The Fine Line Between Reality and WTF!?

When I dream, I dream weird. There have been many times I woke up and spent a good minute reintroducing myself to reality or reassuring myself that the events of the dream didn’t really happen.

I had three of those this week. The first dealt with work, and the crux of it wasn’t hard to figure out. However, our student body was about ten times its actual number and our lobby and gym were replaced by a giant glass atrium complete with airport-style people movers (only they were about ten feet long). This in turn opened onto a theme-park sized campus area swarming with more students and staff members.

The second involved a horror convention and a spontaneous marriage to a fan from Eastern Europe. After the nuptials, I continued to crash with the friends I was rooming with for the con. I woke from that one and had to make sure my wife was still sleeping next to me.

The third was the doozy. My great uncle and I had my great aunt’s body on a hospital gurney, and we were wheeling her down a desert highway. I decided it would be a good opportunity for an internal anatomy lesson and talked my great uncle into letting me open her up. He hung back about ten yards while I tore her open with my fingers and poked around at her innards.

That’s when she woke up, smiled, and said “Hi, Michael.” We rushed her to an ER, and she’s smiling and happy the whole time. The nurses tell her they’re going to get her fixed up, and she says “Oh, that’s nice” in this special way she used to say it in reality. It’s about that time in the dream I realized she was a zombie, and I couldn’t figure out why nobody else realized she was a zombie, and that it would only be a matter of moments before she developed a hunger for human brains.

Then I woke up, and the only thing I could think of was my great uncle died first, and holy crap that meant he was a zombie, too, and maybe I need to call Zombie Squad or someone, and why in the hell is my wife just lying there asleep while the zombie apocalypse has begun? But the guy on the clock radio is telling me it will be sixty degrees and sunny with no chance of zombies, and oh, right, it’s 6:30 and time to get out of bed and get ready for work.

I told my wife about the zombie aunt dream. I said “So my great uncle and I are wheeling my aunt’s body down a desert highway.”

“And you’re singing Black Sabbath songs?” she interjected.

“No, but that would have been bad ass! Why do you say that?”

She shrugged. “Sounds like the way things go in your dreams.”

Perhaps my oddity is infectious. At that point I started to speculate exactly which song we’d be singing. “Paranoid” is a little too fast, and “Iron Man” not quite right. I started to settle on “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” when my wife said “So what else happened in this dream?”

“Oh, right.” So I told her the rest.

“You need help.”

It’s simultaneously a benefit and a curse of getting more sleep. The weeks I stay up late and only average about six hours of sleep a night, this doesn’t happen. I push that over seven, closer to eight, and the strangeness begins. I know rapid eye movement is good for me physically, but I’m going to give up on dream analysis because I just don’t want to know.

In fact, I had a social studies teacher in high school who also taught psych. I told him about a strange dream I had involving frogs embedded in trees who opened their mouths to croak and instead unleashed swarms of locusts. He looked at me funny and said “I couldn’t even begin to guess.”

The real question is do I have these dreams because I write horror, or do I write horror because of these dreams? Would I be better off writing these dreams into my work, or would that just make my work even harder to sell? Should I be writing bizarro fiction instead?

There are times, too, where reality just doesn’t help. I stumbled downstairs after the work dream, still pondering the meaning of a conversation with a pair of students and a co-worker in the giant glass atrium. I sat down on the couch with the Squirt, who was watching Yo Gabba Gabba.

If you’ve never seen this show before, it does not, in any way, shape, or form, help one re-establish a grip on reality. As I watched, they finished up some freaky monster dance, and then they cut to this dude with wild hair and green glasses. He says “Hi, I’m Mark! I’m going to draw a truck.”

Holy crap, that’s Mark Mothersbaugh! I thought. That’s right, a member of Devo was about to draw a truck for me. He drew a flatbed truck, and decided it needed cargo. So he drew a giant frozen chicken in the back. Then he gave it a steering wheel and wheels, and it drove away. I blinked a few times, then played it back on the DVR. Mark Mothersbaugh. Chicken. Truck drives away.

My wife walked into the room.

“I am awake, right?” I asked her.

She gave me her trademark oh-great-he’s-lost-his-mind-again look and backed out of the room slowly.

More weirdness ensued on Yo Gabba Gabba. I asked the Squirt if he liked this show.

“Uh-uh,” he said.

“Does it suck?”

“Uh huh.”

I flipped on the guide on the DVR. “Want to watch Power Rangers instead?”

“Yeah! Pow Wangers!”

Not much better in some respects, but at least I didn’t feel like I was lost on a dream quest. Dudes in goofy outfits battling giant monsters explains itself; there’s no “what’s with the chicken?” factor.

I half wonder if the Wife put Yo Gabba Gabba on just to mess with my head.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

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  1. John U says:

    I have the same kinds of dreams.

    Last night, I dreamt someone showed me a sketchy map. I looked at it a moment, realized it was Sydney (I recognized Circular Quay), and started crying. Next moment, I was *in* Sydney, but that’s when it starts to get sketchy…

  2. Clark says:

    Tears, absolute tears, in my eyes at the Chicken Truck/”I am awake”. The problem is that my co-workers are trying to figure out why I’m laughing so hard.

  3. Mike says:

    I hear ya, man. For me it’s usually the kids in the lab who think I’m nuts. :)