29 November 2010

Nightmare

I don't ordinarily blog about my dreams, mostly because I very seldom dream. Yes, I know it's actually that I seldom remember them, but shut up. Usually only every two months or so I'll have a dream. And almost never a nightmare. But last night - well, it was a doozy. I woke up from it, terrified and sweating.

This might be disturbing, so if you frighten easily, skip it.

As dreams frequently do, this one began in the middle of things. I was in a small apartment - a few rooms and a staircase to a basement. And I knew that beyond the doors was nothing. When I put my fingers to the wall, I could feel the emptiness just on the other side. Even more than empty, the world beyond this white-walled humdrum apartment seemed hollow. It was like reality had been scraped clean and raw and open, and the apartment set down into the aching black hole.

I wasn't alone. A pinched-looking woman lived there as well. I don't recall much about her beyond her slightly grating manner and dirty blonde hair. She wasn't so bad, and I knew in that dream way of background knowledge that we mostly got along.

Sometimes we would go down the short staircase to the basement - or rather the basement door, since there was no basement. The room was a sort of manipulated falsehood, recrafted on every visit into a new place by someone outside the apartment.

Yes, there were people outside. Not really people, though, since they mostly left an impression of strong arms and powerful hands, knotted with whipcords of muscle and mottled a light green. They had busy hands, out there in the hollow emptiness, wringing them ceaselessly and touching the outsides of the apartment. And they would remake the basement room when it needed to be other places. We might go down there and find a restaurant or a soccer stadium or whatever else. It was usually unpleasant.

One day I was walking up from the basement, unhappy with the experience. I knew that I'd fled there to escape the presence of my female companion, but I now saw my foolishness and felt ill-used by the basement room. I don't know where it had taken me, but it had been unpleasant.

As I walked up the stairs, I saw a bottle of pills. It was empty, and the label indicated that they were prescribed to be taken as needed in case of terror. When you were terrified and you had screamed yourself hoarse and buried your fingernails into the flesh of your face, you were supposed to take one. I knew this - I suppose it said it on the label.

The bottle was empty, and I knew this was bad. Maybe an overdose, or maybe it just meant that there would now be no relief from terror. But I brandished it at my sallow companion, whose eyes widened as she hurled a bitter reply at me. We traded barbs, and I tried to express my total contempt for her in the harshest way I could, my words dripping with sarcasm and disgust. I don't know what we said to each other, since the phrases seemed less important than the emotion behind them. They blistered.

Finally the woman hurled up her hands in the air and stormed off towards the front door to the apartment. I remember this part the most clearly: it was crisp and distinct, and all remnant of that dream-fog that sometimes disguises the vagueness of a lazy imagination fell away. Everything was defined and sharp as the woman reached for the doorknob.

This was horrifying. I couldn't let her open the door, because the results would be so terrible that I knew my life would descend into a hell beyond compare. Even as her hand closed around the doorknob, I bolted towards her, shouting for her to stop. But of course it was too late.

As soon as she touched the doorknob, the door opened a few inches. Maybe four inches. The woman jerked and started in place, leaning forward. I froze. And terrible green hands gently took hold of the woman's head. She shuddered as she was drawn slightly forward, until her head was outside and out of my line of sight. Out in the emptiness.

Her body juttered and shook, and I heard a wet-dry snapping sound. The sound was the central experience of the whole dream, and I have thought about it, and that was the sound: it was the sound of something dry crackling and loosing droplets of liquid, like a handful of raw pasta wet down and then twisted between two terrifying hands. The green hands were doing something with their strong fingers.

Then the door swung open, and the woman's body fell into pieces, thick chunks of limb and sections of torso collapsing into a bloodless tumble. And her head dropped from the hands and rolled towards me, screaming now. The head shrieked and I knew the woman could still feel and would always feel. And I saw the hands at the door, still only the hands emerging from that black hollowness, and they twisted and wrung against each other with terrible fingers, and the woman screamed, and I stood there in horror and knew that it would never change and I was there.

Then I woke up.

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