(Male, 20′s) Yeah so this nightmare is pretty obviously about going back to college — that horror that summer is almost over but it’s still pretty weird.
I was moving back into college and I had all these things on my mind like I had only moved in half my stuff out of the car into the dorm room when someone told me that I should run over and buy my books before the lines got too long. On the way, I saw some friends that I hadn’t seen all summer and was glad to see again but still I was in a hurry. So I was racing toward the main college building — which didn’t look like any of the buildings on my campus but more like one of those old stone buildings like in England at Oxford or Cambridge. Soaring arches and stained glass windows. This building was where all the classes and administration happened for the college. It was THE college. I know is strange to say but it sort of had the feel of my middle school, maybe the same general layout of building and grounds, though in the dream everything that was parking lot at my middle school was very well groomed lawn. I had just come out from a tree lined street — just like there was at my middle school — and I noticed this because the sun now was very hot and very, very bright. There were people hurrying here and there with their arms wrapped around large stacks of books. And no one really seemed to notice that there was a dinosaur sized monster as tall as the tallest spire of the college biting at people here and there. The monster was unbelievable, really unbelievable. It was just like an old monster movie monster. It had three heads and frills behind each head. I looked up at it and thought — I REALLY thought this — that having three heads couldn’t possible serve an evolutionary purpose so therefore this creature must be imaginary. Except it was moving and with such fluid motion. It wasn’t stop action animation or anything. It just was a real, 50′ tall green lizard. By that time it had noticed me and even though I still didn’t believe it existed, I sort of hid behind one corner of the building. But it darted its heads around the top of the building and hissed at me so I tried moving again. What’s funny, I guess, is that I wasn’t really *afraid* of the monster, even though it was trying to bite me in two but more I felt *irritated* with the monster because it was getting in the way of the tasks I had to do. Anyway, this back and forth thing went on for several minutes with me never getting very safe for very long. Right about then I woke up.
Daughter Of Hounds (2007) is a captivating horror novel by Caitlin Kiernan set in the darkly fantastic world of the Benefit Street ghouls, a familiar setting to readers of Kiernan’s Low Red Moon (2003). Kiernan has followed the same cast of characters, more or less through several books, including Threshold (2001). Daughter Of Hounds focuses on Emma Silvey, the child of Deacon Silvey and Chance Matthews who were major characters in previous books. Emma is precocious and dauntless and believably child-like as she wends her way through the twisting shocks of the story, through dreams within dreams that turn out to be no dreams at all. Her narrative double is Soldier, a tough and brutally practical young woman who is a “child of the Cuckoo,” one of those children stolen by the ghouls and raised in their dank underground warrens. The stories of Emma and Soldier strangely intertwine crossing again and again to the very end of the book. Another character familiar to readers of Kiernan’s fiction is The Bailiff and personally, I was glad to see this character shown from a few more perspectives. It’s too much to hope for, I suppose to expect a lengthy work entirely about him.
Daughter Of Hounds is a delicious mixture of supernatural horror with splashes of everyday gore. It is intelligent and literary while remaining eminently readable. Kiernan has been called the literary grand-daughter of H.P. Lovecraft, though I find her work actually more compelling than that master of eldritch horror. Her descriptions of magick seem more believable; her depictions of that ineffable, nameless wonder/horror are more effective. Kiernan is an established Mistress of short fiction, whose stories frequently are selected as the best horror of the year, and with Daughter Of Hounds a particularly well-conceived and well-executed work, she is clearly hitting her stride with the book-length format. Read them all if you can, but treat yourself to Daughter Of Hounds in the least.
