I was on vacation somewhere at a retreat center in a rural setting during off-peak season. There may have only been one or two other people there. Simple setting, plain rooms but generally quiet. Except a construction team was building a new parking lot in the back of the building on what used to be a swamp. It wasn’t going well. There was angry yelling, machinery grinding and squealing then silence. The team had discovered something that was supposed to stay buried. The subcontractors who were supposed to fill in the swamp and raise the grade to where it could get asphalt had sunken a half dozen or so 55 gallon drums into the still mucky wet soil. Water or some liquid oozed all around these drums that gave off an oily, rainbow colored sheen. The people who drank from wells fed by this swamp might all have been poisoned.
That would explain all the birth defects that had been occurring in the area… Somehow I knew that there’d been birth defects even though I was just vacationing in the area.
It was getting dark but word spread fast about the poison. Rumors spread about possible weird side effects. Not quite zombies but people out of control, like feral beasts. I decided to turn off all the lights and brave it through the night rather than be trapped out on unfamiliar dirt roads in the dark.
At some point I heard the sound of music. Next door to the retreat center where I stayed was some kind of music camp. They were practicing. I went over to warn them, in case they hadn’t heard that crazed ex-humans were on their way. It was a music camp for orchestra players roughly aged 8 or so. They played pretty well for their age, not concert quality but not painfully bad. There were less than a half dozen adults. “The children have been practicing for weeks and since martial law has been declared, we don’t know when they’ll be able to play their instruments again. We wanted to let them have one last concert before they put their instruments down, possibly forever.” I couldn’t convince them of the danger they were putting themselves in. And in fact, they convinced me to stay for the concert. There were all sorts of foods, intricate pastries and hard boiled eggs. I didn’t know when I’d get to eat again, what with the mass of crazies headed our way.
The music was pleasant enough but in the middle of the first piece, one of the adults stands up. He’s clearly gone crazy if for no other reason than he’s got a full beard — I remember thinking that in the dream! He must be crazy because he has a full beard, which is odd because I have whiskers myself– He’s foaming at the mouth and his hair is frazzled. He pulls out a gun and aims it at one of the other adults. Bam! He shoots her in the heart and she’s dead. He aims again. Bam! Another adult shot dead right through the heart. The third bullet was meant for me but I simply decided that I was not going to be shot. Time slowed greatly. I leaped from my chair, grabbed a broom handle and swatted the gun from the lunatic’s hand.
At that instant I woke up, my heart just racing.
Though I have no enduring love for the undead, I basically adore the iOS App “Zombies, Run” a fitness game that fuel-injects a bit of narrative into the brain-eating monotony that aerobic exercise so easily becomes. The premise is simple: you are the sole survivor of a helicopter crash after the zombipocalypse and your objective is to run — literally, run — around picking up supplies that are needed at your home base. Game play is a series of audio tracks that are interspersed among the tracks of your standard workout mix but once back at the base, you can assign the assets you’ve picked up.
TIP: Make a workout mix rich in creepy, high energy tracks. The first time I was warned of an imminent zombie attack and counseled to sprint, serendipitously the track “Be My Frankenstein” by Otis Taylor came on. It’s refrain is “Just wann live another day” and the icy guitar work was a perfect motivator to avoid the imaginary menace. My existing workout mix is fine but a good playlist would really augment this game. I’m going to have to listen to those good ol’ Rue Morgue Radio broadcasts to come up with more tunes for future “missions.”
The app struck me as a bit pricey, $7.99 but then again, I’m a cheapskate. However, I bought it without a second thought because I have the body of a middle-aged geek and I needed something to ressurect my fitness regimine after a long winter nap. “Zombies, Run” is very likely going to do that. I wasn’t ready to strap on running shoes today — my excuse was the spring rain plus my fear that I’d injure myself early in process and have to sit out while I healed — so I played the game while on my stationary bike. Some features weren’t accessible like the ones that are based on the accelerometer — presumably when the radio operator exhorts a boost of speed to escape an unexpected pocket of undead, the iPhone actually senses that effort. Cool beans, eh? Even without the machine keeping watch, I still cranked it during those close scrapes. I was just going to kick the tires with an easy spin but I found myself completing the whole first mission, a good half hour of workout. I’m dripping in sweat… and ready to play another round.
