Dream #2 – February 1, 2013

I am dreaming.

I’m in the bland horror of a conference room, set up with a regulated amount of metal tables and chairs, equally spaced, ready for a lecture perhaps or some motivational talk.

The hard, razorball in my gut tells me neither’s on the agenda.

And something else – I shouldn’t be here. I am not welcome.

A variety of people and ages sit at the table – older women, young men, middle-aged mums, geriatric men. They all have something in common – they share a look of anxious longing, bordering on desperation. Their eyes keep moving, they seem nervous – hands fluttering from mouth to table.

And there’s something else which unites them.

All of them are sitting with a child. The oldest is five, the youngest a baby in a pram.

I look at the table where I sit. There is no child.

I’m not the only one who has noticed. Necks are craning and eyes are focusing on me – lasering in, judging me. The atmosphere – already strained – begins to sour and I realise I am in danger.

Then there is a crackle in the air and I look beyond the tables and chairs to the front of the room.

This is where there would usually be a chalkboard or whiteboard – but there’s neither.

Instead there is a ragged hole in the wall – an opening at least five feet across and the same deep. There are bricks jutting out of either side like broken teeth. I look through and my breath catches in my lungs, turning to dry ice.

I am looking at something that can’t possibly be there.

Through the gaping maw of ragged brick there is red, porous rock, billows of steam and what looks like a cave of some kind. I become transfixed by it – too terrified to look, too terrified to look away.

Because someone is coming.

Someone or something.

Around me the people have become obscene with excitement, filled with a ravenous craving. I feel afraid of them, but not as afraid as I am of what is coming to the hole in the wall that cannot be, but is.

If I see what I dread is coming then I am certain I will lose my mind – feel it tear loose of its moorings. But I cannot look away – it is a horrible, empty longing – a dark whirlpool.

Abruptly, a stern hand on my shoulder pulls me to my feet. I am being strong-armed from the conference room, to an exit on the far left. As I pass by the tables I notice, with a sickening lurch, that the adults sitting at these tables are drawing life from the children – like one would draw water from a well.

Ice floods my veins and prickles every hair on my head as I realise they are draining the children to power whatever darkness is allowing that window into another realm to exist. I begin to scream, but no words emerge and I am thrown into a concrete corridor.

I look back to catch one final glimpse of the room and then the door closes.

I know with a sinking, frozen heart that I will spend the rest of my life looking for a way to get back in.

The dream changes and I am with an old friend – a fellow journalist – I am telling him about a hidden cult, who meet in secret, in  bland, innocuous conference rooms around the world.

But always, at one end of the room, is that ragged hole into a world which no living thing should ever see.

It is a viewing bridge powered by the souls and the life-force of innocent lives.

He tells me he has a terrible secret to share. We decide to move to a hotel room and that is when it happens.

Somehow he loses his footing and plunges down the stairs, snapping his neck instantly. His face is turned at a grotesque angle.

He never told me the secret, but I realise with a chill what I must do.

I must find that room.

I wake up.

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Dream #1 – January 12, 2013

I am dreaming. A future city, rain, ruined buildings, people blur past with haunted faces – everywhere has the stench of fear, decay.

It’s the future, I know that, but there are no flying cars or gleaming chrome – it stinks and it’s grey and it’s horrible. Orwell was right, it’s the feeling of a boot being smashed into a face forever.

But out of the darkness, the horrible feeling of fear and hopelessness, there is light and a shiver of relief: they’re with me here, my boys – Jack and Ben – and Amanda. We are hiding in a house, anxiously looking out for The Quell.

The Quell are the police/army who look for families with more than one child. I instantly know if I see them it will mean the end of all things. It terrifies me beyond imagining. Somewhere I hear screams, I see water roll down the window, it all seems so real I can barely take it.

Dream logic tells me this has always been life in this place (no name for the city – just an endless sprawl, unending, desolate). The rulers have decided that no-one is allowed more than one child. An oral contraceptive has been added to the water to keep both men and women sterile. It takes a licence and a lot of influence to be able to have one child. Two is impossible.

Yet here we are, cowering in the darkness – fear turning my insides to breezeblock.

As soon as I realise our peril the dream starts to shift – I see Amanda being taken away by friends (an underground?) – she is pregnant I think, but I can’t be sure. I will remain in the city with the boys.

I think we might be trying to keep the police from Amanda’s trail (she has to survive, she is immune to the contraceptive) but then I realise the true reason.

My boys were born without a licence – without the pill needed to counteract the infertility chemical in the water – and I believe they are also immune. If one of them can make it to the ocean then there blood or saliva will instantly render the auto-virus obsolete.

Dream shift – we’re in a cabin-type house. It’s dark. We’re cold and frightened, but we’re determined – we need to make it. There’s a sound outside, a shout, the scrape of metal. My stomach clenches.

The Quell are here.

Escape is impossible. We know that. We accept that. We’re dead either way. Now or by degrees in a prison cell. We will not go out like that.

I have two handguns, Ben has a shotgun and Jack an assault rifle. It’s time to go.

Jack and Ben both look at me – my beautiful sons. We all share a moment, but no words. None needed. Amanda, we love you. Goodbye.

We come out of the shack blasting.

Ben is the first to go down. He gets off three rounds of his shotgun (all hit their target) and then I sense him fall behind me, hit by a volley of bullets. He is dead before he hits the ground.

Jack and I are running, me slightly behind. I feel a burning pain in my shoulder and then something hits my stomach like a bowling ball.

I stop, winded it seems, and feel something wet slop on to my shoes. I don’t need to see what it is. I start firing at every shape I see – red mist explodes from masks and the air is full of bullets and pain and screaming. I am full of rage and love.

But Jack is still running. I die watching him, but somehow I am now floating above – watching Jack as he struggles – bullet-ridden, torn – towards the water’s edge.

He is within a few feet, but he cannot stand – soldiers all around empty their clips as he staggers to his knees, then to his feet and turns to them and smiles.

I watch as my son is vapourised in a maelstrom of fire … and his blood drifts like a fine rain into the water behind, changing the world forever.

I wake up.

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First steps with the Sandman

My first dream – at least the one I can remember with any clarity – involved hands coming through the headboard of my bed to grab me.

I also seem to remember whispering “there are men at the bottom of the bed waiting for me”.

I was five years old and I had the flu. I freaked my dad out so badly he refused to sleep in the same bed and sent my mum in instead.

She lasted the whole night as I shivered and burned and dreamed with my eyes open.

Fast-forward 33 years and I’m still having vivid dreams – a smorgasbord of funny, strange, otherwordly and occasionally downright terrifying scenes.

It’s like being trapped in a movie theatre with a madman on the projector – splicing together a film out of my memories, imaginings, feelings, instinct and something else…

Sometimes it’s an entire film – lasting what feels like hours as the world reacts to me and me to it. Other times, it’s a series of fragments and perhaps even just a lingering feeling.

There’s something disconcerting about abandoning the wheel and allowing whoever’s running the ship when you’re below deck to take full control – disconcerting, frightening and also exhilarating.

Where else do you get to visit places that once were and those that have never been, talk again with loved ones long gone from your life and raise a toast with heroes you never met?

Sure, it’s not all plain sailing. Having a strong imagination and vivid dreams will inevitably lead you down darker paths than you think you can stand. Nightmarish visions that would give Stephen King, David Lynch and Neil Gaiman a run for their money.

But sometimes I wake up and feel an intense longing for a strange, familiar world that seemed so close just a second before and is now fading before my eyes.

Excited I turn to Amanda and tell her where I’ve just been – reliving the wonder of a world I’ve never before walked in and never will again.

But within moments the images evaporate like morning dew and I’m left blabbering about meeting Liam Gallagher and enjoying Centerparcs in space.

Eventually that strange sense of wonder fades too, but I wondered – what would it be like if I could capture a bit of that lightning in a (cyberspace) bottle?

Would anyone else like it or relate to it? Or would they just think I was a creepy little twat with too much time on my hands?

Only one way to find out, right?

“Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises,

Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight, and hurt not.

Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments

Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices,

That if I then had waked after long sleep

Will make me sleep again; and then in dreaming

The clouds methought would open and show riches

Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked

I cried to dream again.”

The Tempest

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