I suppose it has been a while since I’ve written here.
Last Thursday at around 0200, I hit my head on my tile floor and woke up bloody and bruised. I’ll have a nice scar on my right brow. So, I’ve got that going for me … which is nice.
But, I’m okay.
… at least as much as having an existential crisis stemming from thoughts of death can allow.
Since then, my nightmares have been vivid again. Now, it could be simply the fact that I’ve had to change sleeping positions due to my bruised ribs, but let’s just pretend, for entertainment’s sake, that the blow to my head did something more than just the scar.
GOTTA CATCH ‘EM ALL
Both of the nightmares I’ll detail here begin at my childhood home at night. It seems that this particular location in my dream universe is cloaked in perpetual darkness. I cannot remember the last time I had a dream there that was not at night. Oddly enough, I never have dreams from inside that house anymore either. The dreams are always in the driveway, on the back porch, or in the side yard.
In this particular dream, there were a number of cars parked in our driveway. It seemed to be reminiscent of a time when my parents were still together and my sister was young.
My sister’s attention was drawn to some movement in the old brush pile near the row of ligustrum bushes that ran along the backside of our property. She said something to the effect of: Look at that huge turtle!
I glanced over and spied what appeared to be a small box turtle sitting idly in the bushes. I identified it for them, as I tend to do in real life, but my sister indicated she was talking about a different turtle.
It was then that I noticed the brush pile had begun to move. A massive alligator snapping turtle that was hiding under the brush pile (or perhaps had it as a part of itself) was trundling towards me. There was a moment of panic, as I do have a slight fear of having a limb bitten off by a snapping turtle, but that panic was incensed when I heard a feline scream from the side yard. It was a panther that had been stalking me from the shadows.
I say panther here, but part of me wanted to say puma. Why puma? All day yesterday I kept repeating in my ineffectual Arnold voice “It’s not a puma!” I kept trying to think of ways that I could cue up that line. For example: Hey, what’s that shoe brand that has the big cat logo? Puma? No! It’s not a puma!”
Now, I don’t have too many big cat dreams—most big animal dreams I have are about bears—but the fear and recognition of danger was there. I froze, but neither the turtle or the big cat did. They both charged, and met each other in glorious battle right before me.
My mother appeared and screamed for me to stop the fight. I responded by grabbing a large branch that had fallen off the brush pile on the turtle’s back and chucking it at the wrestling pair. The branch struck both combatants and in a puff of illogical effluvia, the animals became pokémon. Persian and Squirtle to be precise.
From there the nightmare evaporated, and I awoke with a slight smirk on my face … though, it may have been more of a grimace as I was in a lot of pain.
Over the years, I’ve had many nightmares that involve someone breaking into my house or attacking me from the shadows of familiar places. Most of these nightmares terminate in some sudden jump scare moment that rips me from the dream universe and into gasping reality. This one was different.
Over the weekend, I spent some time with my family and at some point we started to go through old photographs. In one picture, my sister was posing with a friend of hers, and they had their arms around a man in his 40s. I recognized him as my 4th grade science teacher. Even at a young age, I felt uncomfortable around this man. As I grew older, many of us who had him as a teacher shared impressions that he may have been a bit creepy for kids, if you know what I mean. My sister even agreed that while meeting him many years after she had graduated, she got heavy creeper vibes from him.
This guy, in my nightmare, was a serial killer. Through some series of events, either forgotten or skipped over, this serial killer was after me.
In real life, this happened a few days after the panther/turtle dream, but also began at the old house at night. I knew this guy was after me. I had returned home hoping to find safety, but I knew he was in the house waiting for me. I was in the backyard, approaching the porch when I heard a sound from inside the house. Looking in the kitchen window from a distance, I saw his face in the shadows, watching and smiling at me.
At that moment, a large rhino burst through the sliding glass door leading onto the back porch and charged me. Somehow I grabbed its horn and swung it around with superhuman strength, slamming it against the brick wall of the house. Next, an elephant, unrealistically larger than the house, and consequently the broken doorway it tore through, charged out of the house, bring flying bricks and glass with it. This time I ran, and the state of panic and flight that began in this instant did not cease until I woke up.
I fled through my neighborhood for what seemed a very long time. Suddenly, the killer jumped from behind a bush and captured me. I tried to scream but my voice was so quiet. I wonder if I was talking in my sleep at this moment. Muttering, whispering little “helps”. It felt that way.
