ODD SHORT DREAMS
These are just odd short dreams which made an impression on me through very vivid scenes or strong emotions.
Dream – 1/7/18
Me sir? I’m Lazlo, Lazlo Azlos. Yes sir, it is a bit of a mouthful. The Scylla? I signed on as first mate a few months ago. Captain Bill seemed to know his trade. He’s so weather-beaten from years at sea that I don’t know what his ethnicity is, what with his grizzled beard and eyebrows. It was Captain Bill, Maureen – his wife – and the two hands crewing her. Maureen? Yes, she’s the woman – half Bill’s age, skin the colour of strong coffee with a dash of milk, short black hair – a bit vain too, if you don’t mind me saying, sir.
When we arrived in port Bill told the two other hands to take some shore leave. He and I would let the customs officers check the Scylla over for contraband. Maureen kept to her cabin. Well yes, she’s Bill’s wife, but they don’t share a cabin. The officers came on board and once they’d spoken to the captain I was to show them anywhere contraband might be hidden.
No sir, not just contraband. Anything illegal in this jurisdiction. Certain drugs, moonshine, pornography – though when a man’s at sea for long stretches he needs something stimulating, and the captain wouldn’t take kindly to us oggling Maureen. Yes sir, she’s certainly – how shall I say –easy on the eye. Well the pornography is a grey area. Technically it’s illegal hereabouts, but as long as it stays locked while we’re in this jurisdiction and only the captain has a key to the locker, well then it’s okay. The men can have it back once we’re out to sea again.
Yes sir, I showed them everywhere they wanted to go. That’s what captain Bill told me to do. If they want to fish down the heads then let them do so. The searched all the cabins and the galley, and the engine rooms, even shone lights into the fuel and ballast tanks. We came up clean. Smuggled animals? There wasn’t even a cockroach in the kitchen. Cargo? Mostly fibres – jute and suchlike. No sir, nothing exotic, just useful stuff. No sir, they didn’t find anything untoward. That’s right – they just let us on our way.
And Lazlo thought to himself, and once they were gone Bill tapped his nose at me. Always hide the contraband in a place so obvious they won’t even think to look there. Like the tobacco right in the middle of the jute bales, all woven into rope so it looks just like the jute itself. Or disguised as coir mats. Just so it doesn’t look like smoking tobacco. Yes sir, that’s how you do it. That and “a Maureen” to distract them.
Dream – 24/5/2018
I’d been intending to finish with Mick for a while. I was fed up of him always being broke and needing me to bail him out, or drive him somewhere because he couldn’t afford fuel for his car, or order in meals at my expense because he didn’t have money for both rent and food. That day he had managed to put fuel in his car – though in retrospect this might have been by dodging its road tax and insurance – and we’d gone to “sell some stuff” to one of his dodgy friends. Coming back we’d gotten lost. He didn’t sat-nav so I was reading a street plan.
“It said Chelmsford Road for f**k’s sake,” Mick shouted, “this is f**king Chelmsford road!”
I pointed out that Chelmsford Road went through two villages and to just keep going. We ended up turning round in a goods yard (and being shouted at by the yard manager) and finally found where we were going. I stayed in the car while Mick did whatever it was he was doing – dodgy goods, dodgy substances, stuff that would be no concern of mine after today – and half an hour later he came back with a wad of money.
We found the way back to his flat with little incident.
“Thirty-six quid after I’ve paid the rent arrears,” Mick grinned, “Babe, I’m practically rich! It was a great day wasn’t it?”
“Yeah Mick, it was a great day,” I agreed, not mentioning that swearing and cursing and sitting around while he did something illegal, “It’s good we’re ending on a high.”
“What the f**k d’you mean, babe? You’re not still talking about leaving me are you?”
“Yeah Mick, it’s over,” I told him, “really over.” And I picked up my cardigan from the sofa that doubled as his bed.
“C’mon babe, I’ll change!”
No you won’t, I thought to myself, you’ll always be the same dodgy Mick, scrounging off others and doing dodgy deals. Instead I just said “Bye Mick,” and opened the door of his flat.
As I stepped into the hallway I heard him cursing. I ran down the two flights of wooden stairs that curved back on themselves in the compact space. I heard him lumbering after me and I was more scared of him than I had ever been before.
“Dave! Dave!” I yelled, hoping the downstairs neighbour would hear me and come out to shout at Mick. No-one messed with Dave, not even Mick. But Dave either wasn’t in or couldn’t hear me. Mick caught up with me at the street door. He pressed his mouth against my ear and breathed smoky breath at me “I love you, babe,” and he slobbered a clumsy kiss on my cheek.
“F**k off, Mick,” and he was so shocked at hearing me swear that he stepped back and watched me leave.
I walked quickly to where my car was parked on the street. To my shock the bonnet was up and one of the front wheels had gone, replaced by a pile of bricks. Yellow and red paint was sprayed along the driver’s side. Sod it, I thought, though I could have wept with frustration, I’ve had enough for today. At least without Mick scrounging off me I could afford to write it off, just like I’d finally written him off.
“Get in, get in, quickly,” the man exhorted.
I scrambled into the back seat next to two sisters. Each had a cat carrier on their lap – my cats. The third carrier was on my lap. No way was a I leaving my family behind, even if my family were furry rather than human. Excluding the cats there were five of us. The couple who owned the car, Paul and “what’s-her-name,” the two sisters and myself. We were neighbours and now were friends in adversity. The virus had spread from London and was steadily infecting Essex.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
“West, gotta keep moving west, keep ahead of the infection,” said Paul. His wife, in the passenger seat, nodded silently.
He drove like a maniac, but luckily the traffic was all moving westwards. A few crossroads were hair-raising as cars sped north or south – to get loved ones, to get home and get their stuff, whatever – and we raced through streets and suburbs, staying clear of the snarled-up main roads. Paul knew a lot of the back routes. Apart from the confused miaows of the cats, we were quiet, as though silence would get us away from infection even faster.
There’s a gap in my memory here. Paul and Susan – aka what’s-her-name – and I were in the front room of a bungalow. It had a wide bay window. On the sofa was a blanket. The last of the three cats was wrapped in it. They’d succumbed to infection just the same as the two sisters. How long ago was that? Two days ago that the sisters had died. Then two of the cats. Then the last cat this morning.
“Gotta pee,” I mumbled and headed to the bathroom.
“Tell Norman ….” Susan shouted after me …
“Norman’s gone!” I shouted back, “He’s left already.”
I couldn’t remember who Norman was. Some friend of Paul’s?
Susan started crying. The two sisters were wrapped in tartan blankets in the bedroom. No time to bury them. I’d show signs of infection – that was why my memory was shot – but it was only a mild form which meant I was immune. Paul and Susan had also fought off infection. Us older people, Susan had said, hadn’t been raised in the obsessive hygiene culture and were better equipped to deal with the virus. Norman was immune after infection has spread down his street. You could smell the decay from some of the houses where the bodies of those less fortunate lay rotting. Sometimes you could hear the cry of a baby or small child whose parents had died, but no-one dared go in and rescue him – or her – for fear that they had a mutant strain. Children were the super-spreaders.
On the way here, Paul had siphoned diesel from the strap-on tanks of a lorry whose driver had pulled over and died.
“Ireland has closed all its borders,” he said, “any boat that tries to land is being shot out of the water. The USA has shut itself off. We can go west, but there’s nowhere to go once we hit the coast.”
“So what now?” I asked.
“East,” said Susan, “everyone – everything - susceptible will be dead now, even the super-spreaders.” (Funny how we couldn’t bear to say “children.”) “East and start over.”
Dream September 2017
Our punt bumped the one in front and I braced my legs against its sides. Frank was in front of me, between my knees, similarly braced, and our sack of supplies was in the bow of the punt, between his ankles
“Careful!” warned the boat tunnel man, pushing the stern of our boat away from him.
Bumping around the turn, our boat – and the one in front and the one behind – jolted down the channel and into the root of the mountain. It was cold and clammy, dark and dirty, the only lights being the smoky oil lanterns strung along the tunnel sides. To the left was a wall of rock. To the right, a long slow slope of steps below the oil lanterns. People trudged up those steps towards daylight, their two week shift at an end.
Time stood still until we finally reached the lagoon under the mountain. Frank grabbed the sack of our belongings and we jumped onto the quay. The place echoed with noise as picks and shovels excavated the black rock. Sacks of rock were loaded into the vacated punts and they were pushed back into the channel, to find their way down the long, slow slope and out of the mountain to be met by unpackers.
“Two weeks,” said Frank, “Two weeks without sunlight.” That wasn’t strictly true, because light shafts and mirrors guided a little light into the caverns.
“Two weeks,” I agreed, “and maybe we’ll be lucky to find something in the rock.”
That was why people came to work in this hell, not just for the combustible rock shipped out by the sackful, but in the hope of finding some gem or artefact in the process. Chambers led away from the quay and we were directed to one of them. One day the mountain would be honeycombed by tunnels and probably fall in on itself, but not yet. Sometimes diggers stumbled on something left behind by the old ones – strange machinery, too large to move, or parts of even larger machines. Some things could be scavenged for metal and something were just left, useless to us and their original purpose unknown.
On our second day of digging and of pushing barrows of black rock towards the quay, we hit a solid wall. The section supervisor told us to keep excavating. If it was something valuable behind the wall she would get a bonus and so, hopefully, would we.
On the fifth day of digging, we had cleared away a wall of useless white stone to reveal two pairs huge iron-bound doors, strangely unrusted, either side of a stone column set into the rock face.
On the sixth day, we had cleared enough of the floor to see sets of tracks where the doors opened on their heavy hinges. Without waiting for instructions from above, the supervisor told us to get the doors open if we could. Should we get help from other diggers? No, she told us, let’s keep the bonus between just three of us.
Behind the doors were two massive black, metal cylinders, on their sides so that the two round ends faced the doors. In the face of those round ends were hatches and doors. We’d never seen anything like it.
Frank moved a lantern closer, and in doing so we saw writing engraved on the opened doors. This was something from the time of the old ones, surely too lofty for diggers to understand? But no, the instructions were clear and plain. Make sure the chimneys were not blocked and the upper chamber of the sideways cylinders were full of water then stoke and light the boilers in the lower half. Stoke with what? Why combustible black rock! The old ones had built this engine in the middle of everything it needed – a mountain of black rock to burn, a constant source of water and chimneys right up a mountain.
This wasn’t just a bonus, this was a civilization-changing discovery.
Dream June 2017
I recognised the agent at once. Unfortunately, so did the trio of enemy agents.
“Follow me,” I told him, “I can get you to your car and then I’ll decoy them while you get out of town.”
We made our way into a connecting tunnel in the nearest underground station, disused of course, but not yet drowned, and through the maze of passages to a staff room.
“That locker has a false back, it leads into the lower level of the car park. I can meet you later on.”
He nodded, thanked me and went through the anonymous looking locker in the middle of a row of identical metal lockers. Meanwhile, I kept going along the passage, making enough noise that the trio of grey suits would follow me.
