Saturday, August 17, 2013

I most definitely dream in color

(The following is an e-mail I wrote to myself last October which apparently describes in great detail a bizarre dream I had. I found it a fascinating read, perhaps worth sharing, although I warn that as a dream, it really has no point.)

It is about 5:30 in the morning.

I have had less than one hour of sleep.

I don't care; I'm done. I can't take anymore nightmares. Every night, I struggle for hours to go to sleep, only to wake up repeatedly full of terror from what I cannot remember.

We (and I don't know who "we" refers to) are living in a house that we've lived in for some time, but we've been considering moving. Packing has been a long, difficult process as it always seems to be, yet somehow, it is excruciatingly worse than I could have imagined. Even though I am living with my family (and is it my wife and children? Or am I the child, living with my parents?), I sleep in a room with three other roommates, two of which spend all their time playing tricks on each other in an ever-escalating manner that seems to have neither limit nor logic. This very evening, the two of them had been talking about something that only they thought was funny, sitting on the edge of their shared bed (there are only two beds in the room, and not much else, as the room is too small to fit anything of consequence in addition to these matched items of furniture, and our personal belongings stuffed underneath) when one of them jostles the other and spills his beer, which he'd been drinking out of a pint glass. Angry, yet laughing, the roommate with the spilled beer tries to punch his friend in the arm, but he leaps quickly out of reach, and runs toward the door, necessitated by equal parts room size/layout and desire for swiftness to run over the top of my bed (on which I am sitting, sifting through a large pile of broken electronic devices attempting in vain to find any that have the slightest bit of function, thus implying my need to pack them). As he reaches the doorway, he turns back and mockingly points, laughing; so roommate with the spilled beer throws his pint glass towards his adversary in the doorway, who ducks as with a loud smash of glass against wood, half the room is showered with beer and shards of broken glass. Both pause for a moment, shocked but still gleefully smirking as they survey the damage, then run from the room, switching the light off behind them and leaving me in the dark, surrounded by broken glass and corroded plastic and metal. My mother sticks her head through a hole in the wall I'd not noticed before and informs me disapprovingly that a friend of mine that had dropped by is sitting on the floor of the master bathroom reading through a stack of pornographic magazines instead of helping clean the kitchen, as she thought he had come over to do. Somehow this is my fault, as is the one thing that makes me glad to be sitting in darkness: the third roommate, the one with whom I share a bed, is not present though she is supposed to be. At least the darkness conceals this one thing that I know will only make things worse. I know I've expressed in the past my disapproval of my roommate's activities, not in small part due to my understanding that for some reason it's my responsibility to keep her out of trouble. As it happens, our house is somehow situated right next to the border between the U.S.A. and the People's Republic of China, to which my roommate nightly sneaks through the bedroom window to illegally visit. She's smuggling weapons into the country and trying to convince them to invade, which is odd since they have repeatedly told her they have no interest in military conquest of the West, and would she please just leave them alone?

As my mother leaves, I begrudgingly turn to the task of trying to clean up the glass shards (which I cannot see clearly, but glisten in the moonlight through the open window) without the aid of anything useful like a broom. I'm left to simply pick them up with my bare hands and pile them by the foot of my bed, all the while finding--like one does while on a sandy beach on a windy day--that while it's annoying enough to have glass shards irritating my bare hands, it's not nearly so annoying as continually noticing that somehow my mouth has filled with a not-insignificant amount of glass as well, which seems to diminish in no way as I repeatedly spit mouthfuls onto the pile on the floor. I grow more and more frustrated at the task, until my mother calls me to help her move some furniture in the living room. I stand up and walk barefoot through the glass to the living room.

In the living room a number of people, only some of whom I know, are sitting around talking while watching what's happening on the top of a large wooden table in the middle of the room. The table is covered with several mounds of a gelatinous substance which one might think to be a dessert but for the foul, not-at-all-fruit-like smell it emits and a bubbling noise it makes as though it were a freshly-opened carbonated beverage. I ask what the hell is going on, and my mother shrugs, telling me it was a school project and she didn't realize that the recipe she used would yield so much and she doesn't know how she's going to package it all up to take away but in the meantime could I help her move the table since it's oozing onto the carpet and we'd like to get at least some of the cleaning deposit back. So I grab one end of the table and we start to carry it away, when to my surprise one of the people in the room I vaguely know as a friend of my mother's reaches out and pinches my ass and winks at me. I barely have time to register that the moment feels like something out of a cheesy TV sitcom before I complete what somehow feels like a cliché by reacting with a jump and dropping the table, which of course flips over and dumps its contents all over the floor.

Oddly enough, this is somehow not my fault--even though my mother did not witness my getting pinched--and instead of rebuking me or making me clean it up, my mother leaves to find the vacuum cleaner and charges me with watching that the house pets don't get into the stuff. This is not a difficult task, as our older dog is outside playing with the kids, and the puppy we'd just adopted earlier in the week is far too fascinated with some of the remains of dinner that were left on the kitchen floor: the hide and most of the bones of a buffalo I'd killed that afternoon and brought home to barbecue. A cousin of mine who happens to be among those in the room comments that the sight of the puppy trying to rip a chunk of raw meat off the carcass is grossing him out. I assure him that however gross it may appear, there's nothing unsanitary about it as the meat is rather fresh; in fact, I note to him that I myself had cut a chunk of rib meat off to eat while I was carrying the carcass home, and it was quite tasty. I do comment that we really ought to get it out to the garbage before it attracts any pests, and just then I

I don't know what it is, but it's clearly alive. When I first spot it, it's vaguely snake-shaped, but it quickly recoils at the sound of my voice and in doing so morphs its shape into something more like a jellyfish; not that I would have mistaken it for either of those creatures, as its color is sort of lime green, and spotted. I get down on my hands and knees to look under the counter where it has disappeared from sight and am amazed at what I see there. Whatever kind of creature it is, it isn't alone, as there appears to be three or four more under there, and I say three or four because it's hard to concentrate on counting when I've just happened upon a scene that might as well be a rain forest on the surface of an alien world. Under the edge of the counter, I see from this angle that the lower portions of our kitchen are host all manner of flora and fauna, but mostly an array of bright-colored fungi in a plethora of shapes and sizes. None of it is any life form that I can identify. Something clicks in my mind.

I recall that in the years that we have lived here, we seemed to have a problem with leaks in the kitchen plumbing every few months, but the landlord never seemed to be able to fix it, or for that matter, figure out where the leak was coming from. Each time he'd reassure us that it didn't matter anyway, since there was no carpet in the kitchen to be effected, and wherever the leak might be coming from, at least utilities were included in the rent, so it was really his problem, and he wasn't worried about it. Surely all that moisture and warmth has simply made a perfect environment for all sorts of living things under our kitchen sink, and this is the eventual disgusting result. I hunt through kitchen drawers until I find a flashlight and duck back under the sink to get a better look. In the back of the space under the sink, there is a gap in the concrete wall that I'd seen before in many of our moments of plumbing distress, but now, shining a flashlight into the gap, I see that rather than damp floor behind the wall, there seems to be a deep puddle of standing water that stretches into the darkness past the flashlight beam at this angle. So I crouch down even lower and try to peer in deeper. I can't comprehend what I see. I stand up and leave the kitchen, running down the hallway to the back of the house.

Near the master bedroom, there is a bit of a nook set off from the hallway that we've been using as a sort of a study, and another glimmer of memory is coming to me. I violently shove the computer desk aside, exposing the wall behind it, where there is a doorway with no knob, just a rust-encrusted keyhole. When we had moved in, the landlord was dismissive of the door, assuring us that it merely led to a narrow crawlspace that allowed access to venting for the original furnace which no longer works, and besides, he has no idea where the key is. He had suggested we set up the room as we had, with a large piece of furniture covering the door so as to just forget it was there. I crouch down and lunge forward, slamming into the door with my shoulder. It doesn't budge. I kneel before the door and stare intensely at the keyhole, bringing my arm back and pummeling the edge of the door with repeated punches, noting within the dream's only brief moment of genuine pleasure that flakes of rust and paint are falling with each blow, and the door is beginning to shudder. After less than a minute of focused attack, a crack appears beside the lock. I reposition myself and, giving a hard kick to the center of the door, hear it give with a satisfying crunch. The door swings open, and I see exactly what I feared I would.

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