Later, we break into somebody's apartment.
I'm with a my friend's boyfriend, a flat-nosed, orange-skinned gangster.
We enjoy the stuff in the apartment, like we are in "The Bling Ring." There's a modern, brown, leather armchair that looks like it belongs in a museum. Even its shadow is beautiful.
I'm rolling a cigarette when I spot the shared bathroom. It is shared by other apartments. Across an acre of wet tile floor, black grills and plugholes. In the distance, there is a portly young man in a towel. Unsurprisingly, he looks surprised to see me.
I shut the door.
It's too late. Within a minute, there are people at every door, either banging for us to open up or preventing us from leaving, demanding to know who we are.
Angry faces everywhere. They chatter at us, at each other.
Thus cornered, I wake myself
Lying in the dark, scared of the consequences of breaking and entering.
I shouldn't have done it.
But then I realize it's over.
Which means that I managed to wake up.
Which means it really was a dream.
And now I feel like a wimp.
to the dream.
In a shared room, now, with bunk beds and friends. An orthodox Jew is making us watch TV.
A young boy of about eight years old, his personal student, is looking up at him and asking questions.
The old Jew answers, but always in a way that is derogatory to me and my friends.
"Would you like my chair," I ask the old man, standing, conciliatory, "so you can be more comfortable?"
He accepts, but in a way that suggests any discomfort, therefore, was directly my fault.
Although I'm burning with anger, I move away from the chair. I don't want my friends to see how furious I am. I want them to see the best in people. I want to set the example.
"What does that word mean?" the boy says, pointing to a page in his book.
"That means: 'two things helping each other,'" the old man replies, and he gives the boy a loving smile.
"It's the opposite of internecine," I spit, "which is where two things destroy each other."
"Yes," I think, glaring at them. "I'm implying that you're going to destroy each other."
They just look at me, like I've walked in on them in the middle of something.
A girl takes me to her apartment in Japan. Her apartment has an anti-gravity setting.
She and her roommate clamber over the walls and ceiling. It's like the dorm is turning slowly, like in an 80s music video, but I can attest that it's not. I'm on the ground and the room is not moving at all.
She turns the setting to neutral to make breakfast. Toast.
Meanwhile, she listens to her favorite song, which is backwards.
After two bars, I guess the track.
I can see from her shocked face that I'm correct.
"Are you not impressed?" I ask. "I got the right answer. After two bars!"
There are some beautiful moments, particularly how it begins and how it ends.
If you don't have software to have fun reversing your own tracks, here's a link to a site that will take care of it - https://www.mp3-reverser.com/en/
This is handy, too. - https://www.online-convert.com/result/a7835e98-5da6-4c1b-b1eb-49f616203153
The movie projectionist keeps moving the image on the screen. He makes it larger. Centres it. Pulls out. Moves to another area.
The audience groans.
Finally, the film starts.
Young US college kids are joking around. They jump into the sea.
Under the water, they cling to each other and kick and finally jump as one to break the surface again.
Then they're in a bar. Chatting.
I'm with them, in the movie. They requested audience participation and I'm it.
The college kids are joking around. There's an edge to it though. Jibes. Taunts. Not a sentence is said without it being at someone else's expense.
They dive into the sea.
They kick. Bubbles.
As one, they attempt to break the surface, but this time they can't manage it without a boost.
I wade into the beautiful, cold water to help.
Chatting in the bar, I'm smiling at the college kids' jokes.
There's a man there, drinking himself to death. He has about sixteen glasses of various kinds of alcohol lined up in front of him, taking over the bar.
He's pissing off the kids and they're pissing him off.
To cool off, the kids jump/fall into the beautiful, blue water and it's all white bubbles and thrashing legs and shorts billowing out like jellyfish, red and blue and white.
Underwater, it's all grimaces and silent screams.
They scrabble and push for the surface, hampering one another, like a bait ball inviting destruction not protection.
The boys finally break the surface, gasping.
In the bar, the guys are chatting while trying to put an elastic band around a lightbulb.
I start to join in with the conversation. I don't know if I'm meant to talk or not. If I talk, and go off script, will they improvise around me? Am I supposed to say something to break the cycle of drowning and drinking? There are no instructions. So perhaps I'm supposed to ask questions.
I open my mouth to speak and the camera moves away from me.
The alcoholic is no longer at the bar.
He is in the audience.
The woman sitting in the row behind him is stuffing a plastic bag into his mouth and he is trying to spit it out to scream.
A guy next to him is spraying his face with water through a straw, effecting a bizarre cinema water boarding incident.
Everyone but one woman ignores this, because they are watching the movie. They've not noticed that the alcoholic from the movie has stepped from the screen into their reality.
I watch from the screen as the woman gets up to save the alcoholic.
I leave my scene and cycle up a hill where there is a remote house built by a survivalist.
I cross the impressive green grounds where vegetables should really be growing, but instead it's all lawn.
There is a steep drop off one side, which I avoid.
In the modern house, which is grey and square, like blocks placed randomly beside each other and on top of each other, I examine the kitchen and storage areas.
A survival expert enters to help. He gives me advice about the granite sink, surfaces, and storage units.
He is unimpressed, but he says:
"We can make this work."
I observe myself, having turned into a crab during a kind of escape game.
"We're all crawling up together," I say, encouragingly, to the other purple-blue lobster crabs. "That's how it should be."
The gamesmistress tries to help me solve the next puzzle by showing me where to find the means to pick a lock.
Dismayed by our performance, she advises us to avoid the brothel owner.
"People lose hours in there," she warns.
To leave, we all climb up through a trapdoor.
My friend, let's call her Sara, is the last to come.
We ask her to pass up the food before she climbs.
She passes up cake.
"The meat!" one of us yells. "Pass up the meat, love. Meat and frozen things. The meat! Fackin' 'ell."
Sara is feckless. She doesn't follow any of the instructions we give her.
I get frustrated with her, too, until I realize that the door is unlocked and we don't need to use the trapdoor at all.
I open the door for her and she just sits there, crying into her hands.
"Let's go," I say, gently.
She doesn't look up. She sits there, sobbing, until I wake up.
Mom's talking to me, but I'm ... n o t ... l i s t e n i n g ... because there are giant bugs crawling out of the sky.
They descend on near-invisible strings. Silent.
A few dozen feet from the ground, they crawl before each one takes its final step to the ground, the way an elderly person might step from a train onto the platform.
The world - our world - is volcanic black, ashy yet watery, as if an ocean has just been drained. Perhaps, the sea went down a plughole.
Everywhere, I see craters of shimmering water. Rivulets shiver, begging us to drink them. They seem to be flowing, except they start and end nowhere.
The wetness reflects the sky, which must contain red and yellow and blue although it is night, like 1 or 2am. The water must be reflecting astral bodies that I can't see, beyond the stars.
The blackness of the sky is heavy and close and seemingly full of holes. The stars are like an engineer's schema, an elaborate dot-to-dot.
In the distance, beetles the size of buses prepare to do battle amid squashed volcanoes and perfect, black gravel.
Through a dirty window. A utilities OFFICIAL sits to chat and drink with the householder, PETER.
It’s all very convivial and neighborly. The OFFICIAL, grey-haired and in blue overalls, is glad to get off his feet.
Unfortunately, PETER mis-hears something I say.
PETER’s face slackens and he glares at the OFFICIAL.
I should be leaving.
PETER grabs OFFICIAL's arm.
PETER appears to be having a terrible headache.
You tried to trick me.
That was a dirty trick. Now I’m going to play a trick on you.
PETER drags the OFFICIAL over to glowing BOOKSHELVES.
“I should be going.”
PETER holds his head as if he is trying to stop it breaking apart.
OFFICIAL is backing away, until he backs himself against the dusty BOOKSHELVES.
There is nowhere to go.
There is no way out.
I take my mom on a train to a popular French meeting place. For years, people didn’t realize how two particular villages were physically linked. They seemed distant, but they are, in fact, side by side.
Now, once a week, coachloads go to a nearby park or cafe to meet semi-formally near this fabled spot.
On the way, we see two forests of giant sunflowers. One forest looms over an entire village at the bottom of a hill. The flowers are bowed like ancient trees, heavy with foreboding.
The village exists as if completely unaware of the sunflowers’ doleful heads, bobbing in the breeze. They seem close to sleep. A terrible, nightmarish sleep.
The train rolls on.
There is little more to see and mom seems okay, so I decide to take thirty minutes writing time on my laptop.
I’m sharing the screen remotely with a friend. Depending on how I focus my eyes, I can either see my words in a text editor, or I can see her face and whatever she is working on from her remote location. She’s using a drawing and photo manipulation program.
The train doesn’t stop where I thought it would. I get off at a stop called “Lion.” My mom will go another stop or two to get to the true destination.
At Lion, all is grey and flat. Aside from the train, pulling away and then gone, it is devoid of vehicles.
I’m at a gigantic crossroads. One direction stretches as far as the eye can see.
Someone has made or shaped hedges and they run the length of the main road.
I am alone aside from about ten men nearby. They are wearing huge helmets like something out of Alice in Wonderland. The helmets are painted red and yellow and white, with gaudy images, like playing cards or children's toys. The headwear makes them well over 6 foot in height.
The helmets are made of wood and completely cover the sides of their heads, but not their faces. When I do see glimpses of their faces, they are looking down from that great height with disapproving looks. There is something horse-like about their wide, rolling eyes and their fixed facial expressions.
I try to talk to them, but they just shuffle and stamp their feet, coming to attention sharply but out of sync.
I ask them if I can go through the gate they appear to be guarding. No sooner have I spoken than they march me through it. I have to move with them to avoid being stomped, noting as I go that they march very effectively, but backwards.
Inside the gate, I’m inside the grounds of a house the size of a village.
“Thank you,” I tell the men.
They stamp and clomp into some kind of formation.
I look ahead to my destination. A house in grounds the size of a village and no more light than the world beyond the gate.
It’s getting dark. The greens are becoming grey. The grey is darkening; lengthening.
I take a deep breath and … my alarm is going off.
My friend picks seeds from the top of what look like grass stems. The seeds look like dried out chips. They feel soft and we collect them to go in a curry. An onlooker watches, fascinated.
While cooking in the forest, my friend shows me a clip of herself narrating her computer game progress for her followers online.
I could do that, I think. I remember my character from City of Heroes. Mannikin, the powerful ash-black midget with glowing eyes and healing powers. There is a framed painting of him on the wall, like he is a member of the family.
Andy Sirkis plays a traumatised soldier bent on revenge. His eyes glisten.
This is not make-up.
His captors perform experiments on him to learn more about his condition. He has the freedom of his cell. There, he listens to audio recordings and breaks down the component words for his unseen guards.
“Six “ofs,” three “as,” two “froms,” Seven “thes,” and so on.
When played a Shakespearean scene about revenge, he turns away, soliloquising.
“Reetablissement!” he cries. “From there to retribution. And revenge! But then death, immediately!”
Meanwhile, several hundred blue-uniformed soldiers with swords in their belts attack a building that houses royalty.
