The landmark new novel from Ross Welford, one of the fastest-growing and most critically acclaimed middle grade authors in the UK, this funny, moving and brilliant sixth book cements his position as the most exciting storyteller around for readers of 10+. When eleven-year-old Malky and his younger brother Seb become the owners of a “Dreaminator”, they are thrust into worlds beyond their wildest imagination. From tree-top flights and Spanish galleons, to thrilling battles and sporting greatness – it seems like nothing is out of reach when you can share a dream with someone else.
But… impossible dreams come with incredible risks, and when Seb won’t wake up and is taken to hospital in a coma, Malky is forced to leave reality behind and undertake a final, terrifying journey to the stone-age to wake his brother…
Read this extract:
I’ve got to tell you about a bad dream. Only … its real as well. That’s okay – it didn’t make sense to me either, at first. when I was very little, I had this dream about a crocodile coming down the railway track where we lived, and chasing me round the back garden. (This was where we lived before Dad left. Seb was still a baby.) I’d wake up and shout for Mam and she’d come into my room and say, ‘Shush, Malky, shush. You’ll wake Sebbie. It’s just a bad dream,’ and she’d sit on the side of the bed and stroke my hair and sing the song that went, let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be._’ But the crocodile kept coming back. Then Mam had the idea of buying me a stuffed toy crocodile and giving it a funny name and we chose Cuthbert. Nothing called Cuthbert could be scary, she said. So one night (I must have been about six) I dreamed that the crocodile was there, back in our old garden, chasing me like before. I stopped and pointed to it and said its name: ‘Cuthbert!’ In seconds, the beast in front of me turned into my toy. I watched – there in the garden in my Star Wars pyjamas – mesmerised, as the horny, scaly, knobbled skin became the soft green fur of a cuddly toy; the yellow razor teeth transformed to little white triangles of felt. Everything about him shrank till he was a furry toy. All in my dream. When I woke up the next morning, Mam says, my arm was slung round toy Cuthbert. The nightmares went away shortly after that. This was my first experience of controlling a dream, and I kind of forgot all about it. Then the Dreaminator came along, and Cuthbert came back and, well … The next time I saw Cuthbert – the real Cuthbert, not the toy one – was a few years later when I was with Orb, and the crocodile Bopped out of the boot of a car belonging to one of the most evil men ever to have lived. I should have quit then. But I didn’t. I was somewhere bigger, more mysterious, and scarier than anywhere on earth you could possibly dream of. I guess you’d call it Dreamland – and that’s where I lost Seb.
This is my dream, I’ve been here before, and I’m furious and scared. Furious because this is not meant to be happening, and scared because it is. It’s Sebastian’s fault, of course. Why does he keep doing this? Even I could tell that things were getting better. Seb and I hadn’t fought in weeks. Mam was happy. I had made friends at school. (Well, a friend, now of, but still … You’ll meet her.) Dad had called for the first time in ages. I stand in the mouth of the cave, wondering what to do. A massive seagull circles high above me in the cold blue sky. In the distance, down by the shore, the same pair of woolly mammoths as before munch lazily on the same oversized birthday cake. I tut and think: Why does Sob have to min everything? I could just wake up. In fact, that’s exactly what I’m going—’0i, Dog-breath!’ I turn round to see my brother standing behind me, in the cool shade of the cave, wearing his green goalkeeper’s top. ‘What’s going on?’ I snap at him. ‘I turned the Dreaminators off.’ ‘I know. Why did you do that?’ he whines. ‘I turned them on again cos I couldn’t fall asleep. My sleep rhythms are out of sync with yours.’ My thleep rhythmth are out of thync with yourth. I know it’s tricky to speak properly when you’re missing three front baby teeth, but he doesn’t even try. Anyway, I’m not going to write it out like that every time he says something, so you’ll just have to imagine that
‘Seb, man,’ I say, trying not to shout straight away, ‘it isn’t safe. There’s something not right and I think we should..’ ‘Not right with what?’ ‘Not right with the Dreaminators. With … with everything..’ ‘Come on, Malky. You said we could. You promised!’ I didn’t, actually, but he’s getting more whiny. I hate it when he gets whiny. ‘Seb I’m telling you, something is wrong.’ He’s not listening. ‘Where are the others?’ he asks. I shake my head. I am still thinking about stopping the whole thing right there. Seb starts sniffing. ‘They’ve been here. Not long gone, in fact.’ He points to a Are smoking in a pit. The sharp wind outside the cave rattles the bunches of seaweed, hanging in long strings like little grey-green flags, that are drying by the cave mouth. They have gone to steal food,’ I say, a bit grumpily. ‘You know how it goes.’ One last dream together? A short one. No more after that. ‘what, without us?’ says Seb. ‘That’s not fair. Come on, Malk. We’ll just wake up if we need to.’ From somewhere – my conscious mind, wherever that is right now? – drifts a warning. How did it go? Inside your mind is bigger than the outside, Malky ‘Malky!’ shouts Seb. ‘Come 00000n!’ I give in. He’s right on one thing: we can wake up and come out of the dream whenever we want. That bit I can still control, at least. And the minute the crocodile appears we’re out of here. I have never made a bigger mistake. ‘All right,’ I say, quickly, before I can change my mind. ‘We can catch them up. They won’t have got further than the lake. And promise me: when I say we quit, we quit, okay?’ ‘Promise,’ says Seb. But I’m not sure he’s really listening.
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