— the grim gnome
(Male, 30′s) This nightmare had a steady feeling of dread throughout it. It was late afternoon and I was in my grandmother’s house. Incidentally, my grandmother has been dead for decades and I haven’t been in this house since I was a kid. The house was abandoned and I was the only one there. One of the rooms upstairs, a bedroom, was noisily haunted. When I was downstairs in the hallway, I could hear a vacuum running up there. I ran up the stairs and just as I entered the room the vacuum cleaner switched off. The floor was filthy with dust so it was clear to see where the vacuum had just been gliding along, cleaning the floor. There was still furniture in this room which was strange because most of the house was empty. I knew in the dream that something in the room was causing the haunting, that one of the pieces of furniture or something hidden in a drawer was something the ghost wanted someone to find. I started taking things apart, making a mess. I was working against time because I knew that I really REALLY didn’t want to be caught in the house after sunset. One of the pieces of furniture was a chest of drawers. There appears to be only clothes in it. Then I looked at the dresser from behind and I found that there were secret panels behind each of the drawers. In one of them I found a small package of hand-rolled cigarettes, though for some reason I knew that it wasn’t tobacco. This dresser must have belonged to the teenaged girl who lived here. The drawer itself was filled with wildly colored sashes and silk hair ties. The cigarettes — drugs? — were a discovery but it didn’t seem to be the kind of thing a ghost wanted me to find. I had to leave the room for a moment and when I came back in, the contents of one of the dresser drawers that I had spilled out was all tidied up. The ghost was cleaning up after this messy human. Or maybe it was that the ghost really DIDN’T want me to find out about what was causing the haunting. It was getting dark. I was running out of time.
(Male, 40′s) I didn’t believe a nightmare could be hilarious as well as terrifying — though I should admit that I was pretty scared while I was actually inside the dream. It’s only when I woke up and started thinking about it did any of it seem funny. But it is kind of funny, like a B-movie thriller.
I was one of four people performing an extremely large scale bank heist. Basically we were going to cause a natural disaster which would force a whole town to evacuate and then we’d rob a pre-selected set of banks and burn down everything else. Not a subtle plan but it gets points for audacity. The disaster we had planned involved flooding the city by draining a dammed reservoir. That part worked fine, sort of. The water left the reservoir and started flooding down the river toward the city. It must have taken quite a bit of time because the city was largely evacuated before the water got to it. But there was trouble back at the reservoir. When all the water disappeared, all that was left was all the wildlife that lived in the water — and an improbable collection of creatures was that: fish flapping for breath, thousands upon thousands of frogs, a good half dozen alligators … and an immense amphibious dinosaur. I believe it was a moasaur. We had just finished our work at the dam and each of the four of us were carrying a large satchel of hand grenades, gasoline “molotov cocktails” and C4 explosives. In the dream, though I don’t remember any of us carrying a lighter or a detonator or anything — these things were just supposed to go “boom” on their own free will or something. I saw the moasaur as it was eating two alligators. Yup, that was quite a sight! I tried to warn the others but one of the conspirators shrugged me off “Haven’t you ever seen an alligator before?” He tossed a hand grenade in the direction of the fuss and we all made our way toward the city. There was devastation everywhere, uprooted trees, overturned cars… somehow there were still people running away from the water even though the water had already torn through town. The ground was soggy, like after a rain but there were no pools of water. We ran across an open field behind some houses. I had the distinct feeling that the dinosaur was following us but then I looked around and saw that the situation was even worse. There were at least three of these same dinosaurs crawling out among the houses, casually eating stragglers. Again I tried to alert my conspirators and again they said “Stop daydreaming. Keep your mind on the task” while they casually tossed a couple firebombs over their shoulder. I think the plan was to burn down the city so the loss of the money wouldn’t be noticed. The next thing I knew one of the dinosaurs had grabbed one of the robbers in its mouth. He was shocked and surprised. That’s when Jodi Foster… did I mention that one of the robbers was Jodi Foster? It was really strange because throughout the dream I wanted to compliment her on her acting work but she was very serious and very focused on the robbery and I thought she’d just yell at me again. It seemed that Jodi Foster was the brains of the operation. The whole thing might have been her plan, too. She tossed a hand grenade at the moasaur that was now