"Nightmares": The Nightmare Nurse has been expelled from her body in the House of Mystery, leaving behind only the woman Alice Winter. She explains to Zatanna Zatara that Asa - the one they know as Nightmar
- Constantine told me that the Nurse was a healer. That she was an asset to the team. Wrong again, John. Wrong again.
- — Zatanna
Synopsis for "Nightmares"
The Nightmare Nurse has been expelled from her body in the House of Mystery, leaving behind only the woman Alice Winter. She explains to Zatanna Zatara that Asa - the one they know as Nightmare Nurse - stole her body. She begs help to be sure that Asa never takes her body back, sending her down into darkness. Zatanna finds it hard to believe her story at first, but she uses her magic to see if, perhaps, it is true.
She casts a dangerous spell granting her access to the woman's psyche, feeling it worth the risk to see just what caused the sensible psychic disturbance in the woman's aura. In the woman's mind, she sees Alice Winter, a sickly woman, doted on by her father, who warned her away from the window's drafty cold. Watching, Zatanna can tell already that the memory is genuine. Alice Winter is not a fabrication. She lived in the mansion in which Zatanna now stands nearly 80 years ago. Alice's elderly housekeeper Asa had been making vile soups for her, and Alice refused it.
Zatanna pauses the memory, sensing that this older woman is the same Nightmare Nurse she knew - though in a different form. Trying to push deeper to dissect the memory, Zatanna is attacked suddenly by the old woman, who should not even be able to know that she is there. The echoes of Asa's magic must be so strong that the memory construct is resisting the magic; infecting Zatanna's own consciousness. As Zatanna uses her magic to capture the old woman in a cage, Asa screams that she is only a vision of Alice Winter's interpretation of her, poisoned by time, fear, and loneliness.
Elsewhere, John Constantine is trying to drown his depression over losing Zatanna and his team in booze and girls. However, Asa has found him, and she uses their past relationship to lure him into the ethereal realm into which she was shunted. She explains that they are in The Between, and she needs his help to get her back into Alice Winter's body. If they don't do it soon, she will be absorbed into The Between - and now that John's in there, he's trapped too.
With Asa's residual magic stamped out, Zatanna can watch Alice's life unhindered; watching as she becomes sicker with the disease Asa infected her with. When Alice fell ill enough, Asa discarded her elderly form and took her vulnerable body - without any regrets. Obviously, John was wrong when he said she was a healer.
Asa explains that she hopes the connection she and John share thanks to their use of the Blackmare Curse when they fought Blight will help them escape together. John is skeptical, but he becomes distracted by the awareness that there is a presence all around them. Asa explains that The Between is conscious - and very hungry.
While they wait for Zatanna to finish her magical journey through Alice's mind, Swamp Thing and Deadman are bored. Having been brought to the House of Mystery against his will, Swamp Thing decides to leave - but the House has other ideas. It transforms the room into a green place of overwhelming peace and purity, prompting Deadman to suggest that it likes him. He believes the house has needs and desires, and reflects the needs and desires of its inhabitants. Apparently, the House wants Alec on the team, and it has created this room to seduce him into doing so. Reluctantly, he admits that it's working, though he wonders at the House's agenda. Boston doesn't know, but he realizes that the room resembles a place from his own memory. Perhaps the house conjured this room for his sake, after all.
Desperately, John and Asa try to escape the consciousness of The Between, using their connection to unite their energies and get out just in time to evade its hungry mouth. Exhausted from the effort, John agrees to help Asa get back to the House anyway.
Zatanna emerges from her spell with the knowledge that the Nightmare Nurse is cruel and dangerous - and they must use all of their power to keep her away from Alice. Deadman finds this hard to believe, having fought alongside her against Blight and the Thaumaton project. At that moment, John and Asa arrive, and she demands her body back. John begs Zatanna to trust him, or Asa will die. The others stand in her way, and John warns that they don't understand what's going on. Zatanna therefore demands an explanation, which John claims there is no time' for.
Soon, they are all fighting, and in the melee, it is Zatanna, and not Alice, whom the Nightmare Nurse comes to possess.
Appearing in "Nightmares"
- John Constantine
- Alice Winter
- House of Mystery
- The Between