Backmatter Part 10: The Never-Never Covenant

High Concept: “Chronicles of Narnia” meets “New Mutants” if Aslan and the White Queen’s roles were reversed

Genre: Kid-lit fantasy/horror

Overview: You used to dream about drowning, about ropy tentacles drawing you into black water over and over. Nothing helped… drugs made it harder to wake up and group therapy introduced you to kids who dreamt they were pecked apart by crows or chased by puppets with knives for fingers. You tried to be brave, pretended to be brave and dreaded every night.

All of that ended when Loathy Deep came to you, pulling its briny tentacles out of a water glass next to your bed. He talked to you all night, his voice burbling like tar as he explained that he was your nightmare, drawn to your “oneric resonance” or something. He said that things were changing in the Never-Never, where the nightmares lived, and that he needed to hide. He talked about a Queen in Yellow and her champion, the Corpse-Grinder; about Hollowheads and Pain-Merchants turning the Never-Never into a nightmare for Nightmares. He begged you to hide him, offering his service and all of his power for ten thousand thousand nights.

You haven’t had a nightmare for weeks now, although you dream sometimes of pulling children deep into cold, black water with your ropy, ropy tentacles.

You’re not the only one who’s made the pact, either. Now, you can hear the clatter of the witch-puppet wandering through the halls, peeking into classroom windows. You’ve seen your friend Meredith’s eyes glaze and turn black, and you know that The Murder is peering out, looking for shiny things to steal. Bullies have learned not to stand near standing water if they’re going to mess with you, and you aced your swimming class as Loathy’s tentacles sprouted from your waist, pushing you through the water. Sometimes you can hear machinery grinding away in the distance, moving closer.

The Never-Never isn’t coming. It’s already here.

System: Monsters and Other Childish Things
Illustrator: Christopher Shy
Director: Guillermo Del Toro
Potential casting: Maude Apatow, David Dorfman, William H. Macy, Sarah-Jane Redmond, Susan Sarandon (voice), Dennis Haysbert (voice), Tom Waits (voice), Amanda Plummer (voice), Peter Stormare (voice).

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