(Male, 30′s) I’ve been having trouble sleeping recently. I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night worried about work or life. So when this dream started, it just felt like I’d woken up again. In the dream, I was in bed next to my wife and it was the middle of the night. What had woken me up was the sound of someone rummaging around in the kitchen which is just next our bedroom. It didn’t sound like whomever was out there cared or even knew there was anyone else alive in the house. It was the sound a leisurely ransack, knocking over a dish, banging into a pan. Why would someone break in to go through our housewares?
I was terrified to get up which is strange because I usually feel quite at home in my own house, even in the middle of the night. I looked to see if I could see the invader but the door to the bedroom was closed. It never gets closed. I thought, I should at least make some kind of noise so the invader knows there’s someone here. In the dream it was hard to move but I picked up a book and threw it at the door. It collided with the wall but made no appreciable sound. That should have been my clue that this was a dream. I picked up something else, a round tray and threw that. It also was silent. That should have been my other clue because that tray wouldn’t have even been in our bedroom.
Finally I decided to get up. My stirring woke my partner who was immediately concerned, mostly that I was awake yet again. I got up and opened the door. There was nothing. I went over to the kitchen. No one. I checked the back door and found it was unlocked, open. Outside was dark, but a clear empty dark. It was the Inky Blackness. I don’t know exactly what was so scary about it, but I was extremely glad there was a door between me and it.
I accused my wife of leaving the door open. We fought a bit then I looked at the door leading down to the basement. It too was dark. I turned the light switch on and it did no good. It was like a wall of darkness, of emptiness, hungry annihilating blackness. The Inky Blackness had gotten inside the house and had filled up the basement.
I finally woke up as I prepared to step into the basement, into that dark, just to see what was going on.
Do you dream of traveling beyond everyday life to exotic locations? Would your ideal vacation include a time-travel option as well? If you are looking for a quirky and unusual destination, consider a visit to Scarfolk.
With the click of a mouse, you can access the strange and compelling village of Scarfolk, a small town located somewhere in the north-west of England which has become stuck in time, specially in the 1970’s.
Richard Littler is the self-appointed town mayor and, as designer and writer of the website, he presents the town’s artifacts for consideration. Through a spot-on series of public announcements and advertisements, the viewer becomes fully aware of the dangers that lurk seemingly everywhere in this quiet little hamlet. From the consequences of not learning to swim or speeding to the threat of imposter parents or thought-detector vans, these PSA’s succeed in capturing the low-level worry and daily trauma that pervaded the culture.
The fonts and graphics found in the Scarfolk documents are both cheery and eerily familiar, like those Earthshoes hidden in the back of your closet or that photo of your father in a leisure suit. The content shimmers with the haunting, dark humor we’ve come to expect from the British, reminiscent of the cringe-inducing bits of ”Monty Python’s Flying Circus” and the mock-educational series Look Around You.
After the publication of her short story“The Lottery” in 1948, Shirley Jackson noted that, in addition to hate mail, she received requests for more information, specifically on the location of towns that engaged in these practices. Some people wanted to visit those places and observe the local rites. The village of Scarfolk is frightening in a different way, and now that the archives are being made public, we can visit often and marvel at how far we have come– hopefully.
I was in my childhood home, which my parents actually sold years ago, but in my dream they still lived there. I had gone downstairs to the big freezer in the basement to get something for my mom. To get to the freezer, we went downstairs and then basically circled through the rooms back to opposite wall — so through the open space, then the laundry room, then past cupboards and shelves to the freezer.
Next to the freezer was a little room under the stairs that we called the tool shed. It was a small room, lit by a bare bulb, where my dad kept nails, screws, and tools– stuff like that. It had a low ceiling and a wide door.
As I came around the corner, I saw a movement inside the tool shed– about head high. I swore it looked like a pair of legs sliding into the wall. But that made no sense. So I walked over to the freezer and started looking around inside it.
And again, I saw a movement about head-high in the tool shed, so I turned to look.
I saw a black creature whose head and shoulders poked out of a previously unnoticed tiny door about 5 feet off the floor. It wasn’t a person at all, but a slightly humanoid shiny dark black being with huge glowing eyes who somewhat hostilely returned my gaze.
I realized that the creature was living under my parents stairs. Who knows how long it had been there. I had no idea what to do next.
