Bad Dreams

by Crom

I keep having the same nightmare, over and over. Two saucer-eyed marionettes, brandishing a scythe, chopping into my grandfathers head. I lie sweating in bed, burning from sun stroke I got from working outside too long today. Haven’t been out in the sun that long in years, I can feel the tell tale sensation of it baking my skin, burning my blood, fueling my twisted subconscious to create nightmarish family deaths. I see them again and again, the same dream over and over. I’m partially awake, and I know I should just get up, just roll the hell out of bed and get a glass of water, and dispel the vision?but I don’t. I just lie there, burning and dreaming. I see it coming; I feel the trepidation before the strike. Looking into their haunted visages, their blank stare and drooling lips, as they stare over the oak desk at a blind lawyer, telling them something I can’t hear or understand. And then they get up, and he’s sitting behind them, on a church pew of all things, against the back wall of the office. He’s serene and quiet, almost as if he knows the next few minutes before they happen, and isn’t worried at all about them. His brown wool suit is well pressed, and he looks quite at home sitting in this office, even though he doesn’t belong.

The walls are decorated with old, crinkled paintings that look as if someone smashed Willem van de Velde and Gerrit Dou’s worst, post-hangover scribbling together with a cannon. Each painting is held on the wall with a single nail, hammered directly through the middle of it, allowing them to spin, as if the person mounting them knew exactly how awful they were. The church pew throws me completely, it looks to be stolen from neighborhood convocations in the dead of night, and left outside to rot for a few weeks. The entire d?cor of the room is ripped directly from an out of focus John Gutmann negative, slapped with a bucket of 30 year old varnish and laughably called an office. It smells like death, even though I can’t quite smell it. I keep getting my own sweat in my nostrils instead of the fleeting scent of the dream, and even though I know I don’t want to actually catch a good whiff, I still seem to try.

I come back to their faces. They’re dead faces, devoid of anything but the despair of a thousand lost souls screaming out from behind eyes too big to be normal. Spittle runs down their chins slowly making its way to their necks, down their shirts. They disgust me and at the same time I can’t tear myself from them, I feel compelled to look into their eyes, and see a vast empty that turns my heart to stone. How can no one else see this goddamned scythe? It’s a seven foot piece of wood with a two foot blade on the end? Did they take it on the bus with them? How did they even get it here? I don’t know what they’re listening to, I can’t even understand what the blind lawyer is telling them, but I know that whatever it is means my grandfather is about to get a foot of that steel into his temple, and I’m going to have to watch. He’s done talking to them, and they start to get up, I know what’s coming, but I’m paralyzed, I can’t get up to stop them. And it happens, that terrible swing and sound I can’t describe and I shudder awake. Laughter from the other room filters under my door, my roommates up to their usual fare, and for a moment I feel like I’m stuck in two separate worlds of thought and feeling, one terrible, the other standard issue. And all at once I’m forced to get out of the bed and drink that glass of water. But it doesn’t dispel the images, just wets my parched throat. I live, again.

  • Bad Dreams
  • by Crom
  • Published on July 1st, 2004

More from :

Other recent features: