(Male, 30′s) In this dream, I went to a Halloween haunted house. It was rather unique because attendees arrived before dark and the house was actually built around us. There were no secrets. We watched the frame work go up, the walls, everything. It kept getting closer and closer to dark.
“…they were doing there best to be scary…”
There was a dim kind of illumination, very suitable for a haunted house. Then arms started reaching out from the walls. Very creepy, very Bergmanesque. Or at least for a moment. It was as if the arms were reaching out between the rolls of wallpaper, as if the walls themselves had disappeared. Then we were able to see who was behind the walls. All of them wore those cheesy rubber monster masks. And these masks all looked particularly ludicrous because all of these people looked like they were 5 or 6 years old. The masks flopped on their heads because they were all way too large for these kids. But they were doing their best to be scary.
But these tiny monster were getting a bit rough. Their hands were grabbing with a bit too much force, their fingers pinching. For some reason, I had a plastic tube, like a hollow baseball bat. Was it part of my costume or something? I gently hit a couple of these grabbing hands. Before I knew it, the little creatures were pushing between the tattered sheets that once were walls. They kept pressing in, more and more of them.I tried to keep them at bay with the plastic bat but soon they had knocked me down. It wasn’t that their flaying arms were particularly forceful or that the blows were painful. Rather it was more a problem that I was becoming crushed, suffocated by the weight of their bodies. More and more of them. Eventually, I woke up.
(Male, 30′s) The weather around here has been crazy hot and humid the last couple days. That’s the only explanation I have for these couple nightmares. I sent them in together because they’re not too much on their own.
First Nightmare: I’m on a roller coaster, sort of. It’s also sort of like public transportation because it travels on city streets, just a little bit too high so the sides of the car are whipped by the tree branches. All the passengers are locked into our seats by a metal bar that locks down across our bellies. And everything is super hot, made even hotter by the costumes we have to wear. Yup, to ride on this trolly or streetcar or roller coaster you have to wear one of those full body, furry team mascot kind of costumes. They actually lock the head piece on top of the costume so you can’t take it off until the end of the ride. You can only see through these round holes in the side of this head. There’s no breeze and very little air getting inside too. So there’s this whole car of people dressed up like life sized teddy bears. I got through the ride – I don’t like roller coasters because I get nauseous pretty easily – and I get unlocked from the trolley car but I still have to stand around waiting to get out of the teddy bear costume. In the heat and the dark, I finally start to feel myself pass out and I’m terrified I’m just going to suffocate.
Second Nightmare: I’m at home and it’s evening. But instead of everything getting dark, the whole neighborhood is getting flooded. Like instead of darkness, there’s water. It’s warm, like skin temperature so it’s not shocking but it’s also not refreshing either. And it’s kind of invisible so I’m not really certain how deep the water is. I find it rather hard to breathe. Everyone else is gone inside and they all highly suggest that I do too before the bugs come out. The first thing I see that looks like a “bug” is something I take for a crawfish but it’s over a foot long. It’s flexing it’s tail and as I watch it, there are suddenly two of them, and then three of them. All this time, I feel like I’m getting bitten by mosquitos. I look down at my arm though and I see that I’m being attacked by tropical fish, like the kind that people keep in fish bowls except these fish are huge, like the size of a dinner plate. As I look around there are lots of things around me. The water must be as high as the tree tops now because there are weird creatures swimming around at least that high. I’m a little scared but since I’m standing on my front porch I’m not panicking too bad yet. Then I see some kind of a flat worm that’s bigger than I am. It’s translucent brown and it keeps appearing and disappearing, each time getting closer. It looks really scary, like if it bit me, it’d take a big chunk. I started pounding on the door but now no one inside seems to be able to hear me. And once I started to panic, I also started finding it hard to breathe again so even if I survived being attacked by the brown worm, I still would likely drown in this weird, warm water.
(Male, 50′s) In the interests of full disclosure, I should admit that I bought a motorcycle a couple years back in the midst of mid-life crisis and that within the last week as it came time to winterize the thing, I’d been angry with myself that another season had passed and I hadn’t really gotten out on it.
I was with my wife and a female friend and we were crossing a parking lot, heading into a bar when this group of about a dozen motorcycle riders over took us. I started defending the women who were able to get away. This didn’t particularly make the hooligans mad. They just started messing with me instead.
