As far as dreams go, this one was a garden variety anxiety dream, things left undone, slight guilt involved, and nothing dramatic or scary or even incredibly interesting happened, except the detail of the dream, the vividness, the sheer sense of reality, and how even when I was awake and sure it was a dream, I was not at all.
The setting was here, at Hickory Head, and my neighbor owns an overflow pond which is mostly dry. In the dream, someone I don’t know in reality, but was a main character in the dream world, okay, let’s pause for this.
The dream character was a man who clearly was involved in the day to day operation of my neighbor’s farm. He was a middle aged guy, long hair and a beard, friendly, fair, but concerned.
He came to ask me what I planned to do about the gouges in the bank of the overflow pond. Apparently, he had pulled my truck out from near the bank, and it had left deep grooves in the grass. He wanted me to fill them in, and smooth out the area.
This is how it should be. If you leave a mess on someone’s property you ought to fix it, and no one should have to ask you about it. Of course, I was aghast at this, and even though we were inside my house, I had a memory of the event, and how it looked after I was pulled out, and I knew if it rained, and it had, the ruts would get worse with erosion.
Now, the event itself, of me getting pulled out was not part of the dream, but inside the dream, I had a memory of it.
My mind created a memory out of nothing, inserted that memory into my dream, which it had created out of nothing, and the two creations were part of a whole, even though they were different.
In the dream, I quickly agreed to repair the damage, apologized, and the dream shifted away from that event and into something I cannot remember now. Yet when I woke up, somewhere around three this morning, my mind made plans for the work. I would fill the ruts in, compact the soil as much as I could, and transplant some grass there, to keep it all from being washed away.
Then, my mind sought a memory of the event, and found it filed under Dreams, and I slowly became aware none of this had ever happened. Dream, and dream memory, fought with reality, and finally lost. But it took a few moments for the feeling, the emotions, to dissipate.
When we listen to someone with dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease, and wonder how is this possible, remember in your own mind, waking up terrified of some dream monster, or anxiety ridden over some unfinished dream task, or aroused and ready over some passionate encounter in a dream, all of this, every moment of it, exists entirely within the realm of your mind.
Two shells in the shotgun, and five rounds for the rifle. How many men would come down the trail, no one knew, and maybe they wouldn’t come this way at all. But we expected the main force to hit us head on, at the camp, and a smaller group to try to sneak around the back. My mission was to guard this path that led to the farm, and I thought they put me here because I was older, less useful in the attack up front, and the only man in the camp not a veteran of at least one firefight. At a minimum, I would make enough noise to let everyone know there was company coming. Yet it was hoped there would be bloodshed, and not all of it mine.
Deer, maybe a racoon. That noise, the sound of leaves being crushed underfoot. Loud in the early morning stillness, the sun now above the horizon, the silence of the day just being violated. A tree branch fell to my left, and distinctly someone whispered, “What the fuck was that?”
I saw a spider crawling up the stem of the bush in front of me. It was a small, tiny, and slow moving thing, and the smell of crushed greenery wafted in. They had come in slow, without a sound; my heart pounded. In front of me, close, and they too, were waiting. I knew they would rush forward as soon as the shooting started. I eased the shotgun barrel forward and became part of the woods. I felt sweat flowing like tears. I felt small, and helpless, and scared.
Twenty feet of light underbrush would mean nothing to the stainless steel ball bearings loaded into the shells. Finger off the trigger, finger off the trigger, wait, wait, wait.
The sound of the rifle fire crackled, two hundred yards behind me, and this was the moment we would live or we would die. The men rushed forward, suddenly, and one of them saw me, too late, he stopped, halting the men behind him, and both barrels of the shotgun erupted in fire and smoke. Screaming, screaming, screaming, falling bodies, wild shots, and smoke.
“Aim low,” Billy told me, “knock’em down, make’em bleed bad, and they’ll be useless in a fight, and somebody’ll have to carry’em, after that, you got five rounds, no more, make it count, Mike, close the backdoor.”
I was the only man between the camp and the raiders coming in from the back. If they got past me, there was nothing.
Two bullets made a frying sound by my left ear, close enough for me to feel the warm breath of the Gods of War. I pulled the rifle up, another bullet whizzed by, but men were down, screaming, screaming, I sighted and there was only one shooting back, wildly now, panic taking over. He saw the rifle and his eyes opened wide.
The man jerked hard as the first round caught up just below his throat, and he threw his hands up, as if he might undo the damaged flesh. A man got up, limping hard, trying to run, and the second round caught him in the back at the waistline. He screamed, screamed, and kept screaming. Other men were yelling, “How many of them? Where are they? Jesus Christ, we’re surrounded!” and for some reason, they thought the sounds of gunfire from the camp, echoing through the woods, were coming from all directions. Another broke and ran, dragging a body behind him. My next shot caught in him in the right eye as he turned to fire, and the top of his head exploded like a fountain. That was enough. Two men threw their weapons down leaving me with the injured and dying. I stood and fired. Pop! Pop! Both men went down hard.
“Don’t get your ass up for nothin’,” Billy told me. “We lose the front, stay down, make a run for it. You go south, move at night, take care of yourself best you can. We hold, if’n we do, and we’ll come get you. There’s be a party after we bury the dead.”
I waited. The screaming stopped. The shooting stopped, but who won? Who would come down the trail to get me. Five feet away a rifle lay on the ground so I inched forward, grabbed it, and checked. Ten rounds in the magazine, one in the chamber. The former owner started at me with the half open eyes of a dead man, the first I had ever killed. He looked past me into the void.
“Mike!” It was Salman, the foreign guy who had moved to America a few years ago. He was good with guns, and I looked over my shoulder at him and grinned.
