The gentle drops of rain silently cool the city of Nairobi. Inside the warm den of the Sloan family, Agatha Sloan, her husband Henry, and their only daughter Tanya were relaxing comfortably. The five year old Tanya is trying desperately to stay awake, hoping to welcome the new year. She sits on the floor in front of the television, watching as the time counts down. On the couch, her parents stare at the clock in worry. Finally, ten minutes to midnight, Agatha rises to her feet, and looks at her husband pleadingly. Henry frowns, and turns away from her gaze. Agatha sighs inwardly, and kneels on the plush carpet beside her daughter.
"Tanya dear," she said, taking the little girl's hand, "Its time to go to sleep."
"But Mommy," she yawned, "Its almost midnight! I wanna be awake when the year changes!"
"Honey, its getting very late. You're tired..."
"Listen to your mother, Tanya," said Henry, lighting a cigarette, "The Sandman is coming, and if you aren't asleep when he arrives, you will regret it."
"The Sandman?" asked Tanya, staring up at her father curiously.
"Yes. He is a wicked creature, who throws sand on children's eyes when they won't go to bed. Then, he steals the children away who are awake to see his hideous face. He takes you to his magical kingdom beneath the Earth, and you will never be released."
Tanya gasped, and clung to her mother's leg. Agatha glared at Henry angrily, and lead the sobbing child out of the room. Once they were in Tanya's bedroom, Agatha tucked her in bed, and kissed her forehead. Tanya looked up at her mother, her eyes still wet with tears.
"Mommy," she said quietly, "Don't let the Sandman get me."
"There is no Sandman," said Agatha, smiling down at her only child, "Your father is just playing games with you, dear. Now, go to sleep."
Agatha once again kissed Tanya's forehead, and left the room. Tanya sat in bed, hugging her favorite stuffed animal tightly. But she couldn't fall asleep. She glanced at the clock beside her bed. At the moment the clock struck midnight, she heard a weird knocking from downstairs. She then heard two figures walking up the stairs-- one was her father, she could recognize the sound his shoes made, but the other was unfamiliar. Tanya gasped, and hid underneath the blanket.
"The Sandman's here!" she whispered to her stuffed toy, "He's gonna get me!"
Tanya waited in silent agony as the footsteps approached her bedroom. She sighed in relief when they passed her room, and continued down the hallway. She soon finally fell asleep, but her dreams were plagued by visions of a horrible creature, who threw sand into children's eyes, and kidnapped them from their homes.
December 31, 1986
Its been a year since Tanya first heard the story of the Sandman. Now that she's six, she feels she's grown out of the fear that gripped her last year. She was determined to get a look at the mysterious Sandman. After all, there's no such thing as monsters.
Instead of trying to convince her parents to let her stay up until midnight, Tanya retired early, saying that she was extremely tired. Both her parents looked at the young girl curiously, because for the past two years she begged to be allowed to stay up New Year's Eve. But Tanya's innocent smile convinced them both of her genuine desire to go to bed, so they let her go upstairs. Neither Agatha nor Henry accompanied Tanya to her bedroom.
Tanya went to her room, and made sure first that both of her parents were comfortably sitting on the couch. Then, she placed her pillows beneath her cream blanket, making it appear that a body was beneath it. She then snuck into her father's study, and waited for midnight.
As soon as midnight struck, she heard the rapping at the door that terrorized her last year. She froze with anticipation, and listened quietly as two sets of feet walked in her direction. She was hiding in her father's closet, and kept it open just enough so she could see the terrifying visage of the Sandman. Soon enough, two men entered the room. The first one was her father, but the second man was large and broad-shouldered, with a big mishapen head, ochre-yellow face, grey bushy eyebrows from under which a pair of green cat's-eyes stared out, and a large, heavy nose drawn down over his crooked mouth. He was wearing a pale yellow full-length trench coat, and black gloves.
"Giuseppe Coppola," said Henry, rather timidly, "welcome to my home."
"I suggest you skip over the pleasantries," said Giuseppe coldly, "I want the tithe, so I can leave as quickly as possible."
