NightmareJournal: The Long Walk Home
As a preface I don’t believe that dreams really mean anything other than maybe feeding off your bases fears and playing them through the soundboard of your available imagery. I am sharing this and perhaps others first in that it helps me let it go to document it and secondly I hope to perhaps help others that deal with anxiety and other similar chronic issues as I am sure many of my dreams are influenced by my own frustration with dealing with these issues. Each of these stories has been written in a stream of consciousness and only edited for clarity
I have been a lucid dreamer as long as I can remember and I have had chronic nightmares for just as long. I don’t think people understand how terrible lucid dreaming can be. To know you are in a dream, to feel that it is reality, to have some semblance of control and yet ultimately you have no control at all. It’s just a dream.
I am walking in Portland, downtown somewhere I don’t know. One of the many places that could be called downtown in Portland. I don’t know why I am there only that I wish to go home but don’t have a car and it's pretty far south of anything. I don’t have any money. My phone is dying.
I start to walk north. I am terrible with directions but manage to use I-5 signs well enough to start making my way. I keep getting sidetracked diagonal streets, I can either backtrack or let them lead me east and away from home but still north. I go back only to find the streets looking different. Someone shouts out from a tattoo shop that I should get inside but I don’t hear why.
I head back north again. The sky is usually cloudy but it’s gotten breezy and a bit chill. I get a text from my wife.
[Freezing rain and snow headed our way, hurry home. I am going to grab groceries.]
I try to hurry up as it starts to rain. The sky grows dark and the sun begins to set. The usually busy sidewalks of Portland begin to clear as people hurry into restaurants and bars for their nightly hang outs. My breath starts to show as the wind picks up.
The rain gets heavy, and pellets of ice begin to fall. I’m still headed north but have no idea where I am. I start to get concerned at how many bridges I’ll have to cross in order to get home. Was it wo or three? four? I can’t remember. I don’t like the idea but I don’t really have a choice. The area seems more industrialized now. I’m drawn towards the warm glow of what looks to be some take-out shops.
I reach them as the first sign of glistening ice begins to show upon the pavement. The roads are growing more slick. My phone buzzes in my pocket, a call from my wife. A friend of hers is stranded in a sushi bar on the way back, can I pick them up? I miss the person's name, and the name of the bar. Having no idea how I am going to do this on foot I set off none the less. My phone buzzes again, a picture of the friend.
I head towards an area that looks a bit more lively with night life. I reason that it’s along the way maybe the right shop is there.
My stomach lurches with motion sickness as the ground lifts and then sinks beneath my feet. The streets and buildings are buckling. I take hold of a bike rail to avoid slipping on the icy pavement and begin clamboring towards the shops which are now uphill. The sounds of emergency sirens fill the air. A scraping sound draws my attention, loud and from above. A dim red light come hurtling towards me from up the new hill, the sounds of cables snapping. I notice I’m climbing up a light rail line and struggle to pull myself out of the way as a deviant passenger car comes screaming down the slope. I can see shadowy images inside as it passes by and disappears into a rising fog.
I can feel the ice freezing on my skin as I scramble into a nearby shop. The store owner doesn’t seem to worried about these events, and wishes it would quiet down outside. I ask where I am at and they point to a map showing I’ve only moved west. I’m still so far from home. I pull out my phone and ask if they’ve seen the person in the picture. They haven't and ask me to leave if I’m not going to buy anything.
I leave and the streets have tilted back down almost to normal. I hurry on towards more shops and lights. An entire line of sushi bars and asian fusion shops appear across a orange streetlight lit street. The ice is caking most things now, everything looks like it's covered in opal glass. I begin to cross the street and slip as it appears to be steeper than at first glance. A dog struggles as well and looks at me briefly before a sliding bus hits it.
The bus come sliding down and I slip and grab the dogs paw as we are both hit.
The bus hits a street light as I let myself slide and grab the dog, crashing into a dumpster wedged between a fire hydrant and a sign. The bus flies past people screaming through the windows. The dog bites me in fear before scrambling out of my arms and into a store through a broken window.
I’m afraid to try and change the dream again. I continue up the street slowly, back towards restaurants. Blood stains my shirt from where the dog bit me but there is nothing I can do in the street as I am.
I reach the first shop just managing to push myself inside. Everyone in the shop is happy and munching away at their sushi and tempura. They can’t tell they are sitting at impossible angles. My vision goes blurry and the ground is upon the “right” horizon again. I am able to stand up and look through the crowds who appear not to see me. Not only that but a voice seems to tell me that unless I express myself clearly I will not be seen. I try to draw attention, I try to tell people about the dangers outside and what’s going on, but no one notices me. I turned to leave when I hear a voice say “is that guy bleeding?” I turn to see a young woman pointing at me when the ground bucks again, lifting the shop high and onto a horizontal.
Fire and Screaming.
Everyone has been thrown onto their sides. Necks and limbs are broken, blood seeps from tables uprooted from the floor. I try to help but again no one can see me. The woman who saw me is dead, the edge of her table is spotted with blood and her dark hair lays damp and matted against her head. I feel like I need to scream but cannot, I vomit instead. Blood and mucus.
I clamber out of the first shop and find the world outside tilted back normal though there are cars and refuse and bodies lying disjointed all around. I peer into the next restaurant a kind of sit down buffet thing. I can see through the flickering broken lights that everyone is dead, a pale face stares blankly at the ceiling. It’s the person from the text, the one my wife asked me to pick up.
I scream inside the sushi-bar and a young woman takes notice, “run” I mouth as the ground shifts and I am thrown into the street.