The ruse worked and I had made my way up several ramps and staircases before my pursuers caught sight of me and realised I was now alone. Their only option now was to catch me and find out where the agent and I had parted company. Luckily I had another trick up my sleeve and led them a merry chase in the labyrinthine building, among shop fronts and market stalls and finally into a restaurant area. There were several people drinking coffee at the wooden tables and they looked surprised to see a woman run towards the casement windows with their multiple panels of glass and dark wooden astragal bars in the Georgian style. Surely I wasn’t going to jump from the 2nd storey?
I paused briefly, standing on the frame. Below me was a lake, bounded by white stone walls. I jumped headfirst . . .
. . . and, spreading my arms out wide to help with orientation and manoeuvring, I levelled off before hitting the water. I was gravity-defiant. They were not. Below me, a man picked his way across a series of stepping stones from one side of a channel to another. The tops of neo-Roman style stone arches were just above the water level. The stepping stones were the protruding stubs of walls of drowned buildings. Atop the buildings still standing were the buildings of New London, a mishmash of timber framed buildings with Georgian windows. Stone and wooden bridges spanned the channels that replaced the major roads. A few flat-bottomed boats rowed along the waterways. Elsewhere, the upper stories of buildings had collapsed, forming the solid ground. New London was a city of interconnected islands built on top of the sunken old London, only the tallest roofs, and old viaducts and flyovers standing high and dry, albeit sinking into water-sodden decay as their metal parts rusted and mortar crumbled and the structures sank under their own weight.
The three grey suits were leaning out of the restaurant window. A shot whistled past me, but they could not follow. Flying high above the channels, I followed the old roads out of the city and into the green islands of the suburbs. A tangle of motorway junctions marked the old roadways. Below me, a train sped by on an embankment heading into the green northern hills, above sea level and affluent. To the east were the fenlands of East Anglia, sinking towards the uncertain boundary between land and sea. My home was now an island in the Essex marshes, but I was heading north, but I was heading north.
THE SLEEPER AWAKENS
Dream April 2017
The three sleepers lay as always in a row of three hospital beds. The sleeper at the far end had begun to scream. This could only mean one thing – his avatar had come too close. The grey-faced Guardian sat, as always, in the corner of the room nearest me, dozing (as always) in his chair. This gave me a dilemma. I needed to wake the screaming sleeper, but the only way to do that was to kill the Guardian and then all three sleepers would wake – and that was not a desirable option because it would also allow their avatars to come into our world. No-one had foreseen this possibility. The risk of leaving the screaming one asleep outweighed the risk of waking all three. I raised my curved blade and sliced open the Guardian’s head. He never woke and he never felt a thing. All three sleepers screamed in their sleep as their avatars – grey-face and grim, robed in brown and grey - broke through the walls of reality. I turned to face the first of the avatars and raised my curved blade.
THE CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL
Dream early 2017.
For some reason the scene in this dream seemed incredibly important and I felt I ought to recognise it.
At first I am walking along a corridor. This is the first storey above ground level. To my left side are a series of plain wooden doors – a pale wood - to small rooms. To my right side is a row of wide metal-framed windows – 1930s style, each pane is wider than it is tall. On the window sill (which is about hip-height) in front of each window is a small vase of flowers or a small potted flowering plant. It’s an attempt to make the Spartan corridor look cheerful. Apart from the flowers, there are no ornaments. The windows overlook a concrete area. On the other side of the concrete is another part of this building, 2 storeys, also with wide metal-framed windows. It’s like a mirror image of the corridor I am in. The corridor floor is covered in cream linoleum tiles lightly specked with black. The walls are a pale cream-green, the sort you see in institutions.
Although I am currently the only person in the corridor, the building isn’t abandoned. I get the feeling that the people who live and work here are currently elsewhere. At this time of day (mid-morning? mid-afternoon?) the wide windows let in plenty of light. Ahead of me is a single white painted panelled door with a brass door-knob on the left, set quite high up – 1930s style. Unlike the doors to the rooms, it’s one of the original doors in the building. It is part open and that is where I am heading – the room at the end of the corridor.
I push the door open and stand in the doorway. I can feel that the room is chillier than the corridor. The floor is a checkerboard of black and white linoleum tiles. Straight ahead of me is a toilet – white ceramic, mahogany seat (I don’t see a lid), and a high-level black cistern with the pull chain (with a boxy wooden handle) on the right. On the wall to my right is a single metal framed window, about chest height. The glass is frosted, but the window opens (there is a single glass panel with a fanlight above it). All the walls are a pale “institution green.”
To the left of the toilet is a large, square wash basin with some wooden shelves under it and a wooden shelving unit beside it. The shelves are dark and look well used. The room is quite wide – the full width of the corridor and the small rooms leading to it – and there is a matching frosted window at the other end of the room. If both windows are opened, the wind will whistle straight through the room.
Against the wall opposite the wash basin is a white claw-foot bath. It’s about halfway between the white door and window on the far wall. The taps are at the end furthest from the door. There is a metal hose and shower attachment resting on a cradle above the taps. A shower curtain can be pulled around the bath for privacy, because I have the feeling this large bathroom is used communally. In front of the bath is a heavy wooden bench with an off-white towel on it.
I walk across to the far window, push it open a little way and look out. To my left, the building continues straight ahead. Ahead and to the right is a large lawn. There is a paved pathway running against the side of the building, below the level of the lawn (so there is a sloping “wall” made of the same paving slabs). I get the sense that this institution is on the outskirts of London as it was in the 1940s or 50s.
The bathroom is chilly – it’s on the end of the corridor so it has 3 uninsulated brick walls and 2 draughty windows that will rattle when it’s windy. It’s a bit damp and gloomy if truth be told, and has a sort of “school PE changing rooms” smell mixed with the smell of carbolic soap. I feel it is used by youngsters so maybe this is a 1930s-built children’s institution in the 1940s or 50s. I don’t know why it feels familiar or significant.
(Update: I had a sudden flash of a little boy aged 7 or 8 in the bath. I was using the shower-head to rinse off his red-brown hair. He was laughing, I also heard a snatch of a counting/nonsense song. I think I must have worked at this place.)
THE CIRCASSIAN ATTACK
13th July 2015
A countrywide school tech project had turned into a major hazard because "faulty electronic components" supplied to schools meant every school-child had built a bomb. These had to be collected up and destroyed - army vehicles everywhere! I came across a convoy of army vehicles carrying a large number of these student bombs. I realised it was an alien plot by the Circassians because I was actually an alien who'd been living on earth for over a hundred years ready to protect the world against the Circassians. I knew the Circassians and humans would be able to detect me by my unusually high body temperature. This was caused by an energy storing internal organs that contained lithium compounds. It also meant we aliens could fly. This in turn meant that the military forces would regard us as a threat which was why we stayed hidden in human form and did mundane jobs (electrician, car repairs etc). Unfortunately, by snooping on the military convoy I had made them suspicious and they had used thermal imaging cameras ... and my unusual heat signature had made them even more suspicious. That meant I had to get away from the convoy doublke-quick and warn my alien colleagues of the Circassian threat.
Because it was an emergency, I flew to our hidden ship which was hidden inside a block of flats. The rest of the crew had grown bored and most had pretty much forgotten our real mission because we'd been there for so long without anything happening. I persuaded one off the crew to stop repairing a car and to unseal the secret door in one of the flats so we could get into the control room. Inside the control room, a signal beacon was bleeping because it had detected Circassians. The crew member had been lazy andignored his duty to check the early warning beacon so he'd sealed it away in the hidden control room. This meant the Circassians had already almost reached Earth.>
One of us, doing a mundane job as an electrician, had collected up a lot of student-bombs and rewired them to be used against the Circassians so we loaded them into our ship inside the block of flats. I remember saying "When did you last see a large building take off? Except for Doctor Who of course."
The ship/block of flats lifted off after it had evicted the human occupants and their possessions (sorry humans, but this is for your own good!) and went into hyperspace until it reached the far side of the moon. From there we could see that the Circassian hunter ships were homing in on Earth and the Circassian bomb ships were bombarding it with long range missiles. Earth had no idea what was hitting it. We saw major buildings struck by the missiles. Several of us bailed out into space and turned into our native form (a bit like huge jellyfish) to fight the Circassian hunter ships. Each ship was manned by 2 Circassians - grey-bearded male humanoids in red and black leather-like uniform. The Circassian hunter ships were very fast-moving, very agile arrow-shaped ships designed to do raids and get away quickly.
Hyperspace was amazing. It was full of colours and images. It was especially amazing if you were a jellyfish-type creature and could swim around in hyperspace. I did some somersaults to get used to being a space jellyfish again. The colours were like ribbons of light swirling across hyperspace. The images were landmarks on Earth, visible in close-up, but a long way from the planet because of the way hyperspace distorted everything. The coloured ribbons and images also acted like signposts for ships to follow when they wanted to reach a particular planet. If we wanted to return to Earth, we just had to follow the Earth images until we reached an exit inside the planet's atmosphere.
Unfortunately, our spaceship needed repairs. Our commander told us we needed a special part for our ship (which was old and hadn't been maintained properly because we'd become complacent) so we could drive back the Circassian bomb-ships. It was a special type of repair tape that hadn't been manufactured for about 400 years, which was the age of our ship. He had transmitted coded enquiries and the only known piece of this tape was held as a relic by the Sisterhood of Jebsi 8. We had to persuade them that their centuries old relic was essential for us to defend a rather primitive planet called Earth. The Sisterhood dressed in yellow robes. The meeting place reminded me of Stonehenge. They offered the relic to us very reverently telling us it was an ancient holy relic held in trust for "the defenders."
I woke up as they were handing us the tape, which looked like a long piece of very thick duct tape. This was a huge pity as I was really enjoying the dream of giant hyperspace jellyfish vs the Circassians.
A few years ago I had a similarly themed dream. I was one of Earth's secretly resident aliens and a threat was detected. I had to welcome two ambassadors onto Earth, also secretly. One was called Lady Duck,she seemed quite young and lively and she wanted to try out some Earthing men. The other was the Empress of the Universe and she came with an entourage of a thousand drones - sterile male workers/soldiers - whome we had to "park" somewhere. Luckily they could go into semi-hibernation standing up for almost a whole Earth day. The Empress, Lady Duck and I went to a nice olde worlde tea shop for tea, scones and to discuss strategies against the alien menace (it was never quite defined what this was).
GRAVITY DEFIANT AND GRAVITY COMPLIANT
A dream in April 2015
"Get out! There's nothing I can teach you!" she shouted at me.
While the other gravity-defiant kids were cautiously flying, or rather floating, from one end of the gym to the other, I was doing mid-air backflips and other aerobatics, my arms outstretched like aeroplane wings for balance and counter-balance. I landed - on my feet of course, and not on my butt like the beginners - and walked out of the door.
In a softer voice, the teacher said "but you are welcome back when it's time to pick your team."
"Don't worry, I won't need one," I said defiantly, and jumped into the air from the staircase rather than walk down.
It wasn't my fault I was a natural. The gravity-defiant mutation manifested strongly in me and flying was second nature. I don't know how I did it, it was like I could switch off gravity's pull at will. While the gravity-compliant walked, we gravity-defiant flew, floated or levitated. How we flew was up to us. I favoured an aeroplane style (best for aerobatics), others went for a streamlined diving posture (for speed) and those with weaker gravity-defiance levitated upright or cross-legged at walking pace.