chewing on one of our companions and she told the rest of us to hurry. We’d made it to the outskirts of the city — why hadn’t we planned to have a vehicle, especially if we were going to be carrying loot? — but we were blocked off from it by an immensely tall chain link fence. The fence was easily three stories tall and it had barbed wire at the top. I took off climbing as soon as we got to it. I knew there were more than one dinosaur out there and I wanted to get as far away from them as possible. When I got to the top, I wrapped my leather jacket around the barbed wire and climbed over it. Climbing down was the hard part. I could see the dinosaurs massing in the field we’d just left. The other guy was refusing to climb the fence while Jodi Foster was sure taking her time. I knew I needed her if for no other reason than I didn’t know where we were supposed to go next. I mean she’s a great actress but it was getting down to every one for them self. She had gotten roughly half the way up the fence and I had gotten rough half the way down. I was yelling at her to hurry when the dinosaur attacked the guy on the ground. When I say attacked, I really mean more he just bit the guy in half. The dinosaurs were roughly the size of a garbage truck. I jumped the rest of the way down. There were dozens of people still running around, still trying to escape the flood that had already passed through town. Now they had something worse to worry about. I opened up my satchel of explosives and told people to take them, not that the bombs had shown themselves to be very effective against the monsters in the past. The dinosaur went for the fence and effortlessly toppled it down. There was nothing standing in the way between it and me. It was huge, black and green, sleek skin, squat like an extremely large and extremely angry frog, though its back legs weren’t that big. It had cold, unthinking eyes and breath that smelled like a damp basement. I was done for.
(Male, 40′s) This doesn’t sound scary at all in the light of day but I woke up terrified, entirely unable to get back to sleep after this dream.
I was in the house where I grew up, a place I haven’t been in years. I’m an adult in the dream though. It’s the middle of the night and I’m walking down the short hallway by the bedroom I had when I was in grade school. I hear this rhythmic squeaking, like someone is jumping up and down on a spring. I decide to investigate. At first I think it’s just the dog. We had a dog when I was a kid but it was small and furry. The dog in my dream was huge with very short hair. I thought maybe it was wagging it’s tail in such a way that it was hitting something. But the dog was no where to be found. It was hiding — I thought maybe I should be too. The squeak got louder as I turned the corner by the kitchen. It was coming from the kitchen. I entered and flipped on the lights but there was no one in there. The noise continued, regularly squeaking, louder because I was finally in the same room with it but not changing in frequency. It was coming from the cushions of the built-in booth. I pushed the table away. The booth had the same patterned material that it did when I was a very little kid, probably early grade school. But in the place where I used to sit, there was a huge black stain. It wasn’t like something had soaked into the material but more like something had melted or dissolved on top of the booth and there was now this dried puddle of black residue. The sound was coming from there, like a small child jumping up and down on the seat cushion.
In my dreams, I’m always an exorcist for some reason, and I think I can command the demon to leave us alone. It didn’t feel like a ghost — though I wonder why not. It just seemed too large and powerful… and too difficult to understand to be a ghost. I tried to say “In the name of Jesus Christ, leave us alone” but my mouth didn’t work right. I couldn’t pronounce whole words only stray syllables. My lips seemed to melt together. My tongue was numb but I kept trying. I struck the black spot with my hand as I tried again and again to make it stop. I was on my knees hitting this demonic booth when I woke up.
(Male, 30′s) The first strange thing about this nightmare is that it’s about winter and and being cold and right now, it’s July and I’m anything but cold. The second thing that’s strange is that I didn’t realize it was a nightmare or really even a dream when it first started.
It was winter, a gray overcast day, rather late in the day because nothing was very bright. There was a good cover of snow on the ground, though it wasn’t fresh because the roads were well traveled. I was in a rural area, not a farmer’s field because it was more rustic. There was brown scrub poking up out of the snow in places, brush and a enough clumps of trees that I couldn’t see the horizon. There was no one with me but I didn’t get the sense that I was alone. Maybe I heard voices of other people yelling to each other. At this point, I thought it was just folks having fun in the snow like I was. I was beside a gravel road. It hadn’t been plowed but there were several sets of tracks. During this part of the dream I wasn’t afraid at all. It was rather fun to be outside with the fresh crisp air.