(Male, 30′s) This dream was sprawling and pretty epic in scope. It wasn’t so much scary as just menacing, deeply menacing.
I was going about my normal routine, at least this was the normal routine in the dream. And mixed in with all the regular everyday tasks were things done to protect against vampires.
But these were the weirdest vampires. They didn’t have to go back to their coffins during the day and they didn’t seem particularly harmed by sunlight… other than the fact that daylight paralyzed them. Up and down the street, there were these creatures who looked just like humans who were frozen still, presumably vampires who had been caught outside.
They were scary, animalistic in that they would rip you to shreds without a moment’s thought. But on the street, there was just one or two every block, nothing too disturbing.
Then I went into the basement level of this public building. I don’t know what it was, maybe a train station, maybe a movie theatre. And it was crowded with frozen vampires. They were so tightly assembled it was difficult to force my way past them. Their flesh was hard, like stone. It wasn’t clear whether they were conscious or not, that is, whether they were aware of my presence. This crowd of vampires was clearly a threat, not just for me alone. I had to do something… but I also had to get far far away quickly. I had some kind of plan to distract them using an old fashioned baby perambulator. It was black and had lace frills around the basket. It looked like something from the Victorian era, maybe from Mary Poppins. It was as big as I was. I have no idea what I was thinking but somehow the plan involved putting the pram on its side right by the lead vampire so he’d think there was a baby inside. I wrestled the pram on its side and got it into position.
Just then, the lead vampire reached out and grabbed me by the wrist. He’d only been pretending to be frozen. They all had been pretending.
(Male, 40′s) I’m writing this down for you in the middle of the night because I will be DAMNED if I’m going back to sleep. I woke up very rattled and I was afraid even to get out of bed at first.
It was a really classy, arty dream, like everything was significant. I was waiting in line for a favorite restaurant in some city that felt both familiar and comfortable. When I finally was able to get a seat, the prices had all been raised due to an art show that was next door. I decided to boycott the meal so I went to the basement.
My old therapist was there and she had a bag full of pamphlets that belonged to her dad. Evidently he was a harshly fundamentalist preacher, based on the contents of the bag. I felt curious about her personal history but I also felt guilty, naughty, dirty. I felt great compassion oddly for her father whom she seemed to hate.
I strayed into another part of the building which was the art installation in question. Instead of one big room, the pieces were shown in these small, claustrophobia-inducing rooms all linked to each other. The art works were immense papier-macheé sculptures. They were familiar objects all bizarre and wrong. One was an apple that was at least five feet in diameter. It was painted a gory hue of red, more the color of entrails than fruit. On top, there were hateful words scrawled in black letters a foot tall. Vicious graphitti.
And there were zombies that jumped out from around corners. Or some kind of undead. Maybe they were performers… in fact, I seemed to recognize them in the dream, as being members of a death metal band. In the dream, the name of the band was “Zombie Ferox” — which I think is the name of a horror movies, right? The zombie performer was all in black and white, strips of bandages for clothing, frizzy hair, thick gray lips and sunken black eyes. I think it was female. I told her that I enjoyed her music. She — it?– smiled but continued “performning” this bizarre dance that was half attack, half modern art. She kept physically assaulting me then pulling away. It was easy to keep pushing her away but there was something deeply sinister about how she was toying with me.
Then another “zombie” arrived. This one was clearly female, lithe, slender with flowing blondish hair and pale ashy complexion. Again she was both undead and a performer, very clearly a dancer… which made the other zombie feel more like an actor, maybe a martial artist. The second zombie wore a thin grey dress that went down mid thigh. It was wispy like funeral veil and which was the same pale grey as her skin tone. The effect was as if the dress was sheer, that the dancer zombie was naked but not in an entirely sexy way. She would have been rather hot… if she wasn’t weird and undead. This second zombie got a small pitcher of milk from the fridge and also a small vial of vinegar and she made curdled milk. She used it like perfume. She smelled like rancid milk. Like the first zombie, her actions were very physical and very threatening to me but I was able to keep pushing away her advances.