“There has never yet been one of us with fear!” a leader says. “If you have fear in your heart, leave now!”
They cut through the imposing, wooden double-door, thrusting blindly to stab anyone brave or stupid enough to try to stop them. From inside, they are all blue legs and swords and pounding on the door so that the wood shatters, the ornamentation cracking and splintering and becoming kindling.
Inside, the several dozen members of the royal, red-uniformed army look on in amazement and make plans to retreat up the stairs.
I'm walking around the hospital, but everyone's packing up. There are people with tubes coming out of them, sitting up in bed, having machines disconnected. The machines are whirring and then click, click, click, they go off.
People are hopping off beds and getting their clothes out of plastic bags.
Everyone's calm, but nobody's working except to pack things away.
"What's going on?" I say.
"There was a really big order last night," a nurse tells me while winding some cable. She's just unmade a bed. "So the hospital's closed."
The hospital is where you go to be healed. It's where you go, in theory, to get the things that will make you well.
The big order is ... a big order. at work.
My subconscious appears to be waving a red (or white) flag.
I'm clearing out my phone at the moment and came across this dream journal entry among my notes.
Fantasy landscape. Terrifying landscape. I run until I reach what looks like the edge of a map in a computer game, except this is real. The land is flat and eggshell smooth. It is like ice in that it seems breakable and there is something beneath.
I am being chased, so I continue.
I run carefully so that I don’t break the ground.
I walk and crawl over a fallen tree. Black bark.
I am tempted to wade through bubbling, black water, but it turns out to be too deep and I don't fancy swimming in it.
Soon, I reach a teleport spot where skilled people like me can inhabit another body in another part of the world. We make our choice and leave our towel in a peaceful, cosmic waiting room.
There is someone ahead of me. I listen in to find out where he is going and decide to follow.
I peek through gaping holes in the amphitheatre.
Doors, windows, beautiful, perfect ruins.
So here's the lucid dream, but first how it happened, so you can try it yourself if you haven't already.
All you need is a girl with a tummy ache, some dirty dishes, and a twitter account.
DreamViews seems like a good place to meet other people with similar dreaming interests. There are some fantastic dreams on there.
Check out The Deep Down by DeepEnd, for example, which is one of my favorites ever Despite the lack of formatting, which is normally a warning sign, this dream is expressed really well. The flow of text lends itself to the telling of the dream.
DreamViews has an old-fashioned interface, which is not a problem in and of itself. It is just taking some getting used to. If you're on there, you know what I'm talking about. And if so, ,add me as a friend if you'd like to hook up. I'm ArmouredCar.
While I will be posting general dreams on this blog, I will post lucid dreams on DreamViews. By keeping them on DV only, it separates them from my other dreams, will hopefully become a bit of a collection in their own right, and stimulate more lucid dreaming. I also hope to learn more about lucid dreaming and lucid dreamers whenever I'm over there.
Here's my latest lucid dream, "Alarmed by Alarms," now posted on DreamViews > http://www.dreamviews.com/blogs/armouredcar/alarmed-alarms-82566/
There are gradations of lucidity and I'm not sure where the alarm dream was on the spectrum. I think I was fully lucid. You can judge for yourself.
Click here for my dream on DreamViews. Leave a comment, share, or like if you enjoy the post. Thanks!
As we lie down to sleep the world turns half away
through ninety dark degrees;
the bureau lies on the wall
and thoughts that were recumbent in the day
rise as the others fall,
stand up and make a forest of thick-set trees.
The armored cars of dreams, contrived to let us do
so many a dangerous thing,
are chugging at its edge
all camouflaged and ready to go through
the swiftest streams, or up a ledge
of crumbling shale, while plates and trappings ring.
-Through turret-slits we saw the crumbs or pebbles that lay
below the riveted flanks
on the green forest floor,
like those the clever children placed by day
and followed to their door
one night, at least; and in the ugly tanks
we tracked them all the night. Sometimes they disappeared,
dissolving in the moss,
sometimes we went too fast
and ground them underneath. How stupidly we steered
until the night was past
and never found out where the cottage was.
After a couple of weeks of not much sleep but consistently 'intending' to have a lucid dream, here one is.
If you're interested in techniques, this came about because I fully intended to have a lucid dream and because I was woken up for about 40 mins at about 4 or 5am, making this the Wake Back to Bed method (WBTB).
Check out the dream below.
I had a lot of dreams about zombies while binge watching The Walking Dead. Here's one of my favorites!
The girls are sort of milling about outside the hut, waiting for something to happen, when Jane spots a zombie.
She turns to look at the other women, but they haven't seen it. As a result, she isn't sure if she's seeing what she thinks she's seeing. She looks back. She sees what looks very much like a zombie climbing out of a window.
It is about six foot six, male, with broad shoulders. It's wearing a plaid shirt that is ripped and wet. It's face is ... it's face is sort of the wrong shape, more like Darth Siddius than a person, though she doesn't know that because she's never seen Star Wars. And she never will.
The zombie spots her, but it doesn't hesitate the way that she does. Instead, it strides towards her, grabs her by the shoulders, and proceeds to attempt to bite off the top of her head.
She still doesn't scream.
People are still busy, preparing for a zombie invasion that they don't really believe will come.
Her brain finally kicks in, the brain that the zombie is trying to eat. Her brain tells her that this is a definitely, really a zombie, but she still doesn't scream, because to sceam would make it real. If she screams, she thinks, she's dead.
Fortunately, somebody sees the struggle and soon there are four people, armed, pulling the zombie from her and hitting it and stabbing it.