The next decade were my wilderness years in the north of the country, acting as a messenger or courier in return for the price of a meal and a hostel for the night. No team, no ground support, just me, a backpack and the freedom of the air. During that time more and more youngsters manifested gravity-defiance and the government set up an agency to control it. Luckily I'd dropped off their radar (northerners can be very closed-mouthed and resented interference from London) or they would have wanted my DNA. By now they were encouraging gravity-defiants to marry among themselves to produce a next generation with even stronger abilities. Hah! The penalty of my ability was barrenness - strong-flying women found themselves wed to the skies.
After nearly fifteen years I decided to return to society. Regulation had succeeded in making my profession tenuous, even in the rural north, and I was being personally attacked by one of the Agents who'd become aware of my existence. I wasn't getting any younger and I could feel my abilities waning, so it was time to face down the Agency - and especially this particular Agent.
"The Agency will train you and protect you," the Agent was telling the outdoor class of 8 - 10 year olds. I saw his eyes widen as changed from aeroplane to upright and landed softly on my feet, "... because you wouldn't want to be an Outcast."
"The Agency will control when and where you fly, and who you marry. It wants to breed you," I replied softly, "Some of you will become weapons. You won't be free to fly anymore."
"Perhaps we'd better see who's the best flyer - an Outcast or a trained Agent?" he retorted.
Our duel was above the field. The decades in the wilderness had let me perfect my own virtuoso style and I knew tricks and dodges that never occurred to his trained mind. That, and the fact that I fight dirty. I pretty much knocked him out of the sky, much to the children's delight, but at the same time his colleagues took note of my aerial abilities and two took to the air to tackle me. Tired from the duel and older than my opponents I may have been, but my years of practice made many manoeuvres unconscious. Unhindered by rules or regulations, I made it back to one of my aeries.
It wasn't my first attack on the authorities, but it had to be my last. They were wising up to my style. Where to now? Maybe across the border to the Kingdom of Scotland, which takes no notice of Westminster's edicts (and likes to cock a snook at requests to turn Outcasts over to the English authorities). With more years behind me than ahead of me, I might yet make my living encouraging young fliers to test their limits and develop their strengths, not follow the textbook formula. I've sown my seeds of dissent and now it's time to see what grows.
17/18 Aug 2014
Mama said we would make the journey to our new home by sky-train. This was a source of great excitement to me as I'd seen the sky-trains crossing high overhead and I'd read about them in books, but didn't think I'd ever travel on one. Of course, I was quite a young boy at the time. Mama had sent our luggage on ahead by surface crawler, the slow tracked vehicle would take a week or more to reach the next city, because we couldn't afford to take any luggage by air. We boarded our carriage at the foot of the pylon and it was hoisted slowly up the 5 mile tower to join the other carriages. As a small boy, I was thrilled to see the dusty streets and rooftops diminishing below us, and then the city itself diminishing into a blotch of dusty roofs in the wide, dusty, red-brown barrens. In the distance, I was sure I could see the pylons of the two closest cities.
At the top of the pylon, we were hitched to several other carriages ready to depart. Above us the sky was a clear pale orange. Below us, the barrens were a dusty brown. Already I could feel the air-stream jostling the carriages.
"Will we see clouds?" I asked mama. I'd read of clouds in my books.
"Don't be silly," she replied, ruffling my hair "not even great-grand-dad has seen clouds."
This was true. The clouds had burnt away many years before grand-dad was born. Instead of water from the sky, we relied on water trapped underground, but each year the boreholes had to go deeper to find a wet aquifer. Above us was clear cloudless sky, right up to where the atmosphere met space.
Now the carriage was rocking with the wind. This was thrilling because there were no wind currents further down, but up here there were jet streams that roared around the world, rising and falling, branching and twisting at the north and south tropics and at the equator. The carriage conductor yelled at us to "hold on tight," and then the sky-train surged forwards onto one of those jet streams. I admit that I screamed as it dropped slightly before surging forwards, and mama was a little white faced, but we picked up speed and raced along the air-stream towards one of the distant pylons I'd seen. We really were going to the next city!
I have to admit, the journey was a little boring after that moment. Apart from occasional turbulence rocking the carriages, there was little to see and little to do except read the book I'd brought with me. The only excitement was when we spotted a sky train intersecting our path on the left, but travelling on a higher air-stream.
"That's the north-south streamer, young man," the conductor told me, "He's heading south to the ore mines."
There being little else to do, the conductor started telling me about sights he'd seen while working different sky-train routes, "At the dry continental shelf, there are giant mare's-tail trees whose roots reach down to the deepest aquifers. It looks like they are on the edge of a lake, but what looks like water is a type of clear goo that bubbles out of the ocean bed. Their roots have to go right down deep or the goo would choke them. The mare's-tails are a hundred feet tall and the locals tap into their stems for water."
Below us, a small plume of dust marked the barrens: a surface crawler making its slow way from one city to the next. I wondered if our belongings were on there, along with people who needed to move, but who couldn't afford the sky-train. What a long, boring journey they would have with nothing to see except the barrens for days on end until they reached the crawler port at the other end.
A cloudless, windless world of barren plains where high altitude air currents roar around the planet; mare's-tails that have evolved over thousands of years into trees; lakes of waterless goo ... what is this place? Why, child, this is planet Earth.
BACK IN TIME
Morning of 12/5/2014
I had a peculiarly vivid dream about 9/11. I was in one of the towers and had foreknowledge of the events (in fact had current day knowledge and I was aware that I was in the middle of past events). I had to persuade one of the women in an office above the impact zone to leave because "something's about to happen". I insisted we used Stairwell D, not the lifts and that we had 15 minutes to get as far down as possible and as fast as possible - in particular below the level of the sky lobby. After 15 mins there was a huge thump from way above us that shook the stairwell. We kept heading down and at level 9 there were people flooding into the stairwell - some trying to go upwards to rescue people. I kept my friend going and when we hit the street I insisted we just keep on going - on foot - because "it's not over yet" and because of all the emergency vehicles. People were standing around watching in disbelief. Debris was falling and we made it into a coffee bar on the right hand side of us and told folks there to put the TV on. A little while later, the street was engulfed in a huge dust storm that billowed from our left, and I insisted the staff pulled some people in off the street to safety inside. (The following night was an equally vivid dream about fighting a fire in a refrigeration warehouse. )
BACK TO SCHOOL
29/30 April 2013
I had been put in Mrs Hannam’s class and after playtime on the school field it was art class. The desks had been pushed together to make larger workspaces and covered with newspaper. The two boys on my table were daubing large sheets of paper with paint. They were standing up over their artwork and I was sitting down with mine on my knees.
“It’s a truck” said one, pointing to a mis-shapen rendition of a lorry.
“Mine’s a fire engine,” said the other.
“And what are you drawing?” Mrs Hannam asked me.
I tried to hide my draughtsman’s drawing of a heavy vehicle’s manual transmission system, from cab controls to gearbox and axles. Mrs Hannam expected to see a crudely daubed sheet of paper with mismatched black splodges for wheels. It was too late, she’d already spotted it.
“You really should try harder to fit in,” she said.
I stood up and said, a little harshly, “How? I’m not a child. I’m a 47 year old woman, and an engineer, and I’ve been put with a class of 8 and 9 year olds.”
Though I was a full head taller than the primary school teacher, she didn’t seem to notice I wasn’t a child.
“You really should try harder to fit in.”
For some reason this room, though I don’t recall any such room in real life, seemed to be very important to my subconscious. I found myself surveying it in detail. It’s a shared bathroom in some sort of institution. Although the room and its fittings are antiquated and spartan, it was not possible to tell which decade this room exists in. I got an impression of the 1950s or earlier.
I am walking along a corridor in an institution type building. To my left are a few painted wooden doors. To my right the wall has several panels of those glass bricks that let light into public toilets or cellars. A slender woman with a borzoi dog passes me in the other direction. The theme of the corridor walls and doors is institutional pale green. At the end is an unpainted wooden panelled door. The round black door knob is at chest level, like those in early 20th century houses.
The door is hinged to the left and opens into a large, chilly bathroom. The floor is chequered with black and white lino tiles. To my right is a small frosted glass sash window. Ahead of me is an antiquated looking toilet with a mahogany seat, no accompanying lid, and a wall-mounted black cistern high above. There’s a pull chain with a white handle. A few feet to the left of the toilet is a wash-basin. It is on a pedestal. The shape of the basin is rectangular, but with the corners “chopped off”. The two taps are old-fashioned with cross-head handles. Further still to the left, are some wooden shelves where towels are probably stored.
Opposite the basin, and therefore to my immediate left behind the door, is a bath. It is a white enamelled tub standing on metal feet. There’s a white privacy curtain around it that comes just below the top rim of the bath. This is so that a person can bathe in relative privacy while other people come in and out of the bathroom. Evidently, if a person wants a bath, they mustn’t inconvenience those who need to use the wash-basin or toilet. Just beyond the bath, and opposite the wooden shelves, is a wooden stall where the bather’s clothes can be left. At the far wall there is probably a window, but I can’t remember.
Apart from the black and white floor, the white enamel and the black cistern, the colour scheme remains pale institutional green, with a fly-spotted ceiling that was originally white and has discoloured to yellow. There’s a single strip light. The room seems damp and chilly. I expect to see a large green-painted radiator, the sort you see in schools, that resembles a dinosaur’s ribcage, but if it’s there it’s out of my sight.
MY HEAD IS A HOLODECK
6th-7th Nov 2012
My dreaming mind is a personal holodeck.
I spent most of last night dreaming I was a reptilian-alien crew-member in Next Generation! Dr Pulaski was giving human crew-members their flu shots, but being a reptilian alien I didn't need a flu shot, nor a shot against the Stygian Plague. I joked that my body could replicate Stygian Plague antibodies to give to other people. While others queued for their vaccinations, Commander Riker and I had to hunting down a troublesome alien stowaway. The alien was a short squat grey-green goblin with a spiny frill on its scalp and jowls, and hanging folds of slimy skin on its body. It was like a living gargoyle.
We split up in order to cover more ground and I entered the holodeck to search for the stowaway. I found myself in a holodeck program where a raiding party (humans in Klingon gear) carried off/rescued a human woman in a crimson dress who'd been tied up by a kidnapper. This holodeck program turned out to be the personal holodeck fantasy of my superior officer and his wife. Their chosen holodeck setting was the Enterprise itself, which was very disconcerting for me. As I dodged the raiding/rescue party down holographic starship corridors, I thought "whoops, this could be awkward next time I'm in a meeting with him".
Cut from being a character to being an observer on another scene. The moist-skinned goblin had gone into a turbo-lift where Data was "most curious" about it. Unable to scare the android , and feeling trapped, the goblin shot up through the ceiling, got mangled by the old-fashioned chains of the lift mechanism and fell onto the floor. The lift had a horrible red/rust pattern carpet on the floor. The mangled bits of goblin-alien dissolved the floor and fell down the lift shaft. Worryingly, the pieces were coalescing back into the goblin even as they dissolved the turbo lift floor. With the turbo lift in that section out of action, I had to use a conventional staircase - the rather dingy concret sort you find in a multi-storey car park. There was a strong feeling of menace emanating from the staircase.