This was a relatively outlandish group of motorcyclists really. Their bikes were all American made and chopped like very classic examples of the style. And by classic I mean original 40′s and 50′s era chopped bikes, simple, basic, with a few bits of chromed flair. And the guys themselves were straight out of a time capsule too, or at least they looked like they were trying to be. They had greased hair with big curls on the top. I bet there’s a word for that. They didn’t wear the bomber style jackets but rather something that looked more like a suit coat jacket that was made out of riding quality leather. They were a riding club – The Rockets – which actually, as I remember it now used to be a local band I really enjoyed back in the 70′s.
The Rockets pushed me around with a detached, ironic sort of torture, like a cat playing with a mouse, that bats it around between its paws. One of them had a package of metal “rockets” that sort of looked like those toys from back in the day that you could put a “cap” in and then toss up in the air and when it landed the cap would go off with a loud pop. Anyway, one of the gang members had a package of these, still on the cardboard like he’d bought it at a retro boutique or something. He took them off the card one by one and shoved them in my mouth til I was choking. I think this was some kind of a test of something to see if I’d choke or vomit. All the while they were laughing and joking while I was trying to keep from suffocating.
(Male, 50′s) This nightmare woke me up out of a sound sleep. I swear I was screaming, or at least trying to scream. When I woke up, I could have sworn I had just heard myself yelling out in a small, muffled voice.
In the dream, I’m at home with my wife and my daughter who must be home for the holidays or something. It’s night time and we’re getting ready to head off to bed. We’re all sitting on the couch in the living room, laughing, having a good time. Then there’s a knock on the front door. It’s really late, like the middle of the night and my wife and daughter don’t think we should answer the door. But I thought that someone must be in trouble to knock at the door so late. So I get up and I flip on the porch light to look out and see who was there. And damned if the porch light is out. So I open the door and there’s no one there. I speak out like I’m a tough guy or something and I say “OK step out where I can see you.”
And this huge man steps out of the shadows and with one or two strides, steps into the house. He’s broad and tall, like he’s just been scaled up in all dimensions. He’s got one of those cliched “bad guy” mustaches from the 40′s and he’s we’re a fedora and a trench coat like a black and white movie. He steps easily into the house and reaches out and wraps his hand cleanly around my throat. While he’s grabbing my throat, he lifts me off the ground effortlessly, with a smile. I try to yell, to scream and of course, I’m being choked so not much actual sound comes out.
I woke up trying to scream.
(Male, 40′s) This nightmare was epic length, a whole story. It took place in the distant past, thousands of years ago. I was a trainee to be a shaman or something and this was my final trial. It was sunset and the whole landscape was a reddish-brown color, burnt sienna, I think they call it. We may have traveled all day to get there. There were a few trees, small scrub-like ones but mostly this rocky, dusty red soil. As I write this down, there’s a sense that this place felt like the pictures I’ve seen of Mars.
I had no idea how much farther we were traveling but we stopped and all of a sudden I looked down and there are these carefully carved stone steps, leading down to a large closed door. I take a few things from my pack, paints and a straw. I get a good look at the other members of the party. There are probably six of us and our skin is almost identically colored to the earth around us. Everyone is bald and has several geometrically patterned tattoos.
The task is that I’m supposed to descend these steps and go through the doors into a cave where I’ll be locked in all night. Somewhere inside – I’m just supposed to “know” where – I am to draw a picture of the spirit being that will watch over me all my life… or something. Initially, I was going to take some tinder to make a fire but the elders suggest that there is only a very little oxygen in the cave so I’d better not do that. And for some reason that makes sense to me, that I’m going to draw a picture of something while I’m sealed up in a cave where I might suffocate.
The next thing I’m doing is snaking my way through this twisty, rocky cave. I think the floor is sandy though so it’s not too unpleasant to walk through which is good because the walls seem pretty rough. I can feel things – images – scraped into the walls which I figure is where other initiates have depicted their spirit creatures. I keep going in a bit further until I no longer feel the scratches but before I get my gear out, I get the sense that there is someone else in the cave with me. Maybe it’s someTHING else. The cave is completely dark but there’s something between me and the cave entrance. I can’t see it but I know that it is entirely covered in hair, thick hair, fur like a bear or a water buffalo. I can hear it breathing but I can’t see it. That’s when I woke up.
(Female, middle-aged) It was so scary and so sad. The dream was one of those visions where I could only see things; I couldn’t interact or stop them.