Suddenly, the electricity went out. Tanya barely managed to stifle a scream, as darkness enveloped her. Soon, though, a faint orange light was struck, and her father lit a few candles in the room.
"I'll get the tithe," Henry said, searching through his drawers, "You just make sure to remember your part of the bargain."
"Yes, yes," said Giuseppe, "So long as you pay me the tithe annually, your bloodline is free from the curse of the Sandman. Now, make sure you remember, Henry! No one must learn of our arrangement!"
"I shall not tell a soul," said Henry, pulling out a small navy blue chest, "Not even Agatha knows why you visit each year. Here it is."
Giuseppe's mishapen face contorted into a smirk as he grasped the small chest with both hands. He then quickly turned towards the closet, his green eyes peering at the wooden door. Giuseppe glanced at Henry, and then suddenly appeared in front of the closet. He threw open the door, and stared down at the young girl, cowering on the floor. He frowned at Henry, who wore an expression of unparalleled fear.
"I thought you knew our arrangement!" Giuseppe roared, "No one can ever gaze at the Sandman and live!"
"I beg you," cried Henry, falling to his knees, "Let her go!"
Giuseppe turned back to the girl, who was shaking uncontrollably, staring at the hideous face of the creature she has feared for a year. Giuseppe bent down, and touched her soft cheek with his gloved hand.
"She is a lovely child," said Giuseppe, "Consider our deal cancelled, Henry. I no longer desire to leave your family alone. This child will be my slave. Come with me..."
With that, shimmering sand fell from his open palm, and landed on Tanya's big brown eyes. She suddenly lost consciousness, and spread out on the carpet. Henry shrieked in outrage, standing up and leaning on his desk.
"We had a deal!" Henry roared, "I have paid your tithe since Tanya's birth, so as to protect her from your vile desires! It has been the curse of my family for you to haunt us, Sandman, and take our children from us!"
"Be silent, Human," chuckled Giuseppe, "Your family owes me for their very existence! Now, I shall take her!"
Giuseppe turned away from Henry, and kneeled beside the slumbering girl. He didn't notice Henry snatch the burning candle from his desk. Henry leapt at the yellow creature in a fit of rage.
"Die, monster!!" he cried, touching Giuseppe's arm with the flame. Giuseppe screamed in pain, and knocked the candle from Henry's hand. Henry immediately lifted up his slumbering child, and started to run out of the study. He noticed the candle had landed by the window, and had instantly ignited the curtains. Henry glanced once more at Giuseppe, and noticed that his arm was no longer on fire. Rather, it had turned crystal clear, like glass.
"You shall pay!" Giuseppe roared, as Henry ran through the hall as quickly as his legs could carry him. Just outside his bedroom, he saw his wife, dressed in her robe, with an alarmed expression on her face.
"What's happening?!" she cried.
"Please, Agatha," Henry said, "take Tanya and get out of here! Run away as quickly as you can!"
"What about your friend?" asked Agatha, taking Tanya.
"He is no friend of mine! And, our business together has been terminated! Now flee! I'll make sure he doesn't follow you! And whatever you do, protect Tanya from this monster! I beg you!"
Agatha ran from the now burning house, holding onto Tanya for dear life. Once they escaped the house, she continued to run down the street. She knocked on the door of one of her friends. A tall, dark woman opened the door, and rubbed the sleep from her eyes.
"What the..." she mumbled, "Agatha! What's happening?"
"Marie," Agatha panted, "I don't have much time. Please, take Tanya!"
Agatha put the sleeping child in Marie's arms. Marie stared at Agatha, dumfounded.
"Take her where?"
"To Ishala! Ishala will protect her from Giuseppe Coppola! Please, do this for me! I must go back for Henry!"
Before Marie could debate the matter, Agatha gently kissed her daughter's forehead, and ran back towards the house, now with smoke pouring out of the upstairs window. She hesitated for a moment, and then ran inside. That was the last time anyone saw Agatha and Henry Sloan.
As time passed, Tanya lived with Ishala, an old family friend, out with the African tribes of Kenya. Marie was true to Agatha's last request, and made sure Tanya was taken care of by the tribe. Tanya was fortunate enough not to recall the horrible night when she lost her parents, and Ishala ws forced to tell the child a lie, so as to protect her from the terrible memory of the Sandman. Ishala always kept Tanya close, and told her that her parents, who were archaeologists by trade, were lost in an expedition. Tanya believed this story, although she never lost hope that she'd see her parents again. Years later, in November 1996, Tanya first left the plains of Africa, going to America to bring the magical Zeo Crystal shard to the Power Rangers. Even though she wasn't granted a position on the team, she remained in Angel Grove, and lived with her new friend Katherine Hillard and her family. She was never reminded of the horrible Sandman, until late December of the same year, when her dreams were disturbed by visions of a yellow-skinned man, with a crooked mouth, large nose, bushy eyebrows, and piercing green eyes.
December 30, 1996
Tanya Sloan is sitting up in her bed, with the sheets covering her body all the way up to her chin. She sits as still as death, staring up at the ceiling. She squeezed her eyes shut, but they flew open only moments later, when she heard an owl hoot. Tanya sighed, and glanced at the clock beside her bed.
For Pete's sake! she thought, Its four in the morning! Why can't I sleep?
Tanya frowned and rolled over to her side, facing away from the window in the bedroom she has been residing in ever since her friend Katherine Hillard asked her to move in with her family. Tanya has since made herself at home, and the Hillard family has come to regard Tanya as a daughter. Tanya herself couldn't remember the last time she felt like she was part of a family. Her memories of her parents were often occluded.
Tanya once again squeezed her eyes shut, and tried to count sheep, in order to lull her to sleep. But every time she shut her eyes, she saw a glimpse of a hideous yellow face. Tanya shuddered slightly, and nearly jumped when she heard thunder crash outside.
Funny. The sky was clear all day, and the weather report didn't say anything about storms.
Tanya brought the blanket over her head, and tried to shut out the sounds of a raging storm outside. But then, she heard a branch crack from just outside her window. Tanya sat up in alarm, and rose from her bed to see what had caused the branch to break. She yelped in surprise when she saw the shadow of a person retreating from the front yard of the Hillard residence. Tanya blinked, and once again looked for the strange silhouette, but it was gone. Tanya lay back in bed, and began to question whether or not she had seen some intruder. She shrugged off the incident as merely a figment of her imagination, and covered herself in her blankets. But her dreams were filled of images of a dark, mysterious being, and her night wasn't restful in the least. Soon, the sun peeked out from below the horizon. Tanya had long since given up trying to sleep, and tried to read a book. She was glad to see the sun rise, and vanquish the mysterious shadows that suddenly made Tanya fearful. At nine o'clock, there was a knock at Tanya's door.
"Come in," Tanya called. She tried to smile when her best friend entered the room. Kat was wearing her navy blue bathrobe, and she was drying her curly blonde hair with a matching towel.
"G'morning, Tanya!" Kat said cheerily, "Why are you still in bed? You're usually up with the dawn!"
Kat glanced at her friend, and gasped when she saw the bags under Tanya's dark eyes.
"What happened to you? You look like death warmed over!"
"I... I couldn't get much sleep last night," Tanya said with a sigh, "so I decided to catch up on my reading."
"Oh," said Kat, stepping towards the door, "Are you planning on coming hiking with us? It'll be fantastic!"
"Sounds great," said Tanya, putting away her book and getting out of bed, "Lemme get ready."
By noon, Tommy Oliver, Katherine Hillard, Tanya Sloan, Adam Park, Jason Lee, Kimberly Hart, Billy Mitchell, Rocky DeSantos, Aisha Campbell, and Zack Taylor were all hiking up the cliffs just outside Angel Grove. Zack, who was bringing up the rear, stopped to look back at Angel Grove from the high altitude.
"Wow," he said, "its beautiful up here."
