleep. She tried to remember what she had read about stages of sleep and wondered how long he would take to reach the point where dreams began.

About a half an hour was the answer, but he couldn’t have told her that. He was not aware of the passage of time. And that, in itself, was strange. Even when he was in a deep trance his body clock marked the time. He was a Time Lord, after all. Time was an inherent part of his whole being. He was a creature of time.

But time no longer existed. The realisation of that fact caused the first shock to his system. Time wasn’t simply slowed or even stopped. It didn’t exist. No time was passing. Nothing was happening.

There was nothing there.

No stars, no planets, no nebula, no black holes. No universe. Nothing. Not even mist. Not even blackness. Nor whiteness either. Nothing existed.

Not even him.

The shock overwhelmed his senses - the terrible shock of realising the truth.

He was no longer alive.

He was not dead either.

He was aware of his own thoughts. He knew he had thoughts. But he had no brain to have the thoughts in. He had no body. He wasn’t even a he. He was just a consciousness, a remnant of life, clinging onto…

…Onto what? There was nothing there. Nothing existed. HE didn’t exist.

Yet he still had thoughts. He was still self-aware even though he didn’t exist. Even though his body was gone along with everything else that used to exist before…

…Before what? What had happened? When did it happen? Why?

He tried to remember. What happened to the universe, what happened to the people, the planets, the teeming life?

Or did they never exist? Were they just figments of his imagination?

No, they existed once. He was sure of it. Once there WERE planets. There were people, lots of different people - infinite varieties. It was all there once. And he lived among it all. Once, he existed. He had a body. He walked and talked and felt things. He had friends. There were people who were more than friends. People he loved.

Love didn’t exist any more.

Neither did hate. All those beings that lived only to kill, they were gone, too. Daleks. No more Daleks. Daleks didn’t exist now.

Daleks never existed. THEY were a figment of his imagination.

Nothing existed. Nothing ever did. There was nothing. Time and space didn’t exist. There was just this consciousness, this mind that thought it could remember time and space.

But it was mistaken. There was nothing. He couldn’t even remember now who he thought he was supposed to be.


Not even darkness. Or maybe there was darkness. But he couldn’t see it. He didn’t have eyes, after all. He had no body. He was just a mind with strange ideas about things that never were.

A mind that was utterly, utterly alone, because nothing else existed.

A mind that was so afraid.


Nothing else existed. Nothing else had ever existed. There was just fear and loneliness.

Jasmin watched The Doctor carefully. He WAS definitely dreaming, and she was fairly sure it was the same dream he had on the beach. The same expression was on his face. She felt his hearts. They were racing. And his flesh was clammy with cold sweat.

“Fight it, Doctor,” She whispered to him. “It’s only a dream. Dreams can’t hurt you. Fight it. Get the better of it.”

There was something at the back of her mind. Something she had read in one of her text books. She tried to concentrate on it, focus.

Lucid Dreaming. That was the phrase - a state of dreaming and KNOWING that you ARE dreaming.

That was the key. That was what The Doctor had to do. He had to know he was dreaming.

“Doctor.” She leant over and spoke close to his ear. “Doctor, you’re dreaming. Tell yourself it’s a dream. Tell yourself it’s no more than a dream, a figment of your imagination. You’re frightened because it seems real. But it’s not. It’s a DREAM. There’s nothing to be frightened of.”

“There’s nothing to be frightened of,” he told himself. “This is just a dream. The universe hasn’t ended. I’m NOT a disembodied mind floating in nothing. Time and Space DO exist. I exist IN time and space. I’m The Doctor.”

“But how do I wake up from the dream?” he asked himself. “How do I get home?”

He couldn’t pinch himself. Because he still didn’t have any kind of corporeal form in the dream. He KNEW now that it WAS just a dream and outside of it everything he believed in, everything he cared for WAS still there. And the terrible, overwhelming shock that came with thinking it was real dissipated, but a new fear replaced it. The fear that he would not be able to wake up, that he would be trapped in this dream for eternity, his body growing old, cared for by his friends who would never desert him, but trapped in a dream of oblivion.

No, he thought resolutely. No. I won’t. If I can’t wake up, then at least my dream world will be better than this. I’ll rebuild my world. I’ll shape the formless void around myself.

