N.B. The following are actual nightmares. Specifically, my top the nightmares of all time.They are presented identically as dreamed — meaning the ends are often abrupt, each stopping with the dream’s final image.These are the ones that continue to terrified me — one over nine years old and I still haven’t been able to shake it.
I arrived late.
The room was all deep red velvet hangings over black walls, a steel door, a bar, no windows. My buddy’s new girlfriend had already started. She apparently has this ritual, see, something she does to debase and punish herself. She snaps mousetraps all over herself, to her very few bulges of what she feels are unsightly flesh-her nipples, her tiny belly, under her arms, swells of red skin at her haunches, her inner thighs. And there were men everywhere, men she knew and that knew her from her various, élite social circles. That was part of it, see…it was her way to keep from ever thinking she was better than any of them.
She stood there atop a table, covered in god-only-knows-what, mousetraps clacking with every flinch, wearing only wet panties and a leather mask (even though everyone knew it was her under there). She was weeping. And this goddamned room, this dank red velvet room-full of men in their expensive suits, their silk ties…this room full of beasts hooting and hollering…it was infuriating. But we just stood there, my buddy and I. I could tell he was just going insane inside, wanting to go to her, wanting to get her the hell out of there. But this was about what she wanted, not what he wanted. Finally he couldn’t take it anymore, he tried to swim through the crowd to get to her, yelling “JUST STOP” while a bunch of the guys held him back, saying “relax” and “shut the fuck up.” He looked at me and I knew we’d have to fight the whole room, but just as we were about to start swinging she screamed at him to “STOP IT”. She said she needed this, and even though it went against everything he is, everything in him…he had a real kind of love for her so he somehow found a way to control himself. Then one of the guys we all know (and one, frankly, I’ve never really liked) got up and started pawing at her mouse-trapped breasts, and laughing, started tugging at the waistband of her panties…and even though it meant the end of probably everything, we just started hitting everyone we could as hard as we could…
It crackled over the radio. Be on the look-out for a terrible man, a pederast, a demon who feasted on the young, the innocent. Beware, it said, he looked just like a normal man…and the fog rolled, twined in through the limbs of the wet pines. More rain was coming.
I was walking across the lobby in nothing but an unsashed robe and boxer shorts with no button, drunk and holding a glass of smoky old scotch. The shuffle off my bare feet was all you could hear between each flash of lightning and the following thunder-like the breath going out of the room as I passed by these fathers tucking their little girls behind their legs. Their beautiful anger swelled, but their fear swelled bigger. I knew I was safe, that they could do nothing to me. I said something to a little girl — brown-haired, bright-eyed-something crass about growing up too fast, said soon she would be weathered and ugly like her mommy. That did it. The furious men started to scheme.
They were firemen it seemed, firemen and crossing guards. They wanted to kill me but believed in God and country and laws, so they were conflicted. I was not conflicted. I felt nothing, absolutely nothing, and while I understood their outrage, their fury‑I still scoffed at it. It made them weak, emotional, made them human. It made them mortal. I was inhuman. Yes, I was something else. I fed on the growing fear, it made me powerful, magical even, a kind of sorcerer. I made for the front door, for the covered porch of our enormous log cabin hotel. The men followed, conflicted yet determined as I strolled out into the rain and sand, the giant berms of beach grass swaying in the furious wind. None of it touched me, not the wind, not the rain. I repelled it all. Nothing natural could find me. I was unholy.
The foolish men followed me into the storm, into the maze of swirling sand. They followed my footprints, never realizing it was a trap. The sand, of course, couldn’t touch me, and after losing my trail the men quickly became separated and confused, wind swaying the giant blades of grass. The sand, wet & heavy at their feet, made them slow in their sad, fumbling attacks. I’d fool each man into thinking he’d surprised me. They’d spy me from around a berm, work up the courage, then stumble through a foolish charge. I’d turn on them at the last second cackling, my fingers magically conjured into rusty butcher’s knives and old strait razors. I’d laugh as they bayed and moaned, laugh at their useless slaughter-their screams terrifying each remaining man, the fear making me more and more powerful. Soon I was powerful enough to snap their backs, my hide to thick it wouldn’t even bleed. The slate grey skies wept, the sand and wind-blown grasses spattered wet with the blood of honest, honorable men…
It was another terrible day at work, another terrible drive back home-people zooming in and out of traffic, giving each other the finger, honking, screaming. By the time I got to the front door I was furious.
As I shut the door behind me everything began to lift a bit. I kicked off my shoes, breathed deep, tried to let it all out. I went out back to let the dog off her chain and found it-she’d dug another goddamned hole. That’s when I disappeared. I mean, I was there-but I wasn’t there-if that makes any sense. I could see my fists, I could see the dog cowering, see her eyes flinching closed, hear her yelps…but I was elsewhere-the rational part of me was elsewhere. It’s really hard to explain, but I guess what made it feel so good was that I was finally in control of something. I could feel the sting welling up in my fists, feel the meat of my hands bruising, knuckles chipping-but I didn’t stop. It was a rage pure white and delicious, it was seductive, empowering. Yes, finally my will was being imposed for a change…
In a blink I was back inside myself. My knees buckled and I started to weep, crumbled on top of her, cradled her saying “Imsorry,imsorry,imsorry,imsorry,ssshhhhh,imsososorry.” She was hurt, tried to get away from me but couldn’t. I held her closer, petting her as she whimpered, tried to calm her down. I lifted her, carried her inside-the bright lights of the kitchen spiraled into spiny stars through tears in my eyes. On the couch, I wrapped her in a nearby blanket. I had to get her to a vet, had to make her better…anything to ease the pain.
I loaded her in the passenger seat, swaddled in the blanket and drove furiously to the animal hospital a few miles away. Quickly I unloaded her, carried her into the waiting room of the clinic, nausea bucking my guts. “What’s wrong with her” they said and I knew couldn’t tell the doctors what happened, knew they’d never give her back to me. I somehow had to keep it secret. I would need a story, something plausible, something beyond suspicion, but all I could muster was “I don’t know, she’s hurt…” I could feel the air go out of the room, something about they way I said it, something about my sobbing betrayed me, and they knew…they all knew I’d done this horrible thing. They tried to play it cool, but hatred brimmed just behind their eyes, and in the backrooms I am sure authorities were being called. I knew the only way to keep my beautiful dog was to get her back and get the hell out of there-drive us away and fix her up myself. I tried to weasel my way into the exam room, but they were on to me. I made some half-baked argument about her being my dog, that she was afraid, and it was outlandish that I couldn’t be with her in the exam room. The argument escalated until, finally, one of the men pushed me from the room. Enraged, I went for him, and was soon wrestling the entire staff. They had me pinned down on the cold floor, a tangle of people on each limb as I kicked and screamed…then the vet was on me, trying to inject me with something‑a sedative or maybe a poison. The terrible needle was jammed in near my belly button…
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