"Why didn't you call for help?" Lisa says, her face wet with sweat.
Jane is in shock.
Lisa shakes her head.
"You finally got one," Vinnie the leader says, looking from the corpse to Lisa. "We could do with more women like you," Vinnie says.
"There are no women in the zombie patrols," Lisa says.
"So start your own," says Vinnie.
"Where would I patrol?" asks Lisa.
"You can have the whole of Scotland," Vinnie says. "I've got to move out."
He means him and the majority of his troops.
He probably has orders from London, Lisa thinks.
"Get to it," he says with a smile before walking away. It's not an order. It's the only thing he's ever said to her as an equal, as a friend.
It's funny in this new world. People look at you in the eye and they see you, they listen to what you have to say, because they know that you're probably going to be dead in the next 120 hours. Every exchange might be your last or theirs. And yet people still end conversations with things like: "Go to work" and "Get to it." Nobody says "I love you" anymore. That's the kind of thing you say as you're bleeding out.
Vinnie walks away in his big military jacket and boots, carrying more dust in their creases than is left on the road.
Lisa stands there in her red, cotton, sleeveless blouse and jeans; bare arms, bare hands, holding a bloody rake.
She looks at the dead zombie. She looks at the other women: strong, together, afraid.
In that moment, it becomes real: this is the first all-woman zombie patrol.
It will be the first of many such units throughout the country, but she doesn't know that yet. She won't be dead in the next 120 hours, and she doesn't know that either. Even Jane, who almost had a zombie bite into her skull because she couldn't scream, even Jane survives a few more weeks.
"What now?" asks Sandy.
Lisa creates two teams to check the house, while a third team checks the perimeter. The others should either be doing a stock check of weapons, including potential weapons — see rake — or attending to Jane's mental state. The orders spill out of her mouth, as if by reflex.
The women get to it.
The UK is really anti-smoking these days. My friends have a sign in the bathroom that gives them and their guests permission to smoke weed as long as they ‘throw down’ beforehand and they only smoke on the premises.
In public, however, smoking is not only extremely expensive, but must take place in pink booths like bus shelters, shared by huddling, coughing smokers in all weathers.
If you smoke at home, you must not be near children. And your neighbours can complain if there is too much smoke.
It’s not like the good old days when I was a kid and I would smoke packets and packets of the stuff out of the bedroom window. When the neighbours complained then it was because smoke was billowing out as if the room were on fire. These days, I’d be arrested.
It’s worn and warm, less like paper than plastic carrier bag material. about all this when I head to the bar across the road, wanting to write down an idea for a story.
It’s a modern bar and it appears to have pulled a lunchtime crowd of local office workers. On pulling open the swanky-looking but flimsy glass doors, I sense the groups and pairs eyeing me as I walk in alone.
The only other people who are close to being alone are a man with a briefcase full of baby bottles , hunched over a carton of Chinese food with his baby son in a blue romper suit sitting opposite, and the barman.
A the far end of the bar, because that’s the only place there is room for me, I pull a worn, warm, plastic-like fifty from my pocket.
The barman seems unsure about whether or not I want anything. To my surprise, I have to wave the fucker over.
He smiles tightly and approaches, looking as if his trousers are equally tight. He’s about fifty-five years of age, wearing a white shirt and black trousers. No bow-tie, because he’s just hip enough to work here.
“I’d like a beer, please,” I begin.
“We don’t serve alcohol or tobacco.”
I look around, mostly for effect. Behind the bar, there are all kinds of glittering alcoholic beverage bottles and even a tobacco and cigarette display.
“Are you kidding?” I ask
People are drinking fruit juices. Surreptitiously eating homemade sandwiches out of aluminium foil.
My watch says that it’s 11:34am.
“No alcohol or tobacco before 12pm?” I suggest.
“One,” the barman corrects me and then the fucker turns his back on me and walks away.
I take a deep breath, then I walk out. I go back to my friends’ place to start writing this review to share online.
I start with the flimsy glass door.
I wanted to include this dream because it's one of those dreams where I'm writing about the dream inside the dream. It seems to be a direct result of keeping a dream journal in more detail than the tweets and normally not far away from oncoming lucidity.
Every night, the kid remembers to check the window. Every night, it’s unlocked.
He is about to attach the lock, which is a flimsy chain - a hoop at one end that slips over a nail - when he wonders whether this nightly fear is based on anything real.
He opens the window and leans out.
There’s a guy down there in a cream suit. He looks like he’s been wearing it all day, in the office and in the pub. He’s looking up, as if searching for the best way to climb up the wall. Like he doesn’t do it several times a week.
“Hey,” the kid yells down. “How’s it going, dickhead?”
The guy just keeps looking up, planning his climb to the window.
Unnerved, the kid hurls down the first thing that comes to hand: a kitchen knife.
The guy steps aside and the knife hits the floor. He is now glaring up at the kid, who pulls the window closed and fumbles with the lock.
It’s at this point that he remembers that there is a back way in. He dashes to the back and checks the fence.
The fence is there, but it doesn’t go all the way across. So begins 20 minutes of adjustment and readjustment, trying to get a 20-foot section of fence to fit in a 26-foot gap. All the while, he looks beyond the fence at the place where the man will appear sooner or later: a black field that disappears into shadows and then trees.
Not long later, someone is walking out of the darkness.
The kid freezes and abandons his ministrations with the fence, ready to face this guy, whoever he is … whatever he is.
He is relieved to discover that it’s not the guy in the suit but a neighbour.
“Hi,” says the kid, trying to sound natural. “I’m trying to make the fence fit.”
