Monday, March 13, 2006

Things That Go Bump In The Night

Last night I had one of those nightmares that I sometimes have where I'm terrified and trying to scream at the top of my lungs, but no sound is coming out which is only increasing my feelings of terror. Usually what happens is that I'm trying to get away from something or someone and I'm going to die unless I escape. I try to run, but I cannot move because my whole body is restrained. It feels like I'm drowning far below in the depths of the ocean. Like an insect trapped in amber, that's hardening and crystallizing around it. My body has no strength, and my head is clouded. I can't make sense of anything except for my terror and my desparate need to escape, so I try to scream for help.

In my nightmare, I try over and over again to scream, while becoming increasingly terrified, and feeling more and more like I will be unable to escape from certain death. All of my effort produces only a choked silence or a barely audible cry. Finally, after trying and trying, I'm able to scream in my nightmare. The moment I do, I wake up and find myself, not in my nightmare, but sitting bolt upright, having just pushed myself up from the bed, screaming into the silence and darkness of my curtained bedroom in the middle of the night. I don't know what's scarier: being trapped in those dreams, or forcing myself awake by screaming and then having to sit alone in the darkness trying to sort out the nightmare from reality.

Last night, the nightmare had a Texas Chainsaw Massacre twist. Thank you subconscious for that lovely element. In my nightmare, I was lying in bed NEXT to Leatherface. Yes, right next to him, sharing the same bed. Only Leatherface didn't have his face covered with a rotted old leather bag. Instead, he was wearing a hard metal mask with an opening over his mouth that was covered with bars the width of toothpicks in the fashion of Hannibal Lecter. He was bound to the bed and held in place on his back by thick restraints like you would find in mental hospitals of old. I have no idea why I was lying next to him, or why I couldn't run, because I wasn't bound by anything that I could see, but I felt paralyzed. I do know that I didn't trust his restraints, and that it was only a matter of time before he I was going to turn towards me and come for me. I knew that I would die when that happened, and that it would be a grisly and painful death.

I tried to to scream as loud as I could, terrified that Leatherface would hear me before I could make a loud enough sound to alert those who were going to help me. I was inches away from his body, his restraints, and the bars covering his mouth. I tried to scream again and again, but no sound would come out. I was conscious of the bed moving beneath me as my body tensed and shook, trying to make some sound come out of my throat, and I was afraid that I would wake him. I was becoming more and more frantic. I tried harder to scream, and made a small sound. Oh my god. Did he hear it? I didn't look at him. I didn't want to see him coming for me. Instead I just focused on trying to scream, trying to make the sounds that were coming out of me louder and louder, until suddenly, I screamed a blood curdling scream.

My scream pierced through the nightmare and let me escape. I was suddenly awake. I was conscious that I had just thrust myself into a sitting position in bed. As I came awake, I stopped screaming. I could remember the sound, but I was disoriented, not sure if I had really screamed or if I had only dreamed the sound of my scream. Everything was silent in my bedroom and it was very dark. I jerked my head to look at the other side of my bed, but no one was there. The down comforter was piled in odd bunches. I carefully pressed it down and made sure that nothing was concealed beneath it. I sighed in relief, but also fear. I was all alone. At least in bed.

My mouth was dry and I wanted a glass of water, but to get one I would have to get out of bed and cross the darkness of my studio. I looked at my alarm clock. It was 4:20 in the morning. I held my breath listening for any sound in my apartment, wondering in the darkness what had caused me to wake up. Was it the nightmare, or was it something else?

From my bed in the alcove of my studio, I couldn't see my whole apartment, and the kitchen was completely obscured from view. I was too scared to go. I realized I had to pee and, gathering my courage, carefully slipped out of my bed and made my way to the bathroom, just 8 feet away from the edge of my bed. The path to the bathroom is easy, with lots of lights and no need to cross any darkness in order to turn them on. Lighting my way as I went, I half backed into my bathroom, keeping an eye behind me just in case anything suddenly came at me in a rush out of the shadows of my apartment. I peeed quietly, with the door open, leaning towards my right so that I could see out throught the whole doorway. So that I would have warning if I needed to jump up and slam the door shut. Nothing came. I didn't flush because I didn't want to create any sound that might serve as a cover for anything that was hiding.

After the bathroom, I was still thirsty, and some of the fear of the nightmare was wearing off. I steeled myself and walked out into the dark space of my apartment, quickly turning on all the lights, making everything look as bright as it would in the day. That was a little better, but there were still hiding places to check. I stealthily crept towards the closet and checked behind the clothes, while all the while keeping an eye on the rest of the room. The closet was clear. I checked behind my chinese screen. Nothing. I was starting to feel better. The kitchen was clear too. I opened the fridge and poured myself a cold glass of water. I took a sip, standing in front of the fridge, feeling increasingly better, and little bit foolish for being so scared.

It was 4:35 a.m. now, and I needed to go back to sleep. I turned off the light in the kitchen, the one near my front door, and then the one that covers most of my studio, as I walked back towards my bed. The darkness at my back spooked me again, and I moved quickly, but silently, on edge and listening intently for any signs of pursuit. I didn't look back, because that would have been ridiculous, and I was just a little scared that I might have seen something looking back at me. As I got to my bed, I couldn't help myself from leaping up onto it so that my toes didn't have to go to close to the dark space under my bed - a habit from childhood to avoid the grasp of boogie men who live under beds that I've never been able to shake. I spun around and surveyed my apartment, which was once again covered in shadows. Nothing seemed amiss.

I was still too spooked to turn out my bedlight just yet, so I picked up "Knife of Dreams," the most recent novel in Robert Jordan's epic fantasy Wheel of Time series. I opened the page I had dog-eared (my Dad and Raj hate that) and began to read about Elayne's efforts to rule Camlyn, Aes Sedai, the golden-haired warrior Bridget, and the latest developments facing my beloved magical characters. There's a character in the Wheel of Time seris, Min, who can foretell the future and interpret dreams. I would have liked to have heard her interpretation of my Leatherface nightmare. After about 15 minutes, getting happily lost in their world banished the last of the fear that had been clinging to me from my nightmare. It was a little after 5:00 a.m. when I turned off the light and went back to sleep.

1 comment:

Bean said...

I hate that shit. I always have to leap into bed too, so the Boggie man doesn't get a hold of my feet and pull me under. I usually make Tex get me a glass of water. I hate the house all dark. That will be and should be a good benefit of living with Raj. He can get you a glass of water in the middle of the night!