Having gone up a couple of floors on foot, I went gone into 2 school classrooms. The Enterprise seemed to have a huge number of young children on board as there were 2 classrooms, each with about 30 children. I asked each class if any of the children had seen the goblin or if it had touched any of them. There was a moment of panic when the youngest class said they fed the goblin. Luckily it turned out that "Goblin" was the name of their class mascot - a very friendly grey-brown Maine Coon cat.
I made it onto the bridge without having found the goblin. The forward view showed the Enterprise heading through a cloud of gas surrounding a binary star system of 2 bright yellow suns. As it emerged from the gas, the scene cut to a view of the goblin, no longer looking slimy, walking across the semi-molten surface of a planet under a lurid orange sky. It had simply been trying to hitch a ride home.
A HELPING HAND
9th-10th Oct 2012
My subconscious speaks to me in dreams in parables ....I think this one is about needing (and accepting) help to overcome long-term illness.
I was in a bookshop, downstairs in the magazine dept. The main book dept was upstairs. It was a 2-storey staircase and the stairs were shallow, but my legs became weaker as I climbed them. Other people didn't notice that I was starting to struggle and they reached the top with ease. About two thirds of the way up, my legs were so weak I couldn't take another step upwards. Only the handrail kept me upright. Looking up at the book dept, I thought "there's probably nothing up there I want to read anyway". Gripping the handrail, I went back down to the ground floor.
A little while later, I was joined in the magazine dept by some more friends. We wanted to go up to the book department, but I knew the climb was too hard for me and was reluctant to try again. This time though, a friend was behind me as I started up the stairs.
"Don't worry," he said, "I'm right behind you. If you start to slip, I can catch you."
I held the handrail, and my friend put one hand against my back - not to push me up the stairs, but to encourage my progress and support me if my legs gave way.
With the confidence that he wouldn't let me fall, I reached the book department. Far from being "nothing I wanted to read", I found it was full of fascinating books.
ANOTHER TIME-SLIP DREAM
I slipped a couple of hundred years into the future and found my home still existed, but was abandoned. Strangely, it had been hidden behind a large metal roller-shutter in semi-derlict inner city area. The street was lined with old brick warehouse-like buildings and a brick bridge, possible a railway bridge, went over the street a bit further along. It looked like the sort of place drunks, druggies and down-and-outs would sleep. After breaking through the metal shutters, with the aid of a passing street-gang and their rocket launcher, I went in for a look around and found my house preserved.
Despite being behind metal shutters, the house seemed well lit. My living room was empty of furniture, but still had the carpet. The 1970s gas fire (that got removed when the heating system was upgraded) was back in the living room, mounted on the chimney breast as it used to be. Apart from that, the room was empty of furniture. The kitchen was completely different - it was my parents' kitchen as it used to be a decade earlier - 3 times the size of my own kitchen which meant the house had been expanded to one side. The fridge was working and there was stale food in it.
Upstairs, I didn't like the bathroom suite or decor. The ceramic wall tiles were hideous floral pattern. The bath had been changed and now had a mixer tap and shower attachment half-way along the side. The shower head seemed to be mounted too low on the wall. The loft, which was still accessed by a ladder through the loft-hatch, had been converted into a room. The floor was boarded over and there were windows in the slope of the roof.
Back downstairs, I went to look out of the dining room window. This should have overlooked the back garden, but when I looked out the window, I saw a whole different and nicely kept housing estate had been built around the house. This struck me as odd because I'd discovered my house behind metal shutters while walking through that derelict inner city area. The adjoining house had gone, making my home a detached corner property instead of a semi-detached house halfway down a street. What used to be the back window overlooked a pleasant road with roadsigns on a grassy area at the corner. What used to be the party wall also had a window in it. According to roadsigns of the housing estate, it was on the corner of Cockriknott Road (pronounced cokri-not) and Carlodito Road (neither of which exist at the present time) and this had become the Italian Quarter of town.
I was trying to find a ladder to climb up into the loft for a look out of the loft windows when I woke up. For a few moments my brain was surprised to find my house exactly as it was before I went to sleep.
AN ATTIC OF MEMORIES
6th August 2012
This dream had a vaguely "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" with three children playing in the attic of an old house and a magic doorway looking into the past. I don't have siblings of those ages in real life.
I was 11 or 12 years old with a 10 year old brother (Paul) and 7 year old sister (Lucy). We had moved into a very old house, or perhaps a hotel, with a large attic that we liked to play in. There were some wooden packing crates in there, a couple of old tennis racquets in wooden clamps, and a few items of broken furniture, but not much else; in our games, those crates became boats, cars or tables. Lucy, who always liked to be centre of attention, was lying on a long crate pretending to be a hospital patient and Paul and I were the doctor and nurse discussing her treatment.
"It's no good," said Paul, "I'm going to have to amputate ...."
Just then, a shadow went past the open doorway.
The attic is on a narrow corridor that runs along one of the outside walls of the top floor. Its doorway, which no longer has a door, is opposite a window made of several panes in a white window frame with a slightly arched top. If you look out of the attic door to your right, it takes you to some wooden steps down to a big open area. To the left it goes in higgledy-piggledy fashion around the house, a few steps up and a few steps down, and with twists and turns. It's like this because the house sort of "grew" as new bits got built.
We'd become bored with pretending Lucy is sick, though she is enjoying the attention of course. All our games seem to involve Lucy, the baby of the family, getting attention - she's a bit spoilt. When the shadow passed the doorway, Paul and I left her lying on the crate, where she complained why wouldn't we play with her, and we stood in the attic doorway to look out of the window.
This is the attic's real attraction - when we look out the attic doorway we can see into the past. The corridor itself isn't very interesting - sometimes we see a servant walk past carrying something, but the window is much more fun. We've tried a few times to step out of the attic to see if we can get into the past, but that doesn't work. If we step out the doorway we are back in the present. And when we step back into the attic, we might be looking at a different time in the past or simply at the modern time. We think of the attic as a room full of memories that likes to show us what this house has seen.
We first discovered this when we stood in the doorway looking out of the window at the great fire of London in the distance. It was amazing the way it lit up the sky. We only knew what it was because of scurrying household staff in the corridor. At first we thought we'd become invisible because they didn't notice us in the doorway. A lot later we realised that the doorway can't have been there several hundred years ago.
"London is on fire!" said a young woman in a grey dress. She and others took turns to peer through the window.
We could see the landscape from the attic doorway and it wasn't the London we knew. There was a lot of dark empty countryside between this house and the fire, though today it's all roads, housing estates and street-lighting, and London is almost on our doorstep. There were too many people bustling about for us to get a closer look and when we did eventually step out of the attic doorway we were back in the modern time. It took a bit of experimentation and going in and out of the attic door to work out what was going on. Most times we went into the attic, we would see a different period of the past, but only things that happened while the house existed. Bits of the house are different ages and rooms have changed a great deal, but the attic must be in the oldest wing of the house as it has seen a great deal of history.
When the servants in uniform walk along the corridor past the attic door they can't see us in the attic. Maybe it's just a blank wall with no doorway, or a shut door, or maybe there's no wall at all because the original attic in this wing of the house hadn't been divided up into smaller rooms. Some of the more recent staff seemed to have lived up here though. If they step into the attic, they step into it in their own time-period which is different from the time-period we are in. They walk towards the doorway and vanish. At first that was quite scary, but when we got used to it we found it funny how they'd get closer and closer to the door and just disappear. That's how we know they've gone into the attic that existed in their own time. If we step out of the attic, we can't step into their time, only into our own.
We tried things like putting an arm through the doorway to see if people from the past could see us; we could see our own arms sticking out into the corridor, but the people couldn't see it. If one of us leans through the doorway, we lean into our own time, but anyone not leaning can see us leaning into whatever time period the attic is showing us. This is only fun if there are people in the corridor. We also found that the grown-ups can't see these things, only me, Paul and Lucy. Lucy only stopped being frightened when we told her it was like TV and the people weren't ghosts. Lucy is a bit young to be interested in history. Because the attic sometimes shows us the same memories, like the fire of London which we've seen three or four times now, she soon got bored; she thinks it's all repeats like on TV.
Paul, who is bright and scientific, tried to explain how it works. The attic is like a big book and everyone who goes into it is opening the same book, but at a different page. So when people from the past come into the attic, they are opening the book at a different page and don't meet us on our page. That's how we can all be in the attic at once without bumping into people from different times - we are all on different pages.
A CHIMP AND A CHAIR
Although some people tell me it's unusual to dream of reading, it's something I do regularly - I seem to have a whole library in my subconscious. And what I read in my dreams is perfectly clear (no jumbled words) and the words/sentences make sense, just the same as waking life.
I am some sort of benevolent crusader who flies around my local area on a white metal chair which has a seat, back and arms, but no legs. The chair is always in flight or hovering above the ground which means its lack of legs doesn't matter. On one flight, that appears to be Coggeshall road, Braintree, I pick up a simian assistant. She is a super-evolved juvenile chimp called Trudy whom I reluctantly accept on board my flying chair when her troupe rejects her because of her super-evolved state. Despite her advanced intelligence, Trudy is a child at heart and rides on my back chimp-style. However, she understands English perfectly when I talk to her and she communicates with me in some way I don't understand, but I suspect is telepathy. Unlike most chimps, Trudy doesn't have any odour (in waking life I really dislike their odour).
While the chair is flying between places (it's not very fast) I spend my time chatting to trudy and reading a paperback novel. Trudy is a voracious reader of lightweight paperback fiction and an avid fan of Blue Peter, a fact that has relevance later on. I end up wearing my pink rucksack to keep our books in because there isn't enough room on the chair. Trudy clings happily to my right hand side, beside the rucksack.
Somehow, the chair and its two passengers, ends up in the Blue Peter studio. This turns out to be a large vacant shop unit on Moulsham Street, Chelmsford (where there is currently a Thai restaurant). I find myself talking to presenter Lesley Judd who seems very young again, though my dream insists she is actually dead (she isn't). She presents the latest Blue Peter Annual to Trudy, who lets me read a few sections of it. I am please to find it is more like the early Blue Peter Books with plenty of informative text i.e. before they became picture- and graphics-heavy.
Trudy and I haven't left our hovering chair throughout all of this. We are invited to take part in the Blue Peter Christmas show in the shop/studio. This spills out of the doorway into Moulsham Street. The show ends with a choral finale in the doorway of the shop while the flying chair and occupants fly up into the air, reaching eaves level. We hover high above the street, slowly rotating and very slowly ascending to roof-ridge level, ready to fly away over Chelmsford. As the ensemble sings, we are enveloped in a white luminescence and my oustretched arms emit beams of bright white light and "transmit goodwill" to everyone below us. We are playing the part of the Christmas Star. Below us, the chorus reaches its end and it's time to move on. Stuill clinging to my right shoulder, Trudy packs her new book in the pink rucksack and we fly over the roofs from Moulsham Street to Writtle Road to the site of Marconi Radar.