We were then, all three of us, in the house where I grew up. It was night, I don’t know how late. I grabbed the second zombie around the chest and dragged her outside. I can remember how she felt, her flesh so soft and tender. I said something like, “Let’s see how scary you are outside.” I had the sense that I was trying to rupture the frame, that these undead things were only acting — which is not to say they wouldn’t have killed me, they were quite physical in their attacks — and that I could radically change their behavior if I changed the frame of reference.
Outside on the street, there was a small group of young men, wearing black t-shirts with a crudely painted symbol on the chest and back. It glowed lightly in white paint. They were up to no good. The zombie ceased harrassing me and started to drift away down the street. She attracted the attention of the gang who started to follow her. I had no doubt whatsoever that she would be able to rip them apart effortlessly if they attacked her. But they kept coming, these youth. The first in the group were late teens but by the end of the crowd — maybe three dozen in total — they were much younger, maybe 3rd or 4th grade.
They were up to no good, as I said. If it matters, they were all white suburban kids, their boredom made them monsters. I knew they would murder me just to have something to do. I felt a cold, brutal fear, unlike the weird supernatural fear I’d had of the undead performers. These gang members could only kill my body; the zombies wanted my soul… or something even deeper and more comprehensive. There were too many of these punks to fight, though I felt reasonably sure I could hold my own against these younger thugs. I laid down in the flower bed, kept my face down, didn’t move. The thugs milled about, very close to me. If I hadn’t been in a flowerbed, I bet they would have tripped over me.
Then the first zombie seems to have started to lure them into the house. One by one they climbed in through the window until they were all gone, every last one of them.
I was on the roof at this point and the roof was covered in beer barrels, the stainless steel kind. The window led right up to an automated dishwashing machine. I started feeding these barrels onto a conveyor belt into this dishwasher, stuffing them in one after another. I eventually cleaned up the whole roof, thinking to myself “I don’t know which one will kill me first, the Nazis or the Undead but dammit, at least I’ll clean up this mess before I go.” which seems an oddly industrious sentiment for a nightmare.
I awoke as I pushed the last barrel through the window.
(Male, 50s’) My dad has been gone for over 20 years so I only rarely dream about him but last night, I woke in a cold sweat.
Dad was dead and we had called the company that was going to bury him. We were waiting outside of large building on the sideway. Dad’s body was just lying there on the grass, still in a hospital gown.
A van pulled up and a professionally dressed woman got out. “First I want to congratulate you on your loss.” she said it very matter-of-fact, as if by rote, but it struck me as odd she said “congratulate” instead of “condolence.” But she continued talking her set spiel about how her company would take the best care of Dad. Before I knew it, she had Dad’s body in a body bag. The bag was made of extremely thick black plastic. It reminded me of Kevlar. Before she zipped it up, the woman put a laptop computer in the bag on top of Dad’s torso. “The computer lets your loved one know you cared about them up until the last minute.” She sealed the bag with an air of finality.
“Now, for a small extra charge we can escort your loved one to the van on a rolling cart.” She had already brought out this low wooden cart. I almost agreed but I asked how much the “small extra charge” would be. The woman replied that the cart would cost $150 and it would show everyone how much I cared. I was confused. Why would I spend that much money to have them used a cart to carry my dad’s body less than 20 feet?
I told her that I didn’t believe this was my father any more, just a shell he’d left behind and that I’d rather spend the money on booze for a party I would hold in his honor. Very well, the woman said.
And at that moment, the body in the bag started kicking. It was subtle at first, the legs just curled at the knees. But then the whole body started convulsing. I looked at the woman in case something like this was normal but the expression on her face said it clearly wasn’t.
“Is he still alive in there?” I asked.
The woman nodded but she stood as if paralyzed in fear.
“Then help me get him out.”
“That’s not possible. Those bags are completely sealed. They’re guaranteed.”
I knelt down by my dad’s body. He was thrashing around. Somehow I was then able to see through the heavy plastic fabric of the bag. His eyes were open. He was gasping for breath. But in addition to having limited oxygen in that sealed bag, it was filling up with liquid. He would drown in his own juices within moments.
“Get him out or I will sue you and your company into non-existence.” The woman clutched her clipboard and contorted her face but did nothing to help my father as he died, a second time lying there on the sidewalk.
(Male, 40′s) A seriously twisted night of dreams.
