I am exhausted. I slept for over eight hours, but I had so many detailed and terrifying dreams that I feel I’ve lived several hard and soul-crushing lives. I’ll try to recount them as best as I can.
In the first one, I was the villain, but only because I was told to be. It was the end of some relevant period and a large ball was to be held. I knew somewhere in the back of my mind that we’d done this before. I was given a jumpsuit; some bare, basic affair, meant to be worn as a liner for something more sinister. My counterpart, the hero, showed me what the jumpsuit was meant to augment: a form-fitting criss-cross of steel blades that wrap around my body and protrude thereout as weapons. Think a combination of Megatron from the Transformers film (the shitty live action one) and Shredder from the comic books. I put it on and it was truly terrifying for everyone, myself included.
The hero guided me to “really ham it up this time”; I guess last year’s pageant left some disappointed. Not one to ignore a note, I went all out. I dispersed razor blades in large nets throughout the ballroom rafters, set to fall on the public below like sharp and deadly balloon drops. And for good measure, I wired the whole place to explode. As the night began, the guests arrived.
My friend Brandi showed up with her young son, followed by a young woman I’d met a week ago with an obtuse case of mental challenge. With growing horror I watched more women and children flood into the ballroom, and when my eyes caught those of the hero, his would bore into me with commanding viciousness, as though saying “high stakes, high reward; don’t you fuck this up for me.”
A skip in time occurs and the next scene is chaos: blood, so much blood, and people running and screaming in terror. I am slashing the partygoers into shreds with my Death Suit, and I strategically set loose the razor drops when there aren’t too many guests beneath. My conscience is screaming inside me, and I am beside myself in agony at the violence I observe. The hero is nowhere to be seen. The dead lay everywhere. Most of the people have run away to safety. Seeing that there is little left to destroy, and spurred by the knowledge that none will step to stop me aside from myself, I set the charges to blow.
Then I see the hero.
He is near the mentally challenged girl, pulling on her obstinate wrist and trying to remove her from the carnage-laden scene. She is stock-still, frozen in fear and distrust. I tell him the charges are set and the entire place will blow in a few moments. He drops her wrist and looks at me, smiles, and starts to eat something from a styrofoam to-go box. I repeat that the entire building will detonate in a short amount of time, and he tries again to wrestle the girl to his arms so that he can run from the blast with her, but she will not budge. I walk away from them both.
The plumes of fire and smoke rise high into the sky as I strip off my steel exoskeleton and wonder if I’ll have to play the villain again next year.
I wake from that at 5:27am, perhaps four hours 0r s0 fr0m when I laid down. I think the worst is over, and I should sleep soundly the rest of the night. I am wrong.
In my next dream I am folding a white T-Shirt to place on a clothing hanger, and as I crease it to smaller and smaller dimensions, I ponder decisions I’ve made in my life thus far. With each tangent of my past, the shirt gets smaller and smaller, but the new timeline takes me forward all the way to its end, which is never a happy one. I see myself try to make things work with exes to disastrous consequences, and I even ponder changing my intentions upon meeting certain friends and this results in their lives irreparably ruined. I put the shirt away on the dowel rod, its shoulders extended and its flat front marred by creases and wrinkles. I close the door.
In the next dream, I become famous for all the wrong reasons. I am at a large family wedding; some cousin or step-niece is getting hitched to high-society, and I am enjoying the open bar. I am so black-out wasted that I began to make a spectacle of myself, reading from pages of my anti-establishment manifesto, gesturing wildly with a constantly-spilling glass of booze while I skewer the upper class. Phones begin capturing film and photos and by the next afternoon I am a Meme, a GIF, and a viral sensation.
My family hates my guts, but no direct retaliation occurs immediately. There is a lot of resentment but mostly pity; they show genuine concern for my shortsighted proletariat views. As luck would have it, there is yet another wedding planned the very next night. It is apparently impossible for me to be uninvited, so I am told to attend but to stay out of sight. I relent, too defeated to fight, and agree to stay in the shallow lawn off to the side and keep my mouth shut. In doing so, my fatigue overtakes me, and so I lay down on the grass and throw a blanket over myself, just past a waist-high fence that corrals all the partygoers. I keep my eyes open and watch them mingle during the cocktail hour and eavesdrop on their banal conversations. The most popular topic is of course me. Finally I hear something so disagreeable that I have to speak up. Ironically it is a comment to the tune of “There’s no way he’d be stupid enough to ruin this one, too.” I respond demurely “I’m trying my best.” The conspirators turn to the sound of my voice and see my lying on the grass, the blanket over me, looking up at them, and apparently decide that my behavior is the most insulting thing a person could engage in at such an event. Their outrage is instant and vocal and piercing, and soon the whole congregation is gathering at the fence to look at me with venom in their eyes, this monster with the audacity to take a ringside snooze at such a blessed event. Soon, everyone gathers their belongings and moves the entire party several hundred feet down the grounds so that they needn’t look at me anymore. I feel completely alone.
I start to walk away, through the vast catacombs that are our bourgeois castle, giving way to dizzying staircases that rise into the sky. I start to ascend one when I am besieged by press and paparazzi; I seriously am crazy famous. (I distinctly recall lying in bed fitfully after I woke from this dream and wondering if it increased my blog visits count. sigh.) I am still too fatigued and defeated to fight through them, so I merely lie limp on the ground as they crowd around me shouting and flashing their bulbs. Soon I am cradled by two large hands, which lift me to the chest of their owner, a man that I immediately recognize as a distant uncle. He isn’t, of course, but in this dream world he is. His dimensions are immense; think Yaphet Kotto but two of him taped together. He asks me if I’d like him to carry me up to my room. I try to resist, feeling shame, indignity, and an overpour of affection for his offer; I truly am undeserving. At first he sets me back down at my insistence that he needn’t bother himself with helping someone as detestable as me, but both he and I are assured once I am back on the ground that I cannot take care of myself. He scoops me up again and pushes through the throng of vultures and carries me to my room. As he deposits me on my bed, I ask him why he is helping me. He smiles, then says I’m family. I respond that I have insulted my family with my drunken diatribe the day earlier and now with my inadvertent lazy protest. To this he laughs, then assures me that “They’re all assholes.” We both laugh and he leaves me to sleep.
The final dream seems to be something of a sequel to the prior one, with me in a church pew explaining to everyone in my row that the father of the bride was tickled with my behavior, claiming “To be rich is incredibly expensive; fuck them!” They laugh at this, though relent saying “it’d take a bit more for us to phrase it that way.” I agree, and then my wife and I get in our cars and start to leave, but first check the mail under the slightly ajar fence before the side door of a neighbor’s that is propped open by a wrecked car. They have none of our mail but instead something from their soccer association, so we drive away.
Then I wake up.