“I wanted to walk through the empty streets and feel something constant under my feet/But all the news reports recommended that I stay indoors….” – The Postal Service, ‘(Give Up) We Will Become Silhouettes’
More weird dreams last night. I’m beginning to vaguely worry about my brain. This time, I was in London again, and this time it bore an uncanny and confused resemblance to the opening sequence of Danny Boyle’s superb 28 Days Later – empty and desolate and creepy, for no obvious reason that I could immediately ascertain. I could almost hear my voice echoing across the deserted city as I called out, increasingly panicked, for anyone else who might be lurking in that silent urban wasteland. Nobody answered.
It’s strange how my dreams are becoming more and more filmic – the silent city cut to a house (where? I don’t know), an ordinary suburban terraced house, nothing immediately or conventionally scary, but eerily similar to the one I grew up in. I was pacing through the mostly empty rooms, looking for something I couldn’t find, something unidentified. And there was someone else in there with me, although I could never figure out who (or what?) as they never let me see them, staying a few frustrating steps ahead of me. I knew they were there though, I could somehow hear them pacing about too, pushing open doors that creaked ominously in that horror movie cliche kind of way, scuttling across bare floorboards. You know, like that classic, frustrating dream trope where what you want is right in front of you, but just, just out of your reach….
And then it got truly bizarre. Somehow, I realised the object I was looking for was out in the back garden. And I realised what it was and what I had to do with it. Half-buried in a flowerbed was a familiar-looking object of near-universal fear, made almost comic by its cartoon-like appearance – a nuclear bomb. And I had to detonate it. For some unexplained reason (typical dream illogic), I had no option in this matter. Somehow, I found the detonator, and – at the second attempt – the horrible thing exploded, and everything instantly became like those brain-searing images of Hiroshima after the Enola Gay had paid it a visit back in 1945. Everything, that is, except the house and me, both of which were still standing – and I was, for some odd reason, running around closing all the windows.
It was at that disturbing point that I woke up, distinctly confused and rather shaken. I know that dreams are supposed to be one’s subconscious sorting through recent events, and that bad dreams like this can often be the brain’s way of processing trauma (something, it is true, that has featured in my life this year) – but why a nuclear bomb? I’ve been a CND type almost all my life; detonating an atom bomb goes against everything I believe in, which is perhaps why my brain selected it as a negative metaphor? The whole bloody thing made me feel like some comic book supervillain, like I was in a Batman strip or something – a Facebook survey result says that if I were a Batman villain, I’d be Harley Quinn, but if that’s the case then who is my beloved Joker?? Perhaps it was him I was stalking through the house?
Who knows? Because I sure don’t….