I was inside some kind of a cabin or rustic building. There were floor to ceiling picture windows that looked out on trees and a leaf- strewn lawn. I watched a good sized baby raccoon playing in the leaves. Then I noticed that it wasn’t playing so much as clawing at them desperately.
And that’s when I noticed the spider. The spider was immense. Its body alone was at least three feet across. I saw its eyes first. Round black orbs the size of softballs surrounded by thick gray bristles. I started counting them but stopped at six. That’s when I realized it was a spider and that it was really large. The raccoon must have been playing over the spider’s nest or perhaps it camouflaged itself beneath a pile of leaves.
The baby raccoon was squealing, trying to claw its way free. The spider was so large it didn’t need to wrap the raccoon up in webs. The spider simply skewered the raccoon with its long fangs and popped it in its mouth whole. Though this spectacle was horrifying it wasn’t actually terrifying.
I wasn’t terrified until later in the dream. Many other strange and silly things had happened and I found myself outside of the cabin. I was staring at a display case that had been set inside of a tree trunk. There was marvelous but weird Christmas display of vintage toys. Then I realized that I wa standing extremely close to that very same spider’s nest. Its wasn’t large enough to swallow me at one bite but there was still be no contest whatsoever if it decided to kill me.
I began to scream, utterly terrified. I wasn’t calling for help. I wasn’t even thinking to escape. I completely fell apart and collapsed into a terrified panic. It was the most disturbing sensation, one i don’t believe I’ve ever felt. I was utterly powerless.
(Female, 30′s) My friend Mike was in trouble with the cops. I didn’t know what he’d done, but Mike told me they were going to arrest him and kill him.
The cops came to get him, but they had a problem: somehow the chief had been turned into a baby. There were hints that it was done by magic. The cops weren’t sure yet how to reverse the situation, but as soon as they did, they would be taking Mike away.
Meanwhile, another cop handed me the baby cop– who looked just like a regular baby of about 9 months old– too young to walk, but sturdy enough to sit up. He was dressed like a baby, not a cop, in case you are wondering. He asked me to look after the chief for a few minutes, so I held him on my hip with my arm around him, like you do with a baby that size.
As soon as he was out of ear-shot, Mike whispered to me to kill the baby.
“What? Are you serious?” I asked him.
“Dead serious,” he replied. “It’s my life we’re talking about.”
I looked at the baby cop. He really looked like a baby– harmless and not murderous. Still, Mike is a really good friend.
So when the cops weren’t looking, I tried to smother the baby I was holding. I felt just terrible. It wasn’t easy to do however. His face was kind of like a doll’s face, that hard plastic that doesn’t move. I was trying to pinch his nose closed and hold his mouth shut, but the baby was resisting, trying to twist his head away from me and turning bright pink. It was awful. I had to stop. The baby was gasping and wheezing, but Mike wasn’t ready to give up.
“Come on,” he said. “Just kill him. It’s a cop, not a baby.” Mike was watching me and looking really desperate.
Maybe I could feed it something that it would choke on. I looked around. I saw a rubber clown mask sitting on the table that I guess hadn’t been put away from Halloween yet. I handed it to the baby, who started putting it in its mouth and chewing on it, the way babies do. It kinda bit off a piece, so I waited for him to choke. No luck. I glanced over at Mike. I looked back at the baby, and the mask was gone. He’d swallowed the whole thing, coughing a little, but he was fine.
On the table was a bowl of peanuts. I grabbed a handful and held them out to the baby, who took one and put it in its mouth, then another, then another. The baby cop was just downing the peanuts, dozens of them, one right after the other.
The other cop came back and held out his hands to take the baby, just as the baby cop started to cough. “I’ll take the chief now,” he said. Mike was standing behind the cop, shaking his head no.
“It’s okay. I don’t mind watching him,” I said. “Leave him here with me.”
Then the baby started to shake, and then threw up on the ground, enormous puddle of vomit including a bunch of peanuts and a clown mask.
“I guess he’s not feeling so good,” said the cop, shaking his head.
I tried to nudge the clown mask out of the way, hoping that the cop didn’t notice it because it seemed pretty obvious that I was trying to hurt the baby cop, but the other cop seemed pretty distracted by the baby cop and the chaos going on.
“Come on,” he said. “Give me the chief. We gotta go.”
Mike looked at me accusingly. I could have saved his life, but I’d failed.