"It is," said Aisha, "You know, I didn't realize how much I missed all this! You know, the whole gang, just hanging out and having fun!"
"Affirmative," said Billy, "its really wonderful when the entire group gets together for recreation. If only Trini and Alexis were here. Then every Power Ranger, past and present, would be with us."
Tanya was unusually quiet. She never spoke much when the others were talking about Trini and Alexis, since she had never even met the Purple and the original Yellow Ranger. And, since she is the only member ofthe party to never actually be a Power Ranger, she felt especially uncomfortable when the group referred to themselves as the Power Rangers. But today, Tanya barely spoke a word. She was too busy fighting off sleep, as well as thinking about the strange shadow she saw run away from her bedroom window early that morning.
"Hey, Tanya," said Adam, tapping her on the shoulder and startling her out of her reverie, "are you okay?"
"Huh? Oh, I'm just fine, Adam. Thank you. How are you feeling? You probably shouldn't be doing this kind of strenuous exercise. Not with your heart being so fragile and all."
"I'll be fine," said Adam with his characteristic shy grin, "After all, I haven't done exercise for a week! I'm starting to feel out of shape."
Don't worry, you're in perfect shape, Tanya thought to herself. She could feel the color rise in her cheeks, but due to her dark skin tone, the blush didn't show.
"Here we are," said Tommy from the front, "the peak of the cliff. The view's dynamite!"
"So I see," said Aisha, taking off her deep green backpack. She searched for a few moments, and pulled out a large professional camera with a zoom lens attached. She began looking out at Angel Grove, and snapping pictures.
"Since when have you been into photography?" asked Rocky.
"Since I lived out on the African savannah," she said, not turning around, "I have some magnificent shots of the wildlife, and I've even put together a portfolio of my work. I'll show you sometime. Now that the scenery's changed, so will the style of my photographs. But I must say, photographs from high vantage points are always breath-taking! Especially on such a clear day! I can see for miles!"
Tanya looked up, and was surprised to notice that the sky was completely free of clouds. "Wow, I guess that storm front passed quickly."
"What storm front?" asked Jason.
"The one that hit last night," said Tanya, "You know, the thunder?"
"I don't remember any thunder," said Kimberly, "Are you sure there was a storm last night?"
"Yes I'm sure!" snapped Tanya, "Don't you think I know what thunder sounds like?!"
She looked around, and noticed all her friends were staring at her worriedly. Tanya sighed. "Sorry, Kim," she said, "I shouldn't have yelled at you. I'm just tired, that's all."
"No biggie," said Kim with a smile, "Let's start back, guys. It'll take a while to get back to the city."
Once the group of teens returned to the city, Rocky suggested they get some lunch at Ernie's Gym and Juice Bar. Tanya was too tired to even think about eating, so she declined the offer, deciding to return home and rest. The rest of the group went to the Youth Center, and sat at at a booth for privacy. After they ordered their lunch, the conversation quickly turned to Tanya.
"Is something wrong with Tanya?" asked Adam, "I mean, usually she's pretty talkative and stuff, but today, she barely said three words, and we were out hiking for four hours!"
"She did say she had trouble sleeping last night," said Kat, "She looked extremely tired when I first saw her this morning."
"But what about that storm thing?" asked Kimberly, "There was no storm last night. What was she talking about?"
"Maybe she dreamed it," said Rocky.
"But she said she didn't sleep last night!" said Zack.
"Yes, but sometimes people doze off without knowing it," said Billy, "Its very rare for a person to have a completely sleepless night."
"Hey gang," said Ernie, carrying a tray of sodas, "how was your hike?"
"Fun," said Aisha with a smile.
"Say, where's Tanya?" asked Ernie.
"She's not feeling well," said Adam, "She went home."
"Oh, that's too bad. Well, I hope she feels better soon. Tomorrow's New Year's Eve, you know."
"Right," said Kimberly, "I can't wait for that party, Ernie!"
