The Dream Machine

Welcome to Story Quest, a weekly podcast where we bring your stories to life!

In this episode we bring Jacob’s story – The Dream Machine- to life.

If you have a story idea, you could be like Jacob and have it turned into a Story Quest. All you have to do is send us your story idea here. We know you have the best imaginations and together we can create the most brilliant stories!

That’s just what Jacob did. You can watch the story they suggested come to life below, plus they tell us all about the inspiration behind the story at the end.

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Read along to The Dream Machine here!

You can read along to the story while you listen. Just follow the text below!

The Dream Machine 

With a tremendous ROAR a serpent rose out of the crashing waves.  As tall as a skyscraper and as angry as a very hungry giant sea serpent he slithered in the salty sea towards the little girl clinging to the deck of a sinking ship…  

But that bit of the story is coming up in a bit.  It all starts with a wizard.  So let’s meet him. 

 Mischief Mogradon was a wizard who lived in Atlantia, a rather lovely fairytale sort of place.  He ran a Library of Antiquity – which basically means collected old things – books, and candlesticks and strange machines from the time when the elves had set up magical workshops, many centuries ago.    People could borrow these precious items, and return them after a set amount of time.   

Most people thought he was a bit strange in his dusty brown gown and long white beard.  In fact some parents told their children to stay away from him altogether, even for a magical realm he was just… well a bit TOO weird. 

Aragail wasn’t told to stay away from Mischief because, well to put it simply she didn’t have any parents. She lived with a grumpy uncle in a run down cottage on the tatty side of the village.  It won’t be a surprise to hear that she was picked on by the other kids because she never had new clothes and was so poor and whenever she wanted to join in their games they would laugh at her and call her names and chase her away brandishing sticks to poke her with. 

As our story starts she’s running away again, being called names again with the girls in pursuit – where could she hide?  They were gaining on her – she darted through a small alley found herself in the quiet winding cobbly roads in a part of town she’d never been in before.    The voices could still be heard and she desperately looked around – most of the shops were shut – but one door was jar.   

“Library of Antiquity?” she whispered, having never seen it before.  It would have to do. 

She gently opened the door which tinkled gently and then tiptoed in.  It was dusty and smelled of old books and a bit of horses, for some reason.  Mischief had been dozing on an elaborate leather chair and woke with a start! 

“Good gracious! A visitor!  Welcome young miss!  Would you care to borrow anything from the Library?” 

She looked at all the treasures and books and her fingers settled on a little golden box.  She felt drawn towards it.  “This is beautiful!” 

“That my dear is a dream machine – hold it in your hands and turn the dial and you will find yourself in the most beautiful dream world.  When you wish to return blink three times and you will awaken. 

“A dream machine!” 

“Yes – crafted by the master magical elves over five centuries ago.  They’re rarer than diamonds, that is one of only three known to survive”. 

“May I borrow it?” She asked breathlessly.  All thoughts of the horrible girls had disappeared – she felt excited.  She never felt excited. 

“Of course! You may keep it for a ten days and nights.  But be aware that the longer you stay in the dream world the harder it is to leave”. 

Aragail wasn’t really listening she thanked Mischief and checking that the coast was clear ran home with the little gold box in her hand. 

That night she lay in bed and as instructed, held the box and gently turned the dial.  She heard ticks and tocks, getting louder and louder and she felt herself become drowsy and sleepy and then, rushing through mists opened her eyes to find herself in a castle.  Trumpets rang out a fanfare. 

“Her majesty has arrived!” came a call – and she could hear cheers and applause.  Looking down Aragail saw that instead of her thin tatty night dress she was resplendent in a golden gown covered in precious stones.  She must be the queen! 