He threw me in his car and took me to a farm where he tied me up along a little pig pen that seemed full of mud and blood. There were bones littered throughout. I struggled against my bonds and discovered they were loose, and so quickly freed myself.
As I made my way out of the farm, I saw the killer emerge from a ship container covered in blood. Instead of pursuing me, he opened a crate next to the container, and a fat, balding man emerged and sprinted after me.
The fat man chased me for a long time. I recall certain neighborhoods I recognize from my dream universe—places I’ve been over and over again—but in my panic, I ran past house after house, not even attempting to find safety there. The fat man eventually caught up to me, and I tired to the point of only being able to walk, not run. The fat man followed at my same pace, leaving only enough distance to allow a quick lunge to grab me. He was toying with me.
It was then that I was first rescued. A man in a tan suit and glasses pulled up in a silver Crown Vic, obviously an unmarked police vehicle. He indicated that he was indeed a detective and had been seeking the serial killer. I turned to point to the fat man and explain he was a minion of the killer, but the fat man had disappeared.
I found myself in what I could only surmise was a police station. The friendly detective explained I would be safe, and that someone would be by to pick me up. I waited for a while, and finally the detective opened to the door to the hallway outside the room I was waiting in, telling me my ride had arrived.
It was the fat man. He leveled the detective and lunged at me. I grabbed a pencil from the desk I was sitting at and plunged it into his eye. This enraged him, but allowed me to escape the room and eventually the station.
The scene cut away to the farm, and the killer opened another crate. Inside was a larger man, more muscle than the fat man, but just as horrible. I knew from looking at him that he was a stalker of men, a professional tracker. He was now after me too.
My panicked flight began again, though the locales I fled through are less clear. I felt the presence of the fat man and the stalker, but did not see them. Eventually, I could feel they were right on my heels, about to capture me. I barged into a house only to be immediately grabbed and tied up. It wasn’t the killer’s men though… it was a group of hooligan kids that had been using an old house as a hideout. They were armed with bats and knives and vaguely resembled Hanson.
I quickly tried to explain that bad men were right behind me and would kill them. Right on cue, the fat man and the stalker burst through the door. The hansonesque hooligans quickly dispatched them though, and tied them up just as they had done with me.
The three of us were propped up against a wall, bound and gagged. The kids taunted us, running their knives across our faces and bellies. The killer’s minions seemed not to care. Both continued to stare at me as they were taunted.
At that moment, the detective burst through the door with a strange gun leveled at the kids. He forced them to drop their weapons and freed me. Escorting me out the back door, he gave me a similar weapon and told me to run, that he could handle it.
So I ran.
I found myself in a large building that seemed to be a combination of a mall and a transit station or terminal. There were many stairs and escalators going numerous directions. I noticed I had the gun in my hands, and quickly tucked it into the inside pocket of my jacket.
I began to head toward a long, wide flight of stairs when I felt a chill. I stopped and looked behind me. The fat man and the stalker were there. The stalker had the severed heads of the kids and the detective attached to his belt as trophies.
I began to run up the stairs, and it seemed I ran for ages.
At the top, I tripped and hit my head on the tile. As I rose, blood dripping from my head, in much the same way it did in real life when I hit my head last week, I saw feet before me.
Looking up, blood running down my face, I saw the killer standing over me.
He grabbed me and easily lifted me, holding me out from his body before him.
“It’s over,” he said.
I reached into my pocket, removed the gun I had there, and shot him in the face.
The killer screamed with unholy terror and rage as his face collapsed in on itself revealing a vortex swirling inside it. The vortex began to suck everything in the terminal inside it as he continued to hold me suspended in front of him. The fat man and the stalker flew by my head, screaming as they were pulled inside and ripped apart. Innocent bystanders were also pulled into the vortex and disintegrated before my eyes. The building, the world surrounding us, all of it was pulled into that vortex until there was only void surrounding a vortex, with me suspended before it. The killer was gone, but his hands still held me, digging into my biceps and drawing blood. The vortex raged before me, and I began to lose feeling in my arms. I felt myself slipping away. Away from the vortex, falling backwards, losing consciousness, dying, ceasing to exist, but not being drawn into that maelstrom.
And then I woke up, on my back, in much the same position I had been falling away from the vortex.
Both of my arms were tingling from being asleep.
After a beat, my alarm began to go off.