The neighbour puts her shopping bags away and then returns to help.
More neighbours arrive from the forest. They’ve had a day at work or studying. A few help with the fence while the rest gather, smoking and drinking beer and white wine. There is a pleasant hum of people chatting about everything and nothing.
Soon, the fence stretches all the way across, at which point the kid starts thinking about barbed wire. Broken glass. Electricity. Another six feet of height.
“What’s going on?” someone asks him.
“I was fixing the fence,” the kid says, “and everyone started hanging out. There must be four hundred people here! It’s a fence party!”
The moment he says the words ‘Fence Party’, everybody leaves.
Now it’s just him, and the fence, and the waiting.
He wears a leather jacket, because it will last a lifetime. Like him. It's also durable enough to take a few licks and it covers up the parts that might be considered badly built, though he thinks that that's just part of his charm. Those unique differences. The bits that are missing are what make us whole.
"Get over there," the boss yells and he goes.
He gets on the swing, so as to not show that he's hurt, neither physically nor mentally.
He swings high, rattling the chains, high above the garbage dump.
Beneath him, the junk heap is black and silver and shining in the mix of watery moonlight and amber streetlight. There are things living in the junk. Bits of spine whir this way and that like worms. An eye without a socket wriggles like a maggot and flicks itself into the unknown. There are mini avalanches all over the place as mechanical things dig under the surface. Males seek females. Partners seek to be reunited, only to be torn apart again, for the amusement of 'the crowd'.
The swing is going to break. If he goes any higher, it's going to break. Everybody knows that.
"Get back over here," says the boss.
He keeps swinging. Higher. Higher.
If I jump from here, he thinks, it would be sixteen feet to the ground. Not high enough to smash myself apart. If I landed on a spike though, I might be able to get it through my central processing unit. That would be something worth doing. I'd like to see that. But there's no such spike. And there's no such me.
"Get down here!" the boss yells.
He lands on the scrap heap and the metal shards slide about like gravel beneath his boots. He tramples over the mound in the direction of the bright lights.
"Get in there!" the boss orders him.
There is a square, like a boxing ring, but each rope is made of silver-blue light. The lights are interrupted briefly so he can enter and then they close behind him with a crackle of electricity.
On the other side of the ring is a robot. She's skinless, silver and humanoid. She's the Harley Davidson of androids.
Damn, she's beautiful, he thinks. It would be a shame to kill her, but then it would be a shame to die.
She moves toward him in a way that's clearly robotic. Her hips are all wrong. She's more insect than woman. She's been designed for power and speed.
At first, she seems to move silently, but only because he has tuned out the roar of the crowd. The crowd is out there in the blackness, behind the blinding spotlights, behind the flashes of cameras.
He does hear his opponent's last three steps. Fast.
Her punch sends him through the air.
His head is still connected to his body. That's something.
He crashes to the dirt on his back and dust flies up, so he knows he must be outside the ring.
The android is menacing him in the distance, taunting him to come back and fight. Wow. She's so well-trained. She does whatever they tell her. This is how they like them. The ones that don't question their orders are considered superior.
He gets up.
He dusts off his jacket, the way a human might if his body was made of metal and all he cared about were the jacket. The jacket is shredded with tiny slits all over, as if he's been stabbed several dozen times.
Through the slits, his interior glows. Yellow. Amber. White. White hot. His skin has either been ripped or melted from his right hand and he curls that hand into a fist. His fingers are as shiny as chrome. Steaming blood seeks a way out of his closed palm.
He can't let the boss see that he's burning up. He'll assume that he's burning out. This isn't malfunction or at least if it is it goes by another name too: Rage.
His hands hiss, but he clenches his teeth and manages to cool down by the time the boss gets over to him. The boss pulls open his coat and sees moonlight shining through the holes, but his body has stopped glowing by then and so he's not aware of the extent of the damage.
"Holy cow," the boss says, whipping the leather jacket off and holding it up to a spotlight so that it looks like a colander.
Sure enough, there is a holstered weapon on the female android's hip. It looks kind of like part of her skeleton, but for a second it glows blue and he suspects that she fired that at him while he was in the air, while all eyes were on him. That's a rotten trick.
Still, he doesn't think of revenge. You can't take revenge against a machine. She's jumping about in the ring, but there's nothing there. There is no her.
He turns to the junk heap where things are crawling and slithering; burrowing.
That's a better place to make friends, he thinks. Piece by piece. When you make your friends from scratch you know what's inside them.
Ted is in a wheelchair on a rockery. He's sliding down, trying to slow his perilous-looking descent by gripping the tryes with his bare hands. He's dangerously close to the edge, which is about two feet above the footpath. The soil is sliding and crumbling beneath the wheels. It's raining.
"Get over here a wee minute, will you, Deano?"
I climb onto the rockery and step over small plants and soil to where he is struggling with the chair.
I try to push the chair back up the slope and back to safety, but he tilts his bald head and yells:
"What are you doing, man? I'm going down!"
"What?" I say, stepping back and looking at the drop. "You're crazy."
"Give me a hand," he says. "That's it."
The chair edges towards the edge. It's lurching dramatically, and Ted's so huge that I think he might hurt himself.
"Maybe there's another way," I suggest, looking around.
"We're nearly there."
As he teeters on one wheel, he pulls a small phone-like device from his pocket.
"There we go," he says, happily.
He points the device and car headlights shine in the distance. Next, the engine starts. Then it's rolling toward us across the empty concrete walkway.
Via remote control, he brings the car - a sleek, black, sports car - as close to us as he can, which means parking it temporarily on the road that leads to an airport carpark. He leaves the engine running.
