Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Late-Night Snack

I don’t know much about the nature of dreams. Generally it is agreed upon that dreams are the province of our deepest selves. Literal and metaphoric imagery splashes us with what we desire and that which we think we deserve.

What does it say, then, about being repeatedly stabbed? That was the common motif in the dream I woke from exactly one hour ago. And to think I went to bed early so I could be well rested for a change.

In the dream I was in prison for what I had believed was a noble cause. In the way of dreams I didn’t yet know what this cause was, but I had the feeling that it was helping someone else more than it was hurting me, and would be short enough to be bearable, and I would be rewarded when it was over. Before long, I stopped believing this.

The prison itself wasn’t the organized structure of walls and bars. It was a hollowed-out building into which bloodthirsty convicts are dropped and abandoned. Left without guards, there was a constant chaotic struggle for dominance familiar to anyone who’s seen much science-fiction (but not necessarily much GOOD science-fiction).

My escape was aided by a man most insane. In a parking lot he kept breaking car windows and using the shattered glass to slice at me because it amused him. Scared to defend myself, I was soon covered in plenty of my own blood, disabusing me of the notion that I needed to stick with him to aid my escape and survival.

We were hunted. We ran. I was faster, and he may have been captured, but I never found out because I never looked back, and I felt no remorse over this. Only the desperate fear of running, running impossibly slowly, feeling despair like I’m trying to outrun a car and there’s no way I can win except for some reason I seem to be, and my partial victory strengthens my confidence and redoubles my efforts.

Two police were in the middle of the field, but I ran on towards them because I’m not caught until I’m caught and something else may happen before then. Turns out the two police were facing away from me, distracted by a double line of Jim Carrey and Female Counterpart impersonators hamming it up (fucking weird-assed dreams). I turned right and jumped over a wooden fence, ended up hiding in the shadows of the side of a house in a suburban neighborhood.

I soon found myself standing in the kitchen of my pretty-nice home, talking to my wife (turns out I was married) about why I made such an escape when I was only supposed to serve six months and come back home. I explained that I had discovered my boss, for whom I went to prison and from whom I had the six month guarantee, was about to cut his losses, sell the company, and lose the power to get me out of gaol. My sentence was four years, and there was no way I’d survive that long in a place I didn’t deserve to be, having lied confessing to a crime I didn’t commit for the greater good of a man who was going to leave me to rot while stealing my wife.

It happened just that fast in my head. Also, the man looked exactly like Jon Voigt. Also, I’m impressed that my spell checker already knew the word Voigt.

I soon found myself sitting on the pavement of another parking lot near the entrance of a multi-storied apartment building. Here I’ll forsake a bit of detail for when I turn this dream into a short story. Suffice it to say I found myself about to have a duel with knives with a pair of men who’d just sliced the femoral arteries of a man who’d just delivered them a pizza. I woke up moments before the fight started. Disturbed that I was having such dreams, I consoled myself by fighting the duel in my mind, strategizing how I would quickly dispatch a murderous heroin junkie who’d challenged me to a duel with rusty box cutters. It’s only a problem until you know the solution.

When we’re children our nightmares are populated with monsters who want to devour our flesh (at least mine were). We don’t realize the true horror until we’re more grown up, that the real monsters are normal people who do monstrous things. These monsters don’t just hurt us by hurting us; they hurt us by hurting those we love. They hurt us by causing those we love to hate us, or to betray us while still confessing their love for us. We could even become these monsters and still feel like ourselves.

That’s horror.