“Sal, we win?” I asked.
“Yes we win. What you think?” Sal crouched down. “How many get away, Mike? You make a mess in the woods. I tell Billy you messy.”
“None got away, none got past me. We lose anybody?” I asked as Sal handed me a cigarette.
“We lose men, Billy’s brother Hank. And new guy, odd name. Bubbles. Wounded gonna die.”
“Bubba,” and I actually laughed. I looked up and saw a woodpecker fly over, glorious and huge.
“Let’s get the guns, go back and see what happens now, okay?” Sal said and he helped me stand up. “Billy tell me, ‘We put Mike on the back, nobody live, nobody get past.”
Wrex pawed at my face, waking me up. I sat up and smelled blood and gunpowder.
But I held the line before I came out.
The night was locked in clouds, a light mist, no moonlight, no stars, and I could walked to the place on the trail from here, in the darkness and it felt real, as if the bodies would still be there.
Breakfast felt odd, too much light showing, they would see me. The dogs whined, went in and out, as if they sensed the veil had been strained, the dreamworld and this one had gotten too close to being in the same time. I was a vet in that world, and I would miss the party. Billy, Sal, and the guys who I had drank with a few days before the fight. Bubba was dead. His wife, two kids. Billy brother, I can’t remember his name now. Quiet man, reliable, it ran in the family.
It fought me. I went to Yoga class and was dizzy, I stumbled a couple of time, this reality isn’t holding, the other cannot.
This is the explanation of a dream, if that was what it was. What about the other side? Are they used to people just disappearing? Did I? Am I still there, drinking to our fallen, secure in a place I helped defend, or is it gone, all gone, forever?
I wondered where it came from, and I still do. It’s a massive structure, revisited, my second time here, and it’s breathtaking. The edifice reaches the clouds, maybe two kilometers in the sky, maybe even higher, there’s no way to measure, and birds must fly around it, great flocks trying to gauge if it would be better to skirt around the man-made mountain or go over. It’s when the birds are close is when the scale becomes apparent. Tiny flying insects they become, against the soaring walls. Higher and higher the flock flies, up and up, until I cannot see them anymore.
Why red brick? There’s a reason it’s built out of red brick, and I feel I should know why but no. I stand closer now and have that feeling a person gets when they first visit New York City, and walk among the skyscrapers. But a good portion of New York could fit inside this building, and as far as I can tell, there’s no reason for it to exist, except it does.
Engineering would deny this thing in reality. From space, it would look like an old fashioned water well, simple and round, the walls only thick enough for a small truck to drive upon the open rim, a three meters wide, at most. I’ve been up there once before. I think I fell.
There’s a tiny café to the left of the entrance and people time their visits to avoid the guy mowing the grass here. He pushes a loud, smokey, clunky mower, just like you would find in suburbia in the mid 1900’s and honestly, I have no idea if one person could actually mow the inside area and not have a permanent job. But the men and women working to repair the wall also have a full time job. There are hundreds of them, scaffolding clings to the bricks in various places, and stray bricks fall at random times. But overall, there are vast, immense areas where unbroken fields of bricks stretch into the skies.
But why red brick? The question comes to me, even as I walk in the freshly mowed grass, I can smell it, and I know it’s a dream, but the red brick stage setting intrigues me. Something tiny to give The Well a larger sense of proportion? I have no idea. Then I see her, the woman I was looking for last time, sitting alone, waiting for me. The dream is repeating, the dreamscape and characters are back, and even though I know it is a dream, the smile is involuntary. I’ll ask her why the bricks, why everything, over a drink, and a cigarette, but I wake up instead.
I have repeating Dreamscapes. It’s the places where the dreams take place, a certain building or a town, maybe it all exists in real life, like your childhood home, or maybe it feels like home when you’re dreaming, but the setting is alien to you once you awaken.
The factory building is a massive thing, as big as a town, and it’s a hundred feet tall, at least. Inside there are catwalks and ladders, with no hint to what might have been built here at some time in the past. It’s a feline Dreamscape, with multiple levels, multiple ways of getting from one to the other, lots of chains hanging from the ceiling, and on the very bottom floor, it’s a maze of interconnected offices and rooms.
I was here twice before. Once someone was chasing me, and I dropped a bucket of burning gasoline down a ladder as he was coming up. There were several of us, and some people didn’t get out before the whole damn place burned down like the end of the world or something. It was so hot we were standing by the front gate, four hundred meters away, and could feel it.
The last time was vague, with a low speed car chase in the parking lot, with me against someone else, with both of us trying to kill one another. I have no idea who won, but I’m still alive. The parking lot, by the way, is enormous, like a surreal black plains with grass growing out of the cracks.
There’s a group of guys chasing me, but I’ve led them here. I know it by heart, and they are lost and getting more confused by the moment. I get them into the center of the factory, and then I hit the main breaker to kill off all the power. It’s as dark as a cave now, and until sunrise, they’re stuck where they are. (Yes, no one has a cell phone in the dream except me)
I took some videos of them planning to kill me and posted it on FB. They have no idea they’re already famous, but I still have to get away.
I walk out under the stars and it’s an incredible night. At the very edge of the parking lot is a drop off, maybe a couple of hundred feet, and I walk out to the edge. I can see the stars in the sky, billions of them, and out over the valley there are lights from homes twinkling as well. I forget about someone trying to kill me, but I look down, and there’s an abyss, and one more step and I would fall.
In the dream, it occurred to me that this is how people in real life view the concept of Death. They know it’s out there, and in a broad sense, it’s not really that frightening, and there’s a sort of peace to it. But then, on a personal level, when you look down and it’s right there, it’s scary.