(Female, 40′s) It was the middle of the night in my dream, and I was not able to sleep so I woke up– that is, in my dream I was awake and the only one in the house
who was awake.
So I wandered around the house, being quiet so that I didn’t wake my sleeping family. I went into the kitchen, and I walked to the backdoor to open it and look out in the yard. I wanted to see what the weather was going to be like.
When I opened the door, I saw a huge menacing dog or wolf standing in the yard about 20 feet away from me. It was very dark outside, but the animal was an even darker black in the night. The opening noise of the door caught its attention, and now its gaze was focused on me. Its eyes were bright red; I could see the gleam of its big pointy teeth in its growling mouth. Its fur was ruffed up along its back so it was obviously an angry animal.
As I had opened the door, a broom had fallen into the doorway, so I knew I couldn’t just slam it shut and be safe. I would have to bend over and pick up the broom before I could shut the door, and that action would give the dog enough time to charge me if it wanted. Of course, after mauling me, the dog/wolf would get my sleeping family.
But the dog hadn’t yet made up its mind about attacking me.
Instead, we locked eyes across the short distance. Both of us stood stock still, having a staring contest. Time stretched on. I was too afraid to move at all.
Then suddenly, I blinked and it was gone. I hurried to move the broom and close the door.
I was sitting in bed, reading a book. It was night time and for some reason I had the window shade pulled back so the window was large and black reflecting the lights from the room. I heard a sound outside. I can’t remember exactly what it was but it made me think someone was out there messing around in my backyard. I was outraged and without a single thought I raced out to the kitchen and threw open the back door.
The whole back yard was pitch black but I could heard voices coming from over by the corner of the yard.
“What the hell are you doing back there?”
The voices replied jovially, ha, ha, nothing to worry about.
I flipped the switch for the porch light and without thinking I charged forward into the darkness. I had gone about four steps before I realized that the light had not come on. I was completely engulfed by the dark. I was also just a little disoriented because at that instant all the lights in the housee also went out. I became immediately aware of my vulnerability, standing in my back yard, with the backdoor still presumably wide open, surrounded by darkness with two or three different voices of mischief makers coming from just a few steps away. Their tone shifted to one of menace and mockery.
Startled, I woke up.
Guess what arrived in the mail? Yes, oh yes, passes for this year’s version of Theatre Bizarre, titled “The Summoning.” The lurid festivities will be held at the Detroit Masonic Temple and please note, costumes are MANDATORY. I am taking time off from stitching mine to type out this posting.
If you aren’t hip to Theatre Bizarre — and there’s no shame really — check out the video I made of some of their side show props at the 2011 Detroit Maker Faire. Remember: you have been SUMMONED.
The historic Michigan Theatre in downtown Ann Arbor MI, keeps one Halloween tradition I heartily endorse: their yearly showing of Murnau’s “Nosferatu” complete with a LIVE ORGAN accompaniment. This year it happens on Thursday, October 25. If you’ve never seen a silent movie with music performed on an honest to goodness theatre organ then treat yourself to this special showing. A theatre organ has the complete range of an orchestra and I should note, they are actual instruments, not digital copies. And take a look around the place too. The Michigan theatre was restored to its ancient glory a decade or so ago and its lobby is worth a gander as well. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the butter on their popcorn is actual, REAL butter.
Nosferatu remains an enduring classic, if for no other reason than how it resolves the central problem of all vampire movies, that is, how can an undead creature of the night do something as ungainly as crawl out of a coffin without looking like an awkward scramble. Lugosi’s Dracula, as I recall, resolves the problem in a different, far less cinematic way with a demure cut-away, but Nosferatu’s full-figure, effortless rise is worth the price of admission. Sure, you’ve seen it in a hundred other movies, but this is the original and for my money the best.
If you just want to watch the movie, however, it’s up on the You-Toob:
(Male, 40′s) The whole dream was creepy with people I know who are dead and who I knew were dead even in the dream. But it didn’t turn into a nightmare until the last final moments. I was in a warehouse, a showroom with crates and merchandise stacked up several stories tall. I had been with friends — even though they were dead — but suddenly I’d turned a corner and was completely alone.
Then, there were two men there, leaning against the boxes. They didn’t seem openly hostile or theatening just vaguely up to no good, like con men. One of the men was friendly. He started chatting with me. He said something about the Wicked Witch of the West, about how she had 9 shelves full of… something, but that he had 18.
I asked if that meant his shelves were half as big as hers. He laughed.
Then the other man, the silent one moved in. He held up one of his hands and made a big show of pulling on his forefinger. He removed the flesh like it was a cap. The bone protruded an inch or two… but it wasn’t a bone: it was a key, an old-fashioned key, a skeleton key, I guess. The silent man then pointed his finger-key at me and stepped forward. He pointed at my forehead like he was going to unlock my brain. Before he touched me, though I woke up.
(Female, 40′s) Aliens had taken over the planet. Like in a well-paced monster movie, they didn’t make an appearance until the 3rd act, but we knew they were out there.
Most people had been put to sleep in these sleep-unit devices that looked like metal filing cabinets — or morgue trays, now that I think about it — in their own homes. This suspended animation mode was drastic, but it was for their own safety, especially those with children.
I wasn’t asleep, so I had to slink around carefully, avoiding the aliens who were known to come out during the daytime.
I went into the home of some friends at dusk. Something like a power-surge had caused their sleep-units to open, and the mom, dad and 2 kids were standing there, confused and rubbing their eyes. I had to break the news to them: they had been sleeping for weeks, aliens were in charge, and they’d have to go back to sleep before sunrise. So they spent this night getting cleaned up and eating dinner and playing games with their kids. In the morning, I helped them seal up and go back to sleep.
I somehow made it to the apartment building where my parents live in another city. I didn’t know how to bring up the topic of aliens with my parents. I asked my mom if she had noticed anything strange going on.
“What? Like the aliens?” replied my mom. I nodded, surprised and embarrassed for some reason.
“We just don’t go outside in the day anymore. And we have to stay away from the windows so we can’t be seen. But at night, when the aliens are sleeping, it’s safe to go out. The government told us that. We go shopping and visiting our friends.”
I went to another friend’s house. Even though it was daytime, I woke them up on purpose because I was feeling lonely and I missed them. I told them about the aliens and how they would have to stay away from the windows, but they didn’t believe me. I pointed outside to the 30 foot tall, slender metallic bodies striding through the neighborhood. The aliens eyes were like red lasers shooting from their spaceship-shaped heads and blowing up things like trees and cars.
“See? You don’t want to make those creatures angry.”
(Female, 30′s) In real life, we built a new garage in our backyard a couple of years ago. And it was sort of the garage in my dream, but not exactly, you know, in the way dreams are different from real life. Anyway, this dream was short on story line, but big on image.
In my dream, there had been a huge storm and a gigantic tree collapsed on the top of our garage (there’s really no trees anywhere near our garage).
Half of the garage was destroyed, like utterly smashed in. The upper story collapsed in by this tree. The roof was left all jagged and unstable.
Then a big machine with a big claw was scooping up the damaged bits.
I had no idea how we were going to fix the garage.
(Male, 40′s) I woke with oily puddles of half evaporated tears in my eyes this morning. Horrible dreams about my mother, where she was still alive, where people were having a barbecue on her back lawn, neighbors encroaching on her space like she wasn’t even there. They were using her grill and had pulled another one in as well. Hundreds of invaders. I went over to speak to them. The chief instigator looked like that actor, that guy who played a thug in Dazed and Confused. He offered me a joint. I tried to look cool, to be cool. He assured me he’d got an OK from “the old lady.”
I retreated still agitated. Mom in the dream had a dog, a small shaggy poodle. Wherever it went, the carpet changed from blue to brown, like it was changing the territory to places that belonged to Mom. It strayed into my house — in the dream, I lived next door to my mom. My carpet turned brown, square by square. I went over to talk with Mom. She started complaining about how I hadn’t put a proper tombstone on her grave. I didn’t know what she was talking about for the longest time. I hugged her hard, wrapping my arms around her like I didn’t do enough of in life. She was small and frail. She wore a faded pink housecoat. I told her I was sorry. She didn’t seem to hug me back, she seemed pre-occupied as if I’d caught her in the midst of doing something else. Eventually, I realized what she was talking about with the tombstone and I started weeping. I was still crying when I woke up this morning, early, long before sunrise.