I wanted to talk about something study-related, but to be honest I’m feeling too tired to be bothered overmuch with that right now. Instead, lets talk about something more suited to 3AM: Dreams

Dream-logic is, I’m fairly sure, the logic of the amygdala. Things happen with a rhyme and reason all of their own, while your conscious mind hums away in the background ignored. Everything seems self-contained and understandable until you wake up and it suddenly becomes laughable.

Take a nightmare I once had, for instance. I was in an old run-down apartment at sunset, all alone except for the faint sound of wind. The sun shining through the dusty windows had turned everything in the abandoned kitchen golden where they weren’t banded by angular shadows. On the old tiled floor, a faint sheen of dust spoke of longer neglect. Standing in the room, I felt like the last person on earth, so softly intense was the feeling of emptiness.

My eyes, however, were drawn to the out-of-place object in the room: a crude cardboard silhouette of a cowled figure clutching a scythe. Propped up on its card base, it looked like the sort of decoration a child might make for Halloween. As I watched, it began to flutter. Then, soundlessly, it began to move.

As it hesitantly glided towards the deep shadows of the inner kitchen, a horrible realisation came over me. That thing, animated as it was by unfathomable powers, was only a harbringer. I turned slowly, feeling the presence of the cowled figure behind me before I saw it. For an instant it simply stood there, framed against the front door, staring from inside the inky blackness of its hood.

Then, as if sensing my growing dread, it slowly and deliberately peeled the cloth away. Inside, there was nothing… except two bloodshot, glaring eyeballs suspended in the empty space where the cowl had been.

I woke up after that. Then, I did what I usually do when confronted by something frightening. I forced myself to look, reliving the moment until the sight of burning eyes in an empty robe was more funny than scary. Until the whole dream became contextualized and understandable. Then I went back to sleep.

Here is the reasoning behind the dream:

Some months before, I had been driving up the long and winding road to my parent’s house. I had just finished an exam and my brain felt battered from the experience of cramming in information and subsequently releasing it under pressure. It late and I was eager to get home, have supper and fall asleep.

Suddenly, the beams of my headlights were reflected in two points, behind which was the shadowy outline of a house cat. It is hard, fighting the urge to turn the wheel and avoid something, knowing that it is too late to brake. I did it, but only barely. I think the knowledge that just a little off the twisting road was a ten-metre drop probably tipped the balance somewhat.

Something was off, though. There was no thudding impact, no double-jerk of the wheel. As soon as I could, I stopped the car and walked back, hoping against hope that the animal I had run over was alive. Instead, I found a piece of cardboard, crudely cut into the shape of a cat and propped up. It had two small pieces of foil stuck on it, to reflect the light of oncoming cars.

I had almost been killed by a sick child’s prank.

I went home fuming, ate a perfunctory meal and fell asleep despondent at the sheer nastiness of it all. Over the next few weeks, I guess a part of my mind digested the whole thing until it could spit it back out. And what came out was dream-logic, a cavalcade of monsters I could stare down instead of a single thirteen-year-old asshole who almost killed me to play a joke nobody but the two of us would ever know about.

Meaningless meaning, the nature of dreams.


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