…I couldn’t stop them…
There was a woman, blond, slender, relatively young. She had five small children of different ages. She wanted to go out or do something that wouldn’t have been possible with them so she handed them each a clear plastic bag and told them to crawl inside. The children were all very obedient and they did as they were told even though a couple of them said they were scared and started to cry. She told them they could poke a little hole in the bag but not too big. It was clear she wanted them all to suffocate.
Then the dream just faded.
You’re asleep. Dreaming. And you become aware that there is no air getting into your lungs. You try harder to decompress your chest but nothing works. You’re suffocating. You force yourself up, up, up through the layers of sleep, like a diver rising quickly too quickly toward the surface, aching for breath. Once awake enough to control your body again, you sit up quickly in bed, your chest heaving, forcing air into your lungs. Your heart hammers inside your chest. Perhaps a bit of vomit has begun to rise at the back of your throat. You sit on the edge of your bed, panting, confused as to when and where you are, peering into the dark room. Eventually you are able to breath regularly. The alarm clock tells you it’s still the middle of the night, that there are hours until morning. Adrenaline disapates and you feel the weariness of your body again. Do you go back to sleep and risk another terrifying incident of apnea, of premature burial, of nocturnal suffocation? Or do you choose to haunt your house yet another night, to surrender to insomnia and drift from room to room ’til dawn? Apnea seems more likely to strike following days when you’ve worked hard physically, on nights when you most need a deep rejuvenating sleep.
You’ve always snored but in recent years, you’ve been told it’s gotten worse. You find it hard to find a position to fall asleep in. You haven’t slept on your back in years; your throat closes off immediately. There’s one position, on your side, propped up with a pillow that allows sleep. All others are uncomfortable. Your body has become picky, peculiar about sleep, as finicky as an elderly cat that sniffs its bowl of food disdainfully before forcing down a couple mouthfuls.
Perhaps the treatments for apnea seem intrusive. Losing weight is recommended. Excess fat around the neck – that double chin – contribute to night time strangulation. But you’ve tried losing weight before and it keeps returning. There are also other treatments, masks that retain enough air pressure so that your passageways don’t collapse. But regardless of how much you read about them, the idea of wearing something on your face is sickening, terrifying. Yet another thing to get in the way of breath. An inanimate hand clamped around your face.
When you were younger, you joked with your friends about decadent rock stars who choked to death on their own vomit. Now, you think differently about those stories.
And this is the nightmare. It’s not one you wake from. It’s one you carry all day, every exhausted day, each horrified night. Sometimes it recedes, hides but the threat of night suffocation is always there.
(Male, 30′s) There were these brick lined hallways. Normal red brick and mortar. It was in the basement of some building. Perhaps they were used for ventilation because I’ve seen ventilation tunnels like that. I couldn’t find an exit. Everything was dark. Then there was a green gas. It glowed slightly. It floated up and stayed right in the middle of the hallways so I couldn’t move down the hallways without breathing some of it. It was poisonous. I got on my knees and continued moving though I still didn’t know what way to go. The poison was making me weaker even though I tried to breathe where there was less of the gas. When I was lying flat on the ground, I saw a three figures cross the hallway in front of me. They floated or glided though it looked like they were walking. They were glowing silver like space aliens. One was taller than the other two and I think it was their mother. They floated right by me like they didn’t care that I was dying.
(Female, early 40′s) A powerful secret group was taking over the world in a very Big Brother sort of way. I was rounded up with a group of people who were “recruited” to join, although we didn’t have any choice. We were taken to this huge warehouse structure and held there. There were guards with us all the time and we were marched between the living quarters, and the mess hall, and the exercise yard. We were captives, but they gave each of us a small fluffy pet, this weird little creature like a cross between a tribble (you know those little guinea pig creatures from Star Trek!) and a yarn pompom. We suspected that they were going to try to drug us, so we refused to eat anything. Yet, one by one, people started giving in and joining them. I couldn’t figure out why. Then I realized that the cute cuddly “pets” we were being given were part of the brainwashing process. I pushed mine to the ground and all the pets suddenly swarmed me! I knocked at them with my hands, but they were shedding fibers on my clothes and hands and face and lips. I couldn’t get away from them.
(Female, 80′s) I was in a small room, maybe in a dormitory or an apartment and this immense dog was there sitting on top of me. It was brown and had a droopy jowly face. It was overwhelming me, smothering me. It held me down and made it impossible for me to breathe. I was suffocating and found that I couldn’t even call for help.
When I woke, I discovered that a pillow had fallen over my face. Maybe that’s what it all was.