"It'll be alright there," Ted says. He's hurrying now.
I take the weight of the chair, and him, but he's a big guy and this is not ... going ... to work ...
Suddenly, floodlights illuminate the rows and rows of cars in the carpark, including Ted's, which is illegally parked, standing idly in the entrance road.
A siren sounds in the complex. It's not the car, but an airport alarm.
"Come on!" Ted says, and he ditches the wheelchair. He jumps down to the path, letting the chair clatter, empty, to the ground.
The next thing I know, he's running towards his car, legs pumping hard, legs working just fine, and I stand there with my mouth open, looking from his flight to the chair and back at him before I start running too.
Although he's about 20 years older than me, I can't keep up. His black clothes are 'flashing' in the dark as the shiny material reflects the floodlights which are reflected in the puddles and on the starry-wet tarmac. I hear his big, smart shoes thumping the road. Clump-clump-clump-clump-clomp-clomp-clomp-clomp. I put on a burst of speed, but apparently so does he, because I still can't keep up. I feel very inexperienced at this kind of thing: evading capture. I don't normally do things that require running away when the lights come on.
I don't know what we're running from or what will happen if we're caught. I just run as hard as I can, as if my life depends on it, because that's what Ted is doing, and then I spot a man in a reflective jacket and flat hat ahead of us. He's crossing the car park at speed, pointing his torch at Ted and yelling:
I skid to a stop. It's a cop.
Ted, far ahead, and thus nearest to the officer, turns to me with a rictus of anxiety on his face. He waves his right hand at me, subtly but urgently, as if to say: "Go, ye' fool! Save yerself!"
I sprint left, away from the cop, away from the car park, away from the rockery.
The cessation of the siren suggests that the cops think the emergency is over now that Ted has been apprehended. I keep running through this midnight, corporate arena, wondering whether I'm being tracked via cameras and whether or not they'll be able to record my face at night. I intend to run and run until I'm home. When I get there, I'll think.
As I flee the scene, I pass a second car park, smaller than the first and comparatively empty, but also notable because there is a police van with lights glaring, screaming to a stop. Half a dozen cops pour out.
I keep running for a few seconds.
"They've not seen my face," I think. "They don't know who I am yet."
As two more cops appear to my right, however, I decide that this place must be swarming with them. And it's not worth getting shot in the back because I tried to help a guy play with a wheelchair.
As I stop and raise my hands, I wonder what crime I've committed exactly. I'm in more trouble than I've ever been in, but it seems like a waste of manpower and adrenalin.
"Okay," I say, breathing hard. "Okay."
The police officer nearest me is a woman. My hands are still high in the air when she tasers me.
The moment before she does it, I see the instructions on the gun. It says that police procedure is to use the taser twice. First, for a few seconds. Then, after a pause, a second blast is optional, depending on the circumstances.
The instructions explain, pictorially, that the pain caused by tasering is approximately equivalent to being roasted at gas mark 8 in any standard kitchen oven appliance. The image is zigzagging lines, denoting electricity, next to a 2D, whole, cooked chicken. The instructions also say that there is a slim chance of death, depending on what kind of coat the tasee is wearing and whether or not the zip is fastened.
I'm paralyzed with pain for a few seconds and then I'm finally able to drop to my knees, sort of gagging with the agony of it.
Then, she hits me with the second blast.
I'm in an office, sitting on an uncomfortable, wooden chair. I feel like this room served a purpose once, but now the tables, chairs, and photocopier are still and cold with a sense of abandonment. Everything is brown-tinted, like we're in a faded Polaroid.
Ted is in good spirits, as usual.
"What were you doing in that chair?" I say.
"John said I could have a wee go, like."
John has lost the use of his legs. Ted seems to have lost the use of his brain.
"Did you know that if you send a DS back to the factory, they don't recycle it?" he says, a propos of nothing. "It's cheaper to just throw it in the bin," he continues, "so that's what they do."
Except, he doesn’t say ‘do’, he says ‘dooo.’
I fail to see how what he’s saying connects to anything.
Case in point:
"You know, my dad's got cancer," he adds. He's heading through a door and gazing down the stairwell.
"No, I didn't," I say. "I'm sorry."
"Did you know my dad?" he asks, his voice echoing in the stairwell.
"No," I admit.
"Then why are you sorry?" he says. "I'm not." He smiles. "He's a bastard, my dad."
As Ted lingers on the stairs, the door closing slowly, I start to feel like I'm in a hospital bed and he's just been to visit me. It's like he's saying goodbye.
As he starts down the stairs, three female police officers walk in, followed by half a dozen male officers.
"What do I do?" I hiss to Ted.
He looks confused.
"I've never been in this situation before," I explain. "What do I say? Do I delete your number from my phone?"
"They'll find it anyway," he says. "Just tell them my name. Tell them everything."
He descends out of sight and the door swings shut.
The cops don't appear to have seen him at all.
The cops are all taking off wet jackets. One woman looks particularly miserable as she approaches me with her clipboard. She gathers up pens, a voice recorder, and some other administrative objects from a nearby desk.
She has short, straight, black hair, dank from the rain, and she's chewing like she's chewing some gum, but I don't think it's gum. She's just chewing with her mouth empty.
She sighs when she looks at me.
She says something about how they all have to work overtime now, because I've been a bad boy, and if I just tell them what they want to know, they can all get home to their beds.
I don't hear the words, only the tone of her voice, and despite my earlier fear, I find myself feeling very calm and very angry at the same time.
"That's not going to work," I say. I'm trying to helpful and save myself from some bullshit.
