Other people’s dreams… they rank down there amongst other people’s opinions and their children. Generally, if you have no real emotional commitment to the person, you don’t want to hear about it. (Hell, if I were to recognize all MY supposed children around the country I still wouldn’t want to hear about them. I know they “need” shoes and food. Don’t make me change my number, Carla, okay?) Even if the dreams were somehow interesting or their children weren’t just miniature versions of the horrible people they will become, chances are, the speaker would not be eloquent enough to get you to actually pay attention. Most people are so mired in their own emotional attachment to the subject that they make the mistake of assuming that their words allow you to “see” the amazingly strange and vivid dream-scenes in their head. And that is assuming that even with an advanced vocabulary and sense of empathy it is at all possible to convey the often convoluted and contradictory logic of dreams. In short, most dreams are an over-saturated mess of stimuli. Even the most straight forward dreams possess a sense of something unnameable lurking in the background behind the narrative action, an overall tone, that the dreamer accepts as matter of fact, but that is often lost or made intangible upon waking. This is what the person is failing to convey when they start to explain a dream that seems like a simple reproduction of everyday life, explained as “So, I was at work…” and ending with “I don’t know man. It was fuckin crazy…” So in total disregard of all that, I am now going to tell you of a dream I recently had.
Some dreams are hard to analyze. Others are just nonsense. Gibberish. Byproducts of memory and emotion or the physical stimuli experienced while sleeping. Some are impossibly complicated while others seem to be pretty damn see-through. They are metaphors that have been culturally taught and require simple matching to assign the “right” analysis. The one I woke from the other morning was on the simple side:
My girlfriend and I had barricaded ourselves in an abandoned house. It was dilapidated and in obvious disrepair. The walls were crumbling, exposing plumbing and electrical fixtures. Cabinet doors hung from their hinges. Nothing was untouched by the decay. What were once housewares and served a purpose now littered the floor as garbage. We made our way further into the house, stepping through the wreckage.
My memory of the dream begins in the middle of an action sequence. There were no audible or visible zombies, but I knew, with something like instinct – something preordained, that zombies were what we were hiding from. Of course, the first floor of the house was composed mainly of large glass windows but at least the previous owners had installed venetian blinds and left them closed. The construction of the house itself was illogical and haphazard as if the rambling structure started as a single room shack and then grew as the drunken carpenter scavenged materials and constructed each subsequent addition at random.
We heard the zombies break through a bay window. The perspective changed from third person (I was watching my actions) to that of a first person shooter video game (I was living my actions). A shotgun, that I hadn’t possessed in the third person, now swayed out in front of me. I was looking right down the sightless barrel, apparently holding it in a combat stance at my shoulder. Without knowing how, I was aware I had few shells left.
Remember: the house is a fucking maze. Still, I know to turn a few corners and we begin to ascend a flight of stairs. I was never even aware of the possibility of a second floor but I am not at all surprised. I don’t stop to question it. It’s probably the desperation and fear but there is also (in hindsight) the feeling that I am myself and someone else simultaneously. Something akin to watching yourself act in a movie.
The steps that aren’t broken through to the floor below are amazing skewed as if I’m viewing them through a head full of psilocybin. My girlfriend has made it to the top of the stairs. I’m backpedaling up them, relieving zombies of their heads and whole sections of their torsos with the shotgun. When I empty a load of buckshot at a zombie, flesh and bone explode, but by the time the rest of the body hits the floor they have disappeared. There is no recoil and I never have to reload. Eventually, though, I run out of shells – zombies quit disappearing.
We are upstairs now. The ceiling is lower and the hallways are more narrow. There is a sense of this being the upstairs of my grandmother’s house. the layout is similar, except there is more of it and there is a layer of trash over everything. I only notice any of that now, as I am “reliving” the dream, because there are zombies everywhere now and they are closing in and the knife I am wielding is doing little or nothing to stop their approach. I’m going to be torn apart. I’m sure of it. Things are quieter now as I am doggedly backpedaling and the zombies are doggedly pursuing. As each one approaches me, before I can stab at them pushing them back to the queue of zombies, they explain, in exactly the voice you would figure a zombies voice to sound like, their specific reason for wanting to eat me alive: “You slept with me and never called or returned any of my texts…”, “We were best friends and you haven’t made any effort to call me in years…”, “You got blackout drunk and pissed on my floor and never apologized…”, “You stole my antique silverware and pawned it for heroin money arghhhh…”
I woke before they sunk their teeth into my flesh.
The first thing I thought about was the relative pettiness of the crimes compared to the punishment. I also noticed that each zombie was not a decaying version of the person who’s betrayal they had spoken of. They were just carrying the message and trying to fuck me up. My greatest impression was of how evident the dream’s source was. The whole thing was a manifestation of the anxiety and guilt I’ve carried for being a total deadbeat to my loved ones over the past 3 years or so – I can’t remember the exact number. Somewhere in that haze I lost track of time and of any sense of a moral compass. But the gaps where those things used to reside are filling in again. So, yeah, zombies, I get it, but you can fuck off now.
(Drugs and Culture)