I watch the dog jump through the shop window and head up the street towards the restaurants. I pass a shop and a sushi-bar and head into an asian-themed buffet. The carpet is this horrible emerald with maroon flowers, dark and stained. I walk disheveled among people dining and laughing until a face sticks out in the crowd. The friend of my wife's from the phone. I try to explain that we need to go but she wants to finish her drink. I sit down and make small talk. The friend goes to finish their drink and the ground heaves suddenly dropping us across all across the long room. I land upon a fish tank that's emptying on the ceiling and break through the glass. The friend hits her neck on a table edge and falls limply into my lap.
I see my wife's friend sitting at a table laughing with friends. I pick up a chair and throw it through the fish tank, everyone stares at it in shock and I pull the friend by their arm out the fire exit. The ground buckles and we hold tight to the door handle as the streets buck and careen into each other.
“I need to get home. I’m taking you to safety” I tell the friend who stares at me blankly. I don’t eve know where I should go from here but I see a bus with chains coming to a bus stop. I wave it down and an elderly woman driving it waves that she’ll wait till we’re in. The bus is across a wide lane street and the friend is reluctant to cross in the sleet and ice. I finally convince them after some argument and we begin making our way across when the street cars begin to slide past.
We can’t see them at first because of the fog but each is announced by a dull red glow and the sound of people screaming.
We die three times trying to cross before we make it on the fourth.
The bus doors open and it's warm inside. The woman looks like a baba yaga and waves our fairs. I point on the map where we need to go and she shushes me like the czech grandma’s of my youth. The passengers on the bus are all calm but seem uniquely aware of the events unfolding around them. The bus travels north somehow the ground always stays flat around where the bus travels where it has become chaos rising and dropping everywhere the bus is not.
We reach where the first bridge is set to be but there is only water and cars drifting by on a river of ice and debris. The bus becomes a boat and begins heading into the water. Baba Yaga bus driver doesn’t seemed concerned until things begin to scrape against the hull.
“I’m going to have to turn east” she says “the big boat is that way.”
“I need to go north.” I plead, “at least across the river.”
“I would if I could child, but the dead block us now. I am sorry.”
I push on the bus doors to get out. My wife's friend grabs my shoulder and yells “you could die.”
I manage to pry the door open a crack, “Yeah” I mumble “stay in the bus.” the door closes as I drop onto the icy hood of a car.
I can feel the car begin to rotate beneath my feet. I leap as it pushes me up and I manage to land on a sliding hunk of ice.
City lights are flickering out all around and the cars are filled with corpses. Downriver the ground swells and produces a huge wave of deadly debris. I just want to see my wife and get to my home. Even with all the activity it should be fine, its on a hill made of heavy stone. I feel sleepy as the wave lifts the hunk of ice I am on and carries me upriver.
I hit some kind of cement wall and snag on an access ladder. I hold on till the water passes and clamber up onto an abandoned highway. I somehow ended up in far west Vancouver.
It is unclear what happens next. I’ve lost my shoes but I am staggering west. All around me there is ice and debris. Pockets of lights still working, overturned cars. Shadow of frightened animals dashing in the dark. Another bus picks me up. I don’t remember getting on. I don’t remember the faces of the people aboard. They drop me off at the opened wreckage at the bottom of an upturned movie theater. Myself and three others. We are each given $20. Myself and a faceless other begin looking for a way onto main street and on to our homes. The third headed south back down towards the river. The faceless other gets excited about the smell of hamburgers and runs to where a hot box has a number of hamburgers and hot dogs inside. They offer me one and I decline. I wander the overturned kitchen and find my wife hiding in a fridge.
“We have to go.” I say and take her by the hand. We look for a way to go home together. She finds an elevator and crawls inside. I ask her not to but she does and the elevator cable snaps.
I pull my wife into a different elevator as the first one snaps and hit the “up” button it shudders and crawls upwards slowly before stopping in between floors. I hit the emergency break and we pry open the door climbing out just in time for it to fall. We make our way past familiar haunts on our way to our home. Many buildings stand, still others are replaced by shorn faces of rock and ice.
I start crying about the dogs. My wife puts a hand on my back and says they’re smart, they and the cats are probably fine.
We get to our block and turn the corner. Our house isn’t there a flattened line of buildings and trees lay where our house should be a giant crack clearly showing where the land had shifted south towards the river.
We both start to run. My wife keeps getting ahead of me, able to slip through smaller spaces than I in the debris. I start yelling for her to come back but she keeps going.
The land begins shifting beneath our feet down towards the river. It doesn’t look like my wife can feel it. I start to run and yell. But she doesn’t hear me. Ahead the ground disappears into a fog filled with the sound of water, grinding stone, and splintering lumber.
“Jump when you reach this part!” my wife calls back leaping across the gurgling chasm. She lands expertly on a jutting landmass on the other side, “I can see the house!” she yells as the section I am on comes to an abrupt stop.
I run. I run as hard as I can. I can feel my lungs burning. The asthema constricting my air passages. “NO” I scream in my mind. “No”
The land upon which my wife stands proudly shudders and sinks beneath the churning river in an abrupt and violent end. Sinking beneath both land and water.
All sound is lost to me. There is nothing to run too.
I can’t go back, I try to go back to theater.
The debris churns in front of me.
I’m fucking up. I fucked up. I have to go back. I hit the pavement. I punch it. I claw at it until my hands are bloody. Until my fingers are pulpy flesh. God fucking damn it.
I am filled with an anger I can hardly describe as the world hovers static around me. My chest burns with frustration, my eyes ache. I pull out my eye like wet fruit and tug at my ribs like the stubborn branches of dead and brittle tree. Blood splatters the ground beneath me.
-Give Her back-
-Give them back-
-Take me back-
I wake up having a panic attack