Guys, this is another out of character post. Much like something to share, it's just a way for me to get out something that's bugging me, and not really a Tale per se. If you're looking for a story, or for some kind of interesting twist, this is not the page for you.
For a long time, I've had several reoccurring dreams. Most are of no consequence, or at least deserve a separate telling. One, however, recently took on a significance that I admit troubles me a bit. You see, I regularly talk on the phone with my girlfriend before bed, and since we're both contributors here and share a certain macabre mindset, I suppose it's unsurprising that our conversation often turns for the spooky. In this case, we were discussing night terrors.
She told me that only twice in her life had she experienced the feeling of paralysis that lies somewhere between dreams and awakening. One was a story for her to tell another day, but the other? It was my dream.
I was speechless for a moment, shocked, then began to speak in unison with her, and together we recited the events of the dream, then sat for a long time in silence. Our dreams were identical until the final moments. She tells me I should post about it here, so. Here. If any of you others have had this dream, speak up. I won't say it's significant, because I have no idea, but I will say it's sobering.
It begins with fog.
The night is dark and misted with a foggy soft rain, the kind that seeps rather than falls and soaks everything it touches to the bone. The streets around me are dark, lit only by the guttering streetlamp ahead which casts its meager light on the sullen cobbles in what seems almost like revulsion. For a short moment, there is nothing there but the silent street and the gloomy light. Then, almost as if dropped by stage magic from some unseen door, he is there. A man, or something like one, in a tall top hat and long cloaklike coat, standing just at the edge of the light as though he's been there all along, looking down at the ground beside his feet on the soaking street.
Often, on good nights, this is the part where I wake up.
I find myself inching closer, though I try like a man in fear of his life to turn and run. I feel my feet move against my command, pulling me slowly toward that circle of light that should be reassuring. Some nights, in the dream, I can hear him chuckle softly to himself, only once.
He sees me. I'm sure of that. Despite the depth of the nighttime dark, and his lowered gaze, hidden by the wide brim of his tall hat, he is totally aware of my presence, and of my inability to turn away or slow my advance. Any moment now, as soon as I cross some unknown threshold, he will look up.
I do not want him to look up.
Don't get me wrong, it's not just the dream me that's frightened. Maybe it's best to say that there is no dream me. I'm aware, every time, that I'm dreaming; I know that I'm in my bed in my house, surrounded by walls and locks and fences in the depths of suburbia. I know he's not real. Somehow the knowing makes it worse.
There is no sound in this part of the dream but the oddly muted hollow clatter of drizzle on cobblestone, but there is an impression of noise, of speech, of something, as I drift closer and closer and my fear and loathing and revulsion mounts to a crescendo as he silently waits for me, and with a gut churning wrench in the pit of my stomach I see as if in slow motion the brim of his hat tilting as he begins to raise his face toward me.
I always wake up screaming.
I told you that my girlfriend's dream is different from mine in the end. The difference is just as bad, to me, as the whole extended beginning. Like me, she finds herself drawn down the rainswept cobbled street, toward the figure in the tall top hat and cloak who waits, looking down at the edge of the streetlamp's meager glow. Unlike my dream, though, he never looks at her.
In her dream, the figure stares at something on the ground at its feet. A long dark bundle, dripping with rain and hidden by shadow. She's afraid to look at it, paralyzingly so, and in her dream it is this bundle, not the figure's gaze, that makes her writhe on her bed in terror as she tries desperately to wake up. He still knows she's there. He still waits for her arrival to pierce her with the gaze I fear so much, but it's the dark thing at his feet she cannot see, and that she wakes each time she begins to comprehend.
A long dark bundle at his feet, the size of a man.
The part that really scares me, guys? Not dream scared, but real world chilled? I think I know what she's afraid to see.
Well. I say that. I mean, it's stupid, really. There's no way it could be. Not in the dreams of two people who've been dreaming longer than they've known one another. It's not possible that what she fears to see could be connected to my dream at all, is it? But still. Part of me wonders about that man sized something lying prone in the puddles before the figure in our dreams.
I'm scared it's me.