There are times when I really wish I could interpret dreams. I don’t mean as a way of predicting the future – I’ve dreamed of losing my teeth on numerous occasions but am far from rich as yet! – but as a means of reading my own subconscious. Sometimes when things happen I am just too close to the situation to see the effect they have had, and so often these situations coincide with my most vivid dreams and nightmares.
Two dreams in particular have struck me as breaking from my usual pattern this week.
In the first, I lived in a building with a security guard on the door. He wasn’t just your usual, uniformed type of guard, more the big burly bouncer type with scars and few of his own teeth, a hulking mountain of a beast. In my dream I was sure he was a harmless enough teddy-bear of a guy, a little bit simple, but there to look after me.
I had come home from work one night, eaten tea, watched TV and gone to bed. I woke up – still in my dream of course – to find him standing over me watching me sleep, half hunched over me, half crouched as if ready to pounce. He was predatory and terrifying. I was aware almost immediately that this was not the first time he had done this, that he intruded on my slumber most nights. I woke from the dream feeling sick, violated, threatened and uneasy.
The second dream was closer to my usual fantasy/fairytale/sci-fi type of dream (remember the Dr Who one?) in which I was involved in a sort of LARP style murder mystery game. Only in this game people really did get murdered. There were a dozen of so players in this game, some of whom had “powers” and one amongst whom was a murderer. The rules of the game stated that only players could be killed – and would be killed until the murderer was identified. Although the game took place in day-to-day life, no non-players could or would be killed. We couldn’t run away – if we had signed up for it our role in the game was to track down the killer at our own peril. It was all about facing up to our fears.
I’d narrowed the potential killer down to two choices – a witch, and a jolly-yet-sinister old man who lived in a neat house in the village. My suspicions were more heavily weighted toward the witch, so I cornered her one terrifying evening in a dark, dilapidated old house, where it quickly became clear that I was wrong. She was not the bad guy.
Suddenly, in the strange disjointed way of dreams, it was the next morning and I was off to the village in bright sunlight to visit with the sinisterly-jolly old man. As I approached his white picket fence and manicured front yard, basket of freshly-baked buns in hand (when did I bake those??), I realised I wasn’t alone in my verdict. Other players were cautiously approaching, each with a gift to appease the killer and hold him off long enough to declare him guilty and for the game to therefore end. Just outside his gate I bumped into Ben, my brother, who insisted on coming into the old man’s kitchen with me. As a non-player I knew Ben was in no danger whatsoever, so agreed that he could come along.
So, there we were, in the kitchen, admiring the pile of pot plants and home-baked pies on the kitchen table, all ready for the confrontation – when the doorbell rang. The old man answered it to yet another player, a chubby young teenager with the oddest blue eyes. I saw the old man’s eyes sparkle in a way that told me he wasn’t human, and a moment too late, spotted the gleaming knife glowing blue with ancient magic in the teenager’s hand. He plunged it into the old man’s side triumphantly.
In terror I grabbed Ben and pulled him between us. I still knew that, as a non-player, Ben could not be harmed – the magic wouldn’t let him – and might buy me vital seconds to escape. Of course, Ben didn’t know any of this. He darted from between us and out through the back door, leaving me cornered.
I can’t tell you how much it hurt me to be deserted by him in my dream. I felt betrayed and bereft. I was so sure, in my heart, that my brother would always be by my side, always protect me from everything he could – even blue glowing knives!
I fled after Ben, but my legs were like lead and I couldn’t make my body move forward with any speed. It felt like I was wading through treacle, as all around me my fellow players sprinted past, leaving me far behind. I turned to see the teenager-beast was almost upon me, knife out, and knew that death was only seconds away…
And I woke up.
I woke up in my own bed, in the pitch black, just 30 mins after I’d first gone to sleep. I was so shaken that I had to put the lights on and check the whole flat – for what I don’t know: teenage boys maybe? (Or orcs?!) But I knew that the fear welling up inside me was not of dying on that knife, but of being betrayed, left to fend for myself, alone with that monster.
There’s gotta be some deep psychological meaning in that, I’m sure!