A Stephen King novel meets A Game of Thrones. A cold fog is sweeping through the town. Anyone it touches, anyone who walks into it, is taken by the cold and they cannot ever leave. They can only move within the confines of the ever-expanding, cold fog.
Vans and removal trucks speed along the street. They growl and swerve as they race to get out of town.
I am in a position of responsibility, perhaps the sheriff. In my attempts to protect people, I end up standing in the street with the fog approaching. I end up walking into it. Just a few feet.
An unseen wind blows through me. It chills my ribs and my spine. I imagine leaves and dust blowing between my bones. My flesh feels as insubstantial as air.
I look back at my team and other onlookers.
"Get back!" I say as the fog continues to creep toward them.
After a few more seconds, the fog stops. It roils, but doesn't advance any further.
In the mist, like the white walkers in A Game of Thrones, trapped people wonder within the fog. They are wearing what they were wearing when it enveloped them.
I'm in uniform. That's me in uniform forever.
I don't feel like I'm losing my mind yet. The others, however, look gone mentally. I wonder how long that takes. I wonder what that feels like.
A man straight out of a Stephen King novel approaches through the fog. He is wearing brown, leather boots. Something about me being captured has changed things and, talking to the people outside the fog, he offers a truce between his fog and the rest of the world.
As long as no-one tries to get anyone out of the fog, he says, he'll let the rest of the world survive. Anyone who enters the fog of their own volition, however, will be his.
"How come you can turn into a werewolf AND other things?" someone asks. It seems impertinent, like, unnecessary right now.
"I shapeshift into a wolf," he answers quickly. "From my wolf form, I can shapeshift into many things."
He moves on quickly, physically, as if to avoid questioning. It seems like we've found a plot hole in the story and he wants to gloss over it.
Gone, the evil man lets us mull over his deal.
I consider my life in the cold.
It's not as cold as I thought it would be.
But it does look like forever.
Those in the fog have given up, but those on the other side are trying to think of solutions. I admire them and I think I might be in a unique position to help from here.
In a camp of survivors, I'm having a laugh with three soldiers when I realize that the leader is watching.
The soldiers have become fat and soft over the last few months, but this will not do. I turn nasty on them, but they think my yelling and admonishments are part of the joke. I try to whisper to them that this is just for show and that they need to play along, but they only laugh at me. Until I hit one of them.
They look upset. I'm upset. They stand up straight.
Later, during a military training exercise, the leader takes his large army bag and I know he's leaving. He looks like the guy who used to do The Daily Show. He hugs me and then he's gone.
Later still, people realize the washing still needs doing.
I organise the taking down and folding of half a load of washing. My friend folds with me.
Downstairs, I hear a tape recording. A deep voice booms:
"Don't forget your keys."
"Don't close the door."
"Take your keys with you."
"The door locks automatically."
On cue, I hear a loud CLICK and then a guy yells: "Shit! Fuck! Fucking fuu-ck!"
My old flatmate stomps up the stairs, cursing under his breath. He turns on heavy metal music. I don't know whether this is to calm him down or to help him think.
Outside, I'm impressed by this workplace/living area.
We are on communal land, owned by a rich, young visionary; on a hill, with an exceptional view.
The main house is all dark glass at the front, on three floors. Modular buildings stand In a rough semi-circle on the land in front. Each unique building has its own character and looks as if it were designed by an architect. Each is owned by a different group and is overseen by the main house.
A woman in a leather apron stands outside her workshop, a one-story building with a pink, sloping roof.
This is beautiful. I want to stay.
Kevin Spacey is a lighting salesman.
My two friends - a man and a woman - and I are close enough to talk to each other without looking at each other and to have some witty banter with some gentle mockery,
The man tests some of the lights as he walks around the store. He hits upon one that has various attachments. It changes from a downcast light to uplighting that illuminates the corner of the massive showroom in a weird way.
Large, leafy plants in the corner suddenly glow, alien-like. Changing the switch of this light is like having the room re-interpreted by a different artist.
I ask Spacey how much it costs. He says the words, but there is so much excitement that I don't hear him the first time. On asking him to repeat himself, I brace myself, and he says:
"Three thousand three hundred pounds," with a straight face, with no expression at all.
My friends make some mocking noises, but I keep playing with the light.
It's the one. It's perfect.
I begin to tell them that I have an idea about a dream home, and while I can't afford this today, maybe one day ... but I know that voicing that is the ideal way to kill the dream. Instead, I look around and wonder if a place like this ever has a half-price clearance sale, in which case ...
On the way out, I thank Kevin Spacey and I reach into my silver business card case. My cards (IRL and ITD) are deliberately sparse, but I've pre-annotated the first one (IRL and ITD) with my full contact details. I start pulling it out but hesitate.
I realize that if Kevin Spacey is serving me, then I must be in a movie. And if I'm in a movie with Kevin Spacey, I probably don't want to be giving the Kevin Spacey character my full contact details.
Unable to hide what I'm doing, I switch cards for a sparse one that just has one phone number and an email address.
He takes it the way a man takes a business card when he has a courtesy case full of business cards at that which he never looks.
He watches us go with that empty expression. The alien leaves glow in the background.
A little boy is in a room with several other kids. They ask me to wait until he's outside, and then I can escort him to the bathroom.
As a joke, I sing to him through the keyhole. My voice is high and ethereal, but I can't hit a note.
I decide to take out my tablet and load up Etherpad, but there's a box of stuff on top of it. I have to excavate the junk to get to it. Fortunately, the screen is intact.
I talk to the guy next to me about Etherpad. He's retirement age and he's not that interested until I start playing. Then, he raises his eyebrows and watches.
My playing is interupted, however, by a video.
In the video, people (pedestriants, commuters, sightseers) are sleeping on an interactive 911 monument in London. The monument is made of leather cushions the size of small sofas with several gigantic blankets thrown over them.
The person videoing the scene pulls a blanket off someone. The guy who was disturbed quickly covers himself back up, irritated. Hilarious.
When the video ends, I close the window and play some more Etherpad, but I fall asleep waiting for the boy to come out.
On waking, the boy is gone. His mother took him home. The man next to me is gone too.
Now it's just me and the tablet and the remaining kids, sleeping.
I play Etherpad some more.
I'm having a nap in my writing room. I feel a bit weird. I'm exhausted and maybe dehydrated. A glass of water and orange is on the other side of the room. It's within reach, yet it seems so far away.
Falling asleep, I find myself sitting on a bench in a small tent.
The sloping canvas roof of the tent keeps slapping against my head and face. It's white and light pushes through it. It bulges inwards with the wind, as though an animal is shoving it from the other side, but I know it's just the wind.
Still, I swat at it, as if there is some sentience behind it.
Meanwhile, although I see nothing, I feel things like large spiders crawl up my leg and into my lap. I try to get used to the feeling, because it would be nice not to be bothered by such things. All they are going to do, if they are real, is touch me, I reason. They won't even touch me; only my clothes.
After less than half a minute, I can't take it anymore and I'm swatting at them. This means, therefore, that I'm swatting at nothing and I know it.
My friend: "'Ello, mate. Can I come in?"
"Hang on," I say.
'm half-laughing as I wake myself up. It's like hauling a bucket out of a well and I'm the bucket. Dream is slopping over the edges.
I pull my way out of sleep, up through the swirls of white tent roof.
With a deep breath, I make my way across the tent toward the door, stepping over office equipment.
I think: "I'm a bit disorientated," but I don't say this out loud. I meant to speak, but the words stayed inside me.
When I reach the door, I realize that the door is attached to the tent, which means I'm still in the tent, which means I'm still dreaming.
This is not going to help me reach my friend, I think, who is standing outside the door in waking life, not the door in the dream.
try to wake myself up again.
In my writing room, my hood is over my face. I get up and stagger to the door, holding onto things to steady my way.
There's no-one there.
I flop back down and drink that glass of water and orange.
Later, I ask my friend if he called out to me earlier.
He says no.
I'm driving a taxi to earn some extra cash. My friend yells at me for not switching on the fare computer.
My very first turn as a taxi driver - left - is wrong.
My passengers are worried about being shot down.
Yep. That could happen.
A woman in white is laughing, but she's in another dream.
I land the car and help a naked fairy. She was tortured and stripped. I clothe her and we jump to freedom. She lands beautifully, but I land some way off. The distance frees me from her spell and I realize that she is using me.
The fairy is dictating a blog post as she steals my car. I could run and get in, but I don't want to.
That woman in white is still laughing, but she's still in the wrong dream.
A young man has worked out how to talk to evil spirits. You have to use a raspy voice, high in the hertz.
He screws his face up as he demonstrates. Listening to his voice, I feel the world change a little, like something new is looking our way, the way a bear might look at ripe fruit hanging high in a tree. Or it's like a window has been pushed open a few inches and a distant wind blows through our world.
As I hang up washing, I hear someone complaining about me. They are saying that I am evil.
I finish hanging the washing.
Thought I'd see if I could capture my dreams through drawing and painting. This one's a bit ambitious. Not recognisably Jackie, but I'll get there!
If I dream of a bowl of fruit by next Wednesday, I'll have a more recognisable drawing to post..
Here's the dream:
I couldn't find a good clip of the exact fight scene that this dream reminds me of. But here is a trailer for the film it's from, Police Story, and it's sequel, Police Story 2.
Dee from Battlestar Galactica is on a date with an astronaut.
He underestimates her, like everyone else. She tells a witty joke about opening the emergency door on a space shuttle, but her heart isn't in the conversation.
She ends up alone, at a table in the middle of the bar, tapping on her forehead with a pen.
I'm writing the scene, putting words in her mouth and mind. I too am tapping my forehead with the end of my Biro.
They find me in my tent, tending a long, slow fire, dozing.
"It's warm in here," the boy remarks.
I glare up at him, but the whole world seems upside down.
Later, at dinner, the truth of my thoughts drifts back to me.
"You look like you're very far away," the maester notes.
"Not me," I say. "We're fine. It's the world that's gone."
"Gone," he chuckles, his blue eyes twinkling. "Gone where?"
"I don't know," I reply thoughtfully as I push the grey meat around my plate. "But I know we're dreaming."
I look up at him to pierce him with the accusation. He seems shocked. Whether it's because I found out his secret or because he doesn't know himself, I don't know. But I will.
I go back to mopping up bloody gravy with mashed potato. He goes back to pretending I'm a silly little girl.
A giant elephant rampages in the shadowy garden.
It's not just an elephant, but a giant elephant.
It bats trees out of the way like twigs, thunders in and out of the darkness, devastating the stillness.
My friend suggests putting it on a lead.
"It'll be fine," he says, running alongside her with the rope..
Trembling inside the relative but not absolute safety of the stone house, I become #lucid.
I float for a better perspective, but get
when I pass through the ceiling into the attic.
Dusty material. Cardboard boxes. Corridors.
Unknown people in casual clothes perform science experiments in converted classrooms.
A strange-looking woman mistakes me for someone else, hugs me, and tells me she'll be right back, but this is a dream; real as it seemed to her, as real as I seemed, her entire world is gone before she returns.
Almost in silhouette, I see Winona Ryder stomping across a hilltop towards our barn. She is wearing a long, black dress and boots. I hear her furious thoughts.
"I HATE it when he hides in the other room," she thinks, "and pretends I've discovered him doing something!"
When Winona enters the barn, I make sure to stumble into view, looking harried.
"Sorry," I say, breathless. "I was just in the other room."
I gesticulate towards the other room,
On the other side of the room is an open door, which, even now, is closing its secrets to us - to her - in a slow arc.
Winona smiles warmly.
I’m falling asleep and see a large red sky, gently swirling. In the process of watching, I realize that I’m dreaming and I jump into the dream, like a bird taking flight.
I hang in the sky, sort of sliding along, carried by the sky. Ahead of me is a sharp image, like a mandala. It contains many hexagons. In each hexagon is an icon. The floating mandala thing spins and slides away from me just as fast as I slide towards it.
Between you and me, I’m a bit disappointed by this.
The sky is red. The ground is green. The world is blurred, except for the mandala.
Physically uncomfortable, I open my eyes briefly, shift in my seat and lose the dream. I shut my eyes again and try to get back into the dream.
This time the blurred sky is grey-blue. I jump into it again and hang there, floating like before, but the mandala is gone. The world is still blurred.
I then dream about living in a rustic commune and sharing responsibilities and facilities, including a cooker that has its symbols drawn on in pen and if you rub your finger over it the symbols disappear, which complicates things for people who don’t know how to use the cooker.
I rub one mark away with my thumb and it disappears as cleanly as if it were never there.
I should come back and redraw them, I think.
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.
Image source: Your Best Digs
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."
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 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.
Dean's Dream Journal
I'm often inspired by dreams.
"How to Remember Your Dreams" will help you with:
Exchange your front row seat for a starring role.
Available on Amazon.