What do you typically do when you have a nightmare? One that holds you in its grasp long after that fated scream escapes with force from the dire grip of ‘why can’t I scream’ to the explosive ‘I just woke myself screaming’. Do you lie awake, listening to the sounds of your room, or stumble out of bed to check the locks on all the doors? Do you call a friend? Or text a lover?
Or, do you do as I do…Write down the dream; because you know in there somewhere is a great story. Some of us are cursed with the capacity to think beyond the pale. And I do mean cursed. We see words in the nightmarish pictures. We tremble at the ferocity of the wayward assault on our senses, but manage somehow to put the words down. Claiming the dream. Making it a part of the daylight hours, to dissect and disseminate and redefine the parameters to suit our needs. We still shake when we think about the dream, but in the end…we win.
I have been asked by friends and family, just where do I get my story lines. To be honest~ from inside my head. Sure, I read a lot as a child. All the classic children’s stories before they were taken over by the P.C. police (politically correct police for all my non new-speak readers), you know, Red Riding Hood being eaten by the wolf…and Snow White being physically challenged by the Huntsman. The stuff nightmares are made of, were my earliest books. As I grew, I added new stories. Of course I read Nancy Drew mysteries. I also read Poe, and Melville. I read Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut, and Ernest Hemingway. No author was spared, no story unreadable by my definition. I read Philip Roth and Erica Jong. Anaïs Nin, and Evelyn Waugh. I dabbled in Goethe and Grass, Whitman, Ginsberg, and Pirsig. When a nightmare struck, I knew I could find a story buried deep in the inner sanctum of my thoughts, knowing I had all those authors to guide me.
It was the same with exciting, friendly, and even erotic dreams. All were subject to my handy and easily accessible cross pen (a prize from an early school poetry contest) and notepad. From those dreams, I found my stories.
Last night the nightmare was more vivid and more brutal than any I have ever experienced. It was driven and dark. I can only hope that the few words I managed to jot down, before I went and checked the doors and windows, will develop into something I can derail and control. For now the words are the cornerstone, it will be up to me to raise the foundation and write…a story.
long halls and locked doors
cries of human animals
gasping air to scream