Marconi Radar's Writtle Road Works was demolished several years ago to make way for housing so I suggest to Trudy that we see if the chair can fly backwards in time. Now about 35-40 ft above ground level,tThe chair proceeds along Writtle Road towards the Waterhouse Lane Junction and the surroundings look more like my memories of the area before redevelopment, which suggests we have gone back in time to the late 1980s/early 1990s. There is also a lot less traffic. Unfortunately I wake up before exploring further.
I often dream of Moulsham Street (the Moulsham "West End" section, not the town centre section) and Writtle Road, probably due to working in that area for many years. No idea where the flying chair, Blue Peter or super-evolved chimp have been dredged up from though.
Sometimes I dream I am listening to the radio or watching TV. In this one I dreamt I'd been listening to Radio 4, the sation my car radio is normally tuned to (so I often catch beginnings and ends of programmes and not the whole programme).
I caught the tail end of a Radio 4 dramatised book-reading and it was a repeat of a programme I'd heard 20 years previously, but didn't know the name of the book at the time. Unfortunately it was the final instalment. A young woman has been in a coma in hospital for a number of years. She is attended by 2 nurses, one male and one female, who chatted to each other about their families, friends, plans etc as they tend to her. She can hear their voices and these, along with some of their things they are talking about, filter into her subconscious where they are 2 close friends.
The storyline took place partly in the ward, but mostly in the girl's coma dream. The ending made it unclear whether she woke up and met her carers (whom she doesn't know in real life) or stayed with the friends her subconscious had created from overheard fragments. Either way it was a somewhat sad ending, but a cracking good book. I heard the author's name - Linda Evans - so in my dream I went to Amazon to look for the book and found one called Polygirl ("poly" because she was in multiple places at once) available in 2 imprints: adult and young person's imprints.
Maybe I was thinking of the "Life on Mars" TV series. Unlike that one, Polygirl made it clear which was reality and which was dream and whether to swap the illusion of friendship for reality. Also, losing the friends she'd built up during several years in a coma would be equivalent to a bereavement for her, but her ongoing coma was similar to a bereavement (without closure) for her family. The dream was mostly about how I vaguely remembered the book-reading from 20 years ago and had enjoyed it (especially the uncertainty at the end), but hadn't caught the book details.
Is it sad to dream of searching for books on Amazon? Is it even sadder to check in real life? (It doesn't exist, by the way) Maybe Polygirl was a metaphor for my own dreams where the real world is less interesting than an imagined one? Is it even sadder to be reviewing a book/dramatisation that I've only imagined existing?
THE DIVORCEE AND THE TRAINEE PRIEST (2006)
I was a character in a typically Joanne Harris style storyline, having just read all of her books. I have no interest whatsoever in priests.
I was a young divorcee in a picturesque rural village in France. A young priest had joined the local priesthood as some sort of training or helping out capacity. He was tall, dark and drop-dead gorgeous. Having seen the 2 priests and several villagers in the village square, the young and distinctly non-religious divorcee was resisting the urge to seduce the drop-dead gorgeous younger priest and had returned to her farm to get on with growing herbs, fruit and vegetables.
Some time later, the young divorcee was taking healthy fruit and veg to an elderly and somewhat hypochondriac woman in the village. The older priest was sure the woman needed the services of a priest and had sent his younger colleague along. Young divorcee and young priest eye each other up. Priest's resolve to his religious calling wavers and divorcee tries hard to resist him.
Scene changes. There has been some sort of accident - a collapsed wall or something - causing injury to the young priest. The young divorcee must stay with him until more help arrives. His eyes beg her to seduce him. She wants to but doesn't want to corrupt him. The older priest is getting wind of the situation and, unable to preach directly at the non-churchgoing divorcee, tries to turn the villagers against her. At which point I inconveniently wake up, wondering what happened next.
MY PET HUMAN (1990s (sometime))
I was standing on what felt like the wooden deck of a ship with a metal railing in front of me. Either that or it was an old Victorian Seaside Pier like that at Brighton or Southend-on-Sea. I was aware that there were several other people with me and that we had been rounded up by the aliens who had taken over Earth. They had taken it over very quickly and there had been almost no fighting. Humans were unnecessary, we took up the room they needed so we were being exterminated.
The scene changed. I was inside an apartment and there was another person with me, a male. One of the alien settlers was also in the apartment somewhere.
"What's happening?" I asked in a whisper.
"They don't need humans around," he whispered back, "They've been killing everyone off - from grown-ups right through to little kids."
"Are they about to kill us?" I asked.
"No. Some of them are keeping people as pets."
"Are we pets then?"
"Until he gets bored of us and has as put to sleep."
This dream seemed to link emotionally with several others where for some reason I am locked in a room waiting for men in white coats to give me a lethal injection. I am always looking for an escape or I try to fight them, but there is never a way to escape. There is an overwhelming sense of futility, hopelessness, despair, anger etc. I never find out why I am being put to sleep, but it always seems to be because I am inconvenient rather than because I have committed any crime. Sometimes it is so vivid that I am surprised to wake up alive.
TRANSPORT THROUGH TIME (1996)
It started in the mid 1700s - I caught the mail stagecoach in the West Country, needing to go to Croydon. I was a young woman in a full skirt and the stagecoach was in black and yellow livery. Several bumpy hours later, along rutted roads between green fields, the stagecoach stopped at an inn in order to change horses. The team of four was unhitched and taken away and the passengers went for a drink while fresh horses were tacked up for hitching. As I walked into the inn, I passed close to the stalls and stables and noted several dapple grey horses which would probably replace the team of chestnut horses being led sweating away.
A short while later, I went back out ready to resume my journey on the mail coach. A steam engine passed close to the inn so I caught that instead. It rattled its way across a countryside of green fields, discharging a plume of smoke and smut and occasionally letting off steam. Bored with looking out of the window, I sat back and dozed to the comforting rattle-clank-jostle of my carriage.
When I opened my eyes again, I was in the lower deck of a double decker diesel bus trundling through town traffic. I worried that I had missed my stop, never mind that over 200 years had elapsed since my journey started! 200 years and I had not reached Croydon. Outside it was the swinging sixties. When I stood up to get off, I found that I was in the carriage of a very new underground train pulling into a station in Central London in the 1990s. I had been travelling from seventeen forty something, through to nineteen ninety six and I had still not reached Croydon - 250 years later!
In 1996, I had absolutely no idea why I was going to Croydon. In June 2003 I believe I unravelled this dream. In the early days of commercial flight, Croydon was London's only airport. My journey had taken in the different forms of passenger transport as it evolved from coach, through rail, to diesel bus to modern underground (the early London Underground was built in the late 1800s). I believe the Underground train was taking me to the Airport (there is an Underground link to Heathrow Airport). It is only in the last couple of years that I knew of Croydon's role as London's airport.
THE HISTORY HOUSE (April 2001).
I was watching a news report about a house which some local council had to refurbish. It had been owned by an elderly woman and her son and had was practically unchanged from when they first got it - the décor, the furnishings etc were all original. They had been very reclusive and no-one apart from them had ever entered the house. The old woman had died some time back and the elderly son had recently died and they had no relatives so the council had gone into the house to clear out their possessions and do any repairs ready for the next tenants.
The news showed the scene inside a house. Furnishings and fixtures and fittings from the 1930s, like a museum mock-up. But the amazing thing was the writing on the walls - every wall was covered with neat, small writing as though used as a diary. The living room, hallway, the bedrooms - everywhere including the bathroom was covered in neat writing. It covered a period of time from when the woman had first lived there and then later on her son had continued writing. It was a historical record, detailing events which had happened - world wars, government crises etc. The council couldn't paper over the walls or rip off the wall plaster until the whole record had been photographed, it was so unique.
In my dream, I was trying to explain this amazing find to my partner, but he was half asleep. We were in a bedroom which seemed half-familiar to me except it isn't anywhere we've ever lived or stayed. I was walking between the bed and the dressing table/wardrobe and he was still lying in bed. I was explaining about the house with the writing on the walls. I finished off by saying "It's a unique first hand historical account.". My voice started fading as I said "historical" and I had totally lost my voice (like during a throat infection) when I tried to say "account" and could only manage a breathy whisper.
A world with a race of workers, each conditioned to do repetitive tasks. After they had learnt their task and it became habitual, the hippocampus (part of the brain involved in making memories) of each had been destroyed so they never got bored. They always performed their monotonous tasks as if each time is the first time. They live each moment as if it is their only waking moment, frozen in a single lifelong minute of time like a fly in amber.
THE GENERAL STORE (1996)
Having travelled for a number of miles along country roads with no firm idea of where we were going, we decided to stop for directions at a village. We stopped outside a run down red brick building with creeping plants clinging to its rounded front. It looked deserted.
"I’ll go round the back and see if there’s anything round there," I offered, hoping to find newer or occupied shops or homes which were obscured from view by the large, empty building.
When I got round the back I noticed a door into the old building. Looks were obviously deceptive - the front door to this building was evidently on the side away from the country road and facing the village instead. While the other side was weed covered and apparently deserted, this side had polished windows and an open door inviting me in.
A bell tinkled as I moved the door a little. Inside, the shop was an old style general store (common in country villages where time apparently stood still) with a clean swept plank floor and wooden counters. The till was an old manual appliance. A ‘Christmas’ stocking for loose change for charity was hung on one counter, close to the till, it contained old coins. Some open hessian and paper sacks in front of the counter held seed potatoes. Other goods were stacked on shelves so that the shopkeeper had to fetch them for the customer. I found it very quaint and charming that this old style of service had been preserved.
The shopkeepers were an elderly couple, who smiled warmly at me.
"We don’t get many visitors to the village," one of them said. For a short while we discussed the weather and other inconsequential matters; all very reassuring and civil.
A door on the rundown side of the building opened and my partner peered in. A shaft of sunlight lit up motes of dust disturbed by the draft.
"Nothing out here," he said, "but I found a doorway under the creepers."
I began to say that I had found the entrance on the far side when I turned round to talk to one of the shopkeepers, remembering my original intention of asking directions. The place was empty. Some old pieces of hessian drifted across a floor thick with dust. The wooden counters were bare - no till, no charity collection. The shelves were bare and dusty - no tins or boxes of goods. Forty years had passed in the opening of a door, swept away by sunlight.
I felt an incredible sense of loss, a desire to recapture the moment when I had walked into to the general store and talked to people from long gone. There was a sense of wanting to recapture the moment, of emptiness and desolation, incredible, indescribable sadness.
I walked round the building several times, but the door which had invited me in now swung loose on its hinges. The polished windows were thick with years of grime. The interior remained stubbornly empty. I could not get back to that friendly shop which I had entered a few moments earlier and which had been erased from reality with the opening of a door.
I was left with an incredible sense of loss and loneliness and wanting to turn back time to recapture something (or some feeling) I couldn't even name!
442, THE YEAR OF THE WHITE BOAR (23/12/88)
It is said that a white boar can be seen to run from a spot on the hillside to the hillcrest and there to vanish. On the spot from which it rises, in 442 AD, it was felled by a hunting party and each member of that party died in mysterious circumstances, to be buried communally in a barrow at the hillcrest. Now by moonlight on the chalk downs, the boar rises from the place it fell to mock those who hunted the faerie beast. And, it is said, in the barrow, the mortal remains of a royal hunting party rises in celebration of a hunting victory never celebrated in life.
