Fear, in dreams, is a very real thing. It doesn’t matter that the dreamer isn’t really falling, and it doesn’t matter at all that the dreamer cannot see or define whatever that pursues in the darkness. Dreaming is a state of mind that transcends reality very much like politics and religion. Rarely does a dreamer take command of the dream and simply refuse to be afraid or demand a state of wakefulness from the mind and be granted a reprieve from the night terrors.
So there I am, dreaming, and one of my female co-workers leads another female co-worker into the closet in my room back in the family home of my childhood. Well now, if we aren’t already chest deep wading into the Freudian symbolism chart we will never be. But wait, there’s more! There’s a feeling of great anxiety and great fear. The reason for this fear is he is coming and he is coming to kill the woman in the closet. She has been chosen. It is her turn to die and nothing will stop him.
There are more people from work there and we’re talking about work stuff and all the while we can hear the woman sobbing in the closet. We’re hiding her, and we always try to hide those he kills as long as possible but it never helps. There’s a male co-worker who tells me it’s time to go and he’ll stay but I once lived here. I feel an obligation to stay. We shake hands and I can see it in his eyes; he is afraid. He wants to stay but he knows we might all be killed if we stay.
A woman I have never met comes in and asks me why we don’t fight back. I tell her I pumped five shots into this creature at close range and it picked me up and tossed me like a toy. Five? She asks this suddenly, and she tells me I held up six fingers. Huh? What the hell difference does it make how many fingers I was holding up? We argue about this, incredibly, for a full minute before we hear the sound. It’s a terrible sound, full of excess violence and incredible pain. The woman in the closet moans in terror and I realize that I have put myself in a position of extreme heroism by standing with this woman against the monster or extreme cowardice by leaping out of the window. The sound comes again and this time it is very close.
I awake with a start and Tyger Linn, who is shoulder to shoulder with me, is on her feet. She’s not going out of a window unless it’s to meet the threat head on and face to face. The sound is closer, really close, and still half in the dream I wonder if I can get to the shotgun in time. Wait, wait, it’s an owl. The sound is a screen owl, harsh but harmless, in the darkness. The total darkness is a benison and I relax. Tyger curls up and I wonder how many millions of times that thousands of dreamers have been eased back into reality by the comfort of a sleeping dog next to the body of a tormented soul? Tyger’s breathing becomes deep and regular, and I can hear the Cousins nearby, and Lilith at my feet. The owl is hunting near us, very near, and I wonder what it is finding out there and if the day frightens it as the night does me betimes.
Another work dream appears but this time it is more anxiety than fear. I travel back and forth in a truck from one site to another and things are different each time I visit the two sites. There are different problems and different people and it’s confusing but at one site I meet a woman who is writing a novel. Another employee, a man, confesses that he’s writing, too, and suddenly we’re all talking about what we are writing and the whole dreams becomes less about work and more about life.
Yet none of this is real and while it is based on reality it’s not exact or defined. It’s a lot like a movie where the viewers know the scene is set in New York, it’s made to look like it’s New York, but everyone pretends they are not in a larger room watching flickering lights two thousand miles away from where the movie was shot, that it, if it wasn’t made up entirely.
I think Alzheimer’s disease must be a lot like this in its early stages. The familiar looks strange and those who suffer from it can walk or even drive for hours trying to find a basis for the reality they’re experiencing. Imagine me trying to explain the places I’ve described to you in this piece but what if I was telling you this was real, very real, and the places, even though they were cobbled together from bits of my memory, invoked very real responses from my mind?
Imagine a person who has been strong and independent for a lifetime suddenly discovering being lost and trying to get help from someone who clearly thinks this old coot is out of his mind. It’s one thing to listen to someone tell you a dream is made up of former memories but quite another when those former memories pirate the mind and hijack reality. The fear, the same fear that walks the halls of our dreams, unfounded and based on nothing more than our thoughts, this same fear well may stalk some of us in our walking hours and it is that fear that is chief among those things in this life that scare the fuck out of me.
The odd thing here is how silly fear is sometimes. Remember the dream this all started with in the dream? Remember the monster that was coming for the woman, the creature I had fired upon, five, or six times, how many fingers was I holding up anyway, do you remember? Yeah, that’s right that’s a photo of him at the top. As you laugh, and you should laugh because it is silly, really, it’s okay, but remember the next time that you see someone dazed and confused as to what it real and what is not, it was that creature that had me frightened still, past the end of my dreams.