"What's not going to work?" she asks, popping an imaginary bubble. She's half-sitting on and half-leaning against ... nothing ... her legs crossed, clipboard on her grey-trousered knees.
"This 'bossy-bored-and-busy approach,'" I explain.
I can't believe I'm about to get locked up for helping a guy play with a wheelchair or for parking a remote control car in an airport carpark. And, having heard the woman's tone, I feel all information about Ted and his whereabouts sinking deep down within me, like it's disappearing into the quicksand of my unwillingness to share, and the more this woman questions me the less she'll find.
"If I seem bossy," she says smartly, "it's because I am a boss." She points to the stripes on her shoulder.
I think that means that she's a sergeant.
She points to bracelets on my wrist and says, laughing explosively: "I've got three more stripes than you!"
None of the other police officers react to her attempt at humour. They look bored and busy.
"Right," she says briskly.
I am calm, but hyper-alert, as if I might want to store this memory under: "This is where it went bad."
I see a flash of red from a bracelet like mine on her wrist.
Her hair falls in her face, still soaked from the rain.
She has black lips.
She leans forward.
I decide to tell her nothing.
"Tell me everything," she says.
I've been thinking about lucid dreams in particular recently, since I gave a friend a copy of my dream book and I saw an article about dream TV series Falling Water, which itself prompted me to think about my various dream fiction plans again.
Lying down for an afternoon nap, I decided that I would be having a lucid dream. I was fully expecting to have a lucid dream, without question. I focussed on it, like that was the point of sleeping, not tiredness, despite being exhausted since my morning routine starts at 5.30 am these days and I still describe myself as a night person. I didn't entertain the possibility of not lucid dreaming. I also decided that I would use the dream time to meditate, since I enjoy meditation but don't always make the time.
I kind of slipped into lucidity while dreaming. It was a fragile sort of sleep. There were people around and noises. While dreaming I became aware of my body against the mattress and realised, very happily, that I must be dreaming, since I don't normally go through life feeling my body against the mattress. At that point, I tried to work out what I should do with my lucidity.
Preparation for Lucidity
As usual, any ideas went straight out of my head. I strongly suggest working on lucid dream plans ahead of time. Lucid experiences can be fleeting and sporadic, at least when it first starts happening, and so its wise to make the most of them by having a clear plan or purpose in place, whether that be exploring, flying, talking to dream characters or meditating.
After a few seconds - precious, precious 'lost' seconds - I remembered that I wanted to lucid dream in order to meditate and so I floated up into the air, to free myself of stimuii and inspire a sense of freedom. I stretched up into mountain pose, which is basically standing on tip-toe and stretching your arms up, but I suppose my version could have been described as floating mountain pose.
On reflection, maybe I should think more about postures before dreaming. And I'd like to buy that book on Tibetan dream yoga to see if it has any of the kind of physical yoga that I know in it.
After performing this yoga pose, I practiced my flying. I flew very high and was sometimes afraid. I jumped like a computer game character I made up for the MMRGP 'City of Heroes' I played years ago. My character's name was mannikin and he was a little shadowy man who could jump very high and then float and also fly.
I matched my flying to my breathing and gained more control of my speed and direction. I tried not to overthink it, however, as flying is normally easy, but it wasn't today.
Later, I drove for a while. This was more difficult than in waking life. I drove up out of my drive and then up a steep mountain road. Steering was very loose and I had to turn the wheel multiple times to affect the wheels much. I used my breathing to control the speed. I focussed on my breathing and my exhalations increased the speed of the car. I felt rewarded by a delirious feeling of speed and the sensation of wind against my face. It was my car, an old, white Peugeot 405 estate, but in the dream it had an open top.
I drove to the top of the mountain where there was a martial arts school in a massive clearing. The sky was almost clear. I practiced sparring with a master in dream kung fu. He was wearing a white gi. We fought with our bodies and our minds. After a few seconds, I was afraid, because he was experienced and powerful. Sometimes I flew backwards to get away from his attacks. Gaining courage, I ran into one of his running attacks and surprised him with a double handed blow, even though it didn't connect.
Later, realising that I could train with anything in my dream rather than a punch bag, I punched a large wooden chair with all my might as fast and as many times as I could. The chair splintered and flew apart in a hail of wooden shards, like I was doing some kind of beserker attack in a computer game.
Waking, or not
Several times during the dream, I realised that this dream was going on and on. It seemed to occurring in real-time, by which I mean, I was awake, aware of minutes passing, and yet I wasn't losing lucidity. I was expecting to lose clarity at any moment, because I was so aware of noises around me in waking life and occasional voices and even of being touched, but I was also still firmly and securely in the dream. It must have lasted at least half an hour.
This was definitely my most immersive, strong lucid dream experience to date.
Slightly ahead of schedule, I've finished writing the (cough)th draft of my short story, which, evidently, I'm thinking about calling "The Chair".
I find it a challenge to come up with titles and rather than over-think this one, I'm planning to go with the obvious. I don't want to reveal too much of what it's about just yet, because there is still editing to go, but the current cover features an armchair covered in blood. The cover needs some work, but essentially it's the perfect cover for this tale.
I'd probably be in decent company if I described my short story as a novelette. I don't know what label I'm going with for marketing purposes yet, but for a while - until I printed the monster out - I was comfortable considering it a short story.
To me, although the edges vary, anything under 1000 words is some variant of flash or micro fiction and I would have said that anything between 1000 and 30,000ish words is a short story. I think 29,500 words makes a really long short story, but that worked for me.
I don't like the word 'novelette'. Maybe it's because I don't want to be a writer-ette.
A novella always felt like 40,000 to 70,000 to me. Above that we're talking about novels, with a mega-novel being over a million words of book.
If you're here because you searched for advice on how to describe the length of your story, for God's sake bookmark this site for your writer guy who talks dreams, horror and creativity, then check out the Science Fiction Writers of America length guidelines. It's a common reference on this subject.
It's partly because of the online market place and how Amazon has changed published that I'm thinking about lengths in this detail again. Kindle and other e-readers have really turned around what constitutes a book. A book used to need a certain number of pages to be worthwhile to a publisher. Now it's possible to publish something exceptionally short by traditional standards and package it as a book. Not an e-pamphlet, but an e-book.
The moment I finished this draft of my short story, I announced to my wife that I'd finished my BOOK and cracked open the pina colada on ice to celebrate. While imbibing, I had to remind myself that yes I had finished a book technically, but not a novel. I'd just finished a short story. At that point I wasn't even thinking of it as a novella.
Come on, dude. Enough congrats," I said. "Move on."
The tequila is reserved for the big guns.
To answer the literary length question, I'll probably call it whatever people on the relevant retailers (Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords and others) are calling books of that size. In my heart and in the notes, however, I'll consider it a short story.
I'm not too tied up with length debate, but I'm finding it interesting to think and write about. I've concluded that one of the reasons for my inner conflict with how to describe the length is that the story was conceived and planned as a short story. The first ever version was about 2500 words long. I thought I'd bump it up to 10,000 words, but ended up with 25000.
My novella, "The Body", which I'm now editing since "The Chair" is at the next stage of development, was intended to be a novella of about 40,000 words and ended up being 65,000. Again, I'm having a similar thing with it: I don't think of it as a novel, even though it's ended up in the borderlands of noveldom. (I've read about Catch-22 and Of Mice and Men, being all literary and shorter than typical paperbacks and considered novels nonetheless).
"The Body" has a novella feel as far as I'm concerned. I put it there. I feel a bit like it's a teenager going out in his dad's leather jacket if I call it a novel, but it is nearly all growed up.
Mostly I think that determining the length and what we call it is a marketing and customer-aiding tool. It's helpful to be able to effectively explain to people what I'm asking them to download. With digital you can't feel how heavy a book is.
I've also been thinking about another marketing tool: genre description. My writing is often cross-genre and I'm struggling with that one, although I'm enjoying the variations.
Ultimately, I love the horror genre and would be proud to consider myself a horror writer, but I don't want to disappoint people who expect a rising body count and a lot of blood. There's some blood, but bleeding is only one of the things I find scary. Read the book and see.
I'm looking for beta-readers for "The Chair" so if you're interested in reading this early version please email me for a copy. Let me know what format you prefer and I'll abide. I welcome all criticism and advice regarding the writing, the story and also how I should describe it.
For all the latest releases and news from me, subscribe. That way I get to send you lots of free stuff and bonus content.
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I'm chatting with a woman in the canteen and in a lull in the conversation I pull out my mobile phone to show her a picture.
"Was this taken ... in space?" the woman asks.
It's a multi-layered image showing four women reflected in glass. Beyond the glass, it's possible to see white panelling and then another window, triangular, with a view onto a blackness that is speckled with silver-white pin-pricks.
I explain that one of the women in the reflection is a hologram. She has mousy blonde hair, unstyled, and is wearing a pink T-shirt and jeans. She's standing slightly apart from the others, as if she doesn't fit in. She's looking in the opposite direction to the other women.
"That's Jesus," I say. "I decided to make her a woman. We've had some good conversations."
"How have you taken this photo?" she asks.
"I go up once a week," I say, instinctively looking up at the ceiling, forgetting it's there. "It's part of a study to see how the brain reacts under certain conditions, but I have to say that there hasn't been much testing yet. It's all been a lot of fun."
We often leave the ship and perform dangerous missions, including mineral collecting and mining, which involve a lot of rock climbing and walking across mountainous moons in single file.
I remember one woman in particular. I recall how exhausted she became after climbing hundreds of feet up sheer faces of rocks that were stacked one on top of the other like Lego bricks, though each brick was moveable, separated from the others by thin layers of air. She climbed to the top of one tower before jumping off the other side. Gravity was low, but that kind of a fall still takes it out of you. And then there was another wall to climb. And another. And another after that.
She landed in a heap and didn't get up. She rested her face against the cool, black rock, while molten lava bubbled up through enormous cracks around us.
It wasn't long before two guys climbed back to her and one of them allowed her to ride his tandem bicycle. I remember the relief on her face when she saw that she wouldn't be stranded on this moon.
Being on the bike contraption seemed to renew her energy. The moment she climbed on, he jumped on the back and off they went, trailing away, meandering, the vanguard now. We marched on behind, our spirits lifted because we knew that nobody would be left behind. Not one of us.
The woman in the canteen hands the phone back to me. It's an amazing picture, with its various windows and reflections, including the holographic woman, who is a mirror of sorts.
I look out of the canteen window. I feel trepidation about going back out to space. I always do. There is no getting away from the fact that you are far away from home. Nothing tethers you. Not even people. Not really.
When you're up there, you sort of disappear. And when you get back, you realise nobody knows you were gone. And so you tell the woman in the canteen. She's impressed, you can see that. Even though it's clear that you wouldn't give up your place on the space craft for the world, you can see that she's glad she's not you.
Dean's Dream Journal
As a dark fiction author, I like to take some inspiration from my dreams.
"How to Remember Your Dreams" will help you with:
Exchange your front row seat for a starring role.
Available on Amazon.