My suspicion is that if you are reading The Daily Nightmare, you need this app.
You’ve heard this advice before but it bears repeating: double check before sending someone to the morgue. This goes for family members, “private undertakers” and heck, probably especially for the folks who work at the morgue.
(Male, 30′s) This nightmare ended up a lot like a zombie dream but it really was different. The whole set up was strange. I was feeling sick, dizzy or out of balance so I went to the hospital. I was waiting to see a doctor in a long white corridor. I was trying to read a magazine but I felt really uncomfortable. Then I noticed that there was a strange substance coming out from around the joints of my body. It was a little like there were actual seams where the parts of my arm connected at the elbow. The stuff that leaked out was a lot like that spray foam sealant. Except this stuff didn’t set up. It just stayed soft foam.
Needless to say I was concerned.
I went up to the attending nurse and showed the condition. He squinted, looked at the foam very seriously, then he poked his finger into it and tasted it. Yup, he took a dollop of this goo that was slowly seeping from my body and he put it in his mouth.
“It’s… delicious. Light, creamy and sweet.” the nurse declared. His eyes changed and he clearly became possessed with some kind of demonic hunger. He leapt on top of me, his teeth gnashing like he wanted to eat my insides. I hit him forcibly with something heavy and metallic. Maybe it was a bedpan. I looked around for assistance. Up and down the long hallway, doctors and nurses were attacking patients, trying to devour their guts.
I had turned into a cream-filled doughnut. It would be very difficult to get out alive.
(Male) In this dream, I went with my buddies to one of those “Hell House” productions. They’re basically a haunted house done by a church so everything is heavily slanted toward religion. Compared to some I’ve heard about the one in the nightmare was pretty effective.
One by one, we were let into the first floor of this small factory. Ruined equipment. Strange stains on the walls. Just a bizarre vibe. We all sort of mulled around. On the floor, there were painted outlines like where corpses had been removed by the police. They were everywhere. Some of the lines were strong, like the death was recent and others were faded and scratched out like they’d happened a long time ago. On the walls of the factory, written in brown paint – I don’t know if they were going for dried blood or what – were ominous phrases like: Here another one died without the love of christ in their heart. It was interesting but things got a little dull.
Until all of a sudden a woman screams and collapses. All hell breaks loose. There’s panic and the real sense that nobody really knows what should happen next. A crowd forms. The woman isn’t just dead; she’s fallen apart. Her torso has become separated from her head and arms and legs. Someone in the crowd gathers up her parts and puts them on a gurney after someone else paints her outline on the floor. At that point I realize that this is all part of the show.
One by one, we’re each escorted out of the factory. I ask why and the person says Don’t you want to know what happened to her? Sure why not. It’s all part of the show, right? But as soon as I step out of the room, I’m grabbed roughly and tossed in some kind of a restraint. It’s pitch black, well-padded and there is plenty of air which means someone has really thought this through. It’s scary but not panic inducing. I scream as loud as I can and it’s entirely muffled. I start singing “I wanna be sedated” at the top of my lungs partially for the benefit of my friends who must be right beside me but the novelty runs out when I realize they probably can’t hear me.
I’m being moved somewhere, very quickly and the next thing I know, I’m lying on my back in a hospital room. And this place is creepy as shit. Everything is gray and black. There is some kind of veiled window high up which made me think I was in a basement. The room is done up like a WWI hospital. I’m the only patient. There is absolutely no way that this scene is part of the cheesy hell house I was just in. Standing next to me is a nurse – or at least what I take to be a nurse. She’s got a fright wig mass of hair. She’s long and gaunt and her face is so emaciated it might as well be a skull.
She leans in close to tuck the covers over me and says “I’m sorry, dear. You didn’t make it.”
“… I began to worry if Mom would have enough blood left in her…”
His arms just came to stumps around where his wrists used to be.