"You know I'm excited," said Zack, "I can't remember the last Youth Center party I was at!" "This year's party will be sensational," said Ernie with a proud smile, "I got a live band, a professional disc jockey, tons of food, and Billy even made a special confetti-throwing machine, linked to the clock. So, when the clock strikes midnight, BOOM! Confetti bomb!"
"Do you need any help setting up, Ernie?" asked Rocky.
"Actually, I could use your help. If you don't mind, that is."
"We're always glad to give you a hand, Ernie," said Katherine with a smile.
Ernie waved and went back to the kitchen.
Adam leaned over the table. "I sure hope Tanya doesn't plan on missing the party."
It was nine o'clock when Katherine walked into her family's house that evening. She saw Tanya sitting on the couch, flipping through the television channels absently. Kat sighed and sat next to her.
"How're you feeling now?"
"Tired," Tanya said quietly, "But when I try to sleep, I keep hearing strange sounds. And the shadows keep moving."
Kat arched her eyebrow, and Tanya's shoulders slumped.
"I know, I know," she sighed, "I sound like a six year old, right?"
"Not... necessarily," said Kat, "I mean, in our line of work, we know for a fact that monsters do exist."
"Yeah, but its never really affected me like this before. I mean, I can barely function! Last night, I heard all these strange sounds, and I saw the silhouette of a man running away from my bedroom window!"
"Oh my Gosh!" gasped Kat, "Maybe you're being stalked!"
"I doubt it," said Tanya, "He vanished in a split second, as soon as I blinked. No human can move that fast."
Tanya looked up at her friend uncomfortably. "Look, I know this probably sounds weird, but do you mind if I sleep in your room tonight? I can sleep on the floor-- I don't mind. I just don't think I'll be able to go to sleep if I'm all alone."
"No problem," said Kat, "I'll set the sleeping bag on the floor right now."
Two hours later, both girls were tucked into their beds. Tanya was lying down in Kat's pink sleeping bag, and as soon as her head touched the pillow, she was sound asleep. Kat turned out the light, and also went to sleep. Both girls slept peacefully, until the clock struck midnight. Suddenly, there was a loud tapping on the window. The sound caused Tanya to bolt up from her sleeping bag. She stared at the window, but she couldn't see anything. Then, a bolt of white lightning illuminated the night sky, and she caught a glimpse of a strange, disfigured creature, with a horrible glare in his green eyes, and a crooked mouth, elongated nose, and gruesome expression. She shrieked in fright, and shook Katherine from her sleep.
"Wha--?" asked Kat, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes, "What's going on?"
"Didn't you hear it?!" Tanya whispered, "The tapping?!"
"Tanya, you were dreaming," said Kat, "Go back to sleep."
Kat tried to lie back down, but Tanya refused to let her. She forced Kat to look out the window. Kat almost fell asleep while Tanya held her up, until another flash of lightning cast the image of the horrific monster just outside her bedroom window. Kat screamed, and leapt out of bed. The two girls stepped back towards the door, clinging to each other.
"Its... its locked!" cried Katherine, pulling on the bedroom door with all her might.
"But, you don't have a lock on your door!" said Tanya. Both girls screamed again when the glass of the window shattered, throwing jagged shards of glass all about the room. They both ducked, and watched in horror as the monster leapt through the now open window. Kat's eyes widened with terror, while Tanya completely froze. The creature was a large man with a big mishapen head, ochre-yellow face, grey bushy eyebrows, frightful green eyes, and a large, heavy nose hanging over his crooked mouth. He was wearing a pale yellow full-length trench coat, with his hands in his pockets.
"Good evening, Ladies," he said in a deep, chilling voice. He hovered about a foot off the ground, and the bottom of his trench coat blew in the wind. He stared at Tanya, who was sitting on the floor and staring at the intruder with mute fright. He smiled at her, revealing yellowed, decaying teeth.
"My dear Tanya Sloan," he said, "its taken me years to finally find you again."
"Who is he?" whispered Katherine. Tanya's eyes began to water, and she shook violently.
"Its... the Sandman," she said quietly, "The creature that killed my parents, ten years ago..."