I often have very vivid dreams. My subconscious is a wonderful storyteller and an even better casting director. I don't often have true nightmares, however, so when I do they stand out. This is the account of a nightmare I had very recently that shook me to my core simply because of how very visceral it was. I'm not sure what it means but I am sure it means something. So I'm opening it up to you fine folk. Get your psychology hats on. It's time to enter my psyche and do a little analysis.
I was in a store. The edges of the store were hazy; the seemed to trail of into an insistent fog at the periphery of everything. I had no idea what type of store it was but there were tall shelves forming aisles, wooden, and the store seemed almost antique in a way. It was full but not crowded and I was with a friend though I have no idea who and never saw their face. But I felt that they were a friend in that way that recognition and association assure you of certain things in your mind’s eye.
As I peered down the aisle of the store it came to me suddenly that I was there to find my friend a belt. And I looked around the store but couldn’t see any belts. Until a rack at the very end of an aisle caught my eye and I squinted and caught a glimpse of a belt or two hanging there. I made my way towards the rack but as I did the aisle curved and when I reached the end, the rack wasn’t there. Instead I was in another aisle and when I peered down it, I caught a glimpse of the rack with belts at the end. I made my way towards it but again the aisle curved and the store became more crowded as it did. I was now brushing past people whereas before I could move easily. The fog hazing the edges of the store seemed to have extended inwards and the store seemed smaller and taller and more full. My friend’s urgency impressed upon me subconsciously and I hurried to the end of the aisle. But when I arrived there was no rack, no belts. I was again in another aisle. And again at the end of it I spied a rack with belts. And again as I moved towards it the aisle curved. And everything shrank inwards one more notch while the crowds thickened.
I moved through fifteen of these spirals. Each time the same. The rack of belts at the end of the aisle. The aisle curved as I walked down it. The store grew smaller. The number of people increased. Claustrophobia and desperation fed each cycle in on itself. And at the end, no rack. Just another aisle, and then another.
It was nearing the end of the fifteenth cycle, the crowd so dense I had to elbow and shove my way through the bodies, that I felt, rather than heard, the ripple through the people. It was a shockwave of reaction that I picked up on. And then suddenly I heard it. A boy yelled, pointed at the shelf right beside me, and his shrill voice said “There! Look there! Look at it!” I turned and on the middle shelf, level with my chest, was a giant insect. It wasn’t a spider and wasn’t a cockroach but some terrifying hybrid of the two and it was the size of a basketball. The crowd, which had been sealed suffocatingly around me seconds before, suddenly jumped back and I found myself alone in a clearing with horrified eyes staring at me. I looked at the bug, I couldn’t help it, and shuddered in revulsion. I went to step back but then the bug jumped. And it landed on the underside of my upper arm where I couldn’t see it but could feel every leg ghosting across my flesh. Screams spiked into the air and I flailed fiercely. It was on me, oh god, it was on me, IT WAS ON ME IT WAS ON ME GET IT OFF GET IT OFF and an absolute panic gripped me and squeezed the air out of me. I could FEEL it, I could feel every leg on my arm and then suddenly I experienced the sensation of falling or spinning and I became conscious of another world, a place outside the store that wasn’t the store but was in the store. Or rather the store was in it. It was a bedroom. My bedroom. And I was solidly in two worlds but in both I could feel the insect legs on me and I hyperventilated and flailed my arms and kicked my legs and jerked my body around in sheer terror. The store dissipated entirely. I was in my bed. I was fully conscious. It was the smallest darkest hours of night. AND I COULD STILL FEEL THE BUG ON ME. I wasn’t dream-flailing, I was actually flailing and panicked and sweaty. My covers were kicked off, items were shoved off the nightstand, pillows were tossed, and I shook my head and swiped at my body desperately and then pushed at my bed, trying to find the bug and shove it off. But there was no bug. I was alone.
It took a long time for the reactive memory of that dream to fade. A very long time.
- Corinne Simpson