“…Everyone you know is going to hate you now and you are probably going to hate yourself…”
“…non-stop all day and all-night there were strangers coming in…”
(Male, 30′s) This was such a strange dream because it had all this backstory to it that I just knew in the context of the dream but that’s like total bullshit, that never happened. The only thing that I can think that started this nightmare was that I in fact gave blood earlier in the week. Due to the imagery, I should probably also mention that I’m also not a junkie.
“…I was a human pincushion…”
I was in a hospital clinic though it felt more like a waiting room. The walls were red brick and there were potted plants with long green fronds. The couches were arranged in sort of a maze that ended at the nurse’s station. I was there for a blood test. I had had something like fourteen blood tests in the past week and the weird thing is that my Mother had scheduled them all. Yup, I’m a grown man. I live on my own and yet for some reason my mom scheduled all these tests. Each test also seems to take out a fair amount of blood, I might add. I also had the sense that by scheduling them all pretty close together, it was skirting the limit of how much blood could be removed in such a brief period but I also get the sense that all the different clinics even at the same hospital didn’t have a clue at all what any other one is doing so they could very easily end up bleeding me dry before they realized that’s what happened.
So I’m waiting and then finally the nurse calls my name and I realize that I’m carrying a syringe in my hand. I must have stolen it from one of the other appointments. I have no idea how long it has been in my hand but it’s slightly sweaty, like I’ve been holding it for a long time, holding onto it tightly. The syringe is empty but I have no idea what I’m doing with it. So I’m embarrassed and I hide it in my backpack, trying to make sure that the nurse doesn’t see what I’m doing.
“Right arm or left?” And at that moment I remember that I still have a bandage wrapped around my right arm where blood had been drawn earlier in the day. Again, I felt embarrassed, like this was something I should hide, so I slipped my other hand up my sleeve and picked off the bandage. I presented my other arm to the nurse.
“…I felt nauseated…”
We look down at the arm together. On the inside of my arm there were a good half dozen holes, including one that looked like it was square. The flesh hadn’t sealed back over these holes but it hadn’t scabbed up either. I was a human pin cushion. I felt a little nauseated. The nurse tapped at one of them, the square one, I think, and said “That’s from a test you took last Monday. You have to wait five days before you get the results from that one before you can give any more.”
And at that point I just went crazy with anger. I stood up and yelled “Why did you make me wait in line, then? What if you hadn’t recognized that hole, would you have taken more blood out of me anyway? Do you really need to take so much blood every time? I really can’t believe that someone important would have to give this much blood. It’s only that I don’t matter, that I don’t count…”
And just then, my mother arrived. She was there to pick me up. Her hair was shock white. In life, she’s gray but dyes it auburn. She wore this very fashionable pant suit that also was bright white and around her neck was this long flowing scarf which was also bright white. She was a bit younger than she is now, more mobile, more confident. She was like a ghost or an angel. But I started yelling at her too, “Just stop making these appointments for me. If I want to be healthy, I’ll make my own appointments. Just leave me alone.”
(Male, 40′s) This nightmare was strange because it was a dream inside a dream.
“…a commissioned series of art photographs of circus clowns from the 1930′s who also had great physical deformities, like side show performers…”
I was dreaming that I was visiting my great Aunt Clara in the hospital. Aunt Clara died 30 years ago, by the way. She was having some kind of heart surgery. In her recovery room there was a commissioned series of art photographs of circus clowns from the 1930′s who also had great physical deformities, like side show performers. Grainy black and white photographs.
I spoke with the doctor. He gave the standard line “…resting comfortably… too soon to tell…” But then he mentioned that the photographs in my Aunt’s room had given him nightmares the night before. He started to walk away and, inside the dream, I thought “I gotta ask him about his nightmare so I can tell Jim.” Isn’t that hilarious?
So the doctor thought about it for a moment, like whether her was going to tell me. He said in his nightmare, he was in a hospital that he’d come into a patient’s room. The bed was made up but the sheets were made of rubber, like a tarp, I guess. He pulled back the sheet and discovered there was nobody there. Just then three of these creepy clowns appear at the door. They were carrying a covered metal serving tray. They lifted the lid and said with a disturbing giggle “Would you like some instruments, doctor?” To be honest I didn’t see what was so scary about the nightmare but the doctor seemed pretty shaken.
(Male, 30′s) Only part of the dream was a nightmare but it occurred at the end of a longer dream that was just disorienting, probably not exactly a nightmare, where I was wandering lost through a college campus trying to find something to eat. I knew there was an excellent restaurant around someplace but when I found it, it was closed for some holiday. I looked in the windows. There were huge steaming trays of food. They were prepared for a celebration and I wasn’t included or invited.
“… It was extremely contagious but no one was exactly certain how it spread…”
The nightmare stared when I stumbled into a hospital. It looked like any of the other college buildings – dark red brick with ornate stone insets. The hospital was dedicated to treat people suffering from some very dangerous illness. It was extremely contagious but no one was exactly certain how it spread. I was on the nursery ward. There were only a couple real nurses, people who knew what they were doing but there were several volunteers who more or less just kept getting in the way. I was a volunteer. The first task was to carry these infants in and place them on these high folding beds where the intake nurse could assess them. The intake nurse was very beautiful but very mean and she looked sort of like someone I work with. She yelled at everyone constantly.
None of these babies looked very good: they were waxy, barely breathing if they were breathing at all. They were all tightly wrapped in white blankets. One of the babies I carried in was black and I don’t mean African-American. The child was black like it was carved out of black wax. The intake nurse started yelling at me. Wasn’t it obvious that this child was dead? And worse, wasn’t it obvious that this child was a fruiting body for the infection. She started scrubbing down the area, though it’s strange to call it that because nothing she did involved water. The intake nurse wrapped the baby in the blankets. Then she used a flat thin piece of metal to scrape the top layer of wax off the floor. She yelled for assistance from another nurse. The other nurse was extremely ugly in the sense that she was physically deformed. She was bald and her face had huge round growths on the forehead, some the size of a softball. But she was patient with the intake nurse’s abuse and understanding with the volunteers who were all doing as best as we could, as best as we knew how. As soon as this second nurse was in the room, the intake nurse scooped up the dead infected baby and started to leave the room. But I seemed to be standing exactly in the place where she wanted to move. So she kept yelling at me and swearing over and over again, “Get out of the way! Get out of the way!”
It was possible that we all had been infected and would die
“…it felt like an empty warehouse: dark gray walls and very high ceiling, probably 40 feet up and filthy, not like a hospital at all…”
(Male, 40′s) I had taken my daughter to the hospital for something serious. I think it was serious and bloody like an accident. She was probably 7 or so in the dream though she’s 18 in everyday life. My wife was with me too. The doctors whisked her away to start working on her and we never saw her again. At first a nurse came and said she’d been moved to a certain ward somewhere down the hall. So my wife and I walked down this long cavernous hallway. Seriously, it felt like an empty warehouse: dark gray walls and very high ceiling, probably 40 feet up and filthy, not like a hospital at all. But at the end of it, there was the ward we were told about. By the time we got there, though evidently my daughter had been moved. A nurse very impatiently told us to follow her and she shot off though this extremely crowded ward. It wasn’t much like a hospital either. The rooms were too large, more like school class rooms. There were no actual beds, just mattresses laid so closely together that there was barely enough room to stand. The mattresses were each filled with at least one patient, sometimes two. Some of them were wrapped with bandages discolored with rust and black. Often visitors or family members stood in the small gap between the mattresses. The lights were off in the room so everything was a dim twilight. Many of the occupants were coughing like they were sick though the bandages made me think this ward was for physical trauma. Maybe they made no such distinctions in this hospital. The large grey windows were all thrown open for ventilation, I suppose and a torrential downpour of hot rain was coming down outside. The nurse we were following very deftly traversed the mattresses and crossed the room in no time while my wife and I stumbled slowly behind her. She disappeared out the door on the opposite side before we made it half way across the room.
The hallway on the other side of the room was completely different, much more like a hospital hall but not entirely. It had been painted white at least and there was the sense that there were many many rooms just like the room we’d just left, rooms crowded with patients. There was no sign of the nurse or of any hospital staff for that matter. My wife and I wandered down the hall and eventually we found an elevator. The door of the elevator was tarnished brass though the casing around it was quite fancy, filigreed. When the door opened, the elevator car was round, spherical in fact. You couldn’t stand up in it but rather had to sort of sit in it, leaning against the walls and bumping into the other passengers. At first we weren’t going to get on but the people who were already in encouraged us to come aboard. “We’ll make room” The doors closed and it became evident that no one really knew how to make it work. The “floor numbers” or the place where one would normally indicate what floor one wanted didn’t have numbers on them. And the car itself didn’t just seem to move up and down; it also rocked side to side and I think it actually moved side to side.
I don’t remember getting off the elevator but next I was in what felt like an upper floor. It was regally appointed. Brass, maybe even gold, rich red velvet, fancy rugs on polished floors. It was crawling with loud fraternity college students. They were all raucous and mostly drunk. There were different tables set up, I gathered, for different fraternities to recruit but based on their boorish behaviour, there was little difference between them. However, in the middle of this room there was a collection of fancy arm chairs. i think they’re called wing chairs because of the shape of the upholstery on the side. There was a collection of distinguished men sitting in these chairs, distinguished but not pretentious, just quietly powerful. None of the fraternity animals seemed even able to see that these gentlemen were in their presence. I walked over and spoke with one of these men. I can’t remember exactly what I said but I think I said I was looking for my daughter. The man said “Are you?”
(Male, 50′s) I don’t know if this qualifies as a nightmare but it was a deeply disturbing dream. I haven’t been in college in decades incidentally.
In the dream, I was in a college library. It was early Saturday morning and there were only a few students, the good students, the ones that were actually studying on the weekend and not sleeping in. I sat at one of the long wooden tables. I had a cloth backpack at my feet, just like the one I used to have many years ago and there were my class books on the table. I was looking through an art book, one of those huge coffee table volumes about some current artist. About this time, I fell asleep in the dream.
When I awoke, it was late in the weekend. It may have been Sunday but it didn’t feel like a Sunday. The students that were around me were the raucous type who’d probably been partying all weekend and now had to cram in some studying before classes started again. The books in front of me had been covered by newspapers like some one had been reading a Sunday paper. I looked for my books underneath them but they were all gone, the text books that I owned as well as the book I had been looking at. At my feet, my backpack had changed to a paper shopping bag filled with junk, literally scavenged junk. I was still disoriented from my nap.
“…At my feet, my backpack had changed to a paper shopping bag filled with junk, literally scavenged junk…”
I figured someone had just re-shelved the books since it appeared I wasn’t using them. I found the art book I was looking at but the name of the artist was actually the name of someone I know in real life, someone who IS an artist. I stumbled over to the line to check this book out. There were two very long lines of noisy students who looked at me oddly. A librarian gestured at me and said she’d open another window for me, even though I wasn’t the next person in line. At this point I realized that I had my daughter with me, though in the dream she was only 4 years old. She’s really grown up and living on her own. I followed the librarian. She went into an office that had a window facing the hallway but the window was about 2 feet off the ground. I had to sit down on the floor to be helped. I told her I wanted to check out that book and she looked at my card and said “This card expired in 1987.” I have no idea why that date would be significant, by the way. I didn’t understand. “Does that mean I can’t check out books?” “No you can’t” “How can I make it work again?” “You can’t” “Can I volunteer, perhaps tutor?” “No, you can’t” “But at least I can still come in the library and use the resources here, right?” “No, you can’t.” By this time the librarian was weeping, just sobbing so I didn’t continue my line of questioning though I still didn’t understand what had happened. I called for my daughter and we started making our way toward the exit. It was strange to be seeing the library for the last time. My daughter asked everyone we passed what time it was.
I awoke horribly disoriented. In fact, I HAD overslept.
(Female, 80′s) This was my Mom’s nightmare the other night. She’s just getting over some health problems so that’s what she thought it was about but it’s still a nightmare.
Mom was in jail, actually in a prison far far away from her home. Day after day went by in this horrible place but finally she was told that she would be released and sent home. What they didn’t tell her but what she knew somehow anyway was that she’d be sent home in a box, in a coffin, that’s she’d be dead.
Mom said she woke up in physical pain at least partly brought on by the nightmare.
(Female, 40′s) This was a dream in two acts.