Tables full of food appeared in the mists and the banquet began.  And the food – oh my gosh the food was the best she’d ever tasted.  Juicy chicken legs and crispy roast potatoes, buttery parsnips and jugs and jugs of the coldest fizziest lemonade.  She got stuck in as the other guests toasted her, and minstrels play 

It was AMAZING being queen and she nearly didn’t hear in the distance the sound of her alarm clock going off – it must be morning.  She blinked three times and appeared back in her own bed under the old patched up covers.  Wow!  What an adventure!  Unlike most dreams where it’s kind of difficult to remember what happened she could remember every detail and it was so real she had to double check that she wasn’t in fact still wearing an amazing jewelled gown.  She checked.  She, unfortunately was not. 

The next night she hurried to bed early and turned the dial once more.  There were ticks and tocks and the mists sprung up – now she was flying through the air – really flying – soaring in the bluest of skies with the wind dancing around.  She laughed and gasped in exhileration – she was like a bird – she found she could dive and swoop or just let herself be carried on the gentle breeze – hour after hour she flew over glittering oceans and lush forests with the sun on her back, she was so happy!  She was so happy that she didn’t hear her alarm at all, and it was only when she heard the distant sound of a shouting voice that she quickly blinked and returned to the real world.  A real world with a very angry uncle telling her she was going to be late for school. 

It wasn’t the last time she would be late.  She’d used the dream machine to conjure an amazing dream where she was riding unicorns and was so engrossed that her uncle had shouted at her once again and she’d had to run to school in disgrace. 

“I shall be away on business for three days and nights and won’t be able to check on you, so make sure you heed your alarm” he told her crossly. 

Aragail barely responded – she couldn’t wait to return to the dream world, away from grumpy uncles, being poor and picked on.  For days she hadn’t needed to try to play with the others- she would come home as quickly as she could the sooner to slip into a dream world. 

That night, in the realm of dreams Aragail set to sea – to explore the strange lands at the end of the rainbow waves.  She swam with diamond covered dolphins and took a ride on a tiger through tall grasses.  She was not only late for school now but she had missed it altogether.  With no one to wake her the dream continued hour after hour.  But something was changing. 

The rainbow waves were beginning to darken, and it began to rain.  Thunder cracked and Aragail staggered as the ship lurched.  Then what was that – something was broaching in the waters – something big and black – a serpent!  It was enormous and was snapping its jaws as it dived towards the ship.  She could see the serpents terrible fangs and blood red eyes and it was swooping towards her hungrily. The ship that was beginning to creak and crumble as the wood began to snap and break – Aragail fell and began to slide towards the sea – black as oil and waves as high as a house – she couldn’t swim!  

“Aragail!”  she heard a distant voice in the distance!  She had become so immersed in the dream that she had forgotten it wasn’t the real world at all.  Blinking quickly the storm disappeared and she woke in her bed.  Her uncle was standing over her, furious! She must have been asleep for three days and nights! 

Needless to say she was in a whole load of trouble – and what was worse was that it was time to return the Dream Machine.  Although in a funny way she felt relieved – she had been so scared as the dream world turned into a nightmare. She slipped to the Library after school and once again woke the slumbering wizard. She told him of all her adventures and how things had begun to go wrong. 

“Dreams can wear thin – they’re like a beautiful fruit or flower – perfect for a while and then they, like everything, they will begin to decay.  That is why I only permit the loan of the machine for ten days.  Any longer and there’s the chance you would never come back to the real world at all and the dream world can turn into a world of nightmares as you have found.” 

“But it was so good to escape. My life is hard, I’m so poor and I was so happy in the dreams!” 

“I know child, but unlike dreams life can get better the longer you live  – and if its money that’s lacking, you could assist me in the library – I could give you a few coins for your trouble?” 

How amazing!  To get to sort and polish all these strange and interesting artefacts, to read the old books full of ancient charms and know that she might be able to afford to buy new things for herself and her uncle – even though he was still grumpy.  Aragail smiled happily and gave the old wizard a big hug.  It didn’t matter if people thought he was strange – they would become good friends and although Aragail had some other magical adventures thanks to Mischief and his Artefacts she never again turned the dial on the Dream Machine.  Maybe her life had become a dream come true! 

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