I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: I think humor mixed with horror should be in the same proportion as vermouth to vodka in a perfect martini, that is, just the barest hint. HOWEVER, this adorable profile of a daycare for supernaturally afflicted children left me with the perfect wry grin.
“…I see something small hanging on a chain in the opening, dark against the sky…”
(Male, 30′s) It is the end-of-the-day school assembly, a routine gathering of students in the gym bleachers. Here we chat and laugh and have the energy of a group of young people who’ve been told to be patient. We are gathered in self imposed groups; athletes, clowns, the ill-tempered. I’m well liked, others are turned toward me, wanting to talk, tell me a joke, listen to mine, or look at drawings I’ve made in the spiral notebook, where biology notes should be. Over the PA system, music is heard. The song is Bernadette by the Four Tops. I can’t seem to find one of my classmates.
A bell rings, and we all stand as in church and wait until the row of kids before us files out before us. The way out of the gymnasium, and out of the school altogether, is a ladder made of mud and sticks, a kind of crude hillside with steps carved into it. You climb up and out through a small hole, a burrowing animal would make. I get to the ladder and begin my climb, I see something small hanging on a chain in the opening, dark against the sky. It’s been quickly, hung there, it’s a book, taped open to a certain page, so you must see it, even read it before leaving the school. I see outside on the lawn, a splitting of the student body- with boys going off right, the girls stepping left and waiting in a long line. I move in line with the girls to see what they’re doing, but no one speaks. It is the 18th Century. The girls do not speak. All are dressed in drab, homespun dresses, with green felt scarves, a kind of puritan school uniform. We are all in a line that leads to the doors to the tower. It is a severe structure, dark, mottled with years of weather, with tin gray shutters at the top and a long spiked steeple, but otherwise featureless. There is no church connected to it. We enter and ascend a long ladder to climb to the top, up and out one of the open windows, a look out perch, where one can see miles of spring green trees and the harbor beyond. I’m suddenly next in line. The wind up here is strong. In front of me is a girl I know. She’s pretty, about 8, much younger and is greeted by a sobbing woman who is at the top. The woman is a servant of mealtimes at the school. She is horrified to see her daughter is next in line for this moment. It is known that we are forbidden to speak during such trials. The girl quietly takes the rope and a short wooden sled that’s given to her. She ties it around her waist. How is it that such young hands are to affix a thick rope in a safe manner, secure enough to allow her to climb down outside the steeple in such a wind? The knot she makes is absurd, like a pretzel. She pulls back from the reaching hands and sobbing face of her mother safe within the tower’s shadow. The girl climbs over a short railing and begins her spider like descent. The knot immediately fails and the girl and the board both fall from the great height to the church yard below. There is no scream. Just the rope dangling in the wind. I pull it back in, crying and hand it back to the woman who numbly readies it for the next girl in line.
What happened was this; a young student, angered by something said to him during the day by a girl, hung the book of verses in the doorway, open to a certain passage; a challenge, a proverbial task designed to prove one is under, and worthy of the hand of Grace. In our time, in our world any open page from this book, must be read, understood and acted upon immediately.
It is the 18th Century’s version of the Columbine massacre.
(Female, early 30′s) This is a nightmare I remember from my childhood. My parents had rented a cottage in the Irish Hills, a resort area near where we lived where there were many lakes and woods.
…This strange little man took out a knife and he threw it at me…
In the dream I was down by a lake playing in the sand near the water when a taxi all of a sudden drives up, onto the beach and down to edge of the water. A man gets out, a weird little man with a big hat and a long overcoat. He was oddly mis-shaped too, overly round almost like that character Grimace from the McDonald’s commercials. This strange little man took out a knife and he threw it at me. I move fast enough that I duck out of the way. The knife whizzes past me, but it keeps going. It travels all the way around the world. In about 20 seconds, I looked up and the knife was flying at me again, this time too close to avoid.
(Female, early 30′s) I remember this dream from when I was a child. I must have just seen the movie “E.T.” which is a charming movie except for the part at the end where E.T. has been captured and is in quarantine. He seemed so sad and in such distress. My dream takes off from there. The wall paper in my childhood bedroom was covered in tiny dolls, each probably 3 or 4 inches tall. In my dream, each one of them was a space alien, a space alien as cute and vulnerable as E.T. The walls themselves were transformed into some kind of quarantine for the cute little space aliens. I tried to close my eyes so I didn’t have to see them anymore and it felt like there was a little alien floating over both of my eyes.
(Male, early 30′s)
…It’s almost like something has burrowed inside my pajama top, looking for someplace warm…
This is a dream I remember from when I was a kid and I went through a period of sleepwalking. In the dream, I’m lying down in bed, trying to get to sleep when I feel something on my chest. At this point it’s not in my chest yet, just on the surface, just on the skin. It’s almost like something has burrowed inside my pajama top, looking for someplace warm. Then all of a sudden, this something tears through my pajamas and pops out. Then I realize that it actually came OUT of my chest. And then another one crawled out. And another one. I jumped out of bed and ran to tell my parents, yelling “There are babies coming out of my tum-tum!” But in fact I was just sleepwalking. My mother threw a glass of water in my face — the family treatment for sleepwalking — and I woke up.
(Female, 40′s) My oldest, most disturbing nightmare
There are three characters in this dream. There is a little girl of 3 or 4, who is sitting in her highchair at a dining room table. There is the mother, who is in the bathroom out of sight, getting ready to go somewhere; the mother never appears in the dream but she talks to her little girl while she is putting on her makeup and doing her hair. There is also the invisible Monster. He is sitting at the table. The mother doesn’t know he’s there. My perspective shifted back and forth in the dream. Sometimes I was the little girl; sometimes I was the audience watching the scene.
The Monster sits at the table, next to the little girl, and he has a toolbox. She knows he’s there, of course. She can see him. He whispers to the girl and only she can hear his voice. He asks, “Do you want me to make you pretty so you can surprise Mommy?” The little girl nods enthusiastically.
The Monster opens the toolbox, which is full of sharp things: scissors, knives, razor blades, pieces of metal, broken glass. He takes the scissors and chops her hair off all raggedy, all over her head. Then the Monster picks up a big piece of broken glass and jabs it slowly and purposefully deep into the girl’s arm. He leaves it sticking out, and blood begins to drizzle down her skin. He admires his work. Next he takes 10 small squares of metal and slowly pushes one under each of her fingernails. He uses each of his tools to poke and cut her face and arms, and she bleeds from her fingers and arms and cheeks. The box is full of things to hurt and torture her with, but he keeps telling her how pretty she looks.
In the last scene of the dream, the Monster tells the little girl that they are finished and asks if she is ready to surprise Mommy. He lifts the bloodied little girl out of her highchair and sets her on the ground. She toddles off to show her mother, saying “Mommy, mommy, look at me!”
And then the mother screams a long, loud, horrified scream.
I had this nightmare a long time ago, when I was a kid, maybe 9 or 10. It scared me terribly when I had it, and it scares me to think of it still. The thought that nightmares are stories that come from somewhere inside one’s head really doesn’t comfort me. I can’t figure how I came up with this.