He tried. He tried to imagine the universe, the billions upon billions of stars and planets, black holes and comets, nebulae. But it was too big even for him to imagine at once. He gave up, mentally exhausted by the effort.

He tried something smaller, easier - a single world - his own world, Gallifrey. He tried to recreate that. He could easily imagine it. He remembered clearly what it looked like, what it felt like. He remembered it with a dull aching pain like a veteran soldier with an old wound that gives him trouble on cold, damp nights. He remembered it with love, hate, irritation, rage. But he loved it.

And he couldn’t make that either.

Smaller, he told himself. More personal. No, not people, he added. People are harder. Places first. Then people.

Something very small. He blinked with eyes his disembodied consciousness didn’t have and saw, in the formlessness, in the nothing, a faint green glow. He reached towards it and he knew what it was.

An energy cell from the TARDIS - one of the building blocks of TARDIS technology. He concentrated on it and a familiar place began to accrete around the cell, around him. The TARDIS was rebuilding itself. He could see the console room slowly solidifying around him.

Rebuilding itself as it once was. Not the TARDIS as he knew it now, the one that reflected a millennium of pain and joy, of heartbreaks and heartaches, grief and tears, love and hate. This was the TARDIS as it looked when he first stepped into it as a young Time Lord, first tasting the freedom to explore the universe. It was in its default style, very clinical, very scientific, very clean.

Very familiar, but not home as he knew it now.

“But you can get home from here,” a voice told him. He turned and looked at a familiar face.

“I wasn’t meaning to do people yet,” he said.

“You didn’t. I was always there in your mind,” she answered.

“Susan my dear.” He held out his hand to his granddaughter before he even remembered that he had a hand now. He WAS a whole being again. He had a corporeal body. “You look…. The way I saw you last when I left you on Earth with David.”

“That’s the way you remember me,” Susan told him. “This is how I am in your memory - forever seventeen.”

“Yes,” he admitted. “You will always be seventeen in my mind. If I can’t get out of the dream now, at least you’re with me.”

“But you can get out of it. Jasmin has been trying to tell you for the last half hour. Do you hear her? Try.”


“Your friend who promised to stay with you until the dream was over.”

“Jasmin!” Yes, he remembered her. Of course he did - the girl who wanted to be a doctor and worried about his health. She was there. He looked down at his hand in Susan’s hand.

But it wasn’t Susan’s hand. It was Jasmin’s. She was holding his hand still as he slept.

He squeezed her hand. It felt real. It felt solid.

He opened his eyes. He looked up into Jasmin’s face. He reached out and touched her face. It felt good to touch anything, anyone, to have physical contact with another living being.

That was the thing that was so terrifying about this dream. It was what made him wake up screaming. It wasn’t that the universe and everything in it had ceased to exist. It was that he had been left alone in the nothingness. He had FELT so very alone and just the thought of being that lonely for ever, endlessly, terrified him so much.

It was what had always terrified him - his ultimate fear. Being alone, being utterly alone. It was what he had always feared. That was why he always surrounded himself with people, why he needed them with him.

“Hey,” he said and smiled.

“Hey yourself,” Jasmin answered. “Are you all right?”

“I’m more than all right,” he said. “I’m great. I’m fantastic. All these years I’ve been afraid. Do you know what of?”


“Nothing!” He laughed. “I was afraid of NOTHING, of eternal nothing. That’s what it was that I couldn’t face. Can you believe that?”

“I believe it,” Jasmin said. “I’m not sure I understand it. But it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you’re ok. I knew you just had to work your way through it.”

“You were right,” he told her. “You were absolutely right. Every time I woke myself up I couldn’t remember the dream but I remembered how it made me feel, so very small and alone and despairing. But this time… this time I saw it through. And I know now there is nothing to be afraid of. Absolutely NOTHING!”

“Good,” Jasmin said. “Then why don’t you lie down again and get some more sleep. You’ve got about eight hundred years of it to catch up on.” She leant over again and kissed him on the forehead then turned away. He watched her leave the room then he clicked his fingers and the lights turned low. He turned over and pressed his face into the clean-smelling pillow and let himself fall asleep. He wasn’t scared to do that any more.