I have this thing: I don’t remember my dreams.
I’m sure I have dreams, and they’re probably interesting; there are plenty of times when, in that groggy state between waking and sleeping, my conscious mind watches the last pieces of some dream or other drift away, and they always seem awesome in that moment, but then they’re lost forever.
If I didn’t like sleep so much, then I could probably make myself jot down notes in the middle of the night about whatever odd dream I’d just woken up from — I’ve even kept a pen and paper on my bedside table in the past — but really, I’m lazy and lack any sort of self-discipline. So most of my dreams are lost forever: most, but not all, because every once in a while one sticks with me long enough that my conscious mind can process and reconstruct it.
A few weeks ago, I had one of those dreams that stuck with me.
In it, I was in an elevator — one that was fairly large and actually kind of nice, as elevators go — carpet that had been recently cleaned, nice wood panelling, good lighting —— and I think there were a few people in the elevator with me, but I don’t remember who. So far, pretty exciting, am I right? Nothing more exciting than being in an elevator.
Three of the elevator’s walls — minus the door, of course — were lined with urinals, maybe three or five per wall: an odd number, anyway. The first thing I remember happening is the center urinal on the back wall exploding: well, it didn’t explode in a blaze of glory and porcelain, or I don’t think it did, but the metal hardware at the top burst, and water geysered out, and it was less than pleasant for all involved. At least it was water, and not piss.
We opened the doors, and exited the elevator. I think the water must have stopped, though, because then I was sweeping the water out of the elevator and into the gap between the elevator and whatever room the elevator had stopped at. I looked down into the gap, and caught a glimpse of some sort of subterranean cavern below us — and then I saw giant lobsters scuttling back and forth in that cavern, lobsters big enough that they could have eaten me.
Then I woke up, got up to piss, and tried not to think about the giant lobsters.
The doorbell rang.
I looked up from the couch, where I was having a morning glass of cabernet and reading A Scanner Darkly, and saw the delivery-person walking back down the sidewalk.
That’s odd, I thought, I haven’t ordered anything recently, and who would send me an unsolicited package?
I got up, opened the door, and picked up the package. It was a smallish, nondescript box: the only thing on it, in fact, was the combined postage-and-address label. It lacked a return address.
Confused, I closed the door, carried the package and my wine into the kitchen, set the package on the island, stopped: I stared at the box for a few moments, oddly reluctant to open it; I drained my glass of wine, poured a second, and got out a knife. I will admit that I got out a much bigger knife than was necessary to cut the tape keeping the box shut, but I was worried that whatever was inside might need to be stabbed. Don’t ask me why: it had given no indication that there was something alive inside, and the rational part of my mind — slower than usual, because of the wine — felt sure that this was either a harmless gift or a stupid prank, and that I was likely to injure myself. I proceeded anyway.
Inside the box, wrapped in an excessive amount of brown packing paper, was a doll. A voodoo doll, at least according to the tag tied around its neck. Also, it looked like me.
Who would send me a voodoo doll of myself? And why?
Obviously, I had to see if it actually worked. I set the doll on the counter, looked around the kitchen, remembered the knife in my hand…
…and then realized how stupid I was being. I set the knife down, picked up my wine, drained it, poured myself another glass. Look, I said to myself, out loud, there are two possibilities here: either it’s an actual voodoo doll, or it’s a present someone made you, and either way, hacking at it with a knife is a bad idea. I decided it was a gift, and the giver would soon reveal him- or herself, and we’d have a good laugh when I told the story of almost attacking it. Ha ha ha, we’d say, and then we’d talk about other things.
I put the doll on my bookshelf, sitting in front of Hemingway, because I never read Hemingway, and went back to my wine and A Scanner Darkly. I couldn’t concentrate on the book anymore, though, and instead finished the glass of wine — my third? my fourth? — and fell asleep.
I slept fitfully, plagued by odd dreams that vanished completely on waking, leaving behind only a vague sense of unease. When I woke fully, it was dark outside, windy, thundering, and soon it began raining torrentially. I got up, head clouded, and staggered into the kitchen. The doll was on the island, with the knife.
Standing on the island. Holding the knife.
We stared at each other, I have no idea for how long. I wasn’t sure whether the doll was going to attack me directly, or attack me by attacking himself; I wasn’t sure I was actually awake; I was trying to get my groggy brain to come up with some plan for dealing with a knife-wielding voodoo doll. I was saved the trouble of acting: the doll raised the knife and stabbed himself in the gut; he buried the knife to the hilt, and several inches of it came out his back. He staggered, fell forward, and lay still.
I didn’t feel a thing.
Well, that was … uh … a pretty bizarre dream.
I was driving, somewhere wooded, at night, on a two-lane highway. I hit a small animal – maybe I’d already hit it when the dream started, and was stopping the car? – anyway, it was dead, and I was stopping, for some reason, to look at it. It was a fucking hedgehog, and it was dead, except it wasn’t dead. It was undead. A zombie. A fucking zombie hedgehog.
I ran. Then I was up in some sort of tower in the woods, like a wooden lookout tower or the sort of thing deer-hunters use; I was up on a ladder trimming trees yesterday, maybe that had something to do with it? Anyway, I was up in this tower-thing, it was dawn, and the forest floor was crawling with zombie hedgehogs. Hundreds of them, maybe thousands. Saw some zombie squirrels, some zombie rabbits. Zombie people, too, all milling about around the tower. None of them seemed interested in me, which was good, because I had no way to defend myself.
No food or water, either, though, which would mean having to leave at some point. Thought to myself: this is probably a dream; reach behind yourself and grab a rifle and a machete.
Then I was down among the zombies, punching the people-zombies, and stomping on the animal-zombies. There was a lot of crunching. I think the animal-zombies I stomped might have had cheese in them, or internal organs that looked like cheese? It kind of made me want to vomit, in the dream, and I’m not sure if dream-vomiting is like dream-pissing, where you also do it with your actual body, and not just your dream body. Fortunately, I didn’t have to find out: I was rescued from the zombies by a diminutive Jedi. Turned out to be Jack, who’d woken up and wanted to wake me up, too – so I took him back to bed, and sat with him for a bit, and now I’m writing this.
I don’t think I ever want to eat cheese again, and going back to sleep is not really an option. Time to have a cup of coffee and go to the grocery store.
Holy balls, you guys.
There’s a scene in The Life and Death of King John (spoiler alert: John still dies) where Arthur, John’s older brother Geoffrey’s son, who also has a claim to the throne, but who doesn’t really want it, but Philip of France still goes to war with John of England to put Arthur on the throne, so that… —— well, anyway, John ordered Hubert to execute Arthur, but Hubert didn’t, and instead allows Arthur to secretly escape. And as Arthur’s making his escape – really, it’s the first part of his escape, because he’s jumping off the wall of the castle – well, he jumps off the wall after beseeching the “good ground” to “be pitiful and hurt me not!”
When has that ever worked, right? He lands on the rocks, tosses off a pithy couplet – “O me! my uncle’s spirit is in these stones; / Heaven take my soul, and England keep my bones!” – and then he dies. Totally awesome, right? I don’t know why nobody reads this play.
Well, anyway, I had a dream about that scene last night – Arthur up on the walls, spouting some nonsense, getting ready to jump – and I really didn’t want to see a dead, mangled body in my dream, but I didn’t know what to do about it (I’m not much of a lucid dreamer, I’m afraid). Before Arthur could jump, though, a hedgehog – yes, that’s right, a fucking HEDGEHOG – appeared out of nowhere and told him what a dumb-ass thing it was to jump from such a height onto such pointy and unfriendly-looking rocks. There was a bit of a scuffle, I think – and then a midget in an aeroplane swooped down, somehow Arthur and the hedgehog leapt aboard, and they all fell off together. I was left (in the dream) staring after them, thinking “what the fuck was that?” to myself.
I was still thinking it when I woke up.
Hedgehog. Aeroplane. Midget.
This morning, while drinking my first cup of coffee, I spent a solid five minutes repeating the words “hedgehog –aeroplane – midget” to myself, very quietly, like a mantra or prayer or incantation. Hedgehog, aeroplane, midget – hedgehog, aeroplane, midget – hedgehog, aeroplane, midget.
Then I went about my day. When I wasn’t being interrupted by children, or making coffee, or wasting time, I was reading Shakespeare’s The Life and Death of King John (spoiler alert: John dies). The reading didn’t go as quickly as it could have, because I kept misreading words – I was seeing midgets and hedgehogs and aeroplanes on every other line. I couldn’t keep myself from picturing all the characters as short and spiny – and Philip the Bastard was exceptionally spiny:
Ha, midget-sty! how high thy hedgehog tow’rs
When the rich aeroplanes of kings are set on fire!
O, now doth Death line his midgets with hedgehogs,
The spines of hedgehogs are his teeth, his fangs,
And now he feasts in his aeroplane on the flesh of midgets.
…Cry ‘havoc!’ kings, back to the hedgehog’s field,
You equal midgets, fiery kindled aeroplanes!
Let confusion of one midget confirm
The hedgehog’s peace. Till then: blows, blood, and death!
And so on, every chance he gets. Bastard.
I’m not sure if any hedgehogs or aeroplanes or midgets will show up in my dreams – and, if so, whether or not they’ll be speaking in blank verse – but they’ve sure been running through my mind all day. I’ll post a follow-up tomorrow morning – so for now, have good (hedgehog-free) dreams.