(A very odd, short but intense dream where the date seemed significant.)
PRINCE NIKOLAI (1999)
It was either the 1890s or early 1900s and I was in a grand house - not a palace, but a royal lodge. Prince (or Tsar?) Nikolai was there and my visit coincided with his murder. In those days, the intense fire which destroyed the place would cover up the fact that he'd been shot.
(A very odd, short but intense dream which left me with the sensation of being witness to a murder which had been covered up and which history considered an accidental death. I got the feeling that if the murder had been uncovered, history might have been different.)
THE TOWN (Throughout 1998/99)
Continued visits to an English town. It is very picturesque, timber frame buildings in places on the main street. There is a pub - old with wood beams - which serves very good food - especially the dessert menu. To the right of this pub/restaurant, separated by several other shops is a coffee house called the Cap and Feather. The proprietor seems to know me and we chat. Also in town on a side street is a wonderful art supplies shop. There are 2 streets running parallel to each other and the timber frame shops are back-to-back in a central row between the streets. I remember thinking they were a fire risk.
Also in the town is a newer section at the end of the pretty streets - there is some sort of tower supported on four brick pillars. I can't remember what the tower is since it was raining and I was sheltering in the covered area between the supporting pillars. In front of me is a major road with C&A store on the other side. Behind me is a small shopping precinct with a downstairs restaurant.
(I have visited this town in my dreams several times and I still visit it, the streets are always the same as though it's a place I've been to in real life. The people there seem to know me, and it's like meeting old friends.)
I was sitting in my car, broken down on the hard shoulder of a busy motorway, trying to rev the engine into some semblance of normality. It coughed twice, turned over with a groan of complaint and began to run raggedly. A short distance ahead was an exit slip road with a motorway bridge across the carriageways. Easing the car into first gear I crept forwards hoping to build up enough speed to move into the slow lane, either to get to the nearest emergency phone or to get the wretched vehicle off of the motorway at the next exit. I coaxed it a few yards forwards, ready to slip into second, then (hopefully) third and accelerate hard into a gap. Looking over my shoulder I saw a huge "Yorkie" style truck screeching as it careered onto the hard shoulder. The metal radiator grille loomed larger in my rear-view mirror as it bore down on my small vehicle and I could see the driver’s face, pale with shock before the metal grille filled the entire rear-view mirror. Before I could build up speed the truck impacted. I heard no bang, no tearing of metal, no torturous sounds of my car as it vanished beneath the monstrous truck. One moment the radiator grille filled my entire field of vision, then the world winked out of existence as though I had closed my eyes. No sound, no pain - nothing - as though everything had winked out of being.
.... a long timeless blankness during which I was conscious of nothing but my wondering mind .....
.... aware of being nothing but pure consciousness, no biofeedback from my body, I was pure essence of consciousness, pure disembodied thought, floating free in ‘blackness’ ....
.... utter peace, tranquility, serenity, calmness, as I floated without form or flesh ...
.... gradually I became aware of other essences of thought in the void, perceived as though they were stars twinkling in a universe and I was another pinpoint of light-thought-being ....
Intact, dazed and impossibly thrown clear, I wandered down the verge towards another stranded motorist standing at the emergency phone. I called out but he seemed not to hear me above the roar and grumble of traffic. I tapped his shoulder - no reaction. In frustration, I turned to look at my vehicle, yards behind me and saw in the tangled mess of metal shrouded in smoke, an arm draped limply from a crevice in the wreck and I realised why no-one had noticed my ‘miraculous’ escape.
(There is no real way of describing the ‘awareness of being aware’, ‘pure disembodied consciousness’ or floating in a void which I could not perceiving through any conventional senses; nor of the other ‘consciousnesses’ which I likened to stars. However, I have no fear of death anymore; the process of dying is another matter entirely though!)
A LEAP OF FAITH (15/01/02)
As a Dr Who fan, I have sometimes dreamt of wandering round the TARDIS (what Dr Who fan hasn't!) which is larger on the inside than on the outside. That night I dreamt of entering something similar ...
The first room was much like the control room of the TARDIS in its later years - white walls and a central console with crystal cylinders in the centre. I didn't stop there but went through the door on the opposite wall and found myself in a short corridor. Or maybe it was a long corridor which appeared short due to some optical illusion; I could not be sure.
On the right hand side about half along the corridor (that is if it was a short one) was a large door. I pushed it open and was about to step through when I saw that there was no floor. Instead there was a gaping emptiness which looked like a view into space. Each of the other three walls had a doorway, but there was no bridge across the chasm.
"If you step into that hole, you will fall forever," said a woman's voice in my head.
I hung to the doorway, leaning forward to peer into the emptiness, thinking how lucky I was to have stopped, otherwise I would be plummeting endlessly through space.
"And if you fall forever, you will never reach anywhere nor leave anywhere and therefore you not be falling at all," she said.
I can't remember how she looked except for long straight dark brown hair. She was standing on nothingness.
"You will just be suspended in space," and she stepped towards the doorway where I stood.
She stopped about a metre from me and held out a roll of paper. I accepted the paper and unrolled it. It was a map of the inside of the TARDIS,a blue print of sorts, but the rooms were shown as disconnected from each other. I understood that it was possible to walk down a corridor, turn around and find the way back was not the way you had come. But I still did not want to step forward onto the hole where I would fall forever and thus not be falling at all; to move so fast that I remained in place.
I turned around and stepped back into the short corridor. Opposite me was a sort of alcove a metre or so deep and shaped like three sides of a hexagon which had been cut down the middle. Each side had a door and each door had a plaque like a hotel room number or nameplate.
"They are the three sleepers," said the voice though it was now inside my head, "The three sleepers who must never wake. Should they wake, then everything will end. It will all be destroyed."
"Why are they here?" I asked.
"Because here is outside of space and time and they will sleep forever. It is their dreaming which makes everything. Everything will be unmade if they are wakened."
"Who are you?" I asked the voice.
"I am you. I am you as you will be."
"Huh?" I asked.
"You as you will be in time. When you have dared go into the room where you will fall forever."
At that point, I left the TARDIS and went back into the street. I still had the map.
I woke up then, which was a pity as I was really interested - as well as really scared - to find out about falling forever so that I never fell at all!
ALIENS OVER STANSTED AIRPORT (Sept 2008)
Another weird, but enjoyable, sci-fi dream with a dash of X-Files and Dr Who.
Hovering over Stansted Airport was a huge red alien brain/heart. It looks like a dark red gas-bag in the shape of a mass of bubbles stuck together. White lines criss-cross the rippling surface of the floating monstrosity. It floats in the sky like a Portuguese Manowar jellyfish floats on the suface of the sea. The sky is orange-red, the colour of fire. Fringes of flame can be seen in the atmosphere, another manifestation of the alien brain/heart trying to cross from its dimension into ours.
Cut to the interior of an Airbus A340 in a stacking pattern for Stansted, or at least for when Stansted ought to be. There is no response from Air Traffic Control, no GPS signals, no runway lights, no headlights and tail-lights on the motorways, no streetlights, nothing. Below is dark, woodland empty of human habitation. The alien being has displaced the aeroplane into an adjacent dimension where the earth is uninhabited by humans. There is no Stansted Airport, not even flat fields on which to attempt an emergency landing. The pilot circles in vain, looking for lights below.
For some reason I am called to fight the alien threat. Mulder and Scully are sitting in a car outside Stansted Airport drinking coffee from a Thermos. The Doctor is looking up at the sky, unable to figure out what to do. The alien thing, a protrusion of a mindless, hungry and unimaginably huge pan-dimensional being into our dimension, is floating and rippling like a bag of viscera against a backdrop of flame. If it pushes through into our dimension we will be consumed by flame. I float up to meet it. As I ascend, I grow impossibly huge until my hands can grasp each side of the floating viscera as though it were a beach-ball. Thousands of feet below me is the Essex countryside. Above me is a sheet of flame. The sky is the colour of a livid bruise.
The heart/brain (for it is both combined) pulses against my hands and I can feel it pulsing in my mind. It is a mindless being. It lacks the intellect to wish us ill, it is simply consuming in order to survive. I push at it with my mind, pushing it back into its own dimension. The flames in the sky dim and vanish, sucked out of this dimension. The hungry creature howls in my mind as I send it back to its own dimension.
Cut to the interior of the plane. It has been circling the area where Stansted ought to be. Below it twinkle sulphur yellow streetlights, red tail lights and white head lights, forming swirls and pattern against the dark ground. It is back in the sky over the airport, awaiting instructions for the final approach.
DALEKS, SNAKES AND THE LONDON UNDERGROUND (2007)
It began with an elderly couple on an anniversary trip falling off a mountain ridge. Or rather the woman fell off and the husband jumped after her rather than be a widower. They were drinking a celebratory glass of white wine on the ridge before falling/jumping. The scene pulled back and instead of actually being on the mountain ridge I was sitting in a minimalist wood-furnished traditional Japanese-style room watching this on TV. The TV show changed to a warning about Daleks.
Next thing, I was in a London Underground Station, except it was obviously a mock-up (big glazed wall tiles, arched passages etc). For some reason I was with a chap called Dave who was from UNIT (Dave looked very much like an ex-colleague who now works on the LU). The uniform was the old style olive drab in heavy fabric, a bit World War II looking rather than patched camo style. I remarked to him that the mock-up was a good replica of passages in a station, but they had no signs saying platform or line details. It was supposed to be Victoria and Northern Lines. For some reason he was suspicious of a locked hatch. and I was plain nosy, so he prised it open and behind all the pipes was something alien, so he shut it again, but not before I had also seen tentacles among the pipework. At that point everyone began running. They were all being evacuated in one direction, but a few of us decided to hide down some passages. I followed Dave because we had seen something alien behind the hatch and we thought the aliens might be in control of the station so it was best not to follow everyone else.
After running through several tunnels, about 20 of us ended up outdoors beside an overground rail line with a parked train on it. It was going to Finsbury Park. For some reason that was exactly where we wanted to go so we pulled open the doors. A woman fell out when the doors opened and she apologised for leaning on the door. We all crowded into the carriages which were totally packed and the train set off. We were relieved at escaping from the nameless alien threat in the nameless tube station. People got off at the next stop and Dave and I managed to get a seat and started talking about escaping to Finsbury Park.
For some reason, the train turned into a bus and the end of the carriage had a driver's cab. A big bald bloke got on with a sack that contained a large blue snake. iI bit the driver. It turned out the snake was an alien and if you got bitten 8 times you would also turn into an alien snake-being. The tentacles behind the hatch in the Underground station had been baby alien blue snakes. There was a giant blue turtle-headed alien snake creature that had taken over part of London. Dave being a UNIT bloke got off the bus to fight the alien foe.
I got off at the next stop with a group of 3 or 4 women as we didn't fancy being stuck on a bus with a driver who was turning into a blue alien reptile. We ran through some narrow streets and found ourselves in a college campus. On the way, I got bitten by a small blue snake, but only once. The others sat down, but I was worried about turning into an alien. The building ahead said "Janitorial Supplies" in gold lettering above the double doors. I went in and for some reason knew that bleach would kill the aliens so i made the other women grab all the bleach from a trolley and put a half-half dilution of bleach into sprayers. I gave the old lady (the cleaner) a cup of tea when she began to flap about us taking her cleaning supplies. We left behind the gallon containers of "Diaper Solution" though I didn't know why a college needed something for soaking nappies in.
I asked one of the women to put some 1:1 bleach solution on the festering bite on my back. After several applications (which stung) it turned into hard skin and fell off. Armed with bleach sprayers we decided to look for Dave because he would be with UNIT and they would save London and we now had a weapon against alien snakes.
First we found a huge alien snake biting a person on one of London's green areas. It had dug itself a big tunnel, which explained why they liked the London Underground tunnels, and only its head stuck out. It was dragging its victim into it. We doused the head with bleach and when it roared, we poured a cup of bleach in its maw and it died, turning into blue sludge. Unfortunately it had already killed the person. We walked onto the High Street and into a pub, asking "Have you seen Dave?". No-one had so we went next-door and asked the same thing. We asked this in every shop until we reached a pub where several of my real-life colleagues were drinking and they said Dave was in the next pub. So we went to tell him about the bleach weapon.
Then it got a bit confused because I suddenly ended up on a bus that was a mobile trinket shop selling turquoise artefacts and made-to-order perfume from crushed flower petals in oil. After queuing for what seemed like ages, I got off and went into the shop it was parked outside. This was a big gift shop of the same turquoise and perfume things. By then I had lost the bleach weapon and also lost my companions. I was certain I wouldn't find anyone from UNIT in a perfume shop. Then the fire alarm started ringing and I thought "Oh no, it all starts again" and got ready to start running from the alien menace, but it was the alarm clock.
Victoria and Northern Lines means either Euston, Kings Cross St Pancras, Warren Street or Stockwell. For some reason this fact bothered me more than the idea of giant blue snake-like aliens. Oddly, I hadn't even watched Doctor Who around the time of this dream.
MISSING THE TRAIN (3rd June, 2003)
All last night I dreamt of missing trains (woke up 4 of 5 times after "missing" a train). Either got to station too late, or Number 70 bus was late (and the 66 didn't go to the station), or delays on London Underground, or I hadn't packed, or I was struggling with unwieldy luggage, or couldn't find right platform etc. When I finally reached station I ended up on platform K1A but my train was at G1A. I caught it, but woke up before I found out where I was going.
Numbers 70, 66, K1A or G1A don't mean anything to me; I can't work out any significance to persistent (and very detailed) dreams about missing trains!
HOLBORN TO ARCHWAY (October 10th, 2007)
I've got as far as Holborn and need to get to an office in Archway which, according to my dream is Northern Line (my subconscious has memorised way too much of the tube map). For some reason I can't get a tube from Holborn so I have to get to Tottenham Court Road by bus, which turns out to be an old Routemaster bus. Oh, and I have to get a few quid from the cash machine and top up the Oyster.
The dream jumps to me walking into the office, except it's an office as it was back in the mid-1980s when I first joined Marconi Radar in Chelmsford. It's upstairs in a rather grim building - no carpet tiles, just lino tiles. It's not open plan either. In the main office are 4 old wooden (teak-veneered chipboard) desks pushed together in the centre. There are 2 side offices off of the main office.There are no computers. My desk has a stack of paperwork on it and a pile of archive boxes next to it and on the chair. The chair is an old-style 4-legged vinyl covered chair, not a swivel. I realise I have moved to this office and my blue swivel chair should be there. I find it at the desk opposite me and it has an archive box on it. I move the box and try to reclaim my chair. I am not senior enough to have a swivel chair. I explain that it's a specially adapted chair because of my back problems. No, only senior people in the office can have a swivel chair. I must use the black vinyl chair.
Then the alarm went off. It was very odd to find myself back in the small cluttered office with un-ergonomic desks and chairs. We don't notice how much everything has changed until we somehow find ourselves back where we started out. In real life, the grim office block of that dream isn't in Archway, but was in Chelmsford and was demolished to make way for a housing development.
I was in a very small prison cell. I was offered a bigger cell as a reward for good behaviour after one night and said "No need - it's only for a few nights anyway" and decided to catch up on my reading. The prison food was good though - king prawn chow mein. I was then made to tidy up a manager's office: grey metal cupboards full of lever arch files, unsorted paperwork, 10 year old Yellow Pages. spare shirts and ties. There followed a confused meander where I failed to reach Reading in mum's old Morris Oxford (completing the back-to-the-1970s timeslip the M25 hadn't been built) and ended up in a cheap hotel room with some friends.
Thoroughly disoriented, I was sent to visit a company located on the ground floor of a shiny new office block. They produced signs or something and it turned out I was there for an interview, but I didn't know that. The CV they had looked like my CV from the early 1990s and I said the "agency" had made a mistake because I wasn't looking for a new job. I left, but then had to visit office number 16 in the same building. They also thought I was there for an interview and asked me to write software as part of a test. I said I'd quit software years ago and had been in QA and electronics-related stuff for over 10 years. The "agency" had sent me for a software interview.
Having left the office, which turned out to be situated roughtly were the Hammersmith & City Line station is in Hammersmith, I tried to cross the road for the other tube station but found myself part of a school crocodile going to assembly (evidently somewhere else in Hammersmith). The crocodile was interrupted when one class formed a choir and sang a rousing verse about Tolkienesque dwarves (several versions of this song cropped up throughout the dream, all relating to dwarves, gold and questing). At this point I realised I needed a shower and a change of clothes so, by a quirk of dream logic I ended up in a bookshop with Billy where he bought a table-tennis bat ... except instead of rubber-padded-wood it had a metal hoop with a stocking stretched over it!
By the time the alarm went off, all this traipsing around Hammersmith singing about dwarves, going to interviews I knew nothing about and buying mutant table tennis bats meant I was knackered when I woke up! My brain does love to play reading/Reading/bookshop jokes on me though. Maybe it wasn't about reading in jail, but Reading Gaol prompted by reading Will Self's rewrite of an Oscar Wilde story.
FROM PLANET SHEPHER TO LONDON OF THE RISING SUN (August 3rd, 2009)
This was a rather enjoyable sci-fi dream. I think the reference to shepherds was because I often travelled to Shepherd's Bush at this time.
I was being launched into space in a small vehicle called Peripatetia. This was an exhilarating experience as it took off from a runway, moved through blue sky and clouds and out into blackness (complete with g-forces). Somehow, I then became a geologist on a starship in the Star Trek universe (briefly passing Checkov, Kirk and McCoy in a corridor). The ship didn't have transporters so we had to land when we visited a planet. The part of the planet visited was grassy and hilly and had outcrops of flint-like stone that turned out to be harder than diamond - normal phasers didn't make any impact on it. We managed to take a broken off lump of this super-flint into Engineering to try some lasers on it. Disappointingly I didn't meet Mr Scott. Oddly, the planet seemed to be inhabited by shepherds.
When I returned to Earth in the Peripatetia, I found myself in a London that was oddly changed. London was an Anglo-Japanese city, part of a merging of the British and Japanese Empires. There was a tram system where single carriage trams did the routes associated with buses. I had a ticket for the 228 tram. The colour-coded tram route map (mounted on a concrete pillar, with North, East, South and West on different sides) was in English and Japanese characters. Most names of places around London were different, but most were familiar e.g. Coventry Gardens though a few were perplexing: Sovereign Vet and again they were in both character sets. There was also a "You are here" type map which indicated a big Japanese temple in what I'd previously known as Hyde Park.
The tram station was a single platform and the red tram cars queued up behind each other before zooming off, switching rails as they left the tram station to head in different directions. Inside were backless upholstered benches rather than seats. I can't recall where I disembarked, but I ended up walking up and down pedestrian subways in search of a restaurant as I seemed to have a valid credit card on me. All the restaurants and cafes served Japanese cuisine - not a Starbucks, Costa, McD or KFC anywhere. Apart from the pedestrian subways, it all seemed much cleaner and more orderly as well.
This dream was peculiar because it continued in snatches throughout the night, even after a night-time bathroom visit.
Along with 2 friends, Carol and Cass, I had been invited to investigate a large old house, once the property of a certain Mrs Hopper. The house was now only occupied by a late middle-aged male caretaker whose name I didn't find out. The third (top) floor had been turned into a shrine for Mrs Hopper's beloved dogs and small statues lined the walls. The caretaker was reinterring one of Mrs Hopper's dogs, a mummified poodle, into a niche near the top of the stairs. The niche was in a half landing, 3 steps below the level of the top floor. The staircase turned 180 degrees to continue to the next half landing about 8 steps below. The back wall of the half landing was covered in a floor-to-ceiling wrought iron ornamental screen.
To open the niche, the caretaker lifted a floor board on the left hand side of the half-landing. The floor and part of the wall slid away to reveal what looked like a fireplace. He put the bundle, containing Mrs Hopper's mummified poodle into the niche in the floor. At that point, a hologram of a woman in her early twenties sprang into being at the right hand side of the half landing. Carol, Cass and myself sat entranced on the three step from the half-landing to the top floor. Mrs Hopper was shown as young and attractive, though we'd expected any pictures of her to show an eccentric old woman. Mrs Hopper, it turned out, had either died young or chosen to present herself as she had been when younger..
The hologram image spoke about her son, only 2 years old when the hologram was recorded. Evidently Mrs Hopper had some sort of premonition of future problems.
"We're meeting Mr Hopper this afternoon," I said to no-one in particular, "He's now 48". In fact Mr Hopper had commissioned us to check out his late mother's house before he took possession of it after a fiercely contested legal dispute.
At this point, the sophistication of the programme revealed itself as the hologram began talking to us. Either that, or it was programmed to respond to certain words, such as her son's name. However, there was no time to take note of what she was saying - I noticed two metal cylinders at the top centre of the wrought iron grille were turning and tilting towards us. I grabbed Carol and Cass and we leapt against the grille as a laser shot out at the steps where we had been sitting. The programme had evidently taken this into consideration as another metal cylinder revolved and tilted in the wall 8 steps down from us. Mrs Hopper had had the whole house wired, probably to stop her son from getting it.
We had found a panel of electronics in a cupboard in the hose. When Cass had tried to log into the system, the user interface had fried. Mrs Hopper was again one step ahead of anyone who tried to move into her house.
I woke up in a king sized bed in a large bedroom. Somehow we had disabled part of the house's internal security system. I wasn't certain what had woken me up until I noticed the acrid odour of smouldering fur. A mouse lay fried on the floor near the far wall, some way to my right. I looked up at the wall to my left, above a mirror and fireplace. A red light blinked. Looking back to the other side, I saw a faint white line sweeping across the floor, searching for movement. Only the bed was safe. Mrs Hopper had evidently felt under threat at night. I wondered how she avoided getting fried if she had to get up in the night, then guessed that she wore a remote control or something similar to give her immunity against the house's defences. I now had to work out how to get out of the room without being fried by lasers. My immediate though was to somehow cover the roving red eye. However I didn't have time to put that into practice as I must have fallen asleep again.
When I came to, I was sitting in a room smaller than the bedroom. Carol and Cass sat on chairs against the wall opposite and they looked ashen-faced. I took stock of my surroundings and noted that I was sitting on the floor, leaning to my right against the side of a leather armchair. A hand fondled the top of my head like one might stroke a dog and I realised someone was standing to my left.
"I have to thank you for sorting out my mother's booby traps" said a man's voice.
A newspaper was passed in front of my eyes and I noticed something about Egypt and oil and shenanigans involving shares or finances (I was having trouble focusing). Mr Hopper had been involved in the oil trade in that region. The paper was moved away and I felt him sit down on the chair, a hand resting heavily on my head. I glanced around, but my head was twisted firmly back to looking across the room. I had an impression of a tall, well-muscled, broad-chested and cruel character, tanned and completely bald (the man calling himself Mr Hopper in his dealings with the office had been genial and grey-haired with wire-rimmed spectacles). Mrs Hopper had not wanted her cruel-natured son to have the house, though her hologram spoke of her son as only 2 years old (perhaps her husband had been cruel-natured and she'd had a premonition of future troubles). We had been employed by Mr Hopper to secure the house for him. I was certain we would not be leaving the house.
That was where final part of the dream ended. I have no idea where the names or characters came from. I have previously dreamt of an old empty building, usually with large wooden double doors, where the top floor is given over to statues of dogs and sometimes to shelves of large leather-bound books.
POCKET UNIVERSE (July 7th 2006)
An odd dream about being a scientist returning from an alternate reality. There is no way to put in words the horror and emptiness at the end of the dream.
"It's a pocket universe," my sister told me, "And it's shrinking."
It sure looked like the real world to me, but there was no denying that this parallel reality - a mere bubble of existence - was collapsing. The days had been growing shorter and now passed in a mere 2 hours. Colours were being lost, starting with the longer wavelengths. Physical dimensions were subtly changing.
"We should go back to our own universe," I said, "We've studied enough about pocket universes now. Leave a remote probe here to transmit final data." The probe would be crushed out of existence when the pocket universe collapsed completely.
"I want Frank to come back with us," my sister told me.
"That's not possible! There's no precedent for taking someone from a pocket universe back to prime."
My sister had formed a relationship with Frank during our months here. He hadn't known we came from an alternate until a few days (prime-length days) ago and he didn't know his reality was collapsing. That was one of the oddities about these places; the denizens perception of reality altered. That there were now multiple sunsets and sunrises in a day was normal. Only my sister and I could recall it being different because we were not part of this reality.
"I've done the calculations and we can do it," she told me. "He doesn't understand that things are changing around him, but he wants to return with us."
The air felt thick enough to be counted a liquid when return time came. I felt it and she felt, but Frank had no perception of this compression. Sunset and sunrise had merged into a permanent overcase and the colours had shifted towards the red. Frank had tided his woodworker tools away in compulsive neatness and held my right hand. My sister held my left hand.
I felt the shift in air pressure as we crossed over to the prime reality, leaving the collapsing universe behind. Frank's hand still grasped mine firmly. My left hand was empty; my twin gone and that other world had accelerated into dense oblivion with her still there. Overwhelmed by the horror and emptiness and alone for the first time in my life, I howled in despair.
A DATE WITH DEATH (May 14, 2008
Death was running towards me down a London street, the sort of street you see round Covent Garden thronged with pedestrians. He was in the usual black robes and carrying a scythe and in a hurry. Every time he pushed someone out the way with his scythe they fell down dead. In the dream I thought "this is shappng up to be a Kit Kat have-a-break advert or a Pepsi live-life-to-the-max advert".
Death then ran into a small cafe (single fronted; old-style small multiple window panes to the right of the door; door frame and window frames painted yellow and peeling a little; neon "cafe" sign over the door - even in dreams I notice stuff like that) to his left. Several people, mainly men in their 30s or 40s, ran out the door and fell over dead on the pavement. The blue/red flashing neon sign lit up the pile of bodies on the doorstep. I went into the cafe, expecting to see pale-faced death sitting there snapping the fingers of a Kit-Kat or breaking open a Pepsi in a relaxed manner having a break from the hard work of reaping souls. He was sat at a table to my right, with his back to the wall. With his hood pushed back and scythe leaning on the wall next to him, he was more of a fresh-faced 30ish person.
In one of those odd scene jumps, I suddenly found myself in a bedroom underneath death. In a carnal sense. Neither of us with robes and the scythe was nowhere in sight. Luckily the face of this not-so-grim reaper did not resemble anyone known to me (that would have been highly embarrassing in waking life!). During this frolicking with death I was told I'd have death's offspring in what he called a "destructive conception". At this point and before the frolics began in earnest, I woke up. It was 4:28 a.m.
THE THIRD WAVE (May 2007)
I was in a tsunami. A strip of city began beyond the wide sloping saltmarsh. . It struck me that it was only a few metres above sea level. The buildings were towers of mirrored or smoked glass, some so new that cranes and scaffolding was clustered around them. As the sucking sea retreated out to the unbelievably clear blue horizon I found myself scrambling up metal ladders on the side of chrome-and-glass tower, aiming to reach a high balcony.
The first wall of water that hit was still high enough to suck at my legs as the force drove it up the side of the building. Then it retreated, taking trucks and cranes with it. The second wave was less forceful, but it didn't need to be - it only needed to be strong enough to complete the damage done by the first. I knew there would be a third wave, less fierce than the first, but far more devastating and I was reminded of the Richard Chamberlain film The Last Wave (which I haven't seen since 1977).
AFTER THE FLOODS (2008)
For several nights my dreams hhad a recurring theme of flooding. It began with a dream first that I was in a desert and needed a bottle of water and then that my workplace was knee deep in water. Every night thereafter had a "flood" theme with towns getting flooded to varying extents. This one was the most detailed and persistent of the flood dreams.
I'd gone to feed the ducks on a local river and noticed the river kept rising. I started to walk back up the field to the road and the rising water kept pace with me. Back home I packed provisions into several crates including cat litter and cat food and I got the cat into a travelling basket. In the car, I had to use some country lanes as the main roads were flooded. The waters were rising and my region, which is on a hill, was getting cut off as low-lying areas were submerged.
Somehow I made it through to the other side of the floods and went to warn friends who lived in a rambling old building, previously a watermill, alongside a river (in waking life I don't know anyone living in a mill near a river). Their river hadn't begun to rise so they viewed me and my crates and the cat with amusement. While I was trying to convince them, I looked out and saw the river had risen by several feet. The dream jumped to me getting hold of a large boat and loading all the provisions from the car into it (my main concern always being the cat's safety). The craft was wide-bodied and had a shallow keel and reminded me of a Norfolk wherry or simple sailing barge with a plain square sail. The shallow keel was essential because of all the obstructions under water i.e. rooves, chimney pots, though oddly there was no floating debris. The only things now above water were church steeples that I tied my boat to and the water was still rising to submerge those. I couldn't even see any office buildings or flats above water level.
I realised I was running out of drinking water and needed it to rain. The rivers had risen and inundated the land and joined up with the sea. All of East Anglia was underwater and the water was now brackish. It was worse than the 1953 floods and was a permanent change, not just the result of a storm and high tide; we had been complacent about flood defences holding back the sea, but once the rivers had overflowed there was no saving the land. I knew I needed to sail the boat north to the hillier parts of Britain that were now islands. Even after waking up and going back to sleep, I was back in flooded Eastern England trying to warn people about rising rivers or trying to sail to dry land.
BUS SPOTTER DREAM (October 2011)
As I described it to a die-hard bus-spotting contact ...
I had this amazing dream last night. In it, I caught the bus to the station. It was being driven by this gorgeous young bloke who was incredibly available and told me he was due for his lunch break (the Capt Jack Harkness of bus drivers). I particularly noticed that his stylish 10.4 metre low-floor, easy-access 40-seat bus was comfortable with a streamlined, aerodynamic exterior and stainless steel integral frame, but I noted a slight tendency to "wallow" when cornering thanks to its otherwise excellent suspension. Its rear-mounted Mercedes-Benz engine gave it plenty of oomph delivered via an Allison 2010 automatic transmission. The advanced and comfortable cab, with its intuitive displays and well laid out controls, included monitoring software and real-time data transmission back to the depot allowing performance monitoring and fault diagnosis while the vehicle was on the move. I mean, this bus was drop-dead gorgeous! But, I really must have words with my subconscious about paying attention to the wrong parts of dreams .....
SCHOOL DREAMS AND STRESS DREAMS
School dreams happen when I'm stressed out. This one occurred following a very stressful day at work after I'd been triple-booked, worked through lunch (didn't get any food) in order to meet commitments that had been landed on me that morning. I couldn't work late because I needed to get groceries on the way home (there being no partner to do the household shopping) and because I have animals that need to be fed. In the dream I was in my least favourite lesson - French with Mrs Fife. This is a common component of nightmares. Mrs Fife favoured the immersion method and made no allowances for those of us not linguistically inclined . I spent my first 3 years of French lessons without a clue of what she was going on about. She insisted we asked questions in French and she only answered in French. I lacked the ability to ask something and if I could ask, I couldn't understand the answer! I spent hours on homework I didn't understand and ended up with "4/10, see me, lack of effort, shoddy, careless, lazy." After she left I enjoyed French - her replacement explained things in English where necessary and my grades went up to 8/10, 9/10 (showing the importance of using teaching methods applicable to the type of pupil).
In one such dream, when I found the correct school room, I had been put in the wrong class and couldn't keep up and the teacher was berating me for lack of effort, ignoring the fact I just didn't understand her lessons. The scene suddenly changes and I am supposed to be boarding a plane. A small orange passenger jet takes off while I'm waiting to board. The plane is still climbing when there's a loud boom. We can't see any explosion because of cloud cover, but the burnt wreckage lands in the sea and is washed up on the beach. I vividly remember the reports saying there were 22 people in the main cabin and 5 people in the other cabin. I refuse to board my plane after that. The scene changes again. I am driving through autumnal beech woodland and end up in a country pub with red and gold carpet. Sadly I wake up before ordering a nice pint of beer!
The rest of the night had included dreams about being at boarding school (it was set at my old grammar school which isn't a boarding school) and needing to move to a different dorm. For some reason my boarding school belongings included such improbable objects as a Dyson vacuum cleaner and a Flymo and while my classmates were loading their stuff onto the bus, I'd somehow forgotten to pack and was loading my stuff (3 boxes of books, the Dyson and the Flymo) into my car.
Then I was on a coach (bus, not horse drawn) driven by Harry Potter in, according to other passengers, an adaptation of an Enid Blyton book whose name none of us could remember. Suddenly the motorway detoured across a muddy field and we were beset by highwaymen who flung tractor tyres at us ....
Stress-related or illness related dreams can be absolute crackers. This is from one particular night in 2007 when I went to bed feeling unwell and bunged up and this got incorporated into the nightmares.
A lichen had taken root in my skull and I was snorting out solid yellow lumps of lichen instead of snot. The doctor said I needed painful injections into my skull to kill off the lichen. A grey mare was trying to throttle me by biting my throat and when that failed she stood on my chest to stop me breathing.