I had cross country skiis on. I haven’t been cross country skiing since I was a kid but it was something I really liked to do back then. I looked both ways and crossed the road to a slightly more open area. I began gliding along in that peaceful rhythm of skiing. Then I angled slightly to pass through a small area of underground and cross into a more open area. At this point I realized that the voices I’d heard were people looking for me. I don’t have a sense that they wanted to do me harm but still for whatever reason I didn’t want to be found. I kept pressing on, not entirely sure of where I was going. The undergrowth seemed a lot thicker that I expected, thicker and more difficult to traverse. But I paid most attention to the voices that were behind me. I was able to get a bit of speed going despite the brush. I was pushing forward, forward, forward and then I looked up and saw this terrifying patch of darkness. I suppose it was shaped like a bush but it was nothingness, just an ominous hole. The tips of my skiis were already gliding into it. There was no way to avoid it but it was clearly not something that belonged to this nice rustic winter scene. I decided in an instant to be brave so with my heart pounding I ducked and slid into the dark.
Occasionally, I’ll happen upon indications that the human species isn’t doomed. For instance, the bright minds behind the Zombie Squad are preparing for the zombie uprising *now* while there’s still time. For those who remain skeptical of the zombie menace, only because it hasn’t yet reached epidemic proportions, the Zombie Squad also performs acts of contemporary assistance, particularly disaster relief. I’m serious. They have canned food drives, donate blood (their own, presumably) in addition to having occasional movie nights. There are several chapters across the US and Ontario and it sounds like other chapters are forming.
(Male, 20′s) This dream was EXACTLY like a horror movie which is kind of strange because I haven’t watched a horror movie in awhile. I was like a private in the military but it was like France maybe around the time of Napoleon or something. I was on night patrol with another soldier but there was also a lieutenant with us. We were on this island with these rolling hills and gravel roads and huge pine trees. All of a sudden this big fat guy comes up to the lieutenant. I got the sense that this fat guy was someone important, like the mayor of the town we were occupying, someone important but not military. He wore white pants, I remember that. The mayor was complaining to the lieutenant “Do you have any idea what your men have done?” And the lieutenant just spews out this line of pure bull that was so smooth and reassuring. He seemed to think that the worst the soldiers had done was to go hunting and accidentally hunt someone’s dog. The mayor explained that the soldiers had gotten drunk and started digging up graves. The lieutenant looked a little grossed out by that but he kept up with the bull. The mayor continued and said the trouble is that a werewolf had come out of the woods and started eating the corpses. Yuck, I know. So the soldiers shot it and thought everything was fine. The lieutenant said “The army will deal with the consequences.” The mayor got all huffy, like there’s no way you’ll be able to cope with the consequences.
And by that he meant the living dead. Somehow the werewolf had infected all the dead and not just the ones in the cemetery. There were zombies everywhere like maybe all the people who’d been killed in the day’s fighting. All of a sudden I wasn’t on this island anymore. I was in the front yard of the house where I grew up. My dad was there though he was dressed like one of the French peasants from the island. He had a shotgun and was heading out to kick some zombie ass. I said “I got your back, Dad.” And I picked up the only weapon that was nearby which was this nasty wood splitting ax. There was someone else there too on our side though I don’t know who it was. We walked down across the front yards of the neighbor hood and a few zombies came out from between the houses. This is where it got weird. I mean this is where something else weird started happening. We could only move a little bit at a time and only one person at a time, like this was a board game or something. The zombies could keep coming however they wanted but they were slow and disorganized. I tried to move away from my dad so I wouldn’t accidentally hit him with the follow-through on the ax. But I somehow got stuck, like I couldn’t move closer at all, like I had massive lag in a video game. I could watch what was happening but couldn’t do anything. Dad kept walking closer to the zombies way closer than he needed to because he had a shotgun. The other person who was with us got scared and tried to run away but could only run a couple steps at a time like he was stuck too. I knew Dad was going to get killed and there was nothing I could do.