The ghosts slip in…
by Deborah Hyde-Bayne
It’s in that blurred space between sleeping and waking that the ghosts slip in…
Lazy thoughts spiral vacantly downwards and fix on long-forgotten moments
Impetuous words and actions; mulled over and tasted again.
My Last Sunset
I imagined you scarlet, tangerine,
streamers of mauve, peach, pink…
never dreamed how quietly you’d steal
into my consciousness on such a soft winter eve.
Yet here you are, my last sunset,
blues, whites, slightest brush of pale warmth,
brittle winter sun tracing feathery shadows,
stretching over fresh cottony snow.
Tall trees. slender witnesses,
silent branches, still in the lavender light,
cloaked in ice, dusted with snowflakes,
do you know what I know?
by Mary Statham|
It was an interesting fad in the beginning, a true dreamcatcher. Friends saved their dreams to disc and shared them with friends, or people who might become friends, or paid acquaintances in seedy bars.
Like every fad, it had its passionate advocates, and there was much talk of ‘expanding human understanding’ and ‘stepping out of the shadows of post-modernist apathy’. It was bullshit, of course, but lines like that have always appealed to a certain sort of people. And it truly was difficult to deny the raw power of the subconscious mind unveiled.
But not all of us simply dream. I, for instance, have nightmares. Every time I close my eyes, I know that a seething mass of terror and rage crouches in wait for me, that I will be seized and shaken, and that I will never wake rested. I’ve tried therapies and medications and the latest medical breakthroughs (which are always guaranteed to cure me) but when I close my eyes, the door behind them always opens, and monsters always slither out to find me.
So failing all else, I have tried to become accustomed to them, to accept that horrors will forever live in my mind, gliding through my subconscious like hunting beasts, slick and venomous. It doesn’t change anything, of course, but it gives me room to pretend that I don’t care.
There are places that purchase nightmares, and I’ve made a small living off mine, but the idea of someone, anyone, taking pleasure from that poison makes me ill. It’s the worst sort of prostitution I know, selling pain and emotional leprosy. I imagine minds made necrotic by my dreams, rotting behind ordinary faces and ordinary lives.
There is a reason I have nightmares, a very particular reason. His name is Wayne. There’s no point in saying more, because the worst you can imagine is not bad enough, unless you know him. I believe I’ve forgiven him, for the most part, but my dreams say otherwise. Those dreams are the easiest to sell, and the ones I most despise myself for putting on the market.
I received an e-mail yesterday, from an ardent admirer, someone who devotes himself to the flavour and subjects of my dreams, and especially to their central character. He’s not particularly good at covering his electronic footprints, and I’ve pinpointed his location.
It’s not unexpected, not completely. He is an older man now, living on a teacher’s pension and enjoying a quiet retirement in the country. His house is blue and covered in curtains of trailing ivy. It is out far past the city lights.
I’ve brought my dreams, every one I’ve ever recorded, for this ardent fan. I’ve filled the storage of five dreamcasters, and linked them, and set them on a loop. He’s there, do you see, half-asleep in his chair. He smells of sweat and beer and Old Spice, as he always did. He’s been watching a dream, probably one of mine, and his hands still stroke his twitching member languidly.
He doesn’t hear me, of course, and the signal from my dreamcaster over-rides his. The loop begins, and he shudders and shivers, hips thrusting as his hands again move to pleasure him.
I pull out my knife. The hands will go first, I’ve decided, finger by finger. I cannot excise them from my dreams, but like cancer they must be eradicated. After that, I am only limited by my imagination. And by my dreams.