In the first part of the dream, I was with my natal family in a restaurant for breakfast. We were all very hungry. We sat at a big table in comfy captain’s chairs– my parents, my grown siblings, and I — and ordered breakfast for all of us. Something distracted me and I left the table for a few minutes. When I returned, the table was covered with the remains of a breakfast feast: big baskets, now almost empty of their contents. They were almost Easter-basket sized containers of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, biscuits, and pancakes. My family were still eating like they were starving, but they had nearly emptied the baskets of food. I had to ask and ask for things to be passed to me; they seemed entirely unaware that I had not had anything to eat.
In the second part, I went outside. I was walking down the street, and I ran into one of my old aunts, who I hadn’t seen in a long while. I asked her how she was doing, and she said, “Pretty well, all things considered. Well, I have to see a doctor about this…” She lifted up her shirt and showed me a long, shallow crack in her skin, that ran along the side of her torso– almost like a gash, but just in her skin. “I really don’t know what to make of it,” she explained. Then I noticed that the wound was leaking a very thick white substance, that reminded me of Elmer’s glue. “Wow, I don’t have any idea either,” I said. What the hell was that stuff? White blood cells? Something alien? She coughed and a lot of the white goo oozed out of her. “Yeah, you better see a doctor soon,” I assured her.
(Male, 40′s) It’s clear where this dream comes from, at least parts of it. My mom has cancer and just came home from the hospital with an IV that needs to be changed twice a day. She’s frail and thin, a nightmare in her own right, more like a skeleton or a zombie than the vibrant and energetic woman of her younger days. Her hair is wispy and thin.
Regardless, the nightmare starts like this: Mom and I have traveled far north to a city on the banks of a Great Lake. The beach isn’t made of sand but rather is black grit. There are also moderately large outcroppings of white quartz crystal. Mom is able to walk and we’re walking along the beach, though she needs my arm for support. There is a deep dark forest of ever greens — cedars, I believe, just like we had along one side of the house where I grew up. We reached this boardwalk which made walking much easier. It lead to a train station and we took a subway to a hospital. I got Mom situated in a hospital room but it was a strange feel to the room. She shared the room with two other people. One was asleep or anesthetized. The other was a small child whose mother was complaining loudly that there was a Bible in the room. I told her to shut the f*** up and she seemed equally horrified by cursing as she was by the presence of a Bible. But she quieted down enough for me to get to work.
I was to perform surgery on Mom. It was all that her insurance would pay for, I gather. She sat down in something that looked like a dentist’s chair. It had trays filled with shiny scalpels. I gather there was a tumor somewhere in Mom’s abdomen that was so close to the surface it was supposed to be a simple task. This would be outpatient surgery, though my sense is that was the only kind of surgery performed at this do-it-yourself clinic. I opened a little moist towelette, like the kind you get at fast food fried chicken places and swabbed down Mom’s belly. I gather that was supposed to sterilize the area. I didn’t feel any growth beneath the surface, just soft, almost gooey, formless skin. I picked up a scalpel and I tried to make myself make an incision but I didn’t know where I was supposed to be cutting or what I was supposed to be looking for. I told Mom to wait there and I’d ask at the desk.
The nurses’ desk at the end of the hall had a couple nurses entering information into computers and chatting amiably amongst themselves. They were dismissive of my concerns. “Go ahead. You’ll do fine. We’re right here if you need us.” Though it didn’t seem they’d be much help. They didn’t encourage me in the least. I returned to Mother’s room, or at least what I thought was Mother’s room but she wasn’t there. There were no patients in that room. I tried to make my way back to the nurses’ desk but I couldn’t find that either. (As I’m writing this down, I realize of course that in the nightmare, I “lost” my mother.) I tried retracing my footsteps all the way back to the train station. There was someone just ahead of me, ducking around corners, moving too quickly for me to get a good look at, but I knew that this person would be able to help me. I was never able to catch up with him.
(Male, middle aged)
the tilted mirror turned my gaze upward, inward.
my skullcap was discolored skin, scalded
freckled with scab-crusted sores.
how long had I been bald? A shameless
scalp naked to the sun’s corroding rays
too preoccupied to notice my corruption?