Ian opened his eyes and the sound was back. Again and again the dripping of a leaky fosset that gnawed at his nerves. Ian got up and checked all the drains and pipes in the room. Before he had checked them all he knew that none of them was dripping. 
Ian sighed. He went back to his bed and pulled the covers and the pillow over his ears. Still there was the sound. THE sound. The sound that had brought doom to his life. 
Ian twisted for an hour more, the dripping constant in his subconscious before exhaustion finally lulled him back to sleep. In his dreams he was haunted still by the dripping. But worse was the screaming. The screaming in the dark that wanted no more than to make him feel guilty.
For 2 years now Ian had been plagued by these dreams and hallucinations. Some times there were short periods of time when he was granted peace, but those few hours didn't give him the rest he needed. Ian's once red hair had faded to a grey-brown that hung limp to his shoulders. His cheeks permanently showed a five o'clock shadow and his shoulders sagged. He constantly looked ill, suffering from malnutrition or alcohol abuse. His eyes were bloodshot and his skin yellow from liver-failure.
But when he went to the hospital the doctors couldn't find anything wrong with him. Nor did Ian think that he was ill. It was the ghost... the evil spirit that haunted him since he had watched his wife and daughter die.
Once he had alluded about the dripping he heard when he was alone or nervous. They had sent him to a psyche ward where they had tried to diagnose him with schizophrenia. 
'Do you sometimes hear voices talking about you?'
'Do you sometimes feel you are being watched?'
'Do you ever feel like someone else is in control?'
Ian wasn't a fool. He knew what was being asked. He answered no to all accounts and said the doctor that had sent him here had misunderstood. He heard a ringing sound, but he knew that was common. Everyone heard that... everyone except him. All Ian heard was the dripping and the voices.
Day dawned and Ian gave up the hope of more sleep. He got out of bed and looked at himself in the mirror. His tired face looked back. Ian looked 50 in the mirror, but he was only 30. Maybe if he smiled more and his skin would look pink rather than yellow he would seem younger. 
Ian tried to find some food but he had used up all that he had found. Going out wasn't one of his favourite things. People staring and the voices whispering. But if he wanted to stay alive he'd have to go.
Ian considered for a moment staying in. He wasn't much afraid of dieing, but the thought of dieing with the dripping in his ears, too weak to ban it out was too much for him.
Ian threw on a coat and opened the door. A chilly wind blew across him into the house. Ian shivered when he suddenly heard a piercing cry. The cry only lasted a split second but it was something he knew he had heard only once before in his life. With death lurking from beyond the corner Ian ventured further.
Ian noticed it was Winter again. Puddles were frozen over to deathtraps and there was a little layer of ice covering the sidewalk. After his first steps out it started snowing. Ian looked to the sky which was hardly visible anymore in the whiteness.
A scream sounded in his memory again. Ian regretted that he'd gone out today. It was just like the day that had changed everything two years ago. Ian tried to shut of the trail of his thoughts, but once on the path it was hard not to see the end.
The view from his eyes narrowed until it seemed like he was watching what happened through the front window of a car. Ian heard talking and laughing, he heard himself singing... in his memory.
/on the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me.../
/A partridge in a pear tree/ the other two joined in overpowering the grinding sounds of the wheels on the snow.
/on the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me/
the wheels slipped on a patch of ice...
Ian opened his eyes. He hurt all over. His nails had burrowed into his hands and the back of his head was throbbing. Ian groaned and looked around. The white was all around him. He was laying face down in the snow. When he crawled up he saw that he was halfway across town. He felt cold and wet and depressed. 
Ian got to his feet and immediately slipped back to the ground. In his thinking he had wandered onto a patch of ice. Carefully Ian slithered to the side, dragging his body with his arms. 
Finally, when he had reached the relative safety of the gutter he looked around more carefully. He had never been in this street before. He had passed it on many occasion, but why would he enter it now? 
While he was cleaning the dirt from his coat and trousers a fog rose from the street. The cold touched his skin and Ian felt goosebumps on his hands, arms and legs. The movement of his clapping hands faltered.
"The air." He gasped.
There was no more air coming to his lungs, only white fog smothering him. Ian opened his mouth to breath, but what came next made him scream. A white figure appeared in the fog. Black spots materialised and seemed to look at him. Ian felt evil pouring out of every atom of the thing. 
A whispery cackle echoed in the alley and the temperature dropped even more. Ian wrapped his arms around his body and wished it to go. Wished it to stop. Wished for oblivion...
And that's what he got. For a few seconds he knew nothing, felt nothing... WAS nothing and then the feelings came rushing back. It was scalding hot. The white fog had turned to grey ashes and a fire roared beneath him. 
Ian started sweating and looked around, trying to find an exit. The white overcast sky was still above him. Ian tried clambering up the rocky slopes, but they crumbled beneath the weight of his body. 
Suddenly the screaming sounded from behind him again. Smoke rose and eyes as red as blood started staring at him. 
"What are you!" he yelled, trying to vanish in the stone against his back. 
The black smoke clawed at the ledge he was standing on. Ever so slowly pieces crumbled off. Ian uttered a yelp of fear and pressed even harder against the stone.
A veil obscured his sight and for a moment the smoke seemed just that... Smoke. But the spirits took their form again soon enough. Their eyes raining fire down on him. Ian felt the temperature rise and smelled burning hair. Air again was lacking and he sagged to his knees.
"Water." Ian croaked because now he felt like he was on fire. Ian lost consciousness and lost himself in blackness. 
When he awoke again he was feeling weak but comfortable. He tried to look around to see if he was dead.
"Easy." Someone said.
Ian opened his mouth. His throat was dry, but that was quickly remedied with some icecubes.
"Don't try to talk yet. You have been out quite some time."
"Who are you?" Ian asked.
"My name is Zeni. You are on Lantessama, though no-one exactly knows how you got here without dragon transport. You've been here for a week now which makes it almost Halloween."
"A week?"
"Yes, you washed ashore a week ago. You were lucky the watchdragons saw you. A few hours more and you would have drowned in the upcoming tide."
"Ah.. another earthling. It's surprising how little you know about the other intelligences out in the universe. Dragons do exist, and so do demons and ghosts which seemed to have toyed around with you if you can believe anything that True Chaotic Ersatz says. She has entered you in the Halloween clutch."
"I left in December.."
"You might have. Time runs differently here. Don't worry about it. Halloween is still 6 days away. It'll all make sense by then. Just try it."


The first egg suddenly burst open. In perfect silence the black-purple rolled out of her egg. With a seemingly ghostly glow she headed to the group that was away from the more violent members of the group of searched. There she found one she could relate to.
"Ian," she spoke, "My name is Diblase... and I feel sorry for you."
"Diblase..." the haunted man whispered, "I am free."  Smiling he left the sands followed by his small smoky-winged purple-black with the interesting looking horns.


Ghostly Diblase (f)


Diblase heard the dripping and quickly dispersed it with a flick of her tail. At first Ian had been spared from the hallucinations he'd have on earth. He also didn't have the nightmares, or he'd have them far less. Some of them were probably still being triggered as a way to deal with the trauma. But alas the peace hadn't lasted. Only weeks after Diblase had hatched, had the sensations returned. But Ian hadn't been troubled by them because he hadn't realised it yet.
What he didn't know was that Diblase kept the haunting spirits of his wife and daughter away. How they had gotten to this state or how they'd manage to find Ian again was something Diblase didn't know. She did know that she should keep them from her bond or he'd die.
though her power alone had been sufficient for the past years, Diblase was still searching for a way to permanently ban the spirits from haunting Ian. If she did that he'd be free for real and he could start a new life. Diblase didn't quite know just how she could get him to start over though. He had changed worlds and it hadn't quite had a lasting effect.
But Diblase wasn't a dragoness to quit easy. She would search further, would even risk their bond to be broken if it meant for Ian to find happiness. The next step to take was try and give Ian a new chance in love. The poor haunted man would not find love on his own. She would have to act as a push in his back.
She just hoped that the magic of a mating flight would be enough to let him find something lasting...

Ian impressed at Lantessama Isle (Halloween Clutch)