The first truly scary dream I has was one where a person walked into my room late one night and stood over my bed. This was back in 1973 or 1974, I believe, and my screams freaked my mother out very badly. She rushed to see what was the matter, and my younger sister, who was as frightened as anyone by the noise, tackled my mother in an effort to keep my mother from leaving her alone in that part of the house. Even as I screamed the person stood there. When my mother approached the door the person ran silently, glided really, to the door of the bathroom and I was certain, really certain, there was someone in the bathroom. There wasn’t of course, but I know what I saw, and I sure as hell know what I felt.
This was the first dream where someone who didn’t exist showed up but it wasn’t the last. Unlike some of the Night People, this one never returned. I’m not sure why but I think this was an advanced party, a sort of scout, to see if I would take them seriously. I pulled a gun on one of them one night back long ago, and the idea I was asleep and holding a pistol scared me more than a stranger standing over me in the dark. A woman I once knew decided to see if she could sneak up on me in the middle of the night, and I will never know what prompted her to do it, but I nearly shot her. She knew I didn’t like things that went bump in the night, and oddly, I think the idea that I was going to react the way I did thrilled her, excited her, in a way that only she could define. There were times, and still are times, when I wonder if she did not see them too, and this was her way of communicating with them. I really cannot tell you why I think this, but I think she was trying to see if they would let me harm her, or if they would allow me to take some sort of action independent of what they considered their realm. She knew how to disarm me, even in anger, and she knew how to turn the lights off again, and bring the night back to us. I never, not once, ever, thought I could make her stay with me for as long as I wanted.
It is a paradox, I do realize it, that a man who has problems sleeping also has intense dreams. I remember after she had left me, and it was for the last time I just didn’t know it, I had a dream that flung me away from the bed as if it were afire. My roommate explained to me that I couldn’t hold myself responsible for what I dreams, that no matter how terrible the vision was that came to me, I was blameless. I then related the dream to him and he told me I needed to seek the help of a professional in mental health.
I cannot deny the appeal of trying to get some sort of help for my insomnia. I wish I was better rested. I wish this did not interfere with my life in the manner in which it does. I wished these thoughts would have occurred to me sooner in life, rather than later, because now, like Frodo with his knife wound, I wonder if part of me is too far gone to be brought back away from that world. There are times when I wonder if this was not the world in which I was meant to be, and only my resistance to it has made life difficult for me.
My writing is better when I am not sleeping well. There is a keening, an edge, this weird sense that I am hallucinating sometimes even when the world appears otherwise normal, and it is at this point in my state I write my best. Can I write without it, certainly I can and I have. I’m sure I will. But when dealing with the Night People and their State, can I be certain if I step towards another state mentally and emotionally, will I step away from another? Which is more real? Which do I belong? What is it that defines where I ought to be?
The world of the Night People, the Dreams, the Nightmares, and the place where all of this comes from is familiar to me as some of the places I’ve been to here. I know houses and cities and rooms. There are smells and traffic noises and dust. There is lust and loneliness. There are houses that are landmarks and others that are homes. The only difference between one world and the other is the surrealness that surrounds one and the drudgery that surrounds the other. In one world I age, become less physically than I was, and the world around me decays with each year. The other world changes but never diminishes at all. From the world of the Night People there is a sense of Now, a sense of Here, and a sense that in this moment… if only for a night. The switch is stuck in the on position, the gates are left open, the sluices are jammed flowing and there is no way that I am aware of to stop this in any form.
Should I try?
The fear I felt of the Night People when I was a child has not diminished very much when I am in their presence, yet I no longer dread them. They can be frightening, they frequently are, and even those I have become intimate with are still apt to turning on me, if I anger them. Perhaps this is a transitional state, the one in which we live, and the end game belongs to the Night. I cannot say that I feel any of this is particularly healthy but time passes the same for us all